Thursday, December 22, 2005

The World Ends Tonight

I'm linking to WorldNetDaily for the curious reason that I agree with Vox Day, for the most part. This bloweth my mind.

America was founded on the principle that it is right to sacrifice blood for liberty. It is telling that the Bush defenders make precisely the opposite argument, that it is right to sacrifice liberty in order to avoid the shedding of American blood. In this they are, like the Dear Leader, avowedly anti-American.

Would you like a glass of Chagrin with that?

So, d'you ever haul out the old blunderbuss, load it up painstakingly, aim it to perfection, and fire off a blistering round exactly at the wrong target? Yeah, me neither. But if I did, the experience might be something like this response I crafted to a blog comment that I later concluded must have been intended sarcastically. So, in the interest of retrieving the projectile and redirecting my fire at the proper recipient, here goes. Guest Blogger Ross Douthat, writing at Andrew Sullivan's daily dish, said of the so-called Christmas Wars:

"...the larger reality is that ... there is a significant chunk of this country - [the cultural elite] - that doesn't much care for Christianity, at least if it's practiced seriously and its basic dogmas are left intact."

Speaking as a fairly regular churchgoer whose views typically align with those of the so-called cultural elite, I think Douthat, and by extension those in the "Christianity under siege" community, seriously misunderstand how they are perceived. There is impatience with the gullibility of those who are taken in by such transparent buffoons as Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, and George W. Bush. There is disgust with the hypocritical sanctimony that is all too often the public face of the "Religious Right." There is bemusement, sure, when you get cut off in traffic by a car with a bumper sticker proclaiming, "Christians aren't perfect -- just forgiven." There is horror and disbelief at those who do not appreciate what a blessing we have in the wall of separation between church and state. And there is annoyance with the missionary zeal that amounts to intolerance of anyone else's brand of spirituality.

With regard to the serious practice of Christianity's basic dogmas, well, if more Christians lived a life of humility, peacemaking, and genuine charity, I think even the jaded cultural elite would stand in awe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This is Instructive

From a Nightline interview:

TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS): Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in US custody have died, 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides, people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in US custody?

DICK CHENEY (VICE PRESIDENT): I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is, that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the United States, there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country.

A reasonable followup, alas, an up not followed: So, tell me, Mr. VP, just how many criminal homicides are necessary to defend our country? Are you saying we should be encouraging our armed forces and intelligence agencies to commit more criminal homicides, so we'll be even safer?

My question: If defending our country means throwing away the constitution, is it really worth saving?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Called Burden of Proof, Counselor, Or, When Snide Attacks aren't Enough

This op-ed printed recently in the Birmingham News just cries out for a detailed rebuttal. Since items from the News only stay online for 7 days (edit: it appears I'm wrong about this), I've taken the liberty of reproducing the entire piece here, except for the author's email.

Prove it or admit you can't
Sunday, December 11, 2005

The debate over evolution, natural selection, creationism and intelligent design seems to me mostly a jumble of intellectually dishonest arguments. As with so many of society's debates, polarization of political positions has resulted in mere thinly veiled, snide attacks on the intelligence of those holding the opposite position.

Darwin hypothesized two essential prongs for his theory of evolution: (a) that species "evolved" one from another through some process; and a bolder one, (b) that the process was exclusively one of natural selection (survival of the fittest). Many people, and apparently most scientists, have accepted both prongs as fact. (See National Geographic Magazine, November 2004.)

Some religious people - the creationists - are troubled by the first prong, because it appears inconsistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis' description of creation.

Scientists are dismissive of creationists because of the fossil and geological records of the Earth's development. Creationists are hard-pressed to cite scientific evidence opposing that record, and Darwinists then claim victory for both prongs of Darwin's theory. Here, the scientists abandon their intellectual honesty.

Most people uncomfortable with Darwinism find trouble only with the second prong of his theory - the more speculative theory that development of species occurred solely through a process of natural (random) selection, without input of any "supernatural" or "intelligently designing" force. These believers in "intelligent design," if they are religious, may view Genesis as allegorical and not literal.

On the second prong of Darwinism, however, "intelligent designers" have the widely held view (88 percent, according to National Geographic) that an intelligent force has been at work in the universe with a role in the development of species.

