Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pubic Health Hazard

No, that's not a typo. And it's nice to see Hitchens writing something I can get behind, although he sure lands on a shrill note ("What a pity that there is no hell").

If I hadn't torn myself away from the news here and there this week, I'm not sure I'd know what century I'm in.
Beware of the Unitarian Jihad!

"We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone."


I don't know if this was linked to before but I like it.




My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Blunderbuss of Tolerance. What's yours?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Said Nest

I live in an enclave. I work in a nest. The difference? I'd like to believe that those in the enclave were a) drawn by the neighborhood's features and not by hypnosis and b) they may check out AND/OR leave anytime they please. Must..resist..must..not..put..magnetic..ribbon..on..car.

You may or may not note that I've changed my profile name as to escape detection from said nest. This may escape the gentle reader's attention since I almost never have anything to post about.

However, this is all about to change. Said Nest (May I change my employer's name to Said Nest?) has given me much to talk about. Do not press for details, locations or names. I cannot reveal such information without three or four cocktails.

Anyway, today's outrage comes in the form of art history. Or perhaps, art and history. Or perhaps, art fictionry. Said Nest hosts a portrait of our Esteemed Leader (read: Our A-Hole President). This portrait caught my eye the other day and I stood to ponder its details. As I stood and pondered, I became unaware of the many insects flying in and out of my open mouth. Kindly correct me if I was unjustly agape.

Regrettably, it's only a head shot. Therefore, it is unclear as to the prez's attire. It appears to be some kind of bomber jacket, flight suit or otherwise rough-and-tumble-ready-for-action gear. He is holding a megaphone and looking off into the distance, perhaps at the sunset or a triage unit. In the distance, we see those two towers crashing and burning.

Did I miss something? Was this man actually at the scene? Directing traffic, maybe? As far as I remember, his ass was getting cozy up in the atmosphere, directing minions (kind of like traffic) to actually take care of business. Now, I have been credited with a faulty memory. It's true that, on this actual date, I was lying in the grass, listening to what the bugs had to say and hoping for a message about the remainder of actual goodness in the world. Maybe I missed this heroic moment in the four to five days of constant, televised coverage of this major, fucking tragedy.

How is it that this man is not only automatically associated with 9/11 but placed at the event, playing hero?

Need I say it? Are you effin' kidding me?

Watch this space for further crimes of misrepresentation from S.N.

The General's Otaku

I'd be remiss in my obsequious fanboy duties if I didn't link to The Good General's guest stint at TPMCafe.

Nattering Nabob

Our pal Gordon at the Brain admits to being disconcerted with his agreement with Herr Buchanan in the generalities, if not the particulars of impeaching Dear Leader Shrubya - and I promise that's the last link we'll ever give to Human Events Online.

I remember how, in the early years of the anti-globalization movement, being stung by Pat's favor was shocking for us too. We realized then, as we should all realize now - unlike a certain fat, balding, drink soaked ex-Trotskyist who in his anti-Clinton fervor appeared at Freeper gatherings with Ann Coulter because he would, in his own words "take what I can get" - that the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. If Pat's all I can get, I'll be happy with nothing. I'm all for consensus building and finding common ground, but even pretending we're even in the same volume - never mind on the same page - with a pandering xenophobic phoney (remember the "Lock-n-Load!" hooey, when he'd never held a gun?) is a losing proposition.

Now if I were Yglasias I'd offer bemused wonderings on what manner of precedent Pat hopes to set by using impeachment as a political cattle-prod. But I'm not, so I won't.

Give Till It Hurst Then Give A Little More

If you're reading this blog then you clearly have access to enough disposable income to maybe give a little scratch to the American Red Cross(link from Norbizness) who have mobilized a huge relief effort for New Orleans and beyond. Although it sounded like New Orleans had escaped the worst, it's actually really bad. I hope those who read this blog that have family there (and who had big plans to be there) have been able to verify the safety of said family members.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Now THIS is too funny

Venezuela is going to ask the US government to extradite Pat Robertson, who suggested that the US assassinate Venezuelan President Chavez, but then he didn't, but then he sort of did, but then he apologized for saying what he didn't say - anyway, it's tough keeping up with Pat Robertson. But I think it does say somewhere in the Bible that it's okay to lie as long as you claim you talk to God.

