Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A new moniker

There are hundreds of scathing nicknames used by those of us who dislike our, um, president. Until now, I've thought “Bu$hco” was pretty descriptive of his values and exploits. But I came across a new one I rather like:

“His awol-ness.”

Credit goes to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, and thanks to those folks for teaching me a new coding trick: how to make the "w" red.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Peeling the onion

Each day brings a new revelation about how the America we used to think we lived in has been stolen from us. Some days there's so much news we can't even digest it fast enough.

Earlier this week came word that Bu$hco was spying illegally on American citizens—but only those who were placing calls or sending emails overseas. I laughed that people were actually shocked when they heard that the cowboy was taking the law into his own hands. Today that was followed with a revelation that the spying wasn't limited to just that group; indeed many calls between U.S. citizens at home were wiretapped as well. (I'd be really disappointed if I found out they weren't wiretapping my cellphone or reading my emails. I was so proud of our Homeland Security Department when they found my Swiss Army knife when I was trying to board that flight to Oakland.)

And of course, Dick Cheney had to rush home from the Middle East to break a tie in the Senate so rich people's tax cuts can be continued while Medicare, college loans and other benefits for the poor and middle class are slashed.

Sometimes I like to delude myself by imagining that the day will come when the American people will finally get fed up enough to bring an end to all this madness. But with the rigged voting machines, torture chambers, and general disregard for the rule of law in the Oval Office, it's pretty clear a coup d'etat has taken place and we're all just going around pretending we live in a democracy.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Where Would Jesus Shop?

A band of terrorists is trying to hijack the holidays. With their "Christmas-only" crusades and boycotts, a group of self-described and misguided "Christians" are doing little more than solidifying the connection of their savior's birth to mindless consumerism.

By castigating the use of "Happy Holidays," these zealots seek to deny the whole range of winter solstice celebrations of others with whom we share this earth. After all, there are those who celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or Rohatsu (Buddha's day of enlightenment) at this time of year. Almost everybody celebrates New Years.

Is it this dismissal of the cultures and practices of others that leads these people who think they're following Jesus to rationalize that it's OK to kill tens of thousands of Iraqis in the name of bringing them our brand of "freedom?" There must be some explanation why the deaths of other people's moms and dads and babies and teenagers, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends don't much matter, while Target's holiday ads are a cause of constant consternation.

To me, saying "Happy Holidays" includes all those other languid days preceding and following December 25th. It's that span of time when work slows down and fun speeds up. There are parties with friends and family, more music, colored lights and decorations, cookies and punch, cocktails and eggnog and tangerines and pine needles and candles. That's a whole lot more than than what I mean when I say "Merry Christmas." Wishing others "happy holidays" is inclusive and joyous, and embodies the best impulses of Christianity.

Today's pious set are like the Pharisees in the time of the Second Temple. I pray for the day Jesus returns and throws the imposters out.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dictionary of Republicanism

We all know that think tanks like the Cato Institute have labored hard to hijack the English language, putting a new spin on familiar words and concepts. I found this wonderful dictionary of Republicanism on the website for The Nation. We won't win back the hearts and minds of the nation until we dispel some of this twisted wordsmithing. To wit:

abstinence-only sex education n. Ignorance-only sex education [Wayne Martorelli, Lawrenceville, NJ].
alternative energy sources n. New locations to drill for gas and oil [Peter Scholz, Fort Collins, Colo.].
bankruptcy n. A punishable crime when committed by poor people but not corporations [Beth Thielen, Studio City, Calif.].
Cheney, Dick n. The greater of two evils [Jacob McCullar, Austin, Tex.].
China n. See Wal-Mart [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].
class warfare n. Any attempt to raise the minimum wage [Don Zweir, Grayslake, Ill.].
climate change n. The blessed day when the blue states are swallowed by the oceans [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ].
compassionate conservatism n. Poignant concern for the very wealthy [Lawrence Sandek, Twin Peaks, Calif.].
creationism n. Pseudoscience that claims George W. Bush's resemblance to a chimpanzee is totally coincidental [Brian Sweeney, Providence, RI].
DeLay, Tom n. 1. Past tense of De Lie [Rick Rodstrom, Los Angeles, Calif.]. 2. Patronage saint [Andrew Magni, Nonatum, Mass.].
democracy n. A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted [Michael Schwartz, unknown].
dittohead n. An Oxy(contin)moron [Zydeco Boudreaux, Gretna, La.].
energy independence n. The caribou witness relocation program [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].
extraordinary rendition n. Outsourcing torture [Milton Feldon, Laguna Woods, Calif.].
faith n. The stubborn belief that God approves of Republican moral values despite the preponderance of textual evidence to the contrary [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].
Fox News fict. Faux news [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].
free markets n. Halliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense [Sean O'Brian, Chicago, Ill.].
girly men n. Males who do not grope women inappropriately [Nick Gill, Newton, Mass.].
God n. Senior presidential adviser [Martin Richard, Belgrade, Mont.].
growth n. 1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich. 2. What happens to the national debt when Republicans cut taxes on the rich [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].
habeas corpus n. Archaic. (Lat.) Legal term no longer in use (See Patriot Act) [Josh Wanstreet, Nutter Fort, WV].
healthy forest n. No tree left behind [Dan McWilliams, Santa Barbara, Calif.].
homelandism n. A neologism for love of the Homeland Security State, as in "My Homeland, 'tis of thee, sweet security state of liberty..." [Tom Engelhardt, New York, NY].
honesty n. Lies told in simple declarative sentences--e.g., "Freedom is on the march" [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].
House of Representatives n. Exclusive club; entry fee $1 million to $5 million (See Senate) [Adam Hochschild, San Francisco, Calif.].
laziness n. When the poor are not working [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].
leisure time n. When the wealthy are not working [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].
liberal(s) n. Followers of the Antichrist [Ann Wegher, Montello, Wisc.].
Miller, Zell n. The man who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton after a particularly tough interview on Hardball [Drew Dillion, Arlington, Va.].
neoconservatives n. Nerds with Napoleonic complexes [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].
9/11 n. Tragedy used to justify any administrative policy, especially if unrelated (See Deficit, Iraq War) [Dan Mason, Durham, NH].
No Child Left Behind riff. 1. v. There are always jobs in the military [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ]. 2. n. The rapture [Samantha Hess, Cottonwood, Ariz.].
ownership society n. A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth [Michael Albert, Piscataway, NJ].
Patriot Act n. 1. The pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first. 2. The elimination of one of the reasons why they hate us [Michael Thomas, Socorro, NM].
pro-life adj. Valuing human life up until birth [Kevin Weaver, San Francisco, Calif.].
Senate n. Exclusive club; entry fee $10 million to $30 million [Adam Hochschild, San Francisco, Calif.].
simplify v. To cut the taxes of Republican donors [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].
staying the course interj. Slang. Saying and doing the same stupid thing over and over, regardless of the result [Suzanne Smith, Ann Arbor, Mich.].
stuff happens interj. Slang. Donald Rumsfeld as master historian [Sheila and Chalmers Johnson, San Diego, Calif.].
voter fraud n. A significant minority turnout [Sue Bazy, Philadelphia, Pa.].
Wal-Mart n. The nation-state, future tense [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].
water n. Arsenic storage device [Joy Losee, Gainesville, Ga.].
woman n. 1. Person who can be trusted to bear a child but can't be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have thechild. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding herreproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn't want to have sex in the first place [Denise Clay, Philadelphia, Pa.].

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like bullshit

I can't take credit for that headline; I saw it somewhere in some blog. But isn't it just delicious? It's referring to this absurd fundamentalist crusade against using the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas."

When I was a child, seeing the "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" signs made Christmas feel even more special to me. I never stopped to think about those sentiments being targeted to "nonbelievers." Instead, I saw it as a wider application of Christmas and its values to the larger world.

God, life gets tedious these days with all the do-gooders and the cultural correctness police.