Friday, September 29, 2006

Blasting Stone

Uh oh, it looks like Oliver Stone’s films are going to get that much suckier, at least in the eyes of Republicans.  Per the AP:

Filmmaker Oliver Stone blasted President Bush Thursday, saying he has "set America back 10 years." Stone added that he is "ashamed for my country" over the war in Iraq and the U.S. policies in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

I’m not sure exactly how that works, that a film becomes less good based upon what one of its makers said, but that’s exactly how Republicans think.  First comes agreement, then comes appreciation.  Good thing for him they already hated him based upon his prior films and statements, or his career could be in big trouble.  But now they’ve got one more grievance against every film he’ll ever make again.  And it’s never based on the quality of his films, but on whether or not they agree with him.  They don’t.

And is there any doubt that they’re not already typing their “Oliver Stone set America back 10 years” and “We’re ashamed of Oliver Stone” idiocies as I write this?  I’m not exactly sure why anyone thinks it’s witty or clever to replace one persons name in an insult for another; but that’s the way these people work.  It’s like they think the “Rubber v. Glue” debate is somehow real, rather than a silly playground taunt designed by people unable to make a proper comeback.  

And that’s the weird thing about conservatives: For all the insults they fling around, they’re usually so bad at it.  Weird.

Can You Say Habeas Corpus?

I honestly can’t imagine how Democrats can avoid not bludgeoning the GOP with their recent bill destroying our constitution.  I fear they’ll blow it, but I just can’t see how.  Were I an important Democrat, this would be a total slam-dunk.  If anyone didn’t know what Habeas Corpus meant already, they’d know by the time I was done.

And the thing to remember is that this is the compromise position, because the conservatives didn’t think Bush had to ask Congress for these powers.  They thought it was theirs for the taking.  I’m sure it was a major blow to them that they had to make all this public and admit that Congress was nominally in charge of this kind of thing.  Because that means that Congress can also take this away; a position that the Bushies would never agree with.

And now it’s time for Democrats to give them their next blow, on Election Day.  It’s time we all start giving America their first Latin lesson.


From the NY Times on the book Bob Woodward should have written a few years earlier:
Mr. Tenet, the man who once told Mr. Bush that it was a “slam-dunk” that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq, apparently did not share his qualms about invading Iraq directly with Mr. Bush, according to Mr. Woodward’s account.

But the thing is that Tenet wasn’t making the case that it was a slam-dunk that the weapons were really there; nor was he asked to make one.  Because this incident occurred four months after the Bushies had been making the case for war.  And before going into the final stretch of the marketing campaign, Bush wanted to see the final sales pitch.  Apparently, it was underwhelming and Tenet felt pressured to give his personal assurance that his work was adequate.  But again, he wasn’t assuring that the weapons were there; merely that the sales pitch was convincing.  Tenet, as Yes-Man, felt pressured to say that it was.

And of course, the sad thing is that there is nothing new in this account of Woodward’s.  He already covered this territory in his last book.  But for whatever reason, he never followed up with this stuff, to determine what was really going on.  Nor did he convey the truth that Tenet was making assurances of the sales pitch, not the final product; which he apparently did not believe in.

Out of Control

Also from NY Times we have my two favorite Wacko Rummy passages (emphasis added):
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls.

Mr. Rumsfeld reached into political matters at the periphery of his responsibilities, according to the book. At one point, Mr. Bush traveled to Ohio, where the Abrams battle tank was manufactured. Mr. Rumsfeld phoned Mr. Card to complain that Mr. Bush should not have made the visit because Mr. Rumsfeld thought the heavy tank was incompatible with his vision of a light and fast military of the future. Mr. Woodward wrote that Mr. Card believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was “out of control.”

What an infantile freak.  I’d truly feel sorry for him if not for everything he’s done to us.  

Oh, and I do like how the NY Times writer points out that Bush visiting a tank factory was a political matter.  A few years back, it’s likely they would merely have referred to it as the C-in-C inspecting his equipment.  This is the coverage we should have had years earlier, had the awesome GOP marketing crew not successfully cowed all of our gatekeepers.  And unfortunately, the cowing continues on many key issues.  History will blame us all.

Tales of Kitty Valor

I’ve promised no cat blogging before, but I just read Atrios’ pathetic tale of kitty valor and wanted to state that he’s got nothing on my kitties. Just this morning, I found a fairly large lizard with its head crushed in our door and its tail twenty-five feet away. These are some rough cats I’ve got. If I’m in a feisty mood, I might just post pictures of it tonight. Very gruesome.

And don’t even get me started on the mangled bird they left for me in my bedroom when I came back from X-mas vacation a few years back. It was still mostly alive and I had to fight it off with paperclips and a shoebox. My wife still laughs about that, but only because she wasn’t there. I’m telling you, I have no doubts that birds were once dinosaurs. Thank god for cats.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Torture & Rot

Woohoo!  My congressman thinks we should all be torturable and allowed to rot in jail at the government’s discretion.  He voted for The George Bush Torture & Rot Bill.  I’m one of the popular ones!!  May we all burn in hell!!

The Problem with Overkill

I was just reading about how scientists have uncovered why the 1918 Spanish Flu was so deadly, having killed up to 50 million people. The short answer is that people’s immune systems were overreacting to the illness and actually caused much more damage than the flu itself. That’s why young, healthy people were more likely to die from the illness than older, unhealthier people. Because the healthy person’s immune system was stronger, and thus could do more damage to the body in its efforts to fight the disease.

And to prevent such an occurrence today would involve suppressing the body’s natural response to the illness, as well as the illness itself. It seems nature has built-in boobytraps for us, and that it’s not necessarily best to go with what seems natural.

And it suddenly hit me that we see this same thing with the neo-con’s plan for fighting terror. Rather than targeting terrorism, they go into complete overkill mode. They’re all about invading countries, imprisoning enemies, destroying civil liberties, etc. And they honestly don’t care if they sweep-up innocent people, just as long as they catch a few baddies. For them, everyone not helping them fight is the enemy.

And it’s having similar results as the Spanish Flu, except with even more dire consequences. Sometimes, it’s not best to go with your gut instinct. Sometimes, nature can fool you into doing more harm than if you did nothing at all. And it’s certainly wrong to go into a full-on attack mode when a targeted response could work much better. The Republicans think that a big gun always works better than a small gun, and they need to understand that more damage is not necessarily better. I don’t think that viruses purposefully want to cause damage, but our human virus is most certainly benefiting from the neo-con response to it.


Almost every photograph of people in military uniforms on the Yahoo News page is in response to the person’s death. I was saddened by this when I first noticed the trend in 2003, and I haven’t gotten used to it yet. I’m sure I never will. The photos always show proud young people having finished a grueling training, and now they’re dead. I’m not suggesting that Yahoo needs to start running more pictures of living military people. I just want them to stop dying.

My dad was serving in Vietnam the day I was born, and I’m glad to say that he’s still with us today. I wish every military child could say the same. And I wish they could be with their parents. And I wish that all military people could have children. I wish they’d stop dying so young. It’s all so unnecessary.

It honestly hurts me inside to see these pictures. I’m not looking for them, but there they are. If everyone could feel that pain, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, too many people only feel that when it directly affects their own group. They forget that everyone is in a group; everyone has someone. Even if they don’t know them. We all have each other.

I feel cheap and petty even writing these words. This isn’t what I intended to write. But I saw yet another of these pictures tonight and had to say something. The picture’s gone now, but I’ll never forget it. And there will be yet another tomorrow. Life is important. Too many people forget. Every life is important.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Desert Eagle v. Replica

I was recently reading a Dick Armey interview where he stated that the problem for Republicans in the 90’s is that they kept trying to fight Clinton in public, and how they usually lost because that was Clinton’s forum.  Clinton was really good at politics and if you tried to go toe-to-toe with him in the public arena, you’d lose.  I’m not sure if that was the main problem, but that was what Armey said in his criticism of Gingrich and other leaders who he think blew it.

I just started thinking about that when I saw the headline Bill Clinton defends bin Laden handling on the Yahoo main page.  And then it all came to me: This is exactly what Clinton expected.  He knew that Wallace was likely to do what he did with his accusations of guilt for 9/11, and was ready for the ambush with one of his own.  Wallace thought he could go toe-to-toe with the Big Dog and clearly showed the world why he wasn’t worthy to be in the same studio with the former president.  

And in one fell swoop, Clinton was able to defend himself on Fox News while getting headlines to tell us that he defended himself.  Even if you think his defense was weak, getting Repubs to denounce Clinton’s defense is certainly a big shift from their original position that there was no defense at all.  And for those looking for the right defense of Clinton, they’ve now got a famous one to cite.  This was a complete win-win for the man.

And I have few doubts that Clinton didn’t expect all this when he agreed to the interview.  I won’t say he’s the greatest person ever, but he sure does his homework.  Wallace, on the other hand, got caught flat-footed and had his ass handed to him.  And rightly so.

