Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Pope is a primate


Study: Multiple Stab Wounds May Be Harmful To Monkeys

I have a theory: Any scenario, no matter how grim, can be made funny by inserting the word "monkey".

Limbaugh lies again

Facts are funny things:
We went into Afghanistan. It was pure fear. It wasn't diplomacy. It was the fear of God (or fear of Allah) that was put into the mind of Khadafy. Don't forget, he's already sitting there quaking in his boots because Reagan bombed his tent, after Khadafy was widely held responsible when Pan Am flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland. Reagan sent a couple of F-18 Hornets and such over there. We had to fly around the Iberian Peninsula because the French and the Spanish wouldn't give us permission to fly over, so we had to go around, up the tunnel, into the Mediterranean, handsome pilots targeting the tent, and Khadafy's daughter happened to be in there. So that's when it started. That is not diplomacy.
Lockerbie happened after Reagan bombed Khadafy. You can look it up. So can Limbaugh.

Handsome pilots? What's with Rush?

h/t Folkbum

Monday, July 30, 2007

Paul Hill Days

I caught up with Missionaries to the Preborn as they paraded south down Prospect Ave. Sixty protesters in all, nearly half of them children, followed a festive, yellow banner that proclaimed Paul Hill Days. Those at the front of the line marched, beat drums, played hymns on a ragtag assortment of wind instruments, and called out a military-sounding cadence in honor of their hero, an assassin who gunned down a doctor and his escort 13 years ago.



Half clown troupe, half street ministry, the procession was largely ignored by passers by. A young man from the local technical college followed with a small videocam. At one point, a man getting into a parked car shouted "Children shouldn't have to see those pictures." He was holding two young boys as they stared up at a poster of an aborted fetus. "Maybe we need to see more of these pictures," a protester yelled back.

The troupe reached the large, orange Sunrise sculpture at the point where Wisconsin Ave. meets the lakefront. They marched around the sculpture, then stopped, forming a ragtag semi-circle. Their apparent leader, a bearded, mountain-man type named Drew Heiss, led the group in song and prayer. "There is power in the blood of the lamb," they sang. Then Drew officially concluded "The First Annual Paul Hill Days", and reminded everyone to walk to a nearby park for the Subway sandwiches they had ordered earlier.



During the walk, I met Andy Wilson, the son of George Wilson who organized Paul Hill Days. Wilson, Sr., a former Presbyterian Minister, died of a heart attack earlier that week at age 55. I expressed my condolences, then asked Andy if his group was discouraged by President Bush's inability to promote Wilson's religious agenda. "Bush's heart is in the right place, but there's not much he can do," he answered.

At the park, some of the children discovered a crabapple tree on top of the bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. The boys shimmied up the trunk, and shook the branches until the fruit fell on the ground. "Yuck, they're sour," said a young girl. "They're crabapples," said a boy. A plump, blonde-haired woman walked over and scolded the children. "He told us to," said one of the boys, pointing at me. "I guess that makes me the serpent," I said. Mom did not seem amused, but remained pleasant.



Colin, a thin man with large glasses that gave him a lost expression said Paul Hill Days was about "making people see what was happening." I asked if he thought the protest was persuading people, and he said he didn't know. "Most people are apathetic, but you have to start somewhere. You have to show them what is happening."



The man said he traveled frequently with the Missionaries, disrupting clinics and "showing what is happening" by way of the group's lurid posters. I asked what he did for a living. "Oh, I do odd jobs here and there. Mostly I travel with the Missionaries to the Preborn." He pulled a small plastic fetus out of his pocket. "I take this with me everywhere I go," he said. I asked if promoting murder was a persuasive way to draw people to their cause. "Sometimes I wonder if there is a more effective way," he said, looking even more lost as he thought about the question.

The group said grace over their sub sandwiches, including a shout out to their hero, Paul Hill, a "Godly man" whom the state of Florida executed in 2003 for shooting down two men he didn't even know.

I later asked Drew Heiss if he was concerned about teaching children that it was acceptable to murder people you disagree with. He didn't appear that he had spent much time thinking about the question. "Well, we try to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, and Biblical principles," he said, before entering more familiar territory - the "real meaning" of the sixth commandment, which he identified as "Thou Shalt Not Murder".

"If I fail to stop a murderer from murdering, then I am also guilty of murdering?" he seemed to wonder aloud. He said he invited some of his friends to march in Paul Hill days, but he's not sure how they feel about it. "Will they stop being my friends if they know what I am for?"

He was dead serious.



h/t Illusory Tenant

Friday, July 27, 2007

And on the seventh day, the Texas GOP rested

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education !http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
Don McLeroy, a dentist, was named chairman of the panel by Gov. Rick Perry, to please the religious bigots and cretins who run Texas.

