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Great stuff:

For years mainstream conservatives have denounced people who hold different policy views on the war, anti-terrorism and treatment of detainees as “anti-American” and worse, and not because they actually wished for Bush’s failure but because they opposed government policy, questioned the honesty of its leaders and condemned its illegal and immoral acts. In other words, these critics dissented and tried to hold the government accountable, and for the most part the people now trying to wrap themselves in the mantle of patriotic dissent ridiculed and denounced them for claiming that their dissent was patriotic. In much the same way, loyalists who defended one executive usurpation after another have started to transform almost overnight into vigilant watchdogs worried about an overreaching President. The principles involved are valid ones–checking abuses of power, holding government accountable, and refusing to endorse policies that you know will probably only make things worse. The problem is that many of the people now “rediscovering” them have a lot of nerve to lecture anyone else about them after all the things they have justified and enabled.

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Amazing:

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Andrew Sullivan posted this earlier, but it’s worth reposting here.  What a great list and monumental timewaster!  Enjoy.

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I had the distinct pleasure of being at the gym at the same time as Rush Limbaugh’s keynote address at CPAC the other day.  I eagerly switched my mp3 player to FM mode so that I could listen to his speech.  I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh, but I do respect him as a very intelligent person and an excellent communicator.  He was recently crowned the de facto leader by the media, which was quickly adopted as a talking point for the Obama Administration.  Unfortunately for Rush, his intelligence is outmatched by his own arrogance, and he seized the title in order to secure the keynote at CPAC.  The GOP acquiesced to this development, and we now have a situation where one of the two major American parties is led by a dogmatic daytime radio entertainer.  Whatever the role the Democrats played in this, it can only help Obama.

Listening to the speech, this passage struck me as odd:

Let me tell you who we conservatives are:  We love people.  When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims. We don’t see people we want to exploit. What we see — what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not see that person with contempt. We don’t think that person doesn’t have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government.

We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life.  Liberty, Freedom.  And the pursuit of happiness. Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault.

We don’t want to tell anybody how to live. That’s up to you. If you want to make the best of yourself, feel free. If you want to ruin your life, we’ll try to stop it — and make — but it’s a waste. We look over the country as it is today, we see so much waste, human potential that’s been destroyed by 50 years of a welfare state. By a failed war on poverty.

We love the people of this country. And we want this to be the greatest country it can be, but we do understand, as people created and endowed by our creator, we’re all individuals. We resist the effort to group us. We resist the effort to make us feel that we’re all the same, that we’re no different than anybody else. We’re all different. There are no two things or people in this world who are created in a way that they end up with equal outcomes. That’s up to them.

Rob Dreher had a great post about this earlier, noting how unconservative this notion of human nature is.  From Rush’s perspective, all human beings are fully capable and productive, and the only thing holding them back are the machinations of the modern American socialist state.  Every person, left to their own devices, would be able to maximize their wealth and happiness.  If only the evil, taxing government wouldn’t get in the way.

One of the greatest things about the United States is its respect and promotion of the individual.  But Rush and the rump of the GOP has taken this concept to an almost religious level.  The speech exposed one of the fundamental flaws that exist in the way many conservatives and libertarians perceive the world.  This vision of otherwise perfect individual humans (could God create anything less?) foiled by a wily and byzantine government just does not reflect reality.  The world is and will always be a lot messier and interconnected than Rush wants to accept.

People are not created equal.  Some people are afforded vastly more opportunities in life than others.  There are exceptional people who are able to succeed on merit alone (Rush included), but this is the exception, not the rule.  This country affords people almost limitless opportunities to do almost anything they want, but generation after generation, the vast majority of people  do pretty much what their parents did.

There is nothing fair about the universe we live in.  Sometimes people work hard all their lives, to the best of their ability, and tragedy still strikes.  Other people are born into the lap of luxury, and are able to live a carefree life utterly unconnected to their actual merits as a human.

Life can be messy and cruel.  This is why societies have developed governments that carve out a semblance of order, justice, and fairness in what is otherwise a chaotic world.  This is why the Western world developed (almost) full political equality for individuals.  We are all equal under the eyes of the law, even if in reality we are anything but.  There is nothing wrong with this.  But if you believe that humans are perfect on their own and rail against such systems, then you risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Government reform is certainly needed in these times, but I fear that people who wish to reduce or eliminate it are following dogma, not reality.  Our systems, like humans, are fundamentally flawed, but they serve an important purpose.

