40 Comments


  • Wow! Great piece. But I fear it is too late for this year. All this hand-wringing over the CBS memos is so frustrating, not just because CBS may have done something incredibly stupid, but also because of the continuing success of the Repugnants in moving the conversation away from the point, and the left’s complicity in allowing it to happen.

    September 16, 2004
  • Great article-thanks, Bob!!

    September 16, 2004
  • Well, Kerry appeared to go on the attack today, saying what anyone with the sense god gave a doorknob already knows: that Bush has lied and is lying to Americans about the war in Iraq. As you say, it may be too late, alas.

    September 16, 2004
  • De nada, Bendita.

    September 16, 2004
  • Your wit was missed around here, dude. 🙂

    September 16, 2004
  • Ha! Thank you. There are some who’d say my wit is just missing, period.

    September 16, 2004
  • Great article. I agree with its sentiments, and have been thinking for a while that for the Dems to win, they have to fight fire with fire — because the Reps’ fire is so insidiously effective.

    What astonishes me is how little media fuss is made over the blatant lies, the sleazily misleading statements, etc. Wasn’t there a time in this country when journalists were tough, and asked direct and difficult questions? Are our newspapers turning into no better than tabloid rags? (Don’t even get me started on TV news.)

    September 16, 2004
  • I like this part:

    You can’t let Michael Moore and that Eli from Moveon.org guy who sends too many e-mails…

    Hah!

    September 17, 2004
  • Yeah, it’s like the hourly update on the crimes of the Bush administration. If you don’t pay attention to the e-mails, Eli marches outside your house with a banner: “Bush, Very Bad.”

    September 17, 2004
  • What astonishes me is how little media fuss is made over the blatant lies, the sleazily misleading statements, etc.

    It’s the media’s corporate posture of neutrality that cedes the turf to the most outrageous liar. The Bush campaign issues a press release saying that John Kerry is actually a vampire who has to drink the blood of Christian babies to stay alive, and that Kerry furthermore takes orders from Stalin and Hitler, who are not actually dead. The Kerry campaign issues a denial. The New York Times prints both the Bush charge and Kerry’s denial, and in doing so has achieved “balance,” without regard to physical reality outside the confines of Karl “Dr. Strangelove” Rove’s skull.

    September 17, 2004
  • Perfect. I am reminded of Jack Newfield’s quote: “Objectivity is not shouting “Liar!” in a crowded country.”

    September 17, 2004
  • Explosive cranial decompression

    It’s not just sad, it’s infuriating how people swallow exactly what they hear without a glimmer of critical thought. Here are two memes flying around: “John Kerry is bad because he killed babies in Vietnam.” “John Kerry is bad because he accused American soldiers of killing babies in Vietnam.” How the blue FUCK can people hold both thoughts in their heads without suffering explosive cranial decompression?

    As I was just posting over in ‘s journal, my father served in the army between Korea and Vietnam and later put in his 20-plus years in the National Guard. My brother is in the National Guard and did 14 months in Iraq. While my brother was in Iraq, both of them decided the war was shit and they would reluctantly vote for Kerry. Now that Tim is back, they’re both back in the Bush camp. “Kerry is a flip-flopper,” says Tim.

    Oh, what? You KNOW Bush lied to get us into a war in Iraq, but you TRUST him when he misrepresents Kerry’s voting record? HE’S A PROVEN LIAR! FASTER PUSSYCAT ATTACK ATTACK!

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    FASTER PUSSYCAT ATTACK ATTACK!

    Despite the seriousness of the subject, this made me laugh out loud.

    I have had the exact same experience with my sister, who would NEVER want her sons to serve in combat, but who is entirely behind the Bush administration’s War on Everyone. When I point out the disconnect between her beliefs about the administration and the facts on the ground in Iraq, and here at home, I SEE the walls come down. The will not to understand.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    I think political affiliation is like religion in many important ways, something people find easier to believe blindly in than to question. Which is why I’m not just a cynic but a pessimist.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Concur, sadly. By the way, that’s a lovely subject line: well put, Shunn!

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Jolly chuffed, Howe. I say! All that’s left to us is wit and all that. Right!

    On the subject of explosive cranial decompression, I finally decided I had to try to find a graceful way out of this little discussion that I provoked.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Synchronicity: I’m pursuing a similarly fruitless thread in ‘s blog.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    It’s your theory of flame wars again. Even calm debates online often go far past where they would in person.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    You were prescient. We who are about to be deleted salute you.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Having just read those threads, I suppose the most obvious reaction would be “Jesus!”

    Sure, I’m an agnostic (defined in one of my F&SF stories as an atheist without the strength of his convictions), but what boggles me is why Christians as individuals, and American “Christianity” as a whole, can’t see and live by the plain fact that Jesus is history’s most famous liberal.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    As I wrote in ‘s blog, it depends on who’s doing the defining. Many people are vicious anti-Semites who believe they are justified in their bigotry by Matthew 27:25 and John 8:44, to cite just two examples.

    This is the problem with using the Bible as a moral guide: it’s too much of a Rorshach test; you can use it to justify anti-Semitism, homophobia, communism, capitalism, and universal love. And that’s just the New Testament.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Aye, there’s the rub.

    And as Father Kurt has pointed out, how come the “because I’m a Christian” folks are quick to quote Leviticus (albeit selectively) but find it inconvenient to recall the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, which are supposedly the actual words of Jesus (a.k.a. “my favorite philosopher” -GWB). You know, blessed are the meek and the peacemakers, all that good stuff.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    What Would Jesus Do? Blow them Iraquis’ freakin’ heads off! YEAH!

