Sunday, April 30, 2006

Rational Bigotry

I once listened to Sean Hannity by mistake.  I was driving my new boss’s car and didn’t want to change the radio station, lest I forget to change it back and piss her off.  So I was listening to the station she had it on, and it was this guy talking about something.  I couldn’t quite figure out what exactly he was talking about, or where he was going with it; mainly because I didn’t know who it was.  I didn’t even know that Hannity had a radio show, and this guy sounded totally reasonable.

Slowly, I figured out that he was talking about that gay New Jersey governor guy, who had just given his big press conference about everything; and Hannity sounded completely reasonable talking about it.  He wasn’t angry or mean-spirited.  He sounded relatively intelligent.  And I was surprised.  Not because I thought Hannity was being reasonable, because I still didn’t know who it was; but just because I was actually listening to it on talk radio.  I used to be a dittohead back in the day (circa 1993), and knew a thing or two about talk radio; and this guy sounded refreshing.  And he wasn’t boring either.  I wasn’t particularly impressed, per se; but I clearly will acknowledge his expert oration abilities.

And after awhile, he’s talking about how there’s nothing wrong with being gay, and whatnot.  And how we shouldn’t judge against the guy, and regular, normal things about homosexuals and how some people just have that kind of preference and it’s no big deal.  And then he gets to the punchline, and it was waaaay out in right field.  Just something completely the opposite message-wise of what he had just been saying; and yet, if you weren’t thinking about it, would have sounded completely natural and as a part with the earlier, more reasonable stuff.

Because he started giving us reasons for why we should punish and destroy the gay governor.  Not because he was gay, but because of his deception about being gay.  Because he lied to his wife and lived a double life.  And this is all just a grown-up variant of the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” meme that the gay-haters pretend to so viciously.  But it was done so smoothly.  Trust me, I know my rhetoric and this guy was pat.  So that ten or fifteen minute reasonableness that he started with was just a ruse in order to refocus his flock’s anger towards the gay; in a sense, rationalizing bigotry and hatred.

And it worked.  I wasn’t going to fall for it because I’ve got my trusty biobrain which is totally in-tune to spotting this kind of trickery; but a less critical mind would almost surely fall for these techniques.  Particularly if they want to believe; and they all so want to believe.  Guys like Limbaugh and Hannity put sense to their senseless lives and these people flock to whoever can provide them with order, logic, and a sense of the big picture.  And it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really make sense or depends on propaganda and manipulation.  It makes sense to them.  And they believe.  

Just like why you guys come to me (besides the wicked humor and free backrubs, of course).  Except that I really am telling the truth and have a keen mind for seeing the obvious and stating it in a way which sounds not quite so obvious.  But that’s exactly what these people see from Limbaugh and the others.  That’s exactly how they feel.  Everything that Limbaugh says makes just so much sense and really does tie-up the loose-ends in a neat fashion.  Just like what I do; except dishonestly.  And they wouldn’t call it slight-of-hand if the trickery was easy to see.

And they see Limbaugh and Hannity as being reasonable people.  Because they don’t shout.  They’re not angry.  They don’t sound irrational to folks who want to believe.  They’re not openly bigoted; but rather, help normalize bigotry.  A logical fa├žade to mask the illogical.  It’s not about the gays; it’s what the gays are doing to us.  It’s not about Mexicans; it’s about what the dirty Mexicans are doing to us.  It’s not about hurting blacks, or women, or Muslims; it’s about ending racist affirmative action programs and defending our nation.  Bigotry has been given a big makeover, and now takes the guise of an assault against dignity and all that is holy.  Bigotry has become a cause for righteousness and civil liberties.

And it works.  That’s why they think we’re completely nutso when we attack these guys.  Because they just don’t see it.  They believe what they’re told and really do see Limbaugh as a moderate-conservative-nice guy truth-teller; kind of like Will Rogers on Oxycon and a few more asswarts.  And no attacks against them or insults can change that.  And god forbid that you try bringing up a fact that isn’t Limbaugh certified-true.  They don’t see these guys as the source of their worldview; they see them as the confirmation of it.  

And the more we denounce these sources of wisdom or conflict with them on any regard, the more they’ll see us as extremist fruitcakes who couldn’t see their own hand if they grabbed it with both asses.  And that’s exactly the way the Limbaughs want it.

Extrapolatory Expertise for Hire

I just looked up the phrase “String Theory” over at Wikipedia, so now I’m an expert on the subject.  And let me tell you, that’s the biggest pile of horse dooky I’ve ever seen at one sitting.  I mean, I’ve shit better theories than that on cocktail napkins and sold them on eBay.  Anyway, I don’t have much more time to elaborate on this right now, but I think you get the point.  Just take what I said, and extrapolate.  You’d be amazed at how much of life you can extrapolate; and oftentimes, too little information is better than too much.  And if you can’t, just take my word for it.  I know what I’m talking about, so you don’t have to.

But what if you're wrong?

But what if you’re wrong?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Music for Music

I’m a big big Neil Young fan, but I haven’t been too impressed with Neil Young’s newer material (ie, post 1980).  Like all his material, it’s hit and miss; but the hit doesn’t hit nearly enough, and the miss is just as embarrassing as ever.  And so it was when I listened to a snippet of his new album and couldn’t get past the first minute.  I put this in the miss category, and fear that the only reason why anyone likes this is because of the politics, and not because of the music.  Equally, I fear that the whole liberal-love of Dixie Chicks is due to that one comment in London, and more importantly, the conservative backlash against them.  And I just don’t like that.

Firstly, I don’t like it because I’m worried that it makes us no better than the dummies who want to ban the Chicks, due to their anti-Bush message.  Or who insist on eating “Freedom Fries” just because the French government didn’t support our invasion of Iraq (for the record, Mrs. Biobrain recently took a trip to San Angelo, TX and saw Freedom Fries on the menu of a local eating establishment; though in their defense, the menu was a few years old and it’s possible they’ve just been too lazy to change it).  And I hate that because it’s sooooo immature.  Buying or avoiding something because you don’t like something associated with it is just stupid.  I understand buying liberal books from a liberal writer in order to support liberal causes.  And I never did jokingly buy the O’Reilly Factor for Kids for my brother, because I couldn’t find a used one at Half Price Books and would be damned if I bought him a new one that sent money to that asshole.  But music?  Whatever.

And that’s my other thing: I take music very seriously.  I’m a big music guy.  I love good music.  And that’s why I don’t think we should be buying music for non-musical reasons.  I didn’t like the Dixie Chicks before 9/11, and I sure won’t buy one of their albums afterwards; no matter how often they diss the president.  Hell, they could poop on his head and make Cheney lick it off, and I still wouldn’t buy their albums.  I just don’t like that kind of music.  I like real country music, like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline and Bill Monroe, and that watered-down pop crap just doesn’t cut-it.

And I like music so much that I always treat lyrics as an add-on.  It’s nice if they’re good, but they’re certainly not essential to the song.  I’d rather not even understand the lyrics if they’re bad, but am willing to put-up with bad lyrics, as long as the music’s good.  And so I don’t even care what the message might be.  If you’ve got a message, write a damn blogpost.  But if it’s music, I only care about the music.  And if you’ve heard any of my songs (yes, I’m a sorta musician) you’d understand that.  My lyrics are only there to act as an assist on the music, and that’s how it should be.  I often will reuse the same lyrics on different songs, because I really don’t care much about them.  I even like my lyrics, but again, only in how they improve the music, and not as a feature of their own.

Even more so, I think that pointed, message-filled lyrics that aren’t absolutely brilliant really detract from a song.  I don’t like them and think they get in the way, so that you’re focusing on the words, rather than the music.  And they often are used to mask inferior songs.  As I’ve mentioned before, that’s one of the things that I think ruined John Lennon’s solo material.  Instead of writing lyrics, he was putting essays to music, and I hated that.  John was definitely my favorite Beatle, but I prefer Paul’s solo material over John’s, just because the focus was still on the music (though I prefer almost every Beatles song over any of their solo material).  I’ll gladly take a lightweight love song about a girl over an “important” song about discrimination against that girl.  If your message requires a musical background, then you probably haven’t written it well enough.

And so this all gets us back to Neil Young’s album.  I really didn’t listen to it much.  Probably not even a full minute.  I got to the chorus and was disappointed by how bland the whole thing was, and how it sounded like so much of the rest of his post-1980 material; with Harvest Moon being one of the few exceptions.  

But maybe I’m wrong.  I don’t want to listen to any more of it, because I like Neil Young so much that I refuse to taint my memory by listening to his lesser material; but maybe I’m wrong.  So tell me, if I listen to more of that album, will I like it more?  Is it going to rock my socks off like Cowgirl in the Sand or Cinnamon Girl or almost the entire Decade box set?  Or will I be disappointed?  I’ll give it a chance if you guys insist that it really is good, ie, better than what I heard of the first song.  But otherwise, I’ll stand by my opinion that it’s just more of the same; and only appreciated because of the message, rather than the brilliance of the music.  

