Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Serving the God of Small Things
So said Jesus about clothing and feeding the hungry, the poor, the powerless.
Do you see why, when we turn our attention away from the self-righteous pimps of the radical right that Jesus still has so much to say to us? I will never tire of his essential message, and I will never understand why his so-called followers insist upon distorting his teachings into bullshit like prosperity gospels, rapture readiness, and grand plans for Christian reconstruction governance.
Oh, for Pete's sake... here I was, about to write about a recent humbling experience, and instead, off I go like the arrogant asshole I also can be (shove over, Jerry Falwell,) saying essentially that my Jesus can beat up their Jesus.
In fact, what I really wanted to talk about today is one of the many opportunities I have to be taken down a notch, often ever so kindly. This particular lesson began when my very good friend, Robin, invited me to something called a shih tzu/fur baby reunion. Robin has four Pomeranians and is involved in animal rescue, so I knew that this would be a gathering of critter lovers, and in Florida, too. "Bruce won't go," she said, referring to her husband, who dropped out of consideration when he heard that the gala would involve coordinating his clothing with that of his adopted doggies, a sort of costume ball.
"So you're going, OK? I'm getting your ticket," she said quickly, not really waiting for an answer. Robin moved to Massachusetts two years ago, so she knows I don't pass up chances to hang out with her, and I don't care what we're wearing, although in my case I hoped a simple dress would be sufficient.
As the day drew near I found myself contemplating the snort-worthy outfits that I've seen on some small dogs. (My own dog is a lab, and her only garment is the hunter's orange vest I make her wear when sportsmen and goons alike take to the Vermont hills in the fall. She otherwise goes nekkid, except for the obligatory collar and tag.) So hula skirts and tiaras bring out the snotty little sociologist in me. WHO would buy that shit, I ask myself, and prepare myself for the worst.
Off we went, and beyond the ludicrous little palace style beds available to the Pomeranian princesses (and their tiny counterparts of other breeds), I bumped once again into that humbling reality: service. It's nearly impossible to look down on good old, from-the-heart service to others.
I learned that the head of this particular group, the First Coast Shih Tzu and Furbaby Animal Rescue League is run by a dynamo named Meredith Coley who once worked in child adoption, and she brings her determination to find good homes for her little charges to the current assignment. Under her leadership the group has found over 2500 homes for dogs in the past 10 years, a process that often begins with foster placement and sometimes culminates only after a thousand-mile drive by one of the group's volunteers. Along with the fostering and driving there are the home visits so that the dog gets a good placement--this time.
The dogs come with a variety of stories. Some were adopted as puppies, and then given up because they dug, or chewed, or did some other typically puppy thing. There are the dogs displaced by hurricanes, and dogs that lost their owners to illness and death. Sometimes they've been seized in animal neglect and abuse cases and must wait in foster care while the wheels of justice turn. Sometimes they're found trotting along the side of the road. One of Robin's dogs was abandoned because he had cancer in one leg. All too often they are the victims of puppy mills. In many cases many require extensive veterinary care and loads of affection and gentle discipline to banish whatever ghosts and parasites lurk still. The foster homes do wonderful things with these little guys, as do the adoptive owners.
I expected a bunch of yappy dogs, absurdly dressed by people who Didn't Have a Life. What I found were dogs who got along with one another beautifully, tenderly cared for by people who were taking these little dogs into their lives. I even came to see the occasional hula skirt as a tender honoring of little bodies that had previously been abused. (My Maddie-dog, however, won't be getting any outfits soon.)
I've posted the picture of Jasper, a silky terrier who is still in foster care with a wonderful couple in St. Augustine. I'm amazed to see that he still hasn't been adopted. You wouldn't believe what a sweet dog he is, or how beautiful that coat of his is. If Maddie-dog and our three cats wouldn't object so strenuously (Jasper isn't great with cats), I'd bring him here. I know that Peter or Sean, or one of the other volunteers, would probably drive him up here, a thousand miles away, just to make sure that Jasper would be in a loving home.
