Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cultural atavisms
Roy Edroso, over at Alicublog, wandered into one of the bad neighborhoods of Right Blogistan and found himself at a libertarian site where this was posted:
A related subject (DEFINITELY off limits among the PC crowd) is the indication that cultural remnants of communal, tribal African culture persist in American Black culture today. American Blacks managed to survive slavery, Jim Crow and overt racial discrimination by de-emphasizing individual property rights (which were likely to be ephemeral in any case) and by depending on a sort of communal, tribal cooperation that was common to their heritage. Even today, in many black families, less prosperous family members feel entitled to a share of the wealth of those family members who are more successful.

And then there is the "bling" and "signifying" (not to mention the wanton slaughter) at the lower levels of contemporary Black ghetto culture -- hard not to notice how much this resembles the African pattern.

But to speak of such things immediately brands one as a bigot, despite the fact that CULTURE is the focus, not race.

The statement itself is shallow and silly and not worth refuting. The method is completely undefendable: take two things ("American Black culture today" and "communal, tribal African culture" in, presumably, the eighteenth century), assert that each is characterized by a similar list of identifiers ("de-emphasiz[ed] individual property rights", "bling," "signifying," and wanton slaughter"), and conclude historical continuity as the cause of the similarities. However, it does look like great raw material for parody.
A related subject (DEFINITELY off limits among the wingnut crowd) is the indication that cultural remnants of criminal, raiding European culture persist in American Blond culture today. American Blondes managed to survive the rule of law, labor unions, and the Bill of Rights by de-emphasizing other peoples' individual property rights (which were likely to be ephemeral in any case) and by co-opting the legal system to aid them in acquiring and keeping wealth.

Even today, in many Blond families, less prosperous members feel entitled to unearned privileges in the form of legacy admissions and corporate welfare.

And then there is the "sailing" and "boating" (not to mention the use of eminent domain expand their businesses) at the upper levels of contemporary Blond gated-community culture -- hard not to notice how much this resembles the Viking pattern.

But to speak of such things immediately brands one as a liberal, despite the fact that CULTURE is the focus, not class.

Try it. It's fun.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I had such plans
It's six o'clock on Monday and I'm suffering a bad case of wasted weekend blues.

First, I was planning to do yard work and outdoor house projects. It rained. It rained Friday. It rained Saturday. It rained Sunday. Just to be sadistic, the sun finally came out about forty-five minutes ago.

I meant to do house work. I did manage to do a load of laundry so I won't stink at work, but other than that, the house is one unbroken wasteland of kitten damage.

I planned to blog. I had mammoth stories. I had Nazis at the South Pole stories. I had serious thoughts about the tribal nature of American politics and the idiosyncrasies of blogger style. I had recipes.

All in vain. Saturday morning, while picking up some groceries, I browsed a used-bookstore and picked up a comparative study of war aims in the Second World War. I once thought about doing the same for the First World War, so, naturally, I was interested in his approach. That was it. No productive work of any other sort got done. Now I’m looking at my bookshelves and pondering where I should go next. The mammoth books still call from a pile next to my bed, but now they are in competition with obscure monographs on Balkan diplomacy.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Most criminal recipe of all time
Every Saturday that we are at home, Clever Wife and I have grilled steaks, a bottle of red wine, and a movie. I just went to check out my old AOL e-mail account and saw that one of their top features was a set of grilled steak recipes from major cooking magazines. Naturally, I thought I should check it out to see if I could get any ideas to spice up our routine without disturbing our tradition. What I found was possibly the most embarassingly lame excuse for a recipe that I have ever seen.
Grilled New York Steaks

Prep: 5 min., Grill: 20 min. To keep costs down, we opted to buy thick-cut New York strips steaks and cut them in half to mimic the look of the more expensive filet mignons (which run about $17 per pound). Expect to pay about $10 per pound for the strip steaks, or about $40 for 8 (8-ounce) servings.

4 (1 1/2-inch-thick) New York strip steaks, cut in half
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

Sprinkle steaks evenly on both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill steaks, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 8 to 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Garnish, if desired.

Let's be clear here, this recipe for grilled steak, which was published in Southern Living, a national magazine, reads: "take steak, add salt and pepper, grill till done, add toppings if desired." Someone was paid to write this!!! The author is George Liapis of Hoover, AL. I'm not sure whether to hate him or worship him.

Next week, my recipe for fried SPAM. But, you'll have to pay to see it.
Must. Resist. Eighth. Grade. Humor.
Nope. Can't resist it. Besides, it's Friday. In the blogoshere, frivolous posts are a Friday tradition.
It's now possible to replace a defective, damaged, or diseased penis with a penis grown in a laboratory -- in rabbits.

But the finding promises an amazing new treatment for infants, boys, and men who suffer penis disfigurement. The replacement organ would be grown on a penis-shaped matrix seeded with cells from the patient's own body.

Researcher Anthony Atala, MD, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, reported the findings at this week’s annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Atlanta.

Any kind of physical birth defect or accidental disfigurment is psychologically, as well as physically, painful. Also, any kind of research to generate or regenrate body parts will have a world of applications, so this is a good thing. Having said all that, it's a penis and it's a Baptist college. The jokes write themselves.

Interestingly enough, this story appeared on Fox News. Is it just me, or does it seem somehow appropriate that Fox News would be interested in a technology that can "replace a defective, damaged, or diseased penis"? (Feel free to leave your own Hannity and O'Reilly jokes in the comments.)

