Saturday, April 30, 2005

Charlie Don't Grudge

After a week of Vietnam remembrance stories from the corporate bootlicker media, culminating in today's marking of the 30th anniversary of the last American troops pulling out of Saigon, I found the stances of the two countries markedly different.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the natives bustle about on their mopeds, beeping in celebration. Here, we go through the usual honor-guard rituals of flag-folding and hand-holding.

This is not a small thing to me; a very dear uncle of mine did two tours in 'nam in the Marines, the second as a platoon leader. He went voluntarily -- unlike W., unlike Cheney, unlike Ted "I'm such a tough guy that I shit my pants and let it get caked in for ten days so the draft board would give me a psych deferment" Nugent -- because he had been told by his leaders that his country needed him.

He came back disillusioned and soaked in Agent Orange, doing drugs to kill the pain of having to do the things he did while he was there. He eventually died in 2001, right after his 52nd birthday, broke and burned-out, wasting away in a spare bedroom in his sister's single-wide while his transplanted liver went south on him, slowly, inexorably.

So I certainly feel for all those families profiled whose loved ones never came back, or who never even got any closure because they were MIA. It sucks. But it also sucks that the whole thing was preventable, that it never should have happened, that we visited unprecedented savagery on a nation that hadn't done shit to us, but refused to capitulate to us, no matter how dirty and scorched-earth we got on them.

What's amazing is how quickly the Vietnamese have forgiven us, and let it all go, and actually like us now. Think about it -- we carpet-bombed them for over a decade, killed enough of their civilian population to be counted in percentage points, and didn't even have the goddamn courtesy to be halfway gracious losers and throw them a freakin' bone -- and they let it all go, quite a while ago.

We still can't let it go; we still hang on to it furiously, tenaciously. We don't begrudge them, but losing sticks in our collective craw, so we can't admit it to ourselves. And it's a stain on our national soul, that dirty war, just as surely as slavery is, if not quite the same in degree. Reparation would have been a small chance to absolve some of that collective guilt, and we passed it up vaingloriously, because that's how we do things. As with slavery, that chance has long since passed, so we occasionally pick at the scab that has festered in its place for so long.

We had to work it out with a seemingly endless set of cathartic movies. It's a sad statement, a culture that can only assuage itself with Deerhunter and Platoon, rather than just looking itself in the eye and coming clean. Certainly it's not a unique phenomenon; Germany has its periodic spasms of post-Nazi nationalism, knowing better but needing to expunge its baser nationalist guilt somehow, someway. Still, sometimes you actually have to do things that demonstrate you're better than all the rest, rather than just repeating it like a mantra.

I respectfully suggest that if we want to do more with our commemorations of a dismal day which capped a nightmarish decade -- do something more than dick around with flag rituals and ogle cenotaphs -- we may pay a bit more attention to how we are collectively handling our current conflict, and the accountability of our leaders who may just be lying still, and always, while our brothers and sisters and uncles go hither and yon to chase shadows for a feckless little man and his pelf-grubbing henchmen.

And we may ponder for a second, in the service of our vaunted Judeo-Christian ethical code, which is centered really around but one golden rule -- do unto others as you would have others do unto you -- and wonder what exactly the Vietnamese might know that we don't. We lost three thousand people in a senseless morning of violence, and we've spent every minute since turning the world upside down in a reactive rage, and altered human history for all time. And we'll keep doing it for an undetermined amount of time, blood, and resources.

They lost three million people over the course of a brutal, unremitting invasion, after decades of colonialism -- and when it was all over, they picked themselves up, brushed themselves off, and went right back to what they had been doing. That was their only option, so they took it.

We have all options at our disposal and strangely, we jumped at the worst one, even though we had supposedly learned our lesson from before.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Real Tame

While HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher has gotten better, after a remarkably weak month upon its initial return, the latest episode featured two glaring weaknesses, which are symptoms of the same problem.

First was the booking of Jeff Gannon™ as an interview guest. This man is not a journalist, no matter how hard you squint, and for Maher to even entertain any notions to the contrary is unconscionable. Maher, whose interview skills are only slightly stronger than those of Dennis Miller in the first place, allowed Gannon™ to dodge even the slight knuckleballs Maher occasionally threw.

Regardless, Gannon™ had nothing of substance to say, nothing interesting to reveal, everything to conceal, and he does have an oddly penis-shaped countenance. Maher would have been better off scrapping this "interview" and doubling the "New Rules" segment, for what he got out of giving credence to a person who deserves none whatsoever, and still has yet to come clean about his role in this administration's ongoing obfuscatory media-disinformation campaign.

The other gaping hole was not the fault of Maher, but that of Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (who looks remarkably like a milk-chocolate Dr. Phil), who was finally goaded into dropping his moderate Republican guise by the end of the panel segment.

The issue which prompted this revelation was a seemingly small one, with rather large implications -- that of the Republicans currying the "snake-handler" vote, and whether such people deserve to be taken seriously in the political arena, as goofy as they seem to be.

Well, this is a loaded question, to be sure. For one, there simply cannot be that many actual snake-handlers. I could be wrong, but I would think their numbers, even in a country of 300 million, are mercifully small, in the scheme of things. The problem is that they take themselves way too seriously, and their political support, when it exists, is generally deep and unwavering. Suffice to say that they are probably not swing voters, and for that I am actually grateful. I'd be embarrassed to be aligned with such goofballs.

Steele would not (indeed, could not) be honest about these morons, for his party has forged an unholy alliance with religious grifters of all stripes, wacky and otherwise. It is intellectually dishonest to suppose that a person who literally counts on his faith in God to save him from the bite of a highly venomous serpent could be counted on to be intellectually serious about any issue, yet Steele, in his fake avuncularity, supposes exactly that notion, that we must all sit and pretend that just because they believe differently, we shouldn't judge or devalue their opinions.

Bullshit. There's believing "differently", and there's believing stupidly, and then there's the asinine notion that a serious world power should entertain such mental and cultural retardation for even a second when trying to figure out its role in an increasingly complicated and competitive globalized marketplace. It is not only fair, it is an intellectual prerequisite that goofball beliefs be considered as fair criteria in assessing the ability of such people to reach logical conclusions in other, more universally important, areas of public policy decision-making.

So while it seems that we are really just nattering about a few thousand weirdos in Appalachia, soon forgotten and lost to the inherent dangers of their chosen avocation, the "snake-handler" debate is really a proxy for a much larger cultural battle at hand. For example, do pharmacists have the right to deny legal medical prescriptions to their customers, based on their own morality?

Well, merchants certainly have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, and many have that very caveat on their shop walls. I submit that the people who are currently supporting these idiots in their attempts to moralize to the whores in their sainted communities will hop on to their high horses with a quickness the first time a food service worker refuses to serve an obese person. Gas jockeys and Hummers, yada yada. It's impossibly easy to draw plenty of helpful analogies, we know it and they know it.

Bottom line -- the belief that birth-control pills and morning-after pills are somehow evil is stupid. Those things may not be "nice", but they are legal, and women shouldn't have to jump through hoops of someone else's personal morality to get them, just as fat fucks don't need your sacred imprimatur to get a shopping cart full of Cheetos and SnackWells. And one can quite easily provide a serious commonweal fiscal argument for curbing that sort of self-destructive behavior.

Even more stupid is the ongoing evolution debate. This just in, people -- there is no debate about evolution, at least not in the empirically-based scientific community. Yes, there are professional doubters, generally bankrolled by Dobsonite assholes running their usual grift. But evolution is a "theory" the way gravity is a "theory".

Climb up on your house, and jump off the roof. Experience gravity in all its glory and splendor as you hit earth. Now, read the Bible. Does it mention gravity? No, it does not mention gravity.

Sensible people take nothing from this little exercise, except that gravity works. Retards figure that if the Bible does not mention gravity, then gravity does not exist, at least going by their logic regarding evolution.

Again, there is no debate on this. Oh, there are people from focus groups and religious sects talking, but that is not debate. Debate presents itself with factually-based, empirically-sound proof or disproof. The proof of evolution is all around us, in both the plant and animal kingdoms; only a fucking idiot would deny the empirical fact of its existence.

So why are we all having to sit and pretend that the slow kid in class actually has a worthwhile point? We are not all equally intelligent, any more than we are equally tall or equally pretty. And yet Michael Steele and his hardheaded ilk, enabled by their cohorts in the window-licker media, have perpetuated the awful and ridiculous notion that everyone's view, no matter how stupid, deserves equal time.

We have abandoned our common sense and our judgment, and handed it over to partisan interpreters with one hand in our collective pockets, and the other one over our eyes. We continue to let these idiots bamboozle us at our own peril. No other industrialized country is having these stupid "debates" about all these long-settled issues, while we seem to get off on forever replaying the Scopes trial and the Civil War.

If we do not get our shit together, China and India are going to chew us up and spit us out in about a decade. Bangalore real estate might be the hottest long-run deal going, if the goofballs have their way. It is time we stopped pretending that nonsense and mumbo-jumbo deserve equal footing with empirical science and factual proof, and Maher should know this better than most.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hard Work, Good People, 'Nuff Said

Parsdent Cooter decides to take hisself a break from brush-clearin' at the ol' rancheroo down thar, y'know, in Texas, 'cause if y'ain't heard none tell yet, he's a Texan thru n' thru. He comes from a place where men are men and sheep are scared. He's like Gary Cooper, except without the brains or the balls. Still, plenty o' folk'll tell ya that Parsdent Cooter, he's the real deal, because they'd rather eat a six-pack of shit than actually think critically about what the pastor down at the ol' megachurch was sayin'.

