Nothing Funny about Letterman Tonight

I heard the news before watching tonight’s show, but it was hard to watch Dave admit to having several sexual affairs (he called “sick, sick things”) with staffers at the show.  He spoke about the man (who it turns out is the producer of “48 Hours”) who tried to blackmail him for $2 million for most of the segment, but finally admitted that these “sick things” he was accused of were true.  There was laughing throughout, especially near the beginning of the story when he was in “Uncle Dave” mode, but as the story went on he became more contrite and spent the remainder of the show– including the guest interviews and the Top Ten list– looking bothered and distracted.

Philandering Boys Club!

Philandering Boys Club!

Letterman’s personal crisis bothers me because it means that a hero of mine is just another philandering drop in a sea of wealthy, powerful, adulterous men, helping to prove that there is no such thing as a wealthy, powerful man who can control his every sexual whim.  I don’t care to be wealthy or powerful but I started wondering, should I become brilliant like Letterman and accrue wealth and power in the meantime, would I be susceptible to this kind of behavior, or– and this might be a stretch– does my intense desire to be a trustworthy, non-philandering man preclude my being brilliant and successful? Are these traits mutually exclusive?  Is there an intervening variable here that might explain why so many wealthy or powerful men are adulterers?  Does this mean wealthy and powerful men are nearly irresistible to women, and that it’s a given that any man will sleep with a woman who finds him irresistible?  Should it be okay for a man to have affairs or mistresses or the occasional night with a prostitute if it allows him to keep being brilliant?  If that’s how we are by nature, then why does it seem so messed up?  Why are people always hurt by these “sick things” if it appears they have some natural reason to accept or even embrace them?

Most of all, why are people sticking up for Roman Polanski, the child rapist?

Conservative Calls for Coup to Solve “Obama Problem”

Via Talking Points Memo, here is the Newsmax article written by John L. Perry, the latest in the particularly venomous attacks against Obama, who has done nothing revolutionary or radical other than being black and President at the same time.  Coups are always violent and frequently the overthrown figure is killed, which is what this guy is tacitly advocating.  Just look at the lily-white staff of Newsmax; no wonder the site takes up the causes of mythological “white America”.

After you catch up on the world at Newsmax, head over to White Honor and see the best and brightest of our glorious race discuss the important, relevant, non-crazy topics of the day.  Honestly, some of the crap being peddled by “mainstream” Conservatives sounds way too much like this “news” at White Honor:

Every intelligent individual on the planet predicted Obama’s failure and traitorous actions against America’s White Working Class, and they were right. In just a few months, he has spent over $1 Trillion and is talking about all the gun rights he plans on taking away, while giving rights to illegal mexicans. Maybe all of you out there who have e-mailed me about finally being fed up with “our” government’s crooked actions will get off your butts and start becoming racial activists – spread the word.

Tea party, anyone?

The Beach Boys vs. The Beatles: The Final Word (Sep. ’09 edition)

Yeah, I know– I have three beers and I go on and on about how Brian Wilson is the greatest songwriter of the rock/pop era and how he was way ahead of his time and never got the credit he was due but things are getting better as more people see the light blah blah blah– and if you knew me best when I was younger than 18 (my age upon hearing Pet Sounds), then I was completely sober all the time and going on and on about how John and Paul were the #1 and #2 songwriters of the rock/pop era hands down and how everything else pretty much sucked, excepting some bands like Led Zeppelin or The Who, depending on what grade I was in.  So what am I thinking these days, you’re dying to know?

The other day I was eating a sub from Harris Teeter in the adjoining Starbucks at Cameron Village so that I could sit and inhale my lunch immediately (well, after paying a couple bucks to become an actual customer at Starbucks) when all of a sudden the Beatles started playing.  Can you believe it?  It’s not like they’re an industry unto themselves with entire video games or hit plays or movies centered around them and their music, so why should Starbucks, an industry unto itself, start playing most of Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper and even some surrounding singles back-to-back (I was in there for a while)?  I can’t be sure, but I suspect it has something to do with their entire music library being digitally remastered (again) and repackaged (again) for an even newer generation to enjoy the timeless genius of hits like “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”.  I am picking on them now, and those songs are by most bands’ standards unrepeatable masterpieces, but I am tired of the ubiquitous Beatles and their incessant repackaging for newer and newer generations (e.g. Target commercials; that stupid Cirque du Soleil crap), especially when part of their success came at the expense of another, lone songwriter– Brian Wilson.

