Saturday, March 30, 2013

Perhaps the horse might talk.

A court Jester is said to have made a bet with his king that he could make a horse talk within some length of time. When asked why he would be so reckless as to bet on an impossible thing, he replied:  before the time is up, I might die, the king might die and perhaps the horse might talk.  So it seems to be with the anti-abortion crowd and its attempts to overturn a Supreme Court ruling based on constitutional presumptions.

Easter, which has been around far, far longer than Christianity, is the spring holiday when Western traditions celebrate the Moon and fertility goddess Oestra, from whom the name Easter derives.  She was often depicted with rabbit ears like the Playboy bunnies and for the same reason. Easter, like so much of what Christianity has turned into in this third millennium, is all about sex and procreation.

Funny perhaps that they've picked the season to make another attempt to forbid women to terminate pregnancies; usually for any reason. Arkansas and North Dakota passed laws this month forbidding any abortion after sensitive (and vaginally intrusive) instruments could detect a foetal heartbeat.     Other states seem to be considering this end-run around Roe Vs. Wade.  Of course that landmark decision says that states cannot ban abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb, but this doomed sort of legislative Hail Mary pass is usually done in the same spirit one buys lottery tickets.  The odds are ridiculous, but you never know. 

It also helps keep the pseudo-religious congressmen visible and thus more likely to get those Bible thumping votes.  Too bad there's really no biblical support for the fuss about personhood for something that doesn't breathe, but when did popular theology require anything resembling logical or factual or even Biblical consistency?  We're dealing with passionate groups who worry that the universe will grow dark or that some God-O-Love will not only kill us, but consign us mercilessly to eternal torture should we prevent an ovum from implanting itself in some uterine wall.

Of course having a few pulsating cells in a proto-heart doesn't meet the test of viability as stipulated by the high court, but as I said, it's not about logic, it's about conviction and it's about harassing the courts and being seen to be harassing the courts and to be in support of the Theocratic insurgents who have no interest whatever in popular sovereignty or any real concept of Democracy.

The Court has repeatedly deemed laws of this sort to be unconstitutional but to a group that not coincidentally asserts that the real constitution is the Christian Bible, there's no obstacle here if we can only get rid of the heretics, atheists and other spawn of Satan. Therein lies the real danger to our future. The Christian Bible fails to denounce and even supports slavery and the subjugation of women along with the notion that political power derives from people who can get away with declaring that God appointed them.

This attack will probably fail but like a Zombie Apocalypse, the attackers keep coming at you even if they're chopped in pieces. With endless and implacable onslaughts, who can tell?  With enough time, who can tell?  Perhaps the horse might talk.

 Far more than an attack on the personal sovereignty, the ownership of  one's body and its functions that seem to underlie the self-evident assumptions of our nation, this religious war, the Crusade against reproductive rights and control of one's body and destiny is a denial of the stated fundamentals of our nation, a struggle against Democracy.  Perhaps it's time to spend less time on the hysterical distractions and diversions in the headlines and take notice.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Survival of the fittest

It's a sad story, a terrible story. It's not all that unique, but to me our reaction to it is important to note.

Imagine.  You're asleep at home in your bedroom late at night.  All of a sudden there's a noise. Someone is coming into your bedroom. You smell alcohol, your adrenaline is pumping. You think of your wife, your family, asleep.  What do you do?  You actions will determine not only the rest of your life, but how we as liberals and conservatives see you.

It happened to Donald West Wilder II of  Sterling, VA, described as “a great neighbor, a helper, someone who spends spare time volunteering to help others.”   I have no reason to believe he wasn't.  He did however have a gun by the bedside and he used it.

Had he grabbed a meat cleaver, a golf club or a candlestick he might have killed the intruder -- he might not have, since it's not easy to engage some assailant in hand-to-hand combat, half awake, in the dark. Fractions of a second determine the outcome. A chuck Norris type, a Bruce Lee, might have been able to overpower an intruder -- in a movie --   But he didn't, he used his gun, he killed a high school student who was so drunk he didn't know where he was.

It's a tragedy, as it is when someone's pit bull kills someone's kid, when the some other drunk driving teenager kills someone's kid, wife, mother.  It's also a tragedy when someone is killed in his bed and that happens, all the time.

