Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday Rock Show (NSFC - Not Safe For Christians)

I consider Tool to be one of the best dark heavy metal bands around. In fact, I think they are one of the most literate, musical bands ever to emerge, period. I think Maynard James Keenan is the best lyricist. Far too intelligent to be limited to any category, he manages to capture profound ideas simply, or just paint weird, outlandish pictures in a way unparalleled. I have joked in the past that I would name him Poet Laureate of the US had I the power, but the more I think of it, the less of a joke it becomes.

This song, "Eulogy", off Aenima, concerns the futility of self-sacrifice, and the false humility too often displayed by those who proclaim themselves martyrs to one cause or another. Like many of their songs, there is a rage against hypocrisy and the lies of self-appointed leaders towards those foolish enough to follow them. Yet, there is more going on here, too. The references to Jesus - "he had a lot to say/he had a lot of nothing to say/get off your fucking cross", etc. - are deliberate. I do not think Maynard thinks all that much of Christians; I think he takes on the Jesus-myth directly here not just to shock (although I'm quite sure that's part of it), but also to make the point that, from many perspectives, Jesus was an abject failure, and his followers have certainly not exactly taken the path he blazed.

I am sure there are some who will be offended by this song. There are others who just won't get it. I like it, though, so there.

Two Living Saints

I thought up this post last Saturday on the long drive to Ottawa, IL where I was DJing a wedding reception. I have been looking forward to it all week, and have been confirmed in it many times this past week. God is, indeed, good.

Last year, I did an All Saints Day post in which I gave a partial list of persons who could be included in my own personal "great cloud of witnesses". While I forgot many persons (as I was reminded by my sister in comments), I mentioned two in particular that I would highlight right now.

They teach me everyday how important spontaneity, fun, silliness, and laughter are. They remind me that I actually have an impact on the lives of others in ways I cannot even begin to understand (which, for those who have known me a long time, should probably keep you up nights). They have shown me what real love is; what real trust is; what real hope is. By their example, I see the possibilities in life that I missed once, but can have again if for no other reason than I am still alive and being alive means there are always new chances.

I have had direct evidence this week they both understand what it means to live in Christ. Befriending the friendless, even at the risk of social approbation; living out one's values in such a way that others see them and note them; being hurt by those who do not understand one's values, or who ridicule one's values, or who are motivated by other, less than noble values. I cannot begin to tell you all how impressed I have been by reports I have received, how in awe I am of their ability to be living exemplars of true faith in Christ in difficult situations.

More than any persons alive right now, these two show me each and every day what love really is. I receive far more than I have ever, or could ever, give to them. They are embodiments of grace in a way unparalleled in my life. Because I am well aware of all my faults and failures, to know that these two persons are intimately a part of my everyday life shows me that grace is real, profound, and should always keep us in a state of thanksgiving. They are blessings, lessons always to be learned, and a source of profound joy and peace.

They are my daughters, Moriah and Miriam.

I thank God for them every day, love them in a fierce way I never thought was possible, and am in awe of them as individuals. That they are my children is a source not of pride but of humility. I will not say that someday they will be great persons because they already are. I marvel at the possibilities they present, and I know the world is a far better place for them having been born. If you don't believe me, just look.

Swan Song

While it might be a reason to whine about the lack of balance, the notice that CNN will have a "View From the Right" on Tuesday, without a corresponding one from the left stems, most likely, from two things. First, what real leftists are out there? Second, and relative to the title of this post, it seems that CNN probably figures this is one last chance for Bill Kristol, Bill Bennett, or some other fat, rich white guy to show the country how wrong they are about everything, and why we are rejecting them.

I think I need to consider some examples of background music for these segments. . .

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Music (NSFW) (UPDATED)

What the heck. It's the only part of the holiday I like.

Rob Zombie - "Demonoid Phenomenon"

(There's a better video over at YouTube, but it can't embed. Damnit)

Black Sabbath - "Black Sabbath"

Robert Johnson - "Hellhound On My Trail". If you aren't familiar with the legend of Robert Johnson, it's a great Halloween story. He met the Devil at a crossroads in Mississippi, and sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play the guitar. The song "Crossroads" tells the story.

