Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Ending on a Sour Note

Marc Weisblott presents the worst blogs of 2002 in his ”Du-blog-ious Achievement Awards”. While I disagree with most of his editorial points and I violently protest his ham fisted pun work, it’s hard not to find his hostile tone endearing. Plus I respect his efforts to introduce some critical discord into what is often the all too mutually agreeable amateur Internet opinion world. This includes him critically reviewing his own blog and himself with the following withering self evaluation:

Spent many sedentary days in front of the computer, ensuring that his hairline-to-waistline ratio would remain an embarrassment. Complained endlessly about a lack of social life, yet did not attempt to go on one date, nor further romantic prospects with anyone else. Met a not-insignificant number of fellow writers and lacked the confidence to feel he made a positive impression on any of them. Maintained a personal blog without permalinks, archives, or even dates on the posts, thus preventing the sort of critical scrutiny he performs on others. Barely earned more money at age thirty-one than he did at twenty-one. And, oh yes, enough of a coward to not be able to compile a Worst Blogs of 2002 list without attaching himself to the end of the list. Or is that just unadulterated self-loathing?

And I do lend my personal endorsement to one of his editorial points:

ATTENTION ALL BLOGGERS, PLEASE STOP SUCKING UP TO: Mickey Kaus, James Lileks, Josh Marshall, Virgina Postrel and Mark Steyn. Yes, they are all terrific commentators. That's why they have figured out how to (usually) get paid for it. You will not be automatically granted the same recognition just because you gush about their work every damn day. You can stop now. Thank you.

Insult For The New Year

Try this one tonight when that obnoxious know it all boor corners you and starts lecturing you on some ego gratifying subject matter:

The root of his opinion...is rotten
As ever oak or stone was sound.

-William Shakespeare from The Winter's Tale

Why Some People Shouldn't Be On The Radio

Today, I caught a coupla minutes of a fellow named Tom Sullivan filling in for Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio show. Lo and behold he was reading Andrew Sullivan's (no relation) lists of the top ten winners and losers of 2002 which he had posted the previous day on andrewsullivan.com. Now I don't know anything about Tom Sullivan and had never heard him on the radio before and he might be a very talented host BUT reading lists that you found on a blog while filling in for a giant like Rush is bush league and insulting to the audience. I am aware that radio hosts read items on air all the time (if you listen closely to some of the morning shows here in Minneapolis you can actually here the newspaper pages being turned) but if you're fortunate enough to get a shot in Rush's slot you have to have give us something better than that.

Call Me Number 511

I may be the last man in America to start reading the Steven Den Beste blog (as evidenced by the 510 acknowledgements he makes to blogs who’ve already linked to him), but in case there’s anyone out there not yet clued in, this man is an informational and analytical powerhouse. I don’t know his background and I’m not about to start looking, as I prefer to think I’m reading the writings of a motivated genius iconoclast rather than have confirmation he’s yet another college professor with oceans of free time on his hands which are not used up by his tenured, scholarly duties.

A recent Den Beste post dealt with the ability of the United States to fight wars against Iraq and North Korea simultaneously. In his analysis he comments on everything from the status and readiness of various US tactical forces to specific equipment needs in each theater to the capabilities and likely participation of potential allies in the fight:

"In the Iraqi theater, we will probably end up using 4 carrier battle groups to supply air power, and in addition we will fly heavy bombers from Diego Garcia. Air tankers will fly from several bases in the area (I'm not exactly sure where but I suspect Oman will be a prime base for this kind of thing). JSTARS and AWACS will also fly from bases further from Iraq. We'll have fighters and fighter-bombers based in Qatar, and if the Saudis cave at the last minute (which is looking increasingly likely, because though they despise the idea of war, they hate being on the losing side and angering the US even more) then we'd also use airfields there. There are also fighters and fighter-bombers at Incirlik, and based in Kuwait. And there will also be some flights from Germany, though at this point I think our planners would be idiots to rely on those given that Germany has become a distinctly unreliable ally given to stab us in the back any time their leaders see minor advantage in doing so. Like Saudi Arabia, we'll take advantage of that resource if it actually is available when the cards are laid down on the table, but I have no doubt that our planning doesn't require either place."

Most vexing, given the rapid and regular rate at which he posts masterpieces such as this, he apparently knocks these out in the time it takes for me to properly craft a sentence explaining why Mike Farrel’s moustache looks cheesy.

Monday, December 30, 2002

The Foul Smell of Success

According to an article in the Star Tribune regarding their recent Minnesota Poll, 62% of Minnesotans approve of the way Bush is handling his job as President. Given recent voting behavior in the state that seems entirely plausible to me and simple to comprehend. However, since apparently the complexity of "62%" and "approval" may be too much for the average Star Tribune reader to understand and may lead to dangerous conclusions of broad based support for the President and his policies, the paper provides four quotes to help interpret exactly what this means.

The first quote is from a woman who provides nothing more than a shoulder shrug and a justification for non-blame rather than one of support or approval:

"I think he's doing what he can," said Elizabeth Butler, a Democrat from the Iron Range town of Buhl. "The economy's not that great, it's just the way things are going right now," said the 30-year-old mother of two who lost her job in the mining industry last year. "It's not anyone's fault, certainly not the president's."

Not exactly the kind of testimonial Bush can base a future campaign slogan on ("You can't blame me for 2001 - 2003!"), but at least it doesn't directly contradict the interpretation one would naturally take from the poll results. And yes, I'm sure among the 62% supporting Bush there is a small portion of those whose support is of this qualified, limp dishrag nature. However, here's where the unbiased and objective pretense express comes screeching to a halt. That quote is the only positive justification explaining the support for Bush in the entire article. The remainder of the piece consists of those explaining to us why 62% approval for Bush really isn't 62% approval for Bush.

First a political science professor explaining that the support expressed for Bush is in reality support only for the office of the presidency itself:

"We can never forget that we are still in the wake of the events of September 11, and those events were likely to unite the country behind whoever is president," said Gary Prevost, a political science professor at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict.

So he’s saying that if Al Gore or Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan were President, 62% support would be a given for any of them. In other words, the 62% may be a legitimate support figure, but Bush has nothing to do with it.

This assertion is followed by a second political science professor who cautions us that in reality, Bush doesn't have support of most Americans:

"Bush's personal approval numbers create a false impression that his administration has the full and unequivocal support of the American people," said political science professor Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota. "The nation is divided on the administration's policy of taking military action against Iraq."

I'm not exactly sure who would interpret a 62% approval among Minnesota adults as "full and unequivocal support of the American people" but Jacobs bluntly implies that President Bush is a controversial and divisive presence on the political landscape.

And then to really place these results in context, the Star Tribune concludes the article, which may I remind you was about the fact that 62% of Minnesotans express approval of President Bush, with this quote, from a retired sewer worker:

“I think he's hurting the economy," said Donald Edwin, a 72-year-old retired sewer worker who lives in rural Freeborn County, along the Iowa border. "I don't worry too much about Iraq. ... These are just hard times, and they're getting harder."

I’ve always felt there were numerous similarities between political science professors and sewer workers, but I didn’t necessarily think their analytical skills were among them. Now I know, and I think you can add Star Tribune reporters to this brotherhood of stench as well.

The Price of Going Slow

It now appears as if the slow waltz to war course chosen by the Bush administration on Iraq will not be without a price to pay. Trying to read the motivations behind the actions of enigmatic North Korea is nearly an impossible task but it seems clear that they have decided that the doddering pace of the U.S. squeeze play against Iraq has left them with a window of opportunity to disregard previous U.S. threats and proceed with their nuclear weapons program. Now I don't subscribe to the theory that the administration has been "distracted" from keeping an eye on North Korea by events in Iraq as if they were a fast food operation with two pimply faced teenagers on hand trying to keep up with a line of customers while the "fries are up" alarm beeps incessantly in the background. And in fairness the blame for fact that it now appears that the North Koreans believe that the United States cannot militarily deal with them and the Iraqis at the same time (despite Don Rumsfeld's comments to the contrary) could be laid at the feet of the Clinton administration and it's failure to maintain an adequate force to fight on two fronts. But it's also hard not to conclude that had the administration pushed the timetable on Iraq a bit harder the North Korean situation could have been avoided for a time.

In the long run the only way to ensure lasting peace and security for the United States and it's allies is regime change in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as Bush outlined in his axis of evil speech. Syria and maybe even Saudi Arabia could also be added to the list depending on developments in those countries. But with the big three it's not a question of "if" but rather "when" and "how". The answer to the question "Why Iraq?" is simple. Because it's the easiest country to affect change in right now with the pre-existing violations of the Gulf War cease fire agreement by Iraq, the weakened state of it's military, and Saddam's well know history of aggression and terror. Iraq is not an end game and it does not mean that we won't go after Iran and North Korea. It just means that they're first on the list.

The problem is that once you come out and declare that these three countries are on your naughty list you need to move without too much hesitation lest you give them a chance to counteract your strategy. The longer the U.N. charade drags out with Iraq the longer the North Koreans and Iranians have to prepare for their day of reckoning and when that day arrives we might have to pay a much higher price to achieve our goals. There appears to be some hope in Iran of a revolution from within but North Korea is likely to be a much tougher and potentially bloodier nut to crack. A fanatical regime armed to the teeth with nothing to lose is not a pleasant thought. This same regime with nuclear weapons is terrifying.

