Monday, February 28, 2005

elementropy hearts blogslut

Blogslut, who long ago showed her exquisite taste by linking to this blog, has recently shown her exemplary reporting skillz with regard to the Gannon/Guckert scandal.

I can't find any permalinks on her posts, but scroll down to see what she's done; her personal anecdotes help in viewing Gannon in a different light, though in the end it matters little to the true crux of the story: that Gannon was probably a White House plant, and should not have been allowed such easy access by an administration which habitually takes the Paranoid and Fear-Mongering Line in all other aspects of security issues. Still, Gannon seems a bit more human now, and for that we can thank blogslut, who has distinguished herself here in acquiring new information and deserves to be mentioned with the other major breakers of Gannongate, such as Americablog, the Kossacks, and World O'Crap.

Back before my hiatus, I had meant to write an entry on blogslut's "Year Zero" series, which compares figures from the Bush Administration to those of Richard Nixon's. I rather like what she's doing with it, for it goes to show that there's nothing new under the sun -- at least as far as corrupt Republican Adminstrations go. Of course the general analogy is as plain as day; indeed, it's long been observed that Republican Adminstrations have a monopoly on the Most Corrupt in History category, starting with General Grant's and then to Harding's. But Nixon's took it to a whole new level, mixing in the bigotry that is quintessential among reactionaries and the Republican Party's traditional open-legs attitude to Big Business with something that heretofore had been missing from the Republicans since McKinley's assassination: warmongering compounded with dirty tricks on a geopolitical scale. Thus Nixon set the stage for Iran-Contra Reagan and Torture-Friendly Serial-Liar Bush. And at least Nixon had detente going for him; the others we have suffered under have no such mitigating if not saving grace.

Yet where the general analogy might be in danger of becoming worn to the point of banality, blogslut's biographical sketches of the co-conspirators avoid this pitfall and do a huge service in their specificity. She has already found the Nixonian analog to Guckert/Gannon; I wait with excitement (but also a little apprehension for what it will say about the current state of affairs) for her selection of a Bushie analog to Nixon's dread E. Howard Hunt who was, in my opinion, tied with Gordon Liddy as the most odious of an already very sorry lot.

*Edited a bit for clarity.

Well, Fuckety-Fuck, Ya Fuckin' Fucks!


Time ta answer some kwestyuns, bitchez.

In comments to my Anti-Wal-Mart post digamma says:

One post earlier, you were squealing about an exercise of true choice by The People of Virginia. And rightly so.

Then, like, I was going all:

Because limiting what PEOPLE wear as clothing is a first amendment issue, i think. I know that you think business are afforded the same protections (which, de facto, means more protections) but I dont.

So he's all up in my face an' shit:

So if The People passed a law saying Wal-Mart couldn't sell DVD's of Fahrenheit 9/11 anymore, that'd be okay?

'Cause, yeah, that'll teach that damned RETARDO!

Except that it won't, because I'm stupid like a fox.

Corporations, despite the corrupt Supreme Court railroad decisions of the late Gilded Age, were never meant to be treated with the same respect as people. digamma, doctrinaire libertarian that he is, nonetheless has agreed in the past that the Reconstruction Amendments were passed for the benefit of, you know, flesh-and-blood human beings, specifically those with African ancestry and not for the businesses which quickly laid claim to those rights and have held them ever since (all the while, of course, the people those rights were passed for have held them tenuously at best).

But digamma also knows I hold a Hugo Black-esque attitude to the First Amendment. Thus his reply is an attempt at a "gotcha" moment.

Except that it isn't. Obviously, there is an interest for consumers -- who are flesh and blood people -- to have access to information. My belief that Wal-Mart's locality can be more controlled by government (The People) does not mean I think -- or should think -- that once a Wal-Mart is built -- with consent from locals -- it can be told what information it can and cannot sell.

I think that people can choose their residences without so much as a by-your-leave from a community.

I think that businesses cannot claim this same absolute.

I'll add more if I'm asked or attacked; for now I'll quit this line of thought because I'm heavily and pleasurably medicated.


I am pleased to announce that my great-great grandmother's rocker was not stolen but was moved by the thieves to a far corner of my shed and covered up with junk so much that I missed it on my first panicked inspection. It is now in a safe place. From what I can tell they stole my boxed-up kitchenware instead. As it had no sentimental value to me, I'm very relieved at their choice.


"Captain Redneck", whose name belies the fact that he is one of my progressive Better-Dead-Than-Red comrades here in Mittel Amerika, mentions in comments the excellent Wendell Berry of Kentucky. I have read a bit of Berry in some farm magazines, years ago, and should have mentioned him here somewhere as voice of sanity on questions of agriculture.

Excellent suggestion, Mr Redneck, and I hope that you stick around to become my fourth or even, maybe, third regular reader.


I am almost over the flu.


In blogroll news, I have fixed the link to Matt Taibbi to make it a simple google search within the New York Press's site. He doesn't have his own page there as far as I can ascertain; I had had to simply link to his latest column at the time. Taibbi is hilarious and his bullshit-detector is fine-tuned; he should be read.

I'm adding The Girl Gets Away, for the excellent reasons that, for one, she shows great taste by linking to me, and for another, she is a perfect smart-ass with sound judgement too: she is on to Kevin Drum's faux-leftism, and thinks Mark Steyn is the biggest asshole in Canadia. Well done. She can now expect at maximum three hits from this site, an elementropylanche!


I forgot where I first saw it, but this is amusing. Notice the special look of distaste and embarassment on Karen Hughes's face as she realises that hers is at least six inches longer.


digamma also took me to task for a reason aside Wal-Mart. In the comments to this post, he wrote:

I just noticed your endorsement of Ward Churchill on the right. I guess you didn't know any of those "little Eichmanns" who had a "penalty befitting their participation" in "America's global financial empire" visited upon them. I was living in New Jersey in 2001 - we really miss those little Eichmanns.

Feel free to read my hastily-written, sloppy reply, but I'd like to make a better defense here. I linked to Ward Churchill when I began this blog, or very soon after. Unlike most people who've commented on Churchill in the last month, I've actually read some of his work, and I endorse it. I plan on making a long post in defense of him and his infamous essay, which was stupid and sloppy but which Churchill has since corrected to such a point that even it is amenable to me.

But until I do, for the sake of this post let's assume that Churchill had let it stand. In its initial, repugnant form was it enough for me to take the link down? Probably not. I link to Norman Mailer, whose writings on feminism and homosexuality are inventively pigheaded at best. Bertrand Russell took scientific parenting entirely too far. Christopher Hitchens has, for going on four years now, been impersonating a neocon. Brooks Adams was the grossest sort of imperialist and put an intellectual stamp on Rooseveltian conquest; as such, he is connected to genocide not directly but not indirectly, either. Jared Diamond whores anthropology to Microsoft thugs. Mencken was mean to every ethnic group except his own (German-Americans). Huey Long made the odious Gerald L. K. Smith his second-in-command. For years, John Simon wrote for National Review, which means his cootie-factor is probably the most alarming on the list. I disagree with about 75 percent of Pauline Kael's conclusions on film. And so on. I put those people up because they interest me, and I find more good in reading them than bad. I dont claim to know everything about all of them, but then I also put that list up with the idea that they were not typically linked to by blogs; half the allure to me is that I feel many of them are underappreciated or unjustly forgotten, not that I thought they were ideologically "pure" (which I consider a demerit, anyway).

But I will make an alteration of sorts, though I want to make it clear that it's not because I'm changing my appraisal of anyone. Rather, it's because several months ago I erased a list called "columnists", which I had made to imply a distinction with regard to originality or importance and specific vocation. But because of aesthetic reasons having to do with my template, I combined those journalists with "The Good". So, fine: forthwith, I'll label them "The Interesting". Consider that to mean "worth reading" and "more good or useful than not".

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Fatal Attraction?

This made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a long time.

Link via TBOGG.

I wish I'd thought of it. Poor Toby; he'd never make it to Watership Down.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Briefly, Boxers

Fair Warning : This post contains spoilers for Million Dollar Baby.

Once-Fearsome Boxer in Longest Fight of Life:

When he was a fearsome 160-pound middleweight boxer, Gerald McClellan's fights used to be measured in three-minute rounds. Often that calibration wasn't needed. He had 29 knockout victories in 34 fights and stopped 20 of his opponents in the first round. His last bout, only his third loss, left him in his present condition. It was his first as a 168-pound super middleweight and the first that extended him beyond eight rounds.

Now his fight against blindness and brain damage is measured in years, the longest battle of his life.

Ten years have passed since Feb. 25, 1995, the night his last bout ended with McClellan kneeling in a London ring and referee Alfred Asaro counting him out in the 10th round of his fight against British champion Nigel Benn.

McClellan rose and made it to his corner after the 10-count. Sitting against the ropes, he described to his trainer a sensation of "water running inside my head." Soon he was flat on his back as alarmed medical personnel called for a neck brace, an oxygen mask and a stretcher. McClellan was taken to a hospital, where he slipped into a coma and had a blood clot removed from his brain.

No one who saw the McClellan-Benn title fight or its TV replays can forget its savage images. . . . except Gerald McClellan.

He landed scores of brutal blows and absorbed just as many, including those that ended the bout. But now, at age 37, he barely recalls them and never will see them again.

This is a very affecting story, and prompts me to re-think my attitude to the sport in general, even though the injury was sustained, apparently, not from a punch but from an accidental headbutt. I wish Mr McClellan and his family the best, obviously, and hope he can be helped in any way from this story becoming public.

But this is a political blog, mostly, and I post this story for a political reason: I am certain that the cultural commissars of the reactionary right will seize this story to yet again pile on it their nemesis, Million Dollar Baby. They will point to Mr McClellan and say, "here's how it always should be done!", "Choose Life!", blah blah blah.