I'm not going to debate the wisdom of keeping loaded firearms around,  or rattle about how one should really take time and think when someone crashes through your window, or about dialing 911 in fatuous confidence that it will save your life or your family's.  I don't keep a gun at my bedside.  It's not likely ever to be useful, but Wilder did and if the intruder was who he had every right and expectation to believe he was it would likely have meant that he could go on living. The right to life isn't conditional.

But that's not my thesis. What I see as another tragedy is that we, as Liberals are so often; too often just as small minded, self-righteous and crippled by smug, unquestioned, indefensible  dogma that we're not worth listening to.

It's the reader comments that are tragic:

  • He should have taken time to see if he could recognize the kid first.  In the dark. Ridiculous.
  • If baffles me that people are stupid enough to think that the answer is "more guns." Non sequitur
  • Twas ever thus with the "stand your ground" crowd. Thinking isn't part of their m.o. ad hominem

Yes, of course, you're 86 and in a wheelchair -- you should run away while someone rapes your wife or sets your house on fire or just moves the hell in and takes over.  It's not your ground to stand. Rapists and murderer's rights prevail and if you're not big and strong and young, just suck it up and die because you might hurt someone.

The endless ad hominem continues with fantasies about how any gun owner longs to kill someone and endless irrelevant ramblings about the NRA, the murderous bastard gun - nuts, crooked cops, Obama and the alleged enormity of telling people that they have the right to defend their lives, their families and homes rather than depending on tinkerbell and 911.

Stories that include guns are everyone's favorite grindstone and they attract more drunks, idiots and psychos than Wal-Mart at midnight. None of these people have any idea what's wrong, what needs to be done, what can or can't help. None of them give a shit about truth or even have the ability to think clearly beyond their various catechisms and credos and prejudices and phobias.  Yet when we try to talk sanely about what regulations should cover firearms, about what can and should be done, this is what we get: rabid, raving, hate filled idiots calling themselves liberals.

Look, odds are that someone crashing through your bedroom window at 2 AM means you harm. The assertion that you have a right to fight back in defense of your home and your life is part of common law and probably of every legal code since Hammurabi lost his shoe.  Kids shouldn't be out all night drinking themselves into a stupor and the parents who allowed it should feel as guilty as the man who did what he had to do. 


I've been waiting a long time for Fox to sic their gibbering, barking, slobbering and leg humping dogs on Easter and they finally have.  Yep, there's a war on Easter although it's hard to tell who the combatants are and even what Fox New's position is.  Seems some school in Alabama, speaking (according to Foxlogic of course) for all schools in all of the United States, cancelled all Easter and other Christian themed events because they thought it inappropriate. It is.  One classroom could represent as many as six religions.

Consideration for others and respect for the right to teach one's own children one's own religious traditions. That's the sort of things Fox and Fiends like to call "politically correct" since to attack what might otherwise be called tolerance or good will or common decency requires a meaningless epithet that can mean anything you need it to mean. PC.

All this means of course, that someone, somewhere is waging war on Easter even though there's no evidence anywhere that the celebration of the holiday is being suppressed.  It isn't; neither the mythology of  death and resurrection nor the syncretion  of  Jesus with the European fertility Goddess for whom the holiday is named. It's long been a Goddess holiday and students of semitic languages will notice that the Ish in Ishtar, for instance sounds like the Isha -- the woman created for the Ish, Adam.

Yes, one principal in one school in Alabama doth a war make because he decided that his school is not a Sunday School, but a secular school, supported by taxes, whose business is not to give parties, either with eggs and bunnies or ridiculous stories about resurrected first century Jewish revolutionaries as recounted by people who weren't there.

Of course having no factual knowledge or rational basis for argument, having no interest in educating or informing the public, the Fox Coven launched this morning into a typically fatuous farrago of fallacy and peremptorily non-sequitur assertions such as Gretchen the Witch's:
 “Have we just gotten so deep into this political correctness that we now just can’t take the religion as it is, celebrate it and move on?”
 Pardon me?  Are we so stupid that we didn't notice you haven't made a case at all - neither logical or mystical or truthful?  You've just snickered and sneered and flung dung and declared war. Decency is PC so let's do what we will?