(McLeroy) is one of the board members aligned with social conservative groups known for their strong stands on evolution, sexual abstinence and other heated topics covered in textbooks. One of four board members who voted against current high school biology books because of their failure to list weaknesses in the theory of evolution.
It's like a pre-literate society theme park down there, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

US Army unleashes Bat Boy
on Shia, Sunni extremists!

From our "Say It Ain't So" department - The Weekly World News is going under. And by under, we don't mean 500 miles beneath the Earth's crust where an ancient race of rock people plot their violent return to the surface. We mean shutting its doors:
American Media has decided to suspend publication of Weekly World News, both the print publication and the web site. No reason was given at press time, although reliable sources do tell us that management turned down at least one offer to buy the publication.

The weekly supermarket tabloid—known as the home of "Bat Boy" and other less-than-probable stories—has long had staffing connections with the science fiction, fantasy, and horror fields.
It seems counterintuitive, bothering to source a claim that a sleazy publication is going out of business. The only thing reliable about WWN is the date on the front page, and knowing that a new issue would be staring out from the checkout line every week.

Yet in some ways, the paper was a forerunner of the fake news genre favored today by millions. Before there was The Onion, or the Daily Show, or Fox News, there was WWN, with "Naked granny scares thieves!", or "Mars Observer Photographed Giant Fish in Space!". To be sure there was little redeeming quality about WWN's fakesness. It's hard to imagine forming a coherent opinion about anything when you read "Dead organ donor wakes up after surgeons remove his eyes, a kidney and his left lung!"

Monday, July 23, 2007

The war that dare not speak its name

Apparently our President is such a bumbling fool that even Newt Gingrich realizes it, and he has some advice for Dubya: don't say anything about the war.
Newt Gingrich is offering President Bush some interesting advice about winning support for the Iraq war: The president, he says, should stop talking about it. “Simply be quiet, say nothing” is what the former Republican leader is urging. Mr. Bush instead should leave the war talk to General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who have much more credibility with both Democrats and Republicans. […]

“Petraeus and Crocker will get a better deal on Iraq than Bush, and it will be much harder for the Democrats to oppose Petraeus and Crocker,” Mr. Gingrich said.
Now I know what you're thinking - why just keep quiet about the war? I mean, what about those other low points in his presidency, i.e. Katrina, habeus corpus, the US Attorneys, or Walter Reed Hospital.

In fact, given that everything this President touches turns to crap, maybe Bush shouldn't say anything at all, apart from an occassional "How are y'all doing?", or "Five polyps. Didn't see 'em. Felt 'em though. Ha ha ha. Cancer free. That's a good thing. Gotta go."

Personally, I like it when the George Bush speaks. When my grandkids ask me one day "Grandpa, what was it like living under the worst President in US History?", I'll need more material than a David Petraeus quote.

Après la guerre


"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004. "You know, so what?... The soldiers honestly thought we were trying to help the people and they were mad because it was almost like a betrayal. Like here we are trying to help you, here I am, you know, thousands of miles away from home and my family, and I have to be here for a year and work every day on these missions. Well, we're trying to help you and you just turn around and try to kill us."

from The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, in The Nation

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stigmata sold separately

From Cliff Schechter, via C&L:
Wal-Mart said Tuesday it will test sales in some stores of biblical action figures whose makers say they are aimed at Christian parents who prefer their children play with Samson, David or Noah rather than with a comic book character or Bratz doll.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien said the toys made by One2believe, a Valencia, California, company, will be offered in 425 of Wal-Mart's 3,376 discount stores...

One-believe Chief Executive David Socha said his products were part of a "battle for the toy box" with dolls and figures that he said carry negative messages.

"If you're very religious, it's a battle for your children's minds and what they're playing with and pretending. There are remakes out there of Satan and evil things," Socha said.
Playing and pretending are important to any child's develop,ent, and while I'm not crazy about the crap that passes for children' toys these days, I am certain that Biblical action toys have the same potential crapiness built in. The key to childhood development is imagination: through plays, children imagine ways to adapt to the real world in all its permutations.

Imaginative play teaches children the skills they will need to develop into functioning, productive adults, including literacy, mathematical reasoning, creativity and social skills. Those social skills include the ability to share, negotiate, compromise, make and revise rules, and adapt the perspective of others.

Biblical action figures by themselves are not bad, unless combined with a dogmatic interpretation of the owners manual, The Bible. In fact, dogma of any type is anathema to imagination. Let's face it - the real world is a non-dogmatic, random, imaginative, disheveled, scary place. If everybody did exactly what the Bible tells them to do, think about how much less frightening it would be. This is the dream of Biblical literalists - a return to a world that never existed, and most likely never will, where uncertainty is vanquished like the Philistines, and the rule of law is indistinguishable from the word of God.