    Oops, sorry. Got carried away. 🙂

    It’s a question that has often troubled my mind, how so many Christians behave in such an un-Jesus-like manner. Maybe we need to found Jesusism, a religion that promotes peace, tolerance, meekness, wisdom, and the power of parable (not to be confused with fact).

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Oh, and btw, I think of “agnostic” as the flexibility of mind not to require the dogma of either atheism or deism/theism. I have very strong agnostic convictions indeed. >g<

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    I don’t think it’s flexibility of mind so much: I think belief is an emotional issue. For all that I’d like to believe in an all-encompassing, benevolent deity, I just can’t get past the feeling that we live in a mechanical universe without any supernatural agency.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Actually, I do agree. I don’t think you can change your beliefs by an act of will — I tried, in college, to Find Jesus (hey, I was depressed and my Jesus-freak friends all seemed so convinced it was a good idea), but I never won that Where’s Waldo game.

    It does bug me, though, when atheists (or True Believers) make disparaging remarks about agnosticism, as if somehow we’re less smart or committed.

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Well, Jesus had his moments. He did uphold the harsh laws of the Old Testament, according to Matthew 5:17-19. And in Mark 7:10, Jesus quotes Moses: “…Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”

    To quote Lichtenberg, “A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to peer out.”

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Well, I’m an atheist, but I’m agnostic on whether agnostics are wishy-washy. (Who could resist THAT line?)

    About finding Jesus:

    A man is stumbling through the woods totally drunk when he comes upon a preacher baptizing people in the river. He proceeds to walk into the water and subsequently bumps into the preacher.

    The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol, whereupon he asks the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?”

    The drunk answers, “Yes, I am.”

    The preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water. He pulls him up and asks the drunk, “Brother, have you found Jesus?”

    The drunk replies, “No, I haven’t.”

    The preacher shocked at the answer, dunks him into the water again for a little longer this time. He again pulls him out of the water and asks, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?”

    The drunk again answers, “No, I haven’t found Jesus.”

    The preacher dunks the drunk in the water again, but this time holds him down for about thirty seconds, and only when the drunk begins kicking his arms and legs frantically does the preacher pull him up.

    The preacher again asks the drunk, “Now, for the love of God, have you found Jesus?”

    The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, “Are you sure this is where he fell in?”

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    tee hee

    Actually, I did find Jesus, back in ’88. Jesus Basuel, good friend of mine. We called him “Jesse.”

    Well, I’m an atheist, but I’m agnostic on whether agnostics are wishy-washy. (Who could resist THAT line?)

    I *so* wish you could groan over the Internet….

    September 17, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    I missed reading most of those posts before they were deleted. Am I sorry?

    September 18, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Thomas Jefferson’s response to Jesus (as I pointed out to my mother when she forwarded me an email quoting him as saying “I am a true Christian”) was to create his own version of the New Testament by physically cutting out every statement that didn’t seem to jibe with the idea of Jesus as a promoter of reasonable values. Jefferson thought that Jesus was a great philosopher, but that if he really believed he was the Son of God then he was also crazy.

    September 18, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Another part of the problem with using the New Testament as a guide to Jesus’s philosophy is that Jesus is being quoted first-, second-, third-, or fourth-hand. The different gospels, including the apocryphal, can give a certain degree of triangulation on what he might have said, but of course those writing were assembled and edited later by a church trying to reinforce a certain portrait of Jesus as a divine figure. Who knows how much of all that he really said?

    September 18, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    No, not at all. You are freed from durance vile. The gist of my argument was twofold: sincere religious belief isn’t a good guide to public policy, since one can certainly be sincerely deluded; and that you can find justifications for liberal and reactionary attitudes in the New Testament—as I say in this thread, Jesus as a Rorschach test.

    September 18, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Exactly. Added to which are the issues of translation and interpretation of First Century colloquial writing.

    September 18, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    But Jesus didn’t always preach peace:

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
    35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
    36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
    37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    —Matthew 10:34-37, KJV

    Even if that’s metaphorical, it could still be taken pretty literally to justify a lot of bad behavior in the name of Christianity. And Jesus himself is the one who fashioned himself a whip and laid into the merchants at the temple who were simply doing what had always been done there.

    September 20, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    I stand corrected. 🙂

    I should never try to argue Christianity with those who’ve been in the trenches. (It’s interesting, though; I hadn’t realized Jesus said [or was said to have said] such inflammatory things.)

    September 21, 2004
  • Re: Explosive cranial decompression

    Well you’re hardly alone: this very point infuriates fundamentalist Christians, who insist their Jesus, the “real” Jesus, isn’t some namby-pamby, new-age, peace freak, but a “muscular God.” They scoff at what they see as the “denatured” Jesus of the non-evangelical churches.

    It’s easy for even longtime atheists to sometimes forget that we’re trying to parse the meaning of words written by divers hands, with different political agendas, quoting a person who’s historicity has never really been firmly established.

    September 21, 2004
  • PS

    You’ll be saddened by this obituary from the Los Angeles Times:

    Russ Meyer, 82; Iconic Sexploitation Filmmaker

    By Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer

    Russ Meyer, a master of sexploitation filmmaking who was called “king of the nudies” or “King Leer” for such soft-core pornography classics as “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and “Vixen,” has died. He was 82.

    September 23, 2004
  • Re: PS

    Thanks for that link. Here’s another Meyer obituary, this one from Roger Ebert:

    http://www.suntimes.com/output/eb-feature/cst-ftr-xmeyer22.html

    Ebert goes into more detail about Meyer’s service in WWII and enlivens the obit with personal reminiscences (they worked together on “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”).

    September 24, 2004
  • Re: PS

    That is a very nice piece on Meyer. What a career, huh?

    September 24, 2004

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