07 Jun

Tossing Bennett's salad

There is a big difference between having a spirited debate among artisans over an issue rife with intricacies and grey areas, and literally eviscerating a bigot into a quivering mass of Jell-O in front of a studio audience. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out John Stewart showing Bill Bennett the intricate pleasures of getting your ass reamed on the Gay Marriage “debate”.

Video-WMP Video-QT (link via C & L))

Honestly, I can’t understand why hard-right conservatives still fail to take John Stewart seriously. Yes, he is the host of a fake news show (still waiting for someone to show me the “real” ones). But he is still the smartest guy in the room. I’m impressed by anyone who can even keep up with the guy (check out Reza Aslan from January 24th this year) but am utterly shocked that anyone with a vacuous mind like Bennett’s would even dare to show his face and expect to outwit the genius that is Stewart.

But that’s what happens when you come down on the wrong side of history. I mean look, I’ve had many a brilliant epiphany in the midst of a college drug haze. But when I wake the next day, I still had enough grey matter to realize how silly they were. Likewise for Bennett, the arguments that must have seemed so brilliant by the glow of last night’s burning cross must inevitably evaporate in the cold hard logic of rationale daylight.

07 Jun

Link Vomit

Rush Limbaugh thinks liberals are 'ecstatic' about Haditha.

The Taliban claims to have seized control of Somalia.

Reid rips Bush a new one on gay marriage, Inhofe loves the ladies and is proud to shun teh gay, while anti-amendment advocates gain an unlikely ally.

9-11 widows and comedian Katy Griffin put the smack-down on Black-hearted Ann Coulter.

An unholy alliance?

06 Jun

The death of homophobia

Last night felt like a marathon run from the netroots on Bush’s speech. But I for one absolutely loved it. To me, this speech will always be remembered as the pinnacle of the dark epoch of Bush’s America. Our children and grandchildren will watch this speech with the same level of contempt we have for Strom Thurmond bandying about with the word ‘nigra’ in his old speeches, or watching the mayor of Birmingham defend the city-wide segregation policies. They are sad reminders of racists running the country who watched the world grow in tolerance and acceptance while they died in sad, lonely obscurity.

This is classic Bush coming down on the wrong side of history and revealing his true bigoted self for all the world to see. How can I help but feel joyful in watching this megalomaniacal tyrant accelerate his path towards the infamous annals (pun intended) of civil rights history.

06 Jun

Haditha and the Milgram Experiment

I know I've been fairly quiet on the latest string of revelations of war atrocities in Iraq. It's not that I'm uninterested so much as I'm not at all surprised. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the famous Milgram experiment wherein Stanley Milgram of Yale University proved that, under orders from an authority figure, the majority of ordinary people would administer a lethal dose of electricity to another person. Although prior polling of psychologists revealed a nearly unanimous belief that, at most, less than 1/10th of 1 percent of subjects would succumb to this atrocity, the fact is that the Milgram experiment has been repeated in a variety of settings and derivations, always with the result of nearly two-thirds of participants willing to administer the fatal shock.

The point is that we would all like to believe that we have an immutable system of morals and respect for life. That there is no way that we would succumb to kicking around decapitated Iraqi heads like soccer balls in order to entertain ourselves after a lazy Sunday afternoon killing spree. That these individual soldiers are somehow twisted by nature and must be locked away before they sully America's good name any further. But the Milgram experiment represents empirically solid proof that the mind is a fragile and malleable construct; that under the right circumstances, we can rationalize the most horrific of acts in order to protect our subconscious from the reality of our actions.

Basically, under any circumstances of unjust and elective warfare, our minds are confronted with conflicting notions of our own (dare I say ingrained) morality and the propaganda of authority figures. The only way we can preserve our mental health is to dehumanize the "enemy" so that it is no more difficult than killing an animal. The problem with this kind of mental conditioning is that it leads to all sorts of evil consequences beyond the obvious intended ones.

Should those who commit atrocities be held culpable? Absolutely, lest we send a message that we condone such behavior. But when you train dogs to attack strangers, you should not be surprised when that's exactly what they do. Is it the dog's fault or is it the trainer's fault? The real villains of these atrocities are first and foremost the leaders who have blurred wartime conventions so much so that morality is indistinguishable. Beyond that, we must blame those in the American public who gave their implicit permission for this behavior by electing a group of terrorists to run the country, and finally those who know better but fail to speak out.

06 Jun

Crashing the Gates

If you spend your life hanging out in the blogsphere, you might really get the impression that Kos has it right. Although I would prefer a more representative government, this is how a two-party system works. Both sides gravitate towards the center in order to get elected and, when that starts to fail, the more progressive movements on the left step in to regain momentum against the radical right.

