Archive for June, 2007
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Supremely wrong

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

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Ann Coulter: What a crybaby

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Bullies are so predictable: They dish out abuse by the gallons, but if anyone gives even a thimble’s worth of the same in return they whine and cry like babies.  Case in point: Ann Coulter. 

Elizabeth Edwards calls into Chris Matthews’ show to ask Coulter to stop spewing hatred, managing to throw Coulter badly off her game in the process.  What’s Ann’s response?  She throws a temper tantrum.  Just pathetic.

But it’s far from an aberration.  In fact, it reminds me a lawyer I dealt with a few years ago — a classic bully type, trying to win through intimidation.  During depositions, when I was asking the questions, he would smirk and snicker and generally act as though I must be the most incompetent lawyer he’d ever dealt with. 

It was infuriating, I’ll give him that much. 

So I decided to try an experiment: at a later deposition when it was my obnoxious opponent’s turn to ask the questions, I gave him a slight taste of his own medicine — nothing nearly as bad as his own conduct, just a few smirks in response to his attempts to form questions.  He came unglued.

He was a bully.  He could give it, but he couldn’t take it.  So although I understand the reasoning of those who say we should just ignore Coulter, I don’t agree.  As long as she continues to spread hate, we should keep the heat on her.  Then watch her whine.

Besides, what have we got to lose?  The more she talks the more she turns off everyone except the far right wing.  Coulter (together with a horde of fellow travelers) did some real damage through slander to the reputation of liberals back in the old days, but that’s ancient history now.  She’s a cheap imitation of a professional wrestler now — a clown to perform for the true believers. 

The key now isn’t to ignore her: it’s to treat her like the sick (and unfunny) joke she is.   

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Episode 63: A heavenly protest, part two

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The Last Chance Democracy Cafe
Episode 63: A heavenly protest, part two
by Steven C. Day

To read part one go here.

Faith without reason is slavery.
(Message posted in an obscure alleyway in the unfashionable Northern end of heaven)

One advantage to being a blob floating weightless, formless and invisible above heaven is that you have perfect objectivity.  Lacking self-awareness, you have no motive to bend reality to meet your personal desires.  You take the truth as you find it.

And the truth I found in heaven was both astonishingly beautiful and surprisingly disquieting. 

Like all newbies, it had taken Horace some time to learn the heavenly ropes.  But now, three months into his stay, things were starting to make sense: he had figured out, for example, that the never ending and seemingly random changing of the scenery around him — with, for example, a mountain village suddenly becoming a city street and then just as suddenly becoming a lush Midwestern farm — wasn’t the permanent face of paradise.

It was, instead, more of a virtual catalog — an endless stream of available “products,” thrown up, one after another, until you make your selection.  Horace, for instance, initially decided on a whim to visit a seaside village in the South of Spain: to make this selection, all he had to do was to say the word “Here” after the village appeared around him and before the next jump occurred.  Instantly, the waterfall of images froze in place, leaving him in Spain for however long he wanted to stay.

Later, when he became bored with Spain, he simply said, “Leave,” causing the cascade of images to start again — an endless parade of possibilities washing over him like the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing into the rocky coast of Maine. From time to time he’d stop the procession, lingering for a time here or there, trying various scenes on for size like a prom queen tearing through a store’s display racks looking for the perfect dress for her senior dance.

Here’s something that may surprise you, even disturb you, about heaven: most new arrivals tend to quickly lose interest in being reunited with lost loved ones.  All of those heartfelt deathbed commitments that “I’ll see you on the other side” somehow never get arranged in the real afterlife.  Like it or not, the fact is that the longer one remains in heaven, the more irrelevant former earthly connections become: one’s family and friends from the mortal world are just so then; heaven itself is so now.

So it was that Horace’s anguish over Tom and Winston’s damnation and eternal suffering began to dim.  It still upset him when he thought about it, but thinking about it was something he did less and less often.  And although I found this somewhat troubling as I floated there in the sky above heaven, I could certainly understand why it was happening: as the old song goes, “Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today.”

