Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

3/05/2005

The coming Social Security crisis of 1988

Josh Marshall provides us with a quote from George W.:

[Social Security] will be bust in 10 years unless there are some changes ... The ideal solution would be for Social Security to be made sound and people given the chance to invest the money the way they feel.

Of course, Dubya said this in 1978. Which might make it prudent to be skeptical about his current claims of an impending Social Security crisis.

3/04/2005

War

This is from Chris Hedges' article in The New York Review of Books from December:

The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with stories of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war.

The vanquished know the essence of war--death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alientation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence, as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity.



Ohio

I hesitate to write this post for two reasons. First, because the 2004 election was for obvious reasons fairly traumatic for me, and I hate to even think about it; second, because I am going to paste excerpts from an article by a writer who is a thoroughly wretched douchebag.

Christopher Hitchens is not a fan of John Kerry, and he openly supported George W. Bush in last year's election. So he has no particular motivation to question the results in Ohio. But in this article from Vanity Fair (found via Brian Leiter), Hitchens does just that:


... here are some of the ... reasons to revisit the Ohio election.

First, the county-by-county and precinct-by-precinct discrepancies...

...In Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, two largely black precincts on the East Side voted like this. In Precinct 4F: Kerry, 290; Bush, 21; Peroutka, 215. In Precinct 4N: Kerry, 318; Bush, 11; Badnarik, 163. Mr. Peroutka and Mr. Badnarik are, respectively, the presidential candidates of the Constitution and Libertarian Parties. ... In 2000, Ralph Nader’s best year, the total vote received in Precinct 4F by all third-party candidates combined was eight.

In Montgomery County, two precincts recorded a combined undervote of almost 6,000. This is to say that that many people waited to vote but, when their turn came, had no opinion on who should be the president, voting only for lesser offices. In these two precincts alone, that number represents an undervote of 25 percent, in a county where undervoting averages out at just 2 percent. Democratic precincts had 75 percent more under- votes than Republican ones.

...

In Mahoning County, Washington Post reporters found that many people had been victims of “vote hopping,” which is to say that voting machines highlighted a choice of one candidate after the voter had recorded a preference for another.

... in practically every case where lines were too long or machines too few the foul-up was in a Democratic county or precinct, and in practically every case where machines produced impossible or improbable outcomes it was the challenger who suffered and the actual or potential Democratic voters who were shortchanged, discouraged, or held up to ridicule as chronic undervoters or as sudden converts to fringe-party losers.

...

Whichever way you shake it, or hold it to the light, there is something about the Ohio election that refuses to add up. The sheer number of irregularities compelled a formal recount, which was completed in late December and which came out much the same as the original one, with 176 fewer votes for George Bush. But this was a meaningless exercise in reassurance, since there is simply no means of checking, for example, how many “vote hops” the computerized machines might have performed unnoticed.

...

It was often said, in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be “a conspiracy so immense” as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to have been part of the plan ...

I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people would have to be “in on it.” This is because of the small number of firms engaged in the manufacturing and the even smaller number of people, subject as they are to the hiring practices of these firms, who understand the technology. “Machines were put in place with no sampling to make sure they were ‘in control’ and no comparison studies,” she explained. “The code of the machines is not public knowledge, and none of these machines has since been impounded.” In these circumstances, she continued, it’s possible to manipulate both the count and the proportions of votes.

In the bad old days of Tammany Hall, she pointed out, you had to break the counter pins on the lever machines, and if there was any vigilance in an investigation, the broken pins would automatically incriminate the machine. With touch-screen technology, the crudeness and predictability of the old ward-heeler racketeers isn’t the question anymore. But had there been a biased “setting” on the new machines it could be uncovered—if a few of them could be impounded. The Ohio courts are currently refusing all motions to put the state’s voting machines, punch-card or touch-screen, in the public domain. It’s not clear to me, or to anyone else, who is tending the machines in the meanwhile …

I asked her, finally, what would be the logical grounds for deducing that any tampering had in fact occurred. “Well, I understand from what I have read,” she said, “that the early exit polls on the day were believed by both parties.” That, I was able to tell her from direct experience, was indeed true. But it wasn’t quite enough, either. So I asked, “What if all the anomalies and malfunctions, to give them a neutral name, were distributed along one axis of consistency: in other words, that they kept on disadvantaging only one candidate?” My question was hypothetical, as she had made no particular study of Ohio, but she replied at once: “Then that would be quite serious.”



