FEB
18
2006
The Evolution of Casual Asides

Since my internet connection went down earlier this week, I’ve been sitting and stewing about various things:

No Blogging on Yom Kippur

A few days ago, I was lamenting the fact that my traffic had been flagging lately. It’s not like I don’t know why; I don’t post every day, like most blogs do. These posts (usually) take time to write and research, and I don’t make any money off this page.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to hear I was nominated for a Koufax Award for Best Writing. Named for the famous southpaw pitcher and administered by Wampum, the Koufaxes are handed out to the best of the left-of-center blogosphere. Congrats to my fellow nominees:

Adventus: Robert Jeffers , Alas, A Blog: Ampersand , Alicublog: Roy Edroso , All Facts and Opinions: Natalie Davis , AmericaBlog: John Aravosis , Anonymoses , Attytood: Will Bunch , Baghdad Burning: Riverbend , Bitch Ph.D. , Blood & Treasure: Jamie Kenny , Bob Harris , Body and Soul: Jeanne d’Arc , Booman Tribune: SusanHu , Booman Tribune: Blksista , Booman/European Tribune: Oui , Bootstrap Analysis: Nuthatch , Bouphonia , Bradblog , Busy, Busy, Busy , By Neddie Jingo , The Cassandra Pages , Casual Asides: DJ Waletzky , The Carpetbagger Report , Cool Beans: Bean , The Countess: Trish Wilson , Courting Destiny , Creek Running North: Chris Clarke , Daily Kos: Hunter , Daily Kos: Armando , Daily Kos: Devilstower , Daily Kos: Georgia10 , Daily Kos: Grand Moff Texan , DC Media Girl , The Democracy Cell Project: Casey Morris , Driftglass , Echnide of the Snakes , Effwit , Enemy of the State , Eschaton: Atrios , European Tribune: Jerome a Paris , Ezra Klein , The Fat Lady Sings , Feministe: Jill , Feministe: Lauren , Firedoglake: ReddHedd , First Draft: Athenae , Frogs and Ravens , From Pine View Farm: Frank , From the Rooftops , Girl Scientist , The Green Knight , The Heretik , How to Save the World , Hullabaloo: Digby , Hullabaloo: Tristero , I Blame the Patriarchy: Twisty Faster , Informed Comment: Juan Cole , James Wolcott , Jeremy Blachman , Kid Oakland , King of Zembla: Simbaud , Lance Mannion , Legal Fiction: Publius , Lawyers, Guns and Money: Scott Lemieux , The Left Coaster: Paradox , Left I on the News: Eli Stephens , Liberal Street Fighter: Madman in the Marketplace , The (liberal) Girl Next Door , Liberty Street , Looking for Someone to Lie To Me: Michael Roston , Mad As Hell , Mahablog: Barbara O’Brien , Majikthise: Lindsay Beyerstein , Making Light: Jim Macdonald , Making Light: Teresa Nielsen Hayden , The Marj Memoirs , Matt Yglesias , Michael Bérubé Online , The Moquol , MyKeru , My Left Wing: Gottlieb , My Left Wing: Shanikka , My Left Wing: Maryscott O’Connor , My Left Wing: Caliberal , My Left Wing: Weeping for Brunnhilde , Neil Shakespeare , The Next Hurrah: Meteor Blades , Norbizness , Obsidian Wings: Hilzoy , Old Fashioned Patriot , Once Upon a Time: Arthur Silber , One Good Thing , The Opinion Mill , Orcinus: David Neiwert , Pandagon: Amanda Marcotte , PastPeak , The Poor Man: The Editors , Random Thoughts: Unfair and Unbalanced: Susan Nunes , Red Tory , Respectful Insolence , The Reaction: Michael J.W. Stickings , Rigorous Intuition , Rittenhouse Review: Jim Capazzola , Rox Populi , The Rude Pundit , Sadly, No!: , Saint Nate’s Blog , Set Free , Shakespeare’s Sister: Melissa McEwan , Suburban Guerrilla: Susie Madrak , Sufficient Scruples , Sisyphus Shrugged: Julia , Talking Points Memo: Josh Marshall , The Tattered Coat , Timothy Burke , Thou Shall Not Suck: Unholy Moses , TomDispatch , Washington Note: Steve Clemons , Unclaimed Territory: Glenn Greenwald , Unqualified Offerings: Jim Henley , Washington Monthly/Political Animal: Kevin Drum , WhirledView: Patricia Lee Sharpe , Whiskey Bar: Billmon , Winding Road in Urban Area: Jaye Ramsey Sutter , Working for Change: David Sirota , Yep,Another Goddamn Blog: Jurassic Pork

I’m still working on reading all of those links. I can safely say that the odds of any one of us winning are 126 to one against, so good luck to all!

Seriously, thanks to “Jason” for nominating me; and to my loyal readers. I’ll be alerting you when voting opens next week.

