Friday, June 30, 2006

High Noonan

Not to belabor the tragicomic self-immolation of Peggy Noonan's addled brain, but I was distracted from a couple of big-picture points by her unfortunate choice of imagery.

The first clue is right at the outset of the column, where Nooners declares herself a contrarian. I don't have the stomach to ingest her nonsense on any sort of regular schedule, but I have read enough of Noonan's goofy nonsense over the years to know that she's the establishment poster girl, and nothing short of Reagan's shade appearing to her in the midst of a bender will ever change that.

Plus the obvious: people who have to tell you they're contrarians are like people who go to the trouble of telling you they're not gay -- they're desperately full of shit. They're really trying to convince themselves. Soon as they've decided to apprise you of these things, they've already lost the battle. So Peggy Noonan is a contrarian like Dick Cheney is a humanitarian.

Which brings us to our other big beef with Nooners' nonsense (in that column anyway). In the first section of the column, where she's getting her hate on for the Hillarybot and gushing about her lactating codpiece nourishing the troops he's consigned to his poor judgement, Noonan laments Hillary's "lifetime in politics". This is part and parcel of perhaps the most sickeningly patronizing and false Bushie cultist meme of all -- that Bush is just some sort of outsider come inta town ta fix what needs a-fixin'.

Give me a fuckin' break. Bush's first foray into politics was what, 1978? Just because he spent the '80s failing upwards in Daddy's "businesses" doesn't mean he hasn't been an inside man his entire adult life. This is fucking nonsense, and painfully contrived nonsense at that. Only a complete jackass seriously believes that George W. Bush is the Washington outsider he pretends to be.

Which explains a lot about his most devoted followers.

Obama Been Elidin'

I think Barack Obama means well. I believe his professions of faith are sincere. They do not strike me as brazenly cynical as the constant hectoring and nagging of various "family" organizations, or the usual gaggle of Republican politicians who use their public piety as currency.

That does not mean that Obama is right, or that it was even a point that needed to be made. Nor did it sound as if Obama had any real solution to propose.

Like most liberals who are religious, Obama finds a powerful demand for social justice embedded in the great faith traditions. He took a swipe at those who would repeal the estate tax, saying this entailed "a trillion dollars being taken out of social programs to go to a handful of folks who don't need and weren't even asking for it."

Well, you can find principles for social justice within or without traditions of faith. I think there is a sort of quiet, maybe even unintentional arrogance, on the part of many people of faith, to presume that secular or agnostic/atheist folks are somehow bereft of what are really rather fundamental, universal moral principles.

And I don't know where he gets the idea that the people who would benefit from the repeal of the estate tax haven't been explicitly asking for it. Just because Bill Gates Sr. has voiced his opposition doesn't indicate a trend. There is no other reason for the prolonged life of the asinine "death tax" pseudo-debate, than because the elite class of people who rent politicians expect certain returns on their investment. It's a rather naïve rhetorical flourish on Obama's part.

But he insisted that social improvement also requires individual transformation. When a gang member "shoots indiscriminately into a crowd . . . there's a hole in that young man's heart -- a hole that the government alone cannot fix." Contraception can reduce teen pregnancy rates, but so can "faith and guidance" which "help fortify a young woman's sense of self, a young man's sense of responsibility and a sense of reverence that all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy."

Fine. But again, what Obama -- and really all the faith-based hand-wringers and pearl-clutchers on both sides of the aisle -- fail to see is that such personal, transcendent issues are specifically not the role of government. You want to set up a church group to counsel troubled teens in your neighborhood, then do it already. You want to try to guide others into your belief system, then go out and give it your best shot. Just don't expect everyone else, whether or not they agree with your personal take on the universe, to endorse it, institutionalize it, or pay for it. It's that simple.

Michelle Goldberg, whose book I would like to eventually read but probably won't for some time to come, lightly chastises Obama for reinforcing the myths Republicans have implanted about the godless left (when in fact a great many people on the left are religious, they just don't feel the need to rub everyone's nose in it), but I think misses the more important point as well.

He gets the spiritual void at the heart of American life, and the need for social movements to offer people meaning and existential solace along with practical policy solutions. "Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds -- dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets -- and they're coming to the realization that something is missing," he said. "They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness, is not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They're looking to relieve a chronic loneliness, a feeling supported by a recent study that shows Americans have fewer close friends and confidants than ever before. And so they need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them -- that they are not just destined to travel down that long highway towards nothingness."

Again, how and why is this somehow the role of a government or a political party? Fix the roads, regulate commerce and product quality, maintain the court system, defense capabilities, infrastructure, banking, etc. -- that's the role of government, as far as I'm concerned. I hate this touchy-feely "something is missing" shit that has nothing to do with running the country. Look, if you feel something's missing, go to church. Knock yourself out. What kind of a person turns to a politician, of all people, to feel better about themselves?

This is where it starts getting real thick:

When I was in Dover, PA during the intelligent design controversy, a preacher's wife told [me] that if evolution is true, life has no meaning. "Where's this universe heading?" she asked. "What's the purpose of it all? There's no standard, no guidelines."

Yes, and? Why is this relevant to anything? The objective implication of this woman's plaint is that the Dover court's role -- and by extension, the American government's role -- is to affirm her need for structure and purpose, for assurance in an indifferent, entropic universe. Government apparently is there to resolve the regular existential crises of believers.

Let's stipulate that these folks have come by their tragic misapprehensions of government's functionary role for a reason -- politicians have encouraged them to do so. In their need for structure and assurance, they bond themselves to a deity who scratches them behind the ears when they're good, scolds them and swats them across the nose when they're bad, sometimes does shit to them for no good reason at all, and dangles the promise of a better future after their earthly rehearsal. And they vote for their political leaders the same way.

Maybe I'm the one that's naïve here; maybe I'm just stubbornly refusing to recognize the cold hard political reality that politicians instinctively know. If so, that's a sad commentary on the state of the electorate, and maybe Mencken was right that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

But we never see nearly the level of energy expended on getting to the vast pool of non-voters, compared to the energy spent attempting to wheedle percentages of religious votes back and forth over various social issues and non-issues. Why is Barack Obama preaching to the choir; why isn't he trying to motivate people with voter registration rallies and events or something along that line?

It's not that Obama's speech doesn't have some worthwhile points; it does. But he and Goldberg miss the greater point that mainstream public figures seem reluctant to talk about, this double standard where the religious get to wedge their belief system into public policy, and then erect a wall around their pet beliefs to protect them from the supposed predations of godless bureaucrats. Instead of reminding the religious pharmacist that his beliefs do not entitle him to push his customers around, and deny adult women prescriptions for birth control, they would rather lecture everyone else on their intolerance for his, um, intolerance.

So instead of getting caught up once again in this tiresome feedback loop, this circle jerk of parsing the role of religion in American public life, how about we start from the other end, and determine what sort of things we want government to be responsible for? Shouldn't religion be a personal matter, and as such, shouldn't it be out of the government's purview?

Or is it that Americans really do need to affirmed and validated, that scratch behind the ears, rather than good, efficient, competent, honest government?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Got Milk?

At this point, it must simply be assumed that instead of an actual paycheck, Peggy Noonan is paid with vouchers for Black Velvet and Paxil.

Bush the Younger would breastfeed the military if he could.

Um, yeahhhh. Holy fucking shit, do WSJ columnists not have editors or anything? Regardless, this one's worth its weight in gold, and it's going up on the header of this blog for a while. Mencken's taking a few months off; I want people chewing on Nooners' slab of insanity into election season. The Democrats oughta make that their fucking campaign slogan, just to gross people out.

But let's backtrack a tad and look at the context in which this grotesque image resides. Nooners is trying -- way, way too hard -- to ventriloquize Hillary Clinton's supposed complete and utter lack of basic human empathy. Apparently Nooners' chemical diet has given her, as with her superhero lactating preznit, special powers to see into the souls of others.

She doesn't have to prove she's a man, she has to prove she's a woman. No one in America thinks she's a woman. They think she's a tough little termagant in a pantsuit. They think she's something between an android and a female impersonator.

No one in America thinks Karen Hughes is a woman either, dearie, but that hasn't stopped her from gumming up the gears of mediocre governance.

[Hillary] is not perceived as a big warm mommy trying to resist her constant impulse to sneak you candy. They think she has to resist her constant impulse to hit you with a bat. She lacks a deep (as opposed to quick) warmth, a genuine and almost phenomenological sense of rightness in her own skin. She seems like someone who might calculatedly go to war, or not, based on how she wanted to be perceived and look and do.

Now, I am definitely no fan of Hillary, but Nooners is making some bizarre leaps of assertion here. She's overstating Clinton's calculated demeanor, and conflating it with Noonan's own peculiar assumptions of what a woman is or is not. No one sees Condi Rice as a "big warm mommy" either. That is orthogonal to whether she is skilled at what she does or not (mostly not).

Clinton's endless triangulations and petty machinations, to be sure, are tiresome, as those traits were in her husband. Neither of them ever met an issue they couldn't massage and finesse into something politically useful, as with Hillary's recent abject utilization of flag desecration. Instead of defining her philosophy to the Democratic base (in the broader sense) by espousing more libertarian principles, she cynically pimps symbolic issues to people who loathe her and will never vote for her.

This is all in the service of being seen as a "serious" candidate by "serious" media, and "serious" commentators who work within those media, such as Father Tim and Tweety and Wolf Blitzer.

And Peggy Noonan, house loon for the financial industry's house organ. And they say the blogs are unhinged.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alpha Mosquitoes Of The Fever Swamp

In the shifting sands of the blogosphere, it's never a good idea to deal with or even discuss critics unless one has the time and energy for a protracted pissing contest. Eight-plus years in the trenches of various inane flame wars have taught me at least that much. Besides I've always believed in the old-school Hollywood cliché, that as long as they spell the name right it's all good.

But the other day I came across a prime example of how the other side thinks. Actually, they don't think per se, so much as react based upon (here we go with the jargon again) strategically placed memetic and heuristic filters. What I want to do is not respond to the critics so much as take a brief look at what is going on there, and look at some of the processes.

First of all, the post is one of (I assume) thousands clogging the hive-mind of the right's borg-blogs, excoriating John Murtha for supposedly renouncing the U.S. as a greater danger to world peace than Iran or North Korea. Here's how inept this particular post was -- it approvingly linked to an Editor & Publisher article where Ann Coulter conferred her tacit approval of fragging Murtha, then blockquoted an extended excerpt from an article quoting Murtha as saying what he supposedly said. But no link to the article whence came the excerpt, which looked to be pretty much the entire article anyway. So it's not only sloppy and slapdash in its execution (if not outright misleading), but someone should maybe tell this doofus about fair use and attribution.

