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Monday, November 18, 2002.

I gave going back to work today a shot and found I had to come right back home and go to bed. That bug I caught last week is still hanging on. I think I should have realized that I was in for trouble when I stepped outside and decided I was still a tad too weak to walk to work. So I drove in, and worked a couple of hours, drove back and went to bed. I'm hoping tomorrow I can resume normal service.

I see a number of bloggers are taking vacations for a while. I'm not likely to go that route myself just yet, but the last election left me exhausted, and it takes a lot of energy to stay engaged when every time you glance at what the White House Gang and their pals in various high places are up to now, you just want to explode.

I started this web log as a kind of personal on line diary of my life and my world. Something my family and friends could visit from time to time to see what Bruce is up to. In the course of posting here, I've written about living with a dear friend and thoroughly incompatible roommate until he could find a new apartment after he'd been kicked out of his old place, about working at the Space Telescope Science Institute, about driving solo around the American Southwest for several weeks, about learning how to take care of my first house, about coping with my mom's passing away last year, and about rediscovering city life after a life spent in the suburbs. I expected that politics would have its say here in the usual course of things, particularly given how I feel about the stealing of the presidency by Bush and the republicans, and all those true blue patriotic americans who were completely comfortable with their man thieving his way into the oval office. Now the next few years are gonna be a relentless political nightmare, and as Nietzsche said, When you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Ted Barlow took a hiatus in October, saying he didn't like being angry all the time. I know the feeling. I've been doing my part for the dream of Gay and Lesbian equality since I discovered in grade school how sexy boys were, and I know how it is to put your head on the pillow every night, a little angrier then you were the night before, a little angrier then you thought it was humanly possible to be angry about anything. When you fight hate, it is always a two front battle; the hater with a baseball bat can kill you, but you can surrender to hate too, either by running away from it, or embracing it yourself. Either way, hate wins, and the decent loving person you could have been, and all the good you could have done, is gone as surely as if you were taken by the knife or club. Fighting hate, is always a two front battle.

One way of winning the inner war, is to keep yourself firmly engaged in life. That is what I intend to do in the coming months, and particularly around the holiday season. For those of you who have only joined me recently, the slight shift in tone of this web log, from a near exclusive focus on national politics, back to more of a mix of personal musings and stuff along with politics, might seem like I've given up the fight. I haven't. I am simply reminding myself, and anyone who cares to read this space, why the fight is important.

...that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...

The holidays approacheth. As Edgar W. Howe said, Instead of loving your enemies, treat your friends a little better.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, November 15, 2002.

The New Iron Curtain

The White House Gang just keeps comin' up with new ideas to keep information about they're up to safely out of the sight of the American people.

Jon Carroll, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle passes on the news that Mitch Daniels, former senior vice president of Eli Lilly, and now the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, wants to pull responsibility for information management away from the Government Printing Office and give it to the individual Cabinet agencies.

Pretty nifty, huh? Quoting an LA Times editorial on the subject, he writes:

Currently, a federal agency such as the Pentagon can't delete an embarrassing passage from a historical document without first going through the hassle of asking each reading room to obscure the passage with a black marker.

If Daniels gets his way, all an agency will have to do is call up the document in Microsoft Word and quietly hit Control X to delete the passage for eternity.

Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry, Daniels presumably knows first hand the importance of not letting raw data on what you're up to get into the hands of average citizens. Lilly meanwhile, is also benefiting from having corporate thugs and the men who love them running the federal government. Dick (Barney Fag) Armey, another down to earth Texan of the people, inserted into the Homeland Security bill, at the last minute, a provision protecting Lilly from lawsuits on behalf of children stricken with autism after having thimerosal, their mercury-based vaccine, shot into their veins. Apparently some parents of autistic children seem to feel there is a connection between the two events. But why defend a perfectly good mercury based vaccine in court, when you can simply ring up your trusty congressional man servant and get yourself a personal exception to the rule of law? And if you're wondering what any of this has to do with Homeland Security, you're probably still sucking on republican propaganda that Smirk has been fighting tooth and nail since 9-11 for the new Homeland Security Agency, only to be stonewalled time and again by those unpatriotic terrorist loving democrats.

[UPDATE] The pharmaceutical industry certainly has its little ways of getting the attention of important members of congress. Like...oh... the ones on the health care committee...

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) was outed for having an affair with Deborah Steelman, a health care lobbyist who routinely had business with Thomas' health care committee and steered huge campaign gifts to Thomas' war chest. Steelman, now a vice president for Eli Lilly, did not deny the affair; rather, she was enraged that anyone would think having sex with Thomas gave her undue advantage: "To suggest I would stoop to an 'inappropriate relationship' to achieve legislative results is repugnant and sexist."

A Republican. Had an affair with a lobbyist. Working for an industry his committee regulates. Who steered gifts to his campaign coffers. And who later became a Vice President of one of the biggest companies his committee regulates. A round of applause please, for the republicans, and the era of righteous moral standards they have ushered into Washington, which have consigned the Clinton era of shady dealings and debauchery to the ash heap of history. (Clap...clap...clap...)

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tom Paine's Legacy Lives On...

I've said before that this medium, the web, would have delighted the first American political pamphleteers. Here's another good one from TomPaine.Com, titled, The Chickenhawk's War: Vietnam Draft-Dodgers Are The Force Behind An Iraqi Invasion.

Vice President Dick Cheney has said he didn't serve in Vietnam because he had "other priorities." Clearly, so did President Bush, who was in the National Guard, but went nearly 14 months without reporting for service and was almost declared AWOL. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a prominent hawk who is currently settled in a right-wing think tank, was in graduate school. Republican Whip Tom Delay also asked for a school deferment. Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed a medical problem, as did current House leader Dennis Hastert. Senator Trent Lott was busy leading his college cheerleading squad.

The author, George Johnson, served in the Navy from 1962 to 1966. He is the Vice Commander of American Legion Post 315 and a member of Veterans for Peace. The great republican Wurlitzer can fill the airwaves with whatever tune Karl Rove wants heard, but it can not silence the voices of conscience. In some better place, Tom Paine's ghost is dancing a jig.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, November 14, 2002.

Thinking So Deep It Hurts...

Stephen Miller at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum just couldn't help himself the day after election day 2002. Wagging his finger at the National Gay and Lesbian Task force after they called on the house and senate republicans to "work toward eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity", Miller giddily averred:

Well, you can't suddenly call on Republicans to work with you after demonizing them year after year.

I'll admit it's going to be goddamn hard to call on a party, whose fearless leader once said he'd veto any bill repealing Texas' sodomy law, calling it an expression of the moral values of the people, to treat homosexual Americans as anything other then human garbage. But what the heck...we might as well begin the process of living under republican rule as if all that claptrap about "united we stand" and "let's roll" actually means anything to them beyond "united we stand on the collective throats of homosexuals" and "let's roll over the rights of Gay and Lesbian Americans, just because we can." But if Miller seriously thinks that the problem here is Gay demonizing of republicans, he's gone from piss ignorant ideologue, to certifiable loon. I'll allow, that he may have always been just plain nuts to begin with.

Question: Which state party, of what governor who became president, made the following a plank in their most recent election platform:

The party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable 'alternative' lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should 'family' be redefined to include homosexual 'couples.' We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

The party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society. The party believes that the practice of sodomy contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. The party believes that the practice of sodomy leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. The party believes that the practice of sodomy is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God. And homosexuals are guilty of demonizing republicans.

And wouldn't you know it, the same party that wrote the plank above, now controls enough power in the Texas statehouse to have its way:"

Last week, the day after Republicans secured their first majority of the Texas House in modern times, Texas GOP Chairwoman Susan Weddington said a ban on same-sex marriages would be a priority.

What a difference a republican majority makes, eh?

Miller needs to go find the pit he buried his conscience in, after he took it around behind the barn and shot it, and make sure it can't get back up on its feet, because if it ever does, and it gets its hands back on him, he might have to look the man who willingly made himself a cog in the machinery of hate in the eye, and ask "why?" and from what I hear, those are not easy conversations.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, November 13, 2002.

Republicans first...Americans second...

I'm home with a bug, of the non-software variety today, and waffling between the bed and the computer. The nice thing about sick leave is that it gives you time to catch up on your reading. The problem of course, is that you'd usually rather keep your head on the pillow, and your eyes closed. I don't know about the rest of you, but a fever usually makes it difficult for me to keep my eyes focused on the printed page.

A computer CRT isn't that much better, but it beats laying worthless on the couch in front of the TV watching daytime crap. I can, and often do, sit at my computer and pick at this and that piece of software I am working on, satisfied that I am accomplishing something without contaminating my co-workers. (I am not so much a dedicated employee, as an obsessive computer geek, whose mind will just not let go of a software puzzle until it figures it out. Not even flat on your back flu shuts down that portion of my brain. Even while touring the American southwest last year, I would occasionally hit on an idea, and jot it down on the laptop I took with me.) I can also check e-mail, and browse the web for points of interest, between naps. The most frustrating thing about sick time, is your body vacillating between telling you that you've spent too much time in bed, and then ordering you back into it once you've been up for a while.

Since Salon started publishing Andrew Sullivan I haven't read it much, but I get restless easily when confined to the house, and I wandered into Salon's site today and I'm glad I did, because Garrison Keillor let's loose another one across the republican bow and it almost made my having spent the money on Salon's premium service worthwhile, despite the fact of some of that going into Sullivan's pocket.

Keillor today, makes no apologies for his angry column of a few days ago, and keeps on speaking his mind about the mob of power hungry thugs the republican party has become. It is dazzling. I could almost be talked into resubscribing, to see this kind of honest, passionate, commentary from an American of conscience. This sentence in particular, drives the nail firmly home:

They are Republicans first and Americans second.
-Garrison Keillor

It's time, it's long past time actually, for the opposition to realize that it's in a knife fight with an enemy that hates democracy, that hates everything good and noble America ever stood for, and which is fighting a determined fight to turn this nation into its own private first world banana republic, from which to exploit the rest of the world. It is long past the time for the believers in liberty and justice for all to acknowledge the stakes, take off their gloves, and fight like the future of the American dream is at stake. Because it is.

"Let me scare you with a little story..." -Firesign Theater. If you need a little more convincing of the stakes involved here, check out this dispatch from the kook pews the Slacktivist posted the other day.

Jack Van Impe, a believer in dispensational premillennialism (the American fundamentalist stain on Christianity: a belief originally propounded by John Nelson Darby in the 1840s, that mankind has lived under different periods, or dispensations of divine law, something the first Baptists would have regarded as a heresy, but which was embraced with white knuckles by the American theocracy in the backlash over Darwin, and is now deeply rooted in American evangelical protestantism), is hawking these days a prophecy video he produced titled, Jerusalem: War or Peace? Here are some of the questions his video answers:

And of course...

So typical. You could write Van Impe off as the usual religious fundamentalist nutcase. Ah...but he as fans.

Rexella and I were in the home of President Bush Senior. What a great time we had with his wife Barbara, in fact, she’s even written us four personal letters and we have them hanging up in our memorabilia room. We gave her the message on video, “The Coming War with Russia” and many of our books to share with her husband, George Bush Sr. Of course, I now have sent the video, "Jerusalem: War or Peace" to all the leaders of our nation...

I know that he as seen this video, "Jerusalem: War or Peace". His brother in Florida, Jeb Bush, has seen it because he wrote me the most heartfelt letter. So, yes, I think George W. knows that he's destined for this final hour in prophetic history.

Will the world actually end? Maybe this is a question some curious journalist should ask the candidates for political office in elections yet to come. (Ha!) Or perhaps even ask Smirk himself, should he ever one day decide to take any questions that is. Excuse me...but are you going to make policy in Washington with the intent of fulfilling armageddon prophecies? Can I quote you on that? Be afraid, says Slacktivist. Even if Smirk is merely playing the theocrats for votes, does it make a scintilla of sense whatsoever, to give even a shred of power to people who think they have a God given mandate to facilitate the end of the world? Is the White House Gang that power hungry, that they'll risk the future of the human race for the sake of lining their pockets?

Oh...never doubt it.

Does anyone else think it's sickening to listen to people accuse democrats and liberals of not being sufficiently committed to keeping America strong, who themselves believe that the sooner the world comes to an end, the better?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, November 12, 2002.

Give 'em Hell, Granny D!

Tapped passes along this grandmotherly talk from the 90+ year old grandma who walked across the country for campaign finance reform.

What we are seeing now from the far right is not conservatism at all. It is fascism: the imposition of a national and worldwide police state to enforce a narrow world view that enriches and empowers the few at the expense of the many, and that gives no respect or honor to other cultures, ways of living, or opinions. To call that conservatism is a crime against the memory of America's great and true conservatives, who might think that government ought to be less involved in life than we old liberals would concur with, but who nevertheless stood for the core American values that today's right-wing leaders undermine at every opportunity.

