|Today's Chautauqua Topics:
Google vs. Free Speech, Creative Resistance, Beyond Google
I: Link of The Day:
Adbusters: Journal of the Mental Environment Spoof Advertisements
Adbusters challeges the nature of advertising and our relationship to commercial products. Thier spoof ads are both provocative and hilarious. Check 'em out.
II: Google vs. Free Speech:
Online search engine leader Google has banned the ads of an environmental group protesting a major cruise line’s sewage treatment methods, casting a spotlight on the policies — and power — of the popular Web site’s lucrative marketing program.Oceana, a 2½-year-old nonprofit group, said Google dropped the text-based ads displayed in shaded boxes along the right side of its Web page because they were critical of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines....The ad, which said “Help us protect the world’s oceans,” appeared for two days last week before Google pulled it from its page.
When Oceana challenged the ban, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google responded with an e-mail advising the group that it doesn’t accept ads with “language that advocates against Royal Caribbean.”
Read the MSNBC Article
What do you think? Does this article bother you?
Each and every day, the corporate media sources you read censor the information you receive--even on the internet. It's only natural for them to do so, after all, if you were G.E., one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers, would you want to air anti-war commercials? Naturally, this restricts the subject matter for our political, ethical, moral, and social dialogue, doesn't it?
The fact is, if I owned the airwaves, the programs I would air would reflect my own values and principles; my fantasies and dreams.
Every time we watch television or read a newspaper of any sort, we're ingesting the values, beliefs, hopes, and dreams of others and synthesizing a "new self"; transforming who we are--that unique mix of nature and nurture.
The corporate media, as many have noted, censors us and limits our access, but it also broadens our consciousness in directions it otherwise would not go. The broadening of our consciousness that a consolidated media brings about is a consciousness that is increasingly homogenous and centered around the accquisition of material possessions. Essentially, we're learning, through the media to think alike and to desire similar things.
Not I'm not saying you should feel guilty about watching the "Simpsons" or that "everything you hear on CNN is a lie", but that we should be skeptical about the biases superimposed upon our psyches. In order not to be reduced to our lowest common denominator, we need to look at the media with a critical eye and discuss its content. We need to pursue and foster diversity and broaden our worldview. One way to do that is to subvert the flow of information. Use technology to broaden your perspective.
III: Beyond Google: How to Transcend the Search Engine Monopoly
My colleague Aaron has put together an excellent web tutorial and valuable websearch resource. For those of us who are still roadkill on the information superhighway, it's pretty enlightening.
Aaron's Web Tutorial
News And Commentary
- Media Matters for America
- The Guardian
- Goderich Signal Star
- The Strib
- The Toronto Star
- The Poutine Diaries
- 917 Press
- Manufactured Environments
- Journal of Genki
- Rick and Heather
- Jason Coleman
- Paperback Writers
Noteworthy & Quoteworthy:
- CHUMP Dear President Obama, I'm not your suppor...
- My Deficit Reduction Plan My deficit reduction pl...
- I think Homer Simpson aptly summarized the Republi...
- It's Not About The Plan Do you want to stump a c...
- How Hard Can Healthcare Reform Be? Step One: Ide...
- What's So Scary About Socialism? Really. I want ...
- The Dog and Pony Show According to McCain's campa...
- Senator Wanderin' Eyes Talk about assessing you...
- McCain: Iraq is "Peaceful and Stable" Read It: ...
- Would You Pick Lettuce For $50 an hour? On plan...
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Sunday, February 29, 2004
|Why Isn't "A Former AttorneyGeneral Accuses Bush Administration of Armed Agression Against A Democratically Elected Leader" A National Headline?
Is it because our neocolonial misadventures are now passe, and therefore unnewsworthy; is it because Americans are generally apathetic in regard to foreign policy, or is the corporate-controlled media cherrypicking the UPI stories favorable to the powers that be?
"The Bush administration is again engaged in regime change by armed aggression," former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark said. "This time, the armed aggression is against the administration of the democratically elected president of Haiti."
Activists at a Friday press briefing outlined what they believe to be a well-crafted plan by the Bush administration to overthrow Aristide. Former Haitian military members, drug dealers and militants were armed and trained in the Dominican Republic thanks to military support from the United States. They have now crossed the border into Haiti, activists said.
The rebel insurrection that erupted three weeks ago has left roughly 80 people dead, nearly half of whom were police officers.
U.S.-supported coups in Latin America and Africa during the Cold War were referenced by many as models for what they perceive to be the Bush administration's current strategy in Haiti.
The Article You'll Never Read in the NY Times, The Washington Post, or the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
The only way we'll even approach "the truth" of what's happening in the world is to read a variety of news sources and juxtapose them, taking into consideration the bias of the writer. Media consolidation is limiting the range of perspectives available, and because of this, we're forced to make decisions based on limited empirical observation.
...One question I've had when it comes to U.S. relations with Haiti is "what is the administration's motive"? Have they struck oil in Port Au Prince?
Saturday, February 28, 2004
|Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain...
