IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH!! The Cheshire's Blog: November 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

DeLay on the Bush Writing Team?


Is it possible that Tom DeLay could have been responsible for all the stupid comments made by George W Bush over the years? Did he have a hand in writing the president's speeches? You be the judge:

  • "So many minority youths had volunteered, that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like myself." --Tom DeLay, explaining at the 1988 GOP convention why he and vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle did not fight in the Vietnam War.
  • "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" --Tom Delay, to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept.9,2005.
  • "I AM the federal government." --Tom DeLay, to the owner of Ruth's Chris Steak House, after being told to put out his cigar because of federal government regulations banning smoking in the building, May 14, 2003.
  • "We're no longer a superpower. We're a super-duper power." --Tom DeLay, explaining why America must topple Saddam Hussein in 2002 interview with Fox News.
  • "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." --Tom DeLay, March 12, 2003.
  • "Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills." --Tom DeLay, on the causes of the Columbine High >School massacre, 1999.
  • "A woman can take care of the family. It takes a man to provide structure. To provide stability. Not that a woman can't provide stability, I'm not saying that... It does take a father, though." --Tom DeLay, in a radio interview, Feb. 10, 2004.
  • "I don't believe there is a separation of church and state. I think the Constitution is very clear. The only separation is that there will not be a government church." --Tom DeLay (date unspecified)
  • "Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour [the minimum wage in 1996] are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist." --Tom DeLay, during a debate in Congress on increasing the minimum wage, April 23, 1996.
  • "I am not a federal employee. I am a constitutional officer. My job is the Constitution of the United States, I am not a government employee. I am in the Constitution." --Tom DeLay, in a CNN interview,Dec. 19, 1995

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Was a Study Really Necessary?

And now for today's Big Duh...

"In a study sure to spark controversy, behavioural researchers have determined that sexual arousal in college males has a “striking” impact on their willingness to engage in risky or morally objectionable activity."

Read the article here.

AG

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Santa Claus: No More Mister Nice Guy

Santa Claus: No More Mister Nice Guy

There is no clear motive why a man was stabbed to death by an intruder dressed in Santa gear, detectives said.

Sikander Shaheen, 25, was attacked in his bed by a knifeman wearing a red and white hat and full white beard.

Officers said they found no reason for the murder of Mr. Shaheen, who was a private, hard-working, religious man, but the knifeman "intended to kill".

Neighbors called police to the house in Leyton, east London, on Saturday morning. Mr. Shaheen died in hospital.

He was stabbed several times by the killer who had gained access to the shared house in Grove Green Road.

Police said there was no sign of forced entry or a struggle and nothing had been stolen from the property. Police are baffled because Shaheen had no chimney in his house, and neighbors report that they had not heard sleigh bells on their roofs on the evening in question.

Det. Ch. Insp. Keith Garnish said "I am convinced that person went in there with the sole purpose of killing someone; he had three things on his mind: milk, cookies and bloodlust."

DCI Garnish said he wanted to speak to Mr. Shaheen's friends, colleagues and fellow worshippers to establish his lifestyle and a possible motive for the killing, as it is suspected that Shaheen must have been fairly naughty this year to provoke Santa into such a murderous rampage. “This just goes to show you,” Garnish warned, “around this time of the year, you’d better be good for goodness sake.”

Police also wanted information about Mr. Shaheen’s movements after he came home from work on Friday evening. Neighbors report witnessing small creatures scurrying about Shaheen’s property the night before the murder, but dismissed the activity as a gathering of stray cats. Police now suspect the creatures were elves, who may have been staking out Shaheen’s home and then reporting back to Santa’s headquarters at the North Pole.

The Santa hat thought to have been worn by the attacker was found nearby and is being forensically examined. So far, no other evidence has been found, other than a few pieces of coal next to Mr. Shaheen’s corpse.

As not-so-originally published from the BBC

AG

Friday, November 25, 2005

World's Ugliest Dog Dies

He may not have been the prettiest thing in the world, but old Sam sure knew how to catch people’s attention. Sam, voted the World’s Ugliest Dog by the Sonoma-Marin Fair, three-years running, has exited our lives forever.

Looking like not so much a dog as a rat with a skin condition, Sam died on Friday, just short of his fifteenth birthday. His hairless body, crooked teeth, and single white tuff atop of his knobby head will be missed by those who knew him best. Sam made numerous appearances on Japanese television, and having a face specifically made for radio, he also made an appearance on an Australian broadcast. Sam once also met Donald Trump on a talk show set, where the Don promptly fired him.

You may remember Sam as the Internet icon that he became earlier this year, when thousands of people downloaded his image from a circulating e-mail. Now, it’s with a tear in our eye and a shudder down our spine that we bid Sam a fond adieu. Over the years he was a good boy, and at times he was a bad boy, but most of all he was just downright ugly.

We’ll miss you, Sam, but know that your repulsive simulacrum will live forever on our computer desktops.


AG

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lies and Other Truths

Lies and Other Truths

"We believe [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." -- Vice President Dick Cheney - March 16, 2003

"I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons." -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - May 14, 2003


Sometimes it just becomes too much. Watching and reading the news is like stuffing ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag. Every time I hear the news media bleed out yet another mind-numbing article of right-wing propaganda, I feel the desperate need to take a shower. I want to stand in the hot sunlight to burn away the sins of a nation that insists upon perpetrating the same kinds of atrocities that are condemned by every other so-called intelligent society.

Where are we supposed to turn, when our own government is walking hand-in-hand with our supposed enemy? A nation and its people are much like a marriage in that it must work to gain one another's trust. Over time, that trust is built into a faith and an unshakable stronghold. America once held that sort of marriage with its people, but now I wonder if it isn’t just staying together for the sake of the kids and the house mortgage?

Our government continues to perpetrate crimes that are tantamount to those which we are supposedly fighting against, and what’s worse is that this same government is doing this in our name. How can you spread thousands of pounds of depleted uranium over two different wars, and talk about spreading liberty and democracy throughout the world? How can you then claim that this same uranium isn't the root cause of so many birth defects? How can this country serve as a beacon of human rights, as a signer of the Geneva Convention, then turn around and uphold torture policies?

How can you give tax cuts to the rich when the homeless population is growing, and more families are slipping below the poverty line from year to year? How can you continue to call this country a democracy when far too many politicians have been bought and sold to the highest bidder? Where the PATRIOT Act tramples the Constitutional rights for which so many have fought and died? Where electronic voting without a paper trail makes elections a sham? Where both political parties have forgotten who they are suppose to serve? Where the people themselves have been trained to parrot their corporate master's lies?

Sometimes it's all too much for me. Sometimes I just need to take a shower to wash clean the sins that are being carried out in my name as an American.

