Saturday, January 13, 2007

They're doing it Frosty's way

So there's this guy, see, and he believes -- get this -- that the Earth is only 14,000 years old, OK? And then this guy, whose name, believe it or not, is "Frosty Hardison", complains to his kid's school board that they've been showing Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth to the students, right? And he doesn't like that because the film doesn't say what the Bible says, which means that the information in it is "cockeyed". So, he e-mails the board and complains about this, just like he complained about their not teaching creationism and about their sex education program, and the school board just completely caves in, because the board members -- wait for it -- want to be sure that their kids are not being "politically indoctrinated."

Let's hear it for the courageous educators of the Federal Way school board, near Seattle, who really understand the value of buckling under to crackpot ideas.

[via A Rational Being]

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/13/2007 10:48:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) H.L. Mencken - part 1

H.L. Mencken
449) We are, in fact, a nation of evangelists; every third American devotes himself to improving and lifting up his fellow citizens, usually by force; the messianic delusion is our national disease.
H.L. Mencken
Prejudices: First Series (1919)
quoted in part by
Hunter S. Thompson in
Better Than Sex (1994)

450) The public [...] demands certainties. [...] But there are no certainties.
H.L. Mencken
Prejudices, First Series (1919) [B16]

451) Time is a great legalizer, even in the field of morals.
H.L. Mencken
A Book of Prefaces (1917) [B16]

452) The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable.
H.L. Mencken
Prejudices, First Series (1919) [B16]

453) Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed.
H.L. Mencken
Prejudices, Third Series (1922) [B16]

454) Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
H.L. Mencken
Prejudices, Third Series (1922) [B16]

455) No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.
H.L. Mencken
"Notes on journalism"
Chicago Tribune (9/19/26) [B16]
[Note: Often paraphrased as "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."]
456) The booboisie.
H.L. Mencken
phrase [B16]


[B16] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 16th edition (1993)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 738 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/13/2007 08:56:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Traveling truth

There wouldn't be the need for devices like this if the airlines hadn't reduced the space between rows of seats to such a degree that it's practically impossible for most people to be comfortable on most flights. It's just one of the many things that's made flying so unpleasant.

When I watch old movies, and see the admirable directness and honesty of the old British class system for rail travel, I wish that someone would force our current airlines to do the same thing, under the rubric of Truth in Advertising. Instead of First Class, Business Class and Economy, we'd have a clear and straight-forward First Class, Second Class and Third Class -- so we'd understand from the start that we're travelling steerage, and wouldn't expect to be treated like human beings.

[Link fixed]

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/13/2007 08:35:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Is this a trend?

An editorial from
When Danny Robert Villegas staged a robbery at Kennedy Space Center Federal Credit Union in South Daytona Beach on Monday, he wasn't just creating another weird-crime headline.

Villegas allegedly was out of dough and wanted to be arrested so he could go back to the federal pen, having served time in Phoenix for a previous robbery and finding the digs to his liking.

He may be on to a trend that financial planners often don't mention.

An article in the New York Times Jan. 7 suggested that using prison as a stop-gap measure during hard times might become more common.

The Times relates the story of Timothy J. Bowers, who held up a teller in Ohio last May, handed the $80 dollars immediately over to a security guard and waited peaceably for arrest.

Bowers, 62, had recently lost his job and saw prison time as the solution to food, shelter and health care needs until he turns 66 and qualifies for Social Security, the article reports.

There's no excuse for crime, even staged crimes, and we'd find these antics merely deplorable if they didn't speak to a genuine angst afloat in the land:

Worry about financial security and saving for retirement as taxes and insurance costs rise, pensions disappear and layoffs are announced at major corporations.

The Big House still doesn't have much appeal as a retirement village of last resort -- but we live in strange times.
Economic issues are going to be big in the 2008 election, you can see it from little indicators like this -- maybe even bigger than Iraq. Whoever our candidate is, he or she has got to put forward an economic program that speaks to people's financial insecurity and the tremendous amount of risk that's been transferred from corporations to individuals. As of the moment, the only candidate who's made this the underlying theme of his campaign is Edwards, but I don't doubt that others will begin to understand the necessity of being out front on the economy. Whether their programs will be as populist as Edwards' is remains to be seen, but they'd better be if they plan on being elected; I think it's essential to winning in 2008.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/13/2007 07:04:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Why they're so bad at making war

A few years ago, I posted an entry which looked at Norman Dixon's study of military incompetence. Since it's only fair that the same standards should apply to civilian leaders in wartime, especially when they tend to override the judgments of those in the military about making war, let me reiterate some of the hallmarks of incompetence in warmaking:
  • A fundamental conservatism and clinging to outworn tradition, an inability to profit from past experiences (owing in part to a refusal to admit past mistakes).

