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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Clawing My Way To Linuxville...(Continued)

[GEEK ALERT] Reinstalling Multi-Edit 9, to a different directory from Program Files, got it working. Sort of. The installer still causes the Wine debugger to come up, with a barrage of messages, but exiting out of it allows the installer to continue, and once I got past that a second time, ME-9 actually came up. Previously it was bailing out, complaining that it couldn't find one of it's necessary OCX componants. I thought maybe it was the Program Files directory that was causing the problem, so this time around I installed to c:\mew9. That seemed to get ME working. That Program Files directory causes all sorts of problems for applications that don't handle spaces in the pathname well, and I think this was the case here.

Opening the configuration dialogue still caused a major crash, the keystroke macros still didn't work, and while I could now open files for editing, for some reason the File Open dialogue was completely screwed up. You pretty much had to open a file by typing its full pathname in the filename box, which was the only element of the dialogue you could actually work with, due to the fact that the rest of the dialogue looked like a collage gone horribly wrong.

A little trick I learned a while back with Multi-Edit, is that you can save its Config directory off somewhere, and then if you ever need to re-install the program, or move it to another machine, you can just copy the Config directory back and you have all your old program settings restored (you have to be careful about mixing files from different editor versions doing this). I was a little hesitant to try this on Linux/Wine, because I wasn't sure that my font settings wouldn't screw everything up. But it worked. Not only did I get all my program settings back without having to open the configuration dialogue, but it fixed the File Open dialogue problem completely. Multi-Edit allows you to choose between a standard File Open dialogue, or an Explorer type, which is the new default. I always switch it back to the standard, because I never liked fiddling with the explorer style one. Apparently (and I suspected this since the File Open dialogue worked correctly in ME7) the Explorer style dialogue in Wine is still not working right.

Keystroke macros still don't work, though I can now see all my old ones listed in the Macros dialogue box. They just don't run. For now, it means I have to manually enter all my html tags. It's a small price to pay. The fixed width fonts I use for editing (you just don't want to use a proportional font while writing program code), look far better in Wine then they do in the rest of my KDE desktop. I don't know why the standard Redhat fonts are so crappy, but now at least I can edit with fonts that look sharp and clear. The file window tabs are munged a tad, you can't see the tab outlines clearly, just the filenames inside them, but they seem to work just fine all the same. I still can't copy anything from the KDE desktop clipboard. But copy and paste works just fine within the editor itself. I can copy and paste within a file, and between editor windows to my heart's delight, I just can't copy any text from a KDE application, into a file I'm editing.

But I'm delighted. For the first time since I first booted up a Linux system here at Casa del Garrett, I've been able to edit a file without having to think about how to do basic things, like cursor movement, block operations and text formatting. I'm able to concentrate on the work I'm doing, then about how to get the editor to do it, and that's gone a long way to make using Linux a genuine pleasure now.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Critical Application

[Geek Alert] For those of use who spend most of our days writing on a computer, whether it's essays, fiction or software, the one critical piece of software is your editor. Almost nothing else matters, by which I mean you can tolerate a lot of bad behavior in just about any other piece of software, but working with an editor that constantly gets in your way is a pure dose of misery.

First thing I did when setting out to construct a workable home Linux system, was try to find a programmer's editor that I could live with. I loath emacs with a passion, and vi only a tad less. Call me a product of the Wintel environment, but I absolutely cannot work with an editor that does not correctly follow the Common User Interface model. END should send the cursor to the end of a line, and HOME to the beginning. CONTROL-RIGHT-ARROW should move the cursor forward one word, and CONTROL-RIGHT-ARROW back a word. I am more used to using ALT-E-C to copy ALT-E-T to cut, and ALT-E-P or SHIFT-INSERT to Paste, then CONTROL-C, CONTROL-X and CONTROL-V, which don't even make sense mnemonically. If I can't sling a cursor around a document without having to pause and think about every movement command I'm using, then I'll end up hating that editor, regardless of how many other nice bells and whistles it has.

For years, nearly a decade actually, my primary editor has been a product called Multi-Edit. I used it under DOS, and migrated along with the product to Windows. It has a lot of nice features, and with every release it's become a much more powerful tool. But what I like most about it is that, at least for me, cursor movement within it seems almost as swift and sure as thinking the words, or the compiler code, as I type. It's that intuitive for me. Anyone with a favorite editor knows just how I feel in this. You reach a point where you stop thinking about the editor altogether, and you're focused only on what you're writing.

I was hoping to find something I could work with on Linux, that uses the same basic set of cursor, and block operation commands that Multi-Edit uses. And I really didn't think that was asking for much, since most of it is based on the Windows Common User Interface model. In point of fact, several Linux editors claim to offer CUI keyboard mappings. But the reality is that none of them I've worked with to date do even the basic CUI correctly. It's been a frustrating, no, an exasperating experience.

The Linux editor I finally settled on, and bought a license for, Crisp, was the one that came closest to it for me. Crisp is far more powerful the most of the standard editors that come with your typical Linux distribution, except perhaps for emacs, which like I said before, I hate with a passion. Its price is very reasonable, and for the price you not only get an x-windows version, but a terminal version too. That's a nice touch. But even Crisp doesn't do all the CUI mappings well. One particularly aggravating miss, is that in Crisp, ALT-E-C isn't copy like it should's cut. Fortunately it has a nice many leveled Undo buffer. But that's one aggravation that I don't think was necessary.

The makers of Multi-edit don't seem to be on the verge of producing a Linux version of their editor any time soon. But there was another approach that I could take, if I wanted to invest a little more time and effort in tinkering with Linux (and what is the Linux experience, if not time and effort spent tinkering...). There is a software package, Wine, that is not precisely a Windows emulator, but more a Windows Compatibility Layer, that offered me a slight, and I mean slight, hope that I could use my existing Windows copies of Multi-Edit on Linux.

Downloading and installing Wine was actually a breeze. I downloaded the Wine rpm files for Redhat 9 and my particular CPU (Athlon), and rpm'ed it in a root terminal. They suggest you try out the Notepad application that comes with Wine first, to make sure it installed correctly, and when I did that Wine set about configuring itself, with a barrage of terminal alerts. Then it came up and ran what looked to me like a perfectly running Windows Notepad, right on my KDE desktop. Nice.

In a regular user account terminal, I tried to install my copy of Multi-Edit 9. Wine created a pseduo Windows file system under my home directory, but then then install crashed as it was configuring Multi-Edit, and subsequent attempts to get the version 9 of the editor running have so far failed. So I tried installing the earlier version, 8, which as it happens, because of my upgrade path, required me to install version 7 first. Version 7 is not a true 32 bit application, though it does thankfully, make use of the Windows 95 long filenames. That version runs (so far) very well indeed on Wine. Multi-Edit 8 will run okay, but it won't open existing files for editing for some reason I've yet to debug, and just opening the configuration dialogue causes it to crash in a big way. Others have said they've gotten 8 up and running...sort of...on Wine, so I reckon I'll keep trying.

Right now, I'm happily editing this html file on Multi-Edit version 7 running under Wine. I haven't had a chance yet to thoroughly work it out, but it seems to run okay, other then keystroke macros aren't functioning. There seems to be no communication at all with the KDE or X-Windows clipboard either, which is not helpful. But my cursor isn't fighting me anymore, so I'm counting myself Much happier now then I was previously. Paragraph reformatting works as expected, whereas in Crisp for some reason, when you try to format a paragraph in an html document, you get a template expansion instead. CONTROL-Backspace works as expected; in Crisp if you CONTROL-backspace to the previous line, you'll delete the last word on that line too. And Multi-Edit seems to know much, much better then Crisp, when it's editing a file with DOS, or Unix line ends. I've several times now, opened up a file in Multi-Edit on Windows that I was previously working on in Crisp on Linux, only to find it full of mixed DOS/Unix line ends. Aggrh!

In all fairness, I need to tell the authors of Crisp about my problems and give them a chance to fix them. When I downloaded an update to Crisp several weeks ago, that kept crashing, they looked right into it, and almost immediately sent me a fix for the problem, which turned out to be a compiler setting that produced instructions my AMD CPU didn't seem to like. That's an amazing degree of attention to customers in this day and age, so I really need to give them a chance to fix their editor.

So for now, I need to figure out why the clipboard isn't working in Wine, but that's the only major problem I have at the moment, other then the keystroke macros, which nobody has gotten to work under Wine with Any version of Multi-Edit so far. But I'm happier now doing work in Linux then I was just a while ago. Maybe in a while they'll work all the kinks out of Wine and I won't need to worry whether or not the makers of Multi-Edit produce a Linux version.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Still No Talking Feather...

...nor time at the drafting table either. A sudden illness, and a pressing deadline at work, do not a talkative Bruce make. I'm feeling really crappy tonight from something that can't seem to make up its mind whether its just a real bad headcold, or a flu. I called in sick today, and my project manager kindly reminded me that I have some coding to get finished for a build on Friday. Our code needs to be frozen for a release later in the year, which means testing has to begin at the end of the week, which means I have to finish all my tasks by Friday. Oh...and I have classwork to do. I may not have much to say until the weekend.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Moving Right Along...

This week's cartoon is up. Look for a bonus one, either tomorrow or Tuesday, to make up for the one I didn't do last week.

Nothing much else to say at the moment...still no talking feather...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Slouching Toward My Lai...(continued)

Fred Clark again, with another good one:

"Hope is not a plan," the saying goes. But Brooks does not counsel hope, he counsels despair. Well, despair is not a plan either.

I don't want to hear another word from Bush supporters about morality. Okay? None. People who argue that atrocities are an unfortunate but necessary part of winning this, or any other war, do more violence to the very concept of civilization and morality then outright mass murderers who give all reverence for life and love and honor and decency the finger. They reduce themselves below the level of sadists, and not because they can't be bothered to do the work civilization requires, not because they love bloodshed and death, but because when push came to shove and they had to take a stand either for decency and morality or for the thug and the axe, and against the innocents, they chose the thug, because the thug revolted them less then the innocents: and being forced to see that horrific void in themselves, where all along they'd always thought they had a conscience, they hated the innocents all the more.

That's what's happening here. Never doubt it. We've been fighting this little American Kultar Kampf for years now, and always it's been the paragons of morality verses the hedonistic anything goes forces of darkness and liberalism, and now comes the reckoning. Now a lot of people who have been yap, yap, yapping for a long, long time, about virtue, about morality, about family and values, are having to choose between their comfortable conceits about this president, and this war, and every bumper sticker slogan they ever memorized concerning the shining glory of their political movement, and the now inescapable fact that none of it can succeed without resorting to the very hedonistic anything goes moral relativisms they've defined themselves all along as being dead set against. And now, right now, at long last, they have to see that the image of themselves as noble warriors of virtue was all a sham, a fake, a contemptible lie they told themselves over and over and over again, because it felt better then actually being moral, actually being virtuous, actually having values. Be certain that if they feel a twinge of anything about that it isn't guilt, it's resentment at having to know it about themselves, finally, at last.

[Edited a tad]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Camera Talk

One more shot added to the group below. And I did a little correction work on a couple of the others too. At some point, I need to set up a photo layout page, for this sort of thing. That's mostly because due to space limitations, I would need to rotate the images on and off for periods of time.

[GEEK ALERT] For the curious... I took the photos below with my Minolta Dimage 7hi. It's a nice little digital camera, that gives me all the control and flexibility I need. It allows you to manually set everything, including focus, which is great when you need to overrule the auto focuser. Its electric viewfinder however, while much, much better then most, still isn't fine enough to let you just eyeball the focus entirely. Some day I'll get a good digital SLR. The Dimage has a nice 64meg hi speed memory image buffer, which allows me to just fire away and not worry at all about the ready lag between shots most digital cameras suffer from. Most importantly for me, its zoom opens to an effective 28mm wide angle. I do a lot of shooting at that focal length. It just works for the kind of imagery I find myself doing. I'd have to say that my Canon FD 24mm has probably taken nearly half the images I've ever shot with my Canon F1s.

I still haven't abandoned my Canon F1s, but I need diopters for them. Film is still much finer grained then digital, or at least any digital camera even remotely in my price range. But digital images, especially color images, are so much easier to process that I can see the day coming when I just retire the F1s. Parts for their all mechanical innards are getting hard to come by, and now Strauss Photo, the major camera repair guys in Washington, won't even touch them.

Restless Feet Weekend

More enchanting then a christmas catalogue, is a road atlas. To me anyway. This weekend we got a sudden sharp spike in the temperature for November, and the weather was warm and the sky blue, and my eye caught the road atlas on my bedroom bookshelf, and suddenly I got restless feet. That's why there was no cartoon this week, and I apologize for that. But cartooning isn't my trade, so much as an art that fills a need in my life. I have several of those actually, and another one of them is photography.

I had a pile of chores around the house to do too, but I started on that damn atlas, looking at all the places just a short day hop away from me that I hadn't been to yet, and the next thing I knew I was grabbing my camera bag and camera and atlas and I were in the car driving north.

I haven't said much here in the past few days, not that there hasn't been much in the news to talk about. But Atrios, Jim at Rittenhouse, TBogg, Brad DeLong, and many others have it covered much better then I. I'm not a political animal, I post here for the same reason I do my cartoons, paint my paintings, and take photographs. The great painter N.C. Wyeth told his children that they should soak up life like a sponge, drink it up, soak it up, but don't forget to squeeze some of it out every now and then. So here's a few shots I took over the weekend, until the talking feather comes round my way again.

Abandoned School, Hampstead Maryland

Abandoned School, Hampstead Maryland

Abandoned School, Hampstead Maryland

Abandoned School, Hampstead Maryland

Abandoned School, Hampstead Maryland

Abandoned School, Hampstead Maryland

Drive-In Sign Near Guildens, Pa.

Drive-In Sign Near Guildens, Pa.

Abandoned Store Display in Hannover, Pa.

