Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The blog you take is equal to the blog you make

Well, folks, if you've noticed the lack of updates lately, there's a good reason. After a post-comps return to blogging, I happily began a post-comps return to writing--actual writing that I want to pursue and try to publish. It feels like it's been forever.

So I've decided to put on some clothes, move out of my mother's basement, and shut down Crazy Little Thing Called Blog. But before I close the thing down for good, I'm going to do a "Best Of" series of posts, in which I dredge through the archives and repost my favorite things. This is very self-indulgent, I know.

I'm starting by linking to the posts that really started it all: reviews of David Horowitz's shitty book, The Professors. The posts are way too long to include in one post, so here are the links:

The review

Leftover thoughts

****

In completely unrelated news, after last night's debate, I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Where have I been? Why do you keep coming?

Sorry to be so lax in updating. But between weatherproofing my basement and getting some real writing done (NB: this is not real writing; you aren't experiencing this right now), I haven't had time to post.

Also, according to L-Bo, my beard looks "terroristy." Good to know. See pic below.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bloggers gone wild!!!!!

Spring break!!!!! Wooooooooooo!

Ahem. Excuse me. We're going radio silent for about a week, as I'll be away from my favorite drugs (tv, computer) and enjoying the desert. And dessert.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kudos to Chris Wallace

It's rare that I'd show a video from Fox News, but Chris Wallace brings down the hammer on his own network. Watch and enjoy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Journamalism at its finest

ABC News' Brian Ross, so hard-working he has his own Investigative Unit (teehee, unit), has uncovered the single-most important issue of the campaign. I'll let the headline and subhead tell the story:

Hillary At White House on 'Stained Blue Dress' Day

Schedules Reviewed by ABC Show Hillary May Have Been in the White House When the Fateful Act Was Committed


Oh my God! She may have been in the same building! Stop the fucking presses! Finally, American journamalism cracks open this crucial issue! You can call Brian Ross and leave him a message praising his investigative unit at 212-456-7612 (seriously, it takes less than two minutes to leave a message). Suburban Guerrilla and Glenn Greenwald have more on this.

Blowjobs, blowjobs, blowjobs! Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Too much and too little to say

I've intended to elaborate on race and Geraldine Ferraro, but I've been busy. I apologize to all three of my readers.

But today Barack Obama gave a truly incredible speech, one that a) deals with race in a beautifully nuanced way, and b) reinforces why I will vote for him. Given that nuance, I'd like to mention a few words and phrases about race that demonstrate how shallow American discourse is:
  • the race card: I've written about this before, so I'll just link to that post and mention one other thing. Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford published a book in January called The Race Card: How Bluffing about Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. I haven't read the book yet, though I want to. But I hate the title; it reinforces this stupid notion that talking about race is a game. Ford's black, and that's really what disappoints me. He's allowing a term designed to short-circuit discussion a certain weight in a book that is, by many accounts, intelligent and nuanced.
  • racist: When asked about Geraldine Ferraro's idiotic comment that Obama is only a serious candidate because he's black and whether her comments were racist, he said he hesitates to use the term. And here's why: overt racism isn't as easy to identify these days. Does Ferraro look racist next to, say, the KKK? Or, for a less extreme comparison, to Rush Limbaugh?
  • race baiting: If you want to feel ill, go read the National Review blog "The Corner." (I won't link to it; you know how to use google.) For some reason, and I just can't figure out why, the writers there compare Obama to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson; one approvingly cites an email that says Obama is practicing race baiting. This term is similar to "race card," similar enough that I don't feel compelled to explain why. (But if one of my three readers wants an explanation, I'll append one.)
And one more sad thing: Obama gave a great speech today, and writers at Slate and The New Republic worry that the speech is too nuanced for Americans and might put voters off. Sigh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Five years. Five fucking years.

Wednesday will mark the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, five years of occupation and continued conflict. I'll be part of a brief protest, and I suggest anyone who can take part locally also does. Also, today's New York Times includes an excellent article by John F. Burns. Take the time to read it.

But I'd like to mention something that really troubles me. Most antiwar efforts mention the nearly 4,000 American troops killed in combat and over 23,000 wounded; in fact, both protests in my area emphasize the loss of American troops. But do American lives matter more than others? Consider the 82,199 Iraqi civilians who have died as a direct result of the American invasion. Consider the 2,000,000 internally displaced Iraqis and the 2,200,000 Iraqi refugees who've fled to surrounding countries. Consider the intensified violence between the PKK in Kurdistan and the Turkish military.

