Archive for October, 2008

Thoughts on the ordeal over “Book of Bunny Suicides”

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Background here and here.  Though, given The Oregonian’s 14 day policy, I will probably have to find a different cut-and-paste racket.

#1:  I find it difficult to believe that “The Book of Bunny Suicides” is the best use of Central Linn High School’s resources, even if it does meet one of the purpose of a school library to spur “Reluctant Readers” to open a book.

#2:  By now the 13 year old who checked the book should have been aware of his mother’s sensibilities, and known enough to keep the book away from her, enjoying it for himself.  Though, I suppose he’s at that age where he has a psychological need to spar with her, so who knows?

#3:  Is this book properly labelled a “graphic novel”?  It doesn’t seem to have a narrative to it.: 

The 2003 book by British author Andy Riley is a collection of black-comedy cartoons showing adorable white rabbits trying to end their lives through a variety of methods.  A mail slot. The Starship Enterprise’s transporter room. A chair set up between a knife store and “Electro-Magnets ‘R’ Us.” A grenade tied to a boomerang. The scenarios go on for 80 pages.

That does not describe a graphic novel.  Or, for that matter, fit Scott McCloud’s definition of “comics”. 

#4:  The apparent problem coming from — “They’re not getting this book back,” she told the newspaper. If the library replaces it, “I’ll have somebody else check it out and I’ll keep that one. I’m just disgusted by the whole ordeal,” she said.  — is solved through  — Several people from as far away as Seattle have called and e-mailed, offering to buy and donate the popular graphic novel along with literary classics that have shown up on banned-book lists in the past, said principal Julie Knoedler.  Meaning that the library shall have a perpetual supply of “Book of Bunny Suicides” which will outlive Taffey Anderson’s mission.

#5:  “Banned Book Week” is a sham.  Some back-waters snake-handler complains about Harry Potter and at the end of September books and libraries put up a display case where the best selling book of the past decade is trumped up as “Censored”.  Frankly, the same works with the classics.  Indeed, looking over the displays, about the only item I’m terribly impressed with in terms of “Censorship” is Salman Rushdie.  But that’s crowded out by “Captian Underpants” and Gossip Girls — the first I think I would have found annoying at the age of eleven and anyway is available round about everywhere, the second is so driven underground that it has been adapted into a television series.  In the next incarnation, it looks like The Book of Bunny Suicides will be granted this street cred.

#6:  The Central Linn school board meets Monday night. Knoedler expects it to put together a committee — comprised of a parent, English teachers, school librarians, a board member and other community members — to review “The Book of Bunny Suicides.”  I’m coming up a little short in imagining the cross-currents of conversation between the parent, English teachers, school librarians, a board members, and other community members in discussing this book.  Can it be televised live?

#7:  “The Book of Bunny Suicides,” Kenney said, is funny but belongs on the mature-humor shelf rather than a library’s youth section.

Yes, he said, the Albany library’s children’s section includes books from humorist Gary Larson. “But I don’t think his cartoons ever put bunnies in toasters,” Kenney said.

You might want to double check on that one.

#8:  Burn?  BURN???

Patio Man

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

David Brooks has introduced us all to the crucial segment of the electorate that determines the course of American politics:  Patio Man.

For all the talk of plumbers and investment bankers, populists and elitists, Patio Man is still at the epicenter of national politics.

Self-parody much?  But before you get your mock on, I think I know where he picked up on “Patio Man”.  I believe Patio Man is the lost verse of a They Might Be Giants song.

And, yes, Triangle Man beats Patio Man.

Political Ramifications of things we don’t like to think in terms of political ramifications

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

I suppose that there are issues swirling around with the vice presidents — Biden says something which the McCain / Palin ticket is running with, and whose controversy mostly just exposes it as something of the “Say Nothing” nature of a presidential campaign; Palin says something which contradicts McCain’s position.  (Or, if we are on edge about the existence of a controversy, it does not speak too well for how we think about presidential elections.)

Notwithstanding that, and while it is uncomfortable to see this, of all things, in crass political horse race terms — Obama goes off to Hawaii to care for his ailing grandma — I point out that, like the Powell endorsement, it kills a couple days in the Tedious Presidential Campaign — ensures a few days of fuzzy news coverage of Obama’s upbringing — blazened next to McCain decrying the Socialist Menace.  Or, in terms of that last post on the Powell endorsement — another first down.

The tortured Sports metaphor describing Colin Powell’s endorsement

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Barack Obama leads by two touch-downs with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and is on offense at the fifty yard line.  It is third and 13 — first down saw a run for no gain, second down saw a three yard sack.  (Or, in real world parlance, McCain just edged up in the polls slightly and the conversation had been focused on the 15 minutes of fame of Joe Plumber.)