  • A tendency to reject or ignore information which is unpalalable or which conflicts with preconceptions.

  • A tendency to underestimate the enemy and overestimate the capabilities of one's side.

  • An obstinate persistence in a given task despite strong contrary evidence.

  • A belief in brute force rather than the clever ruse.

  • An undue readiness to find scapegoats for military set-backs.

  • A suppression or distortion of news from the front, usually rationalized as necessary for morale or security.

  • A belief in mystical forces -- fate, bad luck. etc.

There are others, but these are the ones that I think are most relevant to our current situation.

Incompetence in governance is unfortunate and potentially dangerous at any time, but during wartime such negligence is criminal, and gets people killed.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/13/2007 03:15:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Photography: Ferry

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs / Greek Church / Santa Fe Mailboxes / Rocking Horse / Sunset Sandpiper / Hands / Bird of Paradise / Feeding the Pelican / Sunset Silhouette / Staircase / Mallards / Masts / Greek Column / Paddlewheel / Olive Trees / Madison Square Park in the Snow / Pagoda

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/12/2007 12:21:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Politics, in prose

438) UNDERSHAFT [of his son]: He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.
[George] Bernard Shaw
Major Barbara (play, 1907)

439) He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
[George] Bernard Shaw
Man and Superman (play, 1903)

440) Populist reformers [of the 1890s] felt that business domination of the political process - through massive campaign contributions to friendly officeholders and persistently effective lobbying in the national Congress and the state legislatures - had proceeded to the point that the practice had begun to undermine the democratic idea itself.
Lawrence Goodwyn
"Populism" in
The Reader's Companion to American History (1991)
Eric Foner & John A Garraty (eds.)

441) [Franklin D.] Roosevelt seized on liberal, until then a word of minor importance in the American political vocabulary, to describe his New Deal, his attempt to temper economic individualism with social democratic safeguards.
Fred Siegel
"Liberalism" in
The Reader's Companion to American History (1991)
Eric Foner & John A Garraty (eds.)

442) When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Hunter S. Thompson
personal motto (c. 1980)

443) In a campaign, you need help from your friends; in Washington you need it from your enemies.
Hunter S. Thompson
Better Than Sex (1994)

444) Elections are about fucking your enemies. Winning is about fucking your friends.
James Carville
advisor to Bill Clinton's
1992 Presidential campaign,
quoted by Hunter S. Thompson in
Better Than Sex (1994)

445) Let's make the bastard deny it.
Lyndon Baines Johnson
after a scurrilous accusation
about a political opponent (c. 1948)
quoted by Hunter S. Thompson in
Better Than Sex (1994)

446) Politics is the art of controlling your environment.
Hunter S. Thompson
Better Than Sex (1994)

447) You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.
Mario Cuomo
in The New Republic magazine (4/8/85) [CQ]

448) Maybe a nation that consumes as much booze and dope as we do and has our kind of divorce statistics should pipe down about "character issues."
P.J. O'Rourke
Parliament of Whores (1991) [CQ]


[CQ] - The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 739 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/12/2007 12:15:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Haig and Bush

A friend pointed me to this post on AMERICAblog, including a clip from the wonderful Blackadder series, which, for some reason, was thought to be reminiscent of Bush's new plan for Iraq:
GENERAL: Now, Field Marshal [Haig] has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field.

CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: Ah, would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy, sir?

CAPTAIN DARLING: How could you possibly know that Blackadder, it's classified information?

CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.

GENERAL: Ex... ex... ex... actly! And that is what is so brilliant about it! It will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard. Doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time!

There is, however, one small problem.

CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: That everyone always gets slaughtered in the first ten seconds?

