Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies...

Everyone goes. Everyone knows.

Someone's blog -- I thought it was Kevin Drum's, but I just checked and can't find the reference there now-- pointed me to this nonsense, and me being me, I just can't let it go.

Before you laugh this insanity off, bear in mind, this is being presented at a conference which has five leading Republican office holders on the guest list: Tom DeLay, Todd Akin, and Louis Gohmert, as well as Senators John Cornyn and Sam Brownback, at least one of whom is presently considered to be a strong candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008.

Although it's probably much like staring into the face of N'yaarla'hotep itself, let's take a more detailed look at this horror:

Values Voters’
Contract with Congress

We are citizens of the United States of America and subjects of the sovereign Creator, acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence as the Supreme Ruler and Judge of the World. We hereby declare our belief in the self-evident truths established by the Declaration, to wit, that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that human governments are instituted to secure these rights, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That's what they tell you. And it all sounds very flowery and who could disagree with this reaffirmation of our most essential all-American political ideals? But here's the tricky part: what they aren't telling us is that when they say 'we are all created equal', they mean them, the decent proper all American God fearing Christian right wing conservatives. They don't mean us, as in 'all human beings' or even 'all Americans', and they absolutely don't mean 'us' when it includes, you know, stinking atheist Satan worshipping commie socialist Mexican loving objectively pro terrorist liberals. This is a key point with all conservative rhetoric, and one that it is essential to keep in mind. When conservatives talk about inalienable rights endowed by the Creator, they are only talking to the people in their tribe. Christless goddam criminal subversive motherless piece of crap liberals, on the other hand, don't believe in a Creator, so fuck them. Or, better, jail them, or best of all, hang 'em high.

We strongly affirm our allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, as it was framed and amended in light of these truths, to provide for a republican form of government, which means a government of the people, by the people and for the people, in which they make laws and govern themselves through representatives they elect.

All of which just means, they love the Constitution where it can be interpreted to support their particular viewpoints -- that's the 'as it was framed and amended in light of these truths' clause -- and they will completely ignore it anywhere that it doesn't.

Moved by our faith in God and this republican creed we join together now to defend representative self-government against the greatest assault it has ever faced.

Don't get all excited. They aren't talking about George W. Bush.

This assault has been more dangerous and successful because it comes from within and aims to destroy not just our physical defenses, but the moral ideas, habits and practices that sustain our character as a free people.

See? They're talking about me! And anyone else who doesn't believe in hanging witches, putting blasphemers in a pillory, stoning homosexuals to death, and making adulterers get big red A's tattooed on their foreheads. I, and I hope you, have been destroying the moral ideas, habits, and practices that sustain our character as a free people! Now, being a hopeless twit, I thought that what sustained us as a free people was a civil tolerance for a wide variety of ideas, habits, and practices, moral or otherwise, but apparently, I've been living in some other America, and reading some other Constitution.

As a nation the United States of America has achieved material success unparalleled in previous human history. But without fortitude and selfdiscipline, we would not have reaped the fruits of free enterprise. We have thrice led our Allies to victory against foes that enacted the worst possibilities of human depravity. But without courage and a true sense of responsibility for ourselves and all humanity we would not have triumphed against their cruel and implacable ambition.

Okay, this is mostly just a lot of self serving rhetorical horseshit that doesn't actually mean anything, which, you know, is pretty much what the Republican Party sells by the truckload anyway. But I did want to point out just how appallingly constructed the sentence "We have thrice led our Allies to victory against foes that enacted the worst possibilities of human depravity" is. If you're going to talk like that, well, I'd use 'excesses' rather than 'possibilities'. And I'm not sure where they get 'thrice led' from. I'd assume they're claiming both World Wars, but what's the third? Are these mooks getting all self righteous about Korea or Vietnam? Well, no, obviously, they're talking about the recent and ongoing Operation: Fuck Up Some Ragheads, but it strikes me as absurd -- and, well, probably obscene -- to claim the present day military clusterfuck as 'a victory against foes that enacted the worst possibilities of human depravity' when (a) we aren't winning and (b) we've behaved in a pretty frickin' depraved manner ourselves during the prosecution of this Orwellian 'war'.

We have achieved or applied unprecedented advances in scientific knowledge.

Get this. Christian conservatives are taking credit for 'unprecedented advances in scientific knowledge'. If these guys had their way we'd still think the sun went around the Earth, but, still, 'We have achieved or applied unprecedented advances in scientific knowledge'. Funny how 'we' suddenly encompasses all the work of a lot of godless liberal eggheads when the right wing waxes all rhetorical.

But without respect for the gentle yoke of God’s reason,

The gentle yoke of God's reason? That would be the gentle yoke that blew up Sodom and Gomorrah because there were a lot of gays in both cities, right? The gentle yoke some millions of people laughingly referred to as the Great Deluge, right before they drowned? But I really shouldn't get started; the list of atrocities, slaughter, and mass murder one can lay at the feet of Adonai/Jehovah/Yahweh is waaaaay too long for me to want to type it all in here. Still, I think having a deicentric hissy fit and wiping out the entire human race except for one extended family is a pretty good exemplar of 'the gentle yoke of God's reason'.

and the diverse possibilities with which it has seeded the comprehensible universe, we could not have expanded the enlightened sphere of human comprehension. We have truly experienced the blessings of liberty, but never without the virtues and qualities of good conscience and decent character.

This is some sophisticated whambo-jambo indeed; fortunately, I speak Republican. What they're saying is "we could never have accomplished all these wonderful things that liberal scientists actually accomplished and we're just taking credit for, if we hadn't had goodness and decency and God's grace, along with, you know, all that cool freedom stuff."

To boil it down even more, they're saying what conservatives are always saying: "Freedom is only for people who agree with us; the rest of you should be in jail".

For some decades now supposedly “liberal” and “progressive” forces within our society have waged an insidious campaign to corrupt and destroy the moral foundations of our liberty.

I can't be flip about this, so let me say, in all earnest solemnity -- this is the most egregiously, obnoxiously, offensively toxic horseshit any American can speak about any other American. It's a slap in the face to our Founding Fathers and the essential guiding principles our nation was founded on. Our country is supposed to be a place where anyone can come and live and work and be left alone by the government, regardless of what they do or don't believe. Our Constitution was specifically written as a document designed to set very specific, very defined limits on exactly how much government could regulate our day to day life, and in what ways they could do it.

Whenever one American starts pointing a finger at another American and screaming about how they are waging an insidious campaign to corrupt and destroy the moral foundations of our liberty, they are treading on very dangerous ground. The people that they are accusing had better have guns and they'd better be trying to lock someone up or kill them without due process for some ephemeral, subjective crime with no clearly discernible victim. Otherwise, there's no possible way a charge like that can be justified. It is a uniquely American civic virtue that we are supposed to be tolerant of other people's behavior and beliefs up until the point where those behaviors and beliefs become unacceptably anti-social and create, in the words of some Supreme Court justice or other, "a clear and present danger". Short of that, accusing someone of destroying the American way of life, and demanding that government action be taken to deal with this threat, is flatly and undeniably unAmerican and unpatriotic.

It's also childish, unwise, and pretty much the work of a subfunctional emotionally retarded dolt, but I'm just mentioning that in passing.

Now, let's see what kind of clear and present danger to the American Dream these guys are on about:

Under the compassionate guise of government welfare and social programs they have eroded our fortitude and self-discipline, taxed away our independent resources, and in particular undermined the centrality of family as the locus of individual self-reliance. Under the guise of sexual freedom and self-determination they have corrupted our sense of responsibility for our own offspring in the womb and for our biological relationships in general.

In other words, America's lawfully elected government has tried to help the impoverished and the disadvantaged, it has collected taxes from its citizenry to pay for these efforts, and it's done something to challenge the ultimate authority of crazy ass fundamentalist Christian conservative parents to raise their children to be as crazy ass as they are. And, of course, our nation also tolerates an individual's right to choose specifically which medical procedures they will or will not allow to be done on themselves, up to and including abortion, a specific medical procedure whose very existence infuriates the right. And we're being way too nice to faggots, too, which just drives conservatives batshit.

This ultimately affects all relationships that draw upon the capacity for self-sacrifice we ought naturally to learn and practice in the context of decent family life. Under the guise of scientific knowledge, and a fallacious separation of religion from public life, they have thrown off the yoke of reason, and denied our sovereign right to acknowledge, as a people, the existence and authority of the Creator.

Look, religion and science don't mix well. Science is about learning how to do new things. Religion is about, well, it's about, essentially, social control through comforting mythology that may or many not have any actual truth to it. But the simple truth is, when you 'throw off the yoke of reason', you run straight into the embrace of religion. 'Reason' has nothing whatsoever to do with 'a sovereign right to acknowledge... the existence and authority of the Creator'. You want to acknowledge the existence and authority of God, that's fine, knock yourself out. But expecting your personal superstitions to be taught to kids in science class is ridiculous.

But the Creator’s being and will represent the principle of unity that makes possible both the diversity of individuals and the orderly community that, on the whole, they may become. Thus, though they masquerade as the champions of community and compassion, these self-styled “liberals” and “progressives” have discarded the principle of unity, the sense of a common good, indispensable to both.

