WE'VE MOVED! Click here: http://www.hartwilliams.com/blog/blogger.html
Saturday, January 07, 2006
CATAPULTING THE PROPAGANDA
or, WITH CNN ON OUR SIDE, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?
"I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
George W. Bush
Since I'm a bit of a talk radio junkie, I tend to hear large chunks of the CNN radio news cycle during any given day.
And what I heard all day today, starting in the wee hours of the morning was (approximately) that a new report has come out, suggesting that a large number of our dead in Iraq could have been prevented via the use of better body armor.
Specifically, trunk (or torso) wounds.
And then, a "CNN Military Analyst," a retired officer comes on with the SOUND BITE, stating that NOBODY could guarantee the safety of all troops in a war.
Which is either very, very stupid (unlikely) or very, very evil (likelier).
It absolutely chaffed my hide for this whole Saturday.
Well, consider the proposition: Body armor could have saved a significant number of lives.
Now, consider the opposition proposition: You can't save everybody in a war no matter how much body armor you have.
There is no "clash," as we used to say in debate. BOTH propositions may be true, and both may be false, but they are NOT mutually contradictory. In fact, the "Military Analyst" is blowing smoke up our collective ass. The fact that the right wing bastard at CNN Radio (who pulls this crap on a regular basis, and, amazing coincidence! it ALWAYS buttresses the Bush Administration's latest evasion of responsibility) chose this sound bite indicates that we are not hearing "news" but, rather, spin.
I would expect this sleazy stuff from the White House, but not from a "news" organization with "journalists" on the payroll. It is a weasel argument.
Because, you see, in FAILING to address the proposition (body armor would have saved a significant number of lives), the Analyst implies that BECAUSE not ALL can be saved, THEREFORE, NONE could be saved.
That's not at all true. Not even remotely.
In fact, the proposition is that a SIGNIFICANT (whatever that means, and it OUGHT to be quantified in the report) number COULD HAVE been saved. Nowhere is it stated that ALL could be saved, which is the argument that the "Analyst" has responded to, and the editor has CHOSEN as the "other side" of the argument.
So many fallacies; so little time.
Now, classically, this is either the Argumentum Non Sequiturum (literally, 'it does not follow') or it is the "Straw Man" argument.
Either way, this casual fallacy is not merely an insult to the listener, and to my profession -- I am a sometimes journalist, after all -- but it is an INSULT to those who died needlessly.
As is this entire war.
And I nominate that prick at CNN Radio who always sleazes up these Right Wing slithers in his short sound bites for the lowest circle of journalistic hell that can be had at short notice.
We're in DEEP doo-doo, kiddies. Remember how to boil a frog? Well, those are bubbles that I see in the bath, and they ain't from beans.
On a happier note ...
Yesterday's sound bite from "Breakfast with Nancy" on KOPT AM 1600, Eugene, OR: "The Windmills of the RightWing Mind" is up at
It contains the Pat Robertson quote, runs 3:07 and is a 1.5 meg download. (Right click and "save as"). The speakers are, in order, G.W. Bush, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Bill O'Reilly, and Pat Robertson. The music is from the Original Broadway Cast album of "Man of La Mancha," (with the Al Hirschfeld cover) on Kapp Records, featuring Richard Kiley.
And thanks for a GREAT show, Nancy. I really enjoyed it.
Friday, January 06, 2006
THE FRIENDS OF SAM ALITO
or, IF THEY BE DOIN' THE LAWD'S WORK, HOW COME THEY'S SO SLIMY?
A name in the Washington Post this morning caught the corner of my eye. That name was "Rob Schenck." Later, I heard on the radio (The Rachel Maddow Show) that he was "anointing" the room wherein the hearings for Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court would be held. Remembering his "tours" in support of Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore, I found his statement that he was "not taking sides" in the confirmation hearing more than a little disingenuous. The statement was, in fact, a satanic lie from this self-alleged clergyman.
The WASHINGTON POSTIt seems astonishing that the WASHINGTON POST (and other mainstream media outlets) would grant legitimacy to Schenck's extremist anti-abortion organization and its frequent ally, "The Christian Defense Coalition," led by Rev. Patrick Mahoney) They are also closely aligned with Fr. Frank Pavone's new, militant anti-abortion order (whose charter was granted in Rome during Pope Benedict's summer audience with the Schindler family and Father Pavone, the papal protagonists in the Terry Schiavo spectacle/drama of early 2005), Priests For Life.
Rob Schenck has continued to make publicity hay about the Terry Schiavo autopsy, making this (preposterous) claim:
The People for the American Way's "News From the Right" page notes:
http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=18844[Note that science categorically rejects absolute certitude, a nuance evidently lost on Mr. Schenck]
We have treated with the brothers Schenck in this column before. But, having remembered the research from earlier this year, the files were still intact on the hard drive. And, new information has come to light, from investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, earlier this year:
By Wayne MadsenWell, there's a happy kettle of fish. The so-called "National Clergy Council" is a Washington D.C. based group that seems, ofttimes, more interested in politics and press coverage than in more traditional, pious pursuits.
