Gray Flannel Dwarf


Dr. James Dobson’s Disingenuity

Well, the whole filibuster thing is old news at this point — for now, anyway. However, I’ve had something on my mind that I’ve been meaning to write about when it came to the reactions of various factions on all sides. Most interesting is the statement made by James Dobson, after news that a compromise had been reached on the filibuster. The segments below interest me most (emphasis mine):

This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.

I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.

It’s this language that really puts the icing on the cake, for me anyway, with regards to the way Dobson has been reacting for the past several years.

I don’t deny that Dobson has always been a social conservative with values based in his particular brand of the Christian faith. However, I see the vitriol that he spews these days, and in my mind, it differs a great deal with the stuff of his that I read as a kid.

When I was younger, I was given a Dobson book — already somewhat dated at the time — about coping with adolescence. I can’t remember the title, and didn’t really get a lot out of the book, but the key parts which I remember come from a “round table” discussion, transcribed in the book, which took up a fairly sizeable portion of the text. In this discussion, Dobson spoke casually with teenagers, running the gamut of teen issues.

What I remember in the book seems to run counter to Dobson today. Not in terms of the values, these all run the same, but in his general demeanor and attitude.

When it came to “modern pop music” talking about love, he quoted a few Partridge family snippets, and reacted with something to the effect of, “c’mon, that’s not love at all!”

When it came to self-conciousness, he talked about a somewhat humourous anecdote about when he was once at a meeting with a large group of women, and there’d been a tray of breakfast snacks and coffee across the room. He noted that, amidst the two breaks in the meeting, no one dared venture across the room to get any. Finally, during a third break, he went over there and was followed by a “trail of women” who had been, apparently, too self-concious to get up and do it themselves, first. This story resulted in a bit of giggling by the teenagers in the group.

Finally, I remember a section where one kid was talking candidly about drug use in his school, with regards to a time when some fellow classmates had been smoking dope in the bathroom, and all the kids in a nearby classroom knew the “unmistakable” scent, whereas a teacher reacted, stating, “my, what is that wonderful smell?”. This got a large laugh from the teens on the round table.

In any case, this book, while touching on issues important to Dobson’s moral values, nonetheless had a somewhat lighthearted feel to it, and Dobson himself didn’t spew any fire and brimstone about these things. He let the conversations go on in a relatively sane way, and whether it was conscious or not, at least appeared to try and be “hip” and “with it”. Whether one particularly agreed with his beliefs or not, he at least evangelised his beliefs in a civil way, contrasting these “roadblocks” that teenagers encounter with what he felt the Bible had to say about these issues.

So I remember those things, and I see the way Dobson is acting lately, and frankly, I wonder if he has gone off his rocker, if the political power he has accumulated has gone to his head, or both. The man is a total smouldering inferno, an embodiment of the Eye of Sauron.

And now that I think about it, it really seems like he’ll stop at nothing to get his hands back on the One Ring.

Dobson, I’m sure, still has his faith, as misguided as it may be these days, and I don’t really think his moral compass has changed all that much. His reactions as of late, however, as compared to his earlier attitudes and behaviours, really seal the deal for me, when I ponder if he’s just (ab)using his position amongst the faithful, and abusing his very faith, for political purposes.

cswiii @ 10:23 pm



In efforts to shed his image of a racist Christian fundamentalist who has spent his last few years bombing Muslim countries, GWB is evidently attempting to be seen as an equal-opportunity opportunist. That would explain why the FUD is being kicked up and this sort of rhetorical, propagandistic drivel by Douglas MacKinnon was published in the Houston Chronicle:

During a private meeting between Chavez and Khatami, I was told, Chavez made it known to the Iranian leader that he would like to “introduce nuclear elements into Venezuela.” My contact said “nuclear elements” meant “nuclear weapons.”

Of course, in reality, what Venezuela lacks in “nuclear elements” it more than makes up for in… oil, of course.

I swear… it’s feeling more and more like The Manchurian Candidate every day. It may be true that Chavez isn’t necessarily the best thing in the world for Venezuela right now, but to now link him in with nukes… this whole nuclear/WMD one trick pony is getting to be a tiresome ride.

cswiii @ 9:05 am


So, what is it, then?

A while back, I saw a bumpersticker that read something to the effect of, “What exactly is it that Conservatives conserve?” As it was a green bumpersticker, I’m guessing its focus was a jab about natural resources.

It made me think a little harder, though, in everything that’s going on these days.

I’ve been through a bunch of these things before, but to recap:

  • The GOP has traditionally been a party advocating strict government spending and small government. That ain’t happening.
  • The GOP has traditionally been a party advocating personal privacy issues. That ain’t happening.
  • The GOP has traditionally been a party opposing US involvement in foreign affairs. That certainly ain’t happening.

