Monday, March 27, 2006
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
In contrast to a president's coattails that sweep his party to congressional victories, skunktails have the reverse effect. Bush's skunktails consist of abuses of power, corruption, and incompetence now so widely recognized that, according to recent polls, those who "strongly disapprove" of his administration now equal those who merely "approve." Because turnout in midterm elections depends largely on intensity of preference, Bush's malodorous tails would seem to bode well for Democrats who need to win six more seats in the Senate and 15 in the House in order to take back Congress.
But there is an asymmetry of consequence between Republican and Democratic skunktails. Even before George W. came to Washington, Republican voters had low expectations of government. Presumably then, the fiascos of Katrina, Iraq, the Social Security drug benefit, the Bush fiscal policy, vote-buying and sweetheart deals with corporations, spying on Americans, Abu Ghraib and the Dubai port deal, to list only a few of the misadventures of the last five years and three months, have not especially shocked Republicans. They have confirmed established Republican dogma that government cannot do anything well and is not to be trusted.
There's a lot more and it's all great.
It’s fascinating what is revealed to you. Joseph Campbell told me a story (also recently recounted by Davidson Loehr) about the Australian tribe that used the bullroarer to keep people in awe of the gods. The bullroarer is a long flat board with notches, or slits, at one end, and a rope at the other. When you swing it around your head, the action produces a musical humming. The sound struck the primitive tribes as other-worldly, causing them to tremble in fear that the gods were angry. So the elders would go into the forest and come back with word of what it would take to placate the gods. And the people would oblige.
Now when a young boy in the tribe was ready to become a man, a ritual took place. Wearing masks, the elders would kidnap him and take him into the woods, tie him down, and with a flint knife slice the underside of his penis. It was painful, but the medicine man said this is how you became a man.
It meant shedding one’s innocence. At the end of the ritual one of the masked men dipped the bullroarer in the boy’s blood and thrust it in his face, simultaneously removing his mask so the boy could see it’s not a god at all – it’s just one of the old guys. And the medicine man would whisper, “We make the noises.”
Ah, yes – it’s not the gods after all. It’s just the old guys – Uncle George, Uncle Dick, Uncle Don. The "noise" in the woods is the work of the old guys playing gods, wanting you to live in fear and trembling so that you will look to them to protect you against the wrath to come. It takes courage to put their truth-claims to the test of reality, to call their bluff.
We are witnessing a marked turn of events for a nation whose DNA contains the inherent promise of an equal opportunity at “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We were not supposed to be a country where the winners take all. The great progressive struggles in our history were waged to make sure ordinary citizens, and not just the rich, share in the benefits of a free society. Today, however, the majority of Americans may support such broad social goals as affordable medical coverage for all, decent wages for working people, safe working conditions, a good education for every child, and clean air and water, but there’s no government “of, by, and for the people” to deliver on those aspirations. America is no longer working for all Americans.
How did this happen? By design. For a quarter of a century now a ferocious campaign has been conducted to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual, cultural, and religious frameworks that sustained America’s social contract. The corporate, political, and religious right converged in a movement that for a long time only they understood because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries.
Monday, March 20, 2006
"As ridiculous as this might sound, we have real money issues right now, and the government is reluctant to give all agents and analysts dot-gov accounts," Mark Mershon said when asked about the gap at a New York Daily News editorial board meeting.
"We just don't have the money, and that is an endless stream of complaints that come from the field," he said.
FBI officials in Washington denied that cost-cutting was putting agents at a disadvantage.
Spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan said e-mail addresses are still being assigned, adding that the city bureau's 2,000 employees would all have accounts by the end of the year.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I spent a little time in Yugoslavia in the seventies. It was a beautiful and friendly country, and despite the ongoing 'Cold War', was open and receptive to its American vistors. That he and his cronies turned into a killing field is a sign of evil beyond comprehension. Ever think you'd miss Tito?
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
In South Dakota, pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives should it trouble their conscience, and some groups who worked on the anti-abortion bill believe contraception also needs to be outlawed. Good plan. After that, we'll reconsider women's property rights, civil right and voting rights.For years, the women's movement has been going around asking, "Who decides?" as though that were the issue. Well, here's the answer. Bill Napoli decides, and if you're not happy with that arrangement, well, you'd better be prepared to do something about it.