Darwinists who attack intelligent design have scant evidence for their second-prong theory - that change occurs exclusively by natural selection, in no way attributable to intelligent design. Their best argument is that slight variations appear in species that could in theory have occurred naturally.

Understandably, they are in the uncomfortable position here of proving a negative. Consequently, they most often resort to two other arguments, both fundamentally dishonest.

First, they often obfuscate the debate by falling back on the weightier evidence for Darwin's first prong. Second, they define away their proof problem. Since they cannot prove that intelligent design did not cause the changes or proliferation of species, they argue that such a notion is inherently nonscientific, and that such a causation is out of bounds in any scientific discussion.

A little intellectual honesty is in order. Having stated a theory that expressly excludes intelligent design, science should admit it is incapable of proving or disproving intelligent design. Such proof is simply beyond the tools available to mortal man.

Having admitted that, they should admit - to that extent - that Darwin's second prong, natural selection of species, is not proven fact and cannot be proved fact, but merely a valid scientific theory that cannot be proved to be the ultimate causation of development of species, to the exclusion of intelligent design. They may legitimately state it is the only "scientific theory," but they must be willing to admit clearly the implications of that phrase.

As a believer in intelligent design, and one with some training in science, I can live with schools teaching Darwin's theory so long as this truth is admitted clearly within the context of that teaching. It is not asking too much of science that it admit what it can and what it cannot prove.

Attorney David M. Wooldridge lives in Homewood. His e-mail address is [redacted]
© 2005 The Birmingham News

I'll offer my thoughts and snide attacks in the next post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Now this is truly funny.

The Museum of Depressionist Art. Just go there.

Pictured, Buddhist Monk misses Nirvana due to Cell Phone Interruption.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

OK, Ready! Gimme an 'F'!

So the Fordham Foundation graded (almost) all the states' published science education standards and, oopsy, we Flagged it! Yes, that's Dear Alabama, right in that diagonal swath of failure extending from Kansas to Key West. Y'know, Toto, I THOUGHT we weren't in Kansas anymore, but now I'm not sure. Maybe if could espy a cadre of Discovery Institue scientists, we'd know for sure...

Oh! Here they are:

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Grey Lady Gets Shrill

I'm so old, I remember when columnists writing in the Times were only allowed to call BS on GWB if they promised not to call him a liar. So now the NYT reports to choir practice and joins the chorus.

Money quote:

It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.

Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

More ponies, anyone?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pardon, Your IDiocy is Showing

New insights from the frequently-regarded-as-flat state of Kansas:

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
I guess the good news is that class time devoted to IDiocy will be diluted by the need to make time for phrenology, alchemy, and astrology.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Redemption cometh like a .... ?

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

Galileo's resting a little easier. Wonder if anyone's told canine-fancier Ricky about this one?

By the way, you seem to be getting on in years, Excellence. Do you have some grey, Poupard?

"But of course."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

He-said, she-said journimalism at its worst

Just when you thought that the much-hailed revivification of actual journalism sparked, Frankenstein-like, by the PlameGate fiasco* would leave tried-and-true journalistic hackery behind, along come Milbank and Pincus with a multitude of unattributed pejoratives to slime Joseph Wilson. Hiding behind such formulations as "Nobody disputes that...," they spout the administration's trademark Roveian spin intended to discredit opponents without addressing the substance of their criticism. Particularly interesting to me is that the "beyond dispute" category appears not to include such minutia as the fact that HE WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG! This is substantially borne out by the Senate intelligence committee report, which the article cites three times, using it against Wilson each time. However, on perusing the conclusions document (pdf alert), I see nothing that in any way refutes Ambassador Wilson's central contention. O refutation, where are thy footprints? Cause they ain't here.

The reporter/stenographers make no mention of his decision to go public in the first place with the NYT op-ed. Was this also a self-aggrandizement scheme? It seems to me to be fraught with considerable peril, as we clearly see now. They also fail to point out that some of his critics, eg, Heinyrocket, have been allowed to make outrageous claims that bear little relation to reality without being called on their prevarications.

And get this: "He also turned an arcane matter involving the Intelligence Identities Protection Act into a proxy fight over the administration's credibility and its case for war in Iraq." No, I think it was a fight over the administration's credibility and the lack of a case for war BEFORE said administration resorted to distraction techniques which appear to have been all too successful on the likes of Milbank and Pincus.

