Guess they're not Marketing Majors
The fraternities are out in full force on campus, rushing freshmen with promises of, I assume, frivolous drunkenness, loose sorority girls, and connections to people who may one day offer them a post-graduation job. That's what I was offered when I rushed over ten years ago. The drunk part came true, sure enough, but that's about it.
So it's with a bit of rueful memory that I looked at the tables as I walked back to my office this afternoon, when I saw one particular fraternity's sign. I don't have a picture, but I remember the slogan:
Only three things in life are certain:
Rushing (name omitted to protect the silly)
Am I alone in thinking it's a poor marketing strategy to compare membership in your fraternity to death and taxes?
Okay, now it's personal.
New Orleans, the only city I've ever embraced as home, even though I grew up across the lake from it, is drowning. The water continues to pour in. People are still being pulled from their rooftops and taken to the Superdome, which has no climate control, has holes in the roof, has limited supplies, and is rapidly becoming unfit for human habitation because it's not cut out for the duty for which it has had thrust upon it. The town where I went to high school is underwater. My daughter's home is probably rubble. And where was King George the Lesser today, before finally coming back to Washington?
In California, acting like he can play a damn guitar.
He's Nero, for fuck's sake. He's a toy king.
It's not like I expect him to come to Louisiana and actually help people out of the water, but he could at least act like he gives a damn about the fact that 2 million of his citizens are without electricity, that an untold number are without homes to return to, and that we have no real idea just how many people are dead from this disaster. Instead, he diddles, while my old home sinks.
What is this guy doing running a school?
I have to wonder if there's some shenanigans going on in the testing at this school--I have no basis for that belief, but then again, neither neither does the principal of Boca High for his explanation.
BOCA RATON · Students may have worked hard, but it was God who led Boca Raton High School to its A grade from the state and numerous other accomplishments last year, Principal Geoff McKee said.
McKee, 42, believes the widespread prayer efforts achieved a miracle for the formerly C-rated school, which got B's in 2003 and 2004 before its A school year. He said the school district had anticipated a D for Boca High last year after students took diagnostic exams designed to predict scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests later in the year.
And it gets worse. This upsets me, because I teach at a university that will get a lot of these students, and I don't need freshmen coming into my class thinking that prayer is going to bail them out when they're facing a bad grade. I need them to know that only hard work and effort is going to keep them going.
So congratulations to the students of Boca High for the improvements, as well as to the faculty and staff of that institution--the credit is yours. You did the work, you made the improvements, and I imagine you know that. I hope you're upset as well, because your boss just basically said that you're pathetic and that only the prayers of people who don't have anything to do with you saved your butts. He diminished your achievements, and to me, that's a sign of poor leadership.
Because I need a break from hurricanes
and it's been a long day and I'm not feeling particularly creative right now, I present yet another music meme, thanks to Amanda at Pandagon. Go to Music Outfitters, type in the year you graduated, and copy the list of the top 100 songs from that year. Bold what you liked, strike out what you didn't, and leave it alone if you didn't know it, and then prepare to be mocked.
Right about now is the point where I wish I knew how to make put this on another page and split the post.
1. Walk Like An Egyptian, Bangles (Sadly, I still have a 45 of this song)
2. Alone, Heart
3. Shake You Down, Gregory Abbott 4. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), Whitney Houston
5. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, Starship
6. C'est La Vie, Robbie Nevil
7. Here I Go Again, Whitesnake
8. The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby and the Range (Still have this lp, as well.)
9. Shakedown, Bob Seger
10. Livin' On A Prayer, Bon Jovi
11. La Bamba, Los Lobos (Finally, one I'm not ashamed of.)
12. Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Wang Chung
13. Don't Dream It's Over, Crowded House
14. Always, Atlantic Starr
15. With Or Without You, U2
16. Looking For A New Love, Jody Watley
17. Head To Toe, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
18. I Think We're Alone Now, Tiffany
19. Mony Mony, Billy Idol
20. At This Moment, Billy Vera and The Beaters
21. Lady In Red, Chris De Burgh
22. Didn't We Almost Have It All, Whitney Houston
23. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, U2
24. I Want Your Sex, George Michael(My senior class song--ugh.)
25. Notorious, Duran Duran
26. Only In My Dreams, Debbie Gibson
27. (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
28. The Next Time I Fall, Peter Cetera and Amy Grant
29. Lean On Me, Club Nouveau
30. Open Your Heart, Madonna
31. Lost In Emotion, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
32. (I Just) Died In Your Arms, Cutting Crew
33. Heart And Soul, T'pau
34. You Keep Me Hangin' On, Kim Wilde
35. Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Georgia Satellites
36. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), Aretha Franklin and George Michael