AG

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dark Art at its Finest

GWB Lies for the Day

"I am someone who is a uniter, not a divider. I don't believe in group thought, pitting one group of people against another." -- Candidate for President George W. Bush - Nov. 22, 1999 (when he was attempting to justify his candidacy)

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." -- President George W. Bush - Sept. 13, 2001 (when he was attempting to justify his war on terror)

"I don't know where [Osama bin Laden] is and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." -- President George W. Bush -March 13, 2003 (when he was attempting to justify the unjust war on Iraq)

"Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations." -- President George W. Bush - Oct. 13, 2004 (when he no longer feels the need to justify anything)

-----------------------------------

Dark Art at its Finest

Chris Mars is one of those Where are They Now? situations that makes you wonder why the world hasn’t paid more attention to him. Better known as the former drummer of the famed rock band The Replacements, he now lives in Minnesota and is possibly one of the most poignant social artists in the world.

My wife and I were recently treated to his exihibit, which is currently on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and I was absolutely awestruck by its relevance in today's politically tumultuous world. Chris Mars' style is very reminiscent of Bosch and WWI artist George Grosz, and his vision could perhaps be compared to a less whimsical Tim Burton. Check out his site to see what I mean.

AG

Friday, November 18, 2005

Movie Ratings for Idiot Parents

Movie Ratings for Idiot Parents


Attorneys General from thirty-two states have now signed a letter that cited research suggesting kids who see films depicting smoking were likelier to take up the habit. What they’re hoping to accomplish with this letter is to pressure Hollywood into placing anti-smoking ads on DVDs which depict smoking within the contents of the film.

In 1990 the tobacco companies voluntarily signed an agreement to curb tobacco advertising in films, but according to this study, smoking is just as prevalent in movies today as it was before the agreement was struck. Also, according to the study’s findings, children are thirty-eight percent more likely to try smoking after seeing a film in which it’s characters are smoking.

Ok, so here’s my question: When was the last time anyone has seen a kid’s film depicting smokers?

I have a nine year old daughter, and I have taken her to a great many matinees over the years. Like me, she loves movies. Not once – NOT ONCE – have we ever seen the Rugrats light up, Clifford the Big Red Dog bum a smoke, or even the wholly demonic Bratz gang spark a Zippo.

I’m not going to sit here and be a proponent for tobacco advertising, god knows the tobacco companies have made more than enough money off me, during my lifetime. But really, if the films that depict smokers aren’t geared toward children’s G-rated films, then it seems painfully obvious that the only movies left that would promote smoking in any way are films with PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 ratings. R-rated films, obviously, aren’t meant for kids so that shouldn’t even be in question. And, if the kid is watching an NC-17 rated film, the kid has bigger problems than smoking; his parents should be brought up on charges of child neglect.

An NC-17 rating means “No one 17 and under admitted.” Got it? This means that if your kid is watching a movie with this sort of rating then it’s YOUR fault; not the kid’s, and certainly not the tobacco company’s. An R-rating attached to a film means the film is restricted: “Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.” PG and PG-13 ratings means that “Parental Guidance is suggested: some material may not be suitable for children”, and “Parents are strongly cautioned: some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.”

These ratings are in place for a purpose, people! They are there to warn you that your kids should probably not watch these films. If you do allow your children to view the film, then it means that you need to be with them to help guide them through the movie. The dictionary defines Guidance as: “Something that provides direction or advice as to a decision or course of action.” Therefore, a PG-rating (Parental Guidance) means that “something” is you!

If the film depicts smoking, and you are one of those whiny and wussy parents who believes that your children are mindless zombies who will immediately go out and smoke after watching a film character light up, then take them by the hand and GUIDE THEM out of the theater! Conversely, try actually TALKING with your kids about the dangers of smoking. Your children really aren’t as stupid as you think they are. Vocal communication goes a long way, and if you explain to them that just because the film’s hero happens to smoke, it doesn’t mean that they have to smoke to be a hero, then I swear to you that they will listen! Even if you think they aren’t listening to you, and are simply passing it off as just another bullshit parental warning, some part of what you tell them will stick. Then, when someone offers them a cigarette later, your voice will play like a broken record in their brains.

Truly, this whole controversy does not boil down to the big tobacco companies or Hollywood, or yet another state-mandated smoking law. What this all comes down to, and what everyone seems to be avoiding, is the parental guidance necessary to raise a child. It all comes down to responsibility for our children, and how so many of us would rather just shirk that responsibility in favor of handing it over to someone else. Blame, blame, blame. Blame it on someone else. It just couldn’t be your fault that your child smokes, could it?

I’m of the opinion that we should do away with the current ratings system altogether and instate just two film ratings. Here is my rating system:

KS-Kid Safe: Kids can safely watch this film without having to sit through foul language, violence, or scenes depicting sex or any form of drug addiction.
TR4C-Take Responsibility for your Children: Kid’s should not watch this movie because it contains scenes which depict foul language, violence, sex, or any form of drug addiction. If you allow your kids to view this film without your attendance to guide them through and explain the “dangers” involved with these scenes then you are an idiot and, quite frankly, should be forced to take some parenting classes.

AG

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Theory of Og-olution


The Theory of Og-olution

Now, I don’t want to presume that I know the mind of God. I’m pretty sure that It has a big plan for the lot of us, and I’m almost positive that It knows better than the rest of us what the general outcome of the planet will be. I’m also fairly certain that It has better things to do with Its time than to worry about little old Dover, Pennsylvania, and the fact that they have chosen to oust the proponents of intelligent design from their school board. If you’re a big fan of Pat Robertson, however, you may think differently. Then again, if you’re a Robertson devotee, it’s my humble opinion that you’re one step away from chugging down the Big Cult Kool-Aid, and you’re a different sort of thinker altogether.

Pat Robertson, that cool-headed and ever-so-compassionate televangelist, who is commonly known for making such intelligent remarks as Tinky Winky is gay, and that 9/11 was caused by rampant tolerance of homosexuality in the United States; the same guy who once said that feminism causes women to leave their husbands, abandon their children and practice witchcraft, has now all but called down the wrath of God to the good citizens of the little Pennsylvanian town who finally wised up.

Robertson is quoted as saying, “If there is a disaster in [Dover], don’t turn to God, you just rejected him from your city.” He went on to state that “God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call upon Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”

Tolerant? Loving? Which god are you talking about, Pat? Is it the same god that you preach about, when you said last summer that Hugo Chavez aught to be assassinated? Kill ‘em all, and let god sort ‘em out, eh, Patty? Yeah, that must be it. According to your own wisdom, it must be the same tolerant and loving god that killed thousands of innocent people in 2001 because he has so much of that tolerance for homosexuality.

When it all comes down to it, I wonder how it is that our society can openly condemn cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh, yet we are more than willing to sit around and take everything that the likes of Pat Robertson say in stride? Oh, sure, Robertson and his ilk will always pop-off with something ridiculous whenever something major hits the news. Whenever the media reports some big catastrophe, one of his kind (and usually it’s Pat, himself) will start spewing that it’s society’s fault for invoking god’s wrath, or some other such drivel. This sort of thing has been going on since the dawn of time. Historically speaking, we’re no further along on the religious fervor ladder than the cavemen, who thought that lightning struck our huts because we pissed off the gods in some way.