Elsewhere, Madsen has noted:
Gannon has been linked to Fellowship members who are active in two northern Virginia churches heavily influenced by the Fellowship: Little Falls Presbyterian Church in Arlington and McLean Bible Church in nearby McLean. Gannon is also linked to Rev. Rob Schenck, the founder of Washington's National Community Church, a Pentecostal congregation that counts John and Janet Ashcroft as members. It currently meets in a movie theater at Union Station in Washington, DC.I do not know what this linkage is, but perhaps Mr. Madsen will consider clarifying it. His focus was not, then, on Schenck (or his brother "Dr." Paul Schenck, founder and chairman of the NCC, about whom more, later).
Consider this statement written ABOUT Rob Schenck, which is quoted ON the Schenck brothers' NCC website:
The Successful Omnipresence of the ACLU that is "this generation's Ku Klux Klan ... terrorizing good people by threatening" legal action if anything Judeo-Christian is in the air; they are "psychological terrorists" according to Rev. Rob Schenck [Faith and Action] and Rev. Pat Mahoney [Christian Defense Coalition] who are activists and our colleagues here in DC.Or, if that seems too vague, here, from the original press release:
FAITH AND ACTION Press Release, November 17th, 2005And they did, too. From Agape Press:
... A Christian leader says the American Civil Liberties Union was anything but civil recently when he presented the organization with thousands of letters. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council recently presented to the ACLU 20,000 letters protesting that group's attacks on Christmas and other forms of religious expression. Schenck says ACLU executive director Anthony Romero was not interested in talking. "When I asked if I could see Mr. Romero, I was told no," Schenck relates. "When I asked if I could speak with his assistant, Scott, who was on the phone with me, he said no." Further, says the ministry leader, when he asked if he could simply deliver the letters and than discuss them later with ACLU officials, he was told: "When you get here, you'll be told what to do." When Schenck arrived at ACLU headquarters in Washington, DC, he was told to go to the back door, near the dumpster. The delivery service assured Schenck that the letters would be given to Mr. Romero. Schenck observes that "while the ACLU [claims to] be champions of free speech, they had no interest in hearing what we had to say." [Bill Fancher]It's been a busy year for the brothers Schenck. First Terri Schiavo and LOTS of "face time" with the media. Then the campaign against the ACLU, and, simultaneously this, oddly tailored to go along with FOX News' almost single-handed "controversy" of the "War on Christmas":
Group Calls Christians to Flood Country with Nativity ScenesNestor is on the Board of Directors of NCC, which ALSO launched their own "Operation Nativity" in Washington, D.C. Indeed, of the ministers listed on the NCC website, virtually all are Assemblies of God "Holy Rollers" ministers, or else independent of any denomination. One, in Ohio, is embroiled in a development controversy over land willed to the YWCA (they want the land to build "athletic facilities" and a "10,000 seat auditorium" for their "growing ministry." He also seems to have lost his life savings in a "Christian" investment swindle).
Here is the "Faith and Action" note on "Operation Nativity"
http://www.faithandaction.org/120605NativityScene2005.htmIn the late 1990s, they were campaigners for Judge Roy Moore, he of the "Ten Commandments" controversy. National Public Radio even interviewed brother Rob, who presented himself as an expert on the Ten Commandments (one presumes).
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4720116The NCC is not at all a "mainstream" Christian organization. With strong ties to the administration, to Pat Robertson, and more than willing to do the heavy lifting for the coalition behind this Sunday's "Justice Sunday 3" (including Dobson's "Focus on the Family") they hide behind a bewildering variety of "organizations," many of which, one suspects, are nothing more than a few filed papers and a fancy letterhead.
What is objectionable is not their hyper-right-wing, hyper-anti-abortion, hyper-theocratic stance, but the disingenuousness of the Washington Post (and NPR, and CNN, et al) citing them as "authorities," which only ramps up their phony gravitas. It's the Worm Ourbouros, the serpent eating its tail: the more TV time they get, the more they want, and the more they cite their prior time to justify their "spokesman" status. Evidently, unlike Pat Robertson (whom Rob Schenck used to work for) they can't afford their own TV network.
It is the presentation of crypto-Republican and fringe evangelical views to the media as "mainstream," and not, as ought to be the case, valid spokesmen representing a substantial constituency.
The Schenck brothers moved into their "ministry" with highly questionable credentials. So much so, in the case of brother Paul, that he DOES NOT LIST his bible college on his NCC website bio, but merely two "honorary" degrees conferred on him by two hyper-conservative Catholic (!?!?!) colleges, one of which boasts of its "medieval" curriculum!
[From their website: "Thomas More may be the closest thing now existing to the tiny 'colleges' which grew up at Paris and Oxford in the Middle Ages and nourished such thinkers as Thomas Aquinas and Ignatius Loyola" --Brother Paul is deeply entrenched in the new Catholic conservative movement, although NOT a Catholic:
While a pastor, he challenged a Federal District Court injunction that restricted pro-life "sidewalk counselors" from approaching abortion clinic clients and others with bibles, tracts and a peaceful, pro-life message. The case, Rev. Schenck V Pro-Choice Network, reached the United States Supreme Court, which ruled 8-1 in his favor, striking down the restrictions as a fundamental violation of the First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech.Here is a bit of the expose that appeared on this blog back on May 22, 2005:
Here's a little item on WHO 'twas that gave brother Paul Chaim Schenck his "honorary Doctorate of Divinity" degree (from sombody named Burton Bollag, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/9/2004) :
" ... A similar phenomenon had already occurred in Protestant higher education early in the 20th century. As America's majority religion and its colleges adapted to the relaxed mores of modern life, some conservatives grew dissatisfied. Biola University, in La Mirada, Calif., established in 1908, and Bob Jones University, in Greenville, S.C., established in 1927, were created at a time when "Protestant fundamentalists broke off and started their own institutions," says William D. Dinges, an associate professor who specializes in Catholicism and culture at Catholic University of America, in Washington. "Now that Catholicism is becoming more accommodating to modern culture, some Catholics are doing something similar." The late 1960s and 1970s saw the founding of four colleges with a staunchly conservative Catholic character: Christendom College; Magdalen College, in Warner, N.H.; Thomas Aquinas College, in Santa Paula, Calif.; and Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, N.H."You'll be happy to know that if you put "Thomas More College" &c into Google, your second hit will be Paul Schenck, and your THIRD hit will be "Stormfront White Nationalist Community" -- and the neo-Nazis speak lovingly about what a great place Thomas More is.