37. Control, Janet Jackson
38. Somewhere Out There, Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
39. U Got The Look, Prince
40. Land Of Confusion, Genesis
41. Jacob's Ladder, Huey Lewis and The News
42. Who's That Girl, Madonna
43. You Got It All, Jets
44. Touch Me (I Want Your Body), Samantha Fox (Mainly because she was a Page 3 girl. Only.)
45. I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett
46. Causing A Commotion, Madonna
47. In Too Deep, Genesis
48. Let's Wait Awhile, Janet Jackson
49. Hip To Be Square, Huey Lewis and the News
50. Will You Still Love Me?, Chicago
51. Little Lies, Fleetwood Mac
52. Luka, Suzanne Vega
53. I Heard A Rumour, Bananarama
54. Don't Mean Nothing, Richard Marx
55. Songbird, Kenny G
56. Carrie, Europe
57. Don't Disturb This Groove, System
58. La Isla Bonita, Madonna
59. Bad, Michael Jackson
60. Sign 'O' The Times, Prince
61. Change Of Heart, Cyndi Lauper
62. Come Go With Me, Expose
63. Can't We Try, Dan Hill
64. To Be A Lover, Billy Idol
65. Mandolin Rain, Bruce Hornsby and the Range
66. Breakout, Swing Out Sister
67. Stand By Me, Ben E. King
68. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, Genesis
69. Someday, Glass Tiger
70. When Smokey Sings, ABC
71. Casanova, Levert
72. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
73. Rock Steady, Whispers
74. Wanted Dead Or Alive, Bon Jovi
75. Big Time, Peter Gabriel
76. The Finer Things, Steve Winwood
77. Let Me Be The One, Expose
78. Is This Love, Survivor
79. Diamonds, Herb Alpert
80. Point Of No Return, Expose
81. Big Love, Fleetwood Mac
82. Midnight Blue, Lou Gramm
83. Something So Strong, Crowded House
84. Heat Of The Night, Bryan Adams
85. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You, Glenn Medeiros
86. Brilliant Disguise, Bruce Springsteen
87. Just To See Her, Smokey Robinson
88. Who Will You Run Too, Heart
89. Respect Yourself, Bruce Willis
90. Cross My Broken Heart, Jets
91. Victory, Kool and The Gang
92. Don't Get Me Wrong, Pretenders
93. Doing It All For My Baby, Huey Lewis and The News
94. Right On Track, Breakfast Club
95. Ballerina Girl, Lionel Richie
96. Meet Me Half Way, Kenny Loggins
97. I've Been In Love Before, Cutting Crew
98. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party, Beastie Boys
99. Funkytown, Pseudo Echo
100. Love You Down, Ready For The World
And if you stayed for all that, then good on you.
The best place I've found for updates from a technical point of view is Weather Underground. Incredible pictures as well.
New Orleans channel 6 WDSU is providing quick updates about local damage, which is serious. New Orleans is going to be devastated by this, and yet this could have been much worse, because the eye has shifted east and will be doing the most damage to the Gulfport MS area and east of there. Monkey lives just west of Gulfport, and I'm so glad her mom decided to bug out. I wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything if she hadn't. Right now, WDSU is reporting that Bay St. Louis, where Monkey lives, just experienced a 22 foot storm surge. I swear, I'm not going to have any fingers left by the time this is over, much less fingernails.
And now, your Katrina pic of the day, courtesy of Weather Underground.
Here we go again
There's a terrible beauty in these sorts of pictures.
This is Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico. She's a Category Five right now, with winds at 175 mph and gusts up to 215, and if she doesn't weaken before coming ashore, will destroy everything in its path. I talked to Monkey yesterday, who lives right in the projected path--she said that they were boarding up and might try to ride it out, but that was when Katrina was figuring to be a category four storm. Now, I imagine she and her mom will be heading inland.
Update on Katrina
We lost power for good Thursday night around 9:00, and got it back about 3:30 this morning, so we were blacked out for about 36 hours. We did some walking around the neighborhood yesterday morning assessing local damage. Lots of tree branches down, one major tree uprooted in the back of the Greek Orthodox Church across the street. This storm left a lot bigger mark than one would expect from a Category 1.
Our camping gear served us well again. We were able to cook food and make coffee thanks to our cheap little propane camp stove. Water was never an issue for us--the only boil warnings were for down around Homestead I believe. We had enough light to get around by thanks to our fluorescent lanterns. The only thing we didn't have was a radio, and we'll have to change that before the next storm comes around. If we wanted news updates, we had to go to the car.
We never lost landline phone service, but we did have to dig our old corded phone out of the closet, because no electricity means no cordless phone. It's always good to have a backup, especially since the cell phone service was shaky because it was overloaded and because cell phones need electricity to stay charged. More than once, I went outside and let the car idle while charging my cell phone and listening to local updates.
So that's my first hurricane in 6 years and first Florida one ever. There are lots of people south of us who have lots of work to do to dig out and get back to some semblance of normal. Good luck to them.
This storm just popped up in the last couple of days, came up almost out of nowhere, so the tension level has been pretty low. The good part--if there is ever a good part of a hurricane--is that since it just popped up, the winds aren't terribly bad even though we're taking a direct hit. The power has gone in and out a bit, but never out for long, and it's pretty calm for the moment.
A couple of hours ago, we heard a ton of sirens--this was when the wind was first really picking up and I imagine there were some auto accidents as a result. We haven't heard many lately, which tells me that either people got off the road or the cops aren't going out anymore. It's also possible that the cops are out north of us, which seems to be getting hit a little harder than we are right now.
No damage so far as I can tell. We filled the tub just in case, and since we have electricity, we haven't had to worry about spoilage. Here's hoping that everything continues and we get through this without too much drama.
And people wonder why I say he's not my president
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he thinks I hate America.
NEW YORK Meeting briefly with reporters Monday aboard Air Force One, Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman subbing for Scott McClellan, said that President Bush believes that those who want the U.S. to begin to change course in Iraq do not want America to win the overall "war on terror."
Speaking to reporters, Duffy said that Bush "can understand that people don't share his view that we must win the war on terror, and we cannot retreat and cut and run from terrorists, but he just has a different view."
This is where I would normally go on a profanity laced tirade, telling the administration to go roger itself with a number of objects ill-suited to the task. But I'm going to refrain, I'm going to restrain myself, and you know why?
Because Bush just basically called well over half of the country anti-American, including increasing numbers from his own party. The ultimate chicken-hawk called over half the country he claims to lead a bunch of cowards.
Bush says he thinks that if we pull out of Iraq now, we'll weaken the US. Well, a lot of us believe that he did that already, when he committed troops to a useless and wasteful war waged for political gain.
So no profanity, no angry ranting this time. There's no need for it. We all know who the real cowards are--they're all at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. The more they call us cowards, the more evident it becomes that they're only trying to divert attention away from their words and actions.
This is not funny
It wasn't funny when Bush played "where's the WMD" at the Radio and Television Correspondents dinner, and it's not funny now.
Get this straight--you don't make jokes about war policy, not if you're claiming to be a serious news organization. You're not Jay Fucking Leno--you're MSNBC.
Two Saturdays, Two Extraordinary Films
The first one, last Saturday, I was waiting for. The Aristocrats is a documentary about perhaps the foulest joke ever told. It's the ultimate in-joke, the joke that comics tell amongst themselves but rarely in front of an audience. The punchline is a throwaway--some of the comics try to justify it in the film, but I suspect even they know they're making excuses for a weak ending, but that's just fluff. The important part of the joke is the journey it takes you on, a journey through the darkest recesses of your unconscious, through the scatalogical into incest, bestiality, and every other possible taboo.
