Thursday, December 30, 2004

Oh, and . . .

So I'm not a poseur, I sent $25 to Unicef's Tsunami Relief fund. It's not much, but percentagewise, it's one up on the US relief "effort." It's .1 percent of my gross annual income. 30 million is less than two millionths of the US GDP of 11 trillion.

I suggest you go do likewise- How's about we see the president's 30 million and raise him (at least) another 30 in private donations?

Mike Reagan is a tool.

The Reagan Information Interchange
Alright, now for another mad-libs style fun fest picking apart the rantings of Mike Reagan, of the ironically-named "Making Sense" column:

Take That, George Bush

Making Sense By Michael Reagan

If you believe the Washington Post George W. Bush is an insensitive lout devoid of compassion for the victims of the horrendous tragedy in South Asia.

I don't believe that. He is an insensitive lout devoid of compassion for the victims of the horrendous tragedy in South Asia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and pretty much anywhere outside of Florida.

Because he had the temerity to win re-election President Bush has also won the undying enmity of the Washington Post which seems determined to slit his throat every chance they get, no matter how outlandish their complaints.

First of all, grammar alert. And don't ever start a sentence with "Because."

Moreover they have their correspondents cooling their heels in Crawford Tx., deprived of so much as a glimpse of the president. In the egotism of the media elite, Bush should be wining and dining them on his ranch which they can’t get near, as he enjoys the solitude of a needed respite from their constant abrasive presence.

Oh please. Poor widdle Bushie, always in the press's spotlight. Now who's the girlie man? The guy has logged 12 press conferences in four years. With each one running less than an hour, that means that Bush has been in the "constant abrasive presence" of the press for .03 percent of his entire term. And besides, we in the media are too poor to be considered "elite." The "elite" are people who buy ranches and yachts.

And so they dredge up an imaginative indictment charging that the president is seen by many as being insensitive to what they call to "a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions."

OK, Mr. Reagan. If you can give me one good reason why the deaths of 100,000 people and a chain reaction leading to disease and famine in one of the world's most populous regions should only be referred as a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions in the confines of quotation marks, I'd love to hear it. And no, the indictment is not imaginary when one considers that the richest nation on the planet donated slightly less aid money than the planned budget for the inaugural festivities. Common Right Winger Tactic No. 2134: Take a real issue and start referring to it as "nonsense," "imaginary" and "simply untrue." If you repeat it enough, your base will undoubtedly begin to believe it.

In a slanderous piece entitled "Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence" they cited just one source for this charge, who of course remains anonymous, and another who doesn’t quite say the President lacked sensitivity and informs its readers that "Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia."

Someday they should make a winger doll that says four different phrases: "SLANDER, "TREASON," "FREEDOM" and "JESUS." That pretty much covers it, but it is a formula that seems to resonate with people. Let's put Mr. Bush's supposed "sensitivity to the test. From the Miami Herald:
The numbers are staggering: 117 deaths from the storms and their cleanup, $42 billion in damages estimated by state economists, more than 25,000 homes destroyed and 40,000 seriously damaged as estimated by the American Red Cross, nearly 1.2 million applications for disaster assistance and almost $3 billion in approved state and federal aid so far.


1/1000 the deaths, 100 times the aid money in Florida. Once again, the responsibility lies with the people of Southeast Asia. If they had the good sense NOT to be brown, they could have gotten a lot more help from the US.


And they added this piece of garbage: There was an international outpouring of support after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and even some administration officials familiar with relief efforts said they were surprised that Bush had not appeared personally to comment on the tsunami tragedy. "It's kind of freaky," a (unnamed, of course) senior career official said."

Oh?

Could it be that the president might have been occupied with putting together what is now the largest aid package headed for the victim countries as well as working out the details of a massive rescue effort on a scale never before seen? That he might have been so occupied with this responsibility that he simply had no time to go parade himself before a sullen media in Bill Clinton style to bite his lips and tell the victims how much he feels their pain?

Uh, it could be. But it's probably not. I love how wingers are always the ones to try and say that Bush is too busy to appear on television or before large crowds. It's not a busy issue. It's the fact that the man is practically the most agoraphobic president in history. Besides, he's on vacation. Who has time to fly to the world's larges Muslim population and do some outreach?

That’s exactly what the Posties wanted, it being their preference for style over substance. They believe that emotion trumps substance - tears, biting lips and barely suppressed sobs are what such tragedies demand.

Um, yeah. 100,000 people dead and more on the way due to insufficient sanitation is something to cry over. It's not an aesthetic thing, it's what comes with having a heart.

The Post also tells us "Clinton urges coordinated aid effort," giving a boost to Mr. Clinton’s reported ambitions to replace Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations. Or perhaps it just a case of nobody having told Bill Clinton that he is no longer the President of the United States, a delusion he shares with Jimmy Carter.

Well, when the President is off clearing brush in the midst of a calamity, SOMEone needs to start acting presidential. I do hope that becomes part of the vernacular. Fiddling while Rome Burns = Clearing Brush while Indonesia drowns.

Well it now appears that while the media were cooling their heels in their isolation from the seat of power, putting together a coordinated aid effort was precisely what George Bush was doing. But to the Post, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the president failed to recognize his solemn obligation to hobnob with the media at moments such as this.

Grammar violation No. 2. The media seems to be cooling their heels a lot. Time for a new cliche, my friend. And a press conference is not "hobnobbing." And the press are not complaining that Bush hasn't been spending enough quality time with them. The Post is complaining that the man seems to have such a case of ADD that he can't even tear himself away from one of his many, many vacations to pay attention to a humanitarian crisis. Perhaps it's not that nobody told Clinton that he was no longer the president. Perhaps nobody told Bush that he WAS.

It doesn’t appear to have occurred to the Post that there are times when a president has to do things behind closed doors. Not all presidents like to be out in front of the press saying in effect, "Look at me, I’m important, I’m biting my lip, I know how to cry" before going back inside and laughing at a media stupid enough to fall for his act.

Oh come on. If any President is laughing about how the media (and by extension, the viewing public) is happily eating every shovelfull of horseshit he can pitch their way, it is the smirking little twit that offered Charlie Gibson wood on national television. Bush knows exactly how to play the media, he just doesn't do it on his own. He has help from people like Reagan.

Reagan's whole point is a classic bait and switch- the Post complains that Bush barely gives an ailing continent enough money to make a crappy movie (Troy cost six times as much) and Reagan makes it about the "Liberal Media's" need for attention and emotional drama.


This whole thing is typical liberal mishmash – it’s all about feelings. The Post would be happy if the president didn’t give a dime as long as we saw him cry.

Um, no, they wouldn't be happy. It's not about crying, or feelings. It's about a president's duty, something that you will not hear too many people like Reagan talk about at length. The ironic thing is that Bush's public representation, what the voting public supposedly loves about him, is that he "feels" for them, he acts on his "feelings," that he has "moral values." There is no substance there to discuss. The Post and the Times are not slandering the president by saying that 30 million is a paltry sum and undoubtedly a missed opportunity to reach out to the greater Muslim world (hence presenting a more sympathetic face of the US, hence maybe causing one young Indonesian Muslim to think, hey, maybe I shouldn't tape dynamite to myself and blow up a subway car in defiance of the Great Satan?). They are presenting a valid point. But like most valid points, this one will be decried at every moment by the Savages, Coulters and Medveds of the world in favor of the much more colorful "the Liberal Press Slanders our Good Leader" angle.

What we are seeing here is what we’ll be seeing for the next four years. The Post didn’t want George Bush in the White House for another term and they won’t let up, even if they have to create stories about such nonsense as alleged presidential insensitivity.

They have no shame.

No, it's not that they have no shame. They have no fear. And thank God for that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

RIP, Susan Sontag



What did I love about Susan? She was the absolute, although largely unappreciated, Queen of Snark. She held up unpopular but important ideas on the way women should be, the way men should be, the way the world should be. In her honor, I present her post 9/11 piece from the New Yorker, which I consider to be one of her strongest and most powerful statements:

The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy.

Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be.


I miss her already.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas . . . now let's all try to be more like Christ, OK?

Arkansas Times: "


“Certainty is the narcotic of the right wing,” Gordon said — and they are marvelously adept at pushing it. They have been much more willing to stand up in pulpits and on TV news shows and proclaim what is right and wrong, selling a brand of Christianity that doesn’t allow room for complexity.

“It is far, far easier to be on the right than in the middle or on the left, because everything is already determined for you,” Pulaski Heights Baptist’s Hyde said.