This is horseshit of the finest ray serene, and very difficult to unscrew, but again, it boils down to one of conservative Christendom's most constantly repeated drumbeats: "They have offended against GOD and we must fuck them up for it."

Religious loonies are always on and on about offending against God. It's a racket, but it's a wonderful one, because it justifies all manner of nosiness and tiny minded parochialism, assuming you're enough of a dim bulb to swallow the basic premise. See, if you're walking by someone's house and you look through their front window and see a couple of people drinking beer and making out, and you run up onto their front porch and pound on their door and shriek and holler about how horrible a spectacle it is and how offended you are that they'd do that and how it's terrible behavior and unacceptable to all decent people everywhere, well, they can probably shoot your intolerant ass and walk away clean, because you're trespassing, creating a threatening display on private property, and pretty much a dickhead, too.

However, if you behave exactly the same way, but you quote the Bible and scream that these people are offending GOD with their behavior, that's an entirely different thing. Suddenly it's not your petty, medieval, tiny minded, poisonous prejudices that are at issue, and you're not a bigoted little toad everyone would happily see thrown down a well, oh no. Suddenly, the judgement of GOD is in play, and you're a decent, upright servant of the Lord.

This, again, is a tune the religious right plays over and over again. It's not that those goddam homos really bother us, oh no, we think the fags are all peachy-keen, we're not bigots at all, it's just that GOD hates them and wants them all dead, so, you know, what can we do? We are all but humble servants of the Lord, and you better be, too, buddy.

At base (and it's very, very base) that's all this wonderfully florid passage is saying. Those bastard liberals haven't just pissed us off, they've flouted the very will of GOD. Something Must Be Done.

As the principal instrument for their assault upon the foundations of our liberty they have resorted to an abuse of the judicial system, and in particular the Federal judiciary’s assertion of supreme and unchecked constitutional power that supersedes and may arbitrarily nullify any action taken by the executive or legislative branches. But the Framers of the Constitution understood that sinful human nature is always a prey to inordinate ambition. Therefore, the Constitution denies supremacy to any one branch of government in order to secure self-government by the people as a whole. By itself, therefore, the assertion of judicial supremacy overthrows the framework of self-government established by our Constitution. However, the power thus destructively obtained has been even more destructively used.

Many better commenters than I have already noted that 'judicial activism' is a highly subjective term that essentially means 'anything done by a judge that a conservative disagrees with'. Fundamentally, that's all this passage says -- some judges are making rulings that piss off the right, and they don't like it; therefore, it must be unConstitutional, and wrong, and indecent, and we should throw them all in jail, and the people who wrote the Constitution understood all that, and they'd agree with us, too, and even if they wouldn't, God does, so there.

Disregarding the Constitution’s explicit terms, the U.S. Supreme Court has arrogated to itself governmental power that the Tenth Amendment unambiguously reserves to “the states respectively and to the people” and created from its false reading of the Establishment Clause a pervasive hostility to religion.

The Tenth Amendment reads "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." On the other hand, Article III states

"Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

This is, I admit, not as specific as some would like it to be, and yes, I'll admit equally, nowhere does the Constitution explicitely state that the Supreme Court has the specific power to negate any laws on the basis of their adherence to the Constitution. However, having said all that, it's also important to understand that conservatives are in no way trying to claim that Supreme Court judges shouldn't be able to invalidate laws on the basis of Constitutionality; what they are getting at, in a round about way, is that the Supreme Court shouldn't have a right invalidate (or, for that matter, effectively create) any laws that will interfere with any 'powers' specifically reserves to the states or the people.

And, again, it's important to remember the Key To Understanding Conservatives -- when they say stuff like 'states' or 'the people', they don't mean liberals. They mean conservative states, and conservative people. Conservative Supreme Court justices can fuck with liberal/Democratic 'powers' all they want (if you don't believe me, try to make sense out of the ruling they handed down regarding the 2000 Presidential election) and the beloved conservative doctrine of States Rights does not in any way apply to Massachusetts, Vermont, or California, assuming any of those states is letting homos get hitched, or refusing to allow Creationism to be taught in public school science classes.

Disregarding the Constitution's explicit terms, the U.S. Supreme Court has arbitrarily withdrawn the protection of the community from generations to come.

Okay. This one baffles me. The use of the phrase 'explicit terms' would seem to indicate that somewhere in the Constitution, we will find the term 'protection of the community'. However, a quick electronic search of the Constitution's text shows no instances of either 'protection' or 'community', and certainly no usage of the phrase 'protection of the community'. Furthermore, given that the Founding Fathers were a bunch of disgruntled neo-anarchists far more concerned with the fanatical preservation and defense of their own individual liberties than they were in empowering any 'community' to 'protect' anything, I find it highly doubtful that the Constitution in any way even implies that a community of anyone should protect anything from anything else.

Strangely, though, the term 'the protection of the community' in reference to 'generations to come' sounds really socialist to me. In fact, it smacks of Hillary-ism. I doubt that's what whoever wrote this drivel intended, but still, there it is. It's amazing how two faced and hypocritical conservatives can be as they flail around for yet more rhetorical justification for their own religious bigotry.

By authorizing an assault upon the natural rights of children in the womb it has abandoned in principle the Constitution’s stated objective of securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Can you tell conservatives are really lathered up about abortion? I could go on at length about how this isn't an issue about a particular medical procedure, however distasteful or even odious that procedure may be, nor is it a woman's issue (although conservatives love to frame it that way, as it keeps about half the potential opposition on the bench through sheer apathy). This is an issue about individual privacy and about control of what happens to our own bodies, and it deeply affects every human being in America. When the government can tell you what operations you can have, and which metabolic process in your own body you may not control, there is no reason to believe it's going to stop at outlawing abortions. Why wouldn't mandatory sterilization for whatever undesirables are most disliked at the moment be next? What possible legal precedent would there be to stop it, if we have no right to privacy in our own persons?

However, I've gone into all that in more detail in other posts, so here I'll just say, I dislike the act of abortion intensely, but I think an individual person's right to privacy, and to exert control over the functions of their own body, has to be the most important factor in this debate -- yes, more important than the helpless innocent life of the fetus in question. And if conservatives are so worked up about the life and safety of poor innocent children, why the hell aren't they pushing better health care for kids? Conservative compassion for helpless children apparently ends when the umbilical cord is cut.

In consequence of this power-grab, and the false claim that makes it possible, the Courts have purported to forbid prayer and other religious elements in government funded schools, activities and projects authorized by the people;

I happen to agree with the conservative notion that the separation between Church and State is largely a myth. The Constitution has 16 words to say about religion -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". That's it. I wish there was more; I've written in the past about how I'd like to see an actual textual bulwark erected to keep religious influence the hell out of government in every way, shape and form. (That, of course, isn't what the religious right wants; ultimately, they are shooting for a theocratically governed America, with the Christian fundamentalist equivalent of sharia as the law of the land.)

However, I do think those 16 words pretty clearly rule out any religious expression whatsoever in a public school. Why? Because education is mandatory in the U.S. By Federal law, every kid is required to be in school. They cannot legally choose to stay home or leave once they are there; they can't even legally skip class. With that law in place, any religious teaching or even display in a publicly funded school would be the equivalent of Congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion, and it might even be a law prohibiting the free exercise thereof... assuming the class schedule doesn't have enough room in it to allow equal time for ALL religions.

Which brings us back to the essential hypocrisy of the right wing on this issue. They aren't interested in any religious expression, in public schools or elsewhere, other than their own. Let some kid try to insert the phrase 'under Allah' into the Pledge of Allegiance and watch how fast the local Republicans have a collective aneurysm. How about a moment of silent school prayer for all the little Scientologists out there? Think he's going to get any legal help from the his State Republican Party? Not a... heh... prayer.

This is also why teaching Creationism, and/or Intelligent Design, in a public school science classroom, is entirely unConstitutional. If you want to teach this as a myth or as a religious belief in an anthropology class, that's fine. Teaching it as scientific fact, or even as a scientifically acceptable hypothesis, is a whole different thing. Again, Federal law requires every kid sitting in that class to be there and stay there; if you teach those kids religious doctrine, then that mandatory education law becomes, again, a law respecting an establishment of religion... and unless you teach a pretty generic version of Intelligent Design (something I'm sure the religious right doesn't want) it's going to end up being a law that interferes with the free expression of religion, too, since you can bet there won't be any mention made of Allah, Zoroaster, Woden, Gaea, or Great Spirit in any American science class, either.

They have interfered with the public celebration of religious festivals and observances determined by the people; they now seek to remove all references to the Creator, God, from public declarations adopted by the people, in particular the display of the Ten Commandments or other revered religious symbols on public property; the words “under God” from the pledge of allegiance, and “In God we Trust” from our coins and currency.

I'm going to have a lot to say about this, much of it grudging, because as it happens, I cannot disagree with the conservative point of view here. In my opinion, it was incorrect to force the removal of a religious monument from a courthouse, and it certainly wasn't Constitutional. I have an intense emotional abhorrence for that conclusion, but I can't shy away from it. When conservatives and Christians scream about how their beliefs are being suppressed by such judicial decisions... well... they have a point.

