Archive for the ‘Jon Carroll’ Category

VOTE! It is a matter of life and death

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Jon Carroll in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

…a good reason to vote: Because something bad might happen if you don’t. Like Proposition 23 might pass, although I make no recommendations. If you stay home and mutter that the Democrats and the Republicans are the same and they’re all crooks paid off by special interests and things are so bad they can’t get any worse, don’t worry: They can get worse.

Read Jon’s column here.

Enough with the anti-gay bigotry

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has taken a deserved beating in the courts recently, but the posturing, pandering putzim in DC aren’t gonna give up any time soon. I’m talkin’ to you, John “I Never called myself a Maverick, except in the title of my autobiography and a few zillion campaign ads” McCain.

Jon Carroll in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Senators live in Washington, D.C., most of the time. They mix with rich people and powerful people at private cocktail parties and dinners. They are aware that some of the people they socialize with are gay. They are aware that some of their colleagues, and the aides to their colleagues, are gay. They no more believe that gay people are a threat to unit cohesion than they believe that aliens have established villages on Jupiter.

And yet they have to pretend for their people. Their constituents, their base, still believe that one gay guy in a shower room is going to panic the other soldiers. It’s not true, of course, but the panderers have to keep their base happy in this election year – one-third of the Senate is up for re-election – so they get all misty-eyed about manly showers with manly men. Or something.

Also, they seek to convince voters that gay people are a threat of the American family.

Read the whole column, please.

“I want my America Back”

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has been on a roll for days, and today he hits it out of the park again:

We’ve all seen the video images of the health care town hall meetings that have been disrupted by organized mobs attempting to shut off debate…. One image in particular struck me: A middle-aged blond woman holding a sign that said “I Want My America Back.” As Jon Stewart remarked, “Tell that to the Indians.” I understand her plaint to be, basically, “I want the old homogeneous America back, where people who mattered were white and Christian and heterosexual, and if they were something else they at least had the courtesy to keep it to themselves and live in another part of town.”

Later:

It would be nice to have mountain lakes you could swim in without worrying about toxic pollutants, and mountain streams you could drink from without worrying about disease.

It would be nice to live in a time before corporate America had an absolute grip on American politics, and advertising was used to sell soap and toothpaste rather than politicians and political ideas. It would be nice to live in a time when foolish bankers and investment brokers couldn’t bring the economy to a standstill.

And so on. Please read the entire column, and pass it around.

The United States of Torture

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

From today’s Jon Carroll column:

I have heard the arguments in favor of increased prisoner abuse. This is a new kind of war with an enemy that kills civilians without mercy. This enemy has bombed the World Trade Center; it bombed nightclubs in Indonesia when the discos were crowded; it bombed subways in London at rush hour. It has bombed busy intersections and markets and even mosques all over Iraq. Its own record of prisoner abuse is horrible; it even kills its own people if they fail some ethnic or religious litmus test.

This week’s suicide at Guantanamo has given the Bush barbarians another opportunity to display their pathological personalities, calling it “a good PR move” and an act of “asymmetrical warfare.” The collective narcissism, the sociopathic self-interest, and sheer inhumanity of these bastards becomes more manifest every day. Not only are they incapable of admitting error, they are incapable of recognizing the ugliness and immorality of their souls.
A** C****** and Michael Savage are not as extreme as we’d like to believe; I fear they are expressing the true souls of the administration. I feel increasingly desperate for a way to make the sleeping middle of America awaken to the viciousness of the leaders they elected. If we don’t turn this around soon, it will be too late.
More from Jon Carroll:

I do not think we should be fighting the war in Iraq; I’m not sure there would even be a war if we had not declared it; still, I loathe the tactics of the militant extremists. I loathe the tactics of the militant extremists so much I want to make sure my side, the one supported by my money and representing my country, does not fall into the same pit of barbarism.

Torture — and let’s call it by its right name, because that’s what the Defense Department wants: the freedom to torture — does not just harm the tortured; it injures the torturer as well. If you listen to interviews with the men and women who were at Abu Ghraib, they were stunned by what they had done. They felt at though they had been reduced to beasts.

Debra J. Saunders, in today’s Chronicle, parses carefully the words of Al Gore and attacks his character in an attempt to sidestep the overwhelmingly persuasive facts adduced in An Inconvenient Truth:

Gore was wrong in 1992 when he wrote that 98 percent of scientists agreed with him on global warming….