Blaming the Beatles for all that ails the Beach Boys’ legacy would be like blaming a ham sandwich for the death of a pig (Paul, in particular, is very fond of Pet Sounds and has spoken extensively about its influence on his music), but that Pet Sounds was nearly scrapped in 1966 but today consistently tops the list for best pop album of all time indicates that there is blame to be had somewhere, and I think it belongs to the execs at Capitol Records.  Capitol Records, the undisputed king of proving money destroys art, underfunded and all but ignored American acts during the British Invasion that the Beatles started in 1964.  The Beach Boys, an act that, to Capitol’s credit, were picked up and marketed (and cashed in on heavily) starting in 1962, always relied on hits to sell albums but when the Beatles came along and not only had hits but entire albums of solid, cutting-edge songs (Rubber Soul inspiring Pet Sounds directly), the money never stopped pouring in– and that’s a good thing.  The bad part is that upon being inspired by the Beatles (like everyone else) Brian hit a wall when it was his turn to push pop music forward; he could not leave his role of perpetual hit-maker and become an album-maker like the Beatles because of serious setbacks from the philistines in charge at Capitol.  Likewise– and this is the real death knell– he could not convey his vision to the Beach Boys when he made Pet Sounds; it fell on deaf ears almost everywhere.  He persisted and got his masterpiece released on a “trust me just this once” deal and the world is so much the better for it.  Pet Sounds, in my mind, is the unrivaled peak of popular music, dense with beauty, effortlessly complex, and as fresh and exciting on my last listen as it was on my first.  Not even a collection of the Beatles’ 13 best songs taken one at a time can add up, and that’s why I consider Brian Wilson to be the best songwriter in popular music history.

It sounds like I’m ready to announce (mostly to myself) which band takes the title of “Best Ever”– not so fast.  The Beatles are not the most popular band in history just because they were cute and got lucky; they were extraordinary songwriters, performers, innovators and everything.  They were the complete package, the quadruple whammy, the one-two-three-four punch and all that and there may never be another band as deserving of wealth and admiration as they, especially John and Paul.  They were the first to do this, the only ones to do that, and the last ones to have done still more things, and they did it all in about eight years.  They won my heart at an early age and from the way my eyes were welling and feet were tapping to “Getting Better” in Starbucks the other day, they’ve still got it.

So what do I do?  Is it persistence of quality that makes someone the best, or the pinnacle of quality?  I’ll use another world, the food world, to answer that question.  Suppose I was trying to pick the best restaurant instead of the best band.  On one side I would have a restaurant where I knew I could go in, point to an item on the menu and get a superb meal every time, and then suppose there’s another restaurant across the street that serves but one dish that I enjoy, but that dish is the best food I’ve ever had: nothing at the first restaurant can satisfy quite like the one dish at the second.  But can I say for sure that the second restaurant is better (not objectively, of course)?  I’ll consider what I do in practice: I tend to eat the same thing every time at any restaurant I frequent, which means that I value more the few items that are particularly enjoyable rather than the variety of great choices available at a given restaurant, which means that I would be eating one thing consistently no matter which restaurant I visited.  Since whatever I ordered at the first restaurant would be less enjoyable than the unbeatable dish at the second.  It all comes down to the consistency with which I enjoy the pinnacle of quality in Pet Sounds, not the consistency of quality in the Beatles’ catalog.  The restaurant example is not perfect, as I surely don’t listen only to Pet Sounds and never to the Beatles, and there is so much more to the Beach Boys than that one album, but I think it works for highlighting what I value at any given moment.

So there, I’ve said it: I think the Beach Boys are better than the Beatles.