But I wonder why progressive Christians can’t do the same thing. Yes, we almost define ourselves by our inclusiveness, by our emphasis on Jesus as a loving savior, not a judgmental one. But we also have black-and-white beliefs, just like conservatives do: Greed is wrong. Poverty is unjust. Compassion is commanded. If it’s certainty people want, we can give it to them in spades.



This is a long article but well worth reading. It had not truly occured to me that there were probably just as many Christian Liberals who were dismayed at removal of Christ from the holiday season as there were Right Wing Christians who were out-and-out outraged about it. But there is a key difference between Christian liberals and Right Wing Christians: Christian liberals are more Christlike.

As the article says:

And this: With all the millions of children in our country who don’t have enough food, clothing, or love, how can right-wing Christians possibly still cling to the delusion that God thinks gay people are the biggest threat to Christian values? Times Jesus mentions the poor in the gospels: I lost count halfway through Matthew. Times he mentions homosexuality: Zero.


At no point does Jesus say "Thou shalt affix a fish to thy SUV and thou shalt send thy children to Bible Camp, and that will be enough to save your soul."

No, Jesus says to help the less fortunate, to prioritize social changes that help others, he says to love your enemies, maintain peace and work toward a better world for everyone.

The article ends on a much more hopeful note than anything I've read in some time:


From an op-ed piece called “Recovering a hijacked faith,” published in the Boston Globe last July:

“When we take back our faith, we will discover that faith challenges the powers that be to do justice for the poor instead of preaching a ‘prosperity gospel’ and supporting politicians who further enrich the wealthy. We will remember that faith hates violence and tries to reduce it, and exerts a fundamental presumption against war instead of justifying it in God’s name.

“We will see that faith creates community from racial, class and gender divisions, prefers international community over nationalist religion, and that ‘God bless America’ is found nowhere in the Bible. And we will be reminded that faith regards matters such as the sacredness of life and family bonds as so important that they should never be used as ideological symbols or mere political pawns in partisan warfare.

“…When the poor are defended on moral or religious grounds, it is not ‘class warfare,’ as the rich will always charge, but rather a direct response to the overwhelming focus in the Scriptures, which claims they are regularly neglected, exploited, and oppressed by wealthy elites, political rulers, and indifferent affluent populations. Those Scriptures don’t simply endorse the social programs of liberals or conservatives, but make clear that poverty is indeed a religious issue, and the failure of political leaders to help uplift those in poverty will be judged a moral failing.”


This is where we need to work. We need to continue within the framework of what Christ did and said, not within the framework of what Jerry Falwell says. We need to stop blocking Christians out of the party because we think they are bigoted and brainwashed. They are not all that way- and progressive Christians are out there, just waiting for the Democrats to speak to them rather than against them.

So, Merry Christmas to those Christians who continue to bring Christ's words to life.

Happy Kwanzaa to whoever chooses to celebrate it.

And Happy Boxing Day to all Canadians. We appreciate your help.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Rummy in the Dawghouse

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Okay. If I've learned nothing else these past four years, I've learned that Republicans NEVER do anything that is not in their best interests. So why, then, are these prominent Republicans denouncing Rumsfeld? What do they have to gain by a.) disagreeing with the President and b.) by extension, admitting that the war has been mismanaged?

One possibility is that they are running out of scapegoats. In my opinion, the GOP has nobody to blame but itself (and I mean every elected member, every legislator) for the issues in Iraq. Everyone had such a hard-on for a war and everyone had such blind confidence in Rumsfeld's mini-army concept that they all fell victim to the marketing machine. They can't blame Saddam, they can't blame the troops (they tried that, kinda backfired) and they can't blame the President (although they should). So they will blame Rumsfeld. As much as I dislike Rumsfeld, I also dislike a dogpile, no matter how deserved it may be. Rumsfeld mismanaged this war, but nobody challenged him before. And the Repugs like to call us Monday-morning quarterbacks.

And it is easy for Hagel, Lott and McCain to begin distancing themselves from this mess of an administration by distancing themselves from Rumsfeld. Again, I'm no Rummy fan but as someone in a managerial position I know that it is easy to blame a lot of things on mismanagement. Especially when you are clueless to your own incompetence and ineffectiveness. Memo to Hagel and Co.: Next time you want to denounce poor leadership, try to do it before 1,320 Americans die as a result of it. It might help you sleep at night.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Quiz



Quiz:
This is a picture of:
a.) Truman Capote on performance-enhancing drugs
b.) A schizophrenic who believes he is the white John Shaft
c.) A megalomaniacal, Oedipal half-wit who controls the largest military on the planet
d.) A little of all of the above.



Those nutty Bush voters

From one of our more prolific letter writers:
‘We are now a nation that has forgotten God’

I am glad to see the City Council taking responsibility to change ordinances or to help restore integrity for the good of our community. Two places have been in the news lately. I would not call these places “businesses.” A decayed state of morals and a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with true freedom. The very thing that brought about the birth of this great nation was political corruption and Christian oppression in Europe. For more than 200 years, God’s hand has been in America.

We are now a nation that has forgotten God. More than 4,000 babies a day are murdered in abortions across this land with protection of the government. Violence fills our land, troubled by adultery, fornication, murder, assault, rape, gangs, drugs and homosexuality. Talk shows feature homosexuality to millions of viewers as an acceptable way of life. God, the creator of all, made man in His image and instituted marriage between one man and one woman. This act of God should not be cheapened by forcing citizens to pay taxes for homosexual domestic-partner benefits.

The war on Christianity in America and many parts of the world is being waged by the left and communism through movies, media, government policy, public television, etc.

Our culture has had a devastating impact on the moral values of Americans of all ages, but especially the young and easily influenced.

Gambling is another example of promoting and enticing all to spend their money. It ruins lives and families and causes people to take their lives. All you need to do is read your papers to know this, plus some other news venues.

I would like to add support for the Wal-Mart. We hope it gets approval soon to build a new, larger store on Hover Street, where it would have more room. It sure will be a plus for Longmont and all taxpaying citizens. No disgrace from Wal-Mart.


I would rather a crazy old lady pump her drug money into a slot machine for eight hours straight than have her blow it all on shit-knacks at Wal Mart.

But aside from that . . .

This lady writes about a letter every three months to our paper and she's quite off her nut as far as I'm concerned. But the thing is, apparently we can't just dismiss this kind of blinders-on, please-tell-me-what-to-believe, gay-baiting attitude as "crazy" anymore. This is the moral values voter. Wal Mart=good value. Gay marriage=bad value. But there are also things in this letter, and by extension, in that belief structure, that are simply wrong, simply not true. Our nation was not founded on Christian values. There is not a war against Christianity. Wal Mart is not free from disgrace.

People believe strange things when they believe they are under attack.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Thursday evening catblogging



"I know kung fu."

More from the "War on Christmas"

A response from a local writer, after our paper published a scathing, scripture-citing agreement to the Bill O'Reilly column:

"To those Christians who have a problem with non-Christians or Christians who believe in the separation of church and state: Nobody is telling you that you cannot celebrate Christmas and decorate your homes to how you see fit. Nobody is telling you that you cannot pray and sing to Jesus as much as you want in the confines of your homes or churches or any other privately owned building or organization that shares your beliefs. Why then when we object to having your holiday intermingled with public property or plastered to government buildings do you accuse us of attacking Christmas and not believing in God? Why can you not accept that Jesus is not God for everyone? Are you so blinded by your supreme arrogance and religious fervor that you would deny the right of your fellow citizens to live without governmental or municipal endorsement of someone else's religion? If your so strong in your beliefs why do you feel such fear from those who disagree? You would think that one so certain of knwowing who God is would walk the earth unencumbered by what others think or don't think. Maybe you're not so secure in your beliefs after all, which is why you feel the need to shove it down our throats."


Couldn't have said it better m'self.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From the "it could be (marginally) worse" department

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > China Detains 3 Who Criticized Government

I can just see Red Foreman saying it: "The American Government makes it so that you can run off your fool mouth about how screwed up the American Government is and you don't land your ass in jail."

Yeah . . . I guess. I'm thankful that my little blog isn't keeping me at a constant risk of unjustified government arrest. I'm thankful that due process still exists (for some). I'm grateful that certain aspects of the system do, indeed, work. Things could, indeed, be worse. But, they could be a hell of a lot better, too. And not just in a theoretical, utopian, rhetorical way- I've seen it when it was a hell of a lot better and I miss that . . .

