Demagogue: one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. - Mencken
This post is going to be short and to the point. I’m pissed off and depressed about enough different things right now - political and not - that I am not really in the mood to spend too much time delving into the cesspool of Limbaugh, Coulter, Malkin, Gibson et al. Y’all can play one round of match the wingnut blowhard to their words though:
a. No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. … That’s what Christianity is.
b. The use of Graeme Frost was part of a larger left-wing strategy to hide behind children and use them as cannon fodder in their losing bid to get S-CHIP passed into law.
c. I know the shooter was white. I knew it as soon as he shot himself. Hip-hoppers don’t do that. They shoot and move on to shoot again.
d. You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.
But we ain’t even stopping there.
Continue Reading »
This week, the UN General Assembly is in session in New York. AS is tradition, numerous heads of state show up and give a short speech. Bush updates his target list; Chavez gives one of his flamboyant speeches; and some who would never get a visa if it weren’t for the UN take the opportunity to engage American audiences.
One of those, in case you haven’t read the papers or watched the news for some time, is Iranian president M. Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is not a moderate person; all that’s left of his political persona - which started out as part challenge to the Iranian establishment, part re-invigoration of the Iranian revolution - are a sharp reactionary turn domestically, and very public enmity towards the United States and Israel internationally.
Now it happens that the last time Ahmadinejad was in New York, Columbia University was going to invite him to speak, but canceled on short notice, caving to right-wing pressure. So they tried again this time, and stuck to the invitation. However, Columbia President Lee Bollinger apparently felt the need to do something to avoid losing donations and decided that he would greet Ahmadinejad with the standard litany of accusations, dressed up as questions. Echoing the standard neo-conservative talking points, he accused Iran of “being a state sponsor of terrorism”, having said that “Israel should be wiped off the map”, and “fighting a proxy war against the US” (in Iraq).
Some other accusations, regarding the oppressive policies Iran engages in against women, homosexuals and political dissidents at least had the advantage of being correct.
So far, I wasn’t surprised; anyone who knows Bollinger’s penchant for intellectual cowardice - signified by his acquiescence in the witch hunt against Columbia’s own Middle Eastern Studies faculty some years ago - wouldn’t wonder if Bollinger had made similarly aggressive remarks when Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan visited in 2005 (you can watch his exercise in sucking up here); or if Bollinger asked about death squads and torture in Iraq when President Jalal Talabani spoke the same year. Of course he hadn’t!
However, I was amazed by the reaction to Bollinger’s boorish behavior. Apparently, I am told, Bollinger is a hero. A hero of free speech; a hero of liberal American academia; someone who “speaks truth to power”. I suppose that’s what heroism is in this modern age: dropping bombs from 30,000 feet; lambasting invited speakers if and only if it is sure to get you brownie points with the ruling class; baiting people with ammunition so you can shoot them in the head.
The true heroes are the women demonstrating for their rights in Iran; the independent thinkers challenging the stifling intellectual climate there without falling into the role of “native informers”. They, after all, are risking a great deal. On the other side of the line, challenging dominant discourse in the US doesn’t, for most of us, risk incarceration. It is all the more disappointing when those who have a platform - like the president of a major university - use it to bravely stand up to the powerless.
By order of King George:
The Bush Rules:
I took these photographs while standing on Governors Island, in New York harbor between the southern tip of Manhattan and Red Hook, Brooklyn. This is where Reagan and Gorbachov met in December of 1988, marking the quasi-official end to the Cold War.
BTW, my buddy Tim Perper tells me that the original Gojira has been released on DVD, uncut, without Raymon Burr.
Bill Benzon, WAAGNGNP Minister of Visual Propaganda
In his intriguing, if overly verbose, article on “Capitalist democracy: elective affinity or beguiling illusion” (Daedalus, Summer 2007, pp. 5-13), John Dunn states:
“This much is clear: while in America, Tom Paine and James Madison both imagined that that a commercial society could coexist happily with a representative republic, others elsewhere, from Filippo Buonarroti and the first Duke of Wellington in the 1830s to the Guild Socialist G.D.H. Cole in the 1920s, were just as certain that the inequalities generated by the market economy were incompatible with a truly democratic republic. (p. 5)
To this latter position I would add not only generated but sustained for the benefit of some over others. In the article, John Dunn mentions aristocracy and monarchy as counterpoints to democracy, but fails to follow up on oligarchy, the far more relevant (in my opinion) form of aristocratic “ruling” behavior in a capitalist democracy, and a problem in Greek and Roman times as well. Can a group of leaders so constituted as to view their interests (esp. economic) as either constitutive of or superior to the general public be entrusted with power in a democracy?
