Thursday, November 30, 2006


Why Didn't I Think of This?

I was so close to this idea with my thinking about the anti-abortion movement and what they must think of human life given the rate of miscarriages (if miscarriage is so common yet fetuses are people, then what does that say about the value of human life?) ... but I did not figure out this obvious point of argument alas. Kudos to John Palmer.

Relatedly: does anybody have any thoughts about the degree to which our view of babies as precious is shaped by lowered infant mortality?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


More Thoughts on The Criticisms of Pelosi

Some of you who know me (or know about how this niebelung can get so easily mistaken for a troll in feminist left-blogostan) will know that I do not always cotton to the "when a woman pushes to get what she wants, she's considered a 'bitch' but when a man does the same thing, he's 'assertive' and that's an unfair double standard" argument ... because, as one who is generally bitchy rather than assertive, I would argue that being bitchy and being assertive are not the same thing, and that, as a whole, women are more likely to be bitchy rather than assertive. This is not due to any inherent difference in the sexes but rather in that us men are raised to be assertive and women are not. I think and hope this is changing, but even in my generation, men were taught how to be assertive and women were not.

That being said, I think with Pelosi, we have a clear cut case of a double standard: while a man doing exactly what Pelosi has done would be given a grace period to see how things worked out, Pelosi is being chastised for merely playing politics in the same way as the boys do. Even while pointing out that a double standard is involved, people like Borger, instead of even hiding behind "others might say" to criticize Pelosi, are openly sexist after their obligatory invocation that they are being unfair. What gives? Why the sexism? Why are people reacting differently to a woman in a position of authority than they would to a man? And why is this considered so acceptable, even if the media muttonheads are willing to admit it is a mite unfair?


Anyway, speaking of double standards: I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is a reason why we men don't stop and ask for directions -- because whenever we do, we get a response of "I know nothin'". Now the interesting question is why do we get a different response. Is it because people would rather give directions to women? Or is it simply because, cf. my above comments on assertiveness, we men simply are not trained to ask directions, so it becomes a viscious cycle wherein men are not trained in directions asking because it is unmanly, and because we don't know how to ask directions, we don't get results which re-enforces, via the sour grapes mechanism, the idea that asking directions is un-manly?


Anyhoo ... will the media stop acting as if Harmon's only sin was that she's too moderate or pro-Israeli (as if that's a sin) ... I know people who ain't that liberal even on domestic issues and who, when it comes to Israel, make Netanyahoo look like a dove, who don't like Harmon. Let's face it, even under the GOP-friendly spin that people voted the Dems. in not because they are happy with liberalism but because they specifically were unhappy with Bush & CO and the GOP establishment (the spin is GOP-friendly as it positions them to run new faces in 2008 and claim that it was only the old faces, not the GOP ideas, that were rejected ... we're already seeing this strategy with revisionism about what the Congressional entering class of 1994 stood for) -- in which case an establishment figure like Harmon ought not to have the mission critical chairship for which she is in line. Of course Pelosi here is between a rock and a hard place, considering the next two obvious choices are too PC to pass up but too problematic to put into place.

Personally, I would tap Harmon, but use threats to keep her in line (she has the capability to be a tough watchdog when she is pushed to do so) ... but if Pelosi does this, rather than having the media coo over her "strong leadership" as they did when Republican male leaders did such things, they will denounce her as being catty and vindictive like they did with the Hoyer/Murtha shtuss, which wasn't even the big deal the media's acting like it was.

Although, it seems with the so-called liberal media, the Dems. cannot win (where's our honeymoon? where's our favorable coverage like the GOP got in 1994?) -- and Pelosi, as a Dem. and a woman who is *gasp* from San Francisco (will someone please tell the media that, pace that wanker -- and I mean that "literally", that is to say figuratively ... did I even blog about how transcendentalism is philosophical Onanism? we, after being exposed to too much transcendentalism in high school, came up with this connection that transcendentalism was a philosophy that preferred self-indulgeance to interpersonal relationships and obligations, even fun ones ... kinda like Onan ... and the transcendentalist literature is, especially if you are a horny high schooler who isn't getting any except from Rosey Palme anyway, filled with references to masturbation --Thoreau, who must have been the Bobo Brooks of his day living near the east coast as he did, this country does not begin at the Apalachians or end at the Sierra Nevada, but does, as any map will tell you, include the coasts and other places outside Jeebusland), the double standards are out in force. Gevalt!

Monday, November 27, 2006


Comment Spam

I've been noticing I'm collecting some comment spam. Now I find those comment verification thingies where you have to type in the word on some funny background to be very annoying (I am about as able to crack these as a spambot is), but others may differ -- which do y'all find worse: the spam on my comments (which I delete when I feel like it) or would y'all be more annoyed by having to verify that you are a human before posting comments?