So where were we? Ah yes, Cooter welcomes the thieving asshole Clown Prince Abdullah from Saudi Arabia, whose fundie loons make ours look like Unitarians.

Now, Cooter wanted to get Abdullah out to the ranch to meet Hoss and Little Joe, and sit a spell and grab a rake and help with the brush, and talk about Murkins' concern over their high gas prices. After all, we were kinda sorta hinted to that this whole Iraq thing would pay for itself and well, it hasn't. In fact, we're $300 bn into it at this point, and the re-invention of the Iraqi electoral wheel is stuck in a parliamentary ditch as of late. Wait till they start working on their constitution.

But I digress. Let's hear Cooter's wisdom as to the current price crunch, a 35% increase over the past 100 days:

"One thing is for certain: The price of crude is driving the price of gasoline," Bush said. "The price of crude is up because not only is our economy growing, but economies such as India and China's are growing."

Okay. That's it; that's fucking it. This is a put-on, right? "The price of crude is driving the price of gasoline"? Well no fucking shit, Sherlock. For fuck's sake, this fucking moron has an MBA from Harvard? Do they just hand 'em out to anyone who walks up and can pronounce it by the third try?

So. The price of crude is driving the price of gasoline, you say. Hmmm, interesting. Really, us retards out in the real world hadn't thought of that one, genius. Thank your petro-god you came along at just the right time to lay it all out for us. Shit, we woulda just sat here in a corner sucking our thumbs and wondering.

I swear to all that is holy, I have read that paragraph a half-dozen times now, and I am just floored. Just fucking stunned. I don't know if he's retarded, or he thinks that we're all retarded, or both. Maybe neither; maybe he really does think this is some arcane wisdom being revealed here.

Hey, you fucking retard: We know why gas prices are high, asshole, we just want to know what you're going to do about it. I'd seriously like to take every idiot values voter and force them to hear the Clip O' Stupidity until their heads explode. Better yet, they should watch it, so they can see Gary Cooper his own bad self walking around holding hands with another guy. Guess he does have a man-date, after all.

Soon as I can figure out how to dumb it down enough to be realistic, I'll have to start a series on George W. Bush Explaining How Shit Works. I may have to get my four-year-old involved in this one.

Saudi Arabia has outlined a plan to increase production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009 from the current 11 million limit. Saudi Arabia now pumps about 9.5 million barrels daily. If necessary, Saudi Arabia says it will eventually develop a capacity of 15 million barrels a day.

Uh-huh. I'm sure they're doing everything they can, lickety-split. Because the alternative would be raking in impossible amounts of dough, and that would just suck. Papa needs a new thingy on his head!

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the plan could be seen as positive news by financial markets.

"The problem in the oil market now is a perception that there is inadequate capacity," Hadley said. Reassurance that can be given to the market on available supply, he said, should "have a downward pressure on the price."

Good thing this shithead is in charge of, um, national security. Basically, if we all believe in fairies and clap our hands, we can all be reassured and the gas prices will magically start coming back down. Yayyy!

Sounds suspiciously like our War On Some Terror, don't it?

At a Small Business Administration conference, Bush thought his $2 billion per year initiative to research coal was worthy of merit. Yeah. Coal. Funny how we spend a billion a week occupying the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, but this moron thinks spending $2 bn per year on old tech is something to brag about.

This must be where that MBA comes in, once again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Other issues, including terrorism, prospects for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, Syria's role in Lebanon, and democratic change in the Middle East, filled the leaders' meeting and discussion over lunch. They agreed to set up a high-level committee, headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Saudi foreign minister, to deal with strategic issues.

Spreading democracy is a second-term goal that could affect Bush's legacy, yet high gas prices are a drag on his popularity.

See now, democracy is where the people, uh, um, the people....the people go vote. Yeah, that's democracy. And freedom™! That's freedom, too. An' they're on the march an' they're spreadin' the freedom an' the democracy, see? That's how that works. An' then ya go to a place there, a votin' booth, see, an' uh, well, an' you pick the fella -- or in some cases the lady -- who ya like. Or maybe yer friends like him -- or her -- an' they tell you about 'em. See, that's democracy.

An' we can talk in circles about democracy all live long day, so long as we don't talk about it in the places where we rely on our oil supply, so's everyone can keep their Hummers on the road. See, 'cause that's why God likes us best, that's why He gave us all Hummers. [snickers a little too long, through his nose like the fucking moron that he is]

So I would say, in conclusion, that payin' $3.50 per gallon o' gas is like a big breath o' democracy! An' we should all breathe deep, an' collect our dividend checks, an' give the good Lord His cut of the action.

An' that's why I like democracy better than all the other ways, the end.

Seriously. This guy is less than a disgrace, he's a stain.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Endless Bummer

It's amazing how the Republicans have wholly abdicated their supposed "daddy party" role, and taken over the stereotypical Democrat role of woolly-headed idealism bordering on willful blindness, of employing utterly stupid policies at the expense of common sense, of corruption and incompetence laundered with corporate nepotism and pelf. Swaddle all that in the soiled surplices of the Christofascists, and you're cooking with gas, mister!

The latest case in point is the energy bill passed by the House the other day. It's all just a big bargaining chip to these assholes, something to attach various riders and sops to oil companies, who just haven't seen enough record profits.

The House this week will consider $8 billion in tax breaks targeted to the energy industry at a time when some of those companies are enjoying soaring profits from high consumer prices.

The vast majority of the tax breaks would benefit companies that produce and supply traditional forms of energy, with a large portion going to the oil and natural gas sector.

The House legislation, approved last week by the Ways and Means Committee, is at odds with the Bush administration's approach. The president's proposed budget calls for $6.7 billion in tax breaks for energy, with 72 percent going toward renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency, compared with about 6 percent in the House plan.

Yeah, I'm sure that this isn't some sort of cheap sub rosa tactic to let the bad cops put out the hardass plan, so the White House can swoop in magnanimously and cut the sweetheart deal they wanted in the first place. Nope, nobody here but us chickens. The Republican reps are deliberately thwarting the White House's official plan, just because they can.

I'm afraid to ask just how fucking stupid Pravda assumes we are. Apparently plenty stupid. To be fair, it's not as if that isn't an entirely reasonable assumption.

Now, the current backlash on gas prices is in the context of a rather peculiar argument. The current received wisdom is that this sudden radical price adjustment is a long time coming, because we Americans -- every last one of us, apparently -- are pigs. We have slopped at the oil trough for a pittance for long enough, and this price increase, in and of itself, is necessary to get us all back on the path to sensible consumption.

Well, I say "bullshit" to that. I submit that aside from having a beat-up Dodge Coronet for one year when I was 18, I have driven fuel-efficient cars as main commuters since I was old enough to drive. I submit that I had never regularly driven a gas-guzzler until my daughter was born, and we got a Nissan Pathfinder -- rather small on the SUV food chain -- for two very important reasons: the required child seat takes up a lot of space in a Honda Accord, which doesn't have much grocery capacity to begin with; and as some sort of small defense against SUV drivers themselves, who feel free to drive as they please, secure in the knowledge that wrecking into another vehicle is no danger to themselves. And it's never been a commuter, the Pathfinder; maybe 40 miles per week on average.

I submit that it has never occurred to me, or to a lot of other people, to have my vehicle be some sort of rolling substitute or imputation of sexual prowess or cock size. That's what I use my actual cock for. Imagine that. Some folks actually just use cars to get to work, rather than to rub the world's collective nose in their lifestyle choices.

I seriously doubt that I am the only person who was raised to consider waste and conspicuous consumption to be cardinal sins.

I submit that, while some gradiated price adjustments were to be expected due to ever-closer peak ratios of supply, demand, and production capacity, this sudden radical increase is due to aggregate demand, which is greatly exaggerated by the preponderance of these Excursions and Hummers and such. Sharply accelerated demand in China and India are also huge factors, but no sane person could argue that we haven't been our own worst enemies. This is so obvious, it scarcely merits mentioning, and yet it does.

The first real economic wave of this will show up this summer. Gasoline will probably be around $3.00 per gallon by June, just as tourism season rolls around, and Americans start getting ready to go on vacation. Or not; a great many of them may just say "fuck it" and cocoon with their DVDs this summer. We'll know in the fall, by how many hotel and tourism workers are looking for work in the Brush-Clearer-In-Chief's Hard Work Being Done By Good People's Paradise.

No one is expecting Simon-pure perfection here; no one is saying we must live communally and bicycle in perfect harmony to our jobs and celebrate the glorious Dear Leader's triumphs over the capitalist running dogs. Nothing like that. But there has been an enormous case of the stupids in the SUV trend, and what sucks is that everyone has to pay the price for it, whether or not they've "behaved".

I understand that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, but for once, let us refer to the proverbial entrenching implement as a spade and be honest about this.

They refuse to be honest about this. There are bills, in California and elsewhere, that actually want to tax mileage rather than fuel efficiency. So the guy driving a Prius gets fucked, while the asshole in his Hummer gets away with it. Knowing what we all know, seeing what we all see, reasonably anticipating the trends to come, this is inexcusable.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is being put forth as some sort of solution. This is a prime example of the dishonesty at work here. Best estimates of ANWR oil reserves are about six months' supply, at current US consumption rates. It will take ten years to get that oil out of there, by which point it won't matter, one way or the other. And this is assuming that every drop of ANWR oil goes to US consumption, which is extremely unlikely. So ANWR is not only not a solution, it's not even a help.