Abandoned Store Display in Hannover, Pa.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, October 31, 2003

In Charge, But Not Responsible

Fred Clark catches something in the recent Bush press conference , that many of us missed...probably because we're all so damn use to seeing it...

During his press conference Tuesday, President Bush said the current size of the force was sufficient to the task -- although, true to his character, he pointed to someone else as being responsible for any decision, thus escaping blame if it turns out to be the wrong call.

Fred goes on to quote this little nugget from President Bring 'Em On:

I've constantly asked the secretary of defense, as well as when I was visiting with General Abizaid, does he have what it takes to do his mission? And he told me he does.

The Bucks stop here, but the buck stops somewhere else...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Fair And Balanced Means You Spin It Our Way

Behold the outrage on the part of republicans, regarding the upcoming mini series about Ronald Reagan. The series is full of inaccuracies, and outright lies, they claim. Gosh. Where was their concern for historical accuracy when Showtime produced that fraudulent piece of crap film about president smirking liar and 9-11, or the rescue of Jessica Lynch film, both of which amount to nothing more then spit in the face of TV viewers.

Somebody ought to do a mini series on the rise to power of a drunken, coke snorting frat boy son of a rich president, who went through life on the shoulders of his fathers' cronies, hiding from Vietnam in a national guard unit, until even the requirements of that job became too tedious for him and he went AWOL, scheming his way from one crooked business venture to the next, until he had schemed his way into the white house, and control of the biggest economy and most powerful military in history, only to wreak them both trying to line his, and his cronies' pockets. Let them howl about that. It only goes to show that Garrison Keillor was right when he said they are republicans first, and Americans second.

[UPDATE] It appears the Republican National Committee is demanding the right to review the content of the mini series...

Gillespie said that if CBS denies the request, he will ask the network to run a note across the bottom of the screen every 10 minutes during the program's presentation informing viewers that the miniseries is not accurate.

...and if they don't do that, the republicans will try to buy commercial time during the series, to denounce it. It's not enough to control all three branches of government. They have to control it all. of worship...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Northern Light

I saw my first aurora last night, in the same cornfield I saw my first comet in several years ago. It wasn't the spectacular hanging curtains of light display you often see in pictures, more a bluish-green glow in the northern sky, that deepened as it reached for the horizon. "Still water", as a co-worker who has seen many aurora called it. Sometimes, or so I'm told, the aurora dances exuberantly across the sky, rippling, folding in on itself, quivering in the solar wind. Last night it was a single organ chord of light. Normally in that field I can see the glow from York, Pennsylvania, just over the horizon. But that's a soft amber glow, that hangs low in the sky. What I saw last night was almost like an early dawn, except that it was blue-green, and in the north. The evening stars glistened vividly through the glow, and dark raggedy clouds, moving slowly west to east, stood out against it in relief. Occasionally some high altitude aircraft would slowly track across the sky, a lonely blinking light wandering among the stars. I wondered what the view from up there was like.

According to Spaceweather.Com, there may be more to come tonight.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I Can Call Myself A Stalker If I Want To, But If You Do It Too I'll Sue...

Self Described Stalker Donald Luskin has taken umbrage at being referred to as a stalker by Atrios, and apparently also some posters in his comments, and responded in the usual way republican neo fascist nutcases do...(ab)use the system to silence your critic. He's threatening Atrios with a lawsuit unless he removes the offending verbiage from his web log. Nice huh? Luskin can gleefully refer to himself as stalking Paul Krugman all he wants (We Stalked. He Balked.), but when other people start picking up on it, he comes unglued. It's one thing to play the part of the brownshirt, and another for people to take notice.

It's actually somewhat heartening to see the Mighty Wurlitzer coming to regard the blog world as a threat. You don't need to intimidate people who can't possibly hurt you. But now that more and more people are tuning into the web for news and information they can't get in the establishment news media, the web must inevitably draw their attention. Atrios' website is enormously popular. A lot of people, myself included, hit his site regularly, often several times a day, for the links he provides to news and commentary that would otherwise just disappear under the noise of the Mighty Wurlitzer. You just can't imaging the White House Gang standing by idly, while someone is letting people in on the facts. I'm genuinely surprised they haven't tried to do something about Atrios well before now.

Atrios is a pen name, a'la Common Sense, back during another time, during a different struggle for liberty and justice for all. Luskin may be doing nothing more for his masters then using the legal system to get Atrios' web host to fork over his true identity. Even some right wing bloggers are, at least rhetorically, aghast at the pathetic spectacle Luskin is making here. But the Mighty Wurlitzer is not so haphazard. So what if a suit is laughed out of court. Now we know who Atrios is... So maybe next time it'll be his employer who feels the heat. Or his wife. Or his children. The important thing to remember about the outing of Valerie Plame, is that neither the harm to U.S. intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, or the threat to the lives of the people she contacted while working as an undercover CIA agent, stopped them from getting the revenge they wanted on Wilson. This is how republicans play the game. It isn't just Paul Krugman, who is being stalked. It's all of us.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

David Talbot Sticks His Thumb In His Subscribers' Eyes.

Recently I've had people on various blog comment pages tell me that Salon isn't so bad these days. Andrew Sullivan hasn't appeared there in...well...weeks. I should, they say, resubscribe. We all need to support media outlets that promote voices and ideas the republican Mighty Wurlitzer doesn't want Americans to hear.

Like, Camille Paglia, for instance, who appears this week in Salon.

Right. I'm all for supporting media outlets that promote voices and ideas the republican Mighty Wurlitzer doesn't want Americans to hear, but Salon isn't one of them. David Talbot is Still playing the old game of balanced verses partisan. He still apparently thinks that media that lets all sides air their views is the alternative to the Mighty Wurlitzer. It isn't. Not anymore. He is just giving space to relentless haters of the American dream of liberty and justice for all, and I am just not going to pay him to do that. Paglia...Sullivan...Horowitz...who the hell does Talbot think he's kidding. Right wing voices are swimming in right wing billionaire money. They don't need my support too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Signs That Hate Has Driven You Crazy...

The Rocky Mountain News reports that the city council of Casper, Wyoming has rejected Fred Phelp's statue of Matthew Shepard burning in hell. Fred responds by saying, "Casper is the epicenter and fountain of gay experiences."

"Casper has no business saying anything," Phelps said. "Casper bore Matthew Shepard and they raised him and they said it was OK to be gay."

...all of which may surprise and dismay young Wyoming gays considerably, dreaming and making plans to go live in some more hospitable climate, only to learn that central Wyoming is the center of the liberated gay experience. This is it??? This is fucking it?????? Cheer up. Fred probably doesn't know his epicenter from a hole in the ground.

Mind you...this all started with Casper displaying a ten commandments statue in their public park. A court ruled they could do that, but they'd then have to allow other religious viewpoints to put monuments in the park too. Thats Fred's basis for demanding they allow him to put his monument up too. What they probably thought they were doing was venerating high moral standards, but what you get when you ally the power of the state with religion isn't a raising of standards, but a flat out race to the bottom. Suddenly, instead of virtue and decency, they saw the gutter staring back at them.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Cartoon up...

The cartoon for the week is up. Sorry I haven't been updating this space for a while, but it's been a heavy work week here. I had a class assignment due tonight too, and between that and the cartoon and my paying job, there hasn't been much time to post here.

This week's cartoon being another color one, I need to give a public thank-you to cartoonist Howard Cruse, who has very kindly shared some of what he knows about cartooning with the rest of us on his web site Cartoonist's Corner. In particular, his essay, How I Color My Comics has been very helpful in my own attempts to add color to mine. Howard is not to be held to blame for how well I put any of it to use.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Getting up to speed

I have this cheap streak when it comes to monthly bills. The fewer and smaller they are the better. I bought less house then I could afford, so I could pay the mortgage on a week's take-home pay. My car is paid off and as long as it stays trouble free, I reckon I'll stick with it. I'm on satellite TV rather then cable, because it's a good twenty dollars less a month for the same service. And I've been plinking along on a dial-up line now, long past the point where it made sense to get broadband, because I was loath to spend 40-50 bucks a month for the faster connection.

Trying to download an entire CVS tree from work, and fully updating a Red Hat 9 installation over a dial-up line, finally made that little nagging voice inside of me that usually says Don't waste your money, change it's tune to Stop wasting your time. My DSL line was activated just yesterday, and as always, I'm amazed I didn't go for it sooner.

I still have some things I want to post here, but I spent most of the evening yesterday getting my DSL working, and then discovering what it's like to have (nearly) the same net connectivity here at home as I have at work. Upgrading large development tools and other software isn't nearly so painful now. Nor is viewing sites like Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoon Site. or Tim Fish's site, which I really need to put a link up to under my cartoon links.

So I spent the day yesterday exploring, and sending an old friend some JPEGS of photos I took of our old gang back in the 70s. Suddenly tossing around megabyte files isn't so big a deal.

I have classwork to catch up on, so blogging will still be light around here for the rest of the week. But I want to post a reply to Will's despicable column last week, about the row in the Anglican church over the place of homosexuals in it. Andrew Conscience Undetectable Sullivan seems also to be having a crises regarding his church. Like Rush Limbaugh, I feel like I need to have some sympathy for the guy. I was not only raised a protestant, but a Baptist, which are (or were) kinda protestant radicals. I have no concept of how it must be, to feel like your connection to God is predicated on being in the good graces of a church hierarchy, that being a member in good standing of your church, gives you access to sacraments that connect you to God.

God is everywhere. I felt it as a naive and wondering boy in a pew, and even more as an adult, with a decidedly unchurch going temperament, and a deep appreciation for the human endeavors of science, physics and astronomy. Not the literal God of the fundamentalists, but the creator, the artist, whose signature is in the laws of nature, on the smallest of particles, in the song of birds, and the motion of galaxies. I cannot imagine how desperate it must feel, to have a religious hierarchy you cannot fathom, who cannot and will not even try to understand you, standing as the mediator between you and God. But that is how it takes some people. We look to the light we can see. Much as I really want to tell some of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters they need to take a walk and not look back, because anyone who seriously believes they control your access to God is poison...I can't. I see what I see. Others see what they see. We're all like Newton on the beach, as he once said of himself, now and then finding that prettier pebble or seashell then usual, while all around us the great ocean of truth is unexplored. We try our best. Well...most of us.

What Baptists believe is that we all have to make that connection ourselves, on our own, just as we are. I still believe that. Your millage may vary. I'm sorry Sullivan is having this crisis, I wish, like Rush, he'd learn a little sympathy, and realize, finally, that the reason you live an honest, honorable life isn't simply to make it easier to manage the hardships life throws at you, but to keep you from digging yourself into exactly the kind of Pit they may be finding themselves in now. It's one thing to suffer an injustice, and another to wish injustice upon others. The beast you unleash is not yours to command. They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. I don't expect either one of them to figure this out though.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Using Hate To Win Elections

A little something from the Nation for the Deep Thinkers at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum...

As George Bush's poll numbers began seriously dwindling, Karl Rove and the White House political strategists decided to reach into their bag of tricks and come up with a good old staple of reactionary politics: homophobia.

The decision to scapegoat gay and lesbian Americans was poll-driven by an antigay backlash that gathered steam in the wake of the Supreme Court's June 26 decision, in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down laws making gay sex between consenting adults illegal--the so-called sodomy laws. The backlash first surfaced in a July 25-27 Gallup poll. It showed that support for legalizing gay sex had plummeted a dramatic twelve points, to only 48 percent, down from a comfortable 60 percent in favor of legalization in Gallup's May survey. Those saying "homosexuality should be considered an acceptable lifestyle" also slalomed down from 54 to 46 percent; and support for same-sex civil unions dropped from 49 to 40 percent. Two weeks later, a Washington Post poll showed that support for gay civil unions had dropped three points lower than in Gallup's. Since then, five other national polls have confirmed the antigay trend.

Just two days after Gallup released its poll showing the backlash, Bush unexpectedly used a Rose Garden press conference to announce that he'd assigned lawyers to come up with a plan to stop gay marriage...

Of course, every time the republicans start thumping the Gays Are Trying To Destroy Church And Society pulpit, homosexuals die. And yes, they know it. It's not that they don't care, or that they care so much about winning elections that they're blind to the threat to homosexuals they're creating, or the damage they're doing to America in the process. With regard to homosexuality, they are eliminationists. Beneath all the transparently bogus Love The Sinner Hate The Sin rhetoric is the simple fact that they want homosexuality eliminated from society. Because they hate homosexuals, with the same fierce venom that the antisemites of the 30s hated Jews, and wanted to eliminate them from society.

And just as with antisemitism, and for that matter racism, the central fact people keep missing when dealing with it, is how thoroughly the hater has dehumanized the hated in their perception. Nothing about homophobia really makes sense absent that understanding. Homophobes believe that extending equal rights to homosexuals is the equivalent, literally, of making animals equal to humans, or more to the point, degrading the human status, down to that of animals. This is the reflex, that prompted Rick Santorum to compare the love of same sex couples, to bestiality. That little outburst came straight from the heart.

Even in the rhetoric of even the most mainstream (read: presentable) of the right wing commentators, homosexuals are a mark of social decay and degeneracy. People, no. Citizens, no. Walking signposts of impending armageddon, yes. Everything proceeds from this. Ask any of the same people agitating for an anti same sex marriage amendment, if they agreed with the Lawrence decision. They may equivocate and say they think it's a matter for the states, but even there what they are saying that the power to throw homosexuals in jail, simply for being homosexual, is not on its face an illegitimate one. Only where the reflex mentality is that homosexuals have no innate right, as Jefferson once said of all mankind, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, do you get an argument that the rights of homosexuals can be trumped by nothing more then the hatred of others for them. How can homosexuals possess rights such as these when, properly speaking, they are not fully human to begin with?

