Random DroppingsAll the Way From Jellystone Park - In the gay world, a "Bear" is a significant other with...well...um...lot's of hair. That being said, I'm not sure what the Pentagon's approach to this new bear will be.
New Sport Takes Nation by Storm: Film in Six Months - It may not have the heady pace of watching grass grow. It doesn't have the trendy urban space appeal of watching paint dry. But still, you gotta love these guys.
On the Whole, I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia - It seems the City of Brotherly Love finds it difficult to let go of those beloved brothers when the time comes to shuffle off this mortal coil. W.C., eat your heart out!
Look at the Pretty Colors Man! - You start with a drawing that looks a bit like Donnie Rumsfeld, add a little acid, and viola! - you have a picture that looks like Donnie Rumsfeld on a camping trip. I don't see what Timothy Leary was so excited about.
And They Make a Damned Fine Sausage Too - Uber-Hunter, Ted Nugent, must be pissing his pants. First, you got the jackalopes. Then, you got the yeties. But, these things? You can actually eat what you kill!
It Seems a Bit Impractical to Me (NSFW) - Blue Gal just advises, "If he were my Bush, I'd just shave him off." These people? I think they're going the opposite direction.
Aw, Come-On! - Sure, it's sophomoric and childish, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun.
At Least Elena Bobbit Wasn't the Surgeon - Chinese guy. Malfunctioning plumbing. Surgery. Let's have some fun!
I've GOT to Get Me One of These - And they even have a Keith Olbermann autographed model!
I Guess This Guy Would Be a Semi-Bear With a Kicky Top - Just another 40 Year-Old Virgin.
Noooooo! - This guy should be executed!
Psst. Hey Vince! I SAID HEY VINCE! - I guess he didn't hear me. Some kids love their GI Joe's, but others embrace their more artistic sides.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, September 30, 2006
As We See It: We've Had Enough Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, September 29, 2006
Suspended in Amber
My old friend depression has been hanging about lately. Not the "I just want to curl up in a ball" variety, but more of a "sigh, I can't put my finger on the problem" variety.
When I go to work, I feel pretty ambivalent. It isn't that I hate my job, or don't understand that I must work, or that I'm lazy, it's just that I'm not happy with it either. It's something I must do as opposed to something I want to do. The resulting ambivalence catches me in an awkward place. I find myself thinking - a little too realistically for my own good - how it would feel to drive past my freeway exit, climb over the mountains, and join the coastal road for a long trip that would last forever.
Of course, I only envision myself in a single moment, somewhere on the highway, going no place in particular. I conveniently forget all the accoutrement of such a trip. Buying gas, eating lunch, finding places to sleep, missing my family, deciding which way to go next. In my mind, those things no longer exist. The only thing I can imagine is being on the road at a single moment that lasts forever, frozen in time, but infinitely mobile. I'm not going anywhere other than where I want to be - which just happens to be an empty stretch of highway that unwinds in front of me.
I've spent a lot of time wondering where these feelings come from. I work at a good company that treats its employees exceptionally well. I'm paid a handsome salary and I don't feel overworked. Sure, each day holds its petty annoyances, but there really are surprisingly few. Yet, I don't want to be here. In fact, I'm fairly confident I don't really want to be anywhere, except in that car on the endless coastal highway.
While I can't say for sure, I do have a theory about why I feel the way I do.
I've gone to a job nearly every day for 35 years. I like to think I did a good job. I even liked some of them in the usual sense. I got up and looked forward to going in or found interests or challenges in that world. But the notion that I was working because I had to, rather than because I chose too, always gnawed at me. I'd be the first to admit this is a selfish point of view. I mean, who am I to bitch about going to a job with good pay and benefits? After all, most of the people in the world would be happy with a job that provided a little rice for their distended bellies. I have the luxury of bitching that the less fortunate never get.
But jobs, and indeed the 35 years doing them, aren't the whole story. I began carrying hefty responsibilities at an early age and none of them went away when I added the daily routine of work to the mix. I've spent nearly every minute of every day carrying them. Many were self-assumed and ones that I gladly bore - being married for instance. But most of them were handed to me without invitation - for example, battling depression or being laid off or mowing the lawn. They just appeared on my doorstep and I accepted them without thinking. They were simply chores that needed to be done. Small events that I had to weather to get to the next one.
So in the end, I've developed an automatic aversion to anything that requires me to do something other than of my own making. I dislike work not because it's a painful experience, but because it's a responsibility. I'm at a point in my life where I long to do things of my own device. Things that are never a responsibility, but that I only do for the simple reason that I want to.
Filtered through the gauze of mild depression, I find it difficult to listen to my rational brain explain that work and responsibilities are an integral part of the human condition, something all humans share regardless of their station or wealth. Instead, it's the flitty, irrational bit of my mind that talks a little louder and urges me to keep on going when I reach my freeway exit. As the rational part of me calmly explains the facts of life and the irrational part of me urges me to do things that ignore the facts of life, I find myself stunned by the ongoing distraction. Rather than hearing something positive, that distraction is what keeps me keeping on.
So when I feel the pull of the open road and my rational self wins again, I find myself suspended in a psychological amber. I take the exit. I ride the elevator. I do the things that are required of me. But I always reserve a little part of my brain to take the occasional virtual trip past the exit, over the mountain, and along an endless coastal road that never ends.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, September 28, 2006
The Declassifier-in-Chiefthe Iraqis themselves to Pakistan and a healthy majority of US citizens - think the US shouldn't be in Iraq. Their reasons are a diverse as the causes and effects of this putrid pox on the nation.
