Saturday, July 23, 2005

 

Past, Present, Future

Past: Bush pledges to fire anyone in his administration found to have been involved in the leak of Valerie Plame's name to the press.

Present: Bush pledges to fire anyone convicted of a crime in the Valerie Plame leak.

Future: Bush pledges to fire any Democrat he doesn't have a nickname for who was involved in the Valerie Plame leak.



The Quotidian Meander

Friday, July 22, 2005

 

Call me a glass half empty gent

My brother, who I love like a...well, like a brother, sent me a piece in response to the one below. It was a detailed explanation of just which law applies to what Rove did and whether he technically broke that law.

I have to admit, stuff like that just makes me crazy. How can anyone--anyone OTHER than an apologist, that is--possibly not be seeing the bigger picture by now?

The bigger picture is so clear: it's that these people are DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS.

Okay, TECHNICALLY, Bill Clinton did not lie under oath. TECHNICALLY, BIll Clinton did not dodge the draft. TECHNICALLY, Karl Rove may not actually have blatantly broken the law such that a jury of his peers (12 snakes, that would have to be) would have to send him to prison.

Does that really matter? The fact that the "White House source" was retaliating against Joe Wilson was never at issue--until now, when suddenly all the conservative megaphones want to claim that nobody did anything bad and poor little lambie-pie Karl was just being a good chap and his innocent words have been twisted into false intentions by evil, red-horned, pointy-tailed democrats. Give me a fucking break. If anyone does not know Rove's M.O. by now, START PAYING ATTENTION!! The guy is the modern day Boss Tweed, at the very least, if not the modern Machiavellian shadow-prince. He's an evil scheming bastard. Okay, so maybe you don't mind so much if he's YOUR evil scheming bastard...but BE REAL! We all know what he is and how he operates.

The question is, do we want high government officials playing politics with career intelligence agents just for REVENGE? What next, will the Valerie Plame Wilsons of the future disappear in the middle of the night? For God's sake. The point is, THIS ISN'T AMERICAN BEHAVIOR. It's not decent behavior, it's not acceptable behavior. It's banana-republic dictator behavior. It's unworthy of us...of our nation. It's despicable. It sucks.

Here's a bit I read yesterday in a column by a guy named Adam MacKay:

--Call me a glass half empty gent, but when the recent poll came out showing that seventy five percent of Americans thought the White House was not cooperating with the CIA leak investigation, I couldn't help but focus on the twenty five percent who think the White House is co-operating. I'm very curious who these people are, and if that's their idea of co-operation I'd hate to have to play a game of password with them...

Me: Fruit
The 25%: We are not commenting as there is an ongoing investigation.
Me: Red
The 25%: Once again you are trying to get me to answer and we will not do that during an ongoing investigation.
Me: Eden
The 25%: Karl did not say Valerie Plame's name. He said "Wilson's wife."


Man. What exactly do these dirty rotten scoundrels have to do before that last 25% starts waking up? It just boggles the mind. And boggling of this sort is not a good thing.



The Quotidian Meander
 

The real issues

From the testimony before Congress of James Marcinkowski, a former CIA Case Office and former prosecutor:

"...The real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact[s] that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....


"Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear--politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

"Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously."

The Quotidian Meander
 

Quote of the Day

"Right now America is a superpower living on credit--something I don't think has happened since Philip II ruled Spain." (Paul Krugman)



The Quotidian Meander

Thursday, July 21, 2005

 

The Christian States of America

You know, for a long time I've been a staunch opponent of the religious takeover of government. But sometimes I wonder if this isn't just the result of my near-terminal annoyance over the fact that so many people simply can't grasp the concept of the separation of Church and State.

But when I start to look at it the other way around, things get a little more interesting than scary. If the government became religion-based, what would happen?

Well, for one thing, they'd have to argue about which religion to adopt. Oh, sure, it's easy enough to say "Christian," but what does that mean? Catholic? Baptist? Mormon? There are hundreds of different brands of Christianity. They'd have to choose one.

Naturally, since it's the government, the Feds would have to take over the operations of whichever church actually became the official church. Also naturally, all the other churches would have to start paying taxes, since there would no longer be any separation of church and state.

Think of the increased Federal revenue. It's awe-inspiring to think about. Virtually every neighborhood church would have to start paying property taxes. Religious donations would no longer be tax write-offs. And the Feds would regulate church spending! No more wacky religious schools, no more 700 Club.

Of course, the government would have to regulate who could become a minister or priest. There'd have to be a test. No way would discrimination be tolerated, so women, minorities and gays could count on becoming priests sooner or later. Probably sooner. No way would anyone just be allowed to say they're a minister! You have to take a test to work for the Post Office.