"As long as people are marginalized and distracted [they] have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments. People assume that they are the only people with a crazy idea in their heads. They never hear it from anywhere else. Nobody's supposed to think that. ... Since there's no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help you articulate it, you feel like an oddity, an oddball. So you just stay on the side and you don't pay any attention to what's going on. You look at something else, like the Superbowl."
The internet is our forum for organizing and articulating. Major newspapers limit the range of our speculation. If you don't believe me, consider the following stories. Weren't they a little bit more significant than Martha Stewart's Trial or Rosie's wedding?
Two Stories That Didn't Make It To Your Newspaper
The Pentagon Predicts Global Warming Catastrophe
England and the U.S. Spied on the U.N.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
|I'm The Real Jesus...
Hey Kids! Play the Shameless Antagonist's New Game...Find The Real Jesus. is it...
A. Black Jesus
B. Gun-Toting Action Jesus
C. Mullet Jesus
Submit your answers below! Those who believe they "know" Jesus will receive Eternal Salvation, and I'll throw in a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni for finding him here rather than through earnest soul-searching.
Of course, you could just watch Mel's movie--trust him--he'll tell you exactly how you should think of Jesus.
Almost a century ago, a Hindu lawyer looked at the life of Jesus and formulated a philosophy of passive resistance that forced the English Empire out of India without a single shot fired; a similar reading of the life of Christ led to the American civil rights movement and the nonviolence of Martin Luther King Jr.. In 2004, the same man's life is used as the backdrop for Mel Gibson's sadistic fantasies. Christ has become the platform for the further desensitization of Americans to violence. Sure, the death of Jesus was a violent affair, but Gibson would rather dwell on the scars than the healing...I guess what you get out of the story of Christ's life is determined by what you bring to it...Call it a reader-response theory of Christianity. The best review I've read is by Rick Growen of The Globe and Mail.
"...Still, the controversy turns out to have done Gibson a huge favour. It appears to have blinded many to the picture's far more provable faults, especially to its close-up deification of Christ's flagellated body — the word made flesh, the flesh made yucky. Looking to heaven, Mel Gibson has made a movie about the God of Love, and produced two hours of non-stop violence. We can only pray that next time, looking to Mars, he'll make a movie about the God of Violence, and produce two hours of non-stop love. That might be porn worth paying for".
Find Mel's Jesus
|Join the Shameless Religion
In an effort to obtain federal Faith Based Charities funds, I'm starting my own religion, and you're all welcome to join! This religion will combine all the major religions with refreshing syncretism drawing from animism and Taoism infused for good measure. I'll encourage all of you to view this faith--although it's entirely derivative--as the "one true religion" divinely revealed to the 'Shameless Antagonist', the one true prophet of the most high ( his real name shalt not be uttered). This will enable you, as my followers, to feel priviliged and blessed compared to all the other benighted souls living in ignorance. It doesn't matter my brethren, that there are only a handful of you--all religions started this way--in fact, this means there are that many more people to feel superior to!
The guiding principle of The Shameless Faith will be a concept hereafter referred to in comparative religion textbooks as 'tailored morality'.
Tailored morality means the only prohibited behavior is that which you yourself are not tempted to engage in.
For example, if you're a homosexual, hetrosexual contact is strictly prohibited. If you've never liked hockey very much, hockey pucks will be anethema. If you don't like meat, your piety is evident each time you don't eat a burger. If you're poor, obviously your virtue will be evident by the fact that you don't engage in conspicuous consumption; if you're rich and drive a Benz, that's obviously a sign of God's blessing. Greed: Is it a mortal sin or a stimulant to the economy?...You be the judge!
...On second thought, maybe the Shameless Faith already exists.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
|Mel Gibson's Mullet of Piety
I read a review of Gibson's film that reflects my skepticism about Mel's newfound image as the persecuted victim of Anti-Christian hatred....
Ever since his star began to rise after the 1979 Australian thriller Mad Max, Mel Gibson hasn't seemed fully alive on screen unless he's being tortured and mutilated. In the Road Warrior and Lethal Weapon films, as well as such one-shots as Conspiracy Theory (1997) and The Patriot (2000), Gibson courted martyrdom, and he achieved it. He won an Oscar for his labors in Braveheart (1995), which ends with its hero managing to scream "FREEEEE-DOM!!" as he's drawn and quartered. Gibson snatched the pulp movie Payback (1999) away from its writer-director, Brian Helgeland, to make the torture of his character even more gruelingly explicit: He added shots of his toes being smashed by an iron hammer. Payback: That's what almost all of Gibson's movies are about (including his 1990 Hamlet.) Even if he begins as a man of peace, Mad Mel ends as a savage revenger...Gibson has said that what moves him most about the Christ story is that Jesus was whipped, scourged, mocked, spat on, had spikes driven through his hands and feet, and was left to die on the cross—and that he didn't think of payback; he thought of forgiveness. But by wallowing in his torture and death for two hours, the director of The Passion of the Christ (Newmarket) suggests that he's thinking of anything but...
