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Saturday, August 20, 2005
HELP! THE BARKING MOONBATS HAVE STOLEN "BARKING MOONBAT" or, HEARKENING AND SNARKENING TO THE BARKENING OF THE MOONBATS ...

The Third Stanza of "The Battle Hymn of the Neocons" is reproduced here for those who heard it on the radio:

(To "The Battle Hymn of the Republic")
We control the barking moonbats
of a thousand talk show mikes
when we fax them all our talking points
they do just what we likes
we went to war for gasoline
so ignore those gas pump hikes

the lie goes marching on

Gory, gory
Al jazeerah
we'll turn off your feed so none can hear ya
disagree with us and watch us smear ya

the lie keeps marching on
Alas. While my use of the term "barking moonbat" was precise, I find that the barking moonbats themselves are attempting to steal, nay, to arrogate this fine and poetic term exclusively to their own use.

A GOOGLE search of the term "Barking moonbat" nets 150,000 hits.

Some strange Cap'n Ahab (or, perhaps L. Ron Hubbard) wannabe in "the midwest" has a little 2/3'ds postage-stamp-sized picture on his every posting at a place called "Barking Moonbat Early Warning System" at, what else? barking-moonbat.com.

Calling himself "The Captain," the blog is filled with careful screeching moonbat analyses, as in: "Sigh! Of course you can bet that all the quotes above were taken out of context and suitably re-arranged in the article to cast Judge Roberts in the worst possible light. I still fail to see what the Angry Left proposes to gain here." [After quoting The WASHINGTON POST.]

A sad and frumious day in bandersnatch land, kiddos. Not content with their near monopoly on jabberwocky, the slithy toves have gyred and gimbled away with the barking moonbats.

We begin in the tulgey wood from whence springs the increasingly irrational hatred of the barking moonbats -- alternately known as "Neocons," "Red Staters," "Dittoheads," and, of course, morons -- where, from beneath the Tumtum tree, the various manxome foes write their evil revengifications, calling us, Gentle Readers, "barking moonbats."

Well, to be frank, by the proper definition, some of us ARE.

Barking moonbats, I mean. Not Jabberwocks. Get a good grip on the hilt of your vorpal swords, as they attempt to snicker-snack us. Worse, they are trying to hijack this magnificant coinage -- I mean, think about it: doesn't the very sound of "barking moonbats" define itself?

"Oink." Or, perhaps "quack." (I am not entirely certain as to the sound that a barking moonbat would make: perhaps something like a cat sneezing, only a bit more delicate.)

[Moonbat barking sound]!

But, as you read these missives, and admire their refulgent ordure, you should know what "barking moonbat" means.

From: http://www.samizdata.net/blog/glossary_archives/001981.html


Barking moonbat
noun. Someone on the extreme edge of whatever their -ism happens to be.

(coined by Perry de Havilland)

Usage: "Definition of a 'barking moonbat': someone who sacrifices sanity for the sake of consistency"
-Adriana Cronin
And, being the curious monkey that I am, I wrote Mr. de Havilland to see whether my "take" on the meaning of the term "barking moonbat" was, in fact, the correct one.
On 8/20/05, Hart Williams wrote: Dear Mr. de Havilland:

As the coiner of the phrase "barking moonbat" -- at least according to Samizdata -- I wonder if I could ask you a few questions for an article I'm piecing together.

1. When was the term coined (and, if online, is there a reference to that column)?

2. I note that US right-wing "barking moonbats" have claimed the term as their own (specifically in referring to anyone against "the War.") From the definition online at Samizdaa, I took it that it was an "ecumenical" term: i.e. it applies equally well to, well, barking moonbats on the Left or the Right. Any comment? Clarification?

3. While the term has been gaining currency in the USA of late (often shorn of the "barking"),has there been any similar movement to embrace your coinage in the UK?

4. Thanks for your cooperation; should you cooperate. If not: then, at least, thank you for reading this far.

bests,

REPLY FROM PERRY DE HAVILLAND:

How interesting!

Yes, I did indeed coin the term (and as it happens, as a libertarian myself, it was in reference to the more bonkers elements of members of my own political 'shade'), but the term is very 'ecumenical'. A bit later Adriana hit on the quoted definition which does perfectly describe what I had in mind.

Although the term is humourous, it is actually making a serious philosophical point. Karl Popper's theories about how although reality may be objective, our understanding of it can never be other than conjectural, as a result, everything we 'know' is a series of theories.

Understanding this suggests that dogmatism is actually a very irrational thing indeed and a better way to understand reality is to form critical preferences based on our reason for what seem to be the best theories available. This is pretty much the only way to avoid the trap of 'infinite regression'.

The "Barking Moonbat" is someone who is trapped by exactly that, locked by the iron logic of an absolute position in one thing into ever more bizarre views regarding others to avoid accepting other premises which would undermine the first.

Last year I have heard the term used once in the UK on TV which certainly gave me a surprise. I think the show was "Have I got news for you!", a current affairs comedy talk show. I think it was used in a non-political way to just mean "someone who has bizarre notions".

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Perry ...
Which brings us to the vicious and unprincipled attempt of the dittoheads to co-opt the delightful term "barking moonbats" into an obscene jabberwocky of its former glory. It's time to stop gyring and gimbling in the wabe, take up vorpal swords and long time seek manxome foe.

Else there will be no calloh! callay! in Mudville tonight, nor ever after.

This is what they bark at, by the light of the Sturgeon Full Moon:

http://romeocat.typepad.com/cathouse_chat/barking_moonbats/index.html

From her "barking moonbats" blog section ...

June 18, 2005
"Senator" Dick Durbin
Since I'm still in the process of moving and don't have any broadband at home, I'm going to let my good friend, Jeremy, over at American Warmonger, rake this a**hole over the coals: Dick Durbin - Bad For America.

I was incensed, irate, livid, angry, insulted, indignant, wrathful, outraged, enraged, disgusted, shocked (and whatever other words will fit in with the theme) when I heard "Senator" Durbin's remarks. Fortunately, Jeremy does a fantastic job fisking this idiot.

Personally, I think the putz ought to resign in disgrace.

Moron.
(FROM HER "ABOUT" section "... I went to college in New Orleans and "graduated" in 1986 with my "Mrs." degree. As a military wife ... I am opinionated, but I try to keep things courteous. I dislike profanity, except when used extremely sparingly. I despise commenters [sic] who insist on invective, irrationality, and rudeness")

Er, methinks the moonbat doth bark too much. And here's another misusage:

http://www.sgtstryker.com/index.php/archives/barking-moonbattm-wins-nobel-prize/

Barking Moonbat(TM) Wins Nobel Prize ...
Posted By: Silverwing @ 1550 on 2004-10-10
My guess is that for the foreseeable future, no matter how many Americans win all the other Nobels, they're going to keep giving the Peace Prize to anyone who can be reliably counted on to say some pretty stupid things implicating the US as the Source Of All Evil:

(From the good folks at http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200410/s1216687.htm)

Nobel peace laureate claims HIV deliberately created

Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, today reiterated her claim that the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent.
(Therefore becoming the one millionth idiot to do so!!)