[listed under: Stormfront White Nationalist Community - General - Youth
"Conservative" (RightWhite Friendly) COLLEGE Searching Resources]
By their fruitcakes shall ye know them.
All right. I'm not being fair. The neo-Nazis are only QUOTING an article from "Insight on the News," self-described as a "Conservative current events magazine published by Washington Times." So it's not REALLY from the skinheads; rather, it's from the Moonies.
Feel better? (We strive here at Skiing Uphill to be fair, even to Barking Moonbats).
Well, as noted yesterday, Paul's "National Clergy Council" (whose name belies their narrow affiliations and negligible membership) hands out honorary Doctorates of Divinity, as well.
Here's another one:
"On January 21, 2003 Richard Exley was awarded the Doctor of Divinity honoris causae by the Joint Academic Commission of the Methodist Episcopal Church USA and the National Clergy Council Board of Scholars. The degree was awarded after a review of Richard's life's work? ? is sic) (ministry and writing). The ceremony was called The Joint Honors Convocation of the National Clergy Council and The Methodist Episcopal Church USA and was held in the conference center of Georgetown University. There were a total of eleven people who received honorary degrees Tuesday evening. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, the Honorable Roy S. Moore, was the guest speaker."From Exley's ministry website. (He's out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, by the way. Isn't it GREAT how they award those honorary degrees by renting a hall at Georgetown University and implying that this is some kind of BIG ACADEMIC DEAL?)
You can also get PhD.s without studying a day, online. They will even provide documentation and a contact so that prospective employers can "verify" your Doctorate. Still, only a curmudgeon would argue that handing out phony doctorates to advance one's political agenda was an outrageous con job, or that the Brothers Schenck via their self-originated Faith In Action and National Clergy Council (and the associated "P&R Schenck Associates in Evangelism, Inc., who "own" the FIA website -- among other assets -- are somewhat, er, questionable.)
And it's really heart-warming to see that hyper-fundamentalists have made buddies with hyper-conservative Catholics. For a long time, the pope was AUTOMATICALLY the AntiChrist, in most fundamentalist circles. Then again, the fundies have made common cause with the hyper-conservative Mormon Church (the LDS), whom they have long despised as heretics. (Remember, the Mormons moved to faraway Utah because their founder, Joseph Smith, was lynched in Nauvoo, Illinois, following years of violence against their adherents and beliefs).
Come to think of it, as late as the 1950s, "papists" were the object of violent confrontations here in the Christ-blessed Yew Essay. (But it's forgotten, just like the longstanding signs that said, for over a century: "NO IRISH." THAT racism, no longer advancing any minority agenda is as neatly shoved out of our social debates as the six million victims of the Holocaust who WEREN'T Jewish.)
Whence this new "ecumenicism" from the least tolerant sects of conservative Christianity?
And does anyone seriously think it will last beyond the defeat of all social liberality? Or will they turn on one another to rip themselves to shreds?
Perhaps the "brotherhood" will only last long enough to overturn "Roe v. Wade" (which can't, actually, be overturned, since it was subsumed by Casey v Reproductive Services in the 'Nineties).
In conjunction with the equally obscure Methodist Episcopal Church, USA, Mid-Atlantic Division -- evidently a former football conference -- that is. When the above is Googled, MEC-USA/MAD only shows hits pointing to Rob Schenck, interestingly enough.
As for their "mecusa.org" website, it has been "temporarily deactivated" (for failing to pay their bill perhaps?) since 2003. Must be a HUGE church, right?
Check that. Even though the Faith and Action website listed "MECUSA" fairly recently, a WHOIS search now provides "Congratulations Domain is available. Click here to register. Domain name is available and may be registered today!" (So, grab it while you can! How often can you get an entire denomination's URL for your very own? Only slightly used by a little old pair of D.C. twins who only drove it on Sundays.)
b. HOW TO GET YOUR DOCTOR OF DIVINITY (honoris causae*) for only $100 down and easy monthly payments of $50 for 22 months! (Such a deal!)
(* honoris causa: "honorary; bestowed in recognition of merit" -- Dictionary of Foreign Terms ... i.e. worth about as much as the paper it's printed on -- The Hart Williams Lexicon)
But what's even more interesting is the "St Paul School of Christianity of Indiana."
Here's how YOU TOO can become a minister! (from their website):
Bi-Vocational/Small Church Course of StudyBut SURELY this is a fine, accredited institution, right? Well, not so fast. Here is their statement of accreditation:
"Saint Paul Christian University, Inc. conforms to Indiana Code of 1971 Sections 20-1-19-1 through 20-1-19-24. Article 1, Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, as well as the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, as a private Bible College exempt from State Private School Accreditation."In other words, they aren't accredited.