Oh, but I forget: he has a Jaguar convertible. Case closed.

*Who can forget Jon Stewart's conspiratorial whisper,
"We've replaced the White House press corps with actual journalists"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Latest CNN Web Poll Marred by Ambiguity

Are President Bush's five visits to the areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina helping the disaster response?

Depends. If by the disaster response, you mean natural disaster, helping find bodies and clean up, I'd say definitely not. But if you mean the PR disaster, then I'd say I definitely don't give a rip.

BTW, current response is 71% "no."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I admit it. I agree with Pat Boone.

I admit it. I agree with Pat Boone.

Whodathunk it, but in this piece, I really agree with Boone. Discussing his opposition to the theory of evolution,

[h]e cited America's founding documents, quoting the Declaration of Independence as he stressed, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator ... "

"That's how opposed to God Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that, was. Yet he is credited with trying to keep all mention of God out of public life. I wish Jefferson could be back here today just for 30 minutes to set things straight."

The part I agree with is in bold. Pity we can't get old TJ back. Too bad we don't have any of his writings to tell us what he was really thinking, something like this:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. [italics mine]
Pity that. Pity that Pat doesn't comprehend, either.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Surely Not!

Today the Grey Lady has a page one piece on Alabama that is remarkably positive, titled "Once Woeful, Alabama Is Model in Child Welfare." Alabama still has a great deal to be humble about, but it's nice to see national recognition in a positive way, especially considering the disasters in foster care widely publicized in much wealthier states.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Opinions Differ on the Structure of the Universe

Seems the good folk at the Ptolemaic Institute got their britches in a bunch over the recent Nightline expose, which reported that there was no actual controversy among reputable astronomers as to whether the sun revolves around the earth, or vice versa.

Nightline's main point appears to be that there really isn't any scientific controversy over Copernicanism and intelligent epicycles. How do they know this? They checked with several Copernicanists, who told them so!

OK, I confess. I made it up, kind of. BUT -- and like my own, it's a huge one -- I challenge anyone to show me how my parodic extrapolation (not a good band name, unlike, say, Disembodied Anus) fails in the slightest iota of parallelism, except that the Catholic church was among the last earthly entities to accept "Copernicanism."

via Pharyngula (oughta be a street in Rome, no?)

Late Update: Swift himself would've had trouble satirizing these folk; it turns out they're out there, only they call themselves the Association for Biblical Astronomy (originally the Tychonian Society, though -- pretty close to Ptolemy, doncha think?) From their manifesto:

All scientific endeavor which does not accept this revelation from on high [ie, ...his* infallible, preserved word, the Holy Bible] without any reservations, literary, philosophical or whatever, we reject as already condemned in its unfounded first assumptions.

Quoth the Lord to the scientist (at least according to these bozos): Who you gonna believe, My good Book or your lyin' eyes, ears, other senses, and power of reason?

* HEY, wait a minute! Shouldn't that be His infallible etc? Now let's see who's going to roast eternally.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Followup: From Obfuscation to Outright Lies.

Latest reaction to doofus-in-chief's pronouncement vis-a-vis Intelligent Design Creationism:

"It's what I've been pushing, it's what a lot of us have been pushing," said Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religious liberties commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Land, who has close ties to the White House, said that evolution "is too often taught as fact," and that "if you're going to teach the Darwinian theory as evolution, teach it as theory. And then teach another theory that has the most support among scientists."

Nothing more to say, really.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Misunderestimated.

I don't know why I'm surprised. Here's the latest from our doofus-in-chief:

President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and "intelligent design" Monday, saying schools should teach both theories on the creation and complexity of life. In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation's schools. . . . Bush declined to state his personal views on "intelligent design," the belief that life forms are so complex that their creation can't be explained by Darwinian evolutionary theory alone, but rather points to intentional creation, presumably divine. . . . Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over "creationism," a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution. On Monday the president said he favors the same approach for intelligent design "so people can understand what the debate is about."
"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. " You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

What is this guy's problem with reality, anyway? I know, I know; he really doesn't give a crap. It's as though that one-finger salute was directed at the entire reality-based universe. I truly believe the only calculus he can muster is the cost-benefit payoff in votes. This is a bone to throw in the direction of the fundamentalist community, who might be miffed that he didn't react strongly enough to Frists's shocking (and likely staged) display of independence vis-a-vis stem cell research. It certainly costs him nothing in terms of the low-taxes-is-good-for-big-business crowd. And what are we to make of his defiance of established constitutional law that teaching creationism violates the first amendment? I guess it's this: aside from gravity, no law applies to George W. Bush unless he allows it to.