All that said, I think a perfectly good compromise, by way of bluff-calling, would have been for the Democrats to say, "Okay, tell you what. We'll agree to drill in ANWR, provided CAFE standards start getting enforced again, and we embark on an Apollo Project-style program to commit to energy independence in ten years." Believe it or not, John Kerry was campaigning on this very platform -- back in 2003. Once he became viable, he stopped mentioning it. That was a huge mistake. For a tough-guy veteran, he seems to not grasp the notion of dying with one's boots on.

If one wants to make the intellectually-bankrupt argument that people should be able to drive anything and everything, and we should all absorb the externalities and the skewed aggregate demand equally -- even though consumption ratios are nowhere near equal -- then take a shot. But to actively punish the fossil-fuel conservatives -- and that's what they are, they're conserving, maintaining a rational, sensible balance and level of consumption -- is punitive, short-sighted, and self-destructive.

Iron Frist

If you've read anything at all on the lefty blogosphere as of late, you know that Tennessee senatorial douchebag/cat-killer hobbyist Bill Frist has been publicly pondering the so-called "nuclear option". This would allow contentious judgeships to get rammed through sideways, by disallowing the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington-like filibuster of the principled Democratic opposition.

Leaving aside the painfully obvious hypocrisy of Republican Congress-slime -- who happily snubbed and filibustered everything Clinton ever did, right on down to suggestions for lunch -- suddenly getting the vapors at the notion of partisan tricksiness while they control everything, let us consider the notion of political jujitsu. Let us consider the idea of using our opponent's own attacking momentum to our advantage.

Let's say "fuck it", and sign on to Big Bad Bill's little pet project, making sure he understands that if the tide turns after the midterms -- and it probably will -- he might as well be wearing buttless chaps in a leather bar at last call.

The latest tactic is to frame the "nucular option" as an attack against people of faith. This is just Frist thinking he's viable in '08, and he's finding out pretty fast that nobody is in love with his stupid idea.

So I say give it to him, tape it to the back of his shirt like a "kick me" sticker, and make sure everybody knows where everyone else stands next year.

This, of course, would require an opposition party with backbone, and I still offer my services as Ballkicker-In-Chief. I will conduct myself by Mike Tyson rules -- that is, I will fuck them until they love me. If not now, when? If not me, who?

Bill Frist is a pussy. Give me one week with enough exposure, and a very reasonable stipend (beer money) and I'll be brushing his peanuts and corn off my gargantuan political cock within a month.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bobo Gets Fat And Lazy

I realize that Bobo is just trying for that breezy, too-cute-by-half feel that comes naturally to Money Dowd. But jeebus, the whole thing smacks of effort, at something which is not worth putting actual effort into. If a neutered cat could take human form, my guess is it would look a lot like Bobo -- lazy, complacent, and sharpening its claws on the most expensive piece of furniture in the house. I keep waiting for Bobo to shove Odie off the edge of the dining-room table.

Whatever. It doesn't matter. If there's any meat in Bobo's petits fours, it's here:

Mostly, I'm happy on an existential level. I like to be reminded that the universe is basically crooked. This is what the zero-tolerance brigades and all the better living gurus never quite get. They're busy trying to mold everybody into lifelong valedictorians, who spend their adulthood as carb counters and responsible flossers - the sort of organized folk who actually read legal documents before they sign them.

Yes, I just hate people who are efficient and orderly, don't you? Shame on you for paying attention to empirical reality, habit Nazis! Where do you get off trying to show people how to lead happier, healthier lives? Who are these jerkoffs who tell us to cover our own asses and not gorge on SnackWells?

Self-improvement nags can indeed be tiresome, but at least they're trying. It's better than being content to live in an entropic society that thinks "innovation" means finding easier ways to get more saturated fats down its collective gullet.

In reality, life is perverse and human beings don't get what they deserve. The people with the worst grades start the most successful businesses. The shallowest people end up blissfully happy and they are so vapid they don't even realize how vapid they are because vapidity is the only trait that comes with its own impermeable obliviousness system. The people regarded as lightweights, like F.D.R., J.F.K. and Ronald Reagan, make the best presidents, while you - so much more thoughtful and better read - would be a complete disaster.

No doubt Bobo has in mind the two most common "smart" presidents who are considered abject failures -- Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter. This is not a small point; there is an argument to be made that these men outsmarted themselves in misunderestimating political reality whilst they drafted their grand designs. But when assigning blame, do you blame Wilson and Carter, or the douchebags they had to deal with during their respective times in office?

Besides, Bobo's theory that lightweights make the best presidents is completely undone by the current wiffle-brain. Face it, Bobo -- Bush has had a complaisant Congress and he's still managed to fuck up every single thing he's touched. It's a safe assumption that Bobo's response to that would be that the jury's still out, it's too soon to tell. Something predictably lame like that.

One thing about Bobo: You can set your sundial to his brain-dead bullshit. He's about as full of surprises as Michael Jackson at a Boy Scout Jamboree.

Fair enough. Put these items into your virtual envelope and seal it, to be unveiled on January 1, 2009:
  • Bush will still (again) be the first president since Hoobert Heever to lose jobs.

  • The military will still be reeling from the current misadventure in Iraq, whether or not they're home by then.

  • The American economy will still be #1 in GDP, but on the wane, in terms of leading in GDP, trade deficit, and current account deficit.

  • The Chinese and Indians will be rapidly catching up, and ramping up their respective space technologies.

  • The US per capita GDP will be in free-fall, along with other measures of industrialized economies, like infant mortality and math/science proficiency.

  • Real wages will still be stagnant, as will be the stock market.

  • China will have started cashing in its T-bills, sending the US economy south, if not into an outright tailspin. Oil prices, military spending, and China pegging its currency to the euro, once it gets a big enough market other than the US, should do the rest.

  • Condi Rice will have taken over as VP after Dick Cheney's fifth and final heart attack, and will prove every bit as inept at that job as she was an NSA. But hey, she's a VP with stiletto heels! Roowwwrrr!

  • This country will be more polarized than ever, as rational people finally get sick of being pushed around and lectured to by pharmacists and shut-ins on how to live their own lives. Civil war, anyone? I sure won't mind being Left Behind, if it means these jerks will leave the rest of us the fuck alone.

  • This administration will be so entrenched in scandal, even if it had a plan to fix any of these things (which it doesn't -- it doesn't even think there's a problem), it will be politically impossible.

And our Impermeably Oblivious Dear Cheerleader will still be clearin' brush and invokin' Jeebus, because that's all he knows how to fuckin' do.

Life isn't fair, logic is of limited value and, as Woody Allen observed years ago, everything your parents once thought was good for you turns out to be bad for you: sun, milk, red meat and college.

Well, that and banging your step-daughter. Hi-yo! Seriously, if I wanted this lazy Sunday morning crap, I'd tune into CBS' Sunday show and listen to the animal noises at the end of every broadcast. I think it's supposed to symbolize the power of nature's beauty and grace, but to me it sounds like a bunch of fucking seagulls getting ready to take a shit on the nearby seal colony.

I know I'm a bad guy for beating on someone who's just trying to come across as a good-natured doofus, but Bobo ain't Dave Barry, no matter how hard he tries. This is typical of when conservatards try to be "funny"; they can't help but insert a few of the usual passive-aggressive "you think you're so fuckin' smart" tropes.

I suggest that health nuts, as tiresome as they can be, are no different than the other usual types of nuts -- as off-putting and sanctimonious as they are, they are compelled to testify to all about their newfound glory. At least here they have some measure of reason and empiricism on their side. Who cares what the fucking study says? Every other week they try to decide whether salt and eggs and wine and such are good for you, or bad for you.

My guess: they're good for you, in moderation. Pretty much every food is like that. Call me crazy. It doesn't seem to occur to Bobo that these jerkoff "scientists" have to have make-work studies to justify their existences.

Chew on that, Fatboy.

One Man's Terrorist....

The recent conviction of a young physics whiz for destroying dozens of SUVs makes one contemplate the definitions of terrorism, and more importantly, the appropriate responses to it.

A Caltech graduate student convicted of helping to firebomb scores of sport utility vehicles was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution.

A federal judge Monday rejected William Jensen Cottrell's plea for leniency.

"There's no way I'd ever be involved in anything like this again," Cottrell said. "I won't ever even jaywalk again."

However, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner said Cottrell had engaged in domestic terrorism and "we're very, very lucky" that no one was killed in the arson attacks.

Actually, from the description of the case, it sounds more like Cottrell's campaign, however ill-considered, was specifically designed not to hurt any people. Most of the vehicles were destroyed at a dealership at night. An actual terrorist would have acted with either sheer disregard for or outright malice toward human life. Yes, he could eventually have become a Unabomber-type asshole, but that's like saying George W. Bush might have gotten a law degree if he'd stayed in Yale Law School. Hell, if your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle.

Now, don't get me wrong. Such a destructive act deserves some punishment. But the fact is that the Justice Department and police organizations have put this "eco-terrorism" movement on a par with Islamofascist terrorism. The eco-terrorists are assholes with a radical approach to a rather obvious problem with an unclear solution -- SUVs and McMansions are simply unsustainable trends, given the cold hard facts of finite resources and living space. Their point is correct; their tactics win no admirers. Molotov cocktails are not an empirically sound argument against conspicuous consumption.

But let's compare young Cottrell's adventures with another crusader, one nearer and dearer to los corazones Arbustos.

