George Gets His Pee Pee WhackedWhaddaya know? It turns out the granddaddy of all the Emperor's "completely" legal programs is unconstitutional after all. Who woulda thunk it?
The Supremes' 5-3 ruling puts - albeit temporarily - the kibosh on military tribunals for Gitmo detainees. Why temporarily? Simple, the Emperor has a long history of disregarding laws based on personal whim and an even longer history of not leaning from his mistakes. A brighter man would assess the situation and say, "You know, I might have just gotten a little carried away there. Perhaps this Constitution thingee deserves a fresh look now that the courts have handed me my ass."
Could you ever imagine Shrub thinking something like that? I didn't think so.
No, George will piddle ever-onward, as determined as ever that God and Dick Cheney are on his side and have endowed him with the superhuman ability to see and know all. He'll stroll on up Capitol Hill for a closed door session with the other raving right wing loons and emerge with freshly-minted legislation that says, "yup, he's the Emperor, sure 'nuff."
It doesn't really matter if the new law is equally unconstitutional, because by the time it fights its way back to SCOTUS, he'll be back on the ranch in Crawford basking in the reflected, but distorted, light of his glorious reign. Let's put it this way, the GITMOsters can stop packing their Korans for a trip back to the madras. That trip will be postponed for many years to come. And, if I were them, I wouldn't bank on the Jailer-in-Chief coming through with his heartfelt desire to shut Gitmo down either. Even if he does, they'll only be bundled onto an unmarked airplane on it's way to some other penal garden spot - perhaps Cheney's "undisclosed location" for all I know - where they'll still be detained and no one will know where they are. I can see the Smirking Chimp pantomiming locking his lips and thrwoing away the key as I write this.
Some view this latest ruling as an indictment of Brother Chickenhawk's other self-proclaimed "legal" intelligence programs, but there's a high probability they'll be disappointed as well. It's still a long way before the courts test the legality of warrantless wiretapping, banking surveillance, and God knows what else. Meantime, Lord Bush and his Cabal can, and will, continue to bleed the Constitution to death from a series of small cuts. By the time he's done, the Constitution will be reduced to a single amendment in the Bill of Rights - "All hail Master Bush and all who glorify him." We'll be lucky to get out of this without the inscriptions on the face of quarters changing to "In Cowpoke We Trust".
I really do wish I felt less cynical about this - but hey, I'm a Daily Show watcher and we all know what that means. The Skater-in-Chief has repeatedly shown his uncanny knack for seizing defeat from the jaws of victory and I suspect this time will be no different. Some of my weak-kneed and weak-minded countrymen have already begun creeping back to the fold - proving once again that people will do the dumbest things if you tell them flags should be fireproof.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not averse to seeing the idiot get his pee pee whacked, I've just seen him enjoy it a time too many.
So there you have it. Our liberties are falling like trees in the George W. Bush National Forest and we're being led by a man who has concrete where his brain should be. When will people stop frittering away their precious Constitutional legacy based on advice from a smirking Alfred E. Neuman lookalike? When will they stop allowing the terrorists to win at the very game they always planned - destroying our way of life? When will Americans grow backbones to resist this sort of chicanery? Never, unless someone does something, so it might as well be me.
I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!
Jellyfish of the world unite! Forward float!
The Poobah appears Tues.
& Thurs. at Bring it On!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, June 30, 2006
One Man's Comedy is Another Man's Threat to SocietyJon Stewart and the Daily Show are a threat to America. That very odd phrase is being bandied about in the wake of research showing that 18-24 year old viewers get most of their news there and as a result, have become cynical about politics.
I haven't read the report, so I can't comment on it. But, I have heard the talking heads pontificate about it and their logic seems a little flawed.
One guest on MSNBC's Scarborough Country suggested that 18-24ers are cynical because of the Daily's clear left wing bias. He contended that Jon is leading these young adults down the primrose path of anti-politics where people don't vote, people don't believe in politicians, and people view much of what they hear as just one more damnable pack of lies. Seems like a logical conclusion to me, but what do I know?
Somehow Stewart accomplishes this by conducting fake interviews and having good hair - a description that fits most of the mainstream anchorbots as well. Remember, Stewart has been a Time magazine coverboy ("eat my dust Anderson Cooper"), frequent target of Bill O'Reilly, and responsible for coaxing CNN to unload the walking bow tie that is Tucker Carlson. You can't buy power like that!
One particular piece of oddball supporting evidence was CBS's momentary flirtation with pairing Stewart along with someone else as Evening News co-anchors before they decided on Smilin' Katie Couric. The talking head felt this would blur the line between news and "infotainment" so severely that these young, impressionable people would no longer be able to distinguish real news from faux news. I suppose there is some imperical evidence of this happening. Exhibit A - Fox News watchers.
Through the entire droning interview, the implications were clear. Most 18-24 year olds are incapable of telling fact from obvious fiction, they've become cynical because someone tells them a few jokes, and someone should be investigating what should be done about it - though he wasn't stupid enough to suggest who or what.
Here's my proposal. Jon tell more jokes. We need more cynicism. Young adults, remember Jon isn't real. Goofy Scarborough guest, look at the actions of politicians and tell me with a straight face that you're not cynical too.
Now, on to something important and non-cynical, the Flag Burning Amendment!
Tech Tags: humor politics jon+stewart daily+show cynicism crapweasels omnipotent+poobah
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Do Unto OthersMy recent post on Gay Pride Day festivities generated a little heat at Bring It On. "Sandy" said she found the event "revolting" and cited her belief in the Bible as justification. I'm not surprised at comments like hers. In fact, they're depressingly predictable and Sandy's followed a rather predictable path. However, they did get me thinking about religious arguments and how they play out.
I don't think anyone can seriously deny the Bible, Koran, Torah, and most other religious books are great works of literature. They are full of stories designed not only to entertain, but also teach, and that's what makes them so amazingly successful. I also don't think that anyone can seriously deny that most of the events they chronicle have at least some grounding in fact, even if they've been coated in a heavy metaphorical layer. Like the Constitution, they are infinitely malleable and subject to almost any interpretation. That is both their beauty and weakness.
Proof of this ability to interpret diversely is shown by the believers themselves. They have endless arguments, and sometimes wars, over who's interpretation is right or wrong and all seem to believe God is directly behind whatever interpretation they espouse. Fundamentalist Christians have the same slavish allegiance to their principles as fundamentalist Muslims. Each claims ironclad proof the other is an infidel and there's not much objective evidence to prove the point either way. Meanwhile, they kill each other and drag the rest of us along for the ride.
