Monday, January 31, 2005

"Free Speech is For Losers. Let's Go To the Mall"

Ok, perhaps it isn't that bad-- just yet. But according to a study conducted by the University of Connecticut, roughly 3 out of four high school students think flag burning is illegal and roughly half think the government can restrict indecent material on the Internet. (I hope that) people reading this site already know that neither of these things is true. Perhaps most disturbing was that 36 percent of these young people, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of their stories.
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of the students did. In addition, 73% of the students either did not know how they felt about the First Amendment or admitted taking it for granted.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

45 simple words. How can you "not know how you feel about them?"

I commented earlier at Arvin Hill that I didn't think we'd have a draft. But now I'm beginning to wonder not only if I was wrong, but if it will prove to be comparatively easy to implement. After all, it would be wrong to object to a draft; that kind of talk only gives aid and comfort to the terrorists. Time to go shopping.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

People ask me why I post irrelevancies, like my weak attempt at humor below. Sometimes I think it's because I simply can't sustain feeling unrelentingly outraged and overwhelmed and saddened by what is happening, both here and over there. And remember, it's happening in our name. As one of the prisoners released from Abu Gharib said, "I couldn't believe Americans could do such things." If only.

from Bernard Chazelle:

'Condoleezza Rice: "I do agree that the tsunami was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the US government, but the heart of the American people, and I think it has paid great dividends for us"

... I could almost hear the Beatitudes from The Gospel According to Dubya: "Blessed are the children whom the sea swallows, for they shall tug at our heartstrings. / Cursed are the children whom our bombs blow up, for they shall roam the dark alleys of our indifference." We've been Iraq's tsunami. But expect no charity drive, no minute of silence, no flag at half-staff: nothing that would allow shame to rear its ugly face.

With Bush's reelection, America now has the president it deserves. And should you find that Lady Liberty, all dolled up with the latest in fashion from Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, looks a bit like a used up hooker, you won't need to ask who hired her pimp: We did.'

the rest is here, "Why the Children in Iraq Make No Sound When They Fall"

via, "The Children of Iraq" Note that this is a photo-essay, and may take some time to load, but it is well worth it.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday Lorna Doone Blogging:

As you may have noticed, a lot of liberal bloggers are awfully fond of posting pictures of their cats. Or at least somebody's cats. I just assume they're posting pictures of their own cats, although I suppose some non-cat owning liberal bloggers might be feeling left out and taking it upon themselves to post pictures of someone else's cats, thus avoiding the litterbox headaches and vet bills, etc. Just what is it about "cat blogging"? Is it supposed to give bloggers mysterious voodoo powers, therebye increasing their hits? Hey, I want mysterious voodoo powers, or at least more hits. Still, I don't have a cat myself, and I don't want to be a sell-out, posting a picture of somebody else's cat, like this:

so I think the ideal solution would be to periodically post pictures of Lorna Doone cookies, since,unlike a cat, I actually have some.

my (select few) regular readers already know about my fondness for Lorna Doone cookies(see here). Maybe I should also reveal Xymphora's real name, because I figure if anybody does a search for

"Xymphora's real name"

they would be directed to this post,and although some of them will be irritated and never come back, still others might explore my delightful archives and decide they want to read H. Zoom esq. and tell their friends, etc. Or I could have a contest, asking readers to guess what Larry's Xymphora's real name is, and the winners would get a free package of Lorna Doone cookies, or a GIF of some Lorna Doone cookies, in case too many readers guess correctly(my budget is modest). What do you think? If you're thinking, "yes, but now every sorry-ass liberal blogger with less than 10,000 hits, like yourself, will post 'xymphora real name' on their blog, and your post on the "subject" will be lost in the mix." A good point. To which I can only answer: I'm pretty sure I'm The First Liberal Blogger to engage in Lorna Doone Blogging, so beware my mysterious voodoo powers...

beware! beware!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Good Friend Has Left Us

from Xymphora:

"The term 'secret ballot' in Iraq means it is a secret who you are voting for! In Kafka's great fictional work 'The Trial', no one will tell Joseph K. what he is accused of. In George Bush's great fictional work 'The Iraqi Election', no one will tell the people of Iraq who they are voting for. It's the ideal election, the election that the Powers That Be would like to see everywhere."

see the rest of the post, here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

are you familiar w Jonathan Schwarz of Tiny Revolution.Com?

he's incredibly funny-- if I could be 1/10th as funny I'd be hilarious.
Schwarz has had a series of posts on the current social security debate which are all great-- for example:

1."Diarrhea" Polled Badly, So Now The President Refers To It As "Freedom"

"It used to be that everyone -- Republicans, Democrats and the press -- used the same word for what Bush wants to do with Social Security. That word was "privatization." And if you privatized Social Security, everyone would end up with a "private account."