Perhaps you recall Poppy Bush's pardon of a Cuban terrorist named Orlando Bosch.

According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.

CIA memorandums strongly suggest, according to Bardach's book, that Bosch was one of the conspirators, and quotes the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as writing that the "US government had been planning to suggest Bosch's deportation before Cubana airlines crash took place for his suspected involvement in other terrorist acts and violation of his parole".

When Heinz Kissinger ain't buying your act, you're a bad fuckin' guy.

Bosch's release, often referred to in the US media as a pardon, was the result of pressure brought by hardline Cubans in Miami, with Jeb Bush serving as their point man. Bosch now lives in Miami and remains unrepentant about his militant activities, according to Bardach.

Huh. Killed 73 people, 24 of them from Cuba's Olympic fencing team, has been involved in at least 30 other terrorist acts, and is unrepentant about any of it. Someone should tell Hauptsturmführer Coulter, who gets all Linda Lovelace on this asshole, strangely taking the imprimatur of Venezuela's hallowed judicial system that Bosch must be innocent.

More from the Guardian article:

Other Cuban exiles involved in terrorist acts, Jose Dionisio Suarez and Virgilio Paz Romero, who carried out the 1976 assassination of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, have also been released by the current Bush administration.

Letelier, you'll recall, was killed by a car bomb in our nation's capital. That's right, these fuckers committed a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., in the year of our bicentennial, and the tough-guy Bushes let the Miami Cubans push them into pardoning these bastards.

Yeah, that's tough on terror all right.

But at least we got all the crazy physics students under our thumb.

Cottrell has himself to blame, of course. His co-conspirators fled the country immediately and remain at large, so guess who takes the rap for all three of them? And he was caught because he was stupid enough to send e-mails to the LA Times discussing his role in the crimes.

Still. One guy, however misguided, commits a crime with no casualties, and gets eight years. Another guy murders 73 people in just one of his 30+ acts, and does only a little more time than that, before the President of the United States personally intervenes and not only commutes the sentence, but pardons him of the crime, as if he were an innocent man wrongfully convicted.

But we're serious about gettin' them ELF guys. We got our priorities straight.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

God's Pharmacy

Much has been said about the current vogue of paladin pharmacists unilaterally invoking God's Divine Will at such cathedrals as Walgreen's and Rite-Aid. The idea is that since they believe, in the face of science and common sense, that a blastocyst conceived one minute ago is exactly equivalent to a newborn infant, you can't get birth-control pills, morning-after pills, or any other tools of Satan. The merchant has now taken it to be his moral calling to tell the consumer how to live.

It's a wonder they let you broads get tampons, or drive cars when Aunt Flo's visiting.

Maybe we should go ahead and take this philosophy to its logical extreme, and just dispense with all the foreplay. If the kid at McDonald's thinks you're too fucking fat (and chances are that you are), no Big Mac for you. Have a nice salad, Tubby. Your cholesterol-clogged heart will thank me later.

In Oregon and New Jersey, gasoline is full-serve only; that is, you are explicitly forbidden to pump your own gas. An otherwise unemployable minion comes out and does it for you. Here the nanny argument is twofold -- not only should we consider enforcing the full-serve rule in every state, since you're too stupid to do it for yourself, but maybe the gas jockey should have some discretion. Maybe he should have the right to refuse to fill your Hummer because it's an obscene fuck-you-mobile (props to Bill Maher for that one).

Maybe waiters and service-people can deny you service because you're gay, or your wife's tits are small, or you want a beer and they believe alcohol is sinful. You get the idea.

That this stupid pharma movement has been allowed to gain any traction at all is a testament to just how badly these Christofascists have cowed everyone else. There are more of us than there are of them, people. (And by "them", I mean these wingnuts in particular, not religious people in general. I shouldn't even have to point that out, but I do.)

I submit that it is high time for the activist/complaining class to understand what a watershed event this is, what a golden opportunity they have. Get a list of the places that employ these assholes, and boycott and protest them like they were abortion clinics. Publish their names and addresses and phone numbers on the internets.

Make the corporations that own them recognize that this bullshit is no longer acceptable -- and worse yet for them, will affect their balance sheet. Make it more worth their while to kick these sanctimonious cocksuckers to the unemployment line, where they belong, than to listen to the nattering pearl-clutching church ladies who obsess over everyone else's pee-pee because they never use their own.

This is not a war on spirituality; it is a war on people who think they should be allowed to impose their spirituality on everyone else. It is high time we drew that line in the sand, before we get steamrolled.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Kung Powell Chicken

Am I the only one sick and tired of the manner in which Colin Powell chooses to make his supposedly important opinion known? The most current manifestation of this abject phenomenon is his secondhand weighing-in on tonsorial adventurer/motivational speaker John Bolton, whose nomination for UN diplomat is merely the latest in a long line of "fuck you very much"es from the second (and possibly last) Bush administration.

The affair also marks Mr Powell's most serious conflict with the White House since leaving the administration in January. His telephone conversations about Mr Bolton with two Republican senators, Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel, were private, but Mr Powell's aides confirmed the calls had been made and let it be known that he had given Mr Bolton mixed reviews for his performance as an under-secretary of state in the administration's first term.

The aides told the Washington Post and the New York Times that his remarks had fallen far short of an endorsement, and had raised concern over his harsh treatment of more junior analysts and diplomats whose views did not match his own.

Mr Powell had already declined to sign a letter by seven other former secretaries of state endorsing Mr Bolton, and his former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, has told the New York Times that Mr Bolton would be an "abysmal ambassador".

Mr Powell's entry into the Bolton row is an embarrassment for President Bush, who gave the nominee his emphatic support on Thursday and dismissed resistance to the appointment as a partisan Democratic manoeuvre.

Exactly what is Powell trying to salvage at this point? Certainly his reputation as the ultimate company man is cast in stone, and it's not as if he's ever cultivated a political career. Could this be a cynical attempt to set the stage for a 2008 showdown between the military men, against Wesley Clark? Anything's possible, but this is really just Powell's usual M.O. Anytime he's had something critical to say, it's been either through subordinates, or after he's out of his appointed office -- or in this case, both.

The main single event that convinced many people who initially supported the invasion of Iraq (including, reluctantly, myself) was Powell testifying about the absolute certitude he had that the Iraqis were up to something, and we had to act, and soon. It didn't mean anything coming from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Axis Of Lying Shitbirds, but Powell gave the argument credibility for a lot of serious people. Considering Powell got his start on the way up by helping coverup the My Lai massacre, the fact that he had as much credibility as he did says something, mainly that Americans are forgetful.

Let's just say that Powell's credibility is more or less in the crapper at this point, and one way to resurrect it would be to consider that if he has something to say, he oughta fucking come out and say it like a man. This sotto voce bullshit don't play, not at this level.

As the history of great powers takes place, every juncture is a critical one, so saying that we're at a critical juncture in our history would be an obscene Friedmanesque cliché. But the stakes haven't been this high since the height of the Cold War and mutually assured destruction -- and maybe not even then.

The USA is about to undergo a very serious tectonic shift in all phases -- economically, militarily, culturally, politically. We are about to be deposed as the big dogs, and it will not be a painless process. How we decide to play with others is going to be huge in determining just how soft our landing will be.

Putting an asshole like John Bolton at the UN will make the landing much like that of Wile E. Coyote and his trusty anvil. Bolton is not just an asshole, he's an incompetent, dangerous asshole. Powell knows all this. His first loyalty is not to the diplomatic corps, nor to this malignant tumor of an administration, nor even to what's left of the Republican Party.

Powell's primary loyalty is supposed to be to the citizens of the United States of America, and as such, if he has something to say about the corrupt, inept menace that's eating away this country from the inside, he needs to fucking stand up and say so. Time is running out, and while history forgives principled subordination of partisan rhetoric, it does not forgive weaselly pussies.

This is an opportunity for Powell to come clean once and for all, and shed light on the political mycosis of this rotten gang. He shouldn't keep squandering it by having his assistants and buffers relay his phone calls to the media.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Where The Money Is

President MBNA affirms the old saw about why they rob banks -- or in this case, helpless peons.

One could safely infer the notion that bankruptcies are on the rise because more and more people look at it as an easy way out, rather than that they might be driven to it by being given a credit card that was beyond their means, and pounded into the ground by usurious interest rates after the first late payment.

Anyone who thinks that the poor ol' financial industry is gettin' rooked by a bunch of Chapter 7 hucksters needs their head examined. Considering how banks and financial companies took a bath on speculative investments in scams like Enron and WorldCom, marginal lending is a great way to make back that money they lost. It's easy and it's fun. And all you have to do is sponsor a poor homeless senator, for just dollars a day!

''Bankruptcy should always be a last resort in our legal system," Bush said. ''If someone does not pay his or her debts, the rest of society ends up paying them."

Many debtors will have to work out repayment plans instead of having their obligations erased in bankruptcy court under the law, which will go into effect in six months. The legislation won final congressional approval last week after being touted for eight years by banks and credit card firms.

The measure would require people with incomes above a certain level to pay some or all of their credit-card charges, medical bills, and other obligations under a court-ordered bankruptcy plan.

Notable exceptions:

  • When you run a pyramid scheme pretending to be an energy-trading firm.

  • Corrupt hedge funds.

  • Pedophile cults with lots of settlements to pay and gilded man-dresses to buy.

  • Savings & loans ripoffs. Don't worry, Neil, the American taxpayers'll bail your worthless ass out! We won't even make you re-pay us for your incompetence and corruption.

  • Arbusto. 'Nuff said.