BTW -- I managed to read a copy of US News and World Report recently: Gloria Borger is a two-faced jerk ... she asserts that alas, Nancy Pelosi will be held to a double standard, and then proceeds to do just that. She complains that Nancy Pelosi was acting like a catty school girl, but Borger's tone is pure catty school girl. Come-on, media talking mutton heads ... y'all gave the GOP and give men honeymoons to see how they govern -- why not give Speaker Pelosi the same benefit of the doubt. Are you that partisanly Republican or are y'all just that sexist?

Also in this particular issue of US News and World Report: the normally reasonable Fouad Ajami still thinks the neo-cons are Wilsonian Idealists (and that the can of worms in Iraq just had to be opened as it was, damn the costs) and hippy-dippy folks like me are "realists". Better pundits, please ...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The War Against Strawmen

It seems Sen. Jay Rockefeller has signed on.

He was being interviewed on NPR this morning, and the reporter actually did seem to be displaying liberal bias, the way he was handing questions over the Sen. Rockefeller ... he was all but setting up perfect talking points for Sen. Rockefeller.

And what did Sen. Rockefeller do? While making darned sure we all knew that his position was 100% different than GW Bush's, he also proceeded to wage war against the same strawmen liberals against whom the GOP is always railing. While I should think that for the interests of having a complete spectrum of political views in this country it would actually be nice if some people were to actually oppose any sort of government wire-tapping, the fact of the matter is that (practically) nobody is actually making that argument.

If people were making that argument, then Sen. Rockefeller would be positioning himself as a sensible moderate between two ridiculous positions. However, by making this argument, Sen. Rockefeller is per force positioning himself as a moderate but begging the inference of which people hold the liberal strawman position -- and people will infer that it is moonbats like myself who hold this position, thus making anyone to the left of Rockefeller un-electable. Which is good for Rockefeller, but not good for anyone else along our political spectrum, which would include in the demotic imagination all Democrats except for Rockefeller. Why do moderates like Rockefeller have to reflexively position themselves as such? What is it with the self-centeredness of such people? Why can't they admit that liberals agree with them on this issue?

It's bad enough when the GOP mis-represents our positions, but why do other Dems. need to misrepresent the positions of Democrats in order to paint themselves as moderates? It's almost a kind of bullying, isn't it? Casting aspersions on others to make yourself look "better" (as our society is Hellenistic enough to believe moderation is an inherent good?)?

It's good that Sen. Rockefeller wants to provide some real over-sight for what Bush is doing with intelligence gathering. But why does he have to mis-characterize the position of us moonbats -- we just want the same thing he does: oversight -- via Congress and/or the Courts. By mischaracterizing our position he's ultimately discrediting his own as we have similar positions ... so what's going on here? It wasn't as if the interviewer was leading him to distance himself from some liberal strawman or something ... the interviewer was setting him up perfectly. Perhaps, after so much abuse by the SCLM to Dems., he's
a little wary ... but still, someone who wants (quite correctly) to exercize an oversight roll regarding intelligence gathering ought to know when the candy's poisoned and when it's not. So, in not even figuring out that he was being set up to make a good talking point rather than being set up to sound like a fool, Sen. Rockefeller has proved his incompetence -- and to the extent that we Dems. have won based on "we are more competent than they are", this undermines what we Dems. have electorally ...

Sheeze ... reflexive, self-indulgent, bullying centrism, demonstrations of incompetence ... the Dems. still haven't learned, have they? Oy gevalt!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Perceived Liberals vs. Real Liberals, or, Has Anybody Heard of Iran/Contra?

On NPR they made a very good point about why Iran might not trust us (btw -- the poker player pointing out about Iran's possible bluffing was right on the mark, except he also might have pointed out that America has a tradition of playing bluff-based card games and the majority-Christian "Western" culture, if not America per se, is quite obsessed with martyrdom, albeit in the past, not so much the present): we helped arm Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war.

Of course, though, this'll 'cause most folks to dismiss NPR as "liberal": "how dare they point out that Iran might not be entirely irrational? stupid, liberals trying to 'understand' our enemies ..." (don't people read Sun-Tzu anymore, though -- sheeze ... and if it weren't for liberals -- e.g. in the Truman admin -- trying to construct rational, coherent, long term foreign policies based on knowing your enemies, would we have won the Cold War? This know-nothing-ism of our body-politic is taking us to hell in a handbasket, that's for sure ...). And if NPR were truly liberal, they'd remind folks that, at the same time Rumsfeld was hugging Saddam Hussein, Reagan's admin was also helping to arm Iran.

If our country goes to hell in a hand-basket, it'll be because we never did fully root out the whole Iran/Contra mess, and to this day too many turn a blind eye to what really happened. This is why justice is important -- not for vengeance, but to make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated. According to some, we cannot criticize the conduct of a war while it's happening lest we demoralize the troops or something (and these are the same people who idolize Harry "Investigating War Profiteers" Truman, if only because he defeated Henry Wallace, so they mis-interpret the rabidly partisan Truman as some proto-DLC type?) and afterwards we cannot criticize it as it's water under the bridge. So punditocracy: when is the right time? Is there ever a right time for justice?