Therefore, I shall be pre-emptive.

Poor Mr McClellan's situation is not at all analogous with Hillary Swank's in the "culturally-morally objectionable" movie. The whole point to euthanasia is consent to perform an act of mercy for someone who is physically unable to perform suicide on their own. Mr McClellan is mostly alive in body yet effectively a toddler in mind, and impaired in his senses. He cannot ask for what Swank's character asks and know what he is asking for. Nevermind sentience or even sapience, Swank's character's mind is lucid; it's her body that has failed.

Obviously there is a gray area with those unfortunate souls who are comatose and in a permanent vegetative state, in which case I shall not judge -- nor, I should think, ought the state -- what the family decides.

But nuance -- much less mercy -- is rarely the first object at hand in the portmanteau of the average cultural commissar, be he The Pod, Michael Medved, Big Pharma, or bigoted Mormon nutjob Orson Scott Card, who presumably is doctrinaire, vituperative, and sadist enough to deny a merciful death to anyone wishing it, though he's a swell enough guy to offer a strong lecture on the character-building aspects of suffering until Jebus alone decides it's time to shut out the lights.

(Card links via Norbizness.)

Update: Roger Ebert finally, and systematically, destroys each of Michael Medved's pathetic objections to MDB.

Hyuk Hyuk

Any Texan overhearing this artless chitchat would have known that these two were talking Texas. Both had had a decent education, yet their conversation sounded like the dialogue in a third-rate parody of Texans. This was partly due to habit and partly to affectation born of a mixture of superiority and inferiority, as a certain type of Englishman becomes excessively Oxford or a Southern politician intensifies his drawl. Each was playing a role, deliberately. It was part of the Texas ritual. We're rich as son-of-a-bitch stew but look at how homely we are, just as plain-folksy as Grandpappy back in 1836. We know about champagne and caviar but we talk hog and hominy.


Ms. Ferber had them pegged, I'd say.

Now, bear in mind the rule that the convert is always more pious than one born into the faith, scratch the "had a decent education" part, add a bit of Faulknerian Idiot-Manchild syndrome, and you have, in spades, the yokels pictured here.

Friday, February 18, 2005

So, So Sick

I have the flu. Though I wish I felt like going out and coughing on some Republicans, I feel so shitty that I'm not even up to "crushing the infamous" through modest biological warfare.

I seriously doubt I'll blog again until next week, but when I do, I'll try to respond to the comments left for my last post. Until then, here's what everyone else is doing:

Bush's nominee for Director of National Intelligence is John Negroponte, currently our Grand Vizier and puppetmaster in Iraq, formerly butcher of Central America. Kos has more on the subject. Jim Lobe, wrongly in my opinion, thinks Negroponte's nomination is a possible check against neocons. Actually, Negroponte's Ends Justify The Means deathsquad enthusiasm in Central America is pure neoconservatism, and Lobe's own article shows how Negroponte first made his name by attacking Henry Kissinger, that master war criminal and all-round butcher of Southeast Asia, from the right. Negroponte's Honduras in the 80s was a staging ground by which the United States encouraged deathsquads in Honduras proper, and in surrounding countries. More here and here.


onegoodmove has the Daily Show clip about blogs and the Guckert scandal. With regard to the latter, Kos is worth reading, and notes that the MSM is finally getting involved.

Related: Instayokel's hypocrisy.


Labor Blog shows how Wal-Mart gets to vet the Department of Labor's press releases.

More Wal-Mart news here.


Over at the Washington Note, Steve Clemons comes to a truth buried in a story, about how the Japanese would like to cease funding our military on their own land, that, well ...

Part of the truth is that the United States nearly always asks for an increase in the "sympathy budget" and Japan always seems to lobby Washington with its intentions that the amount will be decreased, since Japan seems to want to get permission from the White House that the decrease is ok. So much for Japanese sovereignty. (My Emphasis)

This fact is why so many around the world hate our guts and rightly so. Anywhere we have a base, local soveriegnty is destroyed, which is why militant Saudis don't want US on their soil, nor do many Euros, nor do the Iraqis. One either understands this through empathy, or one is a jingoist pig. Here's a test to sort the sheep from the goats, so to speak: who would tolerate a foriegn country's military base on United States soil? It's no different that what they feel when the US intrudes on their soveriegnty. Now, the "defense" to the double standard argument is "American Exceptionalism", which holds that since we are so resolutely good, any country not willing to cede their soveriegnty (and it need not be of the military kind -- this works with economics as well) to US must be evil. In other words, to circumvent the obvious condemnation on grounds of double standards, one must have an unreal, ahistorical idea of the United States; one must go beyond textbook notions of nationalism and patriotism and adhere to jingoism. Hence the rightwing has been and always will be the "my country, right or wrong" types where we skeptics are more like John Quincy Adams, "[disavowing] all forms of patriotism incompatible with Eternal Justice".

Matthew Yglesias has more on the subject. Of course, not all rightwingers are such jingoists, though most of them are. An exception was that super-Tory H.L. Mencken, who would not take the "Liberals hate America" line that is de riguer among the reactionaries nowadays:

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

From the reactionary point of view, the first best target for "hating America" has always been Noam Chomsky. Yet Chomsky neatly falls into Mencken's description of a radical who actually loves his country more than others do. Chomsky, and those like him (which would include me) merely wish that their own country would live up to the standards it claims to revere. As such, Chomsky didn't and doesn't care as much that some other country is morally depraved as much as he cares that his own is. Reactionaries twist this simple fact to say that Chomsky would "prefer" jihadism or communism or whatever, when actually he does not, but instead prefers that his own country does not become monsterous (and it has) when it attempts to battle such forces. Give me this kind of patriotism any day over the alternative, which ranges from the overtly fascist Hannity style of flag-waving idiocy to the less-obvious but equally fascistic stylings (anyone against the Iraq War is "objectively pro-Saddam") of Instayokel, who together take an especial joy in seeing their own country soiled by politicians and pundits of a particular ideology who embrace every force opposing human decency not to mention the Bill of Rights: torturers, death squad-enthusiasts, concentration camp-apologists, shameless imperialists.


James Wolcott destroys the simpering Michael Medved. Wolcott's beautiful destruction is a follow-up to this post where he first ripped Medved and Harry Stein, two wingnut cultural commisars, and correctly fingered Norman Podhoretz as the Typhoid Mary of this particular brand of far-right culture-crit, a rough template of which is as follows:

1. Pretend that there is a monolithic over-culture put in place by pinko-fag-commie-appeasers.

2. Adopt a position of underdoggery in critiquing this invention; in other words, let loose with the delusions persecution.

3. Claim that "true" (which is to say, the only) American virtues like consumerism, piety, red-blooded heterosexuality, and patriotism are in danger of being subverted by said over-culture.

4. Assume that all artists are as much ideologues as yourself. As such art is not a reflection of life nor is it a testament to human imagination, but is, instead, only propaganda which serves an ideological cause.

5. Stir, adding extra self-pity as needed.

Alicublog has always been good on this subject. Here are some examples. See also his post here, if I may self-advertise.


Meanwhile, Dr. Sebly F. No makes short work of wingnut darling Mark Steyn.


The Poorman hilariously evicerates the 101st Keyboarders Brigade in what is easily the best blog post so far this year. And it amounts to the biggest feather yet sent to Jonah Goldberg whose literal and figurative cubicle should by now resemble a Tyson plant.


Blind nut = squirrel. Or, blind squirrel, nut. Either way, it works. Bush's choice in the Ukraine (who was so chosen only because Russia backed the other guy) turns out to be as anti-Bush in practice as one can be. This is about the only instance of "positive" blowback I can think of, because Dear Leader definitely does not share the good government philosophy of Yushchenko, and could not have anticipated it. Yushchenko cleaning up graft and privatisation schemes? What kind of commie pinko crypto scumbag is he?!


Jeff Greenfield channels Steve Sailor and goes all eugenicist on us. Yes, physical traits are inherited and as such groups that have lived together for a long time tend to resemble each other. In turn, one can make physical generalisations which only doctrinaire PC-ers object to. For example, it's not racist to suppose the average African has a high amount of melanin in his skin. Nor is it anymore sexist to say that the average man has more upper-body strength than the average woman than it is sexist to say that women are more like to have bigger (and functional) breasts than men. But what can't be said, factually or ethically, are generalisations with regard to hardwired group intelligence or group "personality" traits, which is what Greenfield goes on to nearly do, and what Sailor has made a cottage industry of.


Results of the Sexiest Blogger Contest are -- have been -- up, with Ms Lauren of Feministe crowned (deserving) winner. Had I known, I would have nominated Majikthise, the pneumatic Wonkette (of course), Josh of Fagistan and Richard Perle (no, I'm just kidding about Mr. Perle. Really). I would have also sneakily nominated myself, or bribed someone else to do so, bought my victory, and then have launched such a triumphalist flurry of posts that the average Koufax winner would be shamed in comparison.

Anyway, apropos Ms Lauren, whose blog makes for excellent if heavy reading, I wonder what she thinks of the arguments marshalled and contradictions underlined in article. She's blogged about the same subject before and it paid some interesting dividends, but I wonder if she'd give it a deeper treatment this time around.


In the neo-liberal/free trade/libertarian/globalist nutjob chronicles today, there's this story, which is an example of the dynamic I describe in the last paragraph of this post.

Bonus link: See also Oligopoly Watch (again) for a background on this dynamic at play in Brazil.


That's all for now, but as I wrote this post I started some new antibiotics, and if I feel better may blog a bit more in this scattershot vein (no extended thinking on a single issue now, thanks) later today.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Wal-Mart Reading List

I got a lovely phone call from home notifying me that, for the second time in three months, someone has broken into my old farmstead and this time broke the locks off the shed. I won't be blogging again until, probably, Monday. So I leave you with a reading list.

