Saturday, September 04, 2004
I hope that you have fun and enough rest and relaxation. Don't labor too much, in other words.
This is sent early in case I get infected with an Angry Writing bug in the near future. Now that I've been nice it's ok for me to rave and rant to my heart's content, isn't it?
Friday, September 03, 2004
Watching the RNC made me conscious of the large number of Republican men who have jaws like nutcrackers. Maybe they all suffer from TMJ disorder or something, but looking at them made me feel that one would have to pry their jaws open like those of a pitbull who has gotten hold of someone's sleeve or throat. How does one get a jaw like that? Were these people born that way or is the stiff jaw a consequence of decades of wild rage swallowed?
Well, it has not been swallowed much for the last twenty years or so, given that much of it has spilled all over the American public. And this has caused the stiff-jaw syndrome to spread. I'm beginning to see it in the faces of non-conservatives, and sometimes even in my own divine reflection.
Jaws are miraculous things, of course. There they hang, barely attached to the skull, but ready to chew, grind and chop like mad. I respect them a lot, but I don't think that they need to be so stiff and mechanical looking to work.
Take my dogs. They have enormous maws with large pink tongues and lots of vampire-type teeth. Yet their jaws are held in a relaxed manner, easily swaying as the dogs run or dripping saliva at the sight of a doggie biscuit. I bet they don't suffer from TMJ disorders, either. Wingnut politicians have a lot to learn from dogs.
Try this experiment: Stand on your head and try to open and close your jaw by moving not the jaw but the skull itself. Can it be done? I doubt it. That's how wonderful the jaws are!
In three days in a row, Code Pink managed to infiltrate the Republican National Convention. Imagine this: a women's peace organization using the color pink managed to get through all the incredible security arrangements of this administration! I find this truly mindboggling, and perhaps a significant message from the higher powers.
Here is what happened yesterday:
...Thursday night at the front of the California delegation section when -- in the middle of Bush's speech -- June Brashares, 40, of San Francisco, an activist with Code Pink, stood up on her chair and unfurled a banner that read, "Bush lies, people die.''
Just minutes before, the blue-suited Brashares had been in the crunch of delegates and press in the aisle when former Gov. Pete Wilson graciously offered his seat with a prime sight line to President Bush. Brashares was wearing an alternate delegate pass, and I stepped aside to let her sit down.
It was 50 feet from the president and three rows behind Gerald Parsky, the chairman of the California delegation and chairman of the UC Board of Regents.
Brashares looked grateful and said her feet were killing her. During the speech, she started to stand up on her seat numerous times, holding onto cardboard signs of support for the president. She waved a tiny American flag.
Just more than 40 minutes into Bush's speech of longer than an hour, Brashares jumped on the chair, yelling "Bush lies," and holding up her homemade banner.
Later the same night another Code Pink member did something even more shocking:
Later, another Code Pink activist, Jodie Evans, 49, of Los Angeles, stood up in a seat under the Fox News skybox and pulled off her dress, exposing her pink lingerie with a hand-written message: "Fire Bush - Women say bring the troops home now."
There is a lovely surreal flavor to all of this.
And I am very happy about that. George Bush accepted the Republican nomination as expected (though I was hoping for some exciting developments here). He also gave a very long and a very boring speech in which he offered something for everybody, including working women! (they get flex time which, by the way, pays less), which didn't get much of an applause from the Republican faithfuls. The unborn were mentioned, something was said about the horrors of religious discrimination, Kerry was bashed, something was said in Spanish, God was implied to be on Bush's side and there was a lot of stuff about how all the things will now be done that were promised four years ago but were not done since. And then there was lots of war-talk, of course, and how everybody in the Middle East is very happy now. As I type this from memory some details may have been a little distorted. But I clearly remember a protester who got through somehow. So the president who vows to keep us safe can't keep his own Convention safe.
However, the well-known liberal rag called New York Times concludes as follows about the success of the RNC:
The predominant view in New York was that the Republicans had successfully inflicted some damage on Mr. Kerry, but to do so they had to spend considerable time on the attack and present a tough image to the viewing public before an election that will be decided by voters in the middle. Whether this success came at any cost will be determined later.
Interesting, isn't it? To see whether smears and lies and half-truths are more effective in determining the election results than the dislike of the way they were presented? But I suspect that the Republicans aren't trying for the undecideds anymore at all. They were speaking directly to the wingnuts and tried to make it sound unpleasant so that as few of the undecideds would bother to go out and vote at all. The wingnuts will come out in hordes, of course, so this is not a bad strategy for Rove to choose. We'll see if it works, though I hope it won't naturally. I am still relatively sane, and now I can stop listening to politicians for a while! Yes!