I’d rather not think that liberals are equal to conservatives in allowing their ideologies to determine if a song is a good or bad; but that certainly seems to be the case.  Perhaps “equal” isn’t the right word, but I don’t like that kind of thing at all.  It’s one thing to support a liberal book because of its liberal slant, but I think that entertainment, and in particular music, should be off-limits to that kind of influence.  I don’t hate a song for having a message, but I certainly don’t think it should get folks to listen to something they wouldn’t have liked anyway.  I’m not saying that music should be apolitical, but I wouldn’t really mind if it was.  Tell me I’m wrong.  Tell me to give it another chance.  But if you do, and I do, and I don’t like it anyway, I’ll never listen to you again.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why Conservatives Are Ultimately Screwed

On failed equipment used by the trapped Virginia miners:
The Bush administration is reviewing air packs and other safety equipment used in the nation's mines after previously scrapping similar initiatives started by the Clinton administration.

And this isn’t an isolated incident.  The conservatives are just plain wrong, and the longer they stay in power, the longer they’ll continue on instituting their dangerous theories, and the more people will realize that the liberals have been right all along.  And the best thing for conservatives right now would be for them to go down in flames, before they have time to really screw things up and kill the movement completely.

This is a liberal nation, and nothing will remind people of that more than watching conservatives flounder in office.  But the key is for Democrats to strongly adopt the liberal position and to learn how to properly defend it.  Liberals stand for strong society and people working together to do the right thing; to do what it takes to secure the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That's what this is about.  Not money.  Not waiting until things go wrong and then trying to fix it.  It's about working together to do the right thing.  Not because we want to; but because we need to.  

And best of all, that's exactly what all Americans want.  We just need to get better at explaining that to them, and to show them who really has their best interests at heart.  Nobody wants a Big Daddy government telling them what to do; but nobody wants their daddy dying in a mining accident due to faulty equipment and lax regulators.  We need to get better at explaining the big picture on all this stuff and how our policies benefit everyone...including the rich and powerful who struggle so hard against us.  We're in this together, and we need to make that clear.  

Oh, and make sure to smile.  People like that kind of stuff.


(updated for rewrite)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Carnival of the Liberals #11: They're All Losers

Guest Post by Doctor Snedley, personal assistant to Doctor Biobrain

Pathetic. Simply pathetic. It was just a simple task: Getting liberals to talk about liberal things. And while they did it in their typical liberal way (whining, irrational, and rude) they failed utterly, miserably, completely; and are probably too ideologically-blind to ever acknowledge this point. Is it any wonder that they refuse to honor the integrity and competence of our fine leader, or that they project onto him their own failures and insecurities? Or that they can’t accept the fact that, under Bush, America has once again proven itself to be the greatest, strongest, and most wonderous nation ever; despite the best efforts of the small cadre of Bush-haters who can’t even accept their minority status gracefully? Is it any wonder why the pathetic Biobrain can so consistently win this carnival? I think not.

I’m speaking, of course, of the latest Carnival of the Liberals, which I’m substitute-hosting for my inept boss Doctor Biobrain; who volunteered for a job which was obviously beyond his limited capabilities (typical lib). Picking the selections for this bi-week’s carnival was obviously difficult for me, due to the heavy level of dreck emitted by the echo-chamber referred to politely as the “liberal blogosphere”. I’ve always made a point of avoiding this kind of traitorous material and now see that my worst fears were not nearly fearful enough.

But, I had a job to do, so like any good conservative, I did it, and I did it well. Besides, we’re talking about liberals here, so one post was really as good as any other. And for any of you who weren’t selected in this carnival: Don’t worry; you’re all losers in my book.

The Selections

We’ll start-off with the one honest liberal submission: A rambling mess explaining why liberals love bureaucracy more than life itself. We’re talking about people whose biggest complaint against the war in Iraq is that it didn’t involve enough pencil-pushers and rabble-rousing latte-sippers. We’re talking about Two Cheers for Bureaucracy by Karl Weber of the World Wide Webers (a communist cabal if I’ve ever heard one), who actually argues that we need even more red-tape in our education system. Great. What’s next? Will Karl openly defend Marxism and the beloved 110% tax rate they so secretly desire? Perhaps an angry rant in support of the Ultimate Welfare State, where the only people not on the government dole are the stupid schmucks assigned to hand-out the taxpayer’s dough? When will these libs learn that hard-working Americans will always refuse to support their bizarre quest of crushing the American spirit through high taxes and higher government spending; or that this is one of the big reasons why everyone loves President Bush? From Karl’s angry tone, I doubt they’ll ever learn.

And speaking of being high, our next selection is from the vowel-impaired TNG at Neural Gourmet who, in all seriousness, suggests that the problem with Americans is that they’re too stupid to vote Democrat, in his post Who’s Stupid Now? Worse, he actually likens the fop Hanoi Kerry with one of our great Founding Farmers, Thomas Jefferson. Right. As if TJ would rather waste his time with an elitist metrosexual windsurfing in Cape Cod, rather than with a down-homey manly-man clearing brush in 110 degree Texas heat every August. Which naturally begs the question: Who’s the dummy now?

We’ll follow that with an even dumber post lamenting the fact that America is being lead by “the biggest, toughest guy around”; all because tough guys like Bush and Batman are prone to attracting enemies. Jesus, where do these people come from? We’re speaking, of course, of Martin at Writings On The Wall and his post The Batman Effect. I suppose Martin would prefer that we go for the Wimp Effect, in hopes of making America look so weak and pathetic that the terrorists would no longer bother with us. Perhaps I’ve just given him his next blogpost idea. Just make sure to give credit where it’s due, Martin.
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And from there we’ll go to the surprisingly astute JR Kinnard at Don’t Floss with Tinsel (I guess the drug-addled libs need to be told even the most obvious of things), who asks the eternal question we face when dealing with fundamentalist Muslims: Can There Be Peace? This time, JR is asking about peace with Iran and explains why it’s impossible for America to negotiate with terrorist killers like Iranians; whom JR refers to as douchebags (I was thinking murderous douchebags, but perhaps that’s redundant), . Naturally, this being a post for a liberal carnival, JR gets in the obligatory digs at Bush, by pretending as if Bush is equally to blame for this situation; as if it’s possible for us to negotiate with these murderous thugs who gassed their own people and are almost single-handedly responsible for every attack our nation has ever faced. But I suspect that that’s just a little sugar used to help liberals accept the idea that Iranians might be the bad guys on this one. Whatever it takes, JR. Whatever it takes.

On the flipside, we have Chris Hallquist at The Uncredible Hallq (which I believe is some sort of Arabic pun, probably anti-American), who also complains of Fundamentalists in his selection: An Anti-Fundamentalist Manifesto. But in one of those bizarro-world twists you libs are so good at, he’s actually referring to Christians! Yes, crazy, I know. But there it is. Even more bizarre, he seems to be suggesting that the War on Christians doesn’t exist. As if we just invented it as a political trick to woe Christian voters to support a cause that doesn’t support them. As if we’re supposed to pretend as if his very own extremist anti-Christian rant isn’t yet another shot across our bow. Most likely, this is an amateurish attempt at psy-ops, to get our side to stop fighting. But for those of us on the frontlines, there is nothing more real than this. And like all our battles, we won’t stop until we’ve completely eliminated our enemies. Guys like Chris can hate America enough to attack its finest citizens, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to roll over and let them win. Give me God, or give me death!

And speaking of hating America, something called a Modem Butterfly (which I believe is some sort of internet sex position for folks not content with the one God gave us), writes about diluting the great American gene-pool in a post titled The Great American Melting Pot. Somehow, the idea that Ruskie Krauts giving us liberal traitors like this Butterfly person is supposed to assuage our fears that immigration isn’t a giant commie plot to take over the world. Well geez, why not just let all the foreigners in while we take over their pisshole countries and eat dirt for a change. Sounds great. I’ll let MB be the first to go.

Well that was all some heady stuff and seeing as how most libs are victims of Sesame Street’s assault on our attention-spans, I’ve decided to shift gears for a selection from the great liberal TV eyeball, TayTV. Tay was the only lib willing to accept one of my carnival topics with his Mistakes of Iraq; except he seems to have gotten confused over the word “Your”, as in my question “List your three biggest mistakes regarding the Iraq War.” And rather than listing his mistakes, he harped back onto the mistakes libs like to pretend that Bush has made. Well, at least he tried. Hope you enjoy the clips. They’re as out-of-context and fictitious as anything else you libs see on your hopelessly biased media; so you should have no problem comprehending them.