Anyway, as most sentient bipeds have now been apprised, that original article has been rather extensively corrected:

"An article in Sunday's editions misinterpreted a comment from U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., at a town hall meeting in North Miami on Saturday. In his speech, Murtha said U.S. credibility was suffering because of continued U.S. military presence in Iraq , and the perception that the U.S. is an occupying force. Murtha was citing a recent poll, by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, that indicates a greater percentage of people in 10 of 14 foreign countries consider the U.S. in Iraq a greater danger to world peace than any threats posed by Iran or North Korea."

Naturally, there has been no clarification or correction on the Bare Knuckle site, nor would any sensible person even bother asking, obviously. The propaganda goal has accomplished exactly what it was meant to; the lie ran halfway around the world before the truth had a chance to get its shoes on, as the saying goes. The machine requires regular feeding and manufactured outrage.

If you look in the comments section of the BK post, you'll see where one enterprising troglodyte excerpted one paragraph of one of my recent posts, with no comment or response to my point, nor even an explanation of what the excerpt had to do with their lame point about Murtha. Then, of course, the officers of the 82nd Chairborne whip out their Superman gravatars and go to town with the usual dippy epithets, yet none actually bother to counter much of anything with a cogent argument. Obviously I couldn't care less about tone or civility, but few things are more annoying than belligerent morons who not only refuse to defend their point, but are proudly defiant of their willful ignorance.

But what really gets me is this: the comments of the post start out with a fun little "contest" to pick a nickname for Murtha, such as "Jihad Jack". And that's just bullshit, pure and simple. The fact that they are unserious people, posturing and preening and pretending to be serious, is demonstrated by them putting their trust in a six-deferment pussy doughboy like Karl Rove, and shitting all over a man who volunteered for two wars as a Marine, and has served Congress honorably for decades, and in fact has a pretty conservative record.

And it's not as if Bush's glad-handing corner-turning boilerplate doesn't instantly evoke fond memories of Baghdad Bob. But the obvious parallels are lost on these guys, besotted as they are with their warporn and Coulter-groping.

Enough about these animals; they are preceded by their smell. A larger-scale problem is that of perception. Usually when you hear of a "mainstream" figure -- be they a politician or a media flunkie -- complain about the abusive, choleric nature of internet discourse, you can bet that the object(s) of their plaint are on the left side of the dial, as it were. Nobody on the right complains about Michelle Malkin, or Ann Coulter, or Michael Savage. Nobody on the right is disavowing the irredeemably intemperate (and generally inaccurate as well) nature of their commentary.

No, when you hear about the "fever swamp" or the crazy blogonistas, it's about the top-down command-and-control structure Kos operates from his impenetrable secret mountain fortress, or Atrios' angry -- no, unhinged -- posters. Moonbats, really. And we're hearing these critiques not just from the usual suspects on the other side, where it's to be expected. We hear it from the "moderate" tools who are trying ever so hard not just to tack to the middle or to the right, but to make sure that the actual righties see this cynical tack in that direction.

And that's not only galling, it's self-defeating. We're angry for some very good reasons, and we're the ones on your side, assholes. Trying to curry favor with people who quite literally want to destroy you (politically, if not yet physically) is such an abject exercise in futility, you can't help but marvel that they can't see that for themselves. And they have the goddamned nerve to use their own base -- the very people who are the most knowledgeable about the issues, and the most passionate and motivated to actually get off their asses and vote -- as rhetorical leverage, as political whipping boy.

This is exactly why, against my nature of listening to and even encouraging reasoned dissent, I dumped Marshall Wittman, aka Bullwinkle, off my blogroll months ago. I have no illusions that it was even on his radar; that's obviously not the point. I simply could not stomach any further cynical excursions into his weaselly little mind, where he saw fit to excoriate the "fever swamp" of the left every other fucking day, but never had a goddamned thing to say about the knuckle-draggers festering on the right, who pass around lies and half-truths until everyone's on the same page, who think it's funny to talk about fragging a Congressman, not to mention a veteran of two wars.

Bullwinkle had made it abundantly clear that he couldn't be trusted to delineate the clear difference between the angry left and the angry right. I have never seen anyone on the left openly advocate violence against any member of this administration, nor would I (or anyone else I can think of) endorse such a thing. We despise them, sure, but only to the extent that people get off their hind legs and go to the damned ballot box, get these ticks out of our hide once and for all, before we're drained.

Violence is not part of the equation, or the rhetoric, yet it is part and parcel on the right. "Jokingly", of course. Because nothing says "teh funny" like Ann Coulter opining that Tim McVeigh should have blown up the New York Times building, as if it weren't in Times Square. I know I'm splitting a side at such a notion. That anorexic cunt should go on the road with Larry the Cable Guy -- and stay there.

There are such massive qualitative differences between the two sides, many of which get discussed and, in a sense, peer-reviewed by commenters and fellow bloggers (and ultimately approved by King Kos, of course) that it is flat-out irresponsible for someone not explicitly of the right to just throw out blanket condemnations of "the left". Bullwinkle and the rest of the Shrum/DLC jagoffs need to get some shit straight, that their opaque disavowals do nothing for them. They are obsessed with shaving a point here or there from erstwhile Chimpco supporters who apparently have some buyer's remorse or something.

I say fuck 'em, those swing demos. They should watch and read as many news sources as they have time for; if they still can't figure out for themselves that this gang has royally fucked up pretty much everything they've touched, and has no plan to fix any of it except to politicize and distract, then what the hell can Bullwinkle or I or anyone else say to convince them? Either they pull their heads out of their asses or they don't; dumping on the people who have been paying attention all along is massively counterproductive.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Erections In Baggage

[Or: Embarrassingly Insignificant Boners; Ejaculates In Bonobos, etc.

And here I used to think that Rash Limpballs' EIB network stood for "Enemas In Broadcasting" or "Empty In Brain". It's somewhat hinky that righty radio's chief gastropod supposedly has his doctor write him off-name scrips to protect his anonymity. That alone is a story that smells at least as bad as Rush's anal cyst.

No, the real question is why the Dominican Republic? Who the fuck vacations on the benighted island of Hispaniola, especially an extremely wealthy guy like Limpballs, who can easily afford a nice getaway on the secluded side of St. Bart's?

No, the Dominican Republic is mostly known for seedy, ugly things like money laundering, drug trafficking, and sex tourism. And talented baseball players, but if Rush is secretly scouting for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, then why the secrecy, and why the boner pills?

And why have Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert steered completely clear of this? That may be the weirdest part of all.

Regardless, it should be noted that the fat fuck didn't miss a beat; he returned to his stupid dog-and-pony show joking how he'd dipped into the blue M&M's at the Clinton Library. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but it had the whiff of desperation, as if he realized in the back of his oxy-addled lizard brain that his mouth-breathing fans, while clearly stupid beyond redemption, might still remotely start understanding just how badly they've been played all these years.

Fortunately for Limbaugh, they'll forget all about this once the next outrage is contrived and packaged for them, with Limbaugh even unwrapping it for them and wiping their asses while he's at it. Can't say he doesn't earn his pelf to at least some extent.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cheap Shot Of The Week

Separated at birth:

Abramoff money-laundering sidekick Amy Ridenour

Animated sitcom protagonist Peter Griffin

You be the judge.

[Ridenour photo swiped from Roger Ailes.]

They Don't Call It ClownHall For Nothing

It's around 110º in these parts all weekend, and serendipitously enough, I just finished up another couple classes, and I'm broke, per usual. This all translates into another fun-filled spelunk into the intellectual cave of ClownHall. Let's just pick three at random to peruse.

First we have the wit and wisdom of one Carey Roberts, whose picture can't possibly do him justice, unless he meant to look like Ed Gein. Roberts tackles one of the more pressing concerns of our nation and its God-bothering (uh, I mean God-fearing) inhabitants -- what we in the proverbial 'hood refer to as biznitches an' hos.

If you happened to take in a Yankees game last week, you probably saw the message flashing on the stadium’s giant screen: “Until the Violence Stops: NYC.” Next Tuesday you can trot over to Prospect Park and “Run Until the Violence Stops.” And the colorful posters dotting the subways constantly remind us to “make New York City the safest place on the earth for girls and women.”

What’s going on? An invasion of the New Jersey purse-snatchers?

Well, if you haven’t heard, Eve Ensler, that nice lady who brought us The Vagina Monologues, decided it wasn’t enough to get college girls to ritualistically chant that three-syllable word that starts with a ‘V.’ “When I started this 10 years ago, no one said the word ‘vagina,’” Ensler notes with satisfaction. “Something has shifted in people.”

Now there’s an accomplishment to put on your resumé.

"Vagina" has always seemed a bit clinical to me too, but I suppose something called The Bearded Clam Monologues might not be quite as popular (except, of course, with me). But I'm seriously unclear as to exactly what the problem is here, and I'm not exactly Phil Donahue. Awareness of domestic violence, and resolving not to put up with it anymore. Growing up about references to naughty bits. What's the crisis, Chief?

Any way you cut it, VDAY is beyond absurd. Men are four times more likely to be homicide victims than women. And the latest research shows women, not men, are more likely to engage in domestic violence.

Of course, if a couple gets into a mix-up the lady is more likely to get hurt. But can we expect men to tolerate the abuse forever, especially when the domestic violence hotlines treat men who call for help like perps trying to game the system?

He actually has a very small point here -- domestic violence is sometimes a two-way street. But nowhere near always. And does it really need to be pointed out that there are very good reasons why law enforcement have to make snap decisions often predicated on bias against the man? It's not just the obvious physical discrepancy, but the mental and attitudinal differences. Men stalk, men terrorize, men threaten children and kill family pets. Women very very rarely do any of those things, and when the abuse is mutual, cops catch on pretty quickly. They are aware of the psychological gamesmanship and enabling that goes on in abusive relationships.

And you know what, guys? If the crazy bitch is faking it, then get the fuck out already and get a restraining order. That's how it works, and that's another reason why cops don't usually buy that argument -- because it's bullshit more often than not.

After all, in the feminist worldview violence is not just being punched, kicked or shoved. To the luna-chicks, careless facial gestures and inconsiderate name-calling are all proof of the epidemic of violence that those strong, invincible women must endure.

And then there’s the rampant garden-variety caterwauling—shameful!

We know that caring, emotive women are far more likely to make facial gestures than those unfeeling, stoic men. So when the Goofball Girls talk about violence against women they’re really referring to those villainous ladies who cast grimacing looks.