I don't have much to add to this. I don't know if the Ohio vote was on the up-and-up. But I am inclined to say that this is precisely the point: I don't know, and neither does anyone else. It would seem that the GOP had both the means to tamper with the vote and (obviously) the motive. Do you trust them to keep their hands out of the cookie jar even when no one is looking?

3/03/2005

Weird

On a google search for "rap lyrics, left-wing alien government conspiracy," my site comes up third.

What do you suppose that means?

Subversive art blogging

Art can be used to reinforce the prevailing cultural values and structures. Using art as a tool for maintaining dominant power structures has a long and sometimes shameful history; examples include cultural propaganda such as Socialist Realism, the films of Leni Riefenstahl, as well as Hollywood movies like Top Gun and Pearl Harbor.

But art can be subversive, too.

The first artists to really recognize this were the Avant-Gardes, who rejected the "cultural gatekeepers" of the artistic establishment. Their work resisted the aesthetic values that had been dominant since the Renaissance: the idea that artistic subject matter should always be something noble, and that the measure of an artwork's value was how accurately it depicted reality.

Eventually, artists realized that the subversive potential of their work didn't need to be confined to the artistic community, but that it could be a means of engaging with, and rebelling against, society at large.

This idea inspired many different movements: the Decadent Movement, Die Brücke ("We call all young people together … we want to wrest freedom for our actions and our lives from the older, comfortably established forces"), Futurism ("We will destroy museums and libraries, and fight against moralism, feminism and all utilitarian cowardice"), etc.

But the grand daddy of all subversive movements was of course Dada, a spectacular all-out assault on the status quo. Dada was a reaction to the horrors of WWI, horrors the rest of the world, appallingly, came to accept as a way of life in the 20th century, but which the Dadaists saw as evidence of the utter failure of conventional values.

Dadaists Hugo Ball, Richard Huelsenbeck, Jean Arp, Francis Picabia, and of course my creator Raoul Hausmann, among others, sought to undermine all established values, including what passed as rationality, and to replace them with the values of the anarchic and the primitive. Perhaps most emblematic of this approach is Duchamp's famous L.H.O.O.Q. , which consists solely of a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, only now sporting a nifty goatee.

Subsequent artists managed to capture some of Dada's subversive character. I'm not sure how well the image is going to reproduce, but below is George Grosz's painting Homage to Oskar Panizza:









Grosz once said of his work:

I drew and painted out of a spirit of contradiction, trying in my works to convince the world that it was ugly, sick and mendacious


Otto Dix's painting also exhibited this quality. This is his Cardplaying War-Cripples:










But it took the Surrealists to realize the full subversive potential of art. They were certainly politically rebellious: Andre Breton's idea of an artist was a "visionary in revolt against society."

But this political subversion was a symptom of a larger and more profound subversiveness. What the Surrealists ultimately aspired to was "nothing less than the total transformation of the way people think" by "breaking down the barriers between their inner and outer worlds, and changing the way they perceived reality."

Pretty neat, if you ask me.

3/02/2005

Jim Gibbons pisses me off

From the Daily Kos:

Nevada representative Jim Gibbons made the following remarks at an appearance before his supporters:

"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," Gibbons said to another burst of applause.

...

He said that they are the same people who wanted to go to Iraq and become human shields for the enemy.

"I say it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket," Gibbons said.

Laughter rippled through the room, mingled with more applause.


