Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

April 1st, 2003:

Ellsberg v. Brown

Go check out this transcript of what Daniel Ellsberg had to say to Aaron “Tracks Of My Tears” Brown recently. You tell him, Daniel!

Link via Blah3.

Failure of imagination

I see that ol’ Hootie Johnson might have a trump card to play in his ongoing battle with Martha Burk:

Though Augusta National has yet to meet the demands of Burk, who is the chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, she already has declared victory. There is still a way for Johnson, the chairman of Augusta National, to turn the tables.

Invite a woman. On the club’s terms. Not just any woman.

Anna Nicole Smith.

She’s blonde. She’s a bimbo. She’s at home with rich old white guys. An invitation to her would put an exclamation point on the foolishness of the symbolic war that Burk has declared on Augusta National. Let’s see Burk and her followers try to spin that into a victory.

That’s very clever, and would certainly help to demonstrate the silliness of this whole episode, but anyone who can’t see how this could be spun as a victory for Martha Burk is suffering from a severe failure of imagination. Allow me:

“The National Council of Women’s Organizations would like to congratulate Hootie Johnson for finally recognizing that women have a place at Augusta National. We’re still not sure why it took him so long, but we feel confident that now that he’s seen the light it’s only a matter of time before women are as well represented at Augusta National as they are in all other spheres of American society.

We would also like to applaud Hootie’s inspired choice of Anna Nicole Smith as the first woman to be granted membership at Augusta National. We are hard pressed to think of anyone more suitable to join that august institution. Rarely can one find all of the qualities of a club so completely encapsulated in a single member. We wish Hootie and Anna Nicole all the best, and we hope that their relationship is as warm and cordial as Anna Nicole’s relationship with her stepchildren is.”

See? Easy as pie. Next!

Tuba lips and guitar nipples

I got this fascinating article about injuries, mostly of the reptitive-stress type, that professional musicians often suffer from a mailing list I’m on for the Rice MOB. Though I’ve played the alto sax for 25 years (once again, for longer than Mikey has been alive), I’m basically just a Sunday hacker, so the worst injury I’ve ever suffered is teeth marks on my lower lip.

(NB: To play the saxophone, you curl the lower lip over your teeth, stick the mouthpiece in your mouth, and lightly rest your upper lip and upper teeth on top. This is called the embouchure, which I’ve just realized is (gasp!) a French word. Guess that means I’ll have to start calling it Freedom Mouth or something like that. But I digress. Anway, do this sort of thing for a few hours and you’ll get a nice impression of your choppers inside your lower lip. Aren’t you glad you know that now?)

One thing this article doesn’t touch on is the hazards faced by marching bands. Band uniforms tend to be made of wool/polyester blends, so when it’s hot outside it’s really hot in those clothes. Other bands regularly deal with cold, rain, snow, and the occasional rogue football player. Wearing a tux on stage is a lot safer, I must say.

This post may or may not have been written by F. Bacon

I see from my referral log that this post about Michael Drosnin and his moronic Bible Code has served as a starting point for this longer and more elegant post about the persistent belief that Francis Bacon was the actual author of Shakespeare’s plays. Take a moment and check it out, it’s well worth it.

Moderation in defense of extremism

If we do not hang together, then we will surely hang separately. — Benjamin Franklin

I suppose I ought to join in with pretty much everyone else and comment on Kevin Drum’s piece about extremism versus moderation. There’s already been a whole lot said (see here for some links to responses, plus some other responses from Left in the West, Ezra Klein, and Unlearned Hand), so I’ll keep this brief.

I included that Ben Franklin quote here because I want to keep everyone’s eyes on the prize here, which is sending Team Bush packing in 2004. It ain’t gonna happen unless we’re all pulling in the same direction. The set of people who agree completely with Kevin’s post can’t unelect Bush without the full cooperation of the set of people who think Kevin has his head up his butt, and vice versa. Once we’ve got a President we like and more control of Congress we can argue passionately about all the stuff we disagree on. Until then, we’re just making it easier for the guys we really disagree with to do the things we really dislike.

A point that several people have made is that the conservative fringe works with the conservative mainstream, while the liberal fringe works against the liberal mainstream. That’s true to a certain extent, though it’s easy to get bogged down in definitions over what’s “mainstream” and what’s “fringe” to see it all clearly sometimes. What is clear is that the conservatives have a well-defined set of values that pretty much all of them believe in and support, regardless of what their primary mission is. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Christian Coalition, the NRA, Grover Norquist, the Heritage Foundation, whatever, they all believe in and advocate the same things: Lower taxes. Second Amendment rights. Free market deregulation. School vouchers. The death penalty. Abortion restrictions. Religion in the public square. They all work together to achieve results that they like.

Conservatives do two things really well that liberals need to focus on. One is supporting each other through a set of shared core values – what I call a brand identity that makes it easy to transfer support from one group to another. Liberals (and this is just my opinion, I have no actual data at hand to back this up) tend to focus more on their own individual causes. The other is making all their positions sound mainstream whether they are or not, as Kevin noted here.

In terms of transforming their beliefs into legislation, conservatives have the advantage of being in total control of the Republican Party. Oh, sure, there are some “moderate” and even maybe sorta “liberal” members of the Republican Party out there, but when was the last time any of them defied Tom DeLay on a vote? Kos has noted this several times, and I’m starting to agree with his conclusion that Democrats ought to target “moderate” House Republicans since they never vote with us on any issue of substance anyway. Liberals, on the other hand, are forever competing with DLC types for the “soul” of the Democratic Party. Except, of course, for those who’ve bolted for the Greens on the illusion that this will somehow make the Dems see things their way. We can’t even figure out what our messages are supposed to be, let alone communicate and implement them.

We’d better figure it out, though. 2004 will be here before you know it. And with all due respect to our Green friends, 2004 had better damn well be about winning elections. So please, let’s hang together. The alternative is too gruesome to contemplate.