No shit. Remember the good old days when you could get liquored up at the block party, look down your neighbor's wife's cleavage, and say "cunt" just for comedic effect? I mean, what the fuck, people?

Does this guy actually have a wife or daughter, a sister perhaps? I assume he has a mother, but there may be some issues there. Subscriptions, even.

This part is just fuckin' priceless:

This is not the first time in recorded history of an outbreak of mass hysteria. The Salem witch-hunts. The recreational lynchings of black men. McCarthyism. The Vietnam War demonstrations.

But there is something especially frightening about the contemporary outpouring of feminist angst. Because as the recipient of billions of dollars in government largesse the domestic violence crusade carries the imprimatur of political legitimacy.

I'm not sure who taught this old fool how to lard his prose with fifty-cent distraction words like "imprimatur", but it ain't workin', Cletus. I'm sure the only reason the Holocaust wasn't somewhere in that hysteria laundry list is because of judicious editing. There is hyperbole, and there is utter stupidity, and the latter is the blunt implement accidentally utilized by those unqualified to wield the former. This is not a witch-hunt, nor is it an effort to lynch innocent men. This is clearly a campaign to help women who have been isolated and terrorized by psychopathic boyfriends or husbands, to let them know that, contrary to what their abuser tells them, they can turn to someone.

I have no idea why this asshole thought such a thing would be comedic fodder for the voices in his head.

Even the titans of industry have begun to smile on VDAY. The Rockefeller Foundation kicked in $500,000 for the New York City program. I wonder what John D. would have to say about dissipating his oil fortune on a high-estrogen rant?

Verizon was another VDAY Sugar Daddy. And the Avon Foundation coughed up profits from sales of beauty products. Mascara to cover up the bruises—get it?

No, I don't get it. I don't know from makeup, but I thought mascara was that shit women put on their eyelashes. According to his byline, Roberts fancies himself as something of a prober and lampooner of current events. Take your pick as to whether that was probing or lampooning. Smells like one-handed butter-churning to me.

Next is young Nathanael Blake, whose countenance strongly suggests that a well-timed piece of ass would change his whole outlook on things. It's just a hunch. Note to all professional virgins out there (this means you, Ben Shapiro) -- when done correctly, sex relieves tension. Even more than praying endlessly and asserting your moral superiority. This is one key reason for the popularity of sex throughout the ages.

It's even more fun when another person is involved.

Anyway, let's see what Blake has chosen to opine about.

Several weekends ago, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece by a woman who blames the Bush administration for her abortion. She wrote that it gave her, “practically no choice but to have an unwanted abortion because the way it has politicized religion made it well-nigh impossible for me to get emergency contraception that would have prevented the pregnancy in the first place.”

The story is simple enough. She’s a career woman approaching middle age, and one night she and her husband neglected to use contraception. The next morning, she tried to get a prescription for Plan B, an emergency contraceptive that kills the embryo by preventing its implantation in the uterus. After her doctor and her internist refused (as was their right) to write her a prescription, she gave up and trusted to luck, which failed. She then got pregnant, got an abortion, and blamed it on the government that kept Plan B from becoming an over-the-counter drug.

Note the buzzwords "career woman" (translation: uppity cunt who thinks she's soooo fuckin' smart. Like Hillary.) and "neglected". I'll give the kid credit -- he's actually a better writer than Roberts, and I think part of it is because he's a little more passionate and a little less condescending about the subject.

Doesn't make him right. He's clearly trying to set this woman up as a heartless, careless shrew who just wants her fornicatin' pleasure, even if it costs a precious life. And that doesn't appear to be the case, if one actually reads Dana L.'s opinion piece (though the piece itself is perhaps a tad hyperbolic and self-serving as well).

But let's get right down to it -- Dana admits that she neglected to put in her diaphragm because she and her husband were in the throes of passion, and didn't want to kill the moment. She sounds a little harried; maybe the career is a ball-buster, maybe there's regret over lack of quality time, but the job is what it is and the mortgage still needs paying. Don't see too many "family values" whores going that extra mile to figure out just how the fuck working families are supposed to keep a parent home for the kids' sake and still put food on the table, with prices outpacing wages every fucking year. Nope, much easier to point the finger than crunch the numbers. Maybe they're praying on it, which is working out just superbly.

And Dana also attests to the fact that her cholesterol medication is Category X, specifically not to be taken by pregnant women. This was not a simple case of a ballbusting career shrew wanting to eliminate a speed bump to her dreams or suburban corporate smilf life, no matter how much Blake would like to disingenuously phrase it. Dana sounds a bit sadder and wiser about the whole thing; perhaps hubby can go down to the Planned Parenthood clinic and get snipped. Then there's no worry about diaphragms or emergency contraceptives or any of that.

But in the meantime,there is simply no goddamned reason Dana's doctor couldn't just prescribe the Plan B for her and let her make her own informed choice, terminating what was at that point a zygote. Now she has to live with knowing what she's done, simply because a small cadre of self-righteous assholes have decided that they get to impose their particular brand of morality on everyone else. That is what all this boils down to, and I kinda hope that sometime soon Blake decides to forgo the condom because it just feels too good to stop, and a couple months later he and whatever farm animal was dumb enough to fuck him have to Make A Choice. Perhaps he will want the child, but she doesn't know if she wants to spend the rest of her life raising yard demons for a sanctimonious fool she may or may not want to stay with. It happens, and again, the basic premise that these moralists keep conveniently overlooking is that we ascribe a certain amount of decision-making power to adults.

Don't get me wrong, abortion is certainly not a choice I would ever lightly endorse, but since I have a (freakishly large) penis, it's not really my decision to make, is it? More importantly, it's not a decision for me to legislate for millions of women whom I will never meet or know, who would be forced to live with the consequences of others' self-aggrandizing moralism.

I think it really boils down to women not only having sex, but having the nerve to enjoy it. One of my favorite Menckenisms (other than the one that graces the header) is the definition of a Puritan as someone who is petrified that somewhere out there, someone is having a good time. I think that goes a long way to informing the self-indulgent hysterics of these so-called conservatives, who are really just a bunch of nattering Gladys Kravitzes who just can't leave other people alone.

Our final victim is none other than William F. Buckley, whom I have always fondly called "Fuckhead" for short. (Maybe the "F" stands for "Francis". Who knows? Who cares?)

Fuckhead decides to pull his gob out his eighth vodka martini to weigh in on one of the most pressing issues of the year 2000: Is George W. Bush too much of a stammering retard to entrust the most important job in the world to?

If your assignment was to write an essay on the stupidity of President Bush, you could start in with some confidence. The reason for this is that George W. Bush hasn't any flair for the spoken word, so that you can take specimens of this weakness and deduce, for your composition on G.W. Bush, that he is stupid.

Someone could point out to Fuckhead that Bush is demonstrably stupid without ever venturing into his stubbed-toe oratory. Someone could also just run into town and grab another bottle of Skovar, there's a good lad.

9/11, Iraq, Katrina, Social Security, Iraq, Medicare, North Korea, Iran, Iraq. That's quite a list of accomplishments, n'est-ce pas? (For you ClownHallers, that be Fronch.) Seriously, any cursory examination of the man's life pre-politics, and what he's done since stealing Florida in 2000, does not exactly make the argument for him having even moderately good judgment, or any particular acumen. He famously brags about how he makes all of his decisions from his gut, to the point where he botches decisions on Middle East peacekeeping simply because he literally doesn't know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland. How fucking smart is that?

On the matter of the president's uttering sentences that are garbled, Weisberg can't be argued with. But a difficulty with language can be attributed to many public figures, paradoxically, even to such as have proven skills. The young Dwight David Eisenhower, for instance, actually wrote military manuals when he served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was a fussy overseer and a guardian of holy prose. And of course we know that en route to the White House, Ike served as president of Columbia University.

But it remains true that some of Ike's improvised spoken language was as impenetrable as the Rosetta stone. After his answer to the question, What would he do if the Soviet Union again laid siege on Berlin? someone made a wisecrack to the effect that resourceful Soviet cryptographers would have given Khrushchev absolutely contradictory accounts of what President Eisenhower threatened.

Well, perhaps MacArthur provided Eisenhower with the sort of discipline and attention to detail needed to overcome the inability to volubly extemporize, as Fuckhead might phrase it. But no matter. Ike's record pre-Presidency speaks for itself, as does Dubya's. Dubya would have pissed his pants in any engagement of WW2, and he sure as hell wouldn't have made it anywhere near an Ivy League school without his last name.

As for this Eisenhower speech Fuckhead refers to, a link would be helpful, but let me hazard a guess and offer that the times called for a bit of rhetorical ambiguity, that one had to find a way to make it clear that war and nuclear annihilation were certainly undesirable, yet still possible given adequate provocation.

Now, if after three years of prosecuting a disastrous pre-emptive war that the rest of the world had warned him against, he still had to sneak in the back door of the occupied nation to spew the exact same horseshit that has no bearing or basis on empirical reality, that victory once again was just around yet another imaginary corner, then yeah, I'd have to say that Ike was stupid as well.

Weisberg reproduces a few sentences from Bush that establish the claim of verbal clumsiness. But Weisberg won't settle for that. His thesis is that Bush is incompetent to think and speak, and that he elected to settle with that incompetence because of laziness, since thinking consumes intellectual calories.

Now there is a problem here, and Weisberg ignores it. It is that Bush has confronted in public contests nimble opponents. You would not do combat with the waspish Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, if you could help it. Ms. Richards is one of the sharpest tongues in town (it was she who said that the senior Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth). Bush not only survived the encounter, he defeated the wasp.

George Bush met in public debate Al Gore, an experienced debater, and walked away with immunity, as he would do four years later in his encounters with John Kerry.

First of all, Weisberg has compiled several books of Bushisms over the past several years. This is not exactly a new or isolated innovation. It's curious, to say the very least, that a man who has attended both Harvard and Yale, been in and around politics his entire life, had everything handed to him, is still apparently completely unable to speak or think extemporaneously, even after five years in the White House. It bespeaks much more than the mere temptation to call the guy a schmuck and leave it at that. It tells you how he functions, it tells you how he thinks, it tells you everything you need to know about how and what he prioritizes, which is sort of important when you're The Decider.

I don't know enough about Texas politics to know how Bush managed to beat Ann Richards (and I'm not going to bleg the issue because it's of tertiary importance), but I'm sure it had very little to do with his debate performance. Money and smear campaigns are how he and his posse have always rolled, why would Texas have been any different? As for Gore and Kerry, they were their own worst enemies, uncomfortable and wooden, alternately pompous and faux-self-deprecating, trying way too fucking hard and it showed.