I mean, isn't it because of the irresponsible rhetoric of religious zealots in the Islamic world that lots of people get themselves worked up in America? What about the zealots in our own back yard?

Unlike a fair number of people I know, I firmly believe religion should play a role - perhaps even a prominent one - in American politics and political life, and I tend to agree with Neustadt's argument in the Naked Public Square - i.e., the rise of reactionary and aggressive churches is at least in part the consequence of mainline Protestants and other more liberal church groups being viewed with suspicion by secularists. (Though I think there's something to be said for the proposition that the mainline Protestant and Jewish groups simply lost interest or passion, as well as the fact that nuts - Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, et al - make for better copy than the nice minister or rabbi who lives down the road and preaches tolerance and ecumenicalism.)

What is interesting, I think, is that a good part of the American punditry and opinion-makers, not to mention various politicians, like to talk about how bad it is in countries like Iran, where there ain't much of a line between church and state. The irony, of course, is that America has more than a small number of groups devoted to realizing a vision in America that would have made Ayatollah Khomeni's eyes moist over. Latest example: a group of "Christians" wants to establish biblical rule in South Carolina.

I don't put Christians in parentheses because I don't think Christians should take a role in politics. I do it because I never understand how Christians can think that Jesus' kingdom is of this world (which it ain't - John 18:36) and how they can utterly disregard the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5,6,7)and advocate Old Testament morality despite the fact that Jesus says his followers shouldn't do this.

I enjoy the references to Dobson, Falwell, and Robertson as mullahs and the American Taliban. Why? Because, like the actual Taliban, I think that what they say has very little to do with the scriptural basis of their religion and everything to do with lining their pocketbooks and making themselves fat. And I wish that someone in the punditocracy or in politics would call a spade a spade.

BTW, the good "Christian" Pat Robertson had a lucrative business venture with Charles Taylor, murderous dictator of Liberia. I don't think that's what Jesus would do.

The Question

ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Sadly, No!

John Grisham or Nostradamus...?

I just returned from my belated honeymoon in Costa Rica.

I finished the book that I brought on the day I arrived, then stopped in every little store that sold used books in every little town through which we passed.

The pickins were mostly slim. It seems that most of the books brought to Costa Rica by English-reading tourists were written by Lawrence Sanders or Danielle Steele.

I went through a Lawrence Sanders phase in high school and still enjoy the occasional McNally Caper, but I was coming off a Kurt Vonnegut kick and looking for something a little more stimulating.

I had to settle for entertaining ... Sanders and Robert B. Parker. It worked out nicely, actually.
Remember "Spenser for Hire"?
The TV show was based on a series of books written by Robert B. Parker. He's been writing the books since the 70's so there's like 7000 of them and most of them are wildly entertaining and completely engrossing for a fortnight on the beach. But I digress.

Mrs. Klipper picked "The Pelican Brief" by John Grisham and when I ran out of Spenser's and McNally's I read it.

What struck me immediately was that the President in the book was a complete imbecile (George W.) and the real man in charge was his chief of staff; an evil, manipulative, genius capable of sinking to any low to accomplish his political goals (Karl Rove)

I couldn't read the book but to picture old Georgie and Rove discussing the good fortune of a major crisis (9/11) and the dangers of the pelican brief (downing street memos).

The book, written in 1992 or so, reads like a history of Bush's presidency; except, of course, that in the book the media does its job. The President and his wormtongue are exposed as scoundrels. The President is not re-elected (...) and wormtongue retires in disgrace ("...fire whoever leaked...Valerie...Plame...").

Well, I guess the bad guy has to lose in John Grisham's world or we'd all feel an empty, hollowness in the pit of our stomachs knowing that something isn't right.