GENERAL: That's right. And Field Marshal [Haig] is worried that this may be depressing the men a tad. So, he's looking to find a way to cheer them up.

CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: Well, his resignation and suicide would seem the obvious.

(In our current circumstance I'm not bloodthirsty enough to demand the latter, but the former sure would be nifty.)

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig was the stolid, unimaginative, plodding Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, who was responsible, along with a lot of other generals, for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of his own men by sending them "over the top" of the trenches to walk in a line at a slow pace directly into German machine gun fire coming from the high ground on the other side of the Western Front.

It happens that I'm in the middle of doing some reading about World War I -- I just finished Tolkien and the Great War and I'm in the middle of Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory. (I've got the one-volume Hew Strachan history of the war on order -- I read the John Keegan some years ago, along with Stokesbury's Short History, Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August and a couple of others.) So the reference to Haig seems doubly appropriate to me.

Here's what Fussell writes about General Haig -- it's interesting to compare and contrast with Bush:

One doesn't want to be too hard on Haig, who doubtless did all he could and who has been well calumniated already. But it must be said that it now appears that one thing the war was testing was the usefulness of the earnest Scottish character in a situation demanding the military equivalent of wit and invention. Haig had none. He was stubborn, self-righteous, inflexible, intolerant -- especially of the French -- and quite humorless. And he was provincial: at his French headquarters he insisted on attending a Church of Scotland service every Sunday. Bullheaded as he was, he was the perfect commander for an enterprise committed to endless abortive assaulting. Indeed, one powerful legacy of Haig's performance is the conviction among the imaginative and intelligent today [Fussell was writing in the mid-70's] of the unredeemable defectiveness of all civil and military leaders. Haig could be said to have established the paradigm. His want of imagination and innocence of artistic culture have seemed to provide a model for Great Men ever since.
Paul Fussell
The Great War and Modern Memory (1975)

John Keegan says of Haig:

Haig, in whose public manner and private diaries no concern for human suffering was or is discernible, compensated for his aloofness with nothing whatsoever of the common touch. He seemed to move through the horrors of the First World War as if guided by some inner voice, speaking of a higher purpose and a personal destiny. That, we now know, was not just appearance. Haig was a devotee of both spiritualist practices and fundamentalist religion. As a young officer, he had taken to attending seances, where a medium put him in touch with Napoleon; as Commander-in-Chief he fell under the influence of a Presbyterian chaplain whose sermons confirmed him in his belief that he was in direct communication with God and had a major part to play in a divine plan for the world. His own simple religion, he was convinced, was shared by his soldiers, who were inspired thereby to bear the dangers and sufferings which were their part of the war he was directing.
John Keegan
The First World War (1998)

Finally, in his study On The Psychology of Military Incompetence, Norman F. Dixon devotes the large part of a chapter to examining Haig's character. He says, in part:

For a start he was conservative, conventional, and, in his attitude toward the French, ethnocentric. His diary and dispatches suggest that he was unemotional and totally anti-intraceptive (i.e. not one to reflect upon his own motives). He was manifestly lacking in compassion toward his fellow men. He was a confirmed believer in the direction of events by supernatural powers (according to research a common correlate of authoritarianism), and reserved almost to the point of being totally inarticulate.

Haig also betrayed the triad of traits which, according to contemporary [1976] research, defines the obsessive character and is correlated with authoritarianism. He was obstinate, orderly and mean.


It will be recalled that according to Rokeach people differ along a continuum of open-mindedness. At one end are those who are open to fresh ideas, and at the other end those who find it hard to accept and act upon information which does not accord with their systems of belief. Haig, like many authoritarians, seemed to have belonged to the latter category. Certainly his behaviour before and during [the] Third [Battle of] Ypres appeared to reflect the workings of a mind that was impervious to contrary information. Nor did he make up for his 'closed' mind by having a fertile imagination; for about Haig's lack of this faculty there has been almost complete unanimity of agreement. Lloyd George had no illusions on this score when he wrote: 'I never met anyone in a high position who seemed to me so utterly devoid of imagination.' Wavell described Haig as having 'a one-track mind'; and even Haig's chaplain, Duncan, whose adulation of his chief bordered on the sycophantic, was forced to admit that there may have been grounds for supposing Haig to have been unimaginative. [...]