[Barking moonbat sound -- thrice repeated]!

Here's a proper use of the term, from an American Libertarian:

http://www.janegalt.net/blog/archives/004961.html

From the desk of Jane Galt: [NOTE: "Jane Galt" is a play on the name "John Galt" who was, of course, the "hero" of Ayn Rand's magnum opus -- or truss-inducing, take your pick -- ATLAS SHRUGGED. This is CODE for American Libertarians -- all from Ayn descended, after all -- but I don't know if it's the same libertarianism that Mr. de Havilland alludes to above.]

Why aren't I voting for Badnarik?

I'm a libertarian, right? ANd [sic] I live in a state which would go Kerry even if Jesus Christ himself walked across the Hudson to command we support Bush, so why not indulge myself in a third party vote? Short answer: because Mr Badnarik is a barking moonbat. He has, if memory serves, been arrested multiple times for driving without a license, because he views getting one as an unwarranted concession to The State. I believe he also has tax protester sympathies. I am not going to encourage the Libertarian Party to nominate more such by voting for this one.
Compare that usage to this less refined snarking that retains the term without the proper meaning:

http://tech.redstate.org/story/2005/2/8/155146/3997

Google news gets one right. Finally.
By: krempasky ยท Section: Technology

When I noticed this post over at Michelle Malkin's site about Google News' apparent bias of excluding conservative sites, while including lefty barking-moonbat folks like Democratic Underground, I was reminded that I had submitted our very own RedState for review no less than three times - always without an answer. Well, fourth time's a charm, I say....
But here's another of his special species:

http://nomayo.mu.nu/archives/063465.php

January 15, 2005
Barking Moonbat Bracelets
I have been reading about these blue bracelets for unrecovered Kerry Voters. Apparently one Democratic voter (who would be bitterly offended if anyone questioned her patriotism, so just don't do it) came up with idea after a visit to England.

I sort of felt ashamed, and didn't really want to be associated with being an American," said [Berns] Rothchild, who lives in New York City and voted for John Kerry.

That's fine Berns. I feel sort of ashamed and don't really want you to be associated with being an American either.

And here's some more barking from the moonbats of Southern California:

http://www.tacitus.org/story/2004/12/14/72337/050
Barking Moonbat Personified

By Bird Dog, Section Tacitus 1.0
Posted on Tue Dec 14th, 2004 at 07:23:37 AM EST

The offering by Dean Opperman in Pasadena Weekly is chock full of just about every liberal cliche and urban legend out there, and of course there are Nazi and fascist references to the Bush administration. Democrats should invent a whole new political party and send wackos like Opperman there...
Whew! Lighten up there Jethro! Anyway, the following is the seeming sole LEFT-originating reference to "barking moonbats" that I could find that was potentially aimed at the RIGHT! But I'm actually not quite sure.

http://tvh.rjwest.com/archives/005468.html
July 29, 2004
The Barking Moonbat Republic
T[he] N[ew] R[epublic] (and to some extent, Kurtz... where is this guy on Reagan Jr.?) loses it... So does Marshall...
A bit cryptic, perhaps. But, back to a Right Wing barking moonbat:

http://moorewatch.com/index.php/weblog/looking_ahead_to_2008/index.php/weblog/privacy/
Smear Matters

Posted by Lee on 08/18/2005at 01:21 PM

I don't agree with her [Cindy Sheehan's] views on the war or on Bush or probably on much of anything. She was most likely a barking moonbat before the war, and in the wake of her son's death she has found solace in like-minded individuals on the anti-war left. Much like the War Department used the Sullivans as figureheads for their cause [during WWII], so the despicable radical left is using her for theirs. Who can't help but feel sympathy for a grieving mother? By using her in this manner it gives Michael Moore, MoveOn, and their ilk a virtually bullet-proof martyr. Anyone who dares state anything critical of her is immediately accused of attacking the mother of a dead soldier.

Well, the latest idiocy from the folks over at Media Matters shows exactly why I was right, and why taking the moral and intellectual high ground is so damn important. They're counting on vitriol and hatred from those of us who support the war so that they can turn Casey's mother from barking moonbat with no grasp on reality into a poor, defenseless wallflower, bravely standing on her own against the fascist corporate junta....
While I disagree vehemently with the author, his usage -- in his own little universe -- is probably a correct one seen from his perspective. To him, Cindy Sheehan IS a barking moonbat. You'll note that the other blog quotes thus far merely make "liberal" or even "democrat" into a synonym of the term. Here, our writer is using the term properly, so that he can SPREAD HIS MINDLESS RIGHT WING POLITICAL FILTH THROUGHOUT THE LAND ... oh.

Sorry.

After reading a thousand "hate pages" one tends to lose perspective. You'd think that, after a hard day oppressing the employees, some of these people enjoy a festive evening of drowning kittens -- as a relaxing hobby. But we were speaking of the proper usage of the term "barking moonbat."

Now, this is, again, an Improper use of the term, as defined -- and clarified by the term's Creator -- AND it repeats another strange term of the Right Wing World: "fisking," which we'll explain afterwards.

http://www.synthstuff.com/mt/archives/individual/2004/12/a_barking_moonbat_speaks.html

This is still a barking moonbat that needs a sound Fisking but it is an anonymous barking moonbat who hides behind the name of a respected educator.

Even more egregious -- and somehow so very very typical.

A few days ago, I posted this: Global Warming = Human Rights Violation.

The post links to David Limbaugh's website and an article from CNS News ...

Anyway, this morning a comment was added to this entry, the text of which is quoted verbatim:

[snip]

The comment was signed "**** ***" and no return email was given but as administrator of this website, I can see the IP Address the comment originated from. Taking a look at Arin.net (Arin is the American Registry for Internet Numbers) I find that this IP Address belongs to the blocks owned by these people:

OrgName: Columbia University
OrgID: COLUMB
Address: 612 W 115TH ST
City: NEW YORK
StateProv: NY
PostalCode: 10025
Country: USOK -- so our moonbat is from Columbia University....

No. I think our moonbat is the fellow hunting down the fellow from Columbia Universty: "This is still a barking moonbat that needs a sound Fisking but it is an anonymous barking moonbat..." (Quick: someone send this offending sentence to the Department of Redundancy Department.)

Oh, a "fisking"? I wondered, too. Another term rampant in the crayon-infused blogosphere of the barking moonbat Right, Wikipedia defines it as:

Fisking

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisking

Fisking, or to Fisk, refers to the act of critiquing, often in minute detail, an article, essay, argument, etc. with the intent of challenging its conclusion or theses by highlighting logical fallacies and incorrect facts. The practice was named after British journalist Robert Fisk after he issued a dispatch from Pakistan describing his savage beating at the hands of Afghan refugees, and his rescue by a Muslim man and two Muslim medics.