Talk about imaginative play.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Photoblogging



Photo by Heraldblog

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Real journalist spotted in White House



Administration urges calm.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The metaphor defense

How good to know that in our dumbed down world, literary analysis has clawed its way into the news cycle not once, but twice this past week. The metaphor, favored by poets, hopeless romantics, and slimy defense attorneys, has found new life as an excuse for saying stupid things. First there was neo-con apologist Fouad Ajami's non-metaphorical explanation that he was merely being metaphorical when he compared convicted felon Scooter Libby to a slain American soldier. CNBC's David Schuster tore Ajami a new one, with the help of a literal Iraqi-War vet who pointed out the obvious - that Libby is a metaphorical lying sac du merde, unlike the honorable men and women who risk their lives in combat.

The other metaphorical shoe hit the ground today when finance professor Don Chance explained he was merely being metaphorical when he blamed that libertine pleasure-seeking Mr. Rogers for an epidemic of youthful narcissism that is ruining America's future.
Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."

Prof. Chance teaches many Asian-born students, and says they accept whatever grade they're given; they see B's and C's as an indication that they must work harder, and that their elders assessed them accurately. They didn't grow up with Mr. Rogers or anyone else telling them they were born special.

By contrast, American students often view lower grades as a reason to "hit you up for an A because they came to class and feel they worked hard," says Prof. Chance. He wishes more parents would offer kids this perspective: "The world owes you nothing. You have to work and compete. If you want to be special, you'll have to prove it."
Chance later explained that he doesn't know what he's talking about, and besides, he was just being metaphorical:
The reference to Mr. Rogers was just a metaphor. I have no professional qualifications to evaluate the real problems or propose solutions. Mr. Rogers was a great American. I watched him with my children and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if I had young children.
The metaphor defense is obviously catching on, its application broadened to explain the numerous gaffes, malapropisms and dissembling that led America to an ill-advised war.
For instance, when George Tenet said the evidence for WMD was a "slam dunk", he wasn't speaking literally, unless there was backboard and hoop installed in the Oval Office. He was speaking metaphorically, comparing the case for WMDs to the actions of a 7-foot tall power forward on a court full of 6-footers.

President Bush was likewise waxing metaphorical when he told America that the smoking gun of terrorism would come in the shape of a mushroom cloud. I mean, c'mon, terrorists don't use guns anymore, and who cares if they smoke anyway? We have laws against smoking in public, remember?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't bother us with facts - we're Republicans

Zachary at Internal Monologue links to Jeff Weintraub's post regarding immigration and crime. In case you've been listening to Fox News, it's not what you think.
[A]mong men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the prison population), the incarceration rate of the native-born is much higher than the incarceration rate of the foreign-born.

Immigrants in every ethnic group in the United States have lower rates of crime and imprisonment than do the native born. This is true for all immigrant groups ­- including the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who comprise most of the undocumented immigrants in the country. Even though immigrants from these countries are far more likely than natives to have less than a high-school education and to live in poverty, they are far less likely to be behind bars or to commit crimes. Moreover, teenage immigrants are much less likely than native-born adolescents to engage in risk behaviors such as delinquency, violence, and substance abuse that often lead to imprisonment.

The problem of violent crime in the United States is not caused by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. [....]

There are real dangers inherent in the myth that immigrants are more prone to criminality than are the native-born. [....] We, as sociologists, criminologists, legal scholars and other social scientists, both academics and practitioners in the criminal justice system, including prosecutors, police officers, and criminal attorneys, strongly urge state and national policymakers who are drafting laws that affect immigrants to base these laws on demonstrated facts rather than on false assumptions.
Basing laws on demonstrated facts rather than false assumptions - now where I have heard that one before? Isn't that how the Iraq War started? When the facts don't line up just so for the lizard-brain right, false assumptions will just have to do.

We see false assumptions every day. Fox News is telling us that socialized medicine will lead to more foreign born doctors, some of whom may be jihadists! So addition that hernia exam ("Turn your head and die, American devil!") you'll also be contributing to the downfall of Christianity when you pay your doctor.

Meanwhile, proto-fascist nativists are alienating more and more Hispanics, many of whom agree that our immigration laws need fixing. President Bush attracted 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 - these days, only 11 percent of Hispanics identify themselves as Republicans, while three times as many lean Democrat.

Even more telling: all the Democratic contenders accepted invitations to address NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, held recently in Orlando.

All of the Republican candidates declined invitations to join a NALEO forum held a day earlier, citing scheduling conflicts.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sickening

Bill Kristol: Liar

Tony Snow: Liar

President George W. Bush: Liar

The only consolation to the Libby pardon is that Bush was acting out of fear. White knuckle, fill your pants, crawl into a closet and curl into a fetal position fear. It's the end of the republic as we know it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Could be both

From today's WaPo:
"You don't get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker," said Irwin M. Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who was part of one group of scholars who met with Bush. "This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can't tell you which."
Bush has self confidence in spades, but it doesn't come from a belief in his own competence. Dear Leader is a True Believer whose religiosity has created its own reality, far afield from the world he was elected to deal with.