A Christian diploma mill? How could anyone be so crass as to suggest this? Surely the St. Paul school is a fine and upstanding institution. You can see this by going to http://www.faithandaction.org/DoctorofDivinity.htm , where there is a fine and upstanding photo of Mr. Schenck (now perhaps we understand WHY he identifies himself as "Mr." and not "Rev."?) Here is the caption to the photo that shows six whole persons comprising the honoree, the "officers" of MECUSA and muckymucks of St. Paul:
"The Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action in the Nation's Capital, was conferred the Doctor of Divinity, honoris causae, by officers of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church USA (MECUSA). The honor was given in conjunction with St. Paul Christian University of Indiana, which houses the MECUSA seminary program."But perhaps this is better than brother Paul who merely notes that "he attended a missionary bible college" and had been "a pastor."
You know, a thought occurs to me that is probably unworthy. But, given the barking moonbat nature of the New Christian Right, and the lack of pastoral credentials of many of their leading lights (Dr. James Dobson, a shrink; Pat Robertson, a "businessman" et al), you wouldn't think that, given the tax-exempt status of the books, and the lack of necessity for "bible colleges" to obtain proper accreditation, isn't it possible that this would be a fertile field for charlatans, con artists and swindlers?
Naw. Forget that I ever mentioned it. It's just too cynical and unworthy. After all, they're "defending" the "45 million babies" that have been "murdered." And collecting your donations to hand out fake stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and to get a "Ten Commandments" postage stamp -- a stamp that will undoubtedly strike postal carriers and recipients of letters so stamped like Paul on the Road to Damascus with the blinding light of hyper-conservatism and its attendant desire to remove the motes from the eyes of those with whom they disagree, while blessedly obscuring their own ocular planking.
But I digress.
The President/Founder of St. Paul's is one Dr. Michael Layne, who seems to be a member of something called The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (hmmm. Sounds a LOT like the Methodist Episcopal Church USA, don't it?). Here is their "origin story" abridged from http://www.angelfire.com/pa5/epconline/history.html :
"The immediate history of the Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (LEPC) began in 1912, in the Ohio Valley. The LEPC is the successor to the General Conference of Evangelical Protestant Churches, The Evangelical Protestant Church of North America and the Evangelical Protestant Conference of Congregational Churches. The LEPC is historically rooted in the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation was a European movement of protest against many teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."Gee. They somehow manage shove their 1912 church back to the reformation. That raises a red flag. Let's see what they say later on down their webpage:
"A NEW BEGINNINGAh. Why does this sound so ... familiar?
But we have traveled far afield. After all Layne is ONLY the President/Founder of the unaccredited school that "Mr." Rob Schenck credentials his "Doctorate" through. The fact that the LEPC is less than five years old (though they manage to trace themselves, proudly to the anti-Catholicism of the Reformation via some highly questionable reasoning; and HOW COME they didn't just take it back to Jesus Christ himself?) is a matter that shouldn't be probed too deeply, in all probability.
After all, these moral "Ten Commandments" types are all fine, virtuous, upstanding guardians of the faith, defenders of 45 million theoretical "babies" and radical opponents of the "unelected."
Indeed, Rob Schenck this year decided to surpass his former role model on moral grounds:
The Dakota Voice, June 26, 2005I guess I only wonder one thing.
Who elected THEM?
If Man, then why are they in bed with Pat Robertson, Sun Yung Moon, Father Frank Pavone, the Catholic power structure (which is significant, given Samuel Alito's Catholicism and Catholic education), with the "Christian Defense Coalition," with John Ashcroft, Judge Roy Moore and even, allegedly, Jeff Gannon/Guckert and other sleazy Washington D.C. "movement" conservatives?
And why is he claiming to be an uninterested observer in the confirmation of Alito even as he "consecrates" the hearings room? (Am I then, allowed to perform a non-sacrificial Voodoo ceremony in the same room, as an equally free expression of MY freedom of religion? Somehow, I doubt it.)
But, if 'elected' by God, then why all the sleazy dodges from the brothers Schenck? Why the phony degrees, the endless, chameleonic changes of organization, of websites, of causes? [There are press releases of brother Rob visiting areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, to "coordinate" relief efforts by their organization, which seem to be sending some trailers for temporary housing].
And, finally, how is it that "Operation Nativity" exactly coincided with the WASHINGTON TIMES and FOX NEWS "War on Christmas" campaign to control the national debate?
[The "meaty" portion of the Schenck/Pavone et al expose can be found in the Skiing Uphill archives: Saturday, May 21, 2005, NEARER MY BLOG TO THEE, or BROTHERS AND SISTERS, LET US PREY]
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
IT'S A FINE TIME FOR A TERROR ALERT
or, CUPS, POUNDS, FEET
mirabile [Latin, from mirare, to wonder] mee-RAH-bee-lay. wonderful; marvelous. -dictu (DEEK-too) wonderful to tell. [Dictionary of Foreign Terms, Mario Pei, Salvatore Ramondino. Dell, 1974.]We return to the original Latin, from whence our legal terms derive, and, therefore, our notions of government derive, and the genesis of our current Constitutional Crisis derives.
Dear old Latin, from which our subtextual assumptions, grammatical matrix, and, in a secret and cabalistic alchemy of drawing conceptual boxes in which we think, reaches still for us from the grave with its skeletal, blood-drenched hand.