The real question of the propriety of making kids perform rituals, ridiculous or otherwise, was not addressed, not discussed, not acknowledged, as the 'discussion' devolved into a bouillabaisse of bullshit.  Easter celebrations can't be offensive because bunnies aren't in the Bible?  Are you the same morons who want to get rid of Halloween because it's pagan?  What's next, they cackle -- can't we say Nor'easter?  Can we still teach about Easter Island in Geography? It's a pagan holiday anyway, or maybe it isn't and why can't we just gyre and gimble in the wabe with The Christrabbit and eat Mithras buns with the Mome raths
?  Right or wrong, we're right because it's just so much fun to mock -- anyone can do it!  Brillig, man, just brillig.

Rompin' Stompin' Jesus

What's in a name?  Apparently that question requires more than most people really are willing or able to apply and when the name has religious significance, those who have the cranial horsepower will usually use it to run like hell. That leaves people like me to comment.

Florida Atlantic University finds itself in hot water on this cold Wednesday morning in South Florida.  Seems there was a classroom exercise in which students were asked to write the name Jesus on a piece of paper and "stomp" on it.  From media sources, it's still unclear what the context was and I can only recall reading about a similar practice in Japan a few hundred years ago where suspected heretics (Christians) were required to pledge their allegiances to traditional values by stepping on a picture of Jesus.  Refuse and you were beheaded.  But anyway, Full time gardener and part time student Ryan Rotelas, who identifies himself as a Mormon still has his head attached, even though he claims he was asked to leave the classroom for making a fuss about it, but he sure is mad and always quick to defend the real and proper faith, Florida Governor Rick Scott is demanding an investigation and an apology from the Boca Raton, Florida University.  I've been demanding that he apologize for ripping off Medicare for a few billion bucks and ask God for forgiveness for quite a while now, but that's a trifle compared with stepping on sacred and holy notebook paper.  I mean that piece of wood pulp is GOD!  Transubstantiation and all that.

But what a horrible offense, to ask college level students to explore religious intolerance particularly when it concerns Christian ideas of what is sacred - like pieces of paper with grossly mistranslated and mispronounced Hebrew names. Helped by Yahweh. After all we're talking about Joshua,  Moses' successor here. 

The school of course promises never to desecrate such a common South American name again.  I don't recall Scotty having said much about the Koran-Burning Christian church in Florida, by the way, but of course that would require him to stomp on Jesus again, at least figuratively.

Too bad someone like Rick didn't get all Ezekiel on a college professor of mine who wrote books about how the Nazis didn't really have death camps or intervene when as a child I had to learn songs about Jesus in elementary school, but that was years ago and we've progressed. It's good to know that Christians, at least have not only God, but Rick Scott on their sides.

Worm Moon

Worm moon.
Yachts all straining at mooring lines.
Sea swollen with the spring tide.
Cold night moon.
Sharp stars.
Frog voices quiet in the dried ponds
and worms,
such as are left by the moles from underneath
and armadillos from above
have no voices.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Those little town blues

Small town newspapers.  When I first moved here over 11 years ago, Little Boots was in the white house and although the fear machine was running on afterburner and everyone was in the process of never forgetting and sending money to Taiwan manufacturers of plastic automobile flag holders, you still had headlines declaring that some local fisherman had caught a record Snook or irate letters about litter in the park.  Now it's outrage.  Every day. Even the fish are angry.

Printed opprobrium grew over the Bush years, at least those quasi-literate, misspelled, cliche-ridden  letters to the editor written in impotent rage at Mexican farm workers, people on food stamps, Liberals, immigrants, ethnic minorities, liberals, Muslims, atheists, Jews, Democrats -- did I mention Liberals?  Yes, sure, I and a few others sometimes wrote ( brilliantly, I must admit) alternate opinons, much to the further wrath of the toothless unwashed, but it's a small town as I said, and word gets around and  I really don't want to carry a gun in my bathing suit or they may think I'm happy to see them.   Discretion, valor and all that.

Of course it's hardly new.  I remember, back in the mid 60's, living in long hair and sandals in the tiny, rural, University town of Hamilton New York.  I remember when the school had an open symposium on Communism, and the good, go-to-church and keep-Christ-in-Christmas locals flooded the opinion page with demands to bomb the bastards back to the stone age - now.  Small town newspapers.  I wish I could believe that they didn't represent America, that they weren't just some boil on the ass of an otherwise great nation.