  • CaterAir. Ditto.

  • Harken. Do we detect a pattern here?

  • Defense contractors who not only get sweetheart no-bid contracts thanks to friends in low places, but still have the goddamned nerve to soak the taxpayers for more.

  • Record budget deficits, that seem to just keep getting more and more record-y.

We'll see how our fiscal stupidity serves us when the Chinese peg the renminbi and start cashing in their T-bills. Can America declare Chapter 13, or is that the sort of irresponsibility our would-be Dad-In-Chief is trying to discourage with his tough love?

End Of Days

Goobernator Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest blunder is more notable for what is concealed rather than what is revealed.

In case you've been too preoccupied with the communal sniffing of Joe Bob Ratzinger's (or as the guys in the mob call him, Joey Eggs -- get it?) newly-laundered vestments, Herr Gröpenführer recently made some ill-considered, and frankly rather incoherent, remarks about border security.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly apologized Wednesday for his earlier statements that California should "close the borders" with Mexico to control illegal immigration, saying he had misspoken because of a "language problem.''

"The bottom line is, I misspoke, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone," Schwarzenegger said about his comments Tuesday to a newspaper publishers' group in San Francisco. "I meant 'securing' our borders, not 'closing' them.

Sure he did. It's like when a chick thinks you offered to tickle her ass with a feather, but all you really said was "typically nice weather". It's a simple mistake, really. Anyone could have made it.

No, what's notable is that he meant what he meant, which means he's catering to the current right-wing sotto voce mantra, as evoked by the Arizona border-patrolling "Minutemen" militia and the like. (Playing the race card for the likes of Albert "Torture Guy" Gonzales; catering to the snake-handlers by beating up on lettuce-pickers. Who says only Democrats are skilled at identity politics?) Not only did he mean what he said, but the idea is not all that unpopular with Californians, even Hispanics. That's why Prop. 187 passed overwhelmingly ten years ago. It wasn't just Whitey that pushed that one through.

The fact of the matter is, a big reason the state's infrastructure and revenue base is in such a shambles is because there are a lot of people making use of it without paying into it. And forget about the "they pay taxes too" mantra -- they pay sales taxes, like everyone else. Sales taxes do not go to fund things like roads, schools, hospitals, etc.

This does not mean that police-state measures need to be implemented or anything, just that a problem needs to be recognized and resolved in a manner that allows the state to get back up on its feet, have a framework that can handle the entire population, and have everyone paying their fair share. This also means sticking the employers who take advantage of the cheap labor, of course.

There are no quick fixes here. But the bottom line is, what Schwarzenegger said, like it or not, is not all that disagreeable to a majority (or at least a solid plurality) of Californians, especially when phrased in the context of potential terrorism. And yet the way he lamely backpedaled and pinwheeled away from his statement, pathetically trying to bridge some imaginary semantic gap between "closed" and "secured", you'd have thought he'd proposed molesting collies on the State House lawn.

Margita Thompson, the governor's press secretary, said Wednesday that Schwarzenegger's critics "are experts at diverting attention away from California's true problems -- which is where the governor is focused.''

She said Schwarzenegger wasn't the only political leader to publicly admit errors, and "it's one of the reasons why people can relate to him, and they love him, because he's human.''

This is the real story -- the honeymoon is over, and the novelty of having Gonad The Bavarian as governor has worn off, and he knows it. The Republicans have very publicly and embarrassingly overstepped their bounds nationally, and haven't done shit about anything that affects real peoples' everyday lives. The SUV drivers are suddenly realizing that they were had, and the swing voters who tacked right are realizing that they shacked up with the party that lets the crazy aunt out of the attic with alarming regularity. Suddenly John Kerry doesn't seem quite as French as he once did.

Yes, folks, the smell you're smelling is the sweet smell of political disaffection, and that whooshing sound in the background is the flushing of Arnold Schwarzenegger's political career down the proverbial toilet. He has lost twenty points in about twelve weeks, an amazing stumble remarkably concurrent with that of George W. Bush. Every public appearance has either been an awkward verbal gaffe, or a quick dodge from the firefighters and nurses he thought he could attack with impunity.

He has not gotten the message, not until now. Schwarzenegger's quick, painfully clumsy attempt to back away from this most recent one, clumsily phrased as it was to begin with, shows that he knows he fucked up. One of the most ridiculous aspects of this was when Tom Arnold spoke publicly in support for his good buddy. Note to self: don't take the word of a man whose judgment is so poor, he married Roseanne Barr. Don't take his word on anything, especially issues of character judgment. The last good decision Tom Arnold made was quitting his slaughterhouse job in Ottumwa. Since then, not so much.

RINOs like Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani have been useful to the GOP as political cover, to put a putatively moderate face on a party of creepy backward authoritarianism. Arnold especially should be considered a bellwether for the national party's fate. Another opportunity for the Democrats to land a real body blow here -- if they take Arnold down next year, the rumors of the Democrats' death will be proven to be greatly exaggerated.

The Democrats in California's state legislature save their knives for the budget process, and then they make the governor -- Democrat or Republican -- genuflect to each of their constituencies, before skullfucking the whole budget process for an extra month or two, just for shits and giggles. That's just the way it works out here. In short, if Arnold thinks he's in bad shape now, wait till mid-August, when the budget's 45 days late, and he has to verbally fellate Gil Cedillo and Fabian Nuñez just to get something done. They know he's vulnerable now, and they know that he knows it. ¡Ay caramba!

They live for an opportunity like this; Arnold may now consider himself officially held by the short hairs. His very special fall initiative drive is about to go down in flames, the state is still in debt every bit as much as it was in 2003, and despite Arnold's bluster about bureaucratic waste in the campaign, he has stopped running his mouth about that, since he got in and found out that there really isn't a bunch of welfare queens driving Cadillacs to Fort Knox for their weekly gold bar. He's had 18 months, and all he's done is keep the wolves at bay a little longer with last year's bond issue, which is just a debt deferment.

Schwarzenegger really thought he'd just have to show up, and his personal charm would make things happen. Then again, he thought people would go see Last Action Hero and Junior, so there ya go.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Top Ten Reasons Why John Bolton Is So Angry

(as read by John Bolton)

10. That fucking treacherous cocksucker Voinovich is going to regret the day he crossed me. I'm gonna go through his garbage and climb up his fucking ass like a king-size gerbil.

9. Stupid fucking cunt assistant knows goddamned well I like TWO sugars, NOT one! TWO SUGARS! Got that, bitch? You're doing it on purpose, aren't you?

8. Who the fuck wants to know?

7. Fucking North Koreans kept calling me "Colonel Sanders", and asking me for "bucket of flied chicken" in the middle of nuclear negotiations, snickering and mugging like Mickey Rooney the whole time. As in, "We cease all nuclear production at Yongbyon immediately -- for bucket of flied chicken!". Fucking assholes.

6. Goddamned fags getting married. What the fuck is this world coming to?

5. What kind of fucking turd loser asshole thinks that a UN diplomat has to be either diplomatic or approve of the UN's existence, much less both? Jesus Christ, make up your fucking mind already, Comrade.

4. That fucking frog bitch in the Audi that cut me off in traffic the other day. She fucking saw me, I know she did, because she flipped me off back!

3. I really just want to be held.

2. People seem to think there's something fucking funny about the blinds not matching the drapes. You know what's funny about that, wisenheimer? Nothing! I'll have you counting caribou droppings in Nome for the rest of your rotten fucking life if you cross me, I swear to fucking God. Oh, hi, Mister President! Heywood and I were just discussing Alaskan environmental policy -- weren't we, Heywood?

1. Because it's possible -- unlikely, but remotely possible -- that someone in the liberal media might put down their fucking Pope-goggles for two seconds and talk about some of the major ways I have personally made the world a much more dangerous place, through reckless brinksmanship with North Korea and Iran, and through defunding and foot-dragging programs designed to round up all the old Soviet nukes so they don't fall into al-Qaeda's hands. If people knew the truth about what a useless, feckless sack of shit I was, I'd be this month's Bernie Kerik, without the Ground Zero fuck-pad and the funky hizzos.

Wang Dang Sweet Da Nang Poontang

Via MaxSpeak it seems that Ted Nugent has gotten the urge to open his piehole for no good reason at all. I, for one, am shocked.

Speaking at the NRA's annual convention Saturday, Nugent said each NRA member should try to enroll 10 new members over the next year and associate only with other members.

"Let's next year sit here and say, 'Holy smokes, the NRA has 40 million members now,'" he said. "No one is allowed at our barbecues unless they are an NRA member. Do that in your life."

Now, I'm a big believer in the Second Amendment. I do not own a gun, primarily because we have a small child and my wife is petrified of guns. I do not have enough gun-lust in my heart to make it worth my while to try to convince my wife that she is a wuss, or something inane like that. It is simply a matter of mutual respect.

Nevertheless, I have a fair amount of experience with firearms, including assault weapons, and most of my friends own at least one gun. All are very responsible owners. Some may or may not even be NRA members. It has never even occurred to me to ask.

And that is exactly the problem with Nugent's polemic nonsense, the idea that people congregate around this specific commonality. Gun owners/NRA members have barbecues with non-gun owners/non-NRA members all the time, one would think. Has anyone ever asked you at a barbecue, "Hey, Clem, you in the NRA? 'Cause ya know if ya ain't, I gots to get all Deliverance on ya. Yeeee-hawww!"? I didn't think so.

