Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why we fight (but not too hard)

Here's the deal, the problem with our Iraq debacle and the sociopolitical underpinnings of it:


The Iraqi Muslims (no matter how odious their cultural assumptions and/or methods of fighting) are fighting for their collective lives, faith, culture and identity.

We are fighting for the Almighty Orgasm and another PlayStation 3. And gas for the SUV.

Who do you think is going to win? Both short-term and ultimately.

Exactly.

You'll fight to the death for something bigger than yourself -- your god . . . your family . . . your people. Why would you, on the other hand, fight to the death for things that are worthless to you if you're dead?

And Lord knows America's reserves of Meaning ran out, oh, about 1966, if I'm figuring correctly. For the Full Monty on where we're headed now, read this incredibly important essay in Commonweal.

An excerpt:

The global “war on terror” represents the Bush administration’s effort to do just that-to change the way that they live. “They,” of course, are the 1.4 billion Muslims who inhabit an arc stretching from North Africa to Southeast Asia.

The overarching strategic aim of that war is to eliminate the Islamist threat by pacifying the Islamic world, with particular attention given to the energy-rich Persian Gulf. Pacification implies not only bringing Muslims into compliance with American norms. It also requires the establishment of unassailable American hegemony, affirming the superiority of U.S. power beyond the shadow of doubt and thereby deterring attempts to defy those norms. Hegemony means presence, evidenced by the proliferation of U.S. military bases throughout strategically critical regions of the Islamic world. Seen in relation to our own history, the global “war on terror” signifies the latest phase in an expansionist project that is now three centuries old.

This effort to pacify Islam has foundered in Iraq. The Bush administration’s determination to change the way Iraqis live has landed us in a quagmire. Today the debate over how to salvage something positive from the Iraq debacle consumes the foreign-policy apparatus. Just beyond lie concerns about how events in Iraq are affecting the overall “war on terror.” Expressing confidence that all will come out well, President Bush insists that historians will eventually see the controversies surrounding his Iraq policy as little more than a comma.

Rather than seeing Iraq as a comma, we ought to view it as a question mark. The question posed, incorporating but also transcending the larger “war on terror,” is this: Are ongoing efforts to “change the way that they live” securing or further distorting the American way of life? To put it another way, will the further expansion of American dominion abroad enhance the freedom we profess to value? Or have we now reached a point where expansion merely postpones and even exacerbates an inevitable reckoning
with the cultural and economic contradictions to which our pursuit of freedom has given rise?

Linzee iz adequite att beeng illedderut

Thee brilliyunt moovee stare Linzee Low Hand haz reeleesd ay kondolens lettr shee rote too thuh famlee of thee layt dur rectur Robrt Alt Man. Aye fownd thee lettr too bee kwite mooveng an verree profown inn ayn unnkonvenshunul mannr inn thez posemawdernt tymz.


Itt iz two bade thate them snottee englands iz makeing funn of linzee, ass them doo nawt evn spel moste of the wordz wee uze in englissh rite. skrewe themz all, aye saye!

Fawr yer reedeing pleshure, aye wil poste ann x-surpt frum thys liturrary masturpees thayt wille liv forevr inn thee harts uv alle thoz hoo luv thuh englissh langwidg:

The 20-year-old actress, who scored a part in Altman's last movie, A Prairie Home Companion, made the interesting decision to go public with a condolence letter she wrote to the Altman family in the wake of his death from cancer last week. The passion was certainly there - she, like many dozens of actors before her, clearly adored the experience of working in Altman's characteristic freeform style - but the letter was also spectacular in its incoherence and disregard of basic grammar and spelling.

"I am lucky enough to of been able to work with Robert Altman amongst the other greats on a film that I can genuinely say created a turning point in my career," she began, less than certainly. "He was the closest thing to my father and grandfather that I really do believe I've had in several years... He left us with a legend that all of us have the ability to do." A little lower down, she fell into improv philosophy, apparently riffing on the notion that life is too short to waste: "Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourselves' (12st book) - everytime there's a triumph in the world a million souls hafta be trampled on. - altman Its true. But treasure each triumph as they come." And she signed off, "Be adequite. Lindsay Lohan."

Aynt shee wundrfull? Cee, drynking harde duzz mak yew smrte!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Powell calls sky blue. Bush not there yet.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, unlike his old boss, looks at what's going on in Iraq and proclaims the deadly obvious.


"I would call it a civil war," Powell told a business forum in the United Arab Emirates. "I have been using it (civil war) because I like to face the reality," added Powell.

He said world leaders should acknowledge Iraq was in civil war.

Powell outlined the case against Iraq at the U.N. Security Council ahead of the war, which was based broadly on intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

President George W. Bush denied on Tuesday that sectarian violence had reached the scale of civil war. He said the latest wave of violence was part of a nine-month-old pattern of attacks by al Qaeda militants aimed at fomenting sectarian tension.

THIS, OF COURSE, begs the question of how long, exactly, the United States can endure a chief executive whose default existential position is to close his eyes, cover his ears and yell "Neener, neener, neener! Cancel! Cancel! Cancel! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!!!!!!"