"Hippie, tie-dyed liberals"? Why do so many conservatives seem to think it is still 1968?

George W. Bush, sustainer of life itself

Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush directs our attention to a story that ought to make all those Bush-bashers on the left think again:

This is just gonna make the liberals go into a funk:

ATLANTA, Georgia (Reuters) -- Americans are living longer than ever largely because of declining death rates from heart disease, cancer and stroke, the federal government said Monday.

Average life expectancy in the United States rose to a record 77.6 years in 2003 from 77.3 years in 2002, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And here we had been believing those liberals when they were telling us that everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Guess what? If we're living longer it means that life is getting better. Got that? Better. Things are better than they were before - "before", in this case, being before President Bush took office.


Wow. I had been rather dismayed at the way things were going--you know, perpetual war, shitty economy, creeping fascism--but I hadn't noticed this story. Let's see ... 77.6 minus 77.3 equals .3 ... that's, like, three and a half months of extra life! Of course, you'll never hear this reported in the liberal media; all they care about is the life expectancy of Islamic terrorists.

Mark didn't mention specifically which of Bush's policies have led to this all-but-miraculous three and a half extra months, so I assume it's just a function of the warm fuzzy feeling that all of us true Americans get whenever we reflect on how lucky we are to have a man like George W. in the White House, looking out for all of us, making sure we are tucked in at night, snug in our beds and content in the knowledge that somewhere, tonight, a foreigner is dying, and in the morning we will be that much safer.

3/01/2005

Al From and the DLC piss me off

I don't know if there's any purpose in one more rant about the Democratic Leadership Council and their "New Democrat" ideology. However, as part of the New MediaTM blogger revolution, the inevitable victory of which will commence the reign of bloggers as political powerbrokers and all-purpose rulers of the internet, it is my solemn duty to offer my $0.02.

Plus, it is important to understand why the DLC's advice to the Democratic party is not worth heeding.

The first step of Al From's blueprint for future Democratic electoral success is: "Expand the map."

If Democrats are going to be born again as a majority party, we have to speak to the whole country again. The South, which helped elect every Democratic president in history, hasn't given us a single electoral vote in the 21st century ...

Of America's 3,114 counties, Bush won 2,532 -- or 81.1 percent -- covering 78 percent of our country's land mass ... When Democrats do not compete on three-quarters of American soil, we have no margin for error in the presidential elections -- and we're almost sure to be a permanent minority in Congress.


Reading this, I kept waiting for From to say: "Of course, elections are decided by who gets the most votes, not the most square miles. But the reason this is still relevant is ..."

But he never explains why we should care how much soil the Republicans control. The GOP's advantage in acreage is due solely to the fact that the red states happen to be large in physical size. But obviously their populations are not proportionally large.

But that's a relatively minor point. More troubling is From & co.'s strategy for achieving parity with the GOP. First and foremost, we must close the "security gap":

we need to bridge the trust gap on national security by spelling out our own offense against terrorism and clearly rejecting our anti-war wing, so that Republicans can no longer portray us as the anti-war party in the war on terrorism. We must leave no doubt that Michael Moore neither represents nor defines our party.

Make it absolutely clear that we side ... America in the war against terrorism ... Michael Moore and his blame-America-first crowd do not define us on patriotism and national security.


First of all, note that From, in exactly the same manner as the most despicable of right-wingers, implies that anyone who opposes the Bush war machine is "against America" and "with the terrorists". I expect this from the GOP, but someone who calls himself a Democrat and uses this type of rhetoric should be ashamed.

Moreover, it's a bad strategy. Terrorism is the GOP's issue, and I think it is best to let them have it and try to win elections on economic issues. The only way the Dems could negate the GOP's advantage here is to become just as bloodthirsty and war-happy as they are, and that is not a Democratic party that I, for one, could vote for, and I suspect there are many who feel the same.