Give this lady a regular column, Tapped says. I agree, but the fact that you don't hear voices like this anywhere in the main stream news is telling on it's own. A Dinesh D'Souza (Dartmouth Review's in-house race and fag baiter back in his college days - in addition to a scolumn on affirmative action, written in crude Amos and Andy ghetto speak, D'Souza is known back there for once publishing in the Review, letters stolen from Dartmouth's GSA in which students discussed their homosexual feelings) can accuse the democrats of being the party of bestiality (and linking homosexuality to bestiality as homophobes are wont), in a main line conservative publication like the National Review and the level of outrage is zero. Were any comparable democratic publication to print Granny D's speech you'd be able to power most of the eastern seaboard from the hot air bellowing from the TV pundits.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Nice To See The Numbers All Adding Up There...

By way of Eschaton comes this amusing little tidbit. Apparently, in a wee corner of Guess Who's home state, an odd little oddity, at least that's what they're calling it, occurred at the polls...

Comal County elections officials noticed an extreme oddity after the final votes were tallied in Tuesday's general election.

County Judge Danny Scheel received 18,181 votes in his victory over Lois Duggan.

Republican state Sen. Jeff Wentworth also got 18,181 votes in Comal County in his win over Democrat Joseph Sullivan and Libertarian Rex Black.

To make matters even stranger, Comal County also gave Republican Carter Casteel exactly 18,181 votes in her victory over Democrat Virgil Yanta in the race for District 73 state representative.

"Isn't that the weirdest thing?" County Clerk Joy Streater asked. "We noticed it right away, but it is just a big coincidence. I checked the precincts and the numbers are all different in every precinct for each of them. They just coincidentally all add up to 18,181."

Scheel hadn't noticed the anomaly.

"I'll be darned," he said when it was pointed out to him. "Look at that. That's weird."

What a coincidence. Kinda like the coincidence of having all those new electronic voting machines, which leave no paper trails, being manufactured by big bucks republican party bankrollers, after the outcry over Smirk's steal of Florida's votes, and hence the White House. Coincidence. Yeah. Yeah. That's what it is.

Microsoft has been known to bring forth solutions to problems of its own making, that just happen to lock users even deeper into Microsoft products, too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, November 11, 2002.

Okay...So You're Born That Way...I Still Hate You.

John Aravosis relays this story about a group of scientists that have found that the 6 to 8 percent of rams that court other rams really do have slightly different brain structures from "straight" sheep, and that the findings parallel similar findings years ago on gay men, which were discounted because the subjects in that study had all died of AIDS. Aravosis says it probably won't stop the fundies and who could reasonably disagree. Take racists for instance. That race is genetic, hardly keeps racists from hating people of different races. I have always felt that my sexual orientation was something I was born with, and I don't know why some people think that merely proving that it is, will attenuate the hate. It won't. They'll just say that since we can't change we are even more a danger to society then if we could at least be reformed. Hate will always find a way to blame the object of hate, for the fact of hate.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Oh...How I Detest Bile...In Others...

Andrew Sullivan does a good piss and moan over Garrison Keillor's take down of Coleman in Minnesota (read below). Sullivan, without any apparent irony, calls Keillor's column a smear, as if smears were beneath Mr. Conscience Undetectable. But Keillor's column was no bilefest, it was thoroughly justified anger at the sight of a grinning liar and a hypocrite getting a free ride from the press, to the detriment of the political process. This hate, says Sullivan, is why the democrats lost, which is a little like Al Capone saying crime does not pay. Stoking hate has been the primary means of vote getting for the Republican party for as long as I can remember, and it's about all you ever get on Sullivan's web site nowadays. Hate for liberals...hate for democrats...hate for anyone who questions the Smirk's legitimacy...hate for anyone who thinks the case for war against Iraq has not been made, let alone the case for letting this commander-in-chief wage it...hate for anyone who questions Israel's right to brutalize Palestinians...hate for anyone who thinks American moslems have the same rights American protestants do...hate for homosexuals who think republican's aren't exactly the gay community's best friends...hate for girlie boy homosexuals...hate...hate...and more hate. The writer James Baldwin once said that, "People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned." Eat it Andrew.

If there is a deepening anger on the part of democrats, and other believers in the American Dream of liberty and justice for all nowadays, there's a reason for that. It's not just the seeing of the dream set to fire by the likes of Sullivan, his black velvet Sinatra President Cartman, and all their fellow travelers. It's not just the sight of them dancing in the ashes. It's watching them then mock it, by wrapping themselves in it. It is akin to a rape victim being forced to listen to their attacker tell them how much they love them, while keeping them pinned hard to the ground. Beware, as John Dryden once said, the fury of a patient man.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, November 10, 2002.


Between the weekly cartoon here and this web log, I sometimes feel as if I've taken on a second part time job, in addition to the full time job that usually occupies quite a bit more then forty hours of my week. Oh...and there's the routine maintenance around the house to take care of. The previous owner planted ivy on the steep grade in my front lawn, which not only looks nice, but keeps me from having to run a lawn mower at a near vertical angle. But periodically the ivy threatens to eat my sidewalk and steps. Even in the depths of the draught this year, when everything else was wilting, that damn ivy kept growing. It's been daring me to cut it for days now, and I reckon I have to get to it.

But yesterday I took a much needed break instead, and got to know a new digital camera I bought. I drove down to Rockville with the idea in mind of taking some shots of the changes there, since I moved away in '93. I ended up taking most of my shots around what became of the one large farm that was left between Rockville and Gaithersburg, the King farm, which was once a beautiful expanse of green pastureland in the middle of a sprawl explosion. Of course it had to get eaten sometime, and I always expected that a tacky plywood and staple gun trophy home development would go there in its place. I was horribly wrong. What they put there is a nightmare.

At the beginning of Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House the main character Eleanor drives up to the house in her sister's car, and turning a corner, comes face to face with it, and Jackson's genius is in her ability to convey to you that initial shock, when beholding a structure that seems brooding, watchful and evil. That passage in the book came roaring to mind when I laid eyes for the first time on what developers had done to the King farm. It was as if the surrounding sprawl had reached some kind of critical mass, and had risen over the last bit of open green space between Rockville and Gaithersburg, completely on its own. Densely packed drywall and plastic siding condos pressed tight against the highway, one right next to the other, like a crowd of soccer fans squeezed up against the fence. Streets were dark, silent canyons of condo wall and comatose, staring windows. Townhomes with white plastic faux picket fencing surrounding five or six square feet of yard stood pressed close to large condo block monoliths, their windows looking blankly at each other. A large multi-deck grey concrete parking garage wedged itself between large condo blocks, with condo balconies that faced directly into it. This model allows you to easily keep your eye on your car, from anywhere inside the house! While I walked around taking pictures, I had to keep reminding myself that human minds were actually responsible for what I was seeing.

At some point I'm going to do a photo shoot spread of what I saw, but more on that later. In the meantime I've got a cartoon to do today, and chores around the house to finish, so this is it for the moment. But just I had to pass this one thing along before I get to it: thought that was an education bill...?

Mother Jones reports that the pentagon is now demanding High schools all across America give them the names, addresses and phone numbers of all their students. Failure to abjectly comply will result in a loss of Federal funds under a provision Smirk signed into law tucked quietly into the, I kid you not, No Child Left Behind Act. Oh...did you think we were going to let your child miss out on our splendid little war?

Recruiters are up-front about their plans to use school lists to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls, and personal visits -- even if parents object. "The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."

The man seems mighty desperate for fresh young meat considering that the military has exceeded its recruiting goals for the past two years. Of course, future manpower needs may be a bit more difficult to achieve if we end up having to occupy half of the middle east in order to keep the oil money flowing. At least, without a draft. But that's where having all that contact information also comes in handy.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, November 8, 2002.

Give 'em Hell...

Lotsa talk around the web, and in the few honest commentators left in the media, that the democrats lost because they had no focused message, or that they were too tame in the face of republican bellicosity. Krugman has a good column on it:

Some of my friends are in despair. They fear that by the time the political pendulum swings, the damage will be irreparable. A ballooning federal debt, they say, will have made it impossible to deal with the needs of an aging population. Years of unchecked crony capitalism will have destroyed faith in our financial markets. Unilateralist foreign policy will have left us without real allies. And most important of all, environmental neglect will have gone past the point of no return.

They may be right. But we have to behave as if they aren't, and try to turn American politics around.

"They may be right. But we have to behave as if they aren't..." Just so. Always, we must act as though America has a future, or for sure it won't.

I believe it was Harry Truman who once said that if you give the people a choice between a republican and a republican, they'll vote for the republican every time. But not all of this can be laid at the doorstep of the democrats, not by any means. Garrison Keillor writes, in a strikingly angry column for the online magazine Salon, regarding the Coleman victory in Minnesota, that "Norm got a free ride from the press." If you've already paid the money for Salon premium content, go read it. Keillor relates a telling moment, when Coleman spoke to a Minnesota Club celebration of F. Scott Fitzgerald's birthday, which Keillor had organized. It soon became clear to everyone that Coleman hadn't read Fitzgerald at all, yet he spoke at great length about him, and with fervor. And last month, at a campaign rally, he stood side by side with Smirk and announced that "God bless America is a prayer, and I believe that this man is God's answer to that prayer." Two family values hypocrites cynically pandering to a political base, the religious right, that as Keillor acknowledges, made peace with hypocrisy long ago. Had they been democrats, none of it would have escaped the notice of the press. But what portion of the press that doesn't consider itself a part of the republican machine outright, is as timid as the democrats are, when it comes to pointing out the personal lies and pathetic failures of character that animate the political right. They are still hoping, hoping, for peace in our time.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, November 7, 2002.

To the voters of Georgia...

Good post by William Burton by way of TBogg, that pretty much sums up my feelings toward the voting majority last Tuesday:

The original version of this post was filled with obscenities, threats, and invective (and I will be down shortly to piss over the state line), but I deleted it in order to appear slightly less insane. I do have a few words for you.

Saxby Chambliss, who faked a knee injury to avoid the draft, ran ads questioning the patriotism and courage of Max Cleland, who lost both legs in Vietnam. For this, you rewarded Chambliss by electing him to the US Senate. Georgians should be ashamed of what they've done. I know many of them aren't, so I'd like to point a couple things out.

You, the voters of Georgia, deserve everything bad that will happen to you over the next few years. You deserve to breathe dirtier air. You deserve to watch your investments dwindle as CEO's get rich at your expense. You deserve to lose the guarantee of Social Security benefits when you retire. You deserve to watch global warming flood your coastal areas and wash away your condominiums. Unfortunately, your kids don't deserve any of these things, and neither does mine. But they'll have to live with them long after we're gone. Hope you enjoy the fucking tax cut.

-William Burton, Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Personally, I think he should have posted the unedited version. On the other hand, I'm sure he'll have plenty of time to satisfy that urge as the years of the Smirk roll on, now without any brakes whatsoever. I was talking to a co-worker, a woman with two young boys, who was more worried then ever now, that the same drooling barnyard morons who voted a chickenshit asswipe into office over a man who gave two legs for his country, because the asswipe was more willing to send other people's children into war, will sooner or later be dragging her flesh and blood by the throats to the alter of Smirk's bottomless greed, because let's face it, crooked politicians are one thing, dirty air is one thing, vanishing retirement money is one thing, swimming up to your necks in alligators to work every morning is one thing, but nothing, absolutely nothing, makes a True Blue Talk Radio Patriot more livid then the sight of someone who doesn't know their place, who thinks they have some kind of inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, who is actually capable of achieving it. Too much is at stake here. Of course they replaced the veteran with a draft dodger. When, at the moment of personal truth, they found themselves alone in the voting booth with a choice between a man who had seen war and paid the price, and a common bar stool fake, and in that one brief moment could not help but take their own measure too, I am certain, that very few of them could have physically pushed the button for Cleland if Jesus Christ himself were standing there watching. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said, no stream rises higher then its source.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, November 6, 2002.

The News From Washington...

During the darkest days of World War II, Winston Churchill delivered a one-paragraph message to the people, which began: "The news from France is very bad..."

He could have done it differently. He could have said: "My fellow citizens: As your Prime Minister - and Prime Minister of all the people - I want to talk to you tonight, in my most sincere manner, about a problem which faces me as the man who holds the highest office in our land. I refer to the stories and speculations and rumors printed in the newspapers and broadcast over the air waves which would have you believe that conditions are not good, that we are in deep trouble, that all sorts of terrible things are happening. Now I respect the right of newsmen and commentators to have their say - false and vicious and slanderous as the things they say of often are. And though it is not the politically safe or easy thing to do, let me say candidly and clearly that I would not pretend for a moment that everything is absolutely perfect in this great country or this great world of ours. But I think you are probably as tired as I am of hearing our country and our allies run down by prejudiced people who do not represent the majority of our splendid citizens, and who never tell you about all the good things that are happening. As you know, it is my policy to act boldly and decisively in each and all of my many crises. Accordingly, I am now making to you an unprecedented announcement. This morning I appointed, for the first time in our nation's history, a Good News Commission. This commission, which will have the full power of the nation's law-enforcement agencies behind it, will report directly to me. I will then..."

But enough.

The news from Washington is bad.

-Herbert Block, from the forward to Herblock's State Of The Union

Of course Herblock was talking about Nixon, but it could almost read for a forward to cartoons on the Smirk regime, and if there is anything I miss more then ever these days, it's Herblock and his clear headed, passionate editorial cartoons. But then, he was from a time when journalists understood the importance of their work to the health of American democracy. Read that forward again, and note the perfect parody of Nixon bellyaching about the press. This is something Smirk will likely never have to do. I am certain, that there is as much relief among newspaper editors everywhere, including at the Washington Post, that the likes of Herblock are no longer with is, as there is in the White House.