Rural petty crime like theft is fueled by the crystal meth epidemic. Cops, of course, are more interested (despite their complaints) in busting meth labs than in nailing thieves because of the higher-profile stature of the former. Also, federal dollars for neato and unnecessary things like assault rifles can be gained from the war on drugs where jailing and prosecuting thieves is a decidedly pedestrian occupation for a lawman.

If I sound bitter it's because when my home was burglarised for the first time, several years ago during the first meth wave, I was told to not press charges because the suspect (who, after he stole a gun from my home, then tried to set another farmer's tractor on fire, stole a farm truck, and went on thieving spree across state lines) was part of a meth investigation.

A few years later, in responding to an anonymous tip and then to an officer's (bad) sense of smell, I was nearly served a warrant myself for manufacturing meth. This was avoided only because I had gone to high school with a superior officer. They knocked on my door, noticed a can of ether on my lawnmower parked next to the front porch (which explains what the cop smelled or thought he smelled), and asked to look around. I told them to look anywhere they wanted. I've never made methamphetamine in my life, nor would I ever want to, or be part of that process, or provide a place for others to make it. (Not that I've never done the drug; I've tried every drug save heroin. The only drugs I'd do again are mushroooms and opiate-derivative painkillers.) They found nothing -- because nothing was there -- and apologised for the trouble. Would that they had the same enthusiasm for busting burglars.

The point of this digression is two-fold. For one, I don't have much hope that anything stolen will be recovered. For another, the crystal methamphetamine epidemic is nasty, underlines human weakness, but is also partly explainable by materialist methods.

People do crystal meth because it makes them feel good. They also do it because they are bored. Some do it because, for a while at least, it can be a tool to use to fight off fatigue, something that comes in handy in a farm area's planting and harvesting seasons when 100 hour weeks are not uncommon. They do it because it is cheap to use, but money can be made from it. They do it because there are no jobs.

In my hometown two of the three main factories have closed in the last three years. Outsourcing. And what outsourcing did to industrial jobs, Wal-Mart did twenty years prior (and still does) to retail. What's left are jobs with farmers, a largely miserly bloc, doing labour that is dangerous and mostly seasonal. And of course these jobs almost never offer benefits, unemployment insurance, and, believe it or not, a guaranteed minimum wage. Or one can work at Wal-Mart.

Some people have turned to e-bay. Most people move. Truck driving is popular. And there are always bottom-level service industry jobs at McDonalds' or at the truck stop. Welfare "reform" has destroyed much of the safety net; unemployment benefits run out. There are some factories remaining from the early-90s trend of "move to the South" in big industry, which was just a harbinger of outsourcing to come: factories moved South not because of a labor glut here, but because so many of these states are "Right To Work", that lovely euphemism for being union-free. So, some people who have the means are able to commute forty or fifty miles and make it. For now.

But for others, when booze (the traditional American method for combating despair) doesn't work, or is prohibitively expensive in relation to the inebriation extracted, there's always crystal meth. Or theft, as Oscar Wilde recommended. Or both. Such is the misery of the new "dynamic" economy which makes white-collar neo-lib/conservative/libertarian technocrats soil themselves with glee.


Wal-Mart agrees to pay child labor fines but the Dept. of Labor scandalously agrees to give Wal-Mart 15 days' notice before conducting future investigations.

Wal-Mart dissected in the NY Review.

Wal-Mart section at Oligopoly Watch. "Wal-Mart As Cultural Gatekeeper" is a post that, one should think, might give Libertarians pause before they unleash their typical "Wal-Mart provides choice" argument. But, no, it's dogma among such people that any business unbridled by democratic-government control "inevitably" provides more choice for consumers. As such arguing with them is like arguing with religious nuts, but then that's never stopped me before.

But then when true choice is exercised by The People, Libertarian nutjobs are the first to squeal.

See also this series on a community's choice to exclude Wal-Mart. (Via The Hegemo.)

Personally, I think these decisions should always be put to a referendum, but if it's done, miraculously (considering that so many are bribed), through proxies then that's okay too, and what democracy is all about. Naturally, this sort of democracy is "evil" to Wal-Mart lovers, who suddenly discover an abiding love of the Constitution when it "protects" the rights of entities like Wal-Mart to wreck local economies with abandon. You see, to them the only vote that is sacrosanct is the vote of the dollar (especially sacrosanct if that vote is coerced, as most "yay" votes for Wal-Mart are when cast by the poor); hence the argument that those who do not want Wal-Mart should not patronise it, a particularly smug viewpoint all in all. Especially coming from people who aren't likely to be caught dead shopping in a Wal-Mart themselves.

Random Outsourcing Link: I can't wait to see the free-market nutjobs trip over themselves defending this crap.

Crystal Meth Links: Reuters and The Oregonian. Take care to look at the "Faces of Meth" slideshow in the latter story. Speed kills and in a most ugly way. "Assistant Crack Whore Trainees" have nothing on a Meth Junkie in the degradation department.

This post is dedicated to my friend the essentially good-hearted but very wrongheaded serial Wal-Mart apologist digamma.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Stupid, Stupid

Virginia is governed by morons:

Virginians who wear their pants so low their underwear shows may want to think about investing in a stronger belt.

The state's House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday authorizing a $50 fine for anyone who displays his or her underpants in a "lewd or indecent manner."

Although this stupid thing was brought forth by a reactionary black Democrat (targeting black youths especially), in principle it's the sort of thing conservatives love not only because prudishness is served, but because this is the sort of way state and local government is "supposed" to work. Or, put another way, conservatives know that local and state governments are often this culturally reactionary, hence all their arguments about federalism. This sort of shit is exactly why they want more "local control" and bitch and moan about the awful Feds who inevitably find it unconstitutional. Virginia effectively bans hiphuggers and baggy pants, Alabama can put a Ten Commandments plaque in its couthouse, Kansas can teach creationism as if it's actually science, and -- dream of dreams -- Texas can legalise the lynch mob.

Tim, The Answer Guy, has more on the idiocies of the Virginia Legislature.

On the other hand, I bet those diehard "principled" conservatarian keyboarders do little more than snicker or giggle at this story -- it's about something that pleases their red state comrades, after all. But let any state or community slap an extra 50$ tax on wireless modems or elastic-waist Dockers and watch them squeal, rediscovering their "principles".

I Think Of All The Education That I've Missed*

"But then my homework was never quite like this!"

McMinnville, Tennessee - A Tennessee elementary teacher has been charged with multiple counts of sexual battery and statutory rape for her alleged involvement with a 13-year-old male student.

Pamela Turner, a 27-year-old girls’ phys-ed teacher and basketball coach, is free on 50-thousand-dollars’ bond. She’s been put on leave from her job in McMinnville.

A prosecutor says investigators believe some offenses happened at school and some at the boy’s home, where Turner lived briefly. Conviction on all counts could be punished by up to 100 years in prison.

Yes, this is bad, should be illegal, yadda yadda yadda. But have a look at teechur:


Come on, I used to pray for that kind of teacher.

More here, here, and here.

Much more background on "Mrs. Turner! Mrs. Turner!" here.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Horror!

Matthew Yglesias makes a good point which has nice strategic implications:

Most of us would rather not be part owners of corporations whose business models we have strong moral objections to. Unfortunately for us, neither socially responsible funds nor the ability to pick and choose stocks will be part of the president's proposal to take money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and put it into private accounts. If you want the chance at a secure retirement in the brave new world of the ownership society, vegetarians will have to own slaughterhouses, Catholics will have to distribute pornography, etc. Liberals have plenty of other reasons to oppose this move, but it ought to give social conservatives some pause. Do millions of values voters really want to become very junior partners in the Hollywood movie studios whose values they deplore? Probably not, but they probably also don't want to starve when they're old. Social Security gives you other choices, but private accounts don't.

That'll make them think twice.

Hey, Flanders, did you know your private account is investing in Trojan Condoms Corporation? Wow, I bet Michael Moore appreciates it that you've invested in the company distributing his films. George Soros used yours and every other freeper's dollars to make a killing in arbitrage! He'll probably give his share of the profits to the DemocraticUnderground!

Libertarian-Randroid Nutjob Alert

TBOGG has the goods on Dear Leader's chosen Number Two (double entendre intended) at the Department of the Interior.

Notice that her official biography at the DOI elaborates little on the Libertarian attitude to the environment for which the Reason Institute is a laughingstock propaganda machine:

Prior to joining the Bush Administration in July 2001, she was President of the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, a nonprofit current affairs research and communications organization. In addition to her management role, her policy research focused on environmental, land use, and natural resources issues.

This is like saying Leni Reifenstahl's work in Germany focused on parades, outdoor gatherings, and stadium events.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005



Even in our age of hyperbole, it would be hard to exaggerate the significance of what is at stake here: nothing less than the lost intellectual inheritance of western civilisation


Throughout this time, mingled with the sculptures and glassware, workmen retrieved what looked like lumps of coal which they unthinkingly dumped in the sea. It was not until 1752 and the discovery of an intact library lined with 1,800 rolls of papyrus, that the excavators realised that what they had been throwing away were carbonised books. The site has since been known as the Villa of the Papyri.

Once the villa had been stripped, 200 years ago, the tunnels were sealed. But last week a group of the world’s leading classical scholars gathered in Oxford to demand that the site be reopened. They believe that there is a better-than-evens chance — “quite likely”, is how Robert Fowler, professor of Greek at Bristol University, puts it — that the villa may have possessed at least one other library still to be uncovered.