While the religious are certainly free to say what they want, it seems to me there's always a fatal flaw in their arguments - they almost never include clear logic. I can't count the number of times that the more zealously religious accuse their enemies of something that is wholly in their own head. For example, Sandy seems to think that gays are out to "inherit the kingdom of God". That statement seems to suggest there is a gay plot to take over Sandy's religious beliefs when I doubt any gay person wants to be part of her religious circle anyway.
Christian zealots often claim to "love the sinner, but hate the sin" while in the next breath saying the most vile things about the sinner. Verbally, and sometimes physically, assaulting someone you love seems a odd to me. How can someone "love" the sinner if their position is that the sinner is the scourge of the Earth?
Religious discussions often alight on the idea of the zealous being offended by the sinners. I could lay an equal claim to be offended by their words, but I would never demand they not be allowed to say them. In fact, this is a principle I learned during my own religous education - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
It seems a shame to me that belief systems created with a general sense of goodwill have become so perverted. It's a shame that those like Sandy have become so close-minded and hateful. And the biggest shame of all is that their own perversions are the biggest threat to their beliefs. The great religious books are full of cautionary tales about the consequences of acting this way. It's just a pity the zealous don't read them a little more often. Perhaps if they did, we'd live in a world where the principles of all religions could carry the day and make it a better, more wholesome place for all of us.
Tech Tags: religion, tolerance, crapweasels, omnipotent+poobah
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, June 26, 2006
A Gay Old TimeThe Poobah family took a little day trip today. We braved the low fog and wind-driven San Francisco chill to follow a route called the 49 Mile Scenic Drive. Supposedly designed to take you to some of the more scenic spots in the city, we discovered there is literally no way to follow the map provided. Streets go one way - the wrong way, there are few signs, and in some cases the signs actually point in the wrong direction.
After a fair amount of backtracking trial and error, I decided to just freelance it and go on without a map. Mrs. Poobah, a stickler for structure and rules, valiantly kept trying to lead us back on track, but I finally persuaded her to let it go before the map drove her crazy. I'm convinced that if she'd been with Lewis and Clark, they'd still be trying to get out of St. Louis for lack of a proper map.
Relying on a little automotive orienteering, we wound our way cross town, through Haight Ashbury, around Lake Merced, and to the ocean where it was bitterly cold and foggy. As usual, the wet-suited surfers were out turning blue and a few hearty souls were laying out in bikinis and swim trunks working on their "fog tans". The more sensible folk wore heavy coats and a few even sported balaclavas to ward off the chill. All in all, a typical summer beach day for San Francisco.
From the beach, we tracked back across town. We zigged here and zagged there and generally saw quite a few things we'd never seen before, even if we had taken part of the same route before.
When we arrived in the central part of the city, we became entangled in the Gay Pride Day festivities. This was the 37th year for a mammoth parade - always led by a lesbian motorcycle group called Dykes on Bikes. A few years ago, they were joined by Mikes on Bikes, a male motorcycle group.
Lots of chanting and some speechifying here and there. Most streets were either closed for the Rainbow flag bedecked folk or choked with everyone from hetero families out for the day, like us, to a bizillion others of every orientation letting their freak flags fly. It was a very San Francisco kind of day.
I like the fact that I live in a place where congregations like this are normal and natural. There was no violence. Everyone, gay and straight alike, mingled and talked. The participants ran the gamut from the serious AIDS quilters to the more lighthearted men wearing nun's habits and full beards. It was a day to throw beads or flowers instead of bombs or epithets.
Other than taking forever to find an unblocked way out of the city, it was an excellent day. The sun finally came out, no pun intended, and everyone had a good time. In the back of my mind I kept remembering the asshats who want to muck all this up - literally rain on this parade - but I tried to return to the moment and enjoy what was going on while I could. I wanted to just concentrate on the goodness and forget, for a day anyway, the badness that all too often seems to attach itself to events like this. And for the most part, I was successful.
I guess you could say the family and I just had a gay old time.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, June 25, 2006
Go Ahead and Visit, Just be Klassy About ItIf you look down to the right...a little lower...lower...there - you'll see a banner for the Anti-PC League. The League is comprised mostly of those whose political stances are slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun. Sure, there is a smattering of moderates and those more leftish, but it's primarily a list of the Right.
A survey would show that on any given day, there are a lots of unhappy people in this group. Just like those on the left, they carp about what's happening, except in a mirror image of the left-leaning view. Bank record snooping vs powerful weapon of antiterrorism. The quagmire that is Iraq or Iraq as a shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Lefties love the Downing Street memo while Righties think the ACLU is part of the Axis of Evil.
The list is long, but I do like to sample the offerings so I can what others think. For the most part, I can't speak highly for their logic or eloquence, but I can see real passion there and that's not an altogether bad thing. Besides, that badge drives a good amount of traffic my way, although there may be some Righties having heart attacks when they arrive at a blog that openly calls them asshats. If they do, they don't comment first. They visit, but they never seem to comment.
While I may disagree with the politics of most of my fellow listers, I do agree that our society is way too politically correct. That's why I rarely edit what I write to keep from offending someone. If I did, this would be a very quiet place indeed.
So, if you want a dose of the other side, go ahead and visit a few of these places. But when you do, show them a least more respect than they'd be apt to show you.
Be classy...er, klassy when you visit. Okay?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, June 24, 2006
Another Fine Mess George Has Gotten Us IntoThere's been a lot of bold talk by the dems about the need to set a deadline for troop withdrawal in Iraq. This idea has floated around the halls of Congress since the weak-bladdered pols went along with this ill-fated misadventure to begin with.
At the time, our Commandant-of-Ineptitude resisted the idea on the grounds that it would send a signal to the "terrists" that they only need hold out until the deadline and we'd leave the fetid stinkhole to them to fight over - sort of a walk and run instead of a cut and run. Lord Bush and the cabal argued that by publicizing a deadline, the attacks wouldn't stop, they'd only get worse. I shudder to say this, but I actually think that was correct at the time. Of course, their follow-on statements about victory being in our grasp and the rest of the happy-talk claptrap was as nonsensical then as it is today.
Now the dems are reviving the idea with a new justification - we need to send a signal to the Iraqis to stand up and take care of their own country. While this may sound like a brave position that's full of wisdom it's - what's the word? - er, stupid. It's the stupid talk of stupid people who did something stupid and now want political cover so they can convince more stupid people to continue voting their stupid asses back in.