Now he is wrong when he argues in his movie that there is a complete consensus on global warming today. As proof Gore cites a 2004 study that looked at 928 climate abstracts and found none that refuted global-warming dogma. That says more about the researcher than the scientific community.

There are a number of well-known scientists who don’t believe that global warming is human-induced, or who believe that if it is, it is not catastrophic.

How has the compassionate, liberal America I grew up in become such a vile, destructive (and ultimately self-immolating) hell? How is it possible for so many to remain willfully ignorant of reality and actively hostile to humanity?
Is there a way out of this lethal spiral?
Back to Jon Carroll:

Restraint and generosity do not seem to be hallmarks of this administration. Already, after unrestrained bombing in the early days of the war in Afghanistan, we were pulling troops out and reneging on our promises to rebuild Afghanistan so it no longer has to rely on the opium trade. We’ve decided, heck, let ‘em grow it; we’ll handle the problem later when the refined product gets to our borders. Yeah, that’s worked.

Oh, wait, there’s another difference between then and now. During World War II, war profiteers were frowned on. It was not considered cool to make billions off misery and death. Today, war profiteers run the country. One might make the case that this administration is so busy figuring out how to reward its friends and campaign contributors with pieces of the war pie, it hasn’t spent all that much time coming up with innovative plans for fighting a war of attrition in a desert half a world away.

It seems pretty obvious to me that war profiteering is the number one motivation here. It is not a coincidence that the oil industry and Halliburton are the principal beneficiaries of this administration’s policies.
From the LA Times:

A rule designed by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones was loosened after White House officials rejected it amid complaints by energy companies that it was too restrictive and after a well-connected Texas oil executive appealed to White House senior advisor Karl Rove….

In 2002, a Texas oilman and longtime Republican activist, Ernest Angelo, wrote a letter to Rove complaining that an early version of the rule was causing many in the oil industry to “openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity.”

“Supidity” = “affecting my profits.” Fuck everyone else. Fuck the planet. GIMME!!!!!!

Another great Jon Carroll column

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

There really isn’t any point in excerpting this particular column. It’s a grand slam. Please read it all.

Being in Congress is not like living in America. You have a hired car and driver, and you don’t carry money. You don’t buy groceries and you don’t pay plumbers. You spend every day raising money so you can go back to Congress, where you will raise more money. People want to buy you dinner, take you golfing, give you … what do you want? There are people who will give it to you, and other people who make it look OK. Unless you do something dopey like keeping cash in your freezer, you’ll never get caught.

You are supposed to represent the people in your district, but you don’t live like the people in your district. Hell, most of the time you’re not even in your district. You live in a bubble, and you take seriously stuff that other people find silly, and you ignore stuff that other people find important. Tim Russert: important. Working two jobs while trying to find health insurance to cover your pre-existing condition: not so important.

People in Congress do not speak the way other people speak. Have you ever listened to a congressional hearing? Congress members do not ask questions when it is time to ask questions; they make speeches. Sometimes they pretend it’s a question by starting with “Wouldn’t you agree… ?” — but that doesn’t make it a question. They seem to be utterly indifferent to their routine pomposities. They frequently call themselves “the American people,” as in, “The American people are shocked by midnight break-ins at congressional offices.”

And:

Basically, we’re screwed. The Congress was supposed to save us from the executive branch, and the Supreme Court was supposed to save us from both, and now all three are playing some game that does not involve protecting citizens, spending money wisely or making sense.

The Projection Party, projecting

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Jon Carroll in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Y’all have probably heard about this dispute surrounding Plan B, the so-called “morning after” pill ….

Plan B is a contraceptive, and there are people who don’t like contraceptives….

Janet Woodcock, who is the deputy operations commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, apparently told a group of agency employees, according to a memo written by one of them, that “we could not anticipate or prevent extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B.”

So now we come to a phenomenon called “projection.” The most common way that we explain human behavior is to use our beliefs, motives and behavior patterns as a template. If I tell you, for instance, that all women hate men, I am really telling you that my life experiences so far have not been satisfying and that I have developed a theory about why that is true, and I have projected that theory on reality….

So if I tell you that a “morning after” pill will lead to sex-based cults, I am really telling you that a candid examination of my inner motives reveals that I would most likely start a sex-based cult if I could, and that urge scares me, so I will project my urges onto young people and their pharmaceutical choices, and announce that I have discovered reality and this is what it looks like.

