Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, January 22, 2005

What a Cliche 

I had asked her to make a snow pirate. Posted by Hello

Just Before the Launch 

You can see her landing spot right in front of her. Posted by Hello


Via Power Line:
It's often been observed that one reason why voter fraud is
widespread is that it is hardly ever prosecuted. Jim Hoft,
who has a site called Gateway Pundit, wrote to alert us
to what could be a very important story, involving a Democratic
office-holder in East St. Louis, Illinois, who allegedly tried to
quash a voter fraud investigation by having a witness murdered:

Kelvin Ellis, a top administrator at East St. Louis City Hall, was
indicted yesterday for plotting to kill a witness in the year long
East St. Louis, Illinois federal vote fraud investigation.

Ellis, 55, who once served a prison term after abusing a city post,
is now the director of regulatory affairs, which puts him in charge
of housing inspections. He also is a precinct committeeman with
close ties to the community's Democratic Party leaders.

"Welcome back Kelvin. Let's find something for you where there's no possibility whatsoever for funny business. How about housing inspection?"

The Passion of the Christ 

As New Jersey huddles down and waits for the blizzard to pound us (yikes, just looked out the window and the snow has started), the girls have gone to a play date and the house is quiet and cozy.

So what does Sluggo do? Well, here he comes choogling along six months late with a few words about The Passion of the Christ which we watched on DVD last night.

The Goddess hated it almost as much as she hated Kill Bill, and for the same reason. She just couldn't watch it. She found the violence pointless and disgusting. It angered her. She, by the way, considers herself a Christian. I do not.

I was surprised at how much I liked it. I found it thrilling, in a way. (I liked Kill Bill, too, but for very different reasons.)

Did you see the movie The Rapture? It's not a great movie, but it has some fine performances and it had an almost unique point of view for a Hollywood film. The question it asked was, 'What if it's all true?' What if God is coming, he will judge us, most of us will be damned and the righteous will ascend into heaven? Mimi Rogers is a troubled woman in a boring job who has some (entertaining) sexual quirks. She is witnessed to, becomes born again and goes on with her very different life. Then the rapture happens. Right in the middle of life as we know it, our ordinary, realistic world ends. The movie kind of blows up at that point because I don't think the end of the world was in their budget

There are cool people, there are scoffers. There are sophisticated points of view (not James Bond sophisticated, but POVs you would recognize from life). But the movie itself takes no point of view, except that the Rapture, and all of the predictions contained in the Bible and the consequences of them are events and conditions of existence, nothing more, nothing less. It is an eschatology removed from metaphysics and plopped down right in the middle of your day.

The Passion of the Christ is a very different movie but my appreciation of it is based on similar principles. It forces you (if you are able to watch it) to consider the event it depicts apart from all the clutter it has accumulated in your mind and in your life. This is not 'kiss of peace' Christianity. There is not a kumbaya moment in it. It is the story of a couple of days and the brutal torture and judicial murder of a man. The backstory and meaning you provide yourself according to your knowledge and belief. If it happened in a way anything like the Gospels say it did, it was much worse than Gibson shows in this movie. A less graphic portrayal would be pointless.

I think the Passion confronts Christians and non-believers alike to consider their relationship to the central story of western civilization in a way that no other movie ever has. The flashbacks to the Last Supper and the Sermon on the Mount and a few others serve to break the otherwise relentless violence. The only supernatural presence is a silent and lurking Satan.

I've not touched on the reaction of a good part of the Jewish community. I can see why they were upset, but Gibson doesn't go out of his way to offend them. This is the story. It is the Romans who inflict the sadistic touches. The participation of the Jews strikes me as more of a political sub-plot.

This movie will not make a Christian out of a non-believer. I felt no stirring toward the cross. I did, though, feel moved, horrified, astounded and shaken by a story that had, for me, all the emotional impact of a Christmas card. Until last night.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sponge on Sponge 

Jeff Jarvis wastes a few of his many surplus brain cells dealing with Dr. James Dobson's campaign to stop Spongebob Squarepants from turning our youth into so many Christ-hating nancy-kids. I love the little guy myself and he is without question some species of fruit, but I doubt he is the kind that Dobson's dirty little mind imagines. It's that live-action pirate guy we should be worried about.

UPDATE: I've altered my thinking on this a bit. See comments.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

American Hero 

Stories like this (via The Mudville Gazette) need to be told more often and with no qualification.

Rick Rescorla was a soldier.


I regret to say I live in an echo chamber. Two, really. Most of the people who read this blog are of a conservative orientation, or, Men of the West, as I like to say (that includes you, Mary). When I get a sharp argument it's usually from the right of me or from a libertarian position. I can understand that. There are fifty zillion blogs and only 24 hours.

In my life I live in a liberal echo chamber. My wife, her friends and almost all my friends think that Not One Damn Dime Day is a great idea. I doubt many of them will actually leave their money at home, but they're jazzed by the idea.

That's why I was interested by Ned Rice's article in NRO this morning. He's a writer for the CBS late night show with Craig Ferguson and he's a Hollywood Republican. (Since he's outed himself I'm not pulling a Boxer.) He describes the sly ways like-minded people in Hollywood have to identify one another and suggests a muttered "Friend of Ronnie?" as a way to cut to the chase. Taking that a little further, maybe someone could design a discrete little 'FOR' lapel button and line of costume jewelry. The only problem would be that if someone asked you 'What are you FOR?' you'd still have to mutter 'Lower taxes?'.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Paradigms Lost 

An Arts and Letters Daily (which I use for my home page at home) link to an interview with Thomas Frank the author of What's The Matter With Kansas puts a match to Colby Cosh and he fulminates on the issue of the faux working class blues of the liberal chatterati.