Joshua Marshall says with understatement that last night could have gone better. Much as I respect the man I don't think he fully appreciates the calamity this is for America. This isn't merely a republican sweep of the federal government, it's a hard right sweep of it. Nixon had to deal with an independent congress and supreme court. Smirk and the anti-democratic right now own it all. Oh...and they have the press too. In some little forgotten pit of hell, J. Edgar Hoover is having orgasms.

For those of us who still believe in the American dream, for whom liberty and justice for all is no bromide, but a passionately held moral ideal, the road ahead looks dark and vastly dangerous. Ashcroft and Scalia sit on the scales of justice. Lott and Armey make the law. Limbaugh and Hume tell America everything they think it needs to know. And Smirk holds the reigns of the most powerful military on earth. As bad as the war on dissent was during the Nixon years, Nixon did not weld the power the White House Gang now has at its fingertips. The news from Washington is bad.

It is not given to all of us to live in times when the dream of liberty and justice for all is safe and secure. Other Americans, in other times, lived through war, lived through depression, lived through blacklists, lynch mob justice, the brutal suppression of civil rights. There were times past, when it must have seemed to some that all that was left of the American Dream was the piece of it they held in their hearts. The politicians of anti-American right and their media sycophants sold out theirs long ago, because they could not bear to measure themselves against it. Hold it now in yours. Hold it dear. You can. It will see you though the worst of what is yet to come.

Here in Maryland, Agnew II's running mate says today in the Baltimore Sun that "all voices will be heard." I certainly hope he doesn't think that we, the believers in the dream, have lost ours.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, November 5, 2002.

Vote. Fifty-Thousand Plus Floridians Sure Wish They Could...

I walked to my polling place here in Baltimore, thinking that voting between rush hour and noon was my best bet to get in and out again. Ha. My polling place was packed solid with voters. Chairs had been put out all across the elementary school cafeteria that served as our neighborhood polling place, and were nearly full. We had to take numbers, and wait our turn.

I'd gone to the poll wearing a WILLKIE button, a DEWEY one, and a 1960 NIXON button and 1968 NIXON/AGNEW button, right below a little HOOVER one, and beside on that read simply, NO THIRD TERM (I'm pretty sure that one referred to Roosevelt). This close to Hampden, you're allowed to look a little odd in public, and I just wanted to quietly mock the republican machine. I watched a frail, elderly lady inch her way into the polling place, her body seemed carried along by shear determination. I listened as a younger guy bellyached to another about how long people were spending in the booths, complaining that they should have done their "homework" first. I talked to several neighbors who were there, and who I knew from prior conversations had lived in the neighborhood almost since our rows were built. They said they'd never seen the polling place so crowded. But it was clearly not because of any problems with the voting machines, or even the slowness of the voters. There were just oodles more people there, then anyone had expected. Nobody, seeing the crowd inside, left without voting. At least while I was there.

When I got to work, my co-workers also told of larger then usual numbers of voters at the polls where they voted. Maryland, at least, seems to be voting. For better or worse, people here are caring to make sure their vote is cast in this one.

Vote. There are no excuses this time. Here in Baltimore the anti-democrats were out this week putting up posters meant to mislead, scare and intimidate the city's poor and minority voters. In Florida the Bush Gang simply purges them from the voter rolls. When I was in grade school, always you heard around election day of the blood sacrifices paid on the battlefield to secure the right of Americans to vote. This year we are asked to do more then merely exercise the right others have died for. We must vote, to preserve that right. As you waver at the sight of long lines at your polling place, bear this one thing in mind: that the darling of the republican right, and their model for future supreme court justices to come, Antonin Scalia, one of the Bush Five, has said that there is no consitutional right to vote.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, November 3, 2002.

Those Wacky Non-homophobic Republicans...(continued)

I'm pretty much preoccupied with stuff going on here at Casa del Garrett this weekend, but I wanted to keep up with the Who's A Homophobe, debate. Here's one from the Ron Greer/Tammy Baldwin race in Wisconsin. Baldwin is one of the few out members of congress and that fact has just irritated Greer no end. He's claiming he had oh goodness gracious nothing to do with this latest fag baiting incident, but not even the road kill up there could really believe that:

News Item: Anti-gay postcard is denounced by Greer

Ron Greer first came to national attention after he was fired from the Madison Wisconsin fire department in 1997, for issuing a news release that claimed his Fire Chief went easy in disciplining a Division Chief because both women were lesbians. He later lost a suit he filed over the firing in the courts, where evidence of his charges turned out to be scant, and evidence of his hostility toward homosexuals abundant. Greer's public hostility toward Baldwin began when Ms Baldwin, then a state legislator, called for his firing. He's been running against her ever since.

And lest you mistake Greer's fierce homophobia for a personal tiff between him and Baldwin over his firing, consider this:

Greer Mailing Prompts School Flap in Verona

Valeria Davis-Humphrey Suburban reporter
The Wisconsin State Journal
May 21, 1999

The Verona School District superintendent said parents and students are outraged by the tactics of anti-gay activist the Rev. Ron Greer.

Greer, whose children attend Verona schools, recently mailed copies of minutes from a student group, Student Alliance for Acceptance, that supports people of all sexual orientations to 3,000 Verona district families. The minutes included some students' names.

He also included copies of a school "Safe Zone" poster for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

Greer, a former Madison firefighter and Second Congressional District candidate, was fired from the Fire Department last year for anti-gay campaigning on the job.

He included in the mailing a cover letter on stationery from Trinity Evangelical Fellowship, where he is the pastor.

In the letter, Greer accuses the school district of encouraging students to "accept and affirm" "dangerous sexual behavior." The letter also urged parents to question tax money being used to support such school-related functions.

"There are people who may not support the school having a group like this, but don't agree with what he's done," said Verona Superintendent Bob Gilpatrick.

The district has been deluged with calls from outraged parents who either disagree with Greer or agree with him but have a problem with his tactics, Gilpatrick said.

"In this time when schools are trying so hard to build an atmosphere of safety, acceptance and tolerance for the kids, we get an adult who does something like this to undermine the entire effort," Gilpatrick said.

"We are a public school district, we can't pick and choose who we have," Gilpatrick said. "When we have students who are at risk, no matter who they are, we have a responsibility to protect them."

Just so. It is impossible to not know the danger to gay and lesbian kids outing them represents. And in particular, it is impossible for anyone living in Wisconsin, at the time Greer did this, not to know. Does the name Jamie Nabozny ring any bells?

Jamie Nabozny was in seventh grade when the taunts began.

"Faggot," the kids would say on the schoolbus. "Queer," he would hear in the lunchroom.

Nabozny ignored the jeers and catcalls that turned into shoves that became beatings, mock rapes, a group of boys urinating on him in the boys' bathroom. But he never once denied it -- never once tried to stop the abuse by saying, "No, I'm not gay." Because Jamie Nabozny said he always knew he was.

In 1996, he took his Wisconsin school district to federal court for offering unequal protection -- for giving some students the right to an education in a safe school, while denying that right to him.

Initially, it didn't look good, as Nabozny recounted to a few dozen teenagers at the Attic youth center on Friday afternoon.

"The school was arguing that my case meant that anybody who ever got called a name could sue their school, and it would bankrupt school districts," he said. Plus, of the judges considering Nabozny v. Podlesny, two were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and one by President George Bush.

But in July, the judges agreed that Nabozny had a case -- that it was possible to sue a school for not addressing anti-gay violence.

The witnesses started coming out of the woodwork. A school secretary said she would talk about the times Nabozny came into the office, and was ignored. One of Nabozny's former tormenters left his prison cell to talk about what he had done.

And in November, a jury pulled from rural Eau Claire, Wis., found three principals guilty of closing their eyes to the abuse Nabozny had endured.

The night of the verdict, the defendants called to negotiate. And Nabozny's team wound up with $900,000. More than that, they won a legal victory establishing that no gay student would ever have to go through what Nabozny endured.

Excerpted from, The Pain Of Growing Up Gay, by Jennifer Weiner, The Philidelphia Inquirer, May 11, 1997.

Well...not if Ron Greer has his way. It wasn't enough for him to denounce the Student Alliance for Acceptance, he had to out the kids meeting there, the better to erase any hope for safety and security they might have had, the better to terrorize other closeted gay kids, who might have been considering reaching out for support. A fearful homosexual, is a good homosexual.

Two years after Jamie Nabozny won almost a million dollars from his Wisconsin school district for the brutalization he endured while in their care, two years after he described to the state, and the world, the jeers and catcalls that turned into shoves, that became beatings, that became mock rapes and urinating on him in the boys' bathroom, Ron Greer, defending his outing of gay school kids in his district, stated to the press that "it is disingenuous on their [the district's] part to assume that gay and lesbian kids are subject to more harassment." If you think he is merely ignorant, think again. Think hard.

Now...reconsider his more recent disavowal of that anti-gay postcard from Public Advocate of the United States in Merrifield, Va, an group that, according to the Washington Post, targets "pro-homosexual" politicians and sometimes uses street theater to vilify gays as pedophiles.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, November 1, 2002.

The Pentagon Prioritizes Threats: Homosexuals Represent A Greater Danger To National Security Then Islamic Terrorism. Really.

From the Gay Financial News Network, a story up about how, despite a shortage of Arabic linguists in the intelligence and defense fields, the Army has fired a significant number of trained Arabic linguists because they are gay.

It seems grotesque on its face to throw needed talent out the door, just to satisfy the bigots in the ranks whose pricks might wilt and fall off if they saw that a homosexual could do as good a job in uniform as they, if not a better one, when that talent might make the difference between the next terrorist attack succeeding or not. Never mind your goddamn barnyard prejudices, we need them.

Ah...but this, you see, is a point upon which our military leadership agrees with the enemy. Islamic terrorists may be killing Americans, but homosexuals cause earthquakes, floods, plagues of insects, and are walking signs of approaching Armageddon. And if keeping the ranks pure means sacrificing a few more American lives, when the next terrorist attack gets through because there weren't enough translators to pick up on what they were doing in time, well, just call that collateral damage in the war against homosexuality here at home. Some things are more important then winning the war against terrorism. Like keeping the showers faggot free.

The military today is not that far removed from the time when the allies liberated the nazi concentration camps, and the men with the pink triangles were not freed, were later forced to bear the criminal stigma Hitler branded them with all the rest of their lives, because the allies, and later democratic Germany, agreed that criminals they were. Without a doubt there are people in the pentagon high command today, who would do the same, given the same circumstances, who understand that while Mohammed Atta may be a terrorist and a murderer, at least he was a normal man.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Joy Of Birds...(continued)

I drive to my local post office, to deposit the monthly bills in the mail, and buy some stamps. As usual, I park in a fringe spot, near a street light, since I don't like fussing with parking in close. I just want to get in, and out again. I park well away from other cars in the lot.

I leave the post office with my stamps, my mind preoccupied with software I am busy coding for work. As I approach my little green car, my thoughts a little here, a little elsewhere, I suddenly hear that quick bla-bleep many car alarms make, when the owner presses the keychain button that turns them on and off.

Huh...??? My own car alarm does not make that particular noise. I bought one with distinctive sounds, so I would know when it was My car calling for help. Confused, I look around to see if someone else's car made that noise, but the sound seemed to come from the area around my car, and my car is the only one on that side of the parking lot. Then I catch a quick movement, at the top of the street lamp I am parked next to. I look up...

A mocking bird looks back down at me, cocks one eye in my direction, and goes bla-bleep.

Sure, I May Be A Gutter Crawling Maggot...But You're No Angel Either, Mr. Secret Whispering Campaign...

I once engaged in a series of running battle with a phobe on Usenet, who liked to post newspaper stories about homosexual child molesters and rapists, as a way of branding homosexuals a danger to society. For every newspaper story he dug up about homosexual predators, I'd post, one or more stories about heterosexuals, usually parents, torturing and murdering children. The battles usually lasted only a week or so, since he was unable to keep up with the steady stream of stories I was able to produce concerning heterosexual child abuse. Which was an appalling fact to consider all by itself, but a true one. Try it yourself. Just browse the various on-line newspapers and wire service outlets for stories about violence toward children, and by the end of a week or so you'll wonder if the human race is really all that far evolved from slugs. Nietzsche was right about looking too long into the abyss.

I'll allow that my tactics were a tad unfair, as there are of course a lot more heterosexuals then homosexuals. But so were his, in the sense that he was taking isolated incidents of violence perpetrated by homosexuals, and making them representative of the whole. Kinda like the way Andrew Sullivan has been using incidents of anti-gay bias on the part of some democratic candidates recently, to tar democrats as a whole, and make republicans, who have made anti-gay hate mongering a cornerstone of their vote getting machinery since Anita Bryant, look progressive.

I have a modest proposal. That for every specific example of homophobia on the part of democrats Mr. Conscience Undetectable bellyaches about, others in the blog world post specific examples of republican hostility toward gay and lesbian Americans. Or, if you like, just post one (or as many as you feel like wading through) every day until the election.