...Today Luntz explained that because the president has changed terminology, the media must change too. If they don't -- if they continue using "privatization" or "private accounts" -- they are showing a disgusting left wing bias.

I agree. The press MUST call everything on earth exactly what the president chooses to call it. So if "private accounts" start to poll badly too and the president switches again, then the press must also immediately switch."

2.If It's All The Same To You, I Prefer My Consciousness Un-Seared


3.Frank Luntz's Descent Into Madness Continues

from 2004:
he explains the name of the blog on april 23rd

(the archives are by the month so you'll have to scroll down a bit. I really like the Orwell quotes. The links are as per Schwarz):

"It's a reference to something George Orwell wrote in a 1945 essay called "Funny but not Vulgar":

'A thing is funny when — in some way that is not actually offensive or frightening — it upsets the established order. Every joke is a tiny revolution.'

If you're interested in the intersection of comedy and politics, you should read the whole thing; it's still very relevant.
Here's another excerpt:

'It would seem that you cannot be funny without being vulgar, that is, vulgar by the standards of the people at whom English humorous writing in our own day seems mostly to be aimed. For it is not only sex that is "vulgar." So are death, childbirth and poverty... and respect for the intellect and strong political feeling, if not actually vulgar, are looked upon as being in doubtful taste. You cannot be really funny if your main aim is to flatter the comfortable classes: it means leaving out too much. To be funny, indeed, you have got to be serious.' "

(but if you fail to keep scrolling down to april 22nd you'll miss his plan for world peace.)

other hits include his review of Heart of Darkness(?!), here.

Schwarz is one of several people I mean to add to the blogroll, including Under the Same Sun, Arvin Hill, Xymphora, Th' Moderate Voice, Mykeru, Conceptual Guerilla,and many more. I will do this soon, honest. I just hate fiddling with th' html and I keep putting it off. Also, I'm still a bit leery of, as I've noticed that sites w it tend to take an awfully long time to load. (If you're a blogger and have any thoughts on your experiences with blogrolling or other services(?) that may do the same thing, feel free to leave me a note, I'd be happy to hear from you.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Inauguration Notes, or the Other

Marvin at the Ivy Bush says, It'd have been a great one if he'd meant what he said.


GWB:as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny -- prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder -- violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat.

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion:

The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.

Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis suggests that Bush's patent dishonesty gives democrats a rhetorical opening:

"before Bush, it would be considered hippy-dippy to argue that addressing the root causes of terrorism, such as oppression and disenfranchisement – as opposed to mere brute force -- is the only way to truly and completely defeat our enemies. Now, it can treated as accepted fact.
We can’t stop Bush from continuing on this dangerous path for the next four years.But we can, and should, lay the intellectual groundwork for what should be done after his policies fail."

Bush's inauguration address gave me the creeps-- of course he doesn't mean what he said; he meant what he "said": he's successfully brainwashed millions of people into accepting the rhetoric of liberation and nation-building as a series of coded messages giving them permission to feel "ok" about their bloodlust and continue to be good Christians or whatever*.

(Hal Lindsey, meet Dr Phil.)

Fortunately, it's still a mite uncouth to actually come out and say "lets go kill more brown-skinned people, because it was so much fun the first time." I guess it would look bad or something. That, as I see it, is our opening. Although distressingly large numbers of Americans have essentially become proto-fascists who'll snap at you for showing weakness or being in league with the terrorists for objecting to torture or the patriot act or the war, they're still in the minority. The democratic party needs to figure out how to drive a wedge between, well, the moderate Christians and the crazy Christians.

I myself wince at the indelicacy of what I just wrote, but there's no other way to say it. For years now the movement conservatives and the radical Christian right have worked to make the worldviews of extremist fundamentalist Christians seem mainstream and non-threatening, primarily to give the extremist right wing more power, and so far it's been working. In order to help moderate republican voters(we once called them "Reagan Democrats") see the radicalism and danger of George W. Bush's agenda, it helps-- to give them an "other" onto whom they can project their own darker impulses, so they can more easily make the transition to rejecting Bush Republicanism without having to see an attack on Bush policies as an attack on their own values, which would make them psychologically defensive and highly resistant.