These are scholars, cautious by nature. Their optimism is therefore worth taking seriously. It follows the first detailed analysis of the 1,800 papyri, now largely unrolled and deciphered thanks to a technique known as multi-spectral imaging (MSI). What appear to the naked eye as jet-black cinders are transformed by MSI into readable text. Thirty thousand images are now legible on CD-Rom; suddenly poems and works of philosophy are speaking again, 2,000 years after they were sealed in their cedar-wood cabinets in the summer of AD79.

The author chiefly represented in the collection is Philodemus, an Epicurean philosopher of the 1st century BC who taught Virgil, the greatest Latin poet, and probably also Horace. He may indeed have given lessons to both beneath the porticoes of the Villa of the Papyri, for it is known that Philodemus was employed in the household of a powerful Roman senator, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, father-in-law of the dictator Julius Caesar. And it is now regarded as almost certain that Piso — who died more than a century before the eruption of Vesuvius — was the original owner of the Villa of the Papyri.

Apart from the texts of Philodemus, hundreds of other lost works of Greek philosophy — including half of Epicurus’s entire opus, missing for 2,300 years — have been rediscovered. Among them is a treatise by Zeno of Sidon, who Cicero saw lecture in Athens in 79BC. According to Richard Janko, professor of classics at Michigan University: “This is the first copy of Zeno’s writings to come to light; they had all been lost in later antiquity.”

Lost because the islamofascists couldn't save all the classics from the anti-intellectualism and Christian bigotry of Dark Age Europe.

An elementropy Request To His Honorable Kofi Annan

Dept. Of State
Republic Of Bulungi

Dear Mr Annan

I was engrossed by the account of Mdm Ambassador's effectiveness at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Such is Mdm Ambassador's grace, charm, and diplomatic skill, that I congratulate you and the United Nations on the success of her mission to secure aid for refugees worldwide.

It is with this in mind that I, RETARDO MONTALBAN, diplomatic liason to His Exaltedness, President of the Republic of Bulungi, hereby request Mdm. Ambassador's presence here in our beautiful, if strife-striken, country so that we may, together, strip naked, smear each other's bodies with cocoa butter, and fornicate in such a manner that Peter North would send letters praising my stamina and skill, while the said Mdm Ambassador would subsequently write a column in Cosmo in a breathless tone of utmost sincerity lauding ancient Bulungian tantric techniques of which I am master work to assuage the hardships suffered by Bulungian refugees.

I am hopeful that with Mdm Ambassador's triumph in Davos, the United Nations recognises what a sea-change her presence would inspire in my proud country.



United Nations Goodwill Ambassador:

Via Rodger A. Payne

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Schadenfreude Never Felt So Bad

Bush Is Said to Seek Sharp Cuts in Subsidy Payments to Farmers:

President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and in a major policy shift will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday.

Such limits would help reduce the federal budget deficit and would inject market forces into the farm economy, the officials said.

The proposal puts Mr. Bush at odds with some of his most ardent supporters in the rural South, including cotton and rice growers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Ordinarily, I'd laugh at reading of this knife in the back. Oh, I'm still chuckling, but this is tempered by the fact that I know if Bush's scheme passes, I'll probably have to quit college.

Every farmer I know back home save myself and one other voted for Bush; most, true, doing so because of religious-cultural or nationalistic reasons, but some because they thought for whatever reason that Bush would be better for farmers economically.

Hah. I knew better, called the ones I knew personally or am related to idiots, and said they'd regret it. But no: everything bad in farming was Clinton's fault, and Bush was gonna lower their taxes. Besides, hyuk, we gotta kill them ragheads and didn't I know that Kerry was for the queers?

Bush's first term was actually good for farming, at least comparatively speaking. Last winter, specifically, was phenomenal; the best since the 70s. But then everything tanked in July to the worst levels, pretty much, ever. Bush's weak dollar wasn't even enough to prop things up. Then after the election, at the last big trade conference -- I forget which but it was the one where Bush's picture was taken laughing with his fly undone -- the Chinese (our biggest soybean customer) told us to shove it and signed a deal with Brazil.

But never mind me, let's look at what Rich Lowry has to say about the Bush programme:

The Bush administration is set to take on one of the great scandals of American governance: a system of farm subsidies so perverse that it should get whatever the equivalent of an NC-17 rating is for a federal program. Decent people everywhere should want to avert their eyes. In seeking to cut and reform the subsidies, President Bush will provoke a fight every bit as fierce, in its own way, as that over Social Security, prompting opposition from the forces of greed and political cowardice.

Would Lowry say the same thing if Bush went after the subsidies given to the energy sector? Fortunately, the Bush family fortune is not based in farmland nor do Bush allies of the House of Saud owe their fortune to the cotton plant, sparing us and Richard Noggin, our columnist, such a scenario. Rich gets bonus points for the social security reference in his chosen context.

Farm subsidies as we know them grew up around the Great Depression, when they didn't work particularly well,

The weasel-word here is "particularly". We have to cut Rich a little slack since he's still bitter that FDR didn't follow the free market solution which would have ensured that all farmers perished in the dust bowl.

As the New York Times recently reported, farm income doubled during the past two years, and ? holy soybean! ? farm subsidies still went up 40 percent.

What does this mean? Aside that Lowry thinks 60s Batman catch phrases are still cool? Yes, commodity prices last year nearly doubled, but from what? Actually, the prices for bushels of soybeans merely rose to near their mid-70s level, and that's in unadjusted figures. Wheat prices are less than they were when I was a child. Rice prices likewise -- all not adjusted for inflation. And they've dropped since to below their levels of the year before. As for subsidies going up, which ones? The conservation allotments? Yeah. I know first hand that, yes, mine did go up for rice but not at all, that I could tell, for wheat and for beans seemed, actually, to decrease.

The system is supposed to help family farms ? but if this is a family-farm-friendly government program, what would a hostile one look like? Family farms aren't big enough to garner the largest subsidies and are squeezed by the way the federal payments increase land values and stimulate overproduction. "The subsidies reward the guy who gets higher yields with higher subsidies, and he's able to buy out his neighbor and get even bigger," says Dennis Avery, an agriculture expert at the Hudson Institute.

This is true though there are other reasons for overproduction aside subsidies. But, yes, land values have skyrocketed by my observation. Anyway, the irony of Lowry's piece thus far is heavy; his populist rhetoric wears about as well as a Halloween costume and considering the reactionary Corporate Whore he is, every bit as lurid. Since when have the Heritage and Hudson Institutes and Rich Lowry cared about over-centralisation of production under a corporate umbrella? Far from being outraged, this is the system they desire. But one thing at a time...

Ten percent of farms ? i.e., the biggest ones ? receive 60 percent of the subsidies. According to Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, giant Riceland Foods got $110 million in federal largess alone last year. By his calculation, the feds could guarantee every full-time farmer an income of $35,000 a year at a cost of "merely" $4 billion. Subsidies now run roughly $15.7 billion annually.

This is where it starts to get silly. I am a member of Riceland. It is a co-operative, not a corporation. I am a farmer in the smallest way possible. What is paid to Riceland Foods is not pocketed or sent out in a dividend check but is paid out to members on a per bushel basis, i.e. if the "market" price of a commodity does not reach the government's "targeted price", the government pays the difference to Riceland who in turn pay the members. I suspect, though, that this is not as fairly done when the subsidies are paid to a corporation like, say, Cargill.

If it sounds like I'm being a little vague, it's because I don't know what I'm talking about -- I know, a not unusual happenstance. But thing is, neither does Lowry nor do the authors of some of these studies. The whole thing is a mess and I suspect the only people who know all of it are the ones bilking the system. Case in point can be found in Lowry's next paragraph:

American agriculture has its share not just of welfare queens, but welfare cheats. Federal subsidies are technically designated only for those who actually work in farming. But that restriction is evaded, sometimes by people occasionally participating in farm-related telephone conference calls. Dubious partnerships are a way to get around restrictions on how much any one operation is supposed to get in federal payments. As a result, some agriculture businesses are little better than Enrons with tractors.

No, it's not designated for such. Or put another way, it depends on what you mean by "work". Going back to the Times:

In setting a firm overall limit of $250,000, the president's plan would tighten requirements for the recipients of such payments to be "actively engaged" in agriculture, and it would generally prevent farmers from claiming additional payments through multiple entities.

What is the definition of "actively engaged"? This is the rub. Is someone "actively engaged" who rents out farmland? The average landlord is not a farmer per se: he does not drive a tractor nor pull a plow. Yet his rent is a percentage, usually a quarter, of the crop; as such he is also entitled to the same percentage of direct payment subsidy. His business is not farming but something else; the farm is usually an investment or an inheritance which supplements his income. Where I'm from farmland, when not farmed by owner-operators, is owned and rented to farmers by, mostly, little old ladies who have a 40 acre patch here or an 80 acre one there. Ballpark rent figures for a rice-rotated 80 acre farm is 8K, of which about 1K is subsidised in direct payment, and maybe a half-K though indirect subsidy a la the Riceland payments. Ignoring the probable doctrinaire nutjob libertarian argument, do Lowry or any of the rest of these suddenly populist conservatives want to take that away?

Lowry might also like to research the amount of farmland owned by churches as an investment; all in all an under-reported scandal but then probably a fact that a conservative might wish to bear in mind for other reasons. Anyway, I wish someone would cover it.

And there are other entities that collect a lot of money. Here is the Heritage Institute's list of leading offenders. Number 6 on the list is the Ducks Unlimited organisation, which apparently buys rice farms to conserve habitat along the Mississippi flyway. Number 10 is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These organisations are not exactly what comes to mind when one thinks of corporate welfare weasels.

