The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, June 07, 2003


The truth is out there. From the San Mateo County Times, my old hometown paper:
WE have been reading a lot lately about a fellow in Menlo Park who collected rodents. Lots of rodents. But his apparent fetish tends to pale when one considers the hoarding habit of a guy who was living in the South San Francisco/Colma area. According to The Times' Emily Fancher, the case didn't get much publicity at all. But it was apparently a doozy. It involved a man who collected cockroaches. He had thousands of the unpleasant insects stashed in a room in his trailer. The joint fairly oozed with the creatures. Naturally, once local Health Department authorities discovered the amazing scope of the crawling North County critters, they acted. Problem solved. But there remains the obvious lingering question: Why? Why would someone dote on cockroaches, of all things? We don't have the answer to that poser, of course. But we do believe this is one more validation of The X-Files. Mulder and Scully might have been right after all. It's just unfortunate that they have never visited the neighborhoods nestled near the slopes of San Bruno Mountain. Think of the possibilities.
So that's why the Sharks left the Cow Palace. I'm sorry, I have a mild headache so I couldn't think of a more snappy quip than that.

Ok, I'll put some energy into this: It gives me an idea I should pass on to the managers of the Madonna Inn hotel in San Luis Obispo. "Here's our Egyptian Paradise room, our Amazon Jungle room, and our Full-of-fuckin Cockroaches room." From what I hear, however, this could be kind of redundant. (heyo!)

Finally what does "they acted" mean, pertaining to the Health Department? Did they open a really big roach motel next door? With a free roach continental breakfast included with roach checkout? Was the house burnt? Fumigated? Were the offending insects covered in chocolate and sent to See's? The possibilities are endless.

Friday, June 06, 2003


To waste some time, and to psych everyone else up for the impending release of Radiohead's Hail to the Thief, I shall do a few things:

1) Link to Rollingstone's reasonably accurate 4-star review of HTTT
2) Link to a characteristically cynical and contrarian-for-sport discussion of Radiohead between to music critics at Slate this week. And, inspired by the thursday entry by Sasha Frere-Jones, I present my
3) Radiohead Ultimate Mix CD...

Sasha picked 17 songs, so I will do the same. Also, I'm not picking anything from Pablo Honey, and no, not even that. Where I depart from her is in my attempt at listening flow being valued above chronological order; no two consecutive songs come fromt he same album. Okee, heregoes:
1. Airbag
2. The Bends
3. The National Anthem
4. Subeterranean Homesick Alien
5. You and Whose Army
6. Morning Bell
7. High and Dry
8. 2+2=5
9. Everything in its Right Place
10. Paranoid Android
11. Sit Down Stand Up
12. Packt Like Sardines in a Chrushd Tin Box
13. Fake Plastic Trees
14. There There
15. Optimistic
16. Lucky
17. Pyramid Song
Actually, this sounds pretty good, I think I'll make a copy of this for myself.

You'll notice 3 songs from HTTT in there. I was a bad boy and did the downloading thing, but I'm gonna be a good capitalist (ironic considering Thom's politics) and buy the thing on tuesday. Anyway, my review will be posted here soon.

By the Bush/Fleischer definition, John Ashcroft is an inclusive man:
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Homosexual employees of the US Department of Justice have been forbidden to hold an annual "Gay Pride" event at the department's headquarters, a gay DoJ employee said Friday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft "will not allow us to hold our annual pride ceremony in the building," said Melissa Schraibman, who works in Justice Department's tax division.

The Justice Department has held gay pride events at the Department headquarters annually since the early 1990s, when Bill Clinton -- a gay rights supporter -- was president and Janet Reno the US attorney general.


The cancellation "is definitely a surprise," Schraibman told AFP. All the preparations for the event, to be held in the Department's main hall, had already been finalized.

According to Schraibman, the prohibition is "in accord with a new department policy that prohibits commemoration unless it is supported by a presidential proclamation."

"This is something we have never heard of before," she said. "It doesn't exist in writing yet."
You know what they should do? I know it's playing by their rules, but call their bluff: Try to get a presidential proclamation! Imagine the political position in which Dubya would be stuck. If he prohibits it, he could upset a great many moderate, potential Bush04 voters who don't take kindly to such bigotry. If he allows the event to go forward after being lobbied, his rabid righty base will be pissed off. And who knows, wouldn't this open him up to questions about Santorum and his "inclusive" nature? (is there a "no pets allowed" policy at DoJ headquarters?)