PS: You Reality Cadets are gonna love his response to the suspension of Rafael Palmeiro. It boils down to, "Who you gonna believe, my friend or your lying drug tests?"

That's My Our Jeffy!

Herbert's got a column today about the efforts of Sens. McCain, Warner, and Graham to enact "legislation ... that would expressly prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody."
Tell it, Bob:

There was a dramatic encounter during the floor debate last week when Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, spoke out against the legislation, saying there was no need for it because, as he put it, the detainees are not prisoners of war, "they are terrorists."

Senator McCain, of Arizona, argued that the debate "is not about who they are. It's about who we are." Americans, said Mr. McCain, "hold ourselves" to a higher standard.

At least, we used to. Honestly, you gotta love McCain when you see stuff like this, not only for forgetting to be a Bush apologist, but also for giving Jeff "I got 59% of the vote" Sessions the smackdown he so richly deserves. Remember, Senator Jeff is or has been a practicing attorney, a US Attorney, Alabama Attorney General, and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judging from his bio, what he has NOT been a member of, is the US military. Still, he should know better.

Well, Jeff, you've certainly got my vote -- for Legal Lamebrain of the Week.

Clarification: Please understand, I'm not criticizing Sen. Sessions for not having served in the military. I'm not certain that he did not, although surely his senate web bio would mention it if he did. Many fine individuals, myself included, have not. What I'm saying is, when three senators with distinguished service records think this issue is important enough to take on the White House directly, because they say it's important for our men and women in uniform, that's a good time for those of us who haven't worn the uniform to listen closely and think twice before opening our mouth and demonstrating a general state of cluelessness to the entire world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ah, back to Politics!

Our Fearless Leader (hereinafter OFL): "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

Thanks for clarifying that, Mr. President. I take it from that that sending a White House limo to pick up staffers on work release from the big house is out. If I could, though, there are a few points I'd like to clarify. For instance, what about ankle bracelets? Are they OK? No, I don't mean as a fashion statement; you know, house arrest. After all, it's the People's House, right? So maybe some of those people are on suspended sentences. Yes, it is a big house, a very big house. Another thing, we were all worried, before you made that bold and forthright declaration, you know, that maybe there'd be nothing to stop you from hiring Eric Rudolph as Special White House Assistant for Women's Health. Which brings up the next point. What about pardons? Would that make someone eligible again? When could Secretary Rudolph start then? I know this has been a whole bunch of questions; how about just one more? Where does this leave Admiral Poindexter?

Update: further questions have emerged, specifically regarding when a member of the administration will be judged to have committed a crime. Is it when an indictment is handed down, an arrest is made, a guilty verdict is returned, or when all appeals have been exhausted?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Don't Make Me Choose, Benny!

So it turns out that when he was a mere cardinal, Joey Rat was not so high on the Boy Who Lived. Here's part of his reply to a German author critical of HP: "It is good that you shed light and inform us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable and, precisely because of that, deeply affect and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it could properly grow,"

Well, Benny, I'm callin you out, and yes, I am talkin to You! Cause Benny, when you messin with my man Harry, you are really messin with my shit. You got that? [I don't even know what that means, but it sounds edgy, you know?]
So, one last time,
Don't Make Me F-in' Choose, Benny!
Cause if I choose, You Lose!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

There they go again...

Geez, I never meant for this blog to be all-Catholicism, all the time, but oy vey, it just gets worser and worser. As I've said elsewhere, one of the few things I've found to be proud of in my nominal, self-serving cafeteria catholicism is that at least Rome learned something from the Galileo experience, even if it took them 500 years to get around to acknowledging that, hey, he was right, and the Inquisition was wrong. Now comes Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the lead editor of the friggin' Catechism (Yes, I believe that is the official title.), with this op-ed in the NYT saying, well, scientists are wrong and we're right.

I'm inclined to agree with bitchphd, commenting in Pharyngula, that this, more than pedophilia, misogyny, and all the rest, is likely to make me overcome my inertia and up and leave the house I grew up in (up in which I grew?). However, I'll wait for official clarification from the immediate past head of the Inquisition, BXVI.