But then the Times and Lowry are also talking about something that is a huge problem, and one I hope is stomped out of existence: the Ol' Dummy Corporation trick which means that one person, one farmer, may set up however many "entities", enlist the help of a hired-hand or family member, and draw payments accordingly. Said entities then lease tractors, buy fertilize, etc -- and take the maximum amount of direct payments; hence a partnership farm of, say, a husband and wife, each taking the capped amount per person, is at a disadvantage to someone who in effect invents, through corporations, several partners making all beholden to his single operation. At least, that's what I can piece together from bits here and there; no one really talks about it beyond whispers (small wonder). But everyone knows it happens, suspects certain people, can do the rough figuring in their heads enough to determine who has extra cash flow, etc. I can remember reading my first county land map and seeing the corporate names here and there, matching them up in my mind with who I knew to farm what. Ah, so Mr Soandso is Acme! Oh, but he's also Farm Co. And so on. Inevitably, these are the folks with a fleet of the newest tractors and combines. As an added bonus, a single operation with multiple entities (could this be called a micro conglomerate?) also avoids the magic ten employee threshold, though farmers are immune from many of the over-ten requirements anyway.

Also, it's pretty funny that Lowry would find anything unsavory about Enron.

Environmentalists hate the subsidies because they maximize the land under cultivation, therefore increasing the use of pesticides and fertilizer.

All true.

And they unfairly disadvantage third-world farmers.

Uh, no. They, like all American farmers, do compete with others around the world, but when Lowry says "third-world farmers", he's not talking about the subsistence peasants whose economies and cultures his heroes dash about gleefully destroying, but rather the plantation farms in countries like Brazil and Argentina which employ at pathetic compensation the former owners of its land and which are as often as not owned by multinational corporations who employ as managers a growing number of the American farmers they have put out of business. As such, they are the true competitors, and are about as "third-world" as that Wal-Mart store being built in Mexico that will visually pollute one of the most awesome vistas in the world (third or first). Lowry's advocacy of the third world would be touching were it not so obviously fake.

Agricultural production has doubled in the United States the past half-century. At the same time, the number of farms has dropped by two-thirds. That is a textbook case of a productivity revolution, and it has been driven by agribusiness.

First he deplores the centralisation of agriculture in America and the loss of family farms. Now he lauds it. I think he's being honest this time.

Turning around and subsidizing it is a little like putting the giants of the Internet revolution on the federal dole. How big a check would you like, Messrs. Gates and Bezos?

Oh, really. Well, the structure upon which Gates and Bezos have made fortunes was indeed subsidized by the government, which in the Lowry world can do nothing right except bomb people in the third world, which Lowry of course thinks it does flawlessly. But, yes, there's no reason for the government to support giants and bazillionaires.

Indeed, roughly half of American agriculture ? fruits, vegetables, nuts ? is not subsidized and does fine, thank you very much

No, it doesn't.

What exactly are the subsidies good for? "You don't accomplish anything but buy votes," says Avery. At that, the program is quite efficient. A 1996 overhaul was slowly unraveled by ravenous farm-state politicos. The administration now wants to save nearly $6 billion in payments in the next decade, cap annual payments to individual farms at $250,000, and generally rationalize the system.

I seriously doubt the vote-buying power of the Cargills, et al, will be compromised by Bush's plans. "Generally rationalize the system"? Fine. But I doubt the people who need subsidies will be saved. Since they voted for the man who will stick the economic knife in their back (as I knew he would), I don't have too much sympathy. But not all did. I may be screwed along with them, and be yet another of the "dynamic economy's" casualties. Lowry and others, not caring about specific natures of farming will argue in principle that those who are stressed by the plan should just learn to be "flexible", yet couldn't be bothered to take into account that the state of farming infrastructure makes it difficult and often impossible to switch from one set of crops to another. Then comes the social-darwinist lecture about inefficiency, a hearty pat on the back, and an offer for a ride to Wal-Mart to fill out a job application.

Reference: Oligopoly Watch is essential reading for those who wish to understand the stupidities of the "Free Market" technocrats who sit their fat asses in Aeron chairs and casually recommend the destruction of various peoples' livelihood.

The Big Is Bad argument is carried out in-depth here.

Technocrat meddling with Iraqis farmers' traditions is instanced here.

Here's the Heritage Institute's study of farm subsidies.

*Edit -- Actually, Lowry did have a point with overproduction, and I've amended the post to account for it.

*Edit 2 -- Representative Marion Berry (D - AR)'s argument is also worth mentioning: that it is in the interests of national security that America guarantee a domestically produced food supply.

*Edit 3 -- Matthew Yglesias agrees with Lowry on subsidies but insists that Bush's plan is a stunt.

Also, in order to avoid confusion, I wish to say that I don't mind "free trade" between nations when it is done through legitimate means. But the gun-barrel-to-the-head agreements with many third world nations do not qualify. These things were sold to American farmers under the guise of "new markets" yet few appreciated how short term the benefits would be (which turned out to be minimal, anyway), and frankly it was never worth it to me because I knew what it would do to manufacturing here and the farm sector there. What happens is basically this: barriers open, American agri products pour in, native agri dies and people are dispossessed, Western or native elites rebuild native agri on the cheap, native agri then is competition for American agri, and everyone but the elites and multinationals are worse off than they were. But precious principle is served, meanwhile the casualties here should be happy with the shit jobs they are then forced to take in the service sector and the casualties there get to labour on land they formerly owned or get to enjoy the friendly confines of the local sweatshop. Thanks, bitches.

Coup De Grace

Dr Cole's latest reply to Jonah Goldberg is by turns snarky, substantive, and annihilating:

I challenged Goldberg to a public debate on the Middle East, since that was the subject on which he attacked me. His response was not, quite frankly, the response of a man to a challenge. He wanted to put on all kinds of pissant conditions on the subject of the debate. It is sort of as though Wyatt Earp challenged a bad guy to a shootout after the outlaw burped rotgut whiskey in his face and called him a wimp. And when Earp challenges the black hat, the guy turns to jelly and says, "O.K., but you can't use that Colt, it has to be little bitty derringers like the one I use to shoot people in the back at night."

Very nice. But read the whole text. That was just the snark.

Jonah, for his part, is reduced to posting the same e-mail Michael J. Totten's been spamming people with for four years:

Posted at 04:26 PM

MONEY EMAIL [Jonah Goldberg]

Sorry for posting self-serving emails but given all the invective I've been getting I kinda feel like I've got it coming. From a reader:

Subject: I think that I must simply resign from the left

This is the second time that I have written to say that I have been wholly entertained by your column -- and with no subtext of derision implied. Good god, Juan Cole, is a simpering offensive little man. I am so sick of my cohorts on the left: when will they get down from the crucifix? Their whining is just so boorish and self-absorbed. I have really had it. With Christopher Hitchens, I may be one of two liberal "hawks," but I didn't expect liberals to lose their minds so entirely with the re-election of President Bush. I believe it would be better if
our country had two viable alternatives to choose from -- but, it doesn't look as though the liberal front will be offering up any worthwhile candidates soon. At any rate, your column makes me think that the right at least makes for better company: sensible and funny, what more could I ask? I will have to subscribe now.

Thing is, he's often "got it coming". The phenomenon of posting suspiciously convenient e-mails at the World's Shittiest Weblog is one that has been noted for a long time. Often it takes the form of a smear or particularly ugly utterance which a Cornertard lacks the guts to affix to his own name: the ventriloquist/dummie trick. Just as often its used as Goldberg does here, as an approving voice available on command when the crickets start to chirp and the audience is restless or aghast: The Co-conspirator In The Crowd whose lines are memorised and who is paid in cash after the show.

Anyway, here is a little reminder of why Goldberg deserves everything Cole has sent his way.

Added: See also The Poorman, and the Jonah Goldberg Nickname Contest at Rox Populi, via Majikthise.

Monday, February 07, 2005

From Chicken To Whale To Chickenshit To Weasel In Less Than Three Days

Jonah Goldberg, the zoomorphic hack, has a new reply to Juan Cole up at NRO, and what a squirmy flea-bitten piece of crap it is. Cole can and, I'm sure, will destroy the bulk of it, but I want to single-out one part.

Goldberg doesn't seem to realise that he will now be the poster child for rightwing cowardice and general chickenshittery. But he's a little worried, and so manufactures a strawman to rebut:

If only military veterans or active-duty personnel can legitimately express political opinions in favor of the use of force — the logical upshot of this whole chicken-hawk argument — then Cole & Co. are the real militarists, if not fascists. Are the liberals who supported Clinton's war in Bosnia chicken hawks too? And if they are, does that mean that war was wrong?

Now this is Goldberg's initial excuse, which he refuses to reprint:

As for why my sorry a** isn't in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give -- I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few -- ever seem to suffice.

It gives the whole game away. Goldberg isn't forbidden to comment because he isn't in the military, but is rightly subject to censure for being so cavalier in advocating sending men to their deaths (and to cause many many more deaths). That his excuses for not doing such are so clueless and insensitive (how many national guardsmen would like to opt out of Goldberg's precious war for the reasons he stated, but were not allowed to because of Goldberg's Sainted Bush and Rumsfeld) show that, for him, this war is simply an ideological exercise and the troops are so many plastic soldiers in a miniature dirt war.

He also has the gall to co-opt Christopher Hitchens's defense of chickenhawkery, which he conveniently links to. Whatever Hitchens now is, he isn't in the same class as Goldberg, has actually been in war zones, actually offers intellectual reasons for supporting the war which are at least worth considering, and is, furthermore, nearly sixty years old. And, suffice it to say, Hitchens has forgotten more about the Middle East -- which even Goldberg concedes he's no expert on -- as well as general political history than Goldberg will ever know. Fact is that in Goldberg the chickenhawk image is at a whole diferent level -- it was just at a poster's level, now it's a flashing neon sign.

