Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Well, This Totally Blows

Michael Reynolds is hanging it up.

If you've ever stopped by and enjoyed even a syllable, head over and wish him well.

Sigh.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Reply All

I got an email today. It’s like many others I’ve received since 2003, inviting readers to drop by a particular website and drop a “thank you” note into a group of messages destined for our military personnel overseas. I don’t doubt you’ve gotten similar messages.

But for whatever reason, today’s really stuck with me, wriggling under my skin like a persistent itch. So, I sat down, intending to hit “reply all” and send my rebuttal to some 2 dozen co-recipients.

After typing most of it, I thought better of my breach-of-etiquette and thought I’d just send it off to the individual sender. But that didn’t seem like enough, as if it's a violation of Blogger Law to write anything longer than 2 paragraphs and then fail to post an entry about it.

So, here 'tis. Everyone in my address book got a copy. I'll let you know if I get any (unlikely) negative responses.


Today’s email:

WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Click on the web address and send a card to one who is serving our country for your freedom......
This was just sent to me. How AMAZING if we could get everyone we know to send one.
If you go to the web site at http://www.letssaythanks.com/ you can pick out a thank you card and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services. It only takes a second and wouldn't it be wonderful if they received a bunch of these.

Please tell all your friends about this site!

This was my reply:

I love ideas like this, to be sure, and have heard stories from soldiers that are immeasurably grateful for these kind of supportive gestures. I don’t mean for a minute to discount them in any way. Please do participate. Send your packages and your love every chance you get. It’s the very least we can do.

That said, this is exactly that, the “least”. There is more we can do for these brave men and women that are dying in droves for our country.

What, precisely?

Hold our executive and legislative branches accountable for what is a horribly and incompetently managed war.

Whether you supported the initial incursion into Iraq or not, whether you believed the Bush administration had noble goals for the region, it is hard to argue, credibly, that these goals have been achieved. Instead, over 2500 of our best and bravest are dead.

Plans for troop reduction are being shelved and these magnificent people are being relegated to a police action in Baghdad. Our resources are tapped while the entire Middle East becomes more chaotic every day. This is not solely a political problem. This is not a partisan issue. Only the most strident, and least informed, supporters of this effort maintain that Iraq has, and continues, to go swimmingly.

You and I, us “regular people” know different, though don’t we?

How many military families need state assistance just to feed and house their children? The numbers are shocking (25,000 families are eligible), and rarely discussed on the likes of Fox news.

How many soldiers have been literally blown to bits for lack of armor and equipment? According to some, a significant portion (80% of dead Marines for example) of the total lost.

How many returning soldiers are being cut off from desperately needed medical and metal health services thanks to callous cuts to VA funding? Nearly too many to count without being left with nothing but rage and despair. ($25 billion in cuts were just approved by Congress, in fact).

Supporting our troops can be much more than letters, flags and yellow ribbons. In fact, these are all hollow, meaningless gestures if we continue to elect those that enable, if not actively support, the kind of disgraces mentioned above.

Contrary to what our President would have us believe, “Staying the course” is not a strategy, it is not an ideal, and it is certainly not logical. As children, we learn to vary our techniques when old approaches fail. We learn critical thought and assessment in the hopes of learning how to respond to a changing world. And when one method fails, another is utilized. “Staying the course” is equivalent to refusing to admit mistakes, refusing to acknowledge the rising tide of public opinion (you know, those pesky constituents our leaders are supposed to REPRESENT), and refusing to take responsibility for our choices and our reality. This is not a complicated concept. Who do we respect more, the stubborn and recalcitrant or the creative and innovative? America was built by the blood, sweat and tears of the latter, if we’ll recall our 8th grade history lessons.

As such, I beg:

Get your news from multiple sources. If you must watch Fox, balance it out with, say, the BBC perhaps. Visit aggregate sites like this one that provide access to news from across the world. Read alternative press. Read blogs. There is so much information right at our fingertips that even our crowded, hectic lives can no longer excuse limiting ourselves to traditional corporate media. And remember: History is always written by the winners, and the winners are not always right (or truthful). There is far more going on than what we’re shown on Fox/CNN/MSNBC.

Get up to speed on Congressional races in your state. Our voter turn out is generally deplorable in a Presidential election, much less a Congressional one. Where do your local candidates stand on the war? On VA funding? On foreign policy? The people you send to Washington DC are the same ones that approve the decimation of VA resources and services, that approve wholly inadequate budgets for equipment, the ones that refuse to exercise their most critical responsibility: to serve the people. If you have any objection to the actions of your President, on any level, consider who made his actions possible: the United States Congress. (Well, aside for those 750+ “signing statements” in which Bush told Congress to “go &%$^ yourselves”, but that’s another discussion for another day.)

It shouldn’t take but a few moments with Google to find out these answers regarding your local representatives. In the time it takes to watch the current “American Idol”, you can learn crucial information about the people that represent your voice in your government. If their individual websites do not clearly outline their respective positions, send them emails and ask questions. If their staffers respond slowly or not at all, consider yourself warned about the candidates’ concern for their constituents. At the end of the proverbial day, our voices are all we have in a democracy. If you give up that right, give up your chance to be heard, then you give up your claim of patriotism and abandon your civic responsibility. Whether or not you have a ribbon on your bumper means nothing against that.

Listen to what returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets have to say. Turn off Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and listen to the words of ACTUAL VETERANS. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Soldiers for the Truth are good places to start. There are an increasing number of veterans running for Congress in the upcoming election. That the majority of them are running as Democrats should tell you something.

We can always send letters, fly flags, and decorate our bumpers with stickers and ribbons. And these are nice things, absolutely.

However, if you want to genuinely HELP these magnificently brave and selfless individuals, do something really meaningful:

Get Informed.
Ask Questions.
Demand Accountability.
And VOTE.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Brilliant, Every Time

If you're not reading One Pissed Off Liberal, you're missing some of the best writing in the blogosphere.

Seriously. It's folks like this that make folks like me think we might better just stick to our grocery lists.

OPOL's page at MyLeftWing

OPOL's page at DailyKos

God, I love this medium. It's encouraging to see ever-more jewels hidden in the rubble of what passes for political commentary these days. And without blogs, we'd miss most of them. Can you imagine Time Magazine ever having the balls to publish writers like this?

GOP Staffer Canned

As you may or may not be aware, the Ohio Restoration Project is a real piece of work. If you ever need to cite an example of why lefties tend to loathe the Christofacist arm of conservative politics, look no further.

Bill Moyers, in his usual eloquence:

Let's take a brief detour to Ohio and I'll show you what I am talking about. In recent weeks a movement called the Ohio Restoration Project has been launched to identify and train thousands of "Patriot Pastors" to get out the conservative religious vote next year. According to press reports, the leader of the movement - the senior pastor of a large church in suburban Columbus - casts the 2006 elections as an apocalyptic clash between "the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell." The fear and loathing in his message is palpable: He denounces public schools that won't teach creationism, require teachers to read the Bible in class, or allow children to pray. He rails against the "secular jihadists" who have "hijacked" America and prevent school kids from learning that Hitler was "an avid evolutionist." He links abortion to children who murder their parents. He blasts the "pagan left" for trying to redefine marriage. He declares that "homosexual rights" will bring "a flood of demonic oppression." On his church website you read that "Reclaiming the teaching of our Christian heritage among America's youth is paramount to a sense of national destiny that God has invested into this nation."