Personally, I’m of the staunch opinion that God did not create man, man created the gods. Why did we create the gods? Mainly it was to quell our fears of desolation, I think. Either that, or we are truly masochistic at heart. In any case, here is my theory of Og:

One fine day, after a night of partying caveman style, Og wearily stepped out of his cave, and cast one bloodshot eye up to the heavens just in time to see lighting strike a tree. The tree exploded, fire was born, and Og passed out. When Og came to, he woke to the sensation of the very first hot-foot, as his children, Ug and Li, had discovered matches while he slumbered.

As soon as his initial panic died down, Og probably had the bright idea that this was caused for a reason other than weather conditions. He probably thought that he had angered some being who was bigger than him by drinking too much and by puking on the cave chick he was trying to pick-up (by the hair).

This immediately led to the feeling of personal responsibility for his actions, which led to Paganism. He started to feel guilty about what he had done, and those feelings led to Judaism. This feeling of guilt led to feelings of inadequacy, so he then invented Catholicism so he could feel better about drinking so much if he confessed his sins to his Personal Savior. Then, having this new Personal Savior seemed to stop the feelings of inadequacy, but then he began to think that he was the only one with God on his side.

So in turn, Og began to think of himself as something of a god, and he then created Hedonism which, of course, led to Satanism. Just as Og was having the final touches placed on his Temple of Og, lightning struck and killed one of his followers. Og felt bad for the guy. He had been a loyal servant and Og started to cry. Compassion was built from this event and thus, Buddhism was born.

This little chain of events illustrates exactly how I feel about god. God is not some great being, waiting for the right opportunity to strike us down. It could probably care less what we do, and more than likely, we are merely happenstance in a chain of events that was caused by the Big Bang. In fact, if there is one identity that most accurately depicts God, it would have to be the Big Bang. All other identities that have been attributed to this being are merely that which we have placed upon Him/Her/It.

I believe in god. I believe that there is a Creator, and that is the primary reason we exist. The fact that we continue to exist today rests solely upon dumb luck. Whether or not this Creator-thing wants or is deserving of worship is another story altogether. Personally, I don’t think it cares one way or the other. I think it has a job to do in creation, a master Lego-builder, if you will, and having already accomplished that, it’s job is done. As for who this Creator is, what It is like, or what It wants from us, that is completely up to the individual culture to decide for itself. Which they do, and all too often.

It is my opinion that God is the simply birthing place of souls. It is also the place where we go after death to be reborn, whether on this planet or elsewhere. There is no Heaven, and there is certainly not a Hell. We answer for our past by our current situations; this is all part of karmic influence.

Though most of us seem to have this overwhelming need to continue worship and to believe in this Thing, I'm not all too sure that it still believes in us. Perhaps It just goes along pumping out and regenerating soul after soul, not really knowing or caring if we worship it or not.

So, I suppose my point is simply this: Tinky Winky is gay, and God just really doesn’t give a shit.

AG

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Un-Intelligent Design

Horrid History

Nov 10, 4004 BC - Adam and Eve are driven from Paradise.

Nov 10, 1940 - Walt Disney begins serving as a secret informer for the Los Angeles office of the FBI, to report back information on Hollywood subversives. He was made a "Full Special Agent in Charge Contact" in 1954. We should note that Disney was atheist and thus subversive in his own little way.

Nov 10, 1997 - Seymore Hersh's book "The Dark Side of Camelot" published, includes allegations that explicit photos were taken of John F. Kennedy with various sex partners and brought by a Secret Service agent to a Washington gallery for framing. The gallery owner, Sidney Mickelson, stated that the participants included a naked Kennedy and assorted lady friends wearing masks.
(thanks to rotten.com)
----------------------------------------------------

Un-Intelligent Design

Good morning America, and a very special good morning to Dover, Pennsylvania, where after raising a nation-wide ruckus about the right to teach their children a religious MYTH as an alternative to the theory of evolution, they voted a little more sanity into their council on Tuesday. Unfortunately, this sudden secular epiphany didn’t bleed over to Wichita, Kansas, where they decided it would be best to instruct their own kids on the wisdoms Neolithic man.

Yes, the flatlands of Dorothy and Toto have taken it upon themselves to further screw up our nation’s children (as though George W Bush’s campaign against educational reform hasn’t done enough already) by way of demanding that every Wichita public school make room for the theory of intelligent design; the theory in which it is suggested (nay, declared!) that humans have been created by the hand of God, rather than teaching the FACTS of evolution. This election comes only one day after a recent study concluded that giant apes lived amongst humans for a million years!

Conversely, neo-con Kansas’ flower-child next door neighbor, Denver, Colorado, passed a law that allows it’s citizens the right to possess and smoke small quantities of marijuana … for medicinal purposes, of course. Of course. Why else would anyone even want to keep that stuff around the house? Please! As though the asclepiad has any other function than aesculapian! (nice play on wording, eh? WordWeb – get yours today! Free download here). Could it be that the giant ape theory was conducted in Denver? In any case, even stoner Colorado will never bring about a bill that suggests that it’s citizens teach their children MYTHS over SCIENCE, and that just goes to show you that even brain-dead pot smokers tend to hold more rationale than neo-cons.

So, even though a recent poll conducted here at the Cheshire’s Blog revealed that ninety percent of the poll takers preferred to keep this sort of fire and brimstone out of schools in favor of a genuine education, let’s say that intelligent design meets the required criterion to have a place in American public education … which it doesn’t … and, it never will … so, calm down … but, let’s just say for the sake of this article that it did. Imagine where we would be ten years from now.

Allow me to set up a scenario for you: The kids who are currently enrolled in the sixth grade, having been taught throughout the greater part of their educational careers that Darwin was insane and that Adam and Eve were historical figures, would then be stepping into their twenties and either well into their college careers or perhaps into America’s workforce.

If you’ll pardon the pun, archeologists would go the way of the dinosaur, having been decided by voters in 2012 that dinosaur bones are merely Satan’s way of dissuading humanity from the truth about their existence. Granted, this may not be entirely accurate. If Ken Ham has his way about it American museums will have a completely different take on dinosaurs. He believes that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s ark, and that they were commonly used by early man as a beast of burden. Which, of course, makes perfect sense, considering that farmers throughout history have repeatedly proven that the triceratops is far superior in its plowing abilities than that of the simple ox and cart.

Idiot.

Anyway, so here are all these twenty-something products of a neo-conservative American pedagogy, who are insisting to the rest of the (more well-informed) world that the theory of evolution is just a dreamy boat ride through some lunatic’s imagination; that monkey-brained Darwin was just another eccentric scientist caught up in his own maniacal world vision, and was in all likelihood a minion of Satan.

