Thursday, August 30, 2007
1. I spent three years living on the Navajo Nation and working for DNA-People’s Legal Services as a librarian and litigation support attorney. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
2. I still haven’t managed to find the right religion. I’m a Jewish convert with pagan leanings and I was raised Presbyterian. I think Jesus could have been one son of G-d in the sense that he really understood how to make that connection, but I don’t think he was the only son of G-d. As for G-d, well, I don’t have a clue what it/he/she/they are but that doesn’t mean I can’t pray to it/him/her/them, so I do.
3. I used to slice head cheese for the mob. A notorious family that owned a grocery store in a big city, not New York.
4. I have lived in New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Georgia.
5. Okay, this is really weird. I love to travel by Greyhound bus. Alone. For looooong distances. I once traveled for 6 days straight without getting off except for rest stops: Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix, L.A., up the West coast, into Vancouver, across Canada (what a drive!), and into Minnesota. It’s my version of camping out. Or at least it was. It’s been a long time.
6. I was a singer in high school and had started to develop a small following but then I started drinking and kept forgetting all the lyrics so that put an end to that. Now I have a secret desire for fame and fortune. Well. Not that secret, I guess. Someday I want to act and be in a musical. In the meantime I’m lucky enough to sing in two excellent (and gay) choral groups.
7. Other things I want to do before I die: get a tattoo. Visit Alaska.
8. I love antiquing and bargain hunting and garage sales. I am very good at finding used stuff Real Cheap The most expensive piece of furniture I own cost me $62 and it’s really beautiful. Really. But … someday it would be nice to have the option of spending a lot…Just to see what it feels like.
All righty, then. For anyone reading this, consider yourself tagged!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Anyway… The most notable thing about the post – other than the comments from her really scary readers – is the first paragraph in which Schlafly gives a litany of crazy, kooky fads from the past:
There's been self-esteem, new math, whole language, New Age, outcome-based education, school-to-work, mental health screening, school-based clinics, global education, diversity, multiculturalism, and early childhood education.Okay, wait a minute. First of all, I missed where they had New Age in school. Too bad, ‘cause that could have been interesting.
But self esteem? Mental health screening? Early childhood education? I wasn’t aware that these were “fads.” Silly me.
As for diversity, I guess Schlafly is just waxing nostalgic for those happy days before Brown v. Board of Education when everyone knew which schools they had to go to.
By the way, I can only venture into Townhall for short periods at a time. However, I’m working on increasing my tolerance for bad logic and gross distortion. Bear with me, and I’ll bring you more news as I’m able.
[W]e face an enemy that is ideologically bent, determined to achieve their objectives, and murder the innocent. They are not religious people. They may have hijacked religion, but they're not religious. I don't believe you murder innocent people to achieve political objectives and be a religious person. I just don't believe that. As a matter of fact, I believe that's the definition of evil.Yeah, GW. I do, too.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
So my favorite new term is “factual relativism.” It’s what the right wing does while it’s accusing liberals of moral relativism. I thought I made it up but other people beat me to it. Foiled again.
Anyway, factual relativism is the idea that the Universe is as we want it to be, notwithstanding any evidence we may have to the contrary.
The tobacco industry honed the technique into a precise and deadly weapon. Now factual relativism permeates government and right-wing media (and oh-all-right, probably some left-wing media, too, from time to time).
Here’s an example:
The vast majority of scientists believe that global warming is occurring and that it’s caused by human activity. Hell, even the Bush administration admits it – though in a wimpy way – on the EPA’s website. But because a few stragglers (mostly corporate tools) disagree, Bush’s radio goons feel justified in shouting that global warming is just so much liberal paranoia. Desired policy dictates the facts, instead of the other way around.
That’s factual relativism.
Now, philosophically speaking, I’m an idealist, which means I’m not sure we’re really physically here at all (honest). But even if we’re not, we all seem to perceive a universe that operates in pretty consistent ways and with pretty predictable consequences for given actions. And one of those consequences is global warming.
Notwithstanding the concession on the EPA site, factual relativism is one of Bush’s few areas of expertise. Indeed, I’ve never seen a president engage in it to the extent Bush does.
It’s one thing to argue about Darwin and evolution. Believe what you want as long as you don’t shove it in my (or my kid’s) face. But the habitability of the planet is quite another matter. Does the extreme right honestly believe that global warming is all a ruse? Or is big business purposely trying to snow the rest of us (pun intended)? Is the right consciously compromising our ability to survive on Planet Earth just for short-term dollars? Or does it just not want to believe?