I have not read the book, though it's been recommended to me by several liberal friends, but I understand it tries to explain how the right wing has managed to fool the red states into voting against their own interests.

I think I'll put it off for now.

I'm much more interested in how the generally middle- if not upper-class educated elite fool themselves into thinking that putting on a pair of jeans and playing "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night" on their iPods qualifies them to be a better judge of the interests of the true working class than the boys down at the feed lot. Aside from the dizzying condescension, what strikes me is how reactionary this point of view is. Don't these people understand that the ground has changed just a bit from when Mr. Roosevelt started smacking the plutocrats around? That the guy they buy their drill bits from has a 401k and may even be doing some day trading in the stock room? Do they really think their transmission was fixed by a guy who doesn't understand the shafting he's getting from Social Security? That the waitresses at Denny's are sitting around on break thinking 'I know what we need. More taxes.'?

Sadly, I think a good number of smart people do believe these things. I try not to be doctrinaire. I try to question equally all proposals, no matter where they come from. I hope I've gotten to where I am by force of argument, not a romantic attachment to sexy, but outmoded memes.

It's been said many times before but it is the right that is carrying the weight in devising strategies for the future, and the left that is stuck in the past. The terms 'progressive' and 'reactionary' are overdue for reassignment.

The Murders 

If I'm reading the signals in the papers right the police continue to slide away from the idea of a religious connection in the brutal murder of the Armanious family in Jersey City. Of course they would downplay it anyway as a matter of public order, but I have a feeling they mean it.

I don't know what to think. On the one hand, if there is no religious connection that means that there is a crew of astonishingly violent home invaders loose in my neighborhood. If it is a message to the Coptic community from the Islamists we're in for some rough times in this city. The local Muslim leaders have said all the right things. Whether their condemnations were of the Yasir Arafat type we would probably have to send MEMRI into the mosques to know. The violence at the funeral was a result of some Muslims turning up to show their respects, a decent, but remarkably bone-headed move.

The murders were ritualized and pointedly brutal, but the theft was fairly systematic. It makes you think that if it was Muslims who did it they were conflicted and partially assimilated, trying to prove a point to themselves as much as to the Copts.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Trolling Goes Mainstream 

Quite a snarky article in the Times on the generally pro-American blog Iraq the Model that was run by three Iraqi brothers until one of them dropped out to start his own blog. Sarah Boxer uses the dark suspicions of anti-war blogs concerning ITM as her starting point repeating over and over again (with zero evidence) the notion that the only reason an Iraqi would speak out favorably of the liberation of his nation would be that they were paid to do so and probably by the CIA. She focuses on Ali, the brother who broke away. In an interview she was unable to support her notion that he did so because they had been co-opted, so she tortures a few prepositions and asserts it anyway.

She does elicit this:

"Me and my brothers," he said, "we generally agree on Iraq and the future."
. . . But there is one important difference. "My brothers have confidence
in the American administration. I have my questions."

Now that seems genuine.

The only remarks she'll take at face value are ones she can interpret as negative.

That pretty much defines a troll, to me.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis is all over this.


The Armanious Family 

According to the Star Ledger the police are not exactly backing away from the theory that the Armanious family was slaughtered by radical Muslims intent on silencing the Coptic Christian father, but they do seem to be downplaying it. I suppose it's possible that a thief found it necessary to slit the 8 year old girl's throat, but, not likely. Like the police I hope it's not true. I do have a few Muslim friends in the neighborhood and it's going to be uncomfortable for them one way or the other. More importantly, we just don't need these kind of religious and ethnic dramas played out on our streets. They are what people on both sides came here to avoid. I'm praying that solid evidence turns up quickly before things get nasty.

Another thing we could use is a clear, unambiguous statement from Muslim leaders that their people must live in peace with the Copts in this country. If it turns out to be what everyone seems quite sure it is, a little heartfelt grief and open, public shame would be in order, as well.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Wingnuts vs. Moonbats 

Jack, at TigerHawk has inaugurated a feature called Carnival of the Commies wherein a fetid stew of busted memes and fairy dust is molded into a rank slab of smouldering self-hatred. He skims off the foulest floating debris from the left bank of the web and flings it into a pot and then dignifies it with Earth-based commentary.

His efforts have prompted The Poor Man to warble in from the Dark Side with his own oleo of intelligent, rational discourse from the Right, which he pretends to find worthy of his version of humor. He calls it Wingnut Butter.

Let the games begin!

Horror in the Heights 

That horrible, gruesome murder of a family of four happened in my neighborhood. I'm not sure which block they lived on, but it's probably six or eight blocks from us. It's got the neighborhood pretty shook up. I don't want to flog this before more facts are known, but the speculation from the police is that the father was a strong witness for his faith and this was someone's way of silencing him. They were Coptic Christians who emigrated from Egypt to escape persecution. There's a large Coptic church on Bergen Avenue not too far from us. Someone's god apparently informed him that he would be pleased if he slit the throats of a mother, father and two daughters, ages 8 and 16. By all accounts, a loving, friendly, hard working family. There are reports of an attempt to carve out a Coptic cross from the arm of the 16 year old girl.

How pleased this person's god must be.

UPDATE: In fact, the police are saying that the wounds on the older girl's arm appear to be defensive. Nothing definitive yet, though.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Garden of Blogging Delights 

Jim, at Parkway Rest Stop is boosting the notion of a Jersey Blogmeet. I am very there. Ever since I got into the blogging dodge I've been interested in meeting some of my co-practitioners. Tentative date: April 2. Tentative place: American Legion Hall in Union. Tentative delectations: food and open bar. Tentative damage: $30-35.

Contact Jim or Kate at KateSpot
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