Chayei Sarah Blogging

I gave a shorter, Florida-appropriate version of this as a mini-sermon last Friday. Does having a blog that's over a year old give me license to recycle posts?

Oh well ... if my blog where a really popular blog, I could just post a headline:

A moonbat, a straw-feminist, a Nice Guy(R) and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Wankery walked into a bar ...

with the body being

... and the bartender said, "what is this, some kind of blog"

And a discussion topic, perhaps even related to Chayei Sarah, would evolve. It is the mark of a good blog that the blogger doesn't even have to resort to "intelligently designing" his posts. Now what are the theological implications of this, um, observation? Hmmm ....

Friday, November 17, 2006


Happy Blogoversary Nate

Read the post. It honors me deeply.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


An Oldie But Goodie

An old post, true, but it says all you need to know about the pundit class in America: the Katherine Graham quote was especially disturbing (and I previously thought she was one of the good guys, to an extent ...): all it made me think about was this quote of Bentham (who looked suspiciously like Ben Franklin, IMHO -- conspiracy theories anyone? after all, we already know that Atrios is really both Gene Lyons and Sidney Blumenthal who are the same person ...):

Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government

I'm not a utilitarian, but there's often nothing like a good utlitarian argument to cut to the chase and quantify things and thus see nakedly where people's priorities really do lie, nu?

Monday, November 13, 2006



What Prof. Atrios said and quoted.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I'll Agree with Bush & CO on this one

We were right to veto that one-sided Security Council resolution about Israel's incursions into the Gaza Strip: while Israel may make some strategic mistakes and suffer from some ethical and moral lapses in its self-defense, which lapses should shame any Jew as we are supposed to be the "chosen people" holding ourselves to a higher standard not the "we Jews should be like any other nation" moral relativism standard of Zionism, Israel is a nation-state on the ground and has a right to some sort of self-defense. It would be one thing to ask Israel to hold to the highest standards in its defense actions, but there has to be some guarantee for Israel's security -- it is not fair to ask a nation to ignore attacks on it when no nation would really do so.

If the UN resolution had some mechanism to stop those rocket attacks from Gaza, then it would be fair to also ask Israel to withdraw post-haste ... but unless the UN plans to do something about the attacks on Israel, they shouldn't be asking Israel to just withdraw.

And note to UN-backers, et al -- the reason why many hate the UN and why we in the U.S. need to retain veto power is precisely because of one-sided resolutions like this. Although one can certainly argue that the US support of Israel is bad for both countries as it allows us to be the victim of anti-Semitic-based hatred of Israel but also causes Israel to be used as a whipping boy for anti-American sentiment (cf., these comments, many of which consider the latter reason to be why the US supports Israel, and should at least give pause to those who think, either as Zionists or anti-Zionists, that American politicians who support Israel are really "pro-Israeli" -- N.B. -- cf. earlier comparisons to those supporting righty-tighty causes against their best interest to victims of abuse who blame themselves for it, etc. -- if someone is egging you on to do things that are dangerous to yourself or using you as a whipping boy, they don't actually like you!), certainly if the UN wants to be credible both in the US and in any real sense, the member countries have got to stop using that organization as a "gang up on Israel to take out our anger about US hegemony" club ... there's so much that needs attention in this world and the prioritization of Israel as "problem #1" does bespeak a certain amount of anti-Semitism.


Vayera Blogging

Some notes from my sermon:

If Jonah were read as the Haftorah, rather than two miracles wrought by Elisha, I would have compared and contrasted Abraham, who bargained with God not to destroy the Cities in the Plain, with Jonah, who tried to run away from God and later defended his actions by pointing out that God wanted to forgive Ninevah rather than giving them a good smiting. Of course, while Abraham also participates in wars, as a capable military tactician, Jonah doesn't even want to smite Ninevah himself. Jonah is a chickenhawk!

Vayera has two major thematic elements: the imporance of hospitality and the degree to which the good old days were not so good especially as concerned the treatment of women and children as property (we see in this parsha, with the drama of the Akedah at the end, the stirrings of a new, more egalitarian morality ... even before then, we have Abraham commanded to listen to his wife!).

Comparative religion lesson (inspired by hearing both stories being read at a mass once, although the contrasts were not discussed in the homily or anything): Abraham:Sarah::Mary:Martha ... but in the story of Mary and Martha, Mary is rewarded for being the "hostest with the mostest" whereas Martha, in the kitchen, is chastized. OTOH, it is really Sarah who is rewarded with Isaac, as Abraham already has his heir -- and Abraham was the host while Sarah was doing the work. This says something about faith vs. works and their relative importance in Christianity and Judaism, nu?