In the article, published in The Independent of 10 December 2001, Fisk concluded that he would have acted in the manner of the mob who beat him, seeing their violence as "symbolic of the hatred and fury and hypocrisy" of the war. Fisk stated that "If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find." [1]

In response, Blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote a trenchant attack on what he saw as "the pathology of Robert Fisk". [2]. The term "fisking" first appeared on either Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan's weblog.

While the term seems to imply that Fisk is a habitually bad reporter, Fisk has received several journalism awards, including the British International Journalist of the Year award seven times.

Fisking can be compared to the Usenet style of responding to an argument line by line by replying to a message while quoting the original message with >s in the left column. The difference is that with a Usenet line-by-line discussion, often a large number of unrelated arguments can develop while the main point of the original article and original response gets lost.

Fisking is different from flaming, with which it is sometimes confused. Though a fisking may contain a substantial amount of derision or scorn or even profanity, it is never solely a stream of mere verbal abuse.

And this from:

http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/F/fisking.html
fisking: n.
[blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment. See also MiSTing, anti-idiotarianism
So, "Fisking" (or "fisking") would be like "borking," except that the Subject of said Fisking hasn't necessarily been nominated to the Supreme Court, and the attack is logical, though still mean-spirited. (And there is no confirmation vote scheduled for later). Clear?

Jeepies. I've been Fisking for a long time, and din't even know it.

Still it beats galumphing and whiffling through the whole frabjous subculture that these barking moonbats represent.

Damned barking moonbats, anyway. Shoo.

Beamish.
.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
MORE ASTONOMICAL STUFF
or, WE GO ALL SCIENTIFIC AND STUFF

This year, Friday will be the "Sturgeon Full Moon." This is like the Harvest Moon, only with giant fish. Here's the information you'll need to make a thoughtful, well-considered series of choices for the Full Moon weekend:

Sturgeon full moon

19 AUG 10 53 PDT
19 AUG 17 53 GMT (ZULU)

According to the Farmer's Almanac:
http://www.farmersalmanac.com/astronomy/fullmoonnames.html

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac's list of the full Moon names. ...

Full Sturgeon Moon - August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
Oddly, the news guy at at Channel 12 in Westchester New York uses much the same language. Did HE write both pieces? Hmmmm.

from http://prometheus.org.yu/pipermail/pht_science/2003-February/003807.html

Full Moon Names: Harvest, Hunter, Wolf and ... Sturgeon?
Fri Feb 14,10:09 AM ET

By Joe Rao, SPACE.com

While the Harvest Moon rings a bell in most heads, some of the other monthly lunar names are nowhere near as well known. Think pink. And worm, and strawberries and wolves. Or how about Sturgeon?

Full Moon names in the United States date back primarily to Native Americans who lived in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes of a few hundred years ago kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.

There were some variations in the Moon names, but in general the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England and westward to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names.

Since the lunar ("synodic") month is roughly 29.5 days in length on average, the dates of the full Moon shift from year to year.

Inside is a listing of all the Full Moon names, used primarily in the United States, as well as the dates and times (for the Eastern time zone) for the next twelve months...

Sturgeon Moon August 19, 2005, 10:53 a.m. PDT

A time when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain is most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon, because the moon rises looking reddish through sultry haze, or the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York.
Jeepers! The two accounts seem to bear a more than passing resemblance to one another. Oh, golly. It must be because they were writing about the same thing that they use the same sentence structure. Anomaly explained: never mind.

[...] in our Gregorian Calendar, 372 years provides an excellent long period cycle for the recurrence of a particular phase on a given date. Thus, we know with absolute certainty that the same Full Moon that shines down on us on August 19 of 2005 will also be shining on August 19 in the year 2377. (ibid.)
Evidently the holiday is celebrated differently in different parts of the country. It's a big tour event on the Professional Frisbee Tour:

http://www.pdga.com/tournament/tournament_results.php?TournID=3653

Professional Disk Golf Association - Wildwood Park, 3841 Dogwood Lane, Appling, GA 30802 PH:706-261-NDGC (6342)
Tournament Results

Sturgeon Full Moon Invitational
Official Results
12-Aug-2003
Tier: C
Total Players: 34

Pro Purse: $160
Open Show Round Ratings
Place Points Name PDGA# Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Total Prize
1 15 Al Schack 3407 1011 66 54 120 $80
2 10 Marty Peters 10219 979 69 54 123 $40
3 5 Kirk Haggadone 12228 982 70 57 127

Open Women Show Round Ratings
Place Points Name PDGA# Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Total Prize
1 3 Jen Dombrowski 18222 869 87 71 158 $40
And, of course, you can take a nature walk on Staten Island (but it'll have to be next year)

http://www.siprotectors.org/events.html

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Calendar

Free Nature Walks to Pond and Park
for Children and Parents
With Experienced Naturalists--All on Staten Island! (New York)

Thursday, August 18, 7:10 p.m. to 9:40 p.m.

The Sturgeon Full Moon: Sunset Moonrise Walk at Mt Moses--Sunset is at 7:50 p.m. and moonrise is 11 minute earlier at 7:39 p.m. It takes another 20 minutes to rise above the hills of High Rock so we'll have to go promptly up Mt. Moses to see the moonrise occur. Meet at the entry road to Eger Home at intersection of Rockland and Meisner Avenues. Bring a light refreshment to share with others and a flashlight for each person in your group. Please dress warmly. The walk is barely fifteen minutes each way. On the way to the intersection see the hundreds of fully leafed out shrubs, trees, grasses and wildflowers that DEP planted in the flood control system that has worked well, so far, in heavy rains. Call Dick Buegler (718) 761-7496 for more information.
And that's the Sturgeon full moon.

And what is a sturgeon you would hopefully ask if you didn't know?

http://www.seagrant.wisc.edu/greatlakesfish/lakesturgeon.html

Lake Sturgeon
(Acipenser fulvescens)

Length:3 to 5 feet
Weight:10 to 80 pounds
Coloring: olive-brown to grey on back and sides, with white belly

Common Names: freshwater sturgeon, rock sturgeon, bony sturgeon, smoothback

Found in Lakes: Michigan, Huron, Ontario, Erie and Superior

These "living fossils" of fish evolution once ranged widely throughout the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. Occasionally, the lake sturgeon's dark form can be discerned in reedy shallows or near river mouths. The glimpse is as rare as it is startling.

In the last century, this large, bony-plated animal, browsing along the bottom, was often regarded as a nuisance because it became entangled in and ripped commercial fishing nets. Only later did the sturgeon become prized for its meat, eggs (caviar) and oil. A gelatin from the inner lining of its air bladder was used to make isinglass--a substance used as a clarifying agent in jellies, glues and in the isinglass windows of carriages and early cars.