That's enough cheap humor for the day. I'm going to go think about serious and important things, like the decline of democracy in the West and woolly mammoths.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Time for some blasphemy laws
At first glance this seems to be a run-of-the-mill Bill O'Reilly shooting off his mouth without checking first to see if it's loaded story. Bill heard a rumor that someone somewhere had made the Baby Jesus cry and, as the Baby Jesus' only friend and defender in America (unless you count the other 255 million Christians), it was Bill's duty to leap into action and demand harsh action--firings preferably, but a boycott of France is never out of the question. As usual, he has most of his facts wrong, but will probably never admit it.
In recent days, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has baselessly claimed that the University of Oregon has allowed its students to "attack Christianity" because a student-run newspaper recently published controversial cartoon images of Jesus. During the May 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that the university "wouldn't allow this if it was an attack on a minority group" and called for Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer to be "fired" for allowing the images to be published. But O'Reilly has ignored two key facts in his coverage of controvesry. First, the student paper, The Insurgent, is not the official University of Oregon student paper, and, according to Frohnmayer, the school has no editorial control over what it publishes. Moreover, in publishing the Jesus cartoons, The Insurgent was apparently responding to a rival paper's decision to publish controversial cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, which have sparked Muslim outrage and rioting in Europe. Despite hosting the editor of the rival paper to discuss the Insurgent controversy, O'Reilly has never mentioned nor expressed similar outrage for the Oregon Commentator's decision to publish the Mohammed cartoons.

If this was just another case of O'Reilly saying something intolerant and stupid, I wouldn't even mention it. We expect it of him; it's why he has a job on Fox News. It's not the mere fact of his hypocrisy and double standards that makes this mentionable. Again, we expect it of him. What makes this particular case mentionable is the fact that it is an especially dangerous and un-American hypocrisy and double standard.

There are two newspapers in this story: a conservative/libertarian one, The Oregon Commentator, and an anarchist/marxist one The Insurgent. The Oregon Commentator published the Danish Mohammed cartoons. In response, The Insurgent published some equivalent Jesus cartoons. In the four segments on the story, O'Reilly has not mentioned the Commentator's publishing of the Mohammed cartoons. He even had their editor, Tyler Graf, on to discuss it (to his credit, Graf defended the first amendment rights of The Insurgent). O'Reilly doesn't think slandering Islam is even worth of mention. However, he thinks allowing Christianity to be slandered should be a firing offense for public employees.

O'Reilly makes no bones about his belief that Christianity, as the religion of the majority in the US, deserves special privileges in the public arena. Now he seems to be advocating that those special privileges be codified into law. He is openly arguing for a state religion. In saying that U of O president Frohnmayer be fired for not punishing The Insurgent, O'Reilly is saying that public employees should not be allowed the same rights of free speech as the rest of us; they must defend the state religion or lose their jobs. The next step, of course, is to limit government employment only to members of the state church.

At Fox News the theocratic impulse is not limited to Bill O'Reilly. Last December, his scary-haired colleague John Gibson said non-Christians will only be tolerated in America "as long as they're civil and behave." These two would be laughable if it wasn't for their millions of listeners nodding their heads in agreement.
Hastert stands up for principle
This weekend, the FBI--part of the Justice Department and, therefore, part of the executive branch--raided the congressional offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) seeking evidence for a corruption investigation. Dennis Hastert, alarmed that the executive branch might be weakening an important constitutional principle, showed a rare instance of bi-partisan solidarity in protesting this outrage.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressed alarm at the raid. "The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case," he said in a lengthy statement released last night.

"Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this Separation of Powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by Members of Congress," he said.

When the Bush administration began repudiating treaties that had been ratified by congress, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration held policy meetings in secret and refused to let the American people know who attended those meetings, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration created the bogus category of "enemy comabatant" for the express purpose of avoiding oversight by the other branches of government, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration decided to make America a torturing nation, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration decided it could imprison American citizens without trial, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration set up a network of secret prisons, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration argued that they don't need to obey the law during time of war, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration began collecting doisiers on citizens who exercize their right of peaceful protest, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration began keeping logs of phone calls by millions of Americans, Hastert was silent.

When the Bush administration added signing statements to as many as 750 laws, passed by congress, stating that they didn't feel bound by those laws, Hastert was silent.

But when the Bush administration starts violating the rights of sitting members of the House of Representatives, by God, Dennis Hastert is going to speak his mind.

Hastert was in the news again yesterday in a completely unrelated story.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress....

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

Oh, what an privilege it is to live in an age governed by such men of honor and principle.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

This is so unfair
Here in the States, next weekend is a three-day weekend for Memorial Day, when we honor our war dead. Personally, I've been looking forward to this weekend for about a month. I'm very much in need of a long weekend to putter around the house and read about mammoths. You can imagine how bummed I am to discover that the world is ending tomorrow.
I have received information psychically, which is corroborated by scientific data, according to which on May 25, 2006 a giant tsunami will occur in the Atlantic Ocean, brought about by the impact of a comet fragment which will provoke the eruption of under-sea volcanoes. Waves up to 200 m high will reach coastlines located above and below the Tropic of Cancer. However, all of the countries bordering the Atlantic will be affected to greater or lesser destructive and deadly levels....

-- Eric Julien

Technically, this won't really be the end of the world, but Julien's sources believe that the comet wil kill 58 million people and deal a death blow to Western civilization and that's enough to ruin a perfectly good three-day weekend in my book.

More on Julien's warning is available here and here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pat Robertson is the strongest man in the world
According to Pat's website:
Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg-press 2000 pounds! How does he do it?

Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman?

One of Pat's secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.

That's simply amazing! I'll bet the sports guys are amazed, too. Let's see what they have to say.
There is no way on earth Robertson leg presses 2,000 pounds. That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra's capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst. Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time? And how does he still have vision?

Um, okay. But I'm sure a godly man like Robertson would never lie. Maybe he meant 2000 grams.

In other news, Pat Robertson has discovered that snake oil is a great source of protein to use in making delicious and refreshing milk shakes.
Just so we're clear on this
When a Republican Vietnam veteran gives a commencement speech and gets heckled by the crowd, we should notice how hateful and uncivil the Angry Left is for being rude to him.

When a Democratic Vietnam veteran gives a commencement speech and gets heckled by the crowd, we should notice how hateful and uncivil the Angry Left is for provoking the students into rudeness.

Got that?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Last week, Coturnix tagged me for a new blog meme and, like everything else this last week, I'm way behind on it. But, enough excuses. Here it is. This one is the beautiful bird meme. It's the simplest meme I've ever seen. It has one question: what are the ten most beautiful birds? That shouldn't be so hard to answer, should it?

Unfortunately, I'm not a bird watcher or a naturalist, so I don't know squat about birds. I could have looked up a good field guide and flipped through till I found ten that I thought were pretty, but that didn't seem very honest. I could have tried something clever, like naming some really obscure birds, extinct birds, cartoon birds, or listing some of the neighborhood birds by their first names (Let's see, there's Chester, Big Sue, Kim, Leah, Little Sue, Robyn...). But I decided to go with naked honesty and name birds I have seen and can actually name.

My pool of name-able birds is quite limited. Most city birds are little brown birds. The city also has lots of pigeons and seagulls. They can be interesting, but they're not really what I would call beautiful. Here in Seattle we have a few wild falcons, an occasional blue jay, and crows. I think all of those qualify as beautiful. Back in Alaska, we had several types of eagles near my home and the family cabin. On the cliffs around Prince William's Sound are puffins, which are so unbearably cute that they are inevitably every child's favorite bird. The state bird of Alaska is the ptarmigan, an type of pheasant that molts in the fall to change from mottled brown to snow white.

My favorite birds are ravens and crows. When I was a little kid in Idaho, I didn't think much of crows. I saw them in the potato field and on phone lines. They always looked like a detail-less silhouette rather that a bird. They sure didn't look like their cartoon alter-egos, Heckel and Jeckel, Fox and Crow, or the jaybirds in Dumbo. I didn't understand the racial stereotyping in those cartoons until I was a teenager.

The first winter after we moved to Alaska, I discovered ravens. One day my family went to see an ice sculpture competition. It was one of those glorious sunny winter days right after a fresh snowfall. The ground was clean and white and the sky was so blue it hurt. I learned how the combination of fresh snow and bright sun can cause you to loose your depth perception. As we got out of the car and had that moment of milling around that all families have when getting out of the car, I started watching a crow going about its business in the parking lot nearby. There was a dumpster on the far side of the parking lot. Suddenly I became dizzy. The crow was not near me, it was on the far side of the parking lot next to the dumpster. While my eyes were trying to focus on the proper distance to bring the two together, my mind was totally unable to make sense of the size of that crow. If it was next to the dumpster, it had to be half as tall as the dumpster, maybe two and a half feet tall. That was the first time I'd ever seen a raven. Later I learned about the importance of Raven to many Alaskan native mythologies. I learned how smart they are.

Since getting a house, I've had a chance to watch real crows and learn how much like ravens they are. Crows are smart, cooperative, and loyal. Once, while working in the yard, Clever Wife saw a small crow with terrible looking feathers crash into the lilac bush while two bigger crows flapped about screaming. She thought the big crows were attacking the little one and called to me to come and help. I tried to drive the big crows off while she tried to help the little crow get out of the bush and escape.

The big crows flew up in a tree and kept screaming, while occasionally throwing pine cones at my head. The little crow got out of the lilac, climbed up on our garden bench, and launched his self into the air, only to crash into a lavender bush and get stuck upside-down.

Clever wife helped him out and put a leaned a board against the fence so he could climb up and launch him self from a higher perch. After we watched him crash into most of our bushes, we finally figured out that he was a young bird learning to fly. His feathers weren't ragged because he'd been attacked; he was molting and his adult feathers hadn't all grown in yet. The big crows were trying to protect him from us.

After that episode, Clever Wife and I read up on crow behavior. Crows, it turns out, mate for life and take very good care of their young. By the end of the day we knew Little Crow's voice well enough to keep track of him throughout the rest of the year while he grew up.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bad definitions
A number of libertarian leaning writers (here, here, and here) have noticed some silliness from my neck of the woods. The "Definitions of Racism" page on the Seattle Public Schools website contains the following definition for "Cultural Racism."
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.

As libertarians, the other bloggers were most offended at the ideas that valuing individualism and supporting a standard form of English were racist activities. They missed the point that this definition is just one sub-definition within larger definitional context.

The list Seattle Public Schools list of definitions includes five different types of racism and a sixth overall definition of plain racism. All of these definitions are drawn from the 1997 book Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin. The book appears to be a facilitator's manual for giving diversity seminars. The same editors have also produced a book of readings for the same purpose. I'm not familiar with the book or its editors, so my comments are based entirely on this set of definitions.

The whole set of definitions seems to be based on the questionable assumption that the exercise of prejudice is only possible by a power-holding group toward a powerless group. The generic definition of racism reads:
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.