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama.  This is a twenty yard pick-up, and a new set of first downs, and another chance to just kill a couple minutes off the clock, and if nothing else is in field goal range.  Thie endorsement fills the air of the media landscape for a couple days, which is the most important factor in this sports’ race.  Sure, sure: Powell attracts independents and wavering Republicans, provides the same “gravitas” he lent to Bush in 2000, in the game of Racial politics provides a counter to Wright, lends foreign policy and veteran credibility and everything else is true.  But mostly he just kills two day off the calendar in the tedious slog toward Election Day.

That is the meaning of the Colin Powell endorsement.  What can be said about Colin Powell himself?  Well, he waved around that vial at the UN, but never mind — I don’t much matter in this equation.

At least it’s a first hand account of the German anti-cult conference. That’s worth something, isn’t it?

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Question:  Is this anything?  I will let you ponder that question.  I say it is something — pure noise signifying not much, perhaps, but someone (Alan Osler, I suppose) sat at a computer keyboard, logged onto his internet website blog, and typed this out.  To begin with:

Some of Larouche’s work has merit – he writes well about the economy, and predicted the crash that we are seeing now accurately several years ago. He also knows a thing or two about classical culture.

That’s a hoot, really.  To paraphrase this by quoting Homer Simpson, “Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.”  I have an imagined realm of people who take “Lyn Marcus” with some amount of legitimacy — surfing the arena of paranoid discontent round about Alex Jones and Jeff Rense and various websites which scrubbed out some material on the Y2K scare and replaced it with 9/11 conspiracy.  Where this hits is with the constant drum-beat of doom regarding the economy, the classical culture does not figure much.  Unique, at least.

But that’s undermined round about the observation regarding Chip Berlet’s fashion sense and his “penis bulge”.  I’m sure Socrates would be proud — or, for that matter, Schiller.  Additionally the fine Acronym of an organization, “C.U.N.T.S.” — who indicates the Larouche Organization’s cultural refinement with And this fascist conference was another desperate attempt at slandering LaRouche. That british MP is a cunt. Everyone should call his office and call him a cunt.
On these other gutter-dwelling creatures I need not say a word, except to remind those who read this that these people will be remembered in history as total cunts. 
Bravo.  All of this is fine and appropriate, because Chip Berlet used the word “Bastard”.  (Incidentally, the last time I saw that word used as an acronym, someone had signed a federal form to form a pac “Citizens United Not Timid” as a very crude anti-Hillary Clinton organization, geared up for the general election.  The word resurfaced with a t-shirt regarding Sarah Palin, which was the central focus of John McCain’s rebuff to John Lewis and others’ cries regarding intolerance expressed at McCain / Palin rallies.)  But the use of the word here is as much to avoid any accidental possibilitty of someone sympathizing with his cause as anything else.

Chip is holding up one of LaRouche’s more entertaining magazines, the “Children of Satan” special. I have read it – it is interesting, but, well, “Anti British”. Chip says it is “antismitic”, and points to a picture of Dick Cheney (who isn’t Jewish – or even Arabic). […] Everyone is saying LaRouche is anti Semitic, even though LaRouche blames the British for everything, including stuff that everyone else blames on Israel. The Simpsons and Futurama take the piss out of LaRouche because he is an oddball. These people here are as bad as the old man.

I have that basic feeling with this frequent comment, “There is no anti-semitism here — it’s anti-British!”, which is “Have it your way.”  That is an even more insane proposition.  But, first off, the purpose of this event as stated by the Org:

At a time when the collapse of the global financial system has propelled American economist Lyndon H. LaRouche, once again, to the center of international politics, a propaganda campaign, organized from Great Britain, is scheduled to take place in Berlin, Germany, for the purpose of attacking Mr. LaRouche and targeting his wife …

The conspiratorial worldview is one pointed inward: the Larouche Conspiracy is the pointless task of convincing a few hundred individuals that their man is someone of any import.  The statement goes on to express the history of the politicos acting on behalf of Jeremiah Duggan to stop Larouche as he had become the most major critic of the lead up to the Iraq War.  Comfortably you slide into this as a tact against the British Empire.  Anecdotally, I can point to two people who agree with the “code language”.  This evangelizer of the cause at the leading neo-nazi website, explaining to his fellow White Supremists how to properly understand Larouche in the battle against ZOG.  The other one is Mr. Ossifur, the leader of the Larouchian Cryonics Movement (???), who is at constant battle with the Jewish Cryonics force — basically because they take the subject seriously and hence don’t take him seriously.  Alan Osler is completely right about Futurama, it appears.

It is a little off to say that the accusation is that Jeremiah Duggan “was targetted” because he was Jewish.  I believe it runs more along the lines of he “was targetted” because he was Jewish and was calling out the anti-semitic blusters.