Continue Reading »
“We are in bondage to the law so that we might be free.”
Cicero (106-43 BC)
the law is a ass—a idiot.”
Mr. Bumble Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
When I first conceived of this post, I was going to basically describe a great article by Kim Lane Scheppele, When the Law Doesn’t Count: The Rule of Law and Election 2000, in which in addition to providing a devastating critique of the actions of the Supremes and how they violated some of the basic tenets of the Rule of Law, describes how many countries with “horrors” in their past (Germany, Russia, various Eastern Europe countries) have included specific “Rule of Law” clauses in their constitutions. I was going to propose that the United States might profit from adding a similar amendment to our constitution. I still think that it is a great article, (Do read it, but be warned that it will infuriate you all over again. I found it via Lawyers, Guns and Money, which I found in turn via MB’s hockey blogging, which shows that though the wheels of blogging grind fast, they grind Non sequiturously) and such an amendment is still is probably a good idea for the US. However, after watching the various “Accountability Follies” that have played out over the last few months between Bushco and Congress, I am less sanguine about the capacity for any combination of mere words on parchment or paper to save us from ourselves, now or in the future - especially if those words are to be interpreted by the likes of the Roberts court. These days I am thinking more along the lines of what to do right now, because I think John Rogers got it exactly right in his L33T Justice post at Kung Fu Monkey :
They have found the “exploit” within the United States Government. As I watched Congressmen and Senators stumble and fumble and thrash, unable to bring to heel men and women who were plainly lying to them under oath, unable to eject from public office toadies of a boot-licking expertise unseen since Versailles, it struck me. The sheer, simple elegance of it. The “exploit”.
Continue Reading »
[being a continuation of a meditation begun earlier]
Parable #2: Benjamin Rush and Yellow Fever
Philadelphia’s yellow fever epidemic of 1793 was the largest in the history of the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 4000 people, nearly 10% of the entire population of the city. In late summer, as the number of deaths began to climb, 20,000 citizens fled to the countryside, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other members of the federal government (at that time headquartered in Philadelphia).
Into this stark landscape stepped a hero: Benjamin Rush, physician, public figure, signer of the Declaration of Independence. He mobilized medical efforts, orchestrated the construction of makeshift tent hospitals, and personally oversaw the treatment of hundreds, if not thousands of the stricken. He gave the city hope, when others offered nothing but stoicism, or despair.
His treatments were as heroic as the man himself. He favored bleeding, to the point of anemia, for a host of ailments, including Yellow Fever. To counter the “buildup of yellow bile,” he prescribed, calomel (mercurous chloride), as a purgative, and jalap, a powerful laxative. These sometimes caused his patients’ hair and teeth to fall out.
Continue Reading »
BushCo Posted by JP Stormcrow, 13 Jul 2007 09:24 am
It has been a little more than a week since the Scooter Libby commutation (Act I of a two-part act. Act II, The Pardon, coming in January 2009 - trust me on this one.) The ardor that the case generated in the breasts of liberals, neo-cons and other right-wing nutters, and the Beltway establishment appears to be dying down somewhat, but it is not quenched. Although it was nice to have Judge Reggie Walton weigh in with some further disapproval while ruling on a technical aspect of how to interpret the terms of the commutation.
…. the Court notes that the term of incarceration imposed in this case was determined after a careful consideration of each of the requite statutory factors, and was consistent with the bottom end of the applicable sentencing range as properly calculated under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. [emphasis added]
(And for those of you who are playing along at home, Walton is a “reliably conservative” judge who was appointed to his current position by George W. Bush.) But it is worth taking a brief look at what fired up this mini-GNF in the breasts of so many. And of course the wise adage: “You can’t say that it is the best [or worst - JP] time you ever had until it is all over” applies. (Which adage was recalled by me while watching The Prestige last night - a good flick, watch it if you get a chance.)
By James Killus
3:15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to
Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and
offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a
feast to all his servants.
3:16 Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and
stood before him.
3:17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one
house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
3:18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered,
that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no
stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
3:19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid
3:20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while
thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead
child in my bosom.
3:21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it
was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was
not my son, which I did bear.
3:22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the
dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the
living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
3:23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth,
and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the
dead, and my son is the living.
3:24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword
before the king.
3:25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half
to the one, and half to the other.