In other words, we in trouble, y'all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Trickle-on economics soaks the wrong folks

Bueller . . . Bueller . . . Bueller . . . Bueller . . . .


Congress . . . Congress . . . Congress . . . Congress . . . .

Bush . . . Bush . . . Bush . . . Bush . . . .

Anyone? Anyone?

Anyone care to answer Ben Stein's challenge to Republican Holy Writ about how having America's rich pay less in taxes as a percentage of income than, oh, teachers and cops and pipefitters and disc jockeys furthers either basic economic justice or deficit reduction? Stein, the original Cheerful Republican (not to mention lawyer, economist and cult-movie icon) has a Big Gun at his side on this one, none other than the "Oracle of Omaha," Warren Buffett:

Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.

Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.

It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”

Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

This conversation keeps coming back to mind because, in the last couple of weeks, I have been on one television panel after another, talking about how questionable it is that the country is enjoying what economists call full employment while we are still running a federal budget deficit of roughly $434 billion for fiscal 2006 (not counting off-budget items like Social Security) and economists forecast that it will grow to $567 billion in fiscal 2010.

When I mentioned on these panels that we should consider all options for closing this gap — including raising taxes, particularly for the wealthiest people — I was met with several arguments by people who call themselves conservatives and free marketers.

One argument was that the mere suggestion constituted class warfare. I think Mr. Buffett answered that one.

Another argument was that raising taxes actually lowers total revenue, and that only cutting taxes stimulates federal revenue. This is supposedly proved by the history of tax receipts since my friend George W. Bush became president.

In fact, the federal government collected roughly $1.004 trillion in income taxes from individuals in fiscal 2000, the last full year of President Bill Clinton’s merry rule. It fell to a low of $794 billion in 2003 after Mr. Bush’s tax cuts (but not, you understand, because of them, his supporters like to say). Only by the end of fiscal 2006 did income tax revenue surpass the $1 trillion level again.

By this time, we Republicans had added a mere $2.7 trillion to the national debt. So much for tax cuts adding to revenue. To be fair, corporate profits taxes have increased greatly, as corporate profits have increased stupendously. This may be because of the cut in corporate tax rates. Anything is possible.

The third argument that kind, well-meaning people made in response to the idea of rolling back the tax cuts was this: “Don’t raise taxes. Cut spending.”

The sad fact is that spending rises every year, no matter what people want or say they want. Every president and every member of Congress promises to cut “needless” spending. But spending has risen every year since 1940 except for a few years after World War II and a brief period after the Korean War.

The imperatives for spending are built into the system, and now, with entitlements expanding rapidly, increased spending is locked in. Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt — all are growing like mad, and how they will ever be stopped or slowed is beyond imagining. Gross interest on Treasury debt is approaching $350 billion a year.
And none of this counts major deferred maintenance for the military.

And, you know, there's a biblical aspect to all this. It's not terribly complicated; it's just Luke 12:48. Read the whole chapter, though.

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. "

Or, in the much more elegant language of the King James Version of the Bible:

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
And a few years back, the Iowa Catholic bishops had something to say on this matter. Now, I don't usually -- OK, never, actually -- think "Aha! Catholic bishops!" when I'm looking for cogent public-policy analysis. But this, by God, makes sense:

Applying Catholic social thought, with prayer and consideration to the economic issues of taxation in the State of Iowa, we find that there are two basic moral principles that should govern the collection and distribution of taxes as they benefit the State of Iowa and its people.

The principle of contributive justice, as explained in the US Bishops. pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All (1986), suggests that all members of a society have a responsibility to contribute to the common good. A just and equitable system of taxation ensures that everyone contributes to society according to his or her ability to pay. Through contributions collected by taxes, we share the blessings that God has given us so that these resources can be used for the good of all.

The principle of distributive justice, also described in the economics. pastoral letter,
suggests that the distribution of wealth among the members of a society should first address the basic material needs of all people. As explained in the pastoral letter, the goal of distributive justice is to obtain a just and equitable distribution of income, wealth and power. This goal should be evaluated in light of how this allocation affects the poor and most vulnerable in a society.

On the basis of these moral principles, we make the following suggestions as a guide for tax policy in the State of Iowa. We understand that these applications of moral principles do not have the same moral certainty as the principles themselves and that people of good will can agreeor disagree on the application of moral principles.

1. Spending by the State of Iowa should first assure that the basic needs of all people -- especially those who are poor and vulnerable - are addressed as a priority before other
appropriations are made. Just as in a family's budget, spending for recreation and entertainment should come only after paying for shelter, food, clothing and other necessities.

2. All citizens have the right and responsibility to contribute to the common good through the payment of taxes.

The collection of taxes is an important and justifiable role of government. Taxes are an individual's contribution to the common good. In any society, the common good should be viewed of greater importance than the good of any individual or special interest group. Paying taxes is one way that citizens give something back to society.