UPDATE: There's nothing particularly scary about this one, except perhaps for how serious Manson seems to take himself. It is kind of scary, though, because this is what many right-wingers think of when they think of liberals. This is Marilyn Manson's "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", one of the best song titles ever.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Putting The Homo In Homo Sapien

Courtesy of Neil, I decided to click the link and check things out. The "logic" here escapes me. The writer puts up some anecdotes, without links so one doesn't know if they actually happened, or were pulled fully-formed from his ass. Yet, somehow, I am trying to figure out how it is intolerant to tell children that families headed by same-sex couples are . . . what? Not families? The alternative seems to be that we either don't mention the fact that some people live in different types of households, or we actively teach hatred.

What, exactly, is the point of all this?

When Prop 8 fails, and when Protection of Marriage Act is repealed, I am so divorcing my wife and going to find a guy to shack up with. Why? Just to prove Neil and the rest of these wackos right.

A Cornucopia Of Crazy (UPDATE)

ER provides links to a smorgasbord of stupid from some of the smallest minds on the right. What is most fun about these links? Why, you get to see just how silly and irrelevant the hard right has become. They are so unimaginative, they can only come up with nonsense to attempt to smear Sen. Obama - and often it is nonsense that has been repeated so often by those higher up the right-wing food chain, and debunked any number of times, one realizes that thought is foreign to them.

On one issue in particular, I would take a bit of a different tack. No, Obama is no Marxist. However, even if he were, that would hardly disqualify him from the Presidency. Like the claims that he is a Muslim, Colin Powell's response to this lie is far better than one floated around by so many of Obama's supporters: So freakin' what? Bush calls himself a Christian and look at the mess we're in right now; seems to me we could use a little spiritual injection from another source, as it were.

As to calling Obama a murderer because he supports abortion rights, well, that just stretches the bounds of moral reasoning so far as to make the entire process irrelevant. It shows how ridiculous "pro-life" arguments really are. I realize these people really do not think about this issue, and every time they are confronted with facts, they just curl up in a ball like an armadillo, but abortion isn't murder because a fetus isn't a human being. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. There is a case to be made against abortion-on-demand, but just calling it murder over and over again, and calling a fetus a person (in any sense of the term, legal, philosophical, day-to-day) mangles the language beyond recognition.

Without a doubt, the upcoming election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is driving many, many people over the edge of whatever precipice of reality they were heretofore perched upon. I do think the "Satan-Biden" sign is kind of funny, though, and I am hardly offended by it.

As to Neil, well, he is Neil, and those of us who have had dealings with him in the past understand how the game works. I do so love his "how can a tax cut be a tax cut for people who don't pay taxes?" bit. He does love is propositional logic, does Neil, as if proving some point this way actually means anything.

Anyway, I am really looking forward to what happens after next Tuesday. Mark has already said he might move to Canada, although I believe he would find our northern neighbor a bit inhospitable, because it is bilingual - all Canadians speak not just English but that that horrid Frog language - and multicultural and liberal (even its conservatives are far more liberal than most American liberals). Plus, their candy bars are different. As the meltdown continues on the right after the election next week, I do so hope that mental health professionals are gearing up for a serious run on Thorazine because these folks are going to need some assistance.

UPDATE: For your consideration, an extra bit of crazy.
I mention this because I firmly believe Barack Obama absolutely loathes my kind. This man will not be content to win the presidency. He will spend his waking hours thereafter not pursuing the legitimate goals of state, but punishing those who would dare to oppose him. The man is devoid of humility, or any sense of humor. He cannot humbly accept his incredibly lucky break in the crapshoot of American politics. The absolute lack of any pushback or intercessions on the part of the journalist class has rendered him peckish and intolerant of any dissention, if indeed he was not born that way.

This man truly hates. As only someone who is quite aware of his great shortcomings can hate. And like the second monkey he can hear, or tolerate, no evil.

I am not a reactionary person by nature, but trust me when I say the first 100 days of a Barack Obama presidency will bring holy hell upon those who adhere to a classical liberal philosophy. This man is a radical of the first stripe, and he has left no stone unturned in his quest. He has not committed voter fraud in the good old fashioned way. He has a vast network of ACORN operatives stealing votes through fraudulent means by the hundreds of thousands. This man has not committed campaign finance fraud in the good old fashioned way, squirrelling away Chinese monies like Bill Clinton. This cocksucker actually disabled his credit card verification system to allow tens of millions of illegal dollars to flow into his coffers from any number of enemies of the state. The droid army of the legacy press is aware of this, of course, but who wants to be the whistleblower once this man assumes power? No one. No fucking body. Wouldn't be prudent at this fucking juncture, as 41 might say.