Mel has made a living glamourizing revenge fantasies and glamourizing warfare. I'm not going to pay to see his sick obsessions superimposed on the life of Jesus...
Of course, Mel, the man of God, is not too happy about the criticism of his movie. His response to his critics is nothing short of Christlike...
About Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist who implied Gibson's father is "a Holocaust denier," the director had some choice – and inflammatory – words: "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog."
Isn't it "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you", Mel? Don't confuse a mullet with a halo.
|Please Submit Your Dukes of Hazzard Analogies
The other day, I commented on the eerie similarities between the comments of George W. Bush and Roscoe P. Coltrane of "Dukes of Hazzard" fame. Rich furthered the explication of such parallels in a stimulating comment. For the next few days, I'll attempt to carry the analogy to its conclusion, with your help and the assistance of my benevolent creator.
Separated At Birth? You Be The Judge!
"no, no, no give me that pie!"
"The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States,"
Two Good Ol' Boys, their names now synonymous with greed. Coincidence? I think not.
|The Shameless Antagonist Defends Rod Page
Secretary Rod Page: Where do you dig guys like this up, anyway? Even if you don't think the NEA operates in the best interests of students, how does it improve your bargaining position to call them "terrorists"? Initially, I thought Rod Page committed an act of gross incompetence, but after considering all the evidence, I've retracted my condemnation. Please consider the news, as well as the additional information obtained through my affiliate, Shameless Research Incorporated.
"Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" Monday, taking on the 2.7-million-member National Education Association early in the presidential election year.
Paige's comments, made to the nation's governors at a private White House meeting, were denounced by union president Reg Weaver as well as prominent Democrats.
The education secretary's words were "pathetic and they are not a laughing matter," said Weaver, whose union has said it plans to sue the Bush administration over lack of funding for demands included in the "No Child Left Behind" schools law".
When I initally read Secretary Page's comments, I was incensed, but Shameless Research revealed that several math teachers had been caught at the Minneapolis Airport trying to smuggle protractors onto airplanes late Monday night....It seems they were arrested by the FBI for trafficking inWeapons of Math Instruction.
Saturday, February 21, 2004
|Support the Troops: Vote For Kerry
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Commander-in-Chief Edward S. Banas, Sr. blasted Bush's 2005 budget as "further [evidence] that veterans are no longer a priority with this administration." He called the 1.8 percent increase in veteran's medical care funding "a disgrace and a sham."
As The American Legion's Thomas succinctly puts it, the budget "offered much for defense [but] offered very little for the defenders."
Relatively conservative veterans realize that while the republicans talk a good game, when it comes to supporting those who have actually served, Democrats offer more than republicans. Minnesota veterans knew that Paul Wellstone was their advocate, and now, nationally, John Kerry will do the same.
President Bush has two roles for your average soldier: Cannon fodder and window dressing. Who will take care of you after the war is over? Halliburton?
|What Books Have Changed Your Life?
What books have you read that have changed your life? I'm currently reading a book that blows me away...
" Another well known example of spontaneous intuitive insights are jokes. In the split second where you understand a joke you experience a moment of 'enlightenment'. It is well known that this moment must come spontaneously, that it cannot be acheived by 'explaining' the joke, i.e. by intellectual analysis. Only with a sudden intuitive insight into the nature of the joke do we experience the liberating laughter the joke is meant to produce. The similarity between a spiritual insight and the understanding of a joke must be well known to enlightened men and women, since they almost invariably show a great sense of humor. Zen, especially, is full of funny stories and anecdotes, and in the Tao De Ching we read 'If it were not laughed at, it would not be sufficient to be Tao'.
-Fritjof Capra The Tao of Physics
Tell some jokes today...
Friday, February 20, 2004
We'll get those Duke Boys....I'm in hot pursuit!
We'll get those Faruk boys...We'll smoke 'em outta their caves!
Really...Wouldn't you prefer government by Roscoe P. Coltrane?
Even he couldn't make a mess of things this fast.
|This Is Not America...
Here's the latest from Guantanamo Bay, as reported by the Guardian, Britain's top independent newspaper...
"Among those detained were nine British nationals, captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan by the US or its allies, who were wheeled in on trolleys, blindfolded and manacled, wearing orange jumpsuits.
The Britons were sometimes locked up for 24 hours a day, seeing nothing apart from the cramped cells in which they were kept, a small exercise yard and the American interrogators who questioned them without any legal restriction...The US courts have until now refused to intervene, arguing that Guantanamo Bay, a 45-mile stretch of Cuba held by the US, is not American soil and not covered by US laws.".
Welcome to Guantanamo Bay: Where American control is supreme, and American principles do not apply, nor does the Geneva convention or any U.N. convention, for that matter. We are now a "might makes right" country.
How long must we have a government which violates the very principles of our constitution?