There's a cast of what seems to be thousands--instantly recognizable faces like George Carlin, Penn and Teller (Penn is one of the producers, along with Paul Provenza), Drew Carey, Paul Reiser, Bob Saget--and some you might not know if you don't follow standup closely--Judy Gold, Taylor Negron, David Brenner. There are surprises as well--Carrie Fisher pops up and tells a particularly foul version of it, and includes her mother in the joke, Larry Storch does a fantastic British accent (I didn't know he was still alive) while doing his version, Howie Mandel looks completely different with a shaved head. And Comedy Central does a brisk business with Jon Stewart being interviewed while getting his Daily Show makeup applied, Lewis Black is on there, as is Sarah Silverman, who may turn in the creepiest version of the joke.
My only complaint is that it felt like they tried to get a little too cute with the camera. It wanders a lot, does extreme closeups at times, and the editors do a lot of quick cuts for no apparent reason other than perhaps to add to the nausea you're feeling from hearing about repeated references to shit-eating and dog-fucking.
Yeah, it's plenty gross, and I wouldn't suggest going to see it right after eating, but it is a recording of standup comedy as jazz improvisation--the singer rather than the song--in action. And it is extraordinary to watch.
The other film is The Forty Year Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell. I wasn't so eager to see this one until I read the reviews, and hey, the reviews were right on. Carell is extraordinary in this film, as are his supporting actors and actresses.
I have to admit, I've never been a big Carell fan, but that may be because he's better in large doses than small ones, and this is the first time I've seen him in anything other than a Daily Show bit part, where he is routinely outshined by Stephen Colbert and Rob Corrdry. He becomes this character, he acts through his eyes he's so damn good as this character. His chemistry with Catherine Keener feels genuine, even though the situatiion they're in seems utterly ludicrous.
This film could have gone horribly wrong so many times in so many places, and yet it never does. It is a complete film, in every sense of the word.
And the chest waxing scene will make you piss yourself.
Friday Random Ten and a puppy
A few weeks back, there was a bit of discussion as to why there are so many cat bloggers, but hardly any dog bloggers, and the basic consensus was that dogs are too tough to get good pictures of. I don't have a dog, and have no plans to get one, but I have a reasonably cute, if cell-phone quality picture of my brother-in-law's baby Pit Bull, a precious little thing named Dash, who according to the vet, will one day weigh over a hundred pounds.
Meet Dash, and this week's random ten.
1. Para Donde Vas--The Iguanas
2. Pasties and a G-String at the Four O'Clock Club--Tom Waits
3. War on Drugs--Bill Hicks
4. Promising Actress--John Vanderslice
5. Portions for Foxes--Rilo Kiley
6. Shine on You Crazy Diamond--Pink Floyd
7. Soul Fixin Man--Luther Allison
8. Go Away Maggie--Big Smith
9. Nurture My Pig!--Reverend Horton Heat
10. Way Down Here Without You--Superdrag
Put up or shut up, Chucky
This seems to be the general reaction around the left blogosphere to the recent statements made by Chuck "I'm not McCain but I like his schtick" Hagel. I'm glad for it, because for too long, faux-moderates like Hagel and McCain have talked a good game on opposing Bush on Iraq and have failed to come through time and again. Here's what he said:
Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, acknowledged the U.S. military presence was becoming harder and harder to justify. He believes Iraq faces a serious danger of civil war that would threaten Middle East stability, and said there is little Washington can do to avert this.
"We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should," he said at one stop.
For what it's worth, I think he's right, but then again, I thought this was going to happen well before we ever went into Iraq in the first place.
But whether or not I think it doesn't matter--I'm an English teacher, a poet, and a blogger with a very small audience. Hagel, on the other hand, is a US Senator, one of one hundred in the world, with a measure of power I can only imagine. He can actually force the issue.
So let's see how much you mean it, Chucky.
Hey General? You owe me a new laptop now
because I spewed coffee all over my current one when I read the headline of your latest post
Real Men Aren't Afraid to Toss a Few Salads
Governor Bob Taft
State of Ohio
Dear Gov. Taft,
I was sorry to hear about your indictment on corruption charges. It's a shame that almost two decades after the Reagan revolution, the government still regulates graft. I hoped that we'd be able to bring free market principles to government once we were in charge, but, unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet.
At least you can take comfort in the fact that many of your friends and acquaintances will be joining you soon. It looks like half the Republican elected officials in Ohio will eventually be indicted in the Coingate and other associated scandals.
There's a good possibility that many of you will end up in prison. Are you ready for that? If not, I can help. I've developed a training program to help men like you survive the prison experience. I'm willing to bring it to Ohio for a fraction of what it cost your state to have Tom Noe manage the Workers Compensation fund.
It's a comprehensive program. I teach everything from salad tossing to cigarette marketing techniques. Below, you'll find a list of some of the modules I use in my training.
Okay, I didn't actually spew coffee all over my laptop, but that's only because I didn't have any in my mouth.
I can't tell you
how many times I've felt exactly like this.
Via Tom at The Daily Pick
Has Rush found a new dealer?
I've got to wonder, because he's back in the looney bin with a vengeance lately. Cindy Sheehan has really gotten under his skin in the last couple of days. Check out these quotes:
LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.--From Media Matters
And what exactly isn't real about her story? What is she making up? That her son died?
LIMBAUGH: Frankly, I'm also fed up -- not fed up. I retract that. I'm weary, ladies and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. "Oh, she lost her son!" Yes, yes, yes, but (sigh) we all lose things.--From Limbaugh's website transcript.
Lose something of yours, Limbaugh, like a pill or ninety? Hat tip to Pontificator over at Kos.
And then my favorite, and not related to Sheehan
LIMBAUGH: Well, here's something I'd like to import. I'd like to import the ability that the Brits are doing to export and deport a bunch of hate-rhetoric filled mullahs and imams that are stoking anti-American sentiment. Wouldn't it be great if anybody who speaks out against this country, to kick them out of the country? Anybody that threatens this country, kick 'em out. We'd get rid of Michael Moore, we'd get rid of half the Democratic Party if we would just import that law. That would be fabulous. The Supreme Court ought to look into this. Absolutely brilliant idea out there.--From Media Matters.