This definition clearly argues that only White folk can be racist; all other races are exempt from this attitude. You can see why this definition pushed the buttons of the libertarians by living up to cartoon-like stereotypes of white liberal guilt and the privileged position of victims. As a self-defined bleeding-heart liberal, it pushes quite a few of my buttons.

The standard definition of racism, as most people use the word, is prejudice based on race. Their definition is one of oppression based on race. Presumably the motive for this oppression is prejudice, but that is not necessary for the logical function of the definition nor is it in any way stated. Practically speaking, any oppressing group will come to be prejudiced toward the objects of their oppression, but, again, this is not necessary for their definition nor is it stated.

Most of the examples given in the sub-definition for cultural racism, which originally provoked the libertarians, go beyond being peculiar and debatable and are just plain wrong. If racism is synonomous with oppession and only Whites can practice racism, then "having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, [and] defining one form of English as standard" should be acts oppression by a White majority that lead to "systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups."

"[H]aving a future time orientation"--by which I think they mean planning for the future--is neither an exclusively Caucasian trait nor even particularly characteristic of Whites. Some whites do plan and some don't, but, in any case how does the planning by some Whites oppress non-Whites? "[E]mphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology" is a characteristic of urbanization and post-Enlightenment Western civilization but most non-Whites in the United States are urbanized part of post-Enlightenment Western civilization. As acts of oppression or prejudice, these two might arguably be true in relation to the United States in its relations with other cultures--at least to the extent that we insist all relations be conducted on our terms of time and individual sovereignty. However, it is not true with regard to relations between Whites and non-Whites in the United States.*

"[D]efining one form of English as standard" as an act of oppression by Whites against non-Whites is an even more ridiculous statement. Of all the dialects of North American English, only one is defined primarily by race, and that one is Ebonics. The others are all primarily defined by region. Saying that dangled prepositions are incorrect American English might be an act of Northern aggression against the South, but it is not an act of aggression by the White Northern race against the non-White Southern race.

As I mentioned, I know nothing about this book beyond this set of definitions. I'm surprised that it has a publication date as late as 1997. It reads more like the result of some kind of school of social/literary criticism from the late seventies or eighties. This kind of theory was already old and subject to ridicule when I was in graduate school in the early nineties.

I'm also not sure how significant these definitions are for policy in the Seattle Public School system. It could be that this page is nothing more than the result of some low level web designer searching for content to fill a page. At least I hope that's the case, but I have my fears. Seattle is a very touchy-feely city and we do love our multi-culturalism--even when it is embarrassing and badly thought out propaganda.

* There are two partial exceptions to this statement. Sovereign Native American nations and unassimilated immigrants do not always function within the same post-Enlightenment Western concepts of time and individualism as does the American mainstream. However, the cleavage between the two groups is not defined by race. The American mainstream is composed of members of most races.
An open letter to Keith Olbermann
Dear Keith:

I can call you Keith, can't I? It might be presumptuous, but I've watched you for so long that I feel like we're old friends. I suppose having strangers feel that they are entitled to be on a first name basis with you is one of the minor drawbacks to fame.

So, Keith, I wanted to talk to you about Bill O'Reilly. I see that you named O'Reilly the Worst Person in the World last night, again. How many times does that make so far this year? When we add in all the times that he was merely Worse or Worser, would it be easier to count the number of times that he wasn't on your list?

I think your relentless focus on the inanities of Bill O'Reilly is getting to be a tad unfair. The world is full of bad people. How do you think they feel? They get up each morning and do their worst, only to find that, at the end of the day, Bill O'Reilly has nudged them off your list again. Don't they deserve a chance to get their fifteen minutes of infamy?

Here's what I propose: establish a Worst Person in the World Hall of Infamy. Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, and Pat Robertson can be the initial inductees. White House press secretaries are entitled to automatic inclusion. This would give other bad people their own shot at the daily title.

If maintaining a Hall of Infamy sounds like too much work, maybe you could just rename your daily awards. Instead of the Worse, Worser, and Worst Persons in the World they could be the proud winners of the Pat, Ann, and Bill awards (awards are always on a first name basis).

You don't need to retire the fearsome threesome right away, but promise to think about it—in the name of fairness.

I remain, because I have no other choice,

John J. McKay

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Better late than never
Bill O'Reilly wasn't as quick as his Fox colleague John Gibson and didn't get in on warning us about the brown hordes trying to extinguish our white civilization. But Bill does not give in that easily. He's managed to raise the stakes by discovering a secret fifth column within the white race that is planning to aid the brown hordes in extinguishing us. You'll never guess who it is. It's the liberal media elites!!! Who would have suspected that they would be the disloyal ones?!?
That's because the newspaper and many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad, so a drastic change is needed.

According to the lefty zealots, the white Christians who hold power must be swept out by a new multicultural tide, a rainbow coalition, if you will. This can only happen if demographics change in America.

An open-border policy and the legalization of millions of Hispanic illegal aliens would deeply affect the political landscape in America. That's what The New York Times and many others on the left want. They might get it. And that's the "Memo."

Oh. That is what you guessed? Damn, you're good.

Maybe a better title would have been, "better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Republicans take off their mask...
...and put on a white hood.