Does anyone actually think the Iraqis need to be told that? After all, they're the ones who go to the local market dodging bullets, IEDs, and kidnappers at every corner. They're the ones experiencing the wonderful results of Rummy's great nation-building prowess. Heck, they're up to almost six hours a day of electricity and they have semi-flushing toilets. They're probably kicking back and relaxing now they're on easy street. Why, I can see the flowers being assembled to be thrown at our feet in gratitude as I write this.
The Iraqis may be killers and religious zealots, but they aren't stupid. They know they need to pull together, but it isn't as easy as let's all hug and be one big happy republic.
With ethnic and religious scores to settle, there are only a handful of Iraqis willing to play nice and make democracy. They haven't gotten along for eons and there's no reason to suspect they'll get along now that Bushrod has given them the keys to a brand new, shiny democracy to test drive. The proof of this problem is in Saddam Hussein himself. He was a ruthless dictator who killed and tortured for fun and profit and he couldn't keep the Kurds from slitting a few Sunni throats or Sunnis from kicking a little Shiite ass. What hope does Bush have? He can't even pacify his own party.
First, we signal the terrorists, then we signal the Iraqis. That's a whole lot of signaling. It reminds me of smoke signals from the Hikowi camp on F-Troop. Puff...puff..."Calamity Jane go on heap big date with Capt. Parmenter! Agarn, come quick."
Signals aren't going to work and here's why. When the Great Decider decided to invade the place, and the dems decided to abandon their duty to try to stop the nitwit, we began painting the international floor. Since then, we've steadfastly refused to stop painting. In fact, we've been painting furiously ever since. It's been a veritable orgy of painting. And now, we find ourselves painted into a corner surrounded by a perpetually wet-painted floor.
As Colin Powell pointed out at the beginning of this tale of woe, "If you break it, you bought it." Well, we broke it, stomped on the pieces, set them afire, and finally pissed off all the firefighters so they wouldn't come bail our sorry asses out. Common decency and the prestige of the nation would suggest that if we broke it, we should fix it. The problem is, how do we put Iraqi Dumpty back together again without breaking ourselves into pieces in the process?
We could leave, but a kill-fest will surely ensue and that famously unstable region will spin out of control. If we leave, the place will become the nest of terrorists that the Big Dick always falsely claimed it was. If we gradually withdraw, the result will be the same - only prolonged.
If we stay, Iraqis and Americans both will continue dying and you, your kids, and your grandkids will be paying to keep a leaky boat afloat on the Tigris River. Meanwhile, George will go back to a job he's more qualified for - manual labor back on the ranch in Crawford.
There is no real debate about Iraq, because there are no real workable alternatives. No matter how much lipstick both parties put on it, Iraq is a pig. A big, grunting, shitting, aggressive boar that's going to chew on our collective legs for a long time to come, no matter what we do or don't do. We're living in the middle of an awesomely scary movie that is equal parts Laurel and Hardy and every scary thought to haunt the mind of Stephen King. And, there's only one thing to say...
George, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, June 23, 2006
To Boldly Go Where Only the Moronic Have Gone BeforeHouston (BIO) - Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced the discovery of a new solar system today. They described it as a new type of star system, previously theorized to be capable of sustaining itself only for a very limited period of time. Scientists said this system appears to be slightly more than mid-way through its expected life and defies the known laws of physics for its ability withstand the mammoth gravitational pulls at its center.
Robert Stevens, project manager for the lab's Planetary Search Team, said it is comprised of several small planets orbiting what appears to be a "super black hole" at its center.
"This system is unbelievably unique," Stevens said. "At its center is what we call a super black hole, made entirely of buckshot, discarded whisky bottles, and old heart pacemakers. We've named the black hole Chenovia," he said.
"Chenovia is composed of the densest material we've ever found. It's approximately 1,600 times the density of a normal black hole and exerts an extraordinarily large gravitational pull. That massive sucking power is what normally destroys systems like this. Eventually the planets surrounding it are sucked deeply into its grasp, beginning a period of transition leading to an ultimately spectacular flame-out," Stevens said.
"It's quite extraordinary really," he said.
While there are numerous small planetoids orbiting the hole, there appears to be only a single major planet orbiting it.
"We've started the long project to name all of the orbiting planetoids, but there are so many. It may take years to chose names for them all," Stevens said. "So far we've named only two. Rummyton orbits the hole in a strangely eccentric orbit that sometimes takes it so close to the center it appears to merge with it, while at other points it actually appears to leave its parent solar system," Stevens said.
"A second small planetoid, which we've named Condillium, is being sucked so close to Chenovia it has actually disappeared from our radio-telescopic scans. We only know that it exists by the shrill screaming noise it makes as it enters its path to an inevitable crash into Chenovia's surface," Stevens said.
The major planet orbiting Chenovia, named Dubya Minor by the scientists, appears unique because it orbits its moon rather than the usual arrangement where a moon orbits a planet.
Scientists have named the moon, Rovius. "The interesting thing about Rovius is that it exerts an inordinate amount of pull for a moon. As a consequence, Dubya Minor is trapped in an orbit around Rovius," Stevens said. "It also appears that Dubya Minor loses its orbital path frequently. When that happens, Rovius emits a stronger gravitational pull designed to bring the moon and planet back into close alignment," Stevens said. "When this phenomena occurs, Dubya Minor sometimes emits a low pitched radio signal that can best be described as 'uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh'."
"It's almost like Dubya Minor has no predetermined path. If I didn't know better, I'd say it behaves almost as if it has no brain and depends on Rovius to keep it on course," Stevens said. "It is a very strange arrangement."
Meanwhile, scientists say Chenovia appears to be pulling more material into it black, dense core and fear that a cataclysmic explosion may occur in as little as two years. Stevens and his team discovered rapid breakup of the system by listening to radio signatures emitted from the hole. A tiny planetoid - known as Libinium - has already come close to crashing into Chenovia, but Chenovia emitted an extremely strong and rare reverse-gravitational field that cast Libinium off into an aimless, courseless orbit that is leaving the Chenovian system far in its wake. Eventually they expect Libinium to enter another system altogether, perhaps one where its movements will be more restricted than there are now.
Stevens and his team have booked speaking engagements around the country to discuss their find. They also plan to publish their findings in Hardballian, a scientific magazine run by media mogul Chris Matthews. "We hope the proceeds from this discovery will fund projects I and the team find worthwhile," Stevens said when announcing the PR junket.
"In fact, we hope to exceed the money raised by our former director, Jack Abramoff," Stevens said. "I'll say this for Jack, he wasn't a very competent scientist, but he sure knew how to raise money for worthy projects. Snappy dresser too," Stevens added. "I always loved his hats."