And what's more, consider the years between the first Gulf War and the second, when international embargoes and the hopelessly corrupt UN Oil for Food program combined with Saddam Hussein's rule to create horrifyingly high infant mortality rates and widespread malnutrition in Iraq. Those years were overseen by the Clinton administration and publicly justified by Madeleine Albright, who later apologized.

We cannot only blame Republicans for the catastrophe, and we cannot appease our consciences by blaming Democrats as well. The moral responsibility extends to all of us.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey Douchebag! You got it right! Edition

Since I go out of my way to criticize Slate for their tendency to publish ridiculous articles (or remain silent on important issues) it's only fair that I post this comment: They nailed this. I'll elaborate on it in a day or two (I've been mulling about eight different "Geraldine Ferraro and race" posts in my head), but for now, you should go read it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Robert Frost's misogyny

I like Robert Frost's poetry a lot, but as many writers do, he has his biases that I have a hard time reconciling. For example, it's hard to read Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta or Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice without being very aware of the anti-Semitism (though the latter is much more humane than the former). Not that Frost was an anti-Semite, but his views about women are certainly difficult to approach. With that in mind, I present (without comment) a couple of things I've found in my research: an early draft of Robert Frost's famous poem "Birches," and the original dust jacket art for his collection North of Boston.

******

Robert Frost

Bitches

When I see bitches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Pimping does that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a fuck. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their makeup.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to my apartment by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their junk in their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical, mother fucker?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend me
As he went out and in to fetch them cows
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself—himself—
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's hos
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the ho away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim, if you know what I mean.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of bitches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a fingernail’s having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch—oooh, snatch—me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a bitch
Toward heaven, till the girl could bear no more,
But dipped her top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of bitches.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday thanks to Glenn Greenwald

I've linked to Glenn Greenwald before (and will do so again, I'm sure), but you should go read this. It's a great takedown of journalistic practices in the United States. (It also demonstrates his tendency to overwrite by several hundred words, a tendency I forgive in his case.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hey Douchebag! The Sound of Silence Edition

[Ed. note: We have an occasional series called "Hey Douchebag!" in which we look at the utter ridiculousness of Slate.com's supposed contrarianism. To read prior entries, click here.]

As you may have heard, John McCain actively courted and earned the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, who 1) hates the Catholic church, calling it "the great whore," "a false cult system," and "the apostate church"; 2) believes that Hurricane Katrina was "the judgment of God against New Orleans" for planning to have a gay-pride parade; and 3) believes that war with Iran is necessary for the Second Coming of Christ. (Talking Points Memo has an entertaining highlight reel.)

Considering the media attention (thanks to Tim Russert) given to Louis Farrakhan's unsought (and, by the Obama campaign, ignored) endorsement of Barack Obama, one might think that McCain's actively going out and seeking the endorsement of a nutter like Hagee would make a lot of news. The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, and even USA Today have run articles or have online posts about the Hagee endorsement and why it's problematic, but they've only run a few, usually AP articles. One of my favorite daily reads, Salon.com, has run excellent coverage of both Hagee and the media's relative silence on his endorsement.

Which brings me to Slate: as of this posting, they've written not a single word about Hagee's endorsement of McCain. None at all. They have Mickey Kaus posting round the clock, John Dickerson posting campaign articles daily, and multiple blogs devoted to the primaries. Why so quiet, you hip, contrarian douchebags?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I want to stop posting about Hillary Clinton. . .

but her campaign keeps trying to paint Barack Obama as a Republican. They've compared his campaign tactics to Karl Rove's, and Paul Krugman insinuates that Obama is merely a Republican in Democratic clothing. The latest, from Clinton's spokesperson, Howard Wolfson:

I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is not the way to win the Democratic primary.

Wow, really? Ken Starr? I understand the Clinton campaign has a lot of ground to make up in the delegate count, but a campaign willing to be this intellectually dishonest offends me.