According to From, we also have to close the "culture gap":

The No. 1 issue on voters' minds on Election Day was something that we don't discuss in polite company in the blue states: moral values. The heartland -- that great bastion of fiscal conservatism at home and restraint abroad -- had good reasons to doubt Bush's values, but doubted ours instead. Moral values aren't simply the social issues Republicans cynically exploited, such as same-sex marriage and abortion.


People tell me that the "moral values" explanation for Kerry's loss has been debunked; I don't know. But I do know that those who vote based on their "moral values" are almost exclusively concerned with homosexuality and abortion. From should know that "moral values" is code for these issues. The problem here is the same as with terrorism: the Republicans own the gay-haters and the anti-choicers. We are never going to win their votes, and even if we could, we wouldn't want to do what it would take to get them. You can't out-hate the GOP.

Which is really what it comes down to. Even if the strategy advocated by From and the other blowhard corporate whores at the DLC were a road to electoral victory for the Democrats, implementing their plan would require changing the face of the Democratic party in a manner that I, along with most of the Democratic base, would find abhorrent.

The kind of Democratic party that the DLC wants is clear; they would like to see a party that is enthusiastic for war and willing to compromise on individual freedom. This, they think, is the magic secret to electoral success.

I've got a better idea. Forget about terrorism, don't for a second even think about getting in bed with anti-gay and anti-choice elements, and start advocating economic policies that favor the lower and middle classes instead of corporate interests. I really believe it's that simple. A clear--and, crucially, credible--platform of economic populism would easily pull away enough rural voters to give the Democrats the White House.

You will never get the DLC to go along with this agenda, but it has the advantage of being both likely to succeed and morally correct.

Moderates piss me off

A lot of folks make it a point to declare themselves moderates, politically speaking, as if this were synonymous with having good sense. I don't understand this. It might make sense in a different context--say, one in which the two major American political parties really did represent opposing extremes. But this is not the situation we presently face in the U.S., and to say otherwise is just to be dishonest.

In reality, of course, the Republicans and Democrats represent a very narrow ideological range. In the fantasy world of the mainstream media and of some right-wingers, Howard Dean is a "radical leftist," but a mere moment's reflection should suffice to demonstrate how preposterous that notion is.

Radical politics do have a place in mainstream political discourse--radical right politics, that is. BushCo has already embraced a kind of quasi-fascism, and increasingly authoritarian attitudes are gaining currency among Bushists.

But the Democrats, of course, share a portion of the blame for the deeds of the Bush administration, because at almost every step of the way they have been the GOP's enablers--especially after Sept. 11, 2001.

So the possibility of squeezing yourself into the middle ground, with Republicans to your right and Democrats to your left, is already dubious. This is why it pisses me off when people like the Bull Moose say things like this:

Lately, a prime target of the scorn of the left-wing bloggers has been Joe Lieberman. The Moose is particularly partial to Joe, because if he belonged to a party, it would be the McCain-Lieberman Party ... Like McCain, Lieberman is not afraid to buck party orthodoxy which makes him the bane of the lefty ideologues. They both will work across the aisle to get things done ...

...

Yes, lefties may disagree with Joe from time to time on foreign or economic policy. But, like most Americans outside the blogosphere, Lieberman is not tediously predictable.

Both the Moose and the Senator graze in the vital center.


Okay, first of all, what a tool.

Second, what is it with Democrats' continued fascination with John McCain?? This is someone who has strongly supported every aspect of Bush's "war on terror," the Patriot Act, and the aggression against Iraq, and who enthusiastically campaigned for Bush during last year's election season. What exactly is appealing about this?

Third, the reason why Lieberman is not "tediously predictable" is because he has no fucking principles. Since when is "predictable" a vice for a politician? Wouldn't we rather see leaders with strong moral convictions from which they never waiver? Does the Bull Moose think that a politician's job is to provide him with amusement?