There is, again, nothing in the Constitution that forbids religious expression while within a public area. Now, one could make an argument that as people often enter a courthouse under duress (while in handcuffs) or at least some coercion (when going to resolve a summons), and so, as they have not freely chosen to be there, they should not be subjected to religious displays. I don't think that holds water, though -- a religious monument is not the same thing as an interactive loyalty oath the entire class is saying in unison, or a Christian prayer, or a science class where you are being forced to sit there and listen and maybe answer questions. If you don't like the statue of the 10 Commandments that some raving lunatic has put up in the corner, you don't have to look at it.

However, The Ten Commandments are not a generalized or a universal expression of religious faith, they are a specific one, and lacking other displays associated with other faiths, an exclusionary one. The way to fight conservative impulses to decorate every available space with their own particular religious icons is to insist on equal time. If Roy Moore wants to have a statue in his courthouse and he wants to pay for it himself, that's fabulous, and no court in the land should forbid it (especially on Constitutional grounds which simply don't exist). However, every liberal in the world, and everyone that wants to make the right wing look like the idiots they are, should immediately start contributing to a fund to place multicultural religious statues in every courthouse in the country. If the 10 Commandments can be there, then why not a large representation of the Koran? How about a six foot tall granite Star of David? Or a 20' wide Islamic banner with some verse from the Koran written on it, in Arabic, about justice? Let twenty Mormons show up with a granite representation of the Golden Tablets in the back of a pick up truck and start to offload it, and then watch how fast the Republican Party spits up a hairball as they try to figure out what to say.

Similarly, the expression 'In God We Trust' and 'under God', contained on government coinage or within official government documents, is also a specific and exclusionary religious reference, which is also pretty expressly forbidden by the Constitution. The solution to this is simple: change the wording slightly, using the Arabic word for 'God' ('Allah') instead of the Latin derived Anglo Saxon honorific. (The words not only mean the same thing, they actually refer to the same deity.) This will make the expression pretty clearly multicultural, and if every conservative in America jumps off a building as soon as the first printing of the slightly modified currency shows up in public, well... hey... little bonus.

Mind you, I'd be a little freaked out about a five dollar bill that said "In Allah We Trust" on it, too. So, while the Constitution does not in any way forbid religious expressions, even on currency (and it probably shouldn't, while we still value free speech), we should probably all agree, as a people, to keep all such potentially offensive verbiage off our government documents. We don't have a right not to be offended, no, but who needs to feel alienated in their own nation every time they pull out their wallet?

Which is my point -- the way many of us would feel if we had to read "In Allah We Trust" on our currency every day, is how some of us feel about "In God We Trust". We can accommodate everyone by agreeing not to have any religious expressions or displays on common, publicly held property or artifacts. That strikes me as the civil way to go about it... but we shouldn’t' need a judge to enforce it, nor should one when given the chance.

Now, I'm vehemently opposed to the Pledge of Allegiance; any nation that coerces its youth and their teachers into taking a loyalty oath five times a week is a very long way from being either enlightened or truly free. And it seems obvious to me that the existence of such a Pledge distinctly violates our guarantees of free speech (which has to include the right to choose not to speak, and, in fact, that's a right specifically enumerated as well, in the case of criminal prosecutions). Inserting a specific and exclusive religious reference into such a mandatory loyalty oath makes something that is already unbearable all but intolerable... but none of this is unconstitutional, until you make school kids and their teachers recite the oath. At that point, again, since kids are required to be in school, by making them recite an oath with a specific and exclusive religious reference in it, Congress has made a law in respect to the establishment of a religion. That is specifically prohibited by the Constitution.

The crux here, however, is that, as I stated well above, conservatives are correct about this point. When anyone under the color of U.S. authority states to them that they cannot express religious sentiments or place a religious display on public property, their rights are being violated. The way to fight this is not to repress religion (much though I'd like to); that's a violation of free speech. We simply insist on equal time for everyone. If you want to shut up the crazy bus stop preacher, bringing up a Native American shaman, a Sunni ayatollah, and a Buddhist priest to either debate or compete with him will probably do it.

They are attempting to deny the sovereign right of the people as a whole to define the public standard of marriage in accordance with their moral beliefs and practices;

Okay, now we're back to the hateful bullshit, and thank Jebus; I loathe agreeing with conservatives. There is no 'sovereign right of the people as a whole to define the public standard of marriage in accordance with their moral beliefs and practices'. This is not only pure raw bigotry with no Constitutional support whatsoever, it's also even more badly worded than most of this tripe. What they want to say is 'a majority of the people' rather than 'the people as a whole', because 'the people as a whole' includes folks whose sexuality is not mainstream and who would, nonetheless, enjoy having the social status and legal privileges accorded by state sanctioned marriage. So if 'the people as a whole' get to 'define the public standard of marriage in accordance with their moral beliefs and practices', then anyone will be able to get married to pretty much anyone else, because at least some of 'the people as a whole' have some weird lizards living in their heads.

And, of course, while what they want to say is 'a majority of the people', what they really mean is 'everybody who hates faggots'. Again, as always, when conservatives talk about 'all people', what they really mean is 'us decent proper God fearing folks who hate everyone who isn't like us'. They are the only 'people as a whole' who get to define anything, as far as conservatives are concerned.

I've said this before in other posts, too -- there is no right, not in our Constitution, and not in nature (whatever that may be), to live your life and never be offended. At essence, that is what this whole gay marriage thing comes down to. Allowing the state to sanction non-mainstream marriages will not hurt anyone or anything, and it will have no discernibly negative impact on the function of our society. What it will do is infuriate and offend a lot of assbrained homophobes. But protecting people from their own negative emotions is not a legitimate function of any government.

The fact that truly rotten TV programs like King of Queens and Seinfeld are in eternal syndication, and I have to put up with Jason Alexander's smugly leering puss staring back at me from the sides of buses everywhere I go, annoys the crap out of me, too. But I don't stomp my widdle foot and demand that the government do something about it, I just try to look away from the goddam gigantic advertisements that are plastered everywhere.

They are seeking to destroy the authority of parents to supervise the upbringing of their children, especially when it comes to their sexual education, behavior and decision making. In its place they mean to substitute the power of government as the chief determinant of individual personality, paving the way for totalitarian control and repression.

This is a tricky one. Does a racist have a right to raise his kids to be as racist as he is? Does a homophobe have the same right? Essentially this question boils down to, does anyone have a right to brainwash the young?

My feeling is no, no one does, but even I can't parse finely enough to draw a neat line between 'brainwashing the young' and, well, raising them to be functional adults. Pragmatically, this comes down to the question of, who do you want raising kids, their parents or the government? Unfortunately, there's no clear cut answer to that, it depends on the parents, and often, on the government.

Specifically, however, what conservatives are raving about in this section is sex education classes in public schools. They want the right to maintain their own comfort levels by keeping their kids as ignorant of actual human sexual function as they were when they were kids. They can't do it; kids nowadays have the Internet (and man do conservative parents hate THAT) and you just can't keep them in the dark on this stuff any more. However, if you refuse to talk to your kids yourself about sex, and you can find a way to keep goddam liberals from teaching them anything truthful about human sexuality in public school, then you can at least make sure that your kids are grotesquely misinformed on the subject, that they grow up believing all sex is inherently evil, that they don't know a goddam thing about actual birth control, and that, in short, their lives will be as miserable and their minds will be as twisted, self loathing, and hateful, as yours is. And honestly, what more could any good God fearing Republican mommy or daddy want?

It's worth noting, however, that to the best of my knowledge, the government doesn't sponsor any permanent Federal childraising facilities. And it's pretty difficult for a parent to lose their kids. Nonetheless, when it happens, it's not like "The State" takes them and sends them off to some vast fenced off Dickensian dormitory where they are all forced to read It Takes A Village and study the New Deal and chant Betty Friedan quotes over and over morning, noon and night. Those kids either end up with other relatives, or they go into foster care, or group homes... but all of those things are run by individuals (many of them scary conservative individuals) so it's not like these poor kids are being personally conditioned by Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy. And, frankly, if you don't want your kids taken away by the government, here's an idea -- don't abuse your kids.

It's also possible, I suppose, that this passage is about conservative hatred of public schools in general. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever suggested outlawing home schooling, or private schooling, so if that's what they are talking about, they are being more petulant than normal. You don't want to send your kid to public school, don't. The law simply requires your kid be educated to certain specific objective standards; it doesn't say they have to be taught about evolution or (sadly) to think for themselves.

0ur identity as a people arises more from our adherence to common moral principles than from any other characteristic.

I'd agree with that, but I believe the 'common moral principles' that make up the essential American 'identity as a people' are tolerance for diversity and a belief in fairness and equal opportunity for all. 'Equal opportunity' means 'equal opportunity to marriage laws for non-heterosexuals' and it means 'equal opportunity for religious freedom for non-Christians' and it means a whole bunch of other stuff conservatives can't stand.

The Judicial assault against the moral authority and sovereign rights of the people therefore weakens our sense that despite our great diversity we have become, out of many, one nation. But the Courts have also assaulted the strength of our national identity more directly:

By purporting to apply in their decisions foreign laws never subject to ratification or legislation by proper Constitutional means;

By interfering with the sovereign right of the people to establish immigration policies, police our national borders and administer public services and programs with respect for the distinction between citizens and non-citizens. This has contributed to weakened border security, and a tide of illegal immigration that, in the context of international terrorism, may also bring with it a threat to our physical security.

