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

10/15/2005

Mmmkay

Mark Noonan:
Now, if the MSM would just pull out of Iraq altogether, I think we'd largely see the end of terrorism there...
("MSM" = "mainstream media" for those not up on the latest moronosphere lingo.)

Cutting and running

Good post from John at AMERICAblog:
I've said this before, and Bush only confirms it today. His administration thinks the lesson from Vietnam was "don't cut and run." THAT'S the lesson for these guys. If we'd only stuck it out a little longer, we'd have won in Vietnam. Huh?
President George W. Bush vowed on Saturday that the United States "will not run" from Iraq as it did from Vietnam ...
So we "ran" from Vietnam? Well, I guess when you get your ass kicked and the battle is hopeless, yes, you do run, and fast, unless you're a moron.

Some reporter really has to ask the Bush administration if they think it was a mistake for the US to finally withdraw from Vietnam.

Hybrids as status symbols

I suppose this is good, but it's kind of annoying at the same time.
Luxury car buyers take a new route

Ben Uchitelle used to drive a Lexus 400, but he ditched it for a car half its price.

He and his wife aren't having money problems. They still have the place in Claverach Park, where homes average more than half a million dollars. Uchitelle is still a lawyer and the mayor of Clayton, an area where image matters.

The Uchitelles are part of a growing group of automobile buyers who are opting instead for the hybrids. More and more of these fuel efficiency vehicles, which usually cost less than $25,000, are popping up in country club parking lots and in valet lines at high-end restaurants.

The growth, observers say, is fueled partly by conscience, partly by fashion. Since the introduction of the vehicles in 2000, the market has grown by more than 960 percent.

The Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation says the hybrid buyer now makes about $100,000 a year, compared with $85,000 for the non-hybrid car buyer.

"They're not buying it for fuel economy," said the research group's director, Walter McManus. "They're very concerned about the environment, but there is an image thing that goes with it."

Some consumer industry experts say it's a relatively new social phenomenon - and a good one. More and more consumers, experts say, are deciding that just because they can afford all the gas they want, they don't necessarily have to burn through it all.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that going green - the industry phrase for buying something that's environmentally friendly - is en vogue, said Steve Stiegman, general manager for Newbold Toyota BMW Scion in O'Fallon.

"You're seeing that phenomenon in Hollywood now where many of the stars are showing up at red carpet events in the (Toyota) Prius, whether it's Leonardo DiCaprio or Cameron Diaz," he said. "That's part of the glory of having that car."
Click here to continue reading this post.

Luxury car buyers take a new route

Ben Uchitelle used to drive a Lexus 400, but he ditched it for a car half its price.

He and his wife aren't having money problems. They still have the place in Claverach Park, where homes average more than half a million dollars. Uchitelle is still a lawyer and the mayor of Clayton, an area where image matters.

The Uchitelles are part of a growing group of automobile buyers who are opting instead for the hybrids. More and more of these fuel efficiency vehicles, which usually cost less than $25,000, are popping up in country club parking lots and in valet lines at high-end restaurants.

The growth, observers say, is fueled partly by conscience, partly by fashion. Since the introduction of the vehicles in 2000, the market has grown by more than 960 percent.

The Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation says the hybrid buyer now makes about $100,000 a year, compared with $85,000 for the non-hybrid car buyer.

"They're not buying it for fuel economy," said the research group's director, Walter McManus. "They're very concerned about the environment, but there is an image thing that goes with it."

Some consumer industry experts say it's a relatively new social phenomenon - and a good one. More and more consumers, experts say, are deciding that just because they can afford all the gas they want, they don't necessarily have to burn through it all.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that going green - the industry phrase for buying something that's environmentally friendly - is en vogue, said Steve Stiegman, general manager for Newbold Toyota BMW Scion in O'Fallon.

"You're seeing that phenomenon in Hollywood now where many of the stars are showing up at red carpet events in the (Toyota) Prius, whether it's Leonardo DiCaprio or Cameron Diaz," he said. "That's part of the glory of having that car."