How? Democrats need to simultaneously attack and re-marginalize the crazy Christians (like these, for example:
while redefining what it means to be a moderate religious person, part of the mainstream of a civil American culture. The attack on the un-Christian-ness of the policy statements of Alberto Gonzalez would be a good start. Aren't there latino Catholic clergy out there who have criticized Gonzalez? Their statements would help model a religious stance with which moderate republicans can identify. The GOP loves to showcase minorities saying conservo-stuff . Since people are unconsciously familiar with this trope, Democrats can do the same thing, except with progressive verbiage, and the resistance to the message is diminished because the viewers have (ostensibly) heard, or at least seen, the message before. Also, from the conservatives who'll respond by defending torture, the more heatedly irrational and blood-thirsty among them also need to be called attention to, made into the "other". Bill Clinton did this to Sister Souljah. Why are we afraid to do this to Michael Savage?

*I first started a post on the subject of separating moderate republican voters from the republican party nearly two years ago, after watching ex-comedian Dennis Miller ranting about Iraq on Leno in April of 2003, then I filed it away. Before this particular show, I was completely unaware of Miller's conservatism, let alone his racism. He made fun of the war protestors, predictably, but also of the criticisms related to the looting of the Iraqi Museum. I paraphrase: "Who cares about their stupid museum? It was full of crap. Their whole country is crap. They made crap thousands of years ago, and they still make crap, because that's all they know, so they can make new crap to put in it, and nobody will know the difference." The audience seemed to find this amusing.

He continued: "I'm glad about what Bush did, and I don't think he needs to stop there. After we're done in Iraq, we should go after Syria and Iran and Saudi Arabia, then go after France and finish off by nuking the socialists in Berkeley." At this point there was an uncomfortable silence, and Miller sensed that he lost the audience. He backtracked: "All I know is, when I see the joyous faces of all those little kids we liberated I know it was all worthwhile, and nobody can tell me any different."
Image hosted by
courtesy BBC News

How many Americans think like this? Millions? Our last election certainly suggests this is the case. But while we can't become a majority party again by hectoring them for their hypocrisy and probable bigotry, we can make them shudder with rejection when we show them more and more conservatives having a nuke Berkeley moment.

see also:
Stephen Zunes, The Rhetoric of Bush's Inaugural Address versus the Reality of Bush Policy
(via the Hamster.)


"A nation of religious illiterates, Stephen Prothero, Christian Science Monitor.
(via Shadow Media.)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Is Bush the AntiChrist?

Is Bush the AntiChrist? and other quaint URLs...

Mind Control...:{)

Clifford Pickover's ESP page(go badgers), not to be confused with

pop and, which is associated with Farai Chideya. (You may have seen her on MSNBC before.)

and finally, when you feel like a beer you should check out

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Some Images of Iraq:

I was looking for a source for the horrifying image of that Iraqi girl whose parents were killed earlier this week at a US checkpoint. I couldn't find it, but I found these:


Iraqi girl with GI(I don't know about you, but she looks a bit nervous to me.)

Iraq War Young Girl without eye

Iraqi girl

images from,
Electronic Iraq.Net,Islamic-Relief.Com,, and PCPage.Com/ani, which is evidently a pro-war site and which I'd rather not link to.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

"As soon as we got in Texas we stopped for fuel and the first person we met was a Democrat! Hoops said something nice about Reagan and this little old lady [was] just complaining about how there's nothing on TV because of all the Reagan stuff*. There's people all over not thinking straight! Well, gotta get going. I'll have more for you when I can find another "hotspotzz."

*well, good for her.

Monday, January 17, 2005

from "Eleventh Revolution", a wee blog that passed in the night this past September:

September 14, 2004

"Head Crack"

The man who lives across the street from me has surreptitiously mounted a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker on the ass of his Jeep. In our enclave of liberal rebellion, our old wooden homes and perennial gardens, my neighbor has his own enclave-in-an-enclave: a 60s ranch home with an emerald lawn of razor lines.

His is the face of Bush Nation. I've studied it well and have come to a conclusion about the nature and propensity of voters in Bush Nation...

the rest is here.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I'm threatening your life. No, I mean it. Now go apologize for my behavior.

why is this funny in the first place?