Here's mine for today. Think of it as slowly walking down the seashore with your metal detector, on a beach of silver dollars. If Sullivan wants to claim that the democrats are worse on gay issues then the republicans, or even that they are no better, then let him keep up.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

I Believe In Keeping Government Out Of The Bedroom...And Keeping Gays In It...

The Baltimore Sun this morning has an article on the efforts by both candidates for governor here in Maryland, to pursue the gay vote. Ehrlich is, as always, not really engaged in attracting the gay vote, so much as peeling off enough support from a traditionally democratic base to get his hands on the key to the governor's house.

And of course, the Log Cabin club are playing the role of useful idiots:

There are things he felt he could not endorse for various reasons, but it is not because he despises gays.

-Joe Zuber, vice president of the Maryland chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans

Things. Ah yes. Like...oh...domestic partnership benefits, adoption rights, adding sexual orientation to Maryland's hate crime laws. Things.

On making Maryland hate crime law apply to violence against homosexuals, Ehrlich gives the usual right wing excuses; that thinks "gay people should not be treated as a separate class", and...oh yes...he comes from the "libertarian wing" of his party, that believes that "government should be kept out of the bedroom." In other words, no special rights for sexual deviants. To claim that adding the term, "sexual orientation" to hate crime law amounts to giving special protection to homosexuals at the expense of everyone else is a standard lie of the anti-gay right, and Ehrlich's use of it here, in prettified form, tells anyone who has ever fought the fight for gay equality from anywhere besides their sofa, exactly where Ehrlich is coming from. Unless you think that only homosexuals have a sexual orientation, the way some people think only foreigners have an accent, then adding the term "sexual orientation" to hate crime law protects everyone from the violence that springs from that kind of hate, not just homosexuals. The problem for Ehrlich's kind, as always, is protecting homosexuals from violence. That hate crime laws protect everyone, gay and straight, equally, is precisely why they hate them. A fearful homosexual, is a good homosexual.

Then there is this notion of keeping government out of the bedroom. Was the Defense Of Marriage Act then, an intrusion into it? No, because heterosexual marriage is about more then the bedroom. The lives of heterosexuals embrace the whole of the human experience. Love. Joy. Trust. For better or worse. In sickness and in Health. Homosexuals...just have sex. Heterosexuality is about life. Homosexuality is about sex. This is how bigots think, and it's plain to see it's how Ehrlich thinks.

Plain unless you're a log cabiner that is. In the Sun article a local club owner who held a fund raiser for Ehrlich avers he's never seen so many of his clientele say they are voting republican. But Josh Marshall relates a story of a GOP pollster Arthur Finkelstein, a Jew, helped smear a Jewish democrat with an anti-semitic push poll. Finkelstein, let it be said, is also homosexual, and routinely gives his best to some of the most vicious gay haters in the republican party. But it's made him good money. To be a member of a hated minority, is not necessarily to be more sympathetic to others who are hated, or even to others in your own suspect class. Sometimes you just do everything in your power to distance yourself from the stigma, including attacking others of your kind. The high school bully who liked beating up the fay boys, and who turned out later in life to be gay himself, is an old story. There are always people who will throw their neighbors to the wolves, if they think it will buy their own safety.

And of course, wolves who will assure them that it will.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, October 31, 2002.

No more posts after these for tonight. I'm busy feeding the neighborhood goblins.

We're Advising Our Clients To Invest In Shotguns And Canned Goods...

News today that William Webster, appointed to fill, some say to be Smirk's grit in the machinery of, the new Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board, has his own history of corporate audit shadiness. Well gosh, that's sure a surprise, isn't it? As they say, the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. If he's Smirk's man, then it's a safe bet he's either in it up to his own neck too, or someone with a track record of screwing things up just the way Smirk and his gang like them screwed up.

Brad DeLong has more on it here.

The obscure we see eventually, the completely apparent takes longer.
-Edward R. Murrow

Eleanor Clift lobs a good one, not so much across the White House bow, as her professional peers. That Smirk is a liar and a political thug among thugs been a staringly obvious fact, since his days as Texas' strongman. But big media does not simply ignore the obvious, it has been actively covering it up, and in the process making itself irrelevant to democracy in America. The question is, do they care? about their own relevance, but about democracy in America. At what point, does their concern for the well being of American democracy begin to outweigh their personal distaste for Al Gore, say? Is there a point? We know the White House Gang, and their useful tools the religious right, see no American community greater then their own kind. Is that now the dominant view in the executive boardrooms of the American press? I guess we'll know by how thick the stench has to get from the White House, before they notice hardly anyone can breath anymore.

It's one thing for editors and publishers to make their own political causes shine in the public view, and another to make gangsters shine, and for no better reason then that the gangsters embody their own private contempt. If the values you champion in life have no higher standard then that, then you need to give them another long close look, because they are not values at all, they are resentments, masquerading as values.

[edited slightly] by Bruce Garrett | Link

Oh...How I Detest Partisanship...In Others...

Guess who's bellyaching about the political rally Wellstone's memorial turned into. No. Seriously. You know...I'll endure lectures on the limits of partisanship from a lot of people, but not Andrew Sullivan...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, October 30, 2002.

Or Would Be, If I Was Someone Like That...

Andrew Sullivan notes the death of Paul Wellstone thusly:

This is terrible news for all of us who value diversity of opinion and liveliness of debate in a democratic society.

Mind you, this is the same guy who was saying just after 9-11 that his intention was to utterly marginalize columnists who opposed the war in Afghanistan out of the national dialogue. Sullivan values democracy like Laszlo Toth was an art lover.

Meanwhile TBogg On Pulls a Josh Marshall and chases down the "source" for Sullivan's latest example of "liberal homophobia". There's sure a lot of whispering going on down in the right wing gutter alrighty...but then who the hell didn't already know that...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Few Small Lies In An Otherwise Scholarly Book...

You don't have to much wonder why Sullivan is piling on Michael Bellesiles. It's the (gun rights = conservative), (gun prohibition = liberal) thing. I strongly doubt that for Sullivan it has anything whatever to do with the right of the individual citizen to the means of self defense, or any consideration of the link between freedom of conscience, and the right of the common citizen to keep and bear arms, and if you doubt it I have a modest proposal: simply consider what Sullivan's position would likely become, were more liberals to suddenly take a publicly agressive stance in favor of arming themselves.

Be that as it may... SullyWatch seems to have had to get their licks in too, either by way of not being able to resist quite enough the urge to take a swing at one of Sullivan's convenient weapons, or a genuine conviction, sustainable in the face of elephant in the room grade evidence to the contrary, that Bellesiles is being wronged. The critics of Bellesiles probate data are making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, and Watergate was a third rate burglary. Is it really necessary to for anyone to have to say that the quantity of falsified data in the book is utterly beside the point?

Actually, Bellesiles critics have delt with his particularly superficial analysis of the roll of the local militia's during the war in 1812. I'd quote some of it here but that would mean citing a man whose name I really do not care to have gracing my web site, for reasons I'll go into in a moment. But the point is that it is hardly true at all that "Firearms advocates have cleverly avoided discussing this..." Oh it's been discussed alright, and not just by the main actors in this drama, as even a casual search of the web reveals, and Bellesiles is none the better for it.

But never mind. This entire notion that the decline of early 19th-century militias, and increasing social hostility to them, necessarily relates to Bellesiles' central idea that gun ownership in America was rare in early American history makes sense, only if you are inclined to equate gun ownership with militia membership...which come to think of it, a lot of people do nowadays, even when it's nothing more then a cheap stereotype. We're not all subscribers to Soldier Of Fortune, who wear camouflage jackets to work and brag about our collection of Nazi paraphernalia. Really. It's True. And how much of a brat does it make me to to note that nowadays militias have been in decline since Oklahoma City, and generate a right amount of social hostility too, much of it richly earned, and I wouldn't care to suggest that either fact proves gun ownership is a rare thing in America, in the early twenty-first century.

When Pink Pistols decided to invite one of Bellesiles biggest amateur critics, a man with a long history of bellicose anti-gay hate mongering on Usenet, to one of their gatherings, I felt my interest in the group begin to wain. No...strike that, it began sinking like a rock. I could belong to a gay gun rights group, but not one that spends its time shaking hands with someone who could barely discuss homosexuality on Usenet without waving NAMBLA around like a goddamn flag. Oh yes...there are a lot of very unsavory characters out there championing the right of the people to keep and bear arms, but that is less a reflection on the right itself, as the political ghetto it's been confined to. And I just know a lot of them would start instantly singing a different song about the second amendment, if, as I said, more liberals suddenly began aggressively asserting the right to arm themselves. You'd see justifications of limiting gun ownership start flying fast and furious from the propaganda machines of the right, all of which would just happen to limit liberal access to guns more then they would conservatives'.

Kinda sorta like the way likely democratic voters in Florida just happened to loose their ability to cast a ballot more often then people more likely to vote republican did. No, not every proposal to regulate guns and gun ownership is a devious first step to confiscation, and the disarming of the people. As technology marches on, the line between the prerogative of the individual and the needs of the community as a whole, always will need reexamination. That is not oppressive government regulation, it is an admission that societies are dynamic things, because the conditions in which they exist, and the human activities which bring them into being, are themselves dynamic processes. The laws by which we lived two-hundred years ago may not be adequate to the task of keeping our societies peaceful and productive and prosperous today. That is as true for the law regarding firearms as it is for any technology, the Internet for example. Where do we find that in the constitution? Some argue that if the founders of our republic didn't say anything about personal computers, then the constitution does not protect their use. Others argue that view does not see the forest for the trees, that the constitution itself was written to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, and that is the standard by which it must be interpreted. Yes, without a doubt even hand guns are vastly more dangerous now, then they were when the nation was in its infancy. Yes, we all need to take that into account. But I often find myself wondering how a man like Michael Moore, now making hay on the subject of gun control, and who views himself as a champion of the common citizen, can feel comfortable advocating a society wherein only agents of government have access to firearms, and in particular, given the current occupant of the White House. It does the common citizen no great good, to render them defenseless.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 29, 2002.

A Vote For Me, May Be The Last Time You Ever Vote In Maryland...

John Ehrlich is really pitching for the African-American vote in the final week of the campaign, at least here in the Baltimore area. Nearly all the Ehrlich campaign ads I've seen here in the past few days have showcased his running mate, black republican activist Michael Steele, to the near exclusion of the actual candidate for Governor himself. And just a few moments ago I caught a glimpse of Ehrlich's latest ad, featuring a young, black woman police officer looking into the camera and giving the man who could care less about the welfare of young people, women and blacks, her heartfelt endorsement.

Ehrlich wants to peel off just enough traditionally democratic african-american voters to squeak himself into office. He could do it too, because I don't think Townsend is campaigning as aggressively for minority votes as she needs to. It's not going to be enough for her to win a majority among Maryland's minority voters. Reckon after he gets in, Ehrlich knows full well he can dispense with all that, and just disenfranchise black voters the way Jeb does down in Florida. If I were campaigning here in Maryland, or hell, just about anywhere, I'd point to Florida and ask minority voters if they really want a republican in the governor's house. I recall the slogan of the American right toward leftist governments in South America during the Reagan years, was "one person, one vote, one time". In other words, by voting leftists into power, the people of South America were essentially voting away their right to vote. I think I'd untactfully point out that voting republican in the era of Smirk, is essentially that.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Orwellian Thoughts On Orwell...

Days after hundreds of thousands marched in Washington and San Francisco against the impending war on Iraq, Mr. Conscience Undetectable, Andrew Sullivan, notes an "Orwellian resonance" with the slogan, "No War On Iraq", since Iraq is a "police state run by a sadistic maniac", avers Sullivan, "we are not therefore at war with the country or people of Iraq". Swell. And I suppose all the people in both his country and mine during the second world war, who spoke of the war with Germany were guilty of the same distortion.

You'd have to think that a sycophant in the court of Smirk would breath the word "Orwellian" advisedly. His bobby sox fawning over Smirk is embarrassing enough as it is. But Sullivan's black velvet Sinatra just recently stood in front of the cameras and claimed that if the Iraqis changed their minds about weapons inspections, well then that was a regime change in Iraq, which was what he was asking for all along anyway. Orwellian? Orwellian? Somewhere in Adams-Morgan, someone is in desperate need of a reality pill refill.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Atrios over at Eschaton noted and linked to my little post mixing news of Andrew Sullivan's admittance into the hallowed halls of the Washington Times, with quotes from that newspaper's True Father, Sun Myung Moon. Kinda. He says I need what the blog world calls Permalinks, and he's right. Permalinks make it a pretty straightforward process for one web logger to link to some specific text another web logger has posted, with some confidence that the link will remain valid, even after the linked to text goes from the main page, into archived form. It's interesting to watch standards, or if you like, customs, developing organically from the activity of web logging. If I want to be a good citizen here, or at least an untroublesome one, I need to fix me up some permalinks.