Oh, the gladiatorial greatness of futbol (that's soccer)

This video starts a little slow, but stay through at least the fifty-second mark. I wish I were a soccer announcer.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What I learned while voting

  1. When I renewed my driver's license on my birthday in January, the good people at the BMV left a vowel out of my last name. So the woman looking for my name in the precinct book couldn't find it, and I had to show several other pieces of identification to prove that my last name is not, in fact, [REDACTED].
  2. One of the people volunteering at my precinct's table didn't trust me because I signed my name left-handed. Why? In a long story (that the other volunteers interrupted several times) he explained that he'd been beaten up by a southpaw in junior high. Additional fun fact: he was in junior high before I was born.
  3. No democrats are running for county sheriff. I find this amazing since our sheriff (who has been elected and re-elected to the seat since 1988) is a) nuts and b) crazy.
  4. John Edwards is still on the ballot. I felt a little wistful.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dear Paul Krugman

Hi, Paul Krugman, a word, please: Stop writing about the Democratic primary. Yes, yes, you support Clinton and think Obama would be a mistake. Fine. But when you write paragraphs like the following, it upsets me:
Now, nobody would mistake Mr. Obama for a Republican — although contrary to claims by both supporters and opponents, his voting record places him, with Senator Clinton, more or less in the center of the Democratic Party, rather than in its progressive wing.
See, you write for the New York Times, and despite the continued op-ed presence of Maureen Dowd, there are certain standards. You're smarter than this "Obama as Republican" meme, and the "more or less" shows it. You're fudging. And then you write this:
But Mr. Obama, instead of emphasizing the harm done by the other party’s rule, likes to blame both sides for our sorry political state.
So when Obama criticizes the Iraq war, the Bush tax cuts, or the shoddy state of health care, he's not criticizing Bush? Really? And, by the way, I think you know that the Democratic party has enabled Bush in a lot of ways. You're aware of this, right? Good, just checking.
That — along with his adoption of conservative talking points on the crucial issue of health care — is why Mr. Obama’s rise has caused such division among progressive activists, the very people one might have expected to be unified and energized by the prospect of finally ending the long era of Republican political dominance.
Now, you've been trying this one for a while, this "conservative talking points" angle. Would you mind being specific about those conservative talking points? Has Obama been calling Clinton's plan socialized medicine? Have I been missing that somewhere? In his votes (in both the Illinois and U.S. Senate) to spread affordable health-care coverage, has he been arguing against health care as foundational to a major world economy? Oh, he hasn't? Then I'm a little confused, I guess. But you do end on a good point:
All in all, the Democrats are in a place few expected a year ago. The 2008 campaign, it seems, will be waged on the basis of personality, not political philosophy.
You're right: the Clinton campaign signs that read "Hillary!"? Those are totally about political philosophy. Totally.

For more on this, go here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Why I will vote for Barack Obama in the Ohio Primary

I do not believe that Barack Obama's presidency would immediately and automatically transform the world. I am not a dewy-eyed idealist who believes his presidency would end poverty, make us all love one another, and eradicate the problems of partisanship forever. I am not a member of some irrational cult of Obama.

And that is, in part, why I wholeheartedly and happily endorse Barack Obama for president. He's an inspirational speaker, an electric presence--but that's not what makes him such a great candidate. Here's what does:
  • His legislative record demonstrates both progressive ideals and a willingness to focus on issues that are critical but not politicized. In the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate, he's helped make health care more affordable for children and adults. He's worked to curb nuclear proliferation, he's supported women's rights (including at 100% voting score from NARAL), and he's fought for ethics and transparency in government. Consider how deeply important this last issue is in light of the Bush presidency.
  • He's demonstrated an impressive ability to adapt and turn his weaknesses into strengths. In early Democratic debates, Obama didn't perform well. He seemed to stumble, unable to use the forum to articulate his ideas. Twenty debates later, he answers questions clearly and openly, pointing both to his record and to his specific ideas. As much as people like to parody his repetitions of "hope" and "change," the debates have shown he's invested in specific policy, not "just words."
  • He's thoughtful and self-aware. Read his memoirs. They have a lot of the hallmarks of political memoir, but they also show a man willing to acknowledge his mistakes and grow from them.
  • He inspires legislators from both parties. There are various kinds of bipartisanship (and I wish we had more than two parties, by the way). One is full, active resistance. I'd point to recent Democratic examples, but there simply aren't many. Another is capitulation by the weaker party. On so many issues of foreign policy, the majority party in Congress, the Democrats, have given in, serving as a functional minority party. The third, which Obama has embodied, is one that treats issues as neither liberal nor conservative, but broader. Consider the example of his passing legislation in Illinois to ensure the human rights by making police videotape interrogations (there had been a high rate of forced confessions in the state). Go read Hilzoy's endorsement of Obama for more details.
  • He will dramatically reshape the image of the United States across the world. Not only will Obama institute diplomacy instead of the many-times-over failures of the Bush administration's foreign policy, he will, as an African-American, as a candidate who has no foundation of political nepotism to run on, embody a major step forward for American culture.
Obama isn't perfect; where Clinton supported the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, Bush's ticket to move closer to war with Iran, Obama did not vote. (Interestingly enough, John McCain was the only other senator not to vote.)