Factual relativism, of course, doesn’t just affect the environment. It affects medical research, public school education, and how judges decide cases. Even scientific methodology itself (just what is scientific theory?).
What’s new, at least to me, is how fashionable factual relativism has become. The Bush administration orders EPA documents cleansed of references to global warming, and we don’t care.
We are becoming immune to evidence.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I’m no proponent of underground mining, but you’d think all the money these companies spend hacking off the tops of mountains (turning purple mountain majesties into fruited plains, if you will) would be enough to figure out how to use alternative energies. Perhaps they plan to grow corn for ethanol on top of the ex-mountains after it’s all over. A noble plan! Sheesh.
By the way, all federal regulations, including this one, are subject to a comment period. The idea is to make the agency take into account the public’s views, and then perhaps make changes to the regulation. This implies an open-minded approach, wouldn’t you say? Which is why I find it particularly interesting that “officials indicated that [the regulation] was not likely to be changed substantially” after the comment period. Hmmm. Sounds open-minded to me.
You might be thinking that this regulation is being proposed in response to the recent mining tragedies in Utah and China. If so, you are wrong. According to the article, the Bush administration has been working on this for six years.
What a coincidence that the regulation is coming out now.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
(As a librarian-type, I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know how to find old web pages. But I’m certainly glad to know now, and you can be sure my Advanced Legal Research class will learn about it, too.)
Anyway, I did a reverse phone search on the phone number and sure enough, the White Pages lists it as belonging to the Center for Security Policy. This is good, because CSP gives me the creeps and I really didn’t want to call the number to see who answers.
Thanks also to Dr. Zen, who pointed out that I was describing something called the Overton Window, a method of political maneuvering that makes bad ideas more palatable to the public by expressing even worse ideas. Very interesting stuff.
The bottom line is this: Family Security Matters is a front for the Center for Security Policy, which has direct ties to the White House and the Department of Defense. And on August 3, FSM printed an article by one of its contributing editors saying G.W. should refuse to leave the White House in 2008. Now, I think that’s just plain scary, and that’s why I thought it would make good fiction before I found out someone was actually thinking about it.
Am I predicting that Bush will try to take over the U.S. in 2008? No, I’m an optimist. But you should know that my predication skills aren’t so great. For example, I didn’t predict that we’d have a public debate about whether torture is good or bad. So, notwithstanding the utterly ridiculous image of Bush as a Roman warrior complete with oversized breastplate, I figure forewarned is forearmed.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The article was apparently posted as a “Must Read” on Family Security Matters. I say “apparently” because the article is available only via Google cache – it no longer appears on the FSM site itself, assuming that’s where it originated. (I found it via Marc Parent’s blog, Crimes and Corruption of the New World Order News.).
Of course, radical fringe nutcases abound on the Internet, and anyone can say anything here, at least for now. What makes this article notable and maybe very important is its source.
In Crimes and Corruption, Parent alleged that Family Security Matters (“FSM”) has ties to the Bush administration. If true, the appearance of Atkinson's article creates much creepier implications. Shall we take a look?
First, let’s get the article itself out of the way. Surely this guy doesn’t advocate Bush taking over the US, does he?
Okay, you’re right. He doesn’t. Actually, he advocates Bush taking over the world. Here, Atkinson says it better than I ever could:
President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life" Bush, the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wroughtSounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it? Or maybe just really bad fiction. But could it have been spawned by Bush’s administration?
by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons. (emphasis in original).
Well, that’s a good question. I was highly skeptical about any connection this article might have to the Bush administration, so I decided to check the facts.
Parent alleged that the publisher of the article, Family Security Matters, is a front group for the Center for Security Policy (“CSP”), a conservative foreign affairs think tank. He cited Sourcewatch, which does indeed say just that. Sourcewatch also says that the phone number FSM listed on its website was answered by CSP. I have not found a phone number for FSM on its website, or on White Pages or Yellow Pages, so I can’t confirm this. Right Web says that the FSM website now gives the phone number for a publicity firm, but I didn’t see this either.
I looked for independent evidence of the link between Family Security Matters and the Center for Security Policy, and I found it. CSP received a grant awarded to the Center for Security Policy “[t]o support general operations and the Family Security Matters project.” So FSM does, indeed, appear to be part of CSP.