So, these bring me to my current thought. “Conservative”. I remember, when I was a kid, I asked my parents the same sort of question… I wondered why “Conservatives” didn’t seem to be the ones who were interested in the environment. When I was that age, the name, at least, seemed to imply this.

Of course, we all know that “Conservatives” are so-called because they purportedly want to “conserve” tradition, conserve values. In this case, I guess we can add another bullet to the list above, with regards to today’s GOP:

  • The GOP has traditionally been a party which advocates maintaining traditions and existing American values. So why are they attempting to change 200 years of Senate tradition in one fell swoop today, and over the next couple of weeks?

Ahem. Per today’s Washington Post:

Republicans hold 55 of the seats in the chamber, and until now they have needed 60 votes to end debate and force a vote. But Republicans believe they have figured out how to use the chamber’s rules so that only a simple majority — 51 votes — is required to force an up-or-down vote.

To get there, Republicans will have to evade a requirement that they have a two-thirds vote — 67 of 100 senators — to change the chamber’s rules. Republicans will argue that they are attempting to set a precedent, not change the Senate rules, to disallow the use of filibusters as a delaying tactic on judicial nominations. And by doing so, they say, they are returning to a more traditional concept of majority rule.

This, despite the fact that the purpose of the Senate was precisely designed to be a self-moderating and deliberative body! The Senate was put into place because small states wanted protection against tyranny of the large, and until recently, the Senate has always donned the mantle of deliberation. Leave the playground politics and squables to the House, but let the Senate be the voice of reason. Well, that’s they way it’s traditionally been, anyway. So much for that.

And it’s been such a lie, from the beginning, the things they’ve said. “Filibustering judicial nominees goes against Senate tradition of giving candidates up or down votes.” Frist spoke of the Dems trying to “break with more than 200 years of Senate tradition.” Bullshit. The GOP-packed committee kept over 60 Clinton nominees from getting an up or down vote… they didn’t need to filibuster, they just wouldn’t let them out of committee. Clinton nominations… whatever — I don’t care whose they were. The issue is the same, and in reality, whether a appointee is buried in committee, or filibustered on the floor, neither one more than the other can be accused of violating the Senate’s duty to “advise and consent” on Presidential appointees.

What’s more, the GOP has filibustered judicial candidates itself! Again, from the WaPo, this time from an article dated January 31st, 2005:

But the majority leader protests too much. Not only have filibusters been attempted against judicial nominees in the past, but Frist himself has even voted for one. In 2000, after Senate conservatives had held up Bill Clinton’s nomination of Richard Paez to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for four years, Frist joined in an unsuccessful attempt to filibuster Paez — a judge who was favored by a clear majority of the Senate and who won confirmation after the filibuster was broken by a vote of 59 to 39.

So indeed, at this point what are the conservatives trying to conserve? Assholes.

cswiii @ 10:20 am


Byrd Dog

I’m not necessarily a big fan of Robert Byrd, pork barrel beneficiary time and time again, as he may be… but I gotta hand it to the old man, for handing Bill Frist his ass in Thursday’s Senate floor debate. I finally got to see it this morning, on C-SPAN.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a transcript of it, much less the whole spiel between Sens. Frist, Reid and Byrd. C-SPAN doesn’t seem to have it up, and it doesn’t appear to yet be on Byrd’s speeches webpage.

Just freaking fantastic. The Esther allegorical was perhaps the best part of the speech.

Here are some articles that talk at least a little bit about it.
“It’s All Up- or Downhill From Here” (Washington Post)
“Byrd, Frist Spar Over Filibuster Changes” (Associated Press)

cswiii @ 11:44 am


The Politics of Phraseology

Today’s Republican party has been criticised, be the claims true or not, for conveniently taking credit for names and phrases coined or adopted by others (see: “compassion”), while being quick to dispose of terminologies of their own creation that turn out to be cancerous (see: “nuclear option”). Lately, however, I am wondering if the GOP isn’t having such a honed skill used against itself, by those in its own party.

Let’s go back to Political Science 101: When it comes to the term “liberalism”, vis a vis “conservatism”, one need look back to the Enlightenment. Rooted in an age of advances in science and reason, and embracing philosophical ideas of the Renaissance, “liberalism” came about as a movement against orthodoxy and “absolute” power, whereas it touted progress and individual rights. Adam Smith, John Locke, both of these could be considered liberals in the traditional sense of the term.

Skip ahead a few centuries, to modern politics. The terms “liberal” and “conservative” are tossed around like political confetti… sometimes as badges of honour, other times as derisive harangues, but rarely used in their original context. Both today’s Republican and Democratic parties would be considered liberal under this definition of the term. Embracing, to whatever varying degrees one might support oppose, capitalism, individual rights, and political freedoms, neither party can truly be considered “conservative” as compared to a pre-Enlightenment worldview.