It is my belief that projection plays a larger role in public life than is generally acknowledged — although, of course, I could just be projecting. I think that people who really fret that gays are going to “recruit” heterosexuals see in themselves worrisome urges that mean that they themselves might want to enlist in the gay army. I think if you look at the attitudes of the Catholic Church about sexuality and set them against the behavior of a number of supposedly celibate Catholic priests, you can build a case for large-scale, long-term institutional projection.

I’ve been raving about the Projection Party for years. These fuckers are constantly accusing their enemies/victims of doing exactly what they themselves do or want to do. It’s pathological, pathetic, and destructive. It pollutes the public discourse.

Family values

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Jon Carroll, in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, offers a very angry and personal take on the latest front in the culture wars: “gay adoption.”
According to the Catholic News Service, “Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese announced March 10 that it will stop providing adoption services rather than continue to comply with a state law requiring no discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who seek to adopt…. Prompted by a similar issue arising at Catholic Charities of San Francisco, a top Vatican official has said Catholic agencies should not be involved in adoptions by same-sex couples.”
To which Jon Carroll responded:

Last year the Ford Motor Co. started to buy ads in several publications aimed at gay readers…. Then the company got assaulted by the American Family Association, a creation of the Rev. Donald Wildmon, a clever right-wing agitator with a hate-based agenda. So Ford announced that it would stop advertising in gay publications.

But then, whoops, Ford reversed its reversal and said, never mind, it was going to advertise in gay publications after all. So then a representative of the AFA announced that it was reinstating its boycott. “We cannot, and will not, sit by as Ford supports a social agenda aimed at the destruction of the family.”

What a vile sentence. What a vile sentiment. What overbusy, underbrained worms these people must be. I am not yelling.

My older daughter is a lesbian. She is also the single mother of an adopted child, working to make and sustain a family with jaw-dropping tenacity. I am a member of that family, but she is the head of it. The idea that any part of her social agenda involves the destruction of the family is insulting and stupid. She adopted a child, which means that a child who would not have had a home now has one. It means that a child who would not have rested safely in a mother’s arms now does so. These are real family values, not the poison spouted by these thoughtless, gossip-mongering abominations.

All over this nation there are gay and lesbian families working hard to make a life for themselves and their children. I know a few of them. They could have done it the easy way, stayed in the closet and decided not to endure the hassles of having children, but they didn’t. They wanted a family. They wanted a lover and companion to share their lives with, and they wanted children to love. And for this they get insulted by cretins….

The people who hate America are the members of American Family Association and its ideological fellow travelers. They’re the ones who do not believe that all people are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these rights are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They’re the ones who believe that this country was founded on hate and fear; they’re the ones who want the hate and fear to continue.

“Where’s Daddy?”

“He’s out picketing a funeral of a gay veteran.”

“Will he be home in time for the flute recital?”

“Your father is very busy, dear.”

I mean, render unto me a break. If your family feels so threatened by my family that you think you have to organize a boycott of a car company, then your family has problems my family can do nothing to solve.

In other news of religious evil, a man is on trial in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity. He faces the death penalty if he doesn’t reconsider.

Trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah told the BBC that Mr Rahman, 41, would be asked to reconsider his conversion, which he made while working for a Christian aid group in Pakistan. “We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him,” the judge told the BBC on Monday. But if he refused to reconvert, then his mental state would be considered first before he was dealt with under Sharia law, the judge added.

Let’s vote in South Dakota

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Molly Ivins on the South Dakota anti-abortion law:

The state legislature of South Dakota, in all its wisdom and majesty, a legislature comprised of sons and daughters of the soil from Aberdeen to Zell, have usurped the right of the women of that state to decide whether or not to bear the child of an unwanted pregnancy. THEY will decide. Women will do what they decide.

[...]

The South Dakota Legislature has made it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion under any circumstances except to save the life of the mother. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or to preserve the health of the mother. Should this strike you as hard cheese, State Sen. Bill Napoli, R-Rapid City, explains how rape and incest could be exceptions under the “life” clause. Napoli believes most abortions are performed for “convenience,” but he told The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer about how he thinks a “real-life example” of the exception could be invoked:

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl, could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

Jack Mingo, by way of today’s Jon Carroll column, suggests a way we can help:

Cultural ornament Jack Mingo (who was helped in his scheming by Erin Barrett) describes the situation: “Fewer than 400,000 people (in South Dakota) voted in 2004. We can assume that not all of them are boneheads. After all, only about 60 percent — 232,545 — voted for GWB. 149,225 voted for Kerry. A recent senatorial race was lost by the Democrats by only about 500 votes. If we could convince a mere 90,000 of the Californians, New Yorkers and other Blue Staters who have long been grousing about overcrowding and high living costs to move there, we could make a huge impact on national politics.”