And this reminds me of my favorite scene from the movie Snatch:

Bullet Tooth Tony: Now, dicks have drive and clarity of vision, but they are not clever. They smell pussy and they want a piece of the action. And you thought you smelled some good old pussy, and have brought your two small mincey faggot balls along for a good old time. But you've got your parties mangled up. There's no pussy here, just a dose that'll make you wish you were born a woman. Like a prick, you are having second thoughts. You are shrinking, and your two little balls are shrinking with you. And the fact that you've got "Replica" written down the side of your gun...

[Zoom in on the side of Sol's gun, which indeed has "REPLICA" etched on the side; zoom out, as they sneak peeks at the sides of their guns]

Bullet Tooth Tony: And the fact that I've got "Desert Eagle point five O"...
[Withdraws his gun and puts it on the table]

Bullet Tooth Tony: Written down the side of mine...

[They look, zoom in on the side of his gun, which indeed has "DESERT EAGLE .50" etched on the side]

Bullet Tooth Tony: Should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence. Now... Fuck off!

And that’s how I felt of that interview.  If only ex-presidents were allowed to talk like British criminals…

The Grand Inquisitor

I’m sure you’ve now seen Chris Wallace’s embarrassing interview of Clinton on Fox News.  So I’m just going to focus on Wallace himself, because it was obvious that he really didn’t expect Clinton to have any defense.  Because whenever Wallace hears this stuff, he never hears a defense.  Conservatives never do.  The few times they actually talk to liberals about it, they’re so confident that they’re right that they don’t even listen to the answer.  But usually, it’s just themselves bandying about how there was no defense of Clinton because Clinton didn’t do anything right.  

As usual, they’re high-fiving themselves for winning a contest they had only imagined.  The conservatives present these theories as a fait accompli, and that’s exactly how Wallace has accepted it.  

And so they’ve built-up their own bizarro world of Clinton culpability and they’ve never bothered double-checking what actually happened or waited to hear a response.  They’ve been given the conclusion and their borg-like minds imagine that they’ve already hashed-out the details before.  It’s like someone who thinks they’re clever because they read the last page of a mystery novel, rather than wading through the bogus stuff that comes before.  Except they’ve replaced Agatha Christie’s ending with a creation straight from RNC headquarters, and refuse to listen when you explain that they got it wrong.

And so we find that utterly atrocious “question” of Clinton, where Wallace raises a whole slew of issues hidden behind an accusation of incompetence, which Wallace clearly refused to hear the answer to.  Because again, he doesn’t believe there was one.  It’s almost as if in the fantasy interview Wallace had imagined, Clinton had simply lowered his head and cried in shame.  Because he kept acting as if all of Bill’s answers were superfluous side-trips, because there wasn’t supposed to be a defense.  The only answer Wallace would accept was an outright admission of failure; and as we saw, it was the only one he did accept.

Why Didn’t You…

I’ll start by combining all of Wallace’s pseudo-questions as one uber-question-statement, and then take apart each one.  And seeing as how Wallace didn’t actually listen to any of Clinton’s responses, this is probably the way he remembered it too.  You can just use the “…” part as Wallace’s recollection of this part of the interrogation interview.

Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and al-Qaeda out of business when you were president?  There's a new book out, I suspect you may have already read, called The Looming Tower.  And it talks about the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, bin Laden said "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of U.S. troops."  Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the Cole.

May I just finish the question sir?  And after the attack, the book says, that bin Laden separated his leaders, spread them around because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is always 20/20 –

But the question is, why didn't you connect the dots and put him out of business?

.. bin Laden says, but it showed the weakness of the United States.

With respect, if I may, instead of going through '93 and ... May I ask you (INAUDIBLE) question, and then you can answer?

Do you think you did enough, sir?

And when you look through that, you’ll find no actual questions.  Or specifically, what should have been questions were given as statements, and what he posed as questions were actually accusations.  Particularly if you bring-up several specific events that you don’t want the interviewee to talk about which would serve as a defense of his actions.  And had Clinton simply admitted that he could have done more, without a detailed defense, it is an implicit admission that all of those specific incidents were all screw-ups; which is exactly what Wallace wanted to hear.

Finish Him!

A real question could have been: It has been reported that Bin Laden saw our withdraw of troops in Somalia as a sign of cowardice.  Do you now think that was a mistake on your part?

And then Clinton would have said what he was trying to say about how Republicans wanted an earlier withdraw from Somalia and that Bin Laden didn’t have anything to do with Somalia, nor did it embolden him. And then Wallace could have asked follow-up questions; or at least he should have, seeing as how he didn’t seem to know any of this stuff.  This could have been a real learning experience for Chris, had he the least bit of intellectual honesty

But instead we get:
Why didn’t you do more?
Why didn’t you connect the dots?
And the trick question: Do you think you did enough?

And those aren’t questions; they’re accusations.  He’s not asking if Clinton made a mistake; he’s asking why Clinton made the mistake.  The interview had just started, yet Wallace seemed to think he had Clinton on the ropes and was going for the finisher.  For Wallace, the idea that Clinton was incompetent in fighting terrorism is a cold-hard fact.  It was kind of like watching a highlight reel from a real journalist; only focusing on the conclusions and not the build-up.  

Yet the build-up never existed, as the charges against Clinton were obviously bogus to any who actually remembers what happened; rather than remembering the RNC’s false memories.  And there was no real way to answer the “questions” that Wallace posed, because to answer those question is an admission of guilt.  It was like asking the question “Why did you kill your wife?” when you hadn’t even established that she was dead.

Blame Wilson

And when you really think about it, his “question” doesn’t even make sense; at least not in the context of Somalia.  It’s like Clinton was supposed to know that pulling out of Somalia would embolden a terrorist he had never heard of, and that Clinton should have done more to stop that.  Shit, that’s like attacking Woodrow Wilson for not having killed Hitler in WWI…well, except that Bin Laden wasn’t involved in the Somalia thing at all; which would make Wilson even more culpable for WWII and the Holocaust than Clinton was for 9/11.  But I suppose I can imagine conservatives making that argument too; if they needed to.

And when Clinton tried to explain this to Wallace, he was interrupted and told not to talk about what had happened in Somalia.  Somehow, Somalia is very important context to the “question” asked, so that he brought it up repeatedly, but is an irrelevancy when answering that same “question.”

And that’s what’s weird.  Clinton answered the question properly.  Or at least, he did Wallace the honor of rephrasing Wallace’s accusation into a fair question, and answered that question.  But in an obvious admission that it wasn’t a real question, Wallace wouldn’t accept what Clinton said.  And Clinton even called him on that.  

Were Chris Wallace to have any intellectual integrity, he would have accepted Clinton’s answer, or at least tried to get him to explain further, and questioned him more on what he said.  But Wallace didn’t want any real response at all.  He wanted Clinton to admit guilt and would accept nothing else.  And a person of true integrity would never have made those cheap accusations in the first place.

And again, what Wallace seemed to expect was a weepy confession; as if all you had to do was get the question out, and the answer was so entirely undeniable that even Slick Willy couldn’t slip out of it.  But he already expected Slick to pull some bull, and so Clinton’s honest and truthful response fell on deaf ears which already knew he was out of his element.  

Oh wait, I forgot.  It wasn’t Wallace who wanted to ask the question.  It was all the emailers who asked for the response.  Of course.


But another reason why Wallace disliked Clinton’s answers is that they were entirely unexpected to him.  In fact, Clinton was so far off-base with Wallace’s very limited knowledge that Wallace couldn’t even recognize them as proper answers.  He just imagined that Clinton was avoiding the question by wallowing in petty details.  He brought up the context of Somalia and the Cole bombing as evidence against Clinton, yet didn’t want any response.  Because he didn’t realize there was one.

And this is simply inexcusable.  I had honestly imagined that Wallace had some sports-reporter background with ESPN or something before joining Fox News.  I don’t know why, but that’s what I thought.  So I did some research expecting to find that, but instead find he had been a well-established journalist throughout the 90’s, so he has no excuse for not remembering what really happened.  And not even at Fox.  He was with ABC News for 15 years, including work as a substitute host for Nightline, and had been NBC’s chief Whitehouse correspondent throughout much of the 80’s.  

So there is no excuse for Wallace’s ignorance.  He should have known, but is now repeating the same absurdist anti-Clinton rhetoric that the whackjob dittoheads feverishly rant about.  It’s like all these people were born yesterday.  He seemed to have no idea that Clinton could defend himself based on the merits.  I’m sure Mike Wallace is just pining for the days he can roll in his grave over his son’s embarrassing antics.  I know I would be.

P.S. I’ve now seen the exchange in question, and the most disconcerting part was how much Chris’ voice sounds like his dad’s.  I’m not going to suggest that Mike Wallace was the greatest journalist in America, but I do admire the guy.  Chris sounds like his old man filtered through a watery turd.  Very disconcerting.