Late update: in today's letters in the NYT, there's this word of hope:
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is hardly the person to state an official position because he was outside the mainstream of Catholic thought when as the chief editor of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, he accepted the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis.

(Rev.) Sebastian L. Muccilli

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Back to the Future with BXVI

Latest wisdom from the head of the Inquisition vicar of Christ:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Presenting the new "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics around the world to memorize the most common Catholic prayers in Latin.

Learning the prayers in Latin as well as in one's own language "will help Christian faithful of different languages pray together, especially when they gather for special circumstances," the pope said June 28 as he distributed the Italian version of the compendium, which included an appendix with the Latin texts of many traditional prayers, including the Sign of the Cross, the Gloria, the Hail Mary and Come, Holy Spirit.
My initial reaction? Gawd, how reactionary! But after a little thought I'm not sure it's a bad idea. Latin is, after all, the lingua franca of catholicism, if you will. Don't get me wrong; I love the mother tongue, and years of various choirs and 2 years of high school Latin only served to reinforce my feelings. I'm not sure it would mean the same to my kids, though, and certainly not my (non-papist) wife. The thing is, without the whole liturgy existing in Latin in any meaningful way, these few prayers are more like fossils in a museum, lifeless and with meaning only for the experts. And how often is the average catholic kid from any nation going to be involved in a multinational catholic "do" and be able to show off his/her all-but-forgotten mumbled Paternosher?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Habemas Papam!

The one thing that most disturbs me about the visuals coming out of Vatican City this week is the sheer, unadulterated (let's hope so!) glee that suffuses the visage of the B-16. Let's be real, here. The papacy is arguably the second-toughest job on earth and is rightly restricted to those who should have some sense of the awe and grandeur it entails. Yet the face was somewhere between "We won the match!" and "I have you in my clutches now!" I remember reading that after his election John XXIII ran off and hid for days before returning to face the music and mount the throne of St. Peter. But then, for better or worse, they just don't make popes like they used to.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Advance Directive

Yeah, I know. Bit of a hiatus there. But really, between the one of me, was anyone losing sleep -- over the hiatus, I mean??? Anyway, I've decided to amend my advance directive as follows:

In the event of my incapacitation, coma, or other inability to participate in my healthcare decisions, a one-hour video recording is to be made and forwarded to Hon. Sen. Dr. William Katzensterben Frist, who will study it and make a
definitive pronouncement on my condition and prognosis.

For a suitable fee, he could offer further management suggestions, such as proper percentage of nitrogen for vegetable farming....

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Potentate Potables?

Just go there. This is priceless.

Would the invasion of Iran constitute Double Jeopardy? Cause then all dollar values are doubled!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

In re: Mandate

In the middle of a reasonably interesting what-if discussion about the CBS memos -- what if the forgery had been more convincing, that sort of thing -- Beldar supposes that 1% of the voters may have switched to Kerry. This would not have altered the outcome of the election, his gut tells him,
But it might well have undercut the basis on which Dubya has been able to claim having a broad mandate, however, with resulting significant weakness in his second term.

The rest of the post aside, this particular point is just ludicrous, but at least we can use this to infer the boundaries of what constitutes a mandate: 51/48 = broad mandate; 50/49 = no mandate. Considering that Bush acted like he had a broad mandate when he had actually lost the popular vote by half a million, I fail to see how this would make any practical difference, particularly given the accomodationist tactics of Congressional Democrats until very recently.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Faithful Reader(s), Relax

(Yeah, I coulda found this on a different site than Salon, but that would make it too easy for both of you.)

Anyway, just when you thought the blogosphere was safe from JOTW®, it lives... in the person of Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld's chief spokescreature. Commenting on the military's practice of not-very-obvious sponsorship of certain websites, he opines,

"It would be most helpful to review activities going back six to eight years, as I assume many existing relationships have continued for that many years or longer," Di Rita wrote, noting the Southeast European Times operation. "It would be appropriate to review that activity and others like it."

It's not our fault! It's the Clenis!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Dispatch from Normalville

Following the Podunk County school board meeting Tuesday evening, it appears that the American education system's long dalliance with Newtonianism is coming to an end. For close to ninety minutes, board members saw and heard a procession of concerned parents line up to demand equal time in science classes for alternative theories of what they call "things falling down."