Now that you’re back from your TV fix, I’d like to change speeds a little and expose you folks to some conservative news sources; possibly for the first time in your life. I know, this is a liberal carnival and everything, and you guys can’t stand to see anything that doesn’t already fit neatly into the tiny realm you refer to as a “worldview”. But, if you have the slightest bit of reasonableness in that pathetic excuse for a brain you have, you won’t hold it against these posts, simply because they happen to be right.

The first is from an overly polite conservative named Jon Swift who makes the mistake of thinking that being reasonable will help him convince liberals of their own idiocy. That’s probably just the foolish influence he gets from watching the overly-balanced Fox News, which he lists as one of his only news sources (along with the lib-friendly Rush Limbaugh and the Hollywood-Lib jokester Jay Leno). In this selection, titled Why Conservatives Support the Duke Lacrosse Team, Swift naively attempts to show liberals the facts as to how conservatives deduced that the Duke Lacrosse Team is entirely innocent of anything that they could possibly be accused of, and how the only real racists in this country are the fools who call themselves Democrats. Perhaps someday idealists like Jon will give-up wasting reason and logic on the emotional lumpheads on the left and finally understand why bruteforce is the only thing they understand; but I must admit that I find his earnestness refreshing.

Our second conservative selection is from a wonderful news article by Hedwig the Owl aka GrrlScientist, which showcases one of Bush’s greatest successes in our fight against the second most dangerous haters of America: Muslims (we all know who the most dangerous is). In the article Teacher Arrested at JFK Airport in NYC, we learn how airport security caught a member of the Al-Gebra movement attempting to bring several instruments of destruction to do untold damage to American citizens. And not only does this article highlight the importance of a strong national defense and racial profiling, but also shows us the dangers of the public school system. It’s bad enough that we allow these traitors to influence our children, but worse is that it’s my tax dollars financing these efforts. Simply chilling.

Ok, I’m sure that was a shock for the few brave libs to have actually clicked through and attempted to comprehend these things, which obviously don’t fit into their little liberal minds. So as a reward, I’ll end this carnival with a batch of absurdist liberal limericks by Madeleine Begun Kane at MadKane, who fashions herself as a “humor” columnist. And while I don’t exactly see where the humor is, perhaps it works a little better at the level you liberals are accustomed to. The post is titled Scotty & Andy & Josh, Oh My!, which attempts to demean several American heroes who, due to their love of family, recently quit their jobs with the Bush Administration, which they had served with the utmost brilliance. Again, I’m not sure exactly where the humor is in all this, but whatever.


Ok, well that does it for me. I can’t say that I enjoyed this, but at least it gave me a chance to inflict some actual facts onto your otherwise hate-filled blogosphere. Maybe some of this might plant the seed into your peabrains that perhaps there’s more to life than bitching, moaning, and rant-filled hatred. There’s also money.

I’m now leaving this in the incapable hands of Ebonmuse at something called Daylight Atheism; no doubt named after the fact that atheists see so much daylight, due to their inability to attain gainful employment. After all, if someone isn’t willing to seek the ultimate reward in life, they’re probably not going to work so hard for a lousy paycheck either. Anyway, the next carnival opens on May 10, and it will take at least that long for you to write anything that won’t be a complete embarrassment…assuming that is at all possible for you. I’d wish you luck, but you’d probably just give it all to your buddy OBL.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Appetite for Destruction

Of the Bush Admin’s politically motivated Tough Guy strategy, Kevin Drum writes:
It sometimes seems that the American public really does have an unending appetite for "getting tough" with whichever enemy du jour the White House casts its increasingly feckless gaze on, but I think it's just possible that Bush might have gone to this well one time too many.

But I don’t think that’s quite right.  I mean, how many enemies have they given for us to hate?  Bin Laden was an obvious target, and there are good reasons to believe that they never even liked him as an enemy.  Not only have they never seemed particularly interested in capturing him, but he’s not even the type of target that they want.  They don’t want some stateless dude that can hide anywhere.  The best he can do is to provide them with an excuse for attacking a country.  And in that regard, he’s of much greater use alive.  

No, they’re much more interested in attacking a full-on country with an army that will stand still long enough to provide good targets to practice on.  And more importantly, to have lots of good assets and resources to abscond with and lots of infrastructure to contract out to GOP investors.  

And again, Bin Laden wasn’t a target of their choosing.  Even after 9/11, it looks like they kept trying to pin it on Saddam instead.  And beyond that, I can’t really think of too many other enemies the Whitehouse has thrown at us.  Maybe you could say North Korea, but that’s not really an example of them getting tough; so much as a country they like to mention occasionally for their own purposes, but which we’re not supposed to get rabid about.  Sure, there’s Zarqwai and probably some other individuals, but they mainly seem tied back into the Iraq thing.  That’s not to suggest that the Whitehouse wouldn’t do such a thing.  It’s to say that people aren’t nearly the war-thirsty fools that Drum seems to make them out to be.  

And then there’s the issue of our “unending appetite”.  I don’t think that’s the case.  I think the problem is that many people made an emotional investment in the Iraq thing and still don’t want it to be a mistake.  Or at least they don’t want to admit it to us.  So they continue to give rhetorical support for something that they’d never agree to go through again.  They might want to stay the course in Iraq, but not be so willing to make a new course in Iran.  

And hell, had Kerry won in 2004, can we doubt at all that the most fervent war supporters wouldn’t have started speaking ill of the war almost immediately?  Hell, they wouldn’t have even waited until inauguration. They’d have insisted that all the bad things happening were due to Kerry’s perceived weakness in dealing with terrorist evil-doers.  And tied into that, we shouldn’t doubt that much of the anti-Iran rhetoric we’re hearing is solely due to folks wanting to show their support for Bush.  

And so rather than this being a case of people supporting Bush because they like war; it’s more likely that they’re supporting the war because they still like Bush.  And it’s just as likely that they still like Bush because they hate us so much and are forced to side with Bush to spite us.  And with Bush hovering closer to a dreaded 30% approval, it’s hard to argue that there are too many of these people left.  I suspect that that number would drop even faster if they could convince everyone that Bush was a Democrat.

Overall, I really don’t think there ever were really that many people who supported war for the sake of supporting war.  I believe many in the pundit-class fall into that category, and certainly many politicians took that stance because it was good for them politically.  But I think that most Americans who supported the war did so because they were lied to so convincingly by the people they trusted.  They don’t consider themselves to be “warhawks”.  They thought it was necessary.  They believed that Saddam attacked us on 9/11 and would likely attack us again.  This wasn’t about the tough guy posturing the pundits talked about.  They were seriously worried about nukes that they were told about.  They thought that we were better safe than sorry.  And now most of them are sorry that they ever supported this war.  Not only are they burned on the Bush Admin, but they’re far less likely to trust the people who misled them last time.  And as time goes by, that trust will only continue to drop.

But this wasn’t one in a long stream of enemies that Bush has thrown at us; as Kevin suggested.  This is really the first and only one.  And it was a abysmal failure.

Superman for President

Regarding Roger Ailes’ suggestion of Bush being Batman, I have to say that I’d prefer Superman as President.  Not only would he save us the expense of Airforce One and gas-guzzling bulletproof limousines, but I fear that millionaire Bruce Wayne might be a tad too sympathetic to more taxcuts for the super-rich.  Plus, Clark Kent’s journalism background would certainly endear him to the media and help smooth his efforts at communicating his message.  

And sure, there’s the issue of Clark not actually being an Earthling, but I believe his commitment to the American Way more than compensates.  Besides, I seriously doubt that our Founding Fathers had extraterrestrials in mind when they came up with that rule; and probably just wanted to keep the pansy-assed Old Europe out of the Whitehouse.

But then again, I’ve always been biased towards Superman; so perhaps this is just my irrational partisanship rearing its ugly head again.  And I’d still pick Batman over Spiderman, who I’ve always seen as being kind of gay; though not in the homosexual sense.  

P.S. And for those without the good sense to know better: Yes, Superman is a Democrat.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fighting the War from Abroad

Regarding my earlier post on the Republican’s Tinkerbell strategy, Commenter Dan writes (in a comment I otherwise agreed with):
But I agree: The war going badly will speed the process and turn the public even more against the war, which in turn demoralizes the troops and encourages "the enemy" but what of it?

But I don’t think that’s quite right, and see that as part of the post-Vietnam spinning that the pro-war types put out there.  To me, if things are going badly in a war, the solders know about it far more quickly than we do.  And if things are going well in a war, the soldiers wouldn't be demoralized simply because the folks at home aren't happy with it.  They're there and we're here.  And the things that happen there have a lot more impact on the troops than anything that goes on here.  Of course, it’s unlikely that we’d be significantly unhappy with a successful war that the troops were really happy about; but that’s just more of what I’m saying.  