That’s the way souls feel in heaven.  I think He makes them feel that way.  It makes for “better” heavenly citizens.

But it turns out that there’s a flaw in the design.  When you give hundreds of millions of people hundreds of millions of options of where to live and play, what happens is that you end up bringing people of similar interests together — including potential troublemakers.  Since people in heaven have no need to compromise on their likes and dislikes, they tend to settle into the locations they love most.  And, not surprisingly, similar people tend to love similar places.

In the case of Horace, and a small band of other potential heavenly troublemakers, that place had turned out to be a small tavern in South Dakota (or, to be completely accurate, a small tavern in a part of heaven made to look like South Dakota).  It was called The Oddball Bar and Grill.


If I had half the guts of Elizabeth Edwards . . .

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I’d be a brave man indeed.  And I’m not just talking about this — although I do like it a lot.

Is this the beginning of the end in Iraq?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

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Has Cheney finally jumped the shark?

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

If they gave out awards for audacity, Dick Cheney would long ago have scored a Nobel Prize.  He’s championed executive powers so sweeping they’d have made Joseph Stalin blush (well, maybe not), claimed the right to resist virtually all congressional oversight, imposed unprecedented secrecy on the people’s business and almost certainly personally supervised the deliberate exposure of a covert CIA agent as an act of political revenge.

Yet, while he has long been dismally unpopular among the American public, he remains the most powerful vice president in history. 

So, has Cheney finally jumped the shark?  It’s actually a little hard to know, given that the man who will ultimately decide how much influence Cheney continues to hold as the Bush Administration slowly slides to its inglorious end seems to be hanging with him.  Still, if he had set out to find the very best way to highlight the absurd degree of his own arrogance, while at the same time making himself a subject of ridicule, he couldn’t have done much better than this.

Someone really ought to write a morality play about this.  The lesson, of course, would be that arrogance taken far enough in the end becomes self-mockery.  By making the silly claim that the vice president isn’t part of the executive branch, Cheney and his merry band of megalomaniacs tried to play things too smart, too slick.  And in doing so they ended up looking like gangsters, but probably more importantly, given how the world works, they ended up looking ridiculous.

Bush will probably still listen to Cheney, but this is scar that will never go away. 

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Obama hits a homerun

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

This is a great speech whittling the Religious Right down to size.  And I especially like the fact he delivered it to the national meeting of the United Church of Christ, a denomination that’s been in the forefront of efforts to push back against the far right’s hijacking of the Christian religion (Obama is a member of a UCC church).

(AP) Obama says some have ‘hijacked’ faith  

Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a 30-minute speech before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

“Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.

“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.

“There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich,” Obama said. “I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.”

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the Democrats need Obama somewhere on the ticket (my personal preference would be as number two to Gore’s number one, but that’s looking less and less likely).  He brings a sense of vision to the process none of the other candidates can match.  And that could decide the election.

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Ahmadinejad really is an asshole

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

In our (absolutely correct and essential) opposition to the neoconservative dream of war against Iran, liberals should never forget what truly awful people the Islamic fundamentalists running Iran really are.  In fact, one of the principal reasons we need to fight the Bush Administration’s anti-Iranian belligerence is that it’s playing into the hands of Ahmadinejad and the radical mullahs.

(NY Times) Iran Cracks Down on Dissent, Parading Examples in Streets

Young men wearing T-shirts deemed too tight or haircuts seen as too Western have been paraded bleeding through Tehran’s streets by uniformed police officers who force them to suck on plastic jerrycans, a toilet item Iranians use to wash their bottoms. In case anyone misses the point, it is the official news agency Fars distributing the pictures of what it calls “riffraff.” Far bloodier photographs are circulating on blogs and on the Internet.

The country’s police chief boasted that 150,000 people — a number far larger than usual — were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic. More than 30 women’s rights advocates were arrested in one day in March, according to Human Rights Watch, five of whom have since been sentenced to prison terms of up to four years. They were charged with endangering national security for organizing an Internet campaign to collect more than a million signatures supporting the removal of all laws that discriminate against women.