UPDATE: HRC and gay/lesbian employees of the DoJ strike back:
DOJ Pride head Marina Colby told Reuters she was taken aback when she was informed the employee group's annual awards ceremony would not be permitted because President Bush had not officially sanctioned it.

"All we want is the same opportunity to recognize contributions to and from our community like other employee associations," she said. "We don't want special treatment, we want equal treatment."

The nonpartisan Human Rights Campaign said Ashcroft canceled the events after being lobbied by conservative groups.

"It's shameful that the federal agency that is in charge of protecting civil rights in this country is singling out one group for disparate treatment," said spokesman David Smith. "It sends a chilling message that gay employees are not a welcome part of the Justice department work force."

I've been a nerd these past few weeks and have been perusing various Matrix-inspired blogs, for philosophy, discussion and prediction.

But sometimes it gets better. Or is it worse? Anyway, Tom of Matrix Essays has constructed a Reloaded Gansta' Rap.

Neo (rapping):

Yo, Cypher was a zero but I'm the One.
I'm the reloaded hero with the big black gun.
I was born in the Matrix, y'all, back in the hood
but I took the red pill and it went down good
with an Absolut chaser and a twist o' lime.
In the desert of the real I'm a bust a rhyme.

I can walk a tightrope after drinkin' a fifth,
stop a bullet in the air, slap Agent Smith
straight down to the floor, plumb through to the cella,
and I'm mackin' every tasty little Zion cave dwella.
Blowin' into your town like a pimp typhoon,
stirrin' coffee with my mind 'cause there ain't no spoon.
Oh god.

Read the rest, or don't. The problem is choice.

It seems as if Mickey Kaus is in some sort of victory-lap mode, but consider the pun-headlines suggestions he gives us, and who suggested them:
Headline puns still available: "Baby, the Raines Must Fall," "Who Stopped the Raines?" "Blame It On the Raines" (a Milli Vanilli song--bonus resonance points to reader A.S.). ... 1:38 A.M.
Reader "A.S."? On Howell Raines? Hmmmmm...
Doesn't it seem like whenever Bush goes abroad, his propensity to spout nonsense and stupidity increases exponentially?
"I'm the master of low expectations."—Aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003
Though I admit, he may be on to something. (haha)

Personally, I don't have much stake in whether or not Martha Stewart goes to jail in and of itself. I'm annoyed by the hoopla, of course, because it's distracting the country from the real corporate criminals, whose crimes are exponentially more severe and grand than those of Ms Stewart. Though I do think she will not go to jail even if convicted, which isn't guaranteed, since she had a stop-order in place four weeks before ImClone tanked.

But this is ridiculous:
NEW YORK - Prosecutors tucked a highly unusual twist into their indictment of Martha Stewart — a charge that she committed a crime simply by declaring her own innocence.

Prosecutors say the domestic guru committed securities fraud — that is, she deliberately tried to inflate the stock of her own company — when she stood up in public last summer and denied engaging in insider trading.

"I was a little surprised at that," said Richard A. Serafini, a former economic crimes prosecutor in New York. "There's kind of a natural tendency when you're confronted with something to deny it. Now they're charging it as market manipulation."

Legal experts said the charge is a high-risk move designed to convince a jury that Stewart hurt thousands of ordinary stockholders in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia by trying to cover up her legal problems.
To the feds prosecuting this case (and thus, the DoJ and the administration), I ask: What the fuck would you have had her say!?!? For example, if she had made statements saying "I did it", would she have been attempting to gain sympathy and get the situation behind her . . . thus boosting Omnimedia's stock?

On its face, the idea of charging someone with fraud for asserting their own innocence is absolutely ridiculous; the stuff of Stalin-era show trials, not of the American judicial ideal. (then again, what with Gitmo and all, am I that surprised?)

(link via a lot of places)

Now, according to the Guardian, Wolfowitz was misquoted when it was claimed he said that the war in Iraq was all about oil. His actual quote (from Conason):
"Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that, I believe, is a major point of leverage, whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq. The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances, which are very different."
Suddenly the sanctions were never devastating to the Iraqi people, and suddenly Saddam didn't use oil revenues for palaces, but was a populist hero! Expanding social services to each and every Iraqi! (well hey, Bin Laden did call him a "socialist") Also, NK has nukes, Iraq doesn't and never did. Nukes don't fall from the sky, you need money to put those babies together. Meanwhile, just before the war, Iraq's military was a third of the size it was in 1991.