The war kills far too many Americans. It kills even more Iraqis. It's plunging Iraq into a civil war that's taking it back to the stone age. It antagonizes Iraq's neighbors. It loots our national treasure and drives up prices on the strength of war fears and threats to the oil supply. But this week's reason du jour was the accusation that the war makes the US less safe from terror - an explicit slap at the President's long, self-aggrandizing idea that we're somehow safer as a result of the War on Terror/Iraq/Afghanistan/Insert Name of Combatant Here. Things have gotten so bad that even the Cabal du Bush no longer clings to the idea that things are going "rite well" and "vicktry's rite 'round tha corner".
And the proof is in the leak of a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that directly contradicted His Ineptness. It posits that - unlike George's non-intuitive assumption - killing people actually pisses them off. In fact, pisses them off so bad they're willing to fight with you, thereby making you less safe.
Hmm, imagine that. Who woulda' thunk it George, who woulda thunk it?
Of course, George got as snarling and red-faced as a Clinton on Fox when the NIE mud soiled his wingtips. He had the audacity to claim that the release may have been politically motivated, coming as it does, just weeks before Republicans may get a spanking like none since the Grinch the Prince and his Contract on America ousted the Dems.
Politically motivated? No shit Sherlock. Did Karl tell you that or did you figure it out all by your lonesome?
So to "put politics aside", BaBushka decided to declassify three of the document's 34 pages. The expected result was that miraculously, the three pages would be the ones with the exculpatory information needed to rebut his critics. But clever bastard that he is, the pages actually buttressed the claim that we're worse off as a result of the war (see The Master of Lowered Expectations). It's nice to see that some things, principally ineptitude, are a constant in this administration.
But with all the political fussing, it seems to me that everyone has lost sight of a few important details.
It may have been illegal to have leaked the classified material. The in-fighting has gotten so bad that people are divulging national secrets and risking jail time so they can have their arguments heard. Wouldn't this suggest we're having just a spot of trouble?
Isn't it equally bad that the Declassfier-in-Chief was willing - for only the third time in the history of National Intelligence Estimates - to declassify even more secrets to salvage his skunk-bitten political ass. I mean for Chrissakes, he was willing to keep the big Dick's Energy Task force notes a secret even though they weren't even classified. It seems to me this is the bigger deal.
Even his declassification was slipshod. He selectively declassified material - a tactic that has purpled his nurple before - leaving questions about the validity of what he provided and the worse damage that may have lurked in what didn't come out.
I'll go along with the idea that George was the target of a political hit here, but I'll show him no sympathy. If he hadn't bollixed things up this badly, this leak probably would never have happened. If he actually listened to people, perhaps the leaker might have been able to find a more acceptable way to be heard. If he hadn't pulled so many political shenanigans on others, perhaps they might have played a little fairer with him or at least given him the benefit of the doubt.
This whole case is a series of what ifs that we'll probably never have answered. The only thing the American public can postulate with any accuracy is the "what if George wasn't the President?" question. And when we ask it, we can only answer it like this:
"Unfortunately, he is President, and for a long time to come too. But one day he'll pass like a kidney stone and it will truly be morning in America once again."
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The Master of Lowered ExpectationsShrubie was once alleged to have said, "I'm the master of lowered expectations." I know I didn't expect much from him when limped into office with a contested and razor-thin margin. My expectations were already so low you couldn't have slipped a sheet of paper between the floor and the limbo pole. I fully expected him to spend the next four years staring at the pole like a not-too-bright basset hound, trying to decide whether to jump over it or walk around it. In the end, he pissed on the pole and dug a hole under it rather than take either of the more obvious paths. The bitch is, he was rewarded for this idiotic behavior with a second term.
Administrations often lower expectations in advance of important events. For example, in advance of a summit where it's abundantly clear that nothing of substance will happen. It's a way to squeak though unpleasant events without doing undue political harm to yourself. As he has throughout his life, the Presidenterator decided to take a shortcut and just let his performance set expectations in lieu of the messy staff work required to voluntarily lower them in a controlled, rational way.
As each new crisis presented itself, he simply did a poorer job than he had on the last. The rousing, and surprisingly on-target response to 9/11 begat Afghanistan. Before Afghanistan was firmly under control, he lowered expectations by charging into Iraq with guns blazing and no map to win the peace. And just when you thought he'd bottomed out, Katrina caught him on the toilet in Crawford with his pants around his knees and the toilet paper at the other end of the house.
I can remember sitting dumbstruck in front of the television as people died live on CNN and thinking, "this can't possibly get any worse".
Clearly, I was wrong.
Today we find ourselves virtually friendless in the international community, pissing away billions on a war in which he can't even define the criteria for victory. We're pinned down, lacking the ability to move forward or the avenue to fall back. Meanwhile, he blames everyone but himself, chips away at Constitutional freedoms, and acts so very surprised at why people seem so unwilling to believe him. He appears to have lowered expectations so much that even he no longer has any of himself. He just shows up for the occasional speech, says everything is going swimmingly, and retires for a PB and J with a glass of milk for lunch.
Look at his response to events unfolding over the past few days.