Did I mention this man hates me? You and me? Yes he does. Why? Because he can. Yes He Can. Beneath that cool persona is a megalomaniac. Cool? Like Stalin after a purge, emotionally and sexually spent. Like Saddam after a torture session, dozing in his chair with someone's genitals curled in his fist. Like Pol Pot after a petit mal seizure, mumbling a litany of the dead. Cool that way.

So I will cast my pathetic vote, and ramp up my relocation to the mountains. Reduce my footprint. Carbon? That will be a nice byproduct, but I mean my personal footprint. My credit footprint. My interface with authority footprint. I'm researching micro-hydro water turbines for that stream, windmills for water, a half-acre patch for vegetables, a few goats, and a bison. Just because I want a fucking bison. My address? Fifty rounds up that gravel road.

I do hate to sound Randy Weaverish. But this is the fundament of my world view right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Better Than Sex

I just voted. I love early voting in IL.

There was a line. There were people behind me even as I left the County Clerk's office.

This feels better than when I voted absentee in NY in 1992. This is a historic, game-changer for the entire country. To be a part of that, even one tiny voice, is hard to describe.

If you don't have early voting in your state, make sure you make it to the polls next Tuesday. Otherwise, get out as soon as you can and vote. I promise you, you'll respect yourself in the morning.


My grandfather was one. My mother's first political memory was being taken door-to-door as her father canvassed for Norman Thomas in 1928. He was also a pacifist until September 1, 1939, when he sat and listened to the radio reports of the Nazi attack on Poland. He encouraged his sons to enter the military; all but one did so (Tom had asthma and other, um, issues). My mother's oldest brother entered the Navy after Pearl Harbor and disappeared until the day after V-E Day (he called my grandmother from Switzerland); my Uncle David was a United States Marine who served in China after the war, then served in Korea during that war.

Both of them are still, even their 80's, farther to the left of the American political "mainstream" than Barack Obama.

I was raised in a household friendly to unions, raised to see beyond things like race and religion and ethnicity to see human beings worthy of love (this despite whatever prejudices my parents may have had).

If you want to know what a real socialist is, you can click here. I thought about joining up a few years back, but they are declared Marxists, and I refuse to hew any party line, especially one as discredited by actual events as Marxism. Yet, anyone who knows anything about real socialism knows that Barack Obama is no socialist. I have relatives who were and/or are socialists; I have flirted with it during most of my adult life, and can tell you with all sorts of certainty that were Obama a real socialist, I would be on cloud nine as he moves a day closer to a landslide victory next Tuesday.

By the way, what's wrong with Sweden-style socialism, anyway? Every office and work space has access to natural light, cradle-to-grace real safety-nets, paid family-leave for up to a year without the threat of losing one's job status, fully-funded education from pre-school through higher-ed - it all sounds good to me. If it weren't so darn cold, I might consider trying it out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nothing Lasts Forever

I think Yglesias' advice is eminently sensible. That it ignores the political realities that, while certainly down, the "Big 3" still carry weight in Washington, DC sufficient to funnel cash their way even as they mismanage themselves in to oblivion should also be obvious. I say this as someone who lives near a town propped up, very badly, by a Chrysler manufacturing plant.

Like giving banks that made bad investment decisions more money to make more bad investment decisions, giving auto makers more money to build more cars no one buys makes little sense. In reality, America just doesn't make good cars anymore. I own a Kia. My wife owns a Pontiac Vibe, which is in fact a Toyota car design. The biggest selling American vehicle of the past decade, the Ford F-series pick-up, is no longer financially feasible. The idea that somehow GM, Ford, and the rump of Chrysler will somehow miracle their way out of the death spiral they are currently experiencing just ignores the reality that other countries make cars people want to buy, for any number of reasons. There is nothing wrong with that, either. Someday, those manufacturers - Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Kia, Volvo - will go the way of the REO, the Packard, and the Moon, and perhaps we will buy cars manufactured in Ghana, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast.

Until someone in Washington gives some straight talk to the automobile industry and tells them that throwing good money after bad makes no sense and they need to sink or swim on their own, however, I believe that we will be giving welfare to these corporate queens for quite a while.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stephen Douglas Creech

I have been avoiding addressing something, but I cannot any longer.

