Archive for June, 2006

Yes. “Vent your frustration”. Send a “message”. Then…

Friday, June 30th, 2006

… Vote for Lieberman.

The Lieberman camp is hoping that in the final summer stretch of campaigning, voters will have had an opportunity to express their unhappiness, and then vote for him anyway.

“Some people are giving Joe a message and I’ve heard that over and over again. And you know what, that’s great,” said Hadassah Lieberman. “But now, they got the message across, loud and clear. So, let’s not make the message more than a message.”

This makes no sense to me. Isn’t a vote for a candidate, in this case either Ned Lamont or Joseph Lieberman, a “message” of who you want in and of itself? What anti-Lieberman message do you send to Lieberman by voting for him?

Creating a controversy with the New York Times

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Is Spiro Agnew remembered for anything but the phrase “nattering nabobs of negativity”? I don’t have anything.

It fits into the canon of the conservative movement’s long-held battle against the press, which has taken an ugly turn this week as the whole of the Republican party demands COMPLIANCE from and RETRIBUTION for the New York Times, mentioned exclusively, for a story written up by the Wall Street Journal and others.

I don’t know if I particularly care about the story, to be honest. I’m either not a good civil libertarian or am circumspect that what has been lost has already been lost. The government is following private banking records — specifically the name of the enterprise through international transactions is SWIFT, you say? I have less a problem with this enterprise than warrant-less eavesdropping of phone calls, though the combination is a little striking.

The problem is, I gather, the terrorists probably moved gingerly beyond SWIFT, as best they can, a long time ago. And thus, I can only get depressed in hearing the throb of Republicans — who, by the way, are waiting on call from the Bush Administration in how to proceed to give him license to affect no changes in our Guantanamo policy making the 5-3 Supreme Court decision for all practical purposes meaningless…

The question is: Should we shut down the media, or consolidate it into the government?

No. Wait. Not quite yet.

The politics of Satan

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

“There’s another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C.,” Jacob said. “It’s the devil is what it is. I don’t want you to print that, but it feels like that’s what it is.”
Jacob said Thursday that since he decided to run for Congress against Rep. Chris Cannon, Satan has bollixed his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped. […]

Asked if he actually believed that “something else” was indeed Satan, Jacob said: “I don’t know who else it would be if it wasn’t him. Now when that gets out in the paper, I’m going to be one of the screw-loose people.”
Jacob initially said the devil was working against him during a Wednesday immigration event, then reiterated his belief Thursday in a meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board.
“There’s a lot of adversity. There’s no question I’ve had experiences that I think there’s an outside force,” he said.
University of Utah political scientist Matthew Burbank said Jacob’s sentiment is unusual for a political candidate and might show his inexperience, but is unlikely to be a major issue for the conservative voters he is targeting.

Political Adversary… Satan. That’s nearly a new one.

Jacob, who like Cannon is LDS, said he is not the only one who is being opposed by Beelzebub.

II. Every time I read something like this I am brought back to that view most of the thinking world has of us these days, they think we are nuts. Let you in on a secret, I think so, too. This individual, who is standing for office in Utah, will probably be elected on the strength of the sentiments he expressed here. When that happens we will all know it, there will no longer be any guesswork left in it.

III. Yep. I think he got the idea from Bush2. I’m starting to believe that B2 “lets it slip” every now and then on purpose that God talks to him and that God tells him to do such things as invade Iraq.

And then later when pressed, he explains that he didn’t quite mean it literally,–but there is this sense then, if you’re inclined to believe it, that there’s indeed a kind of devine communication of sorts going on there.

And if you’re one to not be inclined to believe it, you just go back to your net surfing. Fairly brilliant strategy when you think about it.

The One Percent Doctrine

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

This would explain a few things, namely various incredulous pronouncements made by the Bush Administration over the past five and a half years.

The title of Ron Suskind’s riveting new book, “The One Percent Doctrine,” refers to an operating principle that he says Vice President Dick Cheney articulated shortly after 9/11: in Mr. Suskind’s words, “if there was even a 1 percent chance of terrorists getting a weapon of mass destruction — and there has been a small probability of such an occurrence for some time — the United States must now act as if it were a certainty.” He quotes Mr. Cheney saying that it’s not about “our analysis,” it’s about “our response,” and argues that this conviction effectively sidelines the traditional policymaking process of analysis and debate, making suspicion, not evidence, the new threshold for action.

Now, if you assume that something assessed to have a one percent chance of happening is certain, that is a conversion of a one percent chance into a one hundred percent chance. Within this new framework, you assess something new as having a one percent chance. We now arrive at point zero one percent. And, of course, this new one percent, properly a point zero one percent, becomes a certainty, and we start all over again.

Ad infinitum. You go from the scale of the cosmos and move into sub-atomic particles… whatever it was that scientists deemed quarks were composed of a few years back.