Take the Lincoln Journal, of Lincoln County, West Virginia.  Seems public sentiment supported the termination of a teacher for fear she would "turn her students gay."  Faced with a reader's  voice mail (I used reader loosely here)  asserting that

 “We were really glad to hear that School Board is getting rid of them queers, The next thing is we need to get rid of all the niggers, the spics, the kikes and the wops.”

they decided to print it.  I don't fault them. Such people should be heard so we know what we're dealing with -- and where they are.  Now my local paper would probably not have, and it doesn't have a voice-mail line for illiterates.  Most of us here after all, come from elsewhere where literacy of a certain minimal level is fairly common, but those sentiments aren't exactly rare with the locals either.

“You know even them Catholics, they are wrong as baby eaters. We need to clear them people out and have good, white, God fearing Christians and everybody else needs to be put to death for their abominations. We’ll keep Lincoln County white and right. Thank you. "

You're welcome. White and Right indeed. I hope you do just that and perhaps building a wall will help the local economy for a while.  In fact I hope everyone like you moves to Lincoln County. It would be nice to have all y'all in one place and  I hope there's room. I'd hate to have to use up more than one of our precious nukes, but as for the stone age -- are you sure you're ready for that big an upgrade?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I have seen the enemy

and he is us.

I wonder if Liberals can claim to be united by mostly by principle, by a shared perspicacity or more by the habit of responding to organized provocation with a conditioned reflex. Certainly the kind of strong legislation designed to regulate behavior we often support and support vehemently isn't liberal in nature. Attempting to regulate what we eat and drink is, for instance, more likely to be supported by Democrats than by Republicans or Conservatives -- and yes, there is a difference. Is the spirit of submission, the tendency to find comfort and a feeling of safety under an umbrella of statutes, regulations, authorities and prohibitions really part of any definition of Liberalism or Liberty, for that matter?

It's not that Republicans are not fond, or even passionate about making certain behaviors disappear by banning, prohibiting and regulating them, but I don't really care about Republicans.  It does no good to argue about full citizenship for fertilized egg cells with people who don't believe in questioning such received certainties and in the long term, being firmly and inexorably on the wrong side of history means we only have to wait them out. Besides, they don't listen to me, so why should I bother telling you who are at least reading this, why the hijacked hulk of the GOP is headed for the rocks. I just want to warn us of the same shoals ahead.

Yes, I think Liberals can be just as intransigent and their positions as unassailable by fact or logic, herded together and immovable like cows in a stream.  Are we really the answer or are we just the opposite polarity of the same thing and just as hide-bound and intransigent; just as beholden to political puppeteers as they are?  When we latch onto a proposed 'solution' we can be just as unable to ask if it is indeed a solution, a workable solution, the only solution and if that solution really addresses real situations, or contrived, conjectural scenarios.  Yes, we have a party that really believes that a vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus will make our daughters into whores -- a belief that is independent of data -- and so we laugh at them.  But then some of us nod our heads in agreement at the notion that Americans, or at least New Yorkers are fatter than we think they should be because, and only because vendors are selling very large containers of soft drinks.  Selling what their customers want because they are greedy. Greedy profiteers for wanting not to be put out of business by someone who offers what they want.

It's that simple post hoc ergo propter hoc thing once again and we go after those mean irresponsible business men who should avoid selling what the 'experts' tell us is bad and we slam that old punching bag once again and forget to ask why we should forbid one source of calories and ignore all the others as though they weren't as much or more significant. I've yet to hear anyone propose rationing fried potatoes or cheese or bacon or mom's apple pie.  "Here's the problem and here's the solution" is all we need to hear and by 'we' I mean everyone.  Have we moored the good ship Liberal to a drifting piling, not attached to anything at all?

Sometimes I think it's what we don't ask that defines our political polarity. When we argued for "55 stay alive"  we didn't ask why the death toll was declining faster in Germany. We didn't ask why we were focusing our safety campaign on the very safest portion of American roads. We didn't even stop to notice that the proposed fuel savings weren't materializing because of all the speeding up and slowing down one had to do to get around the little bunches of cars and trucks the speed limit caused and we fooled ourselves into believing that people really were obeying the law and that we weren't making more and more people into cynical scofflaws and spending a fortune doing it. We were so sure that it was cars and cars alone driving up the cost of fuel that we forgot to regulate trucks and gave birth to the SUV.  Did those third brake lights really do a damned thing to reduce collisions? Have we ever asked?  No, the goal was to pass a safety bill and we did. 