Remember, it wasn’t long ago that anyone on the left was criticized from both sides of the aisle for being out of touch. And just to prove my point that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, we now we have a MSM that is imploding on itself. Rush Limbaugh is called out for airing a fake pro-war veteran, an actual (and very well-spoken) real veteran calls out O’Reilly on his America-hating, fake journalists are criticising real ones from on high, and the New York Times tows the line and “corrects” the Iraqi Prime Minister’s criticism of U.S. war atrocities.

Add to this the liberal paradise of Canada joining the ranks of publicity-motivated illegal police stings by arresting terror suspects for possession of substances that the police themselves mailed, the American Bar Association voting unanimously to investigate the constitutionality of Bush’s 750+ signing statements, and the GOP base proving unimpressed with Bush’s shameful pandering on the hate marriage amendment.

At least Skeletor Ann Coulter is reliably stationed somewhere to the left of Mussolini.

05 Jun

Is there any title that makes this post any less creepy?

Pony Blow is on the tee-vee educatin' us simple folk as to how the anti-gay ammendment is just like the historic struggle for civil rights.

So basically, the struggle for civil rights has somehow infringed on the civil rights of rich white Victorian men to spew discriminatory propaganda into the constitution. Gee, guess we better do something about that.  We'll start with the gays, then move on to the blacks, browns, and yellows.  Then the women are next.  Then those pinko liberals.  Then old people cuz the kinda smell.  Never much cared for children either.  Or cats. 

Click on the bigot's face to watch the video, or Raw Story has the transcript here.

05 Jun

Link Vomit

Well, my longish previous rant aside, I actually have the day off today and want to spend it doing something less aggravating than blogging on the sorry state of my country. So here’s a little link vomit to tide you over:

In Peter Laufer’s new book, Joshua Key, a former U.S. soldier from Oklahoma, describes a “beheading orgy” in which American soldiers were literally playing soccer with the decapitated Iraqis’ heads.

After Cheney returns from a one-man blitz to start a new Cold War, is it any big surprise that the oil-producing states would rise to the occasion and oblige?

Following my previous post on comparing Bush to Hitler, Tristero has (in distrurbing flashback style) laid out the entire slippery slope of TalibAmerica's homophobic marriage ammendment.

From C & L: "Bill Kristol was discussing recent comments made by Irainian Supreme Leader Ali Khameni -- then in mid-comment, Kristol stopped himself and said, with no hint of irony, "Maybe we should have Supreme Leader Bush. I kind of like the sound of that." Go check out the video.

Kos points out how the big telecoms are now casting the Net Neutrality debate as a clash between left whackos and rational centrists. Of course, if by centrists you mean greedy corporations who are determined to rob consumers and stifle innovation while we fall behind the rest of the world in broadband capabilities.

Judge tells Libby defense to get their greedy mitts out of the cookie jar.

Unless we find a way to make the right-wingers heads explode, enjoy your last chance to see these creatures.

05 Jun

The Christian Taliban no likeee judges

If you want to get a good glimpse into the mind of Taliban Christians in this country, check out this article:

The notion of preserving some archaic definition of “family” offends me. First off, who defined marriage in the first place? And if you believe certain sexual behavior is wrong—which I certainly don’t—how would you enforce your rules: by invading people’s bedrooms, trampling on the right to privacy? The spirit of tolerance demands that we allow free men to define family for themselves.

Also, the idea that God has a place in U.S. society goes against the principles I hold dear, the tenets by which civilization should be governed. Any American knows that church and state must be kept separate. Should Muslims be forced to view publicly displayed religious messages like the heavy-handed Ten Commandments? Should a young Buddhist be forced to listen to school prayer? Should millions of atheists feel compelled to say they belong to one nation under God?

I think most of us would tend to more or less agree. But in fact the article is raising these points as a form of satire as though we would read every line and gasp at how pinko liberal our judiciary has become. The author genuinely perceives a judiciary that has declared war on the Christian Right (and not the other way around) and even trot out obscure biblical scripture out of context in order to lend theological weight to their argument:

The war on family and religion in the U.S. is now decades old, and one of the primary weapons of those who oppose morality is the judiciary … God Himself said it would be so. When the Prophet Isaiah warned about a lack of leadership in the modern nations of Israel and Judah, he specifically warned that God would take away the “judge”—the men who would interpret the law and properly administer justice (Isaiah 3:1-3). Today, the highest court in the land is handing down morally irresponsible rulings that violate God’s laws and attack religion and family. To do so, justices are forced to violate even the U.S. Constitution.

And what they want most in the world is not actually a Taliban-style theocracy governed by the most radical wing of American Christians, but rather a glorious return to the good old age of light in which the founding fathers spread their theocratic warmth for all generations to come:

Originalism means that judges look to the U.S. Constitution but avoid creating rights beyond those defined by the Constitution. Originalism promotes the rule of law by imparting to the Constitution a permanent, predictable meaning … But rather than limiting themselves to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, some justices engage in judicial activism: predetermining the outcome they would like to see, then devising a reason to support it.

