Friday, April 29, 2005

Words of Wisdom

I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:
Plagiarize!

Plagiarize,
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize --

Only be sure always to call it please "research".

--Tom Lehrer

Friday, April 22, 2005

Two Posts To Underline

I've been a bit active on dailykos recently and i made a pair of posts that probably deserve to be separate entries on their own. First, from a thread on how the so-called "Ownership Society" plan intersects (or doesn't) with the Religious Right: i suggest both the Capitalists (though in retrospect i think "Corporatist" is a better word) and the Religious extremists think they other side is stupid and in their control. Below is a copy of that post:
The Religious Right thinks the Capitalists (I'm using "Big-C Capitalists" to differentiate them from the more generic variety as their philosophy, rather than economy, is "capitalism") will compliantly accept Biblical Law provided they can continue making a profit. They think they are in charge and the Capitalists are tolerated because they are percieved as subservient. In other words, they think they are the pillar of absolute strength and law and the Capitalists are merely allying with them--to be tossed aside or punished at the whims of the Religious Right.

The Capitalists think the Religious Right "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." As far as my personal assessment i think the Capitalists are right. But then again, the Nazis (they were 1930 Germany's equivalent to 2005 USA's Religious Right) took power under just those circumstances.

But really: the Religious Right is content to vote for Republicans while getting little to nothing in return. Anti-gay laws that hurt straight people more than gay people (relative to their situations prior to such laws, that is) are considered excellent policy by the same people such laws hurt. The Religious Right calls for anti-abortion bills and gets them--except they get anti-abortion bills that are full of holes and get promptly ruled unconstitutional due to legislative laziness. The Religious Right gets Terri Schiavo--which actually might destroy them (if we're lucky), which they had zero chance of "winning", and which they really had to sacrifice a number of their other beliefs for.

But that, perhaps, misses the point. The Religious Right cares very little for the effects of the anti-gay laws on gay people or straight people one way or another. They don't really care about stopping abortions, teenage pregnancy, or the spread of STDs--if they did they'd sure as hell throw their old "solutions". They care about being validated. Much like needy children who demand a series of increasingly improbable gifts from parents and others, throws fits if they don't get one, and are only sated as long as the warm, fuzzy, and hollow warmth of immediate satisfaction lasts. Except unlike children and parents: they are needed--or their votes and money is needed, at least--by those who would grant them their meaningless gifts.

What the Capitalists want and what the Religious Right wants are two different things. Certainly the Religious Right will either get booted (their growing demands eventually become too crazy for the people who will use them) or they will take over and it's down the rabbit hole of Theocracy we go. The Capitalists, on the other hand, don't play games with what they want--they come right out and say it. They don't want the government to let them dump mercury into rivers and lakes because that lets them make money easily.

Now that i've outlined that i'm going to go back on my earlier statement: the Religious Right does actually want something. They demand validation and if that validation ever stopped they would abandon the Republicans just as quickly as the Capitalists would if the money stopped. That's why i often say the Republican Party won't ever pass any serious anti-abortion policy (either in the "reducing abortions" or "illegalizing abortion" sense) as they have trained the Religious Right to gain the validation they are so addicted to from opposing legalized abortion on grounds of religion. It isn't, as many wrongly assume, that their religion cannot tolerate new ideas (after all: most Christians today think of Christianity as the force that ended racial segregation and not as the justification for the same segregation) but rather that this particular function of religion gives them validation.

I think that, somewhere deep down inside, most of them realize this. They know that they are being used and that they are addicted to the particular flavor of crack the Republican Party deals and that the positions they hold are truly abominable--but it is precisely that inner knowledge that allows them to gain feelings of validation when those positions are taken up by the Republican Party (or whoever else). It's like a particular Penny Arcade comic. "Cut yourself." "What?" "If you cut yourself I'll love you."

Except instead of "Cut yourself." they say "Pass totally batshit insane legislation". And instead of "I'll love you" they say "I'll vote for you". What do they get out of it? The thrill that comes with knowing someone did something obscene and moronic because they asked.