I'm not going into the same phenomenon as it applies to our perennial approach to gun violence or drug usage or any of the other issues that not only separate us from them, but separate us from reality.
Ask yourself, does this incident the media is howling about indicate a headlong descent into chaos, or is it random incident someone wants to use to sell an idea?  Are we getting sold hysteria so as not to care whether something is getting better or worse?  Are we out waving signs and chanting for the weakest, most ill conceived solution to a problem that's not as much of a problem as you think?

Does out ability to know about every meteorite, every earthquake, every school bus accident and every epidemic within seconds and hear about it over and over really indicate some apocalypse is coming and we need to do this or that before it's too late?  Or is someone selling something?

Are we Liberals being used as a foil the way Fox used to use their token Liberal Alan Colmes? Are our scapegoats handed to us to distract us or to make us seem silly and ill informed and who created them?  Will our passionately offered solution really work and will we bother to find out if they have worked after we pass them or if they have worked elsewhere or failed?

Or will we do as we have too often done, smile and nod together like Viziers in some Arabian Night and say "we passed a crime bill"  and move smugly on to some other Crusade that needs to be completed  right now, before the bars close?  Wisdom, I think, comes from asking questions and the wise question their every thought. It's not enough to frolic in criticism of them, to feel superior to those loonies and idiots and crooks and liars.  I've seen the enemy, you know, glaring at me from the bathroom mirror. . .

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ALEC and the Beast.

I hope I can be forgiven for bringing this up out of phase with fashion, because it's not about a crime wave that isn't happening or Republican intransigence or the psychotic fugue brigade out to prove Obama is Satan's evil twin.

It's about pigs.  Perhaps it's because I enjoyed a piece of bacon for breakfast and shortly before viewing this video.  It's not that I'm against eating meat.  If farm animals are given a better but shorter life, free of the constant fear and the disease and parasites and hunger that define the lives of wild beasts, I can live with it.  What I can't live with is the brutality quite on a par and sometimes worse than what happened at Sobibor or Auschwitz.

I don't want to eat something that was skinned alive or that lived its entire life unable to move or that died in prolonged screaming agony.  Pigs are intelligent as animals go and yet people who get all moon eyed at kittens and puppies which may be less intelligent and aware, are themselves unaware of piglets being tossed around with pitchforks like dead meat or tossed squealing into machines of slaughter. None of that is necessary.  There are ways to slaughter animals without pain or terror and to raise them without extreme misery.  But no, it's not just about pigs, at least not the four-legged kind. It's about the monsters who own these houses of horror, the factory farms, the slaughter houses that not only scoff at the law, but want to put you in jail if you expose the satanic operations that sicken any but the most depraved and inhuman amongst us.

ALEC, a conservative business advocacy group is attempting to criminalize meat industry employees who might neglect to tell an employer how they feel about the illegal torture and abuse of animals on job applications. I'm talking about laws that mandate jail time for filming illegal activities and fulfilling a legal requirement to report them to authorities. Yes, it's already a jail-time crime in some states to expose the crimes of your employer and ALEC seems to want a country where although the government can capriciously carry on surveillance and seizure over individuals, the privacy of meat packers is sacred no matter how many heinous offenses to decency they commit.

There must be something we can do, short of  taking the family Kalashnikov down to the farm and expressing your opinion ballistically.  There are congressmen, senators and others who may under duress be tempted to ignore the blood soaked contributions of  slaughterhouses and factory farms.  Some of them can read.  Some of them do read -- and you can write, can't you?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shit-kicker conservatives?

If there's anything as loathsome to me as racism, it may be the way that many and perhaps most of us like to use stereotypes to demean a group, arguing ad lapidem or using a stereotype designed merely to unite a disparate group for the purpose of disparagement. It's one of the things Bill Maher does sometimes, that Rush and Hannity and others do all the time. It's a sin few of us are free of.

If he's right in saying that many small groups can, often with the assistance of the fair and balanced media achieve a level of influence that belies their small membership, I'd prefer that he'd do so without the cheap stereotypes. 

"From the NRA to “One Million Moms, powerful conservative lobbies that don’t reflect the values of the American people can somehow dictate what politicians on both sides are willing to stand for." 
Well yes, but so can lobbies in general, that's what they're for -- and so can lobbies that don't "kick shit"  but can and do kick the facts around just a bit. I don't think we can assume for instance, that because the NRA has only four million members  it doesn't reflect something similar to what a great deal more than four million voters believe to an extent -- rightly or wrongly.