I love how he equates the Republican party with the country here. Fuck him.
So I have to ask--is he back on the sauce, and by sauce, I mean dosages of oxycontin large enough to get most people thrown in jail for serious time? Or is he like this all the time?
Oh, please let it be true
"A Good Purging Of Loudmouth Ranters" -- Thanks To Novak?
While we try to confirm the anonymous tip that Robert Novak's 10th floor CNN D.C. office was cleaned out early last week...
The Arizona Republic's Bill Goodykoontz says the walk-off is the opportunity for "a good purging of loudmouth ranters and a chance to reinvent televised commentary and debate."
He writes: "Maybe, just maybe, this will bring to completion what Jon Stewart's rant on Crossfire last year set in motion -- genuine debate instead of merely the repeated toeing of a company line..."
That would be too wonderful.
He'll be the next Souter, huh?
The more that comes out about this Roberts guy, the more he smells like wingnut.
WASHINGTON - As a young government attorney, John Roberts advised the White House to support congressional efforts to allow school prayer, arguing that a Supreme Court ruling striking down the practice "seems indefensible."
In a Nov. 21, 1985, memo released Monday by the National Archives, Roberts was responding to a move by Congress to permit "group silent prayer or reflection in public schools." He said in the memo that he would not object if Justice Department officials announced that President Reagan had no formal role in passing an amendment to that effect, but said he would support such a move.
The Supreme Court's conclusion that "the Constitution prohibits such a moment of silent reflection — or even silent 'prayer' — seems indefensible," Roberts wrote in a memo to White House counsel Fred Fielding.
Coincidentally, Roberts writings on affirmative action weren't released because the folder had been "misplaced," according to the article. Happy circumstance?
Guest Blogger Amy
She wrote this earlier, and I thought I'd get it a bit more circulation--it's something we've been talking about a good bit lately.
WHAT DOES INFLATION LOOK LIKE...?
In a globalized economy?
Several years ago, when I realized what an enormous amount of student loan debt I was acquiring, I started joking that my only hope was if the economy crashed and out-of-control inflation made my total debt equal to a week's pay.
More recently, I graduated, and I got all those fun-fun letters from the consolidators and debt-holders, managed to manoeuver my various loans into one big loan, and find out (SURVEY SAYS...) how much money I'm in for. The result? Almost 100k.
Talk about sticker-shock! THAT'S A HOUSE! was my first thought: that I'd actually acquired so much debt that I might as well have a mortgage! Eventually I became happier with this metaphor. I figured, yeah, some people have houses, but I've got an education, and I'm cool with that. I like my education, damn it, a lot.
When we moved home to Florida, though, and got half-absorbed into the house-buying frenzy that was late-Spring early-Summer down here (since, I think, become a thing of the past), I started seeing house prices that were out-of-control. Houses with major damage and problems in boring neighborhoods going for 400k. Simple little cottages downtown for 600k. Even nasty little rat-infested sinkholes fer houses going for 250k!
That's when I realized, my student loan debt had gone from being a mortgage to being a quarter of a mortgage. Is this what inflation looks like in a corporatized, globalized economy? Sure, the price of milk increases only slightly, but it has decreased in quality. Sure the price of furniture seems about the same, but the workers in North Carolina no longer get raises or benefits. Sure this mall-bought clothing is cheap as its ever been, but China's low-low wages (think, prison labor) help with that.
The price of gas is getting ridiculous and the price of housing is out of reach for most people. (Almost no homeowner in Broward County could possibly afford to buy his own home!) Yet these prices seem "CHEAP" to overseas investors (who have been the ones stoking the SoFla housing fire) because dollars have become so very, very cheap.
Is this what inflation looks like in a globalized economy? I'm asking you, my dears, I do not know.
It's sad when you start thinking that in order to own a home, the economy is going to have to crash, because the people who will get hurt in that crash aren't the ones living on the Intercoastal in their 20,000 sq. ft. houses--it'll be the people who busted their asses, scrimped, saved, and got into the market just recently, but had to take an adjustable rate mortgage to do it, because when their rates go up, they're screwed. And yet, if we ever want to be homeowners--and we're talking about a small place here--that's essentially what has to happen, that or we win the lottery, and if home prices keep going up, it'll have to be a big lottery win, not a piddling couple million, because after taxes, you know...
False equivalency in 3, 2...
Yesterday, TV Newser posted a little piece on the love affair between Daryn Kagan and Rush Limbaugh, in which one insider noted that the two of them send instant messages to each other while CNN is at commercial.
What are they, twelve? And can you imagine what...
Sorry--threw up in my mouth a little bit there.
Well, today there's a reply in Kagan's defense.
Amid all the speculation about Daryn Kagan's future at CNN, a colleague of the morning anchor felt compelled to write in:
"Everyone at CNN loves Daryn Kagan. She's been part of CNN's family for years and there's nothing that could interfere with her impeccable reputation and the respect she's earned here."
Nothing that could interfere -- referring to her relationship to Rush Limbaugh -- the colleague called it "the most bogus claim."
Well, wonderful. If the original reports were true, and Kagan was getting crap because she's hooked up with Limbaugh (shudder), then shame on CNN.
But now comes the dreaded false equivalency:
> An anonymous tipster asks: "If Kagan was dating Al Franken, would anyone be talking about this?"
First of all, if Kagan were dating Franken, it would be an even bigger story, seeing as 1) Franken is married and 2) you'd have the built-in Clinton's penis equivalency story, and we all know that nothing gets the liberal media hot quite like the Clenis.
Besides, if Kagan were dating any liberal radio show host, you bet your ass this would get play, and not in the "I just threw up into my mouth" way like this little anecdote has gotten. This would become item number one on every right-wing nutjob's (including Limbaugh, no doubt) list of proofs that the media is liberal. We wouldn't hear the end of this shit, and right-wingers know it.