As Michael Ledeen, author of The War Against the Terror Masters has been saying: "Faster, please. We're already very late."

Get Off My Side

Pat Buchanan.

Max Boot's piece at OpinionJournal today on what being a "neo-con" means made me realize just how much I have come to dislike Buchanan and his views. At one time I enjoyed Buchanan in his role as a maverick willing to tell it like it was and not compromise his core beliefs for political expediency as many Republicans seemed to be doing at the time. But his protectionist economic views, his criticism of US support for Israel, and his increasingly isolationist foreign policy drove me further and further from his vision of conservatism. 9/11 and the U.S. military actions that followed were the final straw as Buchanan joined many on the Left in questioning America's response and hinting that our support of Israel and stationing of troops in the Middle East had led to the terrorist attacks and suggesting that we should pull back from our overseas commitments and thus avoid the wrath of the terrorists.

Since then he has continued to slide into marginality with the launch of his magazine The American Conservative, which he claims to be truly representative of conservatism, and his opposition to military action against Iraq. I predict that a successful military campaign and effective establishment of a stable post-Saddam government in Iraq will drive Buchanan into complete irrelevancy much in the manner that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did to one of his America First fore bearers, Charles Lindbergh. It's time to get off my side Pat.

Designated Driver for the World

Usually I don't like to post links to articles that have already been linked by InstaPundit since many regular blog readers check out InstaPundit on a daily basis and adding a link here is merely redundant. But this piece called Confessions Of An Isolationist Wannabe at Right Wing News is so damn funny that I had to mention it. It's a P.J. O'Rourkian look at the United State's reluctant acceptance of responsibility for the rest of the world.

If you want put it in perspective, it's like we're the guy who ended up being the designated driver for the planet. Sure we'd love to sit back and drink ourselves into a stupor with the rest of the globe but we're responsible for getting as many people home safe and sound as possible. Every so often while we're sitting around wishing we could kill a few beers like the rest of the planet, a sloppy drunk, drooling, Europe comes over to where we're sitting. Then they take another swig of Vodka straight out of the bottle and tell us not to worry about a thing because they'll drive everyone home in their 'international law' van. But we know if we go ahead and drink up that we'll just get a call at 4 am asking us to bring our tow truck and the 'jaws of life' to clean up the bloody mess on dead man's curve. That's the burden of being an American.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Nothing to No One

In 1986, Allen Bloom wrote in his book “The Closing of the American Mind“ - ”There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.”

Sixteen years later it appears professors can have this same certainty, if what was witnessed on CSPAN last night is evident of the general state of America’s college students. The program was called “Dialog on Freedom” and consisted of NYU freshmen in a group discussion, lead in Socratic fashion by Harvard law professor Arthur Miller and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

I tuned in late, but at the point I picked it up the discussion centered around a theoretical country ruled by a dictatorship and engaged in egregious human rights abuses and the topic at hand was whether the United States (and Americans, as moral individuals) had any responsibility to intervene to prevent these abuses and to attempt to improve the life conditions of the citizens of this theoretical country.

The choice to use an imaginary country in an interesting one, since there are no shortage of real world case studies to draw from who fit this description (take your pick from the roster of the Arab League). But I guess that’s a practical concession to avoid the degenerating of what was intended to be a philosophic discussion into, “it’s a war for oil!” or “Bush is the real terrorist!”

In short, most of the students thought the human rights abuses were “bad” (and the abuses included the institutional and cultural subjugation of women and the enslavement and occasional mass slaughter of ethnic minorities) and they confirmed they personally wouldn’t participate in such activities. But, almost without exception, each student also had the opinion that they didn’t believe they had the right to tell other people in the world how to conduct their affairs. Furthermore, they didn’t believe their own values were in any way “superior” to those in other countries whose beliefs differ in this regard. Rather, they acknowledged, with regret, that their beliefs as Americans were the product of a Western ethnocentric world view. And since these other perspectives grew out of another culture, by definition they could be no better or worse than a perspective borne from Western civilization. It’s just another way of thinking, no better or worse than any other.

And remember we’re talking about brutal gender discrimination, slavery, and genocide here. I think the key statement was made by a young woman, regarding her personal beliefs that these things were indeed bad, yet still couldn’t compel her to make a broader judgment on them: “Sure I can feel that way, but I can’t think it.”

To be clear, I’m not attempting to condemn the intellects of 18 year olds, as one would expect some degree of immature thinking at this age. And to their credit, these individuals were undeniably bright and they were fearless in presenting their beliefs, even under the sometimes withering questioning and piercing glare of Justice Kennedy. Plus, they were steadfast in their beliefs, and even after ninety minutes of persuasion via the expertly guided discussion by Miller and Kennedy, I’m not sure any of them were prepared to alter their preexisting opinions.

But hearing these firmly held beliefs by the youth of America, which I presume are merely reflections of the faiths of their boomer parents and/or teachers, perhaps we can get some insight as to why most Americans seem opposed to intervention in Iraq without prior approval of the UN. (The Star Tribune today reports fully 76% of Minnesota adults think the US and its allies should get UN approval before taking military action in Iraq).

Likely it’s not an entirely conscious thought process, but somewhere in the cerebral mix I wonder if they believe that acting in our own self interest, based on the presumably ethnocentric Western notion that we should not allow other nations to slaughter our citizens by the thousands with bacteria or nukes, is simply cultural imperialism. In other words, remaining vulnerable and even suffering such an attack is preferable to preventing it, if that prevention isn’t properly respectful of the beliefs of other cultures, even if those beliefs themselves are repugnant to us personally. Which is why we must wait to protect ourselves, until we receive the proper approvals from the likes of Syria, China, Mauritius, and France.

Wishing It Doesn't Make It So

Another Minnesota Poll in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune on possible war with Iraq. The Strib chose a front page headline of "Uneasy Support For War" to lead the story on the poll and described the results as:

With America seemingly on the brink of war, a slim majority of Minnesotans expresses uneasy support for military action to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

While I suppose you could say that the 53% of Minnesotans who favor military action is indeed a "slim majority" you could also call the 37% who oppose military action "slightly more than a third". The Strib also focuses on the fact that 75% of respondents were either very or somewhat worried that war against Iraq could lead to a wider all out war in the Mid East. I think you would be a fool not to consider the possibility of such a wider war but to be worried about it is not the same as using it as a reason not to act against Iraq.

The fact is that the 53% of Minnesotans who favor military action against Iraq is a fairly solid figure which has not changed much during the last six months despite the efforts of the Star Tribune editorial board, anti-war activists, and many Democrats. Only 36% of people who identify themselves as DFLers support war against Iraq and I believe that the 54% of DFLers who oppose it would be against just about anything that President Bush was in favor of. Although the results of the last election might indicate otherwise Minnesota is still a slightly Democratic state and if you view the poll results in that light the fact that 53% support military action is actually a good sign.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Why Discrimination Doesn't Make Cents (or dollars)

Caught this little nugget last night while reading The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker, a damn fine book for anyone interested in the innateness of human nature:

The point is only that gender gaps by themselves say nothing about discrimination unless the slates of men and women are blank, which they are not. The only way to establish discrimination is to compare their jobs or wages when choices and qualifications are equalized. And in fact a recent study of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that chlidless women between the ages of twenty seven and thirty three earn 98 cents to men's dollar. Even to people who are cynical about the motivations of American employers, this should come as no shock. In a cutthroat market, any company stupid enough to overlook qualified women or to over-pay unqualified men would be driven out of business by a more meritocratic competitor.

This is what the Younger and I have been saying for years in regard to both race based and sex based discrimination. While it still may exist in some isolated situations most American corporations cannot afford not to hire the most talented people for the position given the competitive realities of the market.

Alas, the Jig Is Up

Very very sad news that the local brewpub Sherlock's Home is closing next Tuesday after fourteen years of serving some of the finest handcrafted ales and lagers in the Minneapolis area. I have many fond memories of Sherlock's over the years (and a few rather cloudy ones like the time I realized my goal of consuming an English pint of each Sherlock's eight varieties of beer on a single evening) and will miss the excellent hand pulled beer and pub like atmosphere. Most of all I will miss the Bishop's Bitter, in my opinion one of the best beers I have ever tasted. I'll be at Sherlock's this afternoon for one last Friday happy hour and will raise a pint or two in a bittersweet tribute to one of my favorite watering holes.

Back in Business

I wish to state at the outset that despite my clinical disposition and rather amazing bedside manner, I am not a doctor. Furthermore, I don’t even believe in personally seeing a doctor unless a priest has begun warming up his pipes for the administering of last rites over my fevered and pock marked body. In fact, I don’t even like emailing a doctor, unless it’s to respond to a series of ad hominem attacks from an ivory tower dwelling, Ivy League degree holding sophist with two middle initials (see Mark “A.R.” Kleiman, PhD. for details).

Despite all of this, I feel confident in diagnosing myself as a recent carrier of the dreaded Norwalk virus. It’s effects were described on the radio yesterday as the reversal of the entire working processes of the gastro-intestinal system. And I’m here to testify, that’s exactly what I had. What was once a happy little system for ingesting nutrients became a vengeful beast bent on expelling all the food and water I’d ingested in my entire life. Forgive me while I delve into the James Lileksicon of flu like descriptions, but I was wrung out like a washcloth. Between the projectile vomiting, the involuntarily enthusiastic bowel evacuations, the life draining vacuum of fatigue, the zombie-like bouts of dizziness and the general state of fevered dementia, I wasn’t sure I was going to recover at all. The low point had to be about half way through the illness. In a desperate attempt to ingest moisture, I licked an ice cube a single time and was thusly thrown into a violent spasm of gagging and ralphing, because apparently, that was just too substantial of an intake for my body.