Anyway. Didja hear about how Kerik, our pillar of moral value, the man who was supposed to SECURE our HOMELAND? Mere hours after taking himself off the ticket, it turns out he is kind of a bigamist. You know, between Rudy's adultery, Bush's DUI, Limbaugh's Vicodin, O'Reilly's interoffice phone sex, this guy's wobbly definition of a "divorce" and Cheney's use of the f-bomb, I am a little confused by the entire concept of "moral values."


Monday, December 13, 2004

News From The Associated Press

News From The Associated Press

Now there's a unique way to support the troops.

Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena

The New York Times > Washington > Hearts and Minds: Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena

"Critics of the proposals say such deceptive missions could shatter the Pentagon's credibility, leaving the American public and a world audience skeptical of anything the Defense Department and military say - a repeat of the credibility gap that roiled America during the Vietnam War."

Yeah, we can't have THAT. Oh wait. We have that.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Fishblogging (no cat pics to share today)



Dean-o. Possibly the last of the rat-pack fish

Christmas is under attack!

Okay. I am tired. I have a cold. So I am going to pick an easy target for today. Bill O'Reilly- the man for whom the word "batshit" may have been invented.

In his syndicated column, he says that liberals not only hate America, but Christmas. And happiness and babies and puppies. Yeah. Them too.

The column, titled "Take your Christmas and Shove it" follows:

"Christmas with the Kranks" is not only the name of a holiday movie this year, it is also a national trend. Once again, Christmas is under siege by the growing forces of secularism in America. Put these facts in your stocking:

-- Federated Department Stores, which includes Macy's, has suggested that managers avoid displaying "Merry Christmas" banners and have ordered employees not to talk about it.

-- In Denver, a church was banned from the "Festival of Lights" parade because it wanted a religious theme to its float.

-- The Maplewood, N.J., school board has banned all religious music from "holiday" concerts. (Would somebody please tell me exactly what holiday this is?)

-- And New York City Mayor Bloomberg insists that the lighted tree outside City Hall is not a Christmas tree, it's a holiday tree. (What holiday, Mr. Mayor?)

Surveys show that more than 90 percent of Americans celebrate the federal holiday of Christmas, signed into law by President Grant in 1870. Despite that overwhelming number, the tradition of Christmas in America continues to get hammered.

90% huh. What surveys? According to Wikipedia:
As of 2001, the distribution for major religions in the United States was as follows: Protestant (52 percent), Roman Catholic (24.5 percent), "none" (13.2 percent), Jewish (1.3 percent) and between 0.3 and 0.5 percent each for Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Unitarian Universalist. An additional 0.3 to 0.5 percent, each, are professed agnostics and atheists. The largest single religious denomination in the United States is the Roman Catholic Church, followed by the Southern Baptist Convention and the Mormons.

The United States, as a developed nation, is noteworthy for its high level of Christian religious devotion. However, the percentage of Americans calling themselves Christian has declined somewhat in recent years from 86.2 percent in 1990 to 76.5 percent in 2001.


Besides, as people like Bill O'Reilly seem to be incapable of understanding, just because the majority group is of a certain faith does not mean that the government is justified in proselytizing individuals to that faith. Hello freedom of religion. Hello separation of church and state.


The anti-Christmas forces say it's all about diversity, protecting the sensitivities of those Americans who get offended by the mere mention of the birth of Jesus. Somehow I haven't been able to locate any of these people; folks who find a baby in a manger so off-putting it ruins their day.

I love it. The anti-Christmas forces. Yes! Don we now our ungay apparel, undecking the halls of happy Christians everywhere! Setting aflame their log-and-twig reindeer! repelling from wires down city hall Christmas trees and tazing department store Santas!

So the diversity excuse is a bunch of bull. What's really going on here is a well-organized movement to wipe out any display of organized religion from the public arena.

Of course he hasn't been able to locate any of these people. Jews and Buddhists (and certainly Muslims) don't have very long tenures at Fox News and they aren't likely to hang out with the likes of Bill O'Reilly. Besides that, aren't lefties supposed to be the ones crying "conspiracy" all the time?

The secular-progressive movement understands very well that it is organized religion, most specifically Christianity and Judaism, that stands in the way of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, legalized narcotics, euthanasia, and many other secular causes. If religion can be de-emphasized in the USA, a brave new progressive society can be achieved.

Shorter Bill O'Reilly: Plastic baby Jesuses are all that stand between order and Weimar Germany.

It has happened in Canada. Once a traditional religious country, Canada has become like Holland in its embrace of the secular movement. Some facts: In 1980, 79 percent of Canadians said that religion was important to the country. That number has now fallen to 61 percent, according to an Environics Focus Canada poll.

Um, yeah, that horrible Dutch rabbit hole of moral bankruptcy from which there is no return. Canada's divorce rate is 45% to our 49%, the Netherlands only see 41% of marriages end in divorce. Canada's HIV infection rate is .3%, the Dutch rate is .2%. The American rate is .6%. The Netherlands have the world's lowest rate of teen pregnancy, at 1.2%, and Canada's is 1.5%. The rate of pregnancy for women aged 15 to 19 in the United States is 5.4%. And unlike Bill, I didn't pull these numbers from my ass.

In 1971, less than one percent of the Canadian population reported having no religion whatsoever; now that number has risen to 16 percent.

The fall of religion in Canada has corresponded to a change in public policy. Unlike Americans, Canadians have legalized gay marriage and any kind of abortion. Also, the age of consent for sex up north is just 14 years old. Can you imagine American adults being allowed to fool around with children that age? I can't.

I bet you can! Over the phone, it's hard to tell how old your sex partner is. And anyway, it's not like 14-year-olds down here are NOT having sex with adults, just because it's not legal. Besides, how did we make the leap here from prohibiting religious displays by the American Government and having sex with 14-year olds?

Even drug legalization is close to being a reality as the city of Vancouver is developing a heroin giveaway policy and pot has been largely decriminalized across the country.

Wait, they are having a heroin giveaway? No wonder I haven't been able to find Robert Downey Jr. these past few weeks.

The Canadian model is what progressive Americans are shooting for, and, so, religion must be dealt with. Since Christmas is the most demonstrative display of organized religion, the strategy of minimizing the birth of Jesus makes perfect sense.

I know this sounds kind of conspiratorial, but it really isn't. Most of those marginalizing Christmas have no idea about the big picture I've just presented. They simply think they're looking out for the minority of Americans who don't celebrate the birth of Christ.

Uh, yeah . . . those of us sticking up for the little guy are merely pawns to Larry Flynt, who is using the progressive doctrine of tolerance to inch closer toward a reality where you can have legal pot and screw 14-year-olds.

But committed secularists in the media, in the courts and in the education system, know exactly what's going on. And now so do you. Merry Christmas!

Wow, thanks Bill, for opening our eyes. Now I know I have to put a baby Jesus in my yard or else I'm aiding the LEFT in skipping toward a gomorrah of godless orgiastic secularism.


You know, this would be funnier if people didn't buy into the whole "religion keeps us from hurting ourselves" doctrine. What Bill is doing here is exactly what Rove and Cheney and Rumsfeld do all the time- they are presenting an issue that doesn't really exist (well, at any rate, a meme that the evangelists trot out every year with their fake holly and icicle lights) to further portray liberals or secular persons as EVILDOERS.

We don't hate Christmas, we just think it's unfair for the government to offer Christmas up as the ONLY holiday. A secular Christmas is celebrated my many "Christians by default," that is, people like me who come from a Christian family, people for whom Christmas means family and reflection and pagan goodies like a feast and a Christmas tree. But as a student of history, I know that Jesus wasn't a part of Christmas until 500 years after Christ's death, and was used as a marketing tool . . . hey Pagan dude, guess what. I'm going to cut you a deal. You don't have to give up Saturnalia . . . just call it Christ-mass, okay? You can still have your tree, and your feast, and you can give your friends and family presents for the coming year (on the Roman Calendar) but say it's Jesus' birthday.

Further, I am peeved when people say that the U.S. was founded as a Christian country by Christians. A good example of our SECULAR roots:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom


How 'bout that. And there's more:

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.


"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."
- James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785


"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson



And finally, one I wish that Mr. Franklin were alive to offer to O'Reilly in real life:
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here (England) and in New England." - Benjamin Franklin



Thursday, December 09, 2004

Help the United Church of Christ exercise their First Amendment Rights

Click here to send a petition to the FCC and let them know that the holiday season is a pretty rotten time to ban a message of acceptance and tolerance from a church.

See, this church's ad shows people of all kinds (even gays!) being allowed into the UCofC, while a scary bouncer guards the doors at a conventional church. Networks have turned down the ad, saying that it doesn't properly represent the needs and ideals of their viewing audience . . . pretty sad statement on their audience, I have to say . . .