More on Cindy Sheehan and the Incompetence of the Bush Administration
It's been clear to anyone with the slightest amount of common sense that this whole Sheehan business has gotten way out of hand for the Bush folks, and what's more, there was no need for it ever to have happened. I've never taken a public relations class in my life, never done any sort of image spin--in fact, one could argue, based on the way I've ranted on this blog at times, that my personal public relations are a bit hairy to say the least--and even I saw an easy way out of this one for Bush.
The day she popped up in Crawford, all he had to do was bring her up to the gate, tell the reporters that he and Cindy were going to have a little private conversation, no cameras or reporters, and that she could answer all the questions she wanted to afterward, but that as far as he was concerned, this would be the end of it. Take her inside, give her a glass of lemonade, think about trucks or something while she talked, say thanks and hustle her out the door again. I mean, it's not like Sheehan expects any real answers here--she's making a statement for political effect, and everyone knows it.
So why give her a platform? I mean, does anyone think that if a mother of a soldier who died in the Bosnian conflict made a big deal of wanting to see Clinton and ask him what her son died for parked herself anywhere within earshot of Clinton and the press that Clinton wouldn't have taken the time to talk to her? Not because anything she had to say would change his mind, but because it defuses the story. The story dies before it has a chance to become a story.
And yet Bush leaves her out on the side of the road in Crawford, Texas, gaining sympathy and press notoriety, and the right-wing attack dogs who have sold their souls to Bush, putting party above country yet again, slime her, call her a media whore, call her a disgrace, say her son would be ashamed of her were he still alive. I understand that Bush lives in a bubble, but he's got to know that he's already hurting on the Iraq issue, and that this isn't helping him any.
And yet, given the opportunity today to end the situation, what does he do? While on his way to a Republican fundraiser, his motorcade passed right by the protestors and didn't stop.
As Bush passed on his way to and from a political fundraiser, law enforcement blocked two intersecting roads where the demonstrators have camped out all week. Officers required the group to stand behind yellow tape, but no one was asked to leave.
The motorcade didn't stop.
Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who started the vigil along the road leading to Bush's ranch, held a sign that read: "Why do you make time for donors and not for me?"
I guess Bush really is like his mother. He doesn't want to waste his beautiful mind on things like protestors, on mothers of the soldiers he sent to their deaths based on nothing but lies.
I don't ask readers here to do stuff very often, but I'm asking you for this. NARAL has pulled their John Roberts ad under pressure from right-wing groups and even some supposed allies--Arlen Specter and Pat Leahy most prominently. Now they're taking shit from several prominent left wing bloggers for caving to the right-wing pressure. I have an idea that probably won't please anyone, but it will still allow the left to continue the fight against Roberts over his connection to Operation Rescue and that human turd, Randall Terry.
Contact NARAL and ask them to place the ad on their website, where it can be linked to and viewed by people all over the US. Remember the lesson of the Swift Boat ads--they only played for a very short time on a very few tv stations, and yet they had a tremendous effect because they were talked about so much. Most of the US has not had a chance to see the ad--this will give them that opportunity, assuming we can get NARAL to post it. Here's the letter I wrote them:
You've taken a lot of undeserved flak from the right over your Roberts ad, but that should have been no surprise. Now you're taking flak from your supporters over your decision to pull it. I have a suggestion--put the ad on your website where your supporters can link to it and point others in its direction.
We all know the ad is accurate, and as long as we can keep the story in the media spotlight, we can continue to make the case that Roberts supports groups who use terroristic methods against women. Let us continue to make the case you started. Post the ad here. Thanks.
I was sort of apathetic about Roberts for a while--figured he wasn't the worst Bush could do, even if he was no prize. His defense of Randall "Scumbag" Terry has changed my mind on this. Terry's a thug who ought to be in jail for the shit he's encouraged and taken part in, and yet he gets defended by a person who would be a Supreme Court Justice. I ain't going out like a punk on this one--I'm going down swinging.
Getting an early start
On the Friday random ten, because if I don't do it tonight, it won't get done at all. So, in honor of our friend Scarlett, who is graduating tomorrow and somehow managed to convince us to come see her walk, I present the Random Ten, Scarlett-style (whatever the hell that means).
1. Inspiration/Information--Shuggie Otis
2. Night Life--Willie Nelson
3. Almost Cut My Hair--Government Mule
4. Whose Muddy Shoes--Elmore James
5. Friar's Point--Susan Tedeschi
6. Uber Legitimate--Mates of State
7. Over You (Live)--The Velvet Underground
8. Cry to Me--Willie Murphy
9. Worried Man Blues--Big Smith
Very bluesy this week, which isn't all that surprising, considering that a good two-thirds of the stuff on the iPod is blues, and that's a conservative estimate.
So whatcha got for me?
A decision is due to be made today whether a billboard labelling President Bush an 'evil bastard' is appropriate.
The Hell Pizza billboards have been erected around Auckland and Wellington. Half of the poster is taken up with a photo of the president and the other half has the phrase 'Hell: Too Good For Some Evil Bastards.'
Outdoor Advertising New Zealand is reviewing who is behind the boards and whether the Advertising Standards Authority needs to become involved.
Hell's media manager, Matthew Blomfield, says they expected to cause a bit of a stir. He says it is meant to provoke discussion and be a little edgy, instead of bland, boring advertising.
Mr Blomfield is hoping reaction will be balanced between those who find it funny and those who are upset by it.
Hell's media manager, huh? Wonder what your qualifications have to be for that gig?
I'm having trouble with this article
Mainly because it's got so many fallacies and over-generalizations that it's hard to know where to begin. It's a piece from the Washington Post titled The Art of Telling Parties Apart, and as far as I can tell, it's pretty much a puff piece of a guy named Tim Goeglein, who shares with us his opinions on the main difference between Republicans and Democrats in an only slightly offensive but really simple-minded way.
Goeglein recalled a dinner party that he and his wife recently attended in Northwest. Out of the six couples around the table, Goeglein and his wife were the only Republicans.
As is inevitably the case, he said, the conversation soon turned to the couples' children -- most 5 or 6 years old -- and aspirations for their future occupations. One parent said editor; another, publisher; a third wanted the child to go into education.