The folks at Street Prophets have been keeping an eye on these wackos, so be sure to check out some of their entries if you're getting up to speed.

Beyond the sport of oggling at wingnuts, their existence is politically relevant due to their near orgiastic support of Ken Blackwell, Ohio gubernatorial candidate. And, as you're surely aware, Ken Blackwell is inextricably linked to the sickening array of voting problems in Ohio surrounding the 2004 Presidential election.

So, today, I'm skimming headlines and come across this from Raw Story:

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Republican Party fired a staffer Thursday for sending inflammatory e-mails about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland that Democrats labeled "gutter politics."

The messages, sent to GOP supporters, questioned Strickland's ministerial credentials, his toughness on child predators and his and his wife's sexual orientation.

Gary Lankford, a Christian school headmaster and former director of the Ohio Restoration Project, was let go over the postings, said Jason Mauk, the state party's political director.

The party hired Lankford to coordinate the GOP's outreach to social conservative groups. Ohioans for Ken Blackwell, the campaign of Strickland's GOP opponent in the Nov. 7 election, paid him $15,000 during the primary for "voter contact," state records show.

Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said Thursday he did not see Lankford's e-mails before they went out and that they crossed the line.

"I will not tolerate anything like that. That's not how I run the party," Bennett said. "Unfortunately, I was a little slow to react to this."

Democrats, who said they first learned of the messages through news reports, blasted Lankford's postings, which he encouraged recipients to forward to others.

"This is the worst kind of innuendo and gutter politics, like you used to see in the 19th century. It's sleazy," said Brian Rothenberg, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party.

Strickland called the firing appropriate.

"I would like to be able to take Mr. Bennett at his word when he says we ought to focus on the issues that are important to Ohio," he said. "That's what I've been doing my entire campaign."

He said the party should have been wary of Lankford, who had worked for the Blackwell campaign and the Restoration Project, a politically active, conservative Christian group. "He was not an unknown quantity," Strickland said. [Emphasis mine]

"Not an unknown quantity". Of course he wasn't. And I can't think of a single liberal that will be at all surprised that tactics such as these spring so easily from the loins of the ORP (or the GOP, for that matter).

Which leads me to wonder --

Given what we've seen from the neo-con religious right, when the FUCK are we going to stop giving the benefit of the doubt to ANY blowhard that claims to be a Christian? You know what? The legitimately pious people I've met in my life very rarely volunteer their religious affiliation, and instead, demonstrate what they believe by what they DO.

Since when did this kind of metric become passe? And worse, who the hell is falling for it? Not the religious people whose blogs/articles I read. They recognize shit when it's piled up and steaming at their feet.

One can only conclude that the voters supporting groups like the ORP are the worst kind of "Christians". You know, the kind that treat Sunday services like cocktail hour at a country club, who claim affiliation with no more gravity than that awarded to brands of peanut butter, and who cherry pick their way through the Bible looking for tools with which to oppress anyone they don't like.

This is hardly a ground-breaking analysis of far too many "values-voters" in this country. However, the assumptions we make about so-called Christians in politics is in virtual opposition to how they ACTUALLY BEHAVE. And yet, we see stories like that referenced in Raw Story, in which it's actually "news" when these ratfuckers reveal themselves for what they actually are.

If we're at all serious about throwing off the yoke of neocon fundamentalism in this country, how about refusing to assume that anyone claiming to be a "Christian" is automatically a good guy? How about assigning their religious affiliation no more significance that their hair color and get on with watching what they do and what they say?

These despicable people are only as powerful as we let them become, since we're the ones swallowing their bullshit with nary a blink. Wake up, people.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Investment in Ego

For some time now, I've been suggesting that one of the possible reasons that Bush maintains some degree of support is due to the sheer ego of those supporting him.

They've not only invested their vote, their lone political voice in the process, but in defending this man and his policies, they've also put their own egos, their own reputations on the line. They've made firm, loud proclamations of what a "great leader" Bush is, even in the face of grand fiascos, foreign and domestic.

I don't think these folks are intellectually incapable of seeing the folly of their position. Instead, I think that their egos are fully and totally in control and will simply not allow them to admit they were wrong in their assessments.

Now, the tendency isn't so implicitly horrible, and it's certainly not limited to conservatives. It's a fundamental human trait, for better or worse, and we're all prone. Go ahead and try and tell Mommy that her 65 pound three-year-old is overweight and be prepared to hear a dissertation on what it means to be "big boned".

However, there comes a point in any responsible person's life at which they recognize the disconnect between their fealty and their reality, and if they've any sense of ethics at all, concessions are made in favor of what's plainly been established.

And herein lies the problem, as I see it. Bush's loyal fans have shown themselves to be plainly irresponsible. They don't care that his failures are nearly beyond counting. They don't care that he's surrounded himself with nefarious sycophants and abdicated the power of his role to some of the most greedy, corrupt and calloused human beings to ever sit in Washington.

Why such apathy? Because they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the grievous mistake of voting for GW, for sending a GOP majority to Congress, and for enabling the virtual destruction of American democracy as we know it.

Marc in KS picks up this headspace and helps explain it using an economist's frame, in discussing the "sunk-cost effect". Check it out.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Can I Get an Amen?

Pastor Dan linked today to a post I'd missed a while back. I'm grateful. It's one you shouldn't miss.

Why don't ALL religious leaders have this kind of plain-spoken common sense? Imagine the kind of world we'd be living in, if this was how James Dobson spoke.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nice Shades, Condi

Is it just me?

Did you see the footage yesterday of Ms. Rice sitting at the long conference table with the Lebanese PM & the gaggle of assorted officials?

I don't know about you, but seeing the whole table full of terribly serious men in terribly serious suits, while Condi sat there with her sunglasses perched atop her head was just too much. She looked like she was waiting for someone to bring her a fucking daquiri.

Condi, listen up. I don't know what you were trying to convey at this photo op, but somehow "just breezing in for a quick chat on my way to a BBQ" is not what we need from the country's lead negotiator. Particularly during a visit to the part of the world that generally doesn't think too highly of women to begin with.

Put your shades away, comb your hair, and present yourself like a grownup before you're eaten by your own.

Update: Steve Soto found the photo I couldn't, and evidently agrees:

I’m sure we are all feeling more optimistic about things in the Middle East knowing that Condi has arrived in Beirut this morning for a set of photo op meetings with the Lebanese leadership, to tell them how concerned she is that the IDF is blasting the Lebanese infrastructure back to the Dark Ages. After this meaningless stopover today, she will fly on to Tel Aviv and tell the Israelis virtually nothing of substance, and the IDF will continue their campaign against Hezbollah and the Lebanese people unimpeded for as long as they feel necessary.

What impression do you think it leaves with the Lebanese people and the Arab world to see a Secretary of State who can’t be bothered to pull her sunglasses off the top of her head when meeting with a head of state whose country is being obliterated with American armaments?


(Emphasis mine)

But he answers his own question, of course; the shades are her tell. Ah, subtext. Such fun!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Saddles on Dust Bunnies

Thought I was dead, didn't ya?

I can't blame you for the speculation.