So let the FCC know that you are rooting for true tolerance this holiday season! Good grief!

You can fool some people some of the time . . .

But don't crap on a soldier's head and tell him it's raining.

I can't believe this guy. "You go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish for??" Dude, you DID wish for this army. Against the better, more informed opinions of people who have actually seen combat, you decided to send a Wal-Mart military to do a Bergdorf's mission. This is the army you wished for Mr. Rumsfeld. But isn't it funny how sometimes, when you get what you want, you don't want it anymore?

Bastard. There is a special little suite in Hell for people like Mr. Rumsfeld. I hope it involves him wearing He-Man plastic Mattel armor while he is pelted for all eternity with RPG fire.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Shoeblogging


My new kicks


My greatest shoe acheivement yet: The ladies in the business office said they are going to start calling me Carrie Bradshaw.

Another reason why today was a great Monday: I've been assigned to do a review on Napoleon Dynamite for the DVD release.
Sweet!

Friday, December 03, 2004

A visual aid

With numbers furnished by Daily Kos, I made this pie chart:


Lest we forget Poland... and their 2400 troops.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

$10,000 Martini



In the article they say that Dorothy Parker wouldn't want the diamond as much as she'd want the drink.

I heart Dorothy Parker.

*snicker*

Take the quiz: "How emo are you?"

Holy Shit Your Emo
Holy shit you actually are emo! Congratulations on not being a poser.

According to another quiz on this site (Which American city are you?), I am also Cleveland.

I've found a righty blog that makes sense

The Volokh Conspiracy:
"This leaves three possible objections. One is that homosexuality is simply immoral, and that even if it shouldn't be criminalized, it shouldn't be endorsed by the government. For people who really do believe that homosexuality is immoral, then that position might make sense -- though even there one would have to ask, I think, whether the moral benefits of gay marriage (e.g., the greater pressure towards sexual fidelity, which may be seen as a moral, social, and public-health virtue independently of the gender of the partners) may exceed the moral costs of the government endorsing homosexuality that way. But for those who believe, as I do, that homosexual conduct is no less morally worthy (and, at times, no less morally unworthy) than heterosexual conduct, the 'don't endorse immoral conduct' objection obviously carries little weight."


This guy, Eugene Volokh, wrote a piece for the NY times today on the legal protections that journalists enjoy but that bloggers have yet to fully come to own. This sparked my interest. I decided to track down Professor Volokh's blog and see what he had to say. Misgivings began when I saw that he has a link to previously published material at the National Review. However, giving him th benefit of the doubt, I googled the name of the blog to see if he'd been dressed down by any liberal bloggers I know . . . and something interesting happened.

Over at Alas, a Blog, nothing but unhindered praise. Links on lefty blogs to Volokh Conspiracy.

Why? Because Volokh expresses the old-school of Republican thought. A live-and-let live, fiscal responsibility credo that has all but disappeared from the Elephant party as of late. I was glad to see that he has not been banished from the more respected conservative publications because in times like these, we need someone like Volokh who shows that the GOP is not composed entirely of God-Hates-Fags bigots and gun-toting nutjobs carrying around well-thumped Bibles. While there is a lot I disagree with in Volokh's work, I appreciate his approach and his wry contempt of folks like Pat Buchanan.

He is a lawyer who knows his stuff- instead of making the law fit his opinions he shows that the law should be separate from opinion.

So check it out- you might learn something.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Sounds about right.




You're Louisiana!

You were born on the bayou, and have never seen a good reason to leave.
Of course, you might also just be stuck in the mud of the marshy swamp, grasping for
nearby vines. You like the night life, baby, and can definitely let it all hang out.
You also have some traditional influences, most of them French, but you tend to discard
these for the sake of fun. No one enjoys Tuesdays more than you. Walk softly, and carry
a red stick.



Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Yahoo! Directory: Elvis Presley > Impersonators

Yahoo! Directory: Elvis Presley > Impersonators

Spend the morning in Nebraska, eat an entire bag of Gardetto's mix, and spend your evening working on an story on kid's theatre and you are bound to have weird dreams. In my MSG-induced fever dream, I fell in love with an Elvis impersonator. Just try walking through the rest your day with periodic love scenes between yourself and Elvis (and not young Elvis, damnit!) floating through your head.

It's going to be a long day.

It was a great trip- the holiday was the stuff of Norman Rockwell fantasy (well, on the surface at least. We are a liberal family so we were sprinkling the idyllic scene of filial feasting with epithets against the Chimp in Chief). Perfect food, perfect Iowa weather, good times. I miss the laid-back attitude of the midwest.

The kids theatre thing was fun- a local theatre group is putting on a production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and I attended a dress rehearsal last night. So funny- kids at around 8 and 9 are so incredibly perceptive and so manipulative. One 8-year old insisted on a close-up photo and a cutline. I said I'd see what I could do, wondering if she had an agent. I'll be doing a preview story on the show, which is something I've never really done before so I'm hoping for the best.

Anyway- still playing catch-up from for the weekend so blogging will probably be light. Meantime, ponder this:

No Bushie in Iraq this Thanksgiving? How come? Could it be that he's not feeling all that welcome anymore?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The New York Times > National > Americans Show Clear Concerns on Bush Agenda

The New York Times > National > Americans Show Clear Concerns on Bush Agenda: "Americans said they opposed changing the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which Mr. Bush campaigned on in the final weeks of his campaign. A majority continue to support allowing either same-sex marriages or legally recognized domestic partnerships for gay people."

This article confused me. It looks like people generally espouse Kerry's views but still voted for Bush. Further, they have concerns about his leadership but . . . still voted for him. Further:

" [...] in one bit of presumably good news for a party that is looking for it, Americans now have a better opinion of the Democratic Party than of the Republican Party: 54 percent said they had a favorable view of Democrats, compared with 39 percent with an unfavorable view. By contrast, 49 percent have a favorable view of Republicans, compared with 46 percent holding an unfavorable one."


In the words, or letters, rather, of my father, WTF?

People knew the guy was an idiot, disagreed with his values, were more positive about the general attitude of the party opposing him and STILL voted for him?

I'm not saying Americans are dumb. But what leads to this kind of behavior?

Oh yeah. The fear thing. Ask any abused woman why she stays with the guy. It's because she's scared of the unknown.

Either that or allegations of voter fraud are true.

Monday, November 22, 2004

And a little Saabblogging while we're at it



Tom Servo, the Saab.

Monday morning catblogging




Audrey

NBC.com > American Dreams: Salute to the Armed Forces

NBC.com > American Dreams: Salute to the Armed Forces

Okay. So I love American Dreams, the same way I loved Dawsons Creek. It is heavy handed drama that placates me for an hour before I have to return to Reality. I call it quality television. But . . .

Last night's episode bugged me. I like how the show balances the notion that one can be loyal to the troops and wish them safety while simultaneously objecting to the war (the daughter, Meg, represents this balance). Last night's episode featured his emotional (if somewhat anti-climactic) homecoming and I was genuinely grateful on behalf of my little fictional family that he was home. However, the show made it at least somewhat clear that he faced an uphill battle at home to regain a sense of normalcy and switch over from war mode to home mode. Fair enough.

The show was presented "with minimal commercial interruption" by Ford. Hah. The father presented his newly returned son with a BRAND NEW, 1966 Ford Mustang. Product placement less subtle than a sledgehammer. The cast worked ably around it, and so did the story, but after the show, Ford presented a thick gooey 5-minute commercial in which a soldier returns home and bonds with Dad over war stories and his 1970 Fastback. I was doing okay until that. The product placement was okay in the story, but the pukeworthy extended commercial at the end insulted me deeply but reminded me of the inextricable link between the modern Armed Forces and commercialism.

For one, I doubt, as the father in the commercial said, that the mere thought of the '70 Stang was what kept those boys going in 'Nam. I guess the car is supposed to be sort of a synecdoche (ha! I love it when I get to use that word!) for America- for how a poor kid bagging groceries could join the forces, come back, and with his military training find a job that would earn him that shiny new car. Fine. But I would at least like to think that guys over there in Viet Nam were thinking of life itself, of the future, of their families, of their hometowns . . . and somewhere down that list after kid brothers and girlfriends and taking a long hot shower after getting home is the idea of a new car. Cars are important to Americans, and are a symbol of America, but they are not THAT important.

I think this link has been around for some time- one only needs to look at a vintage Life magazine to see that service men and women are used in plenty of advertising. Coke ads show guys embracing mom, little sisters offering their freshly returned GI a bottle of soda. But now- I guess I just find it distasteful that in a war so dominated by commercial interests that servicemen and women are becoming mere mascots for huge corporations. Especially corporations so dependent on the oil industry.