I am expected to play that game of Equivalency in reading this blog post.  The Larouchians are spouting conspiracy theories — the anti-Larouchians are spouting conspiracy theories.  (You know… the critics?  But to link that is a false equivalency on my part, of course:  History won’t remember Larouche, or will as a rather odd footnote — ’tis already forgotten him anyway.  I’m having a hard time picturing this conference as anything but sparsely attended — after all, it concerns freaking Lyndon Larouche, goddamnedit. <i>late edit:  reportedly from 100 to 150 through the day being in the room.  And I don’t really have any basis to judge that.  Reports will trickle in, I’m sure.</i>)  So we get this:

She [Molly Kronberg] just said that LaRouche was responsible for her husband’s suicide 18 months ago, unaware of how oxmoronic she is being.
“I have proof. It is in print”.
I want to say “well, where is it then? Did the dog eat it?”

She has, for reasons best known to herself, decided not to share her “proof”. No one thinks this is strange. More conspiracy theories with no evidence.

Start with the memo of April 11, 2007 and we can go in various directions from there.  I went through a rather bizarre interchange back then with members of the organization on this blog.  The Game of forcing an Equivalency is going to get you every time.

I imagine this conference did some good.  It is enough to match the following two items together: The Untimely Death of Jeremiah Duggan and The Lyndon Larouche Movement under various names.  The lesson is merely: do not follow them into Wiesbaden.  Or into a basement dwelling.  It is with that that I do welcome a first hand account from whomever — even this thing.  And it is with that that this blog post plays a small role with that task.

Update on Bob Conley’s campaign

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

You gotta love the campaign of a long-shot candidate with no real ties to his political party.  From the news down in South Carolina.:

 Bob Conley, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for the seat, said he’s holding his opponent’s feet to the fire in the election.

Speaking to a group of roughly 10 gathered at Bobby’s Bar-B-Q Buffet sponsored by the Aiken Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty, Conley wasted no time in getting down to the issues, chief of which he said was Graham’s support of “so-called” free trade agreements.

Why could this writer not have simply counted to get a better representation of “roughly ten people”?

Further forecasting:

Mr. Graham offered assurances that the $700 billion Wall Street rescue package he voted for would work.
But Mr. Conley predicted the Dow Jones industrial average is heading to 3,000, about a third of its current mark, as the federal intervention adds to inflation and the national debt.

3 thousand?

Are you and have you ever been a member of the Natural Law Party, Mr. Plumber?

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

An interesting side-light in the saga of Joe the Plumber was that he was a registered member of the Natural Law Party.  Media reports have gotten some things about this political wrong, namely its continued existence — the national party dissolved in 2004, though they did set up a shadow government and allowed for the continued existence of state parties.  The state parties have all probably dried up by now as their use for vehicle for vanity political campaigns sputter away in the face of fraction of a percentage election results, but I would have to run through the “politics1″ page on minor parties to see if the Natural Law party still has some foothold anywhere.

(And a quick check shows that it does not any longer exist in electoral politics.  Idaho was the last strong-hold.)

Would I want to be identified with the Natural Law Party?  Would you want to be identified with the Natural Law Party?  I don’t know — it probably shouldn’t be held against you.  The focal point of the Natural Law Party, and its ultimate reason for being, was a belief in Transcendental Meditation under the auspices of the  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.   Moreso, from old wikipedia:  that the development of consciousness, in particular through the practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program including Yogic Flying, can enhance individual capability to resolve societal problems, and (2) that the practice of these techniques by a critical mass of the population, or else their group practice, in particular the group practice of Yogi Flying, results in overall improvements in society, including reduced crime, accidents and hospital admissions and improvements in prosperity, security and quality of life.  From this basic kernal the party can branch out and ornament its philosophy with some ecompass various liberal policy goals of an activist government and a peaceful political stance visa vie the world at large.  The “basic kernal” of Transcendetnal Meditation was always hiding behind the stated philosophy of “solving the world’s problems in an inter-connected” manner.  John Hagelin was the perpetual presidential candidate (in 2000 waging a battle against Pat Buchanan to control the Reform Party’s ballot access), until 2004 when they endorsed Dennis Kucinich for president.  I recall interviews with Kucinich where he was asked to address the members of his political following who got together in groups at the end of his speeches to practice some Yogic Flying — he demurred.  He also explained once how he was going to be elected president with a vast coalition of Democrats, “Reagan Democrats” who had been voting Republican, Green Party members, and Natural Law Party members.  Apparently including Joe Plumber.