On a related note, I found a lecture by David Simon (the creator of The Wire) yesterday.  His views are diametrically opposite to those of Rush.  He is an excellent example of what happens when an individual loses the inspiration of idealism and drowns in nihilistic cynicism.  That said, I find his view of reality to be much more convincing than Rush’s, even if it is so much more depressing.  Food for thought (and I’ll take this opportunity to plug The Wire.  It really is the best TV show ever made!  Omar comin’)

Second and third part here and here.

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There is an email that’s been bouncing around the net for a few days.  It’s been linked to a number of minor blogs here and here and here and here and here and here, and it came to my attention when a friend of mine posted it on his facebook profile.  The email is titled “I Want a Divorce!”

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists, and Obama supporters..

We have stuck together since the late 1950’s, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce.  I know, we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but, sadly, this relationship has run its course.  Our two ideological sides of America cannot, and will not ever agree on what is right, so let’s just end it on friendly terms.  We can smile, chalk it up to irreconcilable differences, and go our own way.

Now, ordinarily partisan hackery is not worth engaging.  What struck me about this letter is the complete tone-deafness for the political moment.  Obama won the presidential election by a slight margin, but his current approval ratings (63%) posit broad bipartisan support.  Avowed conservative Pat Robertson expressed being “remarkably pleased” with Obama since the election.  There are certainly malcontents who have been critical of the new administration, particularly with the messy stimulus bill.  But there is little evidence of a partisan culture war simmering beneath the surface.  2008 feels markedly different than 2004.

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion.  That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement.  After that it should be relatively easy!  Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don’t like redistributive taxes so you can keep them.  You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.  Since you hate guns and war, we’ll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA, and the military.  You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore, and Rosie O’Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them) .

We’ll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart, and Wall Street.  You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies, and illegal aliens.  We’ll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO’s, and rednecks.  We’ll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

This is where the letter goes into full-bore hyperpartisan mode.  All of the easy liberal targets are hit: ACLU, Michael Moore, environmentalists, the mainstream media, har har har.  What is striking are the conservative symbols that are celebrated.  Capitalism?  Greedy corporations?  Wall Street?  Do you really want to take them in as your own?  It boggles the mind that an ideological conservative could praise both Wall Street and root against TARP and the stimulus package.  Wall Street’s version of capitalism failed, and we are now forced to bail out their excesses.  You cannot hold up Wall Street executives as heroes and at the same try to punish them by not bailing them out.

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.  You can have the peaceniks, and war protesters.  When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we’ll help provide them security.

Does anyone actually believe this?  Obama was the most hawkish Democratic Presidential candidate since Vietnam.  He just stepped up bombing raids in Pakistan and has ordered a considerable increase in troop levels in Afghanistan.

We’ll keep our Judeo-Christian values..  You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, and Shirley McClain.  You can also have the U.N. But we will no longer be paying the bill.

We’ll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars.  You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

Are the author even paying attention?  Doesn’t anyone remember $4 a gallon gasoline?  It wasn’t that long ago at all, and chances are pretty high that prices will reach those levels again.  In the meantime an overemphasis on SUVs and pickups has caused the de facto bankruptcy of the Big Three.  Does anyone seriously think the U.S. can continue to afford this?

You can give everyone healthcare, if you can find any practicing doctors. We’ll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.  We’ll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem.  I’m sure you’ll be happy to substitute Imagine, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya, or We Are the World.

1 million people declared bankruptcy after being financially ruined after a medical emergency.  In 2004.  Three-quarters of those people had full health insurance.  We can debate about specific expenses medical procedures that may not be worth subsidizing.  But even the most stubborn conservative has to agree that a system that cannot provide any health care (excluding emergency care) to over 47 million uninsured Americans and ruins the lives of millions of people who do have insurance, is badly in need of reform.  Maybe universal health care is unreasonable, and that can be debated on the merits.  But to dismiss any attempts at reform out of hand is laughable and irresponsible.

We’ll practice trickle down economics, and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot.  Since it often so offends you we’ll keep our history, our name, and our flag.

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average below 7,000 for the first time in a long time, the only trickle-down I feel is Reagan’s wet piss streaming down my face from the top of my head.