None of that shows the most important aspect though -- that in each of the debates, the lesser candidate won. I'm the last guy to stick up for Gore, but he would have been light-years better than this clown. Kerry, ditto. Awkwardness was no reason to not vote for those guys, except in America, where politics is a job where qualifications are inversely proportional to electability. Americans apparently just want to vote for someone who will scratch them behind the ears and indulge their more petulant characteristics, which is where the serious thinkers at ClownHall come in.

Agents Of Fortune

Let's see if we can chronicle some of the hijinks of the last few weeks into a bite-size bullet-point format:
  • Überterrorist mastermind Zarqawi finally meets his just reward, but it takes several days to actually get the story straight as to Zarqawi's last minutes and his actual importance to what should really be referred to as open-source warfare, rather than a formalized top-down command-and-control hierarchy.

  • Preznit triumphantly sneaks in Baghdad's backdoor, strutting around like he owns the place.

  • Mainstream media dutifully stenographs Bush's thousandth regurgitation of nonsensical boilerplate, conveniently forgetting that Iraq is so safe and liberated, Bush couldn't even give a heads-up to the current prime minister.

  • Preznit, convinced that he has his groove and/or swagger back, decides to pimp more pressing issues, such as amending the Constitution to protect unsuspecting 'murcans from gay marriage and flag burning.

  • Nation scopes out James Inhofe's extremely gay family, feels gaydar pinging like Paris Hilton's platinum card.

  • Media once again dutifully reports kabuki theater, maintains hallowed objectivity in the drooling face of abject stupidity. Cocktail weenies for all!

  • Democrats meekly propose reasonable timelines and guidelines for troop withdrawal from festering, blood-spattered cesspool wrought by Chimpco.

  • Republicans spend the better part of two weeks smearing Democrats -- and, by association, the 60+% of Americans who consistently feel that Chimpco has royally fucked the dog on everything -- as a bunch of cut-and-run pussies. Traitors, really.

  • The circle jerk at the NRO stroke each other, pimp one another's unreadable tripe, and all agree quite soberly that it's a good thing Karl Rove manned the trenches in Utah while John Murtha was in the shit fighting Charlie. Because otherwise we'd all be speaking German or Japanese. Or something.

  • Republicans now declare timeline for troop withdrawal. One cephalopod's cut-and-run is apparently another cephalopod's peace with honor.

  • Plan seems contingent on granting amnesty to insurgents, provided they have killed American troops rather than Iraqi civilians. Staunchest flag-waving cocksuckers in the U.S. Senate are just fucking jake with all that. None of their kids are over there.

  • So-called professional journamalists conveniently forget the gratuitous smears from just last week, and soft-pedal the actual meaning of Nouri al-Maliki's "concessions" to insurgents.

I seriously have trouble figuring which is more contemptible -- the gutless, un-American hypocrisy of these pretend tough guy Republicans, or the spineless bitches of the supposedly free press who fail utterly in their jobs. They are so worried about maintaining this veneer of "objectivity", even in situations where there is clearly none, that they help the bastards get away with it.

Special bonus: Yesterday afternoon at about 5PM, I decided to peruse my fine satellite TV offerings for a brief roundup of the day's events, known by some as "news". What was the so-called Cable News Network showing? A one-hour profile of the philanthropy of Angelina Jolie. I shit you not. I mean, we get it already, people -- she's the MILF Teresa. Give it a fucking rest already. The only people who give this much of a shit about her comings and goings are mentally unbalanced. Maybe that can be a new slogan for CNN -- "News for Crazy Stalker Motherfuckers".

Nicely done, professional journamalistas. Do us all a favor and become plumbers or something, if have any shred of professional pride left. Sniffing Angelina Jolie's pooter is not respectable news-gathering, no matter how you try to tart it up. At least E! is honest about its incessant starfucking.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Kulturkampf Code

It must suck to be one of these pretend conservatives, these fake Randians, legacy schmucks whose connections permit them to sermonize a hapless audience on what is or is not art -- or entertainment, for that matter. Everything is relentlessly filtered through the usual laundry list of assumptions and tropes, and ultimately functions as an exercise in political water-carrying.

Exhibit A is Ben Shapiro's mewling, tiresome review of Ann Coulter's latest masterpiece of plagiarized boilerplate. Shapiro, you'll recall, is the LA law clerk who aspires to be the real-life 40-year-old virgin. He's almost two-thirds of the way there. In Los Angeles. California. A supposedly heterosexual male, in his mid-twenties, presumably with at least moderate connections and money, in the world's biggest cauldron of ungodly smokin' hot pussy, and he's voluntarily celibate. That is just so wrong.

Perhaps we're getting a picture of just how fucking stoopid this clown is. His actual words are just icing on that particular cake of suck. He's as bad of a liar as his aging tranny idol. And for someone who proudly proclaims his virginity, he sure knows how to suck up like a pro. Jenna Jameson could take lessons from this little bitch.

It’s not that the atheism of the secular left makes Coulter unhappy. It’s that they lie about their religion. Jews don’t pretend that Judaism is a scientific theory; Christians don’t pretend that Christianity is provable in a laboratory.

No, Christians don't pretend that their faith is provable in a laboratory, idiot, they just pretend that their faith oughta be law, and that we should all just take their fucking word for it. Nor is it all Christians that secular liberals have trouble with either, and Shapiro and Coulter know this perfectly well. It is the political activists, the shrill, small but well-funded organizations wasting everyone's time and energy with their pet obsessions that have liberals riled up (to the extent they can even get organized enough for such riling).

But that's part and parcel of the big lie technique the Limbaugh wing has practiced over the last couple decades. Make shit up. Lump "them" all together. Find the most reductio ad absurdum argument, insist that "they" all believe the same exact things, to the same exact degree, and are about to force poor li'l ol' you to do the same. Fags don't just want to marry each other, see -- they actually want to corrupt as many all-American folk as possible. Libruls don't just want to be left alone by political Christofascists, they want to force them to stop going to megachurches and buying Left Behind novels and such. And so forth.

“I don’t particularly care if liberals believe in God,” she writes. “In fact, I would be crestfallen to discover any liberals in heaven. So fine, rage against God, but how about being honest about it?”

Forget that it's yet another reductio ad absurdum lie, that no liberals have any beef with God or Jesus, but rather the intellectual infants who presume to speak for Them. Forget that part, what's stunning is that Coulter:
  • is a believer;

  • lives those beliefs;

  • plans on going to heaven.

Um, really, Annie? Because we've all heard about your chain-smoking and binge-drinking over the years. We can all see that you're in your late 40s, and have never been married. So what's the story about the sex life, dearie? Are we true to holy principles and remaining celibate? Or is just other people who merit having their shoulders looked over by right-thinking religious zealots?

And it goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway -- who would want to go to a heaven that would allow the likes of Ann Coulter, or any of her psychopathic readers?

Next up is noted turd burglar Marvin Olasky whose "novel" comes across as a thinly-veiled diatribe about Those People. Olasky draws from his putatively formidable knowledge of Turkish history to formulate a tale of theocratic indulgence right out of the caliphate.

Funny, last I heard Turkey was a fairly secular state, far more so than any of the various Islamic Republics that litter the Middle East. They're even pretty tight with Israel, or so the godless heathen librul media reports from time to time. Maybe if Olasky read something other than Human Events and stopped masturbating to jihad-porn, he might know these rather problematic facts.

But the real problem is the slavish tone the "reviewer" adopts, much like Shapiro's verbal toe-sucking of Coulter. Obviously, the whole point of sites like ClownHall is to find new and exciting ways to preach to the choir, and filtering their colleagues' lame stabs at popular entertainment is just another way to do that. Hopefully Roberts got paid for this little blowjob near the end, because he got monkey butter all over the place:

This review would not be complete without a few criticisms, and they will be issued without qualification. There will be moments when reading this novel that either dialogue or descriptions will seem contrived. The elaborate, imaginative world that Olasky creates in this book will be briefly disrupted by the occasionally tacky details. In addition, there are sequences of "guest cameos" by famous U.S. senators and Major League baseball players that, while identifiable to the reader, seem foreign to the storyline.

That said, this book is the most informative and educational novel ever read by this reader. [emphasis mine]

Even if Olasky's knowledge of Turkish and Islamic history happens to be incredibly profound and accurate, only someone who was completely ignorant of the subject would phrase his encomium thusly. Knowledgeable adults who are well-versed in the rigors of empiricism and critical thinking rarely use superlatives. If Roberts, throughout the course of his entire hermetic existence on this planet, has truly never read any novel as informative and educational as Marvin Olasky's The Scimitar's Edge, then I can only assume that the preponderance of his reading material has pictures -- but even then, there are plenty of fine graphic novelists out there who can whip up a Marvin Olasky soufflé with one hand tied behind their backs.

No, I know better than to take a hack like Roberts literally; I know poorly disguised water-carrying when I see it. He knew he had to make up for his mild critiques of what sounds like Olasky's rather off-putting habit of Forrest Gump-ing the narrative, so he overcorrected the problem by strapping on the kneepads and getting to work. Shapiro must be jealous, but maybe he can use the "best book I've ever read" schtick for Coulter's next issuance of bound buttwipe.

Finally, we have professional lawn ornament Wesley Smith's slapdash review of Ramesh Ponnuru's Party of Death. If you have not heard of this tendentious piece of crap yet, consider yourself lucky. Suffice to say that Ponnuru is so intellectually dishonest, he tried to disavow the book's cheap swipe as specifically against the Democratic Party, despite the fact that the book's subtitle starts with "The Democrats". Ponnuru also was utterly humiliated by Jon Stewart last month, desperately trying to plug this foundering tripe; Stewart actually seemed to feel sorry for Ponnuru by the end, as if it had turned out that Stewart had been picking on the neighborhood retard the whole time and just not realized it.

At the same time, Ponnuru refrains from engaging in the kind of bitter vituperation and personal invective against those with whom he disagrees that fouls so much of contemporary political discourse. It is refreshing that, in a book that considers some of the most controversial and emotional issues of our time, the meanest thing about The Party of Death is its provocative title.

Yes, well, not every one is Coulter, who just never knows when to stop. But praising Ponnuru for his supposed restraint is ridiculous; just because he supposedly doesn't try to top his opening kill-shot doesn't mean that the book isn't needlessly vituperative from the get-go. It is disingenuous to say the least. At least when Michael Moore calls his book Stupid White Men, he fucking well means it, he doesn't let his fellow NRO flunkies try to soft-pedal the message.