They argue, in all seriousness, that when the Supreme Court overturned the sodomy laws, it went beyond tolerance, into forcing people to accept homosexuality. Now you might wonder how telling people they have to leave homosexuals alone forces anyone to accept homosexuality. Here's how: by telling people they have to leave homosexuals alone. It's akin, in the eyes of the homophobe, to telling them they can't cut a cancer off their body. You not only see yourself as having fewer rights, but worse, having your ability to protect yourself from disease taken away from you. Homosexuals aren't people they need to learn to get along with...they're a plague that they must either fight, or die from. When so-called social conservatives argue that homosexuality threatens the family, the nation, the foundations of civilization itself, that isn't just self serving campaign demagoguery. They mean it. Homosexuals aren't people...they're a disease societies must either fight, or die from.

Okay you say, but we're not anything like rounding up homosexuals to put them to death, like the Taliban did. Okay I say, but if you want to understand how the republicans can set about deliberately inciting violent passions toward homosexuals to get votes, and seemingly not feel the slightest qualm over the inevitable death toll...there's why. If you want to understand why they can gut funding for AIDS prevention and research...there's why. If you want to understand why they vehemently oppose hate crime laws...there's why. They're not just letting ideological passions, and the heat of political campaigning, blind them to the danger to innocent people. They don't even see people, when they look at homosexuals. They see a cancer on society. You don't tolerate a cancer, you get rid of it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, October 17, 2003

Uhm...I Can't Come Out Tonight Guys...I Gotta Do Homework...

Light to no blogging for the weekend, until I get my school work done, caught up on my tasks at my paying job, and the cartoon for next week finished. Oh...and some grocery shopping, some house cleaning, do the laundry...

So if you don't see me post until Monday...fear not. Actually, I have something to say about the latest George "surely homosexuality is an injury to healthy functioning, a distortion of personality" Will column on the Anglican row over homosexuality. It's just a matter of squeezing out the time to put it down and post it. Don't expect anything til Monday though.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, October 16, 2003

How They Play The Game...(continued)

So one of your tools in California got called on his nazi sympathies did he? No problem... just make up a story that a well known liberal actor expressed admiration for Stalin. Then later, shrug your shoulders and admit your story was false, claim it was all just a big misunderstanding, and then compare what you did, to stories about Governor Grope, who actually did express admiration for a nazi. Goodness...let's all try to raise the level of discourse here, shall we...?

It was almost worth it for the laugh I got reading Glenn Reynolds, who isn't a moderate but plays one for effect, say that he'd been mislead by Andrew Sullivan. But all these people, McCullough, Sullivan, Reynolds, are all part of the same Party machine, all playing the same deadly serious game. Think Valerie Plame. Think Smear and Protect.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

How They Play The Game...(continued)

Via Atrios. When you see those bright and smiling republican congress critters posing in front of the cameras and telling the American public that all is going peachy keen in Iraq, consider that one reason they can be so confident, is that president smirking liar is keeping out visitors who might not see things the way the Party wants them to see it...

On returning from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, a group of Senate Republicans said yesterday that the Bush administration deserves a lot more credit for successful reconstruction efforts in those war-torn nations.

Meanwhile, several Senate Democrats complained that they were denied access to a plane for a inspection tour of their own.

"For whatever reason, Sens. [Chris] Dodd [D-Conn.] and others who requested the opportunity to travel were prohibited from doing so, and I think that requires a better explanation that the one I've been given so far," Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said.

"We have no understanding. We were told that an [Air Force] airplane was not available," adding that Britain offered them the use of an airplane. "If Britain can offer United States senators an airplane, you would think the United States government could do so as well."

You'd think...if you were living on some other planet. Here is the situation in a nutshell. Daschle is still playing by the old rules, the rules between gentlemen, the rules of the political game...not the power game. He really needs to get over that, and so do all the other senior members of the Democratic party. Bush just put his thumb in the eyes of several democratic senators and then laughed in their faces. He's going to keep doing that as long as he's in the white house, and republicans are going to keep doing that as long as they have even the least ability to do so. They are revolutionaries. They do not give a rat's ass about politics.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

How They Play The Game

Via TBogg, I read that James I-Will-Defeat-You Lileks is all unhappy and everything with Colleen Rowley, the Minneapolis FBI agent who exposed FBI bungles in the pre-Sept. 11 investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui. Since then Rowley has been feeling the heat, not just from her fellow agents in Minneapolis, but also from Washington.

This sort of thing upsets Lileks. Oh...not that someone who exposed flaws in the FBI counter-terrorist system might themselves be the subject of anti whistle-blower retribution from their peers, let alone their higher ups, but that anyone might feel the slightest shred of sympathy, let alone respect, for a traitor to the Movement such as she. Lileks, once said of people who call his brand of gutter politics for what it is, that his only interest was in defeating them. That's certianly one way of admitting that his critics were right about him all along: he has no conscience, only that resentment for virtue and human nobility that usually fills the void of his kind, where a conscience once was. His sleazy attempt to smear Rowley as a limelight seeking publicity hound, who only spoke up to get media attention, makes for a good case in point.

Lileks quotes Rowley thusly:

"It didn't matter whether you were a career FBI agent, a decorated war veteran, a duly elected congressman or senator, a military general or even a former president, you were labeled a traitor for voicing any criticism of administration policies." which, Lileks smirks:

Google "Colleen Rowley traitor" and you'll find zero hits of any relevance, although I did find a blog that called Zell Miller "either an idiot or a traitor" for opposing increases in fuel efficiency. Traitors! The country's lousy with 'em.

And of course, anyone who has googled even a little ought to be able to see the problem with Lileks' google string: It's too restrictive; it will only hit on pages that have the "Colleen Rowley traitor" in it...not, for example, a page with the string "Colleen Rowley is a traitor" The following google string: Rowley +FBI +traitor, or simply Colleen Rowley traitor without the quotes around it, turns up hundreds of pages, many with a good deal of relevance indeed. And there is no way Lileks is unaware that google works in this fashion. Lileks gerrymandered the google search, deliberately and calculatedly using a search string he knew (probably by trial and error) would return few, if any relevant hits. Then he turned to his readers and said, in effect, See? This woman is a hysterical publicity seeking fraud. Lileks, like Andrew Sullivan, and other Movement bloggers, have no compunction about looking their readers in the face, and spitting in it.

That's what you do, when your only interest is in destroying the opposition. Bush supporters are of a piece. Bitter, preternaturally vindictive ideologues, for whom there is no higher moral value, then winning at all costs, because only power matters. Not honor. Not virtue. Not self esteem or personal responsibility. All that matters is defeating the Enemy. No...not liberals. Not democrats. But that damn light that keeps reminding them they're in the gutter.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Difference Between Liberators And Occupiers

U.S. Soldiers are bulldozing farm crops in Iraq, as collective punishment to farming communities for not giving them information about guerrilla attacks against them.

Mind you...these are desert crops, which have growth cycles spanning human generations...

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.

The stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protrude from the brown earth scoured by the bulldozers beside the road at Dhuluaya, a small town 50 miles north of Baghdad. Local women were yesterday busily bundling together the branches of the uprooted orange and lemon trees and carrying then back to their homes for firewood...

...The children of one woman who owned some fruit trees lay down in front of a bulldozer but were dragged away, according to eyewitnesses who did not want to give their names. They said that one American soldier broke down and cried during the operation. When a reporter from the newspaper Iraq Today attempted to take a photograph of the bulldozers at work a soldier grabbed his camera and tried to smash it. The same paper quotes Lt Col Springman, a US commander in the region, as saying: "We asked the farmers several times to stop the attacks, or to tell us who was responsible, but the farmers didn't tell us."

As if they'll be more likely to tell now. Note that just cutting down the trees wasn't enough:

"They made a sort of joke against us by playing jazz music while they were cutting down the trees," said one man. Ambushes of US troops have taken place around Dhuluaya. But Sheikh Hussein Ali Saleh al-Jabouri, a member of a delegation that went to the nearby US base to ask for compensation for the loss of the fruit trees, said American officers described what had happened as "a punishment of local people because 'you know who is in the resistance and do not tell us'." What the Israelis had done by way of collective punishment of Palestinians was now happening in Iraq, Sheikh Hussein added.

Anyone who didn't see Iraq becoming America's very own Occupied Territories last March was smoking a bit too much of the Program For A New American Century weed. And just as Israel's occupation turned it from the Athens of the middle east, into the South Africa of the middle east, so will this occupation eventually rust the heart of American democracy into dust. The powers of the Patriot Act aren't needed to keep us safe from terrorists, they're needed to silence dissent. The more brutal we have to become to keep foreign lands under our occupation, the more repressive our government will have to become here at home, to keep anyone who still has a functional conscience silent, disenfranchised and powerless.

The United States will be generations living down the taint of President Smirking Liar and his gang. Posted on the web log Electrolite, was this observation:

Teresa, who knows something about growing up in a desert, nailed it in conversation this afternoon. "If I were a child, and remote, powerful strangers came and cut down my trees...I would never again believe that they were the good guys."

No. This is the stuff of which reputations for evil are made, which last generations. Think about this the next time you see one of the Bush gang degenerates wearing an American Flag lapel pin. They could not show more contempt for America, if they tore down the flag over Arlington Cemetery, and pissed on it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, October 13, 2003

Who Defiled The Sanctuary...?

It's important to remember that religion is not the enemy of homosexual people. Hate is. Often appropriating for itself the mantle of religion, often obscenely wrapping itself in the robes of the one who counseled peace, who told the story of the good samaritan. Inciting religious passion that sets neighbor against neighbor is one of hate's oldest, and most terrible weapons. Here is how it is wielded against homosexual people...

MOSCOW, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A Russian chapel has been demolished by order of the Orthodox Church because a priest married two men there, the London Telegraph reported Thursday. The Chapel of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was torn down apparently after local churchmen decided it had been "defiled."

While in prison for the kidnapping and murder of Nicolas West, Donald Aldrich told a reporter how unfair it was that homosexuals had good things while living a life "god totally condemns". Benjamin Matthew Williams, co-murderer with his brother James Tyler, of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder in their home in 1999, said "I have followed a higher law...I have to obey God's law rather than man's law." Williams later committed suicide, after trying to kill a prison guard in an escape attempt, leaving his younger brother to face the consequences of their act alone. You might wonder who seriously believes that the laws of that which created all that is, all that was, and all that will ever be, could be represented in such as he. But look closer into those vacant, deranged, resentful, self pitying eyes. Here is what we become, when we do not see ourselves in each other. Here is what lies in wait for us, when we stop loving one another. Here is what society looks like, where hate is preached in the sanctuaries. Christ wasn't just being all warm and fuzzy when he insisted that we have to love one another.

President Smirking Liar declared the fifth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, National Marriage Protection Week. I have a counter proposal. How about: National Remember The Victims Of Anti-Gay Violence Week. How about instead of marking the week with a renewed commitment to treating homosexuals as sanctuary defiling human garbage, we dedicate ourselves to fighting the violence, which yearly takes lover away from lover, child from parent, friend from friend. How about we make hate accountable for its terrible consequences. How about, instead of working to debase the love of same sex couples, we acknowledge the consequences of hate, and rededicate ourselves to upholding the righteousness of love.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Dubya Says The Reality Check Is In The Mail

Josh Marshall seems almost at a loss for words to describe the recent spin Condi Rice put on the Kay report:

Had any one of these examples been discovered last winter, the Security Council would have had no choice but to take exactly the same course that President Bush followed: to declare Saddam Hussein in defiance of Resolution 1441, and enforce its serious consequences.

You can almost hear Marshall's patience snap...

Really? Is that how it is? Every administration fudges, conceals, or deceives in this way or that. But, at least in my memory, I cannot remember any administration or even any administration official that so routinely says things that are the polar opposite of reality --- when the facts to the contrary are sitting right out there in the open.

For almost a decade I used to argue with homophobes and dittoheads on unmoderated Usenet newsgroups, and while that might not seem like the most productive way to pass the time, the experience was instructive. You can call them self-delusional. You can say they're living in their own little worlds. But that misses it. They know what world it is they're living in. They can see reality for what it is. And they hate it. And especially, they hate those of us who are willing to face reality for what it is, learn our lessons from it, endure the many hardships and pain it throws our way, and can still, for all of that, love life, love existence, and thank our maker wholeheartedly, for bringing us into this amazing, beautiful, astonishing world.

If they can't make us renounce existence, they can still spit in our faces. And that's what, at root, is going on here. Condi Rice gets up in front of the world and declares with a straight face that the Kay report proves everything the Bush administration was saying about the danger Saddam was to the world. And she is not living in a dream world. She is not cynically engaging in Orwellian doublespeak. She's spitting in our faces. Oh know what the truth is, and I know what the truth is, and I still don't care. I don't have to care...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Cartoon's Up...

I've dated it today instead of tomorrow, for I think obvious reasons. Happy National Marriage Protection Week. In case your thoughts weren't otherwise occupied, that is...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

When Mammon Becomes God

Via Atrios...

Howard F. Ahmanson Jr does not like publicity. The fiftysomething multimillionaire, who lives in Newport Beach, California, is something of a recluse.

Calls to Ahmanson's multitude of companies and foundations requesting an interview go unreturned. Organisations which enjoy his largesse decline to talk about their benefactor.

What is known is that in the 1990s Ahmanson, whose family made a fortune in banking, subsidised a number of controversial right-wing causes. These include a magazine called the Chalcedon Report , which carried an article calling for gays to be stoned; a think-tank called the Claremont Institute which promoted a video in which Charlton Heston praises 'the God-fearing Caucasian middle class'; and a scientific body which rejects the theory of evolution.

Now Ahmanson has a new crusade, whose repercussions will be felt far beyond the United States. He is using his cash to stir up the most divisive row facing the Anglican Church, one that threatens to rip it apart when its leaders meet in London this week.