My problem with Joe Plumber, therefor, does not really concern much his Aspirational politics where he believes (mistakenly) that he’s about to be taxed out the gorde as he is on the cusp of buying a $250,000 business, his lack of understanding of tax policy — people can vote for something that is not their immediate self-interest and for what they consider a larger interest — the only issue there is it would be nice if they know that.  Nor is it much of a concern that he is not a licensed plumber, and the immediate conspiracy theory that he was related to a member of the Keating family rang as immediately false.  No.  The problem is the inconsistency with someone who can spout out a litany of rather conservative opinions:

“Social Security’s a joke.  I have parents.  I don’t need another set of parents called the government.  Let me take my money and invest it how I please.  Social Security, I’ve never believed in, don’t like it, hate that it’s forced on me.”
“I’m not sorry that we’re in Iraq. … We’ve liberated another country.  I mean, you know, freedom. … I don’t know if you guys are Christians or not, but it’s like someone coming to Jesus and becoming saved.  These guys have freedom. … Has it kept us safe? Absolutely.  I believe in that 100 percent.”

(Also he’s tired of Americans apologizing for this greatest of nations, and dissing on the flag, and wants immigrants to get in line.)

… with someone who registered, unknowingly he states, with a political party that can eagerly endorse Dennis Kucinich.  You can be one or the other or you can be one and then the other, but you can not be both.  That does not square.  But everyone has their demons in the closet, I suppose.

The Republican Salvage Operation

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

There is a bit of conflicting information on this score, but it appears that the horse-race poll numbers have tightened toward John McCain a tad.  Drudge gets to blare the anomalous Gallup poll results which show the race in the margin of error at 3 percent– but Drudge probably blared that weird “which of these polls is doing its own thing?” one percenter a week ago.

Anyway, we’ve gone from the six and eleven percentage advantage for Obama to the five and seven percent advantage.  Which is odd, because the swing states don’t appear to be moving in McCain’s direction, and that weird assortment of non-swing states which nonetheless are tantalazingly close for Obama keep popping up here and there.  Perhaps the swing state polls lag behind the national polls?

I am also getting conflicting accounts of what it is McCain is doing with this map.  But maybe this politico report is just old news, and McCain has already side-lined it to his focus on getting a narrow Bush-state victory.  The tightening of the polls does suggest that McCain can’t or shouldn’t slide into the “Salvage what you can” mode for keeping as many Republican seats down-ticket as you can — though with McCain’s history with his own party this might not be too doable anyways.  What I would do if I were the McCain / Palin campaign: #1: You have something with “Joe the Plumber” — which is a nascent Tax Revolt which is not going to win you anything in 2008 but will be the kernal of a future Republican victory.  Go with that campaign tact.  #2:  McCain should shuttle back and forth between Ohio and Florida.  80 percent of his campaign appearances should be in these two states.  Maybe that number is an exaggeration, and maybe McCain needs to lean on Palin a bit too much to excite any crowd.  #3:  Sarah Palin can do that red-state tour through the questionably marginal states such as Missouri and traditionally Republican but swinging toward Obama’s direction states of North Carolina and Virginia and the unsettled West Virginia.  This is the Base Mobilization strategy, the states where the natural Democratic / Republican disparency should have the Republican win by just getting their voters to the poll — and it appears to be what she is doing — telling North Carolinas that this is the part of the country full of “Real Americans” (as opposed to the fake Americans who populate the rest of the country) and demanding that Obama come clean on his connections with ACORN (which strikes me like demanding to know somebody’s connections with the Rotary).

That also might give Palin an excuse to head over to, say Georgia.  Which is a state Obama is probably not going to win, but is entertaining the idea of making a play for.  I suspect it’s as much a play for winning the Senate seat there as anything else.  This brings me to what it is John Ensign of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee’s strategy these days ought be.  This is the Salvage Operation of all Salvage Operations — the very feeble goal of keeping the number of Republican senate seats into the 40s.  The situation for the Republicans is that they might lose eight senate seats, and they can still just go ahead and call it a victory.  I guess the strategy for Ensign and crew these days would be to concede Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.  Alaska they can leave to Ted Stevens’s devices — which is not a concession.  This leaves two tiers of states:  Oregon and Minnesota in one, followed by Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and perhaps Texas.  The Republicans should win that latst four, and purely defensively it would get them into the forties if they keep those seats — their meager goal.  I guess for limited resources purposes, I’d trust Texas to remain in Cornyn’s good hands, and spend it to keep Kentucky, Georgia, and Misssissippi in Republican hands.  That is the firewall — Gordon Smith and Norm Coleman might as well be buttressed by third party 527s (“Paid for by People Who Love Puppies”) and probably wouldn’t be too well served by advertisements which end with voters hearing “Paid for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee”.  It is not too good a sign that the Republicans are left with a fire-wall purely with those three southern (and border) states, and conceding a bunch of Presidential swing-states, but that’s where the party sits for the year 2008.  Well, 2010 and 2012 promise moderately big things for the party, I suppose.  All of this is off, because the Republicans are foolishly still trying to pick off a Senate victory in Louisiana — a little too proud are they, I suppose.