(snip)

4. Taxation in any form should be based on one's ability to pay. If Iowa tax policy is to
remain faithful to Catholic teachings, it should first assure that the system collects taxes according to one's ability to pay.

Catholic social teaching supports a more progressive form of taxation. Our contribution to the common good should reflect our blessings. From those to whom much has been given, much should be expected. Those who make the most profit from our economic system benefit most from the structures and infrastructure that make economic enterprise possible. Tax exemptions and tax incentives should not change the fundamental requirement that taxes should be based on one's ability to pay.

OK, go ahead and call me a communist now. It would seem I'm in pretty good company.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!


Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow . . . I'm hoping you'll be watching football and not beating one another to death fighting for the last Elmo or PlayStation 3 at the local Big Box store.

Enjoy your family and friends. And turkey. And sweet potato pie.

Be thankful for what you have, not covetous of what you don't. Be laid back. Be happy.

Just be . . . for this long weekend, at least. God bless.

God Bless America, my a**

Most of my life, now, has been spent witnessing things happen that no one in their right mind would ever think could happen. In this country, at least. (And I'm only 45.)

Still, this stunned me. You cannot exaggerate what this portends for our American society -- such as it is.

"WHAT!? WHAT!?" you, no doubt, are screaming at your computer screen about now. Well, THIS is what.

A Minneapolis Top-40 radio station (owned by Clear Channel, of course) decided to have a bit of fun Tuesday morning, asking listeners whether they'd be willing to part with their babies for 24 hours in exchange for a Sony PlayStation 3.

Let me make this even clearer. The "deal" was this in the station's gag: You give us your baby for a day; we give you a PlayStation 3.

The St. Paul Pioneer-Press picks up the story:

"We got more calls than we could handle," said Ryan, who referred to the practical joke as a "social experiment." "They were lined up willing to turn their kids over to strangers
for a freakin' PlayStation."

KDWB morning show executive producer Steve "Steve-o" LaTart said he was surprised how many people were interested in the bogus swap, which consisted of handing over your child to LaTart for 24 hours in exchange for a PS3.


"There were a lot of phone calls that we didn't even get to, and I would say three- quarters of them were serious," said LaTart.


People with babies of all ages — including a 2-day-old and a 1-week-old — made it on
air. One of the more serious sounding calls came from a woman named "Katie," who
agreed to give up her 1-month-old for three days. She wanted to sell the PS3 on eBay to make some extra money for the holidays.


"In a way it's flattering that we've built up 13 years of trust and that's great … yet at the same time, hey, we thought we knew Kramer too, you just never know," said Ryan referring to Michael Richards, who played Kramer on "Seinfeld," and his recent racist
comments.


After the KDWB crew admitted on air that it was all a hoax, Ryan was dumbfounded when "Katie" called back.


"She said, 'So, does that mean I don't get the PlayStation?' I'm like yeah, you're a dumb a—, and you don't get the PlayStation.

MY GOD.

MY. GOD.

Seriously, is the end of us near -- at least in the context of our American "liberal" society?

Think of it . . . KDWB's phone lines were hopping with mental and moral imbeciles apparently dead serious in their willingness to give up their children -- their infants -- for a day, to strangers, in exchange for a (Anglo-Saxon expletive deleted) game console. (Listen here.)

At least when Islamic extremists happily sacrifice their offspring, they believe it is for the glory of Allah. Our kids . . . s***, we'll sacrifice 'em for a flippin' PlayStation.

One can only wonder whether those PlayStation 3 consoles come with a free Disciples of Molech: Tempting Doom game disc.

IDIOTS. Knuckle-dragging, morally retarded, mouth-breathing idiots.

All I can say is "Lord, have mercy." But, to be really honest with you, it's getting harder and harder to even make that simple entreaty to the Almighty. Because you know we have it coming. We really, really do have it coming.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jesus is not 'gnarly.' He is God.



HANK: Can't you see you're not making Christianity better, you're just making rock 'n' roll worse.

PASTOR K: You people are all alike. You look at us and think we're freaks. Come on, even Jesus had long hair.

HANK: Only because I wasn't his dad.

What Stephen Baldwin needs is to have a looooong talk with Hank Hill. And he needs to stop beating the word "gnarly" to death, perhaps by stretching his vocabulary to include -- oh, I don't know -- "bitchin'." Or something.

The youngest Baldwin brother, as you may know, has found Jesus. And has decided his mission in life is to spread the gnarly gospel to gnarly teens through gnarly means. Here's a bit from an
ABC Nightline profile Tuesday night:
After his conversion, Baldwin says he quickly found that Christianity lacked a certain edge. So Baldwin decided to fill Christianity's gnarly niche by starting a youth ministry that evangelizes with skateboards, bikes and motorcross.

"I'm here to reach the youth culture of America that's dying everyday spiritually," Baldwin says. "They're overdosing, they're committing suicide, they're doing this and that. And the thing that transformed me was coming into the understanding the things of God and the spirit of God. And I want to share that with people — and I want to share it in a fun way."

