Thursday, December 30, 2004

Something's Going On. It Has To Do With That Number -- There's An Answer In That Number

So, the race for Washington Governor went on for quite a while. The Democratic candidate, state Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire, maintained there were a bunch of votes not cast. A judge tried to block over 700 ballots. And, when all the shouting, and the three recounts, were done, she had a lead of 130 votes.

And now her opponent, Dino Rossi, wants a new election.

Excuse me?

Never mind the fact that, apparently, hundreds of voters were disenfranchised because they'd been mistakenly rejected or simply put aside. Never mind the fact that, in a democracy, in America, everyone's vote is supposed to count.

Just try to imagine the Republican outrage -- especially on the blogs, especially on talk radio -- if a Democrat had asked for a new election.

"What, are they such sore losers that they want people to vote until a Democrat wins? The American people have spoken!" Et cetera.

Time and again, it has been shown that apparently the Republican party is afraid to let the American people speak. There were many, many accusations of voter irregularities in this election -- but most of the evidence shows those consistently and disturbingly work in favor of Republicans.

The Dems wanted all the votes counted in the first place, and by paying for, finally, a hand recount in Washington, they got that -- and they won. Are the Republicans such sore losers that they want people to vote until a Republican wins?

In one place, at least, the American people have spoken.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

CQ, CQ -- This Is W9-GFO Here -- Come Back?

Gee, you'd think that a company subject to laws regarding freedom of access and that sort of thing would be perfectly happy to take money for ads expressing a political viewpoint, wouldn't you?

Well, as has been shown several times recently, that ain't so. The newest case is the attempt by Robert Millman to put a series of ads on Clear Channel. Here's the script for one:
This is a paid radio moment–
Some of us disagree with the President.
We think the Iraq war is a mess.
We think vote suppression is a crime.
We think tax cuts for the rich are a bad idea.
We think business doesn’t know best. (pause)
And we think dissent is an American value. (pause)
This country was born because people questioned authority.
It’s as American as apple pie.
See any hate crimes in there? Any racial slurs, profanities, calls for treason or rioting or anarchy? Well, Clear Channel isn't broadcasting it anyway. They're not taking the money for a non-offensive ad. We can only assume it's because they object to the content... which means they don't like it because it's anti-Bush. Which is a hell of a way to serve the public airwaves.

Check out the ads. And then call your local stations and ask how much advertising rates are. I bet we could get these things up all over the darn place, relatively cheaply.

Thanks to WoodyGuthrie'sGuitar (aka Konopelli) for the heads-up on this one.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

We're Cut Off From The Rest Of The World. They Can't Get To Us. Maybe We Can Get To Them. You've Said Enough, Now Get Out Of The Way

Truly horrible.

Yes, of course, the earthquake near Sumatra, and the resultant tsunamis (and, now, exposure and disease), which have killed at least 52,000 people.

But also the reaction of some on the right wing.

Thankfully, not many. But there have been posters on LGF and a few other conservative blogs, not to mention the Comment section at Yahoo News, ranging from "good riddance -- they were all Muslims/terrorists/brown people/godless heathens" to "why should we care? It wasn't here". Posts like this:
send $15 million in ICBMs to Muslims
by [deleted]
to finish off any Muslims who may still be alive in indonesia.
That's the only money I want going to Muslims who want to kill us.
This is, sadly, by no means an aberration. If you think you have the stomach for it, just look at the subject lines here.

Just because some of our population has apparently given up their humanity, however, does not mean the rest of us have. Donations are desperately needed; if you would like to donate, these fine organizations (from the New York Times, by way of sdelmonte's LiveJournal) are a good starting point:

247 West 37th Street, Suite 1201
New York, N.Y. 10018
212-967-7800 x108

45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10018

AFSC Crisis Fund
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19102

International Response Fund
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, D.C. 20013

Tsunami Emergency
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090

27 South La Patera Lane
Santa Barbara, Calif. 93117

P.O. Box 1856
Merrifield, Va. 22116-8056

Earthquake/Tsunami Relief
1919 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300
Santa Monica, Calif. 90404

South Asia Tsunami Relief
Box 321
847A Second Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10017
212-687-6200 ext. 851

Southeast Asia Earthquake Response
Dept. W
P.O. Box 2669
Portland, Ore. 97208

8320 Melrose Avenue, Suite 200 Los Angles, Calif. 90069

Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund
54 Wilton Road
Westport, Conn. 06880

Southeast Asia Earthquake Emergency
P.O. Box 6098
Burbank, Calif. 91510

Friday, December 24, 2004

They Can't Do This To Us Here In Nashville! Let's Show Them What We're Made Of -- Come On, Everybody, Sing! Somebody, Sing!

One of the more obnoxious myths about Dubya's stupid war is that liberals like me don't "support the troops". This is ludicrous on so many levels that it makes my head hurt to consider it.

For the record: I support our troops. My fellow liberals and progressives support the troops. Those troops have given their oaths and their lives to defend our country, for which we thank them profoundly.