US millionaire bankrolls crusade against gay Anglican priests
The London Observer

People complain when I compare the attitude of American fascists toward homosexuals, with that of European fascists of the thirties toward Jews. But there is a collection of pink triangles at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial to attest to the fact that those feelings are of a piece. Ahmanson is busy shovelling his millions into the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which is avowedly anti-democratic and theocratic, and which calls for the execution of homosexuals. It is a religious movement that is the exact opposite of everything Christ taught. It's love god, and love your neighbor as yourself, not teach your neighbor that god hates them, and then stone them to death... But Ahmanson and his fellow degenerates want you to have no other god before them.

The Observer article also points to another one of the usual suspects, Richard Mellon Scaife, and his Institute for Religion and Democracy, which has ties to the right wing Anglicans. Right wing millions aren't just perverting our democracy, that money is perverting our religious life too. But that's the way it is with totalitarians. They hate religion, but love authority. Religion brings people closer to the Creator, but fascists want you to see them as the givers of life, obey them as the ultimate authority, give praise to them, bless your daily bread in their name. Freedom of religion implies freedom of conscience, which is anathema to them. They know that to rule the masses, they must not only control the apparatus of state, they must control the churches too. So they're going on a church buying spree: putting their little mark on pulpits with the same single-mindedness that they are putting them on voting machines. When you fear for the fate of America, you must must pray to them for salvation.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, October 10, 2003

Okay...So He's A Gutter Crawling Right Wing Crony Capitalist Liar. Okay...So His Party Is Raping American Democracy For Laughs. Saying So Is Very Incivil Of You...

Via TBogg, who poor and stupid clearly hasn't yet had the pleasure of reading. Atrios...uncivil? Atrios...uncivil? Oh lord have mercy. Some days I don't know how Atrios manages to be so measured and restrained. Atrios is no Rush Limbaugh. He is no Ann Coulter. His site is no Free Republic. And you, Poor and Stupid, are no Miss Manners.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Civility Is When I Spit In Your Face And You Just Smile Take It

Paul Krugman tells David Brooks to shove it...and politely explains why.

Some say that the right, having engaged in name-calling and smear tactics when Bill Clinton was president, now wants to change the rules so such behavior is no longer allowed. In fact, the right is still calling names and smearing; it wants to prohibit rude behavior only by liberals.

But there's more going on than a simple attempt to impose a double standard. All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.

I can just hear the oh so polite cries of "shrill" coming from the kook pews...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Which One Of These Things Does Not Belong...

I read now that Governor Grope has appointed San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to his transition team. I guess this is supposed to make be feel all warm and fuzzy. But then there's the belch of bile from Pete Wilson, warning the rest of the democrats in the legislature that they're "damn lucky" they weren't on the ballot too. Let's hear it for bipartisanship. Wilson is Grope's top adviser. That should tell you everything you need to know about what kind of governor Grope is going to be.

And...get this...Grope has appointed Jeb Bush's Budget Director to perform an "independent" audit of the states books. You have to laugh. Independent? Independent? Oh...sure. Like Jeb's Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, was impartial.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, October 9, 2003

No, 'The Bible Says It, I Believe It', Does Not Settle It...

This link to David Lee's (the co-creator of Wings and Frasier) speech to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at their 14th Annual Leadership Awards came across one of my mail lists the other day, and I'm sorry I didn't see it earlier. Lee takes on religious bigotry head-on, arguing that the response of the gay community as a whole has been inadequate, considering the massive amounts of energy that homophobic religious groups have been putting into demonizing us, and opposing our civil rights. The trump card they always play, is the anti-christian card. Lee argues, rightly, that we must continue to call bigotry for what it is, regardless of what its self justification is:

Here's what I think.

We as a group have become tolerant of intolerance.

Whenever anyone justifies their bigotry with what I call DHRB (deeply held religious beliefs) we roll over as if that were the end of the discussion.

We have confused respecting a persons right to hold whatever religious beliefs they chose with respecting those beliefs. The truth is there are plenty of DHRB that are simply not worthy of our respect. Can we start with the ones that have no respect for us? Can you imagine an African American respecting someone's DHRB that the Bible justifies slavery? The right to believe it, yes. The belief itself? No way.

We are terrified to call a bigot a bigot if the bigotry is a result of DHRB. I mean, oh dear, what if we were to be accused of attacking someone's religion? As if attacking bigotry hiding behind the skirts of religion and attacking religion were the same thing. The church homophobes have it easy on this one. They say the most vile, cruel, untruthful things about us, usually to raise funds, and then use their tax exempt dollars to promote anti-gay legislation. If we defend ourselves we are accused of assaulting their faith. They even use the word "bashing". What an insult. Try telling Trev Brody or any of the thousands of others gays who have seen the wrong end of a baseball bat, that someone taking issue with your religious views is equivalent to their experience.

And he goes on to add,

More than anything we need to be reminded once again that "Silence Equals Death." It is as true about homophobic religions as it is about AIDS.

Nail. Hammer. Bang. It is grotesque to listen to the same bigots who routinely defame and defile other people's faiths when they don't toe the fundamentalist party line, as "not true christians" or "salad bar christians" or just plain heathens, bellyaching about their religion being attacked. What's being attacked are their gutter crawling prejudices, their contempt for the civil virtues of honesty and good faith dialogue, their intolerance of other people's faiths, and their scapegoating and hate mongering. These may all be articles of deeply held religious belief among them, but they are not the values of a society where freedom of conscience, and thereby freedom of religion, are paramount. If fundamentalists want to live in a society where their right to practice their religion is part and parcel of the social contract, then they need to respect the values that make that society work.

Silence Equals Death is as true about homophobic religion, as it is about AIDS. They are both killers.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Wasting No Time...

Governor Grope has appointed an anti-gay right winger to head his transition team.

Dreier, who served as co-chair of the actor's gubernatorial campaign, has record in Congress of opposing gay rights initiatives.

In 1996 he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples. The legislation passed and was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. In 1999 he voted to ban gay adoptions in the District of Columbia. That bill was narrowly defeated. He opposes granting gays and lesbians civil rights in the workplace, and is in favor of a constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage.

Dreier was named this year as a "True Blue" advocate by the Family Research Council - the preeminent anti-gay lobby organization.

You saw this coming...right..?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

A Few Thoughts On The Matter...

From John Scalzi...

Yes, you say, but what about the voting percentages? More Californians voted in this special election than in the regular election! My response to this, of course, is: This is supposed to make me feel better? Californians are too damn apathetic to vote when they're supposed to and should have, but are more than happy to get off the friggin' couch for a stage-managed monkey show? I want to be clear, so there is no misunderstanding here: Every single person who voted in this election who did not vote in the actual gubernatorial election in 2002 is a complete and total fucking tool. You could not have been any more used if you were a spent condom.

You are certainly not the same as, say, the folks in Minnesota who got out of the La-Z-Boy to vote Jesse Ventura into office: Ventura was voted in during an election not bought and paid for by political extremists. And while we're at it, every single person who voted in this California gubernatorial election who does not vote in the next one should very simply be taken out and beaten to death with a pipe, as it will be obvious you have no actual interest in the democratic process, you're just a tourist looking for a thrill ride.

Yes, Gray Davis was unpopular. That's what you get when you don't vote, people...

There's more of the same at the link above, and note that in his comments section he gets quite a bit of flack from the usual suspects, along the lines of, "Hey...the people got something against democracy?" But this wasn't democracy. It was republicans using the tools of democracy, to destroy democracy.

I am not at all as sanguine as the people I'm hearing on the web today, who say that Governor Grope probably won't be so bad after all. That was the same whistling past the graveyard I heard about Bush. Remember? Oh...Bush won't be all that bad...the election was so close, he'll have to govern from the middle. But that's how you play when you're playing for votes, not when you're playing for power. To all those who say that Governor Grope may well be the moderate who'll save the California republican party from its extremists, just remember: this recall election was bought and paid for by those extremists. The result was an elevation to power of a nazi sympathizer, a sexual predator, and a man who by all reports relishes in humiliating people. Someone like that doesn't just suddenly grow a conscience when power is dropped into their laps. Already, Governor Grope is backtracking on his support for California's new civil unions law. The right wing extremists got their man into office.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Terminator Of Democracy

TBogg puts things into perspective for those of us appalled at the results from California. He's got some good points, but there's still the wholesale abuse of the electoral system on the part of the republicans, to strong-arm themselves into power when they can't win an election. So what if it doesn't represent a republican trend. The republicans are proving, one state at a time, one presidential election at a time, that they can strong-arm the system to their liking, regardless of trends, and the opposition will just keep on engaging them as if they're fighting for votes, instead of for power. Florida. Texas. Now, California. If democrats don't start realizing soon that they're in a fight, not simply to elect democratic candidates, but to secure the future of American democracy from a determined enemy that just wants to burn it all down, and start fighting the republican machine with the same passion for American democracy, that the republicans have for destroying American democracy, then, I'm convinced, this will be the generation that lives to see the end of American democracy, and the birth of The Banana Republic Of America.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Okay...So It's An Obvious Riff...But You Gotta Admit...

TBogg takes apart one David Warren's babbling song and dance about how treating homosexuals as something other then human garbage is, like, going to spell the end of, you know, civilization and everything. If you haven't seen the Toleration Of Homosexuality Will Lead To More Homosexuals And Men Abandoning Women Wholesale For The Pleasures Of The Flesh argument in a while, well, here it is again like a bad penny. And you never know which is the bigger belly laugh: that anyone with more brain power then roadkill actually believes that crap, or that the people making this argument seriously do fully realize what they're saying about themselves.

When I was a teenager, and coming out to friends, a group of us were watching a 60 minutes episode at a friend's house. One of the articles was about gay conversion therapy (yes, this hoax has been around a while...), and we watched as one young fellow looked at the reporter and declared softly that he was now free, free at last from the chains of homosexuality...though he admitted that he "occasionally" had to work at not being attracted to men. I asked my straight friends if any of them had to work at not being attracted to men, and they all burst out laughing. When you're heterosexual, it isn't work.

I know...I know...calling homophobes closet cases is a cheap shot. But think about it. The ones that absolutely insist that homosexuality is some kind of dark and powerful attraction for men, and that if it were tolerated by society many men, if not all men, would be drawn into it, and live together without do they know this? Paul Cameron once famously averred that "Marital sex tends toward the boring end... Generally, it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does." Well...yeah...for a homosexual. Heterosexuals on the other hand, don't see it that way at all you drooling moron!

But the mixed up self hating homosexuals of the radical right you can at least feel a twinge of sympathy for: much as you may want to smack them across the head, tell them to go find themselves that really, really cute lover they've always secretly wanted, get themselves laid until they've got all that bitterness worked out of their system, and just leave the rest of us the hell alone. It's the ones that are more appalled by the notion of same-sex Love then by same-sex sex, that are the real degenerates here. For them, the threat same-sex marriage poses isn't that society will condone homosexual sex, it's that society will acknowledge the righteousness of love. These are the ones who are beyond the reach of civilization, who live in their own dark gutter, where only power and brute force matter, where love is an evil thing, because it can make you see yourself in the face of a stranger.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Liars, Damn Liars, And True Believers

One thing you learn as an American homosexual, and quickly, is how to control your impulse to throw a hammer at your TV, or CRT, whenever you hear the anti-gay right babbling some bit of claptrap that's been shown to be false, over and over again. I got a chance to practice restraint again the other day, when president Gutter Crawling Liar chanted that he was proclaiming National Protect Marriage Week (over the body of Matthew Shepard), because "Research has shown that, on average, children raised in households headed by married parents fare better than children who grow up in other family structures." If you noticed the slight equivocation there in the phrase, "headed by married parents", give yourself a brownie point. Yes, there are studies that show that children do better in two-parent households. However none of them show a difference between same sex, and opposite sex parents. This allows Smirk a little weaselly wiggle room. He can say that he wasn't lying...blatantly...about the contents of the studies in question. Yet when he says "married", he's specifically excluding same sex couples, because of...well...the very amendment that he's seeking to write into the constitution, reserving marriage as a heterosexual prerogative. Married couples provide the best environment for children. Homosexual couples are not allowed to marry. Therefore homosexual couples cannot give children a good home. But there is no science that says that homosexual couples cannot give children as good a home as heterosexual couples can. In fact, it all says that they can. President Dances With Bigots knows this, as surely as his political power base knows it. But for all of them, facts are beside the point.

There are liars, damn liars, and true believers. The first at least retain some respect for reality, by virtue of knowing, however cynically, that they are lying for effect. But the last group is far more sinister, because they actually believe that truth and facts are mutually incompatible things. Some people are only now waking up to the fact that these are the people now in control of the machinery of government at the highest levels.

Orlando Sentinel printed an article on September 28, headlined "Data Fail To Sway Foes Of Gay Parents", that I'd just love to link to right now, but they don't seem to keep their articles on line for very long, so I'll have to excerpt a bit from it:

The pope says homosexuals who adopt are "doing violence" to their children's development. Many conservatives say gays and lesbians are inherently unfit to be parents, and Florida law bans gays from adopting.

Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the Child Welfare League of America and most other psychosocial organizations say good parenting depends on the ability to provide a safe, stable, nurturing home - not on a parent's sexual orientation.

So who's right? Few social scientists have found evidence that gays make bad parents or that their children are markedly different from those raised by heterosexuals. But critics of gay parents counter that the studies that have been done are too flawed to prove anything.

So...dig it. Out of one side of their mouths, the anti-gay right claims that there are oodles of studies that show that kids do better when raised by heterosexual couples. But when confronted with some actual science on the matter, they claim out of the other side of their mouths that the science is flawed.

Well, I'd like to say that any group that routinely cites the junk science of Paul Cameron has no business bellyaching that someone else's science is flawed. There is a good rule of thumb when dealing with the claims of the anti-gay right. When the science supports their positions fully, it is not peer reviewed, but internally manufactured. When the science supports their positions fully, isn't internally manufactured, and is peer reviewed, they're lying about what it says.