Towards the beginning of this year, when I realized that Republican strategists were planning to make illegal immigration one of their keystone issues or the midterm elections, I was worried about it unleashing a wave of overt racism. The xenophobic nature of the War on Terrorism was already pushing Americans in that direction and appealing to fear has been one of this administration's most dependable campaign tools. With the war in Iraq becoming less popular, people feeling insecure about the economy, and the well of public opinion already primed to fear brown foreigners, it was an easy segue to refocus our fear on undocumented Latin American immigrants. Last week, the racism inherent in this plan broke into the open at the pundit level.

Michael Savage is one of the most vile talking heads in America, so it's not surprising that he was one of the first to cross the line. What sent Savage to the microphone was a census report saying that "nearly half of the nation's children under 5 are racial or ethnic minorities, and the percentage is increasing mainly because the Hispanic population is growing so rapidly...."

What will it take to wake you up to the fact that you are being erased from the future of America? And why are you being erased? If you're a person of European descent, why do they want your child to be a minority in America? And when your little girl is a minority in America, what will happen to her? Tell me what will happen to her? Do you think that the minorities, when they take over the country, will be quite as benevolent and as enlightened as the European-Americans are today? Or do you sense that just perhaps, just maybe, they will not bring the learnings of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, to their new power?


But logic dictates that if one out of every two children under the age of five is not white that within a very short period of time, whites are being erased from America. Now, when whites become a minority in America, tell me what you think is going to happen to your grandchild? Do you think that the people who are now minorities, when they seize power, when they are the senators, when they are the congresspeople, when they are the president, and the vice president, do you think they'll be quite as enlightened as our liberal government is today? And treat the minorities, meaning then the whites, as fairly as the nonwhites are being treated today? I don't, I do not.


We're going inherent the corrupt police of Mexico, we're going to inherent the corrupt judicial system of Mexico, we're going to inherent drug lords in America. Is that going to be the subrosa relationship here as well? Are they crazy? Don't they know what's going to happen?

Many conservatives, to their credit, find Savage a bit too much to stomach. For them, we have John "Big Hair" Gibson, who was inspired to address the same census report that Savage did, though in a more measured style. Style, however, is the only significant difference.
First, a story yesterday that half of the kids in this country under five years old are minorities. By far, the greatest number are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic. Why is that? Well, Hispanics are having more kids than others. Notably, the ones Hispanics call "gabachos" -- white people -- are having fewer.

Now, in this country, European ancestry people, white people, are having kids at the rate that does sustain the population. It grows a bit. That compares to Europe where the birth rate is in the negative zone. They are not having enough babies to sustain their population. Consequently, they are inviting in more and more immigrants every year to take care of things and those immigrants are having way more babies than the native population, hence Eurabia.


To put it bluntly, we need more babies. Forget about that zero population growth stuff that my poor generation was misled on. Why is this important? Because civilizations need population to survive. So far, we are doing our part here in America but Hispanics can't carry the whole load. The rest of you, get busy. Make babies, or put another way -- a slogan for our times: "procreation not recreation." That's "My Word."

While Savage is simply disgusting, Gibson is incoherent. Part of that incoherence seems to come from his still being aware that he should be a little embarrassed to make a direct appeal to race. However, what set him off in the first place was the idea that Hispanics will soon outnumber Anglos. After making that point, he takes a dip into his nightmare vision of Eurabia, during which he has to admit that the Hispanics are on “our” side in the war of civilizations. But at the end, when admonishes “us” to have more babies, he’s still talking only to Anglo-whites. While he allows the Hispanics to be on “our” side, they still aren’t part of “us.” At best he’s being condescending in the style of “little brown brothers” or “honorary Aryans.” At worst it’s an open appeal to Anglo-white racial superiority.

In a way his deviousness makes him worse than Savage. He creeps around the point just enough to make it palpable to middle class Anglo-whites who don’t want to think of themselves as racist. Yet, at its core, his message is racist.

The party of Lincoln has been involved in this dance with racism for forty years now. When the Democratic Party unambiguously embraced civil rights and desegregation in the sixties, the Republicans could have joined with them in a bi-partisan effort to erase the great shame of American society, racism. At that point in history, the Republican Party had the better record on race. Instead, they chose to view it as an opportunity to pick up disgruntled white Southern voters.

The Southern Strategy transformed the Republicans in ways they didn't anticipate. It spelled the death of the liberal/social-reforming wing of the party. As the Democratic Party faded from the South, the Republican Party faded from New England. When the Republican leaders of the sixties wooed Southern racists with code phrases, winks, and nods, it didn't occur to them that those new voters would eventually become the majority of the party and take over its positions of power and the creation of its ideology. The Southern Strategy didn't result in the republicanization of the South; it resulted in the southernization of the Republican Party.* Whereas the identifying mark of Republicans was once a dour New England deportment, now it is Southern-style, vocal Protestantism. And racism, instead of disappearing, simply retreated for a generation to transform itself into a new style for a new generation.

The cynical and unprincipled strategy that the Republican Party has chosen for this election has the potential to release something very ugly in American culture. Once unleashed, it won't be easy to contain it again. But, making these kinds of cynical and unprincipled tactical decision in the name of simply acquiring and keeping power has been the hallmark of the Republican Party for over a decade now and I didn't really think they would stop now just because their action are hurting America.

obligatory disclaimer: Of course when I say this, I do not mean to imply that all white Southerners are racist crackers or that there has never been racism outside the South. Some of the most principled and courageous Americans have come from the South and the shame of racism is a common heritage of all regions. However, this doesn't change the fact that the Republican Party's descent into overt racism has been the direct result of their decision to use racism to woo disgruntled white Southern voters.