We think supporting the troops includes giving them enough freakin' equipment to defend themselves. We think supporting the troops includes wanting them to come home safely, as soon as possible.

We don't support the policies those troops are upholding. We think that the war in Iraq is illegal, unjustifiable, hideously expensive, and politically disastrous. It has made the world a much more dangerous place, and there's no end in sight.

I say all this in preface because I'm about to trash a country-and-western hit.

Chely Wright, best known for the 1999 hit "Single White Female", has a Billboard Top 100 hit, "The Bumper Of My S.U.V.", about an incident that happened to her (and I have no reason to doubt her):

About a year-and-a-half ago, Wright -- an established singer and performer -- was driving the Nashville streets when a motorist in a minivan behind her noticed the Marine Corps sticker on her bumper. Wright's brother is a Marine who sent her the sticker before he shipped off to Iraq.

The agitated woman began honking, swerving and flicking her lights. "I look in the rear view, and she's flipping me the bird, hard," Wright says. "I thought I cut her off, because I'm a really bad driver."

When the woman finally pulled up next to Wright and motioned for her to roll down her window, she gave the artist an earful of opinions about the war in Iraq.

"Your war is wrong," Wright remembers the woman screaming at her. "You're a baby killer."

She went home and immediately wrote a song about the incident, "The Bumper of My S.U.V." She put a demo of the song on tape, then tucked the tape in a drawer and promptly forgot about it.

"Obviously, I didn't mean for it to be a single because it's 4 1/2 minutes," she notes. "I just wrote the song to get it out of me."

So far, so good. Crazy woman, song inspiration. The only part of this I don't buy is the last paragraph -- not because I think Wright is more calculating about that than she lets on (more in a minute), but because, as a songwriter, I have always found that songs have a natural length, and if you have what you think is a good song you will find a way to get it to your audience, no matter how long the darn thing is.

Which is, in fact, what Wright did. She used her concerts and appearances. She used the Internet.

And, apparently, she used people lying about being associated with the military.

Seventeen members of a handpicked team of fans contacted radio stations around the country asking for more airplay for Wright's pro-military ballad, The Bumper of My SUV. It was all part of an organized campaign by leaders of the fan club who encouraged the team to do such things as ''tell 'em your husband is a marine — whatever it takes.''

After Wright learned that The Tennessean intended to publish an article about the campaign in today's newspaper, she issued a statement saying that she had dismissed Chuck Walter, a longtime friend who has headed her fan club since 1996.

Wright said she was ''shocked, saddened and deeply upset by this unethical behavior.'' She said Walter was ''an unpaid volunteer who acted without my knowledge or direction.''

In an interview a day earlier, Wright had described Walter as ''my best friend. We talk all the time, about everything.''


Hoffpauir said she was given a prepaid calling card and instructions on how to mask calls by hitting a code on her telephone keypad so radio stations wouldn't know she was calling from out of state.

''They also gave us tips on how to be more successful with DJs, so we didn't get caught. If you were calling Seattle, let's say, you'd go to Map Quest, find the address of a Home Depot and tell the DJ you worked there, little tricks,'' Hoffpauir said.


On Oct. 25, ''Chuck'' suggested fans log on to military message boards and talk up the song. ''You can also fib a little and say you are in the armed forces and how this song needs to be heard — u get the picture,'' he wrote.

A separate e-mail to team members from Constantine contained a message that Hoffpauir said was forwarded from Walter. It said: ''I think with the Texas stations we should say — I am a Marine or Navy and so on, and tell the station they know of the song and in honor of them they should play it — it's worth a try.'' The e-mail is dated Dec. 14.

An Oct. 25 e-mail to ''special mission team'' from ''Sharon'' said, ''Remember this is a small group of special people, and as you know it has to be between us and only us (of course Chuck and Chely know LOL). We can't tell a soul outside of our family, so radio doesn't catch on.''

Y'know, I've got a problem just with all those stupid yellow-ribbon "support our troops" decals and magnets on the backs of cars (quite often S.U.V.s). They're the Dubya Era version of "sacrifice". The only thing they "support" is the decal company.

But a nationwide campaign of lies, using people who are risking and giving their lives, just to get airplay for a song!?

I don't know who's ultimately at fault in this one. But I know how it looks. And it looks like the only thing being "supported" is a failing music career, on the backs of the dead and dying.

Thanks to Jim Henley's Unqualified Offerings, where I found out about this story.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

People Want Leadership, Mr. President, And In The Absence Of Genuine Leadership, They'll Listen To Anyone Who Steps Up To The Microphone

Jayzus. We're back to this noise again.
The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee, particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society's most emotional conflicts.

Roemer is running with the encouragement of the party's two highest-ranking members of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Dean, a former presidential candidate, is popular with the party's liberal wing.