Equally, I think the enemy also has a better idea of how the war is going than anything we know.  They know when their bombs are getting us.  They can see how tense our soldiers are when they’re walking the streets or driving by in armored vehicles.  They see our guys making mistakes and shooting/jailing the wrong people.  They don’t need a CNN satellite feed to know what’s going on.  This stuff isn’t rocket science.  Nobody likes to see their buddies killed or have their arms blown off; and that’s all guerrilla warfare is about.  

The trick of guerrilla warfare is making the bombs and not getting caught.  But everyone knows that these tactics will eventually wear-out the opponent.  They aren’t being encouraged because we’re acknowledging that it’s working.  They’re encouraged when they see their tactics working.  They’re encouraged when they see fewer foot patrols, and see that we’re having trouble building schools and hospitals; because of their tactics.  They’re encouraged when they can keep getting more recruits to blow themselves up.  And they’re encouraged when we shoot, jail, or torture the wrong people, because they know that this will only bring more recruits to their cause.  Hell, they’re encouraged when we shoot, jail, and torture the right people; because those people are also likely to have family and friends who might be more convinced to join the insurgency because of that.  And that’s one of the problems with fighting an insurgency: They’re so easy to do and the enemy is likely to make the mistakes that keep making it easier.

But the idea that they’re getting this feedback directly from us at home is surely mistaken.  Sure, it’s likely to have some impact.  But not anything that a successful war would give us.  It’s much better for us to run a successful war that was unpopular in America than an unsuccessful war that was popular.  Because the unsuccessful war will eventually lose popularity, while the successful war is likely to gain it.  Propaganda is an important tool, but reality really is more important.  

And more likely, we’ll have an indecisive war that steadily loses popularity over time.  Because as I argued earlier, in war, the hometeam wins a draw; and the invading team needs outright victory.  And the longer that success is unknown, the worse it is for the invading team.  And if our success is dependent on the levels of support and propaganda, then we’re probably not winning.

So, no, I don’t agree that the troops are strongly affected by the attitudes of the folks at home.  But there is a group which is demoralized when the folks at home are unhappy with a war: Politicians and pundits who support the war.  That's the group that's really demoralized, and that's the group that can eventually pull the troops home early and "lose" the war.  But that's not likely to happen unless they really are losing the war.  And if the politicians can’t hold onto a successful war that’s unpopular, then we probably shouldn’t have been fighting it anyway.

Tied to Vietnam

And to tie this into Vietnam, soldiers were already demoralized and didn't want to be there before the protests really got big.  And anyone who forgets about what those protests were really about is a fooling themselves.  Sure, people were against the war.  But a big part of that was certainly the draft.  Had we waged that war with an all-volunteer army, it probably would have lasted longer.  

But it still would have been lost.  I’ve read enough about it to concur that it was a hopeless war.  I’m not even sure if that kind of war has ever been won.  And had the Germans or Japanese believed that we were going to conquer them and force them to be subservient to American interests (as the Vietnamese and Iraqi fighters believed), it is unlikely we would have won WWII (not to suggest that we would have lost land or anything).  I suppose prior colonization and subservience of Vietnamese and Iraqis by Europeans had something to do with our problems.  

And without a doubt, the draft was far more demoralizing to the troops than anything the protesters did.  As was watching buddies die and be maimed for a war that they didn’t understand.  After all, the real reason that war continued for so long was as a face-saving measure by our politicians.  It was a cock-up from the start, but they knew that a loss would severely damage our country…which was why we shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.  Same with Iraq.  If you don’t need to be there and can’t afford a loss, you probably shouldn’t do it.  

In both wars, the pro-war crowd showed the world how limited America’s military might really was; thus making it harder for them to wage war in the future.  But these aren’t the anomalous occurrences the pro-war crowd believes them to be; nor were these wars victims of troop-demoralizing propaganda at home.  These are natural occurrences which were entirely predictable.  And the reason why propaganda is considered to be such a big factor isn’t because it was so effective; but because we lost.  And these people would much rather blame propaganda than the limitations of their own simplistic theories.

Propaganda v. Reality

Am I suggesting that propaganda doesn’t play a part of warfare?  Of course not.  But as the Republicans are learning more everyday (or as they should be learning) propaganda can only take you so far, but eventually reality will have to match.  And if it doesn’t, then the propaganda can backfire and anger people even more when they finally see the reality.  But that really only goes as far as whether we go to war and if we stay there.  But it won’t have a significant impact on how that war is actually conducted and can’t overcome the troops’ own experiences.

Again, a successful war will not be undermined by negative feelings at home.  It might change how the government treats the war and whether we continue with it; but it won’t demoralize the troops as much as the war itself.  Propaganda can help a war, but it can't win it.  That needs to be done in the real world.  And if you’re not winning the war and you don’t need to win the war, you probably won’t.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Roiling with the GOP

Headline:
Flap over pet projects roils GOP

And it’s about how some Republican Congressmen are upset about earmarks and excessive spending by other Republicans in Congress, including the Republican leadership in Congress.  Is someone being roiled?  Yes.  Are they Republicans?  Yes.  Do they represent the “GOP”?  Of course not.  This stuff wouldn’t be an issue if a majority of the GOP was roiled by this stuff.  Heck, if even a quarter of the Republicans in Congress were truly “roiled” by this, they could probably vote with the Dems to stop this crap.  So this obviously isn’t a very large contingent of GOPers being roiled.  Hell, someone reading the headline would probably assume that the pet projects were non-GOP items.

And isn’t the obvious word they were looking for “divides”?  Flap over pet projects divides GOP?  That’s what the story is about; how Republicans are divided over this issue.  So why didn’t they write that in the headline?  I’d be lying if I said I knew the answer, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that this is yet another outcome of rightwingers “Playing the Refs” and getting editors to downplay headlines and stories which depict Republicans negatively.  Plus, there’s the issue that the traditional storyline is that Democrats are the hopelessly divided ones, and perhaps it doesn’t seem appropriate to the editors to show Repubs in a similar light.  Whatever it is, this is pretty lame.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dirty Republicans

One other aspect of Republicanism that I forget to mention in a previous post: They really like being crooks.  I was reminded of that reading this of corrupt defense contractor Mitchell Wade in TPM Muckracker:
But employees say it was more: they both admired his ability to play people, and were disgusted by how stupid was his almost pathological need to be dishonest. "He could have done everything legally and been a billionaire," said one former executive. "But he always wanted to cut corners."

But it’s not just him.  That’s just the way that Republicans like to do things.  If they can do something honest or dishonest, they’d prefer the dishonest way.  That’s just the way they roll.  It’s not enough to get ahead; you’ve got to get ahead in a tricky way.  That kind of thing just appeals to people.  I kind of understand that, as I’ve always had a penchant for doing things in an economical or lazy way; and sometimes go way out of my way to do things the “easy” way.  

And that’s how they are about dirty tricks and cheating.  It’s the icing on the cake.  It’s not enough to win; they’d rather win dirty.  They’d rather deceive.  Sure, playing dirty and deceiving are necessary for them to enact the agenda they want; but they’d do it in any case.  Heck, it could be argued that they picked their agenda based upon the need to deceive.

War President Michael Moore

One thing I still don’t get about those who defend Bush’s unconstitutional power-grab regarding illegal wiretaps, stripping citizens of their rights, etc; how do they not see how these things might ultimately be used against them?  Are they really arguing that they think a President Hillary Clinton or a President Howard Dean should have these powers?  Or, god forbid, a President Michael Moore?  Are they really arguing that all presidents have these powers?  Obviously they refuse to see things that far into the future, but I don’t see why we should let them forget.  

Sure, there are far better arguments to make against Bush’s actions, but anyone too blind to see those reasons already aren’t going to listen to them now.  But they understand enemies and power, and how they’d like to keep those two things from getting together.  And before we even bother arguing in support of Al Qaeda (as is our wont), we need to ask them how far these limits really stretch and who they’re willing to give these powers to.

Overkilling Tinkerbell

Regarding Atrios’ post on the Bush Admin’s Tinkerbell strategy, I do believe that it’s played a significant part in hurting the war in Iraq.  After all, why work hard, plan elaborate strategies, or hire competent experts, when you believe that propaganda can do it for you much more easily?  That’s like studying for a test that you already prayed to God that you’d pass; total overkill.

And that does seem to be the message that they got from Vietnam.  Most people learned that some wars are bad and that you can’t always trust the military solution as the trump card of foreign policy.  But that’s not what most conservatives learned.  They just learned that you can win or lose any war based upon your belief in the war.  And that if you can shut-up your critics long enough, you can keep a war going indefinitely...until you eventually win.

But that’s entirely backwards.  Vietnam wasn’t lost because Americans lost spirit.  They lost spirit because we weren’t winning and didn’t have a good gameplan for winning; nor was it crucial for us to win.  And the anti-war movement wasn’t a propaganda campaign that succeeded at killing the war; it gained traction because the war was going so badly.  It was the symptom of a bad war that many Americans didn’t like.  And the longer that war went on, the less popular it would be.