You know, that same gut-wrenching emptyness we feel now, as the bad guys win, in our world.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

He Really Loves Korn

"The truth is that every pop critic, to one degree or another, is a case of arrested development."

Check out David Segal's memoir of his days as a pop music critic at the Post.

Supply and Demand

When I started contributing to this blog, I never thought it would be to excoriate Jon Stewart. I definitely didn't think it would be to throw rose petals at the senior editor of the National Review.

But after reading Richard Brookhiser's review of Bernard Goldberg's
100 People Who Get More Attention Paid to Them Than I Do, I bolted to the rose garden with a wheelbarrow.

Brookhiser makes the point that I have been harping on since Jon Stewart lit into Carlson and Begala on Crossfire. The sorry state we find America in today cannot be blamed entirely on the media and the government. Our media and government are as pathetic as they are because so many Americans don't give a crap about anything. When served base popular culture, vapid infotainment, corporate corruption, cowardly journalism, and a cynical and mendacious
casus belli, they lick their plates and ask for more. It's simple supply and demand. Demand nothing, and you'll get whatever they want to give you.

Brookhiser makes the point that all of Goldberg's targets--some of whom are big, fat fish in a barrel that a toddler's marksmanship couldn't miss--were elected, whether democratically or through the market:

The politicians in ''100 People'' were all elected, by constituencies small (Velella's State Senate district) or large (Jimmy Carter is No. 6). Who elected them? The face in the mirror, and in every other mirror of America. Similarly with all Goldberg's targets who sell movies, records or shares of stock. They have gained their prominence in the electorate of the marketplace. Goldberg acknowledges this point now and again, writing, for example, of the E! channel auteur Anna Nicole Smith (No. 53), ''Let's be perfectly honest: these people can only exist in a culture of voyeurs, a culture where there are enough people who actually care about this stuff.'' Who then is to blame? Shouldn't Goldberg's book be ''270 Million People Who Are Screwing Up America''?

I'm not exempting myself. Nor am I exempting the elite who think themselves above such pabulum (in particular, the New York Wankees at Angelika earlier this evening who cruelly laughed at--not with--Timothy Treadwell each time he embarrassed himself in Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man...my second disheartening experience in the West Village in as many nights).

But I feel like we're letting the real culprits off the hook when we focus our outrage on the people in front of the camera. Something much more degenerative is happening in front of the screen.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Junky Science Friday

Both Gilliard and Atrios take Andrew Sullivan to task for yet again endorsing The Bell Curve. My first exposure to the "classical liberal" Sullivan was actually his endorsment of the book - along with his subsequent self-congratulation - so I've never understood why anyone ever mistook him for someone with anything interesting to say. The absolute nadir was actually his article in some British rag reprinted in Left Hooks, Right Corsses where, among other things, he claims that his most interesting discovery on this journey through the pseudo-verse was the unearthing of a societal "taboo". It was, as I learned later, a technique of which Sullivan seemed to be the lone master: Inspire a pointless debate about a semi-controversial subject supposedly in the name of "free inquiry", then stand back in feigned utter amazement that the "facts" of the case supported some conservative cause or other. It was disgusting in the early 1990's and it's disgusting now. For Sullivan to claim that a book which contained serious errors in its calculations "holds up" seriously counts the guy out as any sort of public intellectual. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? What he means is that the controversy he stirred up "holds up". The actual work the authors of the book did does not.

However, since Sullivan is attempting to make the tripe current again, it's worth revisiting, I guess. My favorite critique came from Chomsky, who simply wrote that a study such as the one Murray and Hernstein were conducting was not done in the spirit of free inquiry, but in the spirit of ideology. There's just no question worth an answer there, unless you've got some sort of un-scientific agenda. When friends of mine would ask me about my opinion of the book, I'd normally say, "Yeah, well, I'm working on a study on the distribution of IQ among people of different heights. So far short people are coming out way ahead. My next study will be about the distribution of IQ between nail-biters and non-nail biters." What's the point of gathering such information based on arbitrary distinctions? Substitute "tall", "medium" and "short" for the racial categories they used into the policy prescriptions and social predictions that they made and try to stop laughing. That Sullivan made his name on such pandering and posing, which in my mind opened the door to the Coulters of the world, should tell us all we need to know about our "liberal media".

