Saturday, January 08, 2005
Some highlights of their trip, from CBS:
Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a medical doctor and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, visited tsunami-stricken southern Sri Lanka on Thursday, tying up two of the five U.S. Military helicopters presently available, reports CBS News Correspondent Allen Pizzey.
Just before his helicopter lifted off, Frist and aides took snapshots of each other near a pile of tsunami debris.
"Get some devastation in the back," Frist told a photographer.
"I am good because I come from good people," Frist explained to flood victims.
Friday, January 07, 2005
1. In USA Today:
Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.Shit, I’d "believe" in No Child Left Behind for a quarter of a million dollars…
The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.
Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."
2. Speaking of which… Today’s NYTimes:
The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal."
Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum that produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports. The Bush administration used similar releases last year to promote its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the
Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of taxpayers' dollars….
The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Thursday that the Bush administration violated federal law by producing and distributing television news segments about the effects of drug use among young people.
The accountability office said the videos "constitute covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, which were distributed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In May the office found that the Bush administration had violated the same law by producing television news segments that portrayed the new Medicare law as a boon to the elderly.
The accountability office said the administration's misuse of federal money "also constitutes a violation of the Antideficiency Act," which prohibits spending in excess of appropriations.
Fun Fact: Armstrong Williams is a former aide to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas!
The Comment thread on the DeLay post below was growing a bit ponderous from the richness of thoughtful "debate" filling it, so I thought I'd refresh. A few of my own thoughts:
1. What, really, is the point of engaging in half-assed biblical exegesis on the comment thread of an obscure blog?
a. DeLay doesn't give two shits about the Bible or the teachings of Christ. He cares about money, power, and half-repressed yearning for his own death.
b. The trolls don't give two shits about the Bible or the teachings of Christ. They care about cheering for kick-ass Team, the kick-ass Candidate, the kick-ass Bloviator, and the kick-ass Jesus. They're titillated by mass killing, mass shouting, mass fun, mass Rapturing. Big Showdowns between Bush and Saddam, the Packers and the Saints, God and Satan, the Righteous and the Traitors, Men and Girlie-Men, etc.
2. Everyone knows that theo-fascist frontmen like DeLay speak in code to "the Base" (in Arabic: "al Qaeda"). One needn't parse the literal, analogical, moral, or anagogical levels of Scripture to understand that when DeLay gets up on national TV and starts talking about rocks and sands, those who stand firm and those who get swept away, those "who have ears to hear" get the message: that the beaches of Asia have for far too long been rife with little brown Buddhists, Hindus, and (gasp) Muslims, who--because they've not let the Savior into their hearts--have been languishing in the very festering, impoverished festeringness which breeds the terr'ists who come and attack us. Yes, it's a heartfelt message of sympathy: I'm genuinely sorry you didn't have the True God on your side, and now you're fucked. But perhaps it's not too late to turn to Him.
3. What is a "dush"?
I was reminded of how, when Pym Fortuyn was assassinated, the American press described him as a "right-wing" politician. The idea of a right-winger who was also a "flamboyant," openly gay man must have seemed confusing to many Americans, including myself. I still don't think I have a handle on Dutch politics, but my sense of it is this:
The "Left": believes (naively, some think) that the Dutch tradition of social welfare, social tolerance, gender equality, gay rights, minority rights, etc., can co-exist with a large immigrant Muslim population, some of whom are fundamentalists.
The "Right": believes that the Dutch tradition of social welfare, social tolerance, gender equality, gay rights, minority rights, etc., cannot co-exist with a large immigrant Muslim population, some of whom are fundamentalists, because those fundamentalists don't believe in social equality for women, gays, etc. They want fewer Muslims in the country, precisely because they think Muslims are intolerant.
In other words, the difference between the Left and Right and Holland is only a matter of immigration law and civil rights for Muslim immigrants. The larger consensus about what Dutch "values" are isn't even in question--only the degree to which you think those values are being threatened by religious (Muslim) fundamentalists.
I could practically choke on the ironies when you compare this to the American situation, where you have religious fundamentalists (Christians) waging all-out war on both the country's liberal traditions and religious fundamentalists who are non-Christian (i.e., Muslim).
What must the Europeans think of our Christian Right's rhetorical association of liberals with terrorists? Do average Europeans even know who is running this country, and what their agenda is?
For Christmas church services, my family accompanied my Uncle Neil and Aunt Carmen to a Lutheran "barn service" in a suburb of Algonquin, Illinois. The service was held in a fairly massive barn open to the elements, with bales of hay acting as pews. Hot Cocoa and danishes were served (I hate it when people use "danish" as the plural for danishes).