For those interested in defenses, it's primarily been simple outrage fatigue. I mean, my GOD. How does anyone with an IQ over room temperature manage to watch one evening's news without feeling morose? To say nothing of what it does to you when you're like me, and read blogs intermittently every day. Christ on a kabob. It's enough to make you need meds. Seriously.

As for the rest, I've just had my hands full. Moving, getting settled, an increasingly active toddler, all make for just enough time to read, but virtually none for writing. I've tossed in a few smart assed comments at some of my favorite blogs, threw my two cents in Meta-discussions where appropriate, but beyond that, the most inspiring thing to flow from these fingers have been my
grocery lists.

That said, I'll be focusing on this cobweb farm more closely in the weeks to come. I can't promise every entry will be strictly political, despite my original intent. I'm just not newsie enough to maintain such a course, and seriously, it's not like there's a shortage of insightful analysis abundant on the Big Blogs.

So, to those of you still actually visiting, I thank you for your loyalty, however possibly misguided. Given that I can probably count y'all on one hand, maybe I should just make you contributors. I mean, as long as we're all here, might as well open the floor, eh?

Cheers.

Monday, April 17, 2006

2008: Which lamb to the slaughter?

(this was originally intended as a diary elsewhere, but since this poor blog has been neglected for a while now, I thought I'd blow away the cobwebs and cross-post).

Like everyone else, I look across the gamut of potential candidates for 2008 and wonder who can possibly stand a real chance at election victory. I don't buy (and never have) the Hillary-as-Front-Runner thing, believing it instead to be primarily a RWM creation. I heard Biden on Bill Maher copping to his intent to run and responded with only a yawn. I see people like Markos nodding at Warner, but honestly, I've not done my homework enough to comment, or even react meaningfully.

I've generally been quite intrigued by Obama, but have been decidedly unhappy with his reponse to the censure resolution, so while I still have a belly-full of that particular Kool-Aid, it's lately given me a bit of heartburn.

I understand that Gore has a strong following, but I also see him denying the intent to run at every opportunity. Perhaps I'm being nothing other than stubborn, but I'm still pissed about Tipper and the PMRC, so I have yet to hop on that bandwagon as of today.

I'd vote for Feingold in a heartbeat, since he appears to be the only member of Congress that actually HAS testicles. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, however, but so far, there's nothing but wishful thinking from some corners of the blogs to suggest that he's considering a run.

So, while I peruse the actual and imaginary field of candidates, I have to wonder: Who will be our Golden Boy? My instinctive reaction is that there is no Golden Boy coming in 2008. Instead, what we're apt to get (assuming the GOP is defeated) is a Sacrificial Lamb. Let me explain...

I've come to believe, as I suspect many of you have, that the damage done by this administration cannot possibly be undone in the course of a single administration. BushCo's brand of destruction is so far reaching as to require, in my humble estimation, at least 2, if not 3, administrations to recompense. That it can be done at all assumes a great deal about the Democrats regaining control of Congress, but that offshoot is a whole other What-If diary better suited for more strategically savvy writers than I. Suffice to say, if we can pull it off, there's hope.

Regardless, though, even IF the Dems pull the majority this fall, whomever wins in '08 is looking at nothing but uphill, bloody, relentless struggles no matter what. Should the GOP be rendered back to opposition status, we better believe they'll put their every shred of time, money and energy into being exactly that, making every legislative proposal a truly Sisyphean task. They'll be bitter, they'll be resentful, they'll be spiteful. To expect anything less would be dangerously naieve. And that's if they LOSE the majority. Imagine if they retain it. We think they're arrogant now? HA! We may not be able to imagine the recklessness to come if they retain control of Congress. And that picture is just as bloody, of course. A Democratic president with a GOP majority Congress? Please. Talk about a ceremonial statehead.

These things being likely (and I'm open to alternative scenarios -- please, in fact, give 'em to me, this is a depressing line of thought and I could use some optimism), then if the Democrats are able to get one of their guys in the CiC seat, who do we offer up to such a meat grinder?

'Cause you know how he'll be painted by the vengeful GOP and the chronically unsatisfied Centrists: He'll be blamed, in part, for every fetid pile of crap left behind by Bush that can't be fixed in a single term. He'll be the focal point for Congressional deadlocks, he'll be the one that didn't find the Middle East Magic Wand, the Health Care Magic Wand, the Defecit Magic Wand, etc ad naseum. It doesn't matter how good he is, how great his ideas are, how much support he garners from the grassroots, the netroots, the disenfranchised, and the fence-sitters. Because the GOP is going to be frothing at the mouth, and they'll want payback. Scorched-earth, dangling entrails kind of payback.

Imagining this, I very much don't want our best and brightest to have that unfortunate role. Any legislative vision he might have, any great prowess of leadership he might possess, any bold ideas he might offer will surely get devoured like so much red meat in the aftermath of these next two election cycles. It would be a near-Shakespearean tragedy to witness what might otherwise be the Great American Healer being desended upon by the wolves currently stalking about DC, don't you think? When our Golden Boy does get elected (and he surely will, goddamnit), I want him to enjoy two full, productive, transformative terms. I want him to enjoy a Congress populated by steadfast, intelligent, active support and reasonable, pragmatic opposition. You know, I want him to GET SHIT DONE, and if he has to compromise, I want it to be based on contructive proposals from the opposition, not nasty, back-biting partisanship.


On the other hand, it can be argued that ONLY the best and brightest can ever survive such a role. That the only feasible choice for what's likely to be a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't administration is the candidate that really IS in the game because it's NOT a game to him. One that doesn't care about the power, the acclaim, or the "legacy".

Of course, that's not the only problem we face. Because come '08, we're going to be looking for the presidential equivalent of the Rebound Boyfriend. You know, the one who's the antithesis of the guy you just broke up with. The one who's everything your last lover wasn't. Hell, that's WHY he's attractive. Because he's everything you thought you didn't get the last time. Except he's almost never the guy that's actually the right choice in the long run, now is he? Sooner or later, you roll over one morning, listen to that cacaphonous snore, trip over the dirty socks on the way to the bathroom, discover the toilet's unflushed, the cap's off the toothpaste, the goddamn TV's been on all night, and while you pour your first cup of coffee, you can't stop wondering WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING??? It's nearly inevitable when the last lover was such a ratfink, isn't it? Well, we have President Ratfink right now. Rebound Boy is almost a fait accompli.

So, we not only have to find someone who's capable of just doing the job itself (a tall order all on its own), but we have to get past our hangups and resentments and rage over Bush in order to make an intelligent choice for his successor. One who's actually good for the country, who's not simply Not-Bush. One who will take one for the team, one who's willing to dive headfirst into the snakepit, knowing full well that he won't accomplish even half of what he could under better circumstances. We have to send a lamb to slaughter, and the lamb has to volunteer.

I don't know if we've even heard from him. Have we? Is there anyone out there willing to be such a political martyr? Can our political system even produce such a candidate anymore?

I don't know. Do you?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Proto-Pachyderms

Interesting study, though perhaps the conclusions are fit for the "No shit" file.

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

[...]

The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

h/t John

Is anyone surprised by this? It certainly seems possible to extend these conclusions into support for CW that shows us conservatives spring more often from the mid-west (less ethnic, religious and social strata) while liberals spring most often from the coasts/metropolitan centers (more layers than spanikopita). One doesn't last long in the latter areas while being "uncomfortable with ambiguity".