Jonah Goldberg is a fat yuppie, born into privilege who, not because he lacks credentials but because he lacks knowledge and sense, talks out his ass in the advocacy of the most serious act a nation can undertake. His blatant insensitivity to the men who, unlike Goldberg, must fight the wars he finds great entertainment and ideologically fulfilling, shows what kind of cowardly hack he is. It would be funny if a Draft Goldberg organisation were founded, but I suspect that even if he were forced to join-up (and here is a pop culture reference Jabba The Hack can appreciate) Goldberg would rapidly become the unserious-fatboy-turned-psychotic-dropout perfectly modeled by Kubrick in the character of Private "Pyle".

*Edit - Fixed typo and elaborated on the chicknhawk image, and substituted a modern word for an archaic and pretentious one. I try.

French Supremacy

'French Women Don't Get Fat': Like Champagne For Chocolate:

I studied in France, at the University of Strasbourg, for six weeks. On weekdays, my fellow American students and I ate lunch in the school cafeteria and discovered the wonders of braised rabbit and coq au vin, followed always by an apricot tart or napoleon (my first ever!) at the nearby patisserie. On weekends we toured the country by train, fortified by bread and (real!) cheese, along with copious amounts of cheap red wine. Already weight-obsessed, I was sure I'd put on at least 10 pounds. But when I stepped off the plane, the jaws of my waiting parents and my best friend literally dropped. It turns out I'd lost 10 pounds -- I'm not sure I've looked as good since.

Mireille Guiliano had quite a different teenage experience abroad. As an 18-year-old from a small town in eastern France, she spent a year as an exchange student in the well-to-do Boston suburb of Weston, Mass., where she discovered the distinctly American joys of bagels, brownies and chocolate chip cookies and gained 20 pounds. When her own parents met her ocean liner in Le Havre, they were as stunned as mine were, but for a different reason -- her father told her she looked like a sack of potatoes. ''I could not have imagined anything more hurtful,'' she writes. ''And to this day the sting has not been topped.''

Ok, but why?

The reason behind that most enviable difference, says Guiliano, is that ''French women take pleasure in staying thin by eating well, while American women see it as a conflict and obsess over it.'' Put another way, ''French women typically think about good things to eat. American women typically worry about bad things to eat.'' She says she is constantly appalled that American cocktail parties are filled with chatter about diets, a subject that shouldn't be deemed proper conversation. She says eating in America has become ''controversial behavior'' and that our obsession with weight is growing into nothing less than a ''psychosis'' that she believes adds stress ''to our already stressful way of life,'' which is ''fast erasing the simple values of pleasure.''

Ah, because of a differing mindset! Or, more precisely, because Americans have become neurotic about it. This will not go over well. Remember the last time someone attributed, at least partially, American ugliness (though of the moral sort) to a neurosis? American paranoia was the leitmotiv of Bowling For Columbine (do recall the cartoon, especially), and we all know how well that was recieved.

But anyway, I digress. I have little interest in this story beyond the dilemma it puts The World's Shittiest Weblog's Professional -- and wildly inaccurate -- Francophobe in.

You just know he really wants to tear down the story, but does he risk the tactlessness of broaching the subject when K-Lo is the same room? That's a tough one.

From The Prude-ly Den Mother


You have to roll your eyes a bit as the Washington Post describes the Super Bowl as "chaste" last night. The paper carries several exasperated yawns about "sexagenarian" Paul McCartney performing. But the great thing about it is how it put the focus properly on the football. That's what the NFL needed to do this year, after tarting up its proceedings with Britney Spears and Nicolette Sheridan with Terrell Owens. Oh, and Alicia Keys singing "America the Beautiful" was terrific, in case you missed it.

Remember she is the one who makes sure even the word "ass" is partially redacted on Cornertard posts. And "focus on football", my ..well, ass. She's just happy that the extraneous entertainment conformed to her puritan tastes. She hopes the trend will continue and eventually half-time shows will consist of thirty-minute prayers for aborted fetuses intermittently punctuated with cheerleaders in ankle-length skirts and baggy sweaters handing out pamphlets on the joys of abstinence.

And what's a little monday morning kulturkampf-quarterbacking without a sneer at feminists:

I was about to thank Janet Jackson for managing to take all attention away from the old women-are-abused-by-men-during-the-Super-Bowl myth. But, alas—it’s still out there.

Alas. Hehindeed.

Or a snarl at the 60s:

Some baby boomers shook their heads in disbelief last night at the realization that the ultimate legacy of the Fab Four is “safe” entertainment.

Sorry, but Paul McCartney on his own was always ear-candy for K-Lo types. Nothing's changed. The ultimate legacy of Wings is to be safe entertainment. The ultimate legacy of the Beatles is something else altogether, hence K-Lo's witless antipathy.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Jonah Is The Whale

Yeah, you already know about the whole flame war between Juan Cole and "Jabba The Hack", with Cole being crowned champ and Goldtard left looking as if a cigar had exploded in his face.

Norbizness has the blow by blow account.

Nevermind that Goldberg was exposed as an idiot and a big fraud who poops in his pants, the real fun began when he offered his excuse for being a chickenshit.

But aside even that, it's worth remembering that Jonah The Whale has Moby Dick pretentions; you see, Jonah's a white whale, and all the evidence at hand shows that he doesn't like black people (who with the exception of Nell Carter do not usually resemble cetaceans as does our bloated rightwing hack).

With all my mixed metaphors and petty insults, what I'm trying to get at is that despite his "it's just a joke" excuses, Jonah Goldberg might be a well, you decide:

In February Goldberg celebrated Black History by reposting an old column called "Black History Month: Why?", in which he anecdotally anguished over the preponderance of Black History courses versus, well, the other kind at Brown University. "And yeah, yeah," he did admit, "Brown may not be representative," before getting a few yuks out of funny-sounding phrases from black academe like, "a critical race theorist (sorry, I don't know if I'm supposed to capitalize that; I think capitalized letters are tools of the pale penis people)."

There's more; it needs to be considered as a whole.

I've had my own fun cutting Goldtard down here, here, and here.

Update 2/7/05 : The Pudgy Pundit replies to Cole in a "Goldberg File", which is like the Rockford Files, but with more Crisco and less deductive reasoning. My insults follow here.

Another update 2/7/05: Jack Fowler, who must have drawn the shortest straw at the Corner this week, actually posts this in trying to sell NRO cruises:


Oh, it could happen. Whales often beach en masse, and it's likely that others would respond to Jonah's blowhole's gasping bleats as our whaler Professor Cole continues to butcher the carcass and we all collectively warm our hands to the campfire.

Holy Moron Emperor; Or, The State Of Theocracy In America

I don't have time to do justice to the links I've collected, but still want to somewhat keep my promise to blog about the religiosity -- or sacrilege, depending on your perspective -- injected by Bush into his self-coronation speech.

But it's so late in the day, and I'm overwhelmed by crap (Ayn Rand's birthday, Hitchens's bizarre and mendacious argument that 60s hippies were conservative, James T. Kirk being a "neocon", Ward Churchill, and Cornertard hijinks) that I'd rather blog about that I can't be bothered with this anymore. Also, I need to start writing a paper for school this weekend. Time is precious, and it takes me far longer than it should to compose these things anyway.

So you'll have to imagine what (hopefully witty and literate) insults I'd inject between links if I had the time -- or, to be frank, the inspiration.

General Glut and Rodger A. Payne do the substantive forensics, the latter taking an interesting diversion into what Bush means by "freedom". I think -- hell, I know -- Payne's right about this:

Bush's freedom emphasizes individual liberty, opportunity, and especially ownership, rather than some kind of collective obligation to one other. He's not talking about community. John Locke, Friedrich Hayek, and Herbert Hoover would have been pleased as Bush is talking about possessive individualism:

"I own, therefore I am" is the paradigm of possessive individualism. Possession and possessing make the man; they also make him free. Such a person cannot conceive of existence apart from possession or the striving after it. Because ownership is the core of self, the person is not himself but what he owns.

Frankly, this is not an especially rich view of freedom. But I digress...

I like the puncturing understatement Payne employs, but au contraire, Bush's view is especially rich, just not especially broad. I know that's what Payne meant, I just thought "rich" was humorous and ironic. But, yes, this explains the cognitive dissonance of wingnuts in the sense that they think -- and apparently believe -- that Bush is for democracy when in reality he is, like the Chinese dictatorship, only interested in property rights, and is hostile to legitimate democracies (scroll down, though the entire piece is excellent) which do not hold that property rights trump human rights.

But, anyway, religion and Bush's renewal of what used to be called Manifest Destiny, the belief that God endorses American unilateralism, which was first promulgated to excuse the genocide perpetrated on the Native Americans, and then to excuse the blatant land theft that was the Mexican War. As such, Manifest Destiny is the mystical corollary to the credo of American Exceptionalism, which is of course the familiar argument by which American reactionaries, bigots, and the worst sort of nationalists try to weasel around ethical and practical objections to their glaring double standards.

Payne convinces me that George W Bush is actually a polytheist. Secretly he serves the God Milton Friedman; publicly and privately he thinks he serves Jesus Christ. Why, he's said so! And so the Bush legions, the freepers and Rapture-mavens, buy the whole stinking sacrilegious fraud -- a not so unpredictable phenomenon when one considers that they often buy Tim LaHaye's and Pat Robertson's (and Jim Bakker's and Jimmy Swaggart's) because all that Jesus talk is music to their ears. And it's not like Bush hasn't delivered for them either, so it's talk and action, too...

Now it's no secret that many -- Clarke, Sagan, Dawkins, to name just three off the top of my head -- have come right out and explicitly said that religious devotion is a form of insanity. I'm inclined to agree, but one is not required to do so to grasp an essential point: that there are religious people, and there are batshit fundamentalists. The latter are more numerous than commonly supposed, which should be obvious enough even if they were homogeneous, but even more so considered their tendency to sprout Cocoa Puff-crazy super-sects or what could better be called groupuscles:

A bizarre mental syndrome that has seen scores of visitors to Jerusalem become convinced they are characters from the Bible is the subject of a new art exhibition, reports the Scotsman.