"Anyone who's as big a basketball fan as me can tell that no coincidence could ever bring about the wonderful balance between the bounciness properties of a basketball and the falling-down properties. And don't even get me started on golf!" This from Seth Straitlace, the father of three pupils in the county schools and an advocate of a theory called Intelligent Attraction. "Clearly, somebody smarter than me had to design the properties of the world so that things work the way they do." He moved on to Astronomy, "Also, did you ever consider that if the earth was alot farther from the sun or alot closer, life as we know it would be impossible! It hadda be designed. QED."

After forty-five minutes of discussion, the board voted 7-3 to require that earth science and physics textbooks used in the district have stickers placed in them to read:
"This text includes discussion of gravitation, which is only a theory, not a fact. There are other theories that attempt to explain these phenomena. You should study this material critically and make your own decisions. "
After the meeting, Straitlace said he was pleased, all in all. "This just leaves our campaign against Copernicanism. But that'll wait till next month's meeting."

Monday, January 24, 2005

What Planet Yew From, Boy?

Regarding the second inaugural address of GWB, from the one-of-a-kind David Brooks:
Two years from now, no one will remember the spending or the ostrich-skin cowboy boots. But Bush's speech, which is being derided for its vagueness and its supposed detachment from the concrete realities, will still be practical and present in the world, yielding consequences every day.

Words fail me, but maybe somewhere else in the world...

Rest of the world: OK. Here we have, ...hypocrisy. From America. Specifically, her President. More specifically, this President. [yawn]

Alright, DB. I'll grant you four words, "yielding consequences every day." Just not exactly in the way you meant them.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

TJ for President!

Courtesy of Paul Glastris, some very apt words from the author of the Declaration and erector of the wall of separation between church and state:

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles..."

Go check it out.

Cream Rises to the Tippy Top

EXTRA!!!: Jerk of the Week, Jerk of the Quadrennium, and Leading Jerk of the Free World Edition

The Post: In Iraq, there's been a steady stream of surprises. We weren't welcomed as liberators, as Vice President Cheney had talked about. We haven't found the weapons of mass destruction as predicted. The postwar process hasn't gone as well as some had hoped. Why hasn't anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election. And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me, for which I'm grateful.
One definition I found for 'accountable' is, "obliged to accept responsibility." I honestly can't think of any word less applicable to GWB and his entire administration.

Scenario 2007

I've been meaning to write about this for awhile, but... Has it occurred to anyone else that in about two years, Cheney could retire for health reasons and let GWB appoint his hand-picked successor? Like maybe Frist, who could then run in 2008 as semi-incumbent and semi-anointed, obviating the whole messy primary process. I'm not sure how the Republican electorate would take to being told, in effect, what to do, but I don't see any big risk in this strategery. Am I missing something?

Hey, I Lied.

In comments at Washington Note, I promised my two cents' worth re Imminent vs. Incipient. And you know what happened. I got sidetracked into trenchant commentary, but never really delivered the goods. Well, here it is:

To me, disregarding OED and other dictionary denotations, imminent connotes an event that will burst forth suddenly, e.g., imminent collapse of Russian Communism, imminent military action in Iran. Incipient, on the other hand, sounds like a process that has a creeping gradualism to it, incipient erosion of civil liberties, that sort of thing.

Getting back to Scowcroft, then, I'd say that part of his point is that civil war in Iraq is not to be viewed as a possible event that will burst forth with shock and awe, but as an evolution that has its beginnings in today's insurgency. (Hope I'm not putting words in your mouth, Brent.) If I'm close to correct, it does make a difference which word is used. I'm not sure about the relative urgencies conveyed by these terms. Perhaps the point is that it's too late to head off an incipient civil war; we should bow to the inevitable. And perhaps I'm FOS.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Listen to this 39-year-old Man

Oddly prophetic words:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

(on the eve of his assassination.)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Confession Time

(I fully realize that I'm the only one reading here, but just for a moment, humor me, you nonexistent readers...)

Just when you were worried we might drop the ball...

The Next Winner: Jerk of the Week™ : [hmm..should I give them Roman numerals, ala SuperBowls?]
David Frum, from his blog entitled David Frum's Diary on National Review Online.