These people would then change the name of our country to the United Christians of Intelligent Design, whereupon they would then mount a giant cross on the dome of the White House and a statue of George W Bush would grace the senate floor. Each senate meeting would conclude with a prayer vigil for those who still insisted upon using common sense as a mandate toward their view of the world history, and the senators would then be provided with communion. If the senators are from Minnesota, the alcohol imbibing Blood of Christ part of the communion would preempt any other business at hand, and take place at the onset of every legislation.

With exception given to Groundhog Day (which will be preserved due to banking and postal hours), the only other holidays celebrated by the United Christians of Intelligent Design will be Christmas and Easter so as not to disrupt the economy. The celebration of Thanksgiving, of course, will be the first holiday to be illegalized and removed from its place in Hallmark greeting card shops because of its purported heathen ancestry, the politically incorrect atmosphere of dissention that it promotes amongst the populous of Native United Christians of Intelligent Design, and the fact that the holiday produces zero capital for the Mall of America. The turkey industry will suffer the most from the illegalization of Thanksgiving, but the majority of its financial ruin would have already taken place in the early 2000’s due to the avian flu virus, which all but halted the Butterball industry in the fall of 2006.

Ok, so that will be the state of affairs in 2015, should most of the states begin to adopt this ridiculous proposal accepted by Kansas. Thankfully, we have yet to debase most of our coherency, and Darwin’s theories remain as the accepted norm amongst the retinue of American school boards. On the other hand, this hasn’t stopped Bush’s No Child Left Unpunished campaign. So my advice to the American public is to be careful what you wish for; the government may just end up kneeling before it.

AG

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just a Little Bit of Horrid History for Today

Horrid History

Nov 6, 1988 - Beatle Ringo Starr checks into an alcohol rehabilitation center. While many consider Ringo the least talented Beatle, he has shown exceptional acting ability in his "Atouk zug zug Lana" role (Caveman, 1981).

Nov 6, 1989 - Kitty Dukakis, wife of Presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, is hospitalized for drinking rubbing alcohol. According to Hunter S. Thompson, "She was a really good advertisement for speed for twenty-six years."

Nov 6, 1996 - In Vicente Guererro, Mexico, the family of Eduardo Quihua Maquixtle, including four children, are stabbed by three men who accuse them of witchcraft.

Nov 6, 2002 - Actress Winona Ryder found guilty of shoplifting, after she lifted $5500 in crap from Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire Boulevard. Among the merchandise she stole was a $760 sweater and $600 hair decorations. And an $80 pair of socks.
(thanks to rotten.com)
--------------------------------------------------------------
I don't really have the time to write today; the task of putting food on the table beckons me away. However, don't forget about the new Cheshire's Eye! My eventual goal is to pack the Eye with reviews from my entire (and oh, so very extensive) movie collection. If you'd like to see a particular review, write to me! The e-mail link is on the right side bar of this blog.

AG

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Grand Canyon Skywalk: nothing good can come from this

Are you kidding me with this?!?

I checked with snopes.com and this is apparently true. The Grand Canyon West resort has plans to open this thing on the Hualapai Indian Reservation as of January 1st, 2006! Call me a chicken-shit if you will, but before you do check out some of these stats:
  • Juts about 70 feet into the canyon, 4000 ft above Colorado River
  • Will accommodate 120 people comfortably (comfortably?)
  • Built with more than a million pounds of steel beams, and includes dampeners that minimize the structure's vibration
  • Designed to hold 72 million pounds, withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake 50 miles away, and withstand winds in excess of 100 mph (yeah, until I get on the damned thing and my wife decides to be funny and push me down!)
  • The walkway has a glass bottom and sides ... four inches thick (yeah, they "say" it's four inches thick, but trust me on this: it's built on an Indian reservation, and I happen to know that most of them are still pretty pissed off about the white man making them LIVE on a reservation. Who's going to visit this ridiculous thing? Stupid, thrill-seeking white men, that's who.)
Three words for you: Oh - HELL - no! I've been to the Grand Canyon, and I can tell you exactly what it looks like from a safe distance, without having to stand over it on a sheet of glass with a bunch of grudge-holding Indians laughing at me from the edge.

AG

Aunt Jemima Invades New York!


Horrid History

Nov 3, 1755 - The colony of Massachusetts offers a 20 pound bounty for scalps of indian boys or girls under the age of 12. Warrior scalps fetch a slightly higher price, 30 pounds.

Nov 3, 1913 - Income tax law signed.

Nov 3, 1979 - Diff'rent Strokes premieres on NBC. The cast's child actors have gone on to bigger and better things: Todd Bridges (arrests: drug possession, 1983; attempted murder, 1989; knife stabbing in self defense, no arrest, 1993; assault with a deadly weapon, 1997); Dana Plato (armed robbery, 1992, then a porno centerfold; dead of a drug overdose in 1999); Gary Coleman (a short, pudgy gun nut who plays Nintendo games; 2003 gubernatorial candidate).
(thanks to rotten.com)
------------------------------------------------------------

Aunt Jemima Invades New York!

Why did the sweet-smelling cloud, which drifted through Manhattan last week, gain such little press attention? Here's the article that the NY Times published about it: Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers

Being as Manhattan is the business metropolis that it is, you'd think that something like this would gain huge national attention. Instead, it was swept under the rug as just a funny little thing that happened on the way to work.

Officials found nothing within the air quality that indicated foul play, but sweet and pleasant smelling, or not, this is just the sort of thing the Riddler would have pulled! The next thing you know, New Yorkers will start being nice to each other. Oh, the humanity!

AG

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Idiot America

Horrid History

Nov 2, 1974 - The Time Go-Go Club in Seoul, South Korea burns, killing 78. Six of the victims jumped six floors to their deaths. After the fire started, club officials barred the doors, suspecting a ruse by customers to avoid paying.

Nov 2, 1995 - The image of Jesus Christ appears to many people in a photo taken by the Hubble space telescope, depicting a gigantic gas plume 7000 light years from Earth. Some CNN viewers pointed out the image resembles Gene Shalit more than the Lord Saviour.
(thanks to rotten.com)
------------------------------------------------------

Idiot America

Every so often, someone comes along to point out the incredible idiocy, which is so very rampant in today's America, in such a way as to bring it all into perspective. Today, I’ve found an article that does just this, and best of all it makes no apologies for telling us exactly how absolutely insane we’ve become.

This article was published in Esquire on November 1st, 2005, and written by Charles P. Pierce. It is fairly long, but it is also worth taking the time to read it in its entirety. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

AG
------------------------------------------------------

GREETINGS FROM IDIOT AMERICA
As Originally published, 11/1/05, Esquire
by Charles P. Pierce

There is some undeniable art - you might even say design - in the way southern Ohio rolls itself into northern Kentucky. The hills build gently under you as you leave the interstate. The roads narrow beneath a cool and thickening canopy as they wind through the leafy outer precincts of Hebron-a small Kentucky town named, as it happens, for the place near Jerusalem where the Bible tells us that David was anointed the king of the Israelites. This resulted in great literature and no little bloodshed, which is the case with a great deal of Scripture.