Party leaders say their support for preserving the landmark ruling will not change. But they are looking at ways to soften the hard line, such as promoting adoption and embracing parental notification requirements for minors and bans on late-term abortions. Their thinking reflects a sense among strategists that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and the party's congressional candidates lost votes because the GOP conveyed a more compelling message on social issues.
Look, we've been over this. The Republicans are not going to vote for Democrats marketing themselves as Republican Lite -- they've got Republicans they can vote for. And Democrats are not going to vote for Democrats marketing themselves as Republican Lite -- they'll just have more politicians they can't trust.

If anything, the Democrats have to become more liberal. They have to market themselves not as the "moral values" party -- they have to point out that damn near everything good this country's government has done in the past hundred years has been [a] done by Democrats and [b] targeted by Republicans. Civil rights, environmental protections, Social Security and the rest of the Great Society, balanced budgets, job creation....

To those of us who consider abortion a medical decision to be made by a woman and her doctor, this sucking up to the religious right -- because that's exactly what it is -- is offensive.

And maybe, just maybe, they'd benefit by reading this piece by Anna Quindlen.

The Penis Is Evil -- The Penis Shoots Seeds, And Makes New Life, And Poisons The Earth With A Plague Of Men

I was looking for something else, but I found this interview with Rev. Franklin Graham:
Twenty-two percent of voters put moral values as their top concern in this election yet “Desperate Housewives” is a hot show. Do you see any disconnect there?
You can put any kind of smut on television and you’ll get a lot of viewership. I have not seen this program but any time you have something that’s racy, you’re going to attract an audience. No question: there is a disconnect with the entertainment industry and the values of America.

The president seemed to signal that he was OK with civil unions in the last weeks of the campaign. Is your objection to marriage as a word?
This was an issue that I think in this election where people finally said, “I’ve had it. I don’t want that agenda being forced and pushed and mandated on me.” You can’t legislate morality. [Emphasis mine.] A homosexual’s sins are no different than a heterosexual’s sins. If I go out tonight and I sleep with someone who’s not my wife, it’s just as great a sin as gay people [having sex]. Sin is sin.


What should the work of a Christian engaged in the world be?
If I just fed people and that’s all I did—if I clothed people and that’s all I did--I would be cheating people. I would be holding back the most important information that I have to give them. It would be a sin for me not to share with them my faith.


You were quoted a couple years ago as calling Islam an “evil and wicked religion.” Would you care to revisit that comment?
Those comments started a debate in this country. I don’t know what I can add to it. I respect the people of the Islamic faith that have come to this country. I have Muslim friends. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to help them.


Talk about AIDS if you would. What work do you see that needs doing in that arena?
... When we use sex outside of how God intended sex to be used, we are at risk. People have to be educated as to what these risks are. What [distributing] condoms says is: “If you use this the risk is now dealt with. So enjoy sex however you want to use it because you’ll be safe.” Wrong, you’re not safe. And the only way you can be safe is to use sex as God intended: between a man and a woman in a married relationship. That’s not a message that the world wants to hear.

Do you support a constitutional ban on gay marriage?

Under normal circumstances, no. But the way judges are rewriting laws. I don’t know how else you can stop them.

Was Brown v. Board of Education a case of activist judges making their own law?
I don’t know; I’m not familiar with it.
So, to summarize:
Tell me again why anyone listens to this man.

Breathe, Stupid, BREATHE! Ya Forgot Ta Breathe Again

The caretakers run amok:
The Bush administration issued broad new rules Wednesday overhauling the guidelines for managing the nation's 155 national forests and making it easier for regional forest managers to decide whether to allow logging, drilling or off-road vehicles.

The long-awaited rules relax longstanding provisions on environmental reviews and the protection of wildlife on 191 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They also cut back on requirements for public participation in forest planning decisions.

What this does, see, is allow BushCo officials to more easily permit logging, drilling, and other destructive yet profitable practices on formerly protected lands. And it is one of the best examples of the short-sightedness of both Bush and of his corporate cohorts.

In science class, we learned about photosynthesis, the process by which plants process the carbon dioxide we exhale into the oxygen we inhale and the nutrients we gain when we eat the plants, or which animals gain when they eat the plants and we gain when we eat the animals.

When we cut down trees -- the largest plants of all -- we are are doing damage to our atmosphere and our own food chain.

This is why global warming is such a threat. Profits, tax breaks, nepotism, glad-handing mean squat if none of us can fuckin' breathe.

And I really don't think these morons in charge see that.

Here are a few links with stuff you can do to help:

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Fear Leads To Anger; Anger Leads To Hate; Hate Leads To Suffering

Ah, the dire warnings of the Old and Wise:
Pope John Paul on Saturday condemned same sex marriage as an attack on the fabric of society and called on Catholics to combat what he said was aggressive attempt to legally undermine the family.

"Attacks on marriage and the family, from an ideological and legal aspect, are becoming stronger and more radical every day," the 84-year old pontiff said in the unusually strong statement.

"Who destroys this fundamental fabric causes a profound injury to society and provokes often irreparable damage.