Wolfowitz's corrected quote does nothing to steer anybody away from the implication that a big chunk of our rationale for going to war in Iraq had something to do with that "sea of oil".
NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (AP) -- Jason West is a 26-year-old house painter, puppeteer and activist. And on June 1, he became mayor of the Village of New Paltz.

In elections that shocked some locals, West and two running mates pulled off a rarity for Green Party candidates by winning majority control of the village. As the new mayor plans to improve the sewers and run village vehicles on soy-based fuel, some residents of this Hudson Valley college town are apprehensive.


Some people believe West won the part-time post because 16-year incumbent Thomas Nyquist and longtime trustee Robert Feldman split the voting bloc of more established residents. While Nyquist and Feldman claim students deluged the polls, West's team claims their support came from the school and the village.


An environmentalist from an early age -- he lobbied his family against eating food from plastic foam containers at age 6 -- West became involved with the Green Party while majoring in history and fine arts at New Paltz.

He stayed in the village after graduation, running a house painting business, working with a mask-and-puppet performance group called Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, and running unsuccessfully for the state Assembly in 2000 and 2002. He also ran for New Paltz town council in 2001. (full story)
My hat's off to Mr West and company for winning, we'll see what they can do. Just to get one thing out of the way, does the wire story have to keep using the word "village"? It's forcing me to picture Vikings or something.

Politically, the Green Party is at its best when it starts small, city/county/(maybe)state govt seems like a good place for them, where they can get elected to positions of power and influence without helping George W Bush rape the environment and send you men out to both kill and die.

Thursday, June 05, 2003


Here. On the new tax giveaway to the rich, for example:
Most media attention has focused on the child tax credit that wasn't. As in 2001, the administration softened the profile of a tax cut mainly aimed at the wealthy by including a credit for families with children. But at the last minute, a change in wording deprived 12 million children of some or all of that tax credit. "There are a lot of things that are more important than that," declared Tom DeLay, the House majority leader. (Maybe he was thinking of the "Hummer deduction," which stayed in the bill: business owners may now deduct up to $100,000 for the cost of a vehicle, as long as it weighs at least 6,000 pounds.)
Go read the rest, and that is an order.
Oliver makes a very interesting point about Bush's current determination to locate WMD:
Anyone find it a little odd that the Bush company line sounds so much like Hans Blix in the leadup to the war? "Let the inspections work".
Heh. It's about time, thousands of deaths later.

And also,


David Neiwert is on the case.

...particularly those who see no difference between the two parties...

The House of Representatives passed a ban on late-term abortions today.

President George W Bush is going to sign the ban into law.

Ask yourselves, would President Gore have signed it?

(big hint: Clinton vetoed such a ban when the Gingrich congress passed it)

I wish it hadn't happened, if only because I didn't want to see some certain people have the satisfaction. But it comes anyway: Howell Raines is stepping down as Exec Editor at the New York Times.

Joseph Lelyveld, who had been the NYT Exec Editor from 1994 to 2001, returns to the job as the interim editor. Obviously, he arrives just in time to have Newt Gingrich's mother review Living History.

Clarification for conservatives: Speaking as a liberal, the New York Times is not necessarily my paper. Attacking it does not mean attacking me, and it certainly doesn't mean attacking Bill Clinton. Truthfully, the NYT is the least-bad paper in America. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003


No, not the punk-turned-goth/punk band, but rather the American Film Institute, which earlier today released its lists of the top fifty heroes and top fifty villains in movie history. Click on the preceding link to see the list, and then soak in my comments.

I've seen plenty of these movies, so I feel like I'm in a reasonable position to be hypercritical, hehe.