At the top of the hill, just past the Idlewild Concrete plant, there is an unfinished wall with an unfinished gate in the middle of it. Happy, smiling people are trickling in through the gate this fine morning, one minivan at a time. They park in whatever shade they can find, which is not much. It's hot as hell this morning. They are almost uniformly white and almost uniformly bubbly. Their cars come from Kentucky and Tennessee and Ohio and Illinois and as far away as New Brunswick, Canada. There are elderly couples in shorts, suburban families piling out of the minivans, the children all Wrinkle-Resistant and Stain-Released. There is a clutch of Mennonite women in traditional dress-small bonnets and long skirts. All of them wander off, chattering and waving and stopping every few steps for pictures, toward a low-slung building that seems from the outside to be the most finished part of the complex.

Outside, several of them stop to be interviewed by a video crew. They have come from Indiana, one woman says, two toddlers toddling at her feet, because they have been home-schooling their children and they have given them this adventure as a kind of field trip. The whole group then bustles into the lobby of the building, here they are greeted by the long neck of a huge, herbivorous dinosaur. The kids run past that and around a corner, where stands another, smaller dinosaur.

Which is wearing a saddle. It is an English saddle, hornless and battered. Apparently, this was a dinosaur used for dressage competitions and stakes races. Any working dinosaur accustomed to the rigors of ranch work and herding other dinosaurs along the dusty trail almost certainly would wear a sturdy Western saddle.

This is very much a show dinosaur. The dinosaurs are the first things you see when you enter the Creation Museum, which is very much a work in progress and the dream child of an Australian named Ken Ham. Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, an organization of which the museum one day will be the headquarters. The people here today are on a special tour. They have paid $149 to become "charter members" of the museum.

"Dinosaurs," Ham laughs as he poses for pictures with his visitors, "always get the kids interested." AIG is dedicated to the proposition that the biblical story of the creation of the world is inerrant in every word. Which means, in this interpretation and among other things, that dinosaurs coexisted with man (hence the saddles), that there were dinosaurs in Eden, and that Noah, who certainly had enough on his hands, had to load two brachiosaurs onto the Ark along with his wife, his sons, and their wives, to say nothing of green ally-gators and long-necked geese and humpty-backed camels and all the rest. (Faced with the obvious question of how to keep a three-hundred-by-thirty-by-fifty-cubit ark from inking under the weight of dinosaur couples, Ham's literature argues that the dinosaurs on the Ark were young ones, and thus did not weigh as much as they might have.)

"We," Ham exclaims to the assembled, "are taking the dinosaurs back from the evolutionists!" And everybody cheers. Ham then goes on to celebrate the great victory won in Oklahoma, where, in the first week of June, Tulsa park officials announced a decision (later reversed) to put up a display at the city zoo based on Genesis so as to eliminate the "discrimination" long inflicted upon sensitive Christians by a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh that decorated the elephant exhibit. This is a serious crowd. They gather in the auditorium and they listen intently, and they take copious notes as Ham draws a straight line from Adam's fall to our godless public schools, from Darwin to gay marriage. He talks about the triumph over Ganesh, and everybody cheers again.

Ultimately, the heart of the museum will be a long walkway down which patrons will be able to journey through the entire creation story. This, too, is still in the earliest stages of construction. Today, for example, one young artist is working on a scale model of the moment when Adam names all the creatures. Adam is in the delicate process of naming the saber-toothed tiger while, behind him, already named, a woolly mammoth seems to be on the verge of taking a nap. Elsewhere in the museum, another Adam figure is full-size, if unpainted, and waiting to be installed. This Adam is reclining peacefully; eventually, if the plans stay true, he will be placed in a pool under a waterfall. As the figure depicts a prelapsarian Adam, he is completely naked. He also has no penis. This would seem to be a departure from Scripture inconsistent with the biblical literalism of the rest of the museum. If you're willing to stretch Job's description of a "behemoth" to include baby brachiosaurs on Noah's Ark, as Ham does in his lectures, then surely, since we are depicting him before the fall, Adam should be out there waving unashamedly in the paradisaical breezes. For that matter, what is Eve doing there, across the room, with her hair falling just so to cover her breasts and midsection, as though she's doing a nude scene from some 1950s Swedish art-house film? After all, Genesis 2:25 clearly says that at this point in their lives, "And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed." If Adam courageously sat there unencumbered while he was naming saber-toothed tigers, then why, six thousand years later, should he be depicted as a eunuch in some family-values Eden? And if these people can take away what Scripture says was rightfully his, then why can't Charles Darwin and the accumulated science of the past 150-odd years take away all the rest of it?

These are impolite questions. Nobody asks them here by the cool pond tucked into a gentle hillside. Increasingly, nobody asks them outside the gates, either. It is impolite to wonder why our parents sent us all to college, and why generations of immigrants sweated and bled so their children could be educated, if it wasn't so that we would all one day feel confident enough to look at a museum filled with dinosaurs rigged to run six furlongs at Belmont and make the not unreasonable point that it is all batshit crazy and that anyone who believes this righteous hooey should be kept away from sharp objects and his own money. Dinosaurs with saddles? Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?

Welcome to your new Eden.
Welcome to Idiot America.

LET'S TAKE A TOUR, shall we? For the sake of time, we'll just cover the last year or so. A federally funded abstinence program suggests that HIV can be transmitted through tears. An Alabama legislator proposes a bill to ban all books by gay authors. The Texas House passes a bill banning suggestive cheerleading. And nobody laughs at any of it, or even points out that, in the latter case, having Texas ban suggestive cheerleading is like having Nebraska ban corn. James Dobson, a prominent conservative Christian spokesman, compares the Supreme Court to the Ku Klux Klan. Pat Robertson, another prominent conservative preacher, says that federal judges are a more serious threat to the country than is Al Qaeda and, apparently taking his text from the Book of Gambino, later sermonizes that the United States should get with it and snuff the democratically-elected president of Venezuela.

The Congress of the United States intervenes to extend into a televised spectacle the prolonged death of a woman in Florida. The majority leader of the Senate, a physician, pronounces a diagnosis based on heavily edited videotape. The majority leader of the House of Representatives argues against cutting-edge research into the use of human stem cells by saying that "an embryo is a person. . . . We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth." Nobody laughs at him or points out that the same could be said of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or whoever invented the baby-back rib.

And, finally, in August, the cover of Time -for almost a century the dyspeptic voice of the American establishment-clears its throat, hems and haws and hacks like a headmaster gagging on his sherry, and asks, quite seriously: "Does God have a place in science class?"

Fights over creationism-and its faddish new camouflage, intelligent design, a pseudoscience that posits without proof or method that science is inadequate to explain existence and that supernatural causes must be considered-roil up school districts across the country.