I could live with the '66 in the show. That was fine, because the show is called "American Dreams" and they presented the car in a scene that explored the complexities of post-war life for every veteran. But the schmalzy commercial that followed was an insult to the Armed Forces, not a salute as they so tritely called it. It was a reminder, at least to me, that there is a cottage industry surrounding the Armed Forces that exists to exalt the idealized veteran while making huge amounts of money off of their deployment. Does anyone actually think those yellow ribbon magnets cost $8 to make? Those things don't support the troops. They support people who know how to make money off of a war. In my eyes, those companies who make such things are no better than Halliburton. They are profiteering off of the fact that this trumped-up war involves people close to the hearts of the American consumer.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I think this movie has changed my life

donnie
You are Donnie Darko! You are confused and mentally
unstable but you are a truly great person who just
wants to love, be loved, and not die alone.
"I promise one day everything will be
better for you."


Which Donnie Darko Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, November 19, 2004

My town

Today I got up early (imagine!) and headed over to the DMV to get new plates for my schweet new ride. The process took a lot less time than expected so I strolled over to my neighborhood coffeeshop for a cup of java and some people-watching.

Longmont is old enough and small enough to still have a Main Street so I hopped into Gizzi's Coffee, the newest shop on Main, which has large, floor-to-ceiling windows on the front. Perfect for watching the cars, the people, etc.

I sat for some time, enjoying the radiant warmth from the sunshine (it was cold but sunny) and watched the people inside the shop. A boy and his mother ate cinnamon rolls. A businessman in an expensive suit answered cell phone calls. The owner was talking with what appeared to be a job applicant.

Outside I saw the Teddy Bear Lady approach.

Longmont is home to a handful of homeless people, including the Teddy Bear Lady. They are always going somewhere, never stopping or sitting in alleyways but always walking. The Teddy Bear Lady is so-named for her stroller with a giant teddy bear in it, festooned with shopping bags and other possessions. She is a talker. Always chatting about her poor health, the weather, and so on. She never begs . . . she just talks.

She was wearing a skirt with no stockings today and it is obvious she suffers from a swelling malady of some kind. Her skin looks drawn and tight on her legs and her windburned fingers.

I saw the businessman open the door for her and the stroller as she left the coffeeshop after spending some change for a hot chocolate. I found it endearing.

There is another place on Main today that I found interesting- there are a lot of stores nearby that cater to semi-legal immigrants from Mexico and Central America, and one of them has a large sign in Spanish that advertises an easy and cheap way to send money to Mexico. Not two doors away is a travel agent with a sign saying "Escape to Mexico."

I hadn't found a way to spend time downtown in a while. Today I'm glad I got to see a morning in my town. It was peaceful. I am never at a loss for things to be thankful for in my life. But I look at the relative calm, the peace in my town, and I am so thankful that I am privileged enough to know peace. There are plenty of people in this world who never have.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Get Fuzzy

Get Fuzzy

You are Rob Wilco!  You own Bucky Katt and Satchell Pooch, even if it doesn't seem like it at times.  You are very sarcastic and do your best to co-exist with your pets.
You are Rob Wilco! You own Bucky Katt and Satchell
Pooch, and put up with their antics constantly.
You work in an Ad Agency, and do your best to
balance work and dealing with your pets. You
listen to Leo Kottke and like the New Zealand
All Blacks along with many other great things.
You are very sarcastic and generally wear
glasses.


Which Get Fuzzy Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Manifesto time

Okay, I've had about two weeks to think this over, to let the anger subside. But let's face it- the GOP blogosphere is having a little party right now and harping about how they are not only in the majority but feel that they have been vindicated in their bigotry, small-mindedness and lack of foresight. I feel that it is now time to do a little clearing of the air, a little rebuttal, if you will. Since the simplest among us enjoy lists, I will present it as such.

1. Myth No. 1: Liberals are out of the mainstream.
What mainstream? The mainstream is imaginary, especially in America. If you are one of those who think the mainstream is white, Christian, married, conservative and balks at the widespread popularity of "Will and Grace," you may be correct about the mainstream in your suburb, but visit Detroit or New York or hell, even Longmont and you will find many many people who exist well outside that narrow definition of the "mainstream." 79% of America lives in cities with a population of more than 750 thousand. Despite what these people would like us to believe, the American Gothic contingent is not predominant.

People love to talk about this imaginary majority. They love to say that "mainstream" America doesn't want gays to be married. They like to say that "mainstream" America enjoys watching NASCAR, shopping at WalMart, reading People Magazine, and refuses to pay attention to global events. If you listen to the Right, "mainstream" America is a contemptible, bigoted little prick. And I happen to know that most Americans are simply not that way.

And what's worse, if you use the "liberals are outside the mainstream" argument to discount the ideas liberals have, you are effectively saying that anyone outside of this narrow definition of "normal" America simply doesn't count. What, I ask, is wrong with being outside of this imaginary "mainstream?"

2. Myth No. 2: We lost because we don't have the numbers and we are failing as a party.
We lost because of many reasons, but not because we are failing as a party. One of many reasons is probably voter fraud, but I'm not going to depend on that as an explanation. The main reason was because of fear. Because people (even smart people) do stupid things when they are scared. You know how that girl always runs upstairs in horror flicks? Well, think of re-electing Bush as the political equivalent of running upstairs when you are chased by an axe murderer. It doesn't make sense, but she was scared.

As far as numbers go, we came damn close. Turnout was at an all-time high and we managed to eke out a near-victory for a war-protesting, French-looking Massachussetts liberal democrat whose record was iffy and whose platform was wobbly. Nearly half of America was willing to vote for a candidate as described above, during wartime.

It's not that we don't have the numbers. And it is certainly not that we are dying off- we are making the comeback of the century. We nearly beat a president who once basked in a nearly 90 per cent approval rating back during 9/11. I have to believe next time will be different. It's going to be a rocky 2006.

3. Myth No. 3: Liberals hate America and would rather have kept Saddam in power.
This is the lowest of the low. The people that say this are effectively channeling their inner six year old: "Ms. Hoover! Liberals are saying they hate America and like Saddam Hussein and they like to eat dog poopy!"

Liberals do not hate America. Most of us are trying very hard right now not to hate anybody, because that's the easy way out. Hate is more of a, oh, how to put it, Red State value. We like it here, and most of us, for all of those who are bandying the word "expatriate" about, intend to stay here. Because America is not just for those who enjoy its loose gun laws and gigantic churches. It is also mountains, streams, canyons, cities, cultural plurality, innovation, arts and (at least for now) freedom to join or refuse to join any established religion you care to. There are plenty of other freedoms we know and love and aren't stupid enough to abandon. We know it's the best place to live but- here's the kicker- we also know it can be better. The more we innovate and improve, the better things can be for everyone.

As per the Saddam thing- this is just a bad syllogism. To hate a war does not equal loving a warlord. Lest we forget- in 1999 conservatives were arguing that military intervention in Yugoslavia was a terrible idea but we don't go around saying that Republicans all love and sympathize with Milosevic (remember McCain saying that the U.S. would "lose credibility" in the eyes of the world if we launched airstrikes in Yugoslavia? Republicans caring about global credibility. Those were the days). Yes, the world is a better place without Milosevic. And Saddam (although I think he's still nominally in the world).

But it would be way better without U.S. troops in Iraq now. And way better if we hadn't basically given our allies the finger. And way better if Iraq wasn't being rebuilt by Halliburton. In short, the world would be a better place if Bush had listened to Colin Powell. But alas, we don't live in that world. It is pointless to argue to some the subtleties of this, but to those who say liberals are Sadaam sympathizers, you might retaliate and say, well, would the world be a better place with Slobodan Milosevic in power? It's back to that whole six-year old mentality, but apparently that works.

Myth No. 4: Liberals don't have values.
Well, if you call gay-bashing and encouragement of sexual ignorance values, I don't want any values. We do have values. We value life- that's why we oppose capital punishment and militarism. We value love- which is why we believe that people should benefit from our nation's freedoms if they love one another, regardless of who they love. We value children- which is why we want each one to be wanted and want our children to informed on how to protect themselves from disease and unintended pregnancy. We value education and freedom of faith and we value the world's resources. We value women and minorities and the differences between us all.

Next time some idiot tells me they voted for "moral values," I may remind them that Fox Network, the sleaziest, cheesiest orifice of public entertainment, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who celebrated each day prior to the last election day with a countdown to Bush's reelection. I may remind them of the "values" Guiliani holds dear. Or about the values of human dignity so clearly displayed at Abu Ghraib.