I have loved two men in my life (outside my immediate family). I say this unabashedly, and without fear. This love is the kind of love men feel for other men who take friendship to a new level, allowing us space to be unafraid to be afraid, who teach us how to be ourselves, and with whom we can be open. It is filia lived, the kind of real friendship that is too rare in this world. The first, Charles Kinch, was my childhood and youthful friend. I knew Chip and was friends with him from the time I was in second or third grade. The last time I saw him, in December, 1986 (Christmas Day, as a matter of fact) I will admit to being worried about him, yes, but afraid he was planning on taking his own life within a few weeks? Not at all.

Steve Creech, as different from Chip in every imaginable way, kept me sane in an insane situation. Living in rural southern Virginia in the mid- to late-1990's, I felt isolated from everything I had held dear and important. Steve was not just a friend; he was a teacher. He taught me how to live unafraid. Openly gay, faithfully Christian without being doctrinaire, a bohemian in the true sense of the word, Steve loved music and literature and William Burroughs; he was friends with neo-pagans and Anglo-Catholics. He wrote letters in Czech to friends in Prague, who wrote him back in English. He offered me biographies of Anton Levay and Aleister Crowley. We read, together, Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship and Crime and Punishment. We spent hours talking and laughing and solving the world's problems, and I marveled that someone so different from anyone I had ever met could suddenly appear and be who and what I needed.

Even now I can see his too-thin frame, his arms tight against his body, walking down the streets of Jarratt, VA, his head down, his over-sized glasses (Steve was legally blind, seeing a bright haze even with corrective lenses) perched high up on his nose.

Steve succumbed over the weekend to liver/pancreatic cancer. We drifted apart after the first couple years of our move to the midwest. I say this with a tremendous amount of guilt because the fault was all mine. Four years ago, on my first return trip, we visited, and our conversation picked up where it had left off, and it was as if no time at all had passed, rather than five years. This is something that is far too rare in life, and I didn't celebrate it enough, or treat it with the respect and reverence it was due. For that I am sorry, and I hope that now, as the final mystery has engulfed him, he has found room to forgive me.

Please, say a prayer for his mother and brother, and for all those who knew Steve. There has not been, nor will there be again, another like him.

Music Monday

If there is a transcendent musical figure in my life, it is Pat Metheny. Unlike any other artist in any other genre, I have listened to him consistently over nearly 20 years, without ever getting tired of hearing what different turns he makes. He is capable of the most serene moments - One Quiet Night and Beyond the Missouri Skies being the best known - pretty traditional electric jazz on his many recordings with Lyle Mays spanning four decades, and the occasional break in to just plain noise. In the mid-1990's he released an album similar in many ways to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. Zero Tolerance for Silence is, for the most part I think, misunderstood. It is a CD with track numbers only for the sake of convenience; in fact, it is roughly an hour of highly amplified guitar noise for its own sake. I will not go as far as Lester Bangs did in his effusive praise of Reed's contractual obligation album back in the 1970's - this isn't classical music, nor is it high art - but it has as much musical merit as anything else Metheny has done.

If you have never sat and listened, I mean really listened to any of his work, I promise this is a treat.

First, "Have You Heard":

"Phase Dance":

"September Fifteenth":

First Day Of Winter

It's snowing outside. Is this a sign of the apocalypse?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Breaking: Another Metaphysical Endorsement For Obama, From South Of The Border (As It Were)

I saw this and I just had to highlight it.
Could Lucifer play a role in this presidential election? It may sound crazy, but one of the candidates in this race has publicly praised, even emulated, a writer-activist who himself paid tribute to Lucifer. That’s right, Lucifer, also known as the Devil, Satan, Beelzebub—you get the idea.

Do you think that admiring a Lucifer-admirer would make a difference to some voters?

If you’ve never heard of this true fact—and most Americans obviously haven’t—well, that might help to explain why John McCain is behind in the polls.

OK, you might be asking, where is this Lucifer stuff coming from? It comes from a man named Saul Alinsky, who devoted his life to left-wing agitation in Chicago. He also wrote two seminal books, “Reveille for Radicals” and “Rules for Radicals,” still regarded as key how-to manuals for left-wing activists.

But Alinsky was more than just a leftist; he was a genuine out-there crazy, someone who loved to shock and stun, just for the helluvit. And so in the first edition of “Rules for Radicals,” published in 1971, he offered this astounding dedication: “Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgement of the very first radical, from all our legends, mythology, and history … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer.”

So, in order to keep up, let's consider the narrative concerning Barack Obama. He is both a communist and a fascist. He is a closet Muslim/America-hating radical Christian. Now, he is a Satanist, or at least has ties to Satanism.