The same dynamic seems to work with most of the cultural defensive postures, the people who know they're trying to turn back an inexorable tide, but they do nonetheless, for whatever reason. Homosexuality is probably the biggest elephant in that room; it doesn't seem to occur to these yahoos that homosexuals don't define themselves by the hole they plug any more than straight people do.

Anyway....Nugent apparently once said re his no-show in Nam, despite his he-man tough-guy act:

"He claims that 30 days before his draft board physical, he stopped all forms of personal hygiene. The last 10 days, he ingested nothing but Vienna sausages and Pepsi; and a week before his physical, he stopped using bathrooms altogether, virtually living inside pants caked with his own excrement, stained by his urine. That spectacle won Nugent a deferment, he says. ‘... but if I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed, or I'd killed all the hippies in the foxholes...I would have killed everybody.’"

And you thought Bush's and Cheney's dodges were pathetic. Jeezus, you'd think that such a person would have enough sense to keep his yap shut for the rest of his life on matters of war.

So let's get all that straight -- when it comes to hunting animals, Terrible Ted is all about getting out there with a gun or a bow and arrow, ready to lay waste to many a peaceful ruminant. When it comes to the world's most dangerous game, or when his country asks for him to appear ready for duty, Ted shits his pants, literally.

Like many of his fellow countrymen of the day, some of whom now run the country, Ted was tough enough to hate Charlie from a safe distance, content in the knowledge that other kids were over there fighting for his right to tell everybody just how fucking tough he is.

As the cheese-eating surrender monkeys say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Shameless Skullfuckery

Via Atrios, we see an item in Joe Scarborough's PMSNBC blog that can best be described as fellatio in print. Usually this sort of stuff requires someone with a well-practiced throat, like Peggy Noonan or David Brooks. But Scarborough scarfs the sausage like a seasoned pro.

Here comes the money shot:

What do these terrorists take Bush for? An Italian PM?

He will not be blackmailed. He will not give in. In fact, he will only be helped by further terror attacks and civilian murders.

With every new terror strike, George W. Bush only grows stronger.

His enemies are vanquished. Michael Moore and the New York Times editorial page are historically irrelevant. The Democratic Party is in disarray. George Soros is busy planning ways to waste millions of his fortune on Hillary's 2008 loss.

The terrorists may still be killing a handful of Iraqi civilians. But all they are doing is strengthening their enemies in the United States and all of Iraq.

Surely Joe realizes that what he's doing here is still illegal in most of Scarborough Country. Still, he deserves credit for treating his erstwhile independent streak like just another gag reflex. Oh, you are so hired, baby! Just don't kiss anyone till you wipe off your face.

While we're in cheap-shot mode, let's remind everyone about Joe's mysterious intern misadventures a few years ago. Sort of like Gary Condit, except without all the messy liberal media coverage. How con-veeen-ient.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Coulter Of Life™

There's a bit of a rankled buzz circulating the lefty blogosphere, regarding the Ann Coulter puff piece in the latest issue of Vremya (aka Time, for you non-russophiles). On its pallid, sunken face, this appears to be just another incident in which the so-called SCLM (yes, so-called so-called liberal media; the redundancy is facetiously intentional) shows its true colors.

Indeed it does. What we used to regard as "news" media have obviously undergone a sea change over the last twenty years or so. All the major players in print and broadcast media are either wholly or largely owned by either defense contractors or multinational conglomerates with no vested interest in keeping Murkins on the proverbial up-and-up. If anything, the opposite is true. It is less of a sordid smoke-filled-room conspiracy, and more of a plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face kind of deal.

With the rise of corporate ownership, and the increase in influence, the mission statement has been completely re-written. Overseas bureaus have been shut down, news divisions have been subsumed and/or merged with entertainment divisions. The mission is no longer to inform, and hasn't been for quite some time. The loyalty is no longer to you, the home viewer, but to the merchant princes running the show.

The mission is to sell, sell anything and everything, whether tangible or abstract. The surface stuff is the commercials. The easy answer is that they're there to sell you cars and tampons and such; the whole "news" product is just filler between plugs for various pharmaceuticals which supposedly help alleviate that feeling you've got that your life is basically that of a heavily-mortgaged hamster.

That sinking feeling is augmented by the parts of the filler that are engineered to stick with you, the sensationalized, titillating nonsense that has nothing to do with you and your life, but you're supposed to think that it does. Michael Jackson blowing 13-year-old boys. Child molesters/killers in Bobo's World. Car chases. House fires. Recklessly stupid people doing recklessly stupid things. Shit that makes your blood boil, to be sure, but has no actual impact on your life. Oh, you'll hug your kid a little tighter, and say a little prayer. That's fine. But this is a nation of 300 million, and the law of averages says there are bound to be some bad apples.

The problem is that it's all presented as if said apples are all lurking on your block. A steady diet of network news would lead you to believe that nobody ever just got up, ate breakfast, went to work, did his job, came back home, ate dinner, updated his blog, fucked his wife, and went to sleep. Surely he must have at least snorted an eight-ball of crank and robbed a liquor store along the way.

It's a tactic of distraction, sure as shit, so that maybe you'll forget for a few minutes that while your real wages don't keep pace with inflation, you're paying about 35% more for gasoline than you were just ten weeks ago. Maybe you won't notice that your lawmakers just sold you out for thirty pieces of silver from the finance industry. Or that China, patient country that it is, is slowly, surely encircling us while we jostle each other for position, trying to find our ass-groove on the barcalounger, happily ignorant of the world, engrossed in our bright and shiny distractions.

And politics, when they do bother addressing it, is now presented in roughly the same dynamic as professional wrestling or "reality" TV. It's all very choreographed and contrived, all geared specifically to whip up the usual sentiments about things that don't matter, so that the things that do matter can stay below the radar.

The product being sold here is conflict, and Ann Coulter has been a masterful salesperson of this product. She knows what her crowd wants to hear, and she gives it to them. She knows what her opposition expects of her, and she gives it to them. She checks her inventory regularly, and is very efficient about re-ordering as needed. And demand is high, as are the sales commissions.

There is a scene in the Howard Stern biographical movie Private Parts, where they are discussing Stern's demographic and ratings, measured by listeners' response, and average length of time spent listening to the show. The people who loved the show stayed on for an average of 1½ hours at a time, which was unheard of.

The people who hated the show listened on average for over two hours at a time.

Coulter, if you've ever read or heard her nonsense, has nothing useful or innovative to say in either medium. It's just the usual string of abusive conservatard tropes, duct-taped together for consumption by people who have no sense of history, perspective, or proportion. Every liberal mis-step was during a break from ritual child sacrifice; every conservative mis-step was undertaken with the absolute best of possible intentions -- and besides, they do it too, so there!

Her only real gimmick is that she thinks that racist insults and inciteful rhetoric are evidence of her oh-so-un-PC cred. It seems to escape her (or at least her fans) that the people she defends with these noxious rhetorical tools are the very epitome of the stodgy PC status quo, and that her cheesy lib-baiting fools no one aside from real mouth-breathers and jackasses, who actually believe this invective and take it quite literally. She's laughing all the way to the bank, heedless of the total irresponsibility with which she presents her arguments. Her real job is to make people think she's shaking things up, while really leaving things exactly where they were.

And the machine keeps chugging along.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Remember The Heroes

As a long-time diehard football fan, I was very familiar with Pat Tillman long before he became famous for walking away from a fat contract to join the Army Rangers. Tillman was a guy who made the otherwise unwatchable Arizona Cardinals worth watching; a guy with skills and smarts who was a ferocious hitter in the mold of one of my football heroes, Jack Tatum.

What little I had read about Tillman off the field confirmed what I felt about watching him on the field. As much fun as the game and its strategy is to watch and dissect, some of the personalities can grate. Most are egotistical showboats who show up to the opening of a Starbucks in a silk suit or a fur coat, acting like self-important assholes. Tillman seemed the opposite of all that. I do not believe professional athletes should be held up as role models, but despite that, I believe that if one must, Pat Tillman was a good one even before he joined the Rangers. You would not want your son to grow up to be a jerk like Deion Sanders, but you'd be proud to have a kid like Pat Tillman.

Anyway, it turns out that, several months before Tillman was killed in a friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan (which, by the way, took about a year to come out that it was friendly fire) it seems that he had been informed that his tour requirements had been fulfilled, and that several NFL clubs were very interested in him, and that he was eligible to leave and rejoin the league.

That Tillman opted to stay and fulfill his entire commitment seems to be a testament to his character, and he deserves a hell of a lot of respect for it. He could have left to make some money, and no one would have thought any less of him. He could have sat back and let others fight a war that he believed in for him, like George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, yet he did not do that. Whether one agrees with his decision or not, that is what character is.

What happened to Pat Tillman, in the end, was a waste of a good man, and a stark illustration of the needless waste war entails. This is what a lot of the carnage in war stems from -- confusion, chaos, split-second decisions that result in tragic mistakes.

The promoters of war do not have the right to invoke Pat Tillman's name in service to their own cause. Neither do I, for that matter. I respect what he did, and I respect the sacrifice he willingly made in service to his country. What galls me is the reckless, feckless, callow attitude the leaders of his country -- our country -- display toward his sacrifice, and the sacrifice made by all the troops. They have disrespected their families, their spouses and children, with benefit cuts and no financial help from stop-loss orders on Reserve and National Guard troops. They have disrespected parents who have shown up at Republican rallies to attest to their grief and horror at what the wars have wrought on their families and lives.