This is one of the other essential conservative principles in action: We Got Ours, Now You Keep Your Hands Off. America is a country of immigrants and their descendants; it is profoundly anti-American to even suggest closing our borders to continued immigration. Conservatives are simultaneously offended and frightened by non-whites who speak accented English. They'll accept them if they are 'legal', but when conservatives speak of 'legal immigrants', they mean those who are safely controlled by restrictive laws that will keep them in their subordinate place.

The closing of that section was just more fear-speech. It's a whip the conservatives have been cracking since, I don't know, well, forever, I guess.. they did it in the Spanish American War and they've been doing it ever since... but they've had enormous success doing it lately, since 9/11. So they have to throw that in. It's not just that right wingers hate Mexicans and want to close our borders to them unless they all have tracking bracelets on; oh no, it's for the good of America and in the name of national security. Well, sure, that makes hateful bigotry okay!

In defense of our national principles, our Constitution of self-government, our decent character, and our shared national identity, we the undersigned citizens of the United States come together in support of actions we hereby agree to be right and necessary for the common good of all.

We therefore seek the following:

1. TO AFFIRM the national relationship with God in our places of worship, schools, mottos, and public spaces, we call for the passage of –

The Pledge Protection Act to prohibit activist judges from taking "under God" out of the Pledge (H.R. 2389, S.1046);

If I were an activist judge, I'd order the Pledge of Allegiance to be forbidden in public schools. But I'd let you keep 'under God' if you wanted to say it at home. In point of fact, I don't understand why conservative families don't all have a 'Pledge of Allegiance' breakfast every morning. But if they don't want to be bothered leading their kids in the Pledge at home, why should we have to waste taxpayer money on it at school?

The Constitution Restoration Act to prohibit activist judges from ruling against acknowledgments of God (H.R. 1070, S.520);

What strikes me as funny here is that they are trying to pass laws to restrict the future rulings of judges. Yet can't such laws be struck down as unConstitutional by the activist judges they are trying to restrain?

Beyond that, well, I agree that I'm not wild about judicial rulings restraining free speech, but I apply that reticence to ALL possible free speech, up to and including pornography. And, hey, if this law gets passed, can I make all the porn movies I want, as long as my actors talk about God a lot while they're schtupping on camera?

The Public Expression of Religion Act to prohibit activist judges from ordering taxpayers to pay lawyers who seek to erode our national relationship with God (H.R. 2679);

I can't quite unpack this, but I'm pretty sure they want to forbid judges from ruling in favor of any liberals who are in an adversarial position to any conservatives in any case that has anything to do with religion. Which seems pretty straight up ridiculous to me. Or maybe they don't want to actually forbid the judges from ruling, they simply want to forbid them to exact any financial penalties on decent God fearin' folk.

and The Workplace Religious Freedom Act to promote religious accommodation in employment (H.R. 1445, S. 677)

Look, Christians already have all the religious accomodation in employment they need, and you'd better believe nobody will ever use such a law to promote or protect non-Christian expression. But I've never worked in a place where my co-workers, and often, my supervisors, didn't feel free to decorate their work area with Christian paraphenelia, and to talk freely about their wonderful love for Jebus. Nobody who wants to keep their job ever dares to complain about that stuff, but let some Moslem show up and try to put up a quote from the Koran and they'll be quietly told that there are complaints (always anonymous, of course) and they need to take that stuff down.

Personally, I think religion has no place in the work place, where none of us are there of our own free will. But at the very least, it's nice to know that there are still laws in place that might let me sue someone if I were to complain about the holy rollers at my job and get fired for it.

2. TO SECURE our national interest in the institutions of marriage and family, we call for the passage of –
A constitutional amendment to completely protect the institution of marriage; and
The Marriage Protection Act to prohibit activist judges from forcing states to redefine the institution of marriage (H.R. 1100).

More hateful toxic garbage. Enough said.

3. TO SECURE our fundamental right as parents to the care, custody, and control of our children, we call for the passage of –
Legislation to codify the principles set forth on Nov. 16, 2005, in House Resolution 547 which would protect parental rights;

Yeah, yeah. Keep your kids ignorant and make sure they grow up as twisted as you. Next...

The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act to prohibit the transportation of minors against parental rights (H.R.748);

Isn't it already illegal to take a minor across state lines (or, actually, anywhere at all) without their parents' consent?

The Parental Consent Act to prohibit the use of federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening (H.R. 181);
The Child Medication Safety Act, to protect children from being coerced into taking drugs in order to attend school (H.R. 1790);

I don't get these two. They sound okay. I'm sure there's some hateful bigotry buried in them somewhere, though.

Legislation that empowers parents to choose schools for their families that share their value choices, as well as ensures families are not forced to pay twice for their educational choices;

Yeah, this is stupid. Look -- our taxes go to fund public schools. Your kids have a right to attend a public school. Case closed. If you want to send them somewhere else, that's your choice; in America, if you make a choice, often you have to pay for it. I pay taxes to support public broadcasting; I'd like there to be a whole lot more tit on TV and I'd also like to watch it on a high definition plasma screen roughly as large as Rush Limbaugh's ass. However, if I'm actually going to see more tit on TV, I need to pay more money for cable and if I want that plasma screen, I have to pay for it, too. So it goes. You want to send your kid to a 'better school' that is more in line with your ignorant backwoods asshatted provincial prejudices, you need to pony up the dough.

and we call for enforcement of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which prohibits schools from using privacy invading surveys or evaluations without prior written parental consent (20 U.S.C. 1232h).

I'm all in favor of privacy for everyone, but I'm willing to bet that this particular amendment would be highly biased towards protecting the privacy of crazy Christian kids. If a kid were suspected of being Islamic, well, I'd imagine it would be in the national interests to find out for sure. But I'm just guessing.

4. TO SECURE our God-bestowed right to life, we call for the passage of –
Legislation to affirm the right to life of our children before birth;

Yeah. And next it will be "To SECURE our God bestowed right to security and safety in our day to day lives, we call for the passage of Legislation to require the mandatory sterilization of all non-U.S. citizens as a necessary condition for entry to the country". Again, if the State can tell you what medical procedures you can and cannot have, and if we have no right to control our own bodily functions, we're living in a nightmare. Not that I don't often feel that way anyway...

The Human Cloning Protection Act to prohibit human cloning (S.658, H.R. 1357);

I'm generally in favor of as much scientific freedom as possible, and personally, I'd like to see what happens when you clone a human being. Does the clone grow up to be an identical copy of the original person? Does it sit there like a mindless blithering idiot because it doesn't have a soul? Does it grow up completely different? There are some interesting metaphysical questions that could be answered by cloning someone several times and raising the resulting infants in different, widely scattered households.

Leaving all that aside, growing mindless, non-sentient clones to be used as organ donors strikes me as a fabulous idea.

Legislation that protects life by prohibiting the use of human embryos for research;

I'd assume this is meant to prevent the use of dead embryos, including stem cells. This is just more 16th century medievalism; once upon a time, vivisectionists and other medical researchers were forbidden to use human cadavers at all in their research. The forces of law and order back then were just as priggishly sure of their own absolute correctness as these 'no embryo research' dipshits are today. History has already shown us what to think of those who arbitrarily close off lines of scientific inquiry on religious grounds.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act to raise awareness of the pain experienced by children before birth (S.51, H.R. 356);

Hey, everything about modern medicine causes pain, before, during, and after. Can we get someone to pay some attention to how much pain my girlfriend was in all last week after she had minor outpatient surgery? Oh, no, I forgot; she's already born, so we don't care about her.

and Legislation to prohibit any taxpayers’ money for organizations that perform, promote, and/or fund abortions.

Because some of us think they're wrong, and we don't care what anyone else believes.

5. TO SECURE our God-granted liberties, we call for the passage of –
Legislation to reverse the loss of religious liberty for churches concerning their involvement in moral and social issues;

I guess this means churches could collect tax money for proseletyzing their religion. Once again, no non-Christian churches need apply.

Legislation to ensure that speech and lawful religious expression are never punished as a “hate crime”;

I'm not wild about 'hate crimes' myself. The idea of 'hate crimes' is all about not only criminalizing speech, which is never a good idea, but actually criminalizing thought and emotion, which frankly appalls me. However, the key word here is 'lawful'; I'd be willing to bet that atheist/agnostic philosophy would never be considered to be 'lawful religious expression'.

An amendment to the Higher Education Act to guarantee First Amendment rights of worship, speech, and association to students and employees as a condition of federal grants and student assistance;

What I'm seeing here as a common thread is that all of this is legislation that, effectively, duplicates and, I'm sure, amplifies, protections already explicitely granted by the Constitution. Conservatives already have the same rights as the rest of us, now they want to give themselves special rights the rest of us don't have.

Legislation to complete the incarceration process through prisoner re-entry training and child mentoring;

In other words, if you go to jail, you don't get out until you've subjected yourself to Christian conditioning, and your kids have to go to church while you're locked up, too.

and Legislation or policies that call for continued rejection of the anti-family and deceptively-named “U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).”

Because if you give women equal rights and equal opportunities, some of them might choose not to be wives and mothers. I swear, it amazes me these guys don't just team up with the radical Moslems.

6. TO SECURE our God-given stewardship of property, we call for the passage of –
Legislation affirming that government may not redefine “public use” to take the private property of one person to give to another.

