The return of the Newt. “When the bumptious young congressman from Georgia was first elected, in 1979, he pledged to do everything in his power to turn a party that had grown too comfortable with opposition into a ruling party. Forget about politics being the sport of gentlemen. Forget about not soiling your own nest. Lampoon the Democratic speaker for a dodgy book deal. In fact, throw everything you can find at your enemy. In effect, Mr Gingrich led a peasants’ revolt against his party’s establishment.” Ugh, yes ... Newt is the ‘father’ of our polarized, sensationalist atmosphere of today.
Chronicle of Higher Ed:
Torture’s paper trail. “Long before the world learned about the shocking abuses in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, lawyers and officials in the Bush administration were quietly circulating memos that laid the groundwork for using torture in the campaign against terrorism.”
Oh, and the Economist opinion page, not an unconservative organ, puts the blame right to the top of both countries.
And what country is this? There seemed more lead-in and hoopla associated with television coverage of this inauguration than I can remember in years past, bar Reagan’s. It was interesting that traffic in the neighborhood quieted to a cricket’s chirp, the phones stopped ringing. I didn’t watch any of it ... but apparently everyone else did.
On this inauguration day,
some thoughts and recommendations:
On George Bush in general:
“He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
- Winston Churchill.
On the promotion of torture:
“Is it the less dishonest to do what is wrong, because not expressly prohibited by written law? Let us hope our moral principles are not yet in that stage of degeneracy.”
- Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813.
On the lead-in to the Iraq War:
“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio address, October 26, 1939.
On the Iraq War itself:
“There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to
prevent the drawing of the sword.”
- General Ulysses S. Grant.
Owning up to the mistakes in Iraq:
“Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”
- Andrew Jackson.
On talking of freedom and liberty:
“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name - liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny.”
- Abraham Lincoln, Address at Baltimore.
On corporate interests:
“There can be no equality or opportunity if men and women and children be not shielded in their lives from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they cannot alter, control, or singly cope with.”
- Woodrow Wilson.
“Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect.”
- James Madison, 1820.
On gathering more power to the Executive Branch:
“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”
- John Adams.
On the Legislative Branch:
“I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.”
- Ronald Reagan.
And I end this brief political quotefest, chastened:
“There are two kinds of fool. One says, ‘This is old, and therefore good.’ And one says, ‘This is new, and therefore better.’”
- William Ralph Inge, Evening Standard.
2 School Boards Push on Against Evolution. As has been said before, for it to be ‘scientific’, the theory must include the possibility that the ‘creator’ was itself ‘intelligently’ designed ... or derived via natural selection ... maybe more than one ... etcetera, etcetera. As Arthur C. Clarke once observed, noone has ever disproved the existence of Zeus or Thor.
SF New Mexican:
Governor Bill Richardson’s “State of the State” address.
Capital Weaves a Steel Cocoon for a Big Party. Welding shut manhole covers? Now who’s brainchild is that? They should retrofit bolted covers. Earliest reference I can find is Y2K in Manhattan. Any earlier precedent?
Test your memory
and take the quiz over at CivilRightsTeaching.org. I’ve seen too many ostensibly well-read webloggers mentioning that they couldn’t explain what benefits the civil rights movement were; a veritable pox on the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s one thing to be ignorant, but to parade it around is a little much, esp. when Google is a finger away. If you run across any dimbulbs yourself, don’t engage in verbal fisticuffs. Just quietly point them to this chart. It’s an incontrovertible result that is authoritative and easily explainable.
Of course, this doesn’t elucidate the long suffering and devastating human cost behind these cold analytic words. This might help.
Sleep well, Martin. Many of us do not—indeed, can not—forget, and will actively try to pass on your legacy.
Seymour Hersh upsets the neocon applecart, again. That we’re infiltrating Iran comes as no surprise, at least to readers of Tom Clancy novels [life imitating art imitating life].
The article, itself.
The Pentagon apparently believes in “fairy spray.”
PBS cuts nude scene from HBO movie. Pah. Next we’ll be blindfolding breastfeeding babies. Still no outrage over actresses and actors popping back into unhandicapped health and happiness after multiple bullet wounds; something that’s likely much more harmful to society, than a bit of naked flesh. Last time I looked at stats, firearm homicide is in the top 5 for causes of death in kids 10-24; if I remember correctly, as high as #2. The FCC and [minority] others should just forget skin ... and instead, insist producers show the colostomy bag and other likely complications post-gunshot.
Case in point: From today’s SF New Mexican.
The commercial Presidency.
NY Times Editorial:
How to retire rich. More ideas for Social Security, but I wonder if anyone in the Administration has their fingers out of their ears.
NY Times Letters to the Editor:
U of C Press:
SF New Mexican:
Agency Running Social Security to Push Change. “But agency employees have complained to Social Security officials that they are being conscripted into a political battle over the future of the program. They question the accuracy of recent statements by the agency, and they say that money from the Social Security trust fund should not be used for such advocacy.” My italics. Our tax dollars, being used to bilk us of our futures. Despicable.
Arts & Letters Daily points to
two articles on George Lakoff’s book [one, two]. Noone mentions the Gringrich “newspeak” employed so successfully during the Republican “Contract With America” takeover of Congress in the ‘90’s. There are copies of his GOPAC memo floating around the ‘net; read it and you’ll see something we’ve been living with (read: involuntarily subjected to) without interruption for 11 years. It *was* a kinder, gentler world before this. This is where our current cultural ‘polarity’ came from. Yes, words have consequences ...
NY Times Editorial:
Letting judges pass judgment. We are having the most serious challenges to the bedrock Constitutional concept of separation of powers in our time. The Republicans want to control the final third branch, by hook or by crook. I hope you’re all paying attention.
Overhauling Retirement Is Worth Risk, Cheney Says. Mr. Cheney, my retirement account is only now approaching recovery from the last catastrophic stock market drop. Many retirees are still suffering. Peddle your science fiction elsewhere.
U.S. Panel Sees Iraq as Terror Training Area. “But the report says that the war, as well as other possible conflicts, ‘could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are ‘professionalized’ and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself.’”
Prince Harry opens old wounds. History waits. The British people were deeply uneasy with their German heritage monarchs during WWII.
Judge Orders Removal of Evolution Stickers. “Science and religion are related and they’re not mutually exclusive ... snip ... This sticker was an effort to get past that conflict and to teach good science.” *Sigh.* Fear of the ‘monkey uncle.’ Good science is proper recognition of natural selection, and the benefits that we currently enjoy because of it. Promoting spontaneous generation hasn’t done anything for mankind.
Hannibal, horrible? Maybe not.