Though still relatively scarce, studies examining children of gay parents began in the early 1970s. Most were done on children of failed marriages and found there was no truth to the assumptions used to deny child custody or visitation to a gay parent.

For instance, the studies said, children of gay parents are not more likely to be abused, ostracized or confused about their gender. They don't suffer from lower self-esteem or depression. Nor are they more likely to grow up gay.

As Charlotte Patterson, a University of Virginia psychology professor, said in summarizing research for the American Psychological Association: "Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect."

But opponents counter that homosexuality and parenting are incompatible: Homosexuality is a sin, and children must have a married mother and father to grow up properly.

"We put ourselves at risk when we tamper with nature's design," said Peter Sprigg, director of marriage and family for the Family Research Council.

If God had meant for us to fly, he'd have given us wings... Humans are Always tampering with nature's design. It's what we do. It's how we survive. From wearing clothes and shoes to protect us from the elements, to taking medicines that heal us, when nature says lie down, die, be still, humans routinely take what nature provides, and fiddle with it to better meet our needs. The paradox is that in doing so, we find ourselves having to understand nature in ways that religious dogma will never provide. Round earth/flat earth anyone?

When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird. There is nothing more contemptuous of nature then a fundamentalist, because to every fundamentalist since Darwin, an understanding of nature is emphatically Not to be found in nature itself, but in religious dogma only. A fundamentalist is someone who professes love for God, while contemptuously turning their back on that which God created. It takes a certain degree of courage to walk up to the edge of what is known, look God in the eye, and ask a question, because you might get an answer. The fundamentalist does not have that courage; they are cowards. The whole Darwin episode, at least here in America, was a profound turning away from God, in favor of dogma, because at least the dogma told them what they wanted to hear.

So when some yapping mouthpiece from an anti-gay hate machine starts talking about nature's design, you can be certain that nature's design has nothing to do with it.

Extrapolating from studies on divorce and family structure, the research council contends that children who grow up in married two-parent households are happier, healthier and more successful than those who don't. They also cite studies to assert that the "homosexual lifestyle" exposes children to harmful situations. Drawing from such sources as the Journal of Sex Research, they say that the average gay man has hundreds of sex partners and is incapable of maintaining a monogamous relationship. Citing the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, they contend gays are more prone to substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide. And they dismiss all research showing few differences between children of homosexuals and heterosexuals, saying the studies relied on small, non-random samples and were driven by pro-gay politics.

Just so. This is the song they've been singing since before Kinsey. Since Darwin. Never mind the evidence, here's what the dogma says.

And Bush is their man, right down to his unfailing impulse to bend the facts at hand to suit his agenda, rather then let the agenda be driven by the facts. Ever wonder why the hard core right wing seems so impervious to the facts? The Economy. The Environment. Iraq. Terrorism. Just think of the Monkey Trial, and remember that for these people, facts aren't something to be taken into account, but things to be worked around. And just as facts are things to be worked around, so are the people who still believe that facts matter.

Paul Krugman says never to assume this administration's stated policy goals are the real ones, and never assume this administration is telling you the truth. He's right. This administration serves a political movement that is not even merely contemptuous of the facts, but rejects the entire concept that facts matter. They will lie in your face when they need to, and they'll do it with the clear-eyed, straightforward honesty of someone who knows that they're serving a Greater Truth. Ideology matters. Theology matters. Facts are the enemy's tools. Yesterday it was "Just Say No To Drugs." Today it's, "Just Say No To Reality."

by Bruce Garrett | Link


TBogg says this about the recall in his home, and my native state...

I keep hearing that I should be embarrassed that we could end up with Arnold as governor, but then I think about the states that have elected such luminaries as Rick Perry, Saxby Chambliss, Rick Santorum, Norm Coleman, Sam Brownback, and Jeb Bush, and I suddenly don't feel so bad. And keep in mind that, as a state, we said "no thanks" to the sleeping nightwatchman of September 11.

I'm a tad surprised he didn't mention Texas, which elected president codpiece its governor. And California once had another bad actor named Reagan in its governor's mansion as I recall. But I suppose every state has its Most Embarrassing Moments. I've been a Marylander since childhood. Anyone remember Spiro T. Agnew?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, October 6, 2003

And Don't Even Try To Tell Me This Was A Mere Coincidence...

Someone on a gay mail list I'm on reminds us that the national protect marriage week President Sodomy Laws has declared, starts on October 12th, the same day Matthew Shepard was murdered. It's not just their way of pissing on his grave of course, its their way of erasing the memory of Matthew Shepard, of erasing the memory of what happened that day, of what can happen again to anyone else's son or daughter, and will if they have anything to do about it.

I am keen to see how the gay republican apologia excuses this one. So far, while Miller over at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum has noted the event, there is no comment yet on President Codpiece's endorsement of it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

About Sums It Up...

Some people find the Bush Administration hard to understand, but a simple interpretive rule helps: If their lips are moving, they're lying. If their lips aren't moving, somebody else is lying for them.

Mark Kleiman
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Changes To Cartoon Page

I don't know why I haven't gotten around to this before now, but I've finally added permalinks to the cartoons. I get a lot of hits on the cartoon page nowadays...certainly not as many as Tom Tomorrow or the other big guys get on theirs, but it's been gratifying nonetheless. And I see in my hit counter that people are linking to the ones in the archive. But until now I wasn't providing any way to conveniently link to one of the current cartoons, since once they rolled into the archive, their links would change. So I'm going to start putting the current cartoons into the archive at the same time I post them, and I've put a link, reference down at the bottom of each cartoon. I don't have permalinks at the bottom of everything in the archive yet, but those pages shouldn't change locations, so not to worry if you've already got a link set on one of them. I'll have all the archive pages updated by the end of the week.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Good Thing The Unity Council Is There To Put A Stop To This Sort Of Thing. Oh...Wait...

WASHINGTON, DC - National Stonewall Democrats today denounced a White House attack on millions of American families. This morning, President Bush declared October 12-18 as "Marriage Protection Week" to coincide with a week-long anti-gay lobbying campaign.

"The Bush Administration has issued a direct attack on millions of American families on behalf of anti-gay organizations," said Dave Noble, NSD Executive Director. "President Bush has failed to address even one of the thousands of issues that negatively impact our families, yet he has chosen to grant discrimination a federal blessing with this proclamation."

"Marriage Protection Week" is the lobbying effort of more than 20 anti-gay and anti-family organizations. To be held October 12-18, the week will focus on generating calls and letters to elected officials in an attempt to pressure them to oppose civil recognition of same-sex couples and their families. The effort seeks to make "gay marriage" a divisive theme in the 2004 elections. The organizations involved will also urge state and federal politicians to sign a "Marriage Protection Pledge" that promises that the politicians will work to discriminate against gay families.

In the proclamation, President Bush asserts that children are harmed when they are raised in "other family structures" that differ from an opposite-sex parent household. President Bush further asserts that such "other" family units promote irresponsible child-rearing and less-stable environments.

While President Bush today proclaimed "Marriage Protection Week" he has refused for three years to proclaim "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" which the Clinton Administration used to recognize the unique history of millions of American families. The White House has justified their refusal by claiming that President Bush does not believe in politicizing people's private lives.

National Stonewall Democrats Press Release

I could probably just keep re-posting my cartoon of September 29th every week from now on and it would still be current. One thing you can bet your bottom dollar on though, the Log Cabin Republicans, and the Deep Thinkers at the Independent Gay Forum will be endorsing Smirk for president in the upcoming election. Smirk could endorse a constitutional amendment establishing the sodomy laws again and they'd endorse him. When the Log Cabin Republicans tilted toward McCain in the last election, Smirk gave them a taste of his bitter vindictive bedrock, and you can bet they all know their place much better now.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, October 5, 2003

God Damn...The Pusher...

The cartoon for the week is up. Rush is such an obvious target, and I've been trying hard to work up a few shreds of sympathy for him. Addiction is no joke, and if it's in any way related to a chronic pain condition, that just makes it all the worse. But the man has been cheerfully poisoning the American political well for so long, and raining bar stool bigot contempt on so many for so long, that it's nearly impossible. I remember the first Clinton inaugural, when the Gay Men's Chorus was allowed to march in the inaugural parade. Clinton had made a point of seeking the support of gay and lesbian Americans, and though there was soon to be much bitterness over his inept handling of the military's gay ban, that day was a day of deep pride for many of us. Rush announced, as the Gay Men's chorus passed the review stand, that Clinton had allowed "human garbage" into the parade.

And that was typical Rush. He has no conscience, only that festering chronic resentment towards the hated other that a bigot keeps mistaking for a conscience. He would have paid for the drugs his former housekeeper says he bought from her, from the profits of years of degrading he fellow Americans for money. It's tempting to say that now the poison is in his veins too, but it's always been in his veins. I don't think he'll ever shake it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday, October 4, 2003

Clawing My Way To Linuxville...(continued)


Computer programmers are familiar with a concept known as flow control. A useful tool for flow control is something called a loop. Here's a loop that's been particularly helpful to me...

A few weeks ago I updated Netscape on my SUsE system and suddenly the Java plug-in wasn't working. It took me all afternoon today to get it running again with the correct symbolic link to the plug-in file and it was driving me nuts because it was something I could only do as root, but had to test on my user account, and for some reason I could just not get the symbolic link working. For a while I was about to give up on either Netscape or SUsE or Linux or all of them. But I finally got it working by creating the link on $JAVA_HOME rather then typing in the entire path myself. I could swear I was typing it in correctly to begin with, but at least now it's working.

The Red Hat 9 install and configure is going slowly, but I'm actually getting more results with it then the SUsE install, though its dial up networking is still quirky. At least it works. Dial-up was my major complaint with Red Hat. My Kyocera Smartphone syncs with Evolution, the Outlook lookalike, in Red Hat 9, which it wasn't on any of the other distributions. That was the last item in my list of minimum requirements for a Linux system. Red Hat recognized my new scanner during the install, but not any of the subsequent boots. So I dug into the SANE website and tried some of the trouble shooting tips. Setting my user account as the owner of the usb/scanner device seems to have done the trick. So that's the scanner and the Smartphone. I just installed and configured the Crisp editor and it's working beautifully. I installed the Sun Java 1.4 SDK and got the plug-in working with Mozilla. Now all I need to do is configure the Mozilla mail client and install the current versions of Netbeans and Open Office, and I'm set on Red Hat. Since I am now working almost exclusively on an Open Office/Java project at work, I can do both my work tasks and my personal projects on the Red Hat system. When I can run Linux for a period of months, and not have to boot Microsoft once, I'll know I'm weaned off it.

The Red Hat up2date utility is pretty nifty, but if you try running it on a dial-up connection you're going to be in for days and days, I kid you not, of downloading updates until your new Red Hat 9 installation is fully up to date. I was able to work around this by copying the latest rpm files from work, logging in as root and placing them in /var/spool/up2date. The up2date utility still needs to download some header files, but once it has them, provided you copied the right rpm files into /var/spool, it won't try to download them again. I now have a fully up to date Linux system, complete with all the current security patches, and OS updates.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

TBogg finally has had enough...

And, Jesus Christ, I hate people who use the word meme to give their writing that gloss of inch-thick fake intellectualism. It's like people who use paradigm. You just want to whack them with a five-pound bag of horseshit.

I'm a software engineer by trade, and I've been wanting to wack people who use the word "paradigm" for about a decade now...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Problem With You Liberals Is That You Just Can't Love An Anti-Democratic Thug...Unlike Us...

Deep Thinker Chris Miller over at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum takes time out from beating the drums for a party that's going to run on an anti same-sex marriage platform in the next election, to bemoan the politics of demonization, thusly:

Popular lesbian cartoonist Alison "Dykes To Watch Out For" Bechdel shares this bit of reflection in the Sept. issue of Lesbian News:
"Our unelected president is campaigning for Arnold Schwarzenegger and driving the whole planet over a cliff with his insane, extremist policies. That's what motivates me to write the strip now. In fact, if I didn't have this outlet, I would probably implode from horror and disbelief."
What's so depressing about this hyperbole is that her view is shared by so many on the lesbigay left (and the left in general). The need to demonize their opponents -- as if W. were Hitler -- rather than, say, debating the merits of intervening to overthrow foreign mass murderers, is nothing less than shocking. But if you believe that your side is the repository of all that is "progressive," then the fact that America elected a president who doesn't back your politics -- and whose election is an affront to your self-identity as the ordained vanguard -- leads to this sort of lunacy. And yes, we elect our president via the Electoral College to protect the principle of federalism, and not by a simple plurality. And the Supreme Court gets to decide procedures when a race is truly too close to call.

Here...let me parse that for you. Because five conservative members of the supreme court had the power, and the will, to throw the election to their candidate, that means America elected him. Let's hear it for democracy, republican style.

It is not demonizing Bush to call him a danger to every hard earned right gay people have painfully won over the last few decades, let alone any hope for a right to have our unions recognized and protected by the law, after he calls sodomy laws an expression of the moral values of the people, appoints one raving homophobe after another to his administration, and announces his support of a sweeping anti-same sex marriage amendment to the constitution. It is not demonizing Bush to call him a threat to every freedom the founders of our country, and Americans who came after them, fought and died to give to their posterity, when he reserves to himself the right to arrest, try, imprison and even execute American citizens in secret, and on his word alone that they are terrorists. It is not demonizing Bush to call him an anti-democratic goon when he calls Scalia, the man who said there is no constructional right to vote, the man who said mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached, the man who said that government derives its moral authority from God, not, as Jefferson said, from the consent of the governed, his ideal justice. It is not demonizing Bush to call him a corrupt crony capitalist, not merely selling America's natural resources to the highest bidder, but looting the treasury, and the future economic productivity of Americans for generations to come, and every drop spilled on the battlefields of far away countries, for every dime he can shovel into the pockets of his crony pals. We are not demonizing Bush, You are making excuses for a gutter crawling thug who hates everything this country ever stood for, everything this country ever promised to the desperate hopes of oppressed people everywhere, everything that ever set it apart from the tyrannies and thugocracies of history, and in the process, selling out America, selling out the American Dream, selling out everything fine and noble that was ever possible to America, to Americans, to the human spirit, selling out every last wrenched scrap of that pile of useless rags you once called a conscience, just for the opportunity to put a thumb in the eyes of democrats and liberals.