--Atticus Finch is a fine choice for #1, though in terms of pure movie transcendence he deserves to be leapfrogged by either Indy or Bond.
--There are two women in the top ten, Sigourney Weaver (Alien) and Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs), both very deserving, though I think Jodie could have been bumped all the way up to #4 if her counterpart in the movie wasn't the #1 villain. Still, it's interesting to note that neither of the women in the top ten played terribly feminine roles (and I mean, the two roles in question, both have run the gamut in their careers).
--I suppose Indiana Jones (#2) coming in ahead of the countdown's only Nazi (Oskar Schindler, #13) makes sense. Okay okay, that was bad.
--Prepare for two consecutive Star Wars-related gripes:
1) Three slots in the top 50 are occupied by pairs of heroes (Woodward & Bernstein, Thelma & Louise, and Buch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid), yet Obi-Wan (#37) and Han Solo (#14) get individual spots? Don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars, and those are my two favorite characters from the trilogy, but I put fairness first. And by the way,
2) Is Han Solo really a hero? He's an asshole, an opportunist, has a bad attitude, has issues in communicating with the opposite sex (particularly royalty), and has a knack for becoming frozen solid from time to time. Sure, he has more personality than the rest of the cast combined, but that doesn't add up to heroism. Silly and idiotic as he is, Luke is the hero. There, now on to other things...
--I know they're just movies, but I love the creative thinking that leads to Harry Callahan (#17) being more of a hero than Mahatma Gandhi (#21). ("I have to ask you, British Viceroy: do you feel lucky?")
--Look, I know that Lassie (#39) was a good, good dog. But can a collie really be a hero!?!?
--Finally, Andrew Beckett (#49) is a classy choice.

--The top three (Lecter, Bates, Vader) are no-brainers. There is no argument.
--There are six females among the top ten villains, while there were only two female heroes in the top ten. What is the Institute trying to tell us???
--Alex De Large, Malcolm MacDowell's wonderful mascara-overdrive hedonist from Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange lands at #12. Only problem is, he's the HERO!!! Why is a hero a villain? Yeah, he does a lot of bad shit, but he's the one the audience is pulling for! Jeebus.
--The villain picks are a bit more abstract than the hero ones. The Queen from Snow White, an animated character, comes in at #10, though I think Ursula from The Little Mermaid is the more memorable villain. HAL9000 (#13) is a choice I approve of quite a bit. You may explore the connotations of man as the villain in Bambi (#20) to your heart's delight.
--Ahh-nuld, as the Terminator, is both a villain (#22) and a hero! (#48), how do you like that? And he still can't act!
--Jack makes it on twice, with The Shining (#25) and as The Joker (#45), though I think his Shining performance could be bumped up at least a few spots. I also nominate him as a villain for taking all that money to make me sit through Anger Management.
--Finally, Verbal Kint of The Usual Suspects is a frustrating pick at #48. What's the point of being evil if the audience doesn't know you're evil until literally seconds before the ending credits? Laaame!

--Since Maximus slid onto the list at the very end (#50), I have to say that there's no excuse to put Maximus in and leave William Wallace out. Wallace was a better character, in a better movie, and he was so much more, how you say, human, than Russell Crowe's stony Maximus was.
--Neo? Guess not for a while.
--Frodo? I know not all of the trilogy is out yet, but come on!
--Any number of Denzel roles, perhaps Malcolm X or Hurricane Carter.
--They got the cop from Fargo in there, so I'm not too mad, but how bout the Dude? Too much to ask I guess.
--And, um, Michael Moore?
--Richard Dreyfuss in The American President, as the Newt-ish Senator Bob Rumson.
--Going back to Neo, that's a questionable choice maybe, at this time. But leaving out Hugo Weaving was the wrong decision.
--Dr frickin Evil, please
--Edward Norton for Primal Fear
--The Birds . . . in The Birds? hehe
--Not one asteroid, crocodile, spider or anaconda to be found!

Well, there you have it. Bye!

I wouldn't be a good Brendan if I didn't provide a link to Hillary's book.

Go piss off the VRWC and buy it! In stores monday, but you can order now!
violence and the radicals

As I indirectly mentioned before, two words you wont hear on the tv news describing Eric Rudolph are "Christian extremist".

There's something else, too, that the news media will not directly discuss.

Much was made at the time of the huge anti-war protests this winter, and how many of them were organized, directly and indirectly, by groups such as ANSWER. Conservative (and often mainstream, if this is not redundant) pundits tried to discredit the protests by pointing to the leftist leanings of the people of ANSWER and their equivalents. My point is this: In general, the most radical extent to which the American far left manifests itself appears to be non-violent protests, and maybe the occasional shattering of a Starbucks window. The far right, on the other hand? Eric Rudolph, Buford Furrow and Tim McVeigh. And we're the problem. Jeebus.