Celebrity owners also include Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Sting, Larry David, Tim Robbins and Will Ferrell.

Madge Treeger has noticed that Hollywood connection. A 70-year-old psychotherapist, she and her husband, a financial planner, live in a condominium in Clayton. The couple's parking lot is filled with Cadillacs and Mercedes-Benzes.

"With a few Lexuses and Jaguars thrown in," she said.

The Treegers could afford luxury cars, but such cars don't interest them, Madge Treeger said.

"It definitely was a social decision to buy the Prius, and a gas-saving decision," she said. "And I'm sure we're making a statement.

"I drive around and think, 'Oh, I'm a good person.'"

Several of Stiegman's customers who have bought Priuses previously purchased more expensive BMWs. In fact, prestigious sports car owners are almost twice as likely as other vehicle owners to switch to a hybrid vehicle, a survey from the Polk Center for Automotive Studies showed.

"The consumer doesn't like to be outdone by their neighbor," Stiegman said. "If a guy down the street is saving substantial money in fuel costs, they feel like they need to try and do that, too."

"Some definite benefits"

Dr. Issac Boniuk, a retina specialist living in the Ladue and Frontenac area who owned a Mercedes, said his motives for buying a hybrid had nothing to do with its fashionability.

"The most important thing is getting to and from work," he said. "I've never been interested in anything fancy or that it's a luxury-status type of thing. That has no appeal to me whatsoever. I'm interested in getting to where I'm going in something that's reliable."

He bought his Prius for about $21,000, he said. He even got a tax credit of about $2,500 for buying a hybrid.

"So there were some definite benefits in using it," Boniuk, 67, said.

Small contributions, he said, add up.

"It's not that I'm an environmentalist and I don't think that we should use oil," he said. "I think we should. But I think anything we can do to cut down on our use of energy or reliance on foreign sources for energy, we should do."

The Uchitelles now have two Priuses. They bought their first nearly four years ago.

"I liked the fact that it was both environmentally clean and it got excellent gas mileage," Uchitelle said. "But it has been evident to me that we have to conserve on the use of gasoline. Quietly, I want to do what I can do to help in that regard."

Now, several of his neighborhood friends own Priuses.

On Thursday, Toyota announced a voluntary recall of about 160,000 Prius cars sold mainly in the United States and Japan because of a potential software glitch that may cause the car to stall. No reported accidents or injuries have been linked to the problem.

Hybrids still make up less than 1 percent of the entire vehicle market. The Prius occupies about 64 percent of the hybrid market, a study by April L. Polk & Company showed. The Honda Civic holds 31 percent of the market share.

But hybrids are expected to make up 5 percent of all new car purchases by 2012, McManus said. At least 15 new hybrid models will be released in the next three years. So more hybrids probably will join Treeger's Prius.

But the social - and environmental - statement will stay the same, she said.

"There's no doubt about the fact that driving a Prius is sort of like putting a bumper sticker on your car," she said. "There's a part of you advertising your social consciousness."

10/14/2005

Free fall

Beautiful.



Via No Blood for Hubris.

Ouch

Is any blogger more hated by his or her own readers than Kevin Drum?

Though Drum is much too "moderate" for my tastes, I do respect him. But apparently his readers, or at least the ones who post comments, do not. (Sample: "Drum if there was ever any doubt old boy, you've laid it to rest today: you really are a fucking twit. Why don't you just get your kneepads on?")

It's no surprise; for "the frontispiece blogger for a self-described 'progressive' magazine" (as one commenter puts it), Drum suffers from frequent bouts with Sensible Liberal Syndrome. The readership of liberal blogs seems to be much further to the left ideologically than most of the major liberal bloggers are, and perhaps they are growing tired of faux-progressives like Kos, Josh Marshall, Oliver Willis, and, yes, Kevin Drum.