No doubt the Freepi will pound on this study as much as they bemoaned the "crazy conservatives" study referenced in the article. My favorite part is when they all spend a bizarrely large amount of energy impugning studies and their authors, all the while dismissing them out of hand as blindly biased.

Me thinks the wingers doth protest too much. I know, I know. A real news flash, that.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stunned Speechless

Diary. Video.

For the 6,435th time during this administration, I don't have the words.

It seems that my cats



are cheating on me with another blogger.

While I can't fault them for their taste, I am feeling a little miffed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Just a Small Point About "Enumeration"

In the firestorm of discussions about the SD abortion law, a number of highly relevant questions are emerging about the precious few that might fall under the vaguely expressed exceptions.

From the bill:

[T]he physician shall make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.

In defense of the bill, supporters are claiming that this clause will allow for abortion when the woman's health is gravely endangered by any number of complications that can arise.

And it strikes me -- for a crowd SO eager to sing the praises of enumerated powers (especially those that aren't, like, say.... PRIVACY) they sure have played fast and loose with this so-called exception clause. They'll claim, in political circles, that various scenarios can easily be accommodated under this exception, but should this atrocity ever become functional law, they'll go on prosecutorial orgy when doctors abort for reasons they don't find "life-threatening".

A particularly good point was made elsewhere in a comment thread that the SD legislature likely thought not an instant about women whose pregnancies don't necessarily threaten their lives immediately, but for whom the long-lasting affects of pregnancy can significantly reduce their health if not kill them prematurely (cardiac patients, diabetics etc). Excellent observation, I say. How would Mr. Napoli respond, I wonder?

I can just see the efforts, a decade post-Roe, in which analysts start pointing to the increase in women's mortality in prohibitive states like SD. Given the GOP's embrace of global warming data, just how quick do you think they'll be to see this new connection?

Yeah. Right.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Nuggets

My Amusement Park has an interesting discussion on the NYT "Brokeback marriages" article. I missed the original piece, and this was my first visit to the blog, so if you're in the same spot and would like something new, stop by.

From IddyBud: "If SD State Senator Bill Napoli's narrow-valued religious triumphalism had ruled the day, allowing exemptions for only freshly raped, impregnated "religious virgins" to obtain abortions in South Dakota, I guarantee you'd see a hell of a lot more rape charges going up against young South Dakota men and a lot more pregnant girls claiming to be "pious." Let's not push our young generation into this kind of false faith, fear, and judgement. It's ugly."

Molly rants: "For years, the women's movement has been going around asking, "Who decides?" as though that were the issue. Well, here's the answer. Bill Napoli decides, and if you're not happy with that arrangement, well, you'd better be prepared to do something about it."

Hooray for Feingold, very possibly the only testicle-bearer in Congress.

Great line: "Bush's invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Bush's attempt to cover up his mistake with patriotism will ultimately discredit patriotism." Oh, sweet irony, you tenacious creature. The very party obsessed with the "sanctity of marriage" doesn't give a rusty fuck about the sanctity of patriotism, outside of its lipstick-on-a-pig function, that is. Another wholesome product from your friends at BushCo!

Greenwald. Flawless. As usual.


It looks like the inside of a snow globe here in Littleton, today. A perfect day for smokin a j, fixing some french toast, then soaking in a long, hot bubble bath.

I'll leave it to you to guess which I'm actually doing.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bizarre Dovetail to Follow

As evidenced in an earlier post, I'm ear-deep in a music jones. I'll spare you the existential ramblings as to why; suffice to say, it's a good tonic as I decompress after the move and settle into the "vibe" here.

Surely, constant readers, I need not remind you how regularly I assail the religious right. But here's something that may surprise you:

I think one of the most beautiful pieces of pop music produced in the last decade is Jars of Clay's "Worlds Apart". Get thee to your P2P client and just find a copy.

I really liked this band when I first heard them because of the the generous use of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. Some of you may recall "Flood" getting considerable airplay, along with its inclusion in some made-for-cable film or another.

Anyway, I knew that they were a big name in the growing genre of "Contemporary Christian" music, but I was a hippie before I was a self-indulgent, arm-chair pundit with a blog, and was bothered not whit over their topic of choice.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised there, too, because the lyrics are very personal. "I" and "you" get substituted for "me" and "Jesus" throughout, and several of them are simply love songs. If you didn't know what boys weren't talking about their girlfriends, you'd have no real reason to think otherwise.

"Worlds Apart" is clear in the object of its address, and is definitely not as ambiguous as some of its predecessors on the CD. However, it's only well crafted, mixed and performed, but the lyric is an impassioned prayer with such raw, tendor candor that I find it impossible not to be moved while listening to it. The lead and background vocals are sung at a velvety near-whisper, the last passage (as it breaks out of stanzas) more like a chant than melody. It's really quite something.


I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all adds up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart


I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can't deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart


I will probably always bristle at the imagery, but that's neither here nor there in this instance. But if every message I'd encountered from Christianity were as tender and nakedly honest as this one, I'd be a lot warmer to its leaders and followers. Of course, some of its followers are that tender already. I hope they get the seat at the table that's been hijacked by their ugly imitators, I really do.

In Praise of Small Cracks

Having once before praised Leonard Pitts, Jr for several righteous turns of phrase, color me unsurprised that he's done it again. Go get some fabulous ass-kickery before you wander away...

After just listening to Joe Scarborough join the growing ranks of dissenters on the right by saying he's "embarrassed to be a Republican", I'm almost tempted to hope that comments like that and articles like the above are genuine signs that the cracks in the GOP facade of "family values" and "compassionate conservatism", or hell, just "competence", are finally becoming apparent to even the most strident Bush defender.

Naturally, there will always be a contingent of GW Junkies that will never give up the ghost. While I think they'd generally do more for the world as ground beef than as voters, I expect that the worst will be ruthlessly marginalized into obscurity for the pinheads they are. In the meantime, I take a distinct pleasure in seeing the Head Idiots of the GOP called on their bullshit in a highly vociferous and highly visible fashion.

And it's not just for the adolescent rush of self-righteousness (though I will admit I sometimes vacation there; the brochures are so tempting!). It's because I have to hope that this reign of feckless, imbecilic incompetence is about to end. This administration has pissed off far too many of the revered "moderates", (you know, that giant swath of voters in between the staunchly left or right that are hallowed as a candidate's road to glory) to recover without a debilitating limp.

I'm not about to haul out hackneyed pleas of "appealing to the center" since it's been done to death and I don't think anyone gets the concept anyway. Save for a precious few, our elected leaders seem to think this means pandering just inside the envelope of left or right (never mind that the positions they stake are on total non-issues). I don't pretend to be a strategist, but at some point, doesn't this become something of a no-brainer? No, you can't spread democracy across the globe at the end of a gun barrel, and no, you can't dismantle the military and redirect funding to pot farming (my endorsement of the latter notwithstanding). But there are a hell of a lot of options in between those two positions, don't you think?

Why the hell is it so hard to find a single inch of common ground? We can yell and scream about (insert your favorite pundits here), but the Malkins and the Dobsons pretty much just kick back and turn a profit on collective impotent, misdirected rage. They sell what we're buying, and as long as we eat it up like drippy ice cream on a summer day, they're going to keep ranting, keep fundraising, keep organizing.