The first third of the book effectively deconstructs most, but not all, of the arguments in favor of abortion rights. Ponnuru quotes embryology textbooks to demonstrate unequivocally that, scientifically, human biological life begins with the completion of fertilization. This refutes Mario Cuomo's nonsensical assertion that only religious belief leads to the conclusion that life begins at conception. Then Ponnuru smacks down Cuomo like a professional wrestling champion when he quotes the governor's 1984 Notre Dame speech, in which Cuomo made the stunning assertion that today's Roman Catholic Church should be as "realistic" about abortion as it was about slavery in the pre-Civil War era, an evil the Holy See apparently failed to condemn unequivocally.

What anti-abortion fanatics are never going to get is that the real pro-choice argument rests not on the scientific validity of when exactly "life" has technically commenced, but on the primacy of the fully-developed adult human's life over that of a fertilized blastocyst. There is potential in that blastocyst, sure, but there's potential in everything, if you want to go that route.

As for the "smackdown" of Cuomo, good luck with that. Has Cuomo been remotely a political force in the last fifteen-plus years, does the modern Democratic Party bear his stamp? Do Ponnuru or Smith really think that any major player in the Democratic Party has veered any further left on the issue than Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare" mission statement of the mid-'90s? (If anything, they've made a tactic of genuflecting and tacking more and more to the right.)

Maybe Cuomo was just trying to point out to the Vatican that the law of the United States of America is not decided by a celibate octogenarian in the opulence of an Italian palazzo, that the Catholic Church's official stances and pronunciamentos have been wrong more often than right, that a lot of lives have been needlessly lost throughout the centuries as a direct result of their incessant meddling, and perhaps they should pry the beam out of their eye and let democracies sort their own fucking laundry, thank you very much.

More to the point, would the fanatics like to put the issue to a national referendum? I have a feeling that "safe, legal, and rare" will win out over "over my dead body" by a landslide every time, even in South Dakota (though perhaps not in Utah). It's just that the people who are obsessed with this are disproportionately vocal and well-funded, because this is a fertile issue for distraction-and-control strategies deployed by people who have made it their life's mission to keep the herd bewildered. Also, as with the gay-marriage nuts (who are frequently the exact same people), the rest of us have lives and families and hobbies to tend to.

Perhaps it's because Ponnuru's sales have been poor from the outset that this faux-conciliatory tone has been adopted, or maybe it's just that places such as NRO and ClownHall are the Vivid Video of wingnut welfare book-pimping and log-rolling. I hear top-drawer female porn stars get around $5K per day to suck whatever cock swings in their face; I'm not sure what the kulturkampfers' fee is.

Intolerance, Part 3: This Time It's Biblical

Although I've pretty much exhausted my pateince writing about the halfwits who have hijacked the nation's attention with the gay marriage kabuki, it still requires some attention in the context of the hypocritical cries of "intolerance".

When Senators David Vitter and James Inhofe -- people whose job description is supposed to convey some gravitas, some intellectual heft -- carry on like a couple of morons, as if this country seriously has nothing better to worry about, then we have to level with who's really being intolerant in all this. Is it the gay couple that's been minding their own business all these years, raising a family, building a life, who just want to ensure the same inheritance and hospital visitation rights that their neighbors have, or is it the meddling, whining assholes who clearly have way too much time on their hands?

Is it the weirdos at Focus on the Family, who are positively obsessed with pornography and homosexuality, or is it the majority of people who are quite able to control, manage, and even enjoy their impulses, who don't need the avuncular fascism of the ex-gay Helpy Helpertons who flank the redneck pope.

Dobson, interviewing Tony Snow, makes it quite clear what he and his flock expect out of Chimpco, and mach schnell, asshole:

Dobson: "Is he working the Hill, is he calling?"

(Snow, incidentally, was asked that repeatedly last week. It's obvious to anyone inside or outside the White House that Bush has not made any such calls. And an anonymous White House official explicitly told Newsweek last week that Bush had in fact not made any. But Snow pleaded heartfelt ignorance.)

Tony: "I honestly don't know. I can't give you an answer for that and I'm not going to lie to you."

Dobson: "That's unfortunate. Because, you know, when Lyndon Johnson wanted the civil rights legislation, he didn't have the votes for it, and the Democrats in the South didn't want it . . . and he made it happen. He got out there and beat on people. He used the bully pulpit to make it happen. President Bush has not done that yet, to our knowledge."

Snow: "Well, Dr. Dobson, today's political atmosphere, it's a little different from Lyndon Johnson's time. Because in Lyndon Johnson's time, every once in a while, people did set their partisanship aside. And I think what you're seeing right now -- the president's not having that much difficulty with Republican votes. And unfortunately, we've seen a number of situations where the Democrats have simply said, 'No, we're not going to help you out.' So he doesn't have a lot of persuasive power when it comes to people on the other side of the aisle."

Dobson, clearly irritated, asked about Laura Bush's Fox News interview last month.

Dobson: "Why do you think the first lady made her comment about marriage not being a campaign issue?"

Snow: "I have no idea. I don't know."

Dobson: "I don't remember her giving advice on any other issue."

Well, at least Laura Bush has something resembling a conscience. And for that matter, Dubya seems to know better as well, yet still insists on riding this tiger. Perhaps he's right; where else can they go? It would be best for all concerned if the evangelicals would just jump ship once and for all, and try to start up their own political party. Put your money where you mouth is, folks. Lay your sexual obsessions and projections out on the table for everyone to decide on, one way or the other.

And make no mistake, they are obsessed, far beyond any reasonable standard, as is evidenced by the boilerplate "questions" about "saving" marriage (for responsible heteros like Britney Spears, apparently). They are positively pathological about this, and there doesn't seem to be any cure. (Bonus points to Dobson for having the utter gall to invoke the civil rights movement in the context of refusing to grant civil rights to a certain class of American citizens. What a revolting little sack of shit.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Intolerance, Part 2

Another example of the hypocrisy of intolerance comes in the wake of the demise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Count me in as part of the "couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, see you in hell" crowd re Zarqawi. I won't lie and say that it didn't make my morning hearing about that bastard dying like a dog. However, we all have our own processes.

One such person who has a different process is Michael Berg, whose son Nick was the American contractor beheaded on film by Zarqawi. When asked how he felt about hearing of Zarqawi's death, Berg took a more humanitarian, less vengeful stance than many of us might. Seems like that's his prerogative.

Or not. In the same spirit that led Ann Coulter to condemn the 9/11 widows, certain members of the 82nd Chairborne are condemning Michael Berg for his "moral vanity". I'll never link to such people, but you can find a thorough rundown and riposte at Edroso's site.

As with Coulter's lunacy, there is a toxic combination of emotional retardation and preening, unself-aware hypocrisy at work here, as self-described Christians (in the comments section) take cheap shots at Berg for being, well, Christian about the whole thing.

Me, I don't buy into the whole "love your enemy" thing. It just doesn't work in the real world, especially in the short run. But then, I've never claimed to be a Christian, and whatever my doubts and second-guesses about there being something greater than man out there in the vastness of the universe, I sure as hell hope it's nothing like the vengeful, ill-tempered Levantine sky-god of the megachurches. That deity apparently regards humans as temperamental pets who need regular smacks across the nose with a celestial newspaper -- delivered by his self-appointed spokespricks, of course.

More on them to come, in the third and final part of our little intolerance series for the weekend.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


This has certainly been a week that, with rather broad brush strokes, helps define just how intellectually moronic many of us have become. This is focus group-encouraged, media-driven devolution, I suppose, but it is reg'lar folks who have to take their share of the blame for falling for it, because we're the ones who have to deal with it. The focus group minions and talk show whores are all schmoozing it up and patting each other on the back, congratulating themselves on pulling yet another fast one.

Ann Coulter's latest spew of choleric nonsense has done exactly what it was supposed to do, which is sell books that no one with any sense would actually read. What they buy is the hateful she-beast with the long legs and long blonde hair (though rapidly looking more and more ridden hard and put away wet, meaning her fifteen minutes are just about up in wankerland), who for some reason is granted passage on suppsedly respectable media.

Here is cognitive dissonance: A quarter-second (literally) of a side shot of a boobie at the Super Bowl, Congress rants for six weeks straight and levels six-figure fines at broadcasters; Ann Coulter rakes 9/11 widows over the coals on a morning show, and the media spend the rest of the week examining each other's navels over whether she was out of line or not. Jesus H. Christ, people, would you grow a pair for once and just call an entrenching implement a spade?

So the discussion has naturally turned to the "intolerance" of the "left", and how they simply cannot "handle" an "opposing" viewpoint. It is a discussion scarcely worth having; for one, Coulter is not and has never been the least bit interested in debating anything. It is merely obnoxious rhetoric, carefully calculated to incite and provoke. That would be fine, if she had anything worthwhile to say, but she merely vocalizes the projected anxieties of what can only be described as emotionally stunted people.

What sort of person attacks the widows and families of 9/11 on a personal level, as Coulter most assuredly did, for expressing their opinions politically? Rather than point out where they were supposedly wrong or in error about something factual, Coulter merely trots out the same old schtick we've come to expect -- ugly, catty remarks about their looks and whether or not they loved their husbands; cheap speculation as to their being motivated financially, as if she herself does what she does for free; nothing remotely factual, just emotionally-charged rhetoric that apparently revolves around which political segment of a polarized, fragmented populace "owns" 9/11.

And what sort of person in their right mind whinges about the insidious power of the political "left"? What "left" would that be? Bloggers? Barbara Boxer? What exactly of the Cheney junta's manifold failures have this "left" been a part of either enacting or obstructing? Coulter and her fellow troglodytes got exactly what they wanted -- their war, their tax cuts, their deficits, their wage stagnation, their Supreme Court justices.

This cheap foamy rhetoric Coulter trucks in is not unlike a Super Bowl champion team taking pains to talk shit about a team they beat in the pre-season that didn't make the playoffs. It's unnecessary and it's vulgar, in the sense of a sore winner going out of their way to shit on everyone and everything.

Well, fine. I and many others in the "fever swamp" have been saying for quite some time that these are and have been the rules of decorum, and the least we can do is start fighting fire with fire instead of straw. Gutless DLC cocksuckers like Joementum and Bullwinkle want none of it; they think that if we just keep playing nice and genuflect to the Hank Hill Democrats, talk about how we loves us some Jeebus enough for the red-state brain surgeons that inflicted the likes of Tom Coburn on the United States Senate, that the tide will eventually turn back our way.

Fuck that shit. Enough is enough.