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Meaning that I can hardly drag myself out of bed these days. I can't blog about this crap much longer without going craziers than I already am, but I can't stay away, either. Help!
Anyway, here are some of the thoughts that race around my tired brain right now:
First, the Republican platform indeed is more restrictive than any of the previous ones about abortion. Not only does it include the human life amendment proposal to the Constitution (that life starts at conception) but it also pledges to support anti-choice judges. Thus, there will be a Litmus test for all judges under a Republican regime. By the way, I can see my copy of the Handmaid's Tale from where I type. You should probably buy yours if George gets re-elected. It's a good guidebook. (A joke, though not much.)
Second, it strikes me as surrealistic that the whole tenor of the Republican National Convention is that of a struggling minority party: the anger, especially. Yet the reality is that the Republicans are ruling the presidency, the Senate and the House, and that their money is ruling the media. So how come so angry? Who is stopping them from doing whatever they wish? I read the same anger from Republican on the internet, too, and wonder the same thing. What would be enough for them? Anything at all?
Third, the other emotion much in the foreground of the RNC is fear. We are supposed to be afraid of the terrorists and we are supposed to be afraid of John Kerry because he's too wimpy to fight terrorism. We are supposed to be scared of the French and the United Nation, too. This is to prepare us to jump in the all-sheltering God-ordained lap of Papa Bush tonight, when he will open his arms wide and talk about good things and calm things and the great nation that is us.
Maybe he'll protect me against Dick Cheney and Zell Miller? I had a nightmare last night after watching those two speak. It had many scenes of climbing up fire-ladders with something slavering and foaming inching up the wall behind me.
Via a commenter on Atrios whose name I failed to take down.
A New Yorker in a bar turns to the man next to him during the RNC and asks:
"Do you want to hear a dittohead joke?"
The man answers:
"Before you tell it you should know that I'm a dittohead and so is the man next to me and so is the man next to him. Do you still want to tell the joke?"
"Nah" says the New Yorker.
"I don't want to explain it three times."
What can I say? It was what might be expected, perhaps, given that the wingnuts had minded their manners for so long. Tonight was the night of the pitbulls.
Here are some quotes from Cheney:
From the beginning, the President made clear that the terrorists would be dealt with - and that anyone who supports, protects, or harbors them would be held to account. In a campaign that has reached around the world, we have captured or killed hundreds of Al-Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down, and the Taliban driven from power. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Seventeen months ago, he controlled the lives and fortunes of 25 million people. Tonight he sits in jail.
Notice how deftly Iraq was slipped in there? As if it was part of the war against terrorism. Which it isn't, just to be picky.
George W. Bush is a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. He is a person of loyalty and kindness -- and he brings out these qualities in those around him. He is a man of great personal strength -- and more than that, a man with a heart for the weak, and the vulnerable, and the afflicted. We all remember that terrible morning when, in the space of just 102 minutes, more Americans were killed than we lost at Pearl Harbor. We remember the President who came to New York City and pledged that the terrorists would soon hear from all of us.
This I don't get. Was going to New York evidence of Bush's loyalty and kindness? Silly me, I thought that it was part of the job description of the president when the country is at risk. And never mind all that threatening of terrorists. Osama bin Laden has not been caught, terrorist acts are up in the world and the U.S. military is fighting in Iraq, a country from which exactly zero of the 9/11 murderers hailed.
But all this was expected stuff from the war hammer of the Republican party. He's supposed to provide the contrast to George Bush tomorrow night and to make the president look downright reasonable in comparison. Or so I have been told.
The rest of his speech was about John Kerry. I thought that this was the Republican Convention, yet the most talked about person so far has been the rival candidate for the presidency. The Republicans even invited a Democrat to talk about John Kerry, though an unusual type of Democrat to be sure: Zell Miller.
Miller's outburst was entertaining, but I hesitate to comment on it very much as I suspect that he might not be quite himself. Though I must mention that he said that he knocked on the door of Bush's soul and found someone home. Now this is one visit I would have liked to eavesdrop on.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
This doesn't refer to the pulpit with crosses that is being used in the speeches at the RNC, but the contract that the Republican party has written on America. It's not that different from previous years, but it's worth pointing out that there are two important pillars of social conservatism in it, and they are a human life amendment and the marriage amendment to the Constitution.