But on the positive side, I did gain some newfound sympathy for the recently departed Joe Strummer, as I now know what it's like to try to kick a heroine addiction. Plus, based on my prolonged retching sessions in the bathroom, I now know what it sounded like to be in the recording studio during the sessions for “Sandanista!”. And with that cheap shot at the deceased, I herald my official return to the living. (PS - Joe wherever you are, I thought you were good in Mystery Train).

How Will The Sioux Do Without The Arts & Science Faculty?

My alma mater, the University of North Dakota, and the controversy over it's Fighting Sioux nickname gets a little national attention today in a piece by Mark Yost at OpinionJournal.com. Yost does a good job analyzing the situation and explaining that not all Native Americans feel the name should be changed:

As for the Native Americans on campus, some may be offended, but certainly not all. "There are various views, even among the American Indian students," admits Mr. Jeanotte. He himself favors changing the name. But junior goalie Marc Ranfranz, who is Sioux, doesn't mind it in the least. (Mr. Ranfranz made his first start against the Canisius Griffins on Dec. 13 and posted a 6-0 shutout.) "I hope, for myself," Mr. Ranfranz said in an interview on U.S. College Hockey Online, "that they don't change it. I honor it. I enjoy it. I think it's a great nickname and logo. It makes me feel proud when I come into the rink and see the Sioux logo all over."

He also gives equal time to those who favor changing the name:

Still, that doesn't matter to the name-opponents, one of whom is Jim McKenzie, the head of the English department. "In some cities, where the Indian population is long gone, it seems like a political correctness issue," he says. "But on a campus where there are Indian students, it's offensive to them." He says that he doesn't know a single Arts and Sciences faculty member who will set foot inside Engelstad Arena.

Somehow despite the absence of all the wild and crazy Arts and Sciences faculty members at their games the Sioux hockey team is ranked number one in the country with a 16-1-1 record.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Come To The Dark Side

I just got around to watching Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones a few weeks ago and I found myself having a hard time coming to grips with the various political forces at play in the universe that Lucas created what with the Republic, the Trade Federation, the separatists, and the specter of the evil Empire looming over the horizon. Thankfully today The Weekly Standard has reposted a piece called The Case for the Empire by Jonathin V. Last originally published in the May 16, 2002 edition of the magazine, in which he argues, quite convincingly, that Lucas "confused the good guys with the bad" from the beginning.

Here's his look at the Jedi knights:

What's more, it's not clear that they should be "protecting" anyone. The Jedi are Lucas's great heroes, full of Zen wisdom and righteous power. They encourage people to "use the Force"--the mystical energy which is the source of their power--but the truth, revealed in "The Phantom Menace," is that the Force isn't available to the rabble. The Force comes from midi-chlorians, tiny symbiotic organisms in people's blood, like mitochondria. The Force, it turns out, is an inherited, genetic trait. If you don't have the blood, you don't get the Force. Which makes the Jedi not a democratic militia, but a royalist Swiss guard.

And an arrogant royalist Swiss guard, at that. With one or two notable exceptions, the Jedi we meet in Star Wars are full of themselves. They ignore the counsel of others (often with terrible consequences), and seem honestly to believe that they are at the center of the universe. When the chief Jedi record-keeper is asked in "Attack of the Clones" about a planet she has never heard of, she replies that if it's not in the Jedi archives, it doesn't exist. (The planet in question does exist, again, with terrible consequences.)

All Politics is Local

While I was at my parent's house for Christmas I learned of my mother's contribution to the debate on war with Iraq. The neighbors who live directly across from my parents planted a 'No War with Iraq' sign in their yard. These signs are being sold for $10 a piece by a Minneapolis based organization called Women Against Military Madness or WAMM (insert George Michael jokes here) and according a story in yesterday's Star Tribune over four thousand have been distributed in the metropolitan area. If you're looking for "Things you can do today to stop the costly, brutal war the Bush Administration wants to wage" the WAMM web site includes an event calendar full of opportunities.

It's too late to see the "puppet shows about creative, nonviolent conflict resolution" but you can still catch the "Candlelight Service for the Children of Iraq" (I'm sure the Iraqi kids will be grateful, "we're still living under a brutal dictatorship but at least those people in Minnesota lit some candles for us" ), "The 12th Annual Opening Day Protest and Rally at the State Capitol, St. Paul, MN. Not One Dime in Cuts that Hurt Poor and Working People! Stop the Welfare Cut-Offs! (not quite sure how this relates to military madness), and the always popular (and hip) Uptown Anti-war Rally.

And in case you were wondering, yes WAMM does have an "Emergency Response Plan" in place:

We will hold a nonviolent demonstration against the "war on terror" if and when there is a major escalation of the war. A major escalation might include the expansion of the war to another nation. Here is the plan: Gather at the Federal Courts Building at 4th Street and 3rd Avenue, Downtown Minneapolis, at 4:30 p.m. If news of a major escalation is reported before noon, the protest will take place at 4:30 p.m. on that day. If news of a major escalation is reported after noon, the protest will take place at 4:30 p.m. the following day.

Now that I think about it I do seem to recall WAMM demonstrating after the attack on the synagogue in Tunisia, the attempt to sink a French tanker off Yemen, the night club bombing in Bali, and the hotel bombing and attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Kenya didn't I? Wait those things are part of the imaginary "war on terror" created by the Bush administration to justify the waging of their brutal war.

In response to WAMM and amid a "chorus of voices" demanding that they be heard I have created an organization called Militarists Against Whacked-out Women or MAWW and I'm proud to say that we soon will have our own line of signs available for $20 each (I am a greedy capitalist after all). More slogans will be available later but our initial launch will include these choices:

"Kill Iraqi Women and Children Now"

"More Blood for Oil"

and finally...

"Make Iraq(and later the world) An American Colony"

All signs will be in blood red, white, and blue to honor our tyrannical nation as it seeks to oppress and terrorize the world. Place your orders now.

So how did my mom handle the situation with the neighbors? Acting bit more subtly than I would have she taped a Christmas card to her neighbor's sign with a simple question:

Have you forgotten September 11th?

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Vain In Vain; Strummer Joe dies; The Younger Yawns

From The Younger:

To say that the media has been effusive in their praise of recently departed Clash founder Strummer Joe is a serious understatement. Hopefully there is still time for Time to get him nominated for Person Of the Year. I can’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper without being bombarded with cloying gush about how brilliant the Clash were or what a Master Genius (12 allowed per year) Strummer Joe was. To wit (from the Star Tribune): “The songs of the Clash railed against apathy, powerlessness, police brutality, American Cultural Domination (caps mine), and poseurs of all sorts”.

Hey Star Tribune, the poseur was Strummer Joe and punk music in general.

Another: “The band’s ‘London Calling’ is widely regarded as one of the most important rock albums of all time.”


Am I the only one that does not look for music to be “Important”? I want music that excites my senses—I can’t imagine relaxing with a cocktail and Frank’s Songs For Swingin’ Lovers and thinking “Yeah, this is one important record”. Give me groove goddammit. Give me excellent musicians at the peak of their craft. Give me someone who can paint a picture with their words without being overbearing. Give me a vocalist who can convey what they are feeling through their God-given ability to sing in tune and with power. Keep your teenage Take On The World to yourself. Punk is music for teenagers. Hear me adults? Adults USED to listen to adult music but that died with rock n’ roll (of which punk is just an offshoot, not some other genre as it pretends to be…SIDE NOTE: I’d rather listen to every Foghat, Boston and Toto record ever made than to have to sit though one side of a Clash record ).

I was listening to more fawning yesterday on NPR (including one question from a woozy host: “How will Strummer’s death affect modern music?”) and the Music Authority they had on said that basically the Clash were braveandgoodandsmartandstrident because they called their record “Sandinista” in an era “…where the Regan white house had labeled the Sandinistas to be a dangerous communist regime.” Right. Reagan made them commies out of whole cloth and the brave punks were Telling It Like It Was.

What irks me about critics and fans of punk is that these people earnestly believe this is the music of the smart set. I’m convinced that critics have to start using terms like “important” to describe music (MUSIC!) because they are desperately trying to imbue their own lives with importance because they live in a malaise of despair, nihilism, cynicism and leftist politics (see John Bream). When a band comes along that echoes their dark take on this life they are hailed as Jesus Incarnate.
Those that read these influential critics merely follow suit because they too consider themselves smart (I’ll bet 5 grand Janine Garofalo has every Clash record).

I’d like to ask fans of this genre one question: do you feel joy from listening to some disaffected, post-modern, art-school-dropout English wanker rail against capitalism and Mean People? Does that bring joy to you? Does it? How can you feel anything but hatred from listening to hatred?

Great quote from the man himself: “If you aint thinkin’ about man and God and law, then you aint thinkin’ about nothin’” This from the son of a foreign service officer who was raised in excellent schools. You see, dropping your G’s makes you more authentic.
This is an almost comical level of self-importance and pretension.