The real sin of Sodom certainly wasn't "Sodomy": but it wasn't just a lack of hospitality either. Note that the Sodomites a xenophobes who accuse Lot of improperly judging them by not allowing them to rape his guests. I.e. the Sodomites claimed that Lot was interfering with their liberty by exercizing his freedom of conscience. Selfishness and a fetishistic attitude toward free market capitalism (some of the Rabbis claimed the "average" attitude of "what's yours is yours and what's mine is mine" was actually that of Sodom), a tendancy to complain that those, whose culture is different than theirs, are "forcing their values" on them merely by exercizing certain liberties and demanding some degree of equal rights? Hmmm ... sounds familiar, nu?

I guess, in the typical irony of such things ("it figures" -- Morissette), it's those who complain the most about Sodomites are themselves the real Sodomites ... right down to the xenophobia (linked with lack of hospitality and even a fetish regarding the good old days, which certainly were not good), free market fetishism and moral relativism mascerading as moral absolutism, etc.

A final thought based on the commentary in the Eitz Chaim to the verse "lift the boy up and take him by the hand" -- just as Sodom was destroyed by a lack of reaching out, sometimes we gain strength by reaching out to others and helping them: we gain the strength to help them and ourselves.


Overdue Lech L'cha Blogging

There is so much one ought to say, especially after such a delay, but I'm not sure what I would say, so a question: what is the nature of a spiritual calling?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


"Both Sides Do It"

The media's been saying that election-day shenanagans, such as those that occurred last Tuesday, are pulled by "both sides", etc. They've been talking especially about misleading and/or intimidating phone calls in VA and pretty much implying that they form the basis of Allen's complaint and that the Dems. were behind these calls. Of course, the opposite is true, as I found out in these comments. It's one thing for the GOP to be misleading, we would expect any party making misleading phone calls to voters would misrepresent who did what to whom, but the media's supposed to check these things out, not join in the innuendo.

Of course, the media managed to keep it's so-called liberal cred intact by cheering on for the Dems. when it looked like the Dems. were winning (which was not only at the end of the day, contra the GOP claims of cheating by Dems. based on discrepencies with so-called late returns: unless the GOP knew those returns would be even more Dem. 'cause they made sure voting delays would occur in heavily Dem. precincts < / tinfoil hat > ) ... sometimes I wonder if the media lets these liberal "slips" occur simply to make sure people view the media as liberal so that way when the media attacks the Dems. it'll be believed but when anti-GOP stories come out, they'll be dismissed as bias. Am I being too paranoid?


Anyway, the media is not learning. On my way to work, they had some reporting on the Iraq war and the causes and effects of Rumsfeld's resignation. They had a few people on to take the point of view that Bush & CO botched the war (e.g. by not having enough troops on the ground, etc.). Unless I was already in lab by the time they managed to have another point of view on, they had nobody on pointing out that the war was a bad idea to begin with. They also had nobody on defending Bush & CO, which will be taken as a sign of liberal bias (thus discrediting even the criticism of Bush & CO presented here), but which also strengthans the "it was a good idea but executed wrong ... if only St. John McCain, beloved by even the [so-called] liberal media for his 'bipartisanship' and maverickness [the late great Mavericks must be spinning in their graves], were president, things would be so much better" (as my grandfather would say "if only donkeys had square assholes, they would shit bricks") by not having some Bush & CO person desperately trying to defend the war and its justification and in the process making people realize how stupid both the execution and even the idea for the war were.

Or maybe more accurately, given who owns and pays for the media, the media are not unlearning what their paymasters have taught them.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


A Follow Up

... to the post of Atrios' I linked to in updating a post of mine a few posts down.

Part of the issue is what people mean by liberal. When my from upstate-New York labmate says he doesn't like NPR 'cause it's too liberal, he's referring to liberal meaning "culturally liberal", i.e. "someone who likes to listen to fusion Zydeco motets while sipping on Rioja and discussing whether the literary cannon is an outdated concept". When my conservative Catholic friend, who is very much a "cultural liberal" (and proud to admit to being such) in the above sense, says he's not a big fan of liberals, he's referring to "social liberals" who want the state to recognize gay marriages and provide medicare funding for abortions. When Joe Sixpack says he thinks liberals are effete, he's referring to people who want to have constructive solutions to problems like global terror rather than doing something manly like waving our collective shaped armaments around.

But when the Elite Consensus gets wind that people don't like liberals, they think people don't like political or economic liberals ... which may, or more often may not be true ...

Of course, as I've mentioned before, these divisions provide opportunity for the Dems. to pick up new constituencies ... I had another point to make here, but I forgot it ... so I guess I should just get back to work?


SPEAKer Pelosi

... needs to learn better public speaking skills.

I have previously wondered about why Pelosi is so reviled and considered so frightening. Some have chalked it up to straight-forward misogyny or even homophobia (after all, it's Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco). But listening to Pelosi speak last night and hearing more about how she really bombed on TDS and the Colbert Report, I realize something more is involved: Nancy Pelosi is simply not a good speaker.

