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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Got Religion?

After reviewing data from a new Pew poll that says Americans are largely in support of putting the ten commandments in public buildings, both Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum argue that Democrats would be well advised to abandon this particular fight in favor of ones that matter -- namely, reproductive and gay rights, economic issues and foreign policy. Now, if I thought trading off one would guarantee the other, I might buy it. But consider:

Of Americans polled,

. Less than 50% can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis)
. More than a third think Billy Graham delivered the Sermon on the Mount
. 25% don't know why Easter is celebrated
. 12% think Noah's wife was Joan of Arc
. 80% of born-again Christians (including GWB) think it is the Bible that says "God helps them that help themselves" (it was Benjamin Franklin)
. 64% say they are too busy to read the bible
. 80% say the bible is confusing

I'm just not convinced that sacrificing an important principle like separation of church and state by pandering to Bill and Ted is a good idea -- I don't believe Americans hold this particular belief that deeply. The founding fathers sought to keep the government from becoming a theocracy not because they had contempt for religion, but quite the opposite -- they thought that the best way to protect religion was to keep it from becoming appropriated by politicians to further their own ends. We are an incredibly ethnically and religiously diverse nation. Attempting to turn back the clock in nostalgia for an era that never was may win a few votes for Democrats in the short term but it is no way to construct a powerful and lasting ideology that will carry us into the future.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Happy Friday Dog Blogging

Well it looks like it's goodbye to serial ass-rapist Dr. David Hager, who today announced he would no longer be available to assault women serve at the pleasure of his Majesty King George II at the FDA. Which of course had nothing to do with the Nation article relased yesterday. Hager's reply? The Nation article didn't tell all the facts, and was therefore not truthful. He did not, however, deny any of the allegations made by his ex-wife.

Kobe (pictured above) offers his parting goodbyes to Dr. Hager -- not that Kobe ever wishes anyone ill, but on the whole he thinks the nation, womankind and his mom in particular will be better off without this man making far-reaching health care decisions for women in this country. Kobe is well aware that whoever takes Dr. Hager's place will probably be just as bad or worse, but he will stand against that one too when the time comes. A dog can only do so much, you know.

In the hope that your weekend is an excellent one, Kobe would like to provide you with some theme music -- Soul Sides has two rare Jurassic 5 cuts and Jim at Vinyl Mine has one of his patented killer Coffee and Cigarettes mixes -- this one featuring a DJ Tripp mash-up of Missy Elliot, as well as tracks by Sleater-Kinny and Viva Voce. And over at Stereogum -- well, words just can't describe the new Paul Anka cover of Blackhole Sun. You'll just have to listen for yourself (I actually dig it). And I'm truly sorry I didn't post the mash-up of Yaz's Don't Go and Veruka Salt's Seether before it came down, it's a gem. If you want it email me and I'll see if I can figure out how to send it.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Great Moments in Republican Family Values

James Ellroy once said "I'm a writer for the whole family -- if your family's name is Manson."

That pretty well describes my feelings about the term "family values" every time I hear it invoked by GOP footsoldiers. You probably caught the revelations today about the ultra-incompetent Dr. David Hager, President Horse Cock's appointment to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the FDA, the man who almost single-handedly kept Plan B Contraceptives from becoming available OTC and recommended that women could overcome PMS with prayer (and based on that alone let me tell you right now he can just Fuck Right Off), who now stands accused of sodomizing his wife against her will for seven years. As a result people like Elayne Riggs and Shakespeare's Sister have been suggesting that someone with a strong stomach catalog the veritable panoply of GOP sex scandals that seem to rise like swamp gas through the wingnut wasteland every day.