Has their ever been a more musically correct band than the Clash? Or a more musically correct form of music than punk? The way the media and every critic imaginable has embraced this mostly poorly played, juvenile, snotty lifestyle-in-a-can punk BS is remarkable. Apparently, the younger generation has indeed listened to their boomer elders in embracing punk as bands like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte carry on with the tired clich├ęs and worn-out riffs (albeit with better hooks and Avril Lavingne can skate8r n my driveway any day).

Punks like Strummer Joe always claimed that they were the sort of “Anti-hippies” but I see many more similarities than differences: 1. The belief in being “Authentic” to the point of establishing conformist rules of behavior (punk is simply another lifestyle-in-a-can and has always been). 2. Dismissal of normal healthy living (healthy people don’t die at age 50) as a bourgeois conceit. 3. The infantile notion that there are Powerful Forces at work in the world to oppress the smart truth-seekers who “Get it”.

Well I get it and I think its crap. It will be interesting to see how the media treats the death of a real music legend like George Jones when he’s gone. Do you think we will see his picture and death notice on the front page of the Star Tribune?

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Must See DVD

The movie “Clerks” does not stand up to repeated viewing. Upon further review, the dialog is contrived, the characters are grating, self involved and one dimensional, and the performances are amateurish. In addition, the photography throughout is unyieldingly flat, which creates a cramped and claustrophobic vibe. Perhaps this was intentional on the part of director Kevin Smith, the setting is a convenience store after all, but whether it was intended or not, it creates a level of subconscious anxiety in the viewer which doesn’t make for a pleasurable viewing experience.

All of this makes me wonder why I was so enamored of this movie upon the first time I saw it, back in 1994. Probably my standards were lower back then. In the film’s defense (and defense of the younger, more naive me) there are some clever observations and worthy punch lines. The “independent” film quality, that is the low production values and informal direction and presentation, were unlike anything I’d seen before, and that was intriguing. Plus Smith did do a good job of capturing the general tone, and meter of the conversations engaged in by those in the smart ass subculture of my generation (of which I am an alumnus).

All that being said, re-watching the movie “Clerks” is no way to spend 90 minutes of your life. Maybe if you’ve never seen it before, you could rationalize away the time investment as filing a prerequisite from the cultural back catalog of irony. But repeated viewings yield no new understanding of the universe or of the general human condition, which is the only reason why anyone ever sees any movie (whether they know it or not). Instead “Clerks” just serves to remind me of who I once was and of what I once thought was hilarious, and this causes a fleeting existential cringe.

So imagine my surprise in running across Comedy Central last Sunday morning, which was showing a 3 hour marathon of the short-lived ABC cartoon series “Clerks” and finding it to be outstanding. The animation was stylized and visually interesting and the plot lines were complex and sly. I saw two of the episodes and they satirically touched on (though never ponderously landed on) topics such as race, sex, drugs, sexual orientation, and gratuitous celebrity bashing. The characters, which consist of the same crew from the movie (and all voiced by the actors from the movie) were no longer self reverential, instead they were engaged in parody of themselves and everything I came dislike about them in the first place. Most importantly, the cartoons were genuinely funny, from start to finish.

Unfortunately, only six episodes of the Clerks cartoon were ever produced. And as of now there are no plans for any broadcasting of these episodes (the Comedy Central presentation was a one time only event). However, video clips are available to be seen at the Comedy Central web site and the DVD is on sale through the Kevin Smith View Askew Productions Web site. As of now, “Clerks--The Cartoon” carries my unqualified endorsement. Check back with me in 8 years for any reflective existential cringe updates.

Monday, December 23, 2002

It's The War Stupid

The masterful Victor Davis Hanson reminds us why we are fighting, who we are fighting, and when we'll know we've won in a simply stated yet powerful piece on National Review Online. Print out and distribute to all those with short memories.

Semi literate boobs running around spittin tebakky on the ground

Pete from Flowery Branch, GA (what a wonderful name for a town) takes exception with part of my post from last week on airline mechanics:

While I share your feelings towards the poor ole mech who had to move to Minnesota and the tragedy of the 12 inch TV, I do not share your description of mechs as poorly educated semiskilled tradesmen. An airframe and powerplant mechanic is a demanding and highly skilled job which is worth every penny they are paid. The testing requirements for these mechs are quite rigorous and not just anyone can do it. How do I know? I am an A&P mech. At least I hold the rating anyway, or did so years ago. I have to say that I personally want the mechs who are working on the plane I am going to fly on to be well paid happy individuals. You say that these people are paid some 68,000 dollars a year and up for their work? Good! When we as a society have no problem with sports figures making 20 million a year for playing baseball for God's sake and get the bends over an airline mech making 68 grand I just don't get it. What kind of mechs do you think you would get if they were paid 10 bucks an hour? Again these guys aren't semi literate boobs running around spittin tebakky on the ground, these guys need to know their shit cold and believe me they do. Next time you fly and the plane is on hold for a technical problem think about the guy who is out there, maybe in freezing cold wet weather, making sure that aluminum tube you're sitting in is good to go. Who do you want working that baby? I say give me a well paid guy who knows his shit and is one happy camper. Nuff said.

My response:

Pete has some interesting points and obviously has some experience on the subject. I have a bit of background here myself as I studied aviation administration in college and hold a private pilot's license even though I have not flown as P.I.C. for a number of years. I also worked as a baggage handler at the Humphrey Charter Terminal in Minneapolis and among my coworkers were a number of students training to be mechanics and a few mechanics who had been laid off by Northwest. Over paid, poorly educated, semi skilled workers would be an accurate description of airline baggage handlers but that's another subject for another day.

Actually my piece referred to mechanics as being semi-educated rather than poorly educated based on the fact that you could qualify as an A&P mechanic by attending two years of vocational technical school. While I don't doubt that they are skilled in their field and that they do need to undergo continuing training to maintain their license I don't think that the tradesman label is inaccurate. Can just anyone do it? No, of course not. But could at least 30% of the population do it if they so chose? I would think so.

I'm all for people being happy in their work and getting paid well does contribute to that happiness. But do you think that these guys would be earning an average of of $68-$72k a year if they weren't part of a powerful union? If they had to go out and compete in a non-union marketplace I think you would find their wages lower. The most skilled and knowledgeable among them would probably make more but the majority would have to settle for less. Labor costs are killing the major airlines and a big part of that is the union contracts for mechanics and ground workers.

To compare mechanics pay to baseball salaries isn't any more valid than comparing it to teachers salaries. It's all about what the market will bear. How many people can hit major league pitching? Say somewhere around three hundred worldwide (I'm not counting ex-Twin David Ortiz in this mix)? In the United States alone I'd say there are easily 50 million people who if they chose to do so could either become airline mechanics or teachers. Does it make their work any less meaningful or important? No, but it means they aren't going to get be getting paid twenty mil a year.

Again I don't have anything against these guys being well paid. And I certainly want competent folks working on the aircraft that I'm flying on. But how many of these guys are actually working on critical power plant and airframe components and how many are back in the tool crib performing unchallenging duties due to the rigid union work rules that they operate under? This is what I've heard from a few people I know who work at Northwest right now.

Anyway my point wasn't to rip A&P mechanics in general. I just think that instead of whining about how unfortunate their situations were these Northwest mechanics should be thankful for what they had.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Noam, Noam, Noam, Noam Vote For The King of Idiotarians

Mitch Berg at Shot in the Dark clued me in to the fact that Little Green Footballs is having a poll to vote for the first ever Idiotarian of the Year award named in honor of Robert Fisk. Right now Noam Chomsky is in third place behind Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter but I think he has a real shot at taking it and who deserves such an honor more than Noam? Vote now.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

God Bless Those Pagans

I'm writing my Christmas post a few days early as tomorrow I'm hopping on a plane to Colorado to visit my brother for the holidays. This year should beat last year's Christmas easily - I had a nasty chill and cough, slept most of the day, and well ... I don't remember much but I'm sure a shot of Nyquil was the highlight of the day. Shots of cough syrup can make most days great, but on Christmas they are just downright depressing.

Today is the winter solstice, which may creep you out if you happen to run into any zombiefied new agers gushing about the "return of light to our lives." But it always makes me smile when I remember that the winter solstice is why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th. As Homer Simpson put it: "God bless those pagans." Truly, there is no better time to celebrate the back-slapping, mistletoe-placing, gift-giving, spirit-imbibing holidays (or "alcoholidays", as a friend put it) then this time of year when it's darkest the longest.

But ultimately, of course, the holiday is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Who is our president's favorite philosopher, remember? So while pulling myself away from the excitement of the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day, I'll try paging through the Gospel According To Luke, looking for red-letter gems such as: "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Luke 17:25) In the meantime, if I have any last-minute shopping to do I'll be sure to seek out those bell-ringers in the doorways. Peace.

We're Also Responsible For Acne & Feelings of Social Inadequacy

According to a December 17th column by Joan Ryan in the San Francisco Chronicle conservatives are the culprits for the rise in ant-gay bullying in the schools:

"There's been a polarization of sexuality over the past 20 years, so the anti-gay bullying has gotten progressively worse," says Dr. Lynn Ponton, a UC San Francisco psychiatry professor and author of "The Sex Lives of Teenagers."

"There are more explicit images in the media," she says, "and at the same time more rigid views (about sexuality) from the right wing and churches."