So when a well-known Republican sock puppet like Mary Matalin sticks up for Coulter, implicitly endorsing and refusing to disavow Coulter's contentions that the 9/11 widows are "enjoying their husbands' deaths", among other vile things, I expect every member of the Democratic Party to step forward and ask why an aide of Dick Cheney is endorsing such views. I expect them to force someone's hand, and either Matalin retracts her defense and publicly disavows Coulter, or an actual party functionary can do it. Nothing less should be acceptable.

You want your wedge issue, there ya go. Tie Coulter's mangy ass around the necks of the Republicans, and make them either defend or refute what she said. She may be laughing all the way to the bank, but we have to decide that we've had enough of this vicious cunt, and make it known to the people who continue to do business with her. And that's where the intolerance debate gathers a bit of momentum.

Does Coulter have the right to say what she's saying? Of course. But a sensible, motivated citizenry, instead of just running like sheep to order her book because they heard this hag's latest sound bark on Hannity & Colmes, need to condemn this level of haughty, fact-free rhetoric which has no boundaries on whom to attack.

I would have assumed that the families of the 9/11 victims were way off-limits; I am aware that there are actually some politically organized widows and family members who support the Cheney junta, but I'll be damned if I've ever heard of Michael Moore (or anyone else) attacking them at all, much less on anywhere near such a personal level. The troglodytes would undoubtedly respond that that's because the librul media is suppressing that story. There's no winning with those loons.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

668 -- The Neighbor Of The Beast

It's funny how people, in their ennui, can take a numerical coincidence and find something portentious about it. On the other hand, some things -- Ann Coulter made an incredible ass of herself with Matt Lauer of all people, which may be the final nail in the sarcophagus from which she keeps escaping. I mean, when a slow pitch artist like Lauer can make you lose your cool, because he decided to flog you with your own quotes chastising 9/11 widows as opportunistic, that may just be an omen.

Enjoy retirement, Annie, it's coming sooner than you think. ¿Como se dice "first up against the wall" in Spanglish? I'd like to see Ann in a cell next to Ken Lay and his future Aryan Brotherhood husband, but I'll settle for her career to plummet just enough that she has to give Bill O'Reilly regular handjobs to get any facetime.

Let's see, what else happened today? I did my civic duty and voted in the primaries. I can understand the utter lack of interest though, except in the race for the Dukestir's seat, where the Republicans spent $4 million to hand the seat off to something called Brian Bilbray, who may not realize yet just how much corporate cock-gobbling $4 million entails. Consider: the seat is pretty staunchly GOP, and the Democrats nearly took it with half the money and an unknown candidate.

Anyway, they finally got them newfangled touch-screen machines up here in the sticks. Sequoias they were, not them Diebold Hackmaster 2000 pieces o' crap. Accurate, easy to use, and best of all, a paper receipt. Imagine that.

The only real contest of note in this area was statewide, the Dem primary runoff between Phil Angelides and Steve Westly. The two have run a fairly nasty, sniping campaign, for which I'm sure current guv'nah Gonad the Bavarian is immensely grateful. One hopes the two will be big enough tonight to patch things up, and join forces for the general campaign. Neither one generates kilowatts of excitement as of yet, but there's plenty of time. Whoever the winner is, he's got his work cut out for him; there's no shortage of goobers out in the sticks here who are still wowed by Schwarzenegger's past glories. It's hard to fault Ahnuld for taking advantage of that but still, you get the feeling that they'd vote for some American Idol castoff if he were running, just because they'd heard of him.

The main noteworthy thing about Angelides is that he rolled up a lot of union and political endorsements, having been part of the CA Dem machine for years (and I don't mean that disparagingly). He seems like a decent egg, a competent button-down technocrat. Unfortunately, the last guy like that got thrown out so we could hand the fucking state over to Kindergarten Cop. Westly seems to have a little more energy, a "new blood" attitude, even though he's been a pol for years as well. But because of his entrepreneurial background, it's much harder to pin him with any of the usual anti-business/pro-union bullshit that the CA GOP will most assuredly throw at their opponent.

I'm loath to pick one as "better" than the other; they both seem like decent, competent men. But Westly seems more electable, and has test-polled very well against Schwarzenegger. This is key, because despite the beating he took in the polls all last year, Arnold has drifted back up by simply staying out of the spotlight. Indeed, the only thing he's done publicly this year is had a couple of minor spats with Dear Leader, thus instantly increasing his favorability rating by not being seen as just another Bush/Cheney butt-boy. For an administration that refuses to deal with anything but butt-boys, that's something. It's going to be a very interesting campaign season here in the Golden State.

Finally, Satan's Day marks the passing of an r&b/classic rock legend, and a former distant cousin by marriage (seriously), Billy Preston. I never met him, but the mutual relatives always had great memories and love for him, as I recall, about what a great down-to-earth person he was. And he certainly left a wealth of great music over many years, which is a rare and wonderful thing.

So. The feared apocalypse did not come, though Coulter's appearance on the Today show may have been a harbinger of doom, a portent as one of the Four Horsemen (in Coulter's case, I'm guessing Famine or Pestilence, unless there's a Shrieking Harpy Cunt horseman). So perhaps it really was a once-in-a-lifetime day.

But then, aren't they all?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Aunt Ken's Cabin

For an assignment in my business ethics class, I am currently reading up on a couple of civil rights cases from the 1960s, one of which is Heart of Atlanta Motel vs. United States. This was a case of a southern motel owner appealing the Civil Rights Acts, by attempting to assert his "right" to continue refusing service to, erm, "Negroes".

It is cases such as that one that occupy the back of my ethical mind as I watch the Headline News Channel this frabjous Sunday morn, and listen to the bile spewed by activist groups such as Focus on the Family, roundly asserting that homosexual couples simply cannot ever, by virtue of biological equipment and sexual temperament, provide a decent and loving home for children. Groups such as FoF are media blitzing with commercials in preparation for their preznit's Big Speech tomorrow from the Rose Garden, in which the nation's valuable time and energy will be wasted yet again in the quest to Protect The Children.

You want to protect the children, start with a Britney Spears intervention. One more mishap with her kid, and the poor little bugger will have to wear a helmet everywhere. Between his clumsy, diffident mother and his useless father, once the money runs out (and it will, count on it), the kid will probably wish his parents were a couple of lesbian corporate lawyers in Palo Alto.

Anyway, I'm undoubtedly about the billionth person to whom it has occurred that the current arguments over gay rights rather closely mirror the arguments over "Negro" rights forty years ago. On the one hand, a mere forty years ago. Enormous societal change occurring in a mere two generations (or for southerners, five generations). That sort of thing is not to be regarded lightly; such changes are nothing short of tectonic in a sociological sense, which is largely glacial in velocity.

On the other hand, cases such as Heart of Atlanta, or Loving vs. Virginia (which legalized "interracial" marriage) also illustrate something much more poisonous in our culture. I am not interested in debating the socio-economic or quasi-cultural causes of such things; I couldn't possibly give two shits why racists (no matter their race) are racist, any more than I would want to understand why child molesters molest children. My point is merely that such cases, embarrassing as they may be to ponder nowadays, quite simply reinforce the fact that nothing would have changed -- would ever have changed -- if the rational majority had not simply had enough of this nonsense and forced these fucking people to grow the hell up.

Southerners, when inveighing against federalized "nawthun" intervention in what they felt was their own bidness, frequently insist that they would have cleaned up their act anyway, that all the violence and riots and what would now be referred to as domestic terrorism were merely the by-product of a proud culture that had been unfairly clamped down on by an impatient federal government.

Well, bullshit. The south would have kept black people down for just as long as they could have gotten away with it. They had been doing it for a hundred years already; they were never going to change the system until they had to. Again, behavioral inertia -- people rarely change until the cost of not changing is made greater than the cost of changing. That's just the way people are.

And this time around, now that gays might be considered (fairly or not) the blacks of the new millennium, the mossbacks have an ironic ally in black churches. I'm not going to point the finger or cry foul at what some may perceive as hypocrisy. I don't think it's hypocrisy on their part; I think it's simply cultural short-sightedness. Because homosexuality is still essentially considered an affliction by most conservative religious groups, regardless of specific denomination or race or ethnicity, there is plenty of denial to go around. The actual gay people from those groups are forced to stay in the closet for fear of social opprobrium, while the leaders of those groups content themselves with insisting that as a disease, homosexuality can be "cured".

Like we always say: How's that been working for you folks?

Now, what is shamefully hypocritical is the number of known and assumed homosexuals working around and within this administration, who do and say absolutely nothing to defend themselves from the snake-oil bastards their bosses kowtow to every time they need a couple extra votes. How does Ken Mehlman live with himself? How does Mary Cheney stand it, as James Dobson and Pat Robertson trash people like her and her partner for political gain, as Cheney's own father just sits there and takes it? And for what? Another fucking tax cut for the 1%?

Look, I realize that it is just as unfair to define gay people solely by their sex life as it would be to do so to heterosexuals. But the thing is, I don't have a dog in this fight, not really. I have no skin in this game, as they say in the 'hood. The only person I personally know who is gay is a friend of my wife's who lives on the East Coast. So this really is not an issue for me because it affects me or anyone close to me. It's something that pisses me off simply because I consider it a matter of right and wrong.

So it's nice that people like Ken and Mary and the Log Cabin Republicans continue to delude themselves that they're really working for change from the inside, but deep down inside, they know it's bullshit, and they know that we know it's bullshit. If they want to spend their lives being Vichy Queers, fine. But let us be clear about whether or not theirs is any sort of "principled" stance, because it is not. It's as cynical and self-loathing a moral stance as one could hope to find.

And let's also be clear that the activists they are dealing with are never going to compromise. I think that is one of the prime delusions of the Republican agenda over the past 25 years, since the "Moral Majority" became serious political players. Centrist Republicans have persisted in the notion that they can co-opt this slice of dispensationalist fervor to achieve a more common goal, that of returning America to the Gilded Age, which is really why an empty suit like Dubya was the perfect choice for them.

But the corporate class is now finding that they've had a tiger by the tail the whole time, and that tiger expects to be fed at regular intervals. The corporate Republicans (let's call them "Corpugs" for short) failed to realize just how serious and implacable the "Pat" Robertson/James Dobson faction (aka "Patdobs") really are. Two Supreme Court justices are not enough of a bone for the Patdobs; their goal is and always has been complete domination of the U.S. legal system, thereby relegating "unbelievers" to second-class status. They're dead serious about amending the nation's most revered document to tack on a silly, useless codicil about "protecting" marriage, as if the likes of Larry King and Mickey Rooney hadn't already done some damage.