These things said… more and more I am seeing the uneasiness within the GOP, with regards to the evangelicals and neocons versus the more traditional Republican party, and while I am still not 100% convinced that the GOP is being held hostage by the religious right, there is a very definite divergence in political aims between the two. This manifests itself in the current political pressures that some GOP politicians are apparently facing, in addition to the party itself. In recent months, tensions have been at what seems to be nearing all-time highs, with the far-right ardently (and often victoriously) shaping the party’s policy.

Along with this power grab is the rhetoric, and it’s the rhetoric which I feel is a particularly telltale sign. Amongst the squabbles within the party (it is too early yet, I think, to call it infighting), one often hears the calls to separate the “[real] conservatives” from the “republicans/GOP/party”, in any variation thereof, or in other flavours not mentioned. It shows up time and time again, a rhetorical call to separate the wheat from the chaff — and this cannibalism invariably turns into the questioning of others’ “conservatism”.

I find this to be a particularly interesting development, and while it may actually be more accurate in the original context of the term — a dangerous proposition, indeed, having the whole lot of theocracy-seeking, science-fearing “conservatives” running around, shaking down the power structure — I do wonder if this has given the traditional GOP some pause. The GOP has long been known as the “conservative” party, yet it almost looks as if they are running the risk of having the rug yanked right out from under them by the more radical elements of their own party.

The Republicans, who arguably have done a superb job over the years at donning the mantle of whatever catchphrase the pollsters say is going over well with the public at any given time, seem to me, at least, to be running the risk of losing a major descriptor at the very heart of the party’s political identity. This is a very real possibility, in my mind, unless they can reign in these more reactive elements within their ranks and keep them from splitting, taking the phrase with them.

The GOP without the blanket of “conservatism”. What would they be with out it? The “Un-Cola” of modern politics?

cswiii @ 12:40 am


Kingdom of God in America

My coworkers and I went to go see Kingdom of Heaven tonight. It wasn’t bad. I am not going to say it’s my favourite, either, though. I wasn’t very familiar with Ridley Scott — at least not conciously — until lately, until the aforementioned coworkers went on about him.

It was very reminiscent of Gladiator, that’s for sure, at least with regards to the fight scenes and general choreography. Regardless, trying to cram hundreds of years of crusades into a couple of years movie-time and 2 1/2 hours theatre-time is going to miss on a few counts.

Anyway, what did I do? Of course! The first thing I did was look it up on Free Republic.

They didn’t like it, needless to say.

cswiii @ 11:16 pm


Free Repugnance

Ok, I’ll admit it. I read Free Republic.

I read it, not to troll it (I’d get censored there anyway, as they are apt to do), or otherwise participate, and I don’t get particularly pissed off at it — they’re so far out there that it’s comical. It’s more to observe the social aspects of it.

Everytime I read it, though, I just picture FR as one big, angry hornets’ nest. There is a lot of downright irrational thought and ad hominem, Republican-for-name’s-sake showmanship. There are a few more traditional GOPers there, but they’re totally outnumbered by those who ardently back anything — anything that is voiced by the neocons. While not indicative of the GOP as a whole, it’s very telling as to where the more extreme elements of the party are looking. It’s like they are pacified by the site; it’s their outlet, but they’re still angry, pissed off hornets who might converge on a victim at any moment.

The other thing that there is a lot of, on FR, though, is thinly-veiled racism. Maybe this is obvious to some… perhaps it’s not even worth mentioning, but these thoughts came from an initial observation, and I waited until I saw the pattern repeated over and over again, to say anything.

Now, Free Republic won’t generally stand for outright racial slandering, as far as I have seen — that kind of thing, if posted at all, tends to get removed just as fast as physical threats posted (the Schiavo thing had the moderators quite busy). Nor does one even see a lot of blatant stereotyping.

The real mindset of not all, but many, of the Freepers is evident, though, when race is even remotely an issue. If it is an issue of clearing a minority’s name, obvious “indifference” is stated. The term “race baiting” gets bandied about… and it’s very obvious that anything that can be deemed as a “minority” story — political or not! — takes on a whole different flavour at Free Republic than, say, some place like dKos.

You can hear the underground buzzing of the swarm really amplify.

I first noted this a while back, when the topic of boxer Jack Johnson came up (see below), and have been watching ever since to see if this was just an abberation, or if my hunch was correct. Sure enough, it seems to happen just about every time.

Some examples follow.



“Clinton and his stupid precedents. This nonsense could go on forever. The dead are all innocent, they’re certainly beyond the reach of law. Let this dumb idea die with Clinton.”