But politicians can't be perfect. I don't have any illusions about a potential Obama presidency. I just look at his record and see a candidate willing to act openly and honestly, to represent progressive issues and work beyond media- and party-dictated positions. Vote Obama.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Insomnia is the new black

I made this video. (You have to sit through a bit of Clinton's new "Beware of the bogeymen in the night" ad, but it's worth it.) [Ed. note: the video is fixed. No watermarks.]



Maybe Tina Fey should have said, "Bitches get stuff done, unless they're sleep deprived."

Also, watch Bill Clinton "endorse" Barack Obama (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan):

Bad hangover cures

I refuse to link to the video (you've either seen it or heard about it already), but will.i.am's new Obama video really horrifies me. I don't think I'm being hyperbolic here. All it does is reinforce two ideas (at least):

  1. Obama supporters are nothing more than glassy-eyed cultists who believe in the vaguest things and are easily moved by chants.
  2. Jessica Alba can say nothing convincingly. (This one may be true.)
If the dog would let me, I'd go back to bed.

Friday, February 29, 2008

I passed



Or, if you are so inclined:



Or, if you so choose:

funny pictures
Enter the ICHC

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Barack Obama is not all about the benjamins

Given the idiocy of most American media, Barack Obama must distance himself from the odious statements of every black person, whereas there's no such litmus test for whites. Not only did Tim Russert attempt to connect Obama to Louis Farrakhan (which led to Hillary Clinton's ever-important parsing of "reject" and "denounce"), he's also questioned Obama about comments made by Harry Belafonte. Though Obama has no association with either man other than his skin color, he must explain that he's not like the dark-skinned guys who have said horrible things. (Thankfully, John McCain's getting some scrutiny for his associations.)

And, of course, when Obama mentioned that he likes rap--he singles out Jay-Z and Kanye West, pretty safe choices--he also had to say, "I don’t always love the message of Hip-Hop." With that in mind, I did some research and dug up the messages of hip-hop and rap that Obama disagrees with.
  • "Pimpin' ain't easy." Obama has argued--and pretty convincingly, I think--that a lot of the difficulties of pimpin' can be eased.
  • "I like big butts and I cannot lie." Obama doesn't exactly disagree with this, but he thinks men should be open to butts of all shapes and sizes: "Can we appreciate a flatter, tighter derriere?" Obama asked a crowd in Des Moines. "Yes we can."
  • "The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chickenshit mother fucker," Dr. Dre says at the end of "Fuck tha Police. Obama believes Dre should not have stopped short of calling the police officer in the song a "cracker-ass cracker."
  • Obama believes that LL Cool J's return was, in fact, a comeback.
  • Snoop Dogg is short-sighted, Obama believes, in claiming that "ain't nuthin' but a g thang." The circumstances, Obama has repeatedly said, are more nuanced than that.
It should be noted that Obama does like a lot of rap. In fact, to show white people he's not a scary black man, he often begins speeches by quoting Vanilla Ice: "Stop, collaborate and listen."

A small footnote: Obama isn't crazy about Harry Belafonte's "Matilda," in part because she did not, in fact, sell he cat and horse.

Tee hee


Go give Dick Gregory some love

Watch the video at Crooks and Liars. He's incredible.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why I will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the Ohio Primary

[Ed. note: given my blog's enormous readership--it almost extends into the tens--I felt it important to make clear my endorsement for the Democratic presidential primary. My state votes on Tuesday. I endorse Barack Obama, and I'm taking two posts to do so. Today's installment: Why I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton in the primary. Within a few days, why I am voting for Obama.]