When the National Intelligence Estimate leaked word that people aren't nearly as safe as he's incessantly chanted over the past five years, he response was, "Aw, that don't matter none. Ya dint see none of tha rest of it. That secret part said ever-thing's just fine."
When more Generals line up to tell him yet again that the bumbling of Iraq is Rummy's fault, his response was, "Ah always gived them soldier fellas 'zactly whut they asked fer." But George, if you gave them what they asked, why do they keep saying you didn't. If you gave them all they asked, why are things going so poorly? Are you saying that your Generals are incompetent ninnies?
George never seems bothered in the least that he can profess something while all evidence to the contrary is piled in front of him. New Orleans sits like a festering boil on the ass of Louisiana and his talk is about the great things that are happening in Carbuncle City. His much vaunted Iraqi government moves with all the grace and efficiency of an Abrham's tank trying to swim the Tigris at floodstage. His response, "Aw, them things'll float." Iran is strutting around him like a boxer who's laid his opponent low with a sucker punch. His reaction is to reach for a sabre to rattle only to discover al Maliki is using it for a skewer at the Eye-Raq Bar-B-Q, Hoedown, and Lootfest.
I keep thinking my expectations cannot possibly get any lower and every time, George manages to ratchet them down yet another notch. My expectations have become so low that I figure I'm ahead of the game if we haven't all been vaporized in a nookular cloud. But, I suppose such a stunning performance is the mark of a master I find myself having to agree with him...
He is "the master of lowered expectations".
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Chris, You Ignorant SlutThere's plenty of buzz about Sunday's Chris Wallace/Bill Clinton interview on Fox News. No one can dispute that it made for interesting television and pumped up Fox's ratings, but beyond that, it's debatable whether it accomplished much else.
For liberals, it was a much deserved smackdown by a man who's been blamed for just about anything bad that's happened in the last 15 years and who was hounded unmercifully during his stint on Pennsylvania Ave (J'ACCUSE! BLOWJOBS!). For Conservatives, it was a tirade aimed at a non-existent right-wing conspiracy by a man who has never told a truth in his life (J'ACCUSE! BLOWJOBS!...er, RULE OF LAW! RULE OF LAW!).
Some suggest that Bill - one of the savviest politicians on the planet - was well-prepared for the questions and said exactly what he meant in exactly the tone he chose. Others argue that may be true, but there was some real steam under the collar too. I personally believe a little of both. I think Bill expected the question and practiced his answers - he's too smart not to have done so - but I think there was real anger there too - and, it showed.
The question Wallace asked was perfectly valid, albeit phrased in an accusatory fashion, "...why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put him (bin Laden) out of business?" A less provocative version might have been, "Do you think you did enough to put bin Laden out of business?" But, that's a quibble. Presidents, ex or otherwise, aren't allowed the luxury of going ballistic when confronted with an accusatory tone or an unflattering implication. After all, George has been testy lately and it's made him look less Presidential - as if the cowboy boots, brush cutting, and bounty hunter language hadn't already - even if we spot him to a low "Presidentialness" bar.
While many of Clinton's points were true, his delivery - uncomfortably close to his finger-wagging, "I did not have sex with that woman...Miss Lewinsky" speech - came across as more unbridled anger than a cool summation befitting an elder statesman. If he was preaching to those not already in the choir, his delivery made it all too easy to say, "He's the same sniveling, depraved bastard he always was." If he was preaching to the choir, it probably wasn't necessary. They've had the hymnal open and started singing long ago. The litmus test for this comparison is easy, the White House response looked reasonable and sensible by comparison - never a good sign.
Was his defense justified?
For me, that's an unqualified yes. Most people in a position to know the details of what happened, seem to back him up. They say he instituted several campaigns to off Osama bin Cuckoo. They also say he showed an impressive inquisitiveness and interest about the situation that stands in stark contrast to George's unsurprising, "I 'spose I oughta mosey on over and see if sumpin's up with this here bin Laden boy" approach the first six months he was on the job.
The 9/11 Commission said Bill should shoulder some of the blame and he did. During the interview he admitted that he'd been unable to tighten the noose on Osama. While I give him points for voluntarily admitting a failure - something George seems pathologically unable to do - he did, nevertheless, fail and the Commission was correct to apportion some blame to him. There's plenty of blame to spread around in a cock up as big as 9/11 and he owned up to his share while making a point that he at least had tried. I can't fault him for that.
So he presented his case and acquitted himself rather well on the facts. I'm sure he gained plenty of satisfaction from taking a swipe back at those who blame him and I'm sure finally saying something after five years was cathartic.
But did the fireworks change the political calculus? Not so much.
The polls won't rise or fall on the basis of the exchange. Most people have already taken a stand on Bill's guilt or innocence and George's incompetence or leadership. They will continue to respond accordingly.
It seems the only winner here may be Fox News. They reaped some nice ratings, can tout Chris Wallace as a tough interviewer who asks difficult questions, and garnered plenty of free publicity from all the other news outlets that jumped on the exchange like cats on a june bug.
In light of that, maybe it's time for Fox News to jettison the "Fair and Balanced" oxymoron and go with a new one, "Our Programmers are Smarter Than You Think".
