Friday, October 29, 2004

War Dead

Blogenlust links us to a story about Iraqi war dead -- you know, the other Iraqi war dead: the civilians who have been dying while we fight a war against the wrong country? It's around 100,000 of them now.

http://blogenlust.blogspot.com/2004/10/100000.html

So my question is this: Have we had our fill of vengeance yet, good Christian nation that we are? Is 100,000 civilians, many of them children, enough?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Happy meals and heroin

So I’m hanging around the Liberal Arts Booth at our Career Fest, waiting for prospective students to pause before our display so that I can pounce upon them and persuade them that yes, it really is a good idea to major in English – or History – or some other major with enormous earnings potential – this being the sort of things professors these days are required to do besides teach their discipline and advise students and write something once in awhile, in our copious spare time – anyway, I’m hanging.

I start to talk to another English professor, as (oddly enough) we’re not getting much traffic at the liberal arts booth these days. I mention we ought to have candy, or prizes. (Students are swarming over the booths handing out candy and toys.) A professor from the science department steps in to mention we should go by McDonalds, get a couple dozen happy meals, and use the toys from those. “Right,” I say. “If I don’t have to eat the happy meal. Because, you know, I saw that movie, and now I just can’t.”

The other English professor says she’s seen it too, and she can’t eat fast food now herself, not, she adds, that she did much before. I mention that someone we know is going to teach the film in his second-semester English comp class --

-- which is apparently too much for the science guy, since, before I can go on, as I had meant to, and talk about how the instructor is worried about the explicit sex-talk in the movie and whether these students will object to it (probably, btw), science professor busts in to tell me, “It’s all crap.”

I’m surprised by this interruption. “Fast food? Yeah, of course.”

“No! The movie. It’s crap. I went on a fast food diet this summer. Ate lunch from Burger King or McDonalds every day. I lost 15 pounds.”

I studied him, considering whether it was worth the agita. Eh, I think, and so I said, “And what else did you do?”

“What?”

“Besides eat fast food for lunch. How else did you modify your life?”

“Well, I ate a smaller dinner,” he said. “Used to eat big bowls of pasta. Stopped doing that.”

“So you lost weight because you quit eating big dinners. Didn’t have much to do with the fast food.”

He reddened slightly. (I get this from science professors, sometimes. They don’t think English professors should talk back – it’s certainly not possible that we could have anything valid to say, after all.) “The movie had the guy eating every meal at McDonalds. Who does that?”

“Excellent point,” I said, which when a professor says it means you have fallen tidily into her trap. “If people ate fast food responsibly – say, one a month instead of every day – it probably wouldn’t do much harm.”

He’s nodding vigorously. Personal responsibility, that’s the ticket!

“Of course,” I said, “we could say the same thing about heroin, couldn’t we?”

He stopped nodding.

“I mean, use it once a month – responsibly – what damage could it really do?”

The other English professor was grinning at me by now.

“Of course, people don’t use it that way,” I added, thoughtfully. “Which is why it’s illegal, I guess. People don’t eat fast food once a month, either. Not usually. They also don’t usually eat at Burger King for lunch and then have a smaller dinner because of it. The way people actually use fast food, it does a lot of damage. Kind of like heroin.”

“Heroin might be safer,” the other English professor added.

“Well, now that you mention it,” I agreed. “More heroin and fewer French fries. That’s what I’m for.”

“Here, here,” said the other English professor.

What is it with these conservatives and that movie? They don’t, in fact, champion the right of people to do whatever they want as long as they’re not hurting others – not when it comes to, say, sexual behavior, or religious behavior, or even language use – yikes, the uproar we had recently over a student “using the Lord’s name in vain” at a university function. So why this outpouring of support for, Good heavens, McDonalds?

(BTW, I support the legalization of drugs. I actually do think it would be a better world if we could get a hold of heroin easier than we can get a hold of Happy Meals.)


Monday, October 25, 2004

More Rethugging

So here’s a good one:

The Rethugs are threatening to sue Rock the Vote. Why? Because Rock the Vote is telling young voters that the government might reinstate the draft.