3:26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king,
for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her
the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it
be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
3:27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and
in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
3:28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged;
and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in
him, to do judgment.
4:1 So king Solomon was king over all Israel
The story of the true mother was a tale spread by Solomon’s people at a time of civil crisis.
Solomon had an elder brother, Adonijah, who was the rightful heir to the throne, (or had, at least, a more legitimate claim than Solomon) but Adonijah had already been executed at Solomon’s command, along with a number of Adonijah’s supporters.
Solomon’s tale of justice was actually a warning to any remaining supporters of Adonijah. “I am not the legitimate heir,” he was telling them. “I’ll not hesitate to split the Kingdom, just as my father David warred against King Saul.” The “wisdom of God” that was in him, was, in fact, the ruthless calculation of a warlord. “If I cannot be King,” he told the people of Israel, “No one will.”
But history is strange, and is written by the victors. So ruthless cunning is now recorded for all time as wisdom and justice.
[Update: by order of the MoJ, and to keep the picture on the front page, this is also the weekend Open Thread (#15). For further hilarity, the MoOaD suggests this article about an FBI advisory to New England colleges on how to spot potential spies among their foreign students (hint: spies like to work late, and communicate with other scientists - a dead giveaway)]
George Grosz’ Eclipse of the Sun appropriately modified. Photoshop credit: Idea by spyder, execution by my daughter. Here is the original. “Full-size” reproduction of the Photoshop here. (to better see how well she matched the texture…. what is the point of blogging for if you can’t brag on your kids.)
This is meant to be a humorous post in honor of the new waves of hilarity coming in from
BushCo CheneyCo this week. If you can’t laugh at the idea of your nation being under the thumb direction of three of the most morally bankrupt, fatuous, psychopathic liars you could ever imagine in your worst nightmare, well then just what can you laugh at? I mean if we can’t take a joke, well then, fuck us. It’s not like we have anything to lose other than our honor, sanity, reputation in the world, standard of living, self-images, sense of fair play, hope for a safe and sane future for our children, air, water, natural resources, environment, education system and pride. And to my knowledge none of those are protected under the Constitution- and I’m sure the Supreme Court is ready to rule 5-4 on that.
So where were we … ah, yes humorous post and all. Now I sometimes like to think of myself as an occasionally funny guy - now certainly not Richard Cohen funny- but funny like in locking some girls purse to her desk in 8th grade English class and then forgetting about it and leaving the room so that she and the teacher have to take all of her stuff out of it and then track me down to get the combination kind of funny. You know subtle, sophisticated, yet understated funny. And yet, amazingly enough, as I sit here writing this post I find that I am not laughing, in fact I am in a barely controlled state of subliminal rage, and what is more I find that I have been in that state for ‘lo these past five or six years.
And so since
I promised the MOJ a post even though I actually had jack Friday smells like teh Arbitrary, I turn it over to you the readers and commenters of this explosive blog to supply your favorite snippets of humor from the exploits of those wacky Three Amigos of Torture and Deceit: Tweedledum, Tweedledummer and Tweedledummerer.
Q: What’s worse than the death of your child?
- A: Your child dying in an unjust faux-patriotic charade of a “war” founded on fear-mongering lies and calculated deception.
Q: What can make your grief over this unbearable loss even worse?
- A: Having the perpetrators of the tragedy use your child’s death as an excuse and justification for the deaths of countless more people’s children.
- A: Being told that by demanding accountability from the people who caused your child’s death, you are dishonoring his life and everything for which he stood.
- A: Having your fitness as a parent and spouse questioned, flayed, dissected, and ultimately dismissed before a national television audience.
There are of course a lot more answers to that second question, and Cindy Sheehan endured all of them with strength and dignity and an unshakable courage. She did not start the anti-Iraq War movement, but she certainly lit a fire under it by forcing it into the pages of newspapers across the country and onto prime-time TV network news. Her stance in Crawford, Texas heightened the visibility (and therefore increased the support) of groups such as Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace (of which Sheehan is a founding member), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (formerly Operation Truth).What happened there in Crawford gave people across the country a nucleus around which to rally. It finally forced the beginning of a real national discussion (if not a debate, exactly) about the US invasion of Iraq: Why did we go there in the first place, and why the hell are we still there now? Prior to Sheehan being in Crawford, the pundits, the corporate media, and with a few notable exceptions, the politicians, had been successful in seeing to it that this discussion never took place on a national scale.
For all the good that came out of the protest in Crawford, I feel that strategically a golden opportunity was lost.
Continue Reading »