Abramoff, and close associate David Sefavian, were unavailable for comment. Some sources have speculated Safavian is currently on an extended vacation at a Federal facility.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, June 21, 2006
BUY NOW! COMPLETELY SAFE! Free Market Solution to Data PrivacyIn a pre-computer world, if you lost a financial report or even your checkbook, you'd have few problems recovering. A quick call to the bank or the company involved and it was cleared up. But, everything changed when computers came along. They began linking all those scraps of paper into huge databases. Your e-data began taking adventure trips to exotic locations that you could only dream of. Now when you lose a piece of paper - a check, a receipt, a bill, an ID card - you've lost much more than a scrap of paper, you've lost the keys to your very identity - and you don't even have a souvenir from Bangalore to show for it.
A tsunami of data and identity theft is washing over our country. As each report of a stolen laptop or hacking incident shows, we have to worry that thieves have the keys to our virtual financial empire and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. To make matters worse, the crapweasels who lost the data aren't responsible for paying for the damages, you are. Clearly this problem cries out for a solution, but Congress has been pretty busy passing empty resolutions and stopping people from getting married. Apparently, this little problem isn't high on the priority list. Kinda like bird flu or secure borders. I've been told on good authority - the President of the US no less - that all that legisilatin' is just plain hard work. I guess we'll have to wait until someone steals Jenna's driver's license and she's unable to buy a round at the local watering hole.
I've been looking inside the box to see if I could find a solution to this vexing problem, but everyone else in the box wasn't thinking at all. So I decided to think outside the box, although I wince when I use that phrase. In the embryonic form, my idea is full of holes, but it does have the virtue of being different.
I say let's apply the simple laws of free market capitalism to the problem. If we wave those words grand words in front of our politicians they'll start sniffing at it like a pack of dogs on the trail of a hamburger. The potential for money being made? Hey, they're all for that. It's what they do.
So gather round, it works like this:
Think of your personal data not as something, say, a credit bureau owns. Think of it as something you own. After all, you create the data, they only harvest it. Using the current data-harvester logic is like saying a farmer isn't entitled to pay because he merely grows the crops, it's the migrant farm workers who should drive the gold plated SUV. After all, they harvest the crop. Other than migrant farm workers, I haven't seen anyone clambering to climb on that bus and I'm wondering why we're riding on it.
No, we need a pay-as-you-go solution that exempts no one, not political parties, charities, religious institutions, nor the government itself. If they want to sell or user your data, they must pay a royalty to you. Using free market principles, the extra cost will force the harvesters to make better decisions about how valuable your data is. Its price would rise and fall on the open market, much like prices for any commodity does today based on its value to someone. High value, high cost. Low value, low cost.
For example, there's no use in selling a woman's name to a Viagra pusher if the woman can't take the stuff. If Viagra has to pay more, they'll become much more discriminating about what kind of crap they email to said woman. So, those 300 emails a day about Viagra? Poof. Two hundred invitations to refinance her mortgage? Gone. Her 15th Harry & David catalog this week? A mere memory. Simply put, if data users have to pay for your information, it'll cost them more and use it less.
This plan has another advantage - tax revenue. We could apply the revenue to partially recoup Dub's big tax giveaways - there's got to be some way of financing someone else's civil war and this could be it. Certainly he couldn't argue against taxing a raw material that's like corn, or heavens, oil. If he did, you could bet that corn and oil producers would be howling for tax exemptions louder than your local Baptist church.
And just to be fair, let's tax the income from the payments to you too. I think that's pretty fair as tax proposals go. It isn't even a regressive tax. The poorer someone is, the less valuable their data is. They'd end up paying no more in income tax because they'd sell less data access for cheaper prices.
Another selling point for this scheme is to incentivize - there's another of those wince words - data processors to protect your data as well as they do their own. After all, GM seems more than able to protect their corporate bank accounts. They don't care about yours account because they don't lose anything if it's compromised. Change that paradigm and I'll bet security would suddenly increase exponetially.
So there you have it. Let's not solve the problem by crying to lock the data up, let's just fling the doors to the barn wide open! Simple, easy, and cheap and it's just crazy enough to work.
Kinda like invading Iraq is the solution to stopping terror.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Rumsfeld: "I Find It Strange the Laws Apply To Me"The top dogs in the Bush administration operate, not in a bubble, but in a separate political solar system where the usual rules of gravity don't apply. It's a world where double-speak is the lingua franca, you can fail more times than a New Orleans levee, and say things that are patently untrue with little risk of blowback. If we held the CEO-in-Chief and his executive staff to the same standards as the faceless middle managers at GM, the whole lot of them would be out on the street begging alms for the inept.
A new report on an old scandal suggests there's one more reason Donald Dumbsfeld should be leading the shopping trip for tin cups.
Over the past few years a scandal has brewed over a $30 billion Air Force contract to lease several hundred Boeing tanker aircraft that DoD's own experts said weren't necessary.
When the story originally broke, investigations showed that a Pentagon procurement honcho had jumped ship for a high-paying Boeing job that smelled strongly of (s)quid pro quo and assorted other fishes. As a result, the Pentagon canceled the contract, several Pentagoners resigned - er, left to take on new challenges - and Boeing ousted CEO Phil Condit this and other ethics-challenged transgressions. But eventually, the dust settled and Rummy went back to once again confusing the nation.
As a follow-up, investigators from the Pentagon's Inspector General office asked Rummy a few questions about the deal. But before beginning, they took an unusual step in the plethora of Bush administration corruption and incompetence investigations so far - they swore him in.
While his swearing-in may have been unusual, Rummy's stance on it was vintage Bush League. "I find it strange the laws apply to me," Rummy said as they got started.
In further testimony, Rummy apparently succumbed to the same strange wave of amnesia that overtook Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Rumsfeld reportedly, "made clear that he does wars, not defense procurement" and "couldn't recollect details of what subordinates told him about the tanker lease or what he said to them."
Damn that vile amnesia! A cure must be found!
When asked if he'd approved the contract, Rumsfeld reportedly said, "I don't remember approving it. But I certainly don't remember not approving it, if you will." He continued his extended non-sequitur with, "I may very well have said yes. I just don't remember. I am not going to sit here and quibble over it."
Quibble?! Rummy must live in quite rarefied air indeed when he thinks $30 billion constitutes a "quibble".
The Great Pentagon Streamliner then chugged on with his version of the famed Twinkie Defense, "Basically I spend an overwhelming portion of my time with the combatant commanders and functioning as the link between the president . . . and the combatant commanders conducting the wars." In other words, "I was busy fighting the war for the Generals because they're obviously too inept to do it without my esteemed help."