Some of this is indeed a double standard, both against Dems. and against women: after all, people didn't feel so disturbed by Hastert, and he's no golden-mouthed orator. But some of it is the precise way Pelosi, as well as many others, speak. When Pelosi was speaking, her delivery was similar to that of "Loud Howard": she seems as if she is speaking by moving her lower jaw up and down vigorously while keeping a stiff-upper lip ... and has a delivery wherein collections of phrases always start at a middle tone, go higher and pitch and then often go very low at the end of the collection of phrases. There is no creative pausing or modulation of tone. The net effect is that Pelosi sounds like a robot who's enraged 'cause the price of lubrication has gone up -- it's no wonder people think Pelosi is angry.

This manner of speaking is not limitted to Nancy Pelosi. Pardon my sexism but it does seem to be more common amoung women. Of course, there are men that speak this way -- aside from Loud Howard (fictional) and Gilbert Gottfriend (not a politician), John Kerry (and we all know how well he did on a national stage), GHW Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger all have the same cadence as Pelosi. But it does seem that this cadence is more common among women (even the late Ann Richards, who was as witty, folksy and wonderful as all get-out was prone to fall into this cadence -- when she made her famous "born with a silver foot in his mouth" comment, it wasn't said in a folksy or well-modulated manner ... at was said with a predictable tonal progression from mid-range to high to low and with no rubato or any sign that the speaker was the great Ann Richards and not a robot) and people react harsher to it when women speak this way.

There are a number of things going on here: one is, of course, the sexist double standard of expecting more from women than from men. The other is that people expect women to be better speakers than men, because the stereotype is that women are better at talking than men, so when a woman sounds like Gilbert Gottfried, people think "she's a woman, she ought to sound better than that" whereas with men, they figure "boy's can't do any better, eh?" -- plus, people often are more comfortable with those who conform to their stereotypes -- there are many Protestant fundies, e.g., who are more comfortable with stereotypical "Papists" and Joe Lieberman types than they would be with everyday, not-100%-stereotypical Catholics and Jews -- and react badly to those who buck stereotyped expectations. Another thing is that, at a subconscious level, women speakers might be trying to sound less feminine and more masculine by removing stereotypically feminine voice modulations -- so you have an audience expecting a better modulated speech than they'd get from a man, but a speaker trying too hard to loose voice modulations to "sound like a man" figuring that the audience wants to hear a man, not a woman.

But there is also something more subtle in terms of socialization. There are certain things that, growing up as a boy, you learn, because if you don't learn them, you won't survive socially, due to a residual gender roles in our society (most pronounced, I must add, even if pointing this out is a very Nice Guy(R) sort of thing to do, in the hetero dating scene where it's not surprising that, since sexual differences are its raison d'etre, is a bastion of backwards gender roles). And since girls are by and large not forced to learn these skills, they simply don't learn them.

For example, one such skill is how to assert yourself. Boys have every last ounce of passive-aggressiveness beaten out of them starting at an early age: a male has to "be a man" and assert himself. Girls are not forced to develop assertiveness skills and many simply don't. Thus, "when a man makes his views clear it's called 'assertive' whereas when a woman does it it's 'bitchy'" is not necessarily a double standard but simply that all men are trained to be assertive, but women are not so trained, so many of them simply do come off as bitchy when they try to assert themselves, 'cause they are not as well-versed in how to make your point of view clear in a non-bitchy way. Frankly, some of us guys (e.g. me) are sufficiently passive-aggressive by nature that we come off as bitchy rather than assertive when we try to stand up for ourselves ... there is a real difference here. And it's likely not an underlying sex difference, but it has to do with how boys and girls are socialized (I suspect it's gonna be less of an issue in a few years, because a large part of assertiveness training is that boys generally have much more exposure to team sports -- I am about as much of a not-into-sports-nerd as one can be, and growing up the only girls who played more sports than me were the bona fide athletes -- and as girls are more and more expected to be just as sporty as boys, they will also gain the same training in assertiveness as guys) ... and primarily this socialization relates to dating: so (and my inner Nice Guy(R) is gonna come out here) parents -- raise your daughters to be as assertive about "asking people out", etc., as you do your boys: the personal is political and if you wanna ditch double standards about gender, ya gotta ditch those pesky gender roles where they are the most pronounced, the hetero-dating scene.

Anyway, I'm way OT ... but back to the subject, I wonder if another area where boys simply are held to higher expectations than girls is public speaking. If boys are always expected to develop public speaking skills and girls are not, is it any surprise that even among politically prominant people, the men tend to speak better than the women? Why there is a "big dawg" and no female equivalent?

Not too long ago there was a lot of good discussion in feminist left-blogostan about the perniciousness of stereotypes ... perhaps poorer speaking skills is one such example?

It doesn't matter though: even if it's purely a matter of misogyny, while we can and should work to eliminate sexist double standards, as my gf would say regarding the current situation "it is what it is" ... so Pelosi has got to learn to speak better is she wants to be an effective speaker of the house. Is it unfair that her speaking style causes people to think of her as an angry lefty moonbat loon while nobody thought much of anything about Hastert or his speaking style? Yes. But, to quote JFK, life is unfair. We have an obligation to pursue justice -- to try and make life fair. But we also have to live in the real world, where life is unfair and deal with it.