And what killed the war was that it was just a crappy idea.  We shouldn’t have been at war there, didn’t have a realistic chance of winning, and ended-up hurting our image in both Vietnam and throughout the rest of the world.  Kind of like the war that we have now.  But again, the message that the propagandists on the right got out of Vietnam was that propaganda can win or lose the war; and so they decided to go with that same idea again.  But propaganda can’t win a bad war, and the military option should really be saved as a last resort and not as an active arm of our foreign policy.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that the real legacy of the Bush Admin will be that it was a giant mulligan of the discredited right-wing policies of the 1970’s.  And perhaps if Bush had run on a Do-Over platform, people might be a little more receptive to that idea.  But as things stand, it looks like this might eventually turn out to be the final nail in their coffin.  It took thirty years for them to finally be able to resurrect their discredited policies; and with any luck, it won’t be coming back again.  

Liberal Call for Submissions

Guest Post by Doctor Snedley

Greetings liberals, and welcome to the call for submissions for the eleventh bi-weekly Carnival of the Liberals.  For those unfamiliar with me, I am Doctor Snedley, Doctor Biobrain’s personal assistant, as well as Glenn Greenwald’s favorite conservative (not that he’s said as much, but the guy has linked to me twice this year (though he erringly credited both to Biobrain), so I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m a hit with the guy).  

Due to an unfortunate turn of events, I will be hosting this Carnival of Losers which will be posted on Wednesday, April 26.  As usual, the cut-off for entries will be April 24 (Monday night), probably at midnight central time; though, this being a carnival of liberals, I will expect stragglers.

Below are a few topics that I encourage for discussion:

1. If you weren’t a treasonous dog, what would you do to secure our borders?  Each response should begin with “If I weren’t a treasonous dog…”

2. How many rights do you need to take away from the real Americans before your perverted sense of entitlement is sated?  And do you really think it’s proper for you to enviously attack the very people who continually give you the ability to attack them?  And what about the children?

3. Do you really plan to destroy America, or are you just preparing the work for the next generation?  Give specifics.

Bonus Question: List your three biggest mistakes regarding the Iraq War.  You guys kept getting on President Bush’s case about him not listing his mistakes.  Now it’s your turn.

Naturally, I won’t hold it against you if you’re not capable of responding to any of these topics.  After all, Democrats haven’t been able to stay on-topic for the past two decades; I don’t see any reason to expect it now.  Besides, it’s not so easy when you don’t have the echo chamber to rely upon, and thinking is hard work.  But I guarantee that anyone brave enough to give truthful responses to any of the above topics will be included in the carnival, even if I have to break carnival rules (as is my right as a card-carrying Republican) and allow bonus entries.  

Other than that, I have only one other criterion for winners: No dummies.  I know, I know.  This IS a carnival of liberals, and it is supposed to represent the very zenith of current liberal thought.  But I grade on a curve and won’t hold it against you just because you’re ideologically-blind fools who want to destroy everything good, holy, and righteous.  Needless to say, it’s a very gentle curve.

Anyhoo, don’t forget to submit soon and often.  You’ve got three ways to do it, so you really kind of suck if you can’t get it done on time:
At Carnival Headquarters
At BlogCarnival.com
Or by email: cotl-submissions@carnivaloftheliberals.com

And remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter.  And even that’s probably not enough.


(Editor’s Note: For non-Biobrain regulars, it can be safely assumed that Doctor Snedley is a parody and is not ruining your precious carnival.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Blowing Bush

Parental Warning: The content of this post is unnecessarily graphic and may really gross you out.  Or maybe it’s a big turn-on, in which case I’d rather not know.

Question: Would you give Bush a BJ if it meant he’d be impeached for lying about it?  And not just impeached, but kicked out of office?  This question was primarily intended for the heterosexual boys out there, seeing as how that would be a more repulsive thing for them; and thus a harder decision.  But seeing as how we are talking about George Bush’s unit, I’m not sure it makes any real difference who you are.  It’s just gross.

And just to be sure, I will stipulate that it would have to be a full-on deal, no fakee’s, and to completion.  And if it takes less than a few seconds for the first one (which it undoubtedly will), then you’ll just have to hang tight through the second one…which is likely to be just a few seconds longer.  This is, of course, assuming that he really does have a working package; though it wouldn’t be hard to imagine if perhaps he’s been impotent since 9/11.  That really would explain a few things.  And if I had to bet, I’d say that Rummy might be having the same problem too; though some say he’s been that way since the Ford Administration.

Oh, and another thing: Everyone would have to know it was you.  It wouldn’t make sense if they didn’t, and you’d be like the punchline on Leno’s show every night for three months.  And maybe the liberals would lionize you for taking down Bush; or maybe they’d mock you for going down on the creep.  And of course you’d have to give testimony about it, talk about it on talkshows, and maybe even give some sort of cheesy demonstration on Saturday Night Live for a “spontaneous” cameo that would let everyone know that you’re in on the joke…even if they are still laughing at you all the same.

Oh, and just to make this decision a little easier, I’ll throw in Cheney for free.  He’d get like an eighteen year sentence for all kinds of dirty dealings and screwy maneuverings; so you wouldn’t have to worry about that creep getting into the presidency.  Oh, and to make things really interesting, Bush would have picked Joe Lieberman as his VP; so that’s who we’d get in the Whitehouse.  Joe Lieberman on top, with Joe Biden as second banana.

So how about?  Would you do it?  Is it worth it?  You’d probably save many lives.  Perhaps avoid a war in Iran, assuming the two Joes weren’t already on board for that.  All kinds of other good things.  Plus, we could replace Lieberman and Biden in the Senate with real Democrats.  So what do you say?  Bush says this is what he’s been waiting for the whole time, and promises to not cause too much of a stink about the whole thing; so are you in or what?  He needs an answer by tonight, and wants you to bring the booze.  Nothing cheap.  This is his first time and he wants it to be special.

The Honest Propagandist

The words of uber-joke Jeff Goldstein, via TBogg:

For a few retired US generals to be calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation publicly even as we are embroiled in that battle sends a message to our enemies that the general’s believe we are losing. And, as everyone with a shred of intellectual honesty knows that not to be the case—that the only way we can lose is if the public will is sapped—calling for Rumsfeld’s ouster now not only sends the wrong message to Americans, but it likewise sends the wrong message to Iraqis, the vast majority of whom are optimistic about the direction of the country.

Intellectual honesty, eh.  Look, when someone is explicitly stating that they must say we are winning the war in order for us to win the war, and that it helps our enemies to say that we’re not winning; can we really trust their “intellectual honesty” when they say they think we’re winning?  I don’t think so.  Because even if he does believe that we’re winning, he’s already admitted that he’d say that even if he thought we were losing.  He just told us that.

And that’s one of the problems with running a propaganda campaign: You’re an idiot if you actually tell people that you’re running a propaganda campaign and that they need to lie if they don’t have positive news.  And Jeff Goldstein’s an idiot.  Because he’s just telling us that he thinks the war is subjective and should be influenced by the proper lies.  And when several military generals state publicly that we need to do something new in the war, and a confessed propagandist with no military experience or inside information disagrees with them and says that we don’t need any changes because we’re already winning; it’s pretty clear that the propagandist is lying.  And so in this recent blog post, Jeff Goldstein has implicitly admitted that he’s a liar and that we can’t trust him.  What an idiot.

But then again, maybe he has a point.  After all, who can really say that retired generals are the best arbiters of whether we’re winning the war?  Especially generals who were stuck in the thick of things and for whom the dangers of war may have distorted their view on how successful this mission is.  They say that distance often puts things in better perspective, and there are few who are as distant from the reality of Iraq than Jeff Goldstein.  

Besides, if these generals aren’t savvy enough to understand the importance of propaganda and lying about the success of your military in order to aid that success; then maybe things are better that they’re now retired and Rummy’s still there plugging away.  I think that Rummy and Goldstein share the same intellectual bunker, so it just makes sense that we continue trusting in their brilliant Peter Pan offensive.  It’s gotten us this far, and if we change strategies now, we’ll just confuse the enemy.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter Everyone

How does the Easter Bunny get into the house?  There’s a full-scale mythology about Santa getting into the house; all about him using magic to squeeze into the chimney and how he gets his bottomless bag of toys down the thing.  And there’s all kinds of auxiliary stories regarding how he deals with fires in the fireplace, how he gets into apartments, his fog-busting freaknose, etc.  But what about the Easter Bunny?  Doesn’t he have these problems?  Doesn’t he need to get into the house?  Why doesn’t anyone discuss this?  And why does everyone have some excuse for leaving the room whenever I bring this up?  Riddle me that!