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, September 25, 2006
Just a Thought
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, September 24, 2006
No News is Weird NewsWeekends are a strange time in the news business. The places that make news are on break and the people who consume news are out doing something more useful - like screaming at soccer coaches or engaging in road rage incidents. It's the time when newsmakers like to float hopeful test balloons and let the less hopeful ones sink as if they were lead filled. It's also the time when the odd news comes out - the stuff that would never make it on a weekday when real news is happening.
A few cases in point:
Rumsfeld Also Plays Hardball on Squash Courts - The New York Times gives us this in-depth and biting profile of Donald Rumsfeld's squash prowess. Apparently, the Defense Secretary doesn't play by the rules - literally - and the folks interviewed for the story seem to relish pointing that out.
The NYT-wits use the story to draw parallels between his squash game and his mental stability.
"The almost-daily matches, Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged last year, have helped preserve his 'sanity' in a period in which he and the administration have come under increasing political attack. Yet even the squash court is no longer the refuge it once was. Rumsfeld packed his squash racket for an August trip to Alaska but never played a game, even though aides reserved courts at two stops. On the last day of the trip, he delivered his most cantankerous speech in months, likening criticism of the Iraq war to appeasement of the Nazis before World War II, " the article says.
Yeah, I can see how missing a few games of squash would drive a person around the bend. Maybe The Donald could help himself out with an event commensurate with his personality. May I suggest The Donald Rumsfeld Invitational Squash Tournament and Nazi Appeaser Regatta.The Smell of Hell: Does Satan Reek of Rotten Eggs? - In this Weekend Update-Style story, Slate magazine uses Hugo Chavez's speech at the UN to ponder the question of whether the anti-Christ really does smell like sulfur.
The well-researched and surprisingly academic story ends with, "The idea that Satan had a strong odor is consistent with ancient attitudes about smells. A connection between sweet, dry smells and the divine goes back to the Greek epics, and it shows up in precise terms in the Old Testament: The Lord tells Moses to prepare an anointing oil 'blended as by the perfumer' consisting of liquid myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, and olive oil. Rotten-smelling gases like hydrogen sulfide would have been associated with moral corruption."
And so there you have the whole story of why El Diablo George stinks. He just can't help but not because of his association with moral corruption. We hear the Big Dick smells like old farts, but some just say that he is one.
The World's Gayest Flags - Over at Radar magazine, they ponder the idea of the world's "gayest flags. In a solid lede, the story begins, "After Congress' latest attempt to pass an amendment banning flag desecration was shot down this summer by a single Senate vote, Republican Orrin Hatch vowed to try again in 2007: 'For protecting the Stars and Stripes,' he sputtered, 'I will not give up!' What would it take to make such a man stop scheming to deny us our right to burn flags? Hmm. Something tells us Hatch wouldn't be so keen to 'protect' our flag if it were more flamboyant ... more suggestive of steamy man-on-man action ... more intrigued by the novels of Armistead Maupin. If it were, in short, more like these eight arguably queer flags."
The List of Eight sound a lot like the countries involved in the Coalition of the Inept. Poland's not there, but Belize, Christmas Island, and the Isle of Man - and yes, they do get the joke in the name of that small isle, "Some flags are subtly gay. This one, on the other hand, clearly depicts two medieval knights who have somehow merged their bodies into a three-legged freak-thing during the heat of passion. A well-known slut, the Isle of Man's flag seems to be saying to the other pennants of the world: I dare you not to stare at my bulging, tripartite crotch."
And just in case you're interested, this story is a sequel to a previous article - The World's Gayest Logos.
So you see, weekends are for screwing around regardless of the business you're in - even if you are a member of the Fourth Estate. We like to think of those minions of media toiling away on the weekends in echoingly empty newsrooms while the Big Guns like Katie and Brian are lounging by the pool. As comparative low-wage pawns in the media game, they can afford to make fun of the world because no one is really paying attention.
At least until Monday.
When the Big Guns come back to work.
And the Bad News Bears start to growl anew.
The Poobah also appears at Bring it On!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, September 23, 2006
As We See It: The Pontification Edition
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, September 22, 2006
Concentric RandomosityWhere Yugo, They Go - The poor little Yugo. At a time when crappy cars were the height of fashion, these little Yugoslavian beauties out-crapped them all. They may make a poor means of transportation, but they're apparently good for all sorts of other stuff - oddly, all of which are stationary.
And They Want to Know Why People Think California is Crazy - Last time she was up against the Gropenator (and we don't mean in that way) and Gary Coleman. This time, the Austrian Crapweasel is back, but no sign of angry little black men. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next Governess of California (NSFW)!
Darth Vader is a Nasty Little Boy - Some people can just never let go of this whole Star Wars thing (NSFW).
Star Wars IX: Tool of Satan - Really, we mean it. Some people can just never just let go of this whole Star Wars thing.
Just the Thing for Betty Boop's Bambino - Art deco style. Fender skirts like a '57 Caddy. Trick the tyke out in style baby!
Step Away From the Hedgehog - Dude! Just think about Phyllis Diller.
Desperation Meets the Mother of Invention - Well...Um...But...You just have to read this to appreciate the vast plethora of possibilities.
It's Methane Woman - Sometimes you just can't pass up a good fart joke.
A Man was Walking Down the Street - A man was walking down the street and a hoodlum popped a cap on his ass. If it hadn't been for one of these, the bullet would have gone right through.
I Love the Smell of Meat in the Morning - Philbert Suggs is a man with a vision, a hunger for life if youo will and he looks mighty fine in that Elvis suit too.