Unfortunately, the sturgeon was exceptionally vulnerable to overfishing, largely because of its slow reproductive cycle. The female requires more than 20 years to mature, and then it spawns only every four to six years during its 50-year lifespan.

-- copyright University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

So, fundamentally, by mashing science together with Native American traditional nomenclature, we know that this is the full moon during which one eats caviar.

Or goes fishing.

Courage.
.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT CRISIS
or, WE GET ALL COSMIKAL

Here's a weird New Agey synchronicity.

The U.S.A. is, as you know, a Cancer nation, born on the second of July (the printer finished printing up the Declaration on the fourth) and the moon figures prominently -- as the ruler of Cancer -- in our history. We LANDED on the moon, fer gawdsakes! How much more Cancerian can you get?

We are obsessed with the home, the family, security, protecting Children (for Cancer is the sign of the Mother); we led the world in the enfranchisement of women, equal rights for women, and the rest. George W. Bush is a Cancer, and his whole APPEAL is Cancerian:

I will keep you safe. I will protect babies (abortion). I will defend the Bible/traditional values (Intelligent Design, etc.). I will protect you from terrorists. (Just give me all your freedoms.)

And his Achilles heel turns out to be (gasp) a MOTHER whose son died in a pointless war unleashed by the Idiot Bastard Son and his Cancerian cackle.

And then shows up a woman named "Cindy" or "Cynthia" which is another Lunar name. (Actually, "Cynthia" was the mountain where Leto -- another Zeus conquest/affair -- gave birth to Apollo and Artemis, or Apollo and Diana, the "twins" sun and moon.) So, a mother named after the moon trumps Bush's Cancer native appeal to a Cancer nation.

But, of course, astrology is all bunk, right?

So it's just a New Agey kind of observation.

Ironically, Bush came to power when, on the first Tuesday in November, 2000, election day, Mercury went stationery coming out of retrograde -- which, to an astrologer, presaged a very STRANGE election of some sort, and, sure enough, it WAS. So, with Mercury retrograde again, Bush is suddenly on the RECEIVING end of those retrograde Mercurian energies of confusion and fogginess.

[Note, on November 8, 2000, Mercury went stationary at 29 degrees Libra, after going retrograde on October 19th at 15 degrees Scorpio. This year, Mercury went retrograde on July 22nd, at 20 degrees Leo. It went stationary/direct on August 15th at 8 degrees Leo. "Stationary" is that day when it appears to stop in the sky, either when going direct or retrograde.]

Then again, Bush has been true to form in all of this. Remember when during 9/11 he sat like a deer in the headlights for an interminable time, then flew all over the country like a chicken with his head cut off?

Well, not only is our "war" president completely frozen and bewildered about the Cindy Sheehan protest (when he could have spent an hour early on and defused the whole thing: all he had to do was listen to her for an hour, say nothing, hug her and never bother with it again); but now he's taking a vacation from his vacation: he's heading up to Idaho (where he still holds a 59% approval rating, out of an overall 41% approval rating in the latest polls). He'll hang out at an Idaho resort, then talk about "terrorism" in a 12,000 seat arena to a carefully screened audience that has zero possibility of experiencing terrorist attack, if they stay in Idaho.

Meanwhile, the right wing hate machine sputters, screeches, and smoke seems to be coming out of its fanbelts, as it tries its patented "smear and sleaze" approach -- you know, the one they pulled on Clinton for eight years, and the "attack all dissent" approach for the last five?

Somehow, when you take a sincere, guileless mother who's lost a son and apply the Limbaugh libel, it just turns people off: kind of like telling "hilarious" cancer jokes at a funeral.

The collective nose of America wrinkles in disgust.

Meantime (with the obligatory sneering in the background), Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards, the Veep candidate in 2004, sent out this eloquent open letter:

Dear Friend,

Casey Sheehan was born May 29, 1979, the first born child of Cindy and Pat Sheehan. It was a long labor. Fifty-one days after Casey was born, our first child, Wade was born, also after a long labor. They started school the same year, played the same games, watched the same television shows, loved the same country. On April 4, 1996, three weeks after going to Washington as a winner in a national contest about what America meant to him, Wade died in an automobile accident. On April 4, 2004, eight years later to the day, Casey, who loved his country enough to wear its uniform, died in Iraq. Cindy and Pat's hearts broke, as had ours.

We teach our children right from wrong. We teach them compassion and honor. We teach them the dignity of each life. And then, sometimes, the lessons we taught are turned on their heads. Cindy Sheehan is asking a very simple thing of her government, and she and her family, and most particularly Casey, have paid a very dear price for the right to ask this.

Cindy wants Casey's death to have meant as much as his life - lived fully - might have meant. I know this, as does every mother who has ever stood where we stand. And the President says he knows enough, doesn't need to hear from Casey's mother, doesn't need to assure her that Casey's is not one small death in a long and seemingly never-ending drip of deaths, that there is a plan here that will bring our sons and daughters home. He doesn't need to hear from her, he says. He claims he understands how some people feel about the deaths in Iraq.

The President is wrong.

Whether you agree or disagree with every part, or any part, of what Cindy wants to say, you know it is better that the President hear different opinions, particularly from those with such a deep and personal interest in the decisions of our government. Today, another voice would be helpful.

Cindy Sheehan can be that voice. She has earned the right to be that voice.

Please join me in supporting Cindy's right to be heard.

I grew up in a military family. My father and my grandfather were career Navy pilots. I saw what it meant to live a life every single day when the possibility of an honorable death is always there, at the dinner table, on the playground, at the base school. Will someone's father not come home tonight? And I didn't just feel the possibility, I saw the real thing, and, believe me, it stays with you, it changes you.

I also saw, then and more recently as I campaigned across this country and spent time with courageous military mothers and wives, how little attention is paid to the needs and the voices of military families. It has to change. The sacrifices that our military men and women make assure us that we have the strongest military in the world, but the sacrifices that their families make are too often ignored. The President's cavalier dismissal of Cindy Sheehan is emblematic of a greater problem. This is a mother who raised her son to love his country enough to serve. This is a mother who lived the impossible life of a mother of a soldier serving in Iraq, unable to sleep when he sleeps, unable to sleep when he is on duty, unable to watch the television, unable to stop watching the television.

And when the worst does happen, when the world comes crashing down and she puts the boy she bore, the boy she taught, the boy she loved in the ground, what does that government say to her? It says we'll do the talking; we don't need to hear from you. If we are decent and compassionate, if we know the lessons we taught our children, or if, selfishly, all we want is the long line of the brave to protect us in the future, we should listen to the mothers now.

Listen to Cindy.

Join me so Cindy knows we believe she has earned the right to be heard.