Democracy Now! has the story, which includes this quotation:

“Last week GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie sent an extraordinary letter to the group Rock the Vote requesting that it "cease and desist" from promoting its campaign warning young voters that the government may reinstate the draft. Gillespie threatened to take legal action and said the group's non-profit status could be in jeopardy”

(From http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/19/1437244)


My question for the Rethugs is, how exactly does raising the issue of the draft differ from mailing out flyers to voters in Arkansas and W. Virginia claiming that, should Kerry get elected, liberals will make BAN the BIBLE?

Oh, wait – I see the difference now – the government reinstating the draft is something has a snowball's chance in hell of happening on this plane of reality.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Hey cool!

Pete over at Dark Window ( http://darkwindow.blogspot.com/) has found a guy to explain one of the most confusing passages of the Torah for us, Genesis 6.1-4:

"When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and they took wives from among those that pleased them...it was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth -- when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown."

You'll never guess who this guy thinks those divine beings are.


Important News!

Happy Birthday to the Universe!

Here in Arkansas, where we know the Truth about the World and the Word and its Creator, today, as everyone knows, is the Birthday of the Universe.

This was all figured out by “immense scholarly labor of the seventeenth–century Bishop James Ussher who concluded, on the basis of biblical evidence and after considering numerous alternative accounts, that the world was created at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 4004 b.c.” (http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0205/reviews/briefly.html).

All y’all reality-based folk who believe that silly stuff about the big bang and evolution and such can just stay home from the party – I’m going and I’m having cake.

Christian Americans Mend the World

I’m teaching this freshman seminar, which is supposed to help freshman students bond with the campus, thus increasing retention rates, thus increasing eventual graduation rates, thus increasing the number of people in NW Arkansas who have university degrees, thus making people in Arkansas smarter. (This is the sort of Sisyphean quest we academic types involve ourselves in. It might even work, mind you, if it were not for the fact that people who manage to get university degrees in Arkansas almost invariably depart from Arkansas, and who can blame them? See my post on pumpkins below. What we need to do, as I have suggested to the Chancellor, is seal the borders. If we sealed the borders, I have said, we could maybe do something about raising the number of people with university degrees in Arkansas. But so long as we’re letting’em just up and leave any time they take it into their heads to, well… )

Anyway, to get back to my original story, one of the requirements of the freshman seminar is ten hours of community service. The purpose of this is, I suppose, to help’em bond with the community, so that they and so forth.

Students are outraged by this requirement, even though we make it as painless as possible, and even though we let them pick whatever charitable cause they like to donate their hours to: Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, tutoring in the public schools, feeding the homeless, volunteering at the animal shelter -- Hell, I let them donate the ten hours to their own church if they want to.

Oh, no, that’s not the point. The point is they are paying for this education and they should not have to “help a bunch of poor people” if they don’t want to.

This is the same population of folk who get all testy when I suggest that the founding fathers were, at least some of them, deists, rather than theists. God forbid they spend ten hours out of five months helping the poor – fine Christian Americans that they are.

Course, these are also the same people that, without the slightest ironic intent, drive their Hummers to church on Sunday morning too.

When I mentioned that as a worldview conflict in American Lit a few weeks ago, a little Christian American kid stayed after class to ask me, “I don’t understand. Are you trying to say that Jesus wants Christians to be poor or something?”

Faith-Based Economics

We keep hearing from the earnest Rethugs all this noise about why Bush’s tax cuts are “fair” – because, you know, rich guys pay most of the taxes so rich guys should reap most of the benefits from the tax cuts.

Fine, okay, whatever. There are arguments we could make about that, but let it go.

Because that’s not how the tax cut plan was sold, or is being sold – it was and is being sold as a way to stimulate the economy. And, as Angry Bear points out here

(http://angrybear.blogspot.com/)

giving so much of the tax cuts to the very rich doesn’t do much to stimulate the economy.

Which, unless Bush actually is a chowderhead, something I admit we can’t rule out, he had to have known.

So this whole “tax cuts are going to power up the economy any minute here now boys, jest have a little faith!” is just a big fat lie.