Since the claim that "anti-gay bullying has gotten progressively worse" in the last twenty years is not backed by any evidence I have a hard time accepting it at face value. But assume for the sake of argument that it is true. What does that say about the efforts of schools to teach diversity, tolerance, and respect for those who are different? These efforts have seemed to consume more and more of the education establishment's attention during the last twenty years but these results would seem to indicate they have failed at least in one area.

And as much as I would like to believe that the teens of today are influenced by the right wing and churches I gotta think that entertainment, in particular movies and music, plays a much larger role in guiding their decisions and actions. So why no finger pointing at Hollywood for it's often stereotypical portrayal of gays or the music industry, particularly rap which has a history of anti-gay messages?

It’s Money That Matters ..... Sometimes

Several readers have contacted me in an attempt to defend the Associate Press’s description of Sen. Bill Frist yesterday. The main point of their contention is that the description of Frist as “wealthy” is not based on his earnings from his career in medicine, rather it’s based on his family’s involvement in the founding and operation of HCA (Health Corporation of America), which has resulted in total assets (for his entire extended family) worth several hundred million.

A fair point, though one that the average reader wouldn’t have been able to infer from the context the term “wealthy” was presented in the AP article. However, the broader point is that the casual use of this term in what was a perfunctory, introductory, descriptive blurb about the Majority Leader-to-be was unnecessary and an example of using a value laden term (at least it’s “value laden” to those of us who aren’t wealthy) in order to smear by association. Worse still is their using of a term for a Republican which isn’t used to describe Democratic politicians who exist in the same rarefied socioeconomic strata.

When was the last time you’ve seen any casual references to Tom Daschle as “the wealthy Majority Leader”? Although he refuses to divulge the precise worth of his and his wife’s assets, according to Human Events Online it's between about $200,000 and several million dollars. Perhaps not wealthy relative to the standards of the US Senate, but to those of us ensconced in the middle class, that’s wealthy.

Furthermore, Roll Call Magazine reported in June 2002 that Bill Frist had a net worth of “at least $17 million.” But did you know that Democratic Senator John Kerry has reported assets of $675 million? In his recent media blitz to announce his exploratory efforts in running for president, do you recall any casual descriptions of him in the media as “the wealthy John Kerry”? If they were following their own standards, as evidenced by their description of Frist, the AP would have been entirely consistent to describe Kerry as “the obscenely wealthy John Kerry.” How about the Democratic Senator from North Carolina (and potential Presidential candidate) John Edwards who rings up at $13.6 million - seen any general descriptions of his general prospects that included the adjective “wealthy”? California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein cashes in at $38 million. Are her legislative accomplishments ever framed by the mention of how much money she has? Or even media darling, maverick Republican John McCain, who married into $14 million in assets. Recall any mention of “the wealthy Senator from Arizona’s attempt to reform campaign finance laws?”

There are many ways for bias to rear it’s head in the purportedly objective mainstream media. Selective application of value laden terms is one of them.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Dog Bites Man

You've got to love the way the Associated Press chooses to introduce new Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to America:

With Lott's departure, Frist, a close ally of Bush, was the only publicly declared candidate to replace him and quickly emerged as the favorite to do so, lawmakers and aides said. The Tennessee lawmaker, a wealthy heart surgeon, revealed his candidacy Thursday evening and had garnered public support from several key senators, including Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, No. 2 Senate Republican Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and John Warner of Virginia.

A close Bush ally? And he's wealthy? Come on now AP, is it really newsworthy that a member of the Senate Republican leadership is a Bush ally? Or that a heart surgeon is wealthy? I don't want to tell you professional journalists your business, but no, it's not. If the opposite were true, then that would bear mentioning. Something like, "Bill Frist, an indigent, homeless heart surgeon and avowed enemy of the Bush administration is the only declared candidate to assume leadership of the Senate." See how that jumps off the page and grabs you by the lapels? That's the definition of news, baby! Keep listening to me boys and people may just stop reading blogs and start coming back to the daily fish wrap for the truth.

I Feel Your Pain?

Yesterday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a long story about men who were forced to spend the holidays away from their families due to their work duties and the strain that this seperation caused them.

Special forces troops in Afghanistan tracking down Taliban and Al Qaeda stragglers?


Marines in Kuwait training for the coming invasion of Iraq faced with the possibility of dealing with chemical and biological weapons?

Not quite.

Naval pilots on aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean patrolling the no-fly zones over Iraq?

Not even close.

FBI or Secret Service agents tracking terrorist cells here in the United States trying to protect the homeland?

No way.

No, the poor suffering souls that we're supposed to feel sorry for are Northwest airline mechanics who chose to move to Minneapolis from Atlanta rather than being laid off. Airline mechanics?

Broderick Arnold never planned to have a commuter marriage. The Northwest Airlines mechanic was living with his wife, Barbara, on a 15-acre property in suburban Georgia when the airline decided to close the Atlanta maintenance base.

Cannon, 46, has worked as a mechanic for 26 years. In Georgia, he said, "I've got a 3,500-square foot house sitting in the middle of 12 acres that's 20 miles from the airport. We've got deer, we've got turkeys. I can't duplicate that up here because of the cost of living."

The tears are welling up.

They can't survive with a 12-inch TV. "Football on that is a little tough," Davidson said. "We're getting a minimum of 27 inches."

Life is just so damn unfair sometimes. Where's the humanity in forcing a man to watch football on a 12" screen?

The union's MacFarlane said mechanics who chose to relocate are realists, because they "understand that the industry is coming apart right now" with US Airways and United Airlines in bankruptcy court. He said the average Northwest mechanic earns $68,000 to $72,000 a year.

These mechanics are semi-skilled workers with minimal educations who are making far more money than in any other possible job that they could get with their skills. They make far more than almost anyone serving in the military and we're to feel pity for them because they had to move to Minneapolis? Sorry but my sympathy well is dry when it comes to these guys.

Thank God Allmighty Free (of Lott) At Last

Matt Drudge and FOXNews.com are both reporting that Lott has stepped down. Now Republicans can get back to the business at hand of cutting taxes, brutalizing criminals, and ruling us like a king to paraphrase Sideshow Bob.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Better Living Through Science

Perhaps DNA testing has the potential to provide greater benefits to our system of justice than what the Ramsey County model would imply (see the post below, the soon to be award-winning article “Frankly My Dear...”). Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post has an editorial entitled "Why Innocent People Confess" and it discusses not only the power of DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted by jury, but also to counter balance the institutional pressure that creates an entire class of those bearing false witness against themselves - that is, those who confess to crimes they haven’t committed.

It’s seems absurd for an outsider to the system, like me, to believe that someone would confess to a crime, often times a serious crime, for which they were entirely innocent. But according to Kinsley, that happens all the time. This is primarily due to the (arguably) unreasonably high level of protections provided to the accused and the corresponding high costs necessary to prosecute a crime in the official manner. The system of justice itself would grind to a halt if all crimes and criminals were prosecuted under the official procedures outlined in civics (and law) textbooks. Therefore, prosecutors have the practical imperative to expedite the process in a more efficient manner. This manifests itself in the form of plea bargaining - offering a defendant a chance to be prosecuted for a lesser crime, and to suffer a lesser penalty, if the defendant will agree to waive his Constitutional rights to a full and complete trial. This offer is typically presented with the threat that if the defendant doesn’t take it, the full weight and fury of the court will be brought against them. Of course, this offer is usually good enough for the guilty to cop a plea. But often times the innocent take it as well, as they reasonably conclude that ‘having the book thrown at them’ will effectively end their lives as they know it, whereas the consequences of a lesser charge may be at least survivable. According to Kinsley:

Plea bargaining might also be thought of as an insurance policy. Insurance is a way of trading the risk of a large bad outcome (your house burns down and you're out $100,000) for the certainty of a smaller bad outcome (a bill arrives and you're out $850). Plea bargaining is a way of trading the risk of 20 years to life for the certainty of five to seven. But by creating this choice, and ratcheting up the odds to make it nearly irresistible, American justice virtually guarantees that innocent people are being punished.

This is an insurance policy many are willing to buy. 95% of criminal convictions come as a result of plea bargains and only 5% as a result of a conviction at trial:

But for every one criminal conviction that comes after a trial, 19 other cases are settled by plea bargain. And when, as part of a plea bargain, innocent people confess to a crime they did not commit, that isn't a breakdown of the system. It is the system working exactly as it is supposed to. If you're the suspect, sometimes this means agreeing with the prosecutor that you will confess to jaywalking when you're really guilty of armed robbery. Sometimes, though, it means confessing to armed robbery when you're not guilty of anything at all.

Reasonably speaking, the use of DNA evidence should change this calculus for some defendants and hopefully the presence of innocent citizens in prison will become an increasingly unlikely phenomenon (at least the presence of “innocent” citizens not already doing time for any separate double murders they may have committed).

Frankly My Dear...

Do county officials enjoy the same franking privileges as members of Congress, that is the sending of mail to their constituents free of charge? If so, I do believe I’ve been rigorously franked by the Ramsey County Attorney’s office. And if they have no such privilege, I have a suggestion for the slashing of what I suspect is another government budget in deficit. Stop providing postage costs for the sending of self aggrandizing political advertisements to your constituents under the guise of of providing vital information! (Do you think that’s catchy enough to be chanted at the next anit-Globalization rally downtown?)

In the mail last week I received something called the “County Attorney Report” featuring cover girl and part time morning radio personality, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner. The headline and lede of the front page story led me to believe that perhaps there was some significant and important news being reported.