Well, to hell with you Miller. Patriotism isn't the last refuge of a scoundrel, cynicism is. Your mantra that the radical right and queer separatists are two sides of a coin is beyond pathetic, as though a few glittering queer peacocks chanting radical slogans are functionally equivalent to people who advocate taking our children away from us, throwing us in jail, and throwing gay and lesbian youth to the pit bulls of the school hallways and locker rooms. How many queer separatists are holding office in the halls of congress and the statehouses Miller?

But more insidious is your song and dance that our major gay rights organizations have become irrelevant. It's one thing to sit out the fight, one thing to talk yourself into believing that a man who once told a gay Texas legislator he shouldn't take personally the bad things he says about homosexuals in public can be reasoned with, and another to beat up on the people who are actually fighting the fight to win us our place at the table, often with far fewer resources to work with in a year then your smirking fratboy jackass raises in one campaign fundraiser. Your accusation that they would rather be ideologically pure then effective is some of the most deadpan irony in a generation, considering you're an apologist and cheerleader for a party that's about to start campaigning on writing out of the constitution, your ever hope of seeing legal recognition for same sex couples, and by god you're doing it not because Bush or anyone in his campaign is yanking your chain, but because when push comes to shove you'll sell out the hopes and dreams and quiet desperate longings of every gay man and lesbian woman who lived before Stonewall, and died before they could see the sodomy laws struck down, for the chance to keep poking your thumb in the eyes of liberals and democrats. Your priorities are completely screwed up Miller, but they're all you have left resembling purpose in this life aren't they. You're practicing your song and dance to convince gay people they should elect the federal and state republican congresses that are going to write a ban on same sex marriage into the constitution right now too, aren't you? Aren't you?

Nice plug you had there for the plight of gay Palestinians fleeing to Israel. So freedom is better is it? I suppose you missed the news stories about Israel's new law banning marriages between Israelis and Palestinians. Or not. What the flying fuck do you really think is going to happen to those gay Palestinians who are in Israel illegally, once the Israeli military gets ahold of them? Like hell you don't know.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, October 1, 2003


Via Atrios, this editorial from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is absolute fire and brimstone.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

"Every time you think, well, yes, but they wouldn't do that - well, then they do." -Paul Krugman

Joshua Marshall has a post up, wondering why the Justice Department is telling the White House to preserve materials relating to contacts with two Boston Globe reporters who "have done some of the best reporting of anyone in town on the whole issue of Iraq, politicized intelligence and the Joe Wilson matter." They've clearly got some awfully good and pretty generous sources, says Marshall, who asks; "What are their names doing in this memo?"

I'll hazard a guess: The Bush gang is going to use the pretext of an investigation into who in the White House revenge outed an undercover CIA agent, to conduct a witch hunt for the disloyal son of a bitch who was the "senior administration official" who spilled the beans about the Wilson/Plame matter to the Washington Post. That's why Bush's loyal soldier Ashcroft wants that documentation. This investigation isn't going after the traitors to America, but after the traitor to Bush. People who are worried that Ashcroft is merely going to do a sham investigation, a stonewalling, an infinite looking into the matter until the political heat is off, are still not getting it. (See the post below titled: "Why It Happened")

by Bruce Garrett | Link

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Thomas Paine

Selling Out America

Breaking a habit I'm trying to cultivate, I checked in with the network newscasts this evening. Looks like CBS is so far the only network will to actually do some serious reporting on this one. For example, both NBC and ABC uncritically reported the republican Mighty Wurlitzer chord that Valerie Plame Wilson's know, the guy who had the gall to contradict president dry drunk on yellowcake, was a hard core partisan democrat, who was a Bill Clinton appointee, and had contributed the max to some (I forget who just now) democratic presidential challenger. Only CBS reported that...yes...that was true, but he also worked for Reagan and George Bush The Senior, and had contributed the max to the previous Bush's campaign too. Gotta love those republican crusaders for morality and values. They pick and choose their facts like they pick and choose their bible verses.

Joshua Marshall is right about how pathetic the partly line is, that the problem here is that Bush didn't send someone to Africa more loyal to him then Wilson. In other words, the problem is that Bush didn't send a party hack to do a little pony show investigation, and then report back to his masters the facts they'd already told him to tell them. That seems to be the line from the right wing blogosphere. Glen Reynolds, aka Instapundit, who is not a moderate, but only plays one for effect, says that the real Wilson scandal is "why anyone in the Bush Administration would ever have tasked a guy with Wilson's views with an important mission. Regardless of the rest of the story, heads should roll for that." Forget about the damage to our intelligence gathering abilities you time, for chrissakes, hire someone that you know will lie for the president! The next time one of these gutter crawling maggots tells you about their love for America, and their dedication to the fight against terrorism, laugh in their face.

Meanwhile, two more soldiers died today, in the war that lies sold to congress and the American people. And Bush's cronies raked in a few million more, profiteering on it. Once again CBS seems to be more willing the actually report on that matter, today daring to tell its viewers about a litany of Bush cronies lining up to turn the blood of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers into millions of CEO compensation. And the families and friends of soldiers in Iraq are buying them up-to-date kevlar vests because many of them, particularly the reservists, don't have the newest vests, but are issued old Vietnam era vests instead, which won't stop the 7.62 AK-47 round, and which have already failed to save some of our soldiers.

Saddam was an evil man children...just look a the extravagant wealth he lived in, while his people suffered...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Why It Happened

Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!" As a reporter, you get around - curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events - but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. "Come on in."

Ron Suskind - Why Are These Men Laughing?
Esquire, January 2003
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Vindictive? Us?? No We're Not, And We'll Drown Your Dog In Boiling Oil Just For Saying That.

A poster to a gay mail list I'm on reminds us of the incident of ABC's Jeffrey Kofman, who did a report showing the dissatisfaction of our troops in Iraq a few months ago, only to have the White House send out releases bellyaching that Kofman is both gay and Canadian. But Kofman was already comfortably out, and a network with a Canadian as evening news anchorman (Peter Jennings) isn't likely to be too terribly shocked to learn that they have Canadians in their midst. Still, it's part of the pattern here. You are either with them, or you are the Enemy, and enemies must be destroyed.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Clear On The Concept

Brad DeLong posts some of the most clear and to-the-point commentary yet on the Valerie Plame Wilson affair:

Think about this. The entire White House staff has known for eleven weeks that in their midst are people whom George H.W. Bush would call traitors, and there has been no attempt to evict them. Karl Rove has been telling reporters that it is all Valerie Plame Wilson's fault for having Joe Wilson as her husband and that "Joe Wilson's wife is fair game." This is an administration that fires Larry Lindsey exceedingly gracelessly for giving an accurate estimate of the cost of the war of Iraq. And yet it hugs to its bosom those who really do give aid and comfort to our enemies, et cetera.

Go read the whole of it. DeLong is crystal clear on the concept.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, September 29, 2003

Did They Really Do That?

One of the perils of geekdome is getting out of touch with the rest of the world, when you pull the plug on your Internet connection to do a little serious computer tweaking. I'll talk more about it later, but I was busy this weekend installing and configuring Red Hat 9 on Mowgli, my main workstation. Part of the process involves running the Red Hat up2date program after installation, to insure that you're running all the latest software and security fixes. Over a dial-up connection that takes hours and hours. I don't watch much TV anymore, and after the faux Bush press conference several months ago I pretty much stopped watching the network news, so the Internet is my only source for what's going on in the world these days. No...not just the blogs...but also all the newspapers with their own presence on the web now. I read the New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post every now and then, and an assortment of other newspaper and wire service outlets, in addition to the pointers winged my way by the blogs. But all last weekend while I was fussing with Mowgli, I was out of the loop

Lord have mercy. The Valerie Plame affair has taken wing.

As Atrios says, Pass the effing popcorn. Suddenly people in the mainstream press are taking notice of the fact that the Bush white house leaked the name of a covert CIA field agent as a way of taking a swing at her husband, who wouldn't play the party line on the quality of our intelligence on Iraq, and as a warning to others who might be thinking that telling the truth to congress and the American people on matters of war and peace is maybe just a little more important then loyalty to the codpiece. Suddenly the media has taken notice of the grave offence that leak was, in terms of our national security, our ability to gather intelligence. Suddenly the media has taken notice of the fact that because of this leak, which served no other purpose then to take revenge on someone who wouldn't toe the Bush party line, everyone who had contact with this CIA agent is in mortal peril. Suddenly people in Washington are waking up to the sickening realization all over again, that a republican president riding the shoulders of the radical right, while speaking the sweetest moderate rhetoric they ever heard, is probably covering up a serious criminal offence by his staff. Suddenly, people are looking at Bush for what he is. Yes...pass the popcorn please.

Joshua Marshal has this great post up in rebuttal to a National Review article by radical right apologist Cliff May, ending with this little nugget:

One more point. One of May's points is that part of the problem was that the CIA sent out someone to Niger who wasn't sufficiently loyal to the president. This gets said a lot privately among hawks who are close to the White House.

The argument -- which I've had repeatedly told to me -- is that the real mistake in this whole mess was sending someone out to Niger who wasn't politically and ideologically loyal to the president. Wasn't one of our guys, etc. That attitude, of course, tells you a lot about how these fellows got into this mess in the first place.

My only carp is why haven't people really taken a good long look at this now eminently predictable thinking on the part of the Bush gang. The defining characteristic of the Bush gang has always been loyalty to Junior, and to the gang, As Opposed To Loyalty To America And Its Institutions. As Krugman says, these people are revolutionaries. That loyalty should be given first by any government official to America and its institutions is a thought that just doesn't occur to them. They are in opposition to the existing institutions. What is compelling about this latest scandal, is that it frames this mindset exactly. A man sent on a fact finding mission for the white house, told congress and the American people exactly what he discovered, that the damn yellowcake scenario was completely bogus. In doing so he showed loyalty to America first, and to Bush second: an unforgivable offence. So in retaliation, his wife, a covert CIA agent, was outed, endangering her life, and that of everyone she ever had contact with overseas. It was a warning. And now, in attempting to explain it all away, Bush's defenders are yapping that the problem was not sending someone more loyal to Bush in the first place. There is no mistaking this mindset for what it is.

But remember, these are people who don't play by the rules, because they fundamentally don't accept the legitimacy of the system. Even now, as the calls for an official investigation are sounding in Washington, people are still unable to come to grips with this one, bedrock fact. Let me put it in perspective for you: When the CIA turns documents over to the Department of Justice, asking for an investigation of the leaking of it's agent's name to the press, they're asking who, to investigate possible criminal activity inside the Bush white house...?

His name is Ashcroft. You know...the radical theocrat who had himself literally annointed with oil per biblical rite, whenever he took a seat in government, including when he became head of the Department Of Justice, as if he had actually attained religious, rather then secular office. Ashcroft will protect the Bush presidency. If it means stonewalling, hell, if it means laughing in the face of congress, he'll do it, because he can. And Bush and his cronies will sit on any and all investigations of their criminal activities, because they can. Because Ashcroft knows Bush for a fellow soldier in the war against democracy and secularism. Neither man will play by the rules, because both men regard the rules as belonging to an illegitimate system, one which they are both intent on destroying, and replacing with one they regard as legitimate.

And if you're still thinking that even if they blow everyone off over this, that they'll have a price to pay at the polls, read this. Two of the biggest voting machine companies, controlling more then fifty percent of the market, are owned in part by Howard Ahmanson, a major benefactor of the Christian reconstructionist movement. Touch screen voting machines leave no paper trail.

A polite request to Ashcroft's department of justice is Not going to bring these people to justice. What is needed, is for those members of congress and the courts and all the statehouses not already owned by the radical right, to recognize, finally, that the fate of our democracy is at stake here, start taking the radical right at its word, and start treating them as the enemies of this democracy that they are. The system has to start working. Those of us who live by the rules because we believe in America, and believe in democracy and believe in the rules that make democracy work, need to start enforcing the rules. Because the Bush gang only wants to burn it all down.

I figured November 2000 for the dividing line. Some people thought I was just pissed because Bush beat Gore (never mind that he didn't, and that was the problem). But there is no question now that the gauntlet is down. Anyone who supports Bush now, fits Garrison Keillor's description perfectly, as someone who is a republican first, and an American second. Yes, I know that is taking a hard line. There are conservatives and there are liberals. There are democrats and there are republicans. And there are the faithful, the agnostic, the seekers and the non-believers among them all. But right now, right here, right at this moment in history, there are only believers in the American Dream, and the haters of the American Dream. Do you believe in democracy? Do you believe in liberty and justice for all? Do you believe in the rule of law? Do you believe in the American Dream? Then you know where you have to stand regarding Bush. Don't tell me that after all this you still can't see that man for what he is. Don't tell me you still think that the radical right can still be appeased, maybe just a little bit more, for the sake of a greater good. If you can't stand up now, at long last, for democracy, for liberty and justice for all, for the rule of law, for the American Dream, then I just don't want to hear your damn excuses.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, September 28, 2003

The Cartoons Are Back!

I've finally posted a new cartoon on the cartoon page. I do earnestly apologize for the delay. Turning fifty recently provoked a bit of a mid-life crisis, or at any length a lot of high quality sulking around, and I just couldn't produce for a while. Additionally, I've decided to return to college and finish my degree in computer science, and that is going to take a lot of work, even on a part time basis. I had to do a few weeks of classes before I could get into a rhythm that allowed me to return to my drawing board.