"I was intrigued by the question, and the answers of every one of our Democratic friends," Goeglein said. Not one parent, he said, gave an answer that would be more typical of Republicans. "Our party, in the way it is constituted, we think of medicine, we think of law, we think of business. We don't think, gee, I hope my son grows up to be a great playwright or painter or poet," he explained.
It's important to realize that when Goeglein says "typical of Republicans," he means "typical of the rich, professional, money-making Republicans and not those poor saps who live in the Bible belt and who think we actually give a damn about their issues like abortion and gay-bashing." And believe me, that's how a lot of the moneyed Republicans think of their poor cousins who keep getting them elected--I know, because I've seen both sides. I grew up with the poor Republicans--they were called Reagan Democrats at the time--and I've seen the elite in action in my time at Stanford, home of the Hoover Institute, the most penis-shaped building in the universe.
Those poor Republicans, the ones in the lower economic strata? I'd be willing to bet that they want for their kids what most parents want--they want their kids to have a shot at a better life doing whatever they want to do, mainly because they feel like they've never had the chance to do a job they love doing. But I guarantee you one thing--they're not pushing their kids toward med school or law school or even grad school, not if they're paying for it. Med school, law school, even an MBA--these things are out of reach for most levels of economic strata, especially when you consider that poor kids are less likely to get the quality of education in primary and secondary school that would allow them to compete for scholarships in the elite fields and at the elite schools.
I could make a similar generalization about the differences between Republicans and Democrats using the same ideas Goeglein does--that Democrats want their kids to pursue their dreams and Republicans want their kids to pursue money and power--but that would be just as dishonest as what Goeglein did. I don't think most parents think about their kids' futures in terms of how successful they'll be monetarily, at least, I hope they don't. They think about their kids' futures in terms of their happiness and sense of self-satisfaction. That's how I feel about it.
My sister and I took two very different career paths. She's a CPA. I'm a poet and (now) a college instructor. Our parents never expressed any dismay over either of our career paths (although they're apolitical, they are culturally and socially conservative). Their concern was our happiness, and I don't think they're all that different from most parents.
Besides, Goeglein's conclusion is just short-sighted. It doesn't use anything substantial as a basis for that conclusion; it's just his own prejudices coming to light and he uses them as a template to place over the entire party. And as with most generalizations, it's far more ludicrous than accurate.
There's a lot more in the article, inluding self-labeled conservative author Mark Helprin's utterly stupid statement that
"The arts community is generally dominated by liberals because if you are concerned mainly with painting or sculpture, you don't have time to study how the world works. And if you have no understanding of economics, strategy, history and politics, then naturally you would be a liberal."a statement that's so dumb I have problems taking umbrage at it. Of course, earlier in the piece, Helprin also said that he believes that only 50 to 100 writers at any given time can "be successful" in that field, so it's obvious he's coming from a different planet than the rest of us.
I often wonder how we as Democrats can help the folks in the lower economic strata (of whom I still consider myself a member) understand that Washington Republicans like Goeglein and Helprin think of them in such dismissive terms. If you have any ideas, please, let me know.
Felipe Alou 1, Larry Krueger 0
I'm actually surprised it took as long as it did, but Larry Krueger is gone from KNBR, after his comments about the Giants lineup being filled with "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly."
Krueger was suspended at first, for a week without pay, but Alou didn't back down and quit his pre-game show on KNBR over the comments, and good on him for doing it.
I listened to Krueger rarely when I lived in the City, preferring the play by play of Jon Miller to the Jim Rome-esque rantings that Krueger put on the air. He seemed to thrive on trying to piss off various sections of the public and pitting them against each other, the way Michael Savage does in politics. (On a side note, it's amazing to me that San Francisco, one of the most liberal, multi-cultural cities in the nation, is the home to a racist, anti-semitic, misogynist moron like Savage.) Alou refused Krueger's apology, seeing it for what it was, an insincere attempt to save his job, and KNBR did what they needed to do from the beginning--fire Larry Krueger.
I bet the politicians didn't notice until someone told them.
This has got to be my favorite part of the story:
LIVERMORE, Calif. -- A Miami artist who created a mosaic of misspelled words returned to town to fix her much-maligned display outside the town's new public library -- and threatened to hit a newspaper photographer with a rock.
She didn't notice the misspellings, and the politicians didn't notice the misspellings until well after the original work was completed. How much do you want to bet that it was some smartass kid who saw it, and then pointed it out to the adults in charge? Maybe it was one of these kids at the end of the article:
Library patron Jarod Vash, 17, said that while he thought the misspellings were embarrassing, ``everybody makes mistakes.''
``Not this bad,'' said 13-year-old Eric Smyth.
I call bullshit
I'm ashamed to admit it, but whenever I see one of these top ten type lists, I have to look at it. I'd like to say it's a genetic defect or something, but in reality, it's my shallow side taking over. I look, but I always wash up afterwards and I feel dirty.
So when I saw this on the MSNBC front page, I was all over it. Top ten sexy sirens of the big screen. And the writer, Erik Lundegaard, hooked me at the start:
Sexy is balance. Cool and hot at the same time. Interest and disinterest. It’s not passive but it’s not in a hurry either. It seems to arrive at that moment in a woman’s life when she’s still hot but can no longer rely on it completely. Or maybe it arrives when a woman decides to take charge. Or maybe I just like women taking charge.I like the way this guy thinks, I'm saying, and it doesn't hurt that Cameron Diaz's picture is at the top of the article, and that when he puts her in at #6 and references the way she dances in The Mask.
And I really like some of his more unexpected (to me) choices--Sigourney Weaver at #10, Annabella Sciorra at #8, Salma Hayek at #5, and Famke Jannsen at #2.
But I literally recoiled at his number 1 selection--Angelina Jolie. She's like Pamela Anderson--lots of plastic--albeit with actual talent as an actress. But the plastic kills it for me. And the general weirdness. No thanks.
Bush's Worst Nightmare--A Pissed-off War Mom
Kos's place is where the real heavy lifting on this story is going on--there are locals and people who have traveled to Crawford, TX who are basically live-blogging and checking in with phone calls to keep everyone updated. I'd post a link, but the diaries updating the situation hit the top of the recommended list as quickly as they hit the main list.
