Friday, March 31, 2006

They give cover to child molesters...

and potty mouthed Supreme Court justices.

The Archdiocese of Boston- proving yet again that some people can remain in denial for quite a long, long time.

It's hard to believe they're still in business.


The cheerleaders for Bush think "we're all on the front line; we're all in this war."

Let me tell them what "we're all in this war" would really mean:

From this moment until such time as its enemies shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic all Frenchmen are in permanent requisition for the services of the armies. The young men shall fight; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothes and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn linen into lint; the old men shall betake themselves to the public squares in order to arouse the courage of the warriors and preach hatred of kings and the unity of the Republic.

It's called a levée en masse. Means we'd all have to pick up a gun. All of us. Even Hugh Hewitt.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Antonin Sclalia: Lying Liar

The Boston Herald prints the picture and the word what most New Yorkers know to be the words of a potty-mouth:

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.
The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”
HT: Atrios.


Invest in it.

I predicted it ! Or at least pretty closely...

My comment on Kos when the Domenech affair was breaking:

The Washington Post deliberately hired a blogger who would pretend to be right-wing but they knew he would be discredited by plagiarism charges, so they could discredit the right wing.

Mat Stoller over at MyDD notes this bit in the New Republic:

Domenech deserved to be let go; but in the course of celebrating his demise, liberals have missed the real lesson of this entire episode. Instead of hiring a conservative, the Post hired a caricature of one; Domenech's blog would have been less a product of red America and more a product of what blue America understands red America to be. More than anything else, the sad saga of Ben Domenech reveals just how simplistic blue-state elites have become in their understanding of American conservatism.
Conservatism is snake-oil; much of soon-to-formerly-be "Red America" understands that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Why you can't download John Lennon's early music from iTunes

This is just stupid.

LONDON (AP) -- Two legendary companies in the music industry faced off in court Wednesday in a trademark battle over a piece of fruit.

Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles' record company and guardian of the band's musical heritage and business interests, is suing Apple Computer Inc., claiming the company violated a 1991 agreement by entering the music business with its iTunes online store.

Geoffrey Vos, a lawyer representing Apple Corps, argued in Britain's High Court that characterizing the download system as an electronic device was a ''perversion'' of the constraints laid down in the agreement between the two companies.

Vos said Steve Jobs, co-founder and chief executive of Apple Computer, has said the downloading of music from the Internet was the same as buying an LP in the modern world.

Apple Computer's argument that it uses the apple mark only in connection with a delivery system was ''plainly wrong,'' Vos said.

''What Apple Computers are not doing (when) using the Apple mark is selling software, delivery systems, or anything of the like. They are selling music,'' Vos said. ''and that is in violation of the agreement.''

I find it hard to believe any reasonably intelligent person would confuse these two companies.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yes, yes, stick to're all Bush now...

If this is true, it'll be a rout in November:


To: Ken Mehlman
From: Jan van Lohuizen
Date: March 3, 2006
Re: Bush -- Congressional Republicans

Per our conversation, we took another look at the way voters, Republicans specifically, link President Bush and Republicans in the House and the Senate. There are several points worth making:

1. President Bush continues to have the strong loyal support of Republican voters. Despite slippage in approval ratings among all voters, the President's job approval among Republicans continues to be very high. Most members will be elected with between 80% and 100% of their support coming from Republicans. I don't see that Republicans driving a wedge between themselves and the President is a good election strategy.

2. My read of the current environment is that our problem will be turnout. '06 could become an election like '82 or '84. In '82 Republicans showed up at relatively normal turnout rates, while Democrats, because they were angry, showed up at abnormally high turnout rates. In '94, Republican turnout was elevated, while Democratic turnout was depressed. We have every reason to believe '06 could become the inverse of '82. We don't see signs of a depressed Republican turnout yet, but we have every reason to believe Democrats will turn out in high numbers. Anything we do to depress turnout, by not running as a unified party for instance, could very well lead to serious consequences in November.

3. The President is seen universally as the face of the Republican Party. We are now brand W. Republicans. The following chart shows the extremely close correlation between the President’s image and overall ratings of the party.

President Bush drives our image and will do so until we have real national front-runners for the '08 nomination. Attacking the President is counter productive for all Republicans, not just the candidates launching the attacks. If he drops, we all drop.

More about that poem....

First of all, I completely and unreservedly recommend the version by Eddi Reader...she's got the right accent for this, and she sings it in a properly passionate, melancholy, and authentic voice.

The poem is by Robert Burns. I may have read a poem or two of his in high school; I don't remember now. But once I heard that song I couldn't stop listening to it. The structure of the poem, the modulation of the imagery (sounds really pretentious, doesn't it?)...the only thought in my head was a quote from Woody Allen on Kierkegaard: "and I have trouble writing two sentences on my day at the zoo."

The history behind the song is remarkable, and oh, so relevant to the history of the United States...

Although the conventional narrative from the right is often "the Puritans were fleeing persecution," and indeed there was great intolerance and prejudice, it's also clear that what Burns wrote about, peace, was something that was sorely needed at the time...

Jacobitism was the political movement dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland (and after 1707, Great Britain). The movement took its name from the Latin form Jacobus of the name of King James II and VII.

Jacobitism was a response to the deposition of James II and VII in 1688 when he was replaced by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband William of Orange. The Stuarts lived on the European continent after that, occasionally attempting to regain the throne with the aid of France or Spain. Within the British Isles, the primary seats of Jacobitism were Ireland and (especially Highland) Scotland. There was also some support in England and Wales, particularly in Northern England. Royalists supported Jacobitism because they believed that Parliament had no authority to interfere with the Royal succession, and many Catholics looked to it to restore their preeminence, but people became involved in the military campaigns for all sorts of allegiances and motives. In Scotland the Jacobite cause became entangled in the last throes of the warrior Clan system, and became a lasting romantic memory.

Absolutist monarchs. Religious intolerance. Marx was wrong: we are not living through a farce.

Know this?


Ye Jacobites by name, lend an ear, lend an ear!
Ye Jacobites by name, lend an ear,
Ye Jacobites by name,
Your fautes I will proclaim,
Your doctrines I maun blame - you shall hear, you shall hear!
Your doctrines I maun blame - you shall hear!

What is right, and what is wrong, by the law, by the law?
What is right, and what is wrong, by the law?
What is right, and what is wrong?
A short sword and a long,
A weak arm and a strong, for to draw, for to draw!
A weak arm and a strong, for to draw!


What makes heroic strife, famed afar, famed afar?
What makes heroic strife famed afar?
What makes heroic strife?
To whet th' assassin's knife,
Or hunt a Parent's life, wi bluidy war, wi bluidy war!
Or hunt a Parent's life, wi bluidy war!


Then let your schemes alone, in the State, in the State!
Then let your schemes alone, in the State!
Then let your schemes alone,
Adore the rising sun,
And leave a man alone, to his fate, to his fate!
And leave a man alone, to his fate!


Ye Jacobites by name, lend an ear, lend an ear!
Ye Jacobites by name, lend an ear...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Something must be said about the immigrants...

Don't know if the link'll be there forever, but this link needs a response from Rush Limbaugh:

RUSH: Folks, I've got to tell you my first thought when I saw all these protest marchers, 500,000 people in Los Angeles. They're all over the place down in the Southwest, Phoenix and so forth, and I look at this: 500,000 people protesting an act of Congress, a piece of legislation, and I'm thinking, "My gosh! How jealous must the anti-war movement be? They had the third anniversary of the Iraq war last weekend and they were hoping to fill the streets with anti-war Americans, and they could barely get a little trickle of people to show up."

Maybe the combined total nationwide -- What was it? -- was twenty-five thousand, max, if we can believe those numbers. But here this thing just caught everybody by surprise, a lot of people by surprise. Five-hundred thousand people in Los Angeles alone, and when you read some of the quotes of some of these protesters -- and I've done a lot of research I've been doing today to put all this in perspective for you and to share with you my thoughts on it. I'll get yours as well. Actually you know what you could say? That these protesters are doing the protesting that Americans will not do anymore. That's what I would say to the anti-war movement.