This is why a Clinton's blowjob was more important than Clinton's non-response to Rwanda. This is why Feingold's presidential aspirations might be destroyed by his divorce. This is why there has never been a black, gay, or female President of the United States of America. This is why the Democratic Party will never beat the Republican Party in the groups the DLC wants to appeal to unless it is willing to go espouse the Religious Right's lunacy even louder than the Republicans. Not issues, not real-world effects of the law, not Judges, not equality, not freedom: the shaky strangulation of a crack-addicted murderer trying to get just one more high before everything implodes.

This is not a new phenomenon, either, despite the fact it has gotten pretty extreme in the last five to fifty years.

Not to say the Capitalists are necessarily the lesser of the two evils. With the mercury semi-deregulation legislation they've convinced the government to, almost literally, turn human lives into gold for them to collect. It's a sort of inhuman perversity that manages to survive today primarily because it's so difficult to comprehend--a sort of Lovecraftian horror, if you will, that manages to evade notice because none who notice survive unchanged.

Second, i have a post on Salazar's rebuke of Dobson in which i respond to a comment on how the Freepers seem to be turning on the Republican Party. It, too, is pasted below:
One thing i wonder is how long their defection will last.

They might talk a good talk about not supporting the Republican Party anymore but in reality the whole Bolton thing is not a big deal. They might think they're dropping out but once they get into the voting booth (and we can say what we like about them, but they are at least politically active even if for all the wrong reasons) i think they're going to have a real hard time voting for anyone other than those with an (R) after their names.

When we should start having real hope is if and when a major Republican figure drops out of the Party (or if not previously "independent for political reasons", see: Bill Oh Really) and runs as a third party candidate, and only then if said hypothetical candidate can draw support of the underlying Republican political aparatus away from Republicans a bit.

We really want a super-Right party that takes the 5-10% of the really extreme "base" away from the Republicans. With a viable alternative the extremists can put actual pressure on the Republican Party ("Give us theocracy or we will commit seppuku via third party campaign") which will then have a splitting effect on the bizarre coalition that makes up the Republican Party.

It's not so much that they'll split when they've been reamed--they're getting reamed constantly. Corporatism is destroying their rural towns, their culture and religion is being co-opted by the political elites (i'm thinking Dobson and friends, rather than someone on the Democratic side), and their children are being left behind (yes, Mister President, even after your bill) by a government that increasingly doesn't understand the problems facing said kids and doesn't care to find out.

Neither, i would say, does the delay on the vote for Bolton constitute "reaming" the freeper crowd (their fantasies of laying the UN low have been pushed back and put in more danger than previously but they are no worse off now than they were before) and yet that is what they, purportedly, are splitting with the party on. This is why i think they won't turn on the Republican Party: their ill will is not the result of genuine disagreements but rather the fanaticism that has been bred into them. The only way that could turn into them betraying their party, i suspect, is if another group willing to pander to their basest urges (judges, Bolton, gays, the border, and all the other far-Right straw-men).

As far as when the moderate Republicans will speak out? I don't think they will, really, unless they are forced to somehow. And i don't mean that i think the Democrats can force them to. They have obedience to the centralized authority of the Republican Party bred into them as well--and that goes back generations. Perhaps i'm doing them a disservice. Some have obviously switched party affiliations and i think that's perfectly respectable, others (notably for this discussion: Voinovich) have begun to challenge the more extreme positions being put forth by the Party.

Christians, likewise, seem to have a bit of a problem with authority. They'll wake up eventually, but for now they seem content.

I think part of the problem is that they're ignorant of how their faith is being used. When Dobson or whoever stand up and say "XYZ is UNCHRISTIAN!" i'm guessing your average Christian just silently nods, not knowing any better. They need to wake up, but once they do i think they'll probably be pretty fierce.