We interviewed Baldwin on a skate ramp in Houston, a recent stop on his evangelical road show, "Livin it Live." Baldwin says the stakes are high: no less than a "spiritual battle" for the souls of young people.

Before the "Bikers for Christ" and the "King of Kings skate team" could start the show, Baldwin insisted his riders take a safety precaution of a higher order — an invocation.

"I just ask that every skateboard and bicycle and motocross bike, Lord, have a legion of angels all around them," Baldwin said, as he led a group prayer.

The "gnarly" niche, unconventional though it may seem, is proving very effective.

Baldwin is now one of the most influential up-and-coming evangelicals in America. He and his holy rollers regularly sell out stadiums, and he's put out one of the best-selling skateboard DVDs of all time.
I am all for Christianity having a certain "edge." But, then again, didn't it always? Christ was not killed for being a milquetoast, nor were most of the apostles martyred on namby-pamby grounds.

If Christianity lacks "gnarly" cred, the fault lies in various warped American subcultures that have attempted to mold God instead of letting God mold them. Now, to fix that, Baldwin seeks to create yet another gnarlier-than-thou subculture which, of course, is attempting to mold God instead of letting God mold it.

I think it's time now for the "King of the Hill," ol' Hank himself, to have that little talk with Stephen Baldwin. Heck, it could be the same talk he gave to his teen-ager, Bobby, after the younger Hill did the Full Gnarly:

BOBBY: When I turn 18, I'm going to do whatever I want for the Lord. Tattoos, piercings, you name it.

HANK: Well, I'll take that chance. Come here, there's something I want you to see. (Hank takes down a box from the shelf and opens it up) Remember this?

BOBBY: My beanbag buddy? Oh, man, I can't believe I collected those things. They're so lame.

HANK: You didn't think so five years ago. And how about your virtual pet? You used to carry this thing everywhere. Then you got tired of it, forgot to feed it, and it died.

BOBBY (looks at a photo of himself in a Ninja Turtles costume): I look like such a
dork.


HANK: I know how you feel. I never thought that "Members Only" jacket would go out of style, but it did. I know you think stuff you're doing now is cool, but in a few years you're going to think it's lame. And I don't want the Lord to end up in this box.

(snip)

BOBBY: Hey, what's this picture? Mom used to have blonde hair?

HANK: Farrah Fawcett was very popular back then.

I don't think Jesus is interested in gimmicks. I don't think He is interested in bait-and-switch events. I don't think He is interested in looking cool.

I do, however, think Jesus is very interested in having a close, profound relationship with every one of us, both personally and communally . . . meaning in the context of a church body. Specifically, from my perspective, the Catholic Church, which WAS founded by Christ Himself.

And while the Church absolutely needs to be "salt and light" -- absolutely needs to impact the culture in a major way -- the Church (and that's all of us in the Body of Christ) ought never slip into Hucksterism for Jesus. What it has to offer -- not sell . . . offer -- is compelling and powerful enough to render gimmickry superfluous.

Gimmicks just get in the way.

Not that I have anything against BMXers and skateboarders who are Christians, and who attempt to bring their faith into what they do. After all, here at Revolution 21, we are Catholics trying to bring our faith into what we do . . . which, in our case, is radio.

There is a fine line, however, and it shouldn't be crossed. That line would be where you start to be nothing more "Bread and Circuses for Jesus."

That line would be where you are sooooooooo focused on getting people through the door and manufacturing "New Christians" that you forget about getting them grounded in their newfound faith.

That line would be where you forget about preparing them for a lifelong voyage on sometimes stormy seas.

What Stephen Baldwin needs to be asking himself is whether -- as "gnarly" and "cool" and popular as his Skateboarder Jesus might be now -- in five years some sad-eyed parent will reach for a shoebox, a shoebox tucked away on a top shelf in a closet somewhere in America, and in that shoebox will lie Skateboarder Jesus . . . dusty, scuffed and very forgotten.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Next, they'll accuse him of charming water moccasins

Here is a press release from the Louisiana Democratic Party. Read it, and then I'll explain a few things:

PRESS RELEASE


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.......................................
CONTACT: Julie Vezinot
Nov. 16, 2006.......................................225-336-4155

THOU SHALT GO FORTH AND SEEK CONTRIBUTIONS

Jindal Claims Divine Intervention Has Directed Him to Raise Money
But Not Commit to Governor’s Race

BATON ROUGE – Piyush (Bobby) Jindal has finally admitted to a partial divine revelation that he wants to be governor. This revelation has told him to seek out his most valued supporters, ask of them large amounts of money while he continues to pray for an answer to his most burning question – Should I be Governor?

Someone would have to been living under a rock not to notice that Jindal has been criss-crossing the state over the last several months during his “supposed” re-election campaign. Funny, I didn’t think the voters in DeRidder or Monroe could vote in the 1st District? Never the less, Jindal kept at it as he so smugly rested on the assurances his re-election was in the bag.

And now, to his loyal voters who put him back in Washington, he’s telling them – Wait a Minute – I changed my mind – I want to be governor. For someone who is supposedly intelligent and claims not to play politics, Jindal’s actions are insulting and should be called to question.