“DNA Project Exonerates Man in Rape Case - DNA testing initiated by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office has resulted in the exoneration of a man convicted of rape and the identification of a new suspect in the case.”

Well now, that is good news. The organization involved with carrying out the government’s monopoly on force admitting a mistake, freeing an innocent man, and punishing the truly guilty party. This perception was reinforced with the Gaertner quote:

"We searched for the truth, and we found it," Gaertner said. "It is very regrettable that the wrong person was convicted of a crime. I am grateful that his innocence has now been established."

Bravo Susan, for freeing an innocent man! Unfortunately, the facts of the case intrude on this happy little exercise in self administered back slapping. As mentioned, almost in passing, later in the article, it turns out this “innocent man” is already serving a life sentence in prison for a double murder unrelated to this sexual assault. I guess this brings a whole new meaning to the term “innocent man.” But yes, I recognize the term can be used in a relative sense. And at least the Attorney’s Office now has identified the real perpetrator, and true justice can be administered. Right? Wrong. Buried later in the article was the news that although a new suspect has been identified, “The statue of limitations has expired on prosecuting the new suspect.” (Note - the crime in question occurred in March 1985).

Which brings up the point - what’s the point of all of this! Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that convictions decided in error should be investigated and overturned when new evidence becomes available. But in a situation where the wrongly accused is already in the jug on a life sentence for a different crime and the true criminal is already beyond the reach of the law, is the cost incurred for sophisticated DNA testing and the resources spent on reopening a 15-year-old case for a new investigation really worth it? I can’t imagine to whom-except for perhaps a politician like the County Attorney looking for some sympathetic headlines.
Headlines appearing in a publication produced by the County Attorney’s office no less, and distributed to her constituents’ door steps via the use of public funds (directly or indirectly). Talk about soft money campaign contributions!

For another entertaining criticism of this situation, though coming from an entirely different angle, check out what this guy has to say.

A more expansive and detailed version of the article appearing in “County Attorney Report” resides on the Ramsey County Web site as well.

PBS Plugs God?

Oh yeah I guess if it's THAT God it's okay. Robert Spencer with a good piece at National Review Online on the upcoming PBS series on Muhammad and what it might look like if the focus was on a different faith:

In a stunning move designed to "counter the negative image of Christian Fundamentalists," PBS officials announced today that they're beginning production of a lavish two-hour feature, Jesus: Legacy of a Messiah.

Produced by a convert to Christianity and featuring interviews with gentle, introspective Fundamentalist Christians, the production is designed to offset the widespread representation of Christian fundamentalism as harsh, vindictive, and unforgiving. "Christianity is really a soft thing," says one of the preachers interviewed. "It's not a hard thing."

The production tells the story of Jesus from his virgin birth through his crucifixion and miraculous resurrection, highlighting the truth and miraculous character of these events and showing how each of them has significant impact on the lives of believers today. The New Testament, says one participant, "is the most extraordinarily beautiful discourse." Of the angel Gabriel's appearance to the Virgin Mary to announce her mission as the Mother of God's Son, the same expert observes, "This is how the ineffable, incomprehensible, utterly transcendent, indescribable God makes itself known to us."

Don't check your PBS schedule just yet. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would no doubt be the first to tell you that such credulity and proselytizing has no place on public television. And the idea that they would plump for Christian Fundamentalism is, of course, laughable.

Piling On

You probably thought we were done pillorying Mike Farrell for his astoundingly naive comments regarding his indirect support for Iraq and their attainment of weapons of mass destruction. Well I was done, but reader Lauri Shannon from Omaha, NE chimes in with a few cogent observations that need to be heard:

Farrell said the following: 'So, my question is: What is the value of the administration's undercutting the job of the inspectors by picking at it, by criticizing them, by continuing to criticize the Iraqi government, when what we see so far is cooperation? What we see so far is the inspectors being able to do their jobs.' So our question to BJ Farrel and his Group is: What is the value of all of you undercutting the job and position of the [president] by picking at him, by criticizing his administration, by continuing to criticize the US government, when what we see so far is cooperation with the UN? What we see so far is the President and his administration doing their jobs.

[Farrel] further said: 'What we ought to be doing at this point, it seems to me, or what the administration ought to be doing is taking yes for an answer and ratcheting down rather than ratcheting up the drums of war.' So we should retort back, What your group ought to be doing at this point, is taking yes for an answer. He went to the Congress and got a yes form both bodies, then he went to the UN and got a unanimous yes from that body. Farrell and his group should be ratcheting down rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric.

Well said Lauri. In honor of your contribution I'm declaring a Fraters Libertas moratorium on any disparaging references to Minneapolis as a 'cold Omaha' for the period of one week. I hope you enjoy this window of ridicule free peace and quiet.

I Heard It On NPR So It Must Be True

This morning on NPR I heard the following claim made in regard to the relative strength of the U.S. and Iraqi militaries:

"Since the Gulf War the Iraqi military has become smaller and much weaker while the U.S. military has grown stronger.

Yeah, that would have occured during the unprecedented military buildup that the Clinton administration undertook right?

From the Official Web Site of the U.S. Department of Defense:

Active Duty U.S. military personnel

1990 732k
2000 482k

1990 579k
2000 373k

1990 197k
2000 173k

Air Force
1990 535k
2000 356k

Defense spending as percentage of total federal outlays
1990 23.1%
2000 15.5%

Whether you look at the number of personnel, amount of spending, number of ships, number of fighter and attack aircraft, or any other measurement the U.S. military is clearly a much smaller force than in 1990. Now you might argue that advances in technology make it a better force but to say that it is stronger is at least up for debate and when used to describe military forces the term stronger is almost always associated with larger which is the opposite of what the facts show. Good thing that pesky little things like that don't get in the way of good NPR story.

Another Masterpiece From The Master

I usually don't post links to the Daily Bleat by James Lileks because he should be part of your daily reading routine. EVERY DAY. That's how good he is and has been consistently for years. But every so often he completely blows me away and today's Bleat is one of those times. From dream analysis to a possible Simpson's scene to a brutal refutation of celebrity activism:

Yesterday I rented “Minority Report,” a movie that stars thetan-choked Tom Cruise, who famously announced that he didn’t feel safe raising his children in the Wild-West hell of America; the movie is directed by Steven Spielberg, whose work I admire greatly - but the guy made a hadj to Cuba recently, and spoke of Castro in such glowing terms I expected him to hack up a half-dozen of El Presidente’s pubic hairs.

Lileks just shines. He winds it down with a comparison between Santa and God in the eyes of a child. Simply amazing. You must read it.

And just when you're thinking that it really coudn't get much better he gives us a killer new Screed on a Canuck couple who have a problem with Christmas. We are not worthy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

A Brief History of Wasted Time

For the record let me state that I have never, ever purchased a trailer home on credit from a subprime lender. (Hoo boy - it feels good to finally get that off my chest!). In fact, I’ve never purchased a trailer home from anyone. Sure I’ve been involved in some trailer time share rental schemes over the years (who hasn’t?) And of course I’ve asserted my squatter’s rights over a couple of unoccupied units in Hopkins. But purchased one? With financing from a ravenous subprime lender looking to profit off my ignorance? No way, Jose. (That would be Jose Lopez - our reader out in Davis, CA - Orale camarada!)

Yet these facts haven’t stopped the king of trailer home subprime lenders, a certain Conseco Finance, from latching on to me like I was the last life preserver on the Titanic. As I reported a few weeks ago, in an award-winning article entitled “Welcome to the Machine“, I’ve been receiving calls from them stretching back months. When I’m home to receive these calls, I get an automated message, I get put on hold and then I get hung up on. When I’m not home , they leave a message with a 1-800 number to call regarding “an important message about my account”. Upon calling this number I get another automated voice asking me to enter my account number or my social security number. Since I don’t have the former and I presume the latter somehow implies my consent for them to access and clear out my checking account, I’ve taken a pass on this step. And thus the cycle of abuse has continued. Day after day, a call from Stephen Hawking’s less human sounding younger brother, asking me to do the impossible.

Yes, I suppose I could seek out their corporate phone number and slog through what I’m sure is another muddy maze of automated brick walls and prerecorded free falls. Or I could find a customer service e-mail address and send them my polite request to drop dead. But given their customer service standards, I suspect my success rate with these measures will be about as good as what I’ve chosen to do instead. That is cursing their messages with an increasingly creative (and disturbingly gratifying) level of profanity and praying for Divine intervention.

Today’s news brings overwhelming evidence that the Big Guy upstairs has taken up my cause directly. Granted, His remedy seems a tad excessive. Causing the third largest bankruptcy in US history just to return some peace and sanity to my little life? But mysterious ways are his stock and trade, so I’ ll choose not to wonder why and just sit back and enjoy the imposition of cosmic justice. By the way, Star Tribune - I don’t want to subscribe to your paper, no matter how many free weeks you're offering, so stop calling every month. Really, for your own good, don’t push me on this one.

They Say You Can Tell A Lot About A Person By The Books They Read

After seeing a couple of scraggly musicians, Sharon Osborne might describe them as "smelly young men", on MTV extolling the virtues of a web site called Axis of Justice as a way for concerned young people to get involved in politics and "make a difference" I decided to give it a look.