Well my stomach is not that strong. But as my contribution to the cause I'm listing three of my all-time favorites Republican tartuffes. They also serve to highlight one of my favorite themes of wingnut hypocrisy -- when they talk about respect for "family values" what they're really defending are the privileges of patriarchy to do whatever they damn well please without consequence or responsibility. So without further ado:

1. John Schmitz: Never heard of him? He was a big California Republican during the 70s, a member of the John Birch society who thought Reagan and Nixon were liberals. He won a US House seat in 1970 trumpeting family values. "They like to be called gays," he said. "I prefer to call them queers." He described pro-choice supporters as "a sea of hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces," and made a career decrying America's moral decrepitude. When George Wallace was shot and dropped out of the 1972 Presidential race Schmitz stepped in and ran as the candidate for the American Independent Party, garnering 1 million votes.

He had a picture-perfect family and a cheerleader daughter named Mary Kay he liked to call "Cake" who absolutely adored him. But all was not as it seemed to be. In 1982 a woman named Carla Stuckle was accused of child abuse and was forced to name the father of the child as a condition of his return -- and she named her former professor, John Schmitz, who it turned out had another family on the side. Schmitz acknowledged that the boy was his, as well as the child's older sister, but he said "I do not and will not support him financially. It is her responsibility to take care of him." Conservative voters had slightly different standards in the 80s, I guess, because it ended Schmitz' career. When Stuckle died the two children were taken in by psychic Jeanne Dixon, and when Dixon died in 1997 the children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.

Young "Cake" was evidently devastated by the experience. Or so she claimed when she was on trial years later for statutory rape under her married name, Mary Kay LeTourneau.

2. Beverly Russell: Who could forget Newt Gingrich salivating over the Susan Smith tragedy? "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things," he said. "The only way you get change is to vote Republican."

Of course, nobody in the ever-vigilant media asked Newt what he thought when it was later revealed that Smith had been molested as a young girl by her stepfather, Beverly Russell, a big Republican leader in South Carolina who was also a local organizer of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition that championed "family values" and "school prayer" as Republican virtues. Smith had attempted suicide twice, at 13 and 18, and at 15 had told authorities that her stepfather had been sexually molesting her. Russell admitted the molestation at the time to a social-service worker who investigated the allegations, but he agreed to seek counseling and the case against the prominent businessman was quickly closed by law enforcement.

At Smith's trial Russell admitted to having sex with her two months before the murders. Newt and his "pro-family" forces went on to dismember the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in the House. Because a man's home, you know, is his castle.

3. Bob Barr: I guess it's because of Bob Barr's prominent role in the Clinton impeachment hearings that his story always galls the hell out of me. He is Mr. Family Values himself, responsible for drafting the Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage, who is himself twice-divorced and has failed to pay child support to the children of his first two wives. He was also photographed licking the whipped cream off of two strippers at his inaugural party. Which is probably what he was referring to when he said "The flames of hedonism, the flames of narcissism, the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundation of our society, the family unit." He just forgot to add "and a set of well-formed bazoombas."

Barr has also risen to power as a screaming champion of the anti-abortion movement. He claimed in 1992 that he would do "everything in his power" to stop a family member from having an abortion -- even if they had been raped. Any family member, that is, except his wife, who claims that in 1983 he supported her in her decision to have an abortion -- even drove her to the clinic and paid for the procedure.

Morality, I guess, is just something Congress must impose upon poor people.

I think most of us on the left just accept the notion that the deviance and amorality these men see everywhere are really just projections of their own shadow personae thrown up against the screen of the world that surrounds them. And I have a deep suspicion that many of their supporters admire this quality in them, though perhaps unknowingly. As Jung noted, the failure to acknowledge and integrate one's shadow persona can give it incredible, near-demonic power that the individual is quite helpless to control. It may go a long way toward explaining the list of morally outrageous behavior that seems to be growing longer every day.

So, have at it! Who's your favorite Republican "family values" hypocrite? Please feel free to add to this list in the comments, or better yet, write about your top three favorite and put it up as a trackback. I'd love to see a daisy chain chronicling GOP perversions flowering across the internets.