They're just doing the protesting Americans refuse to do anymore. There are just some protests that America consider beneath them and apparently anti-war protests are beneath Americans. You can't get enough them out there, so here come illegals showing up taking up that slack, proving once again their worth to the overall American political and cultural system. Iif you listen to some of these quotes from these people, talking about how they "made this country;" they're "the backbone of this country." They're not the backbone of the country. What you really have going on here is a bunch of criminals that are protesting the law, in that sense, if you look at it in that perspective.

I'm sure not all of them, but that's what's driving all of this. Can you imagine...? I mean, here you have basically they're trying to make themselves out to be legal, but this is an insult to people who have gone through the process of emigrating here legally -- and I just wonder, I just wonder when I look at this, when you see these pictures, you see video of protests with more Mexican flags than American flags. Did you notice that, Mr. Snerdley? I wonder how these guys in Congress who are putting together this Senate judiciary committee and are going to work waaaay into the night to get the big recess coming up, gotta get this bill done, working way, waaaay into the night to get this new immigration bill that we're working on passed.

I can never get further than this in Rush Limbaugh- it's not like he's Leonard Cohen interviewing Rebecca deMornay when he was madly in love with her and even Tom Cruise couldn't get in her pants...

But I had told a conservative colleague that 1/2 of what Limbaugh says is outright lies. I got this far. Started counting protesters against the war from recent demos (10K in Portland OR alone)... too many lies... and I realized that this needs to be said: Rush Limbaugh hates America. He hates the fact that most PhD engineers are foreign born and his "solution" is to ban them to make other countries stronger. He has no clue what it's like to call the Shanghai US consulate at 11:30pm at night and harrangue them about going to the media because they didn't allow a poor old woman who couldn't speak a stitch of Mandarin to come over to the US to see her grandson. On the other hand, I do.

Rush Limbaugh has no idea why 1/2 million people rallied over the nonsensical immigration laws, and I barely do, but from what I do know, that guy ought to try to find refuge in a country like, say, Venezuela, and see how far it gets him, and if it were to get him far, to see how truly nasty his side is.

And I mean that in the nicest possible way...

Amazing the stuff you find on the net...

Leonard Cohen "interviews" Rebecca deMornay ("Risky Business".)

Read it.

Marvel at it.

Neither of them are the Evangelical Outpost. One's a Buddhist.

Our "liberal" media...

Shocking stat:

Over the years, right-wing religious leaders like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have appeared on ABC’s This Week at the exclusion of other mainline religious voices.

Over last eight years, individuals like Jerry Falwell, Richard Neuhaus, James Dobson, Gary Bauer and Pat Robertson have appeared on the program. In fact, James Dobson and Gary Bauer have appeared three times each and Pat Robertson has appeared seven times.

But, in the same time period, leaders of the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), American Baptist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Disciples of Christ and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, among others, have NEVER appeared. Why?

Jimmy Carter on Daily Kos

Right here.

I've had my differences with Carter over the years, but by and large he was better than what came after him.

This part bears quoting:

Early this month, I had lunch in Plains with a family from Panama City, and a high school girl asked me why she should be a Democrat. I asked her a series of questions that all bloggers should use in discussions: Do you prefer peace or war? Do favor tax breaks for the richest Americans or working families? Would you rather destroy the environment or protect it? Do you approve the torture of prisoners? Do you think our government should secretly spy on your family? Do you think we should abandon every nuclear arms control agreement negotiated since Dwight Eisenhower was president? Do you approve of your part of the national debt now being $28,000 and increasing by $300 each month? Do you think we should meld religion and government? She gave me the Democratic answer to all the questions, and I believe that most Americans will agree, no matter if their state is red or blue.

Here's the link to the Carter Center.

Right speech, right thinking are lacking in conservatism...

And no better example of this can be found in today's NY Times; as we can all remember, Bush went to war in Iraq as a last resort. Didn't he?

LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Hitler, when he invaded Poland, used prisoners to "invade" Germany, in a manner similar to Bush's idea here.

Not that he's a Nazi, of course.

Bush of course was publicly saying something entirely different.

Getting back to the title of this post, as I note in my comments today on Joe Carter's blog, this is indeed a problem with conservatism; much of their whole doctrine is founded on wrong speech and wrong action. It brings to mind Sartre again...

Awful freedom is exactly what it sounds like, an irony wrapped in a moral truth cloaked in the wonderfully unphilosophical guise of Sartre's novels and plays. Like Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper, Barrett's name became familiar to millions of people who had never read philosophy before. Terms like ''alienation," ''authenticity," and ''bad faith" became part of the American lexicon as did such names as Heidegger, Camus, Buber, and a long string of others.

Sartre appealed to the American people particularly when it came to his dramatic conception of freedom, light-years removed from the popular American version. Sartre often spoke of ''awful freedom," adding that we are ''condemned to be free." Strangely, Americans took to such language.

What he meant was that freedom is part of what it is to be human even if we are in bondage. For example, during the long, German occupation of France, one was still free to say ''no" to the occupiers of Paris and so many other French cities. The collaborators who didn't say ''no," who practiced a kind of moral arbitrage, playing one side against the other, he referred to as ''les salauds," or stinkers -- the smelly, self-righteous countrymen who favored the German occupiers of their land. Out of this experience, Sartre composed his first novel, ''Nausea," which describes the decaying moral essence wafting through the French air.

Les salauds is actually not simply "stinkers" in French...but the connotation with such people and with conservatism should be evident: rank and file conseratives in effect are collaborators with the worst that are definitely freer society has to offer in the way of authoritarian, right-wing protofascist ideology and advocates.

That's why folks on the right ignore their dance of credulousness and dishonesty at their own peril: just as lying is not right speech, so credulousness is not right thinking; one is a lie we tell to others, the other is a lie we tell to ourselves.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Yeah but it really is sort of lefitst...

The NY Times reviews "Crashing the Gate" by Kos & Armstrong.

But it really is sort of leftist; it's a power-shift away from entrenched elites, and that is sort of leftist, as opposed to the Gingrich astroturf power-shift away from entrenched elites in the Repub party.

And it ain't a bad thing at all.

Our wonderful economy

This NY Times article lays bare the cold facts...

Rather than having a shortage of skills, millions of American workers have more skills than their jobs require. That is particularly true of college-educated people, who make up 30 percent of the population today, up from 10 percent in the 1960's. They often find themselves working in sales or as office administrators, or taking jobs in hotels and restaurants, or becoming carpenters, flight attendants and word processors.

The number of jobs that require a bachelor's degree has indeed been growing, but more slowly than the number of graduates, according to the Labor Department, and that trend is likely to continue through this decade. "The average college graduate is doing very well," said Lawrence F. Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. "But on the margin, college graduates appear to be more vulnerable than in the past."

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a rough estimate of the imbalance in the demand for jobs as opposed to the supply. Each month since December 2000, it has surveyed the number of job vacancies across the country and compared it with the number of unemployed job seekers. On average, there were 2.6 job seekers for every job opening over the first 41 months of the survey. That ratio would have been even higher, according to the bureau, if the calculation had included the millions of people who stopped looking for work because they did not believe that they could get decent jobs.

So the demand for jobs is considerably greater than the supply, and the supply is not what the reigning theory says it is. Most of the unfilled jobs pay low wages and require relatively little skill, often less than the jobholder has. From the spring of 2003 to the spring of 2004, for example, more than 55 percent of the hiring was at wages of $13.25 an hour or less: hotel and restaurant workers, health care employees, temporary replacements and the like.

That trend is likely to continue. Seven of the 10 occupations expected to grow the fastest from 2002 through 2012, according to the Labor Department, pay less than $13.25 an hour, on average: retail salesclerks, customer service representatives, food service workers, cashiers, janitors, nurse's aides and hospital orderlies.