Here's the basics for those who haven't heard the story. Cindy Sheehan lost her son in the Iraq war--he was on one of the WMD teams. She and a group of other people have traveled to Crawford TX to ask the vacationing King George the Lesser why her son had to die. King George, of course, won't have anything to do with this, and the pressure has been mounting to get her out of there before the regular news media decides this is a real story and starts asking unpopular questions.
According to the bloggers on the scene, here's what has happened thus far. A Republican legislator has suggested--not threatened, but suggested--that Sheehan and the people with her might be arrested as national security threats. The local sheriff has apparently told the group that they have to vacate any part of personal property that they're touching, and has closed down the road they're on so people can't resupply Sheehan with water or food. This is Texas in August, folks--that's potentially deadly. If this comes down to an open confrontation or someone winds up in the hospital, the bad press will be more than avoiding Sheehan is worth.
Pressure is building on the mainstream media, just like it did with the Downing Street Minutes, and with a little more effort, we just might get some major coverage out of this.
From Big Brass Blog
UPDATE: You can read Sheehan's accounts of the day's events here. She's basically staying that she's staying until Bush comes out and talks to her, she gets arrested, or August ends. Brave woman.
More on the Dukes
The six or so of you who are my regular readers might recall that I wrote about the film version of The Dukes of Hazzard back in February. I read the reviews last week with no small measure of glee--in case you missed it, the reviews were bad to say the least. I was less pleased with the film's financial success--$30 million and the top spot for the weekend. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised--Jessica Simpson's ass has to be good for at least half that take.
But in my original piece, I was upset because the filmmakers decided to keep the only really offensive part of the show in the film--they kept the Confederate battle flag on the top of the car. I wasn't real happy that they kept the car's name the same either, btu I could live with that. But the flag? We're in a post 9/11 world--that would have been excuse enough to change the flag from the Confederate battle flag to the US flag--the only people to howl in anger would have been Dukes purists, and if they actually exist, then lord have mercy on us.
I wasn't going to revisit this issue, but Publius at Legal Fiction brought it up, and I wanted to reply a bit. He writes, in part:
I think when people look at the flag, they are seeing two fundamentally different images. Most blacks and non-Southern whites see slavery, segregation, and racism. The flag was, after all, the symbol of the Confederacy and its war to defend a barbaric practice that was the foundation of a medieval economic system.
But many Southerners see something different. If you believe nothing else I say, believe this – a lot of Southerners (a majority I would say) no longer think of race when they see the flag. Like the picture above, they are seeing something completely different.
For good or bad, Southerners have a collective consciousness – whether it’s through the shared dialect, shared history, shared inferiority complexes, or shared pride. To many, the flag is just a sign that you belong to this collective group and that you’re not ashamed of it. Others fly the flag not out of a sense of collectiveness or heritage, but because they want to be seen as badasses. It’s an expression of rootin’-tootin’-ness. But either way, race is not part of the picture. (Of course, some fly it because they’re racist – no one is denying that.)
The non-racist people are aware of the history of the flag, but they block it out. The South specializes in repression, and the flag is a perfect example. When people see it, they just block out the bad and only see the good. In other words, they see the pretty young woman and refuse to see the old hag. That’s why many of them get so mad when they’re called out for it. They have stopped seeing anything bad in it and don’t care for the cognitive dissonance, thank you.
I think Publius has a point, although I think he underestimates the subconscious or unconscious racism in white southern culture. Not all Southerners who refuse to object to the Confederate flag are racists, but they are self-centered.
Here's the thing--and a number of commenters on this point said this as well--whatever the Confederate battle flag stood for at one time (and it stood for treason, let's remember), post-reconstruction it stood for racism, much as the swastika stopped being a pagan symbol for the sun when Nazi Germany adopted it. And people who fly that flag, no matter their intentions, link themselves inextricably with groups like the KKK, the Knights of the White Camellia, lynchings, Jim Crow, and all of the rest of the South's sordid racial history.
It's not cute, it's not funny, and even if it's meant as satire at the expense of rural Southerners, it's not right. They should have changed that damn flag.
Peter Jennings has died
He became the ABC anchor when I was a kid and was just becoming interested in the news. I don't know why I tended to watch ABC then, but it was the channel I chose, and Jennings was the first anchor I really remember. His death is a reminder to me of a time before the 24-hour news cycle, and I'll miss him. My condolences to his family and friends.
On a strangely related note, I'd like to recommend this article from the NY Times Magazine called "Will We Ever Arrive at the Good Death?" It's a haunting piece, and well worth the effort.
Matt Yglesias's Blind Spot
Yglesias has been referred to by some pretty prominent bloggers as one of the most brilliant young pundits out there, and in a number of areas, they're probably right. He writes on a wide breadth of issues intelligently and with a great deal of insight. But as I said earlier on a similar subject, I think Matt's got it wrong on this issue, and since this is the second time in a very short period, I'm starting to think that when it comes to the tactics and end desires of christian radicals in this country, Yglesias just has a blind spot.
In a piece on Tapped a couple of days ago titled Intelligent Design, Who Cares? Yglesias made the following three part argument:
First and foremost, this simply isn't an issue the federal government has control over. Second, the judicial rulings prohibiting the teaching of religious doctrines in science classes are firmly entrenched, and there's no sign the Republican Party is making a serious effort to overturn them. The realistic option on the table is that state governments might, as Kansas did a few years ago, take evolution out of the school curriculum. What happened there, however, was that business groups and conservative elites pretty swiftly countermobilized and got the policy changed because they wanted their kids to be able to get into good colleges.
Last but not least, nothing whatsoever of practical importance hinges on whether or not life on earth originated as a result of intelligent design. The theory is exceedingly silly pseudo-science, but it doesn't actually threaten anything. There is, moreoever, no reason to think it's especially crucial for the average citizen to have an accurate grasp of state-of-the-art biological theory. Most people don't understand quantum mechanics, general relativity, or any number of other scientific and technical topics and life goes on just fine.
A couple of points to make--as long as the federal government controls any funding of schools, they potentially have control over what's taught, and if you think that Santorum or Coburn or Brownback (and let's not even get into what House members are capable of) wouldn't put Creationism into the Department of Education if they could, then you're dreaming. That they're not currently capable of it simply means that they understand the idea of incrementalism. First comes ID, next comes theology.