And what about the whole traveling thing?  Santa’s got reindeer.  Magical reindeer.  And there’s this whole mythology regarding how he gets around to all those houses in one night.  There’s stuff about string theory and faster-than-light travel.  Being in an infinite number of places at the same instant.  All kinds of cool stuff.  What does the Easter Bunny have?  Fuck if I know.  He’s just a fucking bunny.  Sure, he’s large.  But that can’t help him any in his quest to get from house to house.  He’d keep hitting everything, and there’s more surface-to-air friction.  He’d burn up before he even finished the first subdivision.

And maybe there’s some lubricant he uses to smooth out the friction.  Or perhaps he too has the whole being-in-infinite-places-simultaneously thing, just like Santa.  Or maybe he’s got some shit that we can’t even imagine.  But whatever it is, I don’t know about it.  I’ve been dealing with this Easter Bunny character for over three decades, and I don’t know shit about him.  I don’t know what he eats.  I don’t know where he lives.  And I sure don’t know how he gets into my house or how he even gets here.  Can you really swear that he has good intentions?  How do we know he’s not got more than candy up his sleeves?  Or does he walk around naked in my house?  He’s like six feet tall, so his wang must be at least a good two feet.  And he’s just schlonging that along in my living room?  In my living room??  Just so he can give my kids some candy and hope they eat some hard-boiled eggs?  Whatever.

Oh, and another thing: Is the Easter Bunny wrong for not caring about our morals, or is Santa Claus a micromanaging twit?  I mean, why is Santa so obsessed with our goodness?  My god, the man checks his list twice to see who’s been nice.  But the Easter Bunny, he doesn’t seem to give a shit.  He gives to everyone.  Hell, he’ll happily pass out edible replicas of himself, just to make you happy.  It’s like he’s just asking for trouble.  I’ve never eaten rabbit before, but he’s done a damn fine job of training me for the experience.  I’d start by eating off the ears and working my way down from there.  And even your most strict vegetarian would do the same damn thing.  I wonder if maybe he’s trying to pare down the competition.

But again, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.  I’ve fucking boiled eggs and colored quite a few.  I’ve had my kids create Easter baskets and I’ve prepared a fine ham dinner for tonight.  But I don’t know jackshit about the main dude of the day.  My kids have posed on his lap, but I don’t even know if he’s been to college.  Or if he has a wife.  Or if there are any sweet but savvy rodents or helper bees that hang out at his pad.  Or if he even has a house.  I don’t know anything.  I’m working in a complete vacuum here, and I don’t like it.  This isn’t right.  This bunny can’t be allowed to do this.  This may be his time of the year, but I really need a little more info to bring me back into the comfort zone on this one.  

I mean, shit; the only thing I really know about rabbits is that they fuck a lot.  Lots of babies.  And is that really the kind of influence I want around my kids?  I’ve got two teenagers, and I want a fuck machine hanging around the house dropping off chocolate and acting like he owns the place?  Whatever.  Or with my four year-old.  I want her all in on the whole making-like-rabbit action?  Disgusting.  This isn’t what I got into the whole parenting business for.  This isn’t it at all.

Sure, I liked the Easter Bunny and Santa a lot when I was on the receiving end.  But this giving-end stuff really changes the whole equation.  I’ve got to worry about the security of my family, and I’m no longer so cool with this shit when I don’t know what I’m agreeing to.  Are you really so sure that Santa isn’t stealing a few of our babies?  We’re only talking like 0.00000000001% of the population.  Who’s to say that any of these givers aren’t doing just a little bit of taking?  Santa I suppose we can maybe trust to do the right thing.  I don’t know why, but the guy is a saint and everything.  But a giant bunny??  That’s fucking crazy.  This isn’t something I can put my faith in.  The whole chimney thing is dubious enough; but without knowing enough about this bunny fellow, I really don’t think I’m so comfortable.  I mean, my cats have lived here for a few months, and they haven’t figured out how to get in at night.  What chance does the Easter Bunny have for figuring this shit out, when he’s got to go to a few million houses in one night?  And can you really promise me that he’s not an alien?  How can you know?  All this is too crazy.  

Anyway, my orange juice-gin-vodka has runout and the others are too busy watching Jeepers Creepers 2; so it looks like I’m going to have to make my own drink.  But don’t worry, I’m going to get to the bottom of this.  I swear, I’ll get to the bottom of this.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Before Rainbows

Question: Could God have made it so that hot things didn’t rise and cold things didn’t sink; without seriously altering everything else?  For example, when you’re boiling water, could he have made it so that the heated water stayed at the bottom and didn’t mix with the cooler water above?  Anyone with a basic idea of how this stuff works understands that this isn’t some minor trifle, but has major implications for all physical actions.  And I should stipulate that I’m not talking about doing this miraculously; but rather as a full-time thing with a physical reaction that could be understood and explained by scientists.  So was this a conscious decision of his, or did he have no other choice?

And that’s the thing: Of the stuff we understand, everything falls within the limits of how things need to be in order for things to work; and the more we understand about things, the more we see that things couldn’t have been any other way, and are natural outcomes predicted by the very nature of matter itself.  Many fundamentalists seem to be of the opinion that the proof that everything works-out perfectly for us is to suggest that there must have been a creator doing it.  I can’t fathom why they’d insist that this creator must be the god that poorly educated desert dwellers arbitrarily decided to worship thousands of years ago; but whatever.  They think that everything works out because their god made it so.  And yet, could things have worked a different way?  Could He have made things different?

And not just with convection.  Could God have arbitrarily made the sky permanently red?  Or clouds made of gold?  Or hell, they say that God gave us rainbows as a pact with his people regarding an event of dubious provenance.  And sure, maybe it happened.  But how the hell did light refract off of raindrops before that?  And was it just raindrops, or did light not refract at all?  And did he purposefully not allow raindrops to refract light so he could later enact this covenant, or was that just something he thought of on the spot?  As if the forty days and nights of rain were getting him depressed and he wanted something cool to cheer him up on rainy days.

And again, I’m not necessarily saying He couldn’t do these things on a limited miraculous basis; or that he couldn’t have designed our planet completely differently.  I’m wondering if he could have made these major changes in the laws of physics without changing everything else too.

And why doesn’t the sun have a big smiley face on it?  That’s the way I always draw it.  And why does pain have to hurt so damn much?  Wouldn’t a Hallmark card delivered by an angel be a lot nicer?  Kind of like a preemptive Get Well Soon card letting you know exactly what was wrong and what you need to do to fix it.  And why don’t birds suddenly appear every time I come near?  Not that I particularly like birds flocking around me all the time, but it would certainly be interesting.

And overall, why doesn’t the universe seem tailor-made by someone who cares about us?  I’ve played SimCity, Populous, The Sims, and many other godlike games where I cared a whole lot more for my fake people than God seems to care for the real ones he supposedly created.  And that’s not even to mention how I’d be considered an unconscionable jerk if I stood by and allowed all the bad things that God supposedly allows to happen to us.  

Heck, they’re trying to kill Moussaoui based on the idea that he didn’t help the FBI stop 9/11; but where was God in all this?  He supposedly knew about the whole plan since the beginning of time.  And if God couldn’t stop it because it was part of His Grand Plan, then how can we possibly fault Moussaoui for doing the same?   And sure, maybe we shouldn’t expect God to actively interfere with our daily activities; but shouldn’t we expect at least some kind of non-natural assistance with this stuff?  At least something that would suggest that there was in fact a creator behind all this, rather than just a ruthless natural law that makes no allowances for mistakes.  In SimCity, I personally send firetrucks to put out burning buildings; but for God, it’s apparently too much to ask for cancer to not hurt so much.  I’m not asking for miracles.  I’ve just got a few problems with the basic design.

Not that you should take my complaints as bitterness or anything.  Far from it.  I’m just suggesting that things really don’t look particularly well-designed for us, and really has the appearance of a willy-nilly system that doesn’t give a flip about what we do or how we want things to be.  And the things that seem particularly well-planned seem to be the things that God or any other creator wouldn’t have had a choice on.  Of course warmer water is going to be lighter than cooler water; because the molecules get more energy, move faster, and thus take up less space.  And of course light will move slower through water than it moves through air; because water is thicker than air.  And the sun doesn’t smile because it’s a mean ole’ beastie that likes to give people sunburns and makes August in Austin one of the hotter hells to live in.  That just makes sense.  

These weren’t minor little issues that a creator chose on a case-by-case basis.  These were major attributes that affect everything else.  It should go without saying that the reason we’re here is because Earth is the kind of place that would have us; and that we were born to fit the Earth’s set-up and not vice-versa.  But of all the things that have happened, and the way things are, this is how things would have to be.  So maybe there is some being which created all that we see, and maybe they went as far as creating the laws of physics and the universe around us.  But if they did so, they did so in a way that would only have come about naturally.  And none of this has the markings of an active creator who designed anything; but rather, everything shows all the designs of a regular system with natural events that could not have occurred otherwise.  