Now, whether or not the Third Battle of Ypres, which was described by A.J.P. Taylor as 'the blindest slaughter of a blind war' and which cost the British over 300,000 casualties for 'trivial gains', exemplifies incompetence is perhaps debatable. People are still divided on this issue.

What is certain is that Haig's conceiving of this battle, his conduct of the fights,and his apparent inability to let go are consistent with the personality of the man and not attributable, as some would have it, to stupidity.
Norman F. Dixon
On The Psychology of Military Incompetence (1976)

There you have it, Haig and Bush.

Although there are surely significant differences, I think there's quite a bit of overlap between Haig's character and Bush's, and Cheney's as well, which is to be expected considering that they share the same authoritarian outlook.

Haig, at least, knew better than to declare victory before anything had actually been been accomplished. Ultimately, the Allies won World War I not because of Haig, or any other Allied general, but because Germany couldn't sustain the fight, and the United States entered the war. For Bush in Iraq, there is no deus ex machina, no great power to come into the fray and change the balance, and insurgents, by definition, live off the land and don't have supply lines or dissent back home to worry about (since they are the dissent). There's really no hope for George Bush's War, no matter how fervently the dead-enders and true believers wish for it, and certainly no small-scale escalation is going to make a significant difference.

[Thanks to Polly via Daily Kos]

Addenda: Krugman:

I began writing about the Bush administration’s infallibility complex, the president’s Captain Queeg-like inability to own up to mistakes, almost a year before the invasion of Iraq. When you put a man like that in a position of power — the kind of position where he can punish people who tell him what he doesn’t want to hear, and base policy decisions on the advice of people who play to his vanity — it’s a recipe for disaster.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/11/2007 09:47:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The way they work

There have been a number of good posts lately about the deficiencies of the wingnut blogosphere: Glenn Greenwald, Steve Benen, Eric Boehlart, mcjoan, Greg Sargent, Richard Blair, David Neiwart and many others, but I'd like to feature this observation from Publius on Legal Fiction:
The interesting question here is whether there is a more structural explanation for why these people are always — and systemically — wrong. I mean, it’s fun to blame everything on their being idiots. But there’s a more interesting — and more accurate — explanation here.

In my opinion, their wrongness is a function of their ideological approach to the world. And I mean that in a philosophical sense. Like other nationalists throughout history, they interpret the world through the lens of their own idees fixe. Ideologues like them approach the world not as empiricists but as advocates. They don’t survey the phenomena around them and derive fact-based conclusions. They survey the external world for data points that reaffirm their pre-existing views.

Pajamas Media doesn’t have a monopoly on this problem. Indeed, it’s unclear whether our brains are even capable of perceiving things outside of an ideological lens of some sort. But not all lenses are created equal. And the thing that comes through in reading the Pajamas crowd is an extreme Manichean nationalism coupled with a persecution complex. As nationalists, the Malkin crowd embraces America with an almost-infantile devotion (my daddy can do no wrong). The world around them is also very easily divided into good and evil, American or not American, Muslim or not Muslim, and so on. On top of all this (and intertwined with it) is the persecution complex that is so central to the conservative evangelical political movement. To the Pajamas nationalists, the paranoia manifests itself as media bias — everywhere, at all times — in the same way that James Dobson sees a constant, unending assault on Christianity.

There’s a lot of interesting psychology here.

Indeed, I've said all along that once we get out of this particular patch of history, and the various wingnut factions are pushed back into the obscurity of the fringe world where they came from, there are going to be some fascinating books out looking at their rather bizarre psychology. I'm hopeful that I'll have the intestinal fortitude necessary to read them some time before I leave this mortal coil.