The president of the United States announces that he believes ID ought to be taught in the public schools on an equal footing with the theory of evolution. And in Dover, Pennsylvania, during one of these many controversies, a pastor named Ray Mummert delivers the line that both ends our tour and, in every real sense, sums it up: "We've been attacked," he says, "by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

And there it is. Idiot America is not the place where people say silly things. It's not the place where people believe in silly things. It is not the place where people go to profit from the fact that people believe in silly things. Idiot America is not even those people who believe that Adam named the dinosaurs. Those people pay attention. They take notes. They take the time and the considerable mental effort to construct a worldview that is round and complete. The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It's not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents-for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power-the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they're talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it "common sense." The president's former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the "yuck factor." The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is faith-based.

It's a dishonest phrase for a dishonest time, "faith-based," a cheap huckster's phony term of art. It sounds like an additive, an artificial flavoring to make crude biases taste of bread and wine.

It's a word for people without the courage to say they are religious, and it is beloved not only by politicians too cowardly to debate something as substantial as faith but also by Idiot America, which is too lazy to do it.

After all, faith is about the heart and soul and about transcendence. Anything calling itself faith-based is admitting that it is secular and profane. In the way that it relies on the Gut to determine its science, its politics, and even the way it sends its people to war, Idiot America is not a country of faith; it's a faith-based country, fashioning itself in the world, which is not the place where faith is best fashioned.

Hofstadter saw this one coming. "Intellect is pitted against feeling," he wrote, "on the ground that it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical."

The Gut is the basis for the Great Premises of Idiot America. We hold these truths to be self-evident:
1) Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2) Anything can be true if somebody says it on television.
3) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

How does it work? This is how it works. On August 21, a newspaper account of the "intelligent design" movement contained this remarkable sentence: "They have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin's defenders firmly on the defensive."

A "politically savvy challenge to evolution" is as self-evidently ridiculous as an agriculturally savvy challenge to euclidean geometry would be. It makes as much sense as conducting a Gallup poll on gravity or running someone for president on the Alchemy Party ticket.

It doesn't matter what percentage of people believe they ought to be able to flap their arms and fly, none of them can. It doesn't matter how many votes your candidate got, he's not going to turn lead into gold. The sentence is so arrantly foolish that the only real news in it is where it appeared.

On the front page. Of The New York Times.

Within three days, there was a panel on the subject on Larry King Live , in which Larry asked the following question: "All right, hold on. Dr. Forrest, your concept of how can you out-and-out turn down creationism, since if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?"
And why do so many of them host television programs, Larry?
This is how Idiot America engages the great issues of the day. It decides, en masse, with a thousand keystrokes and clicks of the remote control, that because there are two sides to every question, they both must be right, or at least not wrong. And the poor biologist's words carry no more weight than the thunderations of some turkey-neck preacher out of the Church of Christ's Own Parking Facility in DeLand, Florida. Less weight, in fact, because our scientist is an "expert" and, therefore, an "elitist." Nobody buys his books. Nobody puts him on cable. He's brilliant, surely, but his Gut's the same as ours. He just ignores it, poor fool.

This is a great country, in no small part because it is the best country ever devised in which to be a public crank. Never has a nation so dedicated itself to the proposition that not only should its people hold nutty ideas but they should cultivate them, treasure them, shine them up, and put them right there on the mantelpiece. This is still the best country ever in which to peddle complete public lunacy. The right to do so is there in our founding documents.

After all, the Founders were men of the Enlightenment, fashioning a country out of new ideas-or out of old ones that they excavated from centuries of religious internment. Historian Charles Freeman points out that in Europe, "Christian thought . . . often gave irrationality the status of a universal 'truth' to the exclusion of those truths to be found through reason. So the uneducated was preferred to the educated, and the miracle to the operation of natural laws."

In America, the Founders were trying to get away from all that, to raise a nation of educated people. In pledging their faith to intellectual experimentation, however, the Founders set freedom free. They devised the best country ever in which to be completely around the bend. It's just that making a respectable living out of it used to be harder work.

THEY CALL IT THE INFINITE CORRIDOR, which is the kind of joke you tell when your day job is to throw science as far ahead as you can and hope that the rest of us can move fast enough to catch up. It is a series of connecting hallways that run north through the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The hallways are lined with cramped offices, their doors mottled thickly with old tape and yellowing handbills. The Infinite Corridor is not a straight line. It has branches and tributaries. It has backwaters and eddies. You can get lost there.

One of the offices belongs to Professor Kip Hodges, a young and energetic North Carolinian who studies how mountain ranges develop and grow. Suffice it to say that Hodges's data do not correspond to the six-thousand-year-old earth of the creationists, whereupon dinosaurs and naked folks doth gambol together. Hodges is recently returned from Nepal, where he rescued his research from encroaching Maoist rebels, who were not interested in the least in how the Himalayas became the Himalayas. They were interested in land, in guns, in power, and in other things of the Gut. Moreover, part of Hodges's duties at MIT has been to mentor incoming freshmen about making careers in science for themselves.

"Scientists are always portrayed in the literature as being above the fray intellectually," Hodges says. "I guess to a certain extent that's our fault, because scientists don't do a good enough job communicating with people who are nonscientists-that it's not a matter of brainiacs doing one thing and nonbrainiacs doing another."

Americans of a certain age grew up with science the way an earlier generation grew up with baseball and even earlier ones grew up with politics and religion. America cured diseases. It put men on the moon. It thought its way ahead in the cold war and stayed there.

"My earliest memory," Hodges recalls, "is watching John Glenn go up. It was a time that, if you were involved in science or engineering-particularly science, at that time-people greatly respected you if you said you were going into those fields. And nowadays, it's like there's no value placed by society on a lot of the observations that are made by people in science.

"It's more than a general dumbing down of America-the lack of self-motivated thinking: clear, creative thinking. It's like you're happy for other people to think for you. If you should be worried about, say, global warming, well, somebody in Washington will tell me whether or not I should be worried about global warming. So it's like this abdication of intellectual responsibility-that America now is getting to the point that more and more people would just love to let somebody else think for them."

The country was founded by people who were fundamentally curious; Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, to name only the most obvious examples, were inveterate tinkerers. (Before dispatching Lewis and Clark into the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson insisted that the pair categorize as many new plant and animal species as they found. Considering they were also mapping everything from Missouri to Oregon, this must have been a considerable pain in the canoe.) Further, they assumed that their posterity would feel much the same as they did; in 1815, appealing to Congress to fund the building of a national university, James Madison called for the development of "a nursery of enlightened preceptors."

It is a long way from that to the moment on February18, 2004, when sixty-two scientists, including a clutch of Nobel laureates, released a report accusing the incumbent Administration of manipulating science for political ends. It is a long way from Jefferson's observatory and Franklin's kite to George W. Bush, in an interview in 2005, suggesting that intelligent design be taught alongside the theory of evolution in the nation's science classes. "Both sides ought to be properly taught," said the president, "so people can understand what the debate is about."