I'm doing this all by hand here at Casa del Garrett, since I've never liked programs that generate code, such as HTML, for me. And I have to face it, when it comes to computers and software, hell most mechanical devices in my life, I'm a bit of a control freak. I build my own computers from parts, so I can be sure I have exactly the components inside them, sound and video card, motherboard, power supplies, CPU cooler, and so on, that I specifically want. I am even particular about the sort of cabling used; it must be rounded, and the connectors solid and secure. I am a software engineer, that is to say I not only write code but design software systems, and so of course I lay out my own web pages, and write my own HTML. What programs like Blogger do for the user automatically, I have to figure out for myself. I actually enjoy doing that.

I've been brainstorming permalinks for weeks now. What's been bothering me about them is that I don't want to maintain two redundant files, one the current web log page, the other its archive, at a time. You never like redundancy in your source code. I've been dallying with this and that way around it for a time now. A friend of mine, an electrical engineer once himself (he's a patent and copyright lawyer nowadays), says there comes a time when you have to just shoot the engineer and go with what you have. Permalinks coming soon.

Saturday, October 26, 2002.

Notes From The Pit...

Light to no web logging this weekend, while I work at my drafting table, and try to finish sealing my deck for the winter. It may only be a little sixteen foot wide rowhouse I bought last year, and the deck in the backyard not all that big, but size is a relative thing when you have to take a brush to every square inch of something. I suppose this is something sailors understand even better then I do. In the meantime I want to pass on a couple of things I ran across this week:

Alabama supreme court Judge Roy Moore, of The State Has The Power Of The Sword To Punish Homosexuality fame, testifying this week in the suit brought by the ACLU against his placing a fifty-three hundred pound granite rock engraved with the ten commandments in his courthouse, brought forth a precious argument (if you can dignify it with the word) for his actions. It goes something like this: God created everything, therefore god created the concept of the separation of church and state, therefore one cannot recognize the separation of church and state, without also recognizing god.

Now ain't he a bright little daisy?

Read more on his testimony here. Moore states specifically that "Both the state and the church come under the sovereignty of God." That may be a religious point of view, but it is also a political point of view, and it's the political aspect of it that renders him unfit to hold office, and I mean any office, in a democracy. Democracy requires freedom of conscience, and right there Moore, his protestations to the contrary, asserts otherwise. We all must obey the god of Moore. When I was growing up Baptist, I was taught that the laws of God and the law of men were two different things. Moore asserts there is not, and never can be any distinction between the two. This is the enemy of liberty and justice for all that killed over three thousand Americans on September 11, 2001. It sits in the caves of Afghanistan, and on the highest court in Alabama. And if republicans strong-arm their way to a single party government, and the democrats meekly allow it, without a doubt it will sit on the United States supreme court one day too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

...And Speaking Of The First Amendment... The United States found itself ranked seventeenth in freedom of the press last week Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands took the top rankings. How can this be, since we here in the U.S. have our much revered First Amendment, and they don't? But the truth is that freedom of speech and freedom of the press, is something we've had to always struggle to secure in this country. I am old enough to remember a time when every film shown in the state of Maryland had to be approved by the state board of censors. Most states had them at one time or another. Maryland was the last state to kill its. Time was, you couldn't legally buy certain books in this country, like Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. There was a time when homosexuals couldn't legally publish newspapers or magazines for, by and about homosexuals. And it was the hated Warren court that swept all those laws away, by simply taking the words "Congress Shall Make No Law" to mean Congress Shall Make No Law. But we are still not there yet.

Here are two copies of an ad for an Yves Saint Laurent men's fragrance, which will run in Vogue. One will run in the American edition, and one in the French and Italian editions. Guess which.

It was around the time I began discovering the beauty in other guys, that I began to be offended by the gratuitous fig leaves and shashes added to paintings and statuary which was just fine thank you without it. I discovered early on that there is not much romance in pornography, and haven't had much use for it. But sensual romantic art I can't get enough of. Yet even there grew the goddamn fig leaves. And I had a hunch even then that there was more to it, then merely keeping sex out of the sight of children before they were ready for it. What was offensive wasn't the public display of human sexuality, but the insistance that it was beautiful. The fig leaves weren't there to make the statues safe for children, they were there to make the statues ugly. They were there to make sex dirty.

If the man in the ad above isn't precisely your type, that's one thing. If reducing sex to mercenary commercial ends offends you, that's one thing. If the suggestion that sex is wonderful and beautiful offends you, then by all means go live in a fucking cave and good riddance.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

For years I've waited eagerly for someone, anyone, to put out on home video Jacob Bronowski's magnificent The Ascent Of Man BBC series. Finally, it's out, and just sitting back and watching the first two episodes the other night was like taking a drink of cool clear water in the middle of a parched wasteland. Bronowski is a decent intelligent man, who, even as he leads us through the darkest eras in our quick little walk from the caves to the skyscrapers, never doubts our species inner nobility. He believed in it, made me believe in it once long ago, during the Nixon years, and in the second year of the Smirk, I sure needed to be reminded of it now.

But Bronowski reminded me of one more thing: the kind of country America is, and why some wanted to destroy it then, and why the same people want to destroy it now. In the second episode, The Harvest of the Seasons, Bronowski leads us through the transition humanity made from the nomadic way of life, to the settled one, explains why this transition was absolutely necessary for civilization to begin, and then leads us to discover how the yang, rose to meet civilization's ying. He shows us a game played in Afghanistan called Buz Kashi, a competitive game wherein a group of men on horseback fight over the headless carcass of a calf or a goat. I'd been often enough reminded of it since 9-11, and the fighting in Afghanistan began. As soon as Bronowski began relating the game to his viewers, he said something which riveted me:

Where we should expect to see a ball, there is instead a headless calf. And that macabre plaything says something about the game, as if the riders were making sport of the farmers' livelihood.

My god, thinks I, that's exactly it, isn't it...?

The Buz Kashi is a war game. What makes it electric is the cowboy ethic: riding as an act of war. It expresses the monomaniac culture of conquest; the predator posing as a hero because he rides the whirlwind. But the whirlwind is empty. Horse or tank, Genghis Khan or Hitler or Stalin, it can only feed on the labors of other men.

And that, thinks I, in the back of my mind while watching Bronowski, is what always made America different from the conquering nations, if not always in our deeds, at least in our aspirations. We are not thieves, we are producers. We are an honest, industrious people...

...But that requires a completely different ethic from the warrior. A whole 'nother mindset...

Of course, it is tempting to close one's eyes to history, and instead to speculate about the roots of war in some possible animal instinct: as if, like the tiger, we still had to kill to live, or, like the robin redbreast, to defend a nesting territory. But war, organized war, is not a human instinct. It is a highly planned and co-operative form of theft. And that form began ten thousand years ago when the harvesters of wheat accumulated a surplus, and the nomads rose out of the desert to rob them of what they themselves could not provide. The evidence for that we saw in the walled city of Jericho and its prehistoric tower. That is the beginning of war.

-J. Bronowski, The Ascent Of Man - Chapter Two: The Harvest of the Seasons

Bless you Jacob Bronowski. I really needed to hear from you again after all these years...

The drooling frat boy jackass in the White House, and his Gang, are thieves. They looted Texas, they theived and stole their way into the White House, they're busy looting America, and now, giddy with power, they're going for it on a global scale. The openness by which they and the talking head sycophants in the Smirk court are declaring their intent to wage war on Iraq, specifically to loot its oil, is breathtaking. But they are not America. For over two-hundred years Smirk and his kind have not been America, any more then Al Capone and his gang were America. We are an honest industrious people. We do not steal. We do not need to steal. But our mindset is not the same as the mindset of the players of the Buz Kashi, now holding the keys to the White House, and the most powerful military on earth.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, October 25, 2002.


Sniper suspect John Mohammed stopped for a while, just down the street from where I live. He was seen at a Subway sandwich joint at 28th and Sisson. That's walking distance from my house, and right beside an intersection with the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) that I use often. I was at the recycling center down Sisson street just this morning, dumping off a pile of newspapers, magazines and boxes. He was seen there, the day he'd shot a thirteen year old boy in front of his school.

That's in keeping with his sticking near to major highway interchanges whenever he was away from Kensington/Aspen Hill. I'm still waiting to see what the connection was to that area, if any. We may never know. He may have only been up here to be away from Washington between attacks. If the suspects were living out of their car, they could have been bunkering down for the night in Druid Hill Park, just across I-83. It's easy to get from there, to the interstate. Then again, the witnesses all say they didn't see him travelling with anyone. Interestingly, one of them recalls seeing a laptop computer in the passenger seat of the Chevy.

I never figured this area was a likely spot for him, since even though it's right off an interstate, it's kinda out of the way. I-83 ends in downtown Baltimore, dumping you right into busy city streets. Inside the city it's basically a highway that gets you in and out of downtown. Beyond the beltway it's used as a north-south route between here and Pennsylvania, but to York and Harrisburg, not New Jersey or Philadelphia.

But here's what's chilling to me about him showing up here, and at that spot, in particular. After the school shooting, I'd actually been walking by my local neighborhood schools to see if any of them seemed vulnerable to his attacks, looking for schools where kids either played or were dropped off across from wooded areas where he could hide. I didn't think any of them were particularly vulnerable, nonetheless I kept an eye on a couple of them whenever I could during the morning commute. But your blind spot is always the place you are most familiar and comfortable with. I never considered Hopkins. 28th and Sisson, and the I-83 junction there is a quick shot to and from Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. I know, because I used it often when I was commuting to work from the Baltimore suburbs. Hopkins Homewood is a nice big college campus, with a park and lot of woods on one side of it. And the road through the park and woods to the campus is not far from that Subway joint.

I'm sure glad they're both in jail...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Why When The Government Tells The Press To Shut Up, The Press Ought To Say To Hell With You.

With all the press leakage of information about the sniper suspects Wednesday, I hadn't realized until I read a Post article this morning, that the police had never officially released information about the suspect's car and license number. Yet it was that information that allowed the suspects to be captured.

For days here in Baltimore, I watched Montgomery County Police Chief Moose treat the press as though the only legitimate job they had was to act as his department's spokespeople. A reasonable assumption in today's inside the beltway climate, where the news media seems to have forgotten it ever had any other function then to cheer whatever the White House Gang announces as policy. But people should be concerned whenever they see police treating the press like they have no business reporting on what the police are doing. Moose was furious when the press revealed the existence of the tarot card at the scene of the Bowie shooting, and went and had himself a second degree temper tantrum at the mike. You could tell every time he talked to the press afterward, that he loathed them, loathed the job they were there to do.

I wondered why the Richmond school system shut down after the shooting at the Ponderosa Steak House in Ashland. Well, as it turned out, the sniper had left a note at the scene, in which he made a specific threat to kill children, and Richmond officials were disinclined to act as if they hadn't heard it. When news began leaking out back in Washington, eventually Moose grudgingly read that specific passage of the note, still refusing to take questions. You have to wonder, re-watching it, whether or not someone had taken him gently aside and described the future arc of his career should another child get shot, and the public found out he'd sat on that threat. Even so, parents were livid that they weren't told sooner.

But the car was the kicker. The police had suspects they knew were fleeing. The police knew who they were, and the suspects knew the police knew who they were. Only the sniper's targets, the citizens, didn't know who they were. But by the time the press was non-stop covering the search of their old digs in Tacoma, it was pretty hard to imagine that anyone couldn't have figured out that there were suspects on the run. And still Moose couldn't bring himself to tell the people who had been terrorized for weeks what the hell was going on. He had names, he had descriptions, he had a car, he had a license plate, and he sat on all of it.

The rational you kept hearing on the TV screen was that the press didn't want to leak anything out that might allow the suspects to get away. Hello in there... The suspects had to know by that point they'd been fingered. By that point, the only ones who stood anything to gain by keeping the citizens in the dark as to who they were, were the suspects! But you had one talking head after another telling people not to worry their pretty little heads at the thought that a couple of killers on a desperate run might be sitting right next to them in traffic. They kept treating Moose like he was president Smirk telling them what to say and not to say to the public about his policies. Oh yes sir. Whatever you say sir. Keep the public in the dark sir? We'll get right on it sir.

Toward midnight Wednesday, you couldn't watch the news broadcasts without feeling that the talking heads were almost literally swimming in hard information about the suspects, that facts were ricochetting all around them, while they desperately tried to keep talking as if they knew nothing, nothing. One CNN anchor assumed a tired cynicism about the whole state of affairs, yes we know who they are, yes you viewers out there know we know who they are, but we'll just both sit here and pretend we haven't a clue... And there was good old Pete Williams on MSNBC, saying like a good press secretary, that the press really shouldn't be telling citizens anything the government thinks they shouldn't know. It was striking to watch them all, one by one, in the heat of the pursuit, start to realize they were something other then TV personalities, that what they do is something a little more then entertainment. That the public safety might depend on more then just their cooperative silence.

First names started appearing here and there. Then getaway car descriptions. Then license plate numbers started flashing on the screens. It was like watching a group of kids starting to spill the beans about something, knowing they were being bad boys, but unable to help themselves. First the information came in a trickle, then it was everywhere. Except my local WBAL-TV which kept waiting patently for Moose to say something, anything, for our cameras, please sir. And when he did speak, he mentioned the names of the suspects, ah, excuse me, persons of interest, lobbed another cryptic message at the sniper, and, no questions please, swiftly left the podium. He said nothing about the car police were frantically searching for. Had the press not leaked that information to the public, the suspects might still be on the loose today. For all the FBI's much ballyhooed investigative prowess, Eric Rudolph sure as hell is.