I often come back to the idea of my friend Roger Keeling that liberalism is the result of the scientific method turned to the social and political world, guided by the precepts of humanism. In this formulation empiricism is more important than ideology, and the liberal or progressive advocate must act as the scientific advocate does and back up his or her advocacy with results. If the facts don't support the case, then even the fiercest advocate has an obligation to let go of their operational theory and find something else that works. This, clearly, is a modus operandi that the wingers just cannot accept, and do not follow.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/11/2007 04:02:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Edward O. Wilson

434) Except in pockets of ignorance and malice, there is no longer an ideological war between conservationists and developers. Both share the perception that health and prosperity decline in a deteriorating environment.
Edward O. Wilson
The Diversity of Life (1992)

435) To clone [...] a mammoth or a dodo or any other extinct organism [from fragments of DNA recovered from museum specimens and fossils] would be, as the molecular biologist Russell Higuchi recently said, like taking a large encyclopedia in an unknown language previously ripped into shreds and trying to reassemble it without the use of your hands.
Edward O. Wilson
The Diversity of Life (1992)

436) Every country has three forms of wealth: material, cultural, and biological. The first two we understand well because they are the substance of our everyday lives. The essence of the biodiversity problem is that biological wealth is taken much less seriously. This is a major strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes. Diversity is a potential source for immense untapped material wealth in the form of food, medicine, and amenities. The fauna and flora are also a part of a country's heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution centered on that time and place and hence as much a reason for national concern as the particularities of language and culture.
Edward O. Wilson
The Diversity of Life (1992)

437) The favored living place of most people is a prominence near water from which parkland can be viewed. On such heights are found the abodes of the powerful and rich, tombs of the great, temples, parliaments, and monuments commemorating tribal glory. The location is today an aesthetic choice and, by the implied freedom to settle there, a symbol of status. In ancient, more practical times the topography provided a place to retreat and a sweeping prospect from which to spot the distant approach of storms and enemy forces. Every species selects a habitat in which its members gain a favorable mix of security and food. For most of deep history, human beings lived in tropical and subtropical savanna in East Africa, open country sprinkled with streams and lakes, trees and copses. In similar topography modern people choose their residences and design their parks and gardens, if given a free choice. They simulate neither dense jungle, toward which gibbons are drawn, nor dry grasslands, preferred by hamadryas baboons. In their gardens they plant tress that resemble the acacias, sterculias, and other native trees of the African savannas. The ideal tree crown sought is consistently wider than tall, with spreading lowermost branches close enough to the ground to touch and climb, clothed with compound or needle-shaped leaves.

Given the means and sufficient leisure, a large portion of the populace backpacks, hunts, fishes, birdwatches, and gardens. In the United States and Canada more people visit zoos and aquariums than attend all professional athletic events combined. They crowd the national parks to view natural landscapes, looking from the tops of prominences out across rugged terrain for a glimpse of tumbling water and animals living free. They travel long distances to stroll along the seashore, for reasons they can't put into words.

These are examples of what I have called biophilia, the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life. To biophilia can be added the idea of wilderness, all the land and communities of plants and animals still unsullied by human occupation. In wilderness people travel in search of new life and wonder, and from wilderness they return to parts of the earth that have been humanized and made physically secure. Wilderness settles peace on the soul because it needs no help; it is beyond human contrivance. Wilderness is a metaphor of unlimited opportunity, rising from the tribal memory of a time when humanity spread across the world, valley to valley, island to island, godstruck, firm in the belief that virgin land went on forever past the horizon.
Edward O. Wilson
The Diversity of Life (1992)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 740 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/11/2007 03:36:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


He's got that look again

I'm out here all alone, you know
Bush gave a speech tonight, I understand. I didn't watch (can't stand to watch him, and I've got my blood pressure to think of) but if this shot is any indication, he had that deer in the headlights look again. Perhaps he's a bit worried that he's bucking Poppy's rescue (the Iraq Study Group recommendations) and doing it all by himself (with Big Dick's help, of course). That, of course, goes totally against his history of fucking up and letting his Dad bail him out, and he must feel a little leery about standing out there all by himself with his ass exposed -- even with his surrogate father behind him.

It's a tough time in the Bush family right about now. Little Georgie's full of anxiety, Jeb's full of regret for what might have been, and Herbert Waalker's gone all weepy. Of course, they're not half as anxious, regretful and weepy as the rest of us are, but the cure for that's coming around in 22 months or so.

Addendum: I've had another thought which might explain Bush's doleful expression in the photos I've seen of his escalation speech: somebody told him to look thoughtful about the awesome responsibility he carries and pained by the necessity of the decision he was required to make, and the result was that look.