Thursday, February 19, 2004
|The New Definition of Shamelessness: Ann Coulter Eats Babies
O.K., So I don't have any proof of this outrageous accusation, but by applying Ann's own standards of journalistic integrity, I don't have to. The burden of proof, for Ann Coulter, is always on those whom she accuses of treason, hypocrisy, etc. Does Ann Coulter eat babies? Well, she does eat, doesn't she? Thousands of babies dissappear every year, don't they? I'm sure if I do a Lexis-Nexis search, I could find a picture of Ann Coulter with a baby, couldn't I? Coincidence? I think not. After extensive research, I've concluded that we can't rule out the possibility that Ann Coulter eats babies. Come clean, Ann. How do you cook 'em?
Sure, this is a shameless accusation, but is it any more shameless than attempting to discredit Max Cleland, the former Georgia senator and triple amputee Vietnam combat veteran?
Shortly after drowning a burlap sack full of kittens in the Potomac, Coulter flew back to her cave and vomited the following into print in her column...
"Cleland wore the uniform, he was in Vietnam, and he has shown courage by going on to lead a productive life. But he didn't "give his limbs for his country," or leave them "on the battlefield." There was no bravery involved in dropping a grenade on himself with no enemy troops in sight".
Cleland lost his seat in the Senate to Saxby Chambliss, who had the chutzpah to smear Cleland as 'soft on terrorism' for refusing to sign the president's Homeland Security bill. Chambliss, predictably enough, is a Chickenhawk like Coulter.
It isn't enough for Coulter and Chambliss to send others off to fight their neocon wars for them; it isn't enough for them to smear their opponents...Oh no, they have to mock those who actually sacrificed and suffered for their country.
The English language has no invective harsh enough Coulter and Chambliss. Their wickedness requires an expansion of the vocabulary. Internet sex columnist Dan Savage assured the infamy of the bigot senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum; let's do the same for Ann Coulter and Saxby Chambliss:
Please participate in the Shameless Antagonist's "New Definitions" Contest. I'll send a small token of my appreciation to the winner.
Please send not only a definition, but also an example of the word in context, for example:
"I slipped on a bananna peel and fell flat on my Chambliss!"
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
|The Tide Is Turning
Congratulations to the Ben Chandler Campaign! The Chandler campaign easily brushed back Alice Forgy Kerr, despite substantial campaigning by Dennis Hastert, Dubya, and Mitch McConnell's campaign staffers.
Rumor has it that Forgy-Kerr's campaign derailed because the bags of money wealthy republicans donated to her campaign were too heavy for McConnell's flying monkey staff couriers.
Mitch McConnell's Staff At Work
"Former state attorney general Ben Chandler on Tuesday easily won the U.S. House seat vacated by GOP Gov. Ernie Fletcher, ending a long Democratic losing streak in congressional special elections...Mr. Bush made a commercial for Kerr's campaign and House Speaker Dennis Hastert stumped for her. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave her $10,000 and loaned top aides to run her campaign".
Read About The First of Many Democratic Victories in 2004
Sunday, February 15, 2004
|The Final Push For Ben Chandler
Kentucky State Attorney General Ben Chandler is running for U.S. Congress in a special early election this Tuesday. Sending our support to Chandler at this crucial juncture could set the tone for the November elections and give us one more voice for the environment, education, and accountability to the electorate in the Republican-dominated house.
Please help Ben win! Ben Chandler for Congress
|Doug Haines For U.S. Congress
Isn't this the type of guy you'd like to send to congress? Please visit Doug's site and help him if you can!
"... in 1992 Doug returned to Athens and founded Georgia Legal Watch, a nonprofit public-interest law firm devoted to protecting our rights to a clean environment and to open, democratic government. Doug’s breakthrough at Legal Watch came in 1994, when he sued to compel the state to enforce anti-pollution laws to clean up Georgia’s rivers. Doug won the case, and as part of the settlement received $300,000 earmarked to help him provide Georgia’s communities with free legal help in environmental disputes".
Doug Haines For Congress
Campaign literature quote:It's one of the most Democratic seats in the country, but Georgia¹s 12th District is currently held by a Republican. The Republicans and their special-interest donors have been AWOL on every issue important to us. Help a progressive Democrat, Doug Haines, take our fight to Congress.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
In Secretary of State Colin Powell's autobiography, My American Journey, he writes the following:
I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in the Army Reserve and National Guard units... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country.
-Colin the Bush puppet, 1996
|Why Not Just Outsource The War Altogether?
Corpwatch.org has an exclusive report from Iraq about Halliburton's foreign workers. Just when you didn't think Halliburton couldn't get any more sleazy...
The company can't hire workers fast enough to fulfill their commitments, but the pay scales fluctuate wildly depending on the country of citizenship of the employee. Americans, who work at dead-end, low-wage jobs at home, get paid handsomely even by US standards. Iraqi salaries start at $100 a month and imported South Asian workers get three times that. Meanwhile Halliburton is being investigated by the US military for overcharging US taxpayers to the tune of at least $16 million.
...When people put corporate profits above the well being of their country and their own soldiers, they're war profiteers, foremost among them is Vice President Cheney, the most corrupt VP ever.
Friday, February 13, 2004
"...Let's start with a test: Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers?
