Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Time for a new slogan

Doesn't the Bush administration seem to be nothing more than a big advertising agency coming up with pith slogans? Now Bush has
dropped "stay the course" because, well, because it made him sound like a clueless idiot who couldn't comprehend that the course is totally fucked up. Who knows, they may even have to drop the slogan "cut and run," because I think at this point a lot of people are inclined to say, yes, cut and run, that sounds good.

But you know Bush will soon have some new slogan just as meaningless as "stay the course."

Getting beat up at school? Blame a video game!

The videogame Bully has been generating controversy since it was first announced. Just the idea of a videogame about bullying in school gives some people apoplexy and now that demands that they game be scuttled have failed there are many saying
don't buy it.

Now, I happen to know a lot about bullying because I was one of the kids everyone picked on. And I don't think Bully is the problem. Sure, it's a game in which you have to make your way through a school full of delinquents, and there is fighting in the game, and from what little I played there's an unpleasantness about it all (and I did not see any of the "hilarious" humor many reviewers are describing).

But in my experience, bullying happens because teachers and parents and school administrators let it happen. I was teased constantly in school, because it made me cry and of course making people cry is tremendously fun for a certain segment of the population. What did my school do about the kids who bullied and taunted me? Nothing. The basic idea everyone had was that I was the problem. I was sent to a shrink, I was put on ritalin, I was basically encouraged to calm down and chill out. And yes, if I had been less prone to hysterics the situation probably would have calmed down. But then, if bullies had been consistently punished, I think the situation also might have calmed down.

Near the beginning of the movie Dazed and Confused there's talk of a yearly tradition in which the high school seniors pretty much hunt down and torture freshmen, or something like that. And it's just accepted. Bullying is always accepted, it's see as just part of growing up and the kids that don't handle it well are despised as weak even by those who claim they're trying to help them.

Of course I've been out of school for a long time, but recently I was talking to a high school teacher. And I asked her, is it any different now? After all the concerns raised about bullying after Columbine and all the talk about how a videogame is going to encourage bullying, are teachers and counselors and administrators actually really doing any more about bullying than they were 30 years ago? And she said no, she thinks it's just the same.

So all those people spending all this energy whining about a videogame should, IMO, spend a little more time worrying about actual bullies and their victims. You don't stop bullying by stopping representations of bullying in media; you stop bullying by stopping bullies.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bush, is he overconfident or does he just know something we don't

It's going around that Bush and Rove
seem oblivious to the possibility the Republicans may lose the House and possibly the Senate. People are suggesting that this could be another example of the Bush administration's cluelessness or that they're just showing a brave face to keep morale up, but while I hate to sound like some nutty conspiracy theorist, I'm kind of worried that they simply have a plan in effect for nationwide election theft. They've got Diebold machines all over the place and they've been pretty good at stealing election in the past, both through outright fraud and through playing games with voting places to discourage voting in certain neighborhoods, and I'm worried that no matter how many scandals hit the Republicans and no matter how low their poll ratings that they will miraculously squeak by in victories where they need to. I mean, this is a president who has made it legal for him to throw people in jail forever with no right of appeal if he feels like it, so we know there is nothing that is beneath him, and certainly he would steal the election if he could. The only question would be whether Republicans could get away with that sort of massive fraud. And since we seem to be turning into some sort of third world dictatorship, where that sort of fraud is common, I wouldn't be that surprised.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Am I just being cynical?

So Senator John Warner has suggested the possibility that we should consider changing course in Iraq, considering all options, and a couple of other
unnamed Republicans agree. That's what they say.

The pundits seem to accept this at face value - Warner went to Iraq and saw how bad the situation was and is now having second thoughts about the "stay the course" policy. They're saying this is bad for the president, weakening him. But Warner was also one of three senators who stood up demanding that we protect the Geneva Conventions and then rolled over, giving Bush almost everything he wanted.