Well... I like that idea. But I'm sure there's something toxic in it somewhere.

7. TO SECURE an environment of decency that is free from pornography and obscenity, we call for the passage of –

Notice they didn't even try to say they have any kind of actual right to such an environment. In a momentary lapse of their customarily deceitful phrasing, conservatives have just come straight out and said "There's nothing in the Constitution that entitles us to a world without porn, but we don't like it, so we want something done about it".

Legislation to restrict obscenity and pornography, and guard against its mis-stated protection under the First Amendment.

It's speech. It's expression. It is, therefore, protected. The fact that you don't like it doesn't mean it isn't entitled to the same Constitutional protections as the Holy Bible... although, of course, conservatives disagree; as far as their concerned, the Bill of Rights is only for people who agree with them.

8. TO SECURE just taxes, and end immorally destructive taxation, we call for the passage of –
Legislation to fundamentally reform the national tax system and reduce the tax burden on Americans; and
Legislation to make permanent Marriage Penalty Relief and the Child Tax Credit.

The first line is much like a ten year old child throwing a hissy fit and demanding that his parents "make his life better". It's all well and good to talk about reforming the national tax system and reducing the tax burden on Americans, but how do you want to do it? What government funding do you want cut? How much do you want taxes lowered? Should good god fearing Christians not have to pay any taxes at all? Maybe liberals and agnostics should have to pay more taxes just because we suck, or, you know, for the privilege of staying out of the work camps.

9. TO SECURE our national borders and identity, we call for the passage of –
True Enforcement and Border Security; and
Legislation to prohibit, in cases of constitutional interpretation, the use of foreign law as authority.

Yeah... whatever.

10. Judges who legislate from the bench subvert our republican form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and threaten all these legislative aims.

Judges interpret the law; that's their job. The ones who interpret it in a matter consistent with and compatible to conservative values are fine; it's only those horrible liberal judges who insist on trying to keep religion out of our government and giving fags equal protection under the law that have to be stopped.

THEREFORE, WE URGENTLY CALL FOR Judicial Restraint, and an end to Judicial Activism.

Unless you're a conservative, in which case, you go, Your Honor.

We call for the passage of the Judicial Conduct Act to hold federal judges accountable to the Constitution. Above every consideration of selfish passion, ambition, or interest, we hold to the ultimate intention of our Constitution: to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

As long as, you know, we and our kids are all decent, God fearing Americans who hate fags and go to church every Sunday and support Emperor Bush. Otherwise, they can all be locked up as enemy combatants without trials forever. And we'll know, too, because the Emperor and his secret police can monitor us at all times in secrecy, with no judicial or legislative oversight, and it's all for our own good.

For this purpose, and in support of the beliefs and actions we have herein declared, we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our faithfulness, so help us God.

Unless it starts to cost too much. Then we'll move to some place with lower taxes.

* * * *

As a petulant and completely self absorbed afternote, what drives me crazy about posting all this is that if Digby posted this exact same thing to his blog, word for fucking word, he'd have links back to it up at every other lefty blog (and a dozen rightie blogs, too) and be getting ten thousand hits a minute, and he'd get 400 comments on it, and KOS and Kevin Drum would be calling him a genius.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pushing the envelope

I'd have sworn there was nothing Katherine Harris could do to make me yearn to see her head on a spike more than I already do. But life keeps throwing me curve balls:

As Katherine Harris' rocky Senate campaign takes an increasingly evangelical Christian bent, her remaining top campaign staffers are preparing to jump ship.

Colleagues say Harris' closest confidante lately appears to be spiritual adviser Dale Burroughs, founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute in Bradenton.

"Dr. Dale," as she is known among campaign staffers, describes herself as a licensed clinical pastoral counselor who counsels in behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster, among other things.

Burroughs has been advising Harris for years, but lately has had a more prominent role as Harris stopped listening to other campaign advisers. Burroughs said she has little role in the campaign beyond helping reach out to religious voters and is merely a Bible study partner and close friend.

Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a "Christian crusade."

"It was always part of the background, but it was never an integral part of the campaign. It never engulfed her," said former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who quit the campaign in November but keeps in touch with staffers. "She's grasping for a pillar she thinks this campaign can be raised on."

Her top campaign advisers, having failed to persuade Harris to drop her struggling campaign against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, are preparing to leave. Those include Ed Rollins, a highly regarded GOP strategist and her top campaign adviser; Adam Goodman, her longtime Tampa-based media consultant; and campaign manager Jamie Miller. Harris has been aggressively campaigning for support among religious conservatives, hitting large churches and headlining a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in Broward County last weekend. She told hundreds of attendees she was "doing God's work" with her campaign.

All that from my former hometown newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times.

Just when you think someone has hit rock bottom, they manage to find a way to surprise you.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Support the troops

From: sgt_rita graham
Subject: From Sgt Rita Graham

Good Day,

I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My Name is Sgt Rita Graham , Jr. I am in the Engineering military unit here in Ba'qubah in Iraq,we have about $25 Million US dollars that we want to move out of the country. My partners and I need a good partner someone we can trust. It is oil money and legal.

But we are moving it through diplomatic means, to send it to your house directly or a bank of your choice using diplomatic courier service.The most important thing is that can we trust you? Once the funds get to you, you take your 40% out and keep our own 60%. Your own part of this deal is to find a safe Account where the funds can be transfer to. Our own part is sending it to you.If you are interested i will furnish you with more details. But the whole process is simple and we must keep a low profile at all times.

I look forward to your reply and co-operation, and I thank you in

advance as I anticipate your co-operation.You can reach me on via email :

Waiting for your urgent response.


Sgt Rita Graham

Sometimes, there are no words that will adequately describe how badly I want to choke spammers.

Some more than others.

But I nearly have to admire the comprehensive ignorance of whoever sent this one out, who apparently does not realize how unlikely it is that anyone named 'Rita Graham' would be a 'Jr'.

I'd still choke the fucker, though, if I could get my hands on him or her.

Nude women. Clowns welcome.

How much is that
doggy in the window -- the one with the big giant tits? Looking as if she's about to be mounted by a plaster Ron Jeremy? Well, check out the link if you want to find out more, but here are a few excerpts from the gushing blurbs for this Pro Life Statue Of A Nude And Pregnant Britney Spears Down And Dirty Doggy Style --

A nude Britney Spears on a bearskin rug while giving birth to her firstborn marks a ‘first’ for Pro-Life. Pop-star Britney Spears is the “ideal” model for Pro-Life and the subject of a dedication at Capla Kesting Fine Art in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg gallery district, in what is proclaimed the first Pro-Life monument to birth, in April.

Dedication of the life-sized statue celebrates the recent birth of Spears’ baby boy, Sean, and applauds her decision of placing family before career. “A superstar at Britney’s young age having a child is rare in today’s celebrity culture. This dedication honors Britney for the rarity of her choice and bravery of her decision,” said gallery co-director, Lincoln Capla. The dedication includes materials provided by Manhattan Right To Life Committee.

“Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,” believed Pro-Life’s first monument to the ‘act of giving birth,’ is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery. Natural aspects of Spears’ pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, compliment a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean’s head.

The monument also acknowledges the pop-diva’s pin-up past by showing Spears seductively posed on all fours atop a bearskin rug with back arched, pelvis thrust upward, as she clutches the bear’s ears with ‘water-retentive’ hands.

“Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the ‘right choice’,” said artist Daniel Edwards, recipient of a 2005 Bartlebooth award from London’s The Art Newspaper. “She was number one with Google last year, with good reason --- people are inspired by the beauty of a pregnant woman,” said Edwards.

“Monument to Pro-Life” is on view April 7th thru 23rd with a reception for the dedication April 7th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Capla Kesting Fine Art, 121 Roebling St., Brooklyn, NY. Gallery hours are 1:00 – 6:00 pm Thursday thru Sunday, or by appointment. The gallery can be reached at or by phone at 646-932-5687

See, we all know that the difference between 'porn' and 'art' is entirely subjective, and I myself have long known that 'smut', like 'family values', 'decency', 'sedition', and 'All American', means pretty much whatever you're pointing towards at the time you say it. Rarely, however, do I see this concept of subjectivity embodied more clearly than this. What is it that makes this art instead of porn? Is it that it's a sculpture, rather than a photo or a drawing? What if it was an oil painting? A watercolor? Would it make a difference if we knew the sculptor did the entire project one handed, from concept sketches through finished statue? Can it be that all that matters is the media -- that the form of the image is all it takes to place or remove an in from the front of decency?

I suspect this is just a case of spin -- the gallery in question knows that a nude statue of Britney Spears is going to be a pretty good draw, but they don't want people to think they're running a hooch show, even a ceramic one, and they certainly don't want folks to regard them as the plaster equivalent of a Niagara Falls wax museum -- an a pretty strongly R rated one, at that. (Say, there's an idea -- an adult wax museum with X rated dioramas. I wonder what kind of zoning you need for that...)

Still, I don't know. A nude Britney Spears down on all fours on a bearskin rug... smells like porn to me. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be godless

I saw this over on Kevin Drum's blog. Apparently, atheists are the most unpopular minority in America.

