I Swear To God, I Wish I Had Some Lions

So, today the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring Christmas and Christians important. Now, one would think, in a nation that is 70% Christian, where there’s a church on every other fucking street corner, this would be superfluous. Guess not. If the 12% of us Agnostics and Atheists scare American Christians that much, simply by our desire to sleep in on Sunday mornings, than your religion isn’t worth shit. Apparently, the very knowledge that some people, maybe living next door or down the street (or in your own house, even!) don’t believe in the same imaginary friend really spooks True Believers. But it’s not persecution. I live in a state that still has Blue Laws. I can’t buy a bottle of wine on Sundays to go with my dinner, like any civilized European or Northerner, yet you’re the one whose oppressed?
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All Those Other Dictators Just Don’t Get Me Like You Do

In a recent post I characterized all the Republican candidates as evil, belligerent Jesus freaks. I realized that this is a wide category and surely has some nuance to it. So, I’ve decided to clarify as to exactly why all of these people would be not just bad presidents but are in fact loathsome human beings in general. Here is why I won’t be voting for…
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Helping People is Socialism

The modern day Conservative Movement has convinced millions of otherwise smart and sensible Americans that to help their neighbors and fellow citizens is an evil so profound as to be neigh on par with that age old bogeyman, Socialism. Children shouldn’t have health care, the President, a pro-family Christian, told us, because… well, he never really did say why. But he implied that if lower middle class children got used to having ready access to health care, then poor children and even adults would expect to have access to health care that borders on the Universal and well, we all know how bad that is. Just look at France! With their lower infant mortality rates, longer life expectancy and lower rates of obesity and chronic illness, plus all those doctors on call 24/7, why it’s a veritable Hell of Socialized Medicine! It’s a wonder that the French don’t flock across the ocean for our American style, sub par health care with it’s built in hidden fees, byzantine bureaucracy and outrageous prescription costs.

Meanwhile, Bush and his cronies in the Federal Reserve are debating how much money they’re going to use to bail out the banks who are floundering under a wave of defaulted mortgages. I mean, it’s not like they’re sick kids here, these are bankers! And they need our help!
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Treason and Plot (But No Gunpowder, Yet)

I wasn’t going to post about Scooter and his get out of jail free card but well, damn it, I’m pissed off. No, seriously. I know you can’t tell by my lack of punctuation but there are just not enough capitol letters available on my current keyboard to emphasize how angry I am that this traitorous fucker gets to walk. WordPress and the Internet does not support thousand point fonts. I suppose I could hop in my crop duster and write “GO TO HELL, SCOOTER” across the sky but it would still only express a fraction of the disgust and contempt I have for Libby, The President* and our governmental system as a whole. Perhaps a laser capable of sawing ten mile wide letters in the moon. Maybe that would express it. Or a gravity pump capable of moving stars, so I can spell out my disgust across the cosmos, so that future generations and civilizations eons hence will know how feverishly displeased I am that this slimy little pig fucker can put on the Benedict Arnold Hat and walk away like it was just some rude e-mail he accidentally sent to everyone in the office instead of just his equally degenerate buddy down the hall.

Many other people have added their piss to the wind but John Rogers wins the Internets for nailing the reason this despicable behavior was no real surprise:

Our representatives — and to a great degree we as a culture — are completely buffaloed by shamelessness. You reveal a man’s corrupt, or lying, or incompetent, and what does he do? He resigns. He attempts to escape attention, often to aid in his escape of legal pursuit. Public shame has up to now been the silver bullet of American political life. But people who are willing to just do the wrong thing and wait you out, to be publicly guilty … dammmnnnn.

We are faced with utterly shameless men. Cheney and the rest are looking our representatives right in the eye and saying “You don’t have the balls to take down a government. You don’t have the sheer testicular fortitude to call us lying sonuvabitches when we lie, to stop us from kicking the rule of law and the Constitution in the ass. You just don’t. What’s beyond that abyss — what that would do to our government and our identity as a nation — terrifies you too much. So get the fuck out of our way.”

And to a great degree, the White House is right. You peel this back, and you reveal that the greatest country in the world has been run, for the last six and a half years, by men who do not give a shit about the Constitution, or fair play, or honesty. No, not just run by corrupt men, or bribe-takers, or adulterers or whatever, we could handle that –no we’d be admitting It Went Wrong.

And that’s the country we now live in. It’s not that the Cheney gang was so stupid that they never thought they’d get caught. It’s just that they didn’t care. They realized they could exploit the system and come out on top because that system is based on human decency and the innate Homo Sapien pack contract that if you fuck up, you slink away for a bit until you’re forgiven, then work your way back up the ladder. But you can short circuit that, so long as you smother that part of your heart that feels shame and self respect. Once you’ve killed the fear, you can do anything, so long as you don’t blink.

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*And by President I mean Cheney. I’m still not entirely sure George W. understands half the shit that comes out of his mouth. All he knows is that he gets fifteen minutes on the X-Box every time he makes it through a whole speech without mispronouncing more than three words in a row. I’ve heard a lot of people lately wonder out loud, “how does that poor bastard live with himself knowing what he has done?” You’re assuming A) he knows what he’s done and B) that he cares. Sociopaths have no empathy. Other people’s feelings are as alien to him as they are to any Doctor Who villain. A Dalek cannot feel sorry, because feeling is something only tangentially related to his experience. He was the one who chose to shed his skin and live inside a can and make “EXTERMINATE!” a way of life, not just a catchy thing to say on a Saturday night. If you can’t see the beauty of that lifestyle, well, you’re just some emotional alien with two bleeding hearts and a sense of justice and self control.

Fetch the Smelling Salts!

Apparently, we uncouth bloggers are giving some folks the vapors:

Readers should be warned when they are reading blogs that may contain “crude language”, a draft blogging code of conduct has suggested.

The code was drawn up by web pioneer Tim O’Reilly following published threats and perceived harassment to US developer Kathy Sierra on blogs.

The code begins: “We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation.”

And then goes on to tell us all to shut the fuck up, because we’re just prolls who should accept our place and thank the media outlets, all six of them, for allowing us the pantomime of free press they sell us.

But here’s the thing: if you’re reading this right now, you’ve already decided for yourself if you’re going to be offended by my loose language and run to the swooning couch and have Mammy fetch the smelling salts, or read through to the end to see if I make a valid point or not. And that’s all the bloging ethics we’ll ever need. Read my words or don’t. Agree, or don’t. You can agree and leave a comment to that effect or disagree and call me names. And maybe I’ll respond and maybe I’ll delete your trollish rants. But it’s up to me to decide because it’s my fucking website. I pay for the bandwidth, I own the domain. You don’t like my perspective? Go start your own blog and call me names on it. Maybe I’ll read it, maybe I won’t. But if you don’t like what I write, you’re under no obligation to read it. That goes as much for me as it does for Atrios or any of the big dogs in blogland. And the thing is, we all figured this out pretty quickly, on our own, years ago when we started this blog stuff in the first place and we didn’t need a manual or some policy board to tell us how to run our sites. We just made up the rules as we went along. seems to be working good so far, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that the Internet is a free medium and that scares the shit out of some people. It means unpopular opinions that might have some validity have an opportunity to get heard and to spread and become popular opinions, all without gatekeepers or some authority figure giving the thumbs up. It allows for culture to be spread and evolve organically, in the hands of anyone with a desire to contribute, not just the monied elite who, for most of human history, were the arbiters of taste and expression. Now that it is no longer so, there is fear that we, the unwashed, foul mouthed masses will have a say. And that, my friends, means the end of the way things used to be.

What, No Children To Coerce Into a Life of Military Servitude?

This BBC headline is brilliant: Gay Sex Immoral Says US General

And war, of course, is family values, good as apple pie and kittens. Please General Pace, Sir, lecture me some on what is Right and Honorable:

“As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behaviour] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behaviour,” he said.

Just to clarify: your job, sir, is to fucking kill people. And seeing as how you’ve attained the lofty rank of General in these, our armed forces, you’re pretty well versed in the methods and tactics of your butchery. But, oh, the thought of two men in passionate embrace turns your delicate stomach. In what twisted version of reality did I wake up in to find a fucking hired killer lecturing the world at large on what is and is not moral? General Pace claims to be a Christian, though he receives a paycheck for violating a major commandment of his religion, while simultaneously arguing for the enforcement of some obscure prohibition, one concocted in the dim mists of antiquity, when the wise men of the day declared that the sun turned about the Earth and shrimp were an abomination in the eyes if their imaginary friend.

General Pace, Sir, get a fucking grip. Homosexuals were loving one another long before you came about and will be doing so, in and out of uniform, far after your delicate sensibilities have turned to dust. I know you have a lot of free time on your hands, now that you’re no longer in charge of torturing people in Iraq, but can’t you maybe find something slightly more constructive to do unto King George calls on you to take your professional services to Iran? Maybe there’s a baby somewhere itching to inspect your bayonet.

A Guide For the Perplexed

Or people in Boston, which may just be the same thing. Since some people in your town can’t tell the difference between a bomb and a cartoon character, here’s a little guide to help you through the chaos:

Not a Bomb

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Bomb!

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Bomb! Wait! Fooled ya. He just looks like a bomb. Not an explosive device!

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Bomb!

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NOT A BOMB!

In real life, bombs do not look like bombs. They look like plain packages or unobtrusive things. Trash. Boxes. Sometimes shoes (but only once and never since). Or nothing at all because they are hidden inside other things that are innocuous, like cars or plastic bags or chijuajuas. They do not tick. They do not blink.