Friday Stupid Survey Blogging: Erm...wait...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Oh, so that's the problem... Its anthropological.

More from the frontiers of the new, non-materialist, teleological science. Apparently the problem with the environment has nothing to do with the environment, its the anthropological error.

Is the AP surprised?

"It was not clear how many protestors, if any, want the United States to retreat from the Middle East entirely."

This is a sentence pulled out of an article which discusses the latest media strategy of team values: Accuse any critic of any U.S. policy of wanting the terrorists to win.

What did Bush sidente say?

"An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations," he told an audience mostly made up of Idaho National Guard members.

"So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror," said Bush, who announced that global campaign after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001."

So how many anti-war protestors want troops to be pulled out immediately?

And of the American public that is increasingly against the war, how many want immediate pull-outs?

Has a single politician gone on record calling for immediate pullouts? Has a single editorial page? Does Bush have any documentation of his claims at all?

Perhaps the random protestor, sure; but Bush is essentially making things up as he goes along. What is interesting, though, is that the vapid cue card readers (aka the media) have begun inserting momentary lapses of truthfulness into their otherwise dutiful echoing of the administration's propaganda; for instance, the quote with which I started.

Perhaps the nattering nabobs of the third estate have finally gotten the essential gear needed to deal with the current administration on the ever-changing terrain of Iraq war justifications.

Paging Dr. Gupta!

Among the numerous silly little bits that CNN does is the "Paging Dr. Gupta" shtick; essentially, Sanjay Gupta, a physician of some kind, covers medical news - he's "paged" by CNN, get it? And he does all the normal mindless banter and chit-chat that's done to make the viewer think he is a friendly, normal person, etc. (I'm sure he is.)

This morning he did a story on a study recently released that found that fetuses can't feel pain before 26 weeks due to the fact that their pain receptor pathways aren't fully developed.

Why is this worth reporting? It's pretty obvious - it ties into abortion debates.

Okay, so an interesting study, there were graphics of nerve cells, sonogram pictures - but then, Dr. Gupta did something strange. After going through the study and reporting on the science, he said, and also had graphics up on the screen, the following: the author of the study delivers babies and performs abortions; a researcher on the study also performs abortions; and the coauthor of the study is a member of NARAL.

Now, here's a report that's about science - dumbed down, to be sure (it is CNN) - but that is premised upon there being some scientific basis. He reports dissenting scientific views, as he should, though the study did make it past peer review; so why does he need to add the political bit at the end? Is that CNN's understanding of objectivity - it's not enough to report contradictory scientific views, but you have to cast aspersions on the group based on politics?

Anyway, it's a bit vexing - and this ties in with various posts here about the role of politics in scientific research. Now, even when there is a debate over the findings of a study based on scientific objections, a reporter or producer feel it necessary to twist the knife politically and question their motivations because of an ideological stance the scientists have. Would the story have been harmed if that had been left out? Couldn't they have gotten the actual point across - i.e. this is a new study and one that is being debated by scientists - without impugning the motives of the authors of the study? And why would Dr. Gupta, someone ostensibly devoted to medicine and science, feel that such considerations had to be included at all? As they say, Are you effin kidding me?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Every Liberal's Favorite Republican

I was slightly heartened by his participation in the effort to stop global warming. But then...well, I'll quote Jo Momma again: Eff John McCain. Now I'll never get over the time he said, with a straight face, that Arizona demonstrated the success of free trade because of the state's over-abundance of defense contractors.

We do not tip hats at RUFNKM; we steal links, and that one came from Wonkette.

What's With This Guy?

Anyone this obsessed from with the behavior of "the gays" as "other" is about two weeks from coming out. Godspeed Mr. Volokh! After that it may be only a short step to recognizing that trotting out cliche'd cannards on any given subject is not the same thing as thoughtful reasoned analysis.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Do not come home

Friday, August 19, 2005

More on Fristy...