There's a longer entry in me about how much I loathe organized religion, and when I do it, I'll probably tie it to the current meme going around the lefty blogs about how important it is for the Democratic Party to let the voters know that they're all deeply religious too -- a sentiment that, frankly, fills me with revulsion and makes me wish I could pull up stakes for a more sensible, rational planet where the native race has long since conquered the need to use disciplined superstitious terror as a tool for the maintenance of socially acceptable behavior among the masses.

Having said that, I want to note that I myself am not an atheist; in fact, I regard atheism as being no less a religion than Islam or Catholicism. Implicit and inarguable belief in a negative presumption that cannot be proven like the non-existence of God is as much an article of faith as the holiness of Ramadan or the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit, and atheists are also pretty organized. And while they're people I'd be much more comfortable eating lunch with than, you know, the average Baptist, still, I suspect they'd stop being comfortable for me once they found out I had a few articles of faith of my own -- like my nebulous but firm belief in Intelligent Design (I think the reality we see around us is an artifact; I just don't claim any insight or knowledge at all as to Who, What, Why, When, or How it was created), my equally vague but firm belief in an immortal soul and life after death, and my insistence that there is some greater meaning to and reason for human existence. The atheists of my experience insist with fanatical vehemence that we're all just complex chemicals, the world is just a lot of crap thrown together at random, that there is nothing beyond materialism, there is no rhyme and no reason, that life, even self aware, sentient life, is the result of a random coincidence of physics, and worse, most of them seem to think (just like all their co-religionists) that anyone who disagrees with any of their articles of faith is a deluded child.

So I'm not an atheist myself. I'm not sure what I am; sort of a half assed agnostic with a few very personal beliefs I myself cannot support with logic or reason.

I'm rambling all over the place. I suppose, if I have a point to make, it's just how tired I get of living in a world that is one big hostile environment to anyone who doesn't believe in Jebus. And that very much includes the tireseome requirement of trying to discern which candidate is being more hypocritical about his or her mandatory profession of faith in Jebus, so I can vote for the bigger liar.

Which may, I'm realizing, be one big reason I responded with such hostility to Julia's very reasonable suggestion that I should work on someone's political campaign. I honestly don't think I could stomach working for someone who went to church every Sunday... and I'm pretty sure anyone who isn't in a Christian church every Sunday has no shot at getting elected anywhere in America.

Regardless of what many believe, there is no actual separation of Church and State in the Constitution. The Constitution's sum total on the subject of religion is found in the First Amendment -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". While I sincerely and avidly wish there was more, something that would actually force a legal separation of religious belief from civic duty, there really isn't.

This is typical of our Constitution, which was written for the express purpose of limiting governmental intrusion into the private sphere. In this case, however, I wish the founders had paid a bit more attention to protecting government from the intrusions of various sources of corruption and undue influence, like organized religion. I'm not sure how I'd specifically word that clause, but I might tack on the phrase "Religious faith shall be considered an entirely private matter, which government shall not intrude on, and which no government official or United States authority may profess or demonstrate a bias against or towards while executing the duties of their office, or seeking to attain such office".

I know, I know. What have I been smoking, and do I have any left over to share? Still, everybody has a dream.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wretched Wednesday

Hell is watching someone you love in misery, and being helpless to do anything about it.

I've tried writing this entry about five times now... let me see... two... three... no, SIX times, now, this is the seventh. I get a couple of paragraphs in, realize the writing quality is wretched, and while that isn't something that holds me back often on this blog, still, I want to try to recapitulate this day reasonably well. So I go back, delete what I've written, and start over.

The first sentence probably came into being on the third attempt, and it is, to date, the only survivor of that and all concurrent ones. It seems to sum up the day pretty well.

SuperGirlfriend is currently in the bedroom nodding off to sleep. There were times today when she and I concurrently despaired of ever getting her out of that goddam hospital and back home, after what is laughingly called 'minor outpatient surgery'. But let me backpedal --

For a scheduled 7:30 op time, we had to be at the hospital at 5:30 this morning. I don't drive, and SG knew she wouldn't be able to drive back, so SG's mom showed up at 5 am to drive us over (she waited with me all day to drive SG back, too... she's a good lady). This meant setting the alarm for 4 am. We were both scared and stressed about the 'minor outpatient surgery', so neither of us slept well the night before. So that's today's first little misery -- stress and fear on very little sleep.

I hate our entire healthcare system. There is something profoundly rotten at the heart of it. I cannot help but think, in my fuzzy headed new age way, that our entire emphasis on healing a sick or hurt human being is horribly wrong headed. In this I am nearly a Christian Scientist; I truly believe that there should be an effective, entirely non-physical way of healing nearly any truama to the body through willpower, faith, and mental effort. It seems to me to be ludicrous that something can be wrong with our own bodies and we can have no idea it's so, and even more ludicrous that we can become aware something is wrong with our bodies, and have to go to a stranger and describe what we are feeling to them so they can make slightly more educated guesses as to what is wrong with us and then act on those guesses as if they were inspired truth. We live in our bodies. It seems to me we should be well enough attuned to them to always know exactly what condition they are in.

But that, of course, would be in a better world.

I also hate all this cutting and using various radiations and probes and medications with side effects and all that other horribly intrusive physical crap that we have evolved due to our culture's material bias. The Roman Empire has a lot to answer for, and our obsession with taking an empirical engineering approach to every problem is one of the biggest items on that bill.

But what I especially hate is that there is no love in our healthcare system. Love is left in the waiting room, while highly paid strangers who cannot possibly value the human body they are working on as much as they should visit all these intrusions and unpleasantries and traumas and indignities on that body, in hopes that these various unnatural stresses and contortions and tortures will conspire to alleviate the condition that was afflicting the body when it came in, without doing more damage to it in the meantime than the original problem already had.

I hate that the people who work on the people we love don't love them. I hate that it's just a job to them, and they're all in it for the money. I hate the fact that a 21st Century hospital is a temple to Mammon, rather than Asclepius.

So they took SuperGirlfriend back and prepped her, and after an endless wait they came and got us and let us sit with her while she was in a small room waiting for her various doctors to arrive. She'd been promised medication to help relieve her anxiety, and everyone could see she was quietly freaking out, but of course, the nurse coudn't give her the medication until the aenesthesiologist showed up and put in the actual written order. (Apparently, while we were out in the front waiting room, they'd had to set up an IV for SuperGirlfriend, and she has lousy veins so they'd had to do it twice, and the first time they stuck her, the lights had flickered overhead. Now, the nurse had pretty much ignored SG telling her how much she hated needles and how she often just fainted when someone jabbed one into her, but when the lights nearly blew as the first IV slid into SG's wrist, that nurse re-thought her position. SG was apparently radiating some major distress on every psychic wavelength, and some of it must have leaked over into a minor psychokinetic event.)

Anyway, eventually the drug-doc made an appearance and showed us his patented Confident & Assertive bedside manner, which only cracked a little around the edges when I questioned him at length about exactly what drugs he was planning to give SG and what metabolic systems they effected and how specifically they worked (I learned, to my surprise, that there is now have a drug that will induce true sleep, rather than various drugs that simply cause artificial unconsciousness, which is not true sleep at all, and that drug, along with a few others, was part of the aenesthetic cocktail he was going to give SG to put her out). Then he got the order for the damned Versed in and SG finally got to relax a little. Then her surgeon (the one SG credits with saving her life when she nearly died giving birth to SuperAdorable Kid) showed up, and filled out some paperwork, and I questioned her somewhat, too, and then they wheeled SG off.

We'd been told the operation would take 60 to 90 minutes, that SG would be in the stage 1 recovery room for an hour at the most, then she'd be moved back to a stage 2 recovery room where we could sit with her again, probably for at most another hour while she got over the medication, after which we could take her home. So, with surgery scheduled for 7:30, it looked like she'd be done around 11 am and we'd be home by noon at the latest.

Let me digress here, before I go into details about how badly, even psychotically wrong all those cheerful and confident predictions turned out to be, by noting that SG had four different procedures today. I don't want to invade her privacy (although she may well give details on her own blog), but for all that the hospital and the doctor insisted on describing these as minor, outpatient procedures, the fact remains, SG underwent a great deal of physical stress and trauma to her most intimate areas today, and she was heavily sedated while it happened -- a process that also causes enormous stress and trauma to both the body and the mind. This is the sort of thing that, back in the golden age before managed health care, would have resulted in at the very least an overnight stay at the hospital, and nobody would have blinked if a doctor had decided to keep SG there for observation for 2 or 3 days.

But this was outpatient surgery, and jumping ahead, let me tell you, the idiot nurse SG got landed with in the stage 2 recovery room was visibly fretting, when SG wasn't recovering as fast from the aenesthetic as they wanted her to, as to what they were going to do about this. Why? Because they CAN'T keep SG overnight for this kind of procedure, or to recover from this kind of procedure, and the reason is simple -- the insurance company involved won't okay it. So that nurse was practically chewing her nails at the thought that SG might not get out of there that day -- but, trust me, all SG and I and her mom wanted was to get her out of there, anyway, so we were on board with the plan.

SG's mom and I went out to Denny's for a mediocre breakfast (we each got the French Toast Slam, which SG's mom should not have had because she's diabetic, but I have no control over SG's family). Then we returned and sat back down in the waiting room and tried hard not to fall asleep while we waited for the little pager-thing they'd given us to go off, which would mean there was some kind of news or maybe we could go back and see SG now.