There would certainly be no more theological disputes. There would be a single government policy as to exactly what the Bible means, and that would be that.

And of course, preachers would no longer be allowed to preach anything they wanted, any more than public school teachers are allowed to teach anything they want. It would all be regulated. Committees and "church boards" would schedule what sermons could be given when, and of course what preachers would be allowed to say would have to be prescribed. A standardized prayer book would have to be issued--and, naturally, any voter constituency would want a voice in deciding what was included in it, and how it was worded.

There could of course only be one official translation of the Bible.

And, quite naturally, the church would be just another Federal bureaucracy. Like the Veterans Administration. Pay scales for ministers would be determined by Congress.

I don't know. I think I kinda like the sound of a lot of this. Maybe the born-agains are right--maybe relgion is exactly what American government needs.



The Quotidian Meander
 

His Own Man?

I'm feeling a lot better about Judge John Roberts this morning, for one reason: Ann Coulter is worried that he might be his own man. In a column called "Souter in Roberts' Clothing," the she-devil of the looney far-right worries that, freed of his ties to corporate sponsors and right-wing patrons, Roberts might actually prove to be something more than a corporate flunky and a right-wing lackey. He might actually think for himself, in which case he would not be a reliable mirror of all the worst and most idiotic ideas of the American Taliban.

Here's hoping.



The Quotidian Meander

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

The Chimp-in-Chief


Last evening, the Chimp-in-Chief named a plastic-haired conservative legal flunky to the highest bench in the land. John Roberts would be a perfect high-court candidate in the old Soviet Union: he's an ideologue; his first loyalty is to his party and its "ideas." He's against reproductive rights. He's against Affirmative Action. He's pro-business and anti-environment. He's against the Voting Rights Act. And so on.

Of course, this is a victory for people who want to control how other people have children. Those Americans feel very strongly in the sanctity of non-Iraqi life. They feel that it is very wrong to prevent Caucasoids from propagating. You see, there are not enough people on the planet. If we continue to allow white people to choose whether or not they're going to have children, who's going to burn the coal and buy the gasoline--and elect the next chimp?


The Quotidian Meander

Monday, July 18, 2005

 

The Met's Mona Lisa?


This is the picture for which the Met recently paid $50 million. I think that indicates that museums are now full, casting about with increasing desperation for the last little scraps of history, fighting over them with an ever-increasing intensity. The curators might have mistaken significance for importance, and rarity for value.

I know the story. I know that Duccio (the artist) is an obscure master whose star is on the rise, or at least in the process of belated rescusitation. I know that there are very few Duccios to begin with, and that this is, or was, the last one in private hands and thus potentially available for purchase.

But really, it's not a great picture. The face of the madonna might as well have been carved of wood as painted. She doesn't hold the child; rather, her hands are arrayed below it, relaxed and enigmatic of intent. The child is a miniature adult, a Lilliputian perhaps, or an encephalitic, but not a naturalistic human infant. Even its robes are merely miniaturized, falling with the weight of larger pieces of cloth. Its colors clash.

Madonnas have their charm, but few, perhaps, are great works of art. And oughtn't those few to be ones that transcend the genre and its conventions? Shouldn't they be extraordinary, rather than typical? This one strikes me as merely great art-historical esoterica, not great art.

I might make a special effort to see it, but only if I were already at the Museum.




The Quotidian Meander

Saturday, July 16, 2005

 

Hermione strikes again

As a writer who's struggled for years and dreamed of finding a key to even modest success, I can only look on in awe at the sales juggernaut that is Harry Potter, and the continuing good fortune of author J. K. Rowling, formerly a penniless single parent.

Unlike most people, however, I can explain it. The books are autobiographical--Rowling is "Hermione." It's got to be. Magic is the only explanation that fits.



The Quotidian Meander

Friday, July 15, 2005

 

Needed: Better People in Politics

For me, the "sins" of Karl Rove, if you will, go far beyond his treachery in the matter of Joseph Wilson and his wife. Although it's likely that the Vice President is equally culpable, for me Rove embodies what is wrong with the Republican party, with politics, and with America today. There's no real reason why this country has to be at war right now; no real reason why we should be so widely hated in the world, even among our traditional allies; and most of all, no reason--and no excuse--for the bitter, angry partisanship which has so badly divided this country, neighbor from neighbor, brother from brother, citizen from citizen.

The Republican party, as even longtime Nixonian conservative Pat Buchanan contends, was hijacked by extremists during the Clinton years. It resulted in the most questionable election in American history; the election of the least qualified individual to hold the Presidency in more than a century; the return of Nixonian-style secrecy to government; the polarizing of the national debate; the dirtiest electioneering I've seen in my lifetime, at least; and any number of anti-Democratic turns of policy, from the rollback of environmental protections to the corporatizing of the media. We're suffering from unprecedented budget deficits, high gas prices, and the widest gap ever between rich and poor, and a dozen other regrettable symptoms.