So Much for Real Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Discouraging but unsurprising news: attempts to add any sort of public option to the soft, industry-friendly Baucus health care reform bill are dead.  Today the Senate Finance Committee voted 15-8 against the Rockefeller amendment that would have added a robust public option.  Those fifteen “nays” included five from scumbag, status-quo Democrats: Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and– surprise– Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).  Next came a watered-down symbolic gesture from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which was rejected by a 13-10 vote because, as Baucus says, a bill with a public option could not pass the Senate floor “at this time”.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) makes a gesture.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) makes a gesture.

In a related story, Republicans, with the help of the Spineless Democratic Caucus (SDC), are drafting the Resolution to Say “Suck It” to Poor and Uninsured American Citizens.  The SDC, with at least eight members in the Senate and 37 members in the House, has joined the fight against human rights here at home and plans to stymie any reform that treats health as anything other than a privilege.  More details as they become available.

People Kill People Quickly and Easily with Guns

I was behind one of those vehicles that look like a van that was morphing into an SUV but stopped halfway the other day, and I saw the cutest li’l bumper sticker slapped on the back:

This bumper sticker was purchased because, “That oughtta make them panty-waist pinkos think!”  What it does is show how flawed the logic of the average gun-obsessed blackophobe really is.

Maybe it should read, “If guns kill people, shouldn’t we have as few of them around as possible?”  Of course, that’s not what they’re going for, and in fact that’s the very argument (that no one makes) that they are trying to refute with their clever last line, “Do pencils misspell words?”

The problem with this is that the gun-slinging, killing-in-self-defense-fantasizing idiots don’t understand that the people who are “against guns” are actually against giving guns to morons, violent criminals, jocko-homo frat boys, ‘roid-ragers, drunks, the seriously depressed, people hell-bent on murder, gangsters, pimps, nationalists and others for whom access to quick and easy killing should not be permitted for the sake of a safe and orderly society.  To use the “slippery-slope” argument, a conservative favorite (you’re familiar with, “If we let gays get married, then what’s to stop me from marrying a sheep?”), I could say that I want to own an atomic bomb and forty cruise missiles to protect myself and my family and you’re infringing on my Second Amendment rights if you deny me these weapons; or I could argue that children be allowed to pack heat because the Second Amendment says that this right “shall not be infringed”.  Would anyone say these are good ideas?  Very few would, and only to prove some stupid point– “YEAH, I DO THINK CHILDREN SHOULD BE ABLE TO PACK HEAT!!!  THE TREE OF LIBERTY MUST BLAH BLAH BLAH THOMAS JEFFERSON!!!”

If the slippery-slope examples seem a little unreasonable, that’s because they always are, but we can take something from the second example.  The reasons children shouldn’t be allowed to have guns are the same for the rest of the people mentioned above: they are mentally unsound; they do not understand the consequences of their actions; they act out for attention; they will try anything once; they act before they think; they love shortcuts; they live in fear and jealousy of others, especially others who look or act nothing like them; they make rash decisions; they make horrible mistakes; they think blood and death are really cool; other things like that.

Now for that tricky fortress of logic that cannot be penetrated: “Do pencils misspell words?”  No.  Pencils are not agents, either, and no one outside of an asylum has ever argued otherwise, but pencils are one of the quickest, easiest ways to misspell a word.  If I want to misspell something then, damn it, give me a pencil!

The real problem is that certain people want to be able to do whatever they want to do all the time since they are otherwise law-abiding and would never hurt anyone, but don’t think how under Equal Protection they are granting these rights to everyone, even the ones who have or will hurt someone.  You cannot possibly know if someone is going to use a gun to kill, but you can prevent needless death by preventing some guns from ever being sold, putting tight restrictions on who can get the ones that are available, and seeing to it that the ones who have proven themselves childish, abusive, short-fused, mentally unsound, or otherwise problematic never get to hold a firearm.

And for all the raving about owning whatever guns you want being a Second Amendment right– who cares?  There is an Elastic Clause, afterall, that says we can amend anything we want to amend in the Constitution, including the Amendments themselves.  I am one of those who would like a new interpretation or a complete overhaul of the language of the Second Amendment so that it cannot be used for gun-crazy lunatics who claim they love America more than I do because, “I SUPPORT ALL THE AMENDMENTS BUT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH OUR FREEDOMS!”  So I guess you wouldn’t have wanted to repeal those Prohibition laws, Ricky Junior?