And so maybe God did decide to give us rainbows to show us his love; but the bigger trick wasn’t that he gave us rainbows, but how he arranged things before that.  Light should shine through water, and it should certainly slow down the light and provide us with the cool color spectrum that we see.  So the question is what that looked like before God bestowed us with rainbows.


Oh, and for those who like irony: I thought of this post while boiling Easter Eggs for my kids; so it’s kind of like the death of Jesus helped the cause of his enemies after all.  And yes, I do put the writing of this post on the same level as the effects of Christianity upon the history of mankind.  It’s that important.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tax Due Date: April 17

Not that you need it, but thought I’d just give a reminder to all my loyal readers to get their taxes filed by Monday, or at least to file a six-month extension.  And that if you owe money, you have to pay it by Monday, even if you file an extension.  But if you don’t owe money or are due a refund, there is no penalty for filing late.  And if you haven’t done your taxes yet, here’s the IRS’s free-file page for links on how to use online tax software for free.  It’s the same software, but for free if you click through that link, so I like it.

If you have any tax questions, send them my way and I’ll see what I can do to help.  I don’t want personal info, but I’ll answer any general questions.  But remember, any advice I give is not my “professional opinion as a CPA”, but just a friendly opinion as someone who just happens to be a CPA.  So no suing for bad advice.

Aborting the Immigrants

I don’t get it.  Digby and others have mentioned a recent mind-blowing argument from conservatives which outright blames our supposed immigration problem on abortions; and that we wouldn’t have an immigration problem if all those aborted babies had been born and taken those jobs instead.  Digby brings up a valid point that the whole “immigration problem” is that they’re supposedly stealing all our jobs.  So where exactly do those forty million aborted babies come into that?  They’d only have made the problem worse.  Particularly if we’re talking about replacing twelve million illegal workers with forty million citizens.  Sorry, but I don’t see how that trade-off supposedly works for someone already worried about their job.

And that leads us to an even bigger problem with that argument: They’re arguing that they think that America’s economy should suck so much that Mexicans and others evil brownskins won’t want to come to our country.  That we’d just shoot things down the crapper so that there wasn’t any reason for them to come here.  Not that they say that specifically, but if they’re arguing that those extra forty million people would have filled-out the job market enough that Americans would be picking fruit, washing dishes, landscaping, and filling all those other jobs without benefits and for less than minimum wage, that’s exactly what they’re saying.  

Oh, and don’t forget another aspect of all this: If those forty million people really would have made America suck so much that the additional twelve million immigrants wouldn’t have immigrated, then isn’t that an argument against abortion?  Isn’t that to say that we should be glad that they were aborted?  That this helped our economy?  I personally don’t think things are quite that simple, but isn’t that what Colson’s point is?  That the forty million would have made the twelve million stay in their own country; and thus it was better for America that they were aborted?  Sure, the term “better” is subjective and perhaps Colson and his conservative buddies think America would be better if we had a larger population and thus more workers competing for fewer jobs; but that’s not really an argument that they’re likely to make in public.  At least not during an election year, when their supporters might still remember this kind of stuff on Election Day.  And so we’re back at the idea of Colson arguing in support of abortion.

And that’s what I don’t get.  That just sounds like a really crappy argument and is terribly embarrassing.  Are they really so sure that none of their listeners can think past the word “abortion” and will accept anything they say?  Or that their listeners aren’t capable of understanding a liberal when the liberal explains this obvious concept to them?   Do none of them have even a basic understanding of economics or the causes of immigration?  Oh, we’re talking about Charles Colson’s listeners.  Nevermind.

But that’s what’s so bad about this argument.  Sure, it sounds stupid on the surface, but it’s also stupid all the way down.  It doesn’t make any sense on any level, other than the “Immigration and Abortion are Bad” level; and that’s not really a level, so much as an embarrassing plateau you hit before saying “Oh yeah, that’s dumb.”  But then again, this argument does have the mind-numbing “WTF???!??” reaction that the wingnuts like to shut us up with, so I guess maybe they score a few points with that.  After all, there’s no better way to end a discussion than to say something incredibly stupid and embarrassing, and there’s no better discussion to end than the one you’re having with one of Colson’s listeners.  So I guess in a way, everyone wins.


P.S. Scratch all this.  I just figured out his point.  He was just saying that if we could give guns to those forty million people and lined them along the border…  It’d have to work!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bubble-in-Chief

From USA Today:
Jeff Flake pledged during his first campaign for Congress in 2000 that if elected, he would serve three two-year terms. But the Arizona Republican is running again to keep his seat in the House of Representatives.

"It was a mistake to limit my own terms," says Flake, a conservative who has challenged Republican leaders on federal spending. He says the once-fashionable movement to limit terms in Congress has "just petered out."

Flake is one of at least seven House Republicans who had vowed to leave Congress next year but will be on the ballot in November. They ran as citizen legislators - antidotes for "career politicians." But after six or 12 years on Capitol Hill, they say they're just getting the hang of the job. None faces serious opposition because redistricting has protected incumbents.

Surprise, surprise.  Republican backs-down from idealist campaign pledge when faced with reality.  But it wasn’t just Flake who flaked-out on this, but apparently six other Republican liars.  Sure, the “just getting the hang of the job” line was one that non-term-limiters had been saying at the time…and being ignored by the fantasyland Republicans like Flake, who insisted that “career politicians” were the problem.  It’s hard to say if this is a case where Flake purposefully gave a bad pledge solely for the attack value, or if he really was foolish enough to believe that he’d bow-out after three terms; but that just gets us back to the Corrupt v. Incompetent question that continues to plague the Republican Party.

I remember discussing this stuff online years ago with conservatives who insisted that term-limits were moral and necessary for true democracy.  I, on the other hand, argued that experience was a good thing and that term-limits were anti-democratic because they denied voters their true choice of candidates.  I also believed that it would lead to lame-duck syndrome, where a politician stops giving a shit about the folks he’s representing and is more willing to make a power-grab before he leaves (ala President Bush).  But the conservatives just weren’t having it and wouldn’t shut-up about the whole thing.

But no matter.  That was then.  This is now.  And conservatives don’t seem to give a turd that they broke another promise and quietly altered a key tenet of their beliefs.  Sure, they made a big stink of it at the time, but as Flake said, the movement “just petered out”.  And I have no reason to believe that the same won’t eventually be said for the rest of the conservative movement.  It was a fashionable thing that sounded good at the time, but really wasn’t quite so ready for the whole reality thing.  It’s amazing how many things sound better when a smooth-talking radio-host is pontificating about it.

Bubbles for Everyone!

But again, this is par for the course.  Because the longer Republicans stay in office, the longer they’ll realize that all of their theories are a pile of crap.  Or they should realize that, whenever reality is forced onto them.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen nearly enough.  Not just because their entire ideology is fantasy-based, but because of a devious system that allows them to forever stay in a bubble.  With talk-radio, conservative news orgs like Fox News, Weekly Standard, etc., and diehard Republican-supporters who so dearly want to believe, it’s far too easy to stay out of touch with what’s going on around them.  When you believe that everything is subjective and just a matter of proper marketing and belief, it’s impossible to even fathom that a true reality is waiting to crush you from the wings.

And of course, it helps that none of the seven GOP liars face serious opposition because redistricting has protected incumbents.  That being one of the truly bi-partisan agreements in Washington as well as state capitals everywhere.  Ironically, it is severe partisan attitudes which have created this bi-partisan lovefest for all things gerrymandered; but until a true ceasefire is declared on the redistricting front, it’d be foolish for one side to create representative districts when the other side does not.  And I say that as a liberal living in an extremely liberal neighborhood in a liberal city, whose Congressman is a Republican from a somewhat conservative city eighty miles away.  I can thank Tom DeLay and his numb-nutted goons for that one.

And so it makes sense that Bush is the leader of this movement.  The Bubble People.  People who can believe what they want, receive the input that helps them believe, and a somewhat corrupt political process that protects them from facing harsh realities.  Even in this story, the only apparent repercussions for Flake are that an embarrassing news story was written.  But it’s unlikely that he’ll face any further repercussions from his broken promise.  Accountability is for suckers, apparently.  But if there’s one thing about bubbles that I know, it’s that they’re extremely fragile and will pop violently and often without notice.  As I’ve argued before, it’s just a matter of time until conservatives begin to grasp how sudden such things can happen.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I am the Winner!

Of course.  The results came in from today’s Carnival of the Liberals, and not only did Mr. Pharyngula declare me one of the winners (and if you read between the lines, you’ll see that I am the TOP winner); but I also discovered that my winning entry was the one I had submitted for the previous carnival.  And that explains why I didn’t win last time.  It wasn’t because I sucked more than the ten winners, but because I got screwed by the system.  It all makes perfect sense, and I’m certainly glad that I didn’t kill myself over it, as I had threatened to do previously.