The $13.25 threshold is important. More than 45 percent of the nation's workers, whatever their skills, earned less than $13.25 an hour in 2004, or $27,600 a year for a full-time worker. That is roughly the income that a family of four must have in many parts of the country to maintain a standard of living minimally above the poverty level. Surely lack of skill and education does not hold down the wages of nearly half the work force...

The wage loss from layoffs is now a pattern that shows up not only in individual cases, like that of the United mechanics, but in national surveys as well. Two years after a layoff, two-thirds of the victims say they are working again, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those two-thirds, only 40 percent, on average, make as much as they had in their old jobs, a less drastic result than that for the aircraft mechanics, but the same general breakdown.

The rest are making less, often much less. Out of 100 laid-off workers, then, 27 make their old salary again, or more — and 73 make less, or are not working at all. That downward pull contributes to the wage stagnation that has persisted for most of the work force, with only occasional relief, since the 1970's.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Good riddance US cars....

The Washington Post bemoans the erosion of brand loyalty to American cars...

The first car for legions of young men was a Chevy. As Americans increased in age and wealth, they climbed the General Motors Corp. status ladder, up through the Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile and, ultimately, Cadillac brands.

I can't believe this is really news. My first car was a Chevy Vega. And my last GM car ever.

Goodbye to some iconic names -- the Pontiac GTO and Ford Thunderbird. And goodbye to the Ford Taurus. In its day, the Taurus was hailed as the great American import-fighter in the mid-size car category. Ford sold hundreds of thousands of them before the car bottomed out, bypassed by continually updated, glitzier foreign rivals. The Taurus became, for a time, the quintessential American rental car.

The rental car is today the average American's only exposure to the wares of GM and Ford. And they invariably suck- I always feel like I'm driving some Soviet era clunker. Invariably the feel and drive -not to mention the ergonmics- of the virtually spanking new GM car I drive off the lot in a place like San Jose is sickeningly worse than my 8 year old Honda Civic. And my next car will likely be a Honda...

Here comes the NY Times "nobody can cook anymore" article...

And it's about these weird "prepare your own meal" places, where it's not actually preparing your own meal...

If there's a market for these places, there's a market for cooking schools...

Lisa Johnson, who lives in a suburb of Raleigh, N.C., especially hates shopping and cleanup. But she is determined to keep the family together at the table, at least occasionally. She became a meal assembly convert after just one visit.

"We're always hearing that eating dinner together is the cure for obesity, learning disorders, drugs, divorce and every kind of problem we have in society," she said. "But what no one tells you is how to do all that cooking."

May I humbly suggest - though I'm of the Rinzai persuasion- Dogen Zenji's Tenzo Kyokun?

Proslytizing: people reduced to markets...

That's my reaction to attempts by Christians to make converts, and to do so using mass-marketing techniques. It's insulting to people actually, and views them as mechanistic, as objects. The latest thing is this bit by Catholics:

"You just can't assume that people will be Catholic because of cultural influences," said the Rev. Kenneth Boyack, president of the Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association. "This is one of the elements that leads to this sort of urgency of evangelization."

Some of the efforts are taking a cue from evangelical Protestants.

"A good percentage of people who are in the megachurches are former Catholics," Father Boyack said. "They're really attentive to try to connect to people exactly where they are. And the language they're using is not great theological language."

Megachurches, experts say, effectively use sermons that link Scripture with everyday problems. They also use pop music, social events, the Internet, informal settings and small-group fellowship to foster a sense of community.

"They're not leaving because they don't like the Catholic Church," said Tim Kruse, executive director of the Evangelical Catholic, a group in Madison, Wis., that helps campus ministries develop programs to foster evangelical life. "They're leaving because Protestant evangelicals have communicated the Gospel to them in a meaningful way."

Megachurches are a good deal of what's wrong with Christianity.

Buddhists have traditionally proslytized, too. And explaining the Dharma in order to help others is a good thing. But that's not in the same league as the "trying to close the sale with the hard sell" techniques of many Christian evangelists. So when I read:

When the Rev. Robert Barron talks about why he thinks Jesus is the answer to what is missing in people's lives, he mentions St. Augustine's writings about the restlessness of the human heart. He also evokes less common figures in Roman Catholic sermons: Mick Jagger and Bono.

One sings about not getting satisfaction and the other about not finding what he was looking for, but both rock stars address the same sense of longing, said Father Barron, 46, a theology professor at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.

"This is what Billy Graham has always done," said Father Barron, the host of an evangelical Catholic radio program and the author of seven books. "To show, you're not satisfied, are you? I've got what can satisfy you."

I can only reply: you are prescribing a medicine for which I do not have an illness, and moreover, your medicine would merely give me another head on top of where I already have one.

Calling a bit of BS on the left...

The Domenech affair has illustrated the way many on the right are delusional to the point of sticking to narrative long after it's proven false.

I haven't searched through comments on Domenech's "contrition" post, but 2 quick points are in order:

  • OK, you said you're sorry, as I tell my 4 year old. How can you make people forget? Yeah, Atrios suggested the Army, but the point is still: How do we know what we'd be getting from you is the truth anyway?

  • To Domenech's great credit or distress, he has not behaved the way Guckert/Gannon did, and has, in fact, owned up to his theft.

Which atually is a sort of segue into the main topic of this post: We know there's BS on the right to the point of lies being slung with more aplomb than a short order cook slinging hash in a Long Island diner. But there's indeed BS on the left too. I'll mention 2 points:

1. If I hear Randi Rhodes say one more time we need "divided government" -Republicans being checked in power by the Dems having at least one branch of government- I'm going to send her a cease and desist order. No, Randi, I want the Republican Party as we know it- with incompetence, law-breaking, disregard for civil liberties, impoverishment of the middle class, playing footsie with the possibility of nuclear war, pissing off our allies, insouciance at the deterioration of our public health systems at a time when pandemics are more than a remote possibility, the destruction of the enviroment- I want to see that Republican Party marginalized, out of power, and relegated to the ash heap of history, where it belongs with the Stalin-Brezhnev Communists. It's simple BS to imply anyone who is passionate about living and breathing and prospering in a free society would want anything less.

2. Some of us who post on Kos are indeed far left. We're certainly far left relative to the regime in charge at the moment. We're probably not very far away from our positions on the issues. But when a WaPo calls Kos a far left voice, it's not entirely false: the writing I have done above looks really far left relative to the Washington beltway culture where George Will, he who was associated with the campaign involved in the Carter debate plan theft in 1980, is considered high society. Yeah, Markos is strong on defense. So am I, in a Sun-Tzu, von Clausewitz sense. But is Cindy Sheehan and most of her followers? Most of the folks who went to the anti-war demos lately? I dunno. So yeah, Kos gives voice to the far left. And what, pray tell is wrong with that? If far right is bullshit, I'll go in the opposite direction of bullshit anyday.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's not long over now for Domenech

The nice thing about the net is you can see these things happen in virtually real-time.
Here's what Howard Kurtz is saying about Domenech...

Jim Brady, executive editor of, said Domenech was hired because "we were completely unrepresented by a social conservative voice." He said his goal "is to provide voices from as many perspectives as possible" and that Domenech is not intended to balance anyone in particular on his staff.

Domenech is "controversial" and the fact that liberals object to his hiring "shouldn't really be a shock to anybody," Brady said.

Said Domenech: "I'm there to do opinion. That's what I do. I'm not a journalist."...

Late yesterday, the liberal Web sites Daily Kos and Atrios posted examples of what appeared to be instances of plagiarism from Domenech's writing at the William & Mary student paper. Three sentences of a 1999 Domenech review of a Martin Scorsese film were identical to a review in Salon magazine, and several sentences in Domenech's piece on a James Bond movie closely resembled one in the Internet Movie Database. Domenech said he needed to research the examples but that he never used material without attribution and had complained about a college editor improperly adding language to some of his articles.

The question is not somebody who questions "liberals" and criticizes them, but whether the use of invective, abusive language, "truthiness," and downright lies qualifies as a "voice" worth representing.