The "debate," of course, is nothing of the sort, because two sides are required for a debate. Nevertheless, the very notion of it is a measure of how scientific discourse, and the way the country educates itself, has slipped through lassitude and inattention across the border into Idiot America-where fact is merely that which enough people believe, and truth is measured only by how fervently they believe it.

If we have abdicated our birthright to scientific progress, we have done so by moving the debate into the realm of political and cultural argument, where we all feel more confident, because it is there that the Gut rules. Held to this standard, any scientific theory is rendered mere opinion. Scientific fact is no more immutable than a polling sample. This is how there's a "debate" over the veryexistence of global warming, even though the preponderance of fact among those who actually have studied the phenomenon renders the "debate" quite silly. The debate is about making people feel better about driving SUVs. The debate is less about climatology than it is about guiltlessly topping off your tank and voting in tax incentives for oil companies.

The rest of the world looks on in cockeyed wonder. The America of Franklin and Edison, of Fulton and Ford, of the Manhattan project and the Apollo program, the America of which Einstein wanted to be a part, seems to be enveloping itself in a curious fog behind which it's tying itself in knots over evolution, for pity's sake, and over the relative humanity of blastocysts versus the victims of Parkinson's disease.

"Even in the developing world, where I spend lots of time doing my work," Hodges says, "if you tell them that you're from MIT and you tell them that you do science, it's a big deal. If I go to India and tell them I'm from MIT, it's a big deal. In Thailand, it's a big deal. If I go to Iowa, they could give a rat's ass. And that's a weird thing, that we're moving in that direction as a nation."

Hence, Bush was not talking about science-not in any real sense, anyway. Intelligent design is a theological construct, a faith-based attempt to gussy up creationism in a lab coat. Its fundamental tenets cannot be experimentally verified-or, most important, falsified. That it enjoys a certain public cachet is irrelevant; a higher percentage of Americans believes that a government conspiracy killed John F. Kennedy than believes in intelligent design, but there is no great effort abroad in the land to include that conspiracy theory in sixth-grade history texts. Bush wasn't talking about science. He was talking about the political utility of putting saddles on the dinosaurs and breaking Ganesh's theological monopoly over the elephant paddock.

"The reason the creationists have been so effective is that they have put a premium on communication skills," explains Hodges. "It matters to them that they can talk to the guy in the bar, and it's important to them, and they are hugely effective at it."

It is the ultimate standard of Idiot America. How does it play to Joe Six-Pack in the bar? At the end of August 2004, the Zogby people discovered that 57 percent of undecided voters would rather have a beer with George Bush than with John Kerry. Now, how many people with whom you've spent time drinking beer would you trust with the nuclear launch codes? Not only is this not a question for a nation of serious citizens, it's not even a question for a nation of serious drunkards.

If even scientific discussion is going to be dragged into politics, then the discussion there at least ought to exist on a fairly sophisticated level. Again, the Founders thought it should. They considered self-government a science that required an informed and educated and enlightened populace to make all the delicate mechanisms run. Instead, today we have the Kabuki politics and marionette debates best exemplified by cable television. Instead, the discussion of everything ends up in the bar. (It wasn't always this way. Theodore Roosevelt is reckoned to be the manliest of our manly-man presidents. He also was a lifelong science dweeb, cataloging songbirds, of all things. Of course, he shot them first, so maybe that makes all the difference.)

It is, of course, television that has allowed Idiot America to run riot within the modern politics and all forms of public discourse. It is not that there is less information on television than there once was. (That there is less news is another question entirely.) In fact, there is so much information that fact is now defined as something that so many people believe that television notices it, and truth is measured by how fervently they believe it.

"You don't need to be credible on television," explains Keith Olbermann, the erudite host of his own show on MSNBC. "You don't need to be authoritative. You don't need to be informed. You don't need to be honest. All these things that we used to associate with what we do are no longer factors. "There is an entire network [the Fox News Channel] that bills itself as news that is devoted to reinforcing people's fears and saying to them, 'This is what you should be scared of, and here's whose fault it is,' " Olbermann says. "And that's what they get - two or three million frustrated paranoids who sit in front of the TV and go, 'Damn right, it's those liberals' fault.' Or, 'It's those-what's the word for it?- college graduates ' fault.' "

The reply, of course, is that Fox regularly buries Olbermann and the rest of the MSNBC lineup in breaking off a segment of a smidgen of a piece of the television audience. Truth is what moves the needle.

Fact is what sells. Idiot America is a bad place for crazy notions. Its indolent tolerance of them causes the classic American crank to drift slowly and dangerously into the mainstream, wherein the crank loses all of his charm and the country loses another piece of its mind. The best thing about American crackpots used to be that they would stand proudly aloof from a country that, by their peculiar lights, had gone mad.

Not today. Today, they all have book deals, TV shows, and cases pending in federal court. Once, it was very hard to get into the public square and very easy to fall out of it. One ill-timed word, even a whiff of public scandal, and all the hard work you did in the grange hall on all those winter nights was for nothing. No longer. You can be Bill Bennett, gambling with both fists, but if your books still sell, you can continue to scold the nation about its sins. You can be Bill O'Reilly, calling up subordinates to proposition them both luridly and comically-loofahs? falafels?-and if more people tune in to watch you than tune in to watch some other blowhard, you can keep your job lecturing America about the dangers of its secular culture.

Just don't be boring. And keep the ratings up. Idiot America wants to be entertained. Because scientific expertise was dragged into political discussion, and because political discussion is hopelessly corrupt, the distrust of scientific expertise is now as general as the distrust of politicians is.

Everyone is an expert, so nobody is. For example, Sean Hannity's knowledge of, say, stem-cell research is measured precisely b y his ratings book. His views on the subject are more well known than those of the people doing the actual research. The credibility of Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania on the subject of the cultural anthropology of the American family ought to be, well, minimal. He spent the summer promoting a book in which he propounded theories on the subject that were progressively loopier.

"For some parents," he writes, "the purported need to provide things for their children simply provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home." He goes on later to compare a woman's right to choose an abortion unfavorably with the institution of slavery. Nevertheless, he's welcome in the mainstream, at least until either he's defeated for reelection or his book doesn't sell.

"Somewhere along the line, we stopped rewarding intelligence with success and stopped equating intelligence with success," Olbermann says. We're all in the bar now, where everybody's an expert, where the Gut makes everyone so very sure. All opinions are of equal worth. No voice is more authoritative than any others; some are just louder. Of course, the problem in the bar is that sooner or later, for reasons that nobody will remember in the clear light of the next morning, some noisy asshole picks a fight. And it becomes clear that the rise of Idiot America has consequences.

ON THE MORNING of September 11, 2001, nobody in the American government knew more than Richard Clarke did on the subject of a shadowy terrorist network called Al Qaeda. He had watched it grow. He had watched it strike-in New York and in Africa and in the harbor in Yemen. That morning, in the Situation Room in the White House, Clarke watched the buildings burn and fall, and he recognized the organization's signature as well as he'd recognize his own.