(And this is nothing short of an obsession with these people, really. I suspect that a prime reason is that many of the major players have gay family members, for whom they feel shame. Their religion and social circles have blinded them to the sad fact that that shame is largely self-inflicted. There has been no clearer recent illustration of this than Phyllis Schlafly's appearance via satellite on Real Time last year. As Bill Maher diplomatically -- seriously -- brought up the fact that Schlafly's son is gay, you could see the surprise and anger instantly register in Schlafly's eyes. You could practically see her thinking about her mah-jongg club "friends" clutching their pearls and cracking "fudge-packer" and "pillow-biter" asides about Schlafly while she's out of the room. The perceived social pressure has only compounded the problem already rendered by selective adherence to Bronze Age tribal dogma.)

The most important -- and overlooked -- problem with the Patdobs is the sheer moral certitude with which they approach their holy crusade. Not content with the offensive presumption that they are the moral arbiters for the rest of us, they appropriate God as their middleman, and Jesus as their mascot. Rather than exhort Jesus' actual deeds and words as messages to emulate, as leadership by example, they simply abuse Him as a totem for their more worldly tactics, which is mostly a bunch of mind control, smiting, and the usual hellfire and brimstone. That they abuse our political process to achieve their selfish ends is orthogonal to the rather lurid imagery they employ at their stadium-sized indoctrination rituals, where they have made it quite clear that extremism in the name of supposed virtue is certainly no vice.

So again, people like Mary Cheney and Ken Mehlman are quite welcome to content themselves with the delusion that if they just keep their pieholes shut, take the abuse, get that book deal or that plum job, that things will just magically work out anyway, because things always do.

Except they don't, they really don't. Things didn't start working out for blacks until they finally had had enough, and had some help from some principled lawmakers. Gays not standing up for themselves in solidarity just passes the problem along to the next generation, where they will have to contend with the next wave of dominionists who quite literally think that God hates gay people. There's just no getting around that. The Christianists have been quite explicit about their agenda, and I do not understand why more people aren't taking them at their word.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mock The Voter

The gangster stepped right up, kissed him on the lips goodbye.
Made him a cocksucker-by-proxy, yes he did, and he didn't even bat an eye.
-- Frank Zappa, Dickie's Such An Asshole

I'm still digesting the RFK Junior Rolling Stone article on how Bush, thanks to various and sundry machinations in Ohio and elsewhere, essentially stole the 2004 election. It's a good article, but I understand that some folks have some concerns about the exit poll methodology and statistics Kennedy cites. Even though the entire rest of Kennedy's article appears to be well beyond all but the most tendentious partisan refutations, the notion seems to be that since there may be some dispute as to the statistical merits of the sampling methods and standard deviations employed, it may perhaps undermine the validity of the rest of RFK's argument by being erroneously conflated with it.

I believe that that is a seriously flawed interpretation of the overall case Kennedy lays out, and it is not because I have some profound knowledge of statistical analysis. On that count, the methodology appears sound at first blush, but I am nowhere near an expert. I have also seen non-partisan analyses that seem to reliably debunk at least part of the overall validity of the '04 exit poll results, and how they ended up getting so incredibly turned around once the "actual" results came pouring in.

I would just say this about all that: Almost exactly the same thing happened in the concurrent Ukrainian elections, the statistically improbable discrepancy between exit polls and results, and we fell all over ourselves praising the ability of the Orange Revolution to rectify the situation. Take it for what you will, and let's set the contentions of the Kennedy article aside for now.

A contemporaneous article on electoral politics, well worth considering in conjunction with the RS article, is Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in the New Yorker. You may recall Goldberg as the fellow who authored a highly-praised (and apparently erroneous) article on Saddam Hussein's aflatoxin arsenal. That earlier article was utilized by several pro-war advocates in the run-up to the invasion, to bolster the rest of their still-unsubstantiated assertions that have cost a lot of people their lives, and cost the U.S. an incredible amount of money and respect. So Goldberg, while a skilled writer, might perhaps be taken with a grain of salt at times.

This new article is one of those times. It takes some real doing to unpack all the rehashed conventional wisdom Goldberg lards his anecdotes with, but it is well worth the trouble, for the same reason it is worthwhile to take the Kennedy article seriously. And to be fair, it is not entirely Goldberg's fault. Put simply, the socio-economic and political implications are far more important than whether or not the '04 election was stolen, or "what the Democrats should do to win".

Goldberg begins his article with an illustrative vignette:

An enduring predicament of the Democratic Party was revealed one day in August, 2004, when John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for President, and John Edwards, the nominee for Vice-President, visited a soybean-and-cattle farm outside Smithville, Missouri. The announced purpose was to speak about alternative energy sources (soybeans are an important source of biodiesel), but the goal was to express solidarity with rural white voters, who have been abandoning the Democratic Party in disquieting numbers. About a hundred and twenty-five people, mostly farmers, sat on hay bales in an orchard near the farmhouse. Claire McCaskill, the Missouri state auditor, was there, too; she was running for governor and was eager to appraise the two Senators, whose names would be on the ballot with hers.

Kerry reminisced about clearing fields on a Massachusetts farm and promised to side with small farmers in their struggles against agribusiness. Teresa Heinz Kerry handed her husband a note, and then stood up to speak, recalling a visit to an organic hog farm in Iowa. “It’s really inspiring to see the work that they did,” she said, and encouraged her audience to consider organic farming. “It can be done. It’s economical, and there is a huge market in America.”

At that point, Winston Simpson, a hog farmer from Clarence, Missouri, stood up and interrupted. “I said, ‘Mrs. Kerry, you’ve got to understand that hog farmers just freak out when they hear people telling them to go organic,’ ” Simpson recalled recently. “She looked kind of surprised. I was just there helping out, making a crowd, but I’ve got an adrenaline problem, and when someone pisses me off I jump up and tell them.”

Simpson is a grower-finisher; four thousand or so hogs come to him at forty pounds and leave their pens for slaughter two hundred and fifty pounds later. “I’d go broke if we switched to organic farming,” he said. His public advice was informed by tactical, rather than ideological, concerns. “I don’t have a problem with people raising food organically. If people want to eat that way, fine, but she shouldn’t have been pushing that as a solution to the farm problem. A lot of farmers think of those organics as some kind of élitist lunatic-fringe thing.” For some, Mrs. Kerry’s performance recalled other moments of Democratic campaign obliviousness, like Michael Dukakis’s endorsement of Belgian endive as an alternative crop for Iowa farmers.

I'll be a bit more generous -- I think it bespeaks an inexcusable lack of preparation on Kerry's part. I keep hearing how much money gets spent on presidential campaigns every election cycle; it might be nice if perhaps a staff position was created for, say, fact-checking and researching industry-specific or region-specific policy proposals. How hard would it have been for an advance person from the Kerry team to go out to Missouri and talk to Winston Simpson ahead of time and learn a few things, before Teresa Kerry shows up with no idea of what she's talking about? I seriously don't get this.

Hog-farming is, to be sure, a rather unpleasant industry. It's not for the faint of heart or stomach, and it's not environmentally friendly. But it is the livelihoods of a lot of people, and if you're going to go out and tell people that their livelihoods are unsustainable (even when they are), you've still got to provide them with a viable alternative. This is the sort of cluelessness that transcends the usual tiresome "values" issues; a cogent policy platform on that subject could have very easily swayed some on-the-fence voters in that area toward Kerry, rather than making him look like he was talking about something he had no clue about.

But whatever. Shit happens. That's nowhere near the real problem with Goldberg's essay. Let's dig a little deeper, unpack a little more.

For the midterm elections in November, the Democratic Party does not need a Roosevelt. Some agree with Newt Gingrich, who recently told Time that if he were a Democratic strategist he would run a campaign that simply asked voters, “Had enough?” Many liberal Democrats would like to make Bush’s record the focus of the upcoming campaign. Centrist Democrats, though—particularly those running in states that have cooled to their party—think that something more is needed this year, and certainly for 2008, when Bush will be retiring. They argue that their party must speak in language familiar to, among others, the disaffected hog farmers of Missouri.

For once, the Democrats would do well to listen to Newt. "Had enough?" is an excellent slogan; this administration's record on every issue speaks quite well for itself, and no one can deny that they had a complaisant Congress that rubber-stamped their every whim, and overlooked every transgression. You'd think that would be quite enough for a sales pitch. The Democrats could perhaps rent Dr. Phil to show at campaign stops, recite the litany of botched Republican policies and efforts, and ask the crowd, "How's that workin' for ya?". Simple, right?

Apparently not. Because they are Democrats, they have to overthink it.

[Claire] McCaskill’s Republican opponent, the incumbent Jim Talent, has been hurt in the polls by aligning himself against a Missouri ballot initiative to protect stem-cell research. His stand has been inconsistent, which has alienated some of the evangelical Christians who are part of his core constituency. McCaskill, an ex-county prosecutor who believes in the death penalty and says that she worships, in the Missouri manner, “God and common sense,” has made her name as the state auditor by running uncompromising investigations of state government performance. Winston Simpson, the hog farmer, said of her, “She’s the kind of woman who could really jerk Donald Rumsfeld through a knothole.”


As we drove past strip malls and big-box stores, McCaskill talked about the Democrats she most admires. “I would say I go back before McGovern to find role models. Clinton was an exception in some ways, but certainly not on a personal level. Harry Truman, J.F.K.—those are the role models.” She added, “I’m not a liberal. When I was a prosecutor, I saw child murderers, people like that, and so I believe that there is such a thing as evil in this world.”


Referring to the Kerry-Edwards campaign stop, she said, “I’m sure Teresa’s motives were fine. But I think it’s a tone thing. It’s the ‘We know better’ thing. Some of it is completely unfair, but there’s a critical number of Missourians who believe that people from the East Coast or West Coast don’t think that people in the heartland are smart.”

Look, if McCaskill is the sort who can "jerk Donald Rumsfeld through a knothole", then she should do it already, rather than worrying about city folk, and how smart you think they think they are. Instead, she takes pains to distance herself from Clinton, implying he's not a "good" person. Well, he's probably not the kind of guy you want marrying your daughter, but that is a different matter than whether or not he's a capable, intelligent leader, or even whether he's simply a decent or indecent human being -- whether he's the sort of person who is spending his retirement traveling ceaselessly around the world to promote charitable causes and help desperate people around the planet, or the sort of person who taunts death row inmates, dares guerrillas to kill American soldiers, and whose vile minions think it's funny to wear Purple Heart bandaids and jeer at wounded war veterans like John Kerry and Max Cleland.