Recently, a right-wing blogger complained that

you can scan a few headlines over your morning cup of coffee and forecast the sources of the day’s liberal blog outrage with near-perfect accuracy.

And why, exactly, is this a bad thing? If someone is fair and consistent in their application of ethical principles, it is not surprising that their reaction to a given act will be, well, not surprising.

Maybe the idea is that only "radicals" have strong ethical beliefs; better to be a wishy-washy moderate "pragmatist."

In a different context, Martin Luther King expressed a similar frustration:


I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.


(from King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." My emphasis.)

The next time you hear from someone that the right answer always lies somewhere in the middle, think of these words, and think about what being a "moderate" really means, and what it always has meant: a commitment to the preservation of the status quo.

2/28/2005

Larry Summers

I haven't been too concerned with the Larry Summers brouhaha, but Brian Leiter has a post on the topic that makes several good points:

... no one was objecting to research being done on the hypothesis [that women are genetically inferior when it comes to math and science]. They objected, rather, to the chief administrator of a research university--a man with no scholarly expertise in the area (as in none)--floating an hypothesis potentially damaging to women for which there is, at present, no well-confirmed scientific support (as in none).

Let us be clear: everyone knows--who disputes it?--that there are biological differences between men and women ... But there is no scientific evidence supporting the hypothesis that these differences explain the dearth of women in the sciences, which is the hypothesis at issue. (If there is such evidence, let someone name it, show the peer-refereed journals in which it appeared, and the other peer-refereed articles re-confirming those results.) In fact, there is research supporting rather different explanations for the dearth of women in math and the sciences.

Understandably, then, it is upsetting and alarming when the President of Harvard, who has no scholarly competence in the relevant area, speculates, without evidence, about the biological basis for the small number of women in the sciences--and does so at a time when some are worried that the dearth of women at Harvard has something to do with discrimination ...

Larry Summers is a man of considerable professional accomplishments and, not unrelatedly, he can be arrogant and confrontational. He is also, of course, an economist, and economists often seem to have a limitless appetite for pseudo-scientific hypotheses. Both traits came together on this occasion in a rather unfortunate way, and he has correctly been lambasted for his ignorant over-reaching of the actual empirical evidence.


I don't have anything to add to that; just wanted to bring it to the attention of anyone who hasn't seen it.

Not that he needs a plug from a lowly slithering reptile like me, but Prof. Leiter's blog really is one of the best out there. If you haven't, check it out.

Southern racism alive and well

I don't have a clue how I missed this, but did you know that in November the people of the state of Alabama rejected a ballot proposition to repeal a part of their state constitution that reads:

Separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race.

What the fuck???

A lot of people try to tell me that racism is dead or dying. This vote would seem to indicate otherwise.

Anonymity = cowardice?

On his AnalPhilosopher blog, Keith Burgess-Jackson is engaging in two of his favorite activities: self-aggrandizement and whining like a little bitch.

What would you say about a man who, instead of coming out into the open to fight, hid behind a tree and threw rocks at his adversary? You’d call him a coward, right? I hate to say it, but the blogosphere is filled with cowards. It’s disgraceful.

...

Many of the comments—and almost all the nasty ones—on The Conservative Philosopher were anonymous. Why is this? Those of us who post on that blog are not anonymous. Readers know everything about us: what we believe, what we value, where we live and work, and even, for those of us who post profiles, what we do in our spare time. If we have the courage of our convictions, why don’t our readers? Are they afraid to associate themselves with their ideas? ... If your ideas are sound, why would you hesitate to take responsibility for them? A real man would say, "Here are my ideas; grapple with them."

Many bloggers blog anonymously. I don’t understand this. Don’t say you’re afraid of retaliation. ... Courage consists in exposing oneself to personal risk for a worthy cause. If your ideas aren’t a worthy cause, then you shouldn’t be publicizing them to begin with ...