I think Domenech's "the editor did it" isn't going to fly; all they have to do is find the editor, and of course if the editor only "did it" to Domenech's articles, he's toast.

It's only a matter of time now...

Update: I don't think the editor made him copy his Cafepress line.

Update: Domenech "resigns," and does the "Jeff Gannon I was the victim" gambit.

There are just too many instances of this. And no, Box Turtle Ben, there is no attribution to P.J. O'Rourke, in the on-line version of your rip-off, so we have to conclude that when you say:

In one instance, I have been accused me of passing off P.J. O'Rourke's writing as my own in a column for the paper. But the truth is that I had met P.J. at a Republican event and asked his permission to do a college-specific version of his classic piece on partying. He granted permission, the piece was cleared with my editors at the paper, and it ran as inspired by O’Rourke’s original.

you're lying.

Update: No attribution of P.J. O'Rourke appeared in the original version either, according to Media Matters.

Final update (I swear!) P.J. O'Rourke weighs in according to- heh- the NY Times, and yep, he never gave the little plagiarist permission.

And Box Turtle is evidently still drawing a salary from Regnery at least as of the time the Times article went to press; they're the folks who published that steaming swift-boat pile of lies about Kerry, so a plagiarist as editor probably isn't a problem for them.

Mr. Domenech works full time at Regnery Publishing, a publisher of conservative authors like Michelle Malkin and Tony Blankley. Ms. Malkin, whose latest book was edited by Mr. Domenech, posted a column on her blog yesterday that described the evidence of plagiarism as "damning" and called for Mr. Domenech to resign from The Post.

A spokeswoman for Regnery, Angela Phelps, said that while Mr. Domenech remained an employee, the company would look into the accusations.

(HT: Atrios on that one.)

More nonsense from the Washington Post....and it's Buddhist nonsense, too!

I bet you didn't know it, but Buddhism "believes in prayer for healing." I didn't know it. I didn't know dharmas had the capability of being credulous.

Yes, the Washington Post that respectable enough publication to give serial plagiarists like Ben Domenech a forum has now taken on prayer...and it's what you'd expect:

The outpouring of spiritual healing has inspired a small group of researchers to attempt to use the tools of modern science to test the power of prayer to cure others.

I had to look up "outpouring." There has to be something poured out. "Healing" assumes some kind of actual benefit.

Fair and balanced?

You decide...

Skeptics say the work is a deeply flawed and misguided waste of money that irresponsibly attempts to validate the supernatural with science....

As one might have divined from what I've already written, my apprehension of the dharma doesn't admit a supernatural as distinct from a natural that behaves as we expect it to behave. You can't cheat mother nature, and you can't cheat karma. Sickeness and medicine do heal each other, and all the world's medicine, yeah. But that's not anything that's not from one's "self."

The dharma's not some kind of ATM; it's about practice.

But you can also guess... the Washington Post's article is classic "he said, she said" journalism...

Proponents, however, maintain the research is valuable, given the large numbers of people who believe in the power of prayer to influence health. Surveys have found that perhaps half of Americans regularly pray for their own health, and at least a quarter have others pray for them.

The real science that's been done is good science; unfortunately for the argumentum ad numerum afficionados, it also shows that this stuff doesn't work in practice. That's good science.

Many studies done over the years indicate that the devout tend to be healthier. But the reasons remain far from clear. Healthy people may be more likely to join churches. The pious may lead more wholesome lifestyles. Churches, synagogues and mosques may help people take better care of themselves. The quiet meditation and incantations of praying, or the comfort of being prayed for, appears to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, slow the heart rate and have other potentially beneficial effects.

Well yes and no. It'd take me time to dig it up, but there are differences. Buddhists and atheists stay married longer, and Baptists tend to be overweight.

And then there's the "war effect," - a study undone: is there a correlation between war and religious belief, which would make some systems more toxic than others? Not that Buddhism's summum bonum here would always be long life; there was that Vietnamese monk who burned himself to death...

And this stuff makes me cringe:

"Yesterday's science fiction often becomes tomorrow's science," said John A. Astin of the California Pacific Medical Center.

Proponents often cite a phenomenon from quantum physics, in which distant particles can affect each other's behavior in mysterious ways.

"When quantum physics was emerging, Einstein wrote about spooky interactions between particles at a distance,"
[Mitchell W. Krucoff of Duke University] said. "That's at least one very theoretical model that might support notions of distant prayer or distant healing."

This is pretty embarassing. Quantum effects happen of course, but you like, you know have to have a theoretical model that supports it. This stuff is just parapsychological gook.

Bad science, bad dharma.

Joe Conason picks up the Domenech story


It's only a matter of time before...wait for it...the New York Times - they of Jayson Blair- and USA today, they of Jack Kelley, pick this baby up...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How much longer for Ben Domenech?

It turns out the "Red America" hire is a plagiarist as well as a racist.

All that's needed is for the pictures of Domenech with a box turtle al fresco to come out...

Update: Omigod, it's a river of plagiarism...(see here, and here, and here. And here.)

Further Update: Ben Domenech on Jayson Blair. Precious.

John McCain: Corrupt.

If he didn't know this about his aide, and has to lie about it, what else would one conclude?

Liberman's got to go.

Those pesky bloggers made him into a demagogue.


Hmmm...Peace Activists Freed in Act of Violence...

"Man bites dog category?" Check.

There's got to be a money quote here somewhere...

The hostages were last seen in a silent, 25-second video that aired March 7 on the al-Jazeera satellite network. A message delivered with the video, from the group that claimed to have kidnapped them -- the previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades -- threatened that they would be killed unless all Iraqi prisoners were released from Iraqi and U.S. prisons...

The "Swords of Righteousness" threatened to kill peace activists.

Few details were immediately available about how the men were released, or whether anyone, including the captors, was injured during the raid. The Associated Press quoted Iraqi police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi saying it was believed the operation took place in Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad. Other news reports claimed the operation occurred in Baghdad...

I don't suppose that reason prevailed here...

The trio "have been released as a result of a multinational force operation which took place earlier today," British foreign secretary Jack Straw said in a televised statement. "It followed weeks and weeks of very careful work by our military and coalition personnel in Iraq, and many civilians as well.

"I am delighted that now we have a happy ending to this terrible ordeal," he said.

Straw said he had talked to Kember's wife after the release, and that "She is absolutely delighted, elated with this news."

He expressed his condolences to Fox's family. "There were four hostages captured originally -- including one, an American, Mr. Fox -- and it's a matter of great sorrow to everybody that he was killed a little while ago."

Sorrow? Maybe. But if anything goes with the territory here, it's religious violence. I'm in awe and admiration of the folks with the courage, audacity, and stupidity to pull off a stunt like these peaceworkers tried. But death goes with the territory.

Now, ummm...I wonder if they'll do this to free that Afghan Christian guy...nah, better not go there.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Animated kanji

Just what you need to start writing like billions of others do.

Today's delusions...

  • The wisdom of Imelda Marcos:

    "Beauty is God made real," she said, and, "The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness," and, "The only things we keep are those we give away," and, "Common sense is common to all."

  • Hugo Chavez radical chic:

    Venezuela welcomes them all, but rolls out the red carpet for high-profile visitors like Mr. Belafonte, the 79-year-old singer and activist.

    In January, he led an American delegation that included Mr. Glover, Mr. West and Dolores Huerta, the farm workers' advocate. They met with Mr. Chávez, toured a neighborhood and visited government-run programs promoted as a way to shift the country's oil wealth to the poor.

    "We respect you, admire you, and we are expressing our full solidarity with the Venezuelan people and your revolution," Mr. Belafonte told Mr. Chávez during the president's weekly television program. He called President Bush, a constant target of Mr. Chávez's barbs, "the greatest terrorist in the world." Then he shouted, "Viva la revolución!"

    Other recent visitors have included the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Ollanta Humala, a leading candidate in the election for president in Peru on April 9; the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, and the Argentine Nobel laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.