Clinton on the other hand laid the smack down so hard that I had to stop the video at several points to stop from reeling.  It was just as I said: Chris Wallace was so ignorant of the truth that he couldn’t even recognize it as such.  He just sat there with that stupid smirk on his face and imagined that Clinton was stone-walling; rather than appreciating that this was the correct answer to the question…assuming you were giving Wallace the benefit of the doubt by pretending he had asked a real question.  

Listening: The Best Medicine

Digby reviewed the new movie Red State and wrote:
My favorite moment was when Mrs Gill, the Mississippi director of Concerend Women For America, gets upset that she's been "worked over" by this interviewer who had just asked her what she believed in. It's clear that when the totality of Mrs Gill's racism and intolerance became manifest in the few minutes that she spoke, she suddenly realized that she had given herself away as a white supremecist and Christian nationalist. Naturally she claimed victimhood and ended the interview.

And this is just too true.  Too often, these people never really express themselves in any depth and don’t realize how totally shallow and horrible their arguments really are.  Whether they’re arguing with us or talking amongst themselves, they never really get beyond the key phrases and soundbites which are immediately recognizable as being specific rightwing talking points.

And so when they talk amongst themselves, it’s merely to recite more of the talking points and to nod in agreement.  But there’s no effort to look beyond that, in order to get them to actually justify anything.  Or to further pursue any particular idea.  Why bother?  You’ve already got agreement, and that’s exactly what they expected: Like minded people, thinking alike.  And the fact that their rhetoric is entirely meaningless and devoid of specific context is irrelevant.  Because they never get beyond the surface level to realize there’s any disagreement.

Confronting the Enemy

But it’s no better when they talk to us.  They say some key word or phrase that we immediately recognize from a particular rightwing talking point, and we’re immediately all over them; questioning each soundbite as if it had been generated from the wingnut themself, yet never really penetrating beyond that to the individual’s actual belief system.  We just hear the same phrases uttered in the same way and we immediately stop listening and try to talk sense into them.  I know that’s what I do.  Someone repeats a specific Fox News moment, and I’m simply stunned that somebody actually bought it.  But they all do, and I’m stunned every time.  

But that’s not accidental.  That’s the way they’re taught.  Every thought on every important issue will be boobytrapped with positions you’ll find offensive and insulting.  Yet the meaning of the words will often not correspond with the speaker’s true opinion on the matter.  They’ll just be convinced that it does, because it sounds so good.  But more often than not, people are far more reasonable and nice than their arguments would lead you to believe.  But the rightwing talkers don’t want you to know that.  Because they want to make sure that their listeners don’t like you.

And it works.  You mention a recent news story.  They comment about how the Democrats are wrong for attacking Bush for it, and the race is on.  Or some other bullshit.  Just listen to all the rhetorical pitfalls spewing from their mouths and just remember what I said about these being intentional.  Fox, Limbaugh, and the rest of them are truly poisoning their minds; reprogramming them to make them useless in regular society.  It’s like a horrible virus and no one is immune.

But next time, just try letting them talk.  And asking them non-leading questions to get them to say more.  Not in an antagonizing way, but as if you were really interested.  And get them to keep talking.  Before long, they just might amaze themselves by what comes out of their mouths.  That’s the basis for psychoanalysis, and if anyone needs that kind of help, it’s these guys.

And if nothing else, you’re likely to get to some real core beliefs that you might be able to start working on.  But as long as they’re allowed to keep the discussion to meaningless clichés and empty rhetoric, you’ll never be able to make any headway at all.  Because you’re only attacking their defenses, not their beliefs.


I saw the same thing last week on The Daily Show.  The topic was “humane” hunting, with a guy who runs a hunting grounds that uses darts instead of bullets, who said how it was actually more humane to hunt deer than to not hunt them.  Or something like that.  And it clearly sounded like a point he’s said a hundred times and found really convincing.  

And the Daily Show interviewer just asks him “How so?” or some other open question, and the dude was totally stumped.  I guess most people who heard him say that either nodded in agreement or were stunned into silence, and he had never been asked to explain that absurdity any further.  

Because he clearly couldn’t.  It was a stock phrase he used repeatedly, but even he couldn’t explain it.  And I don’t blame him.  I heard the phrase and it didn’t make a lick of sense to me either.

Let Them Talk

And that’s why you needn’t bother arguing with them.  Because they just won’t understand; nor will they even try to.  And if they’re going to talk anyway, just let them.  Don’t argue.  Just keep asking more questions.  And the more they talk, the more you’ll feel sorry for them.  And the more that you’ll wish that their demented little universe was somehow faithful to reality and that they’d never need to wake up from this horrible dream.  And with any luck, they’ll finally start reaching that point where their own words start bouncing back to the reasonable part hidden away in their minds, and they’ll begin to realize how totally jackass stupid they sound when they’re talking.  

That’s how I converted from being Republican, and I suspect that it’s the same with everyone else.  You can’t talk them out of it.  You can only let them talk themselves out of it.  Once they finally get all that shit out in the light of day, it’ll start to sound stupid.  They’ve got it all hidden away, and you need to bring it out.  

But don’t let them be shy or embarrassed.  Find out what they really believe.  Why not?  It’s not like they’ll convert you or anything.  Let them talk.  I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?  That their insanity would feed back in on itself and make them take their rage out on you by gouging out your eyes and raping your skull?  Sure.  But wouldn’t it be worth it?  Pain is transitory.  But ridding the world of another crazy conservative is forever.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Four-Letter-Word God

Surprise, surprise.  Brent Bozell’s upset about something.  NBC decided to start airing the Christian cartoon VeggieTales on Saturday mornings, but removed all the “non-historical” references to God and the bible.  

One such removal was the main characters’ indoctrinating tagline at the end of each episode:
"Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much.”

The show’s creator insists he didn’t know about these edits until a few weeks before it started running and says he wouldn’t have approved of this, had he known; though I honestly can’t imagine how the question wouldn’t have come up.  Was he really that naïve, or is he just lying?  Perhaps both.

And no wonder Brent’s upset.  NBC doesn’t want to pimp Christianity.
The show was edited to comply with the network's broadcast standards, said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.  "Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view," she said.

Needless to say, that is both blasphemy and music to Bozell’s ears, which love to hear blasphemy.  Not that he likes blasphemy, mind you, but it sure does help pay the bills.

Here was my favorite part:
"If NBC is so concerned about that four-letter-word God, then they shouldn't have taken `VeggieTales'," [Bozell] said. "This just documents the disconnect between Hollywood and the real world."

Right.  The “real world” where talking vegetables praise god for making kids special.  Talk about your disconnects.

If Brent goes through with this, I suspect NBC will soon be learning the same lesson of ABC’s conservative experiment (Bozo Alert!): Conservatives will not be satisfied.  They don’t just want Christian-friendly or conservative-friendly content; they want to evangelize.  Or more accurately, to whore-out the networks for their own agenda; which is exactly what they’ve imagined liberals have received for decades.

It looks like both NBC and ABC thought they could harness the conservative fire for their own purposes, and are now getting burned.  Because while conservatives put on a decent argument, it’s entirely a sham.  They don’t want fairness or reasonableness.  They want everything.  And unless you give them everything, they’ll have a tantrum.  And they’ll probably have a tantrum anyway.  They’re just like that.  They don’t want to be satisfied.  They just like to complain about being victimized and having tantrums; that’s just their nature.  And if you so much as agree to edit out any content that non-conservatives find offensive, you will get the tantrum; every time.  

So I thank Brent for making that lesson so clear to them.  I’ve caught that Veggie show once or twice and I too would rather not see it in it’s edited format.  But then again, I didn’t really want to see it at all.  And I suspect that NBC will soon agree with me on that.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Yea Torture!!

In regards to America’s new torture guidelines, all I can say is that I find this so upsetting that I will continue my ostrich routine until I wake-up and find that the good guys did the right thing and it all went away. Wish me luck. I’m very upset. We’re all screwed.

On the bright side, at least the current generation of leaders is leaving us with a full deck to deal with when we finally take the reins of government. I was always worried that us Gen-X leaders wouldn’t have enough to do Oh wait, I forget. The media stripped us of the Gen-X label when we didn’t all turn into heroin-addicted slackers, so I think we’re now Gen-W.

But whoever we are, we’ll certainly have a full plate when it’s our turn to run things. Thanks guys. I was always worried that America would still have some semblance of a decent reputation in some parts of the world. Perhaps even some moral authority. But I guess the Bush Gang took care of that quite handily; which perhaps was their one point of actual competence; well, besides lying and winning elections based on lies. But I suppose that too is all part of their “Let’s Screw with America” plan. One thing is clear: History will not forget these assholes. Nor will it forgive.