Anonymity all but ensures incivility, unfairness, uncharitableness, factual recklessness, and logical inconsistency. Perhaps we bloggers should do everything we can to prevent anonymous blogging, posting, and commenting. If we care about the long-term health and integrity of the blogosphere, we will.


Of course, it's easy for a blogger who is also a Bush apologist to condemn others for their "cowardice"; but for the rest of us, those who are trying to hold the Bush administration accountable to at least the most basic principles of morality and justice, it's not so easy. The prevailing mood on the Right since September 11, 2001 has been one of harsh intolerance for dissent, which is regarded as tantamount to treason.

With the kind of rhetoric that so many right-wingers so casually use to disparage those who don't worship in the cult of George W. Bush, it is not hard to imagine verbal aggression spilling over into physical violence.

Remember when USA Today columnist Al Neuharth dared to write a editorial calling for bringing American soldiers home from Iraq? In case you don't, the reaction was venomous. Letter-writers tore into Neuharth for this 'crime':


Yet another self-defeating fool with a large bank account shoots himself in the foot. Their dissent equals treason. The terrorists got him just like all the other rich liberals who side against our victory. They forget that wars end, and then the country takes stock of who was where. I encourage the fool to keep mouthing against our victory over the Muslim jihad, he'll pay the social price in the end.

...

Neuharth should be tried for treason along with a lot of other blowhards who should be spending their energies condemning the barbarism of our enemies, the same people who destroyed the Twin Towers.

...

The Patriot Act will put both of you [note: the letter-writer was also addressing Greg Mitchell, the editor of E & P magazine.-d.h.] on trial for treason and convict and execute both of you as traitors for running these stories in a time of war and it should be done on TV for other communist traitors like you two to know we mean business. This is war and you should be put in prison NOW for talking like this. Who the hell do you people think you are? You give aid and comfort to our enemies and aid them in murdering our proud soldiers. You people are a disgrace to America. Your families should be put in prison with you, then be made to leave and move to the Middle East ...This is a great Christian nation and god wants us to lead the world out of darkness with great leaders like President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Communists like Al and Greg will soon be in prison and on death row for your ugly papers. We won the election and now you are mad. We own America and all the rights, you people are trash, go back to Russia and Africa and take your friends with before we put you on death row after a fair trial.


At least the last one is willing to grant him a fair trial before his execution.

So basically, anyone who disagrees with Dubya's war policy (i.e. "all war, all the time") is the equivalent of a terrorist who murders innocent people. At the very least, they are guilty of treason for "giving comfort" to the enemy.

Is it really so hard to believe that one of these wingnuts might not have their bloodlust satisfied by writing hate mail and fantasizing about dead Muslims, and decide to take it to the next level? After all, anti-war people are the enemy, and this is war, and in war you kill your enemies, don't you?

So KBJ can bray all he wants about the "cowardice" of anonymous bloggers and commenters. I don't blame anyone who wants to voice his or her opinion on the internet but doesn't feel comfortable with the maniacs at Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, Stormfront etc. knowing where they and their family live.

Genocide

What is it with these guys and their willingness to commit mass murder? Just a question.

Now we know where Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) thinks the weapons of mass destruction are buried: in Syria, which he said he’d like to nuke to smithereens.

Speaking at a veterans’ celebration at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, on Feb. 19, Johnson told the crowd that he explained his theory to President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on the porch of the White House one night.

Johnson said he told the president that night, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on ‘em and I’ll make one pass. We won’t have to worry about Syria anymore."


It would be interesting to know what Johnson's GOP colleagues think about this suggestion.

(Via Atrios.)

2/27/2005

Get yer gun

Sometimes I get tired of stabbing myself in the eye with a dirty fork, and I take a little trip over to good ol' Instapundit's site. That's where I learned that you can buy targets for shooting practice that have Osama bin Laden's picture on them. One of Insta's readers even sent in a picture of their Osama target, slightly used, ha ha:





You can even buy them at Amazon, where a customer by the name of Ron Nord provides a handy review of the product:

It worked OK for my hand guns but was a little small for my daughter's bazooka. Could you make 'Super Beards' head just a little bigger and make a provision for an exploding balloon full of red paint for realism? Do they make this target as a road side type like the old Burma Shave signs, would be fun to do drive by's on the jerk while going to work in the morning.