If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you're supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn't. Odds are you just think whatever you're told...If you believe everything you're supposed to now, how can you be sure you wouldn't also have believed everything you were supposed to if you had grown up among the plantation owners of the pre-Civil War South, or in Germany in the 1930s-- or among the Mongols in 1200, for that matter? Odds are you would have".
-Paul Graham "What You Can't Say" Read The Essay
|Should We Fear the Wrath of Khan?
Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Greg Palast reports:
"...On November 7, 2001, BBC Television's Newsnight and the Guardian of London reported that the Bush administration thwarted investigations of Dr. A.Q. Khan, known as the "father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb. This week, Khan confessed to selling atomic secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.
The Bush Administration has expressed shock at disclosures that Pakistan, our ally in the war on terror, has been running a nuclear secrets bazaar. In fact, according to the British news teams' sources within US intelligence agencies, shortly after President Bush's inauguration, his National Security Agency (NSA) effectively stymied the probe of Khan Research Laboratories, the Pakistani agency in charge of the bomb project. CIA and other agents told BBC they could not investigate the spread of “Islamic Bombs” through Pakistan because funding appeared to originate in Saudi Arabia..."
Soon, according to the vision outlined in the President's State of the Union Speech, our mighty triumph in the Mideast will spead democracy throughout the world, and relegate tyrants to the dustbin of history. Looks like we're on the right track, eh?
Diplomacy, I've heard, is saying "nice doggie" until you're in a position to pick up a rock. It seems totalitarian regimes are saying "nice doggie" to Bush until they load their nuclear slingshots.
Greg Palast Website
|Unfrozen Caveman President
Ever since the first Bush/Gore debate, I've felt an eerie sense of deja vu whenever I've gazed upon the visage of our beady-eyed president with his prominent forehead and square jaw.
Yesterday, while watching an old Saturday Night Live rerun, I realized where I'd seen him before:
The late Phil Hartman's "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" sketch. Am I crazy? You be the judge!
As I recall, Bush said the following in his State of the Union address:
"Ladies and gentlmen of the company, I'm just a caveman."
"I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists."
"Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the odd noises from these metal boxes scares me and makes me want to run back to my cave. Sometimes when I look up at the ceiling I see these strange tubes that light up at the flick of a wall stick, I wonder, did demons catch light from the sun and put it there? I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. I don't understand your "buget deficits", but there's one thing I do know...The rich deserve more tax cuts."
Thursday, February 12, 2004
|...What Should We Spend The Surplus On?
Remember three years ago when our congressmen were most concerned about how we were going to spend the budget surplus? 800 billion dollars later, we're thinking about cutting just about every social program for the sake of fighting the a war against an intangible concept. I'm reminded of what a famous Republican war hero once said:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953
The true cost of war is that we're not going to have money for other priorities. Do we want to spend billions on education...Sorry, no money! Science? Tapped. The arts? That would be nice, but this is wartime. We have to be willing to sacrifice...Meanwhile...
O.K., so we're not all going to sacrifice, but you'll have to.
I Know what you're thinking...what's Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month?
Fungus of the Month Link
What was that gooey stuff I found in the backyard last summer?
Well, It's not a plant, it's not an animal, it's the mavel of the myxological world: Slime moulds!
Slime Hunting Link
School of Rock
"Scientists believe volcanic ash blown across the landscape or dust, transported by water or wind, accumulated to form the angled layers visible in the sulfur-rich rock.
"That generally means whatever medium the matrix was deposited in was in motion - whether it was the air or water," said Steve Squyres, a Cornell University astronomer and the mission's main scientist".
Geology isn't my bag, baby, but I'm curious about what they'll find...perhaps the Martian fungus of the month...That is, if we're still funding higher education.
Monday, February 09, 2004
|Will The Repubicans Replace Cheney?
MSN Gossip columnist Jeanette Walls reports that...a well-placed source says that the president will “most likely” drop Dick Cheney from his re-election ticket.Who will replace him? Word has it that Bush is leaning toward a member of Cheney's infamous Energy Task Force: C. Montgomery Burns.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
|Gay Penguins to The Rescue!
Dimitia Smith's Saturday column in the NY Times, The Love That Dare Not Squeak It's Name, explains how gay penguins have transformed the political landscape of the United States in the last few years. In the zoos of New York, Penguin homosexuals are coming out of the closet; openly displaying their affection for one another with nary a word of censure from other penguins. In fact, penguin flocks actually seem to condone their lifestyle and allow for adoption! Smith writes:
...Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": that is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins. When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused it. And the females aren't interested in them, either...At one time, the two seemed so desperate to incubate an egg together that they put a rock in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens, said their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay. Finally, he gave them a fertile egg that needed care. It worked perfectly...
It seems that since the publication of Bruce Bagemihls 1999 book, "Biological Exhuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity", gay penguins have risen to national prominence in America's legal system.
According to Smith, "...last summer the book was cited by the American Psychiatric Association and other groups in a "friend of the court" brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, a case challenging a Texas anti-sodomy law. The court struck down the law..."Sexual Exuberance" was also cited in 2000 by gay rights groups opposed to Ballot Measure 9, a proposed Oregon statute prohibiting teaching about homosexuality or bisexuality in public schools. The measure lost".