This has been a very difficult post to write, for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. But here are some of my failed opening ideas:
  • How often do people vote for a candidate as much as they are voting against a candidate?
  • How well does a campaign suggest what a candidate would actually do in office?
  • I spent one semester in junior high school with Chelsea Clinton and was in A Christmas Carol with her, but I don't know her very well. But I remember the Secret Service operative who was backstage during rehearsals and performances; he was nice.
  • I have a hard time understanding people who feel emphatically positive about Hillary Clinton as a candidate or a potential leader.
Somehow, each of these failed to get my post going, which surprised me since I've been thinking about this post (and its eventual counterpart) for several days. The upshot: though I will probably vote for Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee for President, I will not vote for her in next week's Democratic primary.

So why not Hillary? Criticizing her outside the context of why I'm voting for Barack Obama might seem a little odd, but I don't want to break the Internets with a too-long post. Plus, I don't necessarily think she'd make a bad president; honestly, though, I'm hard-pressed to say what makes a good president. I'm ambivalent, at best, about Bill Clinton, I actively dislike both Bushes and Reagan, and I only lived through a year of Carter's presidency. And I don't trust the idolatry-based view of American history, where putting faces on coins and hillsides serves as a shorthand for greatness.

But here, in no particular order, are what I see as the major strikes against her:
  • She campaigns badly. Her state-by-state organization has failed, in large part, because she didn't expect a serious primary challenger. She assumed for a long time that she would be the nominee, even saying so to Katie Couric in November. Also, her higher-ups make spurious claims against Obama, she and her staff disparage voters on a regular basis, and she overreacts to criticism of her or her campaign (though I admit that, given her history with the media, I understand why she overreacts). All these campaign problems stem from what I see as another strike against her:
  • She's been a candidate for president because of who she was married to. That may seem crass; it's a long, disparaging way of saying she has acted entitled to the nomination. Obama's opponents criticize him for his lack of experience, but few people mention that she's not had much legislative experience, either. Early on, her high polling numbers had more to do with name recognition than anything else.
  • She blatantly lies, and badly. In last night's debate, she claimed that Obama said he would bomb Pakistan. Two days after calling his campaign's tactics Rovian, she completely divorced something Obama said in response to a hypothetical question last year, and she only did so (as has McCain) to attempt to discredit Obama on foreign policy. She probably wouldn't have done so if she weren't behind in the polls.
  • Her health-care plan has no chance. I admire the legislative work she's done in making health care more widely available, but she simply hasn't shown that she can sell her plan to Congress, whether it's led by Democrats or Republicans. As she showed with her first attempt at universal health care in the nineties, she's very reluctant to compromise on the issue; her critiques of Obama's health-care plan and her insistence that this is no time to be bi-partisan suggest that she won't be able to persuade initial opponents of her plan. She's simply not savvy enough. Also, if she were to take office, massive government debt, driven by the war in Iraq, would stand in her way. Her plan requires tax increases (which, as long as they focus on the wealthy, I support) and major spending increases. Ironically, she claims that Obama wouldn't be able to lead as she could on Day One, but her plan assumes fiscal conditions that don't bear out.
  • She voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which suggests she hasn't learned from her mistakes. That amendment was a thinly veiled attempt by the Bush administration to move closer to war with Iran. If not for the National Intelligence Estimate stating that Iran stopped its weapons program in 2003, we would likely be close to war with Iran right now.
Those are the main reasons. As I said above, if she wins the nomination, I will probably vote for her in the general election. I support universal health care, and I think the dramatic historical change of a female president of the United States is absolutely necessary. But against Obama, who I'll write about soon, she has too many strikes against her.

American culture needs a do-over

Go over to Gawker and watch the video. Just know ahead of time that you're going to cringe more times than you think. And get a big bucket full of hand sanitizer to dip yourself in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Come have a wee celebratory drink

Hey friendly Funkytowners, take note: I'm doing my oral defense on Friday afternoon. Whether I pass or not (keeping all appendages crossed right now), I'll be at the Comet in Northside at 5:30 to raise a glass or drown my sorrows. Come on out. Chicky, Wanda, Coral, Oar, all the rest, I'm looking at you.

After the writtens

So yesterday, I completed my written exams, and I immediately had my picture taken. Somehow, I looked like the lovechild of Malcolm Gladwell and Don Rickles. Let's never speak of this again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A few good points

Go read Frank Rich's column on why Hillary Clinton's campaign has lost so much ground over time to Obama. His point toward the end about Bill Clinton seems off to me--it's awfully reductive, for one thing--but otherwise he makes a lot of apt points.

