Thursday, November 1, 2007

If War, Then No Constitution

In yet another hint that our president didn't pay attention in Civics class -- he apparently has never heard of the "lame duck":
“In a time of war, it is vital for the president to have a full national security team in place, and a key member of that team is the attorney general,” [the president] said. “Yet the Senate Judiciary Committee has been holding up his nomination.”
Yes. This is what the Decider-in-Chief said to try and coax the Judiciary Committee to move on his AG nominee, Judge Mukasey. I'll translate into language he'd have written instead of a speech writer:

"Torture is bad, 'see. But terrorists are bad. heh heh. So, when fighting bad, gotta use bad. Let 'im through. Don't let that pesky Constitution get in the way."

No, W, we need an AG that will stand-up to your foreign policy and legal teams -- somebody has to.

The Most Ridiculous Op-Ed in the History of Journalism

Yesterday, the once-venerable New York Times printed this drivel:

THE house in which I grew up was haunted by a cloud of cold mist, a mysterious woman in white, and an entity we called “the conductor,” since he walked around wearing a mourning coat and carrying a baton in one hand.
The house, in Devon, Pa., was creepy, to be certain. Still, it wasn’t exactly the Amityville Horror. As a teenager in the 1970s, I found my house’s ghosts mostly a social embarrassment. It was humiliating to have to explain to my friends spending the night in the Haunted Room: “Now don’t worry if you see a blob come out of that closet. Usually it will go away if you whistle Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. If that doesn’t work, try the Ninth.”

The 'newspaper of record' has apparently lowered its standards on what qualifies as "fit to print."

The most discouraging of our specters was the woman I called Mrs. Freeze. She appeared, occasionally, in the mirror of a third-floor lavatory. This was known as the Monkey Bathroom because the family who’d lived in the Coffin House before us, the Hunts, had kept a monkey in there.

The monkey’s name was Jesus.

One night, coming home late from a friend’s house, I looked into the mirror and saw her standing behind me. Mrs. Freeze was a middle-aged woman in a white nightgown. Her eyes were small red stars. Cold mist rose from her hair and shoulders.

I turned around, but of course there was no one there.


I went back to the Coffin House last year with someone whom I can only haplessly describe as a paranormal investigator. The woman, a cheerful, round Philadelphian named Shelly, was associated with an organization called Batty About Ghosts. When I asked her to check out the house, she’d said she’d be glad to. “Actually,” said Shelly, without a hint of sarcasm, “this is my dead season.”
Oh, it gets worse. MUCH WORSE:

Shelly raised a pair of copper divining rods, which immediately began to spin around wildly, like the blades of a helicopter. “Is there anybody there?” she asked, but I could already sense my father’s shy, gentle presence.

“It’s my father,” I told Shelly.

“Talk to him,” she said. “Talk to him just like you used to.”

This was more difficult than it sounded, since I’m transgendered, and had morphed, since my father’s death, from the entity known as James to the current one, known as Jennifer.

Perhaps the fact that the man is DEAD is the most troublesome hurdle? Just a thought.

I'm all for doing what you want with your own name, body, sexuality, and identity. That is your right. But I don't think this op-ed is any service to transgendered people -- in fact, if one were to take this as any kind of indication on the mental health of transgendered people it could be exactly the opposite:

Last summer, late one night while I was visiting [my mother], I went into the Monkey Bathroom to get ready for bed. It had been a long day, and I was filled with the usual rush of melancholy and nostalgia that always accompanies a visit to my boyhood home.

And then, as I looked into the mirror, I saw Mrs. Freeze, just as in days of old, a middle-aged woman in a white nightgown. For a moment I felt my skin crawl, wondering what disaster was now imminent.

But then it occurred to me that I was seeing my own reflection. After all this time, I was only haunting myself.

I realized then the thing that the stranger might have been trying to tell me, for all these years. Don’t worry, Jenny. It’s only me.

If this is some sort of allegory, then it missed the mark. Furthermore, since when has this sort of nonsense been op-ed material? The New York Times has a reputation of being one of the hardest newspapers to get an op-ed published in -- particularly if your opinion isn't in total congruence with the editorial staff -- and yet they publish this aimless hallucinatory rant to get some (clearly lost) point across about transgender identity?

I know they are having some problems there, but some standards should be maintained.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Strange Bedfellows: Malcolm X & Barry Goldwater?

Malcolm X and the struggle for liberty. (notice the language: 'that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice...and that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.' taken from Barry Goldwater's acceptance of the GOP nomination in 1964.) I am not saying that Malcolm was a Republican...and I am not saying Goldwater was a sympathizer of Malcolm's. At the time of this speech, one could reasonably argue that they were diametrically opposed, given Goldwater's courting of southerners.

Nonetheless, the ideas of personal responsibility, resentment of injustice, and the fundamental concepts of human liberty are unmistakably similar.

FEMA Holds Press Conference

I spent the weekend actually doing things -- fun things, even -- instead of sitting at my computer or watching television. (I was avoiding any and all things Red Sox) Consequently, I totally missed this parade of idiocy:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House scolded the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday for staging a phony news conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California.

The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago — arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency’s deputy director.
The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.
“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response,” Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.

Not surprisingly, somebody got canned:

An official who faked a Federal Emergency Management Agency news conference into the handling of the California wildfires has been dropped from a job as a media chief, according to reports.

John P. "Pat" Philbin, formerly the public affairs director for FEMA, was involved in organising a briefing with journalists at short notice last Tuesday.

In and of itself, the firing shouldn't be that big of a surprise. But there's more...

''We do not normally comment on personnel matters,'' [Director of National Intelligence] spokesman Ross Feinstein said Monday. ''However, we can confirm that Mr. [NOT REGIS] Philbin is not, nor is he scheduled to be, the director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.''

Yes, that's right. This guy was slated to be the mouthpiece for the Director of National Intelligence. This administration has sunk so low that it is incompetently evil.

Be All You (Just Have to) Be

While they had shown initial interest in publishing this, the Washington Post apparently decided against it:

To the editor:

In his article, "Knowing State Tests' 'Cut' Scores," published Monday October 22, Ian Shapira writes about a student who wants to know the number of questions she needs to answer correctly to not fail a standardized test. This underscores a significant problem all too prevalent in today's schools: instead of learning what one needs to succeed, the focus has shifted to learning what one needs not to fail.

Such low standards and expectations for the students can only stifle improvement in academics and, consequently, adult life. Setting expectations so low is bound to perpetuate poor results. Thus, instead of striving to become successful members of society, students can make every effort not to get fired.