For once, for just a few hours late Wednesday night, the press stopped acting like a reliable old circus dog who has all the master's commands down pat. And we're all a lot safer for it.

Coming up later in the news...Paul McCartney's wife speaks out about their prenuptial agreement, plus our "Survivor" recap. But first, our fashion dos and don'ts of the week! Stay tuned...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, October 24, 2002.

Mr. Williams...Mr. Phelps Is On The Phone...

The San Mateo County Times reports today that then man who picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard may go a step further today, and show open support for the killers, and thereby the killing, of a transgendered youth.

Yeah...I's Fred. But Fred is only the match dropped into the dry tinder republicans have been busy laying under the lives of sexual minorities.

Homosexuality - The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable "alternative" lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should "family" be redefined to include homosexual "couples." We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

-2002 Texas Republican Party Platform

And some people wonder why I'd vote for a yellow dog if it was running as a democrat.

The trial of Benjamin and James Williams is, I think, still scheduled to go on later this month. Last I heard Benjamin was still keen on taking his "doing the will of god" defense into court. At this point I have to figure Fred will probably want to show support for him and his brother too. And if the crime had happened in Smirk's home state, the republican party there would probably hold a fundraiser for them.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Bravo, For Life's Little Ironies.

It was a driver of a white van who saw the sniper suspect's car parked at the rest stop on I-70, and called police. Little white vans everywhere have their good name back...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Feeling A Little Less Tense...

Frustration over what looked like the police spinning their wheels on the Sniper investigation actually boiled over last night. When I get antsy I take a walk. When I get really antsy I take a drive. I'd been having another bout of insomnia the past couple of nights, and part of it was restless tension over the events back in my old home. So I was a wound up little bundle of nerves when I left work late yesterday. Instead of going home and crashing I found myself driving aimlessly around the beltway, then aimlessly down I-95. But all the while I knew I had a destination, if not in mind, then in gut. Sometimes you just have to get it out.

My old home is little like the Rockville I grew up in, but I get attached to places and now some deeply evil person was turning my old neighborhood into a killing ground and I just had to walk there for a little while. When I found myself there, I set about rationalizing my behavior by checking out a few places where I'd been thinking for weeks now there might be something worth seeing. Maybe a white truck with Unknown Words painted on its sides. Maybe parked next to a white van with ladder racks. I knew it was pointless, but I had to look just the same.

I drove over to my old neighborhood, and the Rockville Pike strip. I stayed away from what I felt were likely target zones, and paced around a few places I thought might be likely stalking grounds, keeping a lid on anger the way I usually do, trying to focus it into usable thoughts, turning over this and that idea about where this guy might be hiding, how he might be choosing his crime scenes, wanting more then anything to be able to protect my old home, knowing the odds of my being able to do that were just about zero. So I just kept walking, found myself walking my old paths around the neighborhood restlessly, as I once did as a teenager. I just needed to be there was all.

I drove home tired and preoccupied, which is itself a risky thing to do on I-95 at just about any time of day. I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep well, and planned for another night either plopped in front of a computer, or at my drafting table practicing hands and faces, or bleary eyed and worthless in front of my TV. When I got home I found a friend had left a message on my answering machine, saying that the police had suddenly started searching for evidence in Washington. Uh...Washington State, that is.

Beg pardon...? I flipped on the TV and stayed riveted all the way to when Montgomery County police chief Moose lobbed another cryptic message back at the sniper. Oh great, they still don't have a handle on this guy, thinks I, and I straggle off to bed for a night of tossing and turning. This morning I crawl out of bed to news the men in question were caught just west of Montgomery County, just up I-70 at a rest stop on the way to Hagerstown, and now there is news that one of them will be charged with six counts of murder in relation to the sniper shootings. My fear that the end of this would be violent is tentatively backing off. They caught them sleeping. Let's hear it for sleep.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Like A Duck In A Noose.

Don and Marty on WJLA TV here in Baltimore find the story of Rabbit and Otter on the web. Was it this Cherokee story the killer was referring to, when he asked the police to announce they'd captured the sniper "like a duck in a noose"...? I'm not sure how it makes sense, unless the killer was trying to tell the police that his capture wouldn't be all that simple. Well, it looks like it was.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 22, 2002.

As We Were Saying About Right...Uh...LEFT Wing Homophobes...

Read the Accuracy In the Media Monitor column pointed to by Smarter Andrew Sullivan, and see if you don't also find yourself wondering, as they do, why various right wing bloggers were bellyaching about the hay critics of Sullivan were making of his own smarmy sexual escapades. Geeze guys...didn't you say doing this kinda stuff Would Be Wrong?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Angle Of Repose, In The American Garbage Heap.

Smarter Andrew Sullivan reports today that Andrew has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

To repeat...

If you tell a lie to make a person better, then that is not a sin.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

The separation between religion and politics is what Satan likes most.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

Father thinks about the three races, yellow, black, and white. Orientals can contribute in the spiritual aspect, white people can contribute in the analytical, scientific area, while black people can contribute in the physical area--physical educational development of physical fitness, the area of health....The talented area of black people is in this physical aspect.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

Out of all the Saints sent by God, I think I am the most successful one already as it now stands.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

By killing one man, Jesus, the Jewish people had to suffer for 2000 years. Countless numbers of people have been slaughtered. During the Second World War, 6 million people were slaughtered to cleanse all the sins of the Jewish people from the time of Jesus.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

Women who deliberately avoid having children are bound to hell.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

God would not have told them, "Don't eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge..." as the Bible says. This is only a poetic expression. If I tell you exactly what they were told, it would not be good. This information is not written anywhere, and if I say it now what I say will spread.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

I have inherited the mission and the work, and succeed Jesus in this work. I am fulfilling what Jesus left undone.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

America is Satanic. America is so Satanic that even hamburgers should be considered evil, because they come from America.

-Sun Myung Moon

Andrew Sullivan has joined the ranks of regular columnists at the Washington Times.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Who Is Charles Darwin?

SullyWatch takes on a Randian critic on their own ground. It's a good read, and contains this bit that's the flash of lightning for anyone who's ever found themselves attracted to Rand's writings, for their supposed championing of the individual:

Despite Rand's claim to the contrary (in the Playboy interview with Alvin Toffler, if you need the cite) that Objectivism was its own defense against dogma, it was one almost from the very start. It practically deified Reason, and what the central committee had decided was Reason, was Reason no matter what A-is-A Objective Reality might suggest...

Yeah. That was the problem. On the one hand you had a movement that was allegedly about freeing the mind from the chains of collectivist dogmas, while at the same time forging its own dogmatic chains, and yes, dogma is the right word, regarding what objectivism thought was, and was not, reason, logic, truth. And the reason dogma is the right word, is because ultimately, objectivism is really not on speaking terms with objective reality. Particularly not when it comes to its foundational premises.

As Claude Lefort notes, any political philosophy that sells itself as the very embodiment of its underlying value (Reason, in Objectivism's case) has dangerously totalitarian implications because it then leaves no base to criticize it from...

Certainly not the evidence. I remember vividly reading a statement from Rand that she neither agreed nor disagreed with Darwin's theory of evolution, a remarkable thing to hear coming from someone so otherwise lightning quick to attack what she regarded as junk science. But Darwin tosses a big old monkey wrench into one of the most basic elements of Randian dogma: that the human consciousness is entirely a product of rational thought. Rand seems to have concluded that since the rational consciousness is a defining attribute of the human mind, and that it is this consciousness that is our principal means of survival, that rational consciousness is the, ah, fountainhead of all there is to us, that is us. Oh, we have emotions all right, but since our consciousness is entirely rational, our emotions must derive (somehow) from our rational thought processes. We choose the objects of our desire for instance, not at all on anything like the same plain as animal lust, because humans are rational beings, who do not possess instincts. We must do it therefore, from a subconscious calculation made up of all our highest metaphysical values. In no way could humans be said to be driven by anything so base as instinct. Rand hurled contempt at constructs such as calling man a "tool making animal", calling it evidence of a cultural decent into hell. But nature does not simply discard old structures and build new ones in their place. Nature builds the new right on top of the old.

Picture Rand's beloved New York City skyline. A monument to the rational mind Rand called it many times. And just so it is. But it is also, in its way, a testament to an ancient glacier that cut a channel beneath the bedrock of the city, hundreds of thousands of years ago, producing a situation where the bedrock now is close to the surface in some places, and too far below it to economically build skyscrapers in others. Because of this, or so I am told, you can from certain viewpoints perceive the cut made by the glacier in the bedrock, well below the modern surface, in the shape of the city skyline. The rational human mind built the skyline, but it had to pay heed to the ancient glacier while it was doing it. And if you look carefully, you can see the presence of that ancient glacier in the skyline reason produced.

Just so it is with the human mind, and it's evolutionary past, and with the task of building workable, productive, peaceful human societies. We discount our long animal inheritance while doing so, at our peril. We are humans and we are Earthians, bearers of an ancient tale of life on Earth that we are still trying to understand, the better to understand ourselves. Rand was, in her own way, another in a long line of early twentieth century utopians, all with their own scheme to remake the human identity more to their liking, so it would fit into the Heaven On Earth they just knew would come one day, if everyone just did as they were told. She was not an explorer, as every artist must set out to be, she was a street preacher, a pamphleteer, with Atlas Shrugged being a novel wrapped around the most long winded pamphlet any utopian ever produced. Doc Bronner pasted his rambling insistant messages on bottles of his Miracle Soap. Rand wrote novels, pretty much out of the same compulsive need to instruct, to correct, to preach the gospel. But as Jacob Bronowski once wrote, art does not set out to preach, but to shine a light. Rand's temperament could never allow her to do merely that. She was a bird perched on her reader's shoulder, constantly whispering in their ear, "Do you get it? Do you get it? Do you get it?"

I credit Rand for giving me one good insight during my teen years, even if she herself couldn't follow through on it: that morality is not a dogma we all just accept, but the exact opposite of dogma; because morality must be beneficial, not harmful, it must therefore be answerable to the evidence of what is, and is not beneficial; that a morality fit for human existence not only can be derived from the nature of what we are, and the nature of the reality we exist in, that is the only way to do it. Alas Rand was ultimately unable to let the facts of either one speak for themselves.

Proof? Try the case files of NARTH. The notion that homosexuals can become heterosexuals, simply by training themselves to think only the right thoughts, is an eminently Randian one, and one let it be said, that has delivered untold thousands of innocent people, straight into hell. Regarding homosexuality, Rand preferred her self referencing idea that if people were thinking "vile" and "disgusting" thoughts, it was because they were thinking the wrong thoughts, accepted incorrect premises, held ignoble values. She could not bring herself to consider the ideology busting notion that perhaps there is more to human consciousness, then the premises we hold, let alone wonder if human societies can endure long and prosper without coming to terms with those parts of our nature.

Dogma is for the timid of spirit, and when all was said and done Rand was just too timid to really wonder, and follow that wonder, in the way artists must, because they have too. Instead of blazing the trail she glimpsed, she stopped and built herself a church. It takes a degree of courage to go looking for answers to the big mysteries, to stand at the edge of what is known, look God in the face, and ask a question, because you might get an answer.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

[Revised a tad couple hours or so after posting.]

I suppose you think our state song isn't good enough either...or the state bird...or the state cheese...

Apparently the state of Massachusetts is shopping for a new state motto. TBogg offers some suggestions.

I can relate. Some years ago, when we here in Maryland discovered to our embarrassment that our state motto was "Manly Deeds, Womanly Words", The Washington Post held an informal contest to pick a motto someone could actually recite without giggling. I forget most of the entries, but my favorite was, "Maryland: You can't draw it. Just try."

When our state quarter was minted a while back, I was disappointed to see "The Old Line State" as the motto on the coin. I'd have preferred the more popular "The Free State" motto, but since that one refers to Maryland defiance of 1920s Prohibition, it's probably not reasonable to expect to see that on a coin in today's Just Say No atmosphere.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, October 20, 2002.

Gentlemen, A Toast...To The Defence Of Marriage Act...

There is a story in today's New York Post (consider the source...), claiming that one of the dodges Enron used to hide its shady dealings from investors involved their openly gay exec, Michael Kopper's life partner, William Dodson, and the fact that same sex domestic partners have practically zero legal status anywhere.

Dodson was named co-owner in Kopper's sham company, Chewco; one of many companies set up to hide Enron debt. Because neither the company, the state nor the Feds legally recognized Kopper's relationship with Dodson, Enron didn't have to report it to investors.

No doubt somebody in the kook pews will declare this an example of how homosexuality is corrupting America. It certainly couldn't be an example of how double standards make it easy for crooks to get away with damn near anything.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Light to no web logging this weekend. Chores to do around the house, Monday's cartoon to finish...

Friday, October 18, 2002.