But that doesn’t mean that the CSP has ties to the White House, so I kept digging. Here’s what I found:
The CSP’s advisory board (now called the National Security Advisory Council) has some very high-profile names on it: William Bennett, Alan Keyes, Henry Hyde, and Pete Wilson, to name just a few, plus about a bazillion retired first-tier military types. That, of course, doesn’t establish a link with the current White House.
This, however, does: One of the CSP’s advisors is Paula Dobriansky, who is currently Bush's Under-Secretary of Defense for Democracy and Global Affairs.
And that’s not all. Wikipedia reports that Jack Dyer Crouch II, the current Deputy National Security Advisor to Bush, is a member of CSP. I didn’t locate an independent source for this bit of information (didn’t look that hard, either), but it seems plausible given that he was once on the Board of Advisors.
But what about that alleged link between CSP and the Bush higher-ups like Dick Cheney? Well, that checks out, too, although it’s less direct. CSP’s 2001 annual report states that Cheney was “an earlier member of the Center’s Board of Advisors.” In addition, he and Donald Rumsfeld have provided testimonials that appear on the site.
All in all, there’s little doubt that the basic philosophy of CSP is shared by the White House. Indeed, both Sourcewatch and Donald Rumsfield state that many people associated with CSP go on to find jobs in the US Department of Defense.
Of course, none of this means that Bush and Cheney agree with Atkinson. Just because I like the New York Times doesn’t mean I agree with everything in it. Right?
Well, yes. But the cached article indicates that “Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy” was a “Must Read” article. That’s a very, very different matter.
I don’t know how many of FSC’s articles are marked “must read.” Even if it’s 100%, there are only two reasons the FSC might use that designation. Either it wants to warn us that there is mischief afoot, or it thinks the American public should take this idea for a spin around the block to see how it drives. I’m thinking it’s the latter, especially since the article links to six other articles by the same guy. Or at least, it did. I tried to link to the other articles and – what a surprise – they’re all gone! In fact, the only reference to Atkinson remaining on the FSC website is a favorable reference to his work, A Study of Our Decline (which, for your reading delight, appears on Atkinson’s own website free of charge).
Atkinson, by the way, really is a nut job and it’s no wonder the FSC wants to get rid of any reference to him. But would the FSC publish seven articles by this guy without having an idea of his politics?
Seems unlikely. It only took me about three minutes on Atkinson’s website to find this gem on political correctness:
The declared rational of this tyranny is to prevent people being offended; to compel everyone to avoid using words or behaviour that may upset homosexuals, women, non-whites, the crippled, the stupid, the fat or the ugly. This reveals not only its absurdity but its inspiration. The set of values that are detested are those held by the previous generation (those who fought the Second World War), which is why the terms niggers, coons, dagos, wogs, poofs, spastics andWell, all righty, then.
sheilas have become heresy, for, in an act of infantile rebellion, their subject have become revered by the new generation. Political Correctness is merely the resentment of spoilt children directed against their parent's values. (emphasis in original).
So let's just pretend this article is important. Just how would Bush pull off a takeover? I think he would try do it with the consent of the American people.
Here’s my scenario. First, Bush has to test public opinion and see which way the wind is blowing. Hence, the Head Cheeses at FSM have allowed Atkinson’s article to appear on the website, just to see what happens. Now, of course, they will claim they had no idea Atkinson was such a whack job but in any event, he’s no longer associated with FSM. That is, assuming they admit the articles were ever there at all.
No matter. The seed has been planted. As the story about Atkinson’s article gets battered back and forth, a few media wingnuts will begin to say, “Well, what would be so bad if Bush did refuse to leave? If the Democraps win, I hope he does just that!” Hence, Atkinson's little seed will sprout.
But the right wing media isn’t powerful enough to pull this off all by itself (is it?). Now Bush will need some kind of constitutional crisis to create chaos. It could be a major terrorist attack on our soil, but I’m thinking an easier way would be through the election process. Yet another election with questionable results. We’ve set the stage for it, after all. We don’t trust our voting process any more. We don’t trust the machines.
So what would happen if we couldn’t tell who had really won the national election? Gee, somebody would have to run the country until we figured it all out or had new elections, right? Who better than Bush? You know, just till we get it all figured out.
Now, when I was making up all this stuff, I assumed Bush would give up the White House to a Republican, but not to a Democrat. But given Atkinson’s article, I may have to rethink the premise.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Interestingly, the website for the Environmental Protection Agency (which has not yet corrected NASA’s error) specifically states: “Most of the warming in recent decades is likely the result of human activities.” Given the Bush administration’s willingness to warp scientific theories to fit its own political ends (reported here and here and here, for example), I can’t help but wonder how this sentence escaped detection and deletion.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Wait a minute. Utah has given in to the homosexual agenda? Apparently I missed the newspaper the day that happened.