I especially love how they italicize ‘judicial activism’ as though it were somehow a definitive label used to describe those who oppose this concept of originalism. The fact is, all members of the judiciary are to some extent activist in any case lacking in precedent (i.e. most constitutional cases that the supreme court must decide). The only question is whether they are liberal activists or if they are Republican activists and therefore more in tune with the zealot fringe of the Christian Right.

In a sense, they are right. I mean, if the founding fathers were alive today, they would probably vote Republican. There. I’ve said it. I mean, the twisted beauty of concepts like ‘life’, ‘liberty’ and the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is that they sound like kittens and puppies to anyone who hears them. Our minds reflexively define these incredibly subjective concepts and we believe unquestioningly that our perception is the universal reality. They’re the rhetorical equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot.

Yet I’m fairly confident that the founding fathers’ vision of these concepts would have been far more analogous to hard-right Republicans than to my own. If the old coots were alive today they would probably have campaigned for a second Bush term. They would likely cite national security concerns in order to compel a third (or a fourth). They might even play golf with Rove once in a while. So go ahead and gloat, Republicans, because this progressive is willing to admit that the founding fathers shared your vision of America and not mine.

But the founding fathers were assholes. Who in the world would choose them as a role model? Why are we are haunted by the specter of these mythologized jerks as though their narrow worldview somehow formed a mandate for the present? They enslaved millions of people to involuntary servitude. Today we call it trickle-down economics. They wanted to conduct commerce without the interference of England’s regulatory controls. Today we call that neo-liberal globalization. They brutalized and killed an aboriginal population unwilling to bend to economic subjugation. Today we call that the Global War on Terror.

Yes, I’m fairly certain the founding fathers intended life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be bestowed upon a narrow swath of privileged white businessmen. But if they really wanted us to behave like that today then they would have written a far more rigid constitution. They didn’t. The U.S. Constitution is Our constitution and is one of the most malleable governments ever conceived. The founding fathers didn’t intend for the constitution to have a “permanent, predictable meaning” like this article would have us believe. The fact that it has endured intact over two centuries of power fluctuations is a testament to its flexibility, not its strength. So don’t think you can just throw the founding fathers in my face in order to somehow ‘win’ the argument. You can’t.

The point is that our government belongs to We the People. Here. Now. It’s designed so that the spirit and will of the people can freely evolve (or devolve as the case may be). It bends and adjusts so that We can live the life We want now and not the life of some dead rich dudes from a profoundly different culture. If we want a large middle class, fine. If we want basic healthcare for all, terrific. If we want every Thursday to be green Jello and taco day then so be it. It’s Our country and we can run it any damn way We please.

So who’s happy with the way it is today?  Pretty much nobody.  And God help us if we ever are.  As Americans, we remain beholden to a permamnt battle to define the American identity.  We have a neverending responsibility to ensure that our triumphs and tribulations alike are defined by rationality and not a hypocritical fringe whose leadership are trying to redefine the world in apocolyptic terms.

04 Jun

That's what Hitler's there for

I found this nice little Bush/Hitler comparison on MyLeftWing. It's too long to clip, just go read it for yourself.

What I really want to say is that I, for one, am awfully tired of the right wing's lips dripping with feigned outgrage whenever somebody trots out the Hitler analogy against Bush's constitutional-ass-wiping du jour. The essence of these tirades always boil down to an outright dismissal of a supposedly irresponsible and patently false comparison to the worst human transgression in modern history. These people make me want to retch. Has Bush exterminated 6 million Jews? No, of course not. Not yet at least. But to summarily dismiss such criticism on the grounds that he hasn't yet reached Hitler's horrific apex is to engage in the worst form of willful denial.

The brand name of Hitler is far more than his human persona and is certainly greater than his culminating acts. It is the story of a megalomaniacal man whose rise to power emerged from democratic conventions. He is a warning to all thriving and civilized democracies that the process itself can be slowly and lawfully perverted into something unrecognizable. He is a cautionary tale of how easily a population can be manipulated through propaganda and fear into committing, through acquiescence or activity, acts of unimaginable atrocity within a very short time span. We remember Hitler because we never want to forget how even representative governments can slide into dictatorships overnight.

And that is why comparing Bush to Hitler isn't so much an exaggeration, it's just good common sense. No, Bush has yet to mount an organized campaign of genocide per se. But we make these comparisons now, early, when we see our leaders following an all-too-familiar path. We do this so that we don't wake up one morning to a mushroom cloud over Tehran and rue our ineptness to stop Bush from finally outpacing Hitler's body count and delusions of global domination.

Because then we won't be comparing Bush to Hitler, we will be comparing Hitler to Bush.