The White House is large; it contains multitudes

How do conservatives know they can trust Harriet Miers? According to the White House, they can look to her participation in the Bush administration's judicial selection committee:
Early last p.m., righty radio talker Hugh Hewitt writes: "I spoke to Karl Rove an hour ago. His support for the Miers nomination is not merely enthusiastic, but adamant and even vehement. The judicial philosophy question? She has been a member of the White House's judicial selection committee for three years ... her participation in the process described discredits any idea that her core philosophy is unknown to the president or other senior aides. It defies common sense to imagine three years of such meetings leaving other senior staff and the president in the dark about her commitment to originalism."
But during the Roberts confirmation hearings, we were told that anything Roberts did in his capacity as a lawyer for the Office of the White House Counsel under Reagan, or for the DOJ under Bush I, was irrelevant, since he was merely acting as an advocate for his "clients" at the time (i.e., the Reagan and then the Bush administration).

So which is it? Is a potential Supreme Court justice's work as a White House lawyer relevant, or not?

"We should save the rich people first"

Here's one Republican who's honest about his hatred of the poor:
On the October 14 broadcast of his daily radio show, right-wing radio host Neal Boortz stated that if the country is faced with an impending national disaster, it should make it a higher priority to save rich Americans rather than poor Americans.

An October 13 New York Daily News article spurred Boortz's comments. The front-page story, headlined "Rich Got Terror Tip," reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has launched an investigation into whether its officials alerted certain New Yorkers of a terror threat to the city's subway days before the rest of the city learned of the possible plot. According to the article, the probe was launched after the discovery of two emails describing the bombing plot that "had been sent early last week to a select crowd of business and arts executives by New Yorkers who claimed to have close connections to Homeland Security."

After summarizing the story, Boortz responded, "This is as it should be." He went on to imagine a scenario in which the country is forced to "set some priorities" regarding who will be notified of an impending disaster. "We should save the rich people first," Boortz declared. "You know, they're the ones that are responsible for this prosperity." Boortz described the poorest Americans as "a drag on society" and stated that they "don't achieve squat. They sit around all the time waiting for somebody else to take care of them. They have children they can't afford. They're uneducated. They can barely read."

10/13/2005

The Democrats vs. the status quo?

David Sirota, always sharp, puts his finger on what's wrong with the Democrats' "we're not Republicans" strategy:
I honestly can't tell whether to applaud or shake my head in disgust when I see a comment like this from Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D) about the 2006 elections: "[Republicans] represent the status quo, and we are change."

... the idea that Democrats have offered "change" is, on many of the most critical issues, laughable ... Democrats right now have no official position on Iraq, energy, bankruptcy, trade, repealing Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the Supreme Court...and the list goes on.

Does that thumb-in-the-wind positioning really represent a party interested in "change" from the "status quo?" No - it represents a party that doesn't seem yet to have the guts to actually be for the kind of "change" they know they need to be for in order to win the 2006 elections.

Cheney v. Miers

The bizarreness of the Miers nomination grows. From Raw Story via C&L:
Veteran conservative columnist and pundit John Fund asserts in the Wall Street Journal today that the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to block the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, RAW STORY has learned.

"A last minute effort was made to block the choice of Ms. Miers, including the offices of Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," Fund claims. "It fell on deaf ears."

"Indeed, even internal advice was shunned," Fund adds. White House Chief of Staff Andrew "Card is said to have shouted down objections to Ms. Miers at staff meetings. A senator attending the White House swearing-in of John Roberts four days before the Miers selection was announced was struck by how depressed White House staffers were during discussion of the next nominee. He says their reaction to him could have been characterized as, "Oh brother, you have no idea what's coming."

Though he has stumped for Bush's nominee, Cheney has taken a lower profile in recent days. Last week, he skipped out of the 50th anniversary party for the National Review, a conservative heavyweight in Washington.

...Some believe Cheney and Bush are at odds surrounding the leak investigation.

...The buzz in Washington is that Miers could withdraw, but such reports have not been confirmed. No senator has publicly opposed Miers nomination, though two Republican senators -- Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KN)-- have publicly expressed concern about the nominee.
I'm still thinking that we do not want Miers to withdraw ... if Bush gets a do-over, he's likely to go with someone who will appease the far right, and that's a bad thing.