    For less well-known Americans, the new vacation trail no longer goes through the famed beaches of Margarita Island. Rather, groups like Global Exchange, based in San Francisco, take visitors who pay $1,300 on a two-week jaunt through the tumbledown barrios where support for Mr. Chávez is strongest.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that...

  • Joe Carter is shocked, shocked that Afghanistan's not got religious freedom.

    The persecution of Rahman is evidence that we have failed in our efforts in Afghanistan. We weren’t even able to instill a love of freedom into President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to intervene in the case.

    Well, duh.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lest we forget: Bill O'Reilly and the "falafel thing."

While I'm sure it's over somewhere on, this New Yorker retrospective puts it in detached perspective:

O’Reilly is the most popular host on cable news; his average nightly audience is about two million people, while Larry King, on CNN, has an audience about half that size. O’Reilly is most successful in attracting attention when he feuds with other media figures, which happens, in part, because they attack him and he is not one to turn the other cheek. He has started a petition campaign calling on MSNBC to replace Keith Olbermann, one of its prime-time hosts, with, oddly, the paleo-liberal Phil Donahue; he recently threatened a caller to his radio show—someone who mentioned Olbermann’s name—with “a little visit” from “Fox security.” Olbermann has repeatedly conferred on O’Reilly the top place in a “Worst Person in the World” competition, and, probably more to the point, when discussing O’Reilly he often finds ways to work in the word “falafel.” That is a reference to a sexual-harassment suit that a former Fox News producer named Andrea Mackris filed against O’Reilly a couple of years ago. (The case was settled out of court, but not before it got extensive press attention.) Mackris produced what she said were quotes of O’Reilly on the phone discussing things that he imagined they might enjoy doing together. The most notorious of these was a scenario in which they would be in the shower and he would massage her with a loofah, a scrubby sponge—but then, as he went on talking, he slipped up and referred to it as “the falafel thing,” which is funny not only because the picture of smearing wet mashed chickpeas on someone’s body is profoundly unerotic but also because the mistake seems to be a peculiar by-product of O’Reilly’s suspicion of things non-American. That’s why, for O’Reilly, “falafel” is a fighting word...

And this guy thinks he's some kind of moralist? Falafel.

Such nice defenders of the constitution...

I bet you haven't seen this:

Washington, DC (AHN) - A bill known as the "Public Expression of Religion Act" introduced by Rep. James Hostettler would amend a portion of the U.S. Code and disallow fees from attorneys who successfully represent individuals or groups litigating many First Amendment issues.

It's unbelievable that these people are in power.

This is news?

The NY Times reports that George W. Bush has finally started taking questions from audiences that aren't cherry picked with supporters...

"I guess I'm one of the three left standing Americans who did the negotiation of the nonproliferation treaty," one of the retirees, Lawrence Weiler, a former official of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, told Mr. Bush. But the treaty can't hold, Mr. Weiler said, if the position of the United States is that it will initiate a nuclear war "if it is necessary." Would the president consider a "no-first-use" policy instead?

Mr. Bush, startled, said he would think about it, thanked Mr. Weiler for his contribution, then concluded the session with a "God bless you all."...

But if you read the article, you'll find that Bush's answers, like Scotty McClellans, are essentially nonresponsive.

Really, if you had an employee like that, would you keep him?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

At least 10,000 people

converged in Portland today, without so much as a peep in advance from the local media. Since John Cole wonders why people did it, I think I'll tell him: it shows that there is indeed deep anti-war sentiment in this country. Sure there's lots of flakes, but they're not neo-nazi skin-head types. They're peaceful. Sure many of them are misguided. But you know what? They're closer to the right path than the other side.

I took part in today's demonstration not because of Michael Moore, but because of Gwynne Dyer, or more to the point, his ideas. Dyer notes in his book War: The Lethal Custom lots of little things that should give people who seriously support the military pause. Among them is the inexorable math of the conflict, the fact that Bush played right into bin Laden's hands in invading Iraq, and that all these damned conflicts over oil eventually do nothing but weaken those countries thirsty for it.

But that book hadn't been reissued way back in 2003; I was against the war because I thought basically you'd get an Iraq-sized intifada out of it, and that's pretty much what you've got now.

Any fool could have seen it when the US media breathlessly reported that the Iraqi army was "melting away" - anybody who didn't say "Holy shit! They're going guerilla!" doesn't know squat about recent military events.

And so it is.

So, John, a few of us folks who actually know something were there then, and are then now. And we weren't wearing tie-dyes.

I guess they really are whiners...


Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

Well, I always thought it was a bit over the top when Atrios referred to them as "whiny-ass titty-babies" or something like that, but I guess there's some truth in that.

Republican shenanigans on pensions

Did you think they'd do this any differently?

With a strong directive from the Bush administration, Congress set out two years ago to fashion legislation that would protect America's private pension system, tightening the rules to make sure companies set aside enough money to make good on their promises...

As a result, according to a little-noticed analysis by the government's pension agency, the bill being completed in a House-Senate conference committee, rather than strengthening the pension system, would end up actually weakening it. The agency's report projects that the bills would lower corporate contributions to the pension system by $160 billion in the next three years. "The system as a whole is significantly underfunded, and now we're talking about reducing funding by something like $160 billion over the next three years," said Jeremy I. Bulow, an economist at Stanford University. "It takes a better economist than me to understand how reducing contributions by that much is going to protect benefits and put the system on a sounder footing."

Both pieces of legislation — one passed by the House and the other by the Senate, both by overwhelming majorities — do contain measures that would reduce some of the lapses and inaccuracies that the current pension law permits. They would also increase the premiums companies pay to the federal guarantor, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. But Congress is also on the verge of pushing big new costs and risks onto the government, according to the agency and to critics of the bills. And some companies with fully funded pensions feel unfairly penalized by having to pay higher pension contributions to make up for shortfalls of others...

In a letter to shareholders last week, Edward S. Lampert, chairman of Sears Holdings, which is responsible for the pension plans of employees at Kmart and Sears, complained that his company's pension insurance premiums were going up by 60 percent, "not in order to address any risk associated with Sears, but rather to make up for the difficulties of other companies."

Mr. Lampert also deplored the current pension law, which bars companies with richly funded pension plans from taking any of the surplus money out, except in rare instances...

[Republican and successor to DeLay] Boehner has championed the provision easing the restrictions on investment advice for a number of years. It would permit investment firms to advise participants in 401(k) retirement plans, even if the firms' own mutual funds were among the employees' investment choices.

The current pension law forbids this practice, on the thinking that it could taint investment recommendations. Mr. Boehner has argued that employees need more investment advice, however, so that they save more and earn better returns on their money. The securities industry is his top campaign contributor, providing more than $125,000 already in the 2005-2006 House election cycle.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Prosperity is poverty.

Ah, that liberal NY Times...

They highlight Liberty University's debate team...

Falwell is after something more than growth for its own sake. He wants to create "champions for Christ." That's where O'Donnell comes in.

"Our football program can't change the culture," Falwell said. "Our debate program can, by producing advocates who know how to argue for Judeo-Christian ethics and the American Constitution. We have 32 kids on our team this year, and they'll all be lawyers or leaders of some sort. Our goal is to create an army of people who know how to make our case. These are brilliant, articulate students. I couldn't have made the Liberty debate team when I was that age. I couldn't talk that fast."...

This enthusiasm is expressed in practical ways. Liberty's program has five full-time coaches and a budget of half a million dollars. And in college debate, money talks. Since its inception in 1980, the Liberty program has won 15 national-rankings championships, two more than its closest competitor, Northwestern. Most of this success has come under O'Donnell. Born to working-class parents in northern Virginia (his father and mother both worked for the telephone company), he first came to Liberty as a freshman student in 1982. He chose the school over the Air Force Academy because he wanted to be a minister.

