aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, December 22, 2005
I love The Strand Bookstore at Broadway and 12th.
Today I bought The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few & How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, & Nations by James Surowiecki, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Language In Your Life, the Media, Business, Politics, and, Like, Whatever by Leslie Savan, The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, and Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
by Ariel Levy.
They didn’t have The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil. “That’s a popular book,” said the salesperson.
Four out of five’s not bad.
“Sexy is all she is…”
So says my Westchester-connected friend about DA Jeanine Pirro. “I don’t know why the Republicans are cozying up to her. Have you seen how she dresses?”
He thinks she’s got no substance. I think she’ll win:
Even as she announced she would shutter her campaign against Clinton, Pirro jumped into the state attorney general’s contest. A recent independent poll showed her trailing the two Democrats seeking that office.
In a statement released by her campaign, Pirro said her “law enforcement background better qualifies me for a race for New York State Attorney General than a race for the United States Senate.”
It was obvious she’d never lay a glove on Clinton, but she was soooo right for the fight, even before the 32-second pause in her campaign kickoff speech. Scott Shields has wrap-up of her short-lived candidacy and wonders, who’s in?
It’s the liberals!
Kevin Drum comments on conservative claims that there have been no new terrorist acts on American soil because of the Patriot Act, the NSA surveillance and the enhanced interrogation techniques:
Of course, you might just as well ask yourself why there were no terrorist attacks on American soil in the four years before 9/11. The fact is, superhawks always claim their programs are vital to American security, and they almost always turn out to be wrong. We didn’t need to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II, we didn’t need Joe McCarthy’s theatrics during the Cold War, and we didn’t need COINTELPRO during the Vietnam War. And when the Church Committee outlawed the most egregious of our intelligence abuses in the 70s, guess what happened? The Soviet Union disintegrated a decade later. Turns out we didn’t need that stuff after all. America is a lot stronger than its supposed defenders give it credit for.
In any case, [this is] a talking point you can expect to hear a lot more of when al-Qaeda eventually mounts another successful attack on American soil, an act so likely as to be almost inevitable. No matter how big or how small that attack turns out to be, the hawks will rush to announce: it’s the liberals’ fault. It’s your fault. It’s my fault.
But never their fault. Never the fault of those who have so little faith in America’s institutions in the first place. It’s never their fault.
I am always aware that it was 8 1/2 years between World Trade Center attacks; and that Bush said after 9/11 that this was a new war that called for a new way of fighting. Then he proceeded with business as usual.
But wait… I’m wrong! There is something new. This war calls for no shared sacrifice; and no shared responsibility.
Or earthly father:
Can a loyal Christian believe that Christ was not born of a biological virgin? Perhaps it’s worth posing a different question: Why is church authority so intent upon Mary’s virginity as a historical fact? Would Jesus be any less God’s son if he had an earthly father? The central message of the Gospel is that God raised up and redeemed his servant from death by crucifixion-the Roman style of execution reserved for the lowest of the low. Why couldn’t God have sent the same message of divine solidarity with the world’s outcasts by making a Messiah out of a man whose conception was also taboo?
Some church leaders feel the pull of the illegitimacy tradition but fear its impact. “Undoubtedly, some sophisticated Christians could live with the alternative Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ [but] for many less sophisticated believers, illegitimacy would be an offense that would challenge the plausibility of the Christian Mystery,” Brown writes. However well-intended, that fear may be misdirected. When she published her book, Schaberg got seven grateful or supportive letters for every angry one she received. More than a century ago, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote, “If a heavenly father, why not a heavenly mother? And if an earthly mother, why not an earthly father?” She continued, “I think the doctrine of the Virgin Birth as something sweeter, higher, nobler than ordinary motherhood, is a slur on all the natural motherhood of the world.” An unveiled illegitimacy tradition offers this Christmas gift: the restoration of natural motherhood to its rightful place in the miraculous.
The only thing we have to fear is…distorted judgement
H.D.S. Greenway writing in the Boston Globe:
IN MARCH OF 1933, Franklin Roosevelt, facing the crisis of the Great Depression, said in his inaugural address that ‘’the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
The fear people felt then was not nameless, unreasoning, nor unjustified, as Roosevelt well knew. In fact, his address went on to say that ‘’the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone . . . Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.”
What Roosevelt meant was that fear can distort judgment and cloud the mind’s ability to perceive right turns from wrong turns in the road to safety. [...]
The Bush administration’s predilection to torture was clearly a result of mind-clouding fear caused by the greatest terrorist attack in history on Sept. 11th, 2001. The same can be said of the excesses of the Patriot Act, and, too, the decision to use the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens without benefit of warrant as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The Bush administration has shamelessly used fear to get its way. Both the president and vice president have tried to picture a withdrawal from Iraq as resulting in an Al Qaeda takeover of Iraq, and an Al Qaeda-led Caliphate stretching across the Muslim world. In reality al Qaeda hasn’t the remotest chance of taking over Iraq, not with 80 percent of the population either Kurdish or Shi’ite, and a timely end to American occupation might sooner lead to an Iraqi-Sunni disenchantment with foreign terrorists.