The subject of the new exhibition by artist Nathan Coley is Jerusalem Syndrome , a psychosis affecting people obsessed by the city who start to preach and behave as biblical characters, from King David to John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary and Jesus himself.

Some start preaching in the streets of the city. Others display more bizarre behaviour.
(Via Hairy Fish Nuts.)

And to think that method acting used to be the exclusive province of godless-pinko-homo folks in Hollywood. Not anymore. And wasn't method acting's creator a commie-sympathiser and thus its practice is a sort of heathen ritual that one would think modern puritans would like to expunge from their faith? Oh well. But there's more things for the modern batshit fundie to pick and choose from on the Hollywood shelves: Braveheart-ness.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Movies like "Braveheart" and "Legends of the Fall" are on the viewing list for men in a growing Christian movement that calls for them to throw off their "nice guy" personas and emulate warriors.

The book which inspired the movement, John Eldredge's "Wild at Heart," has already sold 1.5 million copies in English and been translated into 16 languages, most recently Korean.

Eldredge believes many Christian men have become bored, "really nice guys" and invites them to rediscover passion by viewing their life's mission as having a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue.

"The modern era has brought up immense conveniences but at what price. The human heart is desperate for something more than a quicker serving of popcorn," Eldredge said in a recent interview.

Eldredge calls on men to be prepared to take risks and rediscover their dreams but does not provide a specific route to find, for example, an adventure to live. Career, marriage and family become heroic quests rather than chains which bind.

He focuses on how men can become less passive and "engage" those around them, particularly their wives and children.

Oh Dear God. I have this nice memory of David Bowie, in front of a strobe light, singing along to Brian Eno's spacey synth. But oh no, these fucktards had to ruin it, and now I imagine it's Ned Flanders, decked out in a kilt and a cheap flea market sword, belting out in shrill falsetto "We can be heroes/ just for one day".

But they don't have to be as crazy as all that to fuck up politics in America and the world; they can simply believe in the Rapture:

They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index.

That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers.

Here is Monbiot's essay which so moved Moyers. Moyers and Monbiot both expose the simple insanity of so many Bush supporters, yes, but they also point to the bizarre political alliance the Rapture has inspired: that of far-rightwing American Jews and Born-Again Christians. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I went to Volokh's awful site for another subject (if you must know, I was certain that he or one of his creeps would defend the naked Nazism of this essay; after all it's definitely the sort of thing that warms his heart), but was surprised, though I should not have been, to instead see many bytes wasted with a rhyme game and Volokh co-conspirator (aren't the Watergate images so apropos there?) David Kopel tearing his hair out in a fit of apoplectic rage over Moyers's argument:

In brief, Moyers argues that the American government has been taken by right-wing Christians who believe in the imminent Rapture, and for that reason look forward to environmental catastrophe... according to Moyers, right-wing Rapturists actually promote policies which they intend to harm the environment, since destroying the environment will hasten the Rapture.

Well, first, while there are plenty of leftwing Christians, there are no leftwing Rapturists (even though not all have such a Fuck The Environment mindset; just most of them). Indeed, this batty clique is exclusively rightwing, which to be blunt is at least partly the reason for Kopel's wrath, the embarrassment that comes with knowing that the clinically and criminally (at least in the ethical sense) insane are the reason why Dear Leader and the Republicans are in power -- and for that matter, that Dear Leader more resembles them than he resembles slightly more refined types like Kopel.

Second, Moyers is not without proof. He cites Fmr Secretary of the Interior James Watt, the political prototype for the new Rapturist status quo, who actually said "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." But of course Kopel was too rodentine to acknowledge the point, and it only gets worse from there.

Kopel, being a perfect weasel as well as a tenth-rate debater, neglects to mention Moyers's sources including the afore mentioned Monbiot as well as an excellent and chilling article by Glenn Scherer entitled The Godly Must Be Crazy, which, among other things says this:

To understand how the Christian right worldview is shaping and even fueling congressional anti-environmentalism, consider two influential born-again lawmakers: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

DeLay, who has considerable control over the agenda in the House, has called for "march[ing] forward with a Biblical worldview" in U.S. politics, reports Peter Perl in The Washington Post Magazine. DeLay wants to convert America into a "God centered" nation whose government promotes prayer, worship, and the teaching of Christian values.


Neither DeLay nor Inhofe include environmental protection in "the Lord's work." Both have ranted against the EPA, calling it "the Gestapo." DeLay has fought to gut the Clean Air and Endangered Species acts. Last year, Inhofe invited a stacked-deck of fossil fuel-funded climate-change skeptics to testify at a Senate hearing that climaxed with him calling global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

DeLay has said bluntly that he intends to smite the "socialist" worldview of "secular humanists," whom, he argues, control the U.S. political system, media, public schools, and universities. He called the 2000 presidential election an apocalyptic "battle for souls," a fight to the death against the forces of liberalism, feminism, and environmentalism that are corrupting America. The utopian dreams of such movements are doomed, argues the majority leader, because they do not stem from God.

"DeLay is motivated more than anything by power," says Jan Reid, coauthor with Lou Dubose of The Hammer, a just-published biography of DeLay. "But he also believes in the power of the coming Millennium [of Jesus Christ], and it helps shape his vision on government and the world." This may explain why DeLay's Capitol office furnishings include a marble replica of the Ten Commandments and a wall poster that reads: "This Could Be The Day" -- meaning Judgment Day.

DeLay is also a self-declared member of the Christian Zionists, an End-Time faction numbering 20 million Americans. Christian Zionists believe that the 1948 creation of the state of Israel marked the first event in what author Hal Lindsey calls the "countdown to Armageddon" and they are committed to making that doomsday clock tick faster, speeding Christ's return.

In 2002, DeLay visited pastor John Hagee's Cornerstone Church. Hagee preached a fiery message as simple as it was horrifying: "The war between America and Iraq is the gateway to the Apocalypse!" he said, urging his followers to support the war, perhaps in order to bring about the Second Coming. After Hagee finished, DeLay rose to second the motion. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "what has been spoken here tonight is the truth from God."

With those words -- broadcast to 225 Christian TV and radio stations -- DeLay placed himself squarely inside the End-Time camp, a faction willing to force the Apocalypse upon the rest of the world. In part, DeLay may embrace Hagee and others like him in a calculated attempt to win fundamentalist votes -- but he was also raised a Southern Baptist, steeped in a literal interpretation of the Bible and End-Time dogma. Biographer Dubose says that the majority leader probably doesn't grasp the complexities of dispensationalist and reconstructionist theology, but "I am convinced that he believes [in] it." For DeLay, Dubose told me, "If John Hagee says it, then it is true."

Obviously, Kopel hopes no one reads that. But back to his loony defense:

After a lurid and hostile description of the beliefs of Christians who think that a Apocalypse/Rapture might occur soon,

Nothing less than lurid and hostile beliefs deserve.

Moyers declares, "we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total and more since the election - are backed by the religious right."

Moyers falsely conflates "being backed by the religious right" with believing in imminent rapture. This is nonsense. To cite just two examples, plenty of the "religious right" voters and leaders are Catholics and Orthodox Jews who are against abortion and gay marriage, and who rarely if ever think about the Apocalypse.

Like DeLay and Inhofe? The point, which Kopel surely knows but is too dishonest to admit, is that even in his "just two examples" (which are the only two examples, and even then he doesn't name names), the theoretically "moderate" politicos still owe their allegiance to however many Rapturists voted for them; Scherer estimates there are 50 million of them. Kopel would have one believe that the hardcore anti-environmentalism of people like Delay and their RR approval ratings have no relationship, that the campaign contributions and activism of Rapturists have no relation to the policies of the men they support in government, that the Rapturists would not elect one of their own. Scherer can set the record straight:

A good fundamentalist, Inhofe scored a perfect 100 percent rating in 2003 from all three major Christian-right advocacy groups, while earning a 5 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (and a string of zeroes from 1997 to 2002). Likewise, eight of the nine other Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee earned an average 94 percent approval rating in 2003 from the Christian right, while scoring a dismal 4 percent average environmental approval rating. The one exception proves the rule: Moderate Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) last year earned a 79 percent LCV rating and just 41 percent from the religious right.

Scherer admits that there are other influences in the anti-environment stances of the Rapturist legislators, but pity for poor Kopel, he can't cite them because they are equally as odious:

James Inhofe might be an environmentalist's worst nightmare. The Oklahoma senator makes major policy decisions based on heavy corporate and theological influences, flawed science, and probably an apocalyptic worldview -- and he chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

That committee's links to corporate funders are both easier to trace and more infamous than its ties to religious fundamentalism, and it's true that the influence of money can scarcely be overstated. From 1999 to 2004, Inhofe received more than $588,000 from the fossil-fuel industry, electric utilities, mining, and other natural-resource interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Eight of the nine other Republican members of Inhofe's committee received an average of $408,000 per senator from the energy and natural resource sector over the same period. By contrast, the eight committee Democrats and one Independent came away with an average of just $132,000 per senator from that same sector since 1999.

Well isn't that sort of thing familiar to a Bushie? But then,

the influence of theology, although less discussed, is no less significant. Inhofe, like DeLay, is a Christian Zionist. While the senator has not overtly expressed his religious views in his environmental committee, he has when speaking on other issues. In a Senate foreign-policy speech, Inhofe argued that the U.S. should ally itself unconditionally with Israel "because God said so." Quoting the Bible as the divine Word of God, Inhofe cited Genesis 13:14-17 -- "for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever" -- as justification for permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and for escalating aggression against the Palestinians.