This is the scummy piece of shit you are up against, rural Democrats. You would do well to remember that, and act accordingly. Quit distancing yourself from The Clenis; the rest of the country has moved on, and the people who have not moved on, why the hell do you want to talk to them anyway?

(And incidentally, just how do you think W will spend his dotage? Think he'll spend it as a rainmaker for humanitarian relief funds, like that terrible awful Clenis? I wager he'll mosey back to the tumbleweed farm for a spell, make sure to be seen at a couple dozen Rangers and Rockies games, have an intern ghost-write his boilerplate autobiography for Richard Cougar Melloncamp Scaife to line his attic with, then twist a couple arms at Rice or Baylor to name their poli-sci building after him, find a swamp to build his preznitential liberry -- and then, get this -- get hisself a pied à terre in the big bad city. Why? Same reason a useless back-slapper like Himself got into the game in the first place -- that's where all the money is.)

Pelosi, Dean, and Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, recently issued a report called “Real Security,” which promises a “tough and smart” program of national defense. The report was met with some skepticism in Democratic foreign-policy circles. Leslie Gelb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations (and a former State Department official in the Carter Administration as well as a onetime Times columnist), said, “Where I grew up, if you have to say you’re tough and smart, you’re not.”

I'm not sure where, um, Leslie grew up, but what he's objectively saying is that the Democrats can't win for losing. If they don't step up and respond to the incessant peacenik-baiting from the braying retards of the right, they affirm the charges of gutlessness. If they do respond, they're trying too hard, and thus affirming the charges also. That's the bottom line.

It's bad enough when Democrats allow Republicans and inbred neocon shills to circumscribe policy pronunciamentos with such tautologies, but when they allow each other to do it, it's unforgivable. Who do they think they're fooling with this bullshit?

Rahm Emanuel notes that nearly five years after the September 11th attacks Democrats still lack an authoritative spokesman on national-security questions. “What we need is a single credible voice,” Emanuel said. There is also a worry that the Party will confuse antipathy for the Iraq war with a desire to make national security less of a priority. “We make a mistake if we think that just because people are fed up with George Bush they want George McGovern,” Kathleen Sullivan, the chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said. Democrats in Republican-leaning states worry, in particular, that much of the Party’s national leadership underestimates the role of patriotism—the impulse to celebrate American virtues, even in difficult times. Brad Carson, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, appears to see this as a benign sort of nationalism.

“The well-heeled New York, Northern California world of Democrats considers nationalism a very discredited concept, that nationalism equals Brown Shirts,” Carson said. (Carson lost his race in 2004 for Oklahoma’s open Senate seat. The winner, Tom Coburn, is among the farthest right members of the Senate.) “In most of the country, nationalism is as normal as breathing. I live in a blood-red state, I know”—sixty-six per cent of Oklahoma voters chose Bush in 2004—“but this holds true across thirty states. The Democrats have to look like they axiomatically stand up for America’s interests if they’re going to be competitive.”


Some Democrats fear any association with national Democrats, who are perceived to be too liberal. “I had this notion that I could convince people who were skeptical of national Democrats to vote for me because I could bring home the bacon, or because I could find some personal pitch to them,” Brad Carson, the former Oklahoma congressman, said. “But it was very hard for people to separate me out from Hillary Clinton. All their ads were Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, and me. They said I was more liberal than these guys, and that if I went to Washington I’d be supporting their agenda. I found that extremely difficult to overcome.”

Jesus H. Christ in spandex. Here we go again. You know who beat Brad Carson for that Oklahoma Senate seat? This fucking clown. Tom Coburn is notable for both advocating the death penalty for abortion providers, and admitting that he himself has performed abortions. He has publicly ranted about everything from Schindler's List to the supposed wave of lesbianism in Oklahoma's school system. Coburn may possibly be the dumbest sentient being to occupy a senate seat since Caligula's horse.

Brad Carson didn't have to overcome Hillary Clinton, he had to overcome the idiots that would actually cast a vote for a demonstrable cretin like Tom Coburn. I mean, we get it already, folks -- us eeeeevil, decadent blue-staters just don't git your superior moral stances and innate wisdom that living in the Dust Bowl confers to its inhabitants. (Which must be why my grandparents got the fuck out of Texas and Oklahoma during the Great Depression.)

Need further proof that the vaunted heartland just votes out of spite and ignorance half the time? How about Jim DeMint, who makes Rick Santorum look reasonable. Look, I understand all the arguments about "tribal identification" and such, as it pertains to results in the electoral arena. Digby has written powerfully and profusely on the subject of political tribalism, and I'm not even going to try to top it.

What I will say is that perhaps rural Democrats need to cut the "city mouse/country mouse" shit, and get to work on convincing their fucking constituents that the business of running this country is a bigger issue than whether they feel affirmed or respected by uppity city folk. This is fucking crazy -- the heartland put George W. Bush back into office, and now apparently they don't like him anymore either. So why exactly are we supposed to continue genuflecting to people who not only have been proven wrong about this, but tacitly admit that they were wrong?

And I don't say "they were wrong" in a spiteful, resentful way. I wish that they had paid attention and grabbed a clue when it would have mattered more; it would have been nice if they had put their backs down long enough to listen to reasoned argument, instead of constantly fretting over whether we respect NASCAR and deep-fried twinkies enough or not. (And truth be told, no one really gives a shit about those things one way or the other, just as you don't give two shits about what the upper crust do with their leisure time. But you shore don't mind being subsidized by the tax dollars from the nuts 'n' flakes in Californy, do ya?) But the fact of the matter is, they were wrong, and if the polls are to be believed, they acknowledge that fact.

So. Since we began this post by talking about sampling methodology and standard deviations and such, if we bitch about the veracity of the '04 exit polls, how about the weekly approval polls? Are they valid or not? Yes or no? If yes, then there should be no need for Democrats to continue pretending to be Republicans, because right now the Republicans and their agenda are in the proverbial dumper. There should be no need for Howard Dean to appear on the fucking 700 Club with that foaming lunatic "Pat" Robertson. The pool of disaffected non-voters that want to vote for someone is far larger than the puddle of possibly disaffected evangelicals who maybe just might allow themselves to be converted for this election cycle if only we do and say the exact right things and affirm their fucking feewings.

Monday morning, George W. Bush is going to use valuable face and news cycle time, in the midst of all the serious challenges America currently faces, to promote amending the Constitution of the United States of America to "protect" the institution of marriage from homosexuals. He knows it's an exercise in futility, and he knows he has a huge list of better things to do with his (and the nation's) time and attention. Yet he is doing it anyway. Why? To shore up his vaunted base, to cater to mouth-breathers who have nothing better to do than get their hate on for faggots.

Well, I don't want the leadership of my party (by default, admittedly) wasting valuable time and resources trying to plow that field. These are serious times, and those are profoundly unserious, ignorant people, and it is a monumental waste of time trying to convert or appeal to them. They will not change until and unless they have to. There's a saying about gas prices and driving habits -- people who drive gas-guzzlers don't start to think about driving a more economical car until gas prices have simply forced them to a point where the cost of not changing is greater than the cost of changing.

Call it behavioral inertia; call it what you will. The point is the same, and if we believe in the polls regarding Bush and the Republican Party, then the Dems' political energy is much better spent adding to existing momentum, rather than futilely trying again and again to overcome the social inertia of mossback ignorance and paranoia. Again, there's a vast pool of people out there who would vote if they just felt that it mattered; seeing Howard Dean take on The Man, rather than show up on the 700 Club hat in hand to kiss the redneck pope's ring, is far more likely to incite those people to finally act.

I was one of those supposedly apathetic people once, long ago. Now I vote even though I know it really doesn't matter. Don't believe me? Do a quick little quantum events calculus in your mind, and imagine that in Ohio, everyone got to vote, the machines worked the way they were supposed to, there were no official efforts to suppress Democratic voters, and Kerry won the state. What do you think would have been in store for President Kerry, without some truly fundamental changes in the way the message gets out? There's a big fucking right-wing machine out there that lives to dig through liberals' garbage and make shit up if need be, and there's no left-wing counterpart. Kerry would have faced a foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Republican Congress led with slavering glee by Tom DeLay. Kerry would have started in a hole, having to clean up Junior's mess with an opposition congress and a braying propaganda machine ankle-biting him the entire way. He would have had to deal with the perennially put-out, resentful attitude of dust-bowl red-staters who project their inferiority complex on to everyone else, when the fact is the rest of us really don't give a shit one way or the other -- we're too busy openly fornicating and burning flags.

No, seriously, we have allowed media humps like Jeffrey Goldberg to condition us to this stupid red-state/blue-state paradigm. Almost every state is purple, a great deal of the supposedly solid south was within five points of going Kerry in '04, and the "values voters" -- precisely because they are single-issue and thus largely useless -- are wildly overrated in terms of political utility.

Let us, once and for all, cease being led around by our dicks on this stupid "values" nonsense, that one side might know something profound that escapes the other side somehow. Here's what happened in 2004 -- a few million more goobers voted for one Skull-and-Bonesman over another Skull-and-Bonesman, because they had somehow managed to convince themselves that their Skull-and-Bonesman "shared their values". We can parse all the arcane memetic and heuristic theory we want, but that's essentially what it all boils down to.

The sooner Democrats -- urban and rural alike -- realize this, cast off the chains in which they have wrapped themselves, in this delusional dichotomy of noble savage vs. diffident swell, the sooner they can just be themselves, and give their constituents some honest choices about policy and the business of running the country. It's so much simpler and more sensible than trying to be everything to everyone. As Bush (of all people) has said, you may not like him, but at least you know where he stands. People can't get behind someone that's constantly scrambling to get behind themselves.

Here's the message (you can thank me later for handing you some balls and brains, Democrats):
Vote for me, and I will do my damndest to fix what they fucked up. I will stay out of your bedroom and your church, and your neighbor's bedroom and his church. I think a nation of people that mind their own business is happier and more productive than a nation of busybodies. Rather than pander to people's baser instincts, I will appeal to their better angels.

I will make sure that everyone has opportunity for jobs and education, and that regular people don't have to worry about losing their house if their child gets hurt or falls ill. I will make sure our friends realize that we are a good friend, and that our enemies realize that we are a bad enemy to have, but that we're reasonable and value dialogue and negotiation over brute force. We do not have to operate outside the norms of law and decent behavior to protect ourselves from our enemies, nor should we give away our ideals for a false sense of security.

It really is that simple. Quit treating people like they're children, and some of them might just stop acting like children.