Speaking of gamma-ray bursts

You learn something new every day. Apparently some people believe that gamma-ray bursts, which are proud homophobe/physicist Jonathan Katz's area of expertise, are actually the result of extra-terrestrial warfare. Well, at least that's what Gregg Easterbrook, via Matt Yglesias, seems to think:
Are Gamma-Ray Bursts the Mushrooms Clouds of Outer Space? Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful events humanity has observed. In some, for an instant one point in deep space appears to emit more energy than all the stars of a galaxy combined; the brightest recorded such burst, whose light reached Earth in 1998, was so intense that for an instant the source seemed more luminous than the entire universe combined. Relatively long gamma-ray bursts are believed caused by the collapse of giant stars much more massive than our sun. Last week, astronomers in several countries jointly declared their belief, based on results from a spacecraft NASA launched to study gamma bursts, that brief gamma-ray bursts are caused by collisions of neutron stars, which are the dense remnants of old, dying stars.

Maybe this analysis is right, but allow me (actually, you can't stop me) to repeat a fear I expressed here last year: that gamma bursts are muzzle flashes, "the emission lines of horrific weapons being used by civilizations that have acquired fantastic knowledge compared to us, but no additional wisdom." The standard pop-cultural assumption is that advanced aliens will be benevolent, freed of primitive belligerence. What if instead space aliens are at the Henry Kissinger level of development in terms of morality -- but equipped with star drive and gamma bombs? It just seems spooky as if we might be observing the evidence of distant combat using weapons of cataclysmic power.
Is it rational to believe in alien civilization? I'm not talking about those who think that weird little naked grey people with big heads are routinely traveling to Earth to sodomize hillbillies. I mean, what about people who believe that somewhere in the vast universe there exists intelligent life roughly comparable to that on Earth? Is this belief every bit as kooky? Or does it make sense? Is the prospect of distant alien civilizations unlikely? Are is it something that we have to be agnostic about?

Dream on

From the NY Times (all emphasis added):
Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 - Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority.

That sense of political opportunity has Democratic operatives scrambling to recruit more candidates in Congressional districts that look newly favorable for Democratic gains, to overcome internal divisions and produce an agenda they can carry into 2006, and to raise the money to compete across a broader field. In short, the Democrats are trying to be ready if, in fact, an anti-incumbent, 1994-style political wave hits.

Already, the response to Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and soaring gasoline prices have taken a toll on the popularity of President Bush and Congressional Republicans; new polling by the Pew Research Center shows the approval rating for Congressional Republican leaders at 32 percent, with 52 percent disapproving, a sharp deterioration since March. (The ratings of Democratic leaders stood at 32 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval.)

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released Wednesday night, showed that 13 months before the midterm election, 48 percent said they wanted a Democratic-led Congress, compared to 39 percent who preferred Republican control.

(...)

For all the Democratic optimism, important structural obstacles stand in the way of major Democratic gains, outside analysts and Republican campaign officials say.

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said of the Democrats: "Look, we've heard this talk before. It was always talk then, and it's talk now. If you look at the competitive races, you'll find a playing field that is either relatively even or favors Republicans. They have a huge uphill fight, and there's no evidence they're climbing that hill."

To recapture the House, Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats. That is a difficult feat if - as some predict - the number of competitive seats is fewer than three dozen, thanks largely to redistrictings. To recapture the Senate, Democrats need to pick up six seats, also an extremely high bar given the seats up this year. And while the current political climate is bleak for Republicans, no one knows what it will be a year from now.

Moreover, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had an edge over its Republican counterpart in the last fund-raising reports, Republicans as a whole had a substantial financial advantage. And, Mr. Mehlman said, they will use it.
Nowhere in the article is election reform mentioned.

Also, you can throw out the polls that say that most people would prefer a Democratic congress. People don't get to vote on that; they only get to vote on their particular representative or senator, and hardly anyone votes with the overall partisan makeup of the House and Senate in mind. They may prefer a Democratic-led government, but these local races tend to be just that, and those voting with a "big-picture" perspective seem to be the more strongly partisan or ideological ones, whose votes aren't really up for grabs anyway.