These amendments declare that life begins at conception, not at some other time, and that same-sex marriages as well as civil unions and other arrangements of similar sort would be made impossible. Note that not only same-sex marriages would be banned; even less controversial arrangements would become illegal. This is compassionate conservatism.
The human life amendment has several problems. The major one for me is that I believe that life begins much earlier than at conception and that all Catholic priests, night ejaculators and menstruators are baby-killers. So the Republican party is far too slack and liberal here. I suspect that they've picked conception as the point because it makes it easier to limit the cultural war just to pregnant women. Everybody knows that pregnant women should have no human rights.*
The marriage amendment also has its problems. To really defend marriage, all people should be banned from entering into this holy state and thereby staining it by their less-than-rapturous intentions. I will not be satisfied until the marriage amendment bans heterosexuals also. Only then with the real purity of marriage shine through!**
"Ownership" is a new buzzword in the platform. We are going to have an ownership economy, everybody! This means that Social Security accounts will be freed from the horrible straightjackets of government control, and everybody can then learn about how stockmarkets work (may I offer you about twenty books that I have read on it?) and enjoy Las Vegas-level pleasures of gambling with their retirement incomes on Wall Street. Other aspects of ownership economy are not as much stressed in the document. For example, who will the owned ones be? I have my suspicions.
The rest of the platform consists of all the expected stuff: terrorism, terrorism, (Iraq), terrorism, terrorism, and so on.
* This is a joke.
**This is also a joke.
No, I'm not going to admit that I might not be divine. Just to prove that, I had a blazing, thunderous fight with someone today. I only seem to fight people who have power over me which is not good for my financial position or my career. But that's how it is. Maybe everybody else is so firmly under my thumb that they don't dare to argue with me?
The background for this fight is a long period of resentment on my part about money and other earthly matters. I prepared myself very carefully for this discussion; I made long lists of pros and cons, studied psychology guides about how to argue constructively ( never blame the other person for your feelings, always imply that the problem is a shared one that can be solved with cooperation, be prepared to compromise), and I practised in front of a mirror.
It all started exceedingly promisingly. I said all the right things in a calm and friendly way, and I was feeling smug with my mature approach. Then I was called paranoid and other less flattering things, and I lost it. I tried to retrieve the calm feeling by going over my 'thirty-five ways to kill someone with your bare hands", but that didn't work. So.
The problem is that when I get going with my viper tongue I'm deadly, and what's said can't be unsaid. Besides, it was all true. He is as thick as a wall of bricks and as subtle, too. But maybe I shouldn't have said it.
Enlightenment seems to be a long way in the future right now. Oh well, better to travel than to arrive.
This is a continuation of two earlier posts (here and here).
7. "Good and Evil"
Good is what Republicans do. Evil consists of worldwide terrorists, countries that the Republicans don't like and the U.S. Democratic party, the so-called liberal media, feminists, pro-choice people and gay-activists. Plus anybody else who might disagree with the Republican platform.
8. "Un-American", "Treasonous"
Un-American activities are treasonous. They include, but are not limited to, any criticism of president Bush's policies and especially the war in Iraq. There is a McCarthyish flavor to these terms, and many of the same ideas apply.
Notice that Arnold's speech last night equated being a good American with being a Republican. It is not really possible to be an American in this sense and to vote for the Democrats. It is certainly impossible to think that the Iraq war was wrong from the beginning and not to be regarded as treasonous.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke today and the Republican party listened. He told a beautiful tale of fortitude, courage and success, and the Republican party listened. He told about his dreadful roots in the third-world socialist (?) country called Austria, and his desperate struggles to somehow save up enough for the steerage to America, and how he was finally successful as the Governator of California. The Republican party listened.
They don't actually share Arnold's values at all. He's their frontman, brought in to lure the undecided voters into the Republican camp, not realizing that they will vote for The Handmaid's Tale when they think they are choosing a funny accent and a lot of muscles.
But politics is really not a serious concern in the minds of most Americans. It's not like you need a brain or some training to be a politician, after all, so why not choose Arnold and all that he stands for?
And what does he stand for? Well, he stands for the Republican party, of course. He tells us how to decide if you could be a Republican, too:
If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world, then you are a Republican! And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican!
There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people, and faith in the U.S. economy. To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: "Don't be economic girlie men!"