Of course, who didn’t know that all along? I mean anyone who hasn’t been drinking the Bushco Kool-Aid, of course.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Good blog

Infinite stitch has some more great stuff up -- y'all go read now, hear?

http://stitch.blogs.com/the_infinite_stitch/

Monday, October 18, 2004

All Hallow's Eve

TBogg (http://tbogg.blogspot.com/) has a posting about the terrible conflict many southern towns are undergoing at the moment because, as many of you no doubt noticed, Halloween falls on a Sunday this year.

The problem lies with the confusion children will suffer. Sunday, of course, is a day of GOD. Halloween, as you all know, belongs to the DEVIL. The little kiddies won’t know what to DO – should they worship Jesus or SATAN, come dusk?

Here in Fort Smith, of course, this battle has long been fought. We no longer celebrate Halloween in the public schools. We celebrate Pumpkin Day instead. (Even this elicits outrage from several Pentecostal parents each year, who just know that certain kiddies take their pumpkins home and use them to worship Satan.) And instead of Halloween night, the local churches have Hallelujah Night, where the kiddies can come to a “family-safe” environment, dressed in Biblical costumes, and play cheery games in brightly-lit auditoriums for candy and prizes.

Sure, this blows it for the Satan-worshipping pagans and such, who want to go around wearing spooky costumes in the dark and knocking on doors and getting candy and burning candles inside pumpkins and playing CDs of spooky noises, doing all that celebrating the dead stuff – but they’re probably all Jews and Muslins and atheists and stuff anyway, to hell with them.

(Heh heh. Little Christian joke there.)

Friday, October 15, 2004

Heh

This is too funny -- I mean in a Swiftian way, mind you.

http://www.eatbabies.com/recipes/index.htm

I'm reminded of the time I taught a Modest Proposal to the Mormons and the 19 year old "Elder" in the front row was furious that I had assigned such an evil document. When I inquired what, exactly, about the document had so upset him (thinking, maybe, it would be the graphic language), he said, "Well...come on! I just don't think people ought to eat babies!"

See, because he actually believed that.

He actually believed that I, a liberal college professor, would assign an essay sincerely arguing that people should eat babies.

Cause that's what we liberals want to do you know. First we push for legal abortions. Next we'll push for baby stew.

Torture is a Family Value

Here's another reason to boot Bush:

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2004/09/legalizing_tort.html

You should also go read this post and do as the man says: write your representative, and get everyone you can to write his or hers.

Because, God damn it, this is America. And I've heard all the specious arguments I care to hear about how terrorism justifies it and blah blah blah, guess what, terrorism doesn't, A, and B, torture doesn't work anyway, and C, if it did it wouldn't matter: We're Americans. We are that God damn City on a Hill, and that either means something or it doesn't.

We don't torture people. We don't cleverly pass bills that allow people to be tortured in our name either.

And if we do those things, we stop being a country that's worth fighting for -- that's what this weasel Bush and his ilk just aren't getting. That's what his ilk just never have understood.

Get these guys out of office now.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

King George II

What kind of weasel is this President?

First: He won’t admit he’s made a mistake. Ever. In his entire life. Nope. Not him.

Now this bothers me for all kinds of reasons. One, it’s hubris. Hubris annoys me. It annoys the gods of fate, too, which is way risky, not just for Mr. Bush, but for us, too, since he’s running our country, but pass on, pass on.

Two, it’s emotional idiocy. Nine year olds act this way. Thirteen year olds act this way. Adults do not act this way – or should not. And for bleeding tap-dancing Christ on a stick’s sake, the President of the United States of America should not act this way.

He won’t admit that he made a mistake by attacking Iraq – won’t even admit that he might have made a mistake by attacking Iraq the way he attacked Iraq, or used the wrong methods of attacking Iraq, or committed the wrong forces, or did even one damn thing wrong. Nope. Every single thing has gone precisely according to plan.

And our soldiers? They’re being treated perfectly too. Every single one of them is happy happy joy joy and it’s just dandy.

This makes steam come out of my ears. My students are being called up to be those soldiers. Some of my students are coming back from that war. I’m not going into details here because it’s personal business but they are not okay and it is not happy happy happy with the soliders, people. Everything is not okay.

And if this were a war we had to fight, you know, it would be one thing. If we had actually done some good over there – if it were actually a war against terror, for instance – if it had actually made us safer, or freed anyone – if Bush could convince me of that – then maybe I would be okay with what he was doing to my students. Maybe.