And we waited.

And we waited.

Finally, some time shortly after 9:30, we were taken into a small conference room where SG's doctor met us, still in her scrubs with her weird looking hairnet on. The procedures had gone fine -- she didn't explain why they'd taken so much longer than we'd been told they would, and I was, strangely, too stressed to ask -- and we were told that it would probably be another 45 minutes and then we could go back to see SG in the stage 2 recovery room.

So we went back and sat down again in the outer waiting room... and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It is horrible to sit in a room knowing that somewhere nearby, someone you love more than you love your own life is disoriented and confused, probably in pain, and not only can't you do anything about it, you are not even allowed to go to them and at least give them the comfort of having someone familiar and beloved sitting with them. And it is equally horrible to sit out there and have no idea what is going on. No matter how often medical professionals reassure me as to the simplicity and ease and lack of hazard of any kind of surgery, I refuse to believe it. When you cut someone open, there is hazard. When you use artificial means to make a conscious person unconscious, there is hazard. People die from unforseen complications in surgery and in aenesthesia every day. Medical professionals are only human beings just like the rest of us, they make mistakes, and often when they do, lives are shattered beyond repair.

So we sat there, and we waited, and I, at least, was stressed out of my mind, and scared, and tired, although I was trying not to show it becaus I didn't want to freak SG's mom out. But I badly wanted to see SG or at least know what was going on with her, and I couldn't.

About 11:30, after I'd badgered the desk twice for non-existent news, I got called up there over the PA system. They handed me a phone. It was someone named Kim in the Stage 1 recovery room. SuperGirlfriend was still extremely nauseous from the aenesthesia; they'd given her a dose of something called Finagrin (I'm doubtless screwing up the spelling of that) that would make her sleep for another hour. The nurse at the desk recommended that SG's mom and I get some lunch, so we went down to the hospital cafeteria and ate some typically lousy hospital cafeteria food, and then we walked back, and sat back down... and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

About 2 o'clock, I guess, or a little after, they finally told us we could go back and see SG. She'd been moved to the Stage 2 recovery room. So we went in. She looked horribly overstressed, and was obviously utterly miserable... she advised us in strained whispers that she was terribly nauseated and in quite a bit of pain. She had this very annoying nurse hovering over her asking her to quantify the pain she was in on a scale of 1 to 10.

Over the next fifteen minutes, SG visibly got stronger, but the nausea didn't seem to be abating at all. The nurse flatly refused to give SG anything for the pain through her IV (which they were using at that point to run in saline), because that would extend her stay in the hospital and they were not at all subtly trying to run her the hell out of there. What the nurse wanted SG to do was take two different pain pills, because by the regs, SG couldn't leave until half an hour after she'd taken the last pain pill. SG didn't want to take a pain pill because she'd already thrown up twice in the Stage 1 recovery room and she felt like if she took a pill she'd do it again.

So, I sat there, with SG's mom, and watched the love of my life experience the most heart wrenching misery imaginable, and I couldn't do anything at all to help her, which sucked profoundly.

Finally, after about 45 minutes, and switching positions on her bed a few times, SG felt well enough to try taking the first pain pill. That helped get rid of the nausea, so half an hour later, she took the rather more serious narcotic, which, after another fifteen minutes, pretty much damped the pain down to manageable levels.

Now, you'd think, having finally gotten the damned pills in her, and having shown such anxiety to get rid of us, that the idiot nurse would at that point be happy to let us leave. But, as John Belushi would say, noooooooooo... first she had to ask if SG had gone to the bathroom yet, to see if bladder function had been restored. So SG had to get dressed and shuffle off to the bathroom, where idiot nurse left her inside and went off to gossip with some other idiot nurse, so SG was alone when she came out and got halfway back to the recovery room without any help at all.

Then, since SG hadn't made a lot of water, idiot nurse had to do a bladder scan. So she did that, and that came back satisfactory, so idiot nurse said she'd send us home, although if SG hadn't had good bladder function by six or eight hours later, we should come back so she could be catheterized.

So, were we roundin' third and headed for home? Well, no, because, you know, hospitals won't let you walk out, you have to pushed in a wheelchair, again, for insurance reasons. So idiot nurse went off to order a wheelchair. We got SG dressed and waited another fifteen minutes, and then I went out looking. I couldn't find idiot nurse, but I did find four empty wheelchairs in a hall, so I grabbed another nurse and asked if could push SG out to our car in one of those wheelchairs. She said of course I couldn't, but she went and found idiot nurse, who said it was okay for us to leave, and then someone else pushed SG out to the car, and finally we got home.

I've been waiting on SG hand and foot since getting home, which is my privilege and pleasure, of course. But it's hard to see her in so much pain and not be able to really do anything for her. Still, she's finally sleeping now, and I'm hoping she'll be feeling much better when she wakes up tomorrow.

Okay. This is probably still wretchedly written, but I don't care. I want to get it outside myself and move on.

Oh, in health care related news, I'm finally over my persistent hacking cough, thanks entirely to SuperGirlfriend, and a nebulizer she uses to treat the Super Kids, all of whom have respiratory issues of some sort. She gave me intensive treatments over the course of last week, and finally last weekend I seem to have coughed my last. Not that I can't relapse, but we still have the nebulizer and plenty of Albuterol, so I know what to do if that happens.

Thanks, by the way, to everyone out there who sent good wishes to SG and me on this very trying day.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Object lesson

So, I mention in a previous entry that I'm considering throwing the blog open in April to entries from any or all of its members, and what do I get for this incredible gesture of generosity? Vague, mumbled implications of unsavory group sex, and dubious threats from several quarters to post on subjects like baseball, gardening, and recipes.

Now it's not that I have anything specifically against such topics. I mean, sure, I'd only watch a baseball game if there were hostages involved, and I regard gardening as a somewhat interesting sociological remnant left over from mankind's hunter-gatherer stage -- no, wait, that's camping, okay, I don't know what the fuck is up with gardening, all I know is, I spent enough time helping my mom with hers when I was a teenager to understand that green growing things and I both flourish best when I'm not involved in their cultivation, and as for recipes, well, if I were Robert B. Parker's genre-revolutionizing shamus Spenser, I'd probably think the idea of people posting recipes to my personal weblog was a fabulous one, but, on the other hand, I'd also be living in Boston and spending all my time pistol whipping unpleasant people with my extremely large automatic pistol, so I probably wouldn't have a personal weblog, so never mind that.

Yet, notwithstanding all these sane, cogent, insightful and inarguable points, I'm a wise, rational, adult, and tolerant individual, and if folks want to post about appallingly boring nonsense like this on my blog, well, I suppose I should just affix to my facial features a glassy eyed grin and stand silent.

But I never do that.

See, the thing of it is, is, here at the Miserable Annals of the Earth, we are nothing if not cosmopolitan. Inclusiveness is our watchword, and while I'm not entirely sure what a watchword is, still, the fact remains and it is irrefutable, we strive for mass appeal on this blog. And I feel it would be antithetical to that spirit of populism and universal openness to post entries on such narrowly focused topics as America's past time, gardening, and recipes. After all, how many among us care about the sport of Babe Ruth, Ty Young, and Barry Bonds? What proportion of the population sticks seeds willy-nilly into the fecund earth and then lolls about indolently waiting for them to sprout? And as to recipes, for the love of God, Montresor, nobody cooks these days, we all eat out, order in, or microwave. Surely, surely, only a narrow, tiny, obsessed group of fringe hobbyists would have any interest in such postings, and I say, it's time to stop sucking up to the special interests out there and get back to cultivating the masses.

I know. I know. I mustn't call you Shirley.

It is, clearly, for me to blaze the trail, to shine the light, to fix the beacon, to strike the pose, to set the example. For populist posting and all-appealing entries, I must lead the way and help us all build a bridge to the 21st Century. And so I shall. I shall indeed. I shall do so with style, with panache, with no little dash, nor derring do. I shall do it all, and do it now -- by writing about HeroClix.

HeroClix! Three sybillant syllables (okay, they're not, but it's alliterative, so back in your hole, you) that speak volumes to any who may be listening. HeroClix! A clarion call to comprehension on the part of every man, woman and child living or dead anywhere in the universe. HeroClix -- a native of Missouri might well declare dem fightin' words, only to slink back into guilty silence once informed that in point of fact, HeroClix is only one word, fightin' or otherwise.

Here are some things I've considered about HeroClix lately --

My House Rules regarding HyperSonic Speed may require further refinement. Or, it's equally possible that Kingdom Come Flash and Kingdom Come Captain Marvel should simply be banned from the game as hideously unbalanced. All I know is, when I went up against Nate during his recent visit, my Kingdom Come team, and specifically the two figs already mentioned, utterly dismantled his fairly powerful Avengers team without ever taking a lick of damage. KC Flash scurried right up next to the Veteran Iron Man, outwitted his Invulnerability, and then proceeded to pummel the Golden Avenger into shiny yellow toothpaste with a barrage of 2 damage, 12 AV HyperSonic Speed attacks. KC Captain Marvel hurtled up next to his otherdimensional namesake, and using Exploit Weakness to bypass the good Kree soldier's own Invulnerability, promptly battered the hapless wretch into cosmically aware goo.