Highlights and Lowlights

This is the laziest kind of post possible, yes, but I’m just going to cut and paste a few articles I’ve read in the last week that are really– duh, what’s the word– good!

First is Bill Maher’s guest column at HuffPost.  I used to hate the guy– now I just don’t like him– but he is nearly always right about everything.  A highlight:

Folks, we don’t need more efficient cars. We need something to replace cars. That’s what’s wrong with these piddly, too-little-too-late half-measures that pass for “reform” these days. They’re not reform, they’re just putting off actually solving anything to a later day, when we might by some miracle have, a) leaders with balls, and b) a general populace who can think again.

Next is an article from Der Spiegel in Germany.  This is a great publication, and a great movie that I saw last night, The Lives of Others, can attest to the power of it.  The article presents more good news from the rosy Religious Fanatic world, and specifically more super news for homosexuals who live in territories ruled by these cavemen.  Another highlight (?):

In Baghdad a new series of murders began early this year, perpetrated against men suspected of being gay. Often they are raped, their genitals cut off, and their anuses sealed with glue. Their bodies are left at landfills or dumped in the streets.

And if that weren’t enough, more good news for gay rights from right here in the States!  Here we go:

Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha, a sailor trained to work with military dogs in the Navy’s anti-terrorism, force protection, and explosive detection operations, was brutalized for more than two years at his base in Bahrain after his refusal to hire a prostitute raised suspicions that he was gay. The abuse included hog-tying Rocha to a chair and pushing him, bound, into a dog kennel full of feces, as well as humiliating him by repeatedly forcing him to simulate oral sex with another man while being videotaped.

And finally, Newsweek presents some evidence that I could have used when I discussed with my dad the waterboarding of prisoners at Guantánamo:

It’s become the conventional wisdom that the tortured will say anything to make the torture stop, and that “anything” need not be truthful as long as it is what the torturers want to hear. But years worth of studies in neuroscience, as well as new research, suggest that there are, in addition, fundamental aspects of neurochemistry that increase the chance that information obtained under torture will not be truthful.

Sorry for the crappy entry, but I was pressed for time– I’m hungry and I want to go eat dinner.  I’ll add pictures later; stay tuned.

Porn Makes You Gay?

Here’s the conservative moron story of the hour, followed by my own brand of moron-

At a Value Voters Summit over the weekend (expectations are already through the floor), the chief of staff for Tom Coburn, Republican senator from Oklahoma, tells the crowd exactly what they want to hear:

All pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards.  And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to get a copy of Playboy?  I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants!

Is he really talking about masturbation?  That’s the logical conclusion of watching porn– I say “watching” because there’s no modern 11-year-old boy that would consume printed pornography when there are terabytes available for free viewing online– otherwise, the boy was just a disinterested observer of the very pictures or videos that he sought out in his passion.  So let’s assume when he says “pornography” he really means “masturbation”.  Let’s fix his statement:

All [masturbation] is homosexual [masturbation] because all [masturbation] turns your sexual drive inwards.  And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to [download that gig of Girls Gone Wild]?  I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants!

Okay, that sounds better already.  Next is the problematic “turns your sexual drive inwards”.  The only sexual drive you can have in inside your body, so surely he meant something else.  Maybe he means that when you masturbate, it makes you want to have sex with yourself, and everyone knows that you are of the same sex that you are, so that means you’re gay!  The problem with this, which is the only evidence he tries to give, is that the point of masturbation is to project yourself into a sexual situation where you are satisfied not by yourself (unless you’re John Edwards), but by the woman, midget tranny, or– and here’s where it can get pretty gay– man in the picture or video or daydream, whatever; no one is closing his eyes and fantasizing about being in his own room alone, masturbating quietly so the parents don’t hear.  So we can replace the strange “turns your sexual drive inwards” and get rid of the unprofessional second person perspective with “places one in a remote sexual fantasy”.  Then there’s the trouble with saying “masturbation” three times in one sentence, so we’ll get rid of a couple.  Now let’s see what we’ve got:

All [masturbation] is homosexual because [it] [places one in a remote sexual fantasy].  And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to [download that gig of Girls Gone Wild]?  I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants!