Of course I'm biased here, I don't pretend otherwise. The radical fundamentalist right in this country have had their little bit of fun, but now it's time to stop. Now it's time for them to crawl out from under the rocks and understand that the spirit of domestic laws and foreign policy should not be punitive. That it is not their job to scold, cajole and bully the rest of us into doing things their way like obedient little lambs. Just because they could be brain-washed and indoctrinated into thinking gay people go to hell and that the earth is only 6,000 years old doesn't mean the rest of us are going to buy it, too. Pounding us over the head with fire and brimstone does not convert us, it repulses us. And whether you like it or not, "we" number in the millions, too.

If Bush and his groupies want to pretend that no one gets to disagree with them because they're right by divine proscription, they're perfectly welcome to do that. Just don't expect to maintain the slimy web of monopoly you've wrapped around our government, because even your own are begging for showers now. Maybe Scarborough will lend you the soap.

Yeah, What He Said

Since evidently I'm on a "I read blogs so you don't have to" kick, please pay a visit to Oliver Willis and soak up "I Am A Progressive".

This should be the foundation of the Democratic party platform, shouted proudly from the rooftops.

What a Schmuck

There's a woman in San Diego whose manager fired her on the spot after noticing the Air America bumper sticker on her car.

During the brief encounter, Laroca charges, the manager pointed to the bumper sticker ---- the only one on Laroca's car ---- and remarked that it was a new sticker and called it "that Al Franken left-wing radical radio station."

Laroca alleges in her suit that Fath then told her, "The country is on a high state of alert. For all I know, you could be al-Qaida."

Aside from being just a general waste-of-skin caliber idiot, this firing is recklessly stupid for its blatant illegality. This moron doesn't deserve to manage anything, anywhere.

And conservatives wonder why liberals slam them for being narrow-minded, bigoted and hateful.

<rolls eyes>

(h/t Ed Tracey)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Lizard and the Monkey

A monkey is sitting in a tree smoking a joint when a lizard walks past and looks up and says to the monkey, "hey! what are you doing?"

The monkey says "smoking a joint, come up and have some."

So the lizard climbs up and sits next to the monkey and they smoke a while.

After a while the lizard says his mouth is "dry" and is going to get a drink from the river. The lizard is so stoned that he leans too far over and falls into the river.

A Crocodile sees this and swims over to the lizard and helps him to the side,then asks the lizard, "what's the matter with you?"

The lizard explains to the crocodile that he was sitting smoking a joint with the monkey in the tree, got too stoned and then fell into the river while taking a drink.

The crocodile says he has to check this out and walks into the jungle, finds the tree where the monkey is sitting, finishing a joint, and he looks up and says "hey you!"


The Monkey looks down and says "fuuuuuuck, dude.... how much water did you drink?!!"

(h/t to Mark from a usenet forum)

CNN on Dubai

So, I'm sitting here watching Blitzer this afternoon, and the hot topic of the hour is the announcement of the nuking of the ports deal. The basic narrative over the ensuing half-hour is roughly this:

1.) Port deal has been sunk, largely due to Democrats and the "American People".

2.) Business analysts then chime in to say that going forward, the UAE may want to "rethink" a number of alliances and deals with the U.S. now that we've rained on their parade.

3.) Military analysts follow up by adding, "Yeah! And our bases in the UAE are critical in the WOT!"

4.) Then, segment teaser asks whether or not Iran is the most serious threat to America these days.

The ease with which I can imagine the reaction of some of the Bushies I've spoken with over the past 5 years is shocking. They'd point to these three stories as evidence of Liberal Bias in the media, since each focuses on what they perceive as Bush Bashing. "See! People are just being big meanies to Bush and it's because the media is obsessed with criticizing him and everything positive he tries to do for this country!"

However, a different narrative was perfectly clear to me:

1.) Democrats can and will be blamed for the following:
2.) Killing this deal will fuck up the economy,
3.) Killing this deal will fuck up the military,
4.) Oh, and by the way -- Iran wants to blow up your family.

As Bush's apologists myopically focus on the individual stories, they miss that the entire presentation is a WH talking point.

Good for a Giggle

Go check out PoliticsTV, hosted by the inimitable John Aravosis. Today's episode is a biography of everyone's favorite dog lover, Rick Santorum.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Post Mortem"

There's very little point in addressing an issue once Greewald's had a hand at it. Any attempt on my part would surely be tragically lame imitation. Make sure you pay him a visit for his commentary on the pitifully shamelful Senate Intel Committe vote.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

No, it's "Pro-Birth", not "Pro-Life".

Like we need another example?

Once again, the Bush demonstrates that his compassion for you hangs on whether or not you're one of the "unborn". This time, he's decided that funding for programs that support disabled children falls into the "unnecessary spending" category.

On a related note, should anyone be wondering, I haven't written about the sickening legislation coming out of South Dakota (or its twin working it's way through Missouri's state congress) because I honestly can't find the words. If you haven't caught them, there's some well articulated rage here and here.

Some argue that in taking the case, SCOTUS (namely Bush's appointees) would be seen as doling out payback to Bush, and since Roberts et al don't want to appear blatantly untoward, they'll decline... for now.

I desperately want to agree with those that believe, if the case should make its way to SCOTUS, that it will effectively force the court to come down on the side of choice, given the egregiousness of the SD bill in its current form. Such a ruling would serve to reinforce precedent; precisely what the ProBirthers don't want.

More cynically, however, I worry that every gloomy prognostication about Scalia, Alito and Roberts will come to pass, they'll take the case, and decide that the "undue burden" rule laid out in Casey and the "privacy" right laid out in Roe are frivolous readings of the Constitution and overturn the whole lot.

As for my rage that state legislators and their fawning sycophants apparently have no qualms whatsoever about codifing women as nothing more than chattle.... again, I don't have the words right now.

Instead, I'll simply ask these zealots to consider the scenario recently described by Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand:
If a murderer gets out of prison and rapes a woman, she's forced to have his child. If a father brutally rapes his daughter, she is forced to have his child. "You present those arguments to women voters, they are going to be outraged," he says.

If this seems like a histrionic hypothetical, go ahead and visit any number of sex-offender registries available online and pop in your zip code. Then, imagine one of the worst of them paying a little late-night visit to your wife, daughter, sister, mother. Then consider that in some states, rapists can assert parental rights. This, of course, is to say nothing of their recidivism rate. What say you, if said rapist were also a pedophile? Are you so confident in your self-righteousness to dismiss the possibility that such an evil creature would NEVER attempt to, say, abduct the child? Or worse?

I saw somewhere (forgive my faulty memory) a gag on SD's Tourism Board's new ad: "Protecting Rapists' Rights since 2006!". Oh, and don't miss the new logo.

GOP: "Ports? What Ports?"

The AP, surely to be derided once again by wingnuts as suffering from "liberal bias" reminds us today of just how shitty the GOP has been on port security.

--In 2003, House Republicans, on a procedural vote, agreed to kill a Democratic amendment that would have added $250 million for port security grants to a war spending package.

--Two years later, nearly all House Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security authorization bill offered by Democrats that called for an additional $400 million for port security.

--Senate Republicans stood together in 2003 to set aside a Democratic amendment that would have provided $120 million more for port cargo screening equipment.

--One year later, all but six Senate Republicans voted to reject a Democratic attempt to add $150 million for port security in a Homeland Security appropriations bill.