Let's note that in real life, it's important to have facts on your side. It's probably useful to cede Plato the point that philosophy, as in a respect for sincerity, honesty and truth, as practiced in one's life is superior to rhetoric. In a world where dogma constrains truth, it's not surprising that one might turn to rhetoric.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

"Patriotism!" or, a Rewriting of the Aristocrats...

My favorite current metaphor for the Bush regime is The Aristocrats.

A candidate goes on a stump speech and says, have I got an agenda for the American people! I'm going to make sure that nothing is done when I get a Presidential Daily Briefing saying that the foremost terrorist in the world is going to attack the United States. Then I'm going to make sure that lots of innocent people are rounded up, and I'm going to torture them. Meanwhile, I'm going to bust the budget, consigning Americans to poverty for generations. I'm also going to make sure that ordinary Americans can't find a job, and if they get sick, they'll have to go bankrupt. And I'll make sure that if they do go bankrupt, I'll have the way paved for debtor's prisons. I'm going to make sure that our education system is last to none in the world, by trying to teach nothing but religious claptrap. I'm going to have a culture of life that equates zygotes and brain-dead people to the real things. I'm also going to shit and piss on our allies, making sure that when we're really in trouble nobody's going to lift a finger.

Then, when a hurricane of truly biblical proportions hits, I'm going to put some utter incompetents in charge so that when images of the mayhem are broadcast around the world, it'll look like we're poorer than Haiti. All the while, I'm going to make sure sweetheart deals go to my friends in the defense, energy trading, and of course energy businesses. I'm going to be photographed walking arm-in-arm with the guys who funded the world's foremost terrorist.

Someone questions him,"What are you going to call this agenda?" To which the candidate replies,"Patriotism!"

Update: Wouldn't you know? Somebody thought of it first.

End the War, Begin the Peace

Sunday, March 19, 1:30pm, Waterfront Park, Portland.

Another sign of decline: nobody can friggin' cook?

I find this bit from the Washington Post pretty shocking:

At Kraft Foods, recipes never include words like "dredge" and "sauté." Betty Crocker recipes avoid "braise" and "truss." Land O' Lakes has all but banned "fold" and "cream" from its cooking instructions. And Pillsbury carefully sidesteps "simmer" and "sear."

When the country's top food companies want to create recipes that millions of Americans will be able to understand, there seems to be one guiding principle: They need to be written for a nation of culinary illiterate...

"Thirty years ago, a recipe would say, 'Add two eggs,' " said Bonnie Slotnick, a longtime cookbook editor and owner of a rare-cookbook shop in New York's Greenwich Village. "In the '80s, that was changed to 'beat two eggs until lightly mixed.' By the '90s, you had to write, 'In a small bowl, using a fork, beat two eggs,' " she said. "We joke that the next step will be, 'Using your right hand, pick up a fork and . . .' "

Even the writers and editors of the "Joy of Cooking," working on a 75th anniversary edition to be published by Charles Scribner's Sons in November, have argued "endlessly" over whether to include terms like "blanch," "fold" and "saut é ," said Beth Wareham, Scribner's director of lifestyle publications. "I tell them, 'Why should we dumb it down?' When you learn to drive, you learn terms like "brake" and "parallel park." Why is it okay to be stupid when you cook?"

To be able to cook is to liberate one's self from another's menu.

I worked as a teenager in an Italian restaurant, and learned quite a bit about cooking there, as well as how to deal with people more or less. Even a crazy boss. It's where I learned: Want to mess up your boss? Do exactly what he says.

I can only imagine what a kid's going to learn today if he works in McDonald's or Wal-Mart. But my kid won't work in places like that.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Good public health blog...

I have to figure out where I read about this, but Effective Measure looks like an invaluable resource to figure out all this bird flu stuff.

Nice Dembski take-down

Good Math Bad Math takes away Dembksi's lunch...and if you can't understand that, then you should go back to school...

HT: PZ Meyers.

"We never really liked Bush"

Avarosis informs that this is the meme that is starting to make its rounds in the media, starting of course with the Wasington Post:

What Bush is facing now, beyond just election-year jitters by legislators eyeing his depressed approval ratings, is a rebellion that has been brewing since the days when he looked invincible, say many lawmakers and strategists. Newly unleashed grievances could signal even bigger problems for Bush's last two years in office, as he would be forced to abandon a governing strategy that until recently counted on solid support from congressional Republicans.

The White House at times has been "non-responsive and arrogant," said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). "There are a thousand small cuts," he added, that are ignored when things are going well but "rear their heads when things are not going well."

"Members felt they were willing to take a lot of tough votes and did not get much in return," said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), an early critic of the port deal.

Congressional scholar Norman J. Ornstein has written that the recently vented anger, after being suppressed for years out of loyalty or fear, might be seen in psychological terms. He called the condition "battered-Congress syndrome."

"Battered Congress syndrome?" Come November, both '06 and '08, what voter is not going to say "the b*&*^& deserved it!" and vote them out of office?

Nobody's going to vote for these clowns at this rate; their defense is they were afraid to take on Bush?

And...some Republicans really are asking for a "seasoned Republican" veteran to hold Bush's little ittle hand...but Fred Thompson?

Update: it seems Peggy Noonan's aboard the "we never really liked Bush" bus, using arguments near and dear to every Marxist-Lenninst since the early '90s: Communism Conservativsm really hasn't been tried yet...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Censure, impeachment,...why not?

This is really odd. George W. Bush is responsible for Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Iraq, the Halliburton mess, illegal spying, coddling people who blow the cover of CIA operatives, and the disastrous Katrina response, and Republicans think that they can score points on criticizing some Democrats real desire for impeachment or censure of the man?

The threat of impeachment, Mr. Weyrich suggested, was one of the only factors that could inspire the Republican Party's demoralized base to go to the polls. With "impeachment on the horizon," he wrote, "maybe, just maybe, conservatives would not stay at home after all."

For weeks, Republicans have taken to conservative Web sites and talk radio shows to inveigh against the possibility, however remote, that Democrats could impeach Mr. Bush if they gained control of Congress. Mr. Feingold's censure proposal fell far short of a demand for impeachment. Most Democrats in the Senate distanced themselves from it, concerned that they would be tagged by Republicans as soft on terrorism. But the censure proposal provided Republicans an opening.

"This is such a gift," the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh told listeners on his syndicated radio program on Monday, saying the Democrats were fulfilling his predictions. "They have to go back to this impeachment thing," he said.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, a conservative standard-bearer, echoed the thought. "We'd like to congratulate the Wisconsin Democrat on his candor," its editors wrote Wednesday in a column headlined "The Impeachment Agenda." The Republican National Committee sent the editorial out to its e-mail list of 15 million supporters.

All the 2 out of 3 people who are likely to refer to Bush as incompetent, idiot, or liar want (HT Atrios )is the truth to come out, and for accountability.

They're ahead of most Dems on this issue.

The Repubs can be joyful on this only at their peril.

Follow that last link by the way; people are now saying Bush is more out of touch than Reagan was in '87, when it was obvious he was going senile.

Update: More people want Bush censored than don't. And that's with a media poo-pooing the story.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Taking on the religious right...

A whole bunch of folks.


Thomas Merton wouldn't be surprised

at the Bush folks Soviet-like intimidation techniques.

It goes with the territory.

An FBI report from November 2002 indicates that an agent photographed members of the Thomas Merton Center as they handed out leaflets opposing the impending war in Iraq. The report called the group a "left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism."

"All we were doing was handing out leaflets, which is a perfectly legal way to spend an afternoon," said Tim Vining, the center's former executive director, who said he participated in the Nov. 24, 2002, protest monitored by the FBI. "All we want to do is exercise our First Amendment rights . . . Is handing out fliers now considered a terrorist activity?"...

Another memo from February 2003 said the center was "opposed to the United States' war with Iraq" and described its Web site and activities. That letter was a draft that was never included in an investigative file, the FBI said.

Heavily censored documents from 2005 also refer to information about the center from an unidentified source. An FBI official said those reports were from a separate probe that did not involve terrorism.

A political "crime," perhaps?