Bottom line- I'm done crying in my beer and now I have to say it's time for action. I love my country, which is why I'll be damned if it's going to be Wal-Marted, Jerry Fallwelled and Rumsfelded out of existence.

Genius

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Things I will never do . . .

Because everyone else does (according to obits, anniversaries and engagement announcements):
-Go to Mexico on my honeymoon
-Go an a cruise for an anniversary
-Buy an RV
-Move to Mesa, Ariz.
-Crochet items for my grandchildren

Sometimes these obituaries are just too disturbingly similar. Kinda like the people in this town . . .

Chris Rock = Genius

From The Onion AV Club interview:
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's weird. I'm an independent, but I got to admit I lean Democratic. But just as a television person who does shows, the Republicans had a much better convention. As a producer and a performer, they had a way better show. It wasn't even close. They got their message out, even if it's a weird message. The Republicans have convinced people that there's a greater risk of a plane hitting their place of work than you actually losing your job. You know, you say you'll protect us, but we never really got hit until you got here. We weren't in danger until we met you."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Start spreading the news . . .

I'm leaving in March . . .
Just for a visit, though. I'm heading to Old New York for the first time ever, and I am very very excited. I've never been further East than Atlanta, never seen the Atlantic from this side. I'd welcome any suggestions for hotspots to hit- I have always wanted to see the big buildings, like the Chrysler building and the Empire State building. Hm . . . I'll have to get a digital camera by then.

Such a tourist. But I'm so psyched. I've always wanted to go. And to tell you the truth, it's been a while since I've been in a true Blue state . . .

Until next time . . .

Friday, November 12, 2004

Year-old news that's news to me.

Top News Article | Reuters.com

So. Everyone in America needs to watch "Control Room."

I have always had a little fascination with Al-Jazeera, being that my dad lived in the Middle East for a while and I'm always interested in what other countries' media operations are saying. Yes, that definitely puts me on Ashcroft's list (soon to be passed down to Alberto Gonzales. Hi Al!) but I think it is important to understand what is going on over there and how it is being broadcast over the greater Arab world.

Here are the high points:

Most Arabs don't hate Americans. They hate Bush and they hate his administration. They hate the arrogance. Iraq is literally the oldest civilization on the planet. They have taken care of themselves for thousands of years. They had libraries when Europe was clawing its way out of the Dark Ages. They were offended by the Crusades then, and they are even more offended now. Some Arabs feel that their susceptibility to dictators is their own fault- that Arabs do not rise up as they should against their brutal leaders. But they nonetheless think that it is their own responsibility- the Arab responsibility- to overcome them, not the "white man's burden" to intervene.

Al-Jazeera employs women in high positions, and they don't wear veils.

Tarek Ayoub, an Al-Jazeera reporter, died from wounds inflicted by the U.S. military that also hit two other non-military targets where the media was staying in Baghdad. I don't see how the U.S. can simultaneously argue that this was accidental while touting their precision weaponry. But accidental or not, it wasn't very smart.

Toppling the Saddam statue was staged. One Iraqi Al-Jazeera exec said the men in the square didn't even have Iraqi accents, and all the men involved came in with the tanks. Did one of them just carry the Iraqi flag around, waiting for this moment? And why did no one come out of the surrounding buildings to join them? PR, my friends, it was all PR.

Some things that Arabs believe, if they are true or not, are very troubling. Some think that the looting was by order of the U.S. Military. Looting TV stores and even the Ba'athist headquarters makes sense. Looting a museum does not. An Al-Jazeera reporter believed that they were ordered to destroy evidence of Iraq's history in order to create a more malleable, forgetful Iraqi people. Whether or not this is true, it is scary that he, and undoubtedly others, think it is true. He believes America is seeking to erase Iraq's history in the name of democracy.

Al-Jazeera is not propaganda. Rumsfeld likes to say it is because it is easy to imagine that they are. It is easy for Americans to believe they are because Americans don't watch it. But we must remember that they are reporting from the Arab perspective- they show the cost of this war more explicitly than we do not to propagandize but because this war is on THEIR turf. Their people are dying. Their museums are being destroyed. They have a different perspective, but not a useless perspective. In fact, every day we ignore what Al-Jazeera has to say, we are missing an opportunity to understand just why we are struggling to win their hearts and minds.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Fallujah is hell on earth, say Iraqis - Iraq - www.theage.com.au

Fallujah is hell on earth, say Iraqis - Iraq - www.theage.com.au

Okay. Imagine for a moment what this must be like.

One moment you are living in your rough city of nearly 300,000 (think Witchita or Toledo or Cincinnati). Next moment it is taken over by an insurgency seeking a stronghold after the Bagdad invasion. Suddenly they are burning and hanging the bodies of American soldiers in the streets. Months later the fighting has gone so badly that most of your friends have fled for other cities and everyone knows that the rebel leaders are long gone but for some reason they keep fighting.

The population in your city dwindles and you fall asleep to the sound of RPG fire close enough that the glass left in your window rattles. There has been fighting in the streets for a long time but now almost everyone has left. You can't remember when the water stopped running, but it has been gone for some time now. You remember when electricity was intermittent, but now it's gone.

We forget, here, what it is like to have this happening in your homeland. No matter how you feel about the war, it is important to know what it must feel like about the innocent people who are just trying to live in Iraq right now. The perception that all Iraqis are either fighting with us or fighting against us is inaccurate- plenty of them are just trying to live around the war, carry on their lives, dodge the constant explosions.

Semantics and the Bush Administration

"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and
terror has been achieved."
- JOHN ASHCROFT, the attorney general, in his resignation letter.

I heart Frontline. Frontline tells you so many facts that sometimes it is hard to parse out an opinion of your own. But last night's Frontline covered the advertising industry and how it has had to change so much in recent years to break through the "clutter" of its own design. Procedures such as focus groups and narrowcasting were discussed, and most of it sounded pretty innovative and interesting and based in the essential tenets of Freudian Psychology.

Then they talked to Frank Luntz, a political strategist for the Bush administration. He was using focus groups to discern what words they responded favorably to, for an energy corporation. This is the man who turned "global warming" into "climate change," "The Iraq War" into the "War on Terror," the "Estate Tax" into the "Death Tax," the "Tax Reform Act of 1969" into the "marriage penalty." He doesn't change policies, he changes the way we refer to them.

He is the Ministry of Information.

Although they didn't discuss it, I am willing to bet that Mr. Luntz is also the one who morphed "civil unions" into "gay marriage" as well. He knows what that 51% of America wants to think, and he doesn't get in the way of them thinking it, no matter how f*&ked up it is.

Semantics play a huge role in any political campaign, but the semantics of the modern GOP are desceptive and visceral, using intimidation, confusion and fear. Think "Clear Skies Act." "Operation Iraqi Freedom." "FairPay." Respectively, these are pieces of legislation that lowered standards for industrial emissions, invaded a nation to impose a set of foreign governmental and economic ideals (I believe Webster calls that an occupation, see also imperialism) and refused thousands of workers their right to overtime pay.

"Laci Peterson's Law" evoked the horrific murder of a pregnant woman to chip away at Roe V. Wade. "Defense of Marriage" implies that marriage is under attack. "No Child Left Behind" assumes that before, children were being left behind, alone and frightened (more appropriate, perhaps for legislation helping AIDS orphans than promoting standardized aptitude tests).

My point? Democrats need to get on board the Semantics Train. We need to hire a Frank Luntz of our own. Let's bring up the "Civil Tolerance for Couples Act" and demonize the other side for their bigotry on the civil unions issue. Let's pass the "Abortion Reduction Act of 2006" and implement free birth control programs and after-school safe sex classes for all high-schoolers. We're the ones with the masters degrees in English, let's use them.

We need to find something that counters the "Freedom on the March" nonsense. Preferably something with "mission" to refer back to the ridiculously premature "Mission Accomplished" BS. Something Biblical. How about "Mission Armageddeon." Yeah, that works.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The United States of Reality has a nice ring to it.

"It's as if the genes of liberals have rendered them immune to all forms of filth.":


Bleh, this guy is disgusting, but he proposes a neat idea. Let's all of us Bleu states branch off and keep all of our Federal taxes, civil liberties and respect for working women and minorities and all of the Red states who seem to have no quarrel taking our subsidies but never stop blathering about how we're all going to hell (as John Stewart says, NOW who's the elitist?!) can have their own damn country.