Not that he can name any specific damage done to anyone or anything, no no no.

Which brings us back to one of the most cogent statements on the subject ever: Mark Fiore's Attack of the Gay Agenda.

It's actually really simple. Gay people getting married affects straight people in no tangible way. None. It just allows them to take advantage of laws which were created to encourage stable relationships and support of families.

And, as much respect as I have for a lot of the Pope's work, this is one of these matters where he is least qualified to say any fuckin' thing. He is an old celibate white guy who lives in a palace of gold, acquires real estate, and has people kiss his ring in supplication. (And I wonder what God would say about that if He was asked?) He, and anyone else who has never given themselves over to romantic love for another human being, has nothing of use to say on the subject to anyone who has.

But, then, I suppose that's the business religion fancies itself to be in -- telling people who, and how, to love.

Friday, December 17, 2004

... It's "Gojira", You Moron

NARAL Pro-Choice America has a new monster-movie-themed campaign: Creatures From The Far Right. (In glorious Lack-O-Vision!)

What If There's More Supermonkeys Up At That Lab? WHAT IF THEY'RE CREATING AN ARMY OF THEM?

Thanks to Holden at First Draft for pointing out this tidbit in USA Today:

Battle deaths for part-time troops from the Army Guard and the Army Reserve — who typically drill just a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer unless there is a war — are still significantly higher than for part-time troops in past conflicts, Woodham said. Throughout the 12-year Vietnam War, for example, fewer than 100 Guard troops were killed, compared with the 145 who have died in less than two years in Iraq. [Emphasis mine.]

Army Guard and Army Reserve soldiers are assigned some of the most dangerous missions in Iraq, including convoy duty and guarding facilities. And Guard and Reserve soldiers are being counted on heavily to support the U.S.-led occupation.

Part-time troops now make up about 40% of the U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.

Combine this with the National Guard not being able to make its enlistment quotas, and tell me these asshats aren't going to have a fucking draft.

I dunno about you, but I'd feel a lot better about a war being run by, y'know, people familiar with war, rather than a bunch of draft dodgers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

No, I Don't Know What [Scruples] Is, But If You Got 'Em, It's A Sure Bet They Belong To Somebody Else

This whole cock-up with Bernard Kerik has been simply hilarious. In their typical Keystone Kops fashion, spokesmen for the White House can't even agree on how long his nomination was under consideration -- a week? Several weeks? Since June? Similar confusion abounds regarding the employment period of Kerik's possibly nonexistent illegal nanny.

And it gave me hope for America.

Because, through everything -- through the power they are trying to consolidate, through the illegal acts they commit every day -- the Republicans are afraid.

Simply, they are afraid of getting caught.

Stay with me here.

A cult of personality has grown up around Dubya. Large sections of the American population can apparently forgive being misled about everything. That's policy stuff.

But this same buncha folks finds themselves having to defend Dubya's people, all the time. Kerik is only the most recent. Their "moral values" demand that they care about this sort of personal weakness... at least if it's displayed by Democrats.

The cognitive dissonance involved in letting the Right hand win by the same rules by which the Left hand loses cannot go on forever. Something's going to give.

Now, there is a chance that it could end up going completely sour -- violence against the offensive Left. But if Dubya's own people keep screwing up, over and over, eventually, some of Dubya's supporters are going to get mad at Dubya's people.

And, perhaps, at long last, at Dubya.

I do not believe the American people to be stupid. But I do think they are slow on the uptake sometimes. And, eventually, getting lied to enough times is gonna have them going, "... Hey."

And that is what BushCo fears: a populace up in arms because of what Dubya and his thugs are doing to the country. Because of their hypocrisy. Because of their willingness to flout national and international law, the international community, basic principles of science and accounting, and the will of the people...

... and then act guilty about it.

They lie about things. (Saddam Was A Threat.) They phrase them confusingly, so people think they're saying one thing when they mean another. (The Clear Skies Initiative.) They backpedal furiously. (We Vetted Kerik For A Month -- No, A Week -- Look, Being President Is Hard Work.) And they act as if they know they are wrong, and they know America would take them to task for being wrong. Not because they might have a change of heart -- oh, no, that would involve them giving up what they feel is their due. But they don't want to be humiliated. Nor have to pay any kind of penalty for their transgression.

The irony, of course, is that I believe part of the reason Dubya is so far invulnerable to any backlash from this constant barrage of evil is that he convincingly portrays himself as a man who truly believes he is doing the right thing. He's not acting guilty -- at least, not so much as his sidekicks do. But Kerik acted guilty. Rumsfeld, when questioned last week by soldiers in Kuwait, acted guilty. Condi Rice is a serial blinker and head-shaker when she speaks -- her body language screams "liar". W
hite House Press Secretary Scott McClellan couldn't answer a single question if he couldn't repeat his "answer" for the previous question, whatever that day's catch-phrase happens to be. They don't even let Karl Rove on TV, except to gloat.