“How dare he ridicule Gov. Blanco for raising funds for her re-election campaign,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington. “Gov. Blanco has never hid her intentions to run again and had enough respect for the people of this state to tell them so.”

Gov. Blanco took the reigns of this great state with a mission – improve the economy, health care and education standards for Louisiana. Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita threw a wrench into her timeline, but our governor is not one to give up and she has stated she will work hard to see those goals achieved.

Instead of Piyush praying for a decision to run for governor which everyone knows he’s made; he ought to pray for humility and maybe even a conscience.

# # #

First, we're talking about the Deep South. There are people in the South who go by nicknames so entrenched that friends of 50 years would never dream of calling them by their given names.

In more than a few cases, friends of 50 years MAY NOT KNOW their given names. That is why in the newspaper obituaries, the deceased's nickname is a must item.

Honest to God, when my wife (an Omaha native . . . and I ain't talking Omaha, Ark.) and I were first married and living in the Gret Stet, she was completely taken aback by the obit for "Crap Ear." As in John "Crap Ear" Doe. But if you want all "Crap Ear's" cronies to show up at the funeral home, you gotta do it.

So now we come to U.S. Rep. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, R-Kenner. Only in public, he doesn't go by "Piyush."

His congressional website says "Bobby." Every Louisiana newspaper and TV newscast says "Bobby." Hell, for all I know, everybody in Louisiana says "Bobby."

And without the quotation marks. That is, except for the Louisiana Democratic Party.

What's next, Democratic Party TV ads with clips of Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons? Claims that the furriner -- "Kinda looks like a nigra, don'tcha think Bubba?" -- is out to take the governor's job from a red-blooded American, Kathleen Blanco?

Forget that Bobby Jindal was born and raised in Baton Rouge. Forget that he's Catholic, too. AND, FOR GOD'S SAKE, FORGET THAT HE'S WELL-EDUCATED, COMPETENT AND ACCOMPLISHED!

Just remember that he's one a them dark-skinned furriner Indians. And vote for whatever incompetent or crooked -- or both -- candidate the Louisiana Democrats put up for governor. Like incompetent, er, incumbent Blanco.

This kind of behavior was inexcusable 50 years ago, and it's execrable today. But dat's Louisiana for 'ya!

Then again, it does not surprise me that Louisiana Democrat pols would be A) so brazen, B) so idiotic or C) both as to try race-baiting Bobby Jindal a mere three weeks after Democrats nationwide screamed bloody murder about the GOP's race-baiting of Harold Ford in the Tennessee U.S. Senate election.

And you have to -- in a warped sort of way -- admire the Louisiana Democrats' ability to smear a man on account of both his race AND his religion, mocking him for praying about big decisions. Not an easy feat, and the mark of a determined cabal of slimebags.

Obviously, Louisiana -- a.k.a. "The Poor Man of America" -- has a high tolerance for dungheaps of every sort.

After all, here's a picture taken at Bobby Jindal's alma mater, Baton Rouge Magnet High School.

BRMHS is one of the state's very best schools, yet you have to wonder whether it would be in a lot better physical condition if more of its students were Regular White Americans (TM), instead of blacks, Asians and Indians like Piyush Jindal.

And you thought I couldn't work an ongoing Louisiana outrage into a post about the latest Louisiana outrage.

Resarcio bellum Iraqum!

Yew shore this here speyul gonna work, Vladimir?

Eet work for Gorbachev in Afghanistan, George. What you got to lose, eh?

Awrighty, then. Here goes:

I want to get out of that Ah-raq mess I started!

Eet work better in Latin, George.

Awrighty, then. Cheney told me not to mess with no wizard stuff, but he tol' me Ah-raq was a no-brainer, too. So screw 'im!

Now, you sure the magic robe is the missing ingrediant?

Woold ex-KGB guy lie to you, George?

Naw. I reckon not.

Try eet. You like eet.

Awrighty, then.

Hocus pocus, running dog Reagan run us brokeus. Eeny meeny miney mocus, gimme a little focus . . . . Resarcio bellum Iraqum!!!

Mission accomplished, Vlad?

Mission accomplished, George.

Episcopalians' new poobah: Catholic = dumb****. Literally.

The money quotes from the New York Times Magazine piece:

How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

You’re actually Catholic by birth; your parents joined the Episcopal Church when you were 9. What led them to convert?

It was before Vatican II had any influence in local parishes, and I think my parents were looking for a place where wrestling with questions was encouraged rather than discouraged.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I gradjeeated fum twelf graede! I are smrte!

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz



I take offense at this. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!!!!!!

I am not an autodidact, because that would just be wrong. I am a good Catholic boy, not some smutty heathen.

Really.

Weyul, if it came out 'Boston,' Ah'd be right confused

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The South

That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it.

The Midland
Philadelphia
The Inland North
The Northeast
The West
Boston
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

But I bet you couldn't tell that on the podcast, could you? You could?