PS - I started to write this last Friday, but it's just been that kind of a week.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

How to ask a question
Following USA Today's revelation that the NSA is trying to collect a log of every phone call made in the United States, the polling outfits have leapt into action to find out what we think about that. The Washington Post/ABC poll on Friday gave us this result:
It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
Acceptable NET -- 63

Unacceptable NET -- 35

Some right wing bloggers jumped at that result; two-thirds of Americans support our president keeping us all safe and sound, hurrah. Encouragingly, some conservatives and Republicans have remembered that they once disapproved of the government sticking its nose too deeply into our business and have expressed some reservations.

On Saturday, Newsweek released a poll:
As you may know, there are reports that the NSA, a government intelligence agency, has been collecting the phone call records of Americans. The agency doesn't actually listen to the calls but logs in nearly every phone number to create a database of calls made within the United States. Which of the following comes CLOSER to your own view of this domestic surveillance program:
It is a necessary tool to combat terrorism -- 41

It goes too far in invading people’s privacy -- 53

Don’t know -- 6

What are we to make of that twenty-two percent drop in approval over one day? Did people get a chance to think about what it really means and change their minds? Any poll watcher will tell you that the phrasing of a question has a strong effect on the results--this is the whole underlying idea behind push-polling--but, as Mustang Bobby pointed out, these two questions don't appear that different.

Opinions really are in flux and an opportunity exists to help establish the conventional wisdom on this subject. The defenders of the administration will continue to play on fear with the message that only bad people have anything to fear, our president would never do anything wrong, and only traitors question necessary security measures. The opponents of the administration find the whole business outrageous; this is the behavior of some cheesy police state, like Ceaucescu's Romania, not America.

I think that the uncertainty in opinion polling is caused by people being unsure of how this affects them personally. It's a sad truth that most people will gladly accept strong sacrifices for someone else. An Onion headline a few years gently lampooned this when they said, "98% Favor Mass Transit for Others." Over the last few years, how often have we read Op-Ed pieces that say Muslim-looking people should be happy to accept profiling and being thrown off planes if it will make us white folk feel more secure? We all know Pastor Niemoller's statement on this subject: “First they came for the Communists….” This kind of moral cowardice would be a joke if it didn't so easily lead to tragedy.

When Bush said we are only listening to al-Qaeda calls, who could argue with that? When he said we need to listen to many overseas calls to figure out which ones are al-Qaeda, most people thought that's reasonable, and, besides, I don't make overseas calls. Now we find out that they have been trying to get records of every single call in America and while people will start to nod and say "that's okay," eventually it penetrates their complacency that "every" means them, too.

I want to see a poll question that personalizes the issue:
As you may know, it was reported last week that the National Security Agency, a federal intelligence agency, has collected phone records for every call you have made or that has been made to you. Which of the following comes closer to your own view of this domestic surveillance program:
I'm ready to make any sacrifice if it will keep us safer from terrorism.

This is an unacceptable intrusion into my privacy and I want the head of the peson who thought this up on a plate, not one of the good plates either – use that old Milmac that we keep in the garage for camping trips.

Maybe the second choice is a little wordy and could use some editing, but you get the idea.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A bad joke
This reads like a sick good-news-bad-news joke.
A DNA test has confirmed what zoologists, big-game hunters and aboriginal trackers in the far northern reaches of Canada have imagined for years: the first documented case of a hybrid grizzly-polar bear in the wild.

Roger Kuptana, an Inuit tracker from the Northwest Territories, suspected the American hunter he was guiding had shot a hybrid bear last month after noticing its white fur had brown patches and it had the long claws and slightly humped back of a grizzly.

The good news is that a unique bear hybrid had been discovered in Canada. The bad news is that it was discovered by a trophy hunter.

Polar bears and grizzlies are essentially different breeds of the same species, so a hybrid isn't a genetic problem. What mainly separates them is that they have completely different ranges and slightly different breeding seasons. David Paetkau, a geneticist quoted in the article, suggests the hybrid might be a sign that the bears are moving to new, overlapping ranges in response to global warming climate change.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Investments I wish I had made
Oh, how I wish I had invested my retirement in hard liquor and Ibuprophen stocks. According to a new Harris poll, Bush has hit 29 percent. If even a fraction of the lefty bloggers go on a bender tonight, who promised to do so, I would be a rich man by tomorrow. Oh well, I suppose there is still time to invest for the Rove indictment.
Time to pee in the cup
I try not to comment too often on the noise that comes out of O'Reilly, Coulter, and Limbaugh (the larger or the lesser). Usually, what they say is intended to provoke and, in rising to the bait, we merely confirm their delusions that their opinions matter. But, every so often, one of them says something so monumentally dangerous or stupid that it's impossible for me to ignore it. The war on Christmas is one of those things. This nonsense from the larger Limbaugh is another.
On the May 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush contained "Democratic talking points," and "even some liberal Hollywood Jewish people talking point."
The letter covers a list of grievances that have made Bush deeply unpopular among Muslims: The Iraq war, the U.S. support for Israel, and the treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay."

Once again, it's the Democratic talking points, other than Israel, and even there -- yeah, it's [anti-war activist] Cindy Sheehan talking -- it is, you're right. It's Cindy. It's even some liberal Hollywood Jewish people talking point.

Let's take a quick look at Ahmadinejad's record: Islamic fundamentalist, head of a Muslim Middle Eastern state, hates and fears corrupt Western culture, Holocaust denier. Of course he's going to go to liberal Hollywood Jews for his talking points. That makes perfect sense.