Hindsight being 20/20, Pat Tillman could have taken the discharge, come back to the league as a hero, put a very public face on any veterans' issue he chose to, and helped a lot of people. He certainly would not have let his platoon down by doing so. He did a very brave thing in passing all of that up. But there is something hard-wired in the military culture, with the whole world watching, that makes it difficult (if not impossible) for people to distinguish between the "right" thing and the sensible thing.

This is a tough one, any way you slice it. You can never knock a guy for dying with his boots on. All you can do is think about what might have been.

The death over the weekend of peace activist/aid worker Marla Ruzicka hits a bit closer to home. My wife, who lived for about ten years in Lakeport, CA, babysat Marla and her twin brother Mark for several summers, when they were very young. She has fond memories of the two of them as little kids, happy and smiling and blissfully unaware of the nasty surprises the world has in store for all of us when we're older. And our own daughter turned four a couple weeks ago, so she's not much younger than Marla was when my wife was babysitting her. So there's a rather depressing synergy right now.

Even worse is that Marla Ruzicka happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; the suicide bomber that killed her was apparently going after the convoy of reconstruction contractors at the same place. That's the report thus far, anyway; considering what they did to Margaret Hassan and other aid workers, it's hard to take it as complete gospel. Still.

Anyway, you look at Marla Ruzicka and Pat Tillman, at their lives, their ideals and their deaths. Each wanted to help people, in their own way. One died in a friendly fire incident; one as collateral damage. Two young, strong, idealistic lives snuffed out, each in a split-second, each with their whole lives ahead of them.

Think about them when the next "accountability moment" comes your way.

What's New, Pussycat?

The good people of the fine state of Wisconsin are in the process of deciding whether or not to allow the hunting of stray and feral cats, even to the point of baiting them with piles of Meow Mix. Gee, why not anti-freeze and ground glass? Then you don't waste a bullet.

The first I'd heard of this story was on the national news last week, when a mountainous tub of goo -- who looked like she might have a vagina somewhere 'neath all the folds -- intoned hysterically that the feral cats were killing off all the game-birds that humans apparently have the divinely-ordained right to shoot for fun. This is news to me; I'm not sure a cat can take down a quail, much less a pheasant.

More realistically, the cats are threatening songbird populations in many areas. Rational, humane people have responded to this threat by organizing small groups of people to trap the cats (which is very easy) and have the local veterinarian spay/neuter said animal for free (which any decent vet is happy to do). Statistically, feral cats don't usually make it past five years of age, so the problem takes care of itself pretty fast. This takes a bit of volunteer work, but sometimes that is the challenge of the hallowed Culture Of Life™. You do agree that all God's creatures deserve at least some respect, don't you?

But apparently these cheeseheads feel that any cat without a collar is fair game, and if you shoot one that turns out to have a collar after all, oh well, it's just a cat.

I find so many areas of this argument repellent, it's hard to know exactly where to begin. First, I suppose it makes sense to remind how the feral cats exist in the first place. They do not appear out of thin air, spontaneously generated by random molecules reacting to strange weather patterns. They come from self-absorbed assholes who abandon the animal, either actively or passively, because it's an inconvenience to their ability to uphold whatever precious aspect of their modern lifestyle the cat is interfering with. And of course they never bothered to sterilize the animal to begin with.

This just in, people: Cats are rather well-known for their fecundity. Look it up.

Then we turn back to these folks who think they have the right to solve every little problem with a gun. I understand, life can be frustrating. It sucks to find cat shit in your asparagus plants. It sucks to have a stray tomcat spray on your car tire, or on your living-room window (as one stray recently was doing to my very own sanctified domicile). I mean, several of my neighbors let their damned dogs roam free, while mine are penned. So I have dogshit on my lawn every few days. The neighborhood kids occasionally drop trash alongside the road en route to and from their school-bus stop. Sometimes there are cat footprints on the hood of my car the day after I washed it! Oh, the horror! Now I just may have to wash my car again! O cruel fate, why do you mock me so?

Seriously, this notion that every little obstacle in life must be solved with violence is evidence that this is not a Culture Of Life™ at all, but a Culture Of Spite®. Really. So your neighbor's cat keeps shitting on your lawn. Well, go over and talk to him (your neighbor, not the cat). If he does nothing about it, then go and talk to him again, this time gently reminding him that the next time you see the cat on your property, you're calling Animal Control; failing that, you will simply go down to the nearest vet or feed store, rent a trap (they're a couple bucks a day, at most), trap Fluffy and drop him at the animal shelter.

That's really all it takes. You don't have to be an asshole or an animal-abusing nut about it. It's not as cathartic as warming up the ol' thirty-aught-six on everything that ruffles your precious little feathers, but again -- the Culture Of Life™ requires some basic modicum of effort. Such effort might even be a tad inconvenient to Your Lifestyle. Oh no!

I seriously believe that there is a deeper psychopathology at work here. Coming from "farm folk", I certainly realize that many, if not most, rural farmers consider any cat that's not keeping down the rat population in the barn to be little more than a rat itself. The rest of society, which has moved on from that dynamic, realizes that cats are sentient, intelligent animals, capable of affection, and deserving of consideration roughly equal to dogs. Certainly not that of squirrels and possums.

Whether someone is a "cat person" or a "dog person" (a useless and deceptive dichotomy to begin with) is beside the point. This is just another City Mouse vs. Country Mouse issue, writ small. The city folk are agog that people don't love their Fluffums as much as they do, that they resent assholes who let their pets wander around and fuck up their neighbors' property; the hicks have their backs up once again (practically a permanent stance at this point), because them ten-fingered sumbitches think they're soooo fuckin' smart.

Not to mention the obvious fact that this would give every creepy, sadistic piece of shit out there a get-out-of-jail-free card. Nice going, assholes.

So. Cat owners, get your shit together, once and for all. I have cats too; I know exactly how it is. But if your pet is really like your kid, then treat him as such. Don't leave him out all night. Keep an eye on where he goes; if he keeps going over to your neighbor's garden, then prepare to have an indoor cat, and deal with it. Spay or neuter your cat. Quit acting like it's a goldfish you can flush the second it becomes an inconvenience. Like you really have anything better to do anyway; you were just going to watch American Idol, and you fucking well know it. It's amazing that you have to tell people to have some goddamned respect for their neighbors, but there ya go. Anyone who says people are stupid is wildly misunderestimating the situation.

And yokels, take a deep breath. You're getting all weirded out about cats. Okay? Calm the fuck down already, quit marrying your cousins, and fucking grow up. You have the right to own guns. You even have the right to defend your property and lives with said guns. A cat shitting in your garden or walking across your sacred piece-of-shit-mobile is not something that needs to be resolved with splattering said cat across the road.

So if you're gonna do it, then at least be honest about it, and do it in front of your kids, and in front of the cat's owner. Hopefully it's a little girl, and you can explain to her what a problem-solving tough guy you are.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Man Of The People, Part Duh

On the domestic front, as Dear Leader prepares to sign the usury (uh, I mean bankruptcy) bill into law, one marvels at the sheer cognitive dissonance that allows seemingly otherwise upright humans to seriously believe that this chump gives a flying fuck about them and their lives. Clearly he doesn't, or he wouldn't be selling them out to MBNA.

Then there's the estate tax, which experienced the miracle of marketing strategy and had its name changed to the "death tax". Oooh, scary!

Well, it's for the children. The children of kajillionaires, that is. How's poor useless Paris Hilton supposed to get by, you heartless bastards? Oh sure, you want your deficit reduced and you want your Social Security protected and you want public health and social services and parks and libraries and shit like that, don't ya?

Yeah, well, people in hell want ice water, bub. The have-mores are keeping their parallel system chugging right along (like they'd go to school with the likes of you, serf), while they loot the have-nots to pay for their currency speculation, financial chicanery, bank loans to shithead companies like Enron and World Com, and of course the war machine. We pay the no-bid Halliburton contracts and overcharges, they collect the fat dividend checks.

In a little-noticed estimate confirmed by his office yesterday, Stephen Goss, the highly respected Social Security actuary, has studied how much of the Social Security financing gap could be filled by a reformed estate tax. What would happen if, instead of repealing the tax, Congress left it in place at a 45 percent rate, and only on fortunes that exceeded $3.5 million -- which would be $7 million for couples? That, by the way, is well below where the estate tax stood when President Bush took office and would eliminate more than 99 percent of estates from the tax. It reflects the substantial reduction that would take effect in 2009 under Bush's tax plan.

According to Goss, a tax at that level would cover one-quarter of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. The Congressional Budget Office has a more modest estimate of the shortfall. Applying Goss's numbers means that if CBO is right, the reformed estate tax would cover one-half of the Social Security shortfall.

Dig that, if you will. This asshole has been prancing around the country like it's his own personal aircraft carrier, literally making shit up as he goes along about what a monumental crisis is right up ahead, and how we better act now, and how "all ideas are on the table". Okay. Here's an idea for you, and the low numbers estimate covering half the fucking shortfall.

Now, if Bush wants to seriously debate the issue and try to make an argument about the unfairness of all that, fine. But he won't; even his most slavish tea-baggers know that. He has neither the balls nor the brains for such an attempt, and it's not like he lets anyone near enough to him to ask him a real question or tell him something that doesn't jibe with his preconception of Every Fucking Thing.

And the ironic -- no, knee-slappingly hilarious -- thing about it is, these asshole values voters are exactly the demographic that will bear most of the brunt of these policies, of this retard MBA's abusive fiscal nonsense. They're gonna suck on it the hardest of all, because when the crash comes -- and it will come; we are doing nothing to protect ourselves from any of it -- the blue states will no longer be able to subsidize the red states. That's okay; God will bail them out.