This seems to me to be a trifle unbalanced. Perhaps it calls for further modification of my rules. Perhaps HyperSonic Speed is such an overwhelminingly effective super power that I should rule that it cannot be used in combination with any other super powers at all. Thus, HyperSonic Speedsters could not Outwit, or use Exploit Weakness, or get a damage bonus from Close Combat Expert, or Incapacitate with a blow (oooo... a HyperSonic Speedster with Incapacitate. Now there's some chocolately goodness HeroClix hasn't given us yet... exactly what would happen to a fig that ended up with eight action tokens on it in a round?)

To one extent, it makes sense. No matter how many times Quicksilver drives left hooks into the manly loaflike jaw of Thor, or Superman, or Ares, or Count Nefaria, none of those worthies are going to be much more than annoyed with the meteoric mutant assailing them at high velocity with a barrage of babygirl buffets. And yet, Captain Marvel, with the Wisdom of Solomon, should be able to see the weak spots in an opponent and bypass their defensive powers, while the Flash, as a master of the Speed Force, should be able to vibrate his fists at whatever frequency is necessary to bring even the Man of Tomorrow to his knees.

And it's not like HeroClix doesn't have a cure for such ribaldry anyway, a cure known as Mind Control. Had any of Nate's figures possessed so much as a Whirling Hypno Coin, they could have taken momentary control of the KC Captain Marvel and had him pummel the KC Flash into gumbo in a mere trice, after which, they could have declared that KC Captain Marvel was turning off his Impervious, which would have lasted until the start of his controller's next turn. With his Impervious turned off, Captain Marvel would have been easy meat; Hawkeye, Captain America, and Quicksilver between them could have turned out his magical lights in jig time. (Which is not, you may be surprised to learn, an actual racial slur, but is, in point of fact, merely a reference to the fleet footed Hibernian dance of the same name.)

So, perhaps, it isn't necessary to actually further refine my rules. Perhaps I should, in fact, take this as evidence that my House Rules actually accomplish their stated goal, which is to say, making HeroClix work more consistently with their comic book source material. After all, in the comic books, the Kingdom Come characters are pretty damned formidable. I suppose it only makes sense that Iron Man and Captain Mar Vell couldn't stand up to them for longer than a heartbeat.

In other examples of vindication for my House Rules, we have a recent combat where I used a lot of the Collateral Damage villains on one team. Captain Cold is largely ineffective (or so it seems to me he would be) under normal HeroClix rules, as he's a single target Incapacitate piece with Barrier, a crappy attack, a so so range, and a decent movement, plus a couple of clicks of Running Shot. (In point of fact, he doesn't get his first click of Incapacitate until his second power slot, where he still has Running Shot, but his movement has dropped considerably, from a 10 to an 8).

With a 9 attack, Captain Cold's odds of actually hitting his nemesis the Flash with a blast from his cold gun are pretty much slim and none. The most recent version of the Silver Age/Modern Age Flash, the Icons Unique, has a 19 Defense, meaning Cold needs to roll a 10 on 2 d6 to hit him... not very likely. The original Flash piece, from Hypertime, has only a 17 defense, which means Cold needs only a slightly above average 8 on 2d6 to hit him, but that Flash also has Super Senses, so he can dodge a successful attack on a 5-6 on a d6.

All told, for someone who usually manages to successfully blast the Fastest Man Alive at least once per confrontation, Captain Cold has a woefully inadequate attack. Put him up against any HeroClix version of the Flash, and he's going to get beat to pieces in less than a nanosecond... especially under my House Rules, which allow multiple close combat attacks for full damage.

And yet, under those same House Rules, Captain Cold is a marvelously effective piece. Why? Because I have made a slight tweak to the power Barrier. Under HeroClix rules, you can only set up Barrier markers (defined as Blocking Terrain that fills an entire square) in four consecutive squares of completely open terrain, the first of which, at least, has to be within the attacking fig's range. This makes Barrier useful, sure. However, under my rules, you can set up a Barrier token on any square, even one that contains different terrain types, or, most importantly, an opposing character. This has the effect of suddenly surrounding the target character with a square full of Blocking Terrain (in Captain Cold's case, we can assume he's just used his cold gun to embed an attacker inside a gigantic iceberg, something he often does in the comics he's taken from). The fact that Captain Cold can, on his first click, move up to 10 squares (again, under my House Rules) and then create four continuous squares of Blocking Terrain, starting up to 8 squares away from his position, allows him to potentially imprison up to 4 opponents without having to make an attack roll... said imprisonment which will last until the start of Cold's next turn.

It's a lovely power, one that is fairly common in comic books (where lots of characters have the power to momentarily immobilize their opponents) but that doesn't really have any representation in WK's normal rules. Oh, sure, you can slow someone down with Incapacitation, which gives a successfully hit target an extra action token, but Incapacitation is a chancy thing, and very different in effect from enclosing an opponent inside a Barrier. With Incapacitation, if the target had no action tokens on it, then it can still move next round, it will just take a click of damage doing it (or not, if it has a power called Willpower, in which case, it will just move anyway and ignore the attack effect completely). If the target already had an action token on it, then, yeah, you've effectively paralyzed it next turn, and given it a click of damage, too (unless, again, the target fig has Willpower).

However, when you set up a Barrier on a square where an opponent is, you don't do any damage to them -- you just immobilize them, as they are suddenly stuck fast in the middle of blocking terrain. This is much more consistent with the effect of, say, Spider-Man's webbing, or Captain Cold's ice attacks, than the way Incapacitation functions. And, even more realistically, if your fig has a power that lets it destroy Blocking Terrain (Super Strength) or just ignore it (Phasing/Teleport) then, well, what happens in comic books will happen in the game -- your Super Strong character will flex his or her muscles and shatter the ice walls around it (or tear the webbing like tissue paper, or whatever) and your Phasing/Teleport character will simply bamf to another location, or waft through the binding material like a ghost.

Still, against a group of opponents like Domino (who is always hiding on Hindering Terrain and being really annoying with her Probability Control powers), Professor X (with his highly unpleasant Mind Control abilities, as well as three targets he can use it on), and the Beast and Wolverine, Captain Cold can be a very effective piece. Combine him with Felix Faust, who also has barrier (Felix sets up mystical constructs that encase his opponents, like giant hovering crystals and such like), so they can trade off paralyzing annoying opponents, and you have a very useful combination indeed.

In addition to Barrier, I'm also very pleased with similar modifications I've made to the Smoke Cloud power. This came in very handy late in the game, when my Owlman piece had a somewhat battered Flash on one side of him and a barely bruised Wonder Woman on the other side. Down to nearly his last click of life, Owlman did what he most likely would have done anyway in the comics -- dropped a smoke bomb at his feet and hid within the billowing black vapors.

Under HeroClix rules, of course, you can't set up Smoke Terrain markers on an occupied square. Under my rules, of course, you can, which allows figures like Owlman, who have both Stealth and Smoke Cloud, to obscure themselves, protecting themselves from all attacks, unless the attacker has Super Senses or the ability to destroy Hindering Terrain. It certainly saved Owlman's bacon for another couple of turns, and did it in a very satisfyingly comic book-compatible manner, as a little added bonus.

In other notes, the Veteran Dr. Light knows how to rock, if only on his very first click. 10 Attack Value, Incapacitate, 10 Range, 17 Defense with Energy/Shield Deflection, 3 Damage with Ranged Combat Expert... hang a Stunning Blow on this guy and he's an accurate long range cannon who deals out 5 clicks of damage AND an Incapacitation token with every successful strike. (He's probably not this good under WK rules, which generally tend to contort all logic and sense in order to keep any efficient power combination from actually functioning... I'd imagine there's some rubbish somewhere in a FAQ about how Incapacitation and Ranged Combat Expert are both Power Actions, so they can't be used together. But we don't have any truck with such idiocy in my House Rules; Dr. Light could certainly do an intensely effective energy attack that also momentarily Incapacitated a target by, say, blinding it.) Put an Armor Piercing on him and, well, yeah, he's now a 117 point figure, but he's hard to hit from range, and anything he points at either screams in pain or just plain dies.

And then he gets two clicks of Pulse Wave, which under my House Rules is a truly fabulous power... yeah, there's a lot to like in Dr. Light. And did I even mention the wild card Calculator TA that he and Captain Cold both share? All around, these are sweet, sweet figs... if only under my House Rules.

On the other hand, even my House Rules can't make the Trickster worth using. Well, sure, another Perplexer is always handy, but otherwise there's not much there. Yeah, yeah, his Plasticity/Poison combo could do some damage, especially with an Armor Piercing hung on him, but the problem there is, by the time it comes up he's down to a 14 defense value, which pretty much any piece of plastic or even most pogs can pummel at will. He's got some Energy Shield/Deflection in these slots, but he's really only effective in close combat, so it's not like that's much help. Maybe if they'd given him at least two targets, you could get some use out of his first click of Running Shot/Energy Explosion... but as it is, he's just a big lame loser. If I ever get a Reverse Flash I'll put Trickster out as part of a Rogue's Gallery team, and try to keep him back so I can use his Perplex... but I won't expect him to live long.

And, hey, guys, I'm just kidding about the baseball, gardening, and recipe entries. Post anything you want. Really. Maybe you'll end up getting more comments than I do... at least, on my HeroClix entries.