The Dems have a chance, of course, of regaining control, but they show no indication that they are willing to adopt the means necessary to do so.

10/12/2005

Robertson: You WILL vote 'yes'

Pat Robertson, who's getting awfully big for his britches lately, tells GOP senators that they dare not vote against Miers:
“These so-called movement conservatives don’t have much of a following, the ones that I’m aware of. And you just marvel, these are the senators, some of them who voted to confirm the general counsel of the ACLU to the Supreme Court, and she was voted in almost unanimously. And you say, ‘now they’re going to turn against a Christian who is a conservative picked by a conservative President and they’re going to vote against her for confirmation.’ Not on your sweet life, if they want to stay in office.”
Damn.

Best Googlebomb ever

"Doughy Pantload."

(Via Norbizness.)

"I am a homophobe, and proud"

No, not that Dr. Katz...

AMERICAblog reports that Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz is using his university website to post essays like "In Defense of Homophobia," wherein Katz proclaims himself a proud gay-hater:
In America attitudes towards homosexuality changed in the 1970's. It went from a private, furtively practiced, vice to an open and accepted subculture. In many circles, "sodomite'' ceased to be an insult. This acceptance led to the toleration, and wide practice, of gross homosexual promiscuity. HIV, falling onto that fertile soil, made the AIDS epidemic. Even before AIDS was recognized, practicing homosexuals were notorious for a high rate of venereal diseases.

The religious believer may see the hand of God, but both he and the rationalist must see a fact of Nature. The human body was not designed to share hypodermic needles, it was not designed to be promiscuous, and it was not designed to engage in homosexual acts. Engaging in such behavior is like riding a motorcycle on an icy road without a helmet. It may be possible to get away with it for a while, and a few misguided souls may get a thrill out of doing so, but sooner or later (probably sooner) the consequences will be catastrophic. Lethal diseases spread rapidly among people who do such things.

Unfortunately, the victims are not only those whose reckless behavior brought death on themselves. There are many completely innocent victims, too: hemophiliacs (a substantial fraction died as a result of contaminated clotting factor), recipients of contaminated transfusions, and their spouses and children, for AIDS can be transmitted heterosexually (in America, only infrequently) and congenitally. The icy road was lined with unsuspecting innocents, who never chose to ride a motorcycle. Guilt for their deaths is on the hands of the homosexuals and intravenous drug abusers who poisoned the blood supply. These people died so the sodomites could feel good about themselves.

...The homophobe does not engage in violence against homosexuals. Repelled, he stays away from them ... I am a homophobe, and proud.
Is this a violation of Wash. U.'s anti-discrimination policy (which I have to imagine they have, and which I also have to imagine includes sexual orientation)? I really don't know, but I do know that Katz clearly has some unresolved issues.

The proud homophobe Dr. Katz.


UPDATE: Via commenter Joe, here is another picture of the charming Professor Katz:

10/11/2005

Bush v. Cheney

From Attytood via a bunch of people:
No one in the mainstream media seems to be working on this, but the big story -- the one that could dramatically change the course of the next three years -- is right under their collective noses.

Dick Cheney and George W. Bush don't like each other anymore.
Link.

More on Miers

Blake at The Next Left talks about the theory that Miers was an intentional "sacrificial lamb":
...the inside word was Miers is Bush's sacrificial lamb: When Bush withdraws her name or when Miers is filibustered, Bush will finally be able to nominate a pro-life, gay-bashing Neocon.
Blake rightly rejects the theory as implausible, but (also rightly) acknowledges that in the event that the Miers nomination goes down in flames, the net effect might end up being the same (my fear in the post below on Miers).

Conservative Captain Ed thinks that some Democrats in the Senate are acting to head off precisely such a scenario:
I have insisted that the Democrats will not allow the Harriet Miers nomination to go down to defeat, inasmuch as the alternatives look too politically unpalatable. The Gang of 14, those "moderate" Senators who hijacked the confirmation process last spring, have made that outcome more likely than ever by issuing an endorsement of Miers...