Second. He won’t stand up for what he believes.

He was directly asked last night whether he would like to overturn Roe V Wade. Not, mind you, if he would do it, if he were elected – not if he would appointed judges that would do it – but if he would like to do it.

What did he answer? Well, he didn’t answer. Why didn’t he answer? Because he’s a weasel, that’s why. The same reason he didn’t answer the question about whether being gay is a choice or not – or rather gave the non-answer “I just don’t know.”

Bah, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know what he thinks? Cut me a break. He knows what he thinks – and he knows he would lose votes from some part of his audience over what he thinks.

My final question is: who can keep on listening to this man and keep on thinking he has backbone?

Half the nation, apparently. Don't ask me why.


This is too silly

Yep. Michael Moore. They're after him again. He's like Clinton to these guys -- they loose their minds when Michael Moore's name comes up.

Get this. The Rethugs want to arrest him for bribing people to vote. What's he bribing people with? Ramen noodles and underwear!

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2004-10-06

Or -- and this is more likely -- this is just another case of Rethugs trying every way they can to keep us from voting.

They win if we don't vote. Keep it in mind.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Nuance is for Girls

Bush doesn’t do nuance -- apparently out of the conviction that to admit that an issue may be complex or require thought is, somehow, girly.

So Bush says abortion is simple – it's all either yes or no.

The question about whether a 14 year old who has been raped by her father and is pregnant by her father ought to be required to get her father’s permission before she seeks an abortion – that’s a stupid question, says Bush.

Or whether partial-birth abortion bans ought to have exceptions built into them for the health of the mother – so that, for instance, a mother pregnant with a terminally deformed or dead fetus could abort it through the D&X extraction method* to avoid the possible life-threatening, fertility-threatening complications that can result from forcing her to carry that dead fetus around until her body “naturally” expels it – one of the many sorts of abortions that would be made illegal if that ban went into effect – well, that question is also stupid, says Bush.

It’s simple, says Bush. You’re either for partial birth abortions or you’re against them.

Bush says the answer to the Iraq war is simple, too: Either Bush was right or we’re siding with the terrorists. And if he was right, we have to back him.

“Seems pretty simple to me,” says Bush.

Likewise: You’re either rich or poor. If you’re poor, you deserve what happens to you. If you’re rich, you deserve to be bailed out. You’re either white or you’re not. If you’re white, you deserve all the help you want. If you’re not, you don’t. You’re either Christian or you’re not. If you’re Christian, God is on your side. If you’re not, you’re going straight to hell, and meanwhile it’s pretty much okay for us to call you roaches and evil and bomb the shit out of your country. Nothing difficult to understand there!

Bushco wants a simple, binary world like this.

Why? Because the other sort of world is too hard for him? I doubt it.

Because it’s the simple binary word he’s always lived in? Maybe.

Because he knows it will fly with his voters? That’s the puppy I’m putting my money on.


* the actual correct name for what the Wingers like to call “partial-birth abortion”

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Mistake? Who, me?

Deborah Tannen has an editorial in today’s NYTimes, discussing her take on why Bush’s refusal to admit he’s made a mistake, ever, is so infuriating: (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/12/opinion/12tannen.html)

Here’s a bit from it:

…refusing to apologize infuriates women because that makes it seem as if the guy doesn't care that he let her down, and if he doesn't care, there's no reason to think he won't do it again. This is the negative effect - the collateral damage - that Mr. Bush's "certainty" is certain to have on many women: if he won't admit he made a mistake in his handling of Iraq, it seems he doesn't care about the American soldiers killed and maimed, the civilians beheaded, about the Iraqi children blown up by insurgents' bombs.

The role of talk about "mistakes" in the rhetoric of the debate was particularly striking when Mr. Bush intoned, and repeated, that no one will follow a president who says the war was a mistake.

Tannen, you’ll recall, is the one who has made her name with essays discussing the different ways men and women communicate, and how those different ways of communicating cause miscommunication – so this is more of that. But it annoys me nonetheless.

Is she saying that only women can see there might be something wrong with re-electing a leader so lacking in introspection that he can’t possibly conceive of the possibility that he could make a mistake?