In any event, it takes a seriously twisted and lonely mind to feed off the pain of innocents to get attention. It's not easy to be evil and pathetic at the same time, but once again, Fred Phelps has pulled it off.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Recently I was intrigued by an item in the Atlanta Journal Constitution: Newt Gingrich says the war is phony.
Huh? Do I hear bipartisan bells ringing?
Yes, Newt has turned into a statesman, or so he’d like you to believe. The Atlanta Journal Constitution also quotes him as saying: “We have got to get past this partisan baloney where I’m not allowed to say anything good about Hillary Clinton because 'I'm not a loyal Republican,' and she's not allowed to say anything good about me, or she's not a 'loyal' Democrat. What a stupid way to run a country."
Well, yeah. But Newt hasn’t really changed his tune –just his tactics. He's as slimy as ever, as Article III of his 21st Century Contract with America demonstrates:
Recenter on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come. We will insist on a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life.
Well, that’s a little troublesome. Guess all that poppycock about the First Amendment is a little inconvenient, so we’ll just be throwing it out. Newt also calls for making English the official language of the US and for decimating Social Security in favor of private accounts.
Somehow I don’t think he’ll be praising Hillary any time soon.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Meanwhile, on an international level, the toll for US troops killed in Iraq since March 2003 is now 3,690. That, of course, is in addition to the 69,000 to 75,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed. Not to mention all the Iraqi soldiers and the soldiers from other countries in the coalition.
How can we, as a civilized society, justify these figures?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Last year I was in the throes of mental illness and never celebrated. This year I’m in the throes of mental illness but I’m going to celebrate anyway. After all, twenty-six years ago I was in the throes of mental illness and I wasn't celebrating anything. That's progress!
So, bring on the balloons and the sparkling cider!
Friday, August 10, 2007
But Bill, what were you thinking?
During the debate Bill Richardson, who has an excellent record on gay rights – not perfect, but it’s one of the best – said, when asked, that being gay is a choice. To make matters worse, he seemed to have been caught off-guard by the question.
Richardson has a lot going for him, including foreign relations experience. The fact that he’s from New Mexico, my truly home state, is just dressing on the cake… or something. That’s why Richardson was my candidate.
But he has made a lot of gaffes for someone so on-the-ball. Richardson voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act when he was a member of Congress. That one doesn’t trouble me too much – it was a long time ago, and he’s made up for it since then. But what about when he used the Spanish word for “faggot” when he appeared on Imus? Oh, and what on earth was he doing on Imus to begin with?
Every candidate is going to screw up. Every politician will regret some votes. But I want my president working on the issues – Iraq, universal health care, and yes, gay rights. I don’t want him distracted because he’s trying to explain his latest faux pas.
Ironically, Richardson ultimately got the answer right. Following the debate, he said what he really meant was (aren’t you tired of hearing this from our leaders?), it doesn’t matter if it’s a choice or not. Equality rules, period.
He’s absolutely right about that. I’m Jewish by choice. Should that diminish my first amendment rights? Of course not. But as a practical matter, the choice issue is a useful device for helping us learn how to frame the discourse.
I want my president to have the right answers, but that’s not enough. I also expect him (or her) to study the issues.
And I just don’t believe you can be well-informed on gay issues and then get thrown by a question about choice.
That’s why Obama is most definitely beginning to turn this lesbian’s head.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Anyway….. I was working on a resume for someone who wants a job doing nonprofit work. Philanthropy. “Oh,” I thought. “How nice!” The last nonprofit person turned out to be really great. So naturally, I assumed…
Anyway….. in the course of writing this resume, I researched the organization my client used to work for. Turns out the Head Cheese of this organization is somewhere waaay right of Pat Robertson. Well, come to think of it, that’s pretty hard to do. Maybe old Pat just hides it a little better.
Anyway…… What to do, what to do? Do I sabotage the resume? Go on a diatribe about the organization? Give you little hints about who these people are so you can do the dirty work?
Naw. It wouldn’t stop the organization, and I’d just get fired. Besides, it would be wrong. (Yes, lawyers do have such thoughts from time to time. At least, ex-lawyers do.)
Instead, I’m taking the tactic advocated by my property law professor, a well-known thinker in the Critical Legal Studies movement. Sabotage the smart way. From the inside.