See, this wingnut thinks that all 38 bleus need to secede in order for his people to live it up in peace, love and lovely white supremacy. That leaves us with NY, CA, IL, the other original colonies, the pacific northwest and some midwestern states. That leaves us with the world's fifth largest economy, most of both coasts, the UN, the Capital, the home of the Internet, Microsoft, the Redwood Forests, the film industry, the tv industry, most of the music industry (but not Nashville. Wah.), the fashion industry (not that most of Red America has ever found a use for that, excepting Ann Coulter's Prada addiction), the lumber industry, a huge percentage of coal production and Wall Street. Oh, and the cultural capital of minority groups.

In trade, they get the Alamo, the world's largest ball of twine, the Museum of the Confederacy and Salt Lake City.

Yeah, great idea. I'm all for it. Except I want to keep Iowa. Cheese curds rule.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: When the Personal Shouldn't Be Political

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: When the Personal Shouldn't Be Political

Okay. Let's have a little talk about the facts of life. We will never go back to the 1950s, no matter how hard people try, and when people other than white men imagine the possibility of doing so, it is understandably painful to think about. Black people- into the shadows. Women- back to your kitchens! Gays- back into the proverbial closet. The genie is out of the bottle. The Fab Five has spoken. They're here, they're queer, and yes, as much as it pains some, we have to get used to it.

As much as some people would like to have this magical time-travel experiment back to the Beaver Cleaver days, the idea of voting on "moral values" simply because you don't want to recognize the world we live in today is just a gussied-up version of bigotry and intolerance. I'm tired of telling myself to get used to the conservative perspective on things while their idea of reciprocation is to call Lefties traitors, heathens and morally bankrupt yuppies. I admire people who use their faith to help others. I respect people who use faith to better themselves. I, and I think Jesus is here with me on this, am disgusted by people who use faith to justify their bigotry.

I have openly gay friends. Many of the people who believe in Bush's kind of faith do not have openly gay friends, so I might be able to understand their lack of empathy on this subject. But I have gay friends who are, for the most part, a good sight more monogamous than many of my straight friends. The argument that gay people would abuse marriage because of their promiscuous lifestyle simply does not stack up when one considers that nearly 37 percent of men and 22 percent of women admit to having extramarital affairs (note also that this site makes the claim that Christian couples break up more than non-Christian couples for reasons of infidelity). People are unfaithful, regardless of orientation.

And nobody can tell me that "Who Wants to Marry my Dad" hasn't done more damage to the sanctity of marriage than any gay couple could.

A lot of anti-civil-union folk like to play the childbearing card. Since it is impossible for gay unions to produce children, they are not valid. Excuse me if I am about to reveal more than you all wanted to know, but there is a fairly good chance that my male/female marriage, should I choose to have one, will not produce children: either by choice or by my own physical inability. The child argument stings for me, because it invalidates the marriages of every infertile couple on the planet. But it seems that this is the best that they can argue.

But the main point I am trying to make here is that the Constitution should never be used to keep a group of people from having rights. As much as the anti-gay-union lobby likes to talk about slippery slopes and how we will go straight from civil unions to incest and polygamy, the simple fact remains that a far scarier slope will be created if we start putting words in the constitution that bar a group from enjoying certain rights simply because of who they are. The Constitution should protect minorities who are outvoted by the majority (are you listening, Antonin Scalia?).

Imagine what could happen if the Constitution started banning other rights now enjoyed by people in the minority. Would they ban marriages between people who were mentally handicapped? The elderly (bottom line of a lot of anti-union arguments is that people don't want to think about gay sex. On that line of reasoning, you better believe they'd outlaw elderly marriages . . .)? To me, the consequences of taking people's rights away by a Constitutional amendment are far more frightening than any gay marriage.

We can't go back to the 1950s. And it would seem the difference between progressives and conservatives is that we have enough sense not to want to.

Fanatical Apathy: Concession Speech

Fanatical Apathy: Concession Speech

I like the tone of this. This is how we are all feeling, underneath our skins and underneath our quiet "dignity."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Supporting (all of) our troops

I got called in to work a little early because they are doing a special Vet's day spread and needed a spare cub reporter to interview a couple of the vets that came in. I was grumbling on my way to work, imagining interminable rants from old guys about how kids today just don't unnerstand that freedom aint free and we're all spoiled rotten little commie brats that are content to drive rice-burners with peace stickers on them . . . you know, very stereotypical angry militaristic stuff that I've come to expect from vets because of my family.

But as soon as I got to talking to these guys I learned that they are, like all groups of people, not a bloc. They are incredibly diverse, broken to various degrees but nonetheless proud, and so very profound.

I talked to a guy who joined up at 17 and was told not to call himself a soldier during his duty in Southeast Asia because it was before Vietnam was "official."

I talked to the daughter of a vet suffering from dementia- a sweet old man who was shot twice before his 19th birthday and was only saved from a D-Day deployment due to the public outcry of stateside mothers who demanded that 18-year olds be spared from the invasion.

I talked to an ancient, slim WWII vet who, with tears in his eyes, said that while he was proud of his service and of his training, that he believes in peace.

"We're like firemen," he said. "We train all our lives to be the best we can be at what we do, and we pray- we pray to God- that we never have to do it."

His philosophy is much like mine- that we should be prepared to defend ourselves but that military intervention should be the absolute last answer. He fought and was injured in a war that was just and that furthered the cause of the world. But he believes that in all cases, we should be reluctant, not enthusiastic, about deploying force. I would hasten to call him a philosophical war hero.

I believe our President would call him "weak."

Friday, November 05, 2004

'It's a Victory for People Like Us' (washingtonpost.com)

'It's a Victory for People Like Us' (washingtonpost.com)

I'm not a religious woman.

But please, God, help me to understand your followers.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Purple nation


This kind of gives a different spin on the "red state blue state" issues that so many have been harping on lately. We're all one nation. One big, purple nation. There are no red states nor blue states per se. I'd like to see this broken down further- maybe show us where the reddest regions are in the states, where they are bluest . . .

Face it folks, we're all in this together.

RollingStone.com: Politics - The Generals Speak

RollingStone.com: Politics - The Generals Speak

Well worth reading. To whit:
Did we have to do this? I saw the intelligence right up to the day of the war, and I did not see any imminent threat there. If anything, Saddam was coming apart. The sanctions were working. The containment was working. He had a hollow military, as we saw. If he had weapons of mass destruction, it was leftover stuff -- artillery shells and rocket rounds. He didn't have the delivery systems. We controlled the skies and seaports. We bombed him at will. All of this happened under U.N. authority. I mean, we had him by the throat. But the president was being convinced by the neocons that down the road we would regret not taking him out.

--General Anthony Zinni, Commander in chief of the United States Central Command, 1997-2000

Example of vitriolic anger:

Oh dear.

I'm thinking that at the very tip top of Bush's second-term priority list should be a little something about repairing relations with the global community.

Bush's Second Term (~shudder~)

Modbee.com | The Modesto Bee

Blogger was clogged as Southbound I-25 at 8:30 a.m. yesterday and I think I know why.

I am trying very hard to think in a glass half-full kind of way right now. For all the billions of dollars, for all the firepower, for all the deception Rove could muster, Bush only won by 3% of the popular vote. Bush simply cannot go on ignoring us 48% (roughly 56 million) voters who voted for a Massachussetts senator with a foreign wife and a one-term senator running mate (think about it guys, we're talking about one of the least electable entities in politics) over an incumbent president during war time. 3% is hardly the kind of victory Rove is used to.

Also, it is important to remember that a good number of Republicans voted on the party line simply because they want Bush to clean up his own mess. They know he messed up but they think it is his responsibility to make good on the promises he made four years ago. Google "Bush" and "his own mess" and you will find an astonishing number of articles from global papers saying that this is, in a way, a blessing in disguise. There is a good chance that Kerry would have done a fine job but there is also a chance that he would have experienced a lot of blockage in Congress and would have failed to carry out many of his plans to clean up Iraq, reinstall solid environmental policies from the first Bush and the Clinton administration and he would have been saddled with the image of the hogtied liberal in the midst of a hostile Congress. We may have been saved a couple of supreme court justice appointments but there is a good chance that Kerry may have had an uphill and ultimately unsuccessful battle in trying to make the proverbial silk purse out of the Bush administration's fallout.

Instead, we now rely on Bush to take the half-finished business of every decision he's tried to make and make good on every promise he made to the American people. He needs to knock off the stupid Orwellian terror alert color coding crap (I can guarantee that without the need for re-election, the terror alerts will slowly go the way of the hydrogen fuel cell initiative) and get down to the business of uniting Americans and bringing the troops home. He needs to stop smirking and start working.