For it is a truth that the map you use to guide you to your destination often conceals as much as it reveals, and language is our mapping of reality.
Contained within the "dead" language of Latin are the Roman assumptions, and, while they were successful for a long time, those hands are drenched in far too much blood for American tastes. This was, recall from that crucifix, a culture that reveled in killing.
And now, hoping to have evolved -- or, perhaps, having been intelligently designed -- beyond that Roman taste for gore, we watch our armored gladiators in coliseums, watch our Senators bicker on CSPAN2, maintain an all-professional armed forces around the world, and appoint Drug and Terror Czars.
Which is a damned funny linguistic dodge.
You see, "Czar" (or, as it was alternately, archaically spelt: "Tsar") is the Russian version of "Caesar," as is "Kaiser" in the German, and elsewhere.
So, we are appointing a Drug Caesar, and a Terror Caesar, and a FEMA Caesar, and etcetera. "Etcetera" itself is Latin, and means
We still use the old English system, cups, pounds, feet. And on most food packages in your larder, there is an abbreviation from the English weights, often, "lbs." or "pounds."et cetera; et-KEH-teh-rah, and other tings; and so forth. [ibid. -- which means, in Latin, ibidem, EE-bee-dem. in the same place; in the same work (ibid.)]
But, you might ask, how is it that "pound" is abbreviated "lb."?
Because it is short for "librum," which was the standard Roman measurement, introduced BY Caesar, during his short stint as Emperor. (From the same time and naming as the constellation of Libra, but that's another story for another day.) The measurement was retained by the people living around the Roman settlement of Londonium, in the British Isles, which later became an influential city in world politics for a while.
In fact, we derive a lot of our legal and political system from the rulers of that old Roman settlement. (They later dropped the "ium" as being too hard to pronounce easily.) And our legal system is still underpinned by something called "Common Law," which was, or still is, English Common Law. It was from the British that we got our habit for legislatures, and from the Romans we got our habit of Senators -- of which nearly every state has a mirror of the Senate in Washington, D. C.
And, because our current struggle over the matters at hand rests on our arguments over Roman law terms,
miserabile [Latin] mee-seh-RAH-bee-leh. terrible; miserable; sad. -dictu (DEEK-too) sad to relate. -vulgus (VOOL-goos) wretched mass; rabble. [ibid.]Courage.
Monday, January 02, 2006
THE BULLY BOYS OF JANUARYhart williams
or, HAPPY NEW YEAR, GOLIATH
It has been a strange New Year's Day.
Strange, because it's NOT New Year's Day, but it is celebrated as if it were -- leaving yesterday, the ACTUAL January first, with only its traditional haze of hangovers wearing off.
And, of course, leaving New Year's Day to the self-styled barons and earls of the NFL, the owners in their sky-boxes, staring down at the spectacle of the hoi polloi dressed up to look like idiots on the last day of the NFL season. It was just another day to them: ho-hum, clock in, clock out. Nothing must get in the way of selling NFL crap in stores and online. It was many things, but it was not "New Year's Day."
Which makes it sort of the second 1984 I can recall. Certainly it was the second time (I know there was one in between, but I have no memory cells remaining from THAT one, an indication that I imbibed perhaps entirely too much). It is a very strange time, to have a New Year's Eve NOT followed by a New Year's Day. It's like the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which we refer to around these parts as "Where's Jesus? Day."
In 1984, it seemed utterly appropriate that January 2 was January 1 -- or vice versa, according to your grammatical affinities.
Two plus Two equals Five, said Big Brother in that famous novel, and, in its eponymous year, January One equaled Two.
As does one equal two in this year, twenty-one years later, as Orwell's 1984 seems less and less like science fiction, and more and more akin to straight reportage.
I have watched several bowl games -- as is my wont, following the sacred traditions in which I was reared. And I have been watching the slimy media spectacle of monopolistic bowling, a sacred tradition in which we all get rear-ended. (I am not speaking of automobiles.)
I noted early on that the vast majority of games had been scheduled carefully to NOT interfere with one another. Most were carried on ESPN/ABC, and, weirdly, after my alma mater, TCU, won its bowl game, ESPN news has failed to mention the matter at all over the course of the day.
Because it's all about the big guys grinding the little guys into the dirt. There's no time for the other scores.
Oregon ended the season ranked #6, but no BCS bowl was proffered. Evidently, the only thing that gets you in is either going undefeated or the East Coast media booking you as a circus act.
That's nothing new: when the "BCS" was announced, I noticed that it was set up so that a BYU or a Wyoming could never win a national championship, as the BYU team did in the 1980s. The bowls are booked for maximum ratings and maximum ticket sales, and the win/loss record becomes a mere incidental in that equation. A 6-5 team can go to a bowl game, which is a repudiation of everything that the "bowl" concept was supposed to stand for.
Or, consider the game that I've been watching, with the slowly dawning realization of just what a shuck it is: after Katrina (which means, "cleansing") nuked New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl -- now the "NOKIA SUGAR BOWL" as though any of us knew what Nokia Sugar might be -- was moved to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Well and good.
What an astonishing coincidence that West Virginia was booked to play ... Georgia!
Let's see: there's about a million and a half people in West Virginia, and maybe double that in Atlanta alone. But this is a "fair" game played on a "neutral" field?