Dang! Dang it to heck!

I flunked "Indeterminate Accent for Radio 1001" . . . again!

Here in the Midwest, my accent slides toward "accentless" Midwestern, but every time I go back to Louisiana, it all comes back with a vengeance.

THEN AGAIN, a technical crew DOES follow my mother around to add "realtime" English subtitles when she must interact with others.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Well, that should about do it, luv! Splendid!

British Prime Minister Tony Blair starts coming down from his really bad trip, maaaan, that he got from that bad acid he got from George Bush, man.


Unfortunately for what's left of American foreign pol . . . . Wait! There's NOTHING left of American foreign policy!

Well, what the hell, then! Tony Blair started to get straight in an interview with David Frost, acknowledging the Iraq war was a "disaster."

ON AL JAZEERA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHA!!!!!!!

That's RICH!

Let's pick up the story from the Daily Mail in London:

In his frankest admission about the war to date, Mr Blair admitted that Western forces have been powerless to stop the descent into violence.
The Prime Minister stopped short of accepting the blame for plunging Iraq to the brink of civil war -- blaming instead the insurgent uprising that has killed 125 British troops. But his admission in an interview with the Arab new channel Al Jazeera will be seen as an historic climbdown for Mr Blair, who has always fought to put a positive gloss on often disastrous events.

Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has "so far been pretty much of a disaster", Mr Blair said: "It has." His words were last night seen as an olive branch to other states in the Middle East and his critics at home.

But critics will be angered that Mr Blair still refused to take the blame for the failed planning for the aftermath of the war, which has seen rival Sunni and Shia Muslim militias take control of the streets.

The Prime Minister went on: "You see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other -- to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."

Friday, November 17, 2006

An accomplishment to recall on your deathbed



People.

(Particularly
Americans.)

Are.

Such.

Freakin'.

Idiots.

The ancients had their Golden Calf and statues of Baal to worship instead of the God of Abraham, Issac and Joseph.

We have Playstation 3, SUVs, McMansions, poontang and MTV.

Unfortunately for Base Human Nature (TM), there's that First Commandment Thing that keeps getting in the way:

What's dat? Could it be a cog?


In the quest to produce a hybrid creature neither dog lovers nor cat fanciers will like, some Brazilian folk say their pets have found love and brought into the world the first known dats. Or would they be cogs?

I have no idea. But I lean toward "dats," myself. If the genetic tests pan out, that is. Read the Reuters story about the alleged conception and birth of the animal kingdom's first self-loathing member here.

Cassia Aparecida de Souza, 18, said her cat Mimi had given birth to the three puppies as well as three kittens, which did not survive. And she, her husband Rogerio Jorge da Silva, 26, and several others in the town believe a neighborhood mutt named Dog is the father of Mimi’s pups.

When news of the spectacular claim spread in the Brazilian media, some local newspapers accused the poor couple, who are expecting their first child in a few months, of fraud and said they were simply trying to make money off a hoax.

“I feel indignant at such accusations,” da Silva said.

Pacheco said he was asked by a local newspaper to conduct the chromosome test, which should yield results on Tuesday.

“It’s not uncommon for mammals to nurse young from another species. The cat gave birth in a field and she likely inherited the puppies from a nearby female dog who had recently given birth,” he said.

We've been tried and found lame

Michael Spencer (a.k.a. The Internet Monk) has some really, really important observations about American Christianity, as opposed to Jesus Christianity:

It’s impossible to know and talk with these Chinese students without catching their conviction in the superiority of their communist culture. As something of a student of Asian history, I understand how our Chinese students differ from other Asians in their cultural interactions with others. They do have a historical conviction of the superiority of their culture, and they see little need to demonstrate that to outsiders. To the Chinese, there is little doubt that their culture will be proven to be superior to all others.

Further, it is impossible to know these students without seeing that the Chinese communist revolution -- with all its many, many failures and evils -- is producing a generation of young people who have remarkable values, ethics, loyalty and devotion to their culture. I see little evidence in these students of much for a resistance movement to work with.

All of these students are atheists, and none are familiar with Christianity, but when we do talk about the area of core beliefs, they are quick to witness to the influence of their families and their country. They want to return to China and live for the benefit of their families and country. They are endlessly grateful to their country and, unlike some internationals, have no reluctance to say where they want to return and live.

I’ve concluded that Mao may have been a poor communist, but he was a brilliant Confucian. Our Chinese students demonstrate so many of the virtues of Confucius, and are clearly bemused at what they see in our American culture. No longer are they in awe of the capitalism of our country. Our students come from strongly capitalistic areas. (I took one student to a sub shop, and he said the sandwich was good, but far too expensive.) They want to make major contributions to their society and to find materialistic success, but they are not enamored with the vices and immaturities of their peers in the declining youth culture of America.

In many ways, these Chinese students are a revelation of American decline and a preview of future Chinese cultural success. China may not be our military equal, and their government may be repressive, but the products of a culture are an indication of where things are going. These 8 Chinese students will not go to college and run up credit cards, wreck the car, stay drunk, fail classes and waste their time. They will
soon be engineers, pilots, doctors and scientists; leaders in their field.