From scary to weird to funny in just a few short hours.

Some History And Thoughts On Republican Attempts To Steal The Election

I think DCup's fears are common among many liberals.
Things are not good on the right and they don't like to lose. Who knows to what lengths they will go to try to win.

Since the 2000 election, the general consensus has been that not only that election, but 2004 as well were thefts by the Republicans of legitimate Democratic wins. While I do think the post-election-night carryings-on of both parties in 2000 was bad, and the Supreme Court's intervention was wrong-headed - they should have sent US Marshals to protect the election judges and just allowed the vote count to carry on - I doubt the election result would have changed all that much under Florida's rules of the road. I also do not believe for one minute that Republicans somehow "stole" Ohio from John Kerry in 2004. He lost fair and square and we should content ourselves with that sad fact.

There has been an awful lot written about Diebold, etc., and it is all conspiracy mongering, and I refuse to take any of it seriously.

Yet, in 2006, there was still a palpable fear among liberals that the Repulicans would somehow defy the odds and the polls and use all sorts of dirty tricks to keep their Congressional majority. I remember well the weekend before that election, when Karl Rove went on TV and talked about "the math" that predicted a Republican victory. Against all evidence to the contrary, liberals and Democrats still considered him some kind of Rasputin/Svengali, rather than, at that point, a gambler on a losing streak trying to bluff his way through one more hand. He didn't have any math that could have given the Republicans a victory.

This year is no different. The Republicans are so far behind on so many fronts, and the drag of the Presidential ticket is pulling the coattails of down-ticket races even further, the recriminations, the blame-game - in short, the wonderful specter of Republicans and conservatives eating their own - has begun. It does has a familiar ring, however (circa December, 2006) as right-wingers insist the problem was that Republicans were somehow not conservative enough. Expect the ugliness to get even worse as the Republicans begin the task of reassembling their party from the wreckage George W. Bush and his Congressional cohorts have wrought.

In short, while I fully expect all sorts of nasty attempts to suppress voting among minority voters - it has, in fact, already begun - for the most part, they will not only be unsuccessful, I think the Democratic lead across the board is so big that no amount of funny business and rat-fucking will change the ultimate result.

As to the specifics of DCup's comment, I would only point out that someone as nutty as Riehl is only a danger to himself.

Updated Election Prediction

As I've been following the poll tracking as Obama's momentum carries him forward, and McCain continues to trip over his own feet and Sarah Palin's tongue (stay clean, folks), it seems I was being a tad, um, conservative in my initial prediction. I foresaw a range for an Obama win from 296 to 343 Electoral votes. Five days ago, I considered an Obama win with 343 Electoral College votes to be "wistful".

Using the current polling data, and assuming all things will continue as they have been (always dangerous, I know), I am now pretty comfortable predicting the possibility of Obama winning 378 Electoral College votes. Such a victory would not only be stunning, considering the relative closeness of our most recent Presidential elections (in 20 years, we've only had one President elected with a majority of the popular vote, George W. Bush in 2004 with barely over 51%, and only enough Electoral votes to carry him across the 270 threshold). I will hedge my bets - always an important thing to do - and stand by my earlier low-ball figure of 296 Electoral College votes for Barack Obama. I am just widening the range of possibility here.

Unlike two of our recent Electoral landslides - 1972 and 1984 - and like the 1980 Electoral College landslide (but not popular landslide) for Ronald Reagan, this will be a stunning repudiation of the party in power. While I do not believe it to be an endorsement of all sorts of progressive politics, it certainly indicates the intellectual, political, and moral bankruptcy of our current version of right-wing ideology. I believe that liberals should seize the moment, carpe the diem with both hands.

They Really Think This Way

I do not normally peruse right-wing blogs, but use Sadly, No! to keep me informed of what these "people" are up to. Today, however, I just had to click the little highlighted phrase, didn't I, and read the link.

I think my eyes will never be right again.

Some doofus named Dan Riehl actually believes that Barack Obama would kill his grandmother. At first, I thought it was an attempt by a humorless right-winger at humor. Kind of like when the old uncle gets drunk at the family reunion, does the Macarena, falls and breaks his hip. After reading it through a couple times, I realized that, while he be attempting some kind of flippancy, he really does believe that.

The phrase "batshit insane" is tossed around a lot, sometimes far too casually. Yet, reading this one post - just one! - by this guy supplies all the evidence I need to realize they really are out of their minds.

Virtual Tin Cup

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