Also, if any of the aformentioned blogs want to trade links, I would be honored. (Thanks to M. J. W. Stickings of The Reaction for leading the way on that one.)

The Cult of Strength

Speaking of fellow Best Writing nominees, the lefty blogs have been talking a lot about Glenn Greenwald’s excellent post about “conservatism” being redefined as the cult of George Bush. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently–is Bush really a conservative?

Just because he has introduced recrod spending doesn’t mean he isn’t ultimately serving the interests of “limited government” as envisioned by the likes of Grover Norquist. Remember, the increase in spending is mostly due (I mean, apart from the disastrous Medicare Part D) to the increased expenditures on ‘defense,’ either for the military or the Department of Homeland Security. When it comes to the kind of spending that drives conservatives crazy–i.e., programs that are actually aimed at helping people–Bush has been ruthlessly slashing program budgets, from NASA to Medicare to education (hint to federal employees: if the President mentions your department in the State of the Union and you’re not wearing a uniform, consider yourself screwed). In fact, my personal opinion is that Bush is running up a huge deficit in order to make those cuts permanent, well beyond his eight-year tenure; the massive deficit will put subsequent Administrations in the position of having to raise taxes or keep defunding services. Just as if he were running one of his ruinous business ventures, Bush is projecting his incompetence into the future. And people say he doesn’t see things in the long term.

At any rate, I’m not here to defend Bush to conservatives. I actually want to offer a small defense of “conservative” Bush cultists today, and to do that I need to talk about reflexive defensiveness. Bush-worshippers are defending Bush the same way Democrats defended Clinton, nothing more or less. Even if you think Bush has sold his base out on any number of conservative principles, the simple fact remains that Bush drives liberals even crazier than Clinton drove conservatives. People love a strong leader, and two-termers have proven that essential quality associated with strength in a democracy, electability. (Sidebar: I have resisted saying this for a year and a half, but I am now of the opinion that Bush stole the 2004 election, particularly in the case of widespread fraud in Ohio. Not that this matters in practical terms, but there, I said it.)

In a first-past-the-post, two-party political landscape, you’re either with the party or you’re against it. Sure, ‘conservatives’ who decry GOP dissenters from the cult of Bush as liberals lack sophistication, but so does our electoral system. Bush is about as far from his libertarian supporters as Clinton was from his leftist supporters. (From my vantage point to the extreme left of both politicians, I have no problem pointing this out).

Back to reflexive defensiveness: as Der Spiegel wrote about the cartoon controversy in France:

One paper quoted a young man named Said from Nice. He said he considered himself to be an atheist, but “when the mayor rejects the building of a mosque, I suddenly become a Muslim.”

When the other guys attack our guy, we rush to our guy’s defense, no matter how indefensible. Maybe we should call the Bush supporters ‘knee-jerk conservatives.’

While we’re talking about Clinton, let’s talk about impeachment. Those who admit Bush has done wrong in some sense but balk at actually impeaching him will often ask, “does this mean that every President will get impeached from now on?”

The question is really, “has every single President committed an impeachable offense?” The answer, more than likely, is “yes.”

Evolving Creationism

There’s been a lot of coverage lately of grassroots creationism lately. Take, for example, the L. A. Times coverage of Ken Ham’s creationist seminars for schoolchildren:

“Boys and girls,” Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, “you put your hand up and you say, ‘Excuse me, were you there?’ Can you remember that?” The children roared their assent.

“Sometimes people will answer, ‘No, but you weren’t there either,’ ” Ham told them. “Then you say, ‘No, I wasn’t, but I know someone who was, and I have his book about the history of the world.’ ” He waved his Bible in the air.

He urges students to offer creationist critiques of their textbooks, parents to take on science museum docents, professionals to raise the subject with colleagues. If Ham has done his job well, his acolytes will ask enough pointed questions — and set forth enough persuasive arguments — to shake the doctrine of Darwin.

“We’re going to arm you with Christian Patriot missiles,” Ham, 54, recently told the 1,200 adults gathered at Calvary Temple here in northern New Jersey. It was a Friday night, the kickoff of a heavily advertised weekend conference sponsored by Ham’s ministry, Answers in Genesis.

The Christian Know-Nothing movement is trying to engender nothing short of a childrens’ crusade against evolution. So, kids, here are some questions to pose to your fellow students when they start spouting this kind of crap:

  • Which did God create first, man or animals? (hint: check Genesis chapters 1 and 2 for the two contradictory accounts.)
  • In scientific terms, how did God create trees before the sun?
  • If there’s no such thing as evolution, should you need a different flu shot every year?
  • If the problem with science’s explanations for the universe is that it doesn’t explain how all the stuff in the universe got here, what is the Bible’s explanation for how God got here?

Fortunately, I have the answer to all of these questions. That’s right, I’ve finally found religion. And it tasted good.




 

 
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