I have severe misgivings for instance,  about the facts behind many of the pet straw men of the right and left  and sorry, there's no shit on my boat shoes -- besides, the greater issue is far too non-funny to treat in this way.    There are fewer opportunities for burlesque when describing what may be a larger plurality in America -- the moderates, the centrists, the pragmatic and the analytical.  And so we either ignore them or try to force them into a category we know how to mock, because too often mockery, hyperbole and stereotypes  are all we have.

If there's humor in the street theater we get instead of news, I'd have to bring up the crowds waving angry signs and shouting slogans like "no weapons on airplanes" in response to the TSA's decision to allow golf clubs and tiny knives so small that a diminutive Gerbil could carry an 'arsenal' in one cheek.  One "fact kicker" activist found it worthwhile to wave around a large and lethal  hunting knife for the cameras recently in hope that the sort of liberal Maher characterizes as never having met a regulation they didn't like, would identify one with the other and fail to ask how someone would take command of a jetliner with a putter or lacrosse stick much less a "weapon" hardly big enough to sharpen a pencil.  Are these people a majority or would they all fit into a VW beetle?  They'd like to make you angry enough so that you won't ask.  Does it help to dismiss the right wing faithful as "shit kickers" while we bang on the ban drum about making soft drinks illegal and prosecute parents for photographing their kids in the bathtub?  They don't miss a chance to stereotype us and we make it easy for them.

Will it take some sort of Buddha to remind us that there is a middle path, that Agnew was wrong and extremism is pretty much a vice all the time, that mockery is as much the tool of the bigot and racist and liar and crook as well as of anyone, that cynicism and sarcasm and the throwing of stones are dangerous techniques for those not beyond reproach?  Maybe, maybe not and perhaps that Buddha would risk crucifixion -- it happens.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Extreme is one of the words that defines our time. Extreme sports, for instance -- ordinary sports just aren't enough, but it's not just popular entertainment that needs to be as wild and crazy.  The safer things get, the more we seem to need the excitement of battling danger with passion and with that passion come extreme precautions, and extreme laws -- and extreme stupidity.

Take the danger of child abuse -- it's real, but really, do we need to define the normal and harmless so that it can't be told from the abnormal and harmful?  Of course we do because so much depends, in our totally politicized nation, on hysteria, on showing everyone that we're "proactive" and that any grotesque manifestation of our crusading nature is justifiable "if only one ____ is saved."

It's hard to know what was saved when 7 year old Josh Welch of Baltimore was suspended from school for having chewed his Pop-Tart into something that looked to a teacher like a gun, but it's not unique.  Kids get into trouble for things that seem to someone of my age as if teachers are simply looking for any bizarre excuse to define a nail clipper as a "weapon" or a cough drop is "drugs."  As with so many indefensible things, it's usually defined as "protecting the children."

Again it's hard to know who was protected when an Arizona couple had their children taken from them and their lives arguably ruined for taking bath time pictures of their three toddlers on a towel, hugging each other.  Some Wal-Mart watchdog saw the photos and called the cops. Although a judge eventually determined that the parents weren't thinking about sex when they took the pictures (that's apparently all that's needed) the kids were traumatically  "protected" by being put in foster care and the parents on one of those "sexual offender" lists that essentially render one an outlaw and unable to live near civilization for the rest of their lives. 

So do we wonder that some people think it's not really silly to think that in some ways we have an intrusive government?  Can some be excused for speculating about having lost some essential  freedom because extremism in defense of some thing or another is no vice?  The hell it isn't!  Those who argue that the ends sanctify the means and never mind who gets hurt, can't rightly be called Liberals or Conservatives.  I call them cowards when I'm trying to be gentle and understanding, but I've pretty much run out of those two things these days.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Defending the Faith

I hesitate to write about this, since everyone and his horse will undoubtedly pick up on the latest Republican hilarity.  It's an easy target, but it says so much about what the Republican party has been party to: the degradation of truth, logic, decency and freedom.  Yes, we have another Republican telling us that women probably can't get pregnant from being raped.