“OK, but he only gets pardoned when everyone who was the clear victim of racism is posthumously pardoned[...]” [same author]

Implied: “Who cares — it’s some old black dude.”

1/20/2005 – America, not Johnson needs pardon (black boxer Jack Johnson):


“What’s done is done. There are a lot of people who lived out similar circumstances and we will never hear of their stories. What are you going to do really? It’s 2005 and America is a VERY different place from 1913.”

“As long as we’re pardoning dead people, I’d like to see Attila the Hun pardoned for his myriad human rights abuses. After all, Attila was abused as a child. /sarcasm”

Implied: “It’s some old black dude. Again, who cares”


“Spilt milk aimed at white liberal guilt. What a steaming crock …”

Implied: “Oh, it’s the race card again”

So at this point, one may be thinking that I am reading into these statements. Well, I did an examination of my own thoughts, and before stating anything, I waited to see if it came out of the woodwork again. Sure enough, it did…

05/04/2005 Source: FBI to Exhume Emmett Till’s Body


“Let the dead rest.”

“I suppose that it is much better to have the FBI doing something like this that is political correct rather than doing anything constructive..LIKE GOING AFTER THE GOD-D@MN TERRORISTS THAT ARE CROSSING OUR BORDERS DAILY!!.
Oh well, another fine example of our government in action.”

Implied: (It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?)

Oh, and then there’s this gem of a red herring

“This is horrible. But only half as horrible as a mostly black jury acquitting OJ. He savagely killed two people.”

Then you have the more visible slurs in this discussion about Foxy Brown:
05/07/2005 – Foxy Brown Rejects Plea Offer (Rap Thug Assaults Two In Nail Salon)


“This former welfare beeyatch needs to be put in her place.”

Implied: (obvious)

or this…


“This person is twisted. She doesn’t deserve any recognition. Acting out her fantasy about being better than anyone else will catch up with her one of these days.”

Implied: “Damned uppity negro!”

I could go on and on with these, but this ought to be enough. Furthermore, there are a lot of references that I didn’t bring up, implying that most of these “race” cases have a common purpose in vilifying the GOP and/or the South. I didn’t mention those, because that’s not the purpose of this piece. That same “indifference” is always there, a recurring theme, in these types of stories. “Why does it matter” is a not-so-subtle way of saying “Why do they matter?”, and off-the-cuff references to lifestyle choices.

In any case – admittedly, this is just a sampling, and it’s not necessarily indicative of the whole thread, or even of all Freepers, much less the GOP as a whole. Regardless, I do find it kind of odd that stuff like this stays up, when often even remotely dissenting opinion is quickly struck from the record. The majority of the GOP no longer believes such things, but the fact that they continue to tolerate them is yet another political sellout to gain voters. Both parties do it, I don’t deny that… but catering to this constituency, to any degree, is vile.

Zell Miller always goes on about the Democratic party not being the party it used to be. Well, there you go, Mr. Miller, you can see where your “traditional” Democrats went. Go play with the GOP beekeepers.

cswiii @ 1:57 am


no, seriously.

what the fuck is this shit?

Good lordy. If that’s not a sign of the impending apocalypse, I dunno what is.

Update, 2 minutes later: It’s a farce. Well, it’s real, but it’s still a farce. I should’ve seen the “Landover Baptist” link to the side, earlier. Or the text at the bottom of the product description.

I blame tonight’s Yuengling.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 12:05 am



So, the new Harris Teeter opened up down the street, sometime in the past two weeks or so. After biking a few laps around the lake at Apex Community Park, I was a bit hungry and thirsty, so I decided it was as good a time as any to go check it out.

I’m glad it’s there, for a myriad of reasons. First of all, it’s open 24 hours, which is a good thing. After having 24 hour grocery stores all over the DC area, it was a little adjustment finding out that stores around here close at 10 or 11ish. I mean, I don’t make it a habit to do all my grocery shopping at wee hours, but the convenience can’t be downplayed.

Secondly, while wandering through the store, I saw that they carry kefir. Good stuff.

And then I saw the Grapples.

Now, I was a bit disappointed, as were others, from what I’ve seen on other weblogs, that they aren’t a hybrid or anything, but rather apples flavoured with artificial grape. I didn’t realise this until I got home. In any case, I tried one. I am kind of ashamed to say that they’re pretty good! I’ve seen that others couldn’t taste the grape flavour. I dunno… it was pretty evident in the ones that I bought.

They’re not cheap, unfortunately — about $5 for four of them — so I won’t be buying them all the time, but it’s a pretty good treat. I don’t know what kind of statement it’s saying that fresh fruit can be bastardised in this manner and still be tasty. But I could certainly eat these instead of candy anyday, and if this is indeed their marketing ploy, which seems to be the case, they’ve somehow succeeded.

cswiii @ 9:39 pm