CLINT EASTWOOD has chillingly warned documentary-maker MICHAEL MOORE he'll face certain death if he ever points his camera at him.

Picking up a Special Film-making Achievement prize for MILLION DOLLAR BABY at the NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW AWARDS dinner in New York on Tuesday (11JAN05), Eastwood urged the FAHRENHEIT 9/11 director to avoid making him the subject of a future project if he values his life.

However, Eastwood - a staunch supporter of the Republicans - did admit he and Moore have a shared view of how American society should operate.

He said, "Michael Moore and I actually have a lot in common - we both appreciate living in a country where there's free expression.

"But, Michael, if you ever show up at my front door with a camera - I'll kill you."

And when Eastwood noticed the audience had erupted in laughter to his threat, he emphasized, "I mean it."

However, Moore's representatives insist the comments were intended as a joke: "Michael laughed along with everyone else, and took Mr Eastwood's comments in the lighthearted spirit in which they were given."


(Emphasis mine.)Dave Neiwert at Orcinus has written about this phenomenon lately, not specifically the Eastwood thing, but of prominent conservatives threatening or suggesting violence towards liberals. From his January 7th post, "Beyond the Pale":

The hatemongers of the right-wing pundit class are always pushing the envelope, trying to top each other with fresh outrages that continually redefine the boundaries of acceptable public discourse, grossly distorting that discourse along the way.

Although I don't imagine it's legally actionable, part of the problem with this behavior is that it emboldens the scuzzier and less well-balanced elements of the right, legitimizing their darker impulses, giving them a coded sort of permission to see their lust for violence as acceptable. (In the same way, I think, that the very existence of the Guantanamo prison facility and Gonzalez's permission-giving to the president helped embolden the soldiers at Abu Ghraib(and no doubt others in Iraq) to choose their sadistic behavior, even though most servicemen have obviously never been to Guantanamo.)

But why, I find myself wondering, does Michael Moore have to apologize for the fact that Clint Eastwood threatened him? To protect himself from seeming unreasonable and, God help us, "un-cool"? That's probably part of it, but I also think that part of it is the dynamic of, how do I put this: if he doesn't apologize for Eastwood, then Eastwood is left looking foolish, and the crazies would resent Michael Moore for "doing" that to him. As if it was somehow incumbent all along on the lefty being threatened to smooth things over, and because the bloodlust-crazy right projects like crazy and is "owed" an opportunity to be protected from awareness of how imbalanced and crazy and just plain bad they are.

Moore and his reps apparently keyed into this and accepted their role in this messed-up dyad. Or to put it another way-- Moore recognized that he'd probably get death threats if he said,for example, "it's a pity Eastwood has gotten so unbalanced lately," which would've been a perfectly civil response but would've certainly bent the freeper contingent out of shape anyway.

Sometimes I think the only way things are going to change for the better in this country is if we suffer a catastrophic military defeat when Russia, the EU and China get together and decide that we've become far too dangerous and need to be put down like a rabid dog. The trajectory of Bush/PNAC foreign policy, from unilaterally withdrawing from arms-control treaties to the Iraq war to threatening to make more wars certainly suggests this. And no,I'm not saying I'd like this to happen. I'd much more prefer,say, that we build a huge rocket and put all the movement conservatives and dispensationalists and the Bush family on it and send it off to space, perhaps to Mars-- since Bush wants to go there anyway. It would be a really fancy rocket,with tennis courts and a spa,and maybe a roulette wheel for Bill Bennett. And it would have escape-rockets for just some of the passengers, because that would remind the right of a bygone era when there were fewer pesky regulations and things were better, a la the Titanic. Given their desire to hasten the coming of the so-called rapture, maybe persuading them to go on board won't be so hard. No, really, I mean it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Paul Krugman has a charmingly impertinent op-ed up at the NY Times which starts out:

I've been thinking of writing a political novel. It will be a bad novel because there won't be any nuance: the villains won't just espouse an ideology I disagree with - they'll be hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels.

In my bad novel, a famous moralist who demanded national outrage over an affair and writes best-selling books about virtue will turn out to be hiding an expensive gambling habit. A talk radio host who advocates harsh penalties for drug violators will turn out to be hiding his own drug addiction.

In my bad novel, crusaders for moral values will be driven by strange obsessions. One senator's diatribe against gay marriage will link it to "man on dog" sex. Another will rant about the dangers of lesbians in high school bathrooms.