Secondly, you can't count on business groups to keep doing your dirty work for you, because those businesses depend on consumers to stay afloat, and right-wingers have no compunction about boycotting businesses that don't go along. If they're able to convince enough people that there really is a controversy about evolution, and then get them to sign on to pressure businesses that oppose their agenda, the business community will cave.
Third, there's a huge difference between asking the citizenry to understand the difference between provable scientific theory and myth and understanding the details of advanced scientific knowledge. I'm not saying that the average Joe ought to be able to discuss the intricacies of shared genetic heritage, but they ought to be taught in school that there's a real divide between what science's role is and what religion's role is and that ID/Creationism falls firmly on the side of religion.
But where I really take issue is with Yglesias's conclusion on the matter:
Getting snooty about this just feeds into perceptions of liberalism as fundamentally a snobbish, anti-religious, elitist view while distracting attention from the basically reality that the Republican Party is a front organization for corporate managers that puts on a cloak of social conservatism to disguise what it really does in practice. If you must worry about social conservatives, worry about women's reproductive rights and basic equality for gays and lesbians. There's just no there there in the evolution issue.
Asking that our children be taught science in a science class so that they can compete on a global stage with children who aren't subjected to religion disguised as science isn't snooty--it's a matter of long-term survival. And there's nothing anti-religious about asking that there be a line drawn in the classroom between science and religion. It's simply a matter of recognizing that each subject has its place and that the two don't speak to each other, that they have different languages and are not meant to be reconciled. It's not like religion and science are two cousins who got into a fight at Prom and haven't talked since--it's more like they're creatures from separate dimensions who can see each other through a magic mirror but can't communicate because they share no common frame of reference.
One of the great strengths of the US has been the idea that genius can come from practically any social and economic class, because our university system is so all-encompassing. But if we allow the religious wackos to handicap our children by forcing their teachers to teach a nonexistent controversy, we'll significantly reduce the chances that those geniuses--or even those people who become competent--will arise, especially in the hard sciences, where we're already starting to fall behind the rest of the world.
I understand that Yglesias is more concerned with the corporate side of the Republican party than the religious side, and in some respects I agree with him--in the short term, corporatism is far more of a threat to the country than the religious right--but that doesn't mean that there's no there there. The potential long-term damage from what the religious right wants to do to our educational system is at least as large a concern as the increasing corporatism of the US.
Saturday Random Ten
Because I was too busy on Friday and Jesse's already done most of the heavy lifting on Matt Yglesias's comments from a couple of days ago. I'll add a bit in another comment. So here it is, Saturday Random Ten, Payton's Pals Benefit Edition.
3. Walk Away--Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
4. Custard Pie--Helmet
5. Little Wing--Govt. Mule
6. Cool Breeze--Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker
7. Let's Go Smoke Some Pot--Dash Rip Rock
8. Marie Laveau--Dr. John
9. Bad Businessman--Squirrel Nut Zippers
10. I Like Beer--Tom T. Hall
Well, that's an odd combination. I can't imagine I'd actually want to hear those songs in that order, especially the jump from Tool to Ben Harper. I have to be in an especially odd mood to listen to Tool in the first place, and it's not the mood that Ben Harper generally fits into.
Amy's got a story online
It's actually been there for a week or so, and I've been remiss in not linking it sooner. Here it is for your reading enjoyment. Its title is Clara Belby: The Last Tale of the Barefoot Mailman, and I hope you enjoy it.
The new Love Machine
There it is--almost two grand worth of booty-shaking Korean automotive technology. Oh yeah baby--phear me!
The only downside is that is smells like an Argentinian perfume factory--the beautiful young lady we bought it from must have bathed in the stuff and on the drive home my nose felt like it does when I walk past the Parfumerie in the mall and I don't know how long it's going to take to get rid of that smell. Maybe I can let a homeless guy sleep in the car one night and the odors will balance each other out.
That said, Daniela, the lady who sold us the car was very pleasant and kind and I'm glad she made us such a good deal.
In case you haven't heard, the Wisconsin state legislature just passed a law forbidding the University of Wisconsin system from prescribing, dispensing and advertising all forms of birth control and emergency contraceptives.
Read that again, because I didn't apple-v that incorrectly.
They want to make it impossible for students to get birth control or emergency contraception on campus in Wisconsin. And why?
Wisconsin State Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, introduced this bill based on the belief that “dispensing birth control and emergency contraceptives leads to promiscuity.”
Tell me the one again about how Republicans are the party that respects your privacy.
Seems to me that there's only one real way to combat this sort of garbage masquerading as legislation. The women of Wisconsin have to band together, regardless of party affiliation, and cut the men off until they get rid of this law, and I say this as a generally horny male. Pull a Lysistrata on them. Tell them that until they butt out of the sex lives of college kids--some of whom are married, I might add, and who might be trying to hold off on starting a family until they're able to pay for it--nobody gets even so much as a hand job. And tell them that you're going to confiscate all their porn as well, even from the stash that they think is so well hidden that there's no possible way you could know about it.
Because make no mistake about it, ladies--this is an attack on you, and you better fight back and fight back hard.
Victory for Hackett in OH-2
All right--the returns aren't official and as of this posting, Hackett actually trails in the votes by 870 with 91 precincts still out, and I know absolutely nothing about where which candidate is strong or what precincts are out or anything else. Hell, I've never even set foot in Ohio. And yet this is still a victory, no matter how the final vote count turns out. Why?
Because we fought in a place where we weren't supposed to, and we've made a nail-biter of it. Because we showed both Democrats and Republicans alike that we're going to contest every election even if it seems like a lost cause, and when I say we, I don't mean the DCCC or the DSCC or even the DNC, but I mean we, the grassroots part of the party, the people who have been activated by the daily crap that comes out of the White House and the media and morons like the troll who inhabits the comments section.
We showed the national party that if they do more than make a token appearance in tough districts, we'll back them up and we'll reward them, both with money and effort. And if we keep doing this, we will win some of these close races, and we will be back on our way to being a majority party.
It sure feels this way sometimes