Which brings to mind another lesson we should learn from this experience. We've already learned that weak, vapid, intellectually vacant and psychologically flawed scions of rich and powerful political families don't make good presidents (Gee, whatever made us think he would? -- Oh that's right, we didn't), but we should also take this to heart: we cannot afford to have a president who cannot act.

By "act", I don't mean taking action (although Bush has problems with that as well), I mean playing a part, having the ability to project a feeling or emotion, to convince others that you're feeling or thinking something that you're not. A President, indeed any serious politician, needs to be able to do that, and too many do not. I'd say that the ability to perform probably comes close to the essence of what it takes to be a successful politician. It's certainly an absolute necessity for anyone involved in any kind of diplomacy or negotiation, and that's at the core of what politics is about.

We cannot afford to have as our leader a man who cannot successfully project even the simplest emotional state, like "I take this seriously" or "I feel great responsibilty for these things I'm saying to you."

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/11/2007 03:05:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

(3089/898) Live fast, die young

429) A billion [dollars] here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
Everett Dirksen (attributed)
(c. 1965) [B16]
[Note: Extensive searches of Senator Dirksen's writing, notes, speeches, press conference transcripts and recordings as well as newspaper and magazine articles about him have failed to turn up this expression -- although he did say A billion for this, a billion for that, a billion for something else. Dirksen himself reportedly denied having said it, attributing it to a journalistic misquotation that he allowed to stand. Ralph Keyes traces the expression back to the Depression, and says the saying was popular after World War II. [QV]]
I'll tip my hat to the new Constitution
Take a bow for the new Revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again.
Pete Townshend
"Won't Get Fooled Again" (song) from
The Who: Who's Next (record album, 1972)

[The] things they do look awful cold
Hope I die before I get old.
Pete Townshend
"My Generation" (song) from
The Who: My Generation (record album, 1965)

432) Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.
Saying (c. 1965)

433) [Kingsman drummer Lynn] Easton's playing [on "Louie Louie"] is a great example of why rock'n'roll, which shares so many roots with jazz, is not jazz in the most extreme sense. In jazz improvisation is of the essence, but the trick is to cause what you're making up to sound fated and inevitable. In rock'n'roll, the idea is to make what is actually totally predictable sound like a surprise. In Easton's case, this meant playing as if he had no idea what beat might be coming up in the next bar or, if he did know, lacked any concrete opinion as to exactly which of his several drums and cymbals he ought to smack when he got there.
Dave Marsh
Louie Louie (1993)


[B16] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 16th edition (1993)
[QV] - Quote Verifier (2006), Ralph Keyes

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 742 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/09/2007 04:45:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


I'm hopeful that I'll never have to return to this subject again, ever

"I am running for president. I’m going to be Joe Biden,
and I’m going to try to be the best Biden I can be.

There's a natural tension between how a government is and how it's supposed to be, and a similar tension between those who understand the realpolitik of how it works and those who want it to operate as it was meant to. At any time it's useful to have on your side those who understand the actual workings of government, because it's necessary to understand where the levers are and how they work in order to get anything done, including reforming the system back to what it was intended to be.

The danger, though, is that those people can become so enmeshed in the cogs and wheels of the system, so mired in the workings of the government as it is, that they lose all perspective (if, indeed, they ever had any) about what it was supposed to be in the first place, how it was supposed to work, and who it was intended to serve.

That's Joe Biden. He's on our side, more or less, but he doesn't know what our side stands for. He's so deeply inside the machine, that he no longer really has anything approaching a clue about what the machine was designed for. Oh, he can make it shimmy and shake, he knows what buttons to push and levers to pull, but he's got no idea what the dance is.

Fortunately, there is nobody in the United States, possibly in the entire world, outside of Joe Biden and perhaps his immediate family, who thinks that Joe Biden has even the remotest chance of becoming President -- and I have my doubt about whether Biden himself really thinks he does either. At this point, I think it's become pretty rote to him -- running for President is just something that a Senator with his time served does. It's as if he looks at his agenda for the day, and there it is: "Today - Run for President", so he checks it off and dutifully runs.