Hillary Clinton's Bush desperation

A thought experiment: If you were to compare Barack Obama to famous American politicians, who would appear in the top ten? Or to approach this another way: How far down the list would George W. Bush appear?

I ask because, as the Ohio and Texas primaries move closer, Hillary Clinton has begun comparing Obama to, of all people, the current president. In a speech yesterday criticizing fliers Obama has been sending out for a little while, Clinton said, "Let's have a real campaign. Enough with the speeches and big rallies and then using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove's playbook." She went on to say that Bush campaigned on a platform of change--she specifically cited his "compassionate conservatism" and said, "He promised change, didn't he? The American people got shafted and we're going to have to make up for it."

While the fliers she's referring to fall somewhere between accurate and misleading, the fliers come nowhere close to Rovian, and she surely knows that. Politically, Obama leans no closer to Bush than Clinton herself, and in some instances, he's further left (to my mind, an absolute plus). But I think it's worth noting the desperation of this comparison, Obama as Bush.

As any sane person has, I've opposed Bush from the beginning, but I've also noticed over time how the mere mention of his name has become an easy in for speakers with left-leaning audiences. Cheap Bush jokes serve as ice breakers, no matter how weak the joke. After a while, that's gotten boring. (NB: I'm not against Bush jokes; I think he should be impeached. To borrow a line from Jerry Seinfeld, I'm offended as a comedian.)

Throughout the campaign, Clinton has referenced Bush and his misdeeds both because she's right that he's been a destructive force, possibly the worst president in history, and because criticizing Bush gets easy applause. So it's sad to hear Clinton trying to compare Obama to Bush. Paul Krugman, who I usually agree with, did the same thing in an embarrassing column a couple of weeks ago, writing, "I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again." The utter ridiculousness of that comparison is reason enough for Krugman to be kept from writing about the campaign until after the primary.

For all of Obama's faults (full disclosure: I'll probably vote for him when my primary comes up), he's no Bush; he's no Rove. Clinton's dire need for primary victories has somehow led her to rhetoric that seems wildly desperate, nothing more than the shallowest attempt to pull in voters who may not know any better.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Affirming America's fictional heritage

A quick note from Examland:

You may recall that late last year, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to acknowledge how important Christmas is. If you think that was a silly waste of taxpayer resources and time, now there's House Resolution 888. The title?

"Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as "American Religious History Week" for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith. "

Guess which religion gets all the attention? Would you like some time? I'll give you a hint: it's not Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, Agnosticism, Pan-Agnosticism, or Pan-American Agnosticism.

That's right, it's the vaguest, most meaningless kind of Christianity, with examples quote-mined from speeches and, in several cases, completely fictionalized. Chris Rodda at Talk to Action has detailed most of the falsehoods; both his posts are long but worthwhile reads.

Disturbingly, the resolution continues to add co-sponsors; as of this posting, seventy two members of the House have signed on to co-sponsor the resolution. Right now, it's sitting in the house Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Go call or email Committee Chair Henry Waxman, and call your representative. (Note: my representative is one of the co-sponsors; when I called her office, the man who answered the phone had never heard of the resolution. Yikes.)

I just want to add that I find the bill personally offensive. I live in a poly-faith household. I'm an atheist, my wife is a Christian, and my dog worships the both of us, at least when we're about to take her on a walk.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The cow says. . .

Yaaargh!

(Hint: for a few days, I'm the cow.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Philosophy and Food

In reading for my comprehensive exams, I've come across a surprising number of philosophical texts that deal with food. Indeed, exploring the material world proved fruitful for philosophical investigations from the Sophists through Wittgenstein. Below are just some of my faves.
  • Plato (published as Plate), Gorge Us
  • Augustine, Confections
  • John Locke, An Essay Concerning Cumin Understanding
  • Bishop Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Gnawledge
  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Raisin
  • Soren Kierkegaard, Fudge and Trembling
  • George Santayana, The Last PurĂ©etan
  • Ayn Rand (though she hardly counts), The Fonduehead
  • William James, The Varieties of Delicious Experience
  • Hannah Arendt, The Oranges of Totalitarianism
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, Bean and Nothingness and No Eggs
  • Friedrich Nietzche, The Genealogy of Morels, in which he first espouses his idea of the Ă¼berlunch.
Did I miss any?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Countdown

And we're back! I haven't posted since August, but with my comprehensive exams just over a week away, I thought I'd rear my digital head. Some general silliness coming, as well as updates on my exam-related mental health.