Indeed.

This got me to thinking, though. Why Osama bin Laden? Even our president says that Osama's not our biggest concern. So I made up some new targets and passed them out to my gun-loving friends, so they could take a few shots at the truly dangerous folks out there. And now, dear readers, I'd like to share with you the 'results', heh heh:







































and, most importantly:













Pretty cool, huh?


Class warfare

Dwight at Wampum (via the Daou Report) has some good advice for Democrats:


It seems that Democrats could benefit from being the party of reform and standing for justice, equality, and fairness.

In order to benefit, Democrats need to use examples of unfairness and injustice that actually touch the lives of many ordinary Americans. They need real world examples of how the deck is stacked in favor of the rich, political connected powerful interests and against the ordinary American. It should not be too hard to find such examples.


I think his advice is right on target, but I would recommend taking it even further. If the Democrats want to win back the congress and the presidency, they should become the party of class warfare.

Of course, they shouldn't put it like that--but they shouldn't shy away from the label, either. Republicans would have you believe that the American people abhor 'class warfare,' and Democrats for the last decade and a half have bought that bullshit hook, line, and sinker. Smart GOPers know that they ought to be scared shitless of a Democratic presidential candidate who was truly committed to standing up for the less powerful.

It is key, though, that they find a candidate who can credibly sell this message. When Al Gore tried out the "people versus the powerful" theme, it flopped, but not because there was anything wrong with the idea. Al Gore was just not the right bearer of that particular message. John Edwards, perhaps, could pull it off. I don't know.

The GOP has somehow managed to pull off the trick of convincing a large percentage of the US public that they are the party of the underdog, and the Democrats are the party of the elites--this from a party that controls all three branches of government. If Dems want to disabuse people of this nonsense--and they definitely need to--they need to stop shying away from pointing out the unresponsiveness of the Bush administration and the Republican congress to those who have found themselves on the wrong end of amoral corporate policy.

The Republicans will accuse Democrats of waging class warfare; let them. Shake your head and say that, regretfully, they are right: we are fighting a class war.

But it is not a war that we started.

There is a class war going on, a war declared on average Americans by multinational corporations and their errand boys in the GOP.

We didn't start this war, but we will fight it; we will defend ordinary people, and we will do it without shame.

*****

How 'bout it Dems? There's a class war on. The Republicans have chosen their side. Where do your loyalties lie?


Who cares about a few amputations?

Over at The Anit-Idiotarian Rottweiler, they are tired of all the bitching about soldiers losing limbs:

Among Iraq War veterans as a group, yes, lower-leg amputations have gone up, even surged, and I would guess roughly five-fold over the expected rate from traffic accidents, but only among Iraq War veterans.

...

There may be a rise in overall US amputations, but it's a hundred times more due to Americans' fondness for chocolate éclairs than the conflict in Iraq. Put another way, for each lower-limb amputation you can blame on Bush's "rush to war", 1,600 other lower-limb amputations can be blamed on unlucky genes, bad driving, and donuts.


It's so inspiring how right-wingers are so supportive of "the troops." They're always putting things in perspective for everybody!

You know what? I bet more people have died in non-war-related-activity over the last year than have died in the Iraq war. I bet it's way more. But you won't hear that on CNN, no sir.

So really, what are all the damn peaceniks bitching about?

Me so holy

I'm more or less speechless. Via Jacqueline Passey, it's a Christian rap video, a take-off on Sir Mix-A-Lot's 'Baby Got Back,' but instead it's 'Baby Got Book'--'book' as in the good book: "I like big bibles and I cannot lie ...".

We are truly doomed.

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