Remember Journalism? Here's What It Used To Look Like.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has dug up a bit of dirt on a seamy story of journalistic malfeasance at Sioux Falls's KSFY TV, which seems to have more connections to the South Dakota republican party then an octopus has tentacles. For years I've been reading stories about how the republicans have soft manipulated the press inside the Washington beltway. Mostly it's about access, and how reporters need (and often want) to curry favor with the people they're theoretically reporting about. I've also read with increasing frequency how reporters are openly tossing aside any pretense of objectivity and are throwing their lot in with Smirk outright. A lot of this seems to have to do with the fact that many big media reporters absolutely loath Gore, and aren't terribily concerned about letting that dislike write their stories. What Josh Marshall shows us today is how the next stage in that game will look. This is a must read!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, October 17, 2002.

Mr Thompson Feels The Recession Is Not Producing An Adequate Number Of Underaged Prostitutes...

The Southern Voice reported last week (I'm a little behind on my news reading) that Smirk's Department of Health & Human Services, which was already attacking gay and lesbian health funding right and left, has decided to chuck homeless gay kids out into the street as well. So I guess the Smirk bureaucracy isn't about to bother limiting its attacks on gay Americans merely to adults. I'm sure one of the deep thinkers at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum can tell us that the kids had it coming for all the heckling Tommy Thompson got in Barcelona.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Handy Things, Strawmen...

Because you're not what I would have you be, I blind myself to who, in truth you are.

-Madeline L'Engle

Luckily for the kook pews, there is no stereotype too ridiculous, to find living examples that fit into it, against which you can pretend to do battle, and thereby stake your rightful place in Political Levittown. As a gay man, I understand completely how this works. You take your cameras to the most flamboyant people in a Pride Day festival, you make them representative of all the people there, and then you bellyache about how out of touch homosexuals are with mainstream society.

I see...we're out of touch because we don't treat our firecrackers like they're some sort of human garbage, the way the rest of you do. s'Matter...somebody play rock and roll where you could hear it and you had a lustful thought or two? See a Picasso hanging on a wall somewhere and it made you think about the nature of perception? Did a peacock walking past make you question the wisdom of living your life to someone else's expectations? Not to worry... There are so few of them, and so many of you...

Never mind for a moment, what Abby Hoffman said, along the lines of how you don't judge a society by the freedom its conformists enjoy, but by the freedom its non-conformists enjoy, battling strawmen is an inherently debilitating activity. On the one hand, you're trying to beat the opposition, not by actually engaging it, but by inventing an opposition that is as weak as you need it to be in order to win. Secondly, you're trying to win people to your side, by lying about your opposition, by creating bogeymen, who, since they're not real in the first place, must eventually make you look not so much like a fighter for a just cause, as a fake. Which, let's face it, you are at that point.

Michael Tomasky writing in yesterday's Altercation has a good take on Ron Rosenbaum's recent discharge concerning the Left as he sees it, inviting Ron to stop attacking scarecrows as a way of ducking debate on the polices of the White House Gang. Fat chance of that. During the Vietnam years, the dime store caricature of the opposition to the Vietnam war, as being just a bunch of dirty long haired drugged out communist hippies, who had been pampered all their lives by indulgent parents, and just needed to be drafted and sent straight to the front lines to make soliders out of them, was a righteous article of faith among the war hawks. They never saw the building anger among people like Tomasky's mother, as they woke up to the fact that they had been lied to all along about that war. The problem with political leaders who prefer beating up strawmen to engaging the issue of war head on, is that when you cannot be bothered to understand the political opposition to war, more then likely you couldn't be bothered to understand the enemy abroad either. A couple of Septembers ago one of those enemies butchered thousands of innocent American men women and children, and screamed War in our faces, and we, and the rest of the civilized world, were ready and willing to take them on. But Smirk and his Gang, and all the little talking head sycophants hanging on for the ride, went off to fight another war, the old war, the only war they know how to fight, the Us verses Them war, and now the enemy that bloodied us back in September 2001 is stirring in the darkness once again, and our leaders are too busy defeating their scarecrows to pay fucking attention to it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, October 16, 2002.

Secretary Rumsfeld...It's Secretary McNamara On Line Two...

Ted Barlow vents a good one at reports that the White House Gang isn't exactly paying attention to what the Pentagon is saying about how to fight a war in Iraq. Ted isn't against fighting Iraq, I have utterly detested Hussein ever since well before he invaded Kuwait, but am against this president fighting any war in our name. But regardless, politicians need to keep their friggin hands away from the Pentagon's drawing boards.

Swear to God it seems like every time I take another look at what the White House Gang is doing, it looks a little more like Vietnam then it did the last time I looked. I think I can say a few things about that, since I was draft bait at the time myself. What was the little lesson we learned from Vietnam? That the president sets the military goal and lets the pentagon figure out how to get us there? That cynics may believe that politics is war by other means, but only lunatics believe that war is politics by other means? That America can have democracy at home, or empire abroad, but it can't have both?

There are people in the White House Gang who bear a special hatred of the 60s, about everything that happened then that broke down the racism, sexism, the xenophobia, the bellicose super patriotism, the stifling conformity, which were just the many faces of the same cancerous paranoia at the heart of the 50s. I think more then a few of them would like nothing more then to fight the battles their own parents lost decades ago, against freedom of thought, against freedom of conscience. I think more then a few of them would actually enjoy fighting another Vietnam. I think Smirk is probably not the only one in that bunch, anxious to avenge his father.

Meanwhile, Slacktivist posts this cute little satire on a Smirk war speech, culled from (which I can't for some reason access now) by way of Jeanne D'Arc (there's a reason why it's called the web...)

We [SHELL] not [EXXON]erate Saddam Hussein for his actions. We will [MOBIL]ize to meet this threat to our vital interests in the Persian [GULF] until an [AMOCO]ble solution is reached. Our plan is to [BP]repared. Failing that, we [ARCO]ming to kick his ass.

Reminds me of the Oh Heavenly Grid prayer from the Firesign Theater's How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All LP.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

What You'll Be Seeing Everywhere At The Next Hillsville Flea Market...

From the land of the original four food groups...(Barbecued. Baked. Broiled. Fried.) comes this CNN article about the next big thing in southern junk food delights. I kid you not...Fried Twinkies.

See...they put a Twinkie on a stick into the freezer until it's hard enough to dunk it in batter, and then they deep fry it. Oh...and afterwards, they dust it with some powdered sugar. All though childhood I was a high sugar and fat intake kinda kid. Some gift of metabolism kept me rail thin until I hit my 40s. Now I have to watch it. So when I see a stand selling one of these I'll probably pass it by. At my age I'm supposed to know better anyway.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Gun Thing...(continued)

Michelangelo Signorile begins this week's Gist teasingly, by saying he is in agreement with John Ashcroft, that "it is time that we give up some of our cherished civil liberties for the sake of our safety", and then goes on to vent the usual jackass rhetoric about assault guns. But I had a moment there where I just about had to agree with him, regarding concordance with Ashcroft. So tell me John...if Americans don't have a fundamental right to due process, what good is any part of the constitution? I mean...Including the second amendment? What good is a right to keep and bear arms, or any other right for that matter, if the government is not obliged to respect those rights?


As to Signorile's suggestion that we just go ahead and ban "the sale of, oh, say, sniper rifles and 'military style' assault rifles like the one the Beltway sniper is suspected of using, as well the .223 ammunition (confirmed as having been used by the sniper) that shatters inside its target's body, doing deadly damage. And what the hell-let's throw in semiautomatic assault weapons, too." The best retort to that kind of rhetoric I ever saw came from Richard Cohen, no friend of gun rights himself, who said simply (I'm quoting from memory here) "They're all assault weapons."

Just so. I own a 30-30 Winchester lever action. It's hardly what you'd call a military weapon (if you don't count the fact that trap door Springfields were once considered military weapons), but personally I wouldn't want to be shot by it any more then by a rifle chambered for .223. I've seen what a 30-30 does to deer, which are bigger animals then us fragile humans. Any argument you can make for banning the one, logically follows into banning the other, which was Cohen's point, though he supports such a ban.

But Signorile avers that hunters can keep their guns, and the rest of us "who get their kicks from purchasing assault rifles meant to murder people and heading to galleries to shoot at targets will have to sacrifice and get their rocks off through some other macho hobby." Mike, I don't get off on fantasies about murdering anyone, .223 rifles come in all shapes and sizes and there is nothing particularly special about any of them except some of them just look ugly in that way militaries seem to specialize in these days, and even in a world where only cops and soliders owned weapons, especially in that world, neither one of us would stand a chance of fending off violent gay bashers, such as for instance, the ones that nearly killed Treve Broudy in West Hollywood not too long ago. Call me an antisocial loner, but I happen to want at least a fighting chance at doing that.

Oh...and yeah...I happen to like things that go bang too. I morn the July 4ths I grew up with, before it was decided here in Maryland that because some adults were negligent jackasses with firecrackers and kids, nobody else should be allowed to play with them either. And when I go visit friends in states that still allow you to buy firecrackers, and we light off a few, I am not, I earnestly assure you, harboring secret desires to blow up the neighborhood, any more then I am containing a barely controlled urge to kill people every time I go to the range. It's not all simple minded Cro-Magnon blood lust. Some of us like wielding that violently explosive fire in our hands, and lobbing little chunks of metal downrange with it at irrational speeds to hit Just What We Were Aiming At, for the same reason I suppose, as others want to dance with powerful ocean waves, surf rocket motors into orbit, or drive nitromethane engines around tight twisty race courses right on the edge between as fast as possible, and too fast for your own good. There is a simple utterly human exuberance at being able to hold a powerful raw force of nature in your hands for an instant, and do something delicate and precise with it, that has nothing to do with bellicose macho posturing, or wanting to kill anyone.

I realize there are legitimate public safety issues here. I understand that the government can reasonably place some limits on my second amendment rights without necessarily abrogating them. And I don't think that every proposal to keep guns out of the hands of criminals is a devious first step towards total gun confiscation. But let's try to understand something Mike. Characterizing everyone who values the right to keep and bear arms, or likes simply to blast away with their friends at the range, as some kind of Neanderthal is pretty goddamn lame. It's not all simple minded Cro-Magnon blood lust. Not all of us who own guns, and value the right to keep and bear arms, like Ashcroft. In fact, some of us loath him. A man who cannot be trusted to protect and defend parts of the constitution, cannot be trusted to protect and defend any of it. I am more sorry then I can express, that many gun owners apparently do not understand this, or are unwilling to see this fact for what it is. But not all of us are ignorant of it either.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 15, 2002.

The One That Whistles Past...

I hadn't heard about the recent sniper shooting in Virginia, mostly because between getting my cartoons drawn and finishing up some code I'd been working on for my real (salaried) job, I hadn't been paying much attention to the news. So I turn on the news after coming home tonight and see that he's hit again. I see news footage of the scene of the latest shooting, and the next thing I know I'm on the phone calling a friend. He tells me during the course of our conversation that he was minutes away from being in very nearly the same place as the latest victim, that he figured the killer had probably been staking out the area for some time before he actually shot (a point on which I agree...this guy waits for just the right moment, when he thinks he can get a clean shot with nobody watching him and his truck...). He tells me he figures the killer might even have had him in his sights a time or two while casing the area. I listen to this, and I nearly start crying.

Your own life isn't the most valuable thing someone can take away from you.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Too Much Testosterone Man

Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything he was not. What animated him from end of end of his grotesque career was simply ambition - the ambition of a common man to get his hands upon the collar of his superiors, or, failing that, to get his thumb into their eyes. He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits. His whole career was devoted to raising those half-wits against their betters, that he himself might shine."

- H.L. Mencken, on William Jennings Bryan

Daily Howler notes the latest Andrew Sullivan bile fest. Robert Fisk is a target (again) and it's the usual Sullivan MO, comparable to calling Mothers Against Drunk Driving a p.r. group for drunk drivers, because they put some of the blame for the carnage drunk drivers cause on the courts too.

Howler also pegs Sullivan's claim that HRC was uncritical of the controversial negative ad against senatorial challenger Mike Taylor in Montana. "HRC doesn't come out and say that this was a homophobic ad..." Well no...but as Howler points out, that's not to say they didn't complain about the sexual innuendo in the ad either. In fact, as Howler point out, they complained about it for precisely that reason:

"HRC deplores any attempt to make a political issue of a candidate's real or perceived sexual orientation," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "This type of ad has no place in politics, it is an affront to gay people and we hope we have seen the last of this campaign tactic."

How can Sullivan read this and declare that HRC is soft on homophobia when it's democrats engaging in it? Probably the same way he could smear Rabbi Michael Lerner as an apologist for Palestinian terrorism, after Lerner wrote "It's Time To Put Our Bodies On the Line to Stop the Killing in the Middle East", declaring that the bloodshed on both sides was unacceptable, and that the greater danger facing the Jewish people wasn't terrorism, but looking away from the consequences of occupation. Probably the same way he could say in a review of Michael Moore's book, "Stupid White Men", that there was "barely a mention" of the current war on terrorism in it, because it "raises questions the left simply doesn't want to answer." Actually, the reason Moore's book didn't mention the war was because it had already gone to print and was in the warehouses before 9-11, which reading the goddamn book would have made clear to Sullivan. When doing a book review, it helps to read the book you're reviewing. It helps even more, to care that your review is honest.