Again, not that you'll hear this point on television.

Via Hesiod, a weblog devoted entirely to the lies of our pResident.

Some people still within the administration itself do run their mouths from time to time and blurt out an unfortunate truth (via kos):
Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war.

The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.


Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."
Wow, not only does he let that slip, but he does so in such an eloquent and poetic fashion. Three cheers for Wolfy! Certainly it's more eloquent than his "fuck you" to Al Franken at the correspondents' dinner, hehehe.

Kos thinks his ass is on the administration's platter for this one. This is definitely possible, as former Treasury Sec Paul O'Neill received a similar fate for running his mouth.

Atrios sums it up rather perfectly:
The only evidence we need to know that the administration is simply in CYA mode is the fact they don't seem very concerned about the "missing" WMD. If they really believed they existed, the hunt for them wouldn't be motivated by a desire to justify the war, it would be motivated by the very legitimate desire to make sure the deadly weapons were not in the hands of evil-doers. Since the administration isn't sounding the alarm along these lines, it's obvious they're unconcerned. They just want to find some scrap of something - a la the ridiculous mobile "labs" - to pacify the media and dupe the public.
Exactly! The debate, the national dialog has had very little to do with worry about missing WMD, but rather about after-the-fact justification for the war. Atrios brings up the "mobile weapons lab"; note that it's discovery was followed by hoots on the pro-war right of "see? this is the smoking gun!", and not any sort of worry about how more weapons may yet be out there (jeez, if it was really for that purpose and it was empty, wouldn't you expect FEAR from the right about where those weapons went, rather than back-patting about finding the "lab"? sigh.)

If there was a real danger from actual WMD that we have yet to find, then this all seems pretty fucking cynical on the part of the administration, media, etc.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003


Say what you will about Dennis Kucinich. Call him the left's Gary Bauer. Slam his spiritual beliefs.

But please, give him credit for having the guts to question the reality of the Jessica Lynch rescue, and being an elected official doing so at that.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Dennis Kucinich called on the Defense Department on Tuesday to release the unedited footage of the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital and to answer questions about her injuries.

"Nothing the administration has said about Private Lynch has been verified by private news reports," Kucinich, D-Ohio, said Tuesday. "It's time to find out the truth."


Kucinich, ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations, asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a letter to release unedited footage of the rescue and answer the following questions:

• Did U.S. troops encounter any Iraqi forces in the hospital?

• Were U.S. troops fired upon during the rescue operation?

• Did U.S. troops have information suggesting that Iraqi forces had abandoned the hospital?

• Did Lynch sustain any gunshot or knife wounds?

• Did U.S. officials have information suggesting that hospital staff were trying to deliver Lynch to American forces?

• Did U.S. forces fire at ambulances?
But alas -- and are you at all surprised? -- we're not likely to find out anything new from the administration.
A Defense Department official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Tuesday that it's unlikely that the full tape of the rescue would be released.

It was unclear whether the additional questions about the rescue would be answered. Pentagon officials have played down suggestions that Lynch's rescue was staged or that details were exaggerated. They have never claimed there was fighting inside the hospital, but have said U.S. troops were fired on outside the hospital.
Really, really, what did you expect? In this age of media consolidation, we must protect NBC's profits from their upcoming made-for-tv Lynch instamovie.

UPDATE: According to these guys, Kucinich should be "hanged by the balls". That's . . . great. Obviously they get a democracy award of some kind.
NORFOLK, VA—With more than 5,400 jubilant Marines and sailors cheering him on, President Bush landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Harry S Truman in a Navy jet Monday to preside over a historic veterans'-benefits-cutting ceremony.

"Your brave and selfless service to your country will not soon be forgotten," Bush told the recently returned Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers. "At least, not for another five or ten years."

After congratulating the soldiers on their victory over Saddam Hussein, Bush announced that the new budget passed by the Senate includes a $14.6 billion reduction in veterans' benefits. He then held aloft a pair of oversized scissors and snipped a ribbon bearing the words "Veteran's Benefits."