I had hoped that Pope John Paul II or one of those similar leaders would start pushing by making the economic justice and anti-war stance more prominent, but then Ratzinger took over. I haven't really seen anyone else. There has been some push on those fronts recently, but not much. I'm hopeful they will eventually come to realize how dangerous the current Republican Party is, but i'm not going to wait for the Christians to get their collective butts in gear.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sinking The UN

There are three more or less separate threads in the news that i think need to be linked together. I'll make it quick:
  1. The UN oil-for-food scandal, which the US government is busy decrying a sign of institutional corruption.
  2. The nomination of one Bolton to be the US's ambassador to the UN.
  3. The invasion of iraq under the false pretenses that Iraq had WMD, against the will of the UN and quite likely against international law.
Curious, yes?

Let me be upfront and state the hypothesis: all three of these things (and many others) have as one of their causes a contempt by the Bush administration and Republicans in general of the United Nations. Furthermore, the possibility that two of these things were designed with at least one aim as the destruction of the United Nations.

Let me take you back in time about two or three years.

Rumsfeld is busy denigrating "Old Europe" and Bush is busy pushing for war and giving the extended middle finger to Europe and the United Nations. Republicans and their allies are busy throwing around phrases like "surrender monkies" and many calling for the outright dismantling of the UN or at least the US withdrawl from it.

Now let me take you forward to today, but in an alternate world. We'll call this "Bushworld" as there is one point of divergance: Iraq, in this hypothetical world, did have weapons of mass destruction. Not ones that it shipped to Libya, ones that Saddam had lying around ready to be used--possibly they did get used on the invading troops.

What is one of the differences here? The United Nations looks like a group of collectively out-of-touch (ooh, famous Bush propaganda phrase!) fools and the US might even begin a campaign against them.

So it doesn't seem to big a stretch to think one of the goals with the Iraqi invasion was to delegitimize the UN and set up the US as essentially not just the world's superpower but the world's everything. And its followers in the Iraq war get kickbacks; the whole "you give us stuff, but we don't give you anything" approach to allies looks much more rational if still perverse under the assumption that the USA becomes the source of legitimate international power after the Iraq invasion and gaining global hegemony is a stated goal of a number of Republicans to turn the USA into a global empire.

Now that it has become irrelevant that entire scenario is a pipe dream and that, yes, the US still does need the UN and the EU, the US has been backpedalling on its... "Freedom Fries"...

So that's that.

Next up is the oil for food scandal.

I strongly maintain that anyone who was surprised by the oil for food scandal has not been paying attention. Period.

Saddam Hussein got nothing out of the deal (more or less) yet he held the keys and controlled a significant part of it. The other end, corporations, are notorious for running cost-effectiveness analysis on protecting people from mercury and then lobbying the government to allow them to kill more people in exchange for higher profits. In terms of moral compass: theirs is made of lead, mercury, and asbestos. Oh yes, and oil.

So again: this should not surprise anyone, really.

But the response from the Bush Administration has fit with the desires i outlined above. The UN, they claim, is corrupt and irrelevant and stupid and full of terr'ists umm... commie bastards... err... full of French!

Of course, the US's own involvement never gets mentioned. Not that that is unexpected.

So now we're onto John Bolton. John Bolton, from what i can tell, was a combination of hit-man for the Bush admin, a spy on and internal propagandist for Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, and someone willing to slant what evidence sees the light of day to suit his own Conservative bias.

The possibility that Bolton slanted evidence (with the assumption that "Well of COURSE Saddam has WMD!") with the goal of ultimately isolating the uN, among other things, cannot be overlooked in this analysis--whether the cause for such slanting was Bolton himself or orders From On High.

So i can hear the shrieks and wailings of "Liberal! Liberal!" already.

I'm sure some out there are thinking "Well, you sure are putting some strong words into Bush's mouth! He never said we should withdraw from the UN!"

But don't listen to me, take it straight from the year 2000 Texas GOP Party Platform:
p.26: "The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership, as well as financial and military contributions to, the United Nations... The Party urges Congress to evict the United Nations from U.S. soil."
And Bush most certainly has seen and agreed to this platform. How do i know that? Everyone involved in the Texas GOP has--it says so right as a plank of the Platform that anyone getting their support must read and sign it.