So congratulations Speaker Pelosi! Now, go get some speech coaching ...


The Media Finally Gets It: Or Maybe Not

I guess the theme of today's blogging will be, naturally, the election (I guess I'm trying to steal the most banal blog title from Althouse?):

Heard last night on NPR (apprx): "when a party falls out of favor, the first people to be voted out are the moderates in that party. We're seeing that with the Republicans (e.g. in New England) tonight. And we saw it with the Dems. in 1994".

The media only now realize this? Michael Moore pointed this out ages ago (he also predicted another "cold war" ... I think the GWOT is close enough to his prediction for pundit work, nu?), but he's fat and he's from the wrong social class (btw ... we leftwing liberal moonbats desparately need to work out a code ... I heard Senator <> Bernie Sanders talking about these all important matters of class on the radio last night and he almost sounded too strong for me: just as the Republicans speak in such a manner that their base hears one thing, big business hears another, the punditocracy yet another and Joe and Jane Voter, yet another, we Dems -- and also Sen. Bernie Sanders -- need to have a code so that we don't scare away voters but rather subconciously persuade them to our side ... an easy example: instead of saying "let's role back the PBA ban" say "we need to ensure that, no matter what side of the abortion debate we're on, we have laws that first and formost protect the life, health and well-being of all citizens and legal residents of this country ... including pregnant women") ... so to our media snobs, he counts for nothin' (and some say we don't have a problem with social class in this country).

So we've had 12 some years of concern trollism from the SCLM telling us Dems. to moderate, and only now they realize that running to the center doesn't necessarily help your electoral chances?


And even now, the media is still spotty on this concept. Later last night, NPR had some "analyst" spinning the "Dems won 'cause they moved to the right on social issues" record. Yeah ... I believe that, as does Atrios (as does Ezra Klein, what's with all the Anteater-types in left-blogostan?). How did running as more of a social conservative work out for you Harold Ford, eh? The Democrats of course won, 'cause of frustration with GW Bush's imperial presidency (it took the electorate long enough) and the US equivalent of "Tory Sleeze". But the Dems. had, if they wanna win again in 2008 when GW Bush will be out of the picture and the sleeziest GOoPers are gone, better act as if (and start creating the "reality" of) they had a mandate to be constructive and push a Democratic agenda. Otherwise it'll be too easy for the GOP to "remind" voters that in 2006, they were mad at specific GOoPers and not the GOP agenda as a whole, and "remind" voters to victory.

In politics, you create your own reality. Alas, that seems to be too hard a lesson for members of the "reality based community" to learn. Hopefully we'll learn it soon ...


GW Bush NOW Has a Bold Agenda?

I heard on the radio this morning something to the effect of "President Bush has said he will push a bold agenda for his last two years in office" -- presumably (and hopefully) the Dems. will block this likely to be horrendous agenda. But, of course, GW Bush will then blast the "do nothing Democrats" in order to boost the GOP's chances in 2008.

I mean, if this "bold agenda" were about other than political posturing, you'd think GW Bush would have implimented it by now ... e.g. when he had both houses in his pocket. But nooo ... even when he has everyone in Congress ready to felate him, he cannot impliment his agenda, yet he's ready with a "bold plan" as soon as the Dems. gain control? Unless he's the type that can only rise to a challenge, which I somehow doubt, this is posturing.

And, to be honest, political posturing needs a "not that there's anything wrong with that" sort of disclaimer. But still, it's odd how when one side postures, they get called on it, while the other side, which is the side that has convinced the people that politics is so evil in the first place in order to undermine our very system of "ambition being made to counteract ambition", is allowed to get away with it, 'cause the media is too afraid of being labeled as liberal to call that other side on their posturing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006



I am after all, a glorified statistician.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Human Resources Issues and Related Questions

Not to blame the victims of harrassment, bullying, etc. -- but how come is it that some people seem to be consistently bullied, harrassed and/or treated like doormats while others of us are lucky enough (knock wood) to avoid such treatment? And it's always the people who can handle such treatment the least: maybe that's why they are targets? People who seem more likely to shrug it off or more likely to actually fight back are, er, less attractive targets? Similarly, how come it's always those most paranoid about anti-Semitism who seem to encounter it (and I mean legitimate encounters: things that even non-paranoid types would consider anti-Semitic) the most, at least in relatively non-anti-Semitic parts of this country?

Other questions: when it comes to internal review of personnel issues, who watches the watchers? who reviews the reviewers? And what is the deal with workplaces which don't have well-defined sick-leave policies? Wouldn't such policies benefit both employees and employer? To what degree does the law require such policies exist? Do employers have a right to terminate an employee who, e.g., has ovarian cysts and cannot make it into work for said reason?