P.S. Would it really help if I contacted my Republican Senators or Congressman? I’ve never done that kind of thing before and feel it would be utterly futile. Convince me I’m wrong. I’m really upset.

P.P.S. Never mind. I’ve just been assured that only the bad guys will be tortured. And we’ll know that because every one of them will have confessed to being a bad guy. That changes everything. Yea torture!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Email Stock Tip of the Day

For those of you interested in my previous stock tip, I’ve got another one for you.  You didn’t hear this from me, but the grapevine says there’s a great Gold & Silver stock that is currently priced at a meager $0.45 a share which is targeted to increase to a whopping $3 a share in five days.  That’s like a fifty bagillion percent profit annualized.  Talk about a steal!  And the best thing about it is that I didn’t even ask for this great advice.  It just arrived in my Inbox.  Very fortuitous, this internet is.

Oddly enough, the 30-day target puts the price at $9 a share, yet the “analysts” seem to suggest that any price over $3 is a “Moderate Sell”.  I guess they just don’t want us to get too greedy, or maybe they don’t want us to have to pay too much at tax time.  Kind people.

Oh well, that’s my stock tip of the day.  And for any of you planning to make a bundle on this tip: Good luck!

Santorum's Donor Projection

What the fuck is the matter with these people?  Via Atrios:
Santorum aired a spot featuring actors supposedly portraying four big donors to Casey's campaign meeting in a smoke-filled jail cell. The senator's campaign later conceded that none of the men had given money to Casey's Senate campaign and that two had contributed to Santorum's campaign, which donated the money to nonprofit groups.

Come fucking on, this is just stupid.  These people have got to be stopped, for their own good.  They currently know no boundaries.

Why Indeed?

Via Tim Lambert at Deltoid, I read:
When NOAA press officer Laborde was contacted to discuss the e-mails, he denied that interviews were subject to approval from White House officials. Confronted with his own e-mails, however, he said, "If you already knew the answer, why did you ask the question?"

And this is one aspect of the Bush Admin’s abuse of journalist methods that will perhaps always bother me: That journalists insist on confirmation of things they already know. And that just makes sense, for standard journalism. It’s not enough that they know things; they have to be able to prove things. And someone’s not lying until they admit that they’re lying. That should just be standard.

But if you already know something and your target has a history of lying to you about it, it’s time to come out with a different tact. Because the Bushies are totally onto this idea and continue to milk it for all it’s worth. They know that honesty and openness is for dopes and they can get much more through other means. Deception is so ingrained in them that it’s quite possible that press officer Laborde honestly wanted to know why he was being asked the question. To a Bushie, it’s like asking them if they want to breathe. They have no other choice.

And so you get press conferences and gaggles in which the reporters already know all the answers, but as long as the Prez or press secretary refuse to answer the question, the reporters won’t print it. Nor will they write about how they’re being stonewalled. Instead, they keep trying to weasel out the truth, aiming to trip-up Bush or an underling to accidentally admit to something. It’s like the press is so wrapped-up in the game that they’ve forgotten that they’re discussing something real.

And worst of all, even when they catch the Bushies in a lie, they still won’t outright call it that. Instead, they rely on winking euphemisms that everyone’s supposed to understand…but obviously won’t. And if you’re using an unclear euphemism to describe a lie, you might as well just call it a lie. And the Bushies will keep this up forever. It is almost never in their best interests to confess to anything and they rarely do. The few times honesty has come through, they’ve always regretted it. As I’ve argued before, for Republicans, honesty is the worst policy.

And again, I understand the need for these rules of journalism; but there really comes a time when you’ve got to see you’re being used and abused and break outside of that. The Bushies will never admit to lying or wrong-doing or anything bad. Try as you might, you’ll just be lied to, stonewalled, and deceived again and again.

And so if you already know the answer, why ask them the question? Laborde is obviously distressed about this, but when Bushies usually ask the question, it’s only for their own private amusement. They’ve turned journalism into a game and almost never lose. Journalists need to stop playing.

Dick & Don's Free Khalid Movement

What if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed finally got his day in court, whether kangaroo or not, and was found innocent? As if even the super top-secret evidence that no one was actually allowed to look at still wasn’t convincing enough? Would they release him? Maybe deport him back to his homeland for a hero’s welcome? And if that happened, would Bush finally just give-up and move back to Texas? Would he make sure to fire Cheney and Rummy first? Or would he just shoot them? Knowing Bush, that’s really hard to say.

And might this be the move Dick & Don were waiting for? As if they planned all this incompetence on purpose, and had no idea Bush could last this long? And that 9/11 was their masterstroke and expected him to fold that afternoon (which would explain why Dick had Georgie bouncing around on Air Force One). And after the Katrina disaster didn’t do the trick, they finally started moving on this free Khalid movement.

And perhaps this is all part of Dick’s Impeachment 2007 strategy, after which, he’ll rule as a competent, yet maniacal leader for the next ten years; before anointing Dick Clone III as his successor, with Jenna Bush as VP and Barb as First Lady. These guys do think ahead, and that really would make a lot more sense than what we’ve seen from Dick so far. And you know the media would just eat that shit up. They always wanted to be ruled by a cold-blooded bastard, and they’d finally get it.

But back to the original question: Could this really happen? Is there any chance in hell that they’d ever find Khalid innocent and release him? Impossible. So what’s the point? Fricking Saddam Hussein has a better chance of being found innocent, and he’s fricking Saddam Hussein! And what are they planning to do with him once they’re done? Death penalty? Probably not, thanks to that god damned martyr clause. The top guys always get away, ever since that whole Jesus debacle. Yet another case of the little guy getting screwed. Typical.

So it’ll probably just be life in prison. But isn’t that what he’s facing if we don’t have a trial? Of course. We’ll never let him free; trial or not. So what’s the point? I honestly don’t know. I’m all for trials, particularly the good ones. But I’m sure we can’t let this guy go. And I’m sure we won’t. So what’s the point? You know, it’s stuff like this why they invented prison accidents. Is it wrong for me to say that I wouldn’t mind?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Instapundit Loves Lewinsky?

I’ve got to agree with Alex Koppelman at Meta-Media when he suggests that there may be a real possibility of Glenn Reynolds, Mr. Instapundit, being a certifiable nutcase serial killer who enjoys torturing old people with dirty pictures of his alligator.  I’m not saying that I know that first-hand.  How could I?  I barely have enough time to scratch-out a blogpost or two a day; forget about scouring his creepy basement for endangered senior citizens.  And for all I know, they may enjoy seeing dirty pictures of his pandas while he dances naked to ABBA.  I don’t know.  I’m just saying that it’s a possibility that someone might want to consider dealing with before it’s too late.

And can you really know for sure what he’s doing with those scissors he bought?  I mean, really?  Or that he’s only used those knives of his for cooking purposes?  Of course not.  And while I have no cold-hard “clinical” proof that he doesn’t whack-off each night to his Bill and Monica dolls; I think I’ll decline any invitation for a sleep-over at the Reynolds household all the same.  

Because you never know.  Knowledge is an allusive thing which one can never be too sure of, while speculation smells so nice and fits like a glove.  I mean, Insty could have nukes himself, for all we know.  Or he could be an Iranian.  I’ve never seen him, nor do I personally know of anyone who has.  Perhaps he’s a computer.  Or worse…

I’m not saying I know, simply that you don’t either.  And a little of your ignorance can go a long way to paying my bills.

Update: Apparently, I’m not the only one curious about Reynolds’ supposedly zombie-free basement.  Scroll down…

Second Update: I would like to clarify that I’m merely engaging in speculation, and have made clear that I have no evidence for any of this.  But then again, where is any of the evidence to the contrary?  There are a lot of accusations swirling about Mr. Reynolds with nary a denial in sight.  I wonder -- does Karl Rove already have proof of all this, and is Insty being successfully blackmailed?

Fishy Fishy

Apparently, cities are now using fish to combat terrorism in their water supply:

Bluegills — a hardy species about the size of a human hand — are considered more versatile. They are highly attuned to chemical disturbances in their environment, and when exposed to toxins, they experience the fish version of coughing, flexing their gills to expel unwanted particles.

The computerized system in use in San Francisco and elsewhere is designed to detect even slight changes in the bluegills' vital signs and send an e-mail alert when something is wrong.

You know, that’s pretty cool and everything, but email??  Come on, fish.  How about a buzzer or something?  Or a flashing red light?  With our luck, we’ll get a stupid fish who types “defer salmonella” in the subject line and it’ll get sucked into the junk email folder and lost forever.  I actually did get such an email in my junk folder today, but it was merely a stock tip for something worth $0.175 which is estimated to reach $0.75 within the week.  I can’t wait.

But lest you think we’ve finally foiled Bin Laden for good, these fish apparently do have their limitations:
And they are no use against other sorts of attacks — say, the bombing of a water main, or an attack by computer hackers on the systems that control the flow of water.