Elizabeth Edwards
And they're smearing that too. (Remember: they're the "values" and the "virtues" people.) They have, at last, no decency. No decency at all.

Courage.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
YEAH, TOO QUIET
or, WALTER BRENNAN RIDES AGAIN

[A quick note: there was no blog yesterday, even though I spent all day working on the blog. You might notice that we have a new, sleeker, snazzier look. Spent much of the morning adding new javascript clock, new logo, and then trying to track down, day by day, the stray bit of coding that was squashing the right-hand menu and expanding the left hand frame -- It turned out to be an impossibly long URL for the Oregonian that refused to linebreak. But it took three hours to find it by methodically subtracting posts, one day at a time, republishing, and then seeing if the problem still was there, etc. etc. ]

There's an old cliche in all those Hollywood Horse Operas. It's night, and one of the cowboys or cavalrymen or settlers will comment: "It's quiet."

And the old wizened Walter Brennan type will say: "Yep. TOO quiet."

I felt that way all day Monday. Other than her husband's astonishingly stupid timing in filing for divorce from Cindy Sheehan while he tools around in his hot rods in Northern California and she stands in the blast furnace of the Texas summer outside of Crawford, Texas, it was a slow news day.

Even that impossibly brave little newspaper, the Lone Star ICONOCLAST, who'd had the nerve to endorse John Kerry in Bush's "own" county, and has been offering coverage photographs and even MP3's free for use by all other media* had little on the Monday blog:

[* "Editor's Note: Permission is granted to reprint the information and photographs appearing in this feature about Cindy Sheehan's visit to Crawford and activities at The Peace House. Attribution would be appreciated. Recordings, if any, may also be reproduced, with credit. -- W. Leon Smith, publisher, The Lone Star Iconoclast." Thanks, Mr. Smith. -- This Blog]

7:45 p.m.
Gene Ellis Reporting for the Iconoclast

Overall, the afternoon has been fairly quiet at the camp, with the usual interviews and plans being made for tomorrow. A camp meeting is slated for tonight.

I have conducted a few interviews with interesting people who have been here and will get those transcribed for posting tomorrow.

http://198.65.14.85/News/2005/31-40/33news10.htm

No shotguns going off. No police harassment. It was quiet, too quiet.

And then this:

10:20 a.m.
Michael Harvey reporting from Camp Casey

Cindy Sheehan is preparing for a 10:30 press conference.

Volunteers have been attempting to repair and replace some of the crosses that were run over by a truck last night. A suspect was apprehended and arrested, but the name is currently being withheld. More on this shortly.

10:38 a.m.
Michael Harvey reporting from Camp Casey

More on the truck running over the crosses: According to sources out here, the man suspected of running over the crosses with a truck hails from McLennan County and is 55 years old. He was apparently apprehended after he got a flat tire. One of the crosses was apparently stuck in a tire.

According to Dianne Wilson, a local landowner has offered one acre on one side of the road and 180 acres on the other side of the road for use by Camp Casey. Although the exact location has yet to be announced, it is apparently closer to the Bush ranch than the current location of Camp Casey. It is being speculated that Camp Casey will be moved soon.

The press conference is about to begin.

10:50 a.m.
Michael Harvey reporting from Camp Casey

A couple of guys from Iraq Veterans Against the War talked to the group about how the damage to the crosses desecrated the memory of the soldiers who have died in Iraq.

1:50 p.m.
Gene Ellis reporting from Camp Casey

It's hot, with about a 50 people out here. They have been re-establishing the crosses that were damaged yesterday.

[And the photo captions from that posting: ]

CINDY SHEEHAN introduced speakers at a press conference this morning. She said referring to disruptions to the camp that members of her group are not going to lower themselves to violence.
-- Iconoclast Photo By Michael Harvey

CAMP CASEY personnel worked during the day repairing crosses that were run over by a truck late yesterday.
-- Iconoclast Photo By Michael Harvey

VOLUNTEERS attempt to repair as many of the crosses possible.
-- Iconoclast Photo By Michael Harvey

AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE ON TUESDAY, Hart Viges (Army veteran, left) and Charlie Anderson (Navy veteran, right) of Iraq Veterans Against The War, explained their opinions regarding why the war should be ended.
-- Iconoclast Photo By Michael Harvey
CAMP CASEY coordinator Ann Wright (left) speaks with landowners following a session of the McLennan County Commissioners' Court. A group of Crawford-area residents asked the commissioners to provide answers related to the camp's being located in an area that they described as dangerous for their children.
-- Iconoclast Photo By Deborah Mathews

http://198.65.14.85/News/2005/31-40/33news11.htm

(I note that their webmaster has been a little flaky, and there is -- as I write this at 7:16 PM PDT, 0216 Hours Zulu -- no link on the Iconoclast's "Cindy" menu for today's reporting. I took the old suffix, "33news10.htm," from yesterday, and added one to "33news11.htm" and voila! there today's report was. A simple trick, but an effective one.)

It has been astonishing to watch the madness on the Right and the utter fear of the MSM in covering this. Tonight's NBC Nightly News had an oxymoronically titled "In Depth" segment on "Hurricane Cindy" (there's "Fair and Balanced" reporting for yas!) that was notable for quoting (very briefly) talking headhunter Ann Coulter and, while noting the cross desecration with a mugshot and a misdemeanor charge, the "In Depth" segment bent over SO far not to offend either side of an impossibly polarized nation that it almost said NOTHING AT ALL.

I recorded the segment, and showed it to my wife, who was astonished at the nebulosity of the reportage -- or should I more accurately characterize it as 'persiflage'? Because it was precisely persiflage. Never let it be said that NBC let controversy get in the way of their reporting. Because their reporting is all about AVOIDING controversy -- you know, like Church bulletins and advertising campaigns.

Here's what the ICONOCLAST reported on the desecration incident (That NBC news found barely newsworthy):

5:25 p.m.

A McLennan County resident, Larry Northern, 59, has been charged with Criminal Mischief Over $1,500 and under $20,000.

Northern has posted bond and has been released. Bail had been set at $3,000, according to authorities.

Yesterday, a pickup truck, with a chain and bar attached, ran through a row of white crosses at Camp Casey, according to eyewitnesses.

The crosses had been erected as memorials to soldiers who had died in Iraq by volunteers who have been camped in the area awaiting a meeting of Cindy Sheehan and President Bush.

Sheehan, who arrived in Crawford on Aug. 6, has been demanding a meeting with President Bush to inquire about the death of her son, Casey, a 1st Cavalry Division soldier who was killed last year in Iraq.

In a prepared statement, Sheehan said after the mowing down of several hundred of the crosses, "Our hearts are broken about this."

Today, volunteers have been attempting to repair as many of the crosses as possible.
Discussion continues regarding moving the camp to another location. A press conference has been scheduled for 6 p.m. to address this issue.