The problem comes in that the reciprocal is not followed through — for the sake of a one percent, you are not following through the percentages of consequences in addressing the one percent. Further, the fact that the ninety-nine percent are being bumped up against, and the ninety nine percent turns out to be the reality, complicates the consequences.

Further, when you slide into absolute certainty over what should be one slice out of a hundred, it’s nearly impossible to snap back to the one to one scale on that scale. We’re already in quadraple zero terriotry.

Aaron Spelling

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Do you have any idea how many hours of television Aaron Spelling produced? And how much of it was absorbed by the television watching public plopped on the couch, too lazy to change the channel?

Or I guess they weren’t too lazy, instead indulging in the guilty pleasure of “Jigg-o-vision”, which I guess is the inspiration for Baywatch, the heroines of late 1970s grade d action shows bobbing toward the television, breasts bopping up and down.

Perhaps it is time I read Everything Bad is Good For You, the idea behind the book being something akin to pop cultural products have improved markably in “nutritional worth”. Where does Aaron Spelling, whos programming fits the very stereotype inherent in the slur toward television as the “boob tube” (the other definition of ‘boob’ not intentional, but apt), sit in this blender? Melrose Place was better than Charlie’s Angels, right?

Actually I’m most impressed by the bombs in Aaron Spelling’s catalouge. Back when the Fox television network was having Spelling float out a new television program every season. The legacy of the show “Models Inc” is a single gag on the Simpsons, wherein the family cat tries to get attention over the family’s whole bunch of new greyhounds:

The family and the puppies all watch TV. A woman in a bikini suns
herself on a boat, and one of the puppies gets up on its hind legs and
paws at the screen. Marge chuckles, “Look at Branford II! Isn’t that
cute? He thinks he’s one of the Models, Inc.!” The family join in
their laughter. Snowball II, listless, tries the same stunt as Branford
II, only to be rebuked angrily by Homer: “Get that cat out of the way!”

Too bad the other shows didn’t have the luxury of another show to make a reference to it.

The television induis run

What I Am Reading right now — a conversation with a book

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

It speaks to the general degradation of our American educational system that I could in 8th grade American History class scribble next to “Booker T Washington” “Prominent Black leader of early 20th century” and receive full credit. To be fair, this was about the bottom barrel of it all — for this particular class, I purposefully turned in the worst review of an autobiography of Dwight D Eisenhower, one that I believe should have been graded below a blank sheet of paper, that I could and — lo and behold — received an A.

But why do I remeber something as mundane as the answer to a middle school test question? I perhaps don’t, but remember vaguely the type of test answers that were permissable. I couldn’t quite accept the incompletness of such identifyers, and in this case the subtle racism of the acceptance of such a response. I should have, at the very least, been required to write in “established Tukegee Institute”, and in an even slightly better educational setting probably further been required to explain what, precisely, the Tukegee Institute was and is — never mind the historical and political context.

So it is that I didn’t really get any notion of the controversial nature of Booker T Washington as “The Great Accomodator” until college. WEB Du Bois is assigned reading, and there Du Bois is — tearing Booker T a new one. Sitting alongside Du Bois in the Norton Anthology is, indeed, a few selections of Booker T Washington. They were not assigned reading, though they probably should have been — if just to explain Du Bois’s problem. It is understandable why Booker T Washington was not assigned, and if you venture into David Howowitz’s thesis of the entrenched left-wing indoctrinating system of the University Professor for a second — spitting on Booker T Washington’s inspiring capitalist message here, Booker T Washington’s “Pull yourself up by the boot-straps” message invited “Whitey” to just keep pushing “Blackey”‘s face back right on down to their bootstraps.

Nay. I can create a charitable and sympathetic portrait of Booker T Washington. To help create a decent life for the dispossessed in highly compromised circumstances is a noble enough feat, and you cannot accomplish it without being so compromised. If he didn’t exist, someone else would have had to stand in his place. Further, the call to “Agitate, Agitate, Agitate” from Fredrick Douglas is easy enough to chime in for, but understand if you are in the South and you do such a thing as a black man — you’ll be dead before sunlight.

In present day America, I cannot hear the regularly scheduled speeches of Bill Cosby against the problems with “thug culture” of urban black youth without thinking, in the back of my mind, Booker T Washington. Supposing for a minute that he’s largely correct, and after wiping my mind clean of the image of him shouting for “Theo!”, he is largely correct, and is saying much that Chris Rock gave in his famous comedy monolouge. I hear the celebrations on conservative talk radio and such after any Bill Cosby pronouncement, and I just kind of wince. We have been absolved of our sins!!

Thus it is that I never really think “Uncle Tom”, though as someone more white than thou I don’t really have to intrinsically deal with such an issue. Uncle Tom is just a cartoonish character in a bad, though historically important, polemical fiction. Booker T Washington is at least a complicated and multi-fissured person you can draw from.