Some self-respecting playthings

Some self-respecting playthings

Maybe “all masturbation” could use a little tweaking to make it focus on the real beneficiaries of compassionate conservatism: the people.  Let’s replace it with “all those who masturbate,” which in turn can be changed to “nearly everyone”.  The chief of staff is “pretty sure” the 11-year-old boy he tries to help will lose interest, but he’s not absolutely sure.  The “last thing he wants” is still something he wants, so let’s make that correction, too.  And let’s replace “homosexual” with “masturbates” because those are synonymous to the good Chief of Staff.  Get rid of all the brackets, change the “do” to “don’t” to fit the tone of the question, and what have we got?

Nearly everyone masturbates because it places one into a remote sexual fantasy.  And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, don’t you think he’s going to want to download that gig of Girls Gone Wild?  I’m not absolutely sure he’ll lose interest. That’s something he wants!

There is something I generally agree with, which just ends up being an observation.  The question remains whether 11-year-old boys, or anyone for that matter, should be watching Girls Gone Wild.  I don’t think so; not because it would make little Johnny homosexual (God forbid!), but because it objectifies women and sets Johnny up for a harmful attitude toward girls he will like and women he will work with in his adult life.  I believe masturbation is healthy but pornography is more or less harmful for the expectations it makes men put on themselves and on the women that they should respect.  When most of the females in Johnny’s head are naked playthings to be used and abused for Johnny’s pleasure, he will consider the women he finds unattractive to be useless, and the women he finds attractive to be useful only to the extent that they can provide that pleasure.  With that mindset, Johnny is really missing out on the contributions of over half of the population of the world.

So what is Johnny or anyone to do if he can’t look at pornography?  A good rule: make every sexual experience your own.  That means using your own imagination– and sure, that mind will probably be full of real, live girls that you know or have seen in real life– not a cold video of distant strangers; it means seeking out girls who don’t just appeal to you sexually, but girls that you can talk to and love so that if you ever have a sexual concern, discussing it won’t be such a big deal; and just being concerned with yourself, your partner, and the expectations of both, untainted by the images and messed up priorities of the industry that only wants to sell you other people’s sexual encounters.  Make sex as warm, intimate, and realistic as possible.

There is Another Rob Who is Always Right

Other Rob, smarter Rob

Other, smarter Rob

That’s right– if you can’t get en0ugh of The Robs that Know Everything, there is this guy, Rob Schofield, from NC Policy Watch.  It may seem strange that I’m writing a spotlight, but let me explain.

Mr. Schofield is a person that I have actually met who is active in local politics, and someone who I always agree with.  I met him in the sacred halls of the Legislative Office Building in downtown Raleigh during my internship with the NC Coalition for Lobbying Reform in summer 2006.  Details of the meeting are described here in my livejournal, written after the first day of that internship.  At the end of the summer, my supervisors let each intern pick two local political players to meet with one-on-one so that we could get a better sense of what they do and how they got there, and all of that.  Rob Schofield was one of my two picks and I was glad to find him, albeit by accident, in recent months because of his prolific, tenacious fight for progressive causes in North Carolina politics.*

He keeps a column at NC Progressive Pulse called Radical Right Reality Check, and his latest entry, from Friday, hits on the hypocrisy of “family values” conservatives in general, and NC Family Policy Council specifically.  To demonstrate that Mr. Schofield has his finger on this progressive’s pulse, this entry came just a week after my status on Facebook that read,

“Family values” is right wing code for “get the gays”, just as “tough on crime” is their code for “get the blacks and Hispanics.”