Feel free to recite these stats to any winger you encounter that is desperately clinging to the "Dems are soft on security" meme.

Oh, and in case you missed the original, here's a NYT article from February 2005 illustrating just how pathetic the Republicans have been on the issue.

The Department of Homeland Security has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to protect ports since Sept. 11 without sufficiently focusing on those that are most vulnerable, a policy that could compromise the nation's ability to better defend against terrorist attacks, the department's inspector general has concluded.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been invested in redundant lighting systems and unnecessary technical equipment, the audit found, but "the program has not yet achieved its intended results in the form of actual improvement in port security."

[...]

The audit results appear to support criticism voiced last September by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, who complained in a letter to President Bush that the methods used to grant the awards did not make sense.

"Your administration awarded port security grants in the states of Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Tennessee," Mr. Lautenberg wrote. "While there may be some form of maritime facilities in these locations, I question whether, of the nation's 361 maritime ports, these locations are truly the front lines on the war on terror."

[...]

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in four rounds of port security grants, received $6.2 million, or 1 percent of the total grants given out through the primary port security financing source, according to federal documents.

When other New York-based government agencies and private corporations are added in, the grants to the New York City area rise to about $35 million, about 7 percent of the total. The port handles 12 percent of the nation's cargo traffic. Much of the grant money directed to New York went to profit-making oil terminal companies, like Sunoco Logistics Partners, to help them pay for security enhancements.

Go get the rest, including the "questionable projects" listed at the end. The GOP's record on port security is beyond-the-pale neglectful and shoddy, and evidence of it is easily found with the most cursory searches.

Turns out that biblical prophesy is fulfilled in the Republican party after all. Behold the feet of clay.

Politics and Geography [Updated]

[Update below]

Some of you may have caught this story about a teacher here in CO that's come under fire for comments he made in a world geography class. The Denver Post's coverage is here and the audio of the comments in question is here.

I'm torn on this subject, really. While I agree with the teacher's political views, and find a great deal of merit in the points he makes, the fact remains that this was a geography class, not a U.S. government class or a world politics class. School administrators have responded by saying that the commentary fails to honor mandates for "balance" in curriculum, and despite my sympathy for and agreement with what he's saying, I can't pretend that there's any kind of opposing view presented.

See, here's the thing. We don't get to scream at the creationists for trying to inject religion into science classes and then just shrug our shoulders when a teacher tries to inject politics (and unabashedly leftist politics at that) into a geography class, for if we do, we jump headlong into hypocrisy and lose our credibility on the ID front and any other area in which we yell and scream about the "Rethugs" and their reckless application of double-standards.

Have a listen to the audio and see what you think.

March 7 Update:


The Freepers got their hands on a copy of the syllabus (thanks to Raven's View for the find).
In a discussion at another forum, I'd complained about the lack of the syllabus in local media coverage and hoped to have a look, thinking it would pretty much settle the issue for me if political topics were an element of the curriculum.

Well, what do you know? They ARE!

Course Objectives
1. Students know how to use and construct maps, globes, and other geographic tools to locate and derive information about people, places, and environments

2. Students know the physical and human characteristics of places, and use this knowledge to define and study regions and their patterns of change

3. Students understand how physical processes shape Earth’s surface patterns and systems

4. Students understand how economic, political, cultural, and social processes interact to shape patterns of human populations, interdependence, cooperation, and conflict


5. Students understand the effects of interactions between human and physical systems and the changes in meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources


6. Students apply knowledge of people, places, and environments to understand the past and present and to plan for the future


I find it delightfully ironic that they'd post a copy, since it pretty much demolishes their argument that Bennish's comments were totally off-topic for the class. Not surprisingly, they're gleefully responding with "I don't see the Bush = Hitler thing listed anywhere". You can expect more of the usual moronic hysterics in the comments, but this gem really jumped out at me:

The alarms should start going off when you reach "Critical Thinking." This is a code word that has everything to do with criticism, specifically of the status quo, and very little to do with actual thinking. It basically means placing a filter on everything you encounter intellectually (see "critical reading," the next entry down) that assumes that there is an oppressor/oppressed class dynamic that is inseparable from the ostensible message. When you hear somebody insisting "you're only saying that because..." you gotcha one right there.


Placing a filter on everything you encounter intellectually? Yes, Sparky, as possessors of, you know, brains, that's PRECISELY what we're supposed to do. Can you believe this guy? I don't know who told him that students (or anyone else for that matter) should just accept, in toto, whatever they're told, whenever they hear it, but I suppose this attitude really shouldn't suprise me. The Fellating Freepers are renown for their eager swallowing of right-wing propaganda and they've obviously come to believe such behavior should apply to our educational institutions as well. Kool-Aid... it's not just for zealots anymore.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Draft Reynolds

Or, at the very least, read up here.

Just a (Musical) Diversion

As I've probably mentioned in a prior post or two, aside from being a political loudmouth, I'm also a singer. Had I the ambition or appetite for a professional career, it would have been a possibility. However, I hate crowds, loathe the process of travel, and treasure my privacy, so talent notwithstanding, doing it for a living just didn't end up being in the cards.

Point is, this makes me an insufferable music critic, especially in regard to singers. Knowing how tough it can be to execute a good performance, I become incensed over sloppiness and lazy, derivative work. And don't even get me started on the (admittedly cliched) rant about how video killed the radio star...

Anyway, I suffer from just enough hubris to feel compelled to point out some good stuff you may not be aware of:

First, there's the "AcappelaU" podcast. Having spent my entire scholastic life in choirs, many of them a capella, I can attest to how challenging it can be to pull off well. If you're not familiar with this kind of performing, it's exclusively vocal, including the percussion. Simply put, it's a hell of a lot harder than you'd think it is, and anyone that can manage it is worth admiring. This particular show focuses on collegiate a cappella groups and shouldn't be missed if the genre does anything for you. (I'm still catching up on the posted files, but Episode 8 includes some particularly great tracks.)

Now, on to singers of note, but I must preface with a caveat.

I'm generally bored by acrobatic voices. I mean, sure, when Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey first came on the scene they were impressive, since outside of gospel, their kind of style wasn't all that common. Ever since, however, we've seen carbon copy after carbon copy of these vocal gymnastics and frankly, enough already. Think of it this way. Remember when triples were the new big thing in Olympic figure skating? Most attempts resulted in spectacular falls, and when someone nailed such a jump, it really blew you away? Well now, they're standard issue. You can't even get out of regionals if you can't pull a triple, much less get to the Olympics. Once impressive, now ordinary.

I'm sure you can think of other analogies, but I trust you take my point. Showy tricks are cool and all, but sooner or later, everyone learns how to do it and what was once special is now commonplace. This means that we eventually all come back to talent that is pure, unforced, natural. There's a certain quality in some voices that I can't describe well, but I can point out to you not only for sake of example, but because their work deserves every bit of attention it gets.

Jonatha Brooke:
Probably one of the most under-rated and under-exposed artists of the last decade. Not only is her writing complex and compelling, but her vocals are sweet, expressive and silky. Her tone reminds me a bit of Sarah McLachlan, but her songs are edgier and more textured. She uses a lot of alternate tunings on her guitar and is an excellent rhythm player as well. I recommend her "Live" CD and "10 Cent Wings". You'll hear, on the "Live" recordings, nothing short of perfection in terms of performance, and some more really great writing on "Wings". If you like acoustic guitar-centric tunes and graceful alto voices, you need to track this woman down.