Finally a question for people my age (not that I'm that old, but I'm just barely old enough to ask this question) or older: remember when "Human Resources" was "Personnel" and ran not by Catbert types but rather by people who reminded you too much of your mother?


“We are deceivers, yet true” (II Corinthians 6:8)

I was at a conference this weekend, and driving to and from there, I got to see the "real" FL. And part of seeing the real Florida is seeing the sorts of billboards people post: funny ... if people are already so "Christian" in the "Bible Belt", how come they need to advertise it so much? Do these people really read Bruce Barton? But what was the worst were the deceptive "pro-life" billboards.

I guess, c.f. the title of the post, it's in fact not un-Christian to be deceptive (but these people claim to be the guardians of our morality?) ... still, you'd think if the "pro-life" crowd had such a good case, they'd be at least a bit more honest.

E.g. they have some billboard showing an embryo at about Carnegie stage 24 (end of first trimester / beginning of second trimester) or so with a caption (no indication of at what stage the embryo is) something to the effect of "a baby's heart begins to beat at 18 days". First, I do believe the figure is more like 22 days, so unless I am remembering either the billboard wrong (although I see the 18 days figure all across the internets on pro-life sites, and even some responses as to why they are not being deceptive in using that figure) or embyogenisis wrong, the billboard doesn't even have the right number. Second, and more importantly, how come they don't show a picture of a 22 or so day old embryo? Well, the answer to that question is, um, obvious. They could at least have had a picture of an embryo still in the first trimester, though: e.g., at this stage, they have a sort of E.T. like cuteness to them. So it isn't even about killing something cute -- they have to act as if first trimester abortions are killing something that looks like a(n emaciated) baby.

The other poster that caught my eye was one that said something to the effect of "Babies are God's gift". Fair enough. But (1) feti (is that the plural) are not babies (yet) and embryos certainly are not. Does "Babies are God's gift" imply that my sperm are also not to be killed, even though my body will kill the sperm I don't waste? Oh, wait a minute ... I needn't answer that question. Although in fairness to the Catholics, at least they are consistent about things (although where was their opposition to the death penalty when Jews were being put to death for the "crime" of being Jewish? and, being OT, which, since it's my post, I can be as much as I want, eh? -- how about the timing of that Saddam Hussein verdict -- I can't bear to watch the MSM right now: how much are they spinning this in the GOP's favor? I bet they have "political analysts" saying "the Bush admin must love this" with the subtext being -- "if you hate Saddam Hussein, you should vote GOP" but with enough snark so reactionaries can still have "evidence" with which to complain about the "liberal media"): I bet most of the people behind this billboard have wives that are asking "how are we different than [the Catholics]: we've have two kids and we've had sex twice", etc.

Anyway, that's not the worst part. The worst part is that these babies were healthy, cute and (with a token exception) as white as I am. If they really believe what they are saying is true of all babies, they should have some crack babies, some fetal alcohol babies, etc. And I wonder why they don't? Or maybe not ... still, I say their tactics are awfully deceptive.


Another thing which bugs me about the "pro-life" movement: where is the commitment to dealing with unwanted babies and, especially, babies born with severe birth defects? How many "pro-lifers" have adopted "difficult" babies? Do they contribute or even propose the set up of a taxpayer funded, fund to ensure every woman has adaquate pre/post-natal care, even, e.g. illegal immigrants (I seem to remember someone they consider to be the Son of God being quoted as saying something to the effect of "that which you do to the least of them, you also do to me": would these fundies deny Jesus citizenship? I guess I know the answer to that question ...) and every child has adaquate food, medical care, etc.? I know this is a standard point, but I think it's an important one. You cannot say "abortion should be illegal" without proposing alternatives, nu?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Joke, Alas it was true and is still de facto true -- Unless you're rich like you know who

See the rhyme in the title? I'm a poet, and I do know-it ;)

Anyhoo, John Kerry's joke was at one time grimly true: in the days of 'Nam (you know -- that war in which Kerry fought and GWB skipped out on), if you flunked out of school, didn't get into school or you came from a family that couldn't afford to keep you in school, you'd loose/not get your student deferment and get drafted (unless you were from the right kind of family or something). Now of course, we only have a de facto draft.

Maybe, though, we should have a draft. And draft the chickenhawks first. Of course, the chickenhawks would run away from their words, dismissing those words as "thinking out loud" or some such. Remember when conservatives believed Ideas Have Consequences?

The above linked article also reminds us that on the right, e.g., in the cold war or even in the run-up to WWII, the debate in terms of dealing with foreign threats was always between isolationism /appeasement vs. hot war ... the policy of containment that won the cold war, wasn't even really on the radar of anyone to the right of Ike, until Reagan was able to claim credit for winning the Cold War since Truman was dead and hence unable to take the credit he and his team rightly deserved. So why should we be surprised that, whenever a foreign threat arises, the right still acts as if the only choice is between "appeasement/isolationism" and blowing our enemy to smithereens? The false dichotomy, which would claim the mantle of Truman's foreign policy (when pushed by the Lieberman wing much of which is nominally Democratic) for the ultra-hawkish side of the dichotomy, but which would lump Truman-esque policies of containment with those of appeasers and isolationists, is not only a rhetorical blugeon used to denigrate the "seriousness" of those of us on the left, but also reflects the foreign policy debate as it exists on the right: for the right to label us as appeasers/isolationists is not merely an unfair slur designed to score political points, but it also is projection ... of us into the categories of the debate of the right.