Thirty-five dozen red roses were delivered to Sheehan from Florida in response to the destruction of the crosses.
Sad that one little mother, who has lost her son, and wants NO OTHER MOTHER to experience what she has is causing such befuddled rage and consternation. There's very little else to say, save to invite you to tonight's virtual campfire down in Crawford, Texas, where we can all stare into the glowing embers and wonder why our children are being sacrificed to a cause that keeps changing, of which a president who won't explain himself says the following:

"I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life ... I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so."
-- interview with Cox News about why he could find time for a bike ride on Saturday but not to meet with Sheehan (via Salon).

Astonishing. A little newspaper with some moxie and a whole lotta chutzpah, and very little in the way of resources or funds has been covering the Crawford Siege, and kicking the MSM's ass in sheer journalism. Hoorah for the little guy. Hoorah for the ICONOCLAST. And hurrah for Cindy Sheehan. Because this is about courage. Moral courage. And on that score, Cindy's side seems to have a monopoly.

On the other side, we've got "brave" thugs with pickup trucks, shotguns and, oh yes, bicycle helmets.

While we're at the virtual campfire, let's do an old-fashioned singalong. Let's all sing along. Just follow the bouncing ball:

The Battle Hymn of the NeoCons

Mine eyes have seen the gory
from a useless foreign war
They are trampling out the protest
for what we used to stand up for
We are sending troops to Baghdad
to get shot up more and more

The lie keeps marching on.

Gory, Gory in Fallujah
Gory, Gory what's it to ya?
If you ain't in agreement, well
then screw ya,

The lie keeps marching on.


In the glory of mendacity
George sent troops across the sea
with a perfidy in his bosom
that flim-flammed you and me
as they die to protect oil wells
he says they die for you and me

The lie keeps marching on.

Gory, Gory Mesopotamia
Disagree and they'll defame ya
Keep yer mouth shut -- who can blame ya?

The lie keeps marching on.
Courage.
.
Monday, August 15, 2005
PLEASE STAND BY

Applying blog upgrade 1.2.5

Skiing Uphill will resume publication shortly.

Please stand by.
.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
NIXON AGONISTES, PART II
or, ALCIBIADES STRIKES AGAIN


Who is this generation? Well, you might characterize them as menopausal hippies. But, really, these were the thirteen-year-old girls who screamed when Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles.

They were the kids wearing "Davy Crockett" coonskin caps back when Estes Kefauver was holding hearings based on J. Frederick Wertham's SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, fearful (as they are NOW fearful of video game sex and violence) that unregulated comic books were destroying the moral fiber of America's youth.

They were the generation that remembers the introduction of television, and the fading away of radio -- most will recall the first time a black and white TV set came into the house. Subsequent generations don't remember a time without it.

They were the "new generation" that John F. Kennedy passed the torch to.

And, during the sixties, they were the generation that opposed Vietnam, even at the cost of their own lives at places like Kent State. They were all of draft age. When they were young, they spoke openly of "revolution" and read their own press -- the underground newspapers, of which the current crop of "Free" weeklies are but a pale shadow.

They stood for an admirable progressive agenda when still in the throes of an idealistic youth, and, after the fall of Nixon, their agenda was the agenda.

But there were troubling aspects, too. They demanded that only their point of view was appropriate. The much-talked-about-but-little-appreciated "political correctness" is the legacy of that progressive youth.

And, while that generation -- whom, one might note, is equally deserving of the term "the Greatest Generation" -- was coming of age, having kids, getting jobs and careers, the old idealism was slowly sloughing off, like a snake shedding its skin. But the 1980s, many of those who had marched against Vietnam were members of the "Moral Majority," and, having rejected the tradition of positivism in favor of Jacques Derrida's deconstructionism, were increasingly at sea when it came to making moral and ethical choices. An entire generation had rejected -- more or less -- traditional concepts of God, Duty, Honor, Country, in a less black-and-white "existentialism lite" manner of thinking that is idiotically parodied these days as "moral relativism."

Idiotically, because the critics are usually just angry without being thoughtful. Sadly, the "moral relativists" are equally thoughtless, and having rejected "certitude" for an agnostic, seemingly critical worldview, they found themselves living in an intellectual house built on sand -- or, more often, quicksand.

As life wore away the rosy cheeks; as long hair gave way to Rogaine and they increasingly turned away from literature, from politics and from the hopefulness of youth, many reacted violently by returning to the so-called "traditional" values of church, family and their God-Given Right to not pay any taxes.

And the "other" members of that generation fumed and passed their days in passive-aggressive plotting. They awaited a messiah to lead them into the promised land: a reactionary decision to trash each and every social advance of the preceding decades.

They found their messiah in Ronald Reagan. And then, his false prophet in Rush Limbaugh.

Reagan capitalized on Jimmy Carter's prescient observation that we had reached certain limits on growth. That we needed to look to a future that was not so immensely wasteful of resources; that we needed to turn away from the mindless consumerism that had characterized the "British Invasion" generation's entire life. Reagan pounced on it with his mindless and wrongheaded "Morning in America" message -- a message of infinite resources, of endless oppportunities, and of limitless growth.

Well, we're at that point again, but this time, the oil really WILL run out. And, again, the Reaganauts are hiding their heads in the sand. Better the popular lie than the unpleasant truth. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

"Feminazis and "eco-nuts" were the problem. These "liberals" hated America. That was the problem. The problems were simplistic and solvable by the simple-minded. Taxes were a hideous burden -- and so forth.

Oh, and Jesus was your invisible friend, and, while you spent your days and nights wrestling with (usually abstract) moral issues, the other issues -- of dwindling resources and decaying infrastructure, of educationless schools, and unfunded social safety nets; of topsoil conservation (and the bankrupting of Jefferson's "yeoman farmer" class in favor of factory farms), so hard-won in the Depression-era reforms, well, all that fell by the wayside.

Ironically, the new "Christians" still managed to cheat on their spouses and divorce at the same rates they had when they were godless hippies. But no matter. They were getting old, and had the "solace" of "tradition."

And "Death Valley Days" referred less to Reagan's fake cowboy persona than to the looming train wreck.

The "progressives" helped immeasurably, to be fair.

They blithered. They dithered. They created a nation in which First Amendment rights were far less important than giving offense, no matter how outrageous the claims of the offended were. A generation of "whiplash Willies" played the Equal Opportunity laws for endless settlements in questionable lawsuits. Using race as a weapon shifted from the Ku Klux Klan to the opposite pole -- even though the majority of decent Americans struggled decently with the whole question of racism, sexism, ageism, genderism, and the rest.

"Hate" was outlawed. "Prejudice" was made illegal. But a new and incipient forms of intolerance insinuated themselves nonetheless: intolerance for non-"progressive" views. A bias within the national print media for opposing viewpoints (this was most corrosive in the publishing world -- "fringe" points of view were unpublishable and a frustrating philosophical monopoly took over at the magazines and the book publishers.