Is it only women who aren’t afraid to vote for a man who will admit to a mistake when he sees one?

I mean, is that how chickenshit Tannen thinks this nation is?

I know that’s how chickenshit Bush is – he proved that on nation television when he refused to admit he had made a mistake, ever, in all his years of presidency – but all American men? I’m thinking not.

Tikkun Olam: Mending the World

Jews believe it is our job to mend the world. Why? Because it’s broken.

According to one story, when God was making the world, way back when, he made some big jugs to hold the divine light of Goodness and Virtue – but these jugs, or jars, some say they were jars, or even vases, the vases shattered as God was pouring, and all the light went everywhere, spilling throughout creation. That’s why you find bits of divine light throughout creation. Yes, even in Iraq.

Well, God had a mess after that happened, all that light everywhere instead of in one nice place like the plan had been. So he made humans and he gave us a job: our job is to mend the world, to patch up the broken places and bring all that divine light of goodness back together again. That’s why we’re here.

This moral obligation to mend the world is called Tikkun Olam. We’re supposed to do everything we can to change the world for the better – not just for people, either. For animals, for trees, for ladybugs. We’re meant to mend the whole world. Hey, God made the whole thing, didn’t he?

You see the trouble, though. Fast as we try to mend it, other people keep smashing it apart. Over here, we donate an afternoon helping preschoolers learn to read. Over there, Bushco bombs the shit out of a country.

It’s getting a little annoying.

Now this is not to say that I don’t understand the motives behind Bushco and his ilk. I too lived through 9/11. It’s just that I’m thinking it’s way past time for humanity to grow the fuck up. We don’t have time for this anymore. There are too many of us and this planet is way too close to the edge for us to act like we’re still living in caves and I can go bash Urg on the head with my club because Urg bashed me first and I’m not letting him get away with that, am I?

Use a little reason, can’t we? Is the world going to be better off or worse off if we bomb the shit out of Iraq? Will this make the planet better or worse?

I realize Bush claims he has made things better. Bush also claims he has created jobs and that global warming is unsupported by the evidence and that giving tax breaks to extremely rich people will, honestly, any minute now, stimulate the economy, just wait and see. (See Infinite Stitch for a good post on this: http://stitch.blogs.com/the_infinite_stitch/2004/10/are_you_better_.html#comments)

I’ve had my bait of this particular faith-based politician.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Some notes

If you saw the debate and were wondering what Bush was babbling about, bringing in the Dred Scott decision out of nowhere, several blogs have noted that it was coded speech directed at his far right religious base -- he was saying that he would appoint judges that would overturn Roe V Wade.

Here's a blog that explains it:

http://mithras.blogs.com/blog/

I could have given you half a dozen more, but this blog also has another entry you should check out: Bushco has been funding a very useful study on whether prayer helps people heal faster. 2.3 million they have dumped into that research, while meanwhile cutting the funding for Headstart and other programs that we *know* work. Yep, these folk have their priorities straight.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Those damn liberals

I got this off of T-Rex, http://quinnell.us/, who got it from Tom Tomorrow, who says he got it from South Knox Bubba...don't you love the blogs?

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN

"Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

Elisha and the bears

The General has a very nice video about that time Elisha had God sent the she-bears to tear up those little kids for calling him names -- go have a look. (You'll have to scroll down some.)

http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Blogbites

Here's a site. If you don't know about it already, you're going to love it:

http://www.blogbites.com/

Monday, October 04, 2004

Brainwashing Students

Up hiking in the Boston Mountains this weekend with my fellow liberal university professor and her husband and our two little tree-hugging children (who literally hugged trees along the trail, to our amusement) and afterwards went down into Fayetteville where I spotted a bumper sticker that read, “Tree Good. Bush Bad.”

“That must be a Left-Wing person who drives that car,” the kid commented sagely.

“Yes, indeed,” I said.

And we were even out of the eight-block radius of the university and everything: out where the normal people were supposed to be ranging. However, we were in the parking lot of a bookstore, which I suppose could explain it.

I’ve been thinking since the other day in the auto shop, about this theory that we’re brainwashing these students into little liberal robots, my fellow professors and I. My first reaction was, naturally, an evil cackle. “I must use this power only for the good!”