And I doubt, very seriously, that they will be Christians. Not because I haven’t tried to live, teach and preach the Gospel. I have, and will continue to do so as will all of the Christians on our campus.

I doubt they will become Christians because they are seeing American Christianity, and it’s far more American than Christian. They’ve helped me to see my own cultural religion, and it’s been a disturbing revelation.

When they attend chapel, they frequently hear moralistic preaching. Their own Confucian and Maoist culture gives them morals and moralism, and produces a far more moral person than their typical American peer. They hear sermons on being a good person, staying off drugs, not having sex and staying in school. They were doing all this when they came here and will do it when they leave.

They see American Christians without a Bible most of the time. We have few spiritual disciplines and are hungry and thirsty for the things our culture values more than the gifts and callings of Christ. They hear us talk about Jesus, but the Jesus we talk about is not compelling enough to cause us to live truly sacrificial or revolutionary lives. I’ve noticed this with other Asians as well. When they hear us talking about our religion, they expect to see the same holiness and devotion they see in Buddhist monks, but in American Christians they simply see another American, with a slightly different set of consumer interests. Same American. Different t-shirt slogan. Our spirituality is clearly inferior.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Phideaux 1990-2006

Phideaux was the best dog ever. He just was.

He loved much, and he was much loved. And our hearts are broken now.

Cop a feel for Our Troops (TM)


There are 2,852 Americans just freakin' ecstatic, I am confident, to be dead so their countrymen might have the right to dress like pimps and hos in camo, then drink themselves silly. I am sure their loved ones are thrilled about this as well.

Salute the military on Thursdays.

We're proud of the men and women who have risked their lives to protect our American freedoms. The right to free speech, to vote, to bear arms -- and get naughty!

Dress in your sexiest military gear (camouflage is always hot) for the military bash at Naughty Lounge, 10730 Pacific St.

The club has dubbed every Thursday as military appreciation night with happy-hour specials until closing. Cover is $3. A military ID gets you in the door for free.

For more information, call the club at 614-3407.

Nothing good comes of a licentious society defended by a neo-Hessian military (commanded by King George, no less). If more of those in their "sexiest military gear" were dodging AK-47 rounds and IEDs as part of a conscript military -- instead of driving their SUVs to the Naughty Lounge to unleash their inner Lynndie Englands -- they might find more compelling reasons for getting blown to Kingdom Come than the right to "get naughty."

Not to mention that American politicians might be far less careless with lives far more likely to be those of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews . . . and children.

And the budding barflies -- with many family members (and potentially themselves) at risk for becoming yet another insurgent's ticket out of a Middle Eastern dung heap and into a virgin-stocked Paradise -- might be propelled toward at least the tiniest twinge of guilt at how cavalier be their debauchery.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Proving the bishop's point

Sometimes, one story illustrates another.

In this case, the rancor surrounding the video of soldiers in Iraq duct-taping a female comrade to a post slams right into an address by Bishop William Skylstad to his brother prelates at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

From the AP and YouTube:

In an opening address, the leader of America’s Roman Catholic bishops called his colleagues to fight against a coarseness that he said was infecting the church and society at large, and to unite in promoting human dignity through faith.

captainlaredo (4 hours ago)
All those of you who think this video is "disturbing" and "could escalate into something else quickly" need to get your heads out of your asses. It's people like you that outlaw Tag and Touch Football in schools. Why don't you do the world a favor and off yourselves?

Bishop William Skylstad said “debasing personal attacks” have replaced healthy public debate, and that popular culture and the news media have degraded human dignity with violence and vulgar depictions of sex.

CasaNegraEnt (2 hours ago)
Don't think for a minute they didn't gangbang her after this.
“There is a mocking reduction of sexuality, debasing it from God’s beautiful gift of
creation to little more than casual chemistry and inconsequential recreation,”
said Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Sometimes
it seems that people are no longer seen as children of God but as little more
than a disposable commodity.”

metr0man (6 hours ago)
PS - I bet that woman would be a fun lay, seems like she might be into some kinky stuff.
Skylstad, of Spokane, Wash., said he has also detected a cruelty in discussions within the church, among people who “presume the worst of intentions or motivations of others.”

Jupiter1tx (6 hours ago)
obviously for some of you liberal SCUMBAGS out thereit's not ok for soldiers to have fun sometimes BUTyou sure don't complain when the enemy is having FUN beheading and burning our people, you hypocrites march against Bush and proclaim he is hitler, when is the last time you marched to protest the beheadings by these muslim pigs??? you never have you hypocrite Scumbags

I think I know how Edwin Edwards kept getting reelected


ACCORDING TO THE YouTube description: "this is what happens in iraq (sic) when there are no hummers (sic) to fix and your (sic) the only chick in the section...AND the only yankee (sic) in a Louisiana unit! ... "

Flash forward to a military commander's office for the Article 15 hearing:

"Specialist, do you have anything to say for yourself before I pass sentence on you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well."