We all remember the much publicized "break" with Bush over stem cells...a man of principle! He's distinguished himself from the frothy mixture from Pennsylvania! An independent!

Then he does this.

So you have to ask yourself - was the stem cell thing a ploy?

I mean...if you don't think that stem cells are life forms in some way, you don't believe life begins at conception, and you don't take the Bible literally...but, if you think that intelligent design is "legitimate," that means you probably do take the Bible literally, or at least act like it for certain audiences...so it's all quite confusing.

Bottom line: Frist is an opportunistic worm - at least Santorum has the balls to stick with an ethos. Why break on stem cells? Because it's popular; because it's probably a dead issue; and because if nothing happens - i.e., a bill gets passed and Bush passes it - nothing bad comes to Fristy, who can portray himself as a moderate come 2008 (I done broke me with Bush on them dang stem cells!) while advocating the teaching of intelligent design.

How much of the research upon which Frist relied as a physician would be theoretically grounded, I wonder, if we cast out evolution and reliance on primates as models and test animals?

UPDATE:
Here's the this. I assumed that the title of the post, following as it did on a post on Frist and ID, made clear the referent.

ID The Future Of My Pants

ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Can I just ask Billy Boy how pluralism and faith would help him operate on a heart? Rarely is the question asked enough often(so I'll ask it) again: What does the masses of peoples hope to gain by teaching their children junk?

Someone please explain this to me. Assume for a moment that public opinion really does favor teaching ID. If public opinion favored teaching "2 + 3 = 314159" would we the way we taught math? Of course not. All you'd have to point out is that teaching our kids bad math means we cheat ourselves out of future scientists. Why is biology any different?

Genus: Boobus, Species: Freeperus Troglodytus

Just last weekend Benn and I were conversing about the composition of the Baltimore Blogosphere; specifically about the ratio of straight up liberal political blogs to "blogging your life" type blogs. We didn't settle on a number, but we did count our own blogs as members of the first set. This post removes RUFNKM from that set, unless someone else soon writes something to make up for the forthcoming illiberal remarks.

Before today I never really believed there was really such a thing as an honest-to-Forbush Freeper. I knew about the website and the opinions of its "membership". I read the membership and usage statistics detailed in What Liberal Media; how many hours the average visit lasted and so on. I just assumed this was a result of the three actual members having to log in and out of all the different aliases they had in order to give the illusion of a user base - much like back in the old usenet days when the same Nazi guy would post under 10 different names to alt.fan.noam-chomsky arguing, sometimes ferociously, over the finer points of the Turner Diaries while taking time out to yell "communist aethiest Jew Lover!!!!" at the rest of us. I always resonded with "guilty of all three!". But I (only slightly) digress....

Imagine my shock when I viewed the video on the right of this post. Freepers do actually exist! And there's more than 3 of them! Even if you already knew that you should click the link for a laugh. There's nothing funnier than watching an over-weight middle aged service record lacking girl's name and huge knockers having white man explain to an ex-marine, who happens to be holding a "end the war now" sign, how said ex-marine is "disrespecting the corps" and "stabbing them in the back." ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? If these are the people that love my country then I can only hope and pray that love goes unrequited. I'd hate to think of my country stuck in a relationship with one of these guys. They'd probably beat her for being too lippy - oh wait, she is and they are.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Boredom...

So it's either do a derivative, but still amusing post, or read more about the relationship between law, freedom, and citizenship in Athens. Choice is obvious.

Fun with quotes:

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News,

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Got to thank Kos on this one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We knew THIS was coming...

Hitchens signs on to the poop on Cindy Sheehan bandwagon. Predictable.

His position: She has no moral authority and shouldn't be taken seriously. Why? Apparently because if Hitchens had lost a child in Iraq, he wouldn't be taken any more seriously by his critics.

Maybe, maybe not - though there is something to the claim that those who have actually lost loved ones in the war may be worth listening to rather than those who haven't and won't because their children have better things to do.