Not surprisingly it contained the usually quotient of Leftist clap trap on the war with Iraq and the evils of America. Their statement on Iraq would be funny if it wasn't such a serious subject matter. Okay it's funny anyway. Here's a sample:

What could be of such vital importance that the United States would risk shooting fiery arrows into this powder keg that is the Middle East? The only reasonable answer is oil and power. With Saddam Hussein gone, Bush can make sure that a new, U.S.-friendly fellow becomes the leader of Iraq. Which gives the U.S. access to lots of cheap Middle Eastern oil, and makes us less dependent upon oil from other, less-friendly countries like Saudi Arabia or Yemen. After seeing a U.S. assault on one of their neighbors, and knowing that the U.S. is no longer so dependent upon them for oil, they might start bending over backwards to make the U.S. happy. Which might aid the U.S. elite somewhat, but seems destined to increase levels of anti-American terrorism. Thanks, Mr. President.

Got that? It's all about oil. Duh. But please lets limit the amount of bending over by the Yemenis or Saudis. It's just not a pretty picture.

Bush's saber-rattling has all the subtlety of a Siegfried & Roy show, where he is attempting to whip up a patriotic, militaristic fervor and distract our attention from an economy that is going down the toilet, corporate crime at an all-time, and in the process, steal the November elections.

Even now news is breaking that makes this war seem ludicrous. Some dude in Washington DC has been sniping people to death. Suspected Al Qaeda members are attacking U.S. troops in Kuwait. Terrorists have blown up a club in Bali, Indonesia. And North Korea has admitted that they have The Bomb. In light of all this, how can any rational person think that overthrowing Saddam Hussein is the top U.S. priority?

If you were trying to write a parody of the arguments of the Left you couldn't make it this good. The "some dude" touch was especially nice.

The web site made use of a very commie looking star as a logo and the way that words like cadre and collective were thrown around indicated to me that there might be some Marxist sympathies harbored by this crew.

A look at their recommended reading list quickly confirmed my suspicions. Let's see here:

- The Marx-Engels Reader

- Two books by Che Guevara

- A book each by Huey Newton and Lenin

- Three pieces of drivel by Michael Moore

- A Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell Hmmm... I wonder why Animal Farm didn't make the list?

- Another book by Edward Said

- Six count them six works by Noam Chomsky

- And finally and perhaps most damning of all The Century by Peter Jennings

They also have an Action page with links to just about every animal rights, anti-globalization, anti-war, environmental activist, feminist, AIDs awareness, peace and justice, drug legalization, anti-nuclear, free Leonard Peltier, free Mumia Abu-Jamal group in the world. One of my favorite links was to the Calendar of Anarchist and Activist Events. That's one that you kids will want to print out and post on your refrigerator. Life can be very hectic for the busy activist especially around the holidays. Now let's see, was I supposed to be protesting commercialism at the Mall of America today or throwing blood on woman wearing fur downtown?

Old Pop Stars Never Die They Just Become More Egomanical

A few months ago I called Paul McCartney an embarassing wanker and wondered why he just couldn't gracefully fad into retirement. Now he's moved from being a wanker to being a pretentious arsehole. Sort of like the difference between Bono and Sting. Apparently all the years of seeing the songwriting credits Lennon/McCartney have finally driven Paul over the edge and he's now switching the writing credits so that his name appears first. For Chrissakes can't you just let it go man?

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Little Tommy Had A Bad Christmas

Jonah Goldberg from the December 23rd issue of National Review:

Daschle has had a hectic year. And, yes, it's true: The day after the election he did look like he found his Christmas pony slumped over dead under the Christmas tree on top of his presents.

Why Buy The Cow When The Milk Is Free?

Options for ringing in the New Year here in the Twin Cities include a celebration at the St. Paul Radisson Riverfront Hotel with music by Iffy and Soul Asylum. Hmmm... Could be interesting. How much is it?

$50 in advance. $70 at the door.

Are you frickin' serious?

Oh wait it does include "party favors" and a midnight countdown. This is opposed to all those New Years celebrations where people stand around solemnly observing the coming of the New Year and countdowns are banned. "You there! Stop that counting down at once!"

Shelling out fifty bones to see Soul Asylum does seems a bit ridiculous since they seem to be competing with the always available GB Leighton and Martin Zellar
to fill the role of most ubiquitous Twin Cities band in the grand tradition of The Hoopsnakes who for a time in the 90's were nearly impossible to avoid at festivals, street dances, tent parties, corporate events, bar mitzvahs, retirement parties, proms, children's birthday parties, etc. I swear that they were at my neighbor's house playing a gig when he returned from the hospital after gall bladder surgery. In a takeoff from the religious hymn their motto could have been:

"Wherever two or three are gathered in my name we will be with you the Hoopsnakes proclaimed."

Now you can hardly throw a rock around here without hitting David Pirner (not a bad idea at all really) while he's jumping around playing some get out the Walter Mondale vote, anti-war with Iraq rally, protest against homelessness, march in favor of puppies and sunshine, or other show. He's anywhere and everywhere. And he's usually free.

The Not So Great Debate

I suppose it’s not entirely fair to match up the intellects of George Will and Mike Farrell in the debate over US intervention in Iraq. It’s the equivalent of matching up the acting talents of Robert DeNiro and ... well, Mike Farrell. But as Mr. Farrell seems to be the most prominent proponent of inaction and appeasement, I’m really left with no choice in the matter.

First George Will, drawing on the lessons of the weapons inspection regime in Germany following World War I.

A 1944 study of the problems of post-World War I disarmament of Germany stressed the impossibility of disarmament-by-inspectors when the government to be disarmed is uncooperative. After 1918 the inspectors' greatest difficulty was procuring reliable data because the German government connived at concealment. This difficulty "could have been surmounted only by a complete and prolonged military occupation."

In 1919, Andre Tardieu, a French diplomat charged with implementing the inspections, had written to Colonel House, President Woodrow Wilson's adviser, anticipating reactions to whatever the inspectors reported. He said the "pacifist element" in many nations would "be quite naturally inclined to deny reports disturbing to their peace of mind." So they would "more or less consciously espouse the cause of the German government, which will deny the said reports." He added:

"Germany will deny. The governments will discuss. Public opinion will be divided, alarmed, nervous, and finally, the League unarmed will have brought to pass in the world not general peace but general uncertainty ..."

And following that, of course, an illegally remilitarized, belligerent nation seeking to visit destruction on its neighbors and its former overseers.

Now, in perhaps his greatest role, Mike Farrell as a generic pacifist element from 1919, desperately trying to hold onto his peace of mind. (As interviewed on December 10 on CNN by Connie Chung):

CHUNG: Mike Farrell, in the letter, you call the talk of war in Washington alarming and unnecessary. But this isn't a tea party. Won't you concede that Saddam Hussein needs tough talk in order to comply with the U.N. requirements?

FARRELL: Connie, I think that the United Nations inspectors found 95 percent of Saddam Hussein's weapons in the era between 1991 and 1998. There's no reason to believe that these inspectors can't do...

CHUNG: How do you know that?

FARRELL: The inspectors themselves have said so, found and dismantled and/or destroyed. And the inspectors unilaterally said so. And that was not disputed by anyone.

CHUNG: And what about now, though? How do you know...

FARRELL: What about now? What we are finding now is that inspectors are going in with a tougher mandate than they had before, with the absolute support of the Security Council. And they are getting the cooperation of the Iraqis.

So, my question is: What is the value of the administration's undercutting the job of the inspectors by picking at it, by criticizing them, by continuing to criticize the Iraqi government, when what we see so far is cooperation? What we see so far is the inspectors being able to do their jobs.

What we ought to be doing at this point, it seems to me, or what the administration ought to be doing is taking yes for an answer and ratcheting down rather than ratcheting up the drums of war.

With George Will’s permission, I’d like to jump in on this intellectual beat down. (I’m accepting his silence to my offer as his enthusiastic approval and his heartfelt thanks for my able assistance).

How does Mike Farrell know that 95% of Saddam Hussein’s weapons were found by inspectors in the period of 1991 to 1998? Why, because the inspectors themselves say so! “Unilaterally so” according to Mike Farrell (?!) I guess if I believed that the UN was employing omniscient beings as inspectors, I might have as much blind faith as Farrell does. But since I gave up my childish illusions years ago (and with it my peace of mind), a few questions arise.

Isn’t it only possible for the party hiding the weapons to be aware of what the total amount of their weapons is? Therefore aren’t the Iraqis - not the inspectors - the only ones who can possibly know what percentage of their toxic chemicals, virulent bacteria cultures, and fissile nuclear material were found and what percentage remain hidden? Second, if the Iraqis are so cooperative, as Farrell suggests, why were only 95% of these items found? Since they apparently are eager to help us, why aren’t they offering 100% compliance? Finally, even if the 95% estimate is correct, what percentage of a cache of illegal weapons of mass destruction should be allowed to stay hidden? Is it OK for Iraq to keep 5% of its anthrax spores, canisters of mustard gas, and suitcase nukes? Is that what you feel is fair, Mike Farrell? Will that make you feel safe, Mike Farrell? (Note - once you’ve disdainfully italicized a man’s name, there’s really nothing more to say.)