Inhofe also openly supports dispensationalist Pat Robertson, who touts every tornado, hurricane, plague, and suicide bombing as a sure sign of God's return; who accused both Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr. of being followers of Lucifer; and who makes no secret of the efforts of his Christian Coalition to control the Republican Party, according to Theocracy Watch.

Alas, there's not much "Bernie" Kopel can do with this; it's too annihilating to his silly argument. So he gnaws in a different direction:

Moyers rails against the 59% of Americans who believe that "the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true." But thinking that all the prophecies in the Bible will come true--eventually--is hardly the same as believing that all the prophecies will be fulfilled in the next few years, or in one's lifetime.

Perhaps unable to overcome theocratic pride, he doesn't dispute the 59% percent. His next point is fair as far as it goes, but it begs the question, yes, but if they believe it, wouldn't it make sense to speed it up? Of course it would, and Kopel doesn't want to get into this for obvious reasons and not so obvious ones, which I'll come to shortly. So, instead, Kopel plays his trump card:

Moreover, at least some of those Americans who believe in the prophecies have actually read the "Book of Revelation." I suspect that Moyers did not bother to do so before writing his screed against "delusional" Bible-believers--or else he would not have twice given the book the incorrect title of "Relevations."

This is unintentionally hilarious on many levels. For one, Moyers need not have read Revelation to know that it's idiotic and evil for people to destroy the environment because of their interpretation of it. For another, I was raised among fundamentalists and I often heard "Revelations" used as an acceptable shorthand for the last book of the Bible. Kopel's quibble would even get him laughed out of the churches of the very people he's trying to defend. Of course since it's such a minor point, and he has little else, he inflates it:

Would you trust a writer who couldn't even give the correct title of the book he was denouncing? A writer who complained about Muslims who believe in the "Koan" or Jews who believe in "the book of Jobs"?

This is equivalent to a banjo hitter celebrating after a bloop single off of slowpitch softball hurler. Pathetic. So, his confidence sky-rocketing, he tries again:

Moyers writes: "The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: 'The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land.' He seemed to be relishing the thought." To put things bluntly, it appears that either Moyers lied, or he made the claim about Miller without bothering to check if it were true.

Miller did quote Amos--on Feb. 12, 2004--not "recently."

So Moyers lied because he said "recently"? Okay, then. If this were actually a big deal, Kopel would try to put the "error" on Scherer, whom Moyers got the information from. I suppose he'd rather go after the more well-known writer -- and therefore the bigger fish -- but I suspect it's more because Scherer's work is so much more detailed and therefore damning.

To be precise, Miller was quoting Martin Luther King quoting Amos. Miller was lamenting a metaphorical "famine" of moral values. And so was Amos, in the original. As quoted by Miller: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread or of thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord."

Miller (like Amos) was complaining about a decline in moral values. The words used by Amos (and quoted by King and Miller) have nothing do with a literal famine (or any other environmental issue). No reasonable person could read Miller's speech as pertaining to an imminent, literal, environmental famine.

Funny Kopel doesn't, so far as I can tell, link to the speech the context of which he's so certain of and is so important to his minor point. Zell Miller quoting Dr. King, huh? Really? If you say so, Bernie.

Kopel's triumphal conclusion is wrought with attempted snark which inspires several crickets to chirp.

I know I said I'd be brief but then I suppose like Bill Moyers, I'm a "liar".

There's one more reason why the co-conspirators at Volokh's were bound to come out with guns blazing at Moyers and indeed potentionally at any other writer who might take on the subject of the Rapturists. It, too, is one of embarrassment. It's that bizarre political alliance I mentioned above, between a small number of exclusively far-rightwing American Jews and Rapturists. I mean to say, of course, Likudiks, who are a small loony minority in their ethnicity; the vast vast majority of American Jews, unlike Likudniks, do not want Israel to be more reactionary, more expansionist, more theocratic, and more "Apartheid-lite" in its treatment of the Palestinians.

How could this happen? "Politics makes for strange bedfellows" is the well-worn cliche, but both at cursory glance and at long consideration, this relationship is too too much. Just a generation ago, "Christ-killers" was the first name a fundamentalist Christian would think of openly calling Jews. Nowadays it's not so out-front. But who would say after the year of The Passion that the feeling's not still there? It's just driven underground out of necessity, presumably until Jesus comes. As such, this bizarre alliance is not so much like, say, a (theoretical) SCLC-KKK coalition, but more like if Farrakhan's Nation of Islam joined up with the Sons of the Confederacy. Plainly, there's some overriding concern here that trumps history. Brian Urquhart's latest in the NY Review is helpful:

Critical discussion of Israel's record and its behavior toward Palestinians is often presented as an assault by members of the malignant, anti-American, anti-Semitic international community, symbolized in the hated UN. Such a presentation strengthens unconditional support for Israel among most evangelicals, regardless of Israel's policies and actions toward the occupied territories.

This point of view has become a matter of fundamentalist religious belief. Lieven quotes Jerry Falwell as saying that "to stand against Israel is to stand against God." The Christian Zionist movement, of which the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, is a leader in Washington, is "a block of conservative Republicans whose strong support for the Jewish state is based on their interpretation of the Bible."[2] Such beliefs, which disregard international law, generally recognized rights, rational discourse, or serious negotiation, fit conveniently with the kind of neoconservative thinking to be found in the now famous 1996 position paper "A Clean Break," written by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, among others, which advised the Likud government to insist on "permanent control of the occupied territories," as Lieven puts it. They do nothing to encourage moderation among Arabs and Muslims. After DeLay's visit to Israel in 2003, during which the Texas congressman told Israeli legislators that he was "an Israeli at heart," Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian legislator and negotiator, commented mildly that DeLay was not helping the cause of peace by "being more Israeli than the Israelis themselves."[3]

Scherer is already quoted above on DeLay's ultra-Israel stance but is again helpful in ascertaining how zany these people are:

So weird have the attempts to hasten the End Time become that a group of ultra-Christian Texas ranchers recently helped fundamentalist Israeli Jews breed a pure red heifer, a genetically rare beast that must be sacrificed to fulfill an apocalyptic prophecy found in the biblical Book of Numbers. (The beast will be ready for sacrifice by 2005, according to The National Review.)

It can be difficult for environmentalists, many of whom cut their teeth on peer-reviewed science, to fathom how anyone could believe that a rust-colored calf could bring about the end of the world, or how anyone could make a coherent End-Time story (let alone national policy) out of the poetic symbolism of the Book of Revelation. But there are millions of such people in America today -- including 231 U.S. legislators who either believe dispensationalist or reconstructionist doctrine or, for political expediency, are happy to align themselves with those who do.

Aww, a sacred cow. These people are so batshit they make Raelians or even the devotees of Ramtha seem traditionalist. But, anyway, the overriding concern is an aggressive Israel, an altogether other sacred cow; far more Apis than Daisy. Watch, for instance, how the co-conspirators try to sink their fangs into Juan Cole. Slightly more sophisticated than Norman Podhoretz who coined the smear-tactic formula that either one blanketly support Israel or one be anti-Semitic, the Volokhian instead uses other devices that should be apparent to anyone who reads the hachetry; regardless, his aim is decidedly Pod-like, despite how he titled the entry. At any rate, who are the moral criminals here? The American Likudniks have made common-cause with the fundamentalists, the Rapturists, who comprise the most anti-Semitic bloc in America that still has any political capital. That they do this, as well as frequently fling the smear of anti-Semite to leftists who expose their bizarre and nasty alliance, in fact actually trivialises anti-Semitism. Though I'm goy as far as I know, if I remember correctly, the Jewish equivalent of the black "Uncle Tom" is an "Uncle Sal", which the Likudniks have managed to become in the largest way possible. For the sake of Israel, Likudniks are willing to be used by anti-Semite fundies and Rapturists who are convinced that when their payoff comes, their Likudnik comrades will accept Jebus or die. The result can't explain the decision for Iraq War wholly, but can explain some part; it can, however, wholly explain the support for it.

So the self-coronation a few days ago is not just that of the Holy Moron Emperor (making Ariel Sharon, I suppose, a Doge) but of a Dear Leader whom many of his constituents hope will bring the Rapture and midwife the birth of baby Jesus who of course cries when Rod and Todd lie but more importantly is coming, in peace, to kill all non-believers including the Likudniks who are helping Jesus's pals hasten His arrival. Holy Moron Emperor (who at least looks as inbred as the average Hapsburg) will preside over an unprecedented attack on the environment, will dutifully follow the anti-U.N. joint sentiment of the Likudnik-Rapturist Pact (one because the U.N. doesn't care for Israel's apartheid, the other because the U.N. is the anti-Christ; in stereo with a shrillness that a Montana Militiaman only wishes he could manage), and make way for protection of Western property -- forget real democracy -- and then, presumably, Armageddon in the Middle East.

It is all, manifestly, a perfect fucking mess. But it need not -- must not -- be our destiny.

*Edit -- Whew. It just rolled out. But I really didn't mean to make an effort. Anyway, since I went that far, I might as well mention that the speech itself was written by well-known hacks who then praised it -- yes, to high heaven -- without mentioning that they'd help write it. See here, here, here, and here. This is an old trick, of course, first played by the quintessential nerd George F. Will in the early Reagan era. But naturally no one in the media pays attention, and these rightwing nutcases have the temerity to accuse Kos of being an unethical blogger.

I cleaned up a sentence and reworded a clause for clarity.

Also, I edited-in the NYR link and except, which I'd overlooked in my notes.

And corrected some spelling and typos screw-ups.

AND yet another edit: took out an unnecessary "the", and added an adjective.