So, I did good work. And while I was doing good work, I learned. I learned a little more about how these organizations operate. How they portray themselves. Someday, in a way that has nothing to do with my client, I’ll apply the knowledge. Peacefully.
But in the meantime…
Ewwwwww !!!!! Little wingnuts everywhere !!!!! Get them off of me !!!!!
Wow…like, I seriously need a shower.
PS. To the FBI and CIA who will, no doubt, read this because they can: I do not necessarily subscribe to CLS beliefs. Frankly, CLS writing is really hard to read and I don't have the patience to see if I agree or not.
Anyway, today’s Faux Fact comes to you from Max Blumenthal of The Nation. In his blog entry entitled “Kill or Convert, Brought To You By the Pentagon,” Blumenthal links the creepy Pentagon, a creepy evangelical group called Operation Straight Up, and a creepy video game called Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Then, he ties it all up in a Hollywood bow by inserting creepy Stephen Baldwin. The Creepy Quadfecta.
Here are the basic facts he presents:
Stephen Baldwin has signed up with an evangelical entertainment troupe that performs for the troops. The group is also sending “freedom packets” to soldiers. These packets contain socks, baby wipes, and a nifty shoot-‘em-up video game that pits Christians against the Antichrist’s army. The freedom packets also include religious materials in English and Arabic.
Now, my complaint isn’t really so much about the accuracy of Blumenthal’s entry as it is about the quality of his discourse. If truth be told, I didn’t check all the facts in the story. That’s because I got hung up on a single phrase toward the beginning of the article:
As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game...Hmm. An “official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program,” you say? Sounds like something a person should confirm. So, I looked it up. And as I suspected, the phrase is misleading.
Blumenthal’s implication is that Operation Straight Up is an official arm of the Defense Department. It took me three reads before I realized that he’s linking OSU to the America Supports You program, not the Defense Department itself. Is it a deliberate mislead, or is it just bad writing? I haven’t read enough of Blumenthal’s stuff to know. Could be I’m just too tired to concentrate.
Anyway, here’s what I found out. America Supports You is, indeed, an entity within the Department of Defense. According to its website,
America Supports You is a Department of Defense program dedicated to connecting members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families with individuals, groups, and businesses from the community who want to support and encourage our military
men and women. America Supports You currently lists more than 275 non-profit groups that are devoted to helping our service men and women. These groups provide a multitude of services, including financial assistance, sending care packages and letters, and helping our wounded warriors.
OSU Tours is listed as one of those 275 organizations. America Supports You is kind of like the United Way with a testosterone imbalance.
Now, it’s time for your SAT question of the day. Choose the answer that is the least incorrect:
OSU is to the Department of Defense as:
a. Bush is to Cheney
b. Max Blumenthal is to Al Franken
c. Al Franken is to Stephen Baldwin
d. A student organization is to the University Board of Regents.
Get the idea? Inclusion in America Supports You does not, on its face, indicate endorsement or direct governance by the Pentagon. (Note, though, that I do not rule out a connection. In fact, a connection would not surprise me. This is, after all, the Bush administration.)
Later, Blumenthal goes on to say that OSU had a private meeting with Pentagon officials. That’s true, if you believe OSU’s own propaganda, which is clearly intended to imply Pentagon approval. But for all we know, that “meeting with officials” was really just a birthday lunch for somebody’s old Uncle Colonel Bob.
Finally, Blumenthal states:
This week, Pentagon employees and active duty service members are expected to enjoy a breakfast with Spinks and Baldwin, followed by an OSU performance in which they will receive "spiritual encouragement via a Biblical message." The events will be held respectively in the Pentagon Executive Dining Room and the Pentagon Auditorium.
Blumenthal fails to mention that this event will be hosted by the Pentagon Chaplain. Last I heard, spiritual encouragement and biblical messages were pretty standard fare at such events.
The thing is, Blumenthal didn’t have to take his cue from The Sean Hannity-Michael Savage Graduate School of Journalism and Shit-Slinging. There’s plenty of creepy stuff in this story without making stuff up. There’s at least some evidence of creepy linkage between this group and the Pentagon – linkage that poses real threats to religious freedom not only here but in Iraq. And I would be very curious to learn more about the application process for getting a listing in America Supports You. Who’s getting accepted and who’s not?
Sadly, because he engaged in uncivil discourse, Blumenthal made it easier for the Right to dismiss the very real concerns raised in the article. Can you say, “counterproductivity”?