And that's only one instance--the UN is a long-time whipping boy, so to speak, of the Right and the only reason this Platform doesn't call for total dissolution of the UN with bayonets if necessary is because cooler heads prevailed. I would put money on a similar suggestion being put forth in all seriousness. We're lucky the Texas GOP is so corrupt (see DeLay, Tom) or they might be pursuing these goals with just as much seriousness.

So what do we have here?

We have a goal of the Bush administration: tear down as much of the UN as possible. We have three separate instances (and there are more out there) in which the Bush administration has acted in ways that would certainly further that goal: nominating Bolton, harassing the UN over Iraq, and harassing the UN over the oil-for-food scandal. We finally have a statement of intent from the Texas GOP.

What does this mean?

I'm not entirely sure. I think we can draw several conclusions, however:

John Bolton was not nominated to the UN post as a reformer. His purpose (or at least: one purpose) is to destroy the UN.

The Bush Administration is waging a covert war on the UN as a whole and will continue doing so as long as they are in office.

The Right has not given up their anti-UN (etc) crusade and in fact that crusade has shown signs of strengthening.

Connecting the dots can yield interesting results.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Propaganda: Then And Now

Are There Decent Jews?

A picture produced by the Nazis to accompany their propaganda, featuring 'four Germans, one a Jew'.

Four Germans sit talking in a public house. One is a Jew, Salomon, who is telling the others that the Jews are the most decent people to be found anywhere.

Zimmermann won't have it and cites cases of Jewish rogues he has met.

The Jew gets uneasy, and seeks a way out by saying:

"Oh well, but those are exceptions!"

The peasant joins in the talk and supports Zimmermann.

"Salomon gets angry. He has paid for the beer and still must listen to that sort of talk from them.

"You talk a lot of stupid nonsense!" he cries, "but not a word about decent Jews. And there are plenty of decent Jews. Am I not one? Was I not a soldier at the front? Did I not defend the Fatherland. Have I not paid for your beer, you impudent creatures, stupid Gois!"

There is silence in the room. Then the worker gets up who has said little, and throws a coin to the Jew.

"Finished, Salomon. Here is your money. We will not have you paying for us. But now you shall have the truth! You liar! You never heard a bullet. You were 'indispensable' and stayed at home profiteering, then you were with the Reds, calling 'Down with Germany!' 'Long live the World Revolution!' And now you are a decent Jew? Not a bit of it! There aren't any decent Jews.

Salomon picks up his hat and runs like the Devil from the public house. Everybody laughs.

"What a pity he has gone!" says mine host. "I should like to have repeated the following saying to him:
'So oft we hear the yarn
How brave such and such a few was.
How he gave his money to the poor
And was an angel in the world.

A Jew, like a pure angel?
That must be a fairy tale!
Who invents such things?
It is the Jew, himself, who does it!'"
Taken from the Nazi Germany Propaganda Archive, you can find it here

'There are a lot of bad Republicans;there are no good Demorats' -- Ann Coulter

There's your Ms. Right, Time Magazine! But then again, Time has--historically--notoriously poor judgement with respect to right-wing extremists. They also featured Hitler on their magazines a number of times between around 1930 and 1945.

I wish, now, that i could find the piece of Nazi propaganda this quote brought to mind. The "There are no decent Jews" line was an official piece of propaganda. The piece i am thinking of had a quote that was almost literally like Ann Coulter's--it was an exchange similar to the one above, something like:

"There are no good Jews."

"Yet there are also bad Germans, right?"

"Yes, there may be some bad Germans but there is not a single decent Jew."