And there's really no good reason for any of it. After the Clinton years, we should have been able to maintain a stable and prosperous track. Yes, even with 9/11.

The most avoidable aspect of our current malaise is the poisonousness in the current political atmosphere. That has many causes, of course, and Karl Rove is not to blame for it exclusively. But he embodies it for me. His vicious, vindictive, bullying style of politicking and backroom skullduggery is fundamentally un-American...or at least, anti-what-used-to-be American. It is totalitarian in nature. Republicans no longer fight fair, and Rove is a big part of the reason. The Plame affair is only the most public, most provable of his dirty tricks. It is the tip of an enormous iceberg. It may be the only thing of which he can be proven guilty; but the real scope of his evil behavior goes far, far deeper.

We need better people in politics and government.



The Quotidian Meander

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

Most Excellent Speech

Stanford Report, June 14, 2005
'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.


I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

Truth in Humor

Bumper sticker observed in Ann Arbor, Michigan: "WHEN CLINTON LIED / NO ONE DIED."

Amen.



The Quotidian Meander
 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

This simply needs to be reproduced in full. If you haven't seen it, please read!



On Sunday, Newsweek magazine revealed that Karl Rove, the President's key political advisor, was responsible for disclosing the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.1 Rove's lawyer has confirmed that he was involved.2

Last year, President Bush promised that anyone at the White House involved in the leak would be fired.3 We believe that the President should stick to his word. That's why we're calling on him to fire Karl Rove.

Sign the petition to Bush right now at:
http://www.moveonpac.org/firerove/?id=5782-5300080-LOZi4JTQFMZLMv5ktp1syQ&t=1

Valerie Plame was an operative working on stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—the most important beat at the CIA and one of the most important jobs in the country.4 Rove revealed her identity and destroyed her network of connections to settle a political score. He weakened America's national security. For that alone, he deserves to be fired.

But as it turns out, that's also the White House's official position. Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the press in September of 2003, when the story first broke, that anyone at the White House who was involved would be fired "at a minimum."5 And when asked on June 10th, 2004, if he would "stand by your pledge to fire anyone found" to have leaked the agent's name, President Bush responded, simply, "Yes."6

Of course, in the past the White House has strenuously denied that Rove had anything to do with it. In 2003, McClellan said that he'd asked Rove if he was involved, and Rove had said he wasn't.7 "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved."8 "I've made it very clear, he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was."9 Asked again if Rove was involved, McClellan responded, "That's just totally ridiculous."10

So what did McClellan have to say about the clear discrepancies between what the President Bush and he had said in 2003 and what Newsweek reported on Sunday? Nothing. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

Q: Do you want to retract your statement that Rove, Karl Rove, was not involved in the Valerie Plame expose?

A: I appreciate the question. This is an ongoing investigation at this point. The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, that means we're not going to be commenting on it while it is ongoing.

Q: But Rove has apparently commented, through his lawyer, that he was definitely involved.

A: You're asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Q: I'm saying, why did you stand there and say he was not involved?

A: Again, while there is an ongoing investigation, I'm not going to be commenting on it nor is ... .

Q: Any remorse?11

It's worth noting that both Bush and McClellan have commented on the case repeatedly since 2003.12

Republicans claim that the furor over this case is just politics as usual. But what Rove did has serious ramifications. Here's the story in a nutshell: In 2002, former Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent by the CIA to investigate rumors that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium from Niger. Wilson found nothing, and wrote about it in a New York Times op-ed column on July 6, 2003 after President Bush used the claim as part of the case for war. Wilson was married to Valerie Plame, an undercover operative, who was revealed shortly thereafter by conservative columnist Robert Novak. Novak cited "senior administration officials" as his source that Plame was an operative.13

Why out Plame? While we don't know the full story, there are a couple of reasons to do so: to exact revenge on Wilson for refusing to toe the Administration line, and to send a message to would-be whistle-blowers that they should keep their mouths shut.

In any case, Plame's work was important, and by exposing her identity, the leaker destroyed ten years of covert relationship-building and could have jeopardized the lives of other covert agents in the field. At best, it was recklessly irresponsible; at worst, it was malicious; and either way, the leaker undermined our national security.

That's why we, like the President, believe it's time to fire anyone who was involved with the leaking of Plame's name. And now we know that means firing Karl Rove.

Sign our petition now at:
http://www.moveonpac.org/firerove/?id=5782-5300080-LOZi4JTQFMZLMv5ktp1syQ&t=2

And thanks for everything you're doing.