Right, and I'm the Easter Bunny, what color would you like your eggs?
All hail the BCS and their cash-cow, since it isn't sport that's sacred, but, rather the bovine that suckers fans into leaving a potload of cash in the "bowl" city. We should just formalize the concept and hereinafter $pell $ports with the altered $. At least it would be truthful, even if the $ports is anything but honest.
(I won't go into the voodoo calls that characterize "big time" college games. I mean, nobody would EVER bribe a referee with millions in bets on the line, right? Right?)
Now, please somebody tell me that "sport" is meaningful here, other than in the sense of the small town bully having "sport" with the greenhorn who just came to town. Or Tom Sawyer beating up the "sissy" kid in TOM SAWYER -- surely one of the most embarrassing moments in American literature for Mark Twain, who usually took the side of the underdog.
And I came to the understanding that on this, my fifty-first New Year's, I am sick to fucking death of bullies.
Sometimes it seems like it's been an unending parade of them, like the Rose Parade. [Note: the Rose Parade originally initiated their "Never on Sunday" policy not out of piety, but, rather, because the church bells on Sundays spooked the horses in the parade.]
I didn't care to be bullied by Mike Baker and his gang of thugs in grade school. They'd jump me in the corner of the playground that the teacher couldn't see, and by the time that she noticed a scuffle, I'd have managed to fend off five or six of them, though I wasn't the biggest kid there.
And, invariably, for having successfully defended myself in a fight I hadn't invited, I would be sent to the principal's office -- for the offense, evidently, of not having been beaten up.
I should have noticed the trend right there and then: a society that worships bullies is going to defend them, no matter how highfalutin' the talk of honor and integrity.
In the second grade, two third grade girls walked up to me in that same playground, and, bigger than I was, started kicking me, beginning with a kick to the nuts. Since I didn't know any better, I hit back, and the principal himself, watching, came down, grabbed me, and kept me in his office until four p.m. "You know it's wrong to hit girls," he said. I guess I was too intimidated to ask the question that I always wanted to ask him: If they're bigger than you, and attack you in superior numbers, what am I SUPPOSED to do?
I never got an answer to that question.
In junior high school, after we'd moved into a new neighborhood, the kid four houses down, Dennis Trumbull, decided that he had a grudge against me (on grounds that were utterly absurd), and my seventh AND eighth grade years were spent avoiding him and his little pack of bicycle-riding goons, looking to intercept me on the nineteen blocks to Laramie Junior High School (the old WPA Laramie High School).
No reason: just blind, insane hatred. Just a need to catch and beat a much smaller boy. He alone had six inches on me, and a lot of pounds. Add his buddies, also larger and all with better bikes than mine, and every day was a living horror.
I managed to avoid them for two solid years by always taking a different route to school; by amazing escapes down back alleys, and, once, by physically throwing my bike over a fence, climbing the fence, rolling my bike to the next fence and doing the same thing, etc.
I was late to school that day, but my homeroom teacher evidently didn't notice or care. No pink slip. Nothing.
Those were halcyon days for bullying, if you happened to be bullying me. My mother's boyfriend and her husband took turns trying to impress her by seeing which could administer the most effective corporal punishment on me for my "transgressions" real and imagined. When you add her initial slapping around, it was triple jeopardy for the slightest infraction. But mother and dad decided to reconcile, and move to his hometown, a farming hamlet of 300 souls smack dab in the center of Kansas: "limestone fence post country."
So thence to Lucas, Kansas, where the various members of the best 8-man football team in the state decided to take turns harassing the "city slicker" from the far away galaxy of Wyoming. They were consistent in their hatred, however. Another kid, an amazing artist in my class, had moved that year from TEN miles away, and was bullied in all the same ways.
By this time, I was beginning to notice that, while I was constantly targeted by bullies, it was never for the same reason. Ultimately, it didn't even have anything to do with me. I was merely available.
Then, I watched as the Kansas Athletic Commission bullied THEM: They'd gone to the Kansas State Championship game and lost as juniors. The following year, they went undefeated, and almost unscored on. They finished their year by playing their arch-rival and the team ranked #2 in the state football polls with a 44-14 shellacking.
And the rules had been changed to some weird system based on the won-lost records of the schools we PLAYED, and they didn't even get an invitation to the playoffs, even though the Topeka, and Wichita papers had them ranked number one from wire to wire, and even, as I recall, the legendary Kansas City STAR agreed.
Bullies. The bigger ones kicking the smaller ones. I'd had a bellyful of it, but there wasn't any escape. It just got worse.
In military school, virtually all the boys (it was an all-boys Episcopalian hell-hole) were there because their parents could afford to NOT have the judge send them to the state juvenile detention facility (whatever any particular state happened to call it). I heard the same story a hundred times: "The judge said, 'Either I send him to reform school or you send him to a good military school.'"
How many of those parents sent their little demon to a bad military school I'll never know, but I do know that the inmates I was incarcerated with were some of the most vicious sadists I've ever encountered, and, having driven a cab out of Eagle Rock in L.A. I've seen some pretty scary shit, so that's saying something.
I was bullied into a meaningless fight there, and the other kid, bigger than me, finally punched my clock. I may have been knocked out, I know I had my bell rung pretty good.
But by that time, I was sick of the bullies, and sick of the fighting. After that, I'd never have another physical confrontation in my minority, and only a couple since I became an emancipated 'adult.'