Damn!  Damn!  Damn!  Don’t these fish know how important this is?  I know, it’s impressive enough that the fish can detect these threats, and the email thing is pretty cool.  (I wonder how they type)  But until these fishes get up off their asses and start defending our waters against bombs and hackers, we’re stuck relying on Bush.  And with what we’ve seen so far…I’d rather go with the fish.

Dobson's Gang of Thugs

Wow.  It took me several hours to write my post on religious war mongers, but former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) summed it up better in two lines:
"Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies. I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid.”

And that was a main point I was saying.  Well, except that I don’t pray at all, and I was complaining about Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council and not James Dobson of Focus on the Family.  But otherwise, the point stands.  They’re both pulling the same stunts for the same reasons and they don’t care who they fool to do it.  

It’s not about truth, it’s about power.  And maybe they really do believe in the whole god thing and think they’re working for a higher power, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they’re deceiving their followers while illegitimately stoking fear and resentment among fellow Americans.  And all in the name of preserving the “family”.  

Miss You When You’re Gone

Armey went on, saying:
“There's a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn't work unless it's dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they're easy. There ain't no thinking."

I agree completely.  Sure, I don’t use faux-fancy terms like “demagoguery coefficient” because I think they are counter-productive to the whole comprehension thing, which sort of undermines the whole reason for using fancy words.  But whatever.  He’s right.

And what’s odd is that I never liked Armey when he was in office, but have now taken more of a liking since he became a former Congressman.  I’m sure we’d still disagree on many key issues, but at least he seems to be playing by a consistent set of rules, rather than making shit up like the current batch of “conservatives” continues to do.  

Why is it that you never really get to know someone until after they stop running for office?  (Al Gore, I’m looking at you.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Papal Apology

I’m saying an offensive thing about you and think you’re ignorant for taking offense.  So I’m sorry for your ignorance and regret your sensitivity.  Perhaps next time you shouldn’t suck so much.  Sorry.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Religious War Mongers

Looks like somebody's planning to escalate the war against Christianity, and it ain’t the atheists (emphasis added):

"There are a number of pastors that said, 'Look, we don't get involved in politics, I'm not going to get involved in this issue, I just want to preach the gospel,'" said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "When they realize their ability to preach the gospel may very well be at stake, they may reconsider their involvement."

Now this is just bulldooky.  More scare tactics by the people who can’t get votes legitimately.  Because if their religion was under assault, they’d already know it and wouldn’t need Tony Perkins to collect incomplete anecdotes and half-truths to demonstrate it.  I mean, he’s trying to show pastors that their ability to preach might be at stake, so you’d think he’d have evidence of that kind of thing, right?  Apparently, maybe not so much.

Perkins and others are building a case file of anecdotes where they say religious people have spoken out against gay marriage only to be punished. Perkins specifically cited the decision by Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich in June to fire his appointee to the Washington area transit board after the board member referred to homosexuals as "persons of sexual deviancy."

The board member, Robert J. Smith, said he was expressing his personal beliefs as a Roman Catholic.

Right.  A pastor’s ability to preach might be at stake because public officials are being held accountable for insulting people on television and wanting to discriminate against those they disagree with.  Can you imagine the flipside of this?  Had Mr. Smith been a gay man suggesting that Catholics were persons of logical deviancy, he most surely would have been sent packing; and probably for his own good.

And that’s the thing: These people might actually have a case, were the supposed anti-Christians behaving towards Christians as these anti-gay Christians are doing towards the gays.  If gay people tried to attack and disgrace and discriminate against Christians simply for being Christian, Perkins might actually have an argument.  But instead, he’s whining because people are being denied the right to treat others shabbily.  

And that’s the whole point.  This isn’t an attack on Christians.  This is about keeping them within the same bounds that are expected of everyone else.  And while Tony Perkins might call that persecution, everyone else knows of it as equality.  Overall, the rule is that people are allowed to have their beliefs, but they shouldn’t expect a free pass when they say offensive things publicly.  Religious freedom isn’t an excuse for rudeness.  

If Robert J. Smith wants to preach his “gospel”, that’s fine.  There’s even a job title for people who do that kind of thing.  They’re called “Preachers”.  But nobody’s stopping him from preaching in his free time, and there are plenty of employers who expect that kind of thing.  Unfortunately for him, transit boards aren’t one of them.  Perhaps Mr. Perkins has an opening he’d like Mr. Smith to fill.  I’ll leave that to them.

Private Bigots

And frankly, I don’t have any real problem with Robert J. Smith being a bigot privately.  I’d rather he not be, but he can have his personal beliefs.  But when he, a public official, says things publicly, that’s another issue.  Here’s the line in question, which he said on television:

"That doesn't mean that government should proffer a special place of entitlement within the laws of the United States for persons of sexual deviancy," Smith said in the conversation about the rights of gays and lesbians.

Afterwards, he was asked to apologize and would not.  And this just isn’t acceptable behavior and religion is absolutely no defense.  Especially as he’s just using his religion as cover for his bigotry.  But in the end, they’re still his beliefs.  And that goes for everyone else.  People can hide behind books, myths, teachers, and priests if they want to, but in the end, you are responsible for your own beliefs and your own actions.

Now, if Mr. Smith believes that the bible is forcing him to agree to this against his better judgment, let him say so.  It would go a long way to defending him if he were to say that he personally approves of homosexuality, and was merely following what he thought his god wanted.  But that’s not the case.  The bible may say it, in his opinion, but that doesn’t force him to agree.  And it certainly doesn’t force him to say it on television repeatedly.  And if that’s what he wants to do, then he’s got no one to blame but himself.

I’ve actually read the bible, and I don’t have any real problem with it.  If it helps people make sense of their life and gives them guidance, then great.  Books can be good for that kind of thing.  But it is entirely wrong for people to abuse the bible by acting as if it fully represents and justifies their own personal beliefs.  There are millions of Christians out there, and no two are alike in their beliefs.  They may share the basic premise, but the details are certainly different, as it is with all people.  So how can anyone have the gall to pretend as if each one of their own personal beliefs are dictated from the bible?  Impossible, and probably blasphemous.

And just to make things clear, the bible’s rules are intended to be about what you do personally, not about forcing others to follow beliefs they don’t hold.  The bible may ban Mr. Smith from engaging in his homosexual fantasies, but that right does not translate to him banning people of other beliefs.  And I’ve never heard a bible passage that forbids the government from allowing gay marriage by non-Christians.  Or one which defends bigoted speech on television.  And while evangelism might be considered a religious duty, it’s fairly obvious that this sort of bigotry only preaches to a very small choir.  I doubt Mr. Smith won over many converts that day.

Anti-Mexican Christians Under Attack?

And this is even more clear when we read this from the same article:
In May of last year, the governor fired the head of an Eastern Shore judicial nominating committee after the official used a derogatory term for Mexicans in his personal Web log.

Now perhaps Tony Perkins might want to couch this in terms of persecution too.  But of whom?  Racists.  Bigots.  That’s who.  This isn’t an anti-Christian bias.  This is about bigotry.  And whether you’re publicly anti-gay or anti-Mexican, it doesn’t matter.  Both types were shown the door, and rightly so.  But I doubt Mr. Perkins will highlight this other story with equal fervor.

And I don’t want public officials who are anti-Christian bigots either.  I don’t like any bigots.  If you’ve got bigoted beliefs, fine.  But don’t expect the taxpayers to support you when you express them publicly.  And the same goes for businesses, who shouldn’t expect customers to support bigoted companies.  Similarly, if some gay public official goes on television in leather ass-less chaps and starts humping people, I’d expect him to get dismissed too.  That’s just how this works.  Some things are inappropriate, and ass-less chaps and bigotry are two of those things (unless, of course, you happen to work at a bigoted gaybar, in which case that might be a job duty).  

And beyond that, Tony Perkins’ actions have nothing to do with bigotry, religion, or offensiveness, and everything to do with elections, money, and power.  Because it is fairly obvious to see that Christianity isn’t under assault here, but bigotry.  Unless, of course, you’re looking for bias in order to trick people into voting against their better judgment.  Tony Perkins might be trying to draw attention to an imagined assault, but his cynical ploy to woo power by dividing people is perhaps the biggest offense.  If there is a god, I’m sure he’s got some special punishment for those who misappropriate his name to stoke religious divisions for personal gain.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We're All Bin Laden Now

How ironic is it that a man who decided to not shave until after we caught Bin Laden is now looking like Bin Laden?  Too ironic?  Or just right?  Because that’s what Bush has done to all those who put faith in his actions and motives.

Bush says we’re under attack because these people hate our freedom and tolerance and love war and unrest, and now he’s making us all look like Bin Laden.  But I’m sure, like the man’s beard, these are only temporary measures, until we catch Bin Laden.  And then Bush, or whoever the president will be, will quickly sweep away all the powers Bush has claimed for himself and allow Congress and the Courts to once again have some role in the functioning of our government.  And I’m not going to stop blogging until it does.