So Arnold also believes that calling people 'girlie men' is a Republican thing to do. As I have said before, this is supposedly intended to be a slur against homosexuals, but it is also an insult against women. (Never mind the actual history of the term; the average viewer does not know this history.) In Arnold's world a man who acts in any way like a woman might is despicable.
That's a good thing to know.
The RNC set out its agenda with respect to women yesterday. According to Womensenews Barbara Bush urged women to vote for her son:
"With George W. Bush, what you see is what you get," she said.
Well, we knew that already, Barbara. Besides, we have had four years of experience about the mysterious letter W, and we know that it doesn't mean women. You might want to read Molly Ivins' article in the latest Mother Jones. Ivins gives an excellent summary of the war that George has waged against women.
Thus, it's not surprising that women advocating for Bush had a tough job finding something that they could be joyous about:
The Bush-Cheney campaign laid out its appeal to female voters on the first day of the Republican National Convention Monday by boasting of the President Bush's character, his appointments of women to high positions and his decisions to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I can see how it would be hard to find something positive to say about Bush's domestic politics with respect to women or about his impact on the poor women of this world in general. But come on, Bush never attacked Afghanistan or Iraq for the sake of the women there. That's absolute hogwash.
Rudy Giuliani's speech at the RNC las night thanked God for George Bush being the president during the 9/11 attacks. Now I'm really confused. I thought God was on America's side? Would God then approve of a president who didn't get his act together for some time after the crisis and who later decided to attack a country from which exactly zero of the suicide bombers came? As a sort of symbolic revenge, you know.
No, I think that Rudy is trying to blame God for this mess. Not very nice!
This is the view Republican delegates have of their speakers.
Notice the red sky over the skyline of New York City? It could serve to remind everybody about 9/11. It could also remind to serve some about Sodom and Gomorrah, or the coming Apocalypse and Rapture. Notice the two crosses on the fronts of the pulpit and the lower level stand?
The setup is church-like, and that is no accident. It's intended to appeal to the base of the Republican party which now consists mostly of fundamentalists. It's also intended to imply that God is on the Republican's side, but I couldn't find that one in the Bible. In fact, the people that Jesus chased out of the temple look to me like they might have been Republicans...
Monday, August 30, 2004
How the mighty are fallen! That's me, and not only because I'm actually listening to Republican crap today. The larger reason is as follows:
I walked the dogs this morning at sunrise as usual in the local park. "Walking" here is a euphemism for the two dogs barking the last two miles in the car before the park entrance and for them then to fly out like bats out of hell, for me to look for them the longest of times and then to finally spot them on the other side of the wilderness rolling in dead squirrels. I do this every morning so there's nothing new about any of this. What was different this time was that I was late so I went to the park clad in my fancy duds and carrying a handbag (imagine a goddess with a handbag...).
Anyway, the dogs pooped as is also the custom and I picked the poops up (a good liberal here) with some recycled plastic bags. Then I put the bags in my handbag and forgot about them.
This afternoon I stopped at the supermarket for some food. At the checkout I had trouble finding my wallet in the bag and while rummaging in there one of the plastic bags broke (I think). When I finally managed to locate the wallet and triumphantly bring it to the bored cashier's attention it was covered with shit.
There is a deeper significance to this chain of events, and I am going to meditate on it now.
To continue from the previous post:
5. "Compassionate Conservatism"
This means sighing sadly and tsk-tsking while holding tight to the money bags. It also means farming out all government social services to various ultra-right wing Christian organizations who can do them very cheaply, given that they substitute drugs and therapy with prayer and brainwashing. It does notmean acting in a compassionate fashion, except in the sense that large grants will be made available for beginning struggling wingnut organizations such as the Independent Women's Forum.
6. "catastrophic success"
Thanks to Roxanne in the previous comments for reminding me about this one. Catastrophic success is what is happening in Iraq. It's winning the war so well that the peace never arrives, so it's regarded as a good thing. The more common interpretation of this term would simply abolish the second half of the term and call the outcome catastrophic. Which it is.
This is a good time to have some language lessons in wingnut-lingo so that we can all understand better the messages that will be pouring out of New York City during the week of the Republican National Convention. Here are my favorite picks:
1. "the culture of life"
This means that there should be no tampering with embryos, whether in the wombs of women or in laboratories. It does not mean that the mercury in fish couldn't kill the embryos or make them deformed. Neither does it mean that there is anything wrong with executing people in general or with waging war in Iraq in which countless numbers of hapless bypassers get blown to a stage resembling shredded wheat. And, finally, it does not mean that assault weapons should be banned.