Denial, as I've been saying ad nauseam, is the flip side of belief and every belief requires a denial.  Denial of what you know to be true, is hypocrisy and to avoid hypocrisy, too many Republicans will defend what they know to be false and tell themselves it's heroic; tell themselves that lies are not lies if they're useful in defending the faith. Some of what one needs to defend in order to gain party support is immoral, indecent, mean-spirited and nasty too. Much of it is just a series of damned lies, but that's another story.

There's just no truth to the idea that God or biology protect a rape victim from pregnancy but the creed demands that one oppose terminating a pregnancy, whether unwanted or repellant or dangerous, so you -- forgive my technical jargon -- have to make shit up in order to defend the belief and deny the truth, be it incontrovertible truth about evolution, cosmology, geology, economics, law, mathematics or history. In many cases, being a Republican requires that you park not only your brains, but your honesty, your decency in the alley behind the GOP bar next to the dumpster, lest any of the clergy see it.

I won't deny that I take a certain satisfaction in presenting this one small, relatively unimportant demonstration of the mental processes that produce and direct the American Opera Buffo.  I delight in airing their dirty laundry, not because I like the rancid smell of batshit, but because it's time to burn it and bury the ashes.  It has been time forever.  

Thursday, March 07, 2013

TSA backs off on knife control

So you think the TSA has finally come to its senses and smartened up its ban on deadly weapons like nail clippers and pool cues?  Most people, if they bother to think about it, aren't all that terrified that some 12 year old carrying his Little League bat or hockey stick is going to commandeer a 747, nor is the woman with that tiny Swiss Army knife on her keychain.  The TSA has at least recognized that the hijackings of  9/11/01 were facilitated by cabin doors without locks, thanks to the refusal of our  regulatory agencies to force that level of security on private business. Box cutters were secondary.

Your tiny knife with tweezers and nail file isn't really going to allow a terrorist incident or some adolescent to take over an airplane with a plastic hockey stick and so the TSA is going to acknowledge the laughter and relent -- in some cases.  In customary ban-it writing style however, the descriptions of the newly permitted items seem to have been written by people being forced to relent at gunpoint or people from Mars who have never seen and are terrified of sharp objects.

So what can you take on the plane that you couldn't last week?  Cigarette lighters, although you can't smoke,  up to two golf clubs,  ( three would somehow be too dangerous) toy bats or other sports sticks and small pocket knives with blades up to (wait for this) 2.36 inches.  2.37 is too scary to allow and a fixed blade is out for some reason known only to Martians and most mysteriously, if the handle has any curve to it, it's still a terrorist assault weapon and prohibited.  My tiny mustache scissors?  Sorry Osama, you and your beard don't get on the plane.

Box cutters?  Even though the evidence from 9/11 really doesn't support the newspaper story, a 1" box cutter blade, half the length of  Uncle Fogg's Victorinox is just too al Qaeda for the TSA.

You'll suspect that I'm going somewhere with this, but I don't need to, you already guessed that I think people who write and most passionately defend regulatory descriptions  tend to be fond of tin foil haberdashery, or at least that's my opinion -- and I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Suffer the children?

Want to know what ticks me off?  Of course you do -- it's that so many of us who think we're out of the woods because the Republicans lost the last two presidential elections   have resumed the idiotic posturing and bickering, hyperbolizing, fear mongering and in-fighting about our often worn out  liberal issues.  Does anyone really think that right wing extremism has slunk away like the loser in a dog fight?

Is the Democratic party going back to being the ban-it party, the baby-on-board ' can't trust anybody party that can't agree with each other enough to get anything done? Are we back to 'ban-the-bomb' naïveté while real evil marches on? Of course, that's what we do, but guess what bucky, Limbaugh still draws ratings and the Fox is still alive -- or at least undead.

Remember when Obama's little talk about patriotism to schoolchildren was "just like Pol Pot?"  Well when Obama cancelled some White House tours, it was only so that he could "maximize the pain" for children says grimacing Gretchen the witch of Fox News.  "Can we be adults about this?" she asked while meanwhile back at the fortress of evil, a Republican (Texas of course) Rep was proposing that Obama can't play golf again until the Republicans say so. Is Louie Gohmert old enough to remember when Eisenhower was accused of playing golf while the Russkies missle-gapped us?