Would you agree to this?  If so please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots, and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I’ll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Sincerely, John J.  Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S.  Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda

Thanks Jim

From John Wall to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative movement is in sad shape.

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Frontal nudity.  Fountains of blood.  Brain-scraping-bad dialogue.  Few things make me feel as American as a 3-D Horror movie such as My Bloody Valentine, 3-D!  It’s like Snakes on a mothafuckin’ Plane meets The Evil Dead.  This is not a recommendation, it is simply an observation:  this flick is more American than George W. piloting a harrier jet and landing it on the very last terrorist standing between us and global capitalist freedom.

What spells “free speech” more than a movie that makes you sit still, poke fun, and ask NO questions.  NO plot!  NO subtlety!  Tits, ass, and midgets!  I haven’t felt this alive since I discovered Porn of the Dead.

my_bloody_valentine_3d1

pornofthedead

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A recent Wikinews article titled “Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerhoden fights back after invasion of German naked hikers,” broaches one of the most troubling phenomenon of post-war German culture: the FKK nudists. Those who have been to Germany have likely been fortunate enough to avoid any run-ins with German nudist extremists and for the most part the German government does a good job at keeping things “under wraps” (ha ha, snort). However, citizens of this unassuming Swiss canton woke up to find German schlongs and “muschis” marching past their front doors as if the Anschluss had belatedly come to Switzerland. Understandably, the Swiss are fighting back.

A local Swiss government has shown some bare cheek and has taken action, after hordes of German naked hikers rambling across the Swiss alps au naturel, caused indignation amongst locals.

Authorities in Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden have warned that starting from February 9, the government will impose hefty fines of 200 Swiss Francs (£122, €135) on naturists found walking or hiking in the nude without clothes in the picturesque mountains because of a recent influx of visiting German nudists.

The new ordinance is expected to be passed this spring. If it is approved by the local parliament on February 9 it should be effective on April 26. The Swiss canton aims to stop spread of ‘indecent practice’ by minimally-clad German climbers.

It’s one of Germany’s deepest held secrets, but scientific studies have shown that Germans are genetically inclined to prostrate themselves in the nude. Much sociological research has been conducted to discover the origins of this rare cultural practice, but with little results. Nonetheless, it seems that the German and Swiss governments should convene a round of diplomatic negotiations before tensions escalate. As the article states:

German tabloid Bild Zeitung has editorially attacked Swiss intolerance and even suggested nudist alternatives worldwide, after hinting a Swiss tourism boycott. Local authorities of Harz mountain range in central Germany have also announced the openness to any visitor of an “official naked walking route” in nature’s outdoors.

If you are unfamiliar with the Bild Zeitung, it has long been the country’s best-selling paper, having perfectly wedded an unbeatable combination of conservative political view points, sensationalism, and front-page pornographic pictures. It is safe to say that Germany has never been lacking in nudity.

One of the strangest things about the incident is that it took place in a canton that is predominantly of German national origin, allowing German stereotypes to play out against each other. According to the German website nacktwandern.de the benefits of nude hiking are described as follows: “Abandoning unpractical clothes enables a direct contact with the wind, sun and temperature.” Therefore, the fundamental objective of these hikers is practicality. How much more German can you get? Besides, why should you sacrifice achieving the perfect tan just because you chose a mountain vacation instead of a week relaxing on the beach. All I need to do is lace up my hiking boots and take off. The only unfortunate part is that you get backpack tanning lines.

Some Swiss disagreed:

But Markus Dörig, a spokesman for Appenzell Innerrhoden canton has defended the law, explaining that the “public nuisance” was a foreign import. “We have been receiving many complaints. The local people are upset and we in the government share their concern. How would one feel if one was to go walking in nature and suddenly came across a group of naked people? They are definitely not people from the area, and I think many of them come from Germany,” he noted.

“We are a small and orderly community and such things are simply out of place here. Perhaps in vast mountain areas naked people would not be much of a problem but here they simply stick out,” Dörig added.

Therefore, the Swiss combined a love for orderliness and xenophobia.I just can’t understand how one could be so intolerant of nudists. What have they ever done to hurt anyone? I believe justice will prevail in this case and choose the advocates of practicality over intolerance. The indecent over the prude. The alternative would be FKKed up.

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