Friday, December 30, 2005

Posts of the Year, 2005 (Part One)
The year at this blog has been a lot different than 2004. In '04, the entries would almost write themselves some days. I've had to work a lot harder this year. I have my opinion about whether the result is better, worse, or about the same, but I'm keeping it secret. You'll have to decide for yourself. One thing is certain: Adding Tom Herbst, the Sage of Pennsylvania, as a regular contributor has raised the average considerably. What follows is about half of my favorite posts of the year. The other half will appear after the holiday weekend.

January 20: "Never mind that a cursory reading of history could have predicted the whole cascade of debacle we've witnessed in this new American century. Our self-image, grounded in faulty recollections of history--others and our own--makes it impossible for us to believe our actions might make things worse, even when we mean well. Can't happen, we say. If it does, it must be an accident, or someone else's fault. We act for good, always. And we really believe it."

March 23: "So the Schiavo case continues to boil this morning. My guess is that Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nutjobs for Jesus, will pass something to get the feeding tube reinserted by dinnertime tonight--and some court will pull it back out tomorrow. Then it's off to the Supreme Court, and imagine the hair-raising spectacle that might result if the Supremes decline to intervene. Villagers with torches storming the hospital can't be ruled out."

March 31: "The first thing you notice after hitting the interstate out of the [St. Louis] airport is the number of billboards for Jesus. 'Jesus loves you,' 'Jesus is Lord,' and my favorite, giant white letters on a green background saying just 'Jesus.' The only billboards as ubiquitous are the ones for the various casinos in the area. There's either a lesson to be learned from that or a joke to be made about it, but I can't get the bat off my shoulder."

April 7: "The idea that humankind is capable of continuous, infinite progress has been around since the Enlightenment. But John Locke and the others didn't live in a society as unimaginably complex as our own. And so maybe they were wrong. Perhaps this is the way the world ends--with individuals battered by a hurricane of choices, small ones they are permitted to make but bigger ones made for them, until they retreat into a shelter of solipsism or fundamentalism to maintain the illusion that the world is still a controllable place."

April 15: "One of the many things [the Family Research Council doesn't] understand is that they didn't win the presidency by shutout last November. Favorite quote, from Tony Perkins of the FRC (who is not the actor who played Norman Bates in Psycho, but if the shoe fits): 'the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the Left has been repudiated in almost every recent election.' Yeah, like here in Wisconsin where we reelected the arch-leftist Russ Feingold with a greater plurality than John Kerry got. Or in Illinois, where Jesus' golfing buddy Alan Keyes got wiped 2-1."

April 21: "Regarding the reader whose comment yesterday seemed to indicate that he thought that I was being cruel to [Ann] Coulter by saying she sucks as a writer, I'd like to apologize. Not to him, however. To say that Coulter merely sucks is an affront to everything else that sucks, so I apologize to everything else that sucks."

May 16: "The beliefs of these Kansas rubes are based on books written by barbarians between two and three thousand years ago--desert dwellers wearing animal skins who couldn't explain why it rained without recourse to magic. You can't blame the original desert dwellers for that, but you can certainly blame people who act like nothing has changed since about 95 AD. Like it or not, we know stuff now. One of the things we should know is that we can't base a modern, industrialized society on ignorance and superstition. Anybody who believes we can shouldn't be granted a driver's license--or a voter registation card--let alone the right to public office."

June 14: "One of the words that's thrown around a lot in celebrity trials is 'tragedy.' Isn't it tragic how Michael Jackson/O.J. Simpson/Robert Blake/Martha Stewart/Kobe Bryant had everything, but was brought low by adversity, just as less famous people, and sometimes even ourselves, are sometimes brought low? We're supposed to learn something from such 'tragedies,' apparently--something about humility, maybe, or about how we're all the same deep down, or about justice, or about equal protection under the law whether you're famous or not. If we'd actually learn these things, celebrity trials might serve some sort of positive function in society--but we don't, and they don't."

June 29: Max Blumenthal covered the College Republicans' national convention for The Nation this week, and discovered plenty of privileged weenie boys (and girls) twisting themselves into self-justifying knots explaining why they aren't signing up to fight the goddamn war that all of them think is such a good idea. Earth to Fraternity/Sorority Row: your mothers or your little sisters in high school can organize 'Support the Troops Day.' Grownups go and fight in wars--and furthermore, real grownups don't ask others to do anything they won't do themselves. So either enlist--or shut the fuck up."

July 7:
"It's been my theory for a long time that simply hitting a city like Dallas . . . instead of New York or Washington would have a powerfully terrorizing effect on Americans. Unlike the woman from Flint, Michigan, in Fahrenheit 9/11 who was sure Flint was a prime target and living her life accordingly, I walked around after 9/11 feeling pretty safe here in the upper Midwest, even though I live only a few miles from a state capitol building. Granted, we can't know how many other airplanes were supposed to crash into how many other buildings on September 11--but the psychological effect of being far from the site of the attacks softened the blow, for me at least. Four years later, if you hit us on the East Coast--been there, done that. Hit us in Boise or Little Rock--or Madison--and that's something else again."

July 23: "So last night I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt that said, 'Liberalism: the fear that somebody somewhere might be able to take care of themselves.' Boy howdy, what we really need is a return to the good old days when people either looked out for themselves entirely or starved to death. What we need, then, is to repeal the 20th century. Of course, if you're going to repeal the 20th century, you need to get rid of lots of 20th century shit. Civil rights legislation. Limits on nuclear proliferation. The New Deal. Free elections. And the goddamned Weather Channel."

August 2: "One of the most infuriating aspects of modern conservatism is its selfishness: Conservatives want what they want, and that's the end of the discussion. What somebody else wants doesn't make a damn bit of difference to them. Compromise is bad because it requires them to take something other than what they want, which is just like getting nothing at all. This selfishness comes in two flavors: A) the two-year-old-tantrum variety; and B) the moral absolute variety. The recess appointment of John Bolton is an example of the former. Regarding the latter--for all their talk about personal responsibility, conservatives often use moral absolutes to get them off the hook. What they want is (supposedly) all about what God or the Constitution or common sense demands, and neither they (nor you) have any control over it."

August 9:
"This is going to come as a shock to The Mrs., our family, and our friends, but James Dobson's Focus on the Family group has posted a helpful series called 'Helping Boys Become Men, and Girls Become Women' that addresses the question of how parents can keep their children from going homosexual, and after reading the series and reflecting on my childhood, I am pretty sure that I might be gay."

I'll put up the rest of the year's favorite posts next week. Quotes of the Year are here. I'll be away through the weekend, but stop back anyhow, as Tom may have something to say. Or visit The Hits Just Keep On Comin' for Kiss and Say Goodbye.

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