Allow me to set the stage. This week a report in the New York Times quotes Brent Scowcroft, an admitted Republican, as saying, "We may be seeing incipient civil war [in Iraq] at this time." This situation, he said, raised the fundamental question of "whether we get out now."

The notion of getting out now, to Mr. Frum, is scuttling.
The result of such a policy would be chaos - but chaos in Iraq, the sources for the story seem to think [thinly-veiled reference to Mr. Scowcroft, methinks], is well worth it if they can get in return a political defeat for President Bush.

My interpretation: Those vile would-be scuttlers are so craven as to be willing to trade chaos in Iraq for some fleeting political advantage over Dear Leader.

Well, Projection, thy name is David! It seems to me that this (i.e., trading chaos in Iraq for political advantage) is precisely what said Dear Leader did himself less than two years ago, to devastating effect, both from the standpoint of Iraqis, the US military and Reserve communities, and the domestic political landscape, as well. Also note DF's use of the prime Neocon debate tactic: when no sentient being could argue with the substance of a statement, impugn the speaker's (or, in this case, imputed speaker's) motivation.

Amazingly, Mr. Frum goes on to win the first double-header in JOTW™ history, with a clever use of Mark Twain to tweak Steve Clemons (get it?). Describing a frustrating argument the Connecticut Yankee had with a slow-witted king, Frum says:
Eventually the Yankee has to shoot him.

Yesterday I found myself the target of a similar kind of obdurate lunk-headedness.

I think this tells us all we need to know about Mr. Frum's approach to discussions across a chasm of differing world-views (and no, I'm not defending the three-coin king, imaginary people, please pay attention!).

Extra credit: Think of a king endowed with obdurate lunk-headedness, quick! Ooh, that really wasn't so difficult, was it?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Blinding Flash of the Obvious

It's just become clear to me that there's a common thread which ties together many, many aspects of current conservative thought. It goes deeper than whatever is the opposite of reality-based. It's like in-your-face, not-reality-based on steroids, with a side of wishful thinking.

  • WMD in Iraq
  • Iraq War in general
  • Dear Leader = God's Annointed
  • Intelligent Design
  • Biblical Inerrancy
  • Homosexuality in general
  • Race relations
  • Theocracy
  • Need to lock up all pinkos and America-haters
  • Abortion
  • Social safety-net
  • Social Security
  • Basic economics
  • Evil university professorial scum
  • Global Warming
  • Environment in General

In each case, the response is beyond, "Please don't confuse me with the facts." It's more like, "My opinion is perfectly as valid as yours on this technical and detailed topic, despite the fact that I'm in college and you've made this area your life's work for umpteen years."

As we say, developing...

Oath of Purity

In conjunction with our professed basis in Reality here at Imbecilities©™, we do hereby solemnly swear:

I swear that I have never taken money -- either directly or indirectly -- from any political campaign or government agency -- whether federal, state, or local -- in exchange for any service performed in my job as a journalist (or commentator, or blogger, or whatever you think I should be called).

Shorter: We are not now, nor have we ever been, Bush's ho.

There. That wasn't so bad now, was it? [Oath edited to sound gooder]

Thursday, January 06, 2005


I had a revelation, nay, an Epiphany, regarding an earlier quest:

[Attention tone]

This is a test of the moioci blogging system. This is only a test. In the event of an actual blog, you would feel inclined to stay tuned for insightful, yes, timely and insightful commentary regarding current things.

[Attention tone again]

Hey, it's a practice blog, OK?

Newest Winner: Jerk of the Week™

Yes, it's Scotty!

In the [White House] e-mail, [Rove's deputy Peter] Wehner, director of White House Strategic Initiatives, . . . criticized Democrats as "the party of obstruction and opposition. It is the Party of the Past."

Asked if it was improper for the government to send a partisan e-mail discussing political strategy, McClellan said he disagreed with that characterization.[emphasis mine]

Uhh, which characterization, exactly, Scotty? E-mail? Strategery? 'Cause I don't see any way a sentient being could disagree with "partisan" or "political." If said sentient being were being honest, that is.

The Poor Man: Poker With Dick Cheney

This is old but special:

The Poor Man: Poker With Dick Cheney: "Colin Powell: Ladies and gentlemen. We have accumulated overwhelming evidence that Mr. Cheney's poker hand is far, far better than two pair."

Skip the miles of spam in the comments, though.