Happy Rhodes:
Happy is one of those obscure club singers that enjoys a passionate, but small following. I've never heard her on the radio, I've never seen ads for gigs, but what I gather from her web page she stays mostly on the east coast. Hell, I think she even has a day job. Simply put, she is PHENOMENAL. Mariah Carey's four-octave range gets a good deal of press, but if you've noticed, she really only flirts with that so-high-only-dogs-can-hear end as a matter of flourish, not substance. Not Ms. Rhodes. Not only can she manage 4 (if not 5) octaves, but she's as comfortable in one as any other, and each one is exquisite.

I first discovered her when I saw a P2P song listing ("When the Rain Came Down") that was allegedly a duet between Annie Lennox and Kate Bush. Thinking I'd missed something pretty rare and amazing, I happily downloaded it. Not long into it, however, I realized that neither woman was on this recording and I went about hunting for the actual two artists who produced this impressive track. Turns out it wasn't two women at all, but one. Happy's tenor/alto range is richer than Annie's ever was (and I love her, by the way) and her soprano range rivals Kate's for its effortlessness. Now, her music can very fairly be described as avant garde, not for the instrumental arrangements, but for the melodies, chord structure and lyrics. It's not meat & potatoes music; it's more like filet mignon -- really spectacular, and best when savored on irregular occasions. Then again, I'm a hippie at heart, so my frequency preference is likely driven by my weakness for "wooden music". At any rate, if you want to hear a REAL singer, don't miss Happy. She'll blow your mind.

Eva Cassidy:
I wrote about her once before, but if you missed it, you can catch up here. Your collection is simply not complete without her work, and you'll miss one of the most captivating voices you'll ever hear.

Jessica Andrews:
I wouldn't say I'm a fan of country music, necessarily, but my love for acoustic music means that there are some country artists that get my attention when I'm in the mood. I stumbled across this magnificent creature one day while idly scanning through the channels while stuck in traffic. I haven't listened to country radio in a while, but at the time, her song "Who I Am" was in heavy rotation. Not only is it a great song and a lovely homage to family, what's truly impressive are this girl's pipes. And I do mean girl. I don't know if she was even 20 when her first single came out, but even then, she had a maturity and expertise that most women twice her age never even get close to. Reading up on her history, her producer was quoted at length about her ability to walk into the studio and lay down absolutely flawless tracks in a single take; a feat normally accomplished only by seasoned pros and rarely by anyone of such a tender age. Even if country isn't your bag, it's worth hunting down some of her music just to hear what a completely natural talent sounds like. There's not a single forced note, at no point does it ever sound like she's working hard, but what comes out of her mouth is amazing. Simply amazing.

Ok, that about does it for now. Get to downloading and I'll be back soon with our regularly-scheduled political smart-assery.

Cheers.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Asshole

Go to Google.

Type "asshole"

Hit "I'm Feeling Lucky".

Laugh boisterously.


(hat tip to refinish 69 @ MLW)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"No One Anticipated", eh Georgie?

AP's got a story about "confidential video" in which Bush and Chertoff were told, in no uncertain terms, that New Orleans was about to be obliterated.

Anyone want to wager on whether or not Mike Brown is the leak here? I can imagine quite easily that he's about had it with being the BushCo patsy while everyone else keeps fiddlin'.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

And another thing

I am absolutely all full up on the "lesser of two evils" voting methodology, such that anyone who espouses it in my presence will henceforth be heckled until made to cry. Or beaten with a shovel, depending on my mood.

There is no such thing as a "lesser evil", folks. A pig is a pig is a pig, and no amount of lipstick will make it any less of a pig. The same is true of any odious politician. The very concept that Kerry's total lack of charisma, poorly worded rebuttals to the mischarcterization of his voting record, and his obsequious appeals to the voters, could be forgotten in favor of booting out the maniac currently infesting the White House is just plain ignorant. I know many people preferred him, to President Bush, but the overriding approach seemed to be "not Bush" as opposed to "what a great candidate!".

And that is a fundamental flaw in our system. Among the millions of intelligent people inhabiting this country, we can find two--TWO!!--people capable of being President? Small business owners, corporate chiefs, doctors, lawyers, economists, historians, and myriad other educated persons abound in this country, but we'll never meet them. Instead, we'll be remorselessly flogged by the bought and paid for political class for our money, our votes, and our trust.

We need more of the parties to have access to airtime, to get their message out. We need to tell the media companies, with our purchasing dollar, that their ads will not be seen if EVERY candidate is not allowed to address the people. Remember, the only ones that will be at issue are those that managed to generate enough signatures to get on the ballot. If they had that access, then the American people (or those folks with the wit to look beyond party) would be better informed about their choices. And, yes, I know that no few people in this country prefer to get their data summarized in easily digestible, brief, and factually ambiguous 15 second sound bites. This, however, should not prevent us from finding the candidate that most aligns with our beliefs and voting for them, regardless of gender or political party.

And regardless of who you vote for, you absolutely MUST VOTE!! Those of you who don't are beneath contempt. There is no nobility in not committing, with the one tool at your disposal, to the guidance of this country. Save your whining about "one vote makes no difference", because the fiasco in Florida laid that particular meme to rest. My most virulent response, though, is to anyone who tells me that I wasted my vote when I voted for a Libertarian in the very tight 2000 race. This was a very old and good friend, and I very much wanted to throttle this person with their own intestines. (Graphic, I know, but that just made me crazy.)

I researched the candidates, compared their views with my own, and their goals with my impression of the direction this country needed to go, and then made my choice on my interpetation of the evidence. I voted my conscience, and had not one single regret for having done so. As a result, I was deeply pissed when this person blithely ignored all that to tell me that my conscientious choice was invalid because it deprived this person's preferred candidate of my vote in a close race. As if I was obligated to choose A or B, instead of C. Too bad. Life is about informed choices, and no one is qualified to determine that my choice is a waste of my vote.

A comment to the DNC (crossposted the the DNC)

To whom it may concern,

By which I mean the American people, I am an avowed Independent, and vote as such. I have done so since my enlistment in the US Marine Corps, because, while I am flabbergasted by the drivel I hear pouring from the right, I don't see anyone on the left (aside from noteable, and recent, individuals like Barak Obama and Paul Hackett, and Mr. Murtha) who has the will to stand up and say anything remotely meaningful about the state in which this country finds itself.

Zell Miller is permitted, with little criticism, to be a keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention and deliver some of the most vile rhetoric in furtherance of the criminal policies of this government. On the other hand, respected members of Congress, like Jack Murtha, are painted by members of the House as a coward, and the indignation seems limited to the House floor. Where is the support for his rather modest proposal to establish an exit strategy in real terms? Not an abandonment of the Iraqi people, for God's sake, but a furtherance of the policy that they step up for themselves. Yet Mrs. Pelosi acted as though she could simply brush this aside as the natterings of a "fringe Democrat", I assume because she felt that her constituents were far more interested the continued blood-letting in Iraq. Of course, that was proved profoundly wrong by the Town Hall she conducted in her district a few weeks ago.