Monday, December 16, 2002

Deep in Indian Country

Last week, at a meeting of my local Republican organizing group I was speaking with a gentleman who had run for state senate in our district and had been rather soundly defeated by the DFL incumbent. He informed me that our senate district was the most heavily Democratic of any in the Twin Cities metropolitan area outside of the the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I live in the "inner ring" suburb of St. Louis Park just west of Minneapolis and while I had always known that it leaned towards the Democrats I never knew to what extent. A look at the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State's web site confirmed that I'm definitely in the minority when it comes to political persuasion. Check out these numbers (Democrats listed first) in my senate district (37,000 voters turned out) from this year's election remembering that Republicans won nearly every state wide office in Minnesota except attorney general:

US Senator
Mondale 57%
Coleman 40%

US House of Representatives District 5
Sabo 62%
Mathias 33%

State Senator
Kelley 59%
Freeman 35%

State House 44A *This is the only race that a Republican won in my district
Folliard 47%
Rhodes 49%

State House 44B
Latz 55%
Peilen 41%

Moe 46%
Pawlenty 36%
Penny 15%

Secretary of State
Humphrey 50%
Kiffmeyer 41%

State Auditor
Johnson 51%
Awada 37%

Attorney General
Hatch 60%
Kelly 35%

It gets even scarier when I bring it down to the precinct level. We're talking about my 'hood now. My people. My neighbors. This is how my precinct (1099 voters) went down:

US Senator
Mondale 59%
Coleman 39%

US House of Representatives District 5
Sabo 64%
Mathias 32%

State Senator
Kelley 60%
Freeman 34%

State House 44B
Latz 58%
Peilen 38%

Moe 48%
Pawlenty 35%
Penny 14%

Secretary of State
Humphrey 52%
Kiffmeyer 38%

State Auditor
Johnson 53%
Awada 35%

Attorney General
Hatch 61%
Kelly 34%

And I have friends who ask me why I don't run for office? Who do you think I am? Custer?

Damn Yankees and Yoah Damn Inner'et

After my post last week casting a disparging light on Trent Lott's home state of Mississippi I was a bit concerned that I might have offended some of the vast Fraters readership. However, upon further investigation I find that unlikely as I discovered that Mississippi has the distinction of ranking last in the U.S. with only 26.3 percent of state households having Internet access as well as holding down the 50th spot in the percentage of state households with computers with 37.2 percent.

In the unlikely event that someone from Mississippi was able to gain access to my post the fact that Mississippi ranks dead last in literacy would probably mean that they wouldn't be able to read it anyway. And if one of those lucky Mississippians who could read did catch my post and got angry about it they might not be around too long anyway as ole Miss also is the bottom of the heap in terms of state health rankings as well.

As far as I can tell Mississippi's greatest contribution to the U.S. might just be the boost in self esteem it gives other states by consistently underperforming them in a wide range of areas. In fact the state motto Arkansas might as well just be Thank God for Mississippi as this humorous piece suggests.

We Won't Have Al Gore To Kick Around Anymore?

Sniff. Say it ain't so Al. I was counting on a solid twenty three more months of laughing at and ridiculing Al Gore before the 2004 election. Now where will the humor come from? Joe Lieberman? Dick Gephardt? Tom Daschle? John Edwards? John Kerry? Chris Dodd? None of them can hold a candle to Al in terms of mockability. Sure there's always Al Sharpton but that's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Did I really hear a rumor Gary Hart might make a comeback? Please say it's true.

That the Democratic reaction to Gore's news seems almost uniformily positive shows how fearful they were of another Gore-Bush contest. My favorite comment on the matter so far is this:

"The devil we knew is gone," Republican pollster Whit Ayres said.

Bring on the devils we don't know. And hope that one of them act as ridiculous as Al Gore. We all need a good laugh.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Just Let The Rockers Rock

Today I've been thinking about presidents and presidential wannabes and how musically uncool they all are. And that's fine with me - I want them to be able to run the country and don't want them riffing on about how they love the Nuggets box set or how punk rock changed their life.

Al Gore announced today that he won't be running for president in 2004. I can't stand him mostly because I can't stand his wife. Today I blasted my way through the Beastie Boys first album, Licensed To Ill. I remember when it was at its height of popularity and Tipper was on TV sniffing about the Beastie Boys, who "rap about angel dust and shooting AIDS victims." (After all these years and many listens, I still haven't heard that second one. But I was a hero for a day when I changed their "all the fine ladies are making a fuss, but I can't pay attention 'cause I'm on that dust" to "all the fine ladies are having a fit, but I can't pay attention 'cause I'm drunk on Schmidt.")

I'm exaggerating just a little, but Licensed To Ill demonstrated that the American melting pot does wonders in the realm of music. Think about it - three Jewish kids collaborated with producer/metal maniac Rick Rubin and rapped their way through a hilarious 45-minute masterpiece. Beat and riffs were supplied most notably by Led Zeppelin, but also by War, the Jimmy Castor Bunch, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. And Tipper had a problem with the lyrical content? You can't trust anyone who doesn't smile when hearing "reached in the Miller cooler, grabbed the cool Bud." You can't trust anyone who is married to someone like that either.

Meanwhile, over at the Pulse of the Twin Cities, the always-entertaining Tom Hallett shares anecdotes about how the terminally unhip Kennedys attempted to be groovy at the White House. Hallett then goes on to come up with his own imaginary Bush White House mix album. But his best passage is this in-passing cheap shot at Eric Clapton: I can't for the life of me figure out why, when he works with cool musicians like Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and John Lee Hooker, they die, but when he works with dorks like N' Sync and Gloria Estefan, they live forever. That's some f**ked-up mojo for a dude they once called "God."

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Squelching Dissent or Whatever

The 'Win Without War' media blitz, otherwise known as The Night of 100 Righteously Dissenting and Rapidly Descending Stars, seems to have passed us by without too much damage done to the foundations of our government and culture. In fact, it didn’t survive even one 24 hour news cycle. A dismal opening weekend such as this is enough to sink the prospects of any mainstream movie and to seriously damage the careers and future employment opportunities of the stars involved. But I guess that’s nothing new for the star of such blockbusters as “Wet Hot American Summer” and “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.” In fact, Janeane Garofolo just might consider this latest venture a relative smashing success, as she did get some prime time coverage on CNN and Fox News.

Here’s some of her wisdom, from a December 10 CNN interview with Leon Harris:

HARRIS: You know, that's the first thing somebody's going to think when they see the names that are on this letter that's going around right now and they see and hear you on television, they're just going to say, you know what, here's another case of these liberals out in Hollywood, all these famous actors and musicians with a lot of time and money on their hands.

GAROFALO: Well, first of all, liberal, if you look at the definition in the "American Heritage Dictionary," liberal is not a bad thing to be. So somehow why that's a dirty word I don't know, but that's really irrelevant.

And also, there's other names on this list besides actors. As I said, there's people from the military and diplomatic community and people from other walks of life on this list. And just because somebody's in the entertainment industry doesn't make their point of view less valid as pertains to, you know, war or what have you or various other political views.

HARRIS: So then, what do you say to those who say that may be the case, but doesn't this say something about your level of patriotism? Does this say that you aren't patriotic Americans...

GAROFALO:Well, why would this be unpatriotic? Patriotism is the love of country. Right? You want to see Americans safe. You want your country protected. You feel that a preemptive strike makes your country less secure, not more secure. It's also patriotic to embrace democracy, which means speaking out if you feel something is being done in your name that is morally wrong.

So I would say that accusing people of being unpatriotic or anti- American is a bully's way of trying to undermine people's opinions or squelch dissent or whatever, however you want to label it. It's just not a very intelligent thing to say. And so -- but I also feel like, again, just because somebody's an actor doesn't make them an unimportant person. And you know, the actors are just a small part of people. It's just irrelevant what people do for a living as pertains to this. I'm sorry, did I...

HARRIS: That's okay. Listen. I'll tell you, we kind of like actors and actresses around here, so...

GAROFALO: Thank you. But also, you got -- you know, people just tend to book actors and actresses -- I really wish I wasn't here being the sort of inarticulate spokesperson, believe me, but it seems like the easiest way to get the word out is you know I've made a handful of mediocre movies, but I'm here, right? You know, I would rather that someone like Scott Ritter or Howard Zinn or Lawrence Korb or, you know, was here. I wish they were. I wish you'd book -- you know, I wish you'd book Noam Chomsky
. [emphasis added].

Noam Chomsy!? My “Baran-Wallerstein Revision of the Immiserization Thesis” early alert warning system just went off (yours too?). As Lee Harris explained in his article “The Intellectual Origins of America-Bashing”, (linked to in a posting on Fraters this past Thursday) Noam Chomsky is one of the leading proponents of this theory. A theory which is nothing more than Marxism, wearing the latest radical chic clothing, so useful idiots like Janeane Garofalo can appreciate it.

But perhaps I’m being too harsh on Ms. Garofalo. Maybe she’s not a useful idiot at all. Maybe she knows exactly what she’s advocating and is only tempering her words under the guise of patriotism and dissent so they will be more palatable for the unwashed masses. So which is it Janeane? Are you a useful idiot or are you a radical Marxist seeking to overthrow the economic and political structure of this country? Come on, answer up, it should be a simple question for someone as intelligent and important as you profess to be.

Since I do not have the power to subpoena her on this matter (yet!) I don’t expect a reply. Which is further evidence that we may need to revive the Congressional Committee on un-American Activities. No, not to intimidate her in any way. We simply need answers. And the names, personal habits, and political beliefs of all her known associates. Relax, these are just preventative measures to ensure future acts of violence are not done to the American people. Like the cast of Mystery Men reuniting for a sequel.