This seems an odd attitude for a guy who claims relations between him and the Generals are just hunky dory. Apparently these are different Generals than the agressive ones of my acquaintance, who usually don't suffer fools or foolish Secretaries gladly.
The investigators reportedly continued to press him on several of his fuzzy recollections before he finally resorted to the last-stand defense of nimrods and Bushites, the "it's not my fault" defense.
Rummy whined that because of actions by lawmakers, "We have practically no one left on the civilian side of the Air Force. And the damage that was done by the way this was handled has been terrible." He quickly followed this with a backhanded compliment that simultaneously indicted him while sucking up to the very people he'd just faulted. He said it was fortunate the lease didn't go through because, "people in the Senate and others, whistleblowers, or whoever did what they did." A case of it's not my fault, but bravo for the ninnies who caused it for saving my myopic, generously wrinkled ass.
But, the article reveals one last tidbit that may be the most delicious of the whole sorted affair. Rummy once posted a list of "Rumsfeld's Rules" that he prided himself and his organization on following. Today, one of the rules now seems fantastically prophetic, "Be precise - a lack of precision is dangerous."
Indeed Don, indeed.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, June 19, 2006
As We See It: The Turd Shall Blossom Again Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, June 18, 2006
They Love Me, They Really Love Me!Time for a bit of shameless self-promotion this morning.
I submitted The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! for a review over at Bloggy Award. I'm not usually one for reviews and ratings, but I do like the feedback, so I subject myself to it occasionally in the interests of making things better. I managed a three when I submitted at I Talk Two Much, and felt honored and bit confused because they didn't savage me as they have so many others. I must have caught them on a charitable day, but they did have some constructive criticism which I took to heart. That's one of the reasons why our blog design changed to what you see today.
If the score at I Talk Too Much was charitable, the score at Bloggy Award almost seems more like a "Boggled Award". I scored well - certainly much better than I would have scored myself - but, the props were nice and, again, I got some good feedback that I'm working into the blog.
I say all that to say this, stop by Blog Award and read some of the reviews. It's a great way to repay their service to the blogging community and as a way to discover blogs you may not have stumbled upon by yourself. I also say this - submit yourself to critiquing once in awhile. We can all use it and it can be a rewarding experience, even if you do get savaged.
Think of it this way...if you riled someone to the point they were willing to snuff out your blogging soul, you must be doing something right and that's as good a lesson as learning from the successes.
Now back to our regular programming, which should already be in progress, but is being slowed because I'm lazy this morning.
This post is exclusive to The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, June 18, 2006
She Taught Me Everything She Knows
Many people go to therapy for help with personal insights. I do. For $85 an hour, you hire a professional friend to listen and reflect the different perspectives on your inner-most thoughts and feelings. This facilitated reflection can bring you to a better understanding of who you are and why you do what you do. But sometimes, hiring a professional friend isn't necessary. If you pay attention, you can often use examples from real life to help you learn about yourself.
I have a 16-year old daughter. Almost from the time the Poobette was born, she began teaching me things - sometimes unpleasant things, but more often, practical things.
From her, I learned the value of consistency and patience. I learned that if I set expectations early, things were generally pretty smooth. We started taking her to restaurants when she was only weeks old. From the beginning, we made sure she behaved in a way that didn't disturb others. When she was an infant, that consisted mostly of taking her outside if she needed to cry. When she began understanding concepts, we simply taught her that misbehavior wasn't OK. When she did act up, Mrs. Poobah or I simply had to say, "Do we have to go outside?" to get immediate results. It worked well and she rarely challenged the limits because we didn't threaten punishment, we carried it out.
Poobette also taught me things I could use in my job. When she was learning language for the first time I was working on a project to develop a controlled language that made translation easier and cheaper. By watching her progress, I learned many things about how language naturally develops that I could apply to my project. The results live on today as an industry-wide standard in commercial aviation. If I could dedicate the work to anyone, it would be her. Without the insight she provided, I'm not sure that whole idea would've worked. Not many kids make those kinds of contributions at three.
The Poobette continues to teach me today. She shows me the value of the things she's taught me in the past with a close and open relationship in the present. She's rarely surly or secretive. She appreciates what she has and frequently thanks us, and others, for it. The respect she shows us has also extended itself to her. She sees the value of her life and thoughts and participates in the with a gusto I certainly never had at her age.
So I guess I'd just like to say thanks to her. She's taught me many more things than I've passed to her and that seems such a natural thing now.
Good going kid. I couldn't have done it without you.
The is an exclusive Omnipotent Poobah Speaks post.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, June 17, 2006
Speaking of IraqThe long awaited Congressional debate about Iraq was this week. Those who agreed to send in the troops had one more chance to wiggle out of their previous vote or plunge into the whole "cut and run" position. Those who voted against it. Well, they're probably saying, "I told you so".
A few have changed their minds - and in light of how viscous the backlash can be, that qualifies as a pretty brave position. One man who changed his mind is John Murtha.
When Murtha's light came on, he spoke up and has continued speaking ever since. His reward for being smart enough to recognize a mistake when he sees one wasn't a nice pat on the back and a pleasant letter saying, "John, you're a good man and thanks for pointing that mistake out." Instead, the very conservatives he so often sided with in the past attacked him like a pack of wolverines. Overnight, he changed from respected war hero to lilly-livered, liberal, cutter and runner. The backlash was so strong that the verb to be "Murthaed" has now replaced being "Borked".
Murtha is a strong and knowledgeable man and probably one that I would personally disagree with more often than not. But on the subject of Iraq, I think he's exactly right. In essence he says, when you do something stupid, fess up and find a way to make it right. Sometimes the mistake is so bad - and I count Iraq as one of them - that there's no real way to fix it. When that happens, you do the best you can and cut your losses. For the corporate cronies in the executive and legislative branches, this should be instantly recognizable as a valid business decision that CEOs play out all the time.
Maybe they can't see it because no one gave them a CEO-sized bonus for figuring it out. Who knows.
While I agree with Murtha, his delivery sucks. On the plus side, he takes every opportunity to make his points and it's clear he's impassioned about them. The problem is, his oratorical skills aren't up to the task. What should be an inspiring message about facing failures and making things right gets lost in a sputtering, slightly rabid, and rambling, red-faced rant. He forgets what he wants to say. He stops sentences in the middle and moves in another direction at will. He almost never takes a breath to let anyone else speak. In short, he becomes an easy target for the wingnuts to characterize as another ACLU-loving loon, regardless of whether it's true or not. He's the mirror image of Kerry. Kerry's somnambulant tones and forays into splitting the fine hairs of his positions bored half the people and convinced the rest he was an Alzheimer's patent on sabbatical from the ward. Murtha rants more like Howard Dean - and you see where that got Howard.