P.S. No, I’m not actually suggesting there is any moral equivalence between us and Osama.  Only a similar outlook by some of our more restrictionist-minded leaders.  But then again, I have few doubts that Bush wouldn’t kill thousands of civilians to achieve his goals; because he’s already doing it.  And he does so in our name.

Napoleonic History

It looks like Media Matters still has a lot to learn about conservatives.  They think they’ve busted Disney-ABC’s docufantasy The Path to 9/11, because the filmmakers promised that Bush would get a similarly harsh treatment as what they did to Clinton.  Yet as MM point out, it is only Condi Rice who gets the bad treatment, while Bush looks macho and decisive; and they had to rearrange a few facts to make that happen.

But that’s just not how this works.  Sure, it was an unfair and untruthful treatment, when they invent macho conversations immediately before 9/11 which never happened, have Bush ordering planes to be shot down, which probably never happened, and fail to even mention the Goat story we know Bush was so enthralled with on 9/11.  But these aren’t complete fictions, but rather rearrangements of history in order to make the storyline more clear (ie, that Clinton was sucky and Bush was brilliant).  

So a nitpicker can surely find parts of the movie that completely alter the reality of what happened, but that’s not the point.  Conservatives just have a different standard of reality, so you’ve got to grade this stuff on a curb.  I mean, if you’ve got some psychopathic nutcase thinking he’s Napoleon, isn’t it good enough when he acknowledges his defeat at Waterloo?  Of course.  That’s real progress.  Similarly, the fact that the producers of Path didn’t have Bush personally stop the entire attack with a pair of chopsticks and a glue-gun is strong evidence that these people put their whack-job beliefs on hold for a few hours so they could deal honestly and sanely with a few historical facts.  Relatively speaking, anyway.

So I really don’t see where Media Matters gets off on suggesting that the movie’s creators were disingenuous when they stated they had tarnished Bush’s image too.  Because to them, they did.  After all, even in the movie Bush didn’t stop the attacks, and we’ve got to give them credit for that.  Or they could have included the part where a coked-up Clinton reads The Pet Goat to Bin Laden while pleasuring Saddam.  This showed real restraint on their part.

And sure, they could have put a little more truth into their movie.  Who couldn’t?  But that’s not the point.  These people have been thrashing around the shallow-end so long they imagine they’re Olympic swimmers, and it’s just wrong for us to try to throw them into the deep-end all at once.  We need to work this a little at a time, and be proud of them when they can turn-down the imagined heroics of our incompetent leaders a little.  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.  

And who knows, the next time someone actually trusts them to make a movie, maybe they’ll have learned to have enough faith in facts to actually include some in their work.  Anything’s possible, right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Smoking Kippers

A commenter recently showed up on a post of mine from February titled Moose Hatred, in which I had blasted the aptly named Bullmoose for being full of bull.  Specifically, the commenter slightly took me to task for not understanding that Bullmoose wasn’t criticizing people who disagree with Bush; only the ones who hated Bush.  

And this had me somewhat perplexed, as that was one of the main topics of my post; how completely absurd it is to suggest that there is this huge irrational Bush Hater group that is somehow more troublesome than Bush himself.  Hell, Bush had already given us so many rational reasons to hate him that you’d really have to work to find an irrational one.  It’s like blasting into a barrel of fish and trying not to hit any.  Impossible.

And sure, there are crazies out there.  But really, are these people who are normally rational who become irrational only when it comes to Bush?  Or is it that they’re somewhat irrational people who are also somewhat irrational when it comes to Bush.  Of course.  And they’re on all sides of the political spectrum, which only makes sense.

So does that mean we need to paint all people with the same broad brush, simply because they happen to have a some basic points in common?  Or that we need to waste our time debunking the crazies??  Of course not.  And yet the Bullmoose clearly spends more time denouncing small-time liberal “haters” than addressing his problems with the Republican president.  And while he pays lip service to the idea that there are also rightwing crazies, it’s only to justify his attacks against the lefty ones.

Here was the first line I had quoted of Bullmoose:
The Moose does not hate George W. Bush. That is a very controversial statement in almost all of the left and in much of the Democratic Party.

Now, come fucking on.  Even beyond the idiotic third-person device, that’s not a serious statement.  It’s an insult.  A cheap insult designed to make Moose feel superior to the people who keep proving him wrong.  I mean, nobody hates the Moose because he doesn’t hate Bush.  We hate the Moose because he’s an insulting twit who is helping to screw up our country.  Much like the man Moose doesn’t hate.  But instead of acknowledging our position or ignoring us, he lobs another of Rove’s insults at us.  Great.

Dueling Monologues

And that’s about what I wrote at the time, saying:
And what serious person could believe such nonsense?  Sure, there are lefties who supposedly ascribe to the “Bush hatred” idea, but I don’t believe them.  Because the word “hatred” typically means that the feelings are irrational.  And there are too many good, rational reasons to not like Bush.  You don’t even have to be paying attention and you’ll quickly be offended by what he does.  So I just don’t see exactly what the problem is with not liking the dude.  But if this is what passes for “hatred” these days, then I believe the intelligent position is to hate Bush.

Now I’ll admit that it was a damn long post, but that was only the third paragraph I wrote, and was clearly the main point.  And yet, my commenter writes:
Hey, the issue is not whether or not someone disagrees with Bush--it's whether or not someone HATES him.  The rhetoric of HATE comes from both sides, and is totally counter-productive. Hate is a personal issue, not a political one, and it has no place in constructive dialog

Constructive dialogue?  How about trying to read what someone writes before disagreeing with them?  How’s that for the opening of dialogue?  Call me crazy, but I think that if you’re not listening to the other side, then it’s only a monologue.

I don’t mean to be picking on my commenters.  God knows I have so few of them, and I suppose this might be just the reason.  But this really sums-up the problem with these centrist “non-haters”.  Because they’re just being used as tools by the Republicans, and continue to slowdown their own team.  I mean, who gives a shit if we hate Bush?  Why should that matter?  Shouldn’t it be about what we say, not the reasons we say it?  

Of course.  The whole “Bush Hater” line was a ruse devised by the Whitehouse as a catch-all to attack Bush’s critics and put them on the defensive.  No longer are these disagreers.  They’re irrational haters.  But this wasn’t a valid argument.  It wasn’t even intended as a direct insult against the so-called haters.  The real purpose was to convince “centrist” Dems that they need to distance themselves from the “crazies” on the left.  And to do that, they had to insult the “haters” and constantly denounce them and convince them to come down from the ledge.  And only after they got their liberal ducks in a row could they finally take-on the extremists on the other side.  It was like a never-ending primary for a general election that never happened.

And so they’ve spent the last six years attacking us and trying to get us to shut-up, so they can finally get down to criticizing Bush.  Because as long as us “haters” are denouncing Bush, these guys can’t.  And the centrists adopted the line all the way.  And by doing so, they are doing Bush’s dirty work for him.  The centrists continue to slander millions of Bush’s harshest critics, and by doing so, have only enabled him in his quest to divide the nation to his advantage.  And they dare to blame us for this polarization.

Anti-Bush Forces

The Washington Post’s dope-in-chief Richard Cohen admitted to this in his embarrassing review of Fahrenheit 9/11, writing (emphasis added):
The case against Bush need not and should not rest on guilt by association or half-baked conspiracy theories, which collapse at the first double take but reinforce the fervor of those already convinced. The success of Moore's movie, though, suggests this is happening -- a dialogue in which anti-Bush forces talk to themselves and do so in a way that puts off others. I found that happening to me in the run-up to the war, when I spent more time and energy arguing with those who said the war was about oil (no!) or Israel (no!) or something just as silly than I did questioning the stated reasons for invading Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction and Hussein's links to Osama bin Laden. This was stupid of me, but human nature nonetheless.

That’s right.  A supposedly respectable journalist actually wrote that in a bigtime newspaper.  That the reason he didn’t question the most important assertions in modern history was because he was too busy fending off the unimportant crazies on his own side.  Needless to say, Cohen did not actually collapse any conspiracy theories in that column.  Instead, he just stated that it was easily done while insulting millions of Democrats and insinuating a few falsehoods of his own.  Stupid, indeed.  

But maybe he’s right.  Perhaps it was my anti-war posts on the Yahoo messageboards in early ’03 that were to blame for making Cohen say this of Colin Powell’s career-ruining presentation to the UN:
The evidence he presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise.

Sacre bleu!  If only I hadn’t already said that Bush was lying, Cohen would have been a touch more diligent about Powell’s bogus presentation.  Talk about bone-chilling.

And here he is in September 2004 explaining why he can’t be a true blue Democrat:
In fact, Bush haters go so far they wind up adding a dash of red to my blue, pushing me by revulsion into a color I otherwise would not have.