Zacharaias Moussaoui, Shoko Asahara, and the Stockholm Syndrome...

This Moussaoui trial has gone on now for what, 4 years? Shoko Asahara, the cult leader of Aum Shin Rikyo, had an initial trial that went on about 6 years; his appeals have gone on for 2 years. He's still appealing as well as others involved.

I wonder after all this time, with trials like this (forget about "justice" being done; what is justice here?) what kind of bonding goes on with all concerned. People are like lice, Henry Miller observed; knowing them gets them under your skin. Anybody who's been to a zendo for a period of time knows that even in silence, perhaps especially in mindful silence, you get to know people. So I imagine judge Brinkema, for example, and Moussaoui are well acquainted by now, albeit constrained by their roles as judge and defendant.

It probably must take this long, short of a shoot first, ask questions later policy to let the legal process evolve.

I wonder though if it's possible to use this to transform people's lives- it likely happens in some form anyway.

Is Zacharias Moussaoui any more human to prosecutors and defense attorneys? To the judge? Are they more human to Moussaoui? Enough to cause him genuine regret? Enough to cause the judge to rethink her role in administering a death sentence for Moussaoui if needed? Should it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Speaking of Thomas Kinkade, there's something very American about this...

Ambien makes you silly...

The sleeping pill Ambien seems to unlock a primitive desire to eat in some patients, according to emerging medical case studies that describe how the drug's users sometimes sleepwalk into their kitchens, claw through their refrigerators like animals and consume calories ranging into the thousands.

The next morning, the night eaters remember nothing about their foraging. But they wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter, Tostitos in their beds, kitchen counters overflowing with flour, missing food, and even lighted ovens and stoves. Some are so embarrassed, they delay telling anyone, even as they gain weight...

A woman in Salinas, Calif., whose case is to be included in the Minnesota study, said she would awaken to find candy bar wrappers next to her bed and Popsicle sticks on the floor near the refrigerator. She blamed her husband and sons before finally believing their claims that she was eating at night, unaware.

Worried that she would choke, "my son was so afraid at night, he'd come sit by the bed and watch me," said the woman, Brenda Pobre, 54. Despite seeing several doctors, Ms. Pobre did not link Ambien to her nocturnal eating until after she gained 100 pounds.

Thomas Kinkade- a depreciation...

For whatever reason I couldn't sleep last night; could be the remnant of the flu plus not eating enough... but regardless, my mind was oddly drawn to Thomas Kinkade again.

I figured I'd express here a bit of why this guy's work is so yecchhh to me...

So let's start here...

My Victorian Autumn, the fourth seasonal addition to my series of idyllic family retreats, visits an imposing Victorian mansion in the fall of the year. Light pours through the rectangular windows, providing a glimpse of the comfortable family life unfolding within.

Could he have read what Joan Didion said, as quoted in Wikipedia?

A Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.

See? The family's not burning! They're cozy!

But that's only the beginning. Take this...

The Lamplight Lane series is perhaps my most popular celebration of the charms of rural England. My oldest, Merritt, was five when I painted the first "Lamplight Lane" painting; soon she'll be a high school graduate. I even included a small rowing skiff, named "Miss Merritt", to symbolize the journey into life that Merritt is embarking upon. Sunset on Lamplight Lane refers both to the radiant sunset that bathes the village in myriad reflections, and to the completion of the final work in an epic series of paintings.

Now let me start out here as saying I have no deep background in aesthetics, or art history, other than what I've read by John Berger, and what I've picked up on PBS shows, including Antiques Road Show.

But I do know that if the artist has to explain this much is pi'ture ain't got much of a narrative power to it.

Which brings me to my main point: Kinkade's work is not expositive, it does not really show us something, but rather shows us something that never was. That's OK, but it pretends to be about something.

Here is a very telling criticism of Kinkade by one Ralph Rugoff:

Yet, in a very crucial area, Kinkade’s work displays a close kinship with that of Andy Warhol, the artist who, more than any of his twentieth-century peers, reinvented contemporary art practice and arguably redefined the complexion of contemporaneity itself. On the surface, of course, their work could hardly appear to be more different. In contrast to Kinkade’s serenely pastoral motifs, Warhol’s art focuses on the circus of the mass media. It played on the mechanisms of fame and publicity, and explored the ways in which familiar icons – whether movie stars or soup cans – are packaged for consumption. Where Kinkade’s art is warm and friendly, Warhol’s is cool and often spiked with undercurrents of trauma, as in his silk-screened pictures of car crashes, electric chairs, race riots, and suicides.

Despite these considerable differences, however, the artistic practices of Warhol and Kinkade demonstrate remarkably similar attitudes toward commercial art and marketing. In very different ways, each artist has rejected that central Modernist myth that proclaims business and art to be unrelated pursuits, and the uncompromising creativity of art utterly incompatible with the profit-driven practicality of business. If Warhol stands as the radical pioneer in this revolution, Kinkade’s enterprise represents the fulfillment of several of Andy’s dearest dreams.

Throughout his career Warhol made statements implying that art and business were analogous, if not interchangeable. While Warhol probably took delight in shocking orthodox avant-gardists by championing the cause of commerce, this was not merely a pose. To a significant extent, Warhol’s version of Pop grew out of his realization that there was little difference between what art critic Harold Rosenberg called "the tradition of the new" (i.e., the avant-garde’s creed of aesthetic innovation and novelty) and the "permanent revolution" of American business culture trumpeted by publisher Henry Luce. For Warhol, in fact, business art, or the art of business, represented an advance over art: in his The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, he declared, “Good business is the best art.”(1)

So Kinkade pretends to be ant-modern, but really is in his esthetic and techqnique.

As someone who's read Berger, I know that landscapes were traditionally painted in the West so landowners could "visit" their land in inclement weather. In the east, a "landscape" was often a moment in time through the subjective experience of the artist.

Kinkade's pictures are subjective, of course, but denying that, and depict nobody's landscape.

The buyer who unwittingly puts a Kinkade on his wall is having, in contrast to what the buyers of Gainsboroughs did, buy what was nothing, at least representative of nothing that was tangible.

You can see why Thomas Kinkade voices such an antipathy to modernism; not only does Kinkade share a kinship with Warhol, but also Magritte. Kinkade has to create a business for himself publicizing his works to the masses (see here), but "sentiment" and "anti-modernism" are hardly what he brings to my mind; the opposite in fact (I like "McArt" as what he does).

All of this is not to say art can't be a successful business; take Tiffany as an example. And you can level similar charges at Picasso and others, but even at their most crass, a Picasso was still a Picasso; a Kinkade is almost never a Kinkade.

The idea would be pretty clever, it'd be almost worth buying if the subject matter weren't so cloying (sort of a visual Glade floral scent used to cover up the stench of angst and doubt), were slightly more transgressive, and if there weren't so damned many of 'em around.

Monday, March 13, 2006

He may party like a rock star, but he still produces dreck

By way of Pharyngula, I now know about the dark side of Thomas Kinkade, "Painter of Light."

In litigation and interviews with the Los Angeles Times, some former gallery owners depict Kinkade, 48, as a ruthless businessman who drove them to financial ruin at the same time he was fattening his business associates' bank accounts and feathering his nest with tens of millions of dollars.

Kinkade — whose solely owned Thomas Kinkade Co. is based in Morgan Hill, Calif. — denies these allegations.

Last month, however, a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Assn. ordered his company to pay $860,000 for defrauding the former owners of two failed Virginia galleries. That decision marks the first major legal setback for Kinkade, who won three previous arbitration claims. Five more are pending.

It's not just Kinkade's business practices that have been called into question. Former gallery owners, ex-employees and others say his personal behavior also belies the wholesome image on which he's built his empire.

In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind.

And then there is Kinkade's proclivity for "ritual territory marking," as he called it, which allegedly manifested itself in the late 1990s outside the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

"This one's for you, Walt," the artist quipped late one night as he urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figure, said Terry Sheppard, a former vice president for Kinkade's company, in an interview.