There have been regrettably few political orators in the past few decades. In an effort to talk like the common man, Shrub just ends up sounding like a cowboy at the wrong end of a long trail drive with shit on his boots and dust in his mouth. Clinton was way too long and much too heavy on the "I feel your pain" angle. When you listen to Tree, it's no secret where Shrub got his public speaking skills. The only things Daddy does better ate the absence of Shrub's accent and not using the podium like a Serta PerfectSleeper.
Before Bush the Elder, the Great Communicator was Orator-in-Chief. Despite the moniker, he couldn't deliver a line unless it was on a TelePrompter or whispered in his ear by Nancy. Before Reagan, Carter was long on ideas and short of ways to inspire. Ford never made it to the podium because all the tripping over microphone cords and Nixon looked like what he was, a thief caught with his hand in the till. Before him, Johnson made an effort, but fell short more on the basis of poor content than the lack of oratorical skills.
That brings us to Kennedy. Now Kennedy could talk. He could pluck an idea out of thin air and boil it down to it's most essential and precious elements. His metaphors were powerful and never over-used. He had the pacing. He had the structure. He had it all. In fact, he was so good that his opponents often left his speeches with tears in their eyes.
So there you have it. Nearly 45 years of mumbled-mouthed politicians. No wonder the quality of civic debate has gone downhill. The speakers can't speak and the listeners can't understand.
So where does that leave us with Mr. Murtha?
I guess for now, we'll take him solely at his content and forgive him the trespasses of his public speaking. Hopefully, people will see the raw passion he projects and be inspired by it, regardless of the delivery. Just because the man can't talk is no reason to bypass his message.
It's too important for that.
Cross Posted at Bring It On!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, June 16, 2006
Did You Feel That!?We had an earthquake this morning. Residents met it mostly with yawns. The 4.7 temblor - I love that word - rattled a small town just south of the Bay Area at 5:24. I didn't feel it because I was in my car, but it woke up the Poobette. As earthquakes go, it wasn't a biggie, but I'm sure we'll have some local news stories reminding us to be prepared for The Big One.
Of course, the Bay Area has earthquakes all the time. It's even had Big Ones many times before. It's a fact of life here. Once, while watching a TV news report about a massive Turkish earthquake, we had one. I thought it brought a little more realism to the video cam pictures of shaking office buildings in Ankara.
Bay Area residents are always aware of the danger. Hell, the main reservoir for the city of San Francisco is actually a big crack in the San Andreas fault and Caltrans is still working on damage from the 1989 Big One. You can't avoid the near-weekly stories about the discovery of a new fault line or a tuned up prediction about when and where the Big One will happen. The fault line maps of the place look like a plate glass window after a riot. Crazy cracks running north and south, separated by only a few miles. There's no place within 150 miles that is completely safe. When you look at the reality of the map the jokes about California cracking off and drifting away don't seem so far-fetched.
I live on a hill overlooking the Hayward fault. The experts predict that's where the next Big One will happen.
That crack lies directly beneath the huge stadium at UC Berkeley. In many places you can see it running down the gutters and cutting across intersections. It's marked by offset curbs and hairline cracks. A few years ago, one of the local TV stations did a week long series about the Hayward fault. The reporter walked down the fault, stopping to talk to people about the scary proposition of living so near it.
The report consisted mostly of pictures of cracked concrete and shoulder shrugs from interviewees - except one woman. She lived in an aging apartment building sitting directly astride the fault. In fact, a crack representing the fault ran beneath her bed, placing it on one side and her feet on the other. She'd noticed the crack long before, but didn't think about it much. Upon hearing the cheery news about the crack she said, "Frankly, it scares the hell out of me." It may have scared the hell out of her, but she didn't plan to move. She said, "Are you kidding? I can't find another apartment this cheap in the Bay Area." As always, economics trump personal danger.
Her reaction is typical for many people living in dangerous places. Residents of them are usually quite aware of the dangers. I'm sure all but the most thickheaded understood the danger to New Orleans, but it didn't prompt them to move. The world over, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, and assorted other disasters happen and people begin to rebuild while the dust is still in the air.
I don't think people do this because they are oblivious or think it won't happen to them. They do it because they can't afford to up-ass and move. It's a personal version of a cost/benefit analysis. And as they live there, they take one of two paths, both designed to lower the stress of it all.
The smart ones take reasonable precautions like building an earthquake kit or laying in extra supplies of water. Then they go back to ignoring the Jello in the ground. The less industrious skip the earthquake kits with some gallows humor - what the hell do I care, if it comes I'll be dead anyway - as they roll over and go back to sleep.
Oops, I guess I have to roll over now. An aftershock just hit. It's just another day in paradise.
This is an Omnipotent Poobah Speaks exculsive post.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, June 15, 2006
Sneaking in the Back Door of IraqI'm glad Lt. Dubya is taking advantage of his National Guard flight training. Seeing him supervise the Air Force One crew on approach to Baghdad was almost as stirring a sight as seeing him "land" on an aircraft carrier wearing his best Daddy-Go-to-Photo-Op flight suit.
And how about those photos of White House Disinformation Czar Tony Snow? I'm glad Michael Dukakis didn't ruin the helmet wearing fun for all the pols. Tony - word - get that damn brain-bucket sized, will ya'? From the looks of it, there's enough room for an insurgent to stow away under there.
There lots of buzz about the global photo-op, but it really doesn't amount to much. Daddy Warspendabucks snuck in the back door - uninvited and unannounced - to visit his good friends and close allies, the Iraqis. I'm not sure what the US reaction would be if al-Maliki decided to visit the US in similar fashion, but looking good for the cameras would probably be the least of his worries.
As far as I can tell, the trip was a wash. The folks who think Dub is a grandstanding git got their suspicions reinforced. The dwindling number still supporting the aforementioned git thought it was a stirring display of unity, courage, and a reminder of yet another corner turned in Iraq. The troops either got a day off to go listen to George's wind blow, or worked an extra shift on the Green Zone .50 cal to protect his sorry ass. George's photo-ops always have something for everybody.
While the trip had little real or practical value, it did give Dear Leader an opportunity to talk to his titular allies and what he talked about was telling in a Bushian sort of way.
Amidst all the attaboys and picking of nicknames for his new-found friends - I heard he favors "Cousin Couscous" for al Maliki - he managed to remind the Iraqis and anyone else who would listen that the Mess-in-Potamia was an all Iraqi affair. He pledged undying support or pretty words until the mid-term elections - whichever comes first.