And the Democrats, who had all but destroyed the Republican party in the aftermath of Watergate, floundered, rudderless. A generation of undisciplined (and, subsequently, uneducated) children were reared, even as, ironically, "children" became the national religion -- all national decisions were made based on their impact on children. All issues were framed in terms of children. The Child was the new God.

But nothing got done. Reagan and the Democratic Congress stood at stalemate. Bush I and the Democratic Congress stood at stalemate. The progressive agenda, which COULD have been passed in the first hundred days of Jimmy Carter's administration, lay in a corner of Congress, rotting. When Clinton was elected in 1992, the same might have happened, but, again, the Democratic congress dithered, and the progressive agenda died, with the sole (seeming) exception of the "Family Leave Act."

A generation's idealism and political clout had been wasted by spineless professional politicians whose prime directive was not "Lead Us Into The Future" but, rather, "Thou Shalt Not Give Offense."

And the progress of the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society died, while the umbilical cord, unsevered, rotted on the dead fetus.

And, in the stygian darkness of Republican politics, a new beast was aborning -- a reactionary beast, fueled by a certain understandable rage and exploited by those with an agenda opposed to progressive thinking.

To be fair, we have to admit that anyone who did not agree with the hippies was silenced. To question political orthodoxy was to engage in ideological heresy.

I have followed in the wake of this generation, and observed the phenomenon: When I was a moderate (favoring acid, amnesty and abortion) in the 'Seventies, I was reviled by the Left; now, having moved somewhat left, but fundamentally still moderate, I have found myself reviled by the Right. And, as a writer, I have been politically silenced by BOTH for three decades now (thus, this blog).

But that is mere anecdote. The point is that I have understood and have not taken offense during that period, but my attitude has not been universal. Those either embracing or re-embracing the "traditional" values of an America that never existed (the "Death Valley Daze" crowd) WERE silenced. It was popular, and even praiseworthy to dismiss their beliefs and/or views out of hand, and to heap derision on them.

Let me say this: They were -- and ARE -- wrong. But American was founded on an ability to compromise -- even on issues upon which a profound gulf of fundamental belief existed, e.g. slavery.

And, in the rosy glow of their early triumphs, the Woodstock Nation was, in the words of the I Ching, "amid the startling movements, supinely sinking (deeper) in the mud." (Hexagram 51, "Thunder," Line 4, James Legge transl.)

The anger was justifiable, although the positions were not just. And, the glad-handers of the new political order merely heaped derision on the new righties without accepting the fact that, while they might be wrong, politically, they DID deserve to be heard, and not merely sneered at.

Which explains the rise of the Limbaughs: Rush and Company tapped into a deep well of anger. An anger that came from suppression, and frustration. The opinions of the righties might well have been eminently debatable, but their side of the debate was missing.

The error of the PC troops was NOT in their ideas -- although, as with all ideological positions, theory often trumped real-world experience, especially in the arenas of policy, where the Righties loved filing reverse discrimination lawsuits -- no, the error lay in not allowing the opposition to state their views. The error lay in belittling those with whom we disagreed. The error laid in REFUSING TO ACCEPT THEIR ANGER AS LEGITIMATE!

Let me say that again: The error lay is refusing to accept their anger as legitimate. Instead, they were laughed at and mocked.

You see, anger is anger. Whether you AGREE that it is justified or not, it is STILL anger, and the Left spent three decades telling the Right: No, you're not actually angry, because your anger is unjustified.

So, now we see all those Silent Majoritarians of Nixon's Regime returned to the fold, returned to exact their hideous revenge, like some cut-rate version of Dr. Phibes.

And we are now faced with the explosive conclusion that the Generation now in Power, the Boomers, the Rock N' Rollers, the Woodstock Nation, the Moral Majority CAN'T SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER!

There is no longer a middle ground. (And take a minute to think of what a tragedy-in-the-making this is. The last time it happened, we had a Civil War.)

And the evil comes full circle: Look at Charles Colson.

Colson was deeply implicted in Watergate. So much so that he went to federal prison, after being convicted as a felon. And, like any porn actress leaving the Biz, he found Jesus, and then founded Prison Ministries, Inc. He was released from prison, a "changed man."

Eschewing the political for the sacred, he, seemingly, toiled in the vineyards of the Lord, harvesting souls for heaven, and all would seem to have ended therein.

Which brings up a parallel, but equally important point: the de facto athiesm of the progressive political scene essentially expelled religious belief from the political debate -- a fundamental and fatal mistake that the French Revolution and the early Napoleonic rule also made.

By propounding an existential philosophy shorn of any eternal verities -- indeed, of ANY conception of right or wrong, except in the sense of expedience -- the Left jettisoned the moral high ground, and the seduction of absolute certitude appealed to many who required a Rule Book to act as a moral compass for their decisions.

And the Fundamentalist Right crept right in, as the Moral Majority quietly expanded and the Woodstock Nation suffered a shocking loss of its citizenry.

The explosion of "New Age" thinking was notable for its lack of homogeneity and, therefore, its ability to reach consensus -- which is one reason why the Carter and Clinton agendas ended stillborn in congress.

But back to Colson: after taking various weepy tours, proudly displaying his "sinful" past (much like Bush has been able to turn his coke-head drunken excesses into "virtue" of repentant salvation) and that dog and pony show granted him access to the burgeoning Christian Right -- which has its roots in the "Jesus People" movement of the Nixon era.

As the religious organizations turned more and more to politics, they found easy fodder in the various excesses of the Left. They used abortion as an organizing tool. Falwell coined the false phrase of "Secular Humanism" to smear his opponents. (No, Virginia, there is no "Secular Humanism" any more than there is a "Death Tax." They are convenient turns of phrase: bumper-stickers masquerading as thought.)

And on Justice Sunday, who was one of the featured speakers for James Dobson's (Dr. in Child Psychology, not Theology) little political pep rally for Right-Wing Nutcase judges a couple of months ago?

Charles Colson: who had now come full circle. From the Silent Majority to the Prison Ministries, to another Right Wing Guns, God and Gays fundie hatemonger. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

But their anger is real. Remember that. It may be the result of deeply flawed thinking (after all, why the Mormon Church and the Catholics are in bed with the very fundamentalists who did everything in their power to SHUT DOWN Catholicism and Mormonism shows an astonishing lack of foresight). But that anger is real, and must be addressed. Dismissal out of hand brought us to where we are today.

And that is: the Moral Majority is exacting its revenge on the Woodstock Nation in every manner imaginable. I tried to raise the warning about the rise of the loonie techie Right as early as 1994, but it took until AFTER 2004 for the progressives to notice that Right Wing Hate Radio had more than done its job to make two presidential elections stealable, and two earlier elections (Clinton) null and void by hamstringing him to the point of utter ineffectuality.