And, trust me, the grind of work and classes together has really driven home to me how necessary sitting down at the drawing board is to my overall sanity. If I don't get this stuff out of me, and there is a lot that comes off my drafting table that I don't put up here (yet), I go into some serious state of internal suffocation. I really need this outlet. So please forgive the long delay, I am truly sorry to those of you who've kept bugging me about when the next cartoon is coming. I promise to be more productive here.

I think I'm ready now, to start doing some illustrations for my Skywatcher stories. I've been reworking a couple of them, and at the moment I'm trying to decide whether to start illustrating them in the order they were originally written, or to start with one of the big stories, like The Fire And The Night or The Name Of The Mask (which is a full length Skywatcher novel I had up for a while, but have taken down for some serious re-writing). I'm thinking of putting back up the chapters for The Name Of The Mask as I finish re-writing them, and including one or more illustrations for each as I go. But that's a big project and I might just do something for one of the short stories. The Lion In The Grass might be a good place to start. How I'm going to work this in with my classes is anybody's guess at this point though...

Read Krugman's Book!

Seriously. Just go out and buy it and read it, because it contains the best columns on the disaster that is the Bush presidency I have ever read...and I've read a bunch of seriously good stuff from any number of good, articulate and passionate American columnists. Molly Ivins. Joe Conason. Eric Alterman. They know what's going down here, and they're good and making it crystal clear to their readers. But Krugman is in another category altogether, and you can see exactly why the feral republicans hate his guts in the introduction to his book, The Great Unraveling

A friend of mine passed this link along, to an article on Krugman in The Guardian (London). Here's where Krugman soars past the other Bush critics:

Even more confusing for those who like their politics to consist of nicely pigeonholed leftwingers criticising rightwingers, and vice versa, will be the incendiary essay that introduces Krugman's new collection of columns, The Great Unravelling, published in the UK next week. In it, Krugman describes how, just as he was about to send his manuscript to the publishers, he chanced upon a passage in an old history book from the 1950s, about 19th-century diplomacy, that seemed to pinpoint, with eerie accuracy, what is happening in the US now. Eerie, but also perhaps a little embarrassing, really, given the identity of the author. Because it's Henry Kissinger.

'The first three pages of Kissinger's book sent chills down my spine,' Krugman writes of A World Restored, the 1957 tome by the man who would later become the unacceptable face of cynical realpolitik. Kissinger, using Napoleon as a case study - but also, Krugman believes, implicitly addressing the rise of fascism in the 1930s - describes what happens when a stable political system is confronted with a 'revolutionary power': a radical group that rejects the legitimacy of the system itself.

This, Krugman believes, is precisely the situation in the US today (though he is at pains to point out that he isn't comparing Bush to Hitler in moral terms). The 'revolutionary power', in Kissinger's theory, rejects fundamental elements of the system it seeks to control, arguing that they are wrong in principle. For the Bush administration, according to Krugman, that includes social security; the idea of pursuing foreign policy through international institutions; and perhaps even the basic notion that political legitimacy comes from democratic elections - as opposed to, say, from God.

But worse still, Kissinger continued, nobody can quite bring themselves to believe that the revolutionary power really means to do what it claims. 'Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent,' he wrote, 'they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework.' Exactly, says Krugman, who recalls the response to his column about Tom DeLay, the anti-evolutionist Republican leader of the House of Representatives, who claimed, bafflingly, that 'nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes'.

'My liberal friends said, 'I'm not interested in what some crazy guy in Congress has to say',' Krugman recalls. 'But this is not some crazy guy! This guy runs Congress! There's this fundamental unwillingness to acknowledge the radicalism of the threat we're facing.' But those who point out what is happening, Kissinger had already noted long ago, 'are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane.' ('Those who take the hard-line rightists now in power at their word are usually accused of being 'shrill', of going over the top,' Krugman writes, and he has become well used to such accusations.)

Your Gay and Lesbian neighbors have known the threat the radical right poses to America, to the American Dream, and everything that is fine and noble about human civilization. As we are to them, what the Jews were to European fascists in the 1930s, we've watched them carefully, read their words, listened to their voices, heard their bitter contempt for the American way of liberty and justice for all, and most of us (Log Cabin Chamberlains excepted) take them at their word. We've been sounding the alarm over president Smirking Fratboy Jackass's connections to the radical right since he came on the national political scene. The sheer brazenness of his attacks on America's fundamental institutions has surprised a lot of us, but not that he is attacking them. The movement he represents hates everything about the American Dream, even a casual skim of their literature will scream this fact out at you. His moderate rhetoric once in power was no big surprise, nor was the lap dog willingness of most of the press to buy it. Florida should have told everyone what it was we were dealing with. Even so, his utter contempt has been astounding.

Krugman documents it all. The technique of saying one thing, and doing another, and not doing it slyly either, but brazenly. Of lying repeatedly and often, making facts up out of thin air, resorting to forgeries, putting out numbers that not only don't add up, but don't add up in a way that makes you realize they don't really care who sees that they don't add up...and then looking the press and the American public right in the face and saying they do. Krugman relates a story from a Wall Street Journal reporter, who told of a White House operative who said one thing on the record, and the exact opposite off the record. When the reporter protested, the operative told him that it was his job to lie to the press. Like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck, the press, and a large segment of the public, cannot bring themselves to believe what is happening.

And Krugman has it nailed. We're not dealing simply with hard core conservatives...we're dealing with a revolutionary movement, that does not recognize the legitimacy of America's existing institutions, and doesn't play by the rules, not out of a mere desire to cheat the system, but because when you don't recognize the legitimacy of the system, you don't play by its rules. You play by your rules. You do whatever you need to do to advance your cause. You say whatever you need to say to get your desired result. You feel no hesitancy or guilt about deceiving anyone, because the people you are deceiving are part of the illegitimate system you want to destroy. They are the enemy, and you give no quarter to the enemy.

That this is how they think, is something your Gay and Lesbian neighbors have long known. We've watched them hurl one filthy lie about homosexuals after another at us, and into the public dialogue, knowing full well they were lies, but knowing too that they will still do their work. We've watched them poison the debate, as energetically as they poison the relations between gay and straight, between neighbor and neighbor. It is not because they really believe their own lies. It is not because they know their arguments are weak and so they have to lie to gain political advantage. They poison the political dialogue, because they hate the concept of political dialogue. They want to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of democracy, because they want it to smash it to bits. They abuse the tools of democracy, not simply to gain advantage, but to destroy democracy. They are theocratic fascists, and their goal is to replace American democracy with their own iron rule.

Ask yourself what the hell they were thinking, these red faced howlers who insisted Bill Clinton and Janet Reno were the biggest threats to democracy since Hitler, when they invested the president of the United States with the power to detain, try, and execute anyone, even an American, on his say-so that that person is a terrorist. Ask yourself what they were doing when they invested the Department of Justice with the powers of the "Patriot Act". They would never have given Clinton or Reno that kind of power, yet in theory those powers will be there for the next democrat to occupy the White House. What were they thinking? I'll tell you what they're thinking: They're thinking they'll never willingly let go of power now that they have it, that's what they're thinking. Florida. Texas. California.

This is what we, all of us who are believers in the American Dream, now face. Your Gay and Lesbian neighbors, and other American minority groups, already have a long history dealing with this revolutionary power. We know it is dangerous. We know it is determined. We have long felt the heat and the force of its hate. Now it growls at your doorstep too. Welcome to the fight.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, September 26, 2003

Still Think There's A Bottom Here Do You?

I've got some catching up to do here, and around the house this weekend, and much email to answer, but I just had to relay this as soon as I saw it, if for no other reason then I needed this slap in the face to remind me that there is no way you or I or anyone with even a semi functional conscience can plumb the depths of the cesspool that is the Bush administration.

Y'all know that our Smirking Jackass Fratboy Thug went to the U.N. the other day and basically told them to kiss his ass and while they're at it, just give him money, and some of their national blood. Yes...I know I shoved a big broomstick up this general assembly's ass...yes I'm not at all sorry give me some money to put into my crony's pockets, and some of your young men to die so I won't have to have a big American body count on my hands come November 2004. In the process he tacked on to his speech what seemed to be a little self serving sanctimony about opposing the child sex slave trade. If you heard it, or read about it, did you happen to think, as I did, that it was just another of his little window dressing moments, where he tries to make you believe, whatever you might think of his politics, that he's really a decent husband and father kind of guy deep down inside. Putting a wee rhetorical family values shine on himself, while he puts his thumb in the collective eye of the world in other words. That's what I thought anyway. Silly me. I should know by now that even that suspicion is much, much to innocent for the times we are living in now. turns out that at the same time he's busy bellyaching about child sex slavery, he just happens to be putting millions of taxpayer dollars into a company, DynCorp, contractor to the Departments of Defense, State, Energy and Justice, BAE Systems, DuPont, General Dynamics and Raytheon, and which was involved in the sex slave trade in Bosnia. read it right. And not only were they involved in it, they fired, and forced into protective custody, employees who blew the whistle on it.

Dig it. While President Codpiece is wagging his finger at the world about the child sex slave trade, he's shovelling your money, and mine, into the pockets of a friendly beltway bandit company whose employees were having sex with 14 year old girls they'd bought as their own personal sex slaves. DynCorp is chowing down at the Bush/Cheney PNAC Iraq feeding trough to the tune of 150 million tax payer dollars to...hold on to your stomach...train the new Iraqi police force. And never mind that kidnappings and rapes of women in Iraq are reaching pandemic proportions. Yeah...yeah...they can train the police there to handle that. And no, there is just no way the people shovelling out the bucks to every crony The Smirk ever shook hands with don't know about DynCorp's involvement in the child sex slave trade. Of course they know. You have to figure they were all laughing their heads off during that part of the speech.

There's more links on the matter at Steve Gillard's news blog Still think there is a bottom to the sewer here? Or are you hoping it's all just a bad dream? Well...wake up and smell the sewer. This one thing should tell you all you need to know about the kind of people who are in power now, and if looking at this fact without flinching or blinking scares you, well, good. If you are not afraid for the future of America, and the American Dream right now, right this instant, then you are just playing with castles in the sand, with your back to a tidal wave.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Hurricane Season Can End Now...Okay...?

The flooding caused by Isabel here in Maryland was all due to tidal flooding. The inland areas people were worried about were spared, because Isabel went through so fast it couldn't drop all that much rain. The rain totals I'm hearing now are all under two inches. It was the area around the Chesapeake Bay that got it, and making matters worse, the forecasters didn't call it right, so the people there didn't have the warning they needed.

From what I can tell, the wind pushed more water up the bay then they'd reckoned on. And this was right at about the same time as our usual high tide. Some flooded out residents were asking why the city and the state hadn't tried sand bagging along their neighborhoods, like they were in towns near rivers and streams that are prone to flooding. But as Mayor O'Malley pointed out, we can try to hold back the rivers, but nobody thinks they can hold back the Chesapeake Bay. It's highly doubtful that sandbagging would have done the people right along the bay any sure didn't help the folks in old town Annapolis...but a little better warning would have prevented so many from being stranded out there too. It looks to me like Isabel moved a little faster then they'd figured, and a little further to the west then they figured, and that threw the bay models off. It was one of those little differences, that make a big difference. I wonder also, if what hurricanes do when they surge up the bay is as well understood, as what they do when they hit the southern and gulf coast areas, because so few of them come this way. In any case, the degree of flooding along those areas surprised a lot of people.

The Inner Harbor area was all flooded out, as well as parts of downtown Baltimore nearby. Water has not been kind to those businesses down there. They've not only had to deal with the harbor lately, but also the old water main infrastructure. A couple years ago a water main broke over Howard Street, right above that fire that engulfed the Howard Street rail Tunnel. They're still arguing over which came first, the fire or the water main break, but the businesses all along that area flooded out. The city can at least fix the water mains to keep the businesses happy, but I don't know what they can do about the harbor. It's a big tourist area for one thing, which would make walling it off tricky.

The Fells Point area, which holds street after street of old, narrow, tightly packed, rowhouses that once housed the shipyard workers and their families, was under two to four feet of water in places. Those old rows are very charming (we don't call ourselves Charm City for nothing...), but I would not feel comfortable weathering a big storm in them. They are some of this city's oldest structures, built way before the city required firewalls between rowhouses, and I suspect no few of them still have their original dirt basements. Those rows are very narrow, and tightly packed. Just to give you an idea of how tightly packed, the old rowhouse builders actually built small, and I mean small, houses inside the alleys down there. Rows nearest the harbor have been turned into trendy expensive neighborhoods, with home prices going into the half-million dollars and their innards gutted and completely and lavishly rebuilt. A small zone of flooding in that area, can impact a surprising number of very expensive homes.

Parts of east Baltimore County along the bay got flooded out, and some neighborhoods were completely cut off by the flood waters for a while. Some heros of the event are the folks who run the Baltimore Ducks, which are big WWII amphibious vehicles that they converted into tour buses, which take people on tours around the city, and through the inner harbor. They rolled their Ducks into the flooded out areas of east Baltimore county and took stranded residents to safety. Shots from local TV news helicopters showed old farm homes in the area, alongside newly built ones, flooded halfway up the first floor. In spots you could see where the fences around some of the homes had corralled fields of floating debris, some of it drifting in and out of windows and garage doors.

The areas along the inland rivers and streams were spared this time. But don't tell the folks along the bay that Isabel had lost her punch by the time she got here. It's true, it could have been much, much worse then it was. But for some folks it was bad enough.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, September 19, 2003


I got very little sleep last night. Bad as the winds were during the afternoon, when I went to bed they got much worse. For about several hours we had gusts that I could swear were in the sixty mile an hour plus range. They didn't last long, but one of them took our power out. All night long my mind refused to sleep, alerting on every noise outside as a potential warning that something big had broken loose, either from my house or a neighbors', and was playing merry havoc with whatever it hit while sailing down the streets. I have aluminum awnings over all my upstairs windows, and over a small portion of my deck in the back, and all night long my mind insisted on listening for the sound of them breaking loose. At about midnight, a big gust slammed down on the neighborhood, and I heard a nearby power line fuse die with a bang like a high powered rifle shot, and the power went out.