Never Watch Someone Make Sausage - Sure, it's "all about the slaw", but I bet Philbert likes his au naturel.
Well, Now That You Mention It - Gents, no need to look. We all know the answer to this age-old question.
Them Dang Texans'll Ett Anythang - Just another way to throw up before you get on the roller coaster.
Driver's License Photos From Hell - And yet none of them seem to have the dreaded "red-eye" so common in flash photos. How very unintentionally Diane Arbus of them.
So Is It Chicken of the Sea or a Finite Barrier Quantum Well? - Britney Spears saw all the grief Jessica Simpson got for her Chicken of the Sea dippiness and decided to go back to night school to avoid the same fate. Viola! The new Britney! (With a tip o' the hat to our favorite scientist TJ).
The Pirate With Alzheimers - Arrr, yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day an it slipped me mind like ah launch cut adrift in ah storrrrm. Beggin' yer pardon Cap'n, but tis it too late ta send a few more o' tha crew yer way?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A Good Man Bows OutLate Poobah's Note: It appears as though Quaker Dave is giving it another go. I couldn't be happier, but I still think this post has some merit, even if he is back.
As anyone can attest, politics can be a rough and tumble, ugly affair. Mud gets slung, names get called, and attacks get personal and vitriolic. In the rush to press home a point, civility is often the unwitting victim of the rushing train of debate. That's bad enough when it comes between opponents on an issue, it's even worse when allies begin to tie their own to the tracks.
A recent brouhaha at Blue Gal is a case in point.
Blue Gal posted an innocuous piece requesting people to sign a petition in support of the separation of church and state. In her post, Blue Gal explained that while she's a Christian, she doesn't proselytize or agree with the ideas of many fundamentalists who believe the US should be run as theocracy. As a confirmed atheist, I can vouch for her open-mindedness and fairness and suspect that the lunatic fringe of the fundamentalist camp should fear her rage nearly as much as their God's. Blue Gal is not shy and she does not suffer fools gladly.
The comment thread started innocently enough, with people checking in to offer support. Among the commenters was one blogger who began with, "the more I study it, the more it occurs to me to believe that religion is a form of insanity." Another chimed in with, "Religiosity is one symptom of mental illness. That is not to say that religious people are insane, but mentally ill people gravitate to religion." Not surprisingly, some took offense at that.
One was Quaker Dave (QD) from the site Quaker Agitator. Dave is a blogger in the same mould as Blue Gal. He fervently believes in God, but is also the model progressive in thought, word, and deed. Like Blue Gal, I've never heard a cross word from Dave and he is always a gracious and polite host at his blog, especially to those of us who are non-believers.
Dave replied, "Well, count me amongst the happily insane. And really, please, could we lay off the anti-religious insults here? Bush is NOT a Christian person, and equating him with Christianity and then using THAT as a way of trying to tell us that religion is somehow associated with "mental illness" kind of defeats the purpose of the post here, doesn't it?"
This seemed like a calm and rational way of handling the budding disagreement to me and several other commenters agreed. But what came next was a classic example of a flame war burning out of control.
The ensuing comments became more and more vitriolic despite commenters - including Blue Gal - who tried to turn the passion down a notch before it spun out of control. As so often happens, that was an impossible thing to do. And so the comments went back and forth, each time getting a little more personal and edgy. In the end, feelings were hurt and damage was done. Dave ended the string with, "Okay. I give. You win. It's been fun."
Afterward, Dave continued to post as normal at his blog - that is, until 9/17. That day he posted his final piece. In that post Dave explained that after 786 posts he'd grown tired of the division and tired of having his religion dragged through the mud as if he was one of the fundamentalists he abhors as much as other progressives. Dave simply decided to hang up the keyboard and let others fight the good fight.
This turn of events was truly tragic. Friends of the left have lost a valuable fighter and truly eloquent spokesman. Dave was the living embodiment of the premise that not all Christians are bad. Some, like him and Blue Gal, agree that religion has lost its proper place in the American marketplace of ideas. All Dave wanted was to stay true to himself and to his God and do what he thought right and honorable, meanwhile trying to make the very point that so many of his progressive "allies" made it impossible for him to make.
There are truly some bedrock problems in this country and solving those problems brings all sorts of people and ideas to the table. The constant bickering and open warfare among those trying to right the ship of state is not only damaging, it makes it virtually impossible to solve anything. When allies begin to turn on themselves, manifesting disdain for people who not only did them no harm, but were arguing for the same things, the place is seriously becoming unhinged. To make the country whole again, we need to work together, support each other, and listen to ideas and viewpoints that we might not personally embrace. We'll need people of conviction to get us over this hump and the sad thing is, we're driving many of those valuable people away.
People like Quaker Dave.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Falling From the High Ground
For the past several years, talk about "moral values" has dominated what passes for political discourse in this country. The talk was of the 10 Commandments, Janet Jackson's weirdly pierced nipple, and people stealing Christmas from the Christians. But there's been a shift over the last six months or so. Now, with the exception of feeble venting over gay marriage, the moral values crusade has become noticeably quieter.
There are a variety of possible reasons for this. Perhaps with things not looking so good for their man the God Whisperer, they prefer not to rock the boat lest find their anointed one really can't walk on water. Perhaps they've seen that caterwauling about issues like gay marriage not only doesn't distract the country from more serious issues, it just serves to piss them off more. Maybe they've had an epiphany and decided to throw the money changers like Falwell, Robertson, et al out of the temple.