The church's theater club performed a playlet called "A Ragamuffin Christmas."
There seemed to be two priests leading the whole thing - a man and a woman - and the female one referred several times to "The Boy The Christ" when talking about Jesus.
There was a boom box set up to play a Christian rock song during the offertory, but the machine jammed up and the CD kept skipping (possibly due to the freezing cold), so a woman stepped forward and belted the entire song acapella, in a tremulous, off-key voice. The whole thing (I am not kidding) moved me to tears.
On the drive home, the radio played a song called "All I Want For Christmas is for My Soldier To Come Home," and the DJ said something about how the soldiers were the real Santa Clauses, since they had spent the whole year bringing the gift of freedom around the world.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Some explaining to do.
Atrios was on the Majority Report tonight (Wednesday) on Air America Radio, and when he went on the air at around 9:30pm, he led off with the Tom DeLay / Congressional Prayer Service story… as scooped yesterday by AmCop.
This story is getting big and it should be getting bigger.
Can we make enough noise out here in the blogosphere so that some "real" journalist will find the courage to write about it or at least ask DeLay to explain his comments?
Can we get constituents of DeLay’s (and other concerned citizens) to call or fax or email his office to ask him to explain why he chose to use scripture to taunt the flood victims in Asia?
Washington DC Office
242 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Ph. (202) 225-5951
Fax (202) 225-5241
Who knows, this thing could do for DeLay’s career what Trent Lott’s comments about Strom Thurmond a few years back did for his.
It seems like it’s never the actual criminal conduct (illegal fundraising, crooked redistricting, etc.) that gets these guys in trouble, but the stupid, arrogant, spur-of-the-moment mouthing off.
Readers, writers, we all should keep pushing this story to see how far it goes.
How can we do this?
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
In this "war," the United States military is being used to further the interests of a conspiracy of journalists and corrupt Arab businessmen, whose only claim to international notice is the fact that they are so corrupt that they are willing to do business with West Bank settlers and the Israeli Defense Forces. Ideologically fanatical journalists and corrupt Arab kleptocrats have together hijacked the U.S. military, and are now using it for their own purposes.
To be more specific (and I do not exaggerate): Judith Miller and Ahmad Chalabi usurped the command of elite army units and used them to capture their own personal enemies and to enact their own deadly and infantile fantasies. The U.S. media, dominated by a collection of hacks, Christian demagogues, and Jewish fascists, is now the master of the world's most powerful military.
This (Tuesday) morning at 9am, C-SPAN had a live telecast of the 109th Congressional Prayer Service from a church on Capitol Hill. There were some sentiments shared about the recently-passed Bob Matsui and Shirley Chisholm, and, amidst the scripture readings, reminders from a few Congressmen about the Christian foundation of our government. Others spoke of the Asian tsunami tragedy.
Then Tom DeLay gets up to the pulpit, and -- striking a beautiful note in light of the 150,000 dead from the floods referenced by his colleagues -- lets loose with some Matthew 7, beginning at verse 21.
(Many thanks to ben for the heads up on the exact wording, and to DemWatch for directing us to this transcription of the reading and MP3.)
He finishes reading, says nothing more, and sits back down.
"A reading of the Gospel, in Matthew 7:21 through 27.
Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?
"Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you: depart from me, you evil doers.'"
Everyone who listens to these words of mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man, who built his house on a rock:
The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine, but does not act on them, will be like a fool who built his house on sand:
The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined."
A wise man.
A foolish man.
Monday, January 03, 2005
You can review examples of the Rogue Taxidermists' creatures at their website, at this artist's homepage, and at this gallery.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
The "Person of the Year" issue has always been a symphonic tribute to the heroic possibilities of pompous sycophancy, but the pomposity of this year's issue bests by a factor of at least two or three the pomposity of any previous issue. From the Rushmorean cover portrait of Bush(which over the headline "An American Revolutionary" was such a brazen and transparent effort to recall George Washington that it was embarrassing) to the "Why We Fight" black-and-white portraiture of the aggrieved president sitting somberly at the bedside of the war-wounded, this issue is positively hysterical in its iconolatry. One even senses that this avalanche of overwrought power worship is inspired by the very fact of George Bush's being such an obviously unworthy receptacle for such attentions. From beginning to end, the magazine behaves like a man who nocks himself out making an extravagant six-course candlelit dinner for a blow-up doll, in an effort to convince himself he's really in love.
"President George W. Bush: American Revolutionary"