I salute you, Roy and Silo! Keep pecking away at the wall of ignorance with your cute little gay beaks!
Read The Article
|I Really Do Want Your Comments...
Something is wrong with my comments link. Please check back later. I'm in the process of correcting a huge pile of essays, and it may take a while.
Saturday, February 07, 2004
|Jesus Doesn't Care About Your Basketball Game
Yesterday, I went to a basketball game at school, and sadly, the visiting team was triumphant. The coach was ecstatic, and equated their victory with divine providence. The team took a knee in prayer following the final buzzer to thank the lord for their success. All of this took place following an atrocious display of poor coaching. Despite their win, many of the girls on his team seemed demoralized and stressed because the only tools in his coaching arsenal seemed to be shouting, criticizing, and complaining about the quality of the refereeing. I felt sorry for his team.
I wanted to buy him a bracelet that said, "H.W.J.C": How Would Jesus Coach?
Some people believe in the separation of church and state; I believe in the separation of church and sports metaphor.
Throughout my youth, I listened to many strained God-sports metaphors from the pulpit of the Lutheran church, each one more banal than the next. I've heard "Onward Christian Soldiers" linked to Vikings games, the Crucifiction compared to a crushing Superbowl loss, and resurrection likened to the '87 Twins cinderella season.
I've had enough. God isn't my cosmic coach drawing up the plans; my deity is not my teammate, foam-fingered fan, or quarterback.
Sure, when you look at artist's conceptions of Jesus, he's a wiry, athletic looking guy that seems to be a head taller than his companions--that doesn't necessarily mean he can play hoops. Sure, he's infallable, so I guess he wouldn't miss too many free throws, but his "turn the other cheek' philosophy might mean his defense would be soft--although I hear he's good on the boards. Would Jesus Christ, Sportsman be competitive enough to win the championship? I doubt it...If Jesus were actually on my sports team, I think I'd most appreciate his miraculous talents as a waterboy.
Don't get me wrong...I love sports as entertainment, and with the right coaching, positive life lessons can be learned through students participating in them. Some coaches, however, seem to equate them with divinely-inspired paramilitaries equipping kids for a life of slavish, unquestioning loyalty to an authority figure.
I don't think that's what God wants from us...She's got other priorities. Games are for kids, not deities.
If you want God in sports, you'll have to settle for the next best thing: Kevin Garnett.
Friday, February 06, 2004
|My Last Comment On Nipplegate
Has anyone else sensed a mysogynistic undertone to the outrage over Janet Jackson's exposed breast on the Superbowl halftime show? Janet Jackson will no longer be a presenter at the Grammys this week, yet Justin Timberlake will be performing a duet with Christina Aguilera.
Janet is ostracised, and Justin Timberlake's career continues on, unabated...How is that fair? After all, he was the one who exposed the breast. Of course, she was askin' for it, wasn't she, Justin? It was her idea in the first place, or so you've insisted to the media.
If you and your children were shocked and offended merely by Janet's bosom, why were you watching her in the first place? Did you think she was going to get up on the stage dressed like Marie Osmond? An exposed breast in the internet age just isn't shocking anymore, and I question why it should be. What was shocking was the image of a white man tearing off the clothing of a black woman.
America has a troubled history of racial relations. We're also a country where a woman is raped every two minutes, the symbolism of the performance is what we should be discussing; we should also consider what it says about us as a nation that we respond by only holding Janet accountable...Are we blaming the victim here, figuratively, if not literally?
|Homeland Security or Corporate Security?
Does the Homeland Security Bill defend you, or does it defend corporations? I'm not sure that Tom Ridge's color-coded alert system has done much to make me any safer, or that the War on Terror itself has made me any safer, but I do know that it has helped large corporations suckling the teats of the administration to avoid lawsuits from those greedy, opporunistic parents of autistic children...
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert responded to the hidden provisions of the Homeland Security Bill with appropriate righteous fury back in November...
"...Last week the Senate approved legislation to establish a Department of Homeland Security and it will soon be signed into law by the president. Buried in this massive bill, snuck into it in the dark of night by persons unknown (actually, it's fair to say by Republican persons unknown), was a provision that -- incredibly -- will protect Eli Lilly and a few other big pharmaceutical outfits from lawsuits by parents who believe their children were harmed by thimerosal.
Now this has nothing to do with homeland security. Nothing. This is not a provision that will in any way protect us from the ferocious evil of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So why is it there? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the major drug companies have become a gigantic collective cash machine for politicians, and that the vast majority of that cash goes to Republicans.
Or maybe it's related to the fact that Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, is a former Eli Lilly big shot. Or the very convenient fact that just last June President Bush appointed Eli Lilly's chairman, president and C.E.O., Sidney Taurel, to a coveted seat on the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council.
There's a real bad smell here. Eli Lilly will benefit greatly as both class-action and individual lawsuits are derailed. But there are no fingerprints in sight. No one will own up to a legislative deed that is both cynical and shameful..."