This endorsement sends a signal that they find Miers not just acceptable, but as good as they can expect. The Republicans of the Gang want to simmer down the opposition building within their own party and assure the President that Miers will get confirmed no matter what. Their Democratic counterparts want to support Harry Reid's initial suggestion to nominate Miers and to send a signal to their caucus that opposition to Miers will only help the conservatives.

As I have warned, Miers will get confirmed unless she stumbles so badly during her hearings that the Senate has no choice but to reject Miers or for the Administration to withdraw her name. Apart from the unlikelihood of such a collapse, the confirmation has clearly become an almost certainty, and the Democrats will guarantee it to avoid Brown, Luttig, and McConnell.
And that may be the smartest strategy here.

What would we be without wishful thinking?

Dems are getting excited about the prospects of a reversal in their electoral fortunes come November 2006. E.g. Kevin Drum:
2006 UPDATE....Speaking of Republican hegemony, the Washington Post reports that the GOP is having a hard time finding good candidates to run against Democrats in 2006. Apparently their prospects are suddenly looking a bit dimmer than they were a year ago....
Drum's readers chime in:
...critical mass has been achieved. Prepare for that pesky pendulum to change courses any minute now.
Posted by: Global Citizen on October 10, 2005 at 1:42 AM

Yep. "Payback Tuesday" for sure coming up.
Posted by: tbrosz on October 10, 2005 at 2:00 AM

The last five years are a blip on the screen. The great Republican majority and movement in America has ended up like everything else they've touched--bankrupt, abandoned and floating like a corpse in the canal.
Posted by: Pale Rider on October 10, 2005 at 7:16 AM

OF COURSE. Any moron can see that 2006 is not going to be a good Republican year. We're roughly a year away, and things ain't lookin' good across the aisle.
Posted by: Tony Shifflett on October 10, 2005 at 9:54 AM
I don't know that I can overstate how dangerous this unwarranted optimism is for Democrats. There is no such thing as the "pendulum," and the rhetoric here is almost identical to what I heard all over the place going into 2002 and 2004.

Not to mention that Democrats still haven't done anything to ensure a fair election next time around. You can have all the pendulum swings and GOP scandals and demographic shifts and attractive candidates you want, but it won't amount to anything if nothing is done about Diebold black-box voting.

At least one of Kevin's readers gets it, and quotes the Johns Hopkins report on Diebold:
The most fundamental problem with such a voting system is that the entire election hinges on the correctness, robustness, and security of the software within the voting terminal. Should that code have security relevant flaws, they might be exploitable either by unscrupulous voters or by malicious insiders. Such insiders include election officials, the developers of the voting system, and the developers of the embedded operating system on which the voting system runs. If any party introduces flaws into the voting system software or takes advantage of pre-existing flaws, then the results of the election cannot be assured to accurately reflect the votes legally cast by the voters.

Is Miers toast?

Some are predicting that she won't make it to the Court. Who knows, but what worries me is that in the event that she is defeated/withdrawn, we'll just end up with someone even worse. The Bush administration clearly didn't anticipate the backlash from conservatives (my guess is they assumed that the fact that Miers is an Evangelical Christian would mollify the Dobsonites (as opposed to only Dobson himself)), and if they are given a do-over, they won't make that mistake again.

But would the Dems be able to resist handing Bush an embarrassing defeat, even if it would be bad for the country in the long run?

10/10/2005

Columbus Day

Various wingnuts are engaging in a Columbus Day tradition - i.e., taking the opportunity to bash the multi-cultural Left for demonizing the explorer. E.g. Blogs for Bush:
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue - and brought to the Americas a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic bigots who only came here to rape, loot and murder. Or, so goes the modern leftwing litany about Columbus and the discovery of America...heck, they don't even want to call it "discovery", as that smacks of white supremacist ideology...the left prefers "encounter"...as if the natives of America would have sailed east if just given enough time.

...it was an heroic endevour on the part of Columbus and his crews - sailing off into the west when they (a) weren't sure how large the Earth was, (b) could not accurately calculate longitude and (c) doing it in boats which were quite tiny.