This is how insane the whole mess was: We got to go into town on Saturday night on "furlough." That was, if we didn't have any demerits. For those, you worked them off, at one demerit per hour, in walking guard duty in front of the Commandant's office, with a lead-plugged World War II vintage M-1: march X number of paces, go through the manual of arms, execute an about face, shoulder arms, and march back X number of paces. Lather rinse and repeat.
It was about a mile to downtown, where there was just enough time to catch a movie, or check out the groovy head shops with their black light M.C. Escher posters, and etcetera, and get back by curfew.
This was during the 1970 Cambodian Invasion, and being in a uniform could get your ass kicked, even though I never understood how being in MILITARY school had anything to do with Nixon and his crazy macho blundering on Johnson's War.
The guys I was going into town with noticed a parked semi-trailer near the no-man's land of the railroad tracks that separated the "wrong side of the tracks" neighborhood that the military school was in from the town, proper. We checked it out, and it was unlocked. It was filled with beer, and you know what a big deal beer is to high school boys. But we needed cups, and, at that point, I parted company. I had to buy a can of Brasso* at the Army/Navy Surplus store.
[*I still have that can, believe it or not. A little goes a long, long way.]
I remember thinking that if they wanted to drink, that was fine. I wasn't interested, and I kept going into town.
The next morning, Sunday, at breakfast, I learned that they'd all been busted by the MP's (OK, I think it was CP's, for "Cadet Police"), and racked up a huge chunk of demerits. They'd not only broken the cadet code of rules, but they'd technically broken the law, as well, except that no authorities were called in. The crazed ex-Marine Lieutenant Colonel who ran the place would take care of this by himself.
A note on the Colonel: One arm was horribly burned, and disabled without being completely useless. A Bob Dole arm. He had, reportedly, gotten it while landing his burning aircraft. The crew had bailed out, but he landed it because "it was U.S. Government Property." No doubt the plane was long since junked. When he made his little Patton speeches, he kicked rocks on the pavement. On reflection, he was just about the LAST man on Earth I'd want handling children (the lower school started at sixth grade). The Colonel's punishments of the horrible beer drinkers were appropriately draconian.
By Sunday lunch, the rumor was flying around that I'd been the rat. I'd finked out my fellow cadets to the Gestapo. So, all this draconian bullshit was my fault.
You might note that my honest statements were never given the slightest credence. Honor and thieves and all that.
And my insane, Future Criminals of America, dormitory mates finally forced this fight between me and another kid who'd gotten there at the same time as me.
I still remember the clear spring night, and the moonlight, and doing OK, but then I got cold-cocked and the fight was history. I had a nice black shiner for my troubles, and, in some mysterious way, I'd "proven" that I hadn't finked out my fellow cadets.
It would be insane enough, did it end there. It didn't. I had to take a certain amount of administrative hell for refusing to name the other party, or the conspiracy of sadists who'd arranged the death match.
But, maddest of all, the guys on MY floor then jumped the other guy, and gave HIM a black eye, because he'd beat up a guy on THEIR floor, and the honor of the floor was at stake. I told the other wounded soldier that I hadn't had anything to do with it and I thought it was bullshit, and, for a welcome change, he actually believed me.
If he'd done so in the first place, we wouldn't have been nursing identical black eyes. He wanted to be friends -- company in misery -- but, frankly, I didn't like the little bastard to begin with, and getting popped in the eye didn't strike me as the basis for any sort of beautiful friendship.
For two glorious years in Santa Fe High School, I was bully-free, for the first time since Kindergarten.
And then, to college, where the bullying was by the Administration; by the Scholarship Athletes against the lowly students, and by the "Greeks" of the fraternities and sororities against we, lowliest of the low, the GDI's -- the "God Damned Independents."
Which only got me ready for all the bullies of Hollywood, where the good looking bullies go, and the bullies of Washington D.C. where the not-good-looking bullies go, and New York City, where the checkbook bullies go, good looking or not. There is not time to go into the endless profusion of bullies involved. This is just a little daily blog, after all. But, suffice it to say that their name was legion. Bullies were not then -- and are not now -- an endangered species.
One of those bullies, a man who made a special point to poison my career, and caused me a lot of harm based on that same insane hatred that all bullies have -- that bully died last year, and I can't say that I am "big" enough NOT to take satisfaction in watching his corpse float past me on the river. Schadenfreude, to be sure, but I am sinfully unapologetic: good riddance. He died as he'd lived: diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, he decided to bully it, ignore it out of existence and scowl it into submission.
The diabetes didn't flinch. It just killed him: c'est la guerre.
But the bullying has continued to this day, like 2004, when the powers-that-be at the local Democratic party decided to illegally remove me from office (I'd been lawfully elected Vice Chair of House District 8) to install one of their cronies, and included libelous statements in the minutes and in the Democratic newsletter just to rub my nose in their 'high-minded' scorn.
[Yes, Virginia, they were actually, legally, actionably libelous. But who to sue? And at what price? You can't get blood out of a turnip, after all.]
The system is set up for the benefit of the bullies, and ever since that kicking incident in second grade, I've learned not to depend on the system for protection against bullies. I just learned to better and better avoid them.