In my bad novel, the president will choose as head of homeland security a "good man" who turns out to have been the subject of an arrest warrant, who turned an apartment set aside for rescue workers into his personal love nest and who stalked at least one of his ex-lovers.

In my bad novel, a TV personality who claims to stand up for regular Americans against the elite will pay a large settlement in a sexual harassment case, in which he used his position of power to - on second thought, that story is too embarrassing even for a bad novel.

In my bad novel, apologists for the administration will charge foreign policy critics with anti-Semitism. But they will be silent when a prominent conservative declares that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan "support the troops" to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor.

The secretary of defense - another "good man," according to the president - won't even bother signing letters to the families of soldiers killed in action.

Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.

How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronym Iokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican...

Je veux manger 500 butées toriques...

Did you know google has a free translator? I mean besides the translate this page feature in the toolbar. I need to mail a letter to an old friend in France, and I wanted to write "please forward if neccessary" on the envelope, or words to that effect. Unfortunately the translator doesn't work that well. I got

"priere si neccearry"

and translated it back to double-check, and it came back as "prayer if neccessary",
which doesn't seem very helpful in this context. I eventually settled on

"courrier vers l'avant si neccessary"

after translating the words separately, and am (slightly) more confident that this should work.

[Incidentally, if you've thus far resisted switching to Mozilla or Firefox because they aren't supported by the google toolbar, you should know that somebody from Mozilla has developed one, which is available here.]

addendum, Sep 2005: a French reader wrote to me months later saying that the correct form is

Faire suivre, SVP (i.e. Make follow, please). So know you know. And I have at least 1 French reader!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

muffler boy n me, on Elm Street circa 1998.
(Sadly, muffler boy is no more.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

the tsunami, et al

I've been reluctant to post about the disaster in South Asia because I've felt it would be largely redundant, as most persons who might be reading this already know how to find resources for helping the people there. Nevertheless, if you don't, there's these:

first, two general resources, :
1.the tsunamihelp blog, which has had over a million visits since it's inception on 12.26,* and
2.Google's tsunami relief help page, listing various charities.

3. Catholic Relief Services
which is not listed on 1 and 2(as I write this).

and, if you prefer to deal with someone who already has your credit/debit card info, there's:
4. Amazon.Com's help page(funds go to the American Red Cross), and
5.Paypal's help page(funds go to Unicef.).

*Undoubtedly George W.("what's google?") Bush would cite this statistic(if he knew about it), as well as the Doctors Without Borders announcement that they no longer need donations for their South Asia effort, as proof that all we need is the private sector in this fine world when acts of God kill thousands of brown people, as opposed to when we kill thousands of brown people on purpose, which is the thing for which we do need government. Okay, he'd probably leave that second part out. Okay, he'd probably leave the first part out too, because he knows it would only remind people of what a cheap-ass motherfucker he was when he first announced that US aid for disaster relief would be 4 million. What, you think the first announced amount was 15 million, or maybe 35 million? No, on Sunday the 26th it was 4 million, according to the Washington (moonie) Times**, then 15 mill on the 27th, then 35 million on Tuesday the 28th. Since I've resolved to a. use less convoluted sentences and b. not call George W. Bush a cheap-ass motherfucker when it isn't warranted, I apologize for the convoluted sentence at the beginning of this paragraph. If my views offend you, I reccomend you give more money than I have. That'll show me.

(**In other words, the initial offer was one tenth the estimated cost of the upcoming inauguration gala.
via "image, meet reality," at the road to surfdom.)

Monday, January 03, 2005

from Reggie White's last interview:

on the NFL network:

White talked about his new direction. The man who once claimed that God told him to leave Philadelphia and sign with Green Bay, stated, "Sometimes when I look back on my life, there are a lot of things I said God said. I realize he didn't say nothing. It was what Reggie wanted to do. I do feel the Father ... gave me some signals ... but you won't hear me anymore saying God spoke to me about something -- unless I read something in scripture and I know."


[an addendum, Dec 2005: I've been unable to find this on the NFL's actual website- JV]
It appears that Conceptual Guerilla is back online--- yippee. You should go visit. I mean to link to this site, as well as crass pastor from whom I found out about Con. Guer. Actually, I mean to add quite a few links and try blogrolling, but I'll get to that later, maybe next week. I 'm working on a couple of posts which are a mite unwieldy at the moment; I'll have them up in a day or two.