And they know that, when the American People finally realize that someone, or a pack of someones, have been knowingly mucking them over, one of our oldest traditions kicks in.

Frontier justice.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Stop That, STOP THAT! You're Not Going Into A Song While I'm Here

Time to get into the holiday spirit.

The NeoChristmas Song

Shut Up, Pat (Kwanzaa Kwanzaa Kwanzaa)

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Fellas, Last Year I Made Three Million Dollars, But Your Fifty Thousand Was The Most Fun

I have here an absolutely perfect example of how fucking stupid people are, and how even -- perhaps especially -- those who claim to be on your side can work against you.

You can, for only $8.95, purchase the FOXBlocker, which will filter Fox News from your cable system. Also, the company that markets it, Mokipoke Enterprises, LLC in Tulsa, OK, "will send an e-mail in your name to the TOP 10 advertisers at FOX News letting them know that yet another subscriber has opted out of FOX News. With a little luck and a lot of volume, we can shut the FOX up!"

Good and noble idea. Except...

Can't you just not watch Fox?

Can't you already program your remote to screen out certain channels?

Can't you just send the e-mails yourself, rather than let some company send (or say they'll send) form letters with your name and who knows how much personal information on them? (An excellent resource, with links to all of Fox's advertisers, is AlterNet's FightFox page.)

Can't all this be done for free?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Libertine Men And Scarlet Women -- And RAGTIME!

I don't usually hit Andrew Sullivan's blog, but he had a doozy today, from the transcript of Wednesday's Scarborough Country on MSNBC:

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST: Could Academy Award judges really choose Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” over Mel Gibson‘s biblical masterpiece, “The Passion of the Christ”? We‘ll soon find out. And if they do, will there be a red state revolt against Hollywood?


Joining me now, radio talk show host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the director of the Liberty Film Festival, Govindini Murty, the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donahue....


RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, “FACE YOUR FEAR”: Well, firstly, let me just say that I hope that Michael Moore actually wins so we can finally confirm what Hollywood is. Hollywood has become an America-hating bastion that always portrays people in uniform in some sinister role. It‘s always the CIA killing President Kennedy.

And so when I see Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” and he portrays our soldiers as a bunch of cutthroats who play Metallica while killing Iraqi civilians, let‘s confirm what Hollywood is by giving him this Oscar.

But I‘ve got to tell you, Pat, the fact that Christians around the country be offended if Mel Gibson‘s “The Passion” doesn‘t win best Oscar is shocking to me. First of all, “The Passion of the Christ” was an domination for Christianity. It really should win the World Wrestling Federation Oscar for best movie. It‘s a guy for two hours being kicked, beaten, his blood gushing everywhere. It‘s just a diabolical, criminal, violent mess.


BOTEACH: It really is like Mohammed al-Zarqawi‘s movies on the Internet where a guy gets his head chopped off. It‘s gory. It‘s ugly and it‘s not inspiring.

BUCHANAN: Well, since about tens of millions of Americans saw it, loved it, appreciated it, and honored it, that tells us, Rabbi, I think, what you think of the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Americans.

Bill Donahue, what do you think about “The Passion of the Christ”? And as a practical matter, even if Hollywood hated the film, it seems to me as an artistic work of art, a smashing triumph, a film of great controversy and interest, it ought to at least be nominated for best picture. It pulled in more money than any other picture all year.

WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: I spoke to Mel a couple of weeks ago about this. And I don‘t think it really matters a whole lot to him. It certainly doesn‘t matter to me. We‘ve already won.

Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That‘s why they hate this movie. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.

Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.

You have got secular Jews. You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group, and these people are in the margins. Frankly, Michael Moore represents a cult movie. Mel Gibson represents the mainstream of America.

This is what organized religion does to your head. This is what dogma does to your perspective. And this is what being a shitheaded asshole does to your discourse.

Point by point:

Why, yes, Mr. Buchanan, they really can vote for Fahrenheit 9/11, if they think it's a better movie. I'm surprised you even ask the question, seeing as how you and so many other pundits accuse them of being against religion and goodness and right and daisies and puppies 'n' stuff.

Will there be a "red state revolt" against Hollywood. Absolutely. Until the following weekend, when the new action thriller, lewd slapstick comedy, or vaguely erotic horror movie opens. Contrary to what you think, the 18-to-49-year-old-set -- the ones with the money -- aren't gonna give up their gratifications to go Godly.

What message will Hollywood send to America over the Oscars? How about the same one they do every year -- "this is what we think is the best in movies this year, you may not agree, in fact you may disagree profoundly"? I think The Incredibles should be nominated for Best Picture. I'm still galled over A Beautiful Mind beating The Fellowship Of The Ring. Suck it up, Pat.

Rabbi Boteach says "Hollywood has become an America-hating bastion", which, as we all know, is reflected in the many pro-Islamic-terrorist films coming out over the past several years.

American film making is so fucking conservative that Walt Disney Pictures has been effectively making the same movie since 1983. It's okay to be different, friendship and family, blah blah blah.