But sadly i'm not sure where i saw it so now it's just an unsourced quote floating around in my head.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Scalia is an ass-fucker

So yesterday, Antonin Scalia is speaking at NYU when a gay man, pissed off that Scalia went nutzoid supporting anti-sodomy laws that were struck down by the majority of the Supreme Court that happens to believe that consensual ass fucking, labia licking, and blow jobs are really not the province of government intervention, asks Scalia, "Do you sodomize your wife?" Because, you know, everyone needs the picture in their heads of Maureen Scalia with Big Tony's spicy sausage thrusting in and out of her mouth. But, really, and, c'mon, it's a totally legit question, since some of the laws Scalia supported had blanket bans on straight and gay sodomy. So, like, if Big Tony was munchin' on Maureen's kooz like a badger on a titmouse and Maureen started shriekin', "Suck my clit, you meatball of a man" a little too loud for the people of the Birmingham Marriott, the police might have been able to burst in and drag the future Chief Justice and the good Misses down to central lock-up, where, ironically, sodomy is the law of the land.

Scalia, a man who everyone says is noted for his sense of humor (and, boy, we got the joke on Bush v. Gore), responded to the student by saying that the question was unworthy of answer.
(By Rude Pundit)

So let me get this straight (if you will).

When Scalia asks me if i have or have ever had buttsex that's a question vital to the interests of The State and Justice Scalia is on-record as saying it is an important question to pose to citizens of the United States of America. Not only that, but if i give the wrong answer he thinks i should be thrown in jail. When someone else asks Scalia if he has or has ever had buttsex that's "unworthy of answer".

I can only assume, Justice Scalia, that if i were convicted under some sort of sodomy law (which seems pretty unlikely, but it's a hypothetical so bear with me) and the case came up the the Supreme Court that i could plead not "innocent" or "guilty" but "the charges are unworthy of answer" and you, Justice Scalia, would suggest the case against me be dropped? To do otherwise suggests, to me, the true motive of your ruling: you like hitting The Queers.

Now, he would of course object to that characterization.

"Ah'm just a down-tah-earth Strict Constructionist, y'see. Ah don't rule whether it's a good law or a bad 'un. Ah just call 'em like the Constitution requires and there ain't no right tah privv-acy in the Constitution."
(Disclaimer: i don't think he has an accent like that. He might adopt one when responding to that question, though, in order to support his first sentence.)

But of course that's bullshit and he knows it. Amendment Nine to the rescue:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
So tell me, again, Justice Scalia: are you not, by denying the Constitutional existence of non-enumerated rights, changing not the laws to fit your ideology but rather changing the Constitution of the United States of America to fit your ideology?

The other option (if it's not that he denies the Ninth Amendment) seems to be that he was trying to keep anti-gay, anti-sex laws on the books for his own partisan purposes.

I'm not sure which it was, but no matter what his answer he isn't given a free pass here. Equality under the law is not an non-enumerated right--rather, it is an enumerated right.

So, once again, Justice Scalia: have you ever sodomized your wife, or any other person? Specifically, have you done so in violation of sodomy laws? If you refuse to answer: can we assume you are entering a "No Contest" plea? Or do we have to assume "Not Guilty"? I'm a little unsure what the best approach would be. Perhaps you could offer some advice?

Argh!

I'm pretty bummed. I wrote up a big ass post and then blogger's post edit tool ate it.

Sigh.

Anyway, here's some stuff!

...Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem"...
From a Washington Post article. I like how he's slamming Marx and Lenin in one line and quoting Stalin in the next.

Those who know about Russia's Communist revolution will understand why. I'd link up some google searches but, at present, the right-wingers seem to have googlebombed the hell out of Stalin and Lenin.

I also find it amusing that, at the same time Republicans are quoting Stalin in earnest seriousness, the Republican Party is still villifying Democrats as Communists.

But reality was never one of the Republican Party's platform planks. Unlike returning to a "Gold Standard", destroying the Judicial system, eliminating the First Amendment, legally assuming all GLBT persons are child molesters (as opposed to, for instance, Catholic Priests... i apologize to any Catholics in the audience, but certainly if we're worried about a single group preying on children...), legally mandating Creationism as equivalent to evolutionary theory, tearing up "Social Security", eliminating the minimum wage, and so on.

Meanwhile, the HRC discusses the real-world implications of the Republican Party's anti-gay crusade for straight people.

Yep, same sex marriage will destroy the moral fiber of our nation! So be sure to vote Republican, boys and girls, because only they have the Values to prevent same sex marriage!