I am sick unto death of watching some of the senior members of the party stand up and try to reasonably explain some fine point of procedural rules to the cameras, while trying to appear above the fray on so many critical issues. Medicare is floundering, the war in Iraq and its reconstruction continue to be bogged down in security concerns; billions of taxpayer dollars went missing; energy expenses skyrocketed heading into Christmas; the housing market is softening as interest rates creep upward; the President authorized the NSA to data mine the American people before 9/11, and informed the nation that he would continue to do so without a warrant; millions live in poverty; and there is credible evidence that the voting machines in Ohio were tampered with by a company whose CEO swore he would bring it home for Mr. Bush.

This barely scratches the surface of the problems and criminal behavior, the resolution of which is the reason Congress EXISTS!!

Yet you seek to restrain Mr. Dean, and others, because he speaks the truth in a manner which the right finds offensive? After the VP of the United States had the temerity to order a US Senator to...perform an act upon himself that was flatly impossible? I am so far past caring what the far-right, neo-fascist, pseudo-religious, mysanthropic, homophobic, and misinformed far right "religious" fundamentalists are offended by, I can't adequately express it.

If you do not mobilize the voters, the bloggers, and the independents like me, largely by taking the simple step of shouting the friggin' truth from the rooftops, you will be rendered a bit player in the drama currently unfolding here in the United States. We are in a Constitutional crisis, brought on, once again, by a Republican President, and your supine position on the issue of civil rights, Presidential authority, choice, taxes, the Patriot Act (which you flatly voted for in an effort to keep your seats), and the AUMF (which was also a blatant effort to not be seen as weak on defense) has taken us not one single step toward turning the tide.

Get a clue, folks, or get left behind.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ditto.

Well, there's probably no need for me to ever bother writing again, since the boys at The Beast have said nearly everything I ever wanted to.

While I wallow in my inferiority and mourn the fact that I'll never be both as witty and concise, have a look at their 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005.

Oh, and for those of you dying for an update: I still have yet to hear from the movers, who I hope (pray, wish, beg) will be here on Friday or everything turns to shit.

While the "Uproot Your Life in 10 Days" adventure is going relatively ok, Mr. Bitch and I are rattled and only marginally in touch with the mechanics of sane conversation.

Here's an exchange we had about ice cream (referred to as "Phish") just the other night:

Q: Do you want your ice cream now or later?

A: Yeah.

Q: That was an "or" question.

A: Phish.

Meanwhile, Baby Bitch says "bye bye" every 4 minutes or so.

We should be on a plane Saturday. If not, you can find me in a little room, rocking back & forth and wearing a little canvas number with really long arms.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Pic of the Day

Just something sweet in case your day hasn't been.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Personal Drivel, or "Where the Hell Has She Been?"

I figure it's high time I poke my head in here and at least pretend I have something to do with the goings on of this blog, eh?

Things at Casa Bitch have been moving at something of a fever pitch for the last couple of weeks thanks to some stellar news: Mr. Bitch has accepted an offer he (we) couldn't refuse in lovely Colorado and we have to effect our transplant in a mere two weeks (er, 10 days, now). Thankfully, Big Company is paying for the move and coordinating the beefy mover dudes, but all other logistics fall to moi, Domestic Engineer of the Bitch household.

I'm of two minds over this task allocation: my anal retentive half is perfectly content to have my fingers in nearly all the pies, since "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself". (Yes, I have trouble delegating in a corporate environment. You have a problem with that?!?) My lazy hippie half wants to whine about not having it all magically attended by the moving fairy and is steering my packing procrastination a bit starboard. No doubt this schizophrenic approach to such an upheaval is more interesting to actually watch than read about, but should any particularly comic results manifest while I crumble into a pile of panic and sloth, I'll be sure to pass them along to you, kind and loyal readers.

The end-of-the-rainbow element of this move means that after nearly 7 years, Mr. Bitch will finally stop traveling for a living and be home every night of the week. This is of increasing importance as Baby Bitch enters his 2nd year and is a heartbeat away from pleas of "Daddy, don't go". As my husband so delicately put it, however, the Elephant in the Living Room is "what happens if we don't actually LIKE seeing each other every day?" In my mind, this leaves us with a few interesting options.

A.) Banal hobbies. He might find some belching poker party to attend or I might try to explore some Cassarole-of-the-Month Club or something. Green beans and peanut butter, anyone?

B.) The night shift. I was a stellar bar tender. Charming, witty, flirtatious. I can seduce you into buying far more drinks than you intended to consume and then kick you out at closing in a way that makes you feel like I can hardly wait for your return. My tendency to linger after closing and get sloshed might be a downside at this point, however.

C.) Back yard burial. Mr. Bitch is insured. I know where he sleeps. And the silly man lets me feed him all the time. Hey, accidents happen. People disappear all the time.

Chances are good we'd opt for A in the event claustrophobia sets in, but in all seriousness, the good news is this: Mr. Bitch and our devil-spawn are pretty much the center of my universe and for good reason; their company is impossible to beat and most days, I love them so much it's hard to breathe.

I'll do my best to pop in here over the next couple-three weeks and regale you with amusing moving tales (assuming such animals exist), but if I don't, I trust you'll understand. I've only been half-watching the news/reading the blogs and all the State of the Nation garners is an eye-roll and a surge of bile. Commentary is plentiful on my blog roll. Please avail yourselves of it if you haven't yet. My continual thanks to Lily for keeping the cobwebs at bay...

I'll resume the regularly scheduled snark once we're settled in Colorado. It's a red state, you know. Thankfully, blue counties are plentiful and Boulder (Hippie Heaven) is less than an hour away from our would-be abode. <whew>

Cheers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Little-a-This, A Little-a-That

I swear, my two-year-old is running my ass ragged. By the time I get a breather at night, I have all the wit of a goldfish.

Many thanks to those that posted New Year's wishes -- greatly appreciated. And a special thanks to Disgusted in St. Louis for the photohop magic -- you ROCK!

If all, what, 4? of you show up tonight, treat this as an open thread.

Here's a few morsels for ya:

Does Digby ever have an off day? Somehow, I doubt it.

Fasten your seatbelts. The press is surely under tremendous pressure from the Republicans to report this as a bi-partisan scandal and they are already buckling under. But that doesn't change the fact that this is a GOP operation from the get --- and they know it.

[...]

This characterization of the scandal as being "bi-partisan" is typical bad mainstream journalism, particularly the emphasis they are placing on the very small handful of Democrats who've even been mentioned (much less included in any legal procedings.) Not only are they creating some equity and illegality where none exists, by doing it they are missing the real story, as usual.

This isn't a story about power corrupting or about a few bad apples. This is about a corrupt political machine --- a system of money laundering and public corruption on behalf of one political party. It's about a party that has used every tool at its disposal to legally and illegally enrich itself and enhance its power. It's right there. It's unravelling before our eyes.


Fucking brilliant: You don't have to a sociopath to be Republican, but it helps. (hat tip C&L)

I'm seriously thinking of ordering this as a bumper sticker.

In case you missed any mentions of it, turns out Mel Gibson is something of a dolt. Oh well. I'll probably still see The New World.

If any of you have had the displeasure of speaking to a wingnut that cites publications like World Net Daily as gospel, you'll like ConWebWatch. When I'm in such a revolting position, the amount of crap contained in such "references" is enough to make my hair hurt and I honestly can't be bothered to reply in detail about why virtually every sentence is wrong. Thanks to these nifty Internets, I (we) have a little help in that area. Enjoy.