Senate Foreign Relations Wrap Party at Plato's Retreat

I for one am delighted that the Bolton side show has proceeded to the floor of the Senate. Larry Flynt's credentials as a smut peddler are impeccable, and if he says Disco Bolton is a whore-mongering perv of O'Reillian proportions I say well, Larry knows his stuff, who am I to argue, it is now the solemn duty of the United States Senate to investigate these allegations.

Larry Flynt would be the most exciting wheelchair presence on the floor of the Senate since Charles Ruff. He would also provide much-needed relief to the cable news outlets who are bruised and beaten this week after having been suckered once again into 24/7 coverage of a story with no payoff -- first by a pop-eyed racist klepto with fake knockers who ditched her abstinence-happy groom at the altar, and now by a national security crisis perpetrated by Wrongway Feldman.

Larry. America needs you, man.

Update: Wolcott also revisits the Plato's Retreat era with recollections of "an entire lost realm of chest hair, gold medallions, platform shoes, bellbottoms, rubber mats, frizzy Afros on white people, and the birth of porn video," and notes that "The United States needs to attract allies, not drive them away with an unfortunate display of satyriasis." All hail.


P.S. Fuck Michael Crichton

Like most good liberals, I am very concerned about the environmental impact of our deeply profligate and wasteful consumption patterns, especially in a country whose energy policy is dictated by Texas oil men heavily indebted to fundamentalists who look forward to the End of Days like it was Coachella. However, being a layman of the non-scientific sort, I am easily confused -- when I read articles about how all the Alpine glaciers could be gone in the next 50 years, or the fact that the gulf stream may be stopping, how do I really know this is mankind's handiwork, and not just normal fluctuations in environmental conditions like Michael Crichton would have us believe?

That's why I'm happy when science types like our good friend The Disgruntled Chemist explain the debate in a way that we scientifically challenged can understand:
How people can continue to deny that global warming is a fact is absolutely beyond me. Glaciers are melting, migration patterns are changing, and not one single peer-reviewed journal article has disputed this. One guy did a survey of 900 articles in peer-review journals; 75% agreed that human activities are responsible for global warming, 25% drew no conclusion either way, leaving...hmmm..carry the seven...ZERO % of almost one thousand articles denying that anthropogenic climate change is happening. All of the people who do so are either funded by oil companies, working for the Bush administration, or looking for some attention.
Well I guess that explains Michael Crichton.
Believe me, these people are out there, and they do an incredible disservice to the entire world by making it seem like there is no scientific consensus on global warming. There is, and it's that global climate change is a big freakin' problem. That first article is especially egregious...the quote that "[n]obody knows for sure" what the effects of pumping more CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is bullshit of the highest order. People do know: it will warm the climate. No serious scientist disputes this.
Thanks, Chemist, for alerting us to the charlatans amongst us, and for reassuring me that when I fly into LAX and worry about that thick layer of noxious smog that common sense still counts for something.

Update: Over at Arse Poetica ae is wondering much the same thing.

(photo courtesy Stock.xchng)


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Would You Like Falafel With That?

Much joy in the blog world today over O'Reilly's numbers going down the shitter. But as tempting as it is to chalk the whole thing up to Andrea Makris' revenge, the truth may be even sweeter -- it looks like demand for fabricated right-wing propaganda packaged and sold as news may be on the decline, especially if that news brand is Fox.

For the past six consecutive months, Fox News Channel's ratings in the all-important 25-54 age group (the ones most likely to buy whatever Fox advertisers are selling) have declined versus the previous month. Fox defenders were quick to leap to O'Reilly's defense today, saying everyone's ratings peaked around election time and then went down again. But in April 2005, FNC's weekday primetime demo average decreased 25% compared to the same time period a year ago. CNN's, on the other hand, increased 27%. Only on a network well-versed in promulgating the war in Iraq as an unqualified success could these numbers be smeared with lipstick and sold as a "triumph."

But that is exactly what Fox spin-meisters are doing, and despite the fact that industry analysts are atwitter about FNC's "downward spiral," there are no shortage of buyers for the bill of goods being sold by Roger Ailes and Company. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sees no need to jump on the facts in its recent article on Fox News, where they credulously declare FNC "the big dog in cable news -- and growing."