Oh, and, and this may be nit-picking but, the CIA hardly ever wears uniforms. They wear suits. That's how we know the government bad guys in most cases, see. The exception was Men In Black.

Moore didn't "portray" our soldiers as a bunch of cutthroats who play Metallica while killing Iraqi civilians, he had footage of real American soldiers and showed what they really did. The point of military training is to make people psychologically ready to kill other people, and one of the techniques is to dehumanize the enemy, so that it's easier to kill them while, for instance, playing Metallica.

But then Boteach goes off-script, or at least generates "controversy", by pointing out that The Passion Of The Christ is a grotesque movie about some guy being flayed and then crucified.

And then Buchanan says, "Well, since about tens of millions of Americans saw it, loved it, appreciated it, and honored it, that tells us, Rabbi, I think, what you think of the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Americans."

Maybe it does, Pat. Maybe the Rabbi is trying to say that some people don't want to watch two hours of a man's skin being stripped off, seeing the blood, hearing the cries of pain. And maybe you're saying that the truly devout really want that, perhaps even become more faithful by their seeing the torment of their Savior, by empathizing with His pain.

Except, of course, what they're seeing is a lot of fake blood and special effects make-up. What they're hearing is acting. What they're "empathizing" with is their own belief of how awful it must feel, because I guaran-damn-tee you that if any one of the people in that audience got even one good crack with a cat-o'nine-tails, they'd be shrieking and begging their assailant to stop.

But, instead, they watch it, for nearly two hours.

And I do believe it's your side of the aisle that puts such stock in an audience becoming desensitized to violence by seeing it over and over.

And maybe the Rabbi is, in fact, pointing out that tens of millions of people in this country are voyeurs of violence.

Buchanan refers to the film as "an artistic work of art", which is, as Harlan Ellison pointed out, like saying "a solar star" or "a house home". As it is, I think that if the film had been made by anyone besides a die-hard Republican, Buchanan would've freaked, along the lines of "How can you reduce the passion of Christianity to two hours of whipping?" I may be wrong in that, but it sure seems likely, given Buchanan's track record.

And then we get to Bill Donahue.

First thing I recommend that he change his fucking meds.


Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.
I'm still wrapping my head around the concept of a secular Jew. (Although the first commenter below adds some perspective on that.)

I haven't checked out studio ownership lately, nor have I examined the average religious leanings of producers and directors. But the only evidence that I see of Hollywood hating Christianity is they green-lit Surviving Christmas and Christmas with the Kranks.

Oh, excuse me, do you mean that religion isn't permeating every frame of every movie? Well, hell, maybe we should just go back to the days of the Puritans, where you had to work all the time because otherwise you'd think about something besides God. Oh, wait, that's what you seem to want.

Hollywood likes anal sex.
I stared at that quote for a long time. The only thing I can think of to say about it is, now we know how the mind of at least one major Catholic leader works.

They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.
Ummm, I've got public nativity scenes all over my part of the world already, including a couple big honkers in public parks. Certainly in front of churches. The problem has always been having them in front of public government buildings, where it looks as if the government is endorsing one religion over others.

I like families. I like children. They like abortions.
Nobody likes abortions. I mean, many women want to have abortions for whatever reason, and medical practitioners recommend abortions in certain cases. But I really don't think any woman is sitting out there going, "Hmmm. Slow weekend. What to do? Shopping? Extra time on my new project at work? Down time watching a movie...? Naaaah. Think I'll get knocked up and have an abortion. That's always fun." And I really don't think any doctor is rubbing his or her hands together in glee, muttering in a Peter Lorre voice, "Please, let me do it... please...."

There are several other money lines by Mr. Donahue, but it's all of a piece, and it comes down to a man who is so caught up in his world-view that the idea of anyone not thinking as he does is dismissed as "libertinism", a word which hasn't been used much since we got them new-fangled ee-lectric lights.

But the Big Winner is this:

Michael Moore represents a cult movie. Mel Gibson represents the mainstream of America.
Michael Moore made a movie that showed how, with the help of a bought-and-paid-for media, an unelected government lied us into a war and is killing innocent people everyday. Mel Gibson made a movie about a man being whipped for two hours and then nailed up until he died.

If Mel does represent the mainstream of America, something is very wrong indeed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

You Can't Handle The Truth

By way of Atrios, this story at CBS News includes the scariest quote I have read in a long time:
Beginning next year, the F.E.C. will institute new rules on the restricted uses of the Internet as it relates to political speech.
Will somebody please explain to me how it is that these fucktards can even consider themselves Americans!?

I Have A Plan. Tink? Come On! You Gotta Come!

Howard Dean gave a speech today. It says damn near everything. Here are some of my favorite parts:

Four years ago, the President won 49 percent of the vote. The Republican Party treated it like it was a mandate, and we let them get away with it.

Fifty one percent is not a mandate either. And this time we're not going to let them get away with it.

Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and, most importantly, to win.

To win the White House and a majority in Congress, yes. But also to do the real work that will make these victories possible -- to put Democratic ideas and Democratic candidates in every office -- whether it be Secretary of State, supervisor of elections, county commissioner or school board member.

Here in Washington, it seems that after every losing election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.

I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn't beat 'em, join them.

I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being "Republican-lite." We've tried it; it doesn't work.

The question is not whether we move left or right. It's not about our direction. What we need to start focusing on... is the destination.


When some people say we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified.

They can't.


What they fear most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe -- the fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood and fought.

I'll give this to Republicans. They know the America they want. They want a government so small that, in the words of one prominent Republican, it can be drowned in a bathtub.

They want a government that runs big deficits, but is small enough to fit into your bedroom. They want a government that is of, by, and for their special interest friends.

They want a government that preaches compassion but practices division.

They want wealth rewarded over work.

And they are willing to use any means to get there.


There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

It's the Democratic Party.


The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.

If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.

One exuberant moment, yelling like a cheerleader to his disspirited supporters, was blown out of proportion... and the man who said this today was judged unfit to lead.

By the fucking punditry who wanted no one from his side to win anyway.

We will win. We will save the country and the world from those within who would destroy it for profit and power. It may take years. But we will win, for all the right reasons.

We. Will. Win.

I Just Think It's Better To Have Ideas -- I Mean, You Can Change An Idea; Changing A Belief Is Trickier

Warning: Some of the links here will offend everybody on my side of the aisle. But they give a glimmer of what the opposition is saying and thinking.


Well, it's a rotten day for lovers of epic fantasy, and a great day for the twitchy protectors of an all-too-vulnerable God:

The director and screenwriter of the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is to remove references to God and the church in the movie.

Chris Weitz, director of About a Boy, said the changes were being made after film studio New Line expressed concern.

The books tell of a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God.

"They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity," Weitz told a His Dark Materials fans' website.

Pullman's trilogy has been attacked by some Christian teachers and by the Catholic press as blasphemy.


The award-winning trilogy - Northern Lights [U.S. title The Golden Compass], The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - tell the story of Oxford school child Lyra Belacqua.

She is drawn into an epic struggle against the Church, which has been carrying out experiments on children in an attempt to remove original sin.
So, basically, what this does is it negates most of the plotlines and characters of the books.

It's not just that I love this series, and was afraid that whoever did it would try another Peter Jackson and end up with a Wachowski Bros. It's that they are stripping -- hell, shredding -- the story and the characters to avoid offending the minions of God.

To which I say: Minions, shut the fuck up.

You do seem to have an awfully weak and flimsy god, don't you?

I mean, really. This guy's in danger from everything. Same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose to not get pregnant, public education, evolutionary theory, exposed breasts and towel-dropping on television, activist judges (except the ones who want big stone tablets on the lawn)... now some fantasy books. (Well, not "now" some fantasy books. you didn't like The Lord Of The Rings because you thought it was religious, especially The SIlmarillion. You didn't like the Harry Potter series because it said magic existed -- or, more likely, that it was very popular and said magic existed. [Don't look into HP slash -- trust me on this.])

Perhaps you're bothered that some of the characters in these particular fantasy books are being used in a different manner than the Official Version. Why, then, that makes this a copyright battle -- or, it would, if those characters' names and likenesses weren't in the Public Domain.

Y'know what this comes back to for me? Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan. Wilde said, "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Behan said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." See, I never understood "taking the Lord's name in vain", e.g., saying "Jesus" or "God damn it" in a time of excitement or stress. I didn't consciously think of it as proof I was indoctrinated, or even that I thought I was taking the Lord's name rather successfully; but it did dimly register that God couldn't just spend all day damning things on my say-so.

Least of all me. Or I'd have been zotted to Hell decades ago.

I went to two churches when I was a kid, one Lutheran, one Methodist. (My lame joke about it is that now I worship ways to kill Superman.) I was disenchanted with religion at the age of nine, when I tried to get my Sunday School teacher to help me make sense of all those dinosaurs that weren't mentioned in the Bible. The only thing I found out was that Sunday School teachers aren't equipped to handle little kids who know about carbon-14 dating. (Not coincidentally, neither were the keepers of the Shroud of Turin.)

I haven't completely ruled out the existence of God. I still cling to that little agnostic whiff that says "If God or something close enough to God showed up on my doorstep, I'd likely believe".

But there sure hasn't been much proof, has there?

