Above the Fray

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Molly with Salsa [Caca Fuego]

Regular readers know of my fondness for Molly Ivins. I like the 'Texas' in her writing. Of late, she has been a little tame and 'cityfied'.

This article is a real plain speaking, put it out there, don't take no stuff rant. In short, an authentic Texas 'come to Jesus meeting'.

Best quote:

Drag God into politics, and you'll ruin His reputation in no time.

...When it comes to religion, I've always believed it's more important to walk the walk than to talk the talk. I come from a tradition (Episcopal) that considers it rather in bad taste to wear your religion on your sleeve, presumably from Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 5 and 6:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Of course, I also had some Baptist input and so am fond of making a joyful noise unto the Lord. Texans even like to sing hymns around campfires while drinking beer -- I'm not sure if that counts. [ROTFL, So true]

...Back in the 1950s, when the late Rep. Bob Eckhardt was still in the Texas Legislature, a bill to cut off all state aid to illegitimate children was under debate. After listening to some of his "Christian" colleagues explain why illegitimate children should be left to starve, Eckhardt rose and said, "I am not so much concerned about the natural bastards as I am about the self-made ones." I consider that one of the most Christian things I've ever heard said during legislative debate.

I sometimes think we've gotten ourselves into a pointless argument in this country, as we rather often do, by exaggerating the extremes. We are not faced with a choice between imposing some Christian version of Sharia law on the one hand, or "driving religion out of the public square" altogether on the other.

..To the extent that politics should be based on moral and ethical considerations, of course it has religious foundations. But dragging God into partisan politics is, in my view, a sin.

...Historically, the Bible has been used to justify some stupefying crimes, including slavery and genocide. I see no indication we are any better at divining the Lord's intent now than we ever were.

...Again, this may be a matter of taste, but I have seen too many Psalm-singing, Bible quoting, Holy Joe hypocrites in politics to think these frauds improve the moral tone of our public life. Getting snookered by some canting humbug is even more depressing than getting snookered by a plain old crook.

Beware those who make a show or a parade of their piety
Abstracting an article is difficult since Molly is always short and to the point, and she perigrinates.. Go read the whole thing
Walking? Or just talking?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sunday Musings:

I won't do this often, but I thought I would give you a sample of the kind of thinking and writing spewing forth from the loyal opposition..
I apologize but the devil made me do it [at least that is how they see it]

"Treason", Ann Coulter puts it clearly:

"Conservatives believe man was created in God's image, while liberals believe they are gods. All of the behavioral tics of the liberals proceed from their godless belief that they can murder the unborn because they, the liberals, are themselves gods.

They try to forcibly create 'equality' through affirmative action and wealth redistribution because they are gods. They flat-out lie, with no higher power to constrain them, because they are gods.

They adore pornography and the mechanization of sex because man is just an animal, and they are gods. They revere the U.N. and not the U.S. because they aren't Americans--they are gods." ...

[WOC translates the thug Doug]

Anyway, speaking of Doug, this week's column is about how liberals are evil people who hate America, and conservatives are salt-of-the-earth types who love God, family, decency, puppies, and heterosexuality. And so the liberals, who control the media, the schools, Hollywood, and all of time and space, malign the noble conservatives by making fun of them in their blogs.
Okay, so it's not much of a message. But of course, we don't read Doug for his brilliant political/religious insights, or his studious factual arguments; no, we read him for his inventive torturing of the language. Here are some choice bits from "Conservatives and Liberals: Apples and Orgies":

...The "historical" record of the 20th century has been shaded by Liberal spin doctors more than Richard Simmons' eyelids, in preparation for a night out on South Beach. ...

Who, besides Doug, is paying attention to Richard Simmons' eyelids these days?

...Those who actually have the nerve to naysay the Liberals' endless distortions will be called more foul names than a French tourist who cuts off Dennis Leary in heavy traffic on the I-95....

Doug really has it in for those French tourists, doesn't he? After getting beat up last week by the Texas rednecks of reason (or whatever that analogy was), I'm amazed they still visit this country.

...If you believe in the traditional family, that there are multifaceted reasons why God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Todd, then grab a crash helmet. ...

I like that one because he showed a little creativity and made up a new name for the former Steve, Adam's same-sex partner.

...And if you believe that government isn't there to be your wet nurse, that affirmative action entails an alarm clock, that Islamic radicals shouldn't fly business class post 9/11, that Hillary looks and acts like the Bride of Chucky, that the U.S. is one step away from Euro-socialism and that character, faith and virtue are non-negotiable if this nation is to continue to be Valedictorian of the planet: then you, my principled, nation-loving friend, better finish your preparations and put on an athletic cup because the treacherous left will aim its hammer below your belt.....

Doug really is scared of what liberals will do to his penis, isn't he?

And as incomprehensible as the above is, Doug goes for the climax by quoting Ann Coulter in his ClashPoint -- it's like the great moment when somebody got chocolate on somebody else's peanut butter, and they found they had invented a dangerously unstable explosive that took out everything within a 2-mile radius.

Doug concludes with:

...It's hard for salt of the earth, hard working, hard playing pro-American types to wrap their minds around why their liberal neighbors hate the U.S. so much....

Doug, headbutting is never the answer. You should just use the f-word, like Dick Cheney. I'm sure you, like Dick, will feel a lot better afterwards.

And Doug, I'm pretty sure that the monster (the one that the guy dreamed about and then saw behind Winkie's, giving him a heart attack) was same-sex marriage. Or possibly secularism. But I'd like your opinion on it -- and what all the girl-on-girl action has to say about French tourists.

WoW! I didn't know how evil I was.. thank you for sharing. I will make a note..

On that note, I close with a phrase made popular by our illustrious VP..GFY
World O'Crap


How did your mother feel about being ushered to her seat by President Bush?

Well, he did a better job than Dick Cheney did when he came to the rotunda. I felt so bad. Cheney brought my mother up to the casket, so she could pay her respects. She is in her 80's, and she has glaucoma and has trouble seeing. There were steps, and he left her there. He just stood there, letting her flounder. I don't think he's a mindful human being. That's probably the nicest way I can put it.

Questions for Ronald P. Reagan: The Son Also Rises

Thursday, June 24, 2004


"People often say, with pride, 'I'm not interested in politics.' They might as well say, 'I'm not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.' Politics is the business of being governed and nobody can escape being governed, for better or worse. ... If we mean to keep any control over our world and lives, we must be interested in politics."
Journalist Martha Gellhorn wrote those words in 1984, when Reaganism and Thatcherism were at high tide and conservative philosophy had suddenly became respectable. Little did we know that, 20 years later, the world would change and not for the better....

..In his 1996 book, "The Good Society," economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that the greatest obstacle to achieving a just and equitable society is the disparity in wealth and political influence between "the rich and the comfortable" and "the concerned and the poor.'"

The first group, Galbraith wrote, has a loud political voice, economic comfort and little incentive to do anything for the disadvantaged. It sees government as "a burden save when, as in the case of military expenditure, Social Security and the rescue of failed financial institutions, it serves their particular interest."

The result, according to Galbraith, "is an unequal contest: the rich and the comfortable have influence and money. And they vote. The concerned and the poor have numbers, but many of the poor, alas, do not vote. There is democracy, but in no slight measure it is a democracy of the fortunate."...

..Voting really does matter. Participating in civic life does make a difference. Never, ever forget that in a democracy, power is derived from the consent of the governed. And if you don't give your consent, someone else will.

'Politics is not a spectator sport'

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Compare and Contrast

As quotes go, this is pretty good. Compare this with the ones from the last post.

JOHN KERRY - Our tax code has gone from 14 pages to 17,000 pages. Do any of you have your own page? Enron got its own a page. . . . And it looks like Halliburton got a whole chapter.


Remembering the past

Those wacky politicians. There are 5 meta messages here, 10 extra points if you identify the speaker correctly. 20 extra points for additional quotes [0 points awarded if the examples are from GWB..too easy]

"Poor dear, there's nothing between his ears."

--British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

"He has the ability to make statements that are so far outside the parameters of logic that they leave you speechless"
--Patti Davis (formerly Patricia Ann Reagan), talking about her father, The Way I See It

"This loathing for government, this eagerness to prove that any program to aid the disadvantaged is nothing but a boondoggle and a money gobbler, leads him to contrive statistics and stories with unmatched vigor."
--Mark Green, Reagan's Reign of Error

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?"
--Ronald Reagan, campaign speech, 1980

"A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?" -- Ronald Reagan (Governor of California), quoted in the Sacramento Bee, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park, March 3, 1966

"...the moral equal of our Founding Fathers." --President Reagan, describing the Nicaraguan contras, March 1, 1985

"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal." --Ronald Reagan, quoted in Time, May 17, 1976

"...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts." --Ronald Reagan, 1965. (Description of Medicaid recipients.)

"Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders." --California Governor Ronald Reagan, in the Sacramento Bee, April 28, 1966

"We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet." --Ronald Reagan, TV speech, October 27, 1964

"But I also happen to be someone who believes in tithing--the giving of a tenth [to charity]."
--Ronald Reagan, from The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, February 8, 1982. (He may believe in tithing, but he doesn't practice it. Reagan's total charitable giving of $5,965 did not approach 10% of total income. It was more like 1.4%.)

"We think there is a parallel between federal involvement in education and the decline in profit over recent years."
--President Reagan, quoted in USA Today, April 26, 1983


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A Modest Proposal

This is late but still timely. Best quote:

While few wars are just wars, all are profitable — though, of course, not to the lads and lassies who fight and die in them. They are profitable to the military-industrial complex. ...