Scratch that last one. No such luck.
There's another possible reason for the silence, and I think it deserves some thought. Perhaps the moralizers finally discovered the Apostle-in-Chief isn't nearly as moral as he would have them believe. Consider this:
From its inception, the US has fancied itself different from the rest of the world. Founded on some of the most high-minded ideals the world has ever seen, we've tried mightily to hold to those values. Of course there've been failings, both major and minor, but that happens when real, fallible people are involved. The US may have sometimes had clay feet, but for the most part, the world admired us because we at least bothered to try and take the high road. As they used to say in the Iron Curtain era, "you don't see people trying to escape from America."
Since the Moralist-in-Chief took office, he's spent much of his self-proclaimed political capital doing some strikingly amoral things. While carping on about faith-based initiatives, he entered a war with dubious justifications. Once the war started, he and his croaking chorus of toadies decided that gay marriage was a threat to democracy. Meanwhile, he tossed people into secret prisons, held them for years without trial, and tortured them to boot. When pushed on the issue he denied, obfuscated, or simply said, "We don't do that. Never have. Never will."
I'm glad he's so certain, but his actions sound more like a visit to Lubyanka for a chat with the KGB man than a nation priding itself on taking the moral high ground. These types of actions have not only created a firestorm at home, but in the rest of the world as well.
Where the US once stood as a place the rest of the world aspired to, we've become a place that much of the world now loathes. Not without reason, they believe we are a greater threat than the countries we've proclaimed the Axis of Evil.
The response from moralistic crapweasels like Bishop Bush, Cardinal Condi, and Deacon Don is that it's perfectly OK to try a prisoner and withhold information they need for a defense. "What's the matter," they ask? "If they've aren't guilty they have nothing to worry about. After all, the US is different," they say. "We're fair and balanced. We're not like viscous dictators like Saddam who imprisoned people without trial."
And what you're doing is different, how?
When it comes to torture, it's much the same. "We don't torture," they loudly proclaim. "Uh, Uh. Nope. Not us. Wouldn't hurt a fly. That's why we think we don't have to comply with those pesky Geneva conventions. We don't do that stuff anyway. No need. We're morally superior."
"Don. Get out the waterboard, we got some "guests" coming over for a chat."
Bush's mammoth hubris is a head on collision with his countrymen and the rest of the world. He's apparently tortured the last of the good will out of the world and now people in this country and others are beginning to fight back.
Several Senators recently proved Darwin's theory by evolving embryonic backbones. They're beginning to let George know that it isn't OK to take the moral low ground while claiming victory on the high. Other countries are beginning to say, "What you're doing is wrong. You're behaving like a bully because you think none of us will fight back."
But, guess what?
George asks for more NATO troops in Afghanistan and the answer was a resounding yawn. George has intimated that his Coalition of the Willing maybe isn't up to the task and perhaps the UN might like to step in where only the most lunatic don't fear to tread. His other neighbors on the planet aren't exactly rushing to his aid.
So maybe that's it. Maybe we've finally been taken down the low road far enough that even the self-righteous are troubled by what they see. Maybe they see themselves weighing whether the marriage of two loving people who happen to be of the same sex is more amoral than locking someone up and holding their head underwater until they fear they'll drown.
Maybe they've finally realized something important about morality. Maybe they've finally realized they have less to fear from someone who simply wants to get married than from an evangelizing, moralizing oaf who managed to alienate an entire planet while trying to convince them of the morality of his cause.
If they have seen this, perhaps it isn't too late for the country to take a few steps back from the cliff at the edge of the high ground and prove to the world that we are moral and that we aren't just a herd of lemmings on a march to the sea.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, September 18, 2006
My First LesbianDedicated to Cap'n Dyke and El.
I came of age in a south emerging from lingering effects of Civil War reconstruction. A slow moving, very conservative place. I can remember segregated help wanted ads and was in high school when it was desegregated - oddly enough when they stopped busing. Along with the residual racism, it was a also place where gays weren't yet called "gay". "Coming out of the closet" meant emerging with a sweater you just took off the hanger. Secrecy was still the order of the day for most LGBT folks. Queer as Folk and The L Word were still in a galaxy far, far away - or in New York or San Francisco (where they wore flowers in their hair).
I tell you these things to help frame what I'll tell you next...
I met my first lesbian as an 18-year old college student at the University of Kentucky.
At the time, I was the production manager for UK's student newspaper. I went to work each night around 9 pm and finished up in the wee hours of the morning when we shipped the paste ups to the printer. My "staff" was comprised solely of women - a typist, a proofreader, and a "copy girl" who trundled stories from the newsroom to the production room and helped out with whatever else needed to be done. We all enjoyed each other's company and in the process, learned quite a bit about each other's lives.
One night, as I made my way across the hall to the newsroom, I glanced up to see a couple locked in a tight embrace in the shadowy hallway. As my eyes adjusted to the poor light, I realized that one of the embracees was Copy Girl and the other was not her boyfriend - as I might have expected - but another woman.
I kept walking, not wanting to intrude, but my mind was spinning just a little. I thought, "What the hell was that all about?"
I didn't say anything about it nor did I treat her any differently - although I admit I was curious about the relationship.
