Like Yglesias, I thought this was a joke. It's not, but it's still a joke.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
I suppose it shouldn't shock me when evangelical Christians display a shocking ignorance of science, but I thought we were all on the same side when it came to the Moon's reflecting sunlight.
I guess not.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Sorry I've been away so long. It's inexcusable of me not to check in every so often. But I've been doing a great deal of literary work--two screenplays, two short stories, adapting and producing a full length play. And I've been trying to keep food in the Frigidaire in the midst of this nasty economic slump. Put simply, I've been busy. Here are a few of the things I've been doing:
Oh, we're doing another reading, hopefully the sound environment will be a bit better, on August 17th at 8pm at the Faire Gallery and Cafe in Seattle. Those readers, whoever they may be, in town for that date should check it out.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Matt Yglesias struggles to understand why the modern conservative movement invests as much interest as they do in speakers like 14-year-old Jonathan Krohn. I don't have the answer, but it does remind me of something:
Sunday, March 08, 2009
We've all heard the sad story of the dentist who plans to cut back her work hours so that her income will drop from $320,000 to $250,000, allowing her to avoid a 3% tax increase on the $70,000 difference. (Now I can't see the logic of dumping $70,000 in income just to avoid paying, at most, an extra $2,100 a year, but what do I know about money?) And I know how much it troubles her that she won't be able to do as much to serve her community as a result. So instead of cutting your hours back, Ms. Dentist, I've got a solution for you.
Give the money to me.
Not all your money, of course. Just the $70,000. Bring it to me in denominations of $10s and $20s. I won't give you a receipt so we can keep it off the books--no IRS fuss or anything. I'd stick it in a safe deposit box at the bank and dip into it as I needed it, and you could keep the $2,100 that would have gone to the evil Federal Government in your pocket. Do with it what you please. Buy yourself a 52 inch TV. Wouldn't that look good in your house right about now?
No. No. It's no trouble at all. I'd be sure to give that money a good home. Really, I'd thank you. Your patients would thank you. Your community would thank you. It's win-win-win!
Saturday, March 07, 2009
I should probably apologize to whatever readers might be left of this blog for having failed to utter a peep on it since January. I sadly have the most prosaic explanation imaginable at the ready. I've been way too fucking busy!!! See? Even with three exclamation marks it's dull, which is a shame, because the work I've been up to has never wandered too far from being interesting and worthwhile.
Those of you who've been keeping up with the MMIP know that, back in February, I was holding auditions for Middleton and Dekker's The Roaring Girl. It worked out that I wasn't able to cast it from those auditions. It's a big play and requires more actors than I could assemble. So I moved up the production I wanted to to later in the year: Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts. Casting that has taken up whatever portion of my time that wasn't devoted to that other MMIP project: the short story podcast. I've spent the last two months sifting through submissions of short stories and poetry for items suitable for the inaugural podcast in late April or early May. Today, I settled on the three items I'm going to run. I'm thrilled for the writers of these three short stories, all gems in their way, and can't wait to find actors to give them voice.
All this means I've not only had a couple of busy months, but I'm soon to have another couple of busy ones, directing Ghosts for its May release, getting this spate of stories out the door, and searching for the stories and poems that'll comprise our Summer issue. And though I would like to keep the blog running and entertain you in my own inimitable fashion on it, it may well be that, in a couple of months, I'll be back with the same dull apology I've just issued.
Now that that's out of the way, I wanted to spend a few minutes scratching a couple of itches that have been bothering me in the course of my labors. In spite of the change that Barack Obama's election has brought to America--and believe me I'm grateful--there are signs that certain things have stuck with us, things America just seems compelled to burp up every few days to give us a burning, acidic aftertaste of the bygone and best forgotten. Yes, I'm talking about Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Kenneth Starr, and Ayn Rand.
While I'll spend the rest of my life grumbling about how much of my thirties I had to spend under George W. Bush's regime, I can identify one salubrious symptom of the era: Rush Limbaugh mattered less. The right, who now I guess hate to be reminded of it, gave their devotion to Bush, and Rush was reduced to yet another cheerleader among the cheerleaders. No longer newsworthy, Rush was safely remanded to his radio show, where only his dittoheads had to endure his voice. Now that Obama's is president, I hear from the sonofabitch daily. He's once again the person everyone on the right wants to suck up to, enjoying the kind of cringing devotion granted that other spherical, drug-addled tyrant, Kim Jong Il.
Newt Gingrich also seemed like a casualty of the Bush era. Oh, sure, he'd pop up on C-Span everyone once in a while to prattle on about "Rescuing American Civilization" or some other such high sounding flapdoodle. He'd offer up half-assed solutions to health care, or global warming, or homelessness at conferences for gathered pundits at think tanks. (You know what Gingrich thinks the homeless need? Three guesses. Give up? A laptop. I know, I would have said an apartment too, but that's only because we're not visionaries like Gingrich, who can not only see the homeless with laptops, but can also see how they'll operate the suckers when it's twenty below, and how they'll keep them from street punks who'd like to steal them and sell them for crack.) Next to the daily lunacies of the Bush administration, though, Newt's crackpot notions seemed harmless enough, especially since he'd been long out of power. But now he's back, and Republicans are listening to him. "It would be wise to listen to him." Senator John Thune said.
