Friday, January 30, 2009

"It was a dark and stormy night" redux

Selections from the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton contest:
  • Grand Prize: Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J." --Garrison Spik, Washington, D.C.
  • Adventure: "Die, commie pigs!" grunted Sergeant "Rocky" Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North Korean farm animals. --Dave Ranson, Calgary, Alberta
  • Detective: The hardened detective glanced at his rookie partner and mused that who ever had coined the term "white as a sheet" had never envisioned a bed accessorized with a set of Hazelnut, 500-count Egyptian cotton linens from Ralph Lauren complimented by matching shams and a duvet cover nor the dismembered body of its current occupant. --Russ Winter, Janesville, MN
  • Purple Prose: The pancake batter looked almost perfect, like the morning sun shining on the cream-colored bare shoulder of a gorgeous young blonde driving 30 miles over the speed limit down a rural Nebraska highway with the rental car's sunroof open, except it had a few lumps. --Jim Thomas, Gilbert, AZ
  • Science Fiction: Timothy Hanson, Commander of the 43rd Space Regiment in the 52nd Battalion on board the USAOPAC (United Space Alliance Of Planets Attack Carrier) and second in command to Admiral L. R. Morris of the USAOP Space Command, awoke early for breakfast. --Joe Schulman, Cartersville, GA
And I'm pleased to report there's an honorable mention from Maine!
  • The day started out as uneventfully as any other, and continued thus to midday and from there it was nothing at all to ease into an evening of numbing, undiluted monotony that survived unmarred by even the least act of momentary peculiarity-in fact, let's skip that day altogether and start with the day after. --Jon Starr, Rumford, ME

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fearful? Check. Xenophobic? Check. Aggressive? Check.

Conservatives love to "otherize," or identify demons they can then project their moral clarity all over. First the communists, now the terrorists.... The existence of our republic is at stake! It's black and white, good and evil, us or them, every waking minute. And the hell with sissy diplomacy and liberal due process.

J. Peter Scoblic's U.S. Vs. Them (out last April) examines fifty years of crusading conservatives and the foreign policy wreckage they've left in their wake. It's reviewed today by Sara Robinson over at Alternet:
Whenever you hear a conservative go on about "moral clarity," this is precisely what they're saying. There is always an enemy. They are always out to get us. They will stop at nothing. You cannot coddle them or negotiate with them; you can only survive by annihilating them. And people who see the moral world clearly will not waste time or breath questioning these essential truths.

It's pretty stunning stuff when you read it that way. It really makes you realize that conservatives live in a world of paranoia, xenophobia and seething aggression that most progressives can't even fathom. And their entire moral universe has been twisted to serve their externalized fears; to take that will to project their own demons onto someone else and then destroy them and elevate it as the highest possible moral good.

It's a definition of "morality" that renders the rule of law meaningless but readily justifies genocide and torture as moral acts of self-preservation.
Bush, in other words, wasn't so much guided by neo-conservatives as by straightforward conservative fearfulness.

Robinson exhorts us to call out conservatives on their peculiarly narrow view of "morality" and to remember the Enlightenment values that informed our forebears:
We believe moral clarity is defined by the Constitution, embodied in the rule of law and on display wherever the dignity of other people -- including those whose interests oppose ours -- is upheld. And, in case there's any question about where the real moral clarity lies here: Ours is the morality America was founded on. Theirs is one that almost put that light out forever.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friends of the Earth hearts Obama

From Friends of the Earth Action:
Obama shows early leadership on climate, acts on states’ request to move forward with clean cars standards

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Barack Obama today directed his administration to take action on a waiver that will allow California and 13 other states to limit global warming pollution from cars and trucks. Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder had the following response:

“Transportation causes a third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, which is why President Obama’s action today is so important. President Obama’s action marks a clear change of course from Bush administration policies that kept cleaner cars and trucks off the road. We commend the President for this early leadership on the climate front, and look forward to working with him to implement the many other steps that are necessary to strengthen our economy and dramatically reduce our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Friends of the Earth has for years been a leader in the fight to put cleaner cars on the road. Friends of the Earth board member Russell Long conceived of California’s clean cars bill and was a major force in passing the bill, which was authored by then-State Senator Fran Pavley. Friends of the Earth has also won victories in court that paved the way for clean cars standards to be put in place.
So the "world’s largest grassroots environmental network" - with members in 77 countries - likes Obama's first major action on the environment. I'd have to say this bodes well.

Disclosure: Mr. Alna Dem is chairman of FOE US.

Monday, January 19, 2009

They weren't inept. They did it on purpose.

It was class warfare, government for the few, a kleptocracy, the crime of the century:
Its purpose was never to make America a better place. Indeed, if we define America as a country belonging to its 300 million inhabitants, then the purpose was actually precisely the opposite. The mission of this ideology was in fact to diminish, if not impoverish, the vast bulk of these citizens so that the already massively wealthy among them could become obscenely wealthy.

Where you or I might have looked at the middle of the 20th century and seen the moment when America finally did justice to its national promise by introducing a measure of serious economic equality for the first time, and thus vastly expanding the middle class, the plutocrats behind Reaganism-Bushism saw a filthy aberration to the natural order of master and slave that had long existed in human history. They therefore set about to overturn that aberration and return to "better times" through a process of class warfare. That meant that labor unions had to go, along with workplace protections, good wages, decent benefits, government protections and a far-too-moderate average CEO-to-lowest-paid-worker salary ratio on the order of 50-to-1, replaced instead by something closer to 500-to-1.
Emphasis added. And yes, they were evil.

If you don't believe me, here’s another take from Philip Agre at UCLA. He asks two simple questions:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.
Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years,” says Agre.

P.S. In the "prose too delicious to lose" category, here's a Bush/Cheney sendoff from Meteor Blades:

Good-bye to your rip-offs, your malice, your arrogance, your ignorance, your outlawry, your denial, your deceit, your cronyism and your stubborn refusal to cease pushing the envelope in the department of shameless villainy. Goodbye to the administration you constructed of turdiness and explained with truthiness. To your smirk and your snarl. To your conscienceless cruelty. Good-bye to your corruption, your vanity, your world without grays. Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, you insufferable despots, and good riddance.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The year in blogging

...via Wonkette, via conservative blogger Jon Swift, the year's best posts on both sides of the aisle as nominated by the bloggers themselves. And here's my favorite:
TBogg: Your Mumia sweatshirt won’t get you into heaven anymore. TBogg explains reality to Ralph Nader voters.
I could really have used this post the day Snoozetska and I tried to explain presidential politics to a food co-op manager who would rather stay home and make peace flags than vote any day. "I just imagine peace, and that's my contribution," she said proudly.