It's sad, in a way, but on the other hand it might be worthwhile having him around for a while, as a foil for those who actually understand what the purpose of our government is, and what it must be returned to doing. Perhaps his ultimate purpose as a candidate is to make everyone else in the race look much, much better.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/09/2007 04:33:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, January 07, 2007

(3089/898) Leadership, wealth and power

Don't follow leaders
Watch the parking meters.
Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman)
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" (song) from
Bringing It All Back Home (record album, 1965)

422) You gotta serve somebody.
Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman)
"Gotta Serve Somebody" (song) from
Slow Train Coming (record album, 1979)

423) Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
Lord Acton
letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (4/2/1887)
published in
The Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton (1904) [CQ]
[Note: See #2017 Hitz.]
424) To be a leader of men one must turn one's back on men.
Havelock Ellis
quoted by Joris Karl Huysman in
Against the Grain (1884) [CQ]

425) The real leader has no need to lead — he is content to point the way.
Henry Miller
The Wisdom of the Heart (1947) [CQ]

426) I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum.
Bishop Desmond Tutu
quoted in the
Christian Science Monitor (11/20/84) [CQ]

427) May you live in interesting times.
Aphorism (c. 1970)
[supposedly an ancient Chinese curse]

428) Wealth creates power, and power destroys wealth.
Kenneth Boulding
summary of world history
quoted by Robert Wright in
Three Scientists and Their Gods (1988)


[CQ] - The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 744 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/07/2007 08:44:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
Here I am...
site feed
2008 rules of thumb
Progressive populism!
Economic insecurity is key
Restore the balance
Cast the candidate
Persona is important
Iraq, not "national security"
Prefer governors over senators
recent posts
bush countdown
oblique strategies
recent comments
some links
storm watch
(click for larger image,
refresh page to update)

a progressive slogan
Fairness, progress and prosperity, because we're all in this together.

"I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking."
(Alex Gregory - The New Yorker)
new york city
another progressive slogan
The greatest good for the greatest number, with dignity for all.
reference & fact check
write me
evolution v. creationism
humanism, skepticism
& progressive religiosity
more links
election prediction
Democrats 230 (+27) - Republicans 205

Democrats 233 (+30) - Republicans 201 - TBD 1 [FL-13]

Democrats 50 (+5) - Republicans 50

Democrats 51 (+6) - Republicans 49

netroots candidates
awards and nominations
Never a bridesmaid...

...and never a bride, either!!

what I've been reading
Martin van Creveld - The Transformation of War

Jay Feldman - When the Mississippi Ran Backwards

Martin van Creveld - The Rise and Decline of the State

Alfred W. Crosby - America's Forgotten Pandemic (1989)
bush & company are...
class warriors
con artists
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
not candid
not "reality-based"
not trustworthy
out of control
without integrity

Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
recently seen
Island in the Sky (1952)

Robot Chicken

The Family Guy

House M.D. (2004-7)
i've got a little list...
Elliott Abrams
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
David Addington
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
John Ashcroft
Bob Bennett
William Bennett
Joe Biden
John Bolton
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Pat Buchanan
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Saxby Chambliss
Bruce Chapman (DI)
Dick Cheney
Lynne Cheney
Richard Cohen
The Coors Family
Ann Coulter
Michael Crichton
Lanny Davis
Tom DeLay
William A. Dembski
James Dobson
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
Dinesh D’Souza
Gregg Easterbrook
Jerry Falwell
Douglas Feith
Arthur Finkelstein
Bill Frist
George Gilder
Newt Gingrich
John Gibson (FNC)
Alberto Gonzalez
Rudolph Giuliani
Sean Hannity
Katherine Harris
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
Christopher Hitchens
David Horowitz
Don Imus
James F. Inhofe
Jesse Jackson
Philip E. Johnson
Daryn Kagan
Joe Klein
Phil Kline
Ron Klink
William Kristol
Ken Lay
Joe Lieberman
Rush Limbaugh
Trent Lott
Frank Luntz

"American Fundamentalists"
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)