In the article, which you should read, he calls out the NC Family Policy Council for expanding their concerns beyond their own mission statement in order to cover any and all conservative policies; this time around, they cover the economy and complain about the “Death Tax”, which Schofield points out “is the far right’s approved propaganda term for the federal estate tax [which] is, in reality, a modest tax on a very small group of rich people.”  And all of this crap from North Carolina’s fatheaded, piggish “family values” con men comes on the heels of the disgusting sex scandal involving Mike Duvall, a California Republican who also secured power and deceived constituents by running on the bogus “family values” platform.

I promise: these fan pages won’t become commonplace.  I only thought of Rob Schofield because I was just finishing my “Missed Connections” post to him on craigslist.  How tall should I say I am?  Should I include a pic?

*I was glad to see that the other guy I met with at the end of my internship back in 2006, David Mills of the Common Sense Foundation, who I figured had retired or died, is still alive and fighting the good fight.

John E. Rotten (The “E” is for Edwards)

I never liked John Edwards, but now I have reasons to back up my prejudices against this pretty, weaselly, self-confessed narcissist.  In a New York Times article that came out this weekend, his alleged offenses are particularly sick.  I’ll let the article speak for itself, but here’s one thing that stuck out as particularly gut-wrenching:

[Andrew Young, the one who falsely claimed paternity to what is likely John’s lovechild with Rielle Hunter, says that] Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

Ugh.  Dave Matthews Band?!?  Offensive!

Decent human Elizabeth Edwards, and husband

Decent human Elizabeth Edwards, and husband

I usually could not care less about a celebrity’s personal affairs, and maybe I shouldn’t care much more about this one, but I do anyway, and here’s why: Elizabeth Edwards is terminally ill and now it appears that John was not only acknowledging that he was running around on his wife while she was probably dying, but used her impending death as part of a delayed promise to another woman that “someday we’ll be even happier”.  But I also care a little more about this story because I knew his family for a couple years through that all-time sports juggernaut, the Broughton High School softball team.  Elizabeth was at every game and assumed the role of lead cheerleader of that pitiful, unskilled, and apathetic team that was never fun to watch and never gave any reason to cheer.  But there she was, often with a bag full of dollar-store kazoos to pass around, getting the crowd excited and turning the train wreck into a circus.  Back then, she sported a style that was almost hippie; she wore loose clothing but no makeup, had hair down to her waist, and accessorized with items made by artisans from around the world, that kind of thing.  She has had to abandon all comfort and sell out for the guy who was almost never at any game (I understand that he was a busy hot-shot lawyer, but so were half of the committed Broughton dads in the stands), just so he could stroke his own ego and go national with his political ambitions and enjoy the company of all the worthless people that also thought he was a real sexy, classy, charming, yet genuine, guy.  And now all this comes out and the guy who, when he actually showed up at those softball games, spent the majority of the time on his cell phone behind the stands seemingly had everything his crooked heart desired while the woman who poured her heart out for the team with a seasons-long losing streak had lost her husband, her private life, and her health.  You have to wonder if John Edwards will ever consider anyone other than himself, or if he is even sorry that he ruined his wife’s life or that he destroyed his own family and in doing so started a dysfunctional one.

Finally, a Pro-Government Site

In every political “debate” going on these days in Washington, nearly every player is acting on the assumption that more government is worse government, echoing the quotation that Libertarians spring one over– “That government is best which governs least,” by Henry David Thoreau*– and if you can find a quotation by a guy like that, well then you’ve really proved something: it’s yesterday’s Fox News soundbite!  The assumption, instead of less government is better, should be better government is better.

Douglas J. Amy

Douglas J. Amy

Here I have found a decent website by Douglas J. Amy, a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College (ahem, a fellow Political Scientist) that gives us a primer for the argument that bigger government isn’t always worse government.

The real problem with American government is that it is not as democratic as it should be.  Affluent special interests have too much power in our political system and the public has too little.

*I am a fan of HDT and want to clarify: his Civil Disobedience was written in 1849 during a time when slavery was still legal and we were engaged in the Mexican-American War– a time when I would be largely against my own government– and doesn’t necessarily reflect his objections to a true, well-run democracy that has evaded us only because the same breed of American caveman that he was concerned with still thrives today and has the resources to pull its weight disproportionately.