Kinkade declined The Times' request for an interview but responded to written questions. He labeled those accounts of his personal behavior as "ridiculous" and "crazy allegations...

John Dandois, Media Arts Group's senior director of retail operations from 1995 to 1999, testified in a hearing that the artist was a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde character, whose behavior worsened as the alcohol flowed.

"Thom would be fine, he would be drinking, and then all of a sudden, you couldn't tell where the boundary was," he said. "And then he became very incoherent, and he would start cussing and doing a lot of weird stuff."

Dandois, who left the company to become chief executive of a group of galleries owned by Kinkade's brother, Patrick, recounted that about six years ago the artist was so intoxicated during a performance by Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas that people seated nearby moved away from him.

"I think it was Roy or Siegfried or whatever had a codpiece in his leotards," Dandois testified. "And so when the show started, Thom just started yelling, 'Codpiece, codpiece,' and had to be quieted by his mother and Nanette."

Wonder if he thought that about the famous Bush-playing-flyboy-mission-accomplished photo.

I know, I know, it's not good to speak ill of others.

But Thomas Kinkade is more or less a character; and besides, he pee-peed on the Pooh.

Jerk in Sri Lanka

Maybe my language is a bit coarse, but it's what comes to my mind on reading this:

Venerable Ellawala Medhananda, a famous Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, doesn’t mince words. Speaking to Reuters in February, he declared: “If Prabhakaran is dead, Sri Lanka is a better place. He is the stumbling block to the peace process. We should take his influence out of society.”

Medhananda, the leader of a nationalist Buddhist political party, was calling for the assassination of Velupillai Prabhakaran, a chief architect of the religious and ethnic conflict that has killed more than 60,000 people in Sri Lanka.

But the author of the article makes good points:

Although Buddhism’s history is less checkered than that of Christianity or Islam, there are plenty of dirty little secrets that Westerners rarely learn about. Buddhist monks, for example, have marched with armies in nearly every Buddhist country. In some times and places, the monks were the armies: They clashed with rival sects, supported certain political figures, or enforced fealty on the part of serfs. Buddhism was used to justify Japan’s imperialism before and during World War II, with Buddhist monks praying for the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One legend claims that in a previous lifetime the Buddha preemptively killed a man to prevent him from murdering 500 others. The slippery slope that this logic sets up is one that more than a few Buddhists have slid down to achieve their own ends...

One common mistake in attempts to classify religions of peace and violence comes from trying to find an authoritative spokesperson for a whole religion or imagining that religions are unitary things. In the West, Buddhism and Islam are relatively unfamiliar faiths, and so many people fall into the trap of thinking there is some single entity out there named “Islam” or “Buddhism.” In reality, there are many different Buddhisms, different Islams, different Christianities. There are Buddhisms of war and Islams of peace, just as there are militant and pacifist Christianities. Which is the true Buddhism, Islam, or Christianity? There is no way to answer such a question without reference to one’s own preferences, theological commitments, and prejudices—which are often informed by ethnicity, race, wealth, or other factors that impact our religious sentiments.


Sodium Benzoate + ascorbic acid = benzene in your kid's soda...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sam Brownback

Just read it.

My post on Zenmar...

As I noted below, Zenmar's the kind of guy whose writing inspires me to say, "I admire him, and I've learned things rom him, but I sure better not be like him," and he'd probably agree.

Thanks to Blogmandu, I discovered much to my delight that he has a blog.

In case folks don't know it, and those who aren't close followers of all things Buddhist on the web probably aren't, Zenmar is the (one of?) the guy(s?) behind

First of all, I have to say that Zenmar I think performs a very very valuable service: by helping to demystify the roshis, and by arguing strenuously against the commercialism, New Age-iness,and fluff that has surrounded Buddhism in America, Zenmar's hit the nail on the head.

That said, the "I've got the truth and they don't" attitude (see here and here and here) comes across as not being completely familiar with the fact that there is real depth in American Buddhism today, as well as the fact the people who go to temples or study under teachers are hardly monolithic, nor are the teachers themselves.

Furthermore, I'd have to say that Zenmar's denigration of the Soto school is not what I would do, even though I study under a Rinzai master who's usually out of town these days.

Dogen was a genius; even in translation that shows through his writing. Moreover, I'd hardly call Dogen a "pious forger," as there are many reasons why the shisho certificate "on file" might not be authentic, including but not limited to "the old one was destroyed." Dogen's honored in Tiantong monastery; so it could all be one huge forgery or not, but I don't get that feeling from reading either Dogen nor my visit to Tiantong. (It is kind of amusing to me that Zenmar follows the post on Dogen's "lineage of hypocrites" with one extolling the rise of Buddhism in China.)

It's just not exactly like he's writing; it's not like I'm writing; find out for yourself.

But I suspect there's just this wee bit of Christopher Hitchens in both of us, I suppose, that we could hurl criticisms at anyone if we turned out attention to it.

Waste of time. Forget about this post.

Manufactured Anger...

In today's NY Times magazine, there is an odd article about how it's different this year for the Democrats chances to retake Congress. Here's the odd part:

Nineteen ninety-four was arguably the most consequential nonpresidential election of the 20th century. The Republicans shocked political professionals, including President Bill Clinton, by gaining 52 seats in the House, giving them a majority there for the first time in 40 years. (They picked up eight seats in the Senate to wrest control there as well.) What immense forces suddenly burst through the earth's crust that fall? Anger, for one. Pollsters found an electorate utterly disgusted with politics and politicians. In 1992, 80 percent of poll respondents said they believed that government favored the rich and powerful, while two-thirds agreed that "quite a few" national politicians were corrupt. Neither party had anything like a Jack Abramoff scandal; but the sense of drift, of futility, was very deep. We had won the cold war but somehow lost the peace; the economy was stagnant, and Europe and Japan were leaving us in their dust. An also-ran at home, we looked very much like a pitiful, helpless giant abroad. After our seductively easy triumph in the gulf war of 1991, we were humiliated by warlords and thugs in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti.

Of course, the Democrats had inherited the weak economy and the messes in Somalia and the Balkans from the first President Bush. Nor could they be blamed for the loathing that Bill Clinton turned out to inspire among so many voters. The Democrats happened to incarnate the political culture at a moment when the public turned against Washington.

Japan was in an economic recession by 1995, as was Europe, which found it hard to digest East Germany and the Eastern bloc, True, there was Somalia; but that was Bush Sr.'s fault. Bosnia? it was a genocide (when was Rwanda? I've got to check that). Haiti? A plus for us.

There was Hilary's health care, which was a monstrosity compared to single payer, and pleased therefore no one.

There was a relatively minor scandal in Congress.

That was about it.

The rest of it was manufactured.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Useless (?) flu trivia...

I didn't know that Tamiflu is made from star anise, which is a critical ingredient in fire-roasted duck.

That's pretty circular...

Flu practice

I have it. My wife and son have it.

It's not fun.

But not much can be done at this point.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Thanks for the nomination....

Globe trotting as I was, I wasn't even aware that this blog was nominated for a Blogisattva Award - but didn't win...("Best Achievement in Addressing Public or Political Issues"). I'm glad WoodMoor Village won.

Someone on another blog complimented one of my posts dealing with Buddhism, but had said that unfortunately there was more political content on this blog than Buddhist content. I don't see them as separated, although I'm not advocating a Buddhist-inspired takeover of the government.

I do this blog primarily not to be part of a swarm, but to keep a record of things that have happened that easily go down the memory hole; things that when I bring them up with others usually draw blank stares.

However, as a Buddhist, I do this, and so there's Buddhist things like this as well- for example marriage and parent practice (which is also covered very well at Woodmore Village). But as I've also said in the past, so much of practice is interior, it's just very difficult to write about.

There are some Buddhist issues, and I should have discussed them, but I examine one here: the local Buddhist Peace Fellowship Chapter is having serious issues with Tricycle's Change Your Mind Day, because of a dead cult leader.

And I can't blame 'em.