What do I see for a second term? I think that terror talk will go from the grim to the optimistic. Instead of Cheney scaring us all with the apparition of Osama plotting against the soccer moms of America, the administration will begin to talk about how their terror system is "working," namely, that we have not experienced another attack since 9/11 and that is because of the infamous "hard work" they continue to do.

I see Bush continuing to tell the Pro-Lifers exactly what they want to hear but not actually chipping away at Roe V. Wade (keep in mind that a number of Republicans in Congress are those of the libertarian kind . . . and those who aren't fond of the notion of screwing with the constitution).

I see the Congress going slightly less Red in the 2006 elections.

I am doubtful that Bush will have an administration that helps progressive causes more than it hurts them. But I am optimistic enough that he might prove me wrong. Yesterday was a day of handwringing and I'm actually kind of glad that Blogger was down because I could have easily gone the way of every other blogger and spewed more vitriolic anger onto the servers but I find it hard to be angry. As dissapointed as I am that Kerry lost, this was a clean election. No legal battles, no major frauds, no slimy dealings in a state where the incumbent's brother is governor. This is what just a little more than half of the American people wanted. Now we need to work at it to make sure that our half does not go unheard.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Thanks to thiscenturysucks.com:


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VOTE

Monday, November 01, 2004

Weekend update

Hoo boy. This was one of those weekends where all I truly wanted to do was snuggle up with the kitty, make glowing-butter popcorn and watch Dawn of the Dead. However, I wound up getting talked into a costumed bar crawl on Saturday and attended a friend's party last night, and I regret nothing.

Saturday: Boulder, downtown, always a weird place but weirder somehow on Halloween. Memorable costumes: a disenfranchised voter, the flu vaccine, Lyndie Englund and an Abu Ghraib prisoner, a hanging chad and hurricane Charlie. I was Marilyn Monroe. The divey Walrus was ground zero for Longhorns fans, and as a result I learned to Texas Two-step.

Sunday: Again, Boulder, party at a friend's house with her 18-month-old and several other munchkins in costume. BabyMac (as I will refer to the hostess' daughter) was a dragon, Dahlia, a little red-haired baby was a bat, and a little boy whose name I never learned was a cat. I was Cleopatra. Makeup is fun.

And actually, Sunday night I did get to sit at home with the cat and watch Halloween.

Next week: Election Day festivities, and Friday Night Good Use party on Friday. When it rains it pours. I have these social droughts, then suddenly I'm out every other night. Crazy stuff.

As for the election, I see a real nailbiter. But I am optimistic. If you listen to the astrologers, they all foresee a time of great change and significant events, but I suppose that can go either way. I'm seeing either an overthrow of the GOP reins or a retention of Bush that incites rebellion. It will be interesting either way.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Priceless

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Situation Report From Oz.:

TO: (Recipients Withheld)

FROM: General Jinjur, Provisional Proconsul of Oz

SUBJECT: War on Wickedness

IMPORTANCE: High Top Secret

It seems a long time since Operation Bucket of Water was completed, the Wicked Witch melted, and her followers shouted, "Hurrah for Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead!"

Retrospectively, that may have been the point where events began to diverge from our prewar plans.

Let it be said that the Wicked Witch was a highly desirable enemy, being undeniably wicked, readily identifiable by her skin pigmentation, unpopular, and, best of all, highly water-soluble.

Would that our new enemies in Oz had all these attributes. More thought should have been given to the geopolitical consequences of wiping out the Wicked Witches of both the East and the West, the so-called Axis of Wickedness. Thanks to the resulting power vacuum, Americans can no longer safely venture outside the Emerald City. Beyond the walls of this high-security enclave, the emeralds have all been looted, and sewage flows in the streets.

The Yellow Brick Road remains unusable, due to attacks by Munchkin warlords. Militias loyal to Glinda, the "Good" Witch of the North, who, just for the record, I never trusted, have launched a wide-scale insurgency. The Witch of the South has been abducted by militant Winkie clerics. Our attempts to portray the armed resistance as a last-ditch attempt by a handful of Wicked Witch of the West loyalists have lost all credibility.

U.S. forces have ceased to be viewed as liberators by many of the population, perhaps due to some unfortunate comments about Munchkins by senior Army commanders, and the PR problems stemming from our use of the Wicked Witch of the West's dungeon for interrogation purposes.

As for the current unrest stirred by Quadling suicide bombers, we're completely out of our depth, due to intelligence failures. We have no one who even speaks Gillikin.

All the state assets of Oz have been privatized, but unfortunately, there is no longer a state. This could be spun as ensuring a healthy legislative climate for multinationals, except of course for the general nonavailability of water, electricity, or the rule of law. Our last PR offensive was seriously undermined by the recent attacks on private contractors by flying-monkey suicide bombers. We keep having to revise upwardly the strength of the anti-American resistance, making it hard for us to tap the country's vast snake-oil reserves.

Shock and awe have given way to nausea and denial. The ruby slippers turned out to be made of tinsel, damaging the credibility of our characterization of them as a weapon of mass destruction, and leaving us open to charges of having duped the American people into a bloody, multibillion-dollar fiasco.

There is no long-standing tradition of Oz nationhood. When we learned that our one-time ally the Wizard of Oz lacked popular support outside the Emerald City, we exfiltrated him, along with special agent "Dorothy," and transferred sovereignty to a provisional ruling coalition of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, but they seem to lack legitimacy, among other things.

To deal with the situation in Oz, we have been forced to withdraw troops from the borders of Mordor, and are starting to seem seriously overstretched.

When I asked our former ally the former Wizard for a strategy to get our faction re-elected, he said we wouldn't need a strategy, as long as we had a slogan. "I Am the All-Powerful" was his suggestion. He also suggested we keep the special effects coming, and make sure we stay hidden behind the curtain.

Anyone have better ideas?

DesMoinesRegister.com | Editorials

DesMoinesRegister.com | Editorials

Further proof that there is a profound variegation in beliefs in middle America.

It really gets my goat (and I like my goat!) when GOP mouthpieces get on TV and talk about what will or will not fly in the "heartland." They all like to talk about how those Hollywood liberal folk only know life on the glitzy and wealthy coasts and are out of touch with people in the middle of America. But what the idiots on Fox News are saying is essentially the same- they wouldn't know a farmer from a rancher or a Mennonite from the Amish. They think that middle America votes in a conservative block, which is not only ignorant but patently false. Maybe the movie stars endorsing Kerry don't know a cheese curd from sashimi but at least most of them would probably acknowledge that liberals exist between the coasts.

That fact is something that the GOP and the more conservative media people have consistently ignored for decades, and at the least it is condescending and annoying. At most it is alienating and destructive.

When I was in Iowa, I met easily some of the most liberal people I've ever come into contact with. Iowa is the home of the Iowa writing workshop, one of the most vibrant gay communities I've ever seen, a Vedic city, some of the best Indian food I've ever had and home to several small liberal arts colleges with solid reputations. Iowa is not like Nebraska or Wyoming or Idaho or Kansas. And to assume that it Iowa is like those other states is just as ignorant as anything any "Hollywood" liberal has to say.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

in lieu of catblogging (which I will do next week)

Today I'm going to do a little mindless blogging:

YOUR PORN STAR NAME:
(NAME OF FIRST PET + STREET YOU LIVE ON)

Monty Gay. That's really lame.

YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME:(NAME OF YOUR FAVORITE SNACK FOOD + GRANDFATHER'S FIRST NAME)

Guacamole Warren. Okay, that one's pretty damn cool.

YOUR FASHION DESIGNER NAME:(FIRST WORD YOU SEE ON YOUR LEFT + FAVORITE RESTAURANT)

Lyons Piatti. Ooh, exotic.

EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS:(FAVORITE SPICE + LAST FOREIGN VACATION SPOT)

Saffron Albuquerque.

"FLY GIRL" ALIAS (A LA J. Lo):(FIRST INITIAL + FIRST 2-3 LETTERS OF YOUR LAST NAME)

C. Scho. In da house.

DETECTIVE ALIAS:(FAVORITE BABY ANIMAL + WHERE YOU WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL)

Piglet Skyline. Eh, I don't know how "detective-y" that is.

SOAP OPERA ALIAS:(MIDDLE NAME + STREET WHERE YOU FIRST LIVED)

Leigh Colorado. Sounds very 1900's girl sharpshooter to me.

I feel much better now . . .

I guess I could have seen this one coming.

Atheist
Threat rating: extremely low. You may think you can
subvert the government, but if you should try
you will be smited mightily because God likes
us best.


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