Eight student leaders at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, the site of one of the few public protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad, disappeared into Evin Prison starting in early May. Student newspapers had published articles suggesting that no humans were infallible, including the Prophet Muhammad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

You should read the rest, but fair warning – it’s depressing.

The friend of my enemy is my friend?

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

If the friend of your enemy is Joe Lieberman, this seems to be true.

(The Swamp) Lieberman raises money for liberals…. indirectly

Apparently, no one can raise money for Democratic liberals like Joe Lieberman.

When the Political Action Project found out that Lieberman was one of the hosts of a $3,000-a-person Washington fundraiser tonight for Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the grass-roots, anti-war group pounced.

MoveOn has long been at odds with Lieberman, a strong backer of the war who won re-election last year as an independent. He has worked together with Collins for years as leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The word went out from MoveOn Tuesday: Donate money to defeat Collins, who could face a tough re-election battle next year, it told members in an e-mail.

Within 24 hours, more than 5,600 members donated an average of $63 each, for a total of $355,000.

Not that we here at The Last Chance Democracy Café would ever say an unkind word about Joe Lieberman, but — snicker, snicker, ha, ha, hee, hee.

Episode 62: A heavenly protest

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Horace has finally died and gone to heaven, and by some strange twist of fate I’ve gone along with him for the ride.  But heaven hasn’t turned out to be the place he expected, forcing him to confront two painful questions: Can there really be injustice in paradise?  And, if there is, what duty does a soul have to oppose it, and at what cost? 

This will be the first of a series of weekly installments telling the story of how Horace came to answer these questions.

The Last Chance Democracy Cafe
Episode 62: A heavenly protest, part one
by Steven C. Day

“Heaven is what you make of it.  So don’t blame Me if it doesn’t meet your expectations.”
(Message posted on the gates of heaven.)

When you consider that I had never before floated through the air weightless, formless and invisible, one might have expected that finding myself in that state would have struck me as at least a little odd.  It didn’t.  In fact, it didn’t strike me at all.  I just floated.

I wonder if there’s a moment like that — awareness without self-awareness — early in the life of every sentient being, whether human, whale or silicon-based blob creature from planet X94.  If so, it must happen at that very first moment when the thinking part of the brain switches on and begins to observe the warm, wet and strangely contoured world surrounding it.

That’s where my mind was, anyway, as I floated there in the sky above heaven — pure observation.  Aware only of others: self had not yet been born, or, perhaps it had been but had gone to Vegas to take in a show and drop a few bucks at the blackjack tables.  Either way, it was nowhere around.

And as I floated, unnoticed by anyone including myself, I realized for the first time that my friend Horace was standing directly below me.  Just how I could recognize someone as being my friend when I had yet to recognize me as being me was a conundrum that concerned me not a whit.    

Dead at long last at the age of 97, the last of The Three Wise Men to go, Horace had just received his golden ticket of admittance to heaven.  Far from being overjoyed by this confirmation of his salvation, however, he was acutely downhearted.  The two faces in heaven he had wanted to see above all others, more even than God’s — those of his dear late wife and of his son, Lester, killed in Vietnam — were being denied him.  Those reunions would have to wait until later, he was told by the pleasant young woman in the white robe who processed his papers at heaven’s impressive but entirely unpearly gates.  He needed to work some other things through first, she explained.

“You’ll understand in time,” she continued.

People say that a lot in heaven.  After awhile it begins to piss you off.

That is something else that needs to be understood, if what I’m about to say is to make any sense to you at all: as I was floating there above heaven, being blown this way and that by the spiritual winds, I could do more than see Horace: I could also feel his emotions and hear his thoughts — an invasion of privacy, by the way, that would have outraged him had he known about it.

But then that’s one of the advantages to being a weightless, formless and invisible blob floating in the sky: you can get away with things like that.

So, yes, of course, I knew Horace was sad.  I read his mind.  Never one to waste time licking his wounds, however, he quickly set himself to a new goal: he decided it was time to look up a couple of old friends.