Unfortunately, a lot of other people who did know better about this cock-knocker will also pay the price. But hey, he's one of us, right?

MaxSpeak has plenty more good stuff on the estate tax.

Man Of The People

So Bush paid a visit to Fort Hood, to make another sad-sack effort at retaining some shred of cred, after two years as the Botcher of Baghdad. It all starts with the shading of the facts, and Our Hero is not afraid to color outside the lines.

Bush thanked the soldiers at Fort Hood who have recently returned from Iraq or are heading there this fall, but said it isn't time to start bringing U.S. forces home yet.

"Iraqis want to be led by their own countrymen," Bush said. "We'll help them achieve that objective. And then our troops can come home with the honor they deserve."

There are a couple ways to look at this oversimplification. The obvious one is that Saddam Hussein is Iraqi; they were being led by their own countryman in the first place, though obviously in a horrific fashion.

This is an important distinction that Bush glosses over, as he always does. Let us stipulate that the current excuse for the war -- liberating the Iraqi people -- has validity; let's give the benefit of the doubt here. So what happens if the Iraqis get another tyrant? Are we going back in to re-liberate them? Highly unlikely; two things these guys are actually competent at is buck-passing and excuse-making, and Saddam set the bloodbath bar pretty high. That gives the next strongman a fair amount of leeway on the massacring of political/tribal enemies, especially if he plays ball.

Other things to keep in mind about this "countrymen" remark include the fact that the new president is Kurdish. Practically by mutual agreement (between Kurds and Sunnis) he is not a "countryman". Also, the Sistani faction running things is closely associated with Iran, and we'll see pretty quickly (probably once the British pull out of Basra) just how close. It's not terribly unlikely that Iran will be running the southern half of Iraq by proxy; the question really is whether they will wait for us to leave to make it easier on themselves, or bait us in the near future, to make us feel stuck there indefinitely again, and create more unrest here. Coupled with radically increasing gasoline prices, and the economic unrest that's sure to follow soon, the outlook seems pretty grim.

"If we can start to change the most powerful country in the Middle East, the others will follow," Bush said. "Americans 20 years down the road won't have to deal with a day like September 11, 2001."

The most powerful country in the Middle East?!?!? Is this fucking guy on glue? First of all, we were constantly reminded by the sneering "bring 'em on" advocates that Iraq was the "low-hanging" fruit. That might actually have been closer to the truth, as Iraq is literally surrounded by more powerful nations -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Turkey all have air forces and conventional weapons (Saudi and Israel with American fighter planes, Turkey with American artillery). Israel and Pakistan are known to have nukes; Iran is probably close, thanks to Pakistan.

Though Saddam had kept up his luxurious lifestyle and enormous internal security apparatus, everything else in Iraq had been devastated by a decade of sanctions. Kuwait was probably a bigger Middle East power than Iraq by 2002; Syria almost certainly was as well. This is a flat-out lie, and Bush knows it -- Iraq was not even a middling power in the immediate region, and certainly not the most powerful.

Bush noted that on April 9, 2003 -- two years ago last Saturday -- a statue of Saddam Hussein that stood in Baghdad was pulled from its pedestal to the ground.

"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded along with the fall of the Berlin Wall as one of the great moments in history," Bush said.

This is a repulsive and irresponsibly hyperbolic assertion for Bush to make. Tens of millions of people died horrifically under soviet communism (as well as Chinese communism, of course, but we're referring specifically to the Warsaw Pact countries here, in terms of the Berlin Wall). Hundreds of millions more lived horrifically under these regimes. This went on for nearly fifty years, with the entire world literally fearing nuclear annihilation via mutually assured destruction, and the US doing everything it could to legitimately counter this menace (including, of course, brutal and illegitimate proxy fights in Central and South America, Vietnam, and Africa). Whatever the case, the Soviets were a proven and hostile threat, who were aggressive in many theaters and definitely had real technological and destructive capabilities.

Compare with the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. Hussein had been groomed as an asset for years, and while he curried much more favor with the Soviets than he did with us, we were never shy about working with him. We "knew" about all the weapons he supposedly had, because we had all the old receipts from back in the days when Rumsfeld flew over to personally deal with him.

Saddam was a vicious thug heading a cruel and brutal gang who got too big for his britches, but the fact of the matter is we cultivated him as an asset in a way we never would or could any communist dictator. Had Saddam not gotten a case of the stupids and attacked Kuwait, he'd probably still be in power right now, as brutal as ever, and we'd be making excuses about how it's not our problem and the next guy could be even worse and just drive your Excursion and shut the fuck up.

I remember watching the fall of the Berlin Wall, the spontaneous bursting of joy and passion and exultation that this cruel and mindless system of communism had finally collapsed under its own stupid weight. That was real people power; unstoppable, a moment that heralded a true rethinking of how the world would look at and do things.

I also remember the staged toppling of Saddam's statue; how it was filmed just right so that a couple hundred stragglers looked like an energized mob of democracy-whiskey-sexy Americaphiles; how an American flag was strategically placed over the head of the statue before it was oh-so-theatrically brought down. There was nothing spontaneous or people-powered about any of it; I only found myself surprised that there wasn't footage of American soldiers pissing on the statue or pretending to fuck it in the ass, just so we all got the message. Something about not messing with Texas, or freedom fries.

The point is, tyrants come and tyrants go. And as evil as Saddam and his sons and his henchmen truly were, it was one totalitarian system in one geopolitically crucial country that got out of our direct control. Someone needs to step up and explain to this fool why it's not the same, it's not even close to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and why it's as disgraceful for him to say so as it is for people to toss out "Hitler" or "Nazis" every time they find their political rivals disputatious.

I don't know if the troops all genuinely love Dear Leader, or if it's just their duty to respect whomever's in charge, or if it's yet another cherry-picked Bush crowd. Nor do I care. I do not buy into the notion that they know something about Bush that none of us does. We see how the man shamelessly lies to these troops and puffs up "his" achievements with nonsensical and off-putting exaggerations. The people on the ground deserve at least to be talked to truthfully by the armchair generals who cut their benefits and let their bankrupt families get tossed, even as they get sent back for yet another tour.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Now What?

One of the precious few things I've always liked about the Catholic church is the principle of the "devil's advocate". It's a great management tool, too -- if everyone else is saying "yes", you should say "no" just to make sure the issue is truly being thought through thoroughly (again with the alliterative tongue twisters).

So let's apply that principle to some of the old-fangled "theocon" notions currently in political vogue. Let's consider for a moment what might be wrought if the holy warriors really had their way.

The hot-button issue is gay marriage, but the reality of that is that gay couples have been having to work around that for years. So it sucks, but the thwarting of gay marriage just means an extension of the status quo. This is not good, mind you, but it doesn't foment disaster, either. (Still, the seeming preponderance of gays and so-called ex-gays in these groups, or directly related to the chief crusaders, does not go unnoticed. Must the rest of world listen to you publicly deal with the imagined trauma of having a homosexual child? Apparently we must.)

Whatever the fundies' intent as far as gay marriage, it is still an important fight just on the basic principle of having a right to privacy, the right to be left the hell alone. We used to believe in such notions, before the War On Some Drugs changed some minds. How's that been workin' for ya?

I think the insurgency against the teaching of evolution is even worse. In practical terms, this is really a struggle against empiricism, against reality -- against science, most dangerously of all. The entire point of inculcating creationist nonsense is to color the view of how the student views the world around him. Very well. Let us accept said argument (and intended result) on its face, and act accordingly. Would you want someone who seriously believes that dinosaurs and cavemen co-existed -- and will entertain no contrary notions -- to work on your car? Would you trust him to work on your house? How about on you, or your wife, your child, your parents? You're gonna draw that line somewhere, you have to, so where's it gonna be? You really want some "Grampa warn't no monkey" yahoo working the rib-spreader when you go in for your triple-bypass?

Now picture this fucking guy running this entire nation, and trying to keep it even remotely competitive with the burgeoning East (China, Korea, Japan) and South (India, Pakistan) Asian powers. They have their fundie wackos too, but they don't let them call the shots.

You could put this function up against any theocon head-fake coming up the pike, and the answer will (or should) be the same -- that these motherfuckers are crazy. Their defense runs along the line of everyone else "picking" on them because of their faith.

(Funny, ain't it? All you ever hear out of them is how they're constantly under attack, but when was the last time they ever left us alone? They conveniently forget that they insisted on altering the Pledge of Allegiance, they insisted on changing the national motto. They're the ones who insist on the urgent need for "In God We Trust" on every damned thing, and a Ten Commandments monument up everyone's ass. Taxpayer-funded, of course. But we are the ones who are being all high-handed and arrogant. Okay.)

The faith isn't the problem; the attempt to mandate faith-based public policy is. To the faithful, their philosophy is some sort of magnificent divinely-ordained cathedral of ineluctable truth. To the rest of us, it's a ramshackle version of the Winchester Mystery House -- a poorly cobbled-together dump consisting of dead-end hallways of outdated cultural mores, and trompe l'oeil rooms of sexist rhetoric, papered with insincere populist bullshit.

Let us not forget the turrets of cultural retardation, nor the front porch of high-handed sanctimony. The dormers of fag-bashing. These are all critical to the construction of this House of Gawd™, which does not have a bathroom because you can shit pretty much anywhere and no one will mind, so long as you wrap it up in a flag.

Never let it be said that I can't run a bad metaphor full-tilt into the ground.