Even with the wind outside you notice the change in the noise level, when every little appliance in your house and the neighborhood, all humming contentedly just below the threshold of your awareness, suddenly stop. I looked out my bedroom window and saw the power had been killed to just about everyone in the vicinity. I laid back down, thought about it for a moment, then decided to try and get some sleep. My sump pump is on a battery, but the day before I'd placed a sheet of plywood and a tarp over my basement stairwell, the only likely place for rain seepage, and when I checked it before I went to bed, the stairwell was still dry as a bone. If the sump pump started operating, the UPS connected to it would wail at me before battery went dead, and I'd just go grab another one from one of my computers. If a window broke I'd grab a spare tarp and duct tape and shut it back up again. I couldn't think of any trouble that wouldn't wake me up again, and nothing that I needed to take care of right that moment. So I put my head back down on the pillow and sometime later I must have gone to sleep because the next thing I knew the howling wind was gone.

At about six I got up, and looked out the bedroom window. Power was still out, but there was no noticeable debris in the alley, which surprised me considering the noise I'd heard overnight. I began dressing, and flicked on my little hand held TV. The local stations were reporting major power outages all over the region, and to my surprise, heavy flooding around the downtown area as well as the inner harbor. Fells Point was said to be under four to five feet of water. Parts of eastern Baltimore county, next to the Chesapeake Bay, were cut off from the mainland, and rescue crews were said to be evacuating the residents there. Apparently the surge up the bay was higher then predicted. There was a news item concerning dry ice pickup points. I made a note of one, then decided against it, not wanting to drive down streets I couldn't be sure were entirely free of debris. I'd eaten most of what was in the refrigerator during the days leading up to the storm, and all I had left to loose were the freezer contents, which I decided weren't worth the risk.

I grabbed a lantern and took inventory. There was no damage anywhere in the house. No broken windows, no water penetration. The basement was dry and the ceiling showed no signs of leakage. My front yard was full of twigs, branches and leaves from the pin oaks. One of the bells on my wind chimes had come off, and was laying on the porch. I'd clean forgotten to take the wind chimes down. I grabbed the ladder from the basement and peeked into the little attic crawlspace below my roof, and saw no damage. I was worried about the attic vent fan having come loose because sometime during the night it just stopped squeaking in the wind. But when I looked into the attic I could see it turning idly in the breeze. I guess it's all squeaked out now.

I grabbed my camera and took a stroll through the neighborhood. First I wanted to see where the power line fuse had blown, and what had caused it. That turned out to be a tree that had split apart, right at the end of the alley, dragging a power line over an anchor line and blowing the fuse further down. The alley was completely blocked at that end. Some people who live on nearby streets use our alley as a short cut to Falls Road, and because the alley curves you can't tell if it's blocked or not when you drive into it from either end. Several times I watched people trying to drive up it, only to have to back all the way out again.

Further down the street, I saw more downed limbs and twigs scattered everywhere in a parking lot behind a row of rental units. I try to be careful walking around this kind of damage, because downed power lines will hide in these tangled debris fields, pretending to be just another branch or twig you can just kick out of your way, and unless they're spitting and hissing you'll never know unless you look carefully. As I scanned the area ahead of me I noticed one, sitting patiently on the asphalt. It had a splice on it, as though the electric company had trouble with it before. Further down I saw a transformer on a pole, cocked at an angle where a nearby tree had smacked it a good one. But the pole and the transformer were almost completely covered in vines too, and I was amazed it had been working at all. A resident told me the vines were covering the transformer because the landlord, the power company, and the city were still arguing over who was responsible for clearing them off. Then she said they were without power and phones, which surprised me because the phones almost never go out in a power outage. As I walked toward the transformer, I found the other end of the downed power line, and saw that the TelCo lines going into that row of rental units had been ripped clean out of the wall by the same tree that took down the power line. That explained that.

The rest of the neighborhood was covered with small branches and twigs and leaves, with a few big branches for good measure. It wasn't a major damage zone, more like death from a thousand little cuts. Small debris was everywhere, twigs, branches, some trashcans, and plastic lawn toys that the wind had flung from their hiding places. At the other end of my alley, a large tree and come down, one branch of it crashing through the window of a step van, and the main trunk nearly busting the side of someone's rowhouse. They'll be talking about how bad Isabel could have been for weeks, and I reckon a lot of folks here won't appreciate how close we came to a major disaster. But you could see the signs here and there. The lady who lived in the end rowhouse that tree almost took out was busy complaining about her broken van window. But there were lots more trees around there about the same size or bigger, and not a one of them looked any stronger then the one that came down.

BG&E restored power to our neighborhood just before noon. I checked the refrigerator and found that the ice, and cold packs saved the contents of my freezer, but I had to toss some of what was left in the refrigerator. I watched the local news for a little bit before crawling myself back to bed to catch up on some needed sleep. The mayor was warning sightseers coming downtown to gawk at the flooding to stay the hell away. Manhole covers had probably blown during the backsurge through the storm drains, and people wading in water not very deep at all could suddenly drop into a manhole and drown. Old town Annapolis, and parts of the Naval Academy, were flooded. Several barrier islands along the bay were cut off from the mainland when their access roads flooded. It looked like there was substantial flood damage to many homes and businesses on the eastern side of Baltimore County, and Anne Arundal County, which are down on the coastal plain. Up here in the piedmont, we seem to have escaped the worst. They're saying now that the Jones Falls river probably won't flood as badly as they'd worried about before. I haven't heard yet what they're saying about the Potomac River down where I used to live.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Neighborhood Storm Party

A small gathering of neighbors on a couple rowhouse porches grew over time into a somewhat bigger gathering of neighbors on a couple rowhouse porches. Around 5 I joined in, and we chatted until a few minutes ago, while watching the storm move across Baltimore. Somewhere on the other side of I-83 a transformer kept complaining and after nightfall you could see it flashing green-blue electric light into the sky. Whenever it did that the porch lights would flicker. But so far the power here hasn't gone out.

The wind began to gust strongly around 4. I'd hear it start to howl from somewhere in the distant sky and then I'd start watching the nearby trees to see if it came our way. The general movement was from east to west, but occasionally we'd get a big blast of wind from the west or the north. Baltimore's two big TV towers are just to the west of my neighborhood, across I-83, and down that end of my street I have a good clear view of the western sky, which alternated between sheets of solid rain and churning grey clouds. Sometimes the winds would howl from that direction for minutes while the air around our rowhouses was disturbingly calm. Sometimes we'd get a blast of wind with only the sudden bending of trees a block away giving us a second or two of warning. As I was talking to a few of my neighbors we heard a loud blast of wind come tearing down 42nd street, and then one of the big trees near the edge of the Jones Falls gully came crashing down, churning up a big cloud of debris as it fell. Luckily it fell into the gully and away from the houses. I wondered what maximum winds those TV towers across the interstate from us were designed to take, but I had to assume the builders had factored in past hurricanes that hit Maryland.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


4:30PM. The rain is constant now. Not cats and dogs rain, but a steady, wind driven shower, that sometimes gets heavy. The trees in my neighborhood are shaking a little harder now, but not to the point that I'm worried about anything coming off of them. Yet. A couple neighbors down the row are having a little hurricane/beer gathering on their front porches, which tells you that so far the rain isn't driving hard enough to chase people off their porches.

We just had our first electrical power blips. My battery backups shunted on and off three times in about half a minute. It could have been some swinging trees somewhere upcurrent tapping on the lines. If the power goes out here at Casa del Garrett I won't be able to update this space regularly until I get some power back. I have Akela, my laptop computer, charging downstairs, but its battery is old and I don't think it holds much of a charge any more. If power goes out here for an extended period, I'll try to post an update via Akela, but I can make no promises.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


12:40PM. The Johns Hopkins University, where the Space Telescope Science Institute is located, announced it is closing at noon. The Institute has liberal leave in place today (I am telecommuting) and has announced Administrative Leave starting at 2PM. They are advising people who live to the south to take off earlier. People will want to be off the roads by mid-afternoon I reckon, if the heavy stuff starts arriving by then.

Still no rain so far. Only the occasional guest shaking the trees, and making my attic vent sing. I've got all the loose stuff off my deck and porch and out of my yards. I've got what I reckon is a good supply of non-perishable food and drinking water, and batteries for lights, cameras, and my little handheld TV. I'm sitting in my front bedroom/office working off some work tasks on Mowgli, my main workstation. Whenever I hear my attic vent I glance out the window. What would tell me that it isn't just your usual mid-Atlantic bad weather coming along is that the signs are all there, but everything is in the wrong place. The wind is picking up like a thunderstorm is coming, but the sky isn't that angry gun blue color anywhere that tells you where it's coming from, and there is no thunder. The wind is dead-on from the east, which it almost never is when storms are brewing here, unless it is winter nor-easter time, and that can mean snow. But the temperature is much too warm for that and the time of year is all wrong. The sky looks moody and overcast like its going to drizzle all weekend, but you never get strong winds when that is going to happen. The signs are all there, but they're all wrong. Maybe that's how the old timers used to know when bad things were just over the horizon. Look...look...the sky is going crazy...

by Bruce Garrett | Link


We're getting the occasional strong wind gust now, against the background of a still light steady breeze. I have an attic vent with one of those round galvanized steel passive wind fans mounted on top, and its squeaky bearing has been my wind indicator ever since I moved in. Just a few moments ago I heard it start singing, and looked out of my front bedroom window to see the little pin oaks in my front yard waving in the wind. The gusts so far, haven't lasted very long.

The rain is still down to our south. The first bands of heavy Isabel rain indicated on the local weather radar, are over the mid Delmarva and southern central Maryland, almost touching Washington D.C. Looking at the satellite images, what's striking to me is that the clouds coming off of Isabel are already over the great lakes and into Canada.

We may miss out on the worst of it here in Baltimore. But that depends on how much rain falls east of Isabel's eye. Right now, all the heavy rain seems to be on the northern and western sides of the eye.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Hurricane Sky

It's seven in the morning here in Baltimore as I write this. I got up and dressed a little while ago, and went outside to size up the weather so far. The sky is completely grey and overcast, with a low deck of clouds rapidly, and I mean rapidly, moving from east to west. Here on the ground, there is a light, but steady, breeze. It is cool and deathly quiet on my street. There are no birds calling to one another, as they usually do in the morning.

Before bed last night I took a walk, and saw huge streamers of high altitude cirrus streaking across the sky from horizon to horizon. A glance at the current satellite images from NOAA confirmed that it was from Isabel. Probably the high altitude outflow.

My web host, who is located in Arlington VA., informs me that power may go out at his site from time to time during the hurricane, just as it may all over the region. He has a backup power source, but it is not an indefinite thing. And for that matter the entire net around the mid-Atlantic states may go a tad screwy here and there throughout the event. And of course, I could loose power at any time myself, and not be able to update the site. Just hang tight. If you try to get through to my web site during the hurricane and find you can't, or if you send me e-mail and find I am not answering, don't worry. Try again later.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Waiting For Isabel

I've been watching Isabel, and remembering Agnes. In 1972 Agnes came right up the Chesapeake and then up the Potomac. Like an idiot, I'd gone out when the eye passed over, thinking the storm over, and took a friend whose pants I'd been dying to get into for months to see The Other. The movie stank, and when the show was over and we went back outside, the rain was going horizontally down Wisconsin Avenue. I had to drive him and me home in it, and there were times when I could not see past the hood of the car. We were both teenagers then, and too excited at experiencing our first hurricane to be afraid of it.

I worked as a freelance photographer for a couple local county papers in those days, and after Agnes passed I took some shots of the damage along the C&O canal. It wasn't until I saw the holes ripped out of the C&O canal by the flood waters that I realized how dangerous that hurricane was.

Damage to the C&O Canal From Hurricane Agnes
Along the C&O Canal After Agnes
Copyright 1972 by Bruce Garrett

So far, the path of Isabel seems to take it further west then Agnes went. But to be grateful seems somehow to be wishing trouble on somebody else. And besides, all that rain coming into the western mountains is for sure going to come back to the eastern part of the state. The Potomac will likely go past flood stage and people living alongside of it will be in trouble. Where I live, the Jones Falls river (more like a big creek here in the city) will bear watching. The old timers around here say that after Agnes, they watched cars floating down it.

I've covered over my outdoor basement stairwell with plywood and a tarp, to keep the rain out. The drain down at the bottom of it goes into my sump pump, and I don't want all that water going down there, especially if the electricity goes out. My sump pump is on a battery backup, but best to avoid the problem altogether. I'm laying in stocks of fresh drinking water, in case flooding makes the tap water problematic. I have a water distiller, but that only works if there is electricity. A neighbor who works for Baltimore Gas and Electric says the worry is that since the ground is already a bit soggy from recent rains, it might not take much wind and rain to knock over trees, and hence power lines. He reckons he'll be busy once the storm hits.

There is construction going on at Johns Hopkins where I work. All afternoon they were running some kind of concrete grinder over a new parking deck they're building, and the thing was making a noise as it went back and forth that was uncomfortably similar to the sound the emergency alert sirens make. I try to keep a rational mindset, but sometimes it's a struggle: I'm half techno geek and software engineer, and half moody and temperamental artist, and the left side of my brain knows an omen when it sees one. But the dice are thrown and whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I think I'm ready. I don't think we're going to get a bad hit here; mostly just a big mess we'll have to clean up after Isabel goes on her way. It'll be manageable. I'll keep my eye on my little brick rowhouse, and keep an eye on my neighbors, a few of which are elderly. I know from the big snowstorm we had last winter, that this neighborhood comes together and takes care of itself pretty well. Tonight the weather is cool and the night is quiet, and I'm going to take a short walk now, and enjoy the calm before the storm.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

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