And that's Sullivan's problem. Not partisanship. Not sloppiness. Not ignorance. But honesty. Sullivan lies. He does it simply to incite passions toward the enemy his jerking knee and his dime store prejudices just won't let him let go of, and with exactly the same fierce hatred that H.L. Mencken once observed in William Jennings Bryan.

Howler asks, reasonably enough, "Why, oh why, does the insider press corps keep taking this small man so seriously?" Beats me either. But then again I'm starting to wonder how anyone can take the big news outlets seriously. A few weeks ago I was dismayed to learn that the All News Network had pulled the plug on itself. I watched that one regularly via my satellite feed, because CNN had just become too calorie free for my liking. So the weekend after the Montgomery County sniper attacks began, and all the local stations were broadcasting sports events, I tried the CNN Headline Service to see if they had anything on the investigation. Ha. I hit it at about five minutes after the hour, and watched, I kid you not, a couple of women news droids discuss the health benefits of various kinds of tea for about ten minutes. On the headline service!

If the health benefits of tea can occupy ten minutes of a half-hour headline news broadcast, I don't see any reason why Andrew Sullivan can't grace the news media with his presence too. A Sullivan, or a Coulter or a Hume in a news publication can serve the same function as the word "veggie" in front of the word "burger" or the words "alcohol free" on a bottle of champaign. Look at it this way: any news outlet that deals in the likes of Sullivan, isn't really a news outlet. They just play one on TV.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Straying From The Path...But Not Far...

Yes...the second cartoon this week is not exactly about gay civil rights. But considering the enormity of what congress did last week, I couldn't in good conscience, just stick to my topic. As the White House Gang continues to make my gorge rise ever higher, I reckon I'll probably be doing more cartoons about them. If I do, I'll try to have at least one on topic cartoon for that week also.

The Risks Of Political Cartooning

You may notice that the cartoon I did a couple weeks ago of Boston U Chancellor Silber burning the wreckage of the Gay Straight Alliance at Boston Academy is missing from the archive. If I ever publish a compilation of my cartoons, it'll be missing from that too.

I wasn't completely happy with it when I posted it, mostly because I was never able to sort out a good visual idea from the news reports I had on hand, and my emotional response to them, in time to meet my deadline. So I just sat down and started sketching this and that until I'd worked myself as close as I could to it, and still had time enough to actually draw and ink and charcoal it together. It was weak, but I'm running this operation as if I had a real newspaper deadline to meet, mostly just to see if I can manage it. Since last December I've never gotten brain blocked for an idea, but that week I wasn't getting anywhere. It was disturbing, because I'd never been blocked for a drawing idea before. Ever.

So I finish my drawing, meet my self imposed deadline, and vow to make the drawing next week a much better one. Then, as I followed the story of Silber verses gay students, I learned that I'd made a really big goof in drawing him. When trying to caricature someone for a cartoon, I have to rely a lot on whatever photos of them I can grab off the web. Herblock had the entire Washington Post photo library at his disposal. I have the web, but that isn't exactly an easy place to find photos of every brick brained crank you read about in the news. A lot of news articles on the web have no photos associated with them, and I end up wading though tons of text to get to one or two good head shots of someone I need to draw, and sometimes I just don't find anything. But I found a couple of good head shots of Silber that week, and because my deadline was starting to tap its foot impatiently, I set about drawing him right away. It sounds like excuse making to say that if I were doing this full time for a living I'd have probably been a little more careful. It would be nice to have the time to really research somebody I'd never drawn before. What I really needed in this case, was a shot of the whole man. Silber only has one good arm. I didn't know this until I read a more complete account of his babbling rant about how discrimination is a Good Thing, and discovered a passage where he says he was once discriminated against by a fraternity, because of his handicap.

Why thank you John, for proving once again that being the victim of invidious discrimination doesn't necessarily make you less likely to practice it yourself, Every Fucking Chance You Get... There are mistakes you can live with, and there are mistakes that make you cringe. I've been trimming down my archive lately anyway, mostly because I don't have tons of space for storing graphics, but also because I can see my current work making the stuff I did back in December, when I first started cartooning again after decades away from it, look a tad underdone. The Silber cartoon has gone to join them. I chalk it up to a learning experience I probably needed to have anyway, and I promise not to keep turning out work I'll just want to hide from you later on.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, October 13, 2002.

The Gun Thing...(continued...)

Yeah...Townsend is a lot worse of gun rights issues then Ehrlich. So what? A while ago on a Usenet newsgroup, I had a wee argument with a homophobic bigot, who said my putting my concern about gay rights over the right to keep and bear arms was proof that homosexuals are more worried about "special rights" then the rights of all Americans. I asked him which was worse: the government taking your gun away from you, or the government taking your child away from you. Ask Sharon Bottoms what she thinks is worse.

I'll wait until equality for homosexual people, and same sex couples is the law of the land, before I start fighting democrats over gun rights. This is where I walk away from the Log Cabinites and the deep thinkers at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum. To say that elevating gay and lesbian civil rights concerns over others is to make our sexuality the center of our lives, is to buy hook line and sinker into the right wing claptrap that homosexuality is just about the kind of sex people have and nothing else. If republicans want my support for...well...just about anything...then they need to stop kicking gay and lesbian Americans in the face.

I see the Connie Morella is fighting for her political life down in Montgomery County. Swell. She styles herself as an independent kinda liberal republican, which is the only kind that can get elected in Montgomery County. The last time I was down there and saw her politicking at a Metro station, I looked her right in the eye and said, "DOMA", and kept on walking. I'd love to see her loose. I have a Good Riddance card I've been saving ever since DOMA passed with her name on it, just for that occasion.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

No...I'm not bitter. Well Maybe A Little.

Yeah I was in a bad mood when I wrote the previous passage about the democrats being Smirk appeasers. They're not all of course. Point of fact, both my Maryland senators voted against the war resolution, which considering we're on the verge of electing another Spiro Agnew to the governor's house, is kinda reassuring. But where's the @%#@&* leadership?

And speaking of which, it's been interesting to watch Ehrlich and Steele duck the issue of Gay rights in Maryland. Townsend says she supports "domestic partnerships" and Ehrlich says he hasn't taken any position on that. Right. And if he said that he had no position on war with Iraq I'd believe that too. More disturbing, his running mate, a black conservative named Michael Steele, the only African American state republican chairman, was asked shortly after he joined the Ehrlich ticket about laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination, and he replied that there were already enough laws on the books protecting gay white men. I've been trying to dig up a link to the news story I read that in, but don't have the time right now. But I recall how it made a splash in the local Baltimore gay listserv I'm on. Steele took a question about sexual orientation, and turned it into a question about race, which is the same racial resentment card Nathanial Wilcox of Take Back Miami/Dade viciously played. That was all I needed to hear to know what kind of man Steele is, and I strongly doubt that Ehrlich is all that far away from him. He won't say so though, because he needs at least some significant support from the more liberal parts of the state, Baltimore City and the Washington suburbs, to get elected. He doesn't have to actually win there, just peel off more votes from there then Ellen Sauerbrey managed.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Back On Windows Today...

I'm not going to bother booting Linux today, because if I let fiddling with it suck me in I'll never finish next week's cartoons. It took up way too much of my time yesterday as it was.

But Geek Alert I gotta remark about this. All this time I'd figured Visual Slick Edit for a more powerful editor then MultiEdit, somewhat because I know MultiEdit's little...ah...quirks, but mostly because of its huge price, and the fact that it seemed to stay viable in the market, regardless, which meant people were buying it anyway. I just took that to mean that people were willing to shell out the money because it was actually worth it. But having used it for hours yesterday, I've found it actually less flexible then MultiEdit in a lot of ways. Don't get me wrong here, Slick Edit is still a first class editor, and it may be the only choice I have on Linux after all. But for less then half the money, MultiEdit is out doing Slick Edit here and there in ways I wasn't expecting. So far I haven't discovered anything that Slick Edit can do, that MultiEdit can' least, nothing I do regularly in text editing, and a few things MultiEdit can do that Slick Edit can't. Here's a couple of things I noticed:

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday, October 12, 2002.

The Police Release A Composite Photo Of The Suspect...Truck.

The Montgomery County Sniper struck again yesterday in Frederick Virginia, which interestingly is also in Spottsylvania County. The new news is that they're saying this truck was apparently spotted at more then one of the murder scenes in Montgomery County. The composite photos can be seen here. However, the vehicle sought in connection with yesterday's murder was a white mini van, with ladder racks on the roof.

You have to figure this guy knows Spottsylvania County Virginia. He's shot three people there, and five in the area between Aspen Hill and Kensington Maryland. But the interesting thing is that every single shot he's taken outside of the Kensington area so far has been almost right smack off of a major highway interchange. As I've said here before, the shooting in Silver Spring only looks like the exception to the rule. It isn't. There is an easy direct way to and from Kensington/White Flint from Silver Spring. I still think Kensington, somewhere around Knowles, is this guy's home base. All the killings off of local roads were centered around that area. Everywhere else and he's sticking very close to the major arteries. When I heard they'd arrested a guy in Kensington who had been shooting up a house in the neighborhood, my heart skipped a beat. But it wasn't him.

I worry now, about my friends who live in the area. I have several friends who live right smack in the danger zone, and if I still lived there myself I'd be poking around any little place I thought might be worth a good look. Of course, the police probably have all the likely spots staked out anyway, so I'd likely only succeed in getting myself detained for suspicious activity.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Yes...I Haven't Been Keeping My Archive Up To Date.

I promise to attend to it after I get my cartoons posted for Monday.

Appeasement And Appeasers

Well it looks like there is no stopping the war now. I was watching Joe Biden rationalize giving Smirk his very own Gulf of Tonkin resolution, by claiming with a straight face that the war on Iraq was only about forcing compliance with existing UN resolutions, and that the president (sic) hadn't actually made a decision on going to war. There, thinks I, is the face of appeasement the Right has been bellyaching about for weeks now, and yes, it's anti-American, and yes, it's ugly as hell. Nobody in the democratic leadership has the backbone to stand up to Smirk, anymore then they've had the backbone to stand up to him since he strongarmed his way into the White house. So now we're all going to war. Ellen Goodman had a column today in which she referred to a "forced political march", but the painful truth here is that nobody is forcing congress to go along with what is almost certainly a military grab for the second biggest oil reserves on the planet. The republicans are right: the democrats are appeasers. They're giving an unelected strongman who hates democracy, hates America and everything America ever stood for whatever he wants, for a promise of peace in our lifetimes. Of course I'm not talking about Saddam.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

GEEK ALERT... Trying Visual Slick Edit.

Like all good makers of programmer's editors, as it turns out, the makers of Visual Slick Edit make a trial version available. I'm running it right now and it seems, at least, to deal with DOS verses Unix line ends easily. It's not correctly formatting my HTML the way MultiEdit does, but I'm willing to assume there is a way to make it do that. And this may seem a bit offbeat, but I am delighted that the thing gives me a nice, clean block cursor. A nice block cursor, a monospaced font and a black background and I'm in editor paradise. Yeah...I configure my editors to all look like character based terminal editors. But I'm happy that way. I don't like a lot of visual distractions in front of me while I'm working, I just want to be alone with my text. I also like my editing keys to work as you might expect. You know...the up arrow key actually makes the cursor move up a line instead of throwing junk on the screen and making the cursor dissapear. Selecting text and then doing anything with it shouldn't require a set of cryptic key strokes and buffer commands that only someone unable to form a meaningful relationship to anything other then a compiler would remember. If I had to use EMACS every day to write code, I'd become a truck driver.

The trial lasts until the middle of November, then I have to decide. Thing is, Slick Edit is pricey, around three-hundred dollars, and near as I can tell they make you pay for the incremental upgrades too, which the makers of MultiEdit don't. I could see spending the money if it got me the verions for other platforms, but no, you pay about three-hundred for each of those too.

But just working with this editor today has been, without a doubt, the most pleasant experience I've had so far on Linux. And that definitely includes getting the darn Slick Edit trial installer to run. The problem there wasn't so much the install program, which actually worked as well as any Windows installer I've ever seen, but getting the TAR file extracted so I could run the installer packed within it. The Linux TAR program that came with Mandrake hung when I tried to get it to unpack the TAR file. I ended up going back to XP, and using a Windows TAR program which did the job, then going back to Linux and running the installer. If Linux is such a superior computer geek OS, why do I have to keep going back to Windows to get things done? This is starting to remind me of the love affairs various friends of mine used to have in college with certain British roadsters. They'd swear by how much fun they were to drive, and you always found them working on them.

Speaking of which...the network slowdown problem is back today. Not sure what is causing it, but it crashed my PPP layer earlier today. I tried bringing it back up and it was still behaving sluggishly and so I logged out of my ISP, and shut down the dialer. When I invoked it again the problem was gone. I never had the chance to see how well Linux performed while constantly connected to a dial up account, because my previous tries with SUSE and Red Hat were so miserable I hadn't gotten this far with them. I thought Linux was supposed to be nearly bullet proof compared to Windows.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

This page Copyright © 2002 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved.
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This page created using MultiEdit for Windows and/or Visual SlickEdit for Linux, GIF Construction Set, Adobe Photoshop Elements 1.0 and/or The Gimp. It was proofed using Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and/or Mozilla for Linux. The author regrets and/or disavows any confusion caused by this notice.