The "winning" Fox formula, as described by FNC Vice President Bill Shine:
See how the other networks cover a story. Ask whether there is another side to present or another way to report it. Then practice solid journalism.
If "solid journalism" means getting Rove on the horn to find out what your opinion is, dumbing it down to the LCD, wrapping it in a flag, applying the ever-popular all-bigot spin and then delivering it to some thick-witted perv to scream at top volume, then I suppose so.
Shepard Smith, host of the nightly news at 7, conveys a looseness that places him closer in manner to faux newscaster Jon Stewart on the Comedy Central than the broadcast network cast.
Only if John Stewart was big closet queen with a bad case of forehead shine who resolved never to be funny again.
On CBS, whose disputed report on President Bush's National Guard service led to an independent probe and staff shakeup, Ailes said: "I don't have a former attorney general investigating us. I haven't fired my anchors, I haven't fired my producers."
Because we'd be utterly lost without the quality work of Carl Cameron.


The Huffington Post, Bill Gates and Dirty Undies

A couple of years ago I was on a Patsy-and-Edina-style jaunt through Scotland with my friend Linda M. the clothing designer. Linda is an inveterate thrift shopper who loves to look at the construction of vintage lingerie. One time we were in this thirft store outside Edinburgh and this big Scottish gal with more than a passing resemblance to Robbie Coltrane threw us out because she thought we were perverts. "Yer not goin' through the used knicker bins any more!"

I mention this because the image of the used knicker bins came to mind as I was reading Arianna Huffington's much-touted new blog today, The Huffington Post. Now I wish Arianna the best, really I do, I think she is terribly smart and a basically decent person who is forward-thinking enough to recognize that the internet in general and the blogosphere specifically will play a role of ever-increasing importance in the body politic. But somebody should've briefed her on the virtues of economy, because a bunch of big names and their semi-literate ramblings do not constitute a blog any more than a plethora of yellow panties and sprung girdles constitute a Neiman Marcus lingerie department.

Most egregiously there appears to be no perspective, and as everyone in the lefty blog world knows this is what separates us from the people who post snapshots of Aunt Beth's gallstones or this year's crop of hydrangeas. If Arianna's blog is supposed to be progressive, then why is she allowing RIAA bawd Hillary Rosen to shill for Bill Gates? Amidst the mountain of crunchy elastic that comprise today's offerings, Rosen asks why Steve Jobs won't let the iPod store MP3s in addition to MP4s so Microsoft can make more money:
But keeping the iTunes system a proprietary technology to prevent anyone from using multiple (read Microsoft) music systems is the most anti-consumer and user unfriendly thing any god can do. Is this the same Jobs that railed for years about the Microsoft monopoly? Is taking a page out of their playbook the only way to have a successful business? If he isn’t careful Bill Gates might just Betamax him while the crowds cheer him on. Come on Steve – open it up.

Why am I complaining about this? Why isn’t everyone?
Well, Hilary, let me spell it out for you. You've obviously been going to GOP frame school and trying to give a pro-consumer spin to your lobbying efforts, but as any Audioslave-worshipping bong load-pulling 12 year-old can tell you, the MP4 is a superior format. Why should Steve Jobs crap-up his infinitely superior technology so Bill Gates can make a few more bucks? Yes, you are right, I see a consumer riot on the horizon. Millions of teens casting off their iPods and smashing them to bits in a shitstorm of indignant socialist rage, all in support of Poor Beleaguered Bill. You are Nostra-fucking-damus and Cassandra rolled into one, you are. I suggest you get the ball rolling by dropping John Avarosis a line. He certainly knows how to get things done, and I'm sure your tale of woe will send him into paroxysms of blind fury.

Anyway, Arianna -- we were on the topic of economy. Take a look at Roger Ailes' column from yesterday. Roger had one post. One post. An exercise in that "brevity is the soul of wit" thing -- about Bush's triumphant arrest of the man considered to be "third in command" who turned out to be mostly just an intern for Al-Quaeda:
The suggestion is that the Administration confused al-Libbi with Anas al-Liby.