So here it is in a nutshell. The Nutty Cowboy sneaks into your country, shows up on your doorstep unannounced like the family's bad Uncle looking for a loan, and starts telling you that even though he mucked up your country it's absolutely your place to put things right. Then, he claps you on the back, says "Attaboy Couscous" and flies back to Washington.
Yeah, that seems about like his normal diplomacy to me. I don't get what all the hubbub is about.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Skydiving Just IsAs a much more flexible and considerably less brittle college student, I gave skydiving a go. I wasn't an adrenaline junkie nor did I do it on a wild dare. I was simply curious about it. Early adulthood is when you ponder such things. I was a college kid and people expect college kids to do stupid things. Who was I to disappoint?
In the early 70s, skydiving didn't much resemble how people learn today - no sissy tandem rigs where you lay in a sling beneath your instructor. We didn't just sprawl there like some sot in a backyard hammock, relieved of all responsibility for our own safety. Nope, back then, our first jump was also our first solo jump.
Training was very straightforward. A jumpmaster explained the basics and we took turns hopping off a picnic table to simulate landing - landing speed being more or less equivalent to jumping off a 3 ft. high object (chute deployed of course).
After we fully qualified in "picnic table egress", we lined up for equipment. Mine consisted of some old, military surplus coveralls - dirty and ripped from less-than-graceful student landings - and an ancient green-painted football helmet minus the facemask and quarterback glory.
After the coveralls came the main parachute, a mass of webbing and cross-strung straps that seemed to find all my most uncomfortable niches. To that, I clipped a small reserve chute to my belly. There was more instruction on operating ripcords and cutting the main away if I became tangled. This was no-frills skydiving at its most basic.
Looking like a paratrooper on D-Day, I waddled toward the airplane - a rattling, wheezing, and aging Cessna 180. It was bright green and painted with rollers left over from a neighboring barn raising. My last instructions detailed how to get out of the airplane and an inventory of who would jump first if the airplane malfunctioned.
Three of us squeezed into the airplane, sitting on the bare floor and holding our static lines - a cloth strap attached to the airplane on one end and to my parachute on the other. When I left the airplane, it would give me three seconds of freefall before pulling my chute out for me. It was as simple as falling off…well, an airplane.
I was last in and first out. I sat facing backward and next to the door. Curiously, I wasn't nervous. I just enjoyed the ride. I suppose my mighty leaps from the picnic tables must have imbued me with an immortal spirit.
At altitude, the jumpmaster reached between my legs and opened the door. It flew up into the wing leaving me five inches from the opening and staring into 3,000 ft. of empty sky. About 30 seconds later, he hooked my static line to a small attachment and ordered me out of the airplane. I scooted over to the open door and dangled my feet outside for a few moments before placing my left foot on a 5-inch long protruding step. From there it was an easy swing out to grab the wing strut. There I stood - one foot on the step and the other swinging free - until he gave me the signal to go.
When I felt his light touch on the back of my leg, I let go.
Even at 120 mph, I felt motionless in the sky. Not floating. Not rushing headlong at the ground. I just hung in the sky like a hazy sun on a dog day afternoon. When I glanced back up at the airplane, its door just closed and it flew away without me.
I was alone.
My three-second freefall took about 3 hours. The wind rushed past my face and puffed my wobbling cheeks out into a crazy, Dizzy Gillespie grin. I felt no weight from the hefty parachute. The cutting straps eased. Below, toy cows grazed toy pastures next to toy barns. It seemed like my three-seconds would easily stretch to eternity.
But they didn't. I literally reached the end of my rope.
The static line gave a mighty - though strangely weightless - heave. My feet flew over my head and I was suddenly in the cool shade of my inflated parachute. The windy roar was gone, replaced by braying cattle and quiet conversations between people several thousand feet below. There have been few times in my life that I felt so peaceful and alone. Just me, a gentle breeze, and the softest sounds of civilization I've ever heard. Under the canopy, there was still no sensation of movement. The ground didn't get measurably closer. It looked the much the same at 2000 feet as it had at 1000.
I explored the control toggles, making wide, lazy turns. In each turn, my legs flew gently into the arch and I could feel the faintest pull of gravity on my boots, proving to me that humans never really escape their world, even here, high above it all.
At about 500 feet, people intruded. I could hear my instructors telling me how to set up for landing. In position, I turned into the wind and began to drop straight down. Still, only physics told me I was falling. There was no sensation of movement until I got near enough to the ground to see my shadow. Even then, I didn't feel like I was moving. I felt the ground was rising up to meet me.
I finally converged with my shadow over a small circle of loose gravel. My feet crunched and I dropped and rolled just as if it was my tenth time off the picnic table.
And then it was over.
So what was it like?
The only word that comes to mind is curious. It was neither "death-defying" nor particularly exciting. It was quiet and gentle and peaceful, but also very subtle, like the smile of a pretty girl. Although the experience is as vivid to me today as it was more than 30 years ago, I still have trouble describing it.
I've tried to write about it many times since then, but I never fully capture how it felt. At first, this frustrated me. But as I grow older, I realize it's just one of those experiences as individual as snowflakes and subtle as the arc of the moon. There is no explaining it. There is no describing it. Words fail.
It just is.
This is an exclusive Omnipotent Poobah Speaks post.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, June 12, 2006
Not to Be Confused With Big Dick CheneyKatrina hit, the levees failed, and the Prevaricator-in-Chief began his long stumble down in the polls. Months later, the Crescent City is still a tangled mess of uprooted people, wrecked homes, mud-splattered streets, and a still-rickety levee system.
If only Nagin and company had spoken with the Des Moines, IA drainage Czar, the whole thing might have been avoided. Editor & Publisher and the Des Moines Register have reported on the novel and "well-endowed" shape of Des Moines' four-acre floodwater catch basin.
If New Orleans had only copied the design - except perhaps with a little more rigidity - the levees might have been strong enough to hold the flood at bay. At the very least, it would have signaled to Bush - during his post-storm flyby - exactly what the good folks of New Orleans thought about him at the time.
My advice to New Orleans, take two giant Viagra with plenty of water.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, June 11, 2006
An Announcement From the Omnipotent PoobahExactly one year ago today, The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! was born.
I'm not one for big parties and celebrations, but I think it's worth a mention so I can thank everyone from my regular readers, to my Jr. Poobahs, to all the lurkers far and wide.