Heroism has no place in the modern leftwing worldview - rather than viewing Columbus and his cohorts as just men who were daring to do what had not been done, the left chooses to view them as the deliberate effort on the part of Europeans to kill and destroy. We're supposed to hate Columbus because, well, because I don't know...I just can't wrap my mind around leftwing idiocy on the subject. It really is just too stupid for me to grasp.
Josh Buermann gives wingnutters a history lesson, linking to a piece by Howard Zinn:
The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone...." He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage "as much gold as they need . . . and as many slaves as they ask."

...from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were "naked as the day they were born," they showed "no more embarrassment than animals." Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

...In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.

When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.

...Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades." Las Casas tells how "two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys."

...Thus began the history, five hundred years ago, of the European invasion of the Indian settlements in the Americas. That beginning ... is conquest, slavery, death. When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure-there is no bloodshed-and Columbus Day is a celebration.

...The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders.
It's not being overly "politically correct" to simply acknowledge facts. But those who would whitewash Columbus as a "hero" find these facts inconvenient, and thus they ignore them.

Come to think of it, this is something of a modus operandi of theirs...

The case against reading

Well, sort of:
In The Books In My Life, Henry Miller expresses a sentiment which I'm inclined to agree with, (I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book in front of me): One should strive to read as few books as possible. Reading is just another form of passivity and inaction; as the Brian Jonestown Massacre song says: Thought - Action = Shit. Unless your professional concerns oblige you otherwise, read only those few masterpieces that speak to you utterly, which give insight into the hidden depths of one's character and provoke an almost religious experience. Anything less and you'd be better off building some shelves or cleaning out the refrigerator.
You can read the full post at Baboon Palace.

10/09/2005

Like Guernica, but with Smurfs


From a Canadian newspaper via Crooks and Liars (emphasis added):
BRUSSELS - The people of Belgium have been left reeling by a public service commercial featuring the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The 25-second commercial is the work of UNICEF, and is to be broadcast on TV across Belgium next week as a public fundraiser. It is intended as the keystone of a drive, by UNICEF's Belgian arm, to raise about $145,000 for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Burundi.

The animation was approved by the family of the Smurfs' late creator, "Peyo."

Belgian television viewers were given a preview of the commercial earlier this week, when it was shown on the main evening news. Reactions ranged from approval to shock and, in the case of small children who saw the episode by accident, wailing terror.

UNICEF and IMPS, the family company that controls all rights to the Smurfs, have stipulated that it is not to be broadcast before 9 p.m.

The ad pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom- shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.

Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.

The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children.''

Philippe Henon, a spokesman for UNICEF Belgium, said his agency had set out to shock, after concluding that traditional images of suffering in Third World war zones had lost their power to move television viewers.

"It's controversial,'' he said. "We have never done something like this before, but we've learned over the years that the reaction to the more normal type of campaign is very limited.''

Belgium prides itself on being the home of some of the world's most famous cartoon characters -- from Tintin to Lucky Luke and the Smurfs, known to the Dutch-speaking half of the country as "Smurfen'' and as "Schtroumpfs'' to Belgium's French-speakers.

The advertising agency behind the campaign, Publicis, decided the best way to convey the impact of war on children was to tap into the earliest, happiest memories of Belgian television viewers. They chose the Smurfs, who first appeared in a Belgian comic in 1958.

Julie Lamoureux, Publicis' account director for the campaign, said the agency's original plans were toned down.

"We wanted something that was real war -- Smurfs losing arms, or a Smurf losing a head -- but they said no.''

The film has won tentative approval from the official Smurf fan club. A spokesman said, "I think it will wake up some people. It is so un-Smurf-like, it might get people to think.''

Hendrik Coysman, managing director of IMPS, agreed. "That crying baby really goes to your bones.''

Sunday morning

On Fox News' Sunday morning show, Bill Kristol said that "senior administration officials" (he emphasized the word 'senior') are worried that Pat Fitzgerald is about to hand down multiple indictments for White House officials.

FWIW.

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