2. "the sanctity of marriage"
This means that there should be no same-sex marriage. It does not mean that irresponsible and careless marriages should not be entered into, or that adulterous spouses should be stoned (at least not yet). Neither does it mean that marriages should not contain violence or intimidation, or that divorce and remarriage would be frowned upon.
3. "family values"
This means that all families should consist of a male breadwinner, a female housewife and many children. It also means that families should be hierarchical structures in which the man is the leader and the woman a graceful submitter, and in which the children have no say about anything. Conservative family values also cover the desire to make abortion illegal. But they have very little to say about love among family members, about respect for their needs and desires and about the intricate web that ties us all together.
This is the god of the Christian right, the god that speaks to George Bush directly, the god who is planning to have the world end soon in an Armageddon, preceded by Rapture in which good conservative Christians are lifted into the heavens as naked as they were born, while everybody else is left behind to be roughly sorted out by a Rambo Jesus. This god needs to have a war in the Middle East as the Armageddon will begin there.
"God" does not refer to non-Christian images of god, and neither does it include the loving and caring god of the New Testament in the Bible.
More terms will be explained as they are used in the Convention.
The Bush administration released a new report on global warning:
ONCE AGAIN a Bush administration scientific report blames emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for global warming, and once again the reaction of the Bush White House is to say the evidence does not warrant action. Kennebunkport is going to go the way of Atlantis by the time this administration gets serious about climate change. This week the US secretaries of energy and commerce and the president's science adviser signed a report to Congress stating that warming trends in recent decades cannot be explained by natural factors and are due to increases in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. But the report gave the administration license for additional foot-dragging by adding that the studies in the report did not "make any findings of fact that could serve as predicates for regulatory action."
Others see the new report as actually new in that the administration appears to have finally accepted the scientific evidence on global warming. What's old is that these findings are not seen as requiring any actions from the Bush administration. A nice double-think, if there ever was one:
A Bush administration report suggests that evidence of global warming has begun to affect animal and plant populations in visible ways, and that rising temperatures in North America are due in part to human activity.
The report to Congress, issued Wednesday, goes further than previous statements by President Bush. He has said more scientific research is needed before he imposes new restrictions on greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
In 2001, after the release of a National Academy of Sciences report on global warming, Bush said the concentration of greenhouse gases has increased, in large part, because of human activity, but he emphasized that other factors could have influenced warming. Referring to the NAS report, he said, "We do not know how much effect natural fluctuations may have had on warming."
Several administration officials characterized the study as a routine annual summary of scientific research on global warming. John H. Marburger, the president's science adviser, said the report has "no implications for policy."
"There is no discordance between this report and the president's position on climate," Marburger said.
It's like saying that though the new diagnosis confirms that the patient has tuberculosis, the best treatment is still to withhold the antibiotics.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Bad religious poetry! That is a fertile field. Here is a taste of it:
There is but one righteous God and that is mine.
I know, I know his gaze.
He speaks through me and his words do shine.
I run, I run in a maze.
There is but one righteous God and he is mine.
I own, I own his rage.
He is hungry and thirsty and I am his shrine.
His war, his war I wage.
There is but one true truth that I have written.
In me, in me put your trust.
And all who doubt it are righteously smitten
by God, by God in my lust.
There is but one true God and I am his servant.
He has spoken to me but he speaks no more.
His silence is fervent. I am his token.
Mine is his holy war.
Edited to add:
I wrote this about ten years ago, so it has matured nicely. Seems a lot more relevant today, in fact. What made me dig it up was hearing something on the radio which started me thinking about the meaning of religion in violent warfare, the way the certainty that god is on your side can cause human beings to become monsters, can make human beings into their self-created god's mouthpiece, and can cause such acts that would make any god or goddess weep for centuries. Religion gives people great comfort in its reassurances. But it can also give people something else that is not positive and life-affirming but of the tribe of death: the leave to relinquish conscience and personal responsibility, the leave to relinquish our god-given abilities to think and the leave to let our dark sides out while all the time pretending that they're not the dark sides.
It's the desperate search for answers, of course, that causes both the good and the bad in religion. It's human to seek for the reasons for life, to ask if there is anything after death, and it's human to grab a religious explanation which provides hope. Then it's also human to exploit this explanation to ones own benefit.
That's why I trust people who seek for answers but distrust those who think they have found the only answers.