Unfortunately, another threat I made in that anti-carnival tirade has come true: This next Carnival of the Liberals (which I foolishly agreed to host) will be hosted instead by none other than my ultra-conservative personal assistant Doctor Snedley.  I was sure looking forward to playing host this time around; but alas, it’s the height of the tax season and I just can’t spare the time to host this fine event.  But I really don’t think we have anything to worry about.  Doctor Snedley promised not to “Iraq” the carnival, and I’m sure we can take him at his word this time.  Lessons learned, and all that.  Anyway, he’ll be announcing the carnival shortly along with introducing this carnival’s theme.  I think it has something to do with scum-sucking weasels and our national security, but you’ll just have to wait for him to tell you more.  Good luck, and remember, if you injure him, you’ll just make him angrier.

Lacrosse?!??

Via the CSM:
Critics say that instead of opening up players' minds, Duke's atmosphere may actually fuel a sense of entitlement. Former students describe Duke as a "kind of Oz," where even after a hurricane, when nearby towns lie dark, the campus is lit and quickly cleared. And in this at-times magical place, the lacrosse team is at the social apex, say Mr. Johnson and others.

I really haven’t been too interested in the whole Duke-Lacrosse thing, seeing as how neither Bush, Cheney, or Rove have yet to be directly implicated in this…yet.  But being in the thick of tax season, I had too much work to do and had to find something else to do instead; so I read this story and found the above quote about Duke’s “Lacrosse culture”.  

Lacrosse??  The social apex of something??  Maybe I’ve just been spoiled living in football-dominant Texas, but I didn’t think anyone even cared about Lacrosse.  Heck, I’ve been to a few different universities, but I’m not sure if any of them had a Lacrosse team.  And if they did, they sure did a good job of hiding it.  It’s one of those sports that I knew existed, but didn’t think that anyone actually played.  Like Rugby, or mouthwash.  Sure, they show it on TV every now and again (I believe The Ocho had the men’s mouthwash championships on just last week), but I thought that was just a ruse used to scare people back to the real sports.  I’m not even sure how one plays Lacrosse, but it sounds pretty French, so I don’t think I’m going to be finding out either.

For the record, until now, I had believed that Duke University had been opening up players’ minds.  I am disillusioned, to say the least.

And for all those Lacrossers out there all ready to tell me how Lacrosse is really the best sport outside of Dodgeball, sorry, but I’m just not having it.  Rant all you want in the comments section; I’ll just ignore you anyway.

Truthiness on the March

As a follow-up to my last post (and yes, it is taking me this long just to write follow-up posts), I just wanted to highlight something I read in that Count Chocola article:

According to the commercials, Chocola has accepted more than $80,000 from various energy and natural resources PACs since he began running for Congress "while voting against bills that would have penalized those companies for price gouging." …According to figures supplied by MoveOn, the contributions range from a high of $7,000 from the American Electric Power Committee for Responsible Government to a low of $250 from the National Grid USA Political Action Committee.

According to a statement issued by the Chocola campaign, the incumbent has been "tough on oil companies" and has voted to prevent price gouging during times of emergencies and to direct the Federal Trade Commission to investigate price gouging after Hurricane Katrina.

Uh, am I crazy, or do these paragraphs contain facts?  The kind of facts that can be verified?  So what the hell is this “According to…” stuff supposed to mean?  Either the Count got more than $80,000 from energy PACs or he didn’t.  Could it really be that hard to research this stuff?  And sure the “tough on oil companies” claim is a tad subjective, but would it kill them to tell us what Chocola did to prevent price gouging?  Those all sound like facts to me.  Facts that could have been researched.  And to know the accuracy of these facts would go a long way towards informing the paper’s readers whether or not Chocola is fairly attacking MoveOn.  But instead, readers are left having to decide for themselves whether there are merits to these attacks; and they can only base that on what they already think of MoveOn.  What kind of reporting is this?  They’d have been better off not saying anything at all.  

And can there be any doubts as to who benefits most from this anti-objective reporting?  Reporting that relies on the reader’s own bias to fill in the gaps?  Reporting which prefers perceptions over reality?  Of course this plays to the Republican Way.  Sure, it’s possible that MoveOn is lying and that a more truthful telling would exonerate the poor, abused Count.  But on the whole, this subjective style of reporting plays right into the Republicans’ hand.  They believe that they can invent their own reality, and journalists like this one are surely allowing them to do that.

The Crap That Jack Wrote

Oh, and for some additional fun, be sure to check out Tribune columnist Jack Colwell’s take on the whole thing.  Having…something…truthiness.  Needless to say, the few facts that found their way into the above Tribune news article do not seem to have made it into Jack’s column.  No, there is no mention of the $80,000 that Chocola supposedly received from energy and natural resource PAC’s; which supposedly was a big focus of the ad.  Instead, Jack decides that all of this is really about Bush, saying:
Voters certainly may disagree, if they wish, with Chocola's solid support of President Bush, but clearly he has voted that support because of his belief in those principles, not due to any lobbyist providing incentives.

Of course.  And Jack knows that Chocola has voted his principles because….well because, Jack needs it to be that way for his argument.  After all, it’s not quite proper to declare that an attack ad is unfair if you can’t pretend that the charges aren’t true.  Everyone knows that.  Besides, lobbyists are simply notorious for giving “incentives” to people who are already going to vote how the lobbyist wants.  That’s what the word “incentive” means; to give something to someone for absolutely no reason.  I’m sure Jack’s editors are well familiar with that concept.

And I seem to be missing something here, but is he saying that President Bush is a principle?  And does the phrase “he voted that support” mean something to you?  Because it sounds kind of stupid to me.  And if it’s really the principles that Chocola supports, then what does Bush have to do with any of this?  I mean, he doesn’t even list Bush as having been mentioned in the ad.  He mentions DeLay, Cheney, and Abramoff; which he describes with “They are all said to be Republicans "caught red-handed" at one nasty thing or another.”  Though I’m not sure if he’s disputing the red-handed part or the Republican part.  But he doesn’t even mention Bush being in the ad.  So why does he cite this as being an issue of Chocola’s solid support of President Bush?  It seems to me that Jack just hit a rough patch in his column and decided to smooth the way by suggesting that Bush-hatred had something to do with this.  

But that’s not all the fact-checking you’ll get in Jack’s column.  Heck no.  Try this heaping helping of fact-checking action, and remember, he gets paid for this:
He also denied the specific charge against him that he "has been caught red-handed, protecting oil company profits while we pay more at the pump." MoveOn cites documentation for its charges. Chocola cites documentation for his defense. And oil policy is a matter that will be debated in the campaign.

Wow, talk about your hard working journalists.  This guy might have actually had to get out of bed to research those claims.  Both MoveOn and Chocola cited documentation.  It doesn’t get any more truthy than that.  

Oh, but he’s more than just a human encyclopedia of fact-checking.  Oh no.  He’s also a master political strategizer.  Try this sage advice:
Similar Move.On ads were run against Republicans in three other House races in Connecticut, Virginia and Ohio. One of the targets, Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, Republican incumbent in Connecticut's 5th District, hit back, going on TV immediately with her own ads attacking MoveOn.  

Good strategy, in the view of the political consultants who favor never letting an attack go without an even stronger attack in defense.

An ad attacking MoveOn?!?  Are they shitting me??  That’s a lousy idea.  First off, a smart political consultant knows that you never play defense.  And attacking MoveOn??  That’s just a stupid way to get deeper into the fray with someone who isn’t your main opponent; thus allowing them to dirty the candidate without the opponent getting equally dirty.  But I guess all this is a little beyond Jack’s meager brain skills.  He’s heard that attacks are the “in” thing in politics these days, and he acts like Mr. Cool Worldly Guy with his nonchalant talk of “air wars” and attacking in defense.  In reality, he’s a dope who’s confused all this with a sporting match and constantly sounds like Jimmy the Greek handing out Superbowl predictions (and yes, my sportscaster trivia is limited to an oddsmaker who died ten years ago).

Oh, but before we’re done, we’ve got to admire Jack’s humdinger recap at the end.  To do it the injustice of a paraphrase, he says that these MoveOn ads could either energize the Democratic base and turn out more Dems, or it could annoy the Republican base and turn out more Repubs.  Wow.  That’s genius.  Could he really have thought of that all by himself, or did he happen to overhear it…when everyone else was saying it?  Probably both.  And yet that guy got paid to write that, while I’m avoiding my real job doing this crap.  What a world.


P.S. Jack’s ending reminded me of this quote from Will Ferrell’s Dan Fouts:
"The team that scores the most points will probably win the game."
Truer words were never spoken.