Friday, June 29, 2007

Beware (Sometimes) the Affable Politician

Waaaaay back in the nineties, some pols in the Republican party decided to push a "good ol' boy" into the national spotlight.

Gingrich was on the rise, due to his success with using C-Span (talking for hours on end to a tv audience in a virtually empty House chamber), but his style was a bit grating, and he had a wandering eye, which could come back to bite him--and the party.

So, by default, the pols decided to place their trust on the first-born of George H. W. and Barbara. He was, by all accounts, eminently electable: good looking, connected, and affable. To top it off, he was easily handled--a schmoozer who could be schmoozed.

Unfortunately, it looked for a while that their boy wouldn't make it. With a little assist from "activist" judges, however, he made it to the prize and we've been taken in with this affableness ever since.

Nice guy. And look how brave he was standing on that rubble. He's so sincere. I'd like to have a beer with him (except he doesn't drink--anymore). So what if he doesn't read the papers? So what if Jesus is his most admired politician? He's a good ol' boy--just look at him. How could you not trust him?

Fast forward. We've been screwed by "sincere" affability.

John Roberts--such a nice lookin' fella. Smart, too. Deferential. Polite to his elders. Clean cut. A real Amurrican boy. Make a fine lookin' Chief Justice. Ol' Sam Alito. Eyetalian, but a hard worker. Pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. Avuncular. Make a fine Associate Justice.

Fast forward. June, 2007. Roberts and Alito siding with the "conservatives" against the consumer, against free speech, against local attempts to fight racian discrimination.

Once more, an affable screwing.

On the other hand--this weekend before the 4th of July, Good ol' boy George will be hosting Vlad the Russian screwer. Since our schmoozer will be in fine fettle--what with using the family compound to impress the erstwhile commie KGB about the rewards of affability. This might be a chance for Gob-George to affably screw Vlad.

It'd be a nice change for us--to get something good for the country out of affability.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Plan B (Well, no one else seems to want to do it!)

Brainstorming for elements to include in Plan B (non-military efforts for the "ideological confrontation" of the century) is a worthwhile pastime; it might even be a necessary diversion--if that isn't an oxymoron.

Here's a start. Gentle Reader, feel free to add.

1) Let's develop template posters which will be placed in neighborhoods which celebrate the "martyrdom" of suicidal jihadists. Our competing posters would proclaim that there is no "Paradise" in store for anyone who murders a child in the name of Islam, nor is such a person worthy of the title of martyr.

2) On the neighborhoods of madrasas, let's drop leaflets which assert that God is not a pimp, that it is blasphemous to teach, as well as to believe, that God would provide a cohort of women to see to the after-death carnal pleasures of child-murderers.

3) Let us proclaim that dressing to express one's religious beliefs is a personal badge of honor, it loses its religiosity when it is enforced at the point of a sword, knife, or a gun barrel. Further, it is an insult to God to teach that the female is less worthy than a male. God has no gender.

4) While we are doing the above, let us not exclude any Judeo-Christian teachings or practices which are suspect--which more than likely are inspired by the inclinations of humans rather than of a deity. In other words, erase from religious teachings anything that smacks of human emotion rather than the objective balances of the universe.

5) Let us acknowledge that we do not and cannot know the nature of the Deity. All writings are, essentially, metaphorical, and that is especially true of religious writings. We speak of the unspeakable in terms which we can understand; we cannot understand something beyond our experiences; we must not continue in the error that the God of which we speak is a supra-human by necessity of the limits of our languages.

Aristotle's Prime Mover is beyond our ken. We do the best we can, but our best cannot be definitive.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Dear Gentle Reader (both of you, sometime), you must go to this link for's War Room and read the entry entitled "The good news about George W. Bush." Then you must read the comments.

The entry details a comment made by presidential spokesmouth, Tony Snow, when asked "...whether the Bush administration "feels any responsibility" for the split among Palestinians..."

I won't give away the joke. Nor will I give away the wonderful comments. You won't be disappointed.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

A Light at the end of the Ex-Gay Tunnel?

"A hit! A hit! A palpable hit!" (If you don't have to ask, thank an English teacher!)

It didn't make the national feeds yet, but the Los Angeles Times reports on an up-coming "Freedom Conference" to be held by Exodus International. (Those are the "ex-gay" people.)

Here's the on-line title as well as the subtitle: New ground in debate on 'curing' gays. Christian ministries who see homosexuality as a treatable disorder are starting to think that choice may not be a factor.

A leading proponent of tossing "ex-gay" into the trash bin of history turns out to be none other than Alan Chambers the director of Exodus. The money quote from Mr. Chambers: "By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete."

It seems Mr. Chambers, now a husband and father, "...has mostly conquered his own attraction to men..."

The operative word is "mostly," one presumes, which demands of Mr. Chambers more honesty than heretofore he has shown. Good personal progress. His orientation never was, never will be, a choice. It cannot be escaped; it cannot be eradicated. It can be handled, should one choose; that's the only choice.

Discarding the oxymoronic ex-gay is a good step towards eliminating cultural biases against differing sexual orientations.

Let's have more attention paid to precise language.

Good start, Mr. Chambers. Now, get the rest of your organization in line.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Anti-Semitic Semite?

Thomas Friedman's column in today's The New York Times deals with a proposed "boycott" of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem by Britain’s University and College Union. (It's Times Select, sorry.)

Friedman tells us of several Palestinians who received their Ph.D.s at a recent graduation ceremony, and his point is that, rather than calling for a boycott, the Brits should acknowledge the benefits to the Palestinian people which will accrue from these new doctorates. Further, the Brits should take the lead in sponsoring other Palestinian doctoral candidates world-wide.

Friedman ends his writing, however, with a version of an old song: "But just singling out Israeli universities for a boycott, in the face of all the other madness in the Middle East — that’s what anti-Semites would do."

My question is, when did anti-Semitic come to mean, in reality, anti-Hebrew or anti-Jew?

A quick reference to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, defines semite as an umbrella term including ancient tribes including "Hebrews and Arabs," as well as descendants of those peoples, and the definition is dated 1848.

A subsequent entry for Semitism specifically refers to "policy favorable to Jews" "and predisposition in favor of Jews" (1851).

So in three short years an extension of the word lost its all-encompassing meaning.

And today, in the muddle of language, we have a word which, under scrutiny, causes some confusion. Today, we have the potential semantic disaster of having an Arab opponent of Israeli government policies being labeled an anti-Semitic semite.

Unless, of course, you have something else to do on a cool Sunday morning.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stop! Take a Breath! Now...

The re-incarceration of Ms Paris Hilton has been given entirely too much attention. (Er...too much attention, in the first place, is given to insignificant people.)

Remember, Ms Hilton was first cited last September for DUI. Her license was suspended. In February of this year she was stopped at 11 p.m. for speeding and driving without headlights.

Subsequently, the court became aware of the suspended license (Hilton's publicist Elliot Mintz insists the star was not aware her driving permit had been suspended. Please!).

Remember: the original violation was for DUI, the second for speeding and driving at night without lights. Ms Hilton put the lives of others at risk with her behavior. She chose to do this; the responsibility is hers.

While the death of others "diminishes" me, so, too, does the humilitation of others. I am diminished by Ms Hilton's humiliation, but I am also empowered by the insistance of the court that an adult take responsibility for behavior. If you do the crime, you do the time.

Remember, before too many people tsk that the punishment of this young woman is too harsh, that her behavior was irresponsible. The social contract demands she be held accountable for that irresponsible behavior.

Hilton's celebrity should play no part in the adjudication of justice.

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