Because we worked late, I often drove Copy Girl home to keep her off the lonely streets in the sometimes gritty student ghetto where she lived. As I pulled up to her house one morning, I recognized her lover sitting on the front porch. Copy Girl walked up to the house and an argument started between her and Lover. From what I gathered, Lover didn't exactly cotton to Copy Girl riding home with a man.
I drove away, but again kept thinking to myself, "What the hell was that all about?"
The next night, Copy Girl arrived with Lover in tow. She introduced us and Lover shook my hand with all the enthusiasm of convict pumping the hand of her executioner. After Copy Girl's quick peck on the cheek, Lover fled the place like it was on fire.
Although I hadn't asked, Copy Girl explained Lover was a "radical feminist lesbian" in the mold of Andrea Dworkin and virulently anti-male to boot - the polar opposite of Copy Girl who seemed to enjoy the company of nearly everyone she met, male or female.
After that first meeting, Copy Girl brought Lover along every night. Through periodic discussions, I learned this was Copy Girl's way of inching herself out of the closet while trying to convince Lover that not all men wanted to harm her. While I didn't mind being the conduit for this grand experiment, it sometimes left me feeling confused.
On several occasions, I inadvertently insulted Lover with some innocuous comment. Each time, Copy Girl explained that she didn't think I'd actually done anything, but that Lover sometimes acted that way toward her as well. I also learned that Lover viewed me as competition for Copy Girl's affections - a really solid base for our "relationship" as you can imagine.
Over the months, Lover slowly loosened - but almost imperceptibly. She no longer waited up for Copy Girl to come home and after three months she began to nod to me whenever we met. At about six months, she floored me by actually saying, "Hello" in a strangled croak. She said that simple hello with such dread I wasn't sure whether it was a breakthrough or the result of torture.
Finally, Copy Girl arrived with Lover on the last day of school and hugged me goodbye for the summer. Then, Lover approaching me warily as a cat, slowly raised her arms and grabbed me in the most awkward and masculine hug I've ever received. As she released me, she stepped back and said, "I just want you to know I don't hate you, I just don't like you."
When they walked arm in arm down the hallway and out the door, I thought to myself, "What the hell was that all about?"
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, September 16, 2006
As We See It: The War on "Terrer" Edition
Tech Tags: humor politics bush spinach iraq torture pope islam religion castro dictator powell real+clear+politics omnipotent+poobah
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, September 15, 2006
Random Stuff for a Random World
SPAM...SPAM...SPAM...SPAM...SPAM - It's Monty Python meets erectile dysfunction and, it's as close as your kitchen!
Simply Divine - What do Tom Cruise, Michael Moore, Joseph Stalin, and Casanova all have in common? Well yes, they are all well-known loons. But there's also this.
Build It and They Will Cum - Britain will be the home to a different kind of amusement park. Sure, they'll still be plenty of screams and thrills, but there will be no rides and you'll need to be over 18 to, um, amuse yourself. How positively cheeky!
Fits Right, Feels Nice - Women are always complaining about them. Men are sometimes fascinated by them. No, they aren't shoes. Stop by for a test fitting (NSFW).
Meow Kampf - It seems like Donald Rumsfeld may having been hanging around this place a little too often and has started seeing a Reich around every corner.
Praise the Board - Their bodies may be at risk, but their souls are safe.
Donald Trump Caused This - Did you ever wonder why some people look like they have a squashed raccoon on their head? Because they apparently do. Roadkill for the rootless.
Tattoo OOOOO - Did you ever wonder what the world's most vulgar tattoo would look like. I never did until I saw this. Now I'm not so sure I wanted to know after all
Jennifer Beales, Eat Your Heart Out - You just have to love an "underdog battles all the odds and wins" story. This may not be it, but it sure is funny. (Just accept the ccertificate when you see the prompt).
Just Another Toothpaste Conspiracy - One of the biggest search hit generators I have is the phrase "toothpaste conspiracy", but I think this woman is taking it a little bit too far. I recommend the large package of mental floss instead.
Lilliputians of the World Unite - Kommandos Project, eat your heart out.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Short TakesO' Say Can You Sing...
For a man who paints himself as an uber-patriot, it seems Speaker Dennis Hastert needs a little remedial training in singing the praises of his country.
While singing along to the Star Spangled banner on Monday, Hastert mangled the first stanza beyond belief. True, he didn't grab his crotch ala Roseanne, but it was a pretty sorry performance.
In response to this outrageous treatment of such a solemn and patriotic moment, I'm sure we can assume Congress will be looking into a rider for the Flag Burning Amendment that would punish similar affronts to our proud national song.
Paying for the Good Stuff
Apparently unable to find enough of the "good news" the administration is always bashing the media for not reporting, they've hired 10 Miami-based journalists to turn out stories for administration propaganda organs Radio and TV Marti. The administration - apparently not stung badly enough in a similar previous deal with commentator Armstrong Williams - never seems to learn.
After Williams accepted money from a PR firm hired by the Education Department, federal auditors said the Bush administration had violated the law by disseminating "covert propaganda." The administration was stung again a few months later, when the Pentagon paid millions to another PR firm to plant propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay Iraqi journalists monthly stipends.
My, my, my, it's good to see the administration continues to set such a sterling example of democracy for Iraq to emulate.