"Well, we was just havin' some fun with that gal, and everbody was laughin' an' havin' us a high ol' time, but then somethin' happened."

"And what was that, specialist?"

"Bubba put that damn video on YouTube."

"Alright, then I order loss of rank and 30 days in the brig. I only wish I could dishonorably discharge such a sorry specimen as yourself after completion of your confinement."

"But why 'dat?"

"This Army has enough problems without retaining soldiers as bat-$#!+ STUPID as you, son. SERGEANT! Bring in the next Louisiana dumbass for his fair hearing before I look at the video again and find him guilty."

Then again, Bubba (a.k.a. wickedharleyluva) probably didn't think sexual harrassment or blatant hazing could be anything anybody would get exercised about in the least, considering the kinds of shenanigans and/or scoundrels Louisianians haven't thought twice about since, oh . . . 1699. Like oft-elected, oft-indicted Gov. Edwin Edwards, now a guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Bubba was wrong.

Apart from how bad this looks to, say, the world, there's nothing to be worried about, except that it's just this kind of idiotic horseplay that usually A) gets out of hand and B) gets somebody hurt. Like if, suddenly, there were incoming mortar rounds. Or any one of the myriad ways Iraqi insurgents have to kill Americans, not to mention their fellow Iraqis.

And there's the sexual-harassment thing.

Then, there's the niggling little detail that the female soldier is somebody's daughter. If, say, she were MY "Yankee" daughter, those Louisiana soldiers had better pray that an IED got them before I did.

And there's the sexual-harassment thing.

Of course, there's already the "These yahoos have embarrassed the Pentagon" factor. Said the Drudge Report:

A top Pentagon source expressed concern over the video late Sunday.

"Excuse me, I am not laughing," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

And there's the sexual-harassment thing.

OK, we have a "professional military" in lieu of a draft. Here's what "professional" is: You act like a professional, which means if this happened in your average "professional setting" and management found out, Boudreaux, Junior, Tank and Bubba would be looking for new jobs.

If the morons videotaped it and that video got onto YouTube, thus embarrassing the company, the suits upstairs also would make sure Boudreaux, Junior, Tank and Bubba never found any new jobs.

And, frankly, ain't this video just the positive PR needed by a state already at the top of all the bad rankings and at the bottom of all the good ones. Obviously, one of the bottom-feeding rankings is education, what with high-school graduates (Presumably in this case. I mean, in Louisiana, there's a 60-percent chance of that, right?) who don't know the difference between "your" and "you're" or that "Iraq," "Hummers" and "Yankee" are proper nouns and, thus, need to be capitalized.


UPDATE (11/13, 12:09 PM): The description on the video's YouTube page has been changed. I wonder why.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sir Elton is a twit. But what do I know? I'm a hateful lemming.

In the UK's Observer Music Monthly (language alert: F-bombs abound), the Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears chats with Sir Elton John about "what it means to be a gay star, just what constitutes a gay sense of humour - and why everyone is welcome in their world. "


Except religious people. They're not welcome in Sir Elton's World. He's absolutely Stalinist on the point, actually:

We should all be together. I've got this really naive idea of what life should be like - it's an idealistic idea but it's completely integrated. We can't keep thinking of gay people as being ostracised; we can't keep thinking of Muslim people as being [ostracised] because of the fundamentalism that occurs in Islam. Muslim people have to do something about speaking up about it. We can't judge a book by its cover.

From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.

The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion? Why aren't they having a conclave; why aren't they coming together? I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts: instead of more violence why isn't there a [meeting of religious leaders]. It's all got to be dialogue - that's the only way. Get everybody from each religion together and say 'Listen, this can't go on. Why do we have all this hatred?'

We are all God's people; we have to get along and the [religious leaders] have to lead the way. If they don't do it, who else is going to do it? They're not going to do it and it's left to musicians or to someone else to deal with it. It's like the peace movement in the Sixties -- musicians got through [to people] by getting out there and doing peace concerts but we don't seem to do them any more. We seem to be doing fundraisers for
Africa and everything like that but I think peace is really important. If John Lennon were alive today he'd be leading it with a vengeance.

WE SHOULD ALL BE TOGETHER. Check. All God's people. Check. Religious leaders have to lead the way. Check. Love beautiful stories about teachings of Christ. Check.

And let's ban religion because it turns people into "hateful lemmings." Huh????????????????

OK, let me use the Elton John Logical Thought Process. Here we go . . . hang on, my children:

Elton John is an irrational and hysterical twit. It must be the gay thing. Therefore, homosexual tendencies turn you into irrational and hysterical twits. Gayness reduces one's thought processes to the level of immature 12-year-olds . . . as opposed to normal 12-year-olds. Let's ban homosexuals from our midst because homosexuality makes people stupid and insane.

Ouch. Thinking like Sir Elton makes my brain hurt. I don't know how he does it.

Oh . . . I thought I would show you what a religion-fueled "hateful lemming" who's "not really compassionate" looks like: