Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pony Up!

The admirable Shakespeare's Sister just got whammied by property taxes and a layoff, so it's time to dig deep and help out. She's got her resumé up, as well. One of the nest bloggers I know, and a mensch to boot. Go, go, go!

A Fine Local Ale v. A Prominant TX Asshole - a Mashup to Remember.... Posted by Picasa

One Last Time

This has been from the beginning a site in which my family (extended and nuclear - and, man, are the nuclear ones atomic!) can phish my head. The pond needs restocking, and today is as good as any to do it.

Saw my Pop last Friday, with the usual delight (this is the man who taught me how to read, after all, and to love words....), but we do a little dance around his tender feelings for a world gone by, one that started to recede decades ago and keeps sunsetting.

In his own insular way I think he is a good barometer of self-described Independent opinion - plague on all houses and why are you bothering me with taxes and all this other shit? (I heard a lot of this kind of dialogue in the meds line at the Kaiser Pharmacy last year, before the election.) Lefty partisans want to make me feel guilty, and I don't want to do that. Wingnuts are intemperate, but O'Reilly can touch a nerve - and they're all unbalanced anyway, right? Stop, you're making me uncomfortable!

The subject of politicians' thick/thin skins came up. We didn't get very specific, but I couldn't help but remember all the guys who bailed from Congress (both Houses) with the ascendancy of the Newts and the Hammers. Dad wants to think, like Broder, that if everyone is just once again reasonable, it will all work out. And so, for his education, I direct him to Franklin Foer's report in TNR (now open to all) on the College Republicans' Shark Training Camp. Hammerhead 101, Pop - they are serious, they have a marvelous track record (check the alumni list), and the scruffy Libs just don't do it that way - see the last paragraph.

So, today, DeLay descends many notches - there will be legions, well trained, to fill the gap. Fuck, it's going to take decades to flush these weasels out. Throw 'em in jail, and there are battalions of home-schooled kids, so bright-eyed they could be Village-of-the Damned spawn waiting in line for thinktanks and internships or a niche in the Corner.....

I must be fair to Pop - he doesn't read The Corner for guidance, he doesn't want to be partisan, he has the most accepting social values, but, god, I think we share a frustration - from opposite ends, perhaps - with a supine Democratic party that can't make a persuasive moderate case to him and that won't be vigorous enough to me. I'm a fucking LIBERAL, and I don't think Dad and I are unbridgeably apart. I'll leave that to him in Comments.

I am just hoping that we are reaching an illumination, and that we can survive what we are forced to see.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cold Bedtime with the Bishop Posted by Picasa

Fidelity, High & Low

Steve Clemons is a daily stop for me, but I found his post last Friday on the upcoming Vatican policy on gay priests especially arresting and worrying (and it has, by now, a good comments thread going). I know RC priests who were devastated by the abuse scandals of the last few years, precisely because their own vows were vows they kept - whatever their sexuality might have been if they had never entered religious orders - and because the Church's official coverups fractured the established trust, built over years,, with their parishioners and social service clients. Everyone, priest and layman, was betrayed,
Any student of Renaissance lit knows how Princes of the Church used to carry on, and I leave it to RC historians to parse all the celibacy policies, but as Steve adds in another post, time to Out the bastards.

Lance has a rich post on Lincoln, Depression and a Friend. I did my bit by posting a comment that is really a post (as Lance tells me I do), but that I didn't feel like putting up here. This is, after all, my magazine, and not a confessional - or a bathhouse (see ROD for my modest perv).

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Looking Backward (at My Navel)

This is a substitute for having too much to say and not enough time to write it down, but Lance alerted me to the meme, and I cross-posted this over there:

The 23-5 Meme:

My 23rd post was posted March 3, 2005.

Hard to count up from the beginning, so I'm counting days as posts, but this is five sentences in from the March 3 early post:

"All very smooth and compelling, until you recognize that it's built on pure assertion, and mendacity "

It was describing Richard Perle's presentation in debate with Howard Dean, here in Portland. Wouldn't change a word.
The real 23rd post was probably a pic of Ninja Meatwad, but I didn't write it, even if it's just about equally characteristic of me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Iron & Grog!

For Pirate Day - that's me in the Crow's Nest - all handiwork of Mad Sam. We want to make mugs....Arrrr! For the Rum, Matey! Posted by Picasa

Up in Smoke

Steve Gilliard points to this article in the Mirror, with appropriate commentary. Here's the lede:

"HUNDREDS of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors is to be burned.
US red tape is stopping it from reaching hungry evacuees.
Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption."

Trials by Water, and by Fire - Katrina survivors just can't catch a break, can they?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dahlia - an X-Ray photo - like Ms. Lithwick's mind... Posted by Picasa

Why I Love Dahlia

If there was just one person in the world I could choose to watch the Roberts confirmation hearings with, it would be Dahlia Lithwick:

Senate Democrats have had it up to here with "John Roberts the lawyer." And it's hard to blame them. John Roberts the lawyer won't answer any questions. At least, as the sole arbiter of what questions he'll answer, he's doing a rather phenomenal job of broadly defining great classes of questions as unanswerable:

  • He won't answer questions about any case currently
    pending before the Supreme Court (abortion, right-to-die);
  • He won't answer questions about any case that might someday conceivably be pending before the Supreme Court (separation of powers, contested presidential elections);
  • He won't answer questions he's decided on the court of appeals (since they may
    someday conceivably be pending before the Supreme Court);
  • He won't answer questions about prior nominees (Robert Bork) because that is not appropriate;
  • He can't answer questions about general legal doctrine because they are too general;
  • He can't answer questions about specific legal doctrine because they are too specific;
  • He can't answer questions about his early memos because a robot wrote them.
And that's only the beginning. It continues to devolve into Bad Scene Class at Inside the Actors' Studio - and people wonder why we are all fucked.

Stare at the White Dot for One Minute and then Look Anywhere Else - The Inflammable Flag Posted by Picasa


I had been looking for a pic of one of the Jasper Johns's cubbyhole constructions, with noses and lips and dicks, but I couldn't find one, so the reverse-color flag, above, will have to do. The issue inundation around here has been personal as well as public, and it's been hard to pick what to say about any of them, about anything. I had expected September to bring revelations, but not so fast - Bush & Cronies LLP (or what Billmon always calls the Cheney Administration...) with its pants down and a hurricane flushing its ass; the waking of many citizens from a secure and pleasant dream to find that they are pretty fucking defenseless after all; a press with a spine implant (probably temporary, but I'm glad for small favors). More to come.

Here I have had a balking patient, and also a new and understanding boyfriend (good as gold, that!). Fortune smiling on you when she's frowning everywhere else is disconcerting - and we all know she's not reliable, or she would not be so beloved through the purchase of lottery tickets. Other people have been on the mark, and here are some of my bullseyes from the last few days:

  • Jane has a sharp commentary on Dubya as a Dry Drunk. This is a meeting of personal and public recognition - what she describes so closely fits a sibling of mine, I can play diagnostician. May account for why it frightens me to drive with her - that sibling - and why I couldn't vote for her, were she to run for office, no matter how progressive her politics. Also why Bush seems such a tool when he's supposed to be in charge - he was a made man from the very beginning, and I suspect much of DC knew this all along (I am speaking to you, Broder). Complicit they were, and god, I hope they are ready to suck dick for it in future.
  • Fred Kaplan eviscerates emergency planning in a Slate piece yesterday - and makes me think about the jobs I've had analyzing operations, or writing and building management tools in both academic and business settings. The vagueness Kaplan describes in the HSC Manual on emergency planning scenarios is fucking terrifying - any well-run hospital has protocols 10K times more specific and detailed, and they pride themselves on it. I never did believe the initial Bushie bravado about "grown-ups" taking control, but these guys truly embarrass themselves, and why anyone ever trusted them with our security goes beyond mystery to a collective psychosis.
  • My family prides itself on rationality (even when it goes nuts), so I think I can commend this note from Kevin Drum on The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney's new book to them. Should really scare Dad....:-)

God, there's a lot more, what with Roberts playing with Seven Veils and Senators saying, "My Head on the Silver Platter First! Kiss me, Kiss Me, Jokannan!!" - like we fags don't know the Bible....or Richard Strauss.

The new BF hates opera, btw - tough for him, but I'm not that much of a Taste Queen to insist on categorical fidelity. Many more inportant things to consider, and they are marching upon us.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Health Kits, PussyKat!

Loving the new blue girl persona - and the Health Kits for hurricane survivors. See also the United Jewish Appeal.