Meanwhile, while Carlson and the Doocebag are trying to Fox Block Obama, inquiring minds are asking whether the Evil Empire will discuss the effect the sequestration gambit will have on American Children.  That's right, children.  They're such useful tools and they're great for breakfast too.  Just ask the Fox.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Duelling with the dummies.

I've become rather tired of railing on and on about how idiotic and venal one Republican politician and pundit after another are.  After all, if another guy is stupid and  crooked it doesn't mean I'm a genius and free from error, nor those with whom I agree. I'd like to say I stay calm and rational and analytical or I stay quiet.  But sometimes. . . sometimes the things you hear them say just take your breath away like a sudden blast of 25 below Chicago wind and you've just got to say something and call an idiot an idiot.

Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt (R), who would like to tax bicycles (what, you really thought they don't like to tax things?) would like to justify it by telling constituents that bicycles, or at least people who ride them, give off more carbon dioxide than they would driving a car.  OK, so you passed middle school science and I don't have to tell you that even Honest Lance in his prime wasn't sucking in 400 CFM of air and oxidizing several gallons of gasoline an hour moving a couple tons down the road, but Eddy boy here either is grossly uneducated, dumb as a doorknob, a damn liar  -- or all of the above. Am I repeating myself here?  I guess so, I already mentioned that he was a Republican politician.

He doesn't need to be otherwise. He doesn't need to be truthful or make any kind of sense when flatulating to the fold. Republicans will believe anything as long as it's part of the creed or think it will save them or their owners a buck, which is pretty much the same thing.  No, as you might suspect, and like the bulk of the things Republicans rant and rave about, it's not true.

In a way, you and I can smile and act dismissive of such idiotic antics but there's a danger in it. Fighting with idiots can make us lazy and it can make us smug and sometimes we get caught with our pants down and our dunce caps on.  The Nietzsche thing about fighting with monsters applies to arguing with idiots. We still have to be as careful as ever to be sure of our facts, not to sound like idiots ourselves and sometimes when you look into the abyss of stupidity, the abyss looks into you.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Drivin' Miss Mambo

(with a nod to AC/DC)

Ten over, Sunday night, tryin'a get home.
clapped out beater,
all of Broward heading north.
Texas Lexus, Mommyvan,
mountain man in jacked up truck.

Heavy metal Hummer,
BMdubya runya
off the road.
look at me.
She's a fast machine but it don't matter,
you're always in their way.

She shook me all night long.

Runnin side by side and three lanes wide,
doin' 80,
can't pass me
in my beemeraudiSUV
I'm in a Scion, don't even try mon -
look at me.

She shook me all night long.

Only two miles more, before -
and there's the break I'm waiting for,
double clutching down to four.
Road is shaking, Earth is quaking
listen to that intake roar.
And hit it NOW.

Sixty five hundred
Go for broke
Watch my red ass twitch,
you sonovabitch
and watch my tires smoke.

Hundred, 20, 30, 40
Hunderdanfifty, mister swifty,
Can you even see me now?
watch that tach jack and reach
for the Georgia peach
and drop it in my lap,
eight hundred miles away.

She shook me all night long.

Down the ramp and don't let up,
long straight and hard right,
gonna get back home tonight.
Don't brake till you see Jeez
and don't turn in till he says please.

Point 6, point 7, point 8 and NOW. 
And feel that surge.
That screaming urge
HID light
dark Florida night
drivin' Miss Mambo

Oh really?

I parked next to a new Lexus at the bank yesterday and my car being as low slung as it is,  a magnetic sign on its door was right in my face.  I had to think for a while, wondering if the state of American education was really that defective or if the owner simply wished it were.

Now I'm assuming the Lexus driver, an elderly women was referring to Roman Catholicism and not to some abstract universality of taste -- an assumption aided by the iconography -- and if that assumption is correct, she must assume that Jewish followers of Jesus as the Messiah became a universal church based in Rome in the year of Jesus' crucifixion.

I don't want to seem like I'm picking on Catholics, after all a good portion of this fine Southern Community are convinced and would argue a little too heatedly that the entire universe was established in 4004 BC, or at least our infinitesimal mote.

Funny how organizations that use history as a justification, have to tailor it to fit -- with an occasional taking in or letting out of the seams.  Somewhere along the line Constantine and perhaps Athanasius of Alexandria were patched over or removed as you might eliminate a pocket or a buttonhole, but who's going to argue with the old lady Lexus driver.  It's Florida and she's probably armed.