And I learned to take the cause of the underdog, because I've spent so long in that position. In fact, the whole reason I became a writer can be traced to a fall afternoon on the dead yellow grass in Fort Worth, Texas, when I was asked to write a letter to the college newspaper ("You're good with words") about my future wife's girlfriend's boyfriend-of-the-moment, who'd walked on to the TCU basketball team, gutted out a grueling, hazing, vicious training camp, and made the team, only to be told that TCU was canceling the Freshman basketball team because, it was stated, "there weren't any good prospects." (This from a college basketball team that never evidenced the slightest scintilla of understanding that a basketball was NOT oblong and pointed on both ends. They rarely scored as many as fifty points in a game in the three years I was there.)
I wrote that quixotic letter, and have continued tilting pointlessly at windmills ever since. I guess I just can't abide bullies, after having been the object of their 'affections' for so very, very long.
I am, hilariously, often accused of being a pampered member of the patriarchy, or a precious White European Male. I can usually suppress the laughter that this hysterical* irony produces internally. Here's a trick kiddies: humans delight in exploiting unequal relationships, irrespective of race, sex, creed, color or species. Usually I'm on the receiving end. A few times, I've been the bully myself, and I don't like myself in those times.
[*Although I don't have an 'upset uterus' which was the original meaning of 'hysteria.']
My natural affinity is, for understandable reasons, with the underdog.
But these days, we're in a culture of bullying, and it's damn near impossible to avoid bullies: the bullies who run both houses of Congress; the bare minority of bullies on the Supreme Court, and, lest we forget, the collection of bullies and heavies who make up this maladministration.
Which brings us to our Bully President:
If they say that we get the government we deserve, then we DESERVE Mad King George.
A bully, I have learned, is both a sadist and a coward. Fundamentally he's/she's a "do as I say, not as I do" hypocrite: never bound by the rules that the bully imposes on everybody else; rules that the bully can never live up to, and rarely has even tried to. Well, Bush is certainly that. But so, alas, are we.
For two centuries and more, we have bullied the Western Hemisphere, after loudly proclaiming that we would tolerate no European influence in the Americas and Caribbean (the "Monroe Doctrine")
We have meddled, conquered, bullied, pillaged and threatened just about every country that we made such a big noise about "protecting." Panama. Mexico. Columbia. Nicaragua. Cuba. Haiti. The Dominican Republic. I could go on and on.
And we have exported that bullying throughout the length and breadth of the planet, but we squeal like stuck pigs if there is a HINT that some foreign country has contributed money to one of OUR sacred elections.
We've sent political professionals to run the Israeli elections; the Russian elections, the Iraqi elections, etc. etc. etc.
Our corporate culture demands that entry level managers read "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu; we worship the takeover artists, the merger maniacs, and then say nothing when it turns out that they bought up the company to shut down competition, not to add its operations to their own. They used to read Musashi's "Book of Five Rings," the Go Rin No Sho, which is a fine and useful book if you want to kill somebody in a sword fight, but scary in the mind that wants to apply it to business.
We've been stuck with packaging we can't even open (CD's and Walkmans), given ever-cheaper and shoddier products, and seen our skilled jobs sent overseas.
Now, is that the thinking of someone who values their customers, or is that the thought-process of a neanderthal cutthroat?
Which brings us, by commodious vicus of recirculation back to the bowl bullies and their thug schools, ever more dependent on a sport that maims and cripples a significant number of the kids who play. Trust me: I've hung around and played with ex-college and ex-NFL players, and the scars and braces in young men seem almost medieval. And they are ubiquitous.
I remember my brother telling me a story of WHY he dropped out of the Division 1A football racket at the University of Wyoming and went to the smaller Colorado School of Mines: he had listened to the future University of Texas coach spend all week's practices working up a play to cripple an All-American linebacker they were facing the next week. (They failed.) And then, being a young college player, he was sent out on the round of rubber chicken "gridiron club" dinners that form a significant subculture in football: a recruiting tool, and networking system for musical chairs coaching positions, etc.
And they've always got some ex-NFL great as a speaker, to keynote the rubber chicken dinner for the great football fraternity.
"Every one of them was crippled," said my brother.
On braces, crutches, with canes, vertebrae fused, bones rehealed imperfectly, slow-moving and often in obvious pain: these were the luckiest of the young gladiators.
Just what the bullies ordered. Except, really, you don't want to see them after we've finished with them. Just watch Joe Theismann's leg breaking with a sickening crack, over and over and over and over again on instant replay.
A bully spectacle. Our bully President on his bully pulpit. Bully boys and bully girls -- I watched the premiere of "Roller Girls" on A&E tonight, and it was sickening to watch these young women sadistically bullying other young women. Except, that's what happens in every boy's locker room in America. One team was called "The Rhinestone Cowgirls," and the other was something else, but they were referred to, and referred to themselves as "the putas" -- which any Santa Fe High kid can tell you means "whore" in Spanish slang.
Bully. Just bully.
Still, since it's the "first" day of our Orwellian year, let me throw down this gauntlet to our riotous profusion of Goliaths: Davids have a way of turning up at inopportune moments.
Oh. That, and "screw you."
NOTE: ALL correspondence relating to the blog will be considered as a submission for possible posting. Submissions may be posted and subsequently published without compensation. Identities of posters will be suppressed to protect their privacy. The rabid snarling of the barking moonbats requires that comments be moderated. We certainly and respectfully ask your indulgence in this matter. Thank you.
WE'VE MOVED! Click here: http://www.hartwilliams.com/blog/blogger.html
* O T H E R S T U F Fo There is no other stuff at this time. There might be someday, though. One can always hope.