We're approaching 15,000 hits and we've been viewed in all 50 states, 90 countries, and every continent, including Antarctica. That's something I'm proud of, but I couldn't do without your support.
So, no big celebration. Just pat yourselves on the back because you all made it possible.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, June 10, 2006
Bank Turns to Cannibalism, Employees Flee in Terror
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bank of America has been holding severance pay hostage unless laid off workers agree to train their new replacements from India. Of course, BofA doesn't say that outright. They prefer less threatening and legally murkier euphemisms like, "severance pay is contingent on satisfactorily completing your jobs." In other words, do as I say or you're fired and you get squat!
No matter how you feel about this tactic - and it's pretty low - it isn't surprising.
"I know that's parsing things a bit," BofA's corporate mouthpiece said. "What we ask associates to do as part of getting severance is that they stay on the job until the job is transitioned. It's a common practice when your job is being transferred from one person to another that you train the new person," she added, without mentioning that usually applies when you're leaving on good terms or moving within the company.
But, we won't quibble over semantics. We're sure she didn't mean to make it sound like something unpleasant.
Barbara Desoer, BofA's Tech Diva, said she knows the replacees hate it, so she's making a "commitment" to help the poor schmoes understand what's happening to them. "It caused us to make a greater commitment to our associates," she said. "It caused us to make a larger commitment to explaining the context of changes happening in the marketplace in advance of (changes) happening."
I'm sure the "associates" left that meeting thinking, "Gee, now that I understand what's happening in the marketplace, I'm glad I could take the bullet for good old BofA! Am I lucky or what?"
When these things happen, the discussion is usually about the nameless, faceless "company" mistreating its workers. But aren't companies comprised of human beings?
You can bet your ass that if BofA showed Barb the door, she wouldn't stick around training her replacement or having her severance pay held hostage. In fact, she'd probably get a healthy bonus for resigning to "take on challenging new assignments" - the stock phrase translated as, "The incompetent boob is leaving, huazzah!"
Although she benefits either way from the fiscal slaughter, Barb isn't alone. Other managers also got nice bonuses, and more than a few bonusless drones in financial planning and cost-benefit analysis drove the decision too. Many may end up on the chopping block as well.
I can only think of these people as economic cannibals. They chew away at working class America, even when it includes them. They make financially dubious decisions and when the bill comes due, pass the check over the table and say, "Take care of that, will ya?" The fact that one day they might be learning Hindi to pass along their corporate wisdom never seems to occur to them.
Cannibals in the civilized world generally don't turn to cannibalism because they like their meat rare. They usually take to it as a last resort or because they're mentally ill. In more remote regions, having a nice human rump roast is OK because of religion or other societal factors.
So where did BofA's cannibals catch the "people, the other white meat" bug?
Last resort? Safeway has plenty of Rancher's Reserve steaks in the cooler, so I don't think so.
Mental illness? That's a good possibility because they aren't showing much connection to the real world.
Religious or societal factors? BINGO! They're apparently born again greed heads completely seduced by the mantra of absolute capitalism. And while they're doing their daily devotions of counting stock options and performance bonuses, the sick behavior is being reinforced by a society that doesn't rise up as one and smack the dumb bastards silly. Instead, we go to Wal-Mart, buy something made by Chinese prison labor and sold in a store well known for anti-labor behavior, and then drive home smiling at the great deal we got on that swell rattan lawn chair.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, June 10, 2006
Say What You Want, No Matter How Stupid It IsAnn Coulter has been talking again, and as usual, the results aren't pretty. She went off on the Today Show and Hannity and Colmes about widows of 9/11 victims being too political and "enjoying" their husband's death. Her outburst was so beyond the pale, even Bill O'Reilly stepped away from her. If you're such a turd that O'Reilly doesn't want to sniff you, you know you're a disgusting turd indeed.
While I abhor everything she said, I vigorously defend her right to say it. If I didn't, it would be as stupid as Ann calling a drag queen's Adam's Apple too big. In fact, if I censored all speech I thought was stupid, offensive, or inane, this would be a mighty quiet world. Besides, calling someone a traitor and advocating death for a disagreement over Social Security reform just isn't my style. I'm not surprised at what she said - after all, she's said equally moronic things before. Instead, I began thinking about the lack of civility in our society at large.
We live in a time where common civility is dying. No one discusses things anymore. Everything is a scream fest. Look at shows like Hannity or Hardball to hear a daily barrage of screaming, ill will, and general backbiting windiness that would make your average two year old blanch. The talking, or perhaps screaming, heads aren't alone. Everyday folks engage in infantile regression too.
When was the last time you flipped someone off in traffic? How often has someone chased down a driver to engage in a little gunplay? Remember that tech support operator you sent packing with a new anal orifice? How often do parents dislocate a screaming kid's arm by hoisting them aloft, beating them senseless, and screaming, "I'll give you something to scream about"?
Folks like Bill Bennett are quick to point out this is all the fault of the leftwing media and their cohorts in the pinko film community. From high atop his mammoth mound of poker chips, he lectures on everyday virtues and how we're all surfing a tsunami of filth. His fix is to pass laws restricting such evil behavior - gambling apparently not included. But what about the personal responsibility the conservatives are always prattling on about?
So what if things you don't like surround you! Does that give you carte blanche to engage in the same behavior yourself? Where were you when your kids were growing up and needed a little instruction in right and wrong? Perhaps hoisting them aloft, while beating them senseless, and screaming, "I'll give you something to scream about."?
I have a 16-year-old daughter who is quite civilized, doesn't yap at people like a wounded dog, and who does very well in school, thank you very much. Mrs. Poobah and I were able to achieve these astounding results despite the fact she brushes up against the same odious images as other kids. Never once did we break out a book - like The Book of Virtues or It Takes a Village - and harangue her with lectures. In fact, we never restricted what could see, what she could say, or how she could act. Instead, we used those chances to teach her a more civilized way. Lo and behold, it worked. Imagine that.
Now the more conservative among you are saying to yourself, "Poobah, you called poor Ann moronic and implied she's a drag queen, what kind of respect is that? Isn't that equally uncivil behavior?"
My answer is simply "yes." I know I'm contributing to the breakdown of civility by doing so. I could excuse it with "she does it, so why can't I?" Or, "People don't get respect, they earn it."
But, the fact is that even when I do it, it's wrong. No excuses. No cloying platitudes about evil people doing dastardly things. It is wrong.
My only defense, and it's a specious one, is that it isn't my place to censor myself any more than I would censor Ann. It IS my place to define the context in which I speak and reach out to those willing to engage in a dialog.
And for that, I ain't apologizing.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, June 08, 2006