When we visited Meredith at her home, her phone rang constantly. I saw the huge folder of vet bills that went with getting these little dogs on their way. Sometimes people are put off by the demands put on would-be adopters as to what the dogs will need, but Meredith and her associates are determined to make matches that will work.
The details are many. And God is in the details.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Laura Drops Dubya for a 'Real Man'
"They seemed very happy," an aide who asked not to be identified said. Kim, who is considered North Korea's biggest ladies' man, regards Mrs. Bush as his greatest trophy.
The two met when President Bush dispatched the First Lady to Korea to discuss nuclear proliferation. "Nature just took its course from there," said the aide.
The two enjoy long walks on the beach, sunsets, candlelit dinners, and a wide range of mood enhancing pharmaceuticals.
"I think that she appreciates his honesty," the aide observed. "He makes no bones about keeping his people down. And he loves the fact that no matter what the situation, she has the same chipper smile on her face."
The White House has refused to comment on the liaison.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Bush's Brain's Brain
"It's all about me," declared Happy Bunny, before retreating from the potentially damaging statement with an invitation to "kiss me on the pooper."
"I coined that phrase," Rove said quickly. "Every idea he's gotten, he's gotten from me."
Novak refused to comment, but it was clear that the consultation was going badly.
"Rove's full of ideas," commented Bunny. "They suck, and it's sad."
Friday, May 26, 2006
Pining for Al
I've been listening to Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them on my way to and from work.
Franken's chief task is to show that the liberal bias attributed to the media is hokum. One way of disabusing us of this notion is to discuss the media's unfavorable treatment of Al Gore during the 2000 election. A liberally biased media would cover him favorably over Bush, wouldn't it?
It didn't. Franken cites statistics from the Pew Trust to buttress his point, and then goes on to dismantle "lies" in which the press misrepresented Gore's statements, including his taking credit for the promotion of the Internet.
In fact, Gore didn't claim to have "invented" the Internet, but he was key in seeing its potential and supporting the funds for its development. Unfortunately, once a lie finds its way into the media, it's endlessly repeated, just like the images of planes smacking into the World Trade Center or the Challenger exploding in take off. The media doesn't want us to miss disasters of any kind.
As I listen to Franken's analysis of what happened (I guess Al wasn't cool enough for the reporters covering him), I can't help but grieve for the country that has been deprived of his talents since 2000. I always thought that he had the gravitas to guide us in the directions we've needed to go.
I grit my teeth whenever somebody tells me that he blew the campaign.
I grieve the system that produces pundits that tell him to kiss Tipper at the convention, to wear earth tones, to do whatever the hell "good" candidates are supposed to do.
I'm not sure who blew the campaign, but I doubt that it was Al Gore.
I still can't stand jokes about how dull he is. I am convinced that few of us know this bright, capable man, and I, for one, miss him terribly.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
We'll Sooner Find Jimmy Hoffa
Today I thought perhaps I'd missed it, or missed the official letdown. I Googled "Rove indictment," hoping that some word had arrived. I was shown the way to TruthOut, which got my hopes up in the first place. Nada. No news is ... devastating, let's face it.
It occurs to me that Rove himself, the smug, sadistic bastard, may have started this rumor. Wouldn't it be fun to watch the bloggers spread the news with glee, then watch the wrinkles and nipples slowly appear on the deflating balloon of hope?
Dumbya would have pardoned him, anyway.
Monday, May 22, 2006
The Bearable Lightness of Warfare
Accompanied everywhere by his new pal, Jelly-Belly-Cose, Cheney is softer, cuddlier as a result of what he calls his "nonstop negotiations with the Savior." Belli-Cose helps him to remember that his lord is always nearby, he says.
"I know everybody thinks of me as the Bad Cop of the administration, and that's certainly the role I'm willing to play. But I have to say that getting Rove off the hook for a couple of million, a faith-based auto agency, and a few more tax cuts has been a real revelation for me," he told White House insiders.
Cheney was especially pleased to learn that the administration's policies were pushing the world to ever higher point scores on the Rapture Index, a move guaranteed to resonate with the far right in the upcoming midterm elections.
"Even when we're not trying very hard, we're helping to bring about the end of the world. There's tremendous satisfaction in that," he said, pulling Belly-Cose to him for a little bear hug.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
"It certainly can't hurt, if the Vice President is any example," McCain told supporters recently.
McCain has become so fond of the camo-ducks that he is introducing a bill into the Senate to make the little fellows available to the troops in Iraq, as well as to day care centers in the inner cities. He is said to bathe with them daily.
When asked if the cap was impairing his vision, McCain replied, "I do not so much think of my vision as impaired as my perspective as having changed."
Friday, May 19, 2006
He'll Fit Right In
Let's bag the confirmation hearings and move to accept the nomination of Michael Hayden as the new director of the CIA.
There was some (you should pardon the expression) pussy-footing around the "resignation" of Porter Goss during yesterday's hearings. Of course, Hayden attempted a little dance of his own, as if Goss hadn't been booted, the better to save any Republican face in the crowd.
This photo says it all: why shouldn't the President share intelligence with a person whose intelligence matches his own? It's important for the President to enjoy a comfortable working relationship with someone whose style is recognizable to him.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Standing Tall in the Land of Lies
You see, gay folks aren't disgusting enough, and Cameron's life purpose is to create false statistics in order to make 'em creepier, scarier, more menacing in order to turn back the clock on the civil rights that they've gained in the past few years.
I learned about Cameron in the Intelligence Report, a study of hate groups regularly published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. His studies are cited by the minions of the radical right (including those with access to the White House, rest assured) to make sure that those in positions of decision making have the 'right' misinformation.
Cameron actually has a PhD from the University of Colorado, but whatever respectable research methods he may have used in the days of yore are gone. In fact, he was kicked out of the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association because, in the words of the ASA, he "consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism."
Not to worry, though... his natural audience is groups like Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the Traditional Values Coalition, all of whom use his "statistics" on their web sites. The Christian Communications Network publicizes Cameron's "findings" to religious newspapers and helps to distribute tens of thousands of his pamphlets to church congregations.
These pamphlets and his publications in a pseudo-academic vanity journal out of Montana called Psychological Reports constitute Cameron's body of work. PR will publish just about anything, as long as you pay 'em $27.50 a page. There are no peer review boards to guard against sloppy or malicious manipulation of research, of course. But $27.50 a page--that'll weed out the hacks for sure.
If Cameron's background seems downright comical, his influence isn't. His warped research has been used to turn back proposed ordinances for gay rights around the U.S. and is currently being used to fuel legislation against gay parents and would be adoptive gay parents.
Some of Cameron's greatest hits, statistically, politically, and scientifically speaking:
--advocacy for setting up concentration camps for sexually active homosexuals to stem the AIDS epidemic
--popularization of a fictional medical condition labeled "Gay Bowel Syndrome"
--creation of the homosexual profile as "of the lower strata; these are people who are waiters and busboys and bums and hobos and jailbirds and so forth"
--the phony statistic that "17% of gay people eat human feces"
--creator of a "study" that "found" that homosexuals are 10-20 times more likely than heterosexuals to molest children
--promulgation of the myth that the average life span for the gay man is 43 years
... and on, and on. It's interesting that Cameron characterizes gay sex as "irresistible" and marital sex as "boring." But then, look at how pretty he is in his suit against the blue skies of Colorado, his current base.
Unfortunately, Cameron's lies refuse to go away. The Christian Right publishes thousands of his "studies" for use in its political causes and "family education."
Just thought you should know. Get to know the SPLC, if you aren't already acquainted. Gotta go now and make dinner. Thursday is feces night here at the Ponderosa, and I must fire up the grill.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Just out is THE comprehensive volume on Dick Cheney. Below are some haiku (senryu, actually) from this promising new tome...
We like to hunt quail
I thought your face was feathers
So sorry blood beak
I am pretty sure
(Buckshot blood snickers bad press)
It was not a bird
I am loved by George
George has served me loyally
So glad I picked him
Includes the special bonus section, 7 People Would Could Replace Cheney and Be Just as Evil.
(Yawn) All the Little Mundanes in a List (which is in itself mundane)
When I was young, my friend Susi and I referred to them as mundanes: things and people we heard way too much about or experienced in proportion to their actual value.
1. Condoleezza Rice, whose tenure in the Dept. of State seems to consist of a lot of tea parties with cups full of air
2. The lag time between rumors of indictments (Karl Rove? Scooooter? Tom De Lay? Do I hear Dick Cheney?) and convictions
3. Tom and Katie, Brad and Angelina, the healing of Jennifer Aniston
4. Movies in which Tom Cruise has to run really fast
5. The Da Vinci Code industry
6. Pregnant celebrities
7. What a Regular Guy Tom Hanks is
8. Glam author photos on book jackets (check out Danielle Steel in her hoop skirt for true hideousness)
9. Bill Frist: tiresome politician of the year
10. John Mc Cain: pimp to the Religious Right
11. Hillary Rodham Clinton: just cuz Bill said it was Your Turn doesn't mean you don't need a vision --and a backbone
12. The Mad Crush between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush: ewww
13. Tax cuts
14. Being terrorized by the government with The Terrorist Threat
15. Harry Fucking Potter and the weight gain of each succeeding volume: JK Rowling is profound???
16. Test scores
17. Top 10 and Top 20, 50, 100 lists by major new weeklies and gossip mags
18. U.S. hegemony
19. Instant messaging
20. Cell phones
21. The mainstream media
22. The mistaken notion that #21 is a guardian of democracy rather than another corporate structure
23. American Idol : they all over sing
24. Donald Trump, in any context
25. David Letterman, just for the way he straightens his coat during his monologue
26. Colorado Springs and the creepy Christians who live there
27. Politicians cowering before the Christian Right
28. Parents who don't want to parent
29. Transgendered men to women who retain their sense of male entitlement
30. Society news
31. Bono: he was cool till he started hanging out with scumbags
32. Oprah: I'm exhausted from the inspiration
33. Harold Bloom, America's house intellectual
34. The American sense of entitlement to the planet's resources
35. Judging Dubya by the price of gas
37. Little keychain plastic retailer tags
38. Lou Dobbs
39. Harrison Ford
40. Howard Dean, especially after his appearance on the 700 Club (see pimp reference in #10)
41. Nancy Pelosi: what about the need to impeach don't you understand??
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Cheney Gets Right with God, Saves Rove?
In compliance with the government's new Praise the Lord Full Disclosure Act, transcripts of Dick Cheney's prayer marathon were released today.
Of particular note was a section revealing Cheney's hard bargaining with the Creator of Heaven and Earth for Karl Rove's plushy white ass.
The Lord, who is exempt from having to publish His replies, offered no comment.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Are you sick, your highness? Experiencing burn out? Parakeet fever? My finely tuned nervous system is experiencing atmospheric interference in your direction. What's wrong?
I offer this up for your healing: the ugliest matching chair shot in Condilirious Hysterity. Just two gals, a couple of spotlights, and the Ramada Inn. No arms. No flower arrangement. Keys under the chair. A water bottle. Are those cigarettes? Has Laura urged Condi into another of her bad habits? The carpet alone should cheer you.
There. Now get well and come home to us.
"We're hoping to make him cuddlier and more appealing to potential grand juries, and in the worst case, court juries," revealed a White House insider who refused to be identified.
Happily, according to the aide, it's an image change that Rove has been contemplating for a long time. However, he'd been hoping for something in a blue floral, longer legs, and knees without dimples.
When Rove first espied a young George W. Bush in a leather bomber jacket, his heart skipped a beat, and he's endeavored to serve him ever since.
Now he's hoping to service him as well, according to an unidentified source.
At a gathering of economists, Bush shared the information, noting that he was no doubt among his peers: "Anybody who spends as much time as you fellas do on money and the economy have to be compensating for something."
First Lady Laura Bush expressed relief at her husband's revelation. "He's ruined every one of my best tea towels by rolling them up and inserting them into his pants. Some rock star taught him that in his pre-salvation days."
Bush noted, "The Lord's johnson is the biggest of all. He who walks with Him knows a swelling that no Vig-RX can match."
Friday, May 12, 2006
Cheney Fires Up Prayer Marathon to Combat Administration's Legal Woes
"I told George, 'Mr. President, you've got your hands full, and frankly, I've been a little remiss in my own religious obligations. Let me handle this one.'"
Cheney hasn't uttered a word to a mortal since. Aides say that he spends time in his White House office and in his Maryland bunker in direct communication with God.
It was Tom DeLay who urged Cheney to make sure that he was right with the Lord, insiders say. With Scooter Libby under indictment for his role in the Valerie Plame affair and Karl Rove certain to face accusations of his own, DeLay convinced Cheney that he would probably be next in line. "You can only grease God's Palm with earnest prayer," he is said to have told Cheney.
Other administration officials are discussing the possibility of launching their own prayer rotations when Cheney completes his.
"We've dumped enough doo-doo on the White House lawn for everybody to wield a shovel," an undisclosed source revealed.
How Do You Spell Christian?
I had a long dream last night about being lost: about looking at road maps that had no discernible symbols, no locations that matched where I thought I was. When I finally ripped myself out of that troubled sleep this morning, I figured that reading the chapter, "Church, State, and National Decline" in American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips had probably contributed to my disorientation. As someone who was raised with the idea of a loving Jesus, I can say that the groups that Phillips describes --and I see in action-- make me wonder where I am today.
Phillips cites several indicators of decline: the delusion that the United States is different in its unassailble supremacy (these and the following illusions and patterns shared by earlier, once-great empires like Roman, Holland, Spain, and Britain); the interplay between faith and science; the economic decay and social polarization; finally, the widespread perception of a pre-millenarian time frame, in which the influence of religion feeds a willingness for war. (pp. 220-230, passim)
With the Republicans theological correctness has replaced the political correctness of liberals. Phillips sketches Republican candidates as they try to "get it right" by adopting positions that are either in alignment with radical right theology or in avoidance of it.
When it comes to pleasing the radical Christian Right, there are lots of groups to placate. We've all been hearing from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the various incarnations of Bob Jones for years. Theological positions have been staked out on obvious topics, like sex, morality, scientific research, and birth, and on less obvious areas like business, economics, and wealth. (These last three are just find with the radical right, Jesus' own poverty notwithstanding.) Of the various groups, the Christian Reconstructionists seem to capture the least ink and attention. They're among the most interesting, however, in their zealous efforts to lead the charge on establishing the USA as a Christian nation. While the radical Christian Right has called on presidents to make decisions in accordance with Scripture, the Christian Reconstructionists want to establish their doctrine as the rule of law. This would mean replacing public schools with religious education and imposing biblical law and limiting the right to vote to male Christians. Penalities for non-conformity would be in alignment with the Bible: therefore homosexuals, prostitutes, and adulterers would face Old Testment-style executions.
Although not all members of the Christian Right adhere to the principles of the reconstructionists, the influence of reconstructionism is more pervasive than appears on the surface. Even non-members adhere to some ideas if not others; the Christian Right in general hope to rule by majoritarianism, never mind that the Constitution is designed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.
I don't recall seeing the Christian Reconstructionists on the hate lists of the Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center. It's time to make sure that they're included.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
What took y'all so long? we want to ask our finally disaffected fellow citizens.
I was raised to think that we were the good guys. The history books I studied certainly didn't tell me any differently. That delusion died a long, slow death. That the government routinely lied to its citizens was the stuff of conspiracy nuts.
If I hadn't been a member of so many marginalized constituencies, I'd have had an even steeper learning curve. I have learned over the years how loath people of privilege are to recognize their privilege, and how resistant they are to surrendering any of it.
So it is with us Americans. We cling to the blinders that screen out the inconvenient truths of our global privilege, and the price at which it's been purchased.
I don't doubt for a minute that Islamists have some perfectly good reasons for hating us that have nothing to do with, as Dubya tells us, our Freedom. It's sad that only terrorists seem to want to tell us what they are.
In the meantime, we Americans need to create in ourselves and in our culture a greater capacity for inquiry. It seems that whenever we stumble historically or intellectually, we mumble "whatever," and change the channel.