...If there were any sense of decency in the corporate world — which is to say, if frogs could sing opera — the corporations would all cut checks to the families of those young men and women who have been killed or maimed to provide them with their profitable contracts. The corporate world doesn't see it that way, though, and they are cutting checks for the people they consider their true benefactors — the politicians in Washington who made the war profits possible...

"sense of decency" ,"sense of decency" ,"sense of decency" ?
Charley Reese: War, War, War!

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Game Show Idea

Satire or snark, you decide:

Limbaugh, third wife getting divorce

So, Rush broke up Marta's marriage. No wonder Ronald Reagan called Rush "The number one voice for conservatism."

...The two were wed May 27, 1994, at the Virginia home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who officiated. Attendees included former Education Secretary William Bennett, another family values advocate who later admitted to a multimillion-dollar gambling habit....

This gives me an idea for a fun new game show: "What's My Vice?" Every week a noted conservative would be introduced to a celebrity panel, which would attempt to guess the conservative's secret sin in 20 questions or less. Our first guest: Clarence Thomas (I'm betting that his secret has something to do with porn.

...Limbaugh's divorces haven't stopped him from dispensing marital advice. "If you want a successful marriage, let your husband do what he wants to do," he once said....

Seriously folks add WOC to your daily read list.
World O'Crap

Friday, June 11, 2004

Stu Ped Actor Tricks

These kids say the darndest things.

"When I went to the White House to meet the president, I was introduced to the secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton.

I said, 'I really like what you've done with the place.' I had no idea she was a member of the Cabinet, not an interior designer!"

– Jessica Simpson makes her civics teachers proud in Teen People magazine.

Public Eye

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Germans: yes to love and no to war

Wow.. Should have done this research much much earlier

A German sociologist Werner Habermehl says regular sex can help university students pass exams and get better grades.

Habermehl from the University of Hamburg said he and his team had tested students before and after sex.

They found that regular sexual activity significantly increased mental capability, but they found celibate students found it harder to make the grade.

As well as decreasing the length of time needed to complete a course, students with a healthy sex life also received better marks, said Habermehl.

Regular sex helps students

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Truth and Brevity: Priceless

James K. Galbraith:

Amusing Reagan's economists could be; coherent they were not.
Supply-side economics held that the rich would work harder if they were taxed less, while the poor would work harder if they were taxed more.

Salon.com | The rich got richer

Friday, June 04, 2004

Smarm Alert

The news is full of irony these days. Pundits of the left are waxing eloquent:

..Having said all that, beside the possibility that the White House's favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country's own spies, I'd say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine.
Ouch, ouch!
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

The Ivins Touch

I was reading this article, and along came a quote that summed up the whole DC picture about the 'payoff's play' that started way back in October.

The lead in was this understatement:

Not being a Washington reporter myself, I can only read the tea leaves from afar. There appears to be a significant split between the military and both the Bushies in the Pentagon and in the White House.
This trenchant comment followed:
So now what we're looking at is one of those underwater struggles among various bureaucratic behemoths involved in some hideous internecine conflict of which we can see nothing except roiled water, as though several Loch Ness monsters were going at it deep out of sight.
Yes.. here we are on the outside looking in..speculating, guessing, waiting. Molly really knows how to capture the moment..[one of the best word smiths around!]

Molly Ivins: 'Enron, Chalabi, Tillman: Can the PR — get the facts'

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Art and Commentary

I am always being suprized by the creativity of bloggers. Here we have the blending of art and protest:

There are a bunch more by Bart Cop.. An ad firm couldn't have done better. BTW the issue is electronic voting. Diebold makes the machines [one of the companies]. There has been lots of discussion about their security and software. Go google "black box"..

PS. They also make a lot of ATM machines.
The Diebold Variations

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Reductionism Redux

Polititians like to reduce problems and solutions to the most simple of catch phrases. We the people appear to be too Stu Ped to understand the complexities of the real world.

The latest example of this PooP, is the term 'stay the course'.. I think Kerry penetrates the fog on this one:

J Kerry: Speech May 28, 2004

..Over the last year, we've heard from the president that our policy should be to simply stay the course. Well, one thing I learned in the Navy is that when the course you're on is heading for the shoals, it's pretty smart to shift the rudder. Staying the course is important. But staying the wrong course is not a sign of strength; it is a mark of stubbornness, and it ultimately weakens this nation and the world..

Reminded me of this story [not sure if it is true or not, but it is to the point..]

This is the transcript of the actual radio conversation of a British
Naval ship and the Irish, off the coast of Kerry, Oct 1995. Radio
conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95:

IRISH: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid
a collision.

BRITISH: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North,
to avoid a collision.

IRISH: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees
to the South to avoid a collision.

BRITISH: This is the Captain of a BRITISH navy ship. I say again,
divert YOUR course.

IRISH: Negative. I say again, you will have to divert your course.



IRISH: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

BTW Mark is a very good analyst, put on 'daily read' list
Mark A. R. Kleiman