Sincerely,
—Eli, Jennifer, Wes, Matt and the MoveOn PAC Team
Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

FOOTNOTES:

1. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8525978/site/newsweek
2. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=776
3. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=777
4. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002374617_leak12.html
5. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/print/20030929-7.html
6. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=777
7. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/11/politics/12rove-quotes.html?pagewanted=print
8. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/11/politics/12rove-quotes.html?pagewanted=print
9. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/11/politics/12rove-quotes.html?pagewanted=print
10. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/11/politics/12rove-quotes.html?pagewanted=print
11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/11/AR2005071100991.html
12. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/11/AR2005071101284.html
13. http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/printrn20030714.shtml

PAID FOR BY MOVEON PAC
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

 

The Hypocrite Effect

Once, when I was a teacher, I attended a lecture by a prominent child psychiatrist. At one point in the lecture, he drew two circles on the chalkboard, one above the other and quite far apart. On the top one he wrote "IDEAL SELF," and on the bottom one he wrote "REAL SELF."

"The closer together those two circles are for a teenager, the happier she will be. The further apart they are, the more miserable she will be."

The diagram has come back to haunt me as a political metaphor many times. Left-wingers, it seems, are people whose two circles aren't very far apart. Their morals are realistic and practical, but much less high-minded than those of right-wingers. The latter have very high morals, but their two circles are badly separated. The result of this is the Hypocrite Effect.

You know, like the Republican Congressman (I forget his name, and I don't particularly want to be reminded of it) who was spearheading the campaign to get Bill Clinton impeached over Monica Lewinsky--until it was disclosed that he had had numerous extra-marital affairs himself. Like Rush "Big Fat Idiot" Limbaugh, who routinely excoriated narcotics addicts on his Deplorable Demagogue Radio Hour--until it was revealed he was one himself. Like iconic nigger-hater Strom Thurmond, who, it transpired, has a black daughter because he was boinking the black maid back when he was a randy young hypocrite. Like oh-so-Christian House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who turns out to have his clammy hand constantly in everybody else's cookie jar. Like Bill Bennett, who actually wrote books on virtue before it was revealed that he had gambled away eight million dollars. I'd go on, but I'd never get to sleep.

I'd love to know how many gay Republican Congressmen there are. (More than a few, at least according to gay Democratic Congressmen.) Or how many staunch pro-lifers have either paid for or had abortions. (One of the as-yet unexamined scandals of George W. Bush is that he paid for a young lady friend's abortion when he was younger. This was all set to make the news when the woman who was ready to blow the whistle--the best friend of the abortion recipient--became suddenly and inexplicably very wealthy. Go figure!)

Conservatives have high standards, high morals, and uncompromising ideals. Which regularly leads to spectacular falls from grace, because their actual behavior is nowhere near so high-flyin'. That's the hypocrite effect.

Anyway, it certainly looks like we're about to be treated to another of these regular flareups of conservative hypocrisy. This time it might finally be Karl Rove's turn. Of course, anybody with half a brain has known for a long time that Rove was behind the illegal and reprehensible outing of Valerie Plame; it had his fingerprints all over it. How he's going to dodge any sort of accountability for it--and how Georgie-boy will dodge accountability for claiming he knew nothing and had ordered his staff to ferret out the truth--will be entertaining, if in a particularly cynical, debasing way.

Ready...get set....



The Quotidian Meander

Friday, July 08, 2005

 

Sad

A British friend wrote to say that she had a headache and is feeling stressed. I don't blame her for being stressed considering the up-and-down events in London the past few days. Even those of us who think Bush is a twit and are against the war in Iraq recall the generous outpouring of support among Britons toward us after 9/11, and you all have been much on our minds over here.

I'm sure some Americans are congratulating themselves for our "War on Terror." Of course, I do hope they track down the bastards who did this, and they can string them up by the neck in the public square for all I care. But if you ask me it's a self-perpetuating situation. We occupy Iraq, which mobilizes more and more muslim extremists; they bomb London, which then strengthens our desire for revenge and our resolve to stay in Iraq. And on and on it goes. And of course most of the dead on both sides are as innocent as kittens, since we're basically making war on each other's civilian populations.

Sad.



The Quotidian Meander

Monday, July 04, 2005

 

Apropos of music

Of the twenty-five best-selling albums of all time, twelve were releases from the 1970s.

Three were country albums.

Hootie and the fuckin' Blowfish made the list (and if that doesn't surprise you, you're one up on me).

Two were soundtracks.

Five were "greatest hits" collections.

Seven were double albums. (So much for the old conventional wisdom that double albums weren't commercially viable.)

Garth Brooks, Led Zeppelin, and the Eagles each have two albums in the top 25. The Beatles have three.

Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill" is #15.




The Quotidian Meander

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