I thought one of terms of Rush's sweetheart plea bargain was that he stay off drugs for a year. If I was the DA, I'd have him in for a urine test after a claim like that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Jackson patronage update
According to ThinkProgress, HUD Inspector General Kenneth M. Donohue, Sr. has opened an investigation into Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson’s possible illegal patronage scheme. Jackson and his people are denying that he ever cancelled a contract like he told a group of realtors he had. I'll get to the denials in bit, but first let's round up some of the interesting points that other bloggers and commenters have brought up.

For quick reference, here's what Jackson told the Dallas Real Estate Executive Council on April 28:
According to the Dallas Business Journal, Mr. Jackson was talking about contract opportunities when he told the audience about a potential advertising contractor who had sought a deal with the Housing and Urban Development department for 10 years.

"He made a heck of a proposal ... so we selected him," Mr. Jackson said. But then, he said, the man told him, "I don't like President Bush."

"He didn't get the contract," Mr. Jackson reportedly said. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

First, why is he telling this story to this audience. The Real Estate Executive Council is a national trade group for minority real estate professionals--business men and women who might conceivable be interested in getting government contracts in the future. He seems to believe that funds given in contracts will be used for political campaigning. Put together, it sounds like he is warning the room full of potential contractors that they had better reinvest that money in supporting the Republican party or the contracts will dry up. Whether or not that message was his intention, how many of those realtors do you think heard that message?

Some people have mentioned the oddness of a cabinet-level secretary involving himself in the minutiae of the contracting process. Others have mentioned how odd it sounded for the contractor to have volunteered the information about disliking Bush. TPM Reader PHB suggests a context that answers both of those problems.
There is only one circumstance I can think of where that reply would come up in a sales call - IF THE CEO WAS ASKED FOR A CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION.

I certainly would never bring up politics with any customer unless I knew what their politics were in advance and that they were compatible.

The politics issue has to have come from Jackson.

That is why he is making this peculiar statement, what he is really doing here is repeating his internalized self-justification for demanding a bribe and being rebuffed.

Late yesterday, the denials began. Twice in the last week, Jackson's spokeswoman, Dustee Tucker answered questions by Texas newspapers by giving additional details about the cancelled contract. Yesterday afternoon, she suddenly denied that the incident had ever happened. "It’s not a true story. It’s a made-up story," she told the Dallas Morning News, essentially branding her boss a liar. The story was "anecdotal" she told the Dallas Business Journal.

Today, Dustee Tucker is nowhere to be found. Callers at HUD are told she went on vacation and can't be reached. Jackson has taken over his own defense, but it's no different than Tucker's.
I deeply regret the anecdotal remarks I made at a recent Texas small business forum and would like to reassure the public that all HUD contracts are awarded solely on a stringent merit-based process. During my tenure, no contract has ever been awarded, rejected, or rescinded due to the personal or political beliefs of the recipient.

I wonder, is "anecdotal" really the word that Jackson and Tucker intended to use? An anecdotal story is a true story; it's just not necessarily indicative of a pattern. But whether the story is true or not, what would be the point of telling it except to pressure potential contractors into supporting the Republican machine? Of course, that would be nothing more than business as usual for the modern Republican Party.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bush government values
Ever since Newt Gingrich's revolutionaries took control of Congress in 1994, the face of the Republican party has been one of shameless partisanship and cronyism. As time has gone by, their agenda has been less and less about any kind of values or philosophy and more and more about rewarding their supporters, punishing their opponents, and staying in power. The main difference that the Bush people brought is that they are more open about it, more willing to actually break laws and subvert the constitution, and they have had the convenient cudgel of the war on terrorism to use in silencing critics.

This is hardly a new revelation or an original thought of mine. Hundreds of bloggers write about this every day, a few brave reporters and pundits dare say what's really going on, and one or two office-holding Democrats occasionally make a timid reference to it. When we do we are loudly denounced as far left, conspiracy mongers, pathological Bush haters, elites (which shouldn't be a derogatory term), and traitors.

When caught at their game, the Republican standard defense is that things have always been this way and that the Democrats are just as bad. The professional new media supports this ahistorical lie with their "fair and balanced" and "he said, she said" method of reporting. While the Democrats have produced plenty of their own crooks and fools over the years, the truth is that ours are rank amateurs compared to the current crop of Republicans. This level of patronage and fire-sale looting of the government to enrich supporters hasn't existed at the federal level since the Civil Service reforms of the 1880s.

The Washington pundit caste and the general American public are living in a dangerous state of denial when they embrace the "it's always been this way" apologetics. Most people believe that the American Republic is far more resilient that it really is. They believe that the republic will last forever and that some law of nature guarantees that the pendulum will swing the other direction before any group extremists can do permanent damage to out institutions. Nothing lasts forever and the most likely way the American Republic will end is not through a massive frontal assault by foreign enemies. It will die of neglect. America is not a set of lines on the map or a group of people; it is a set of institutions and values firmly rooted in the Enlightenment. As we allow our leaders to dismantle and undermine those institutions and values, we destroy America. When those institutions and values and values are gone, it won't matter is a piece of territory called the United States remains, America will be gone.

If your friends, relatives, and coworkers, need evidence that "they" really will "do that" and aren't convinced by wiretapping and presidential signing statements, then show them the latest example of fire-sale corruption.
"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," [HUD Secretary] Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something … he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don’t like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary.'

"He didn’t get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe."