Bombs are not used as part of a multi-million dollar marketing plan for a movie, even one directed by Michael Bay. They are dropped on people, usually civilians, form a great height, or strapped to the chest of fourteen year olds who still believe in fairy tales. They are stuffed inside soda cans and thrown through windows or mailed to celebrities by a recluse living in a shack in Montana.

Bombs do not ever look like cartoon characters that give you the finger, which you deserve for being so fucking daft that you shut down a whole frickin’ city because the government has you so shit scared that some religious fanatic living in a cave in some lawless zone in Pakistan, using his hand as toilet paper, is going to somehow deliver a state of the art improvised explosive device to the underside of a bridge in the greater Boston metropolitan area.

And even if they could, it wouldn’t light up!

But hay, at least it distracted us all from that war with Iran that Bush is starting.

We’re All Enemy Combatants, Now

I haven’t written anything on the Torture Bill moving it’s way through Congress because of the simple fact that I shouldn’t have to state explicitly that I think torture is a bad idea. No one should. But that’s the level we’ve sunk to. So: for the record, I think torture is wrong, worthless, undemocratic and evil. I believe that the democratic freedoms upon which the US Constitution is based are Universal, Inalienable and apply to everyone, even those who wish to do us harm. Freedom is free. All you have to do is take it. And you can either take it for yourself or give it up for the illusion of safety. But if you give up your very real and tangible freedoms for a snuff of pixie dust in the form of a promise of safety than, as my hero, Ben Franklin said, you deserve neither.
Wil Wheaton elaborates on this sentiment:

What the House did yesterday, the Senate looks to do today, and the President will surely enact as soon as possible, is a direct assault on American values, and contrary to everything our country stands for. Though cynically and cowardly enacted as a purely political tool during an election, those who supported this bill do not speak for me, do not act in my name, and do not reflect my values.

Torture is not an American value. Torture is a totalitarian, sadistic value. Suspending access to courts and the right to face your accuser is not what Americans do. It is what tyrannical dictators and despots do, not a democratic republic like the one I was brought up in and love. Time and again, torture has proved unreliable to prevent or solve crimes, and it reduces our country to the level of the very terrorists we are supposedly fighting.

I believe in the right to a speedy and fair trial for everyone, even the most repugnant of defendants. No, especially for the most repugnant of defendants, because if we, as a society, can’t guarantee the most hideously accused among us that right, what is it worth to the rest of us?

George Bush and his enablers in the congress — Democrat and Republican — has done more damage to our country, and our once impeccable moral standing in the world than all the terrorists combined. President Bush and his Republican allies in congress like to say that “they hate us for our freedom,” but President Bush and his Republican allies in congress have spent the last five years working very hard to take that freedom away from the people they supposedly work for, and vest that power in something they call the Unitary Executive. If the Democrats won’t stand up to stop torture, what will they stand up for? If Congress won’t do its constitutional duty now, then when?

I don’t know when they will stand up, but if it isn’t soon than perhaps they deserve to loose their precious jobs and we’ll vote for some other party, as yet to be formed.

Update 11:09 PM:

As usual, the Onion puts things in perspective. You’ll cry laughing. Then you’ll just cry.

I Will Not Be Your Terror Monkey

John Rogers has a beautiful rant about how we should react to the recent capture of terrorists in London rather than the way we are acting:

I am just not going to wet my pants every time some guys get arrested in a terror plot. I will do my best to stay informed. I will support the necessary law enforcement agencies. I will take whatever reasonable precautions seem, um, reasonable. But I will not be terrorized. I assume that the terror-ists would like me to be terror-ized, as that is what is says on their nametag, rather than, say, wanting me to surrender to ennui or negative body image, and they’re just coming the long way around.

Osama Bin Laden got everything on his Christmas list after 9/11 — US out of Saudi Arabia; the greatest military in the world over-extended, pinned down and distracted; the greatest proponent of democracy suddenly alienated from its allies; a US culture verily eager to destroy freedoms that little scumfuck could never even dream to touch himself — I would like to deny him the last little check on the clipboard, i.e. constant terror. I panic, they win. To coin a phrase, Osama Bin Laden can suck my insouciance.
There are a million factors in this New World of Terror. You weigh ’em, you process, and then you move on.

[…] You move on, building a better international society so that luddite fundamentalist criminal gangs/cults of personality are further and further marginalized.

Or, if you don’t understand 4th Generation Warfare at all, you move on, bombing the shit out of nation-states and handing your opponents massive PR victories. Either way, you move the fuck on.

Maybe it’s just, I cast my eyes back on the last century …

FDR: Oh, I’m sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we’re coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How’s that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We’ll be in the pub, flipping you off. I’m slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I’m sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike … NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

… and I’m just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.