Read Bob's Article
See how it works? Legislation to shield Eli Lilly from lawsuits would never have made it alone, but if democrats would have voted against Homeland Security, they would have been labelled unpatriotic.
As they say, "the devil's in the details". In this case, the devil is a republican legislator so cynical as to not even attach his name to an amendment.
What can be done? First of all, consign this corrupt administration to the rock from under which it crawled. Vote for a party that actually cares about all its citizens, not just corporations. Call your senators and congressmen and ask them why amendments can be attached to bills without a sponsor.
In the end we get the government we deserve; the government we're willing to fight for.
|Abracadabra! I Support The War On Terrorism! Gimme Some Money!
David Horowitz and other defenders of the status quo insist that our "War on Terror", the preemptive strike on Iraq and the occupation that followed it have made the world a safer place. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The "War on Terror" actually has made the world a far more dangerous place, and there is no better illustration of this fact than the current situation in Pakistan. In the last few months, There have been several attempts on Pervez Musharraf's life. What would happen if he were deposed, perhaps you ask? A fundamentalist regime hostile to the United States could find themselves in possession of nuclear weapons.
In their annual report, Human Rights Watch, one of the world's foremost human rights N.G.O's makes the following observation about how the world has changed since Sept. 11th in relation to Pakistan:
"Nowhere was the transformation greater than in Pakistan. Before September 11, the military government of President Pervez Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 coup, was almost completely shunned by Western governments. After the coup, Pakistan lost billions in international aid. But after deciding to side with the United States against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Musharraf's administration was rewarded with instant legitimacy and aid. Senior foreign affairs officials from around the world came to Islamabad to meet the military dictator. The U.S. rescheduled billions in debt, resumed economic aid, and authorized the first weapons sales since 1998. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank dramatically increased loans. Japan, the Commonwealth, and other Western governments also adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to problems of democratic governance and human rights in Pakistan.
In April 2002, Musharraf staged a rigged referendum in which electoral lists were not used and no efforts were made to prevent multiple voting to gain a five-year extension of his self-announced presidency. Official results claimed that 97.5 percent voted in favor, a result more akin to an election in Vietnam or Iraq than in the normally rambunctious political atmosphere of Pakistan. On August 22, Musharraf effectively announced that "l'etat, c'est moi" when he promulgated the "Legal Framework Order (LFO)." The LFO amended the constitution to strengthen the powers of the president at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches. Musharraf effectively arrogated to himself the power to make all important decisions. This was a severe blow to a country with a strong legal and judicial tradition. On the day that Musharraf made this announcement, President Bush announced that, though democracy was important, he would not allow the LFO to affect the U.S. alliance with Musharraf. "He's still tight with us in the war against terror, and that's what I appreciate," Bush said".
Do you see how it works? We prop up oppressive regimes, the opposition parties become more and more radical as a result, and pretty soon, the War on Terror becomes the proverbial nine-headed hydra. Voila! Perpetual war for the forseeable future.
At this point, a cynic might wonder if individuals with significant military-industrial complex stocks might not be in favor of a perpetual war scenario.
...Having a more positive view of human nature, I'm partial to the opinion that our government is run by backseat drivers, and nobody is at the wheel.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
|Ad Hominem Attacks Are Totally Inappropriate
David Horowitz, former liberal and noted author of "The Future of Freedom", and "How To Teach Your Ass To Talk The David Horowitz Way" wrote an op-ed which appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today. In his article, Mr. Horowitz lamented the "savage attacks" faced by President Bush. Although I've often disagreed with Mr. Horowitz's politics, I was sympathetic to his argument. For the sake of the nation, liberals and conservatives should unite to elevate the level of public discourse.
A lesser man may be tempted to respond to Mr. Horowitz's comments with ad hominem attacks, but I'd rather discuss the merits of the ideas he expresses. The esteemed author of the poignant memoir "My Gay Lover John Ashcroft: Sometimes I Just Need To Be Held", deserves that much, I suppose.
Using the refreshingly creative "rhetorical question to start an arguement" approach, David calls into question the reason why President Bush's popularity is plummeting:
"...Why should the president be on the defensive over a war as good as this one?"
A good war--interesting concept. Let's define the term. Good War: Any war David Horowitz is not fighting in; i.e. any war; A war where investments in the military-industrial complex increase substantially. How much money do you have in Halliburton stock, David? Every time you speak, you should have to declare how much money you've made since this 'good war' began. We could call it "War Profiteer Full Disclosure".
The Paragon of Enlightenment continues..
"...Casualties were minimal, 25 million people were freed, and a brutal regime was dismantled -- a prison for children was liberated and mass graves stopped being filled...".
Casualties were minimal? We've lost more soldiers already than we lost in the first four years of the Vietnam war.
Casualties were minimal? Why the past tense verb--this war is present continuous tense--or do you want to stand atop the Nimitz and say "Mission Accomplished" today?
Casualties were minimal? As of today, 529 soldiers have died--I'm sorry--530 there was another today. We're losing a soldier a day? You call that minimal? Try telling that to a dead soldier's mother.