Read Howard Zinn's essay linked above to learn more about our government's capacity for lies and the cultural assumptions that make it so easy for us to believe them.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
$6.88 a Gallon, You Sissy Americans
Millions of cars have filled Italy's toll highways for the past three weekends, causing snarls and jams as city-dwellers returned from a bountiful season of holidays _ showing that Italian motorists, at least, haven't been deterred by rising gas prices.
The nation's highways operator says traffic was up by some 700,000 vehicles from a year earlier, to 45.3 million from April 10-May 1, a period spanning three long weekends. All this traffic despite pressure at the gas pumps, where prices have risen 12 percent over the last four months, to 1.37 euros for a liter of unleaded gas, or around $6.88 a gallon.
Whoa, aren't we a whiney bunch! Who'da thought the Italians were capable of such stoicism?!?!?!
Of course, there are a few grumblers even among a great people like the Italians...
How To Repackage the $100 Rebate
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I was reminded of this last weekend when I attended an indie film festival and saw a documentary, Coffee and Bird Song: a Wake-Up Call, ostensibly on the relationship between birds and shade-grown coffee, but ended up being more about the difficulty that Latin American coffee growers had getting a fair price from the large corporations (as in about any household name: Maxwell House, Folgers, Yuban, Chock Full O'Nuts, etc.). It was a short hop from there to the link between fair trade coffee, sustainable agriculture, and maintaining the shady habitats that serve humans and their feathered song makers in sacred symbiosis.
Since I didn't need to make any fresh resolutions about buying fair traded coffee, (we've enjoyed it for several years), I was left to contemplate once again the miserable relationship between farmers trying to make an honest living --in their own countries-- and our corporations' determination to drive their livelihoods into the ground. Several fincas (coffee plantations) had to close down when the prices offered by the big companies hadn't been enough to pay them for the year's hard labors. Farmers who'd had to use their children as part of the work force (thereby depriving them of educational opportunities) teetered on the edge of unemployment. The film focused on a farmers' cooperative that had connected with a UC Santa Cruz environmental science program to help them find new markets in the U.S., and then to promote their products.
It was a satisfying film. The farmers thrived. The pretty indigo buntings found habitats. I love win-win solutions. Alas, such efforts only count for about 20 per cent of the crops in Costa Rica.
Film makers Anne Macksoud and John Ankele have made several eye-opening documentaries on this theme: the determination of the big corporations to eliminate even the smallest attempts at sustainability in the developing world by creating markets that crush such "competition." The Global Banquet: the Politics of Food highlights the glutting of the market with the fruits of agribusiness at the expense of home grown, sustainable crops. Arms for the Poor features the marketing of arms by our manufacturers who can't afford to buy our cast-off high tech weapons when the people desperately need food, medicine, and education instead.
If you wonder why you haven't seen Macksoud's films on public TV, it's because PBS is afraid of offending its corporate underwriters, some of whose nasty practices are featured in these films. Macksoud, for all her efforts, is effectively excluded from some key venues. It's more than sad; it's outrageous that we are kept from the important truths she and Ankele have worked hard to share.
Do something for the planet. Go to their site and order a couple of her very reasonably priced documentaries. Have a house party and show the films with some tasty snacks and fair traded coffee. Then pass the films on to good friends in other communities whom you trust to do the same, or donate them to your public library.
We can't have a true debate on immigration without understanding the forces that drive hard working, enterprising people from their native lands. And our tentacle-like governmental and corporate presence around the world has everything to do with why we have the problems we do.
Monday, May 01, 2006
A Pink Slip for Clyde?
Turns out that the idea is repugnant to Repugnicans, who see the goodie as socialism, and to Democrats, who see the idea as an effort to distract Americans from the wretched excesses of the tragedy of errors that have gripped the nation from the administration's terrorist program. (That's the one in which the government terrorizes its citizens with the threat of another terror attack, which it invites daily by underfunding the programs that would protect our principal targets and invading countries which have no stake in the terror threat.)
Frist is said to have presidential ambitions. I can only say that after eight years of Bonzo Bush, the mug above, with its Marcus Welby, MD pretensions (remember his video "diagnosis" of Terry Schiavo?) would be more than I could bear.
What a pompous ass.