But here's where Hitchens gets particularly shrill:

"What dreary sentimental nonsense this all is, and how much space has been wasted on it. Most irritating is the snide idea that the president is "on vacation" and thus idly ignoring his suffering subjects, when the truth is that the members of the media—not known for their immunity to the charm of Martha's Vineyard or Cape Cod in the month of August—are themselves lazing away the season with a soft-centered nonstory that practically, as we like to say in the trade, "writes itself." Anyway, Sheehan now says that if need be she will "follow" the president "to Washington," so I don't think the holiday sneer has much life left in it."

Is it a non-story? Doubtful. Opposition to the war has, despite Hitchens' efforts, been growing since Bush declared it ended. Sheehan is just a catalyst. Moreover, since Aristophanes' Lysistrata, it's been pretty much common knowledge that nothing is so threatening to propagandizing states as grieving mothers who don't accept that their primary function is to produce soldiers. In this regard, Hitchens may as well be Pericles in his funeral oration, telling the grieving wives and mothers of Athens that the best thing to do is keep quiet. It is a bit eery how similar things play out - those in favor of the war tell her to shut up. They don't defend the invasion; they question her character, her fitness to speak.

The holiday sneer doesn't have much left in it? Bush actually said - to paraphrase - Yeah, I feel bad, but look, I've got to make decisions, which means I have to be fit, so my life has to go on. Vacation? He'll go to fundraisers, but he won't meet with her.

If Hitch is so right, and Sheehan so crazy, why not have Bush, who is supposedly a people-person, meet with her? Show his compassionate conservatism, explain why the sacrifice was necessary, and have the cameras there, and then spin to his heart's content that he did what he had to do, etc. But he hasn't done this. And I doubt that he will. One wonders why.

Does she seem to view the war as somehow part of a pro-Israel cabal? Sure. And Hitch says it wasn't. Maybe. Why do people think this? And really, this is a manifestation of the general tendency to view this as a neo-con crusade.

Perhaps because the more we learn, the more the conspiracies turn out to be accurate; and perhaps because the more opposition to the war that ended in 2003 increases, the lower the depths to which those who shill for it will sink.

On December 3, 2001, Hitchens wrote in the Nation the following: "I should perhaps confess that on September 11 last, once I had experienced all the usual mammalian gamut of emotions, from rage to nausea, I also discovered that another sensation was contending for mastery. On examination, and to my own surprise and pleasure, it turned out to be exhiliration. Here was the most frightful enemy - theocratic barbarism - in plain view...I realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost."

Hitch may well question the moral seriousness of someone who views the war as a neo-con inspired pro-Israel conspiracy. And we may well question the moral seriousness of someone whose sense of morality and understanding of the worth in life was so shallow that he latched on to a tragedy to give himself purpose and emotional fulfilment.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Something Worth Reading In Rolling Stone

I know what you're thinking. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Since when has Rolling Stone had anything worth reading? Yeah, you got your bi-weekly Rees, but for eff's sake they're still doing cover stories on Jimi Hendrix. But this week they have a fantastic (if depressing) story by Matt Taibbi about the veritable hogpen that is our national legislature. Ever since I read this Taibbi has become one of my favorite columnists and journalists and this piece, while in one sense made me say, "duh, of course!", on the other hand enraged.

Who's The America Hater?

Wow. This guy is so patriotic he thinks it's fun to goof on shooting his fellow Americans. Oh wait, that's right. They're anti-war so they're actually, uhm, Venezualan.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The answer to all of our problems!

Walken, 2008.

I shit you not.

I thought he was great in Suicide Kings. Good negotiator.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Huzzah!

Check out who is using Jayinbmore's tagline.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Finally!

God bless Crooked Timber and all who sail upon her! In two posts they do something I've been waiting and waiting for a major lefty blog to do. First Ted calls bullshit on a "reasonable conservative" whom he sees propogating the "a substantial part of the left wants the US to lose in Iraq" meme and then suggests that it might be time to define terms and name some names. This is traditionally called "asking to see the evidence". Then Henry asks for people to cite major commentators propgating the meme. Yeah, Media Matters does this. It's just nice to see coming from other places.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

We've Got To Stop Letting Him Beat Us To It

Steve Gilliard totally beat us to saying what we thought about the latest step in our march toward our very own Sovietization. Since when did the job of the Ministry of Truth land at the Department of Defense?