Those progressive politicians had never noticed that there are times when having a spine is all-important, and as they supinely sink into the mud for legislative battle after legislative battle, we decry their unwillingness to stand up. Ironic, considering that, for at least three decades, we have consistently chosen our politicians based on their invertibrate credentials. And now we want them to stand up like vertibrates?

Puh-leeze.

But Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, Karl Rove, et al are all Nixon's Children. And Reagan's "revolution" was the antithesis of Barry Goldwater's libertarianism -- so much so that in his final years, Goldwater was a pariah rather than an elder statesman in his own party.

John Roberts is a creature of this new school reactionary Republicanism, which is about long-simmering rage, reactionary recidivism and religious zealotry rather than about any principled disagreement.

That is why public discourse is about character assassination and not about an honest discussion of issues. That is why the Right is so populated with ideologues that even reality (e.g. Iraq is a spectacular failure) fails to send any warning signals. The "party line" must be promoted at all costs, even when it is clearly at odds with reality.

But, worst of all, these Boomers, this once promising and now, seemingly, blighted generation has exported its deadly inability to accept differing points of view to our entire nation; to the entire world.

There are two philosophies: the Woodstock Nation with their crystalline pretentiousness, and the Moral Majority with their cruciform certainties. Both may well be wrong.

But we will never know, because there is no debate. Their isn't even any discourse. There is no communication. There is only blind, passive-aggressive hatred: brother against brother; ideologue against ideologue.

The only thing they have in common is their tedious and devastating sense of self-righteousness. Tell me: is Rush Limbaugh any less self-righteous than Abbie Hoffman was? Is Ann Coulter any less condescending than Gloria Steinem?

No: theirs is a generation that can best be characterized with one ancient and utterly descriptive term.

Hubris.

It is not their ideas that will kill us all. It is their idea that THEIR ideas are the ONLY ideas, and that anyone who disagrees is worthy only of contempt that will drive us into another civil war.

But the sad truth is that THEY will not be the ones manning the barricades; they will not be carrying the guns, they will not be maimed, blinded, slaughtered.

It will be their children and their grand-children, just as it is our children and grandchildren who are dying in the Iraq Debacle while the chickenhawks (who supported Vietnam, but did not feel it important to serve) cluck and crow.

Nixon rose to power (as did Reagan) as a Cold Warrior -- devoted to the eternal paranoia and justifications that all was in service to the fight against Communism. Those excesses led directly to Watergate and Nixon's downfall when he could no longer distinguish between his Cold War enemies and his political "enemies." He was caught bugging the Democratic National Committee offices.

This litter of Nixonian pupae were lost without the Cold War paranoia, and by launching an unending, ill-defined global war against terrorism (or, now, a global struggle against violent extremism, GSAVE, for short) they returned to the comfortable political fundamentalism of "Better dead than red," except, twisted in a funhouse mirror, it's "Better Red than Blue."

Toss in the ancient grudges of the conquered South (and don't fail to notice the powerful Confederacy tidal currents underneath the surface of modern Republicanism) and you have a generation now sundered: modern and progressive against atavistic radicalism. There is nothing "conservative" about the angry Boomers. They are unrelentingly radical -- they would like to turn back the clock on the Progressive tradition to a century ago, before Teddy Roosevelt became "a traitor to his class" after the assassination of nasty William McKinley -- whose political svengali (McKinley's) is Karl Rove's favorite role model, ironically, or, perhaps not at ALL ironically.

That is not "conservative" in any sense of the word. They speak of the "Reagan Revolution," of the "Gingrich Revolution." These Boomers are every bit as radical as their opposition brethren were back in the hippie daze.

The "con" in "neo-con" relates more to method than ideology. Because the whole shuck is sold AS a con. If you disagree, you are smeared. But, really, when you think about it, in many ways, that was how the old Underground Press operated.

Indeed, this is a generation with a deep hatred of the mainstream media, or, as it's now called the MSM, and as it USED to be called, the "Establishment" press.

They have created two parallel medias in their generational lifetime: the new Freeper blogosphere; the Faux Nooz and Limbaughsphere on radio; and, before, the Underground Newspapers, and the grapevines of "the Movement."

But, understand, it is, when you strip the ideology away, the SAME approach, and it is an approach that cares not a jot or a tittle about listening to disagreement; cares not a whit about fair debate, nor about tolerance and diversity, at base.

And it's got to be stopped, lest the hubris of the Boomers turn in to the destruction of Athens, a la Alcibiades.

Hubris, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed. 2000) is defined as:

SYLLABICATION: hu-bris
PRONUNCIATION: HYOO-bris
VARIANT FORMS: also hy-bris (h-)
NOUN: Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance: "There is no safety in unlimited technological hubris" (McGeorge Bundy).

ETYMOLOGY: Greek, excessive pride, wanton violence. See ud- in Appendix I.

OTHER FORMS: hu-bristic (-BRIS-tik) -- ADJECTIVE
hu-bristic-al-ly -- ADVERB

But let me take the word back to its roots, because it isn't just the modern version that concerns us here. Hubris, in its original Greek meaning was:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris

Hubris is a common theme in Greek tragedies and mythology, whose stories often featured protagonists suffering from hubris and subsequently being punished by the gods for it. In Greek law, it most often refers to violent outrage wreaked by the powerful upon the weak. In poetry and mythology, the term was used of those individuals esteeming themselves as equal to or greater than the gods. Hubris was often the "tragic flaw", or Hamartia, of characters in Greek drama.

There was also a goddess called Hubris (or Hybris), the embodiment of the above concept, insolence, lack of restraint and instinct. She spent most of her time among mortals.

Greek and Roman mythological characters punished for their hubris:

Arachne
Bellerophon
Chione
Cinyras
Ephialtes
Iasion
Laius
Marsyas
Niobe
Otus See Ephialtes/Aloadae
Salmoneus
Thamyris
Jason
Euphorbus
Odysseus
Oedipus the King/Oidipous the King
The Suitors of Penelope in the Odyssey

Punishment for arrogance also appears as a theme in the Hebrew Bible:

Adam and Eve are tempted to be like God and are expelled from the Garden of Eden.
The Tower of Babel was erected to reach the sky, but was destroyed by God.

Some ancient sayings

Those whom the gods would destroy they first make all powerful.

Those whom the gods would destroy they first make proud.


Now, to that pantheon of losers, we can add Nixon, and very likely Bush the Elder, Bush the Wicked, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.

But when I say that Boomer hubris may well doom us all, I choose the term with great precision.

This political equivalent of epileptic seizures has been with us, spasmodically, since the late 1960s. And now it's time to take our anti-seizure medicine, lest we suffer the fate of Athens: destruction through pride.

History need not repeat itself, but the dominoes are already falling, and without dint of miracle, I cannot foresee any happy outcome from the battling boomers.

Courage.
.
hart williams
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