My second was, “Yeah, right. What students exactly are those?”

Anyone who thinks that has clearly either not been on a campus lately – or has been, and is a willful idiot.

These students are not, as John Locke would have it, tabula rasa. They come to us fully developed, with minds and hearts of their own. I can talk, and if they will, they can hear. If I present good information, and that information leads them to decide things in ways their conservative families or (in six or seven cases I know about) husbands don’t like, well, that’s not because I brainwashed them. It’s because I taught them.

I was leading – trying to lead – a discussion on Benjamin Franklin in American Lit the other morning, contrasting the section of his autobiography we read with Rowlandson’s autobiography, trying to get them to see the difference between her theistic Puritan worldview, in which everything that happens to her, from finding peanuts in the woods to having her child die in her arms, is ascribed directly to the actions of an immanent, intervening God; and Benjamin Franklin’s deistic Enlightenment worldview, in which he sees everything that happens to him as resulting from his own actions – being caused by things he did, not things God did to him. “If something has gone wrong in Ben’s life,” I pointed out, “if, for instance, he is stranded in England at the age of 18, why does he say that happened?”

They glared at me with little stony faces, arms folded over their chests, refusing to take notes or even pretend to hear a word of this -- because how dare I suggest that God slash Jesus was not immanently involved in every single little breath every single person on planet earth took? And how dare I suggest that one of Our Founding Fathers had such an evil belief system?

One of the six students who is not a fundamentalist Baptist or a Pentecostal spoke up: “It’s his fault, because he listened to the wrong guy.”

“Right,” I said, slowly, and went on.

Brainwash these students? My pet goat.



Friday, October 01, 2004

Who's Voting for Bush?

Yesterday I was becalmed all day at an auto repair shop, one of the singularly maddening trials of modern times – not to mention nothing to read but automotive and hair care magazines. But the day was saved when a grumpy old man came and sat down next to the young and chipper drug sales rep who had, earlier, both pinched my copy of the editorial page (a newspaper I had walked six blocks to buy, not that he knew that, since he had come in after I did, and, in his defense, while I had left the paper unguarded for a moment on my chair) and turned the obnoxious television up twice.

The grumpy old man started out trying to castigate the young drug rep – how dare these drug companies charge so much for drugs, why did these drug companies take so long to bring drugs to market, why didn’t these drug companies let us buy drugs from foreign markets, and so on. All this changed, however, when the grumpy old man and the young drug rep discovered – music swells – that they were both Republicans. They fell into swoons and began, in heated whispers, to discuss just how right Bush was and how wrong these Liberals were. I learned very many things and took notes.

Here’s a list:

(1) This country is undergoing a struggle between socialism and Americanism and only with Bush in the White House can we win this war

(2) Bush, unlike Kerry, will appoint neutral judges to the court – or at least if Bush appoints judges that aren’t neutral, they won’t be liberal judges. So it’s okay.

(3) Liberals are harping on how Bush lied, but he didn’t lie – he was misled

(4) If you don’t let doctors make $250,000 dollars a year no one will become a doctor and then it will take nine months to get an appointment to see a neurologist, which is how long it takes to see one in Canada

(5) We’re going to win the Iraqi war because “those people” can only take having F-15’s flying over their houses for so long.

(6) We had eight years of being nice to terrorists under Clinton and look where that got us

(7) It’s better to have “my buddy” (says the young guy) join up to go to Iraq and fight the terrorists there than to have “my girl” have to fight them on a plane when she flies to Florida on Spring Break

(8) We need to fight this war because those towers were destroyed. People forget those towers were destroyed. We can’t forget those towers. So this war is justified.

(9) Taking prayer out of schools has set this country on a path to destruction. Homosexuals and political correctness have set in. Bush is speaking against that. This is a good thing.

(10) Those college professors are brainwashing students into being liberals. But luckily it’s only about an eight block radius around campus. People are normal outside that range. (Whew!)


I took notes, because I figured y’all would want to know the straight scoop on the level of political knowledge in Fort Smith, Arkansas. So there you have it. Next time people ask you how it is that people could possibly watch the debates and still vote for Bush, read’em this list.