We've had a lot of crazies -- and I definitely count Falwell and Robetson in that bunch. It is because of their proseletyzing, their peddling the mental wares of some three-thousand-year-old goat herders, that an online casino paid $28,000 on eBay for a ten-year-old cheese sandwich that some said had the image of the Virgin Mary on it. (This week, you can bid on a tortilla.) Not that the casino owners believe, I bet. They say they're going to take the cheese sandwich on tour, because "We believe that everyone should be able to see it and learn of its mystical powers for themselves". Eeyup, for all your healing-by-moldy-cheese-sandwich needs, go to

Just last week, some archaeologist announced that a cave with some pictures of a guy in a camel hair robe (and how do you tell the texture of fabric depicted in a cave painting?) was indeed the cave of John the Baptist. He is taken with the utmost seriousness by everyone except... other archaeologists, who say he's reaching too far in his conclusions. (Interestingly, those archaeologists were mentioned, but not quoted or given a specific reference. Stay tuned.)

Just today comes the report that church leaders are outraged by a nativity scene using wax figures resembling David Beckham, his wife Victoria (Posh Spice), and several other famous likenesses (including George W. Bush as one of the Wise Men, wtf).

Oh, and there's that little problem with keeping your God damned trousers zipped.

Look, if Christians or anybody else want to worship a Big Invisible Superhero in the Sky, that's fine for them. Go for it. It's when their worship starts affecting my life and the lives of my friends, or when it starts hurting people -- especially kids -- that I get all pissy. And disemboweling a superb series of stories for the sake of protecting the ego and image of your all-powerful god... suggests that, maybe, even you don't think he's that all-powerful.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Now, THINK, Men -- THINK

The crack intellect -- as in, "intellect apparently damaged by crack" -- of BushCo:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a speech Friday announcing his coming departure from the Bush Cabinet that he worries "every single night" about a possible terror attack on the food supply.

Despite dramatic increases in inspections of food imports, only "a very minute amount" of food is tested at ports and airports, Thompson said.

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Thompson said. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."

Asked to respond to Thompson's comments, Bush neither criticized them nor implied that the food supply is safer than Thompson asserted.

Hmmm. Let me think. You were, lessee, what's that title again -- a Cabinet member!? What the fuck did you do for three and a half years, play The Sims in an attempt to understand what life as a human might be like?

So you have this dread fear that you, personally, can conceivably do something about. You fret about it. You toss and turn, moaning under your sweaty sheets. And then you high-tail it out of town... but not before detailing to the international press (where, presumably, terrorists can read about it) what you perceive as a major vulnerability in our frickin' food supply.

Bright lad.

And then President Chimpy McWhistleAss says nothing. Doesn't criticize you, doesn't agree with you, doesn't disagree with you. I can only assume he was re-reading The Pet Goat, going for comprehension this time rather than speed.

Let's be very, very clear about this. A resigning Cabinet Secretary admits that he is terrified of an attack to an area that he's done nothing to secure. The President, by not forcefully denying it or pointing out that it might not be Thompson's province or saying "Tommy's had the vapours lately, pay him no mind" or doing anything... is effectively confirming that we've got this big-ass chink in our armor.

Do any of these people think through
anything they say or do? Do they really think "cause and effect" doesn't work anymore because they're in power? Jayzus, I've seen better political and security strategy from twelve-year-old D&D players. Much better, come to think of it.

Politicians, especially Repubs, are fond of justifying their actions by saying "9/11 changed everything". Well, that's turned out not quite to be the case. But one thing certainly did change after 9/11.

American "leadership" got fuckin' stupid.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Let Me Put It This Way. Have You Ever Heard Of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates? Morons.

Bush is keeping Rummy.

If ever you had a textbook example of A Man Wrong For The Job -- and BushCo is rife with them -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is it. Wrong on tactics, wrong on strategy, wrong on budget needs, wrong on troop strength, wrong on post-war circumstances, wrong on every fuckin' thing. And it's not just that he's wrong; he's arrogantly wrong.

The money quote, of course, the one that sums up everything about Rummy, BushCo, and this whole misbegotten mess we're in, is:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.
God help us.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

These Things Have Turned You Into Something You're Not. Don't Listen To Them

As usual, Molly Ivins nails it.

I abhor violence -- but, more than that, I hate suffering. And deliberately inflicting suffering is one of the surest signs of evil I can think of.

It has been our government's policy for almost three years.


Why don't politicians and clergy and newscasters and pundits and teachers and principals and moms and dads get crazy about our government routinely torturing people?

Quite apart from the treaty violations it encourages, there are two huge moral values reasons why Gonzalez's memo justifying torture is incredibly wrong. The first is that, by torturing captives, it makes it much, much easier for our opponents and enemies to torture our troops -- and civilians -- when they are held captive.

The second is that it is Just Plain Wrong. Torture has no place in human society.

But our government does it. As a matter of routine.

This must stop.

Love To Prove That, Wouldn't You? Get Your Name Into The National Geographic.


In reference to this post, I e-mailed Eric Blumrich, asking for his sources. Here is the entire response:

Photos are by a number of people, but Takashi Morizumi is the primary
photographer of such cases.

Have at it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I Am Spartacus!

It's World AIDS Day.

Mathematics Is The Only True Language, Senator

This diary at The Daily Kos has a pretty comprehensive rundown of everything we seem to know about the recent presidential election and possible fraud.

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