Interestingly, Cohen started by explaining why he’s not a blue or a red stater, but rather a purple state of his own.  And then spends one paragraph saying why he doesn’t like Bush’s policies, and the remaining five paragraphs explaining why he personally dislikes the Bush Haters, and how folks who merely disagree with Bush but don’t hate him are not blue staters, but purple ones, like himself.  Color me unimpressed.

And here he is still blaming the crazies several years into Bush’s presidency, as this column from March shows, where he has to first mock the “Bush lied” people, before concluding that he finally caught Bush in a lie.  (Bravo, Mr. Cohen.)

But why was it necessary for him to do that?  Why did he admittedly spend so much energy fighting his own side, rather than combating the real danger in his backyard?  It’s for the same reason why almost all of the bigtime “liberal” pundits had to denounce Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore, and almost anyone left of the DLC.  Because they had become convinced that they had to disassociate themselves from the freaks before they could be taken seriously.  And to do that, they had to spend a lot of time, energy, insults, and generalizations to publicly denounce these people whenever they got the chance.  And for that, they blame the lefties they attacked.

Circular Backstab

And that’s exactly how the Whitehouse planned it, and it’s still working.  “Centrists” have to constantly backstab their own people to prove their non-hatred for Bush, despite the fact that we’ve been explaining this to them for years.   Sometimes we say that it’s not hatred and sometimes we say that the hatred isn’t irrational; but it all works out to being the same thing.  This is a trick.  They were tricked, and they’re still tricked.  And so they spend five paragraphs of precious newspaper column to denounce the people they agree with on most issues.

But they don’t need to denounce us.  They don’t need to insult us.  They don’t even need to notice us if they don’t want to.  But if they feel they must address us, they could surely do so without impugning our motives or slandering us with Rove’s beloved slur.  Even one “Bush Hater” line is too many.  They continually denounce the vilification of enemies by vilifying their so-called allies.  And yet they rarely hurl this charge directly at anyone.  Michael Moore got blasted in that column I cited, and yet Cohen never directly labels Moore a “hater”.  They just keep using the same line denouncing generic “Bush Haters” that Rove gave them.

And now I’ve got this on my commentboard.  Again, I’m not trying to pick on one of my few commenters.  I just can’t help it.  Had he read my post and understood what I wrote, he wouldn’t have said what he did.  But he couldn’t bother.  I quoted the Bullmoose in yet another of his anti-Bush-Hater idiocies, and this guy had to defend him.  Not because I said anything wrong.  But because he believed the Bullmoose hadn’t said anything wrong and I had disagreed with him.  And that meant that I hadn’t understood the Moose’s delicate point of denouncing large swaths of generic people for having the wrong motives.

But I did understand and the Moose was wrong, for the reasons I said before.  Bush hatred is a red herring.  And unfortunately for Democrats, that’s about the only fish the DLC’s bait is any good at catching anymore.  But I guess that’s somehow our fault too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Long Live King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV

To answer your questions, yes, I once again got passed over for the position of King of Tonga, Polynesia’s last monarchy.  But before you get all irate and do something stupid, I’ll just tell you up front that I really was to blame this time.  I misread the situation on the ground and said a few things that I probably should not have.  For instance, Polynesia is not a form of geometrical vomit.  Now I know.  

So just save the protests.  I’ve decided to fully back Prince Tupouto’a’s ascendancy, and I beg of you to do the same.  I know that all of you have very strong feelings about this, but I refuse to allow a repeat of what happened last time.  Our time will come.  And if nothing else, I’m still working to return the Hawaiian monarchy to its proper place, with me as its rightful ruler.  I’ve never actually been to Hawaii, but I hear it’s lovely.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Because Food Tastes Good

Just so you scientists know, people don’t want a weight loss pill that suppresses their appetite.  They all want one so that they can eat as much as they want and not gain weight.  And an exercise pill would be great too.  Not that I’m a glutton or lazy.  But so that I can be.  So get on that.

Cruise Ship Christ

(Once again as my standard disclaimer on the subject, I was raised Catholic and suffered through Sunday School for many years, which gives me the right to say anything I please about the religion. I paid my dues. Beyond that, I have few doubts that most Catholic priests would openly agree with 90% of this post, and are likely to privately agree with the rest. So save your blasphemies for someone else.)

Gee, big surprise the Catholics are having problems getting worshippers:

[Pope] Benedict gently rebuked the German church for putting social service projects and technical assistance to the poor ahead of spreading the Christian message. African bishops, he said, told him all doors were open to them in Germany when they wanted to talk about aid projects, but added they were greeted with reservations when it came to evangelization.

"Clearly, some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser importance," Benedict said.

He said that faith must come first, before progress can be made in social problems, such as the AIDS epidemic in Africa. "Hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if — for example, AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes."

Now, is it just me, or is this an implicit threat from the Pope? As if he’s saying that the Church doesn’t want to help folks until they convert first. That could certainly be one understanding of what he’s saying. Or at the least, that the Church can’t really help until you convert, which could surely be an excuse to deny that help.

And even if he doesn’t mean that at all and insists that services shouldn’t be withheld to non-believers, I still find this to be a troubling message. That the Church comes before helping people. And that the problems of poor people should take a backseat while they try to increase church membership. Because I most certainly do believe that the Catholic faith should be of lesser importance than helping people, and I suspect that many others would agree, including most Catholics. The Pope may mean well, but his message really does sound a tad bit selfish.

The God of Niche

Especially as he’s got it entirely backwards. You get more followers by giving them more services and showing good deeds. To give people a reason to invest their energies in God. And the reason why religion is on an eternal wane isn’t because they’re giving away their services for free, or because of some modern movement conspiring against them; but because people just don’t need religion as they once did. Even here in a relatively religious country like America, people don’t use religion as they once did.

Where once God permeated throughout everyone’s life and was interwoven with the social and governmental fabric, people now use God to fill in the blanks for how they’d like things to be. Or to justify their feelings of superiority over others. Or to provide a sense of order in a seemingly unordered world. Or to justify one’s own unjustifiable actions and attitudes (eg, the whole anti-gay thing). Or all kinds of little niche functions, rather than the all-encompassing “He’s everywhere and everything” model folks used to have. They still the say words, but they obviously don’t apply.

But the rules never changed. The reason people used to have the more all-encompassing God is because they needed that. Because they didn’t have much else. They couldn’t predict the weather. Health and sickness were seemingly random events. And things occurred for no apparent reason. But thanks to science and other modern innovations, those services have been filled by far more reliable alternatives. So this isn’t some new development, but an obvious turn of events that cannot be prevented.

If I can go to a doctor to cure my sickness, then God becomes little more than an unpredictable back-up medicine. And so it is with everything else. They still pray. But the few who rely solely on that mechanism are usually castigated and sometimes taken to court for those beliefs. Even the Pope needs a doctor.

Part-Time God

And yet the church thinks that some group or evil line of rhetoric is to blame, and that they just have to do enough of their own evangelism and everything will work out. But it won’t. People who don’t need alot don’t need God much either. And as long as people’s needs are taken care of, they’ll have less need for God. And that seems to be exactly what the Pope seems to be saying with this.

Even the supposed increase in religious belief after 9/11 completely confirms this idea. People turned to God in a time of need, and they will abandon him as that need dissipates. The more hostile the world is, the more we need a Big Daddy to smooth things out for us. And now the Pope seems to be suggesting that we allow things to get alittle worse before the Church will start making things better. As if we need to temporarily slow-down our services to the poor until after more people rely on the Church for them. Now that I think about it, that’s the Bush Plan too.

But again, it won’t work. Because many of the people who see themselves as being devoutly religious are the exact niche-people I’m talking about. They think of God when they need him, and as time passes, that’s becoming increasingly rare. They might have God for an hour during Mass, but that won’t impact their ungodly actions while stuck in traffic on the way home. Because God has become about churches and symbols, and when people are faced with problems, they generally turn to their own resources. Though that’s not to say they won’t use God’s name to blasphemously justify any decision they make. Only that the God justification came later.

Overall, people have become more self-reliant; and that bodes ill for a jealous and demanding god whose powers are limited to helping the desperately needy. The Pope laments that Africa and Asia are more fervently religious than Europe; and yet that just makes the most obvious sense. They need God more than we do. And as their needs go away, so will their need for God. And again, a cynic might suggest that this concept hasn’t eluded the Vatican either. And I might be that cynic.

Social Clubs

And sure, there still are religious people here in America who really do devote their lives full-time to God. Who still see God as their sole purpose, rather than a hobby they dabble in occasionally. But those people are becoming more and more rare, to the point that they’re seen as oddities, even by other religious people.