Local Local

If, like most of us RUFNKM'ers, you live Hampden then I urge you to help keep Hampden indy(parenthetically I'd add that we'd all love it if you helped keep Hampden tidy too). Would any of us like a Quizno's on the Ave? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

Update: Edited to remove netiquette violation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

WTF?

Am I missing something, or did a paramilitary group stage a coup in Baghdad?

Update from jay: Juan Cole (scroll down a little) claims that this was not a coup but enforcement of a right gained via electoral victory back in January. Odd of Hitchens not to mention that in his own little bit of hagiography for Al-Tamimi. Except that in this instance I am willing to bet Hitchens doesn't accept the outcome of the January 30th elections as legitimate. Which is it? Did we invade to give them opportunity to decide on their own form of government, or did we go to stamp out hardcore Islamofacism? Because the two aims are incompatible now.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rumsfeld's Been Busy

In 1974, Rumsfeld claimed, without evidence, that the Soviet Union has been "very busy" building weapons systems. In 2003 Rumsfeld claimed, without evidence, that we knew exactly where the WMD were. In August 2005 Rummsfeld claims:

...that weapons have been found in Iraq that were "clearly, unambiguously" from Iran and that the weapons would ultimately become a problem for Tehran.

[snip]

"What you do know is that the Iranians did not stop them from coming in," he told reporters. "It's notably unhelpful for the Iranians to be allowing weapons of those types to cross the border," said Rumsfeld. He offered no further specifics on the weapons.

(link via War and Piece)

Forgive me for thinking this is propoganda. While it's not exactly a rattling sabre, it's certainly one of many raised eye-brows in the direction of Tehran; another item on the list of demands we will make or they will face an invasion. "Along with halting their nuclear program, Iran must stop the flow of weapons into Iraq!"

Deadline Comedown Geek-a-nerd Blogging

Ride
You Are... Ride.

You are young at heart and full of energy. You are
talented but very modest. You are happy go
lucky and care free. You have learned to take
the good with the bad and you just accept life
for being what it is. People tend to be envious
of you, That's only because they don't
understand you and they just want some of what
you have. There's no task too hard for you and
you excel at pretty much everything you try to
do. You have a playful personallity and a
beautiful inner soul.


what Creation Records band are you? (complete with text and images)
brought to you by Quizilla

Oddly enough, this makes total sense. Aside from the goofy description, that is. But do they have to use the second worst album of the band's career for the picture?

Don't look now...

...but John Tierney is officially less of an ass clown than David Brooks. I knew he had it in him.

I mean, anyone who goes after Bill Bennett, prince of morality and, as they say on the Sopranos, degenerate fucking gambler, can't be that bad.

But I have to say - of all the drugs to stand up for, METH, and not pot? Are you effin' kidding me?

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Stunning Configuration

Justice Antonin Scalia on September 28, 2004

Is it racial profiling prohibited by the Fourth Amendment for the police to go looking for a white man with blue eyes? Do you want to stop little old ladies with tennis shoes?

Fat Tony, you ask and you shall receive. While she's not exactly little or old, Cindy Sheehan sure sounds like a lady to me.

Update because we would be remiss otherwise:She's a threat to national security? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? The President's peace and quiet is not a matter of national security.

Update: Fixed link to report of Scalia talk.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Total Loss Of Balance

Yglesias says "don't worry, be happy!" and to leave those poor ID'ers alone. I think he's got it wrong.

The first reason is that something of practical importance does hinge on the teaching of evolution versus teaching ID. Yes, we are fine without everyone knowing general relativity or quantum mechanics, but this is a false analogy. They don't teach that stuff in basic high school science classes, and if they do, of course they don't expect everyone to remember it. But they also don't teach that little angels lift airplanes into the sky. The point is not wether we are teaching the technical details of complicated theory. The point is wether we're preparing kids to understand science at all, to be properly skeptical, and to be prepared not just for good colleges but for good citizenship(in the best sense of the term).

