While I would wish you to love America most because it is your home, I would have you love the whole world and think of all the people in it as your countrymen. . . . When our country is wrong she is worse than other countries when they are wrong, for she has more light than other countries, and we somehow ought to make her feel that we are sorry and ashamed for her.
William Dean Howells (1912)
Howells’s radicalism was never utopian; he found Tolstoy naïve. It was really no more than liberalism pressed by circumstances to the edge of despair. Once we have concluded that we live in a world governed by chance and hazard, we can react either by extending our circle of compassion to include people who have been less lucky than we are or by attempting to protect ourselves against the next roll of the dice by enclosing ourselves in a fortress of fear. Under the stress of fear, Howells believed, a society of commercial chance will panic; the American writer’s role is not just to speak truth to power but to speak reason to hysteria. A kind of passionate liberal meliorism is tied, for Howells, to a sense of individual responsibility that is nearly existential in its urgency.
Consider these five people who came out of the Hollywood world of entertainment to become conservative Republican politicians:
George Murphy -- song and dance man on stage and screen, became a United States Senator; (Tom Lehrer: "Oh yes it's great, at last we have a Senator who can really sing and dance.")
Ronald Reagan -- B movie star and shill for General Electric, became Governor of California and President of the United States;
Shirley Temple Black -- iconic child star, became U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and to the United Nations
Sonny Bono -- pop singer, became mayor of Palm Springs and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives;
Arnold Schwarzenegger -- weight lifter and monosyllabic action-adventure star, became one-term Governor of California;
So, a quiz: name five people of comparable fame and accomplishment in show biz who become liberal or progressive Democratic politicians. If it's not possible to do this, what affect does this have on the Republican/right-wing claim that Hollywood is a hot-bed of political liberalism (which is really only a milder variant of the McCarthyite claim that Hollywood is riddled with Commies). What weight should be given to the fact that "Hollywood" is owned lock, stock and barrel by major entertainment conglomerates, which are, in turn, controlled by conservative businessman?
It is not completely impossible that the atoms in the floor under your feet will all spontaneously and simultaneously lose their electrostatic charge, and you will fall through the floor without warning. There is a fleetingly small statistical possibility that this could happen, but the age of the universe, and its expected lifetime, is not long enough to make it probable that it will happen even once.
So, really, it's not worth wasting any energy worrying about it.
Just so the potential impeachment of George W. Bush under our current political circumstances -- so why are people wasting time and energy fantasizing about it?
Basically, an impeachable offense is anything that the Congress says is an impeachable offense, and this Congress will not find anything that Bush does to be impeachable. It was enough for the Republicans for Clinton to get a blow job and lie about it, but Bush could be murdering virgins in the Oval Office and eating their bones, and it wouldn't make any difference, there's not even the remotest possibility that he'd be impeached.
End of the matter, I think. Better to point out the myriad stupidities, immoralities, unethical behaviors and illegalities of the Bush administration -- and there are many of them -- without worrying about whether they are "impeachable" or not.
We should always keep our goal in mind, and getting Bush impeached is an entirely impossible one, totally tilting at windmills (even more impractical in current American politics than getting a President elected from a leftist third party).
Let's put our energy into something that's feasible.
A reader of the New York Times Magazinereacts to their profile of Republican Senator Rick Santorum:
Since when did faith become a concept that only the religious may claim? I, too, have faith: faith in family and friendship, faith in community and faith in a future (though probably not in my lifetime, not if Santorum's narrow definition of faith prevails) where love triumphs over intolerance and people are free to love their same-sex partners without fear of retribution from absolutist politicians.
You know what I think of when I look at the collective state of our elected and appointed government officials these days, dominated as they are by evangelicals, neo-con ideologues and right-wing dogmatists? I think of the scene from Aliens, where Sigourney Weaver, having been rescued from floating through deep space for decades in a state of high-tech hibernation, is grilled by the top brass of The Company as she doggedly tries to make them understand that there's a serious threat to humanity out there. "Excuse me, ma'am," she says to one particularly dense corporate bureaucrat, "did IQs fall sharply while I was away?"
In America's hot stove leagues, battles are constantly waged over whether the baseball stars of today are better or worse (or even in any way comparable) to the legendary superstars of the past, and I suppose we can have the same arguments about comparing politicians from different eras, but it certainly does appear to me that the current crop of politicos is particulary blinkered, ignorant, narrow-minded and, not to point too fine a point on it, pretty damn stupid to boot.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.