The kind of political test that Jackson is admitting to administering is completely illegal. So far, only two congressmen and a handful of far-left, conspiracy mongering, America-hating, elitist bloggers have complained.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A new level of something
President Bush talking to German reporters. I'm sure that makes some of his handlers very nervous. So far most of Left Blogistan has been talking about his fish story, but my head is ready to explode over this little bit of information:
President Bush said he would like to close the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay — a step urged by several U.S. allies — but was awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on how suspects held there might be tried.

For four and a half years the administration has been claiming that the courts have no jurisdiction over their "enemy combatant" prisoners. The whole reason for making up a new category of prisoner and for locating their prison camp outside of US territory was to try and avoid the jurisdiction of US law and US courts. For four and a half years, the administration has tried to say that they can do anything they feel like to and with their prisoners and no court can tell them otherwise. Now, all of the sudden, Bush would love to give all of the prisoners fair trials and close the camp, but the big, bad Supreme Court won't let him.


Have I mentioned lately that I really hate this administration?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Need more information
Porter Goss, director ofthe CIA has quit, effective immediately!

Josh Marshall and his team have the first intelligent comment:
[T]he talking heads on CNN were speculating whether Goss's departure might be part of Josh Bolten's 'new blood' shake up in the Bush administration. I don't suppose it anything to do with the fact that Goss is neck deep in the Wilkes-Corruption-and-Hookers story that's been burbling in the background all week. We don't know definitely why Goss pulled the plug yet. But the CIA Director doesn't march over to the White House and resign, effective immediately, unless something very big is up.

I'm with Josh. Heads of government agencies don't just get up one morning and say, "I'd like to spend more time with the kids right now." Something very big is going on. And it's hard not to notice (unless you work for CNN) that this announcement has come only one week after the Hookers-for-votes story--with links to the top of the CIA--was announced. For the most part, the national media has ignored that story all week, prefering to take pictures of gas station price signs. Maybe this will wake them up.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Take a chicken to lunch
According to Granny Insanity, today is International Respect for Chickens Day. Granny has a list of suggestions about how you, as a concerned citizen, can get involved in your community. The Farmer has even more suggestions here.

In the spirit of this august occasion, Let me offer some important chicken triva:
  • There are no chickens in the Old Testament.
  • Chickens are believed to be descended from wild Indian and Southeast Asian Red Junglefowl.
  • Evolutionists believe the egg came first.
  • Creationists believe the chicken came first.
  • Chickens out number people four-to-one on this planet.
Night of the voting dead
Actually, getting the dead to vote is an old Democratic tradition. Maybe we should start some outreach programs for this neglected constituency.
About 100 undead lurched from the Sydney Town Hall to the Opera House today as part of the city's inaugural Zombie Lurch.

Carrying banners that read 'I crave the flesh of the living, and I vote' and 'What do we want? Brains!', the ghouls shambled through the city, watched by police and wary onlookers, to raise awareness of zombie rights.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Another botched execution
Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Corrections attempted to execute Joseph Clark. They eventually succeeded in killing him, but only after trying for 90 minutes.
Spokeswoman Andrea Dean said the execution was delayed about 90 minutes because technicians had trouble initially finding a site in Clark's arm for the intravenous line carrying the chemicals.

Then shortly after the poisons were supposed to have been pumping into his body, she said, he sat up saying, "It's not working. It's not working."

Officials determined that a vein had collapsed. Curtains were closed to block witnesses' view until technicians found a vein in his other arm. They were then parted to reveal him dying, witnesses said.

Most states that execute use the lethal injection method because it has the appearance of being more humane than the old methods of hanging, firing squad, gas chamber, and electric chair. It is not more humane, but it is less messy, and that's what allows them to keep up the all important appearance of humaneness.

For lethal injection, the prisoner is set up with an IV and three chemicals are pumped into them in sequence. The first chemical is supposed to knock the prisoner unconscious. This is the first key to the illusion of humaneness: if the prisoner is asleep, we think they won't feel anything. The death is supposed to be like freezing to death: the victim grows tired and numb, falls asleep, and never wakes up. More importantly for the illusion, an unconscious victim doesn't make noise or show pain the way a conscious one would. In the execution of Joseph Clark this part of the humane execution failed.

The second chemical induces paralysis in all the muscles of the body except the heart. If nothing else is done, the prisoner will slowly and painfully suffocate when their chest muscles stop working. If the prisoner is not completely asleep, they feel that pain. The main purpose of paralysis is to keep the condemned from flopping around and upsetting the witnesses. Many states have laws against using these drugs to kill unwanted animals, but we still use them to kill unwanted humans.

The third chemical induces a heart attack. Heart attacks can be very painful, but they are not always fatal. Once again, if the prisoner is not completely asleep, they feel that pain. And, if the first heart attack isn't fatal, they lie there suffocating while the medical technician prepares a second heart attack.

There simply is no humane or civilized way to kill people. As long as we continue to kill, we will not be a humane or civilized society.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Poll watching
Two new presidential approval polls have come out this week (CBS and Gallup). Both put Bush at all time lows for their poll. I think most major polls now have him at or below 35 percent and still falling. This raises a couple of important questions:
  • Do you think the current slate of crises, with gas prices being the most irksome to the public at large, will be enough to push him into the twenties?
  • If not, which budding crisis or scandal do you think will push him below thirty?
  • How do you plan to celebrate when he hits 29?
  • What date did you pick in the pool for 29?
  • What kind of stunt do you think Karl is planning to bring his boss' numbers up?
  • Do you think it will work?
  • What date did you pick in the pool for the stunt?