Second, while I dig the "What's The Matter With Kansas" riff, going up against ID isn't going up against social conservatives at all. Going up against ID is going up against a front organization who's stated goal is the destruction of science as we know it. The Discovery Institute is spending lots of money to disseminate crummy pseudo-science and trick people into teaching it to children. They are operating hand in hand with - and in some cases are - that same set of corporate managers pushing an agenda that will in the end make the general population less educated and therefore less likely to call things like corporate dominance into question. Hate to come all Vulgar Marxist(who am I kidding, I love coming all Vulgar Marxist), but the whole point of this exercise is to create a more pliant and thus more permanent lower class. That's why it's worth combating.

Update:Jesse at Pandagon sees things much the same minus the vulgar marxism.

Addendum

Speak of the devil: look what Atrios just posted!

Update(from jay): Fixed link.

Ideology and Democracy

I just read a really remarkable book - Mass Oratory and Political Power in the Late Roman Republic, by Robert Morstein-Marx - in which he makes a very interesting argument about Roman republican rhetoric that, I think, has implications for current discussions of rhetoric.

His point - to summarize - is that the political culture of late Republican Rome was "ideologically monotonous" - what looks like ideological debate about the nature of government, how it ought to be conducted, which ideas ought to guide us in our practice - was, in fact, really a series of ad hominem assaults on individuals, with no significant orator questioning the status quo of the organization of Roman politics as a whole. (Hence Meier's thesis of the "crisis without an alternative" leading to the rise of Octavius/Augustus.)

Anyway, what does it mean about American politics today? When you find political rhetoric being a contest over who has the true interests of the American people/group X at heart, and competition between the two sides centering on who is the bigger liar, you have a problem. What is shows is a pretty flawed rhetorical/political situation, in which, though I hate to sound all Frankfurt schooly, something like a hegemonic superstructure has so thoroughly penetrated the minds of the masses that even "critiques" of the system or facets of it wind up reproducing the system itself. Case in point - Morstein-Marx draws on Habermas in setting up his argument, specifically Habermas' point about the ideal speech situation, within which we each advance reasons that we are unembarassed to give (they are unselfish, for instance) and we each have equal opportunity to speak and listen.

Now, that's about as far from American politics as I think you can get - and there are a whole lot of variables you could look at to explain the discrepency between norm (democracy) and form (America 2005.) But among the ones that comes to mind is the mediator between elite and non-elite: the media. Could it be that the "he said/she said" firing of talking points formats that is so much of American media today can't do anything but reproduce the power structures and problems it is supposed to address?

Anyway, I'm writing about it because this seemed to be very much John Stewart's point on Crossfire, and I think the theme behind the show: the system - i.e. the one that is supposed to promote both accountability and interest representation in public discourse - is broken.

Monday, August 01, 2005

No True Baltimorean

Yeah, being a recent transplant I'm not really one to talk, but even I am asimilated enough to know better than this...

So David at OxBlog asked for "Best Of Baltimore" restaurant recommendation, and somone recomended Bo Effin' Brooks. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? This is quite possibly the most over-rated restaurant in the entire city. The crabs are tiny little critters and over-priced to boot. You can do far better in Essex or even going to one of those "crabs to go" places. Can I get a witness?

WSS

The administration re-branded our current imperial project from "Global War On Terror" to "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism". I've personally always hated "GWOT" because it suggested the sound warm snot makes when it hits the pavement on a humid Bawlmer-summer day. "GSAVE" is a little better, but, honestly, it's still wrong; it suggests some sort of free software disk utility. Besides, don't these people know that acronyms.have.three.letters? But I'm just one of those liberals who has no new ideas and can only criticize. Which is why it's so marvelous that Suzanne Nossel at Democracy Arsenal scores a rhetorical twofer in this post wherein she makes fun of the new acronym and points out 10 things more important than a new acronym.