In general, it's a sign of the rightward tilt of our national discourse that for so many debates the perspective of the left is largely ignored and the debate is framed entirely in terms of two competing conservative traditions. Liberal ideas about containment are ignored as the debate is framed solely as one between two reactionary positions: isolationism/appeasement vs. hawkish unilateralism. Similarly, ideas about fair trade are ignored as the reactionary framing of the debate as between free-trade and protectionism places anyone who is not in favor of so-called free trade as a protectionist ... similarly for the much hyped and rather meaningless distinction between "realists" and "idealists" in general foreign policy terms.

Part of the issue is that people, especially those in the media who largely still -- even with these blog thingies proliferating as they are -- set the course of our national discourse, are more comfortable with debates between two poles and cannot handle "superpositions" ... but some of it is a bona fide rightward shift (as cmike might point out, that has been bought and paid for), which, in excluding other voices from the table, really sells us short by over-constraining the market of ideas. It's a point you'd think conservative "free marketeers" would understand ... but you'd be thinking wrong it seems ...


Blame It on Kerry

Let's see if I have this right: GOP chicken-hawks regularly say patronizing things about our troops, insult bona-fide war heroes, etc. and get a relatively free pass from the media to do so. But a Democrat makes a single stupid joke (pointing out a few very real problems: the lack of civilian jobs opportunities for many in our society as well as the lack of qualified applicants for the military, which lack would be alleviated if every person of military age who so wanted to go to war in Iraq actually did or if we did not actually go to war in Iraq and thus stretch our military too thin) and the media talking-heads are all over it?

To hear media political analysts speak (at least on NPR), since even Harold Ford Jr. and Kerry's "friend" St. John McCain (R-Pseudopartisanship) have spoken out against Kerry, what he said is the end of the world, and you cannot trust Democrats for even having someone like that in their party. By that standard, given the behavior of all too many in the Republican party, you can never trust them, but IOKIYAR, I guess.

And of course, if the GOP wins this November, according to our media, it won't be due to deceptive campaigning, vast differences in available money, voter ignorance due to poor media coverage of issues or disenfranchisement schemes: it'll be because John Kerry (is he even running in this year's election?) made a joke in poor taste or because people are so afraid of Nancy Pelosi. And of course, according to our media, if the Dems. win, it'll be because the GOP wanted to loose to position themselves for 2008 and because of how scandal-ridden certain corners of the GOP are, which talking point, if repeated enough, will convince the voters that they voted for the Dems. merely because they were tired of GOP-sleaze and thus the electorate will be comfortable voting for a new, cleaned-house GOP in 2008, which will have been purged of specific malefactors but not, of course, of the rotten core of the ideology which made such pervasive malfeascence possible.

And some Republicans still claim the media is liberal because they have a snarky tone in their voice when they repeat GOP talking points and no such snarky tone when they repeat Democratic talking points (because they never repeat Democratic talking points)? And because the media "allows" nuts like Coulter to represent conservatism and madmen like McCain to represent the GOP while they get (weak, ineffectual, mealy-mouthed concern trolls who validate every stereotype people have of liberals) moderates like Biden to represent the Democrats? And the media are liberal 'cause they dare act as if maybe gays, women and minorities should have rights?

Wow, that's so liberal of the media: they really are just a bunch of moonbats, eh?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


A Shanda fur di GOPim

Speaking of trolls and strawmen ...

I wonder how long it'll take before the GOoPers use this guy's antics to "prove" that Dems. think terrorism is a joke and are not serious about national security.

Oy vey ...


On Being a Niebelung

Sometimes it's fun being a Niebelung, which is so close to being a troll just like being a vulture is close to being an eagle < / Nietzsche >, except the other way around.

It's always interesting how in certain quarters of left-blogostan, people are happy to give sophisticated analyses of how some particular abherent and abhorent behavior is but a symptom of a larger problem as a whole -- analyses which are oftentimes on the mark, but sometimes cross over into a mirror image of the prejudiced sophistry you expect to see on right-wing sites (as well as cross over into the realm of being straw-leftist arguments even if the people making them are, alas, not made of straw). And yet, when a happy little Niebelung-king decides to make an argument in a similar vein, if it manages to call into question some perhaps important distinctions made by the ideological orthodoxy, he gets slapped down.

It's no fun when you aren't expecting it, but it's quite a bit of fun when you are. Maybe I should sell out to the RNC and become a professional troll? That might be quite fun, eh?

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