--As far as the mass graves--they're still being filled--have innocent civilians ceased to die in Iraq? How many David? Are 10,000 people needlessly killed any less significant if they're buried in neat rows?
25 million people were freed...Just how free are they? Are they living in a stable, western-style democracy? Could the Iraqi Governing council last for even one minute without U.S. forces propping them up? Saying that 25 million people have been free is about as premature as calling the war over...To many Iraqis, the aftermath of the war seems like moving from the frying pan to the fire.
The Factless Wonder continues...
"Why should Bush have to apologize for a war that brought Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi to heel, made the Syrians and Iranians more pliant and has killed or taken into custody thousands of terrorist soldiers and allies"?
Ahem...Brought them to heel? Made them more pliant? I can hardly sit down with all the monkeys flying out of my butt...David, does a leader 'brought to heel' buy nuclear weapons from the Pakistanis? Both Libya and Iraq have. They've learned from the North Korean paradigm. Namely, that the Bush regime only attacks countries without weapons of mass destruction. The rest of 'em have what card players refer to as a "bargaining position". By the way David, no matter what you've been told, bending over for corporate cash is not a bargaining position.
"Saddam Hussein was given four months to prove he had destroyed the weapons that U.N. inspectors had already established that he possessed. These included thousands of tons of nerve gas, anthrax and other chemical and biological goodies. What became of these? No one knows".
Exactly. Let's assume that you're right: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld--they never lied to us even once. Saddam did have tons of biological weapons, chemical weapons, and even nuclear weapons. Let's even assume that he had the ability to strike England within 45 minutes. Let's also assume that the war drew Al-Quieda into Iraq and that Syria is in cahoots with both groups. Let's also assume that Rumsfeld and Powell were telling the truth when they said that they knew Hussein had these weapons and they knew where they were.
Wouldn't that mean that we've in effect transferred arms from Saddam Hussein to Al Quieda? Talk about blowback!
What you think of as success, Mr. Horowitz, is looking like a pretty miserable failure to me.
Ad Hominem attacks are totally inappropriate for serious editorialists, cheap hacks like you who've made a living out of smearing liberals, on the other hand, deserve the rhetorical equivalent of a Belfast six pack. Consider that a warning, Mr. Poopypants.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
|Inch by Inch, Row By Row...
A better world starts with dirt under the nails.
By 6:30 every week-day evening, when it was warm enough, Debessay had shed his work clothes for a T-shirt and shorts and was outside. Hauling away debris, hammering in railroad ties to frame raised planting beds, trolling garden centers.
Into the ground he buried the uncertainty and stress of his immigrant life. As a stone in his garden is inscribed, "the earth laughed back in flowers."
Here's hoping your laughs are filled with ladyslippers and wild orchids today.
Read The Strib Article
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fighter For Peace
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
|I'm Searching For The Pro-Nipple Candidate
So Michael Powell, the FCC Chairman, is launching an investigation of the Superbowl halftime show. It seems that conservatives are aghast that Janet ( that's Miss Jackson to you) "inadvertently" bared her pierced nipple on television. Thanks, Michael, for addressing the most pressing issue facing America today. Never mind the deficit or the war! Let's investigate nipples!
Many of us remember you, Michael, for your crusade to deregulate corporate ownership of the media last year. You and the corporations are still pushing, despite losing in court, and despite the fact that 97% of Americans were opposed to it. Thanks to you, we may have fewer and fewer independent news media outlets, and can be assured of more "Fair and Balanced" news from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and other bizillionaires. But never mind that! Our country is under assault from WDM's--Women's Destructive Mammary Glands!
What is there to investigate, anyway? We've seen the photos, we've seen the footage. I can only imagine how Powell would go about investigating...According to the Washington Post, " 'Powell said the investigation will be "thorough and swift.' "
I'm sure it will be! I would guess that Powell will study the photos with considerable enthusiasm for about 10 minutes, then suddenly lose interest. You'll take the matter in hand, won't you Michael?
The gynophobic pontificator continues...
"I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl," the FCC chairman said in a statement. "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."
Michael, The people of the United States do deserve better; they deserve better than a man like you as head of the FCC. We deserve an FCC chairman who isn't in the back pocket of corporations. As far as outrage, most have reserved that particular emotion for your father, who lied us into a war.
In my lifetime, I've seen countless nipples, and not even the perkiest among them have done me any harm. In fact, I wouldn't have made it through my infancy without them. Nipples...I love 'em.
In fact, I'm looking for the candidate who proudly carries forth the "pro-nipple" banner, figuratively speaking. The nipple is a symbol of nurturing, therefore the pro-nipple candidate would support early childhood education and daycare. The pro-nipple candidate would also be an unabashed supporter of the equal rights amendment, planned parenthood, and all issues that pertain to the utilization of one's nipples, even if these issues aren't directly related to nipplehood per se--we can refer to these as "aureola issues".
I'd much rather support the pro-nipple candidate than face a future with incompetent boobs like Michael Powell in positions of authority.