Now I understand that historical memory is becoming a joke in this country, that the noise of the present tends to drown out the echoes of the past, but surely you Republicans remember this guy. He was your leader just ten fucking years ago! Many of you were around at the time. Many of you elected him your leader in the first place, rebelling against him only after you discovered that, while he was helping you raise a stink about Bill Clinton's adulteries, he was getting some staff-sponsored fellatio action of his own. You remember how he shut down the government twice, helping your arch-enemy Bill Clinton look sensible and sober by comparison, and enabling him cruise to a second term. You remember all the weirdo shit he used to spout about how women shouldn't go into combat because men were better suited to hunting giraffe. And you still think it's "wise" to listen to him?!? He's yammering on about running for President again, for Christ's sake! Given that he's about as popular as a botulism germ infected with the AIDS virus, Gingrich's presidential ambitions are a sign of impending mental collapse. Why should anyone treat him seriously, or give him time on the news, when what he really needs is Ritalin and lithium? As for the illness that makes you right-wingers listen to him, birchers, heal thyselves.
Kenneth Starr's unfortunate reemergence is all about California's odious Proposition 8, a law whose existence suggests that the majority can, if it despises a minority enough, simply pass a law to take that minority's rights away. Ken Starr is, predictably, defending this proposition, secure in the knowledge that, as a white male American Protestant bluenosed zealot, nobody will ever do such a thing to him. His position grants him the smugness to argue to before the court that "[Prop 8] does not erode any of the bundle of rights that this state has very generously provided...[but merely] restores the traditional definition of marriage." Yes, gay people, the state of California has been nice enough to you, allowing you to live there, pay taxes, sit in traffic jams, cohabit, and even partake of a separate legal regime that's kinda like marriage unless you want to get on your civil servant spouse's health insurance or need to live for any significant period of time in separate residences. Why all this insistence on being treated equally before the law? Get used to your separate status, just as black people should have gotten used to those separate but equal goodies they got after Plessy v. Ferguson. You know what your trouble is? You're ungrateful.
If you think I'm exaggerating the connection between Ken Starr's line of reasoning an that of recent right-wing thinking on Plessy v. Ferguson, check out this gem from former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rhenquist (quoted from an article by Cass Susstein):
Rehnquist's memo unambiguously stated that "Plessy vs. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed." It acknowledged that this "is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position for which I have been excoriated by 'liberal' colleagues." But in its key passage, it insisted that "one hundred and fifty years of attempts on the part of this court to protect minority rights of any kind -- whether those of business, slaveholders, or Jehovah's Witnesses -- have all met the same fate. One by one the cases establishing such rights have been sloughed off, and crept silently to rest. If the present court is unable to profit by this example, it must be prepared to see its work fade in time, too, as embodying only the sentiments of a transient majority of nine men."
Rehnquist went on: "To the argument ... that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are."
Rehnquist's memo concluded that the court should uphold segregation and refuse to protect "special claims" merely "because its members individually are 'liberals' and dislike segregation."
Susstein adds that Rhenquist claimed during his confirmation hearings in 1971 that the memo was meant to reflect Justice Jackson's views rather than his own. Rhenquist was Jackson's clerk at the time. But most historians don't believe him. Too much of his own legal reasoning from his arrival on the court to his death reflected these views, and his influence echoes there still, in the current court majority, and in current conservative legal thinking.
No doubt, had Starr refused for whatever reason to take the Prop 8 case, the initiative's supporters would have found some other Federalist Society mouthpiece to sell their arguments to the courts. Still, having Starr back as a sexual scold brings back too many sad memories.
From the sad to the silly, we come at last to Ayn Rand, the crank who launched a million cranks. Even though one of her most prominent former adherents, former Federal Reserve Chairman Allen Greenspan, has expressed some regret on his role in pushing for the kinds of deregulation of capital markets that flung us into the economic shithole, others seem determined to rush toward the old bat's collection of love letters to arrogant, socially dysfunctional plutocrats in hopes of finding a guide to future success and sexual fulfillment. Members of Congress pass out Atlas Shrugged to departing interns, or thumb through it as if it were the libertarian version of the Book of Revelations, hoping that their commitment to capitalism and crushing the leeches will be enough to afford them a ticket to the Rapture. Michelle Malkin tells us that conservatives are preparing to "go Galt" (stop doing productive work) in order to prevent Barack Obama from taking money from the beleagured rich to give to the undeserving poor.
Has Michelle Malkin ever done any productive work? If she stopped would we miss her? If the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Citi, or Bank of America chucked it in and took the last train for Galt's Gulch, would the world be any worse off for it? Surely there are other business school mediocrities that we can groom to take their places. They'll need jobs when they graduate, after all. And they won't mind their sudden advancement to the top. The one thing they're good at is convincing themselves that they've earned their place in the world. In the meantime, with the right voluntarily sequestered in their Capitalist Shangri-La, the rest of us can make sure that their replacements' worst impulses can no longer screw the poor or ruin the Earth as a habitat for humanity. (And yes, conservatives, that includes you, whether you like it or not.)
So maybe this boomlet in Rand interest can be worked to our collective benefit, much as the old witch would hate the idea. Still, this "everything discredited is credited again" approach the American right is taking tires me. Barack Obama isn't perfect. He'll need people who'll make sensible criticisms of his ideas and policy choices, just to keep him honest. I guess it'll be up to the Left to provide him with that, because, based on their current choice of role models, it's clear that the Right still has a long way to go before it finds its mind.
I hope that'll keep you until I make my next apology.