All the pundits believed Warner that time too, but in retrospect it looks more like a way to make Republicans look like something other than Lemmings following Bush off a cliff, even as they are in the act of following him off that cliff.

So here's what I think. After the November elections, Warner will say we need to consider some options, they'll have some sort of hearing, and the Republicans will conclude that hey, the president's right after all and we should stay the course.

Yes, it's probably a bit too cynical to say the way to tell if a Republican is lying is that his or her lips are moving, but considering what I've seen these last few years, it doesn't seem far off from the truth.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wandering Republican minds

Does the Republican party collectively suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder? It would explain a lot. Condoleeza Rice can't recall a meeting in which terrorist threats are starkly outlined, a nice follow up to her non-response to a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." Hastert can't for the life of him recall hearing that Foley might be a child molester. And of course no one in the current administration seemed to have realized, in spite of warnings, that Hurricane Katrina was the sort of big disaster one should plan for.

Which leads one to wonder if Republicans actually listen when people talk to them. Perhaps they are constantly distracted, riveted by a beam of sunlight or a shiny medal or just sitting there so focused on what they're going to say next that they sort of blank out on what they're being told.

I'll admit it's a somewhat unlikely idea, but then, when you see so many utterly bizarre and inexplicable actions you can't help but try and put the pieces together into some sort of coherent picture.

Foley handling: a study in Republican tactics

Recently Bill O'Reilly showed some footage of pedophile Republican Mark Foley that described him as
a Democrat. Innocent mistake? Well, since we're talking about FOX News, I kind of doubt it. The Republicans have been doing everything they can to turn their scandal around and make it a Democrat scandal, whether it's Katherine Harris stating that Republicans didn't know about Foley's predilection but Democrats and the media might have or Sean Hannity claiming the Democrats were hypocrites because Clinton had done the same thing when he had sex with 19-year-old Monica Lewinsky (the problem with that statement? She was 22 at the time).

Of course, anyone who takes Fox News seriously would vote Republican even if Bush and Cheney were caught eviscerating babies and making necklaces out of their fingernails, but it is fascinating to see just how far FOX will go. A cute little piece on newshounds.us mockingly compares FOX's initial Foley report with what would have happened if Foley had been the Democrat FOX so fervently wishes the public to believe he is.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Impressive bullshit or awesome cluelessness?

Say what you like about Republicans, they sure have balls. Newt Gingrich appeared on Fox News talking about why
the Republican leadership did nothing for months after discovering Mark Foley had sent inappropriate email to a congressional page.

Gingrich's explanation: "... I think had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would also have been accused of gay bashing." This is a fascinating statement, because it relies on two absurd premises; that "gay" is the same thing as "pedophile" and that Republicans are concerned about offending gay people.

No arguably premise one might not, in Newt's eyes, be a lie. Perhaps Republicans are so utterly moronic that they really do consider all gay people to be homosexuals. Certainly we are knocked over the head by new proofs of the idiocy of the Republican party pretty much every day. On the other hand, I think Gingrich isn't so obtuse that he wouldn't have realized that no one in the country has missed the Republican's "screw the gays" platform. And I'm going to guess that he probably actually does understand the difference between gays and chicken hawks. And that with a straight face he told a lie of such impressive grandeur that one has to admire, at least a little, his ability to do so without blushing.

Another thought: I just realized that I hadn't even taken in the whole scope of Gingrich's grand lie. It occurred to me when I heard that on his show, Bill O'Reilly said that "there have been rumors about Foley's homosexuality for years." And a light went off in my head. The Republicans are actually using the revelation that one of their own is a pedophile to gay bash by attempting to link pedophilia and homosexuality. This is a perfect example of Republicans getting lemons and making lemonade. The evil genius of these people is truly remarkable. For them, everything is an opportunity to further their agenda, and even in the midst of crisis they are thinking of new ways to attack their enemies.

They're all like linguistic supervillains, twisting the truth in impossible ways.