Instead, in the ensuing days a lot of people around him-people who didn't know enough about Al Qaeda to throw to a cat-wanted to talk about Iraq. What they believed trumped what Clarke knew, over and over again. He left the government.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, when the key issue became arms control, the traditional diplomats couldn't do the negotiating because that negotiating involved science and engineering," Clarke recalls. "Interagency decision papers were models of analysis, where assumptions were laid out and tested. "That's the world I grew up in. [The approach] still applied to issues, even terrorism. Then these people come in, and they already have the answers, how to spin it, how to get the rest of the world on board. I thought, Wait a minute. That isn't analysis. It's the important issues where we really need analysis.

"In the area of terrorism, there is a huge potential for emotional reaction. The one thing I told my team [on September 11]-they were mad and they were crying, the whole range of emotions-was that we didn't have time for emotion that day."

Nothing that the administration of George W. Bush has done has been inconsistent with the forces that twice elected it. The subtle, humming engine of its success-against John Kerry, surely, but most vividly against poor, cerebral Al Gore-was a celebration of instinct over intellect, a triumph of the Gut. No campaigns in history employed the saloon question with such devastating success or saw so clearly the path through the deliberate inexpertise of the national debate. No politician in recent times has played to the Gut so deftly. So it ought not shock anyone when the government suddenly found itself at odds with empirical science. It ought not shock anyone in the manner in which it would go to war.

Remember the beginning, when it was purely the Gut-a bone-deep call for righteous revenge for which Afghanistan was not sufficient response. In Iraq, there would be towering stacks of chemical bombs, a limitless smorgasbord of deadly bacteria, vast lagoons of exotic poisons. There would be candy and flowers greeting our troops. The war would take six months, a year, tops.

Mission Accomplished. Major combat operations are over.

"Part of the problem was that people didn't want the analytic process because they'd be shown up," Richard Clarke says. "Their assumptions would be counterfactual. One of the real areas of expertise, for example, was failed-state reconstruction. How to go into failed states and maintain security and get the economy going and defang ethnic hatred. They threw it all out.

"They ignored the experts on the Middle East. They ignored the experts who said it was the wrong target. So you ignore the experts and you go in anyway, and then you ignore all the experts on how to handle the postconflict."

One of those experts was David Phillips, a senior advisor on what was called the Future of Iraq program for the State Department. Phillips was ignored. His program was ignored. Earlier, Phillips had helped reconstruct the Balkans after the region spent a decade tearing itself apart with genocidal lunacy. Phillips knew what he knew. He just didn't believe what they believed.

"You can just as easily have a faith-based, or ideologically driven, policy," he says today. "You start with the presumption that you already know the conclusion prior to asking the question. When information surfaces that contradicts your firmly entrenched views, you dismantle the institution that brought you the information."

There was going to be candy and flowers, remember? The war was going to pay for itself. Believe.

"We went in blindfolded, and we believed our own propaganda," Phillips says. "We were going to get out in ninety days, spend $1.9 billion in the short term, and Iraqi oil would pay for the rest. Now we're deep in the hole, and people are asking questions about how we got there. "It's delusional, allowing delusion to be the basis of policy making. Once you've told the big lie, you have to substantiate it with a sequence of lies that's repeated. You can't fix a policy if you don't admit it's broken." Two thousand American lives later, remember the beginning. One commentator quite plainly made the case that every few years or so, the United States should "throw a small nation up
against the wall" to prove that it means business.

And Idiot America, which is all of us, cheered.

Goddamn right. Gimme another. And see what the superpowers in the back room will have.

AUGUST 19, 2005, was a beautiful day in Idiot America. In Washington, William Frist, a Harvard-trained physician and the majority leader of the United States Senate, endorsed the teaching of intelligent design in the country's public schools. "I think today a pluralistic society," Frist explained, "should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith."

That faith is not fact, nor should it be, and that faith is not science, nor should it be, seems to have eluded Doctor Senator Frist. It doesn't matter. He was talking to the people who believe that faith is both those things, because Bill Frist wants to be president of the United States, and because he believes those people will vote for him specifically because he talks this rot, and Idiot America will take it as an actor merely reciting his lines and let it go at that. Nonsense is a no-lose proposition.

On the same day, across town, a top aide to former secretary of state Colin Powell told CNN that Powell's pivotal presentation to the United Nations in which he described Iraq's vast array of deadly weapons was a farrago of stovepiped intelligence, wishful thinking, and utter bullshit. "It was the lowest point in my life," the aide said.

That it has proven to be an even lower point for almost two thousand American families, and God alone knows how many Iraqis, seems to have eluded this fellow. It doesn't matter.

Neither First with his pandering nor this apparatchik with the tender conscience-nor Colin Powell, for all that-will pay a substantial price for any of it because the two stories lasted one day, and, after all, it was a beautiful day in Idiot America.

Idiot America is a collaborative effort, the result of millions of decisions made and not made. It's the development of a collective Gut at the expense of a collective mind. It's what results when politicians make ridiculous statements and not merely do we abandon the right to punish them for it at the polls, but we also become too timid to punish them with ridicule on a daily basis, because the polls say they're popular anyway. It's what results when leaders are not held to account for mistakes that end up killing people.

And that's why August became a seminal month in Idiot America. In its final week, a great American city drowned and then turned irrevocably into a Hieronymus Bosch painting in real time and on television, and with complete impunity, the president of the United States wandered the landscape and talked like a blithering nitwit.

First, he compared the violence surrounding the writing of an impromptu theocratic constitution in Baghdad to the events surrounding the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Undaunted, he later compared the war he'd launched in Iraq to World War II. And then he compared himself to Franklin Roosevelt. One more public appearance and we might have learned that Custer was killed by Hezbollah. Finally, we saw the apotheosis of the end of expertise, when New Orleans was virtually obliterated as a functional habitat for human beings, and the country discovered that the primary responsibility for dealing with the calamity lay with a man who'd been dismissed as an incompetent from his previous job as the director of a luxury-show-horse organization.

And the president went on television and said that nobody could have anticipated the collapse of the unfortunate city's levees. In God's sweet name, engineers anticipated it. Politicians anticipated it. The poor bastards in the Ninth Ward certainly anticipated it. Hell, four generations of folksingers anticipated it.

And the people who hated him went crazy and the people who loved him defended him. But where were the people who heard this incredible, staggeringly stupid bafflegab, uttered with conscious forethought, and realized that whatever they thought of the man, the president had gotten behind a series of podiums and done everything but drop his drawers and dance the hootchie-koo?

They were out there, lost in Idiot America, where it was still a beautiful day. Idiot America took it as a bad actor merely bungling his lines.

Nonsense is a no-lose proposition. For Idiot America is a place where people choose to live. It is a place that is built consciously and deliberately, one choice at a time, made or (most often) unmade. A place where we're all like that statue of Adam now, reclining in a peaceful garden of our own creation, brainless and dickless, and falling down on the job of naming the monsters for what they are, dozing away in an Eden that, every day, looks less and less like paradise.