Snow Flurries in DC
White House PR flak Tony Snow continues to push discredited links between Iraq and al-Qaeda in his press briefings, despite a bipartisan Senate report to the contrary.
The report concluded, "Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and...the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi." It also stated: "Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaeda to provide material or operational support."
Seems pretty straightforward to me.
However, when asked about the link in today's press gaggle, Snow said, "The president has never said that there was a direct operational relationship between the two. And this is important. Zarqawi was in Iraq...and there was a relationship in this sense: Zarqawi was in Iraq. Al-Qaeda members were in Iraq. They were operating, and in some cases operating freely. From Iraq, Zarqawi, for instance, directed the assassination of an American diplomat in Amman, Jordan."
That sounds suspiciously like implying a link to me.
Tony, turn off the snow blower.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The Best Remembrance Would Be a Look At OurselvesFive years ago this week, the US was a relatively peaceful place. The country was taking a breather after a protracted impeachment scandal, a bruising Presidential campaign, and a Supreme Court decision to settle the recent election. In his short time in office, George Bush had faced few big issues and the ones he did face - like stem cell research - he dealt with in a hesitant manner that left detractors and supporters alike feeling unsatisfied. When he appeared in public he often looked uncomfortable, like a little boy wearing his father's too-large suit. Bush was a President still in search of an agenda and it seemed as though he might just spend the rest of his term looking for one.
Then, came September 11, 2001.
His reaction to the news of the attacks was one of shock and immobility. He would say later that he hadn't immediately left the elementary school classroom he was visiting for fear of startling the children. The jokes about this reaction would last for years.
Other than some hastily-called press conferences during the trans-continental shell game to keep him safe from unknown dangers, he said little and was unconvincing in calming the nation. The nation needed a strong leader and Bush wasn't giving much of a hint that he would rise to the challenge.
But after the dust settled a bit, Bush made his way to Ground Zero. There, he climbed atop the rubble, and with flags flying and firemen cheering, gave the speech of his political life. He told the country that the death of these thousands of people would be avenged. He spoke in a manner that was both calming and unifying. In response, Americans felt a bond they'd not felt in many years. A wave of patriotism swept the country and flags sprouted like wildflowers in springtime, while people turned to family and friends for comfort. It was one of those rare moments when a true leader can seize the day and do tangible good for their countrymen.
Not long after the attacks, and based on solid intelligence, the US invaded Afghanistan. If there can be such a thing, it was the right war at the right time. Public support was solidly behind Bush and the nation looked forward to seeing their enemies vanquished and their country returned to some semblance of normalcy.
But, flush with his success in Afghanistan, Bush decided to go one further and invade Iraq. The justification was wiping out the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and a strongly implied connection between Iraq and Osama bin Laden - both misconceptions the administration continues to feed even today.
In the run-up to the war, the administration focused on dubious intelligence. They rushed along, not willing to wait for a true coalition - similar to his father's during the first Gulf War - to form. Members of the administration suggested that countries unwilling to go along were "old Europe" and implied a cowardice on their part. They accused anyone daring to question them of being treasonous. Legislators allowed themselves to be cowed by the headlong rush, signing off on the war without giving it proper examination.
The first cracks in the near-universal support in the immediate aftermath of the attacks began to appear. After a brilliantly executed invasion, Saddam was deposed, but things began to deteriorate quickly. First pot shots from insurgents were the order of the day. Then, the creation of an independent Iraqi government suffered setback after setback (as it does today). As events on the ground got worse, the administration's drumbeat of rhetoric and spin increased.
Today, we're a nation more deeply divided than we were at the end of an election many people felt had been stolen. The only thing uniting the country these days is an overwhelming desire to attack one another. We've become only a slightly more civilized version of the sectarian violence that is destroying Iraq.
Our original goal to beat back terror is heavily damaged. Afghanistan, once the bright spot in the war on terror, is now mentioned only in connection with a resurgence of the Taliban and the still missing Osama bin Laden. Much of the important work of making the nation secure is still not done. Many people believe our sideline adventure into Iraq has not only sapped our military's strength, but is creating more terror than it drives away.
We are a nation adrift without a steady hand on the rudder. Our politicians fight each other tooth and nail. Our airwaves are filled with screaming matches between irreconcilable and opposing viewpoints. We can't stop arguing long enough to accomplish the ordinary business of government because of all the rancor.
And our leaders' response is more spin, more faulting anyone who disagrees, more empty flag waving, and endless obfuscation.
In this week of remembrance for those victims of the viscous attacks, it would be instructive to look at ourselves rather than at what the victims lives might have been. If we are true in our vision, we will see we disgrace their memory. We will see we spend too much time fighting phantom enemies and amongst ourselves to do much about those who killed them. Those innocent people deserve much more than that from their countrymen. They deserve a nation that remembers them with honor and reacts with valor to the damage done to them and their families. They and their families deserve to know that they didn't die completely in vain.
I find myself sickened this week at what our proud nation has become. I'm profoundly disturbed by the changes to the country the victims left behind. I find myself wondering if they returned from the grave whether they would recognize the nation they left behind on that clear September morning. I find myself ashamed that we have cheapened their memory so easily and completely.
We still need a leader who can stand atop the pile of rubble and rally the country to the cause. A true leader who acts with the same integrity of the words he speaks.
I'm just hoping one comes along soon.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, September 11, 2006