Despite the typical denunciations of atheists for belittling religion, intolerance of other religions is an age-old practice among Christians. In fact, of all the religious practices that have survived into our modern age, the belittling of other religions is still strongest. And I suppose, if you think you’ve got the one true religion, then it would just make sense to mock the people who waste their time handling snakes or needlessly avoiding caffeine, believing that it doesn’t do a damn thing to get them any closer to God. It’s only when it comes to their own beliefs that people start getting uppity about religious intolerance.

And for most people, God has become but a minor obligation in their lives. They consider themselves very religious and might even go to church each week and pray each night. But that’s generally the extent of their belief. They do the smallest amount they think is required and then turn to Him when they need a little assistance; which often is limited to asking for help on a test or getting a little nookie from a well-liked girl.

Even the Eternal Mystery of God has now been relegated to use as a “Get Out of Argument Free” card; a catch-all explanation for why even they can’t explain their holy position on an issue. A nicer way of saying “I’d like to explain it to you, but we’re both too dumb to understand.” Call me crazy, but I find such explanations to be a tad less than satisfactory.

Pew Warmers

Over time, church attendance has become the last bastion of God’s once-omnipotent tendrils; and even that’s on the wane. “Believers” go because they feel they must. Not even necessarily because they think God requires it, but more out of habit. Because they’ve just always done it and have it ingrained that this is something they need to do. As if their warm body heating up a pew is all God really wanted from us. I guess those big churches can get quite drafty.

And for the rest of it, church service is little more than a social event. The place where your friends are. I’ve even known people who openly speak of church as a good way to network, for business purposes. Or as a place to see hot chicks dressed up in their Sunday best. But even many of the purists benefit more from the church’s social structure than it’s theological one.

And they have their pot lucks and fish fries, which are always great excuses for seeing friends. Growing up, that was the only part I liked about religion, anyway. I love fried fish. And if they do some social service that actually helps other people in the process, all the better. But as the Pope said, that service comes second. And that it’s more important for these people to convert more friends. To expand the network.

And while Pope Ratzinger can hope that these efforts will help bring more people into God and into his churches, there is really only hope for the latter. Good social circles are hard to come by in these relatively nomadic and isolated days, and that aspect of religion might never pass. But a lot of bad stuff would have to happen in Europe and America before these people start needing God in any kind of full-time capacity.

Rather than Lord & Savior, it looks like God has been demoted to a position as Social Director of the Cruise Ship Christ. And I’m not so sure that religious leaders necessarily have a problem with that. After all, a warm pew is better than no pew at all.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Disney Needs to Know

It doesn’t happen often, but it looks like I’m going to have to pull rank on Digby again.  Writing of the whole Disney 9/11 docusham, Digby ends with:
And then it's also possible they knew exactly what they were doing. Nowrasteh says they called him in in November of 2004. Disney ABC and Platt may have felt in that moment of GOP triumph that there was no possible downside to blaming the Democrats for 9/11. It looked like the smart play. Two years later it looks like a debacle of epic proportions.

And I appreciate the speculative nature of this, but really can’t see this as being very possible.  Corporate executives are not ideologues and only care about politics as far as it gets them what they want.  But even in the shadow of the 2004 elections, it’s unlikely that they’d have gone for such a partisan movie.  Because a heavily partisan movie with many important and provably false “facts” is never in a serious film company’s best interests.  A right-leaning movie wouldn’t necessarily hurt them, but an openly fraudulent one would.

But as I said before, they probably are Republicans, only in that Republicans most closely match the interests of these kinds of people.  And they probably did want a Republican movie, but they really didn’t know how Republican they were getting.  Because these Hollywood-types are not conservatives.  They like Bush and support many of his policies (eg, annual taxcuts), but they don’t have the big agenda that conservatives have.  And they don’t really see that big agenda, which they’d probably object to.  So they consulted a few conservatives and were given the name of a trusted director, and had assumed they’d be getting a relatively honest work.

And it’s important to remember that they probably weren’t as focused on putting this before the election, but rather, putting it on September 11.  A serious work that would show how serious they could be.  They had ordered a movie based on the 9/11 Commission report, and that’s what the imagined they were getting.  Because they haven’t yet learned that some Republicans prefer something more than money.  The conservatives have got a message to sell.

Trusting Republicans

Because Republicans are not supposed to be the biased loonies.  We are.  To much of America, we’re the wacko extremist loons who can’t keep our partisanship in our trousers.  Whipping it around and blasting everyone with our ideological zeal, so to speak.  That’s what these people really believe.  Not just Republicans, but folks who consider themselves to be moderate or centrist Democrats.  They’ve been told that liberals are the partisan loons and that Republicans are responsible and sane.  And despite all the deeds of the past decade, they continue to believe this.

These aren’t necessarily Fox News watchers, but CNN watchers.  And even then, are likely to only follow the news when the scaremongering gets high.  But they have the same attitude as CNN, and CNN hates us too and does have a certain affection for Republicans.  Sure, they may lean towards the Democratic side on many of the issues, but they like Republicans personally.  

To them, Republicans are supposed to be the principled and truthful ones, which is probably what Disney thought they were hiring.  Even Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather had opinions, which they were able to suppress when delivering the news.  And that’s what Disney thought they were getting.

And so even though they knew they were getting rightwingers, they just assumed that they’d be honest rightwingers.  That they’d tell the story properly.  And seeing as how the director and that other dude continue to insist this is a fair and honest movie, despite all the clear indications to the contrary; there can be few doubts that this is exactly what they told Disney too.  Because these guys sound reasonable, at least when they’re talking to the straight media.  They know the right words to say.  They acted as if this was based on the 9/11 report, which is apparently the film Disney had requested them to make.  And the Disney-ABC execs didn’t have the understanding to know when the film was differing from that report; because they’d never read it and kept getting assurances that the film was faithful to it.

Secret Agendas

And this is what we see repeatedly with Republicans.  They may be batshit crazy inside, but they have just enough connection to reality to understand which things would sound batshit crazy if they actually said them to a straight audience.  That’s what they use pollsters for, to learn the right words to use to sell their agenda.  And so they invent cover stories to hide what their real motives are.  And that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing with this movie, and probably what the filmmakers told Disney.

And that’s what makes our protests all the more important.  Not because Disney’s a secret hard-right organization out to screw the Dems.  But because they’re a mainstream company with a decent reputation which needs to understand that you’ll get burned when you play with fire.  They thought they could trust Republicans to make a fair movie.  They thought they could make a special appeal to rightwingers, who would be the audience most thrilled by a 9/11 movie.  And they need to know what a bad, bad mistake it is to trust their movies to unknown conservatives with hidden agendas.  

We all know that.  We’ve been paying attention for the past fifty years.  And it’s time that Disney learned that too.  Republicans are not to be trusted with Hollywood.  Because when they insist that people can’t separate their biases from the truth and that biased people can think they’re being honest when they’re not; they speak from experience.  Disney’s got to learn.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Blame Clinton First

Something else I don’t understand about the attacks on Clinton’s hunt for Bin Laden.  They all insist he should have done more, often going as far as to suggest that Clinton could have invaded Afghanistan, as Bush did.  But Bush did all that.  Bush pushed this idea very far.  And yet he still didn’t capture Bin Laden.  And remember, Bush had no plans to invade Afghanistan before 9/11, and appeared to be reluctant about doing so afterwards.  Which is probably one big reason he did such a crappy job at it.  

But the main point is clear, Bush did all these things they said Clinton should have done, and more.  A lot more.  They insist that Bush requires powers that they would never have granted Clinton, and they’re even happy that Bush took them without permission.  And yet Bush didn’t catch Bin Laden.  And even if Bin Laden some day turns up, it’s unlikely that Bush will deserve any of the credit.  It’ll be the Pakistanis who will capture him, and they’re obviously reluctant to do that.  So where the hell do they come off blaming Clinton for things that Bush couldn’t do under better conditions?

And that’s just something I don’t understand.  Because there is something implicit in these attacks against Clinton which pretends as if Bush caught the guy.  And he didn’t.  He invaded Afghanistan.  He invaded Iraq.  He even looked cross at Pakistan before totally folding and allowing them to get away with stuff they shouldn’t have.  And then he mocked our civil liberties while using the Constitution as Kleenex.

And then there was this whole “Bush Doctrine” thing of declaring war on anyone who isn’t doing enough to help us kill all the terrorists and potential terrorists; which was naturally supposed to flush Osama and all the other terrorists out.  And nothing worked.  And these were certainly not tools that Clinton had at his disposal.  He could not have declared the right to preemptively attack any country.  He could not have invaded Afghanistan or Iraq, and he has the same track record as Bush in regards to catching Bin Laden.  So what the hell?  And do I even need to mention that terrorism is even worse now?  I didn’t think so.

Yet, let’s keep blaming Clinton.  I heard he even had OBL holed-up in a porta-potty with fifty nuclear weapons pointed right at the dude’s head, but Clinton was too busy raping the Statue of Liberty to bother pressing the button.  It’s true.  It’s all true.  And I’ve got the historians to prove it.