"No one knows the meaning of the word 'sacrifice' quite like our men and women in uniform," Bush said. "Whether sacrificing their lives or their health coverage, these brave Americans are willing to do whatever it takes to help this nation, and for this I salute them." (full story)

It's amazing how vanquished members of the Bush administration have quite a knack for telling the truth:
Former Army secretary Thomas White said in an interview that senior Defense officials ''are unwilling to come to grips'' with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq. The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and recently announced that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's stay there has been extended indefinitely.

''This is not what they were selling (before the war),'' White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. ''It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term.''
They're better at knocking stuff down than putting it back together again. But we knew that.

I am overjoyed to see that little bastard Eric Rudolph get his ass hauled off to jail. Even better, though I only read it and did not see it live, I can imagine that never were words more spoken through grinding teeth than:
"This sends a clear message that we will never cease in our efforts to hunt down all terrorists, foreign or domestic, and stop them from harming the innocent," Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement.
Awwww, that must've broke poor Ashy's heart to say. (side note: um, where's osama? anyway...)

Ten days before Christian extremist Eric Rudolph was arrested, an interesting piece appeared in the Detroit Free Press on the violent portrayal of Islam in the Middle East. It's central point is critical to the doctored American view on the Islamic world, and I'll get to that in a second. But the opening sentences are also paramount:
Close your eyes and picture a "Christian extremist." If you're like most people, the term doesn't conjure immediate pictures.

Now, try it again with this term: "Muslim extremist." The image probably comes much quicker, especially in this age of Al Qaeda and nonstop terror perpetrated by avowed Muslims.
The author of the piece, Desiree Cooper, goes on to talk about the corruption of the definition of Islam as peace, but she could have just as easily broken into an equally interesting discussion about the lack of a concept of "Christian extremism" in America and elsewhere.

Enter Eric Rudolph. He, along with McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Buford Furrow, and David Koresh (and we could include the Weavers in there as well) are examples of Christian extremists. Though Koresh's example slighly varies (the whole cult thing), all of these men are/were miltant, heavily armed men who believed in a virulent form of Christianity that called for the survival of one race (the white race) and the elimination of all other races and faiths (notably judaism). In their case, their sect is often referred to as "Christian Identity", bigoted and violent by design. People like Lou Dobbs refer to fundamentalist Arab terrorists as "Islamists". Surely, that makes Rudolph and co. "Christianists".

"But wait!", you say, "those guys aren't real Christians!" Well duh, of course they're not. They're on the opposite of the spectrum from, say, Bono. Christianity at its best is about peace, tolerance and growth (or at least it should be when it isn't . . . and when i say "growth", i don't necessarily mean "build! build! build!", hehe). The thing is, this is definitely true about Islam. In the same vein, Islam is a peaceful religion, and the Taliban-style fundamentalists, stuck in the 8th Century, aren't real Muslims either. If they, along with Al Qaeda, are considered part of the normal Islamic spectrum, then so must Rudolph and McVeigh be a part of the Christian one. The reason they aren't lies in the myth of moral superiority with which Western culture is generally afflicted. Continuing on...

"But wait!", you say, "If Rudolph-style kooks are to be considered part of the American Christian spectrum, why don't they have as strong a footing in their region and local culture as Islamic extremists have in their own? Can't the only conclusion be that Islam is, thus, more evil than Christianity?" The difference is not about varying nature of faith, but other factors. From the DFP piece:
"There is nothing inherent in Islam that makes people violent," said Hassan, speaking last Friday to the Detroit Women's Forum at the First Congregational Church on East Forest. "In the Middle East, it's the sociopolitical situation that gives rise to the violence. Religious leaders are exploiting it."
Very good, Ms Hassan, I'm buying you a pie! Everything from the legacy of European colonialism to American military presence to the vicious political opportunism of some who aspire to rule, and not a friggin thing in the Qu'ran.

I may add to this post later, but I must rush off to a section... In the meantime, go to Google News, and do two searches, the first for "Christian extremist" and the other for "Islamic extremist", and compare the number of results.

But for better or for worse, I'm back.

Finals are coming up in less than a week, so who knows what my productivity level will be. Laurie is done with her finals, so she might be around to chip in, hehe.


Also, I wanted to note that the amazing Ben Folds will be touring with Tori Amos this summer (the emo-intellectual college set is overjoyed, myself included). Tickets for the bay area show (july 29 at the concord pavilion) go on sale this coming sunday, the 8th.

More posting soon!