I hope no one thinks the "PussyKat" in the title is in any way flip - bg's new pic made it irresistible, but Hurricane Kat can't be allowed (in ways so manifold I cannot count them) to ruin more lives than it already has. This is an ongoing effort, and the more we engage personally, the more stories will come out to undercut the propaganda - the torrent of bullshit - we are getting from the Bushies and their minions.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Machines Grinding, Fine or Coarse, Bones and Blood... Posted by Picasa

Dire Machines

Something half-buried woke up in me this last weekend. I had as a houseguest a guy, recent emigré from Chicago, and we had extended talks about family and life and the here and the there, and the more we talked, the more I realized how much the life personal and the life political can be woven together. Apart from our both being appalled at the scenes from NOLA, and the gigantic federal fuck-up, the underlying issues of race, class, votes, patronage and cronyism, all the elements of machine politics - those were just understood between us - mothers' milk. You can't talk like that with people who aren't nourished under such a system (and it may give you witches' milk, too), and reading Jake Weisberg's piece in Slate today, I am thinking that there are not that many people - not enough, anyway - who can see that the Bushies are, in fact, running an old-fashioned political machine, whose hallmarks are discipline or else, services to the deserving/producing, pandering to the core, punishment to the opposition (even, or especially, the loyal opposition).

Under the classic Daley 1 Machine, your alderman didn't play, you had unfixed potholes. Your corner curbs were not refitted for anyone (and not just the disabled). You had a Clout Deficit, and you would suffer for it, one way or the other. When Hizzoner died, there was a scramble, and we got the undistiguished but loyal Mike Bilandic, and what brought him down? A blizzard, to which the great resources of the City in the Garden did not respond fast enough (my roomie's car, buried under snow, was towed and he didn't discover it until the spring - a Bayside, Queens boy, he was sure it had been stolen). Bilandic, good-bye.

Weisberg makes the point that Bushie racism is less racism than it is machine politics - NOLA doesn't count because it's overwhelmingly black and poor, it doesn't deliver the GOP votes, Louisiana's overall Red State margins notwithstanding. Together with the cronyism and patronage that gives Wyoming an outsized share of DHS funds for anti-terrorism defense (and in Louisiana, despite bipartisan asslicking, an undersized share), the only conclusion for those benighted voters who have never been strongarmed by these bastards is, "Get in line or we will fuck you." My neighbors here in Oregon have no fucking idea.

That's how machines work, and they used to be common. I almost feel lucky to have seen the last of the Old Ones die - especially as I can see the same marks on the horrible New One that now afflicts us, afflicts us all. States are Wards - deliver or rot. Trent Lott? Haley Barbour? Loyal aldermen, and their potholes get fixed first. Karl Rove is taking the names. No one is invulnerable.

The wheels, they grind.

And this, from 400 years ago:

Considering duly that a prince's court
Is like a common fountain, whence should flow
Pure silver drops in general, but if 't chance
Some curs'd example poison 't near the head,
Death and diseases through the whole land spread.
And what is 't makes this blessed government
But a most provident council, who dare freely
Inform him the corruption of the times?
Though some o' the court hold it presumption
To instruct princes what they ought to do,
It is a noble duty to inform them
What they ought to foresee.

Hey, Provident Council - where the fuck are ya?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Masters of the Universe...Right!

August has a great post today about the ridiculous arrogance of the gasbags who are saying about NOLA, "well, just dump it and move elsewhere - wasn't a good idea to begin with." You know, Chicago was built on a swamp (tall buildings there float on "pancakes" to keep them from sinking into the ooze), and was rebuilt after the famous Fire to urban glory under the Burnham Plan. If these fools had been making decisions, the place would have been abandoned as a write-off and an opportunity to sell bridges and corner offices and vacation plots to Greater Fools. Which is what they think the rest of us are - and I say, "Fuck 'em!"

Addendum: In an earlier post, I said I could very well have been stuck in the Dome (or the Convention Center) with the thousands still there, the old, the sick, the poor. This was not special pleading; I have plastic, but I also have a 97-year-old patient, and she and I have been watching the news from New Orleans with horror. My patient cannot travel easily, by any of the usual means - she will literally break. I am confident that her family would have moved heaven and earth to extricate her from such a disaster situation, but they may, themselves, have been unable to do so. So, when we watch the news tonight, and see these helpless people, do we begrudge any of the strongest of them for gleaning supplies from stores that are as stranded as they are, where the goods that could mean their survival will otherwise rot? My G-d, it's my job and my duty to protect the woman I take care of, and I'd swim though shit to keep her alive. Imagine how much stronger the urgency of parents, siblings, sons and daughters, cousins and aunts and uncles to do anything to keep their families alive and together, and then the helicopters pass by because someone took a potshot at them, or buses never arrive because the hazard is too great. Hazard for fucking whom? This is so fucking sick - and, as
Wolcott rightly says, "...this is the time for politics, none better." You bet your boots, dude!