If Scooter Libby and Liddy Dole turn up missing, check Guantanamo Bay.

On second thought, don't.
A former close associate of Bin Laden now living in London laughed: "What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying."
Yeah, but so did Colin Powell, and they called him third in command too.
One American official tried to explain the absence of al-Libbi's name on the wanted list by saying: "We did not want him to know he was wanted."
"Otherwise, he'd just take us for granted."
Now, that's some quality blogging. One tight, cogent post can be hard to come by, and Jeebus don't I know it. But quantity is no substitute for quality. I realize some growing pains are to be expected, and you are a bright woman and a terrific writer, so I have every confidence you will overcome these initial hurdles. But at the end of day one, just so we're clear: Roger Ailes = La Perla, Huffington Post blog = yellowing pile of lint-balled Fruit of the Looms.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Jonah and Derb Go to Hooters

Jonah: I must say, I thought the Hooters gals were genuinely enjoying themselves. Well, mine was, anyway.

And she really didn't want to take your money, did she. But you insisted, right?

If those girls were smiling it's because you two suckers just scream "field trip to Gucci's."

(via TBogg)


Happy Monday from Katie and Lucy

Katie and Lucy were on the beach discussing Intelligent Design this morning. Lucy has been reading the Rude Pundit and was quite taken with his thoughts on the subject, which she shared with us:
"Intelligent design" is such a cutely ironic name, in the "Clear Skies Initiative" school of obfuscative rhetoric, because you have to be a complete fucking moron to believe in it. It's Christianity without mentioning Christ, because, if, say, the universe was really just shat out of the anus of a dark Baal-like deity, it'd totally fuck-up the whole "intelligent design" thing (but, goddamn, what a laugh we could all have, no?).
Katie then noted, with her characteristic understated irony, that the one quote-unquote "expert" scientist they trotted out before the Kansas Board of Education to support ID theory, an embryologist named Jonathan Welles, is also a a member of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church.

Kobe (not pictured), still chortling at the way potty-mouth Lucy cleverly contrived to say all those bad words, really just wanted Katie to stop hogging the tennis ball. He had to acknowledge, however, that the conversation between three dogs on a beach in Oregon was probably more intelligent than was possible to find on the subject in the entire state of Kansas, and certainy at the NRO.

Kobe would like it known that he also wishes you a good week.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Time to Change the Colostomy Bag, Grandpa

I caught Jack Golden Parachute Welch on This Week pimping his new book Winning,dispensing chestnuts of wisdom from his experiences as Chairman of GE (forcing NBC to call the 2000 election for GWB not among them) and ranting about the great and fundamentally healthy state of the American economy today. Well, Jack is worth about a billion dollars so I'm sure things for him are simply tits -- he certainly has confounded those negative scolds who claim money can't buy love. But others may not have such a rosy estimation of the status quo. Per The Center for American Progress (via Skippy):
For the period 2000-2004:

the financial markets

s&p 500 -15%
nasdaq -36%
dow jones -5.3%

consumer income and expenses and standard of living
price of a gallon of gas +46%
real value of the minimum wage -7%
median household income -4%
average cost of 4-year public college +24%
poverty rate +11%
americans filing for bankruptcy +33%
annual increase in prescription drug prices (from 4.1% t0 6.8%) +68%
number of americans without health insurance +18%

federal finances
federal debt +39%
monthly trade deficit +75%
annual trade deficit +53%

the dollar
dollar versus euro -30%
dollar versus yen -11%

consumer debt
home mortgage borrowing +100%
total outstanding consumer debt +28%
household debt as a percentage of assets: +20%
household debt as a percentage of gdp +21%
Jack's last book was entitled Jack: Straight From the Gutand many reviewers noted that it probably did, in fact, issue from some part of Jack's alimentary canal.

Well at least he's not banging on about family values.