Meanwhile, Florida's House of Representatives passed a bill establishing the entire state as the largest no-rules, mixed martial arts tournament in the history of the world. Well, maybe not quite that. But wow, that's pretty crazy.

Oddly enough, though, the bill (at least, the version on that web page) has been changed. I'm not sure if the bill was altered or what, but it used to include some real crazy shit about how you could use lethal force if you "percieved" someone was "threatening" you.

Here is a DKos article referring to the older version. You could maybe WayBack it, but i dunno.

I also find it amusing that, as per the version DKos is referring to, you are actually legally permitted to kill someone who is trying to kill you in a situation where that would be legal under that law. In other words, let's say person 1 threatens person 2 with a knife. Person 2 pulls out a gun and person 1 then knifes person 2 to death. Person 1 claims immunity under that law (there was certainly threat!) and gets away totally free? Who knows?

As someone who is concerned about being the target of violence on the streets (see a couple paragraphs up on the Republican Party's anti-gay crusade) a law like that would make me feel much less safe on the streets. No question in my mind.

The Daily Howler on The Lying Media. Been a while since i quoted the Howler.

New Suit Alleges "Severe" Torture at Guantanamo. Gee, what a surprise.

Wake up and smell the torture, USA! This isn't even the worst of it. Let's try some of the stuff specifically approved as "Not Torture" by Alberto "Abu Ghraib" Gonzales: holding prisoners in solitary confinement with 24/7 floodlights keeping the room blindingly bright. The case involving this sort of torture (it is, if we refuse to name it torture then it remains torture in everything but name alone) that i am aware of left a man who was previously mentally stable (more or less) totally deranged. Yeah, "interrogation techniques" that just so happen to destroy any capability for the "interrogated" to provide useful information.

This is the sort of stuff they don't even show in movies, people. And it's happening to real people whose guilt has not been established. And its happening on little beyond the command of our current President.

Max Blumenthal infiltrates the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference. No real surprises, unfortunately.

On abuses of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Lastly, but not leastly, A Person Paper on Purity in Language, by William Satire

This one is good enough i'm probably going to reference it again, separately, so i'll save my comments. You should read it, though.

Finally, i am closing in on 40,000 words of unwritten posts (okay, 36,990 words--possibly 35,569 is a more accurate number, depending on how you count duplicates) on a wide variety of topics. I fear some of them will simply never be finished. Oi.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Once more...

For effect. The September 11, 2001 Bush Timeline:

September 11, 2001
8:13 a.m.
American Airlines Flight 11 fails to respond to air trafic controllers
Air traffic control manager considers this a possible hijacking.

8:35 a.m.
Bush motorcade leaves for photo-op at Emma Booker Elementary School

8:46 a.m.
Flight 11 strikes North Tower

8:48 a.m.
First news reports appear on TV and radio

8:55 a.m.
Bush motorcade arrives at Emma Booker Elementary School
Karl Rove or Andrew Card informs Bush of the first WTC crash

9:03 a.m.
Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' second-grade classroom

9:03 a.m.
Flight 175 strikes South Tower
Bush poses for pictures with the students and teachers.

9:06 a.m.
Andrew Card informs Bush of the second WTC crash;
"A second plane has hit the World Trade Center."
"America is under attack"

9:06 - 9:12 a.m.
Bush listens as second-graders take turns reading a story called 'The Pet Goat'

9:16 - 9:29 a.m.
Bush works with his staff in an empty classroom preparing for an upcoming speech.

9:29 a.m.
Bush gives a brief speech and poses for more photos at Emma Booker Elementary School

9:34 a.m.
Bush's motorcade leaves Booker Elementary School for
Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

9:38 a.m.
Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.

9:56 a.m.
Bush departs from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
on Air Force One

This leaves out a few items that are disputed/denied by the current administration, such as the report that Bush received a phone call enroute to the photo-op that something very unusual was occurring in our airspace on that day (and decided to go ahead with the photo-op anyway).

(Taken from a comment on this page.)