Chris Matthews
Mitch McConnell
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Zell Miller
Tom Monaghan
Sun Myung Moon
Roy Moore
Dick Morris
Rupert Murdoch
Ralph Nader
John Negroponte
Grover Norquist
Robert Novak
Ted Olson
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Bill O'Reilly
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Perle
Ramesh Ponnuru
Ralph Reed
Pat Robertson
Karl Rove
Tim Russert
Rick Santorum
Richard Mellon Scaife
Antonin Scalia
Joe Scarborough
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
Bill Schneider
Al Sharpton
Ron Silver
John Solomon (WaPo)
Margaret Spellings
Kenneth Starr
Randall Terry
Clarence Thomas
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Donald Trump
Richard Viguere
Donald Wildmon
Paul Wolfowitz
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
John Yoo
All the fine sites I've
guest-blogged for:

Be sure to visit them all!!
recent listening
Smash Mouth - Summer Girl

Poulenc - Piano Music

Pop Ambient 2007
John Adams
Laurie Anderson
Aphex Twin
Isaac Asimov
Fred Astaire
J.G. Ballard
The Beatles
Busby Berkeley
John Cage
Raymond Chandler
Arthur C. Clarke
Elvis Costello
Richard Dawkins
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Kevin Drum
Brian Eno
Firesign Theatre
Eliot Gelwan
William Gibson
Philip Glass
David Gordon
Stephen Jay Gould
Dashiell Hammett
"The Harder They Come"
Robert Heinlein
Joseph Heller
Frank Herbert
Douglas Hofstadter
Bill James
Gene Kelly
Stanley Kubrick
Jefferson Airplane
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
John McPhee
Harry Partch
Michael C. Penta
Monty Python
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Prisoner"
"The Red Shoes"
Steve Reich
Terry Riley
Oliver Sacks
Erik Satie
"Singin' in the Rain"
Stephen Sondheim
The Specials
Morton Subotnick
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Tangerine Dream
Hunter S. Thompson
J.R.R. Tolkien
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
Kurt Vonnegut
08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003
09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003
09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003
09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003
10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003
10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003
10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003
11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003
11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003
11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003
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12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003
01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004
01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004
02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004
02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004
02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004
02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004
03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004
03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004
03/21/2004 - 03/28/2004
03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004
04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004
04/11/2004 - 04/18/2004
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04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004
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05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004
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06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004
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07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004
07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004
07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004
08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004
08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004
08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004
08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004
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09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004
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09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004
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10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004
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11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004
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12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004
12/19/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005
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01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005
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01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005
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02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005
02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005
03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005
03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005
03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005
03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005
04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005
04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005
04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005
04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005
05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005
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05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005
05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005
06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005
06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005
06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005
06/26/2005 - 07/03/2005
07/10/2005 - 07/17/2005
07/17/2005 - 07/24/2005
07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005
07/31/2005 - 08/07/2005
08/07/2005 - 08/14/2005
08/14/2005 - 08/21/2005
08/21/2005 - 08/28/2005
08/28/2005 - 09/04/2005
09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005
09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005
09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005
09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005
10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005
10/09/2005 - 10/16/2005
10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005
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10/30/2005 - 11/06/2005
11/06/2005 - 11/13/2005
11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005
11/20/2005 - 11/27/2005
11/27/2005 - 12/04/2005
12/04/2005 - 12/11/2005
12/11/2005 - 12/18/2005
12/18/2005 - 12/25/2005
12/25/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 01/08/2006
01/08/2006 - 01/15/2006
01/15/2006 - 01/22/2006
01/22/2006 - 01/29/2006
01/29/2006 - 02/05/2006
02/05/2006 - 02/12/2006
02/12/2006 - 02/19/2006
02/19/2006 - 02/26/2006
02/26/2006 - 03/05/2006
03/05/2006 - 03/12/2006
03/26/2006 - 04/02/2006
04/02/2006 - 04/09/2006
04/09/2006 - 04/16/2006
04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006
04/23/2006 - 04/30/2006
04/30/2006 - 05/07/2006
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05/28/2006 - 06/04/2006
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09/03/2006 - 09/10/2006
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09/17/2006 - 09/24/2006
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10/01/2006 - 10/08/2006
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10/15/2006 - 10/22/2006
10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006
11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006
11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006
11/19/2006 - 11/26/2006
11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
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03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
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03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
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04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007
06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007
06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007
06/17/2007 - 06/24/2007
06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007
11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
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03/16/2008 - 03/23/2008
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03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008

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Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
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the proud unfutz guarantee
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.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


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