[...]

Using facts gathered from Minnesota Public Radio (Minnesota abuts South Dakota on the east and has some interest in the politics there), he outlines his fiendish plan. The quotes are from MPR; the ideas are from his brain:

1. You don’t have to move to South Dakota to register. You just have to vacation there long enough to have a temporary address at a campground, motel or RV park. “In Hanson County, population 3100, more than 800 RV’ers are registered. Most have never stayed in South Dakota for more than a few weeks.”

2. You don’t have to be in the state when the vote takes place. “In South Dakota about 70 percent of the RV’ers registered to vote have requested absentee ballots.”

3. It’s legal. The law was deliberately written to make “RV voters” possible. It’s a law apparently designed to help the Republicans, but we can make it blow up in their faces.

4. The tactic I’m suggesting is already being used on a smaller scale by the Republicans. In Minnehaha County, says County Auditor Sue Roust, “there’s a slight Democratic edge in registration. Whereas with the RV’ers, it’s Republicans 46 percent, Democrats 27 percent.”

[...]

It’d take some work, but think of this: If we were successful, girls in South Dakota would no longer be required to ruin their lives because of one bad decision they made when they were 16. That would be a thing.

Jon Carroll re the WOSD

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Jon Carroll speaks sensibly about the War on Some Drugs again.
He starts off with a riff on The Law of Unintended Consequences, and then quotes a story from the New York Times: “The drop in home-cooked methamphetamine has been met by a new flood of crystal methamphetamine coming largely from Mexico. Sometimes called ice, crystal methamphetamine is far purer, and therefore even more highly addictive, than powdered home-cooked methamphetamine….”
Jon writes:

…as a friend of mine (who ran screaming from the room when I asked if I could use his name) said: “Gee, here I thought making it impossible to get decongestant would get rid of the meth problem, just like making it impossible to get effective cough syrup eliminated opiate addiction.”

Drug laws are now so entirely governed by fear that no one stops to consider the reason for the laws. It seems that everyone now has a story about a dying relative who was denied pain medication because the care providers were afraid that the person would become addicted. The person is dying! Who cares if the patient goes to the grave with a tiny opium habit? It’s not as if you have to pee into a cup to get into heaven.

Later: “…it’s history and money that are determining our drug policy,” then adds, “…it’s not really a policy at all — it’s a set of superstitions. The Drug Enforcement Administration policy boards are run by witch doctors. Almost everyone in medicine and almost everyone in law enforcement would agree with what I’m saying, but the penalties for public dissent are swift and harsh.”
As always, I encourage you to read the whole column. And for that matter, I encourage you to read him every weekday in the SF Chronicle or on The Gate. He’s smart, incisive, funny, and soulful, and he loves cats.

Jon Carroll on domestic surveillance etc.

Friday, January 6th, 2006

In today’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle, regarding the revelations about the Bush administration spying on American citizens in blatant and unashamed violation fo the Constitution, Jon Carroll writes:

….what I can’t get is the Bush administration’s hysterical reaction to the revelations. A presidential spokesman named Trent Duffy said, “The fact that al Qaeda’s playbook is not printed on Page One, and when America’s is, it has serious ramifications.”
(Al Qaeda’s playbook? Does it sometimes seem to you that the government is being run by retired athletic directors?)
But seriously, can you envision a terrorist picking up the New York Times and saying, “My God, men, the government may have been listening in to our telephone calls. Quick, let’s find another way to communicate.” I think probably they’ve figured that part out by now. I think the idea that the New York Times somehow leaked super-duper secrets to the enemy is ludicrous.


all the sports-metaphor moralizing has nothing to do with national security — it has to do with changing the subject. It ignores the biggest problem of all — that the Bush administration is just not very good at its job. It has mucked up the Iraq war, and it has attempted to silence all the generals and diplomats who have said so. It has imperiled the lives of Iraqis and Americans alike. It did manage to create the Halliburton full- employment initiative, but that does not seem like a large achievement.
The Sept. 11 commission, it will be recalled, issued its final report late last year. In it, it said that the administration had taken none of the steps recommended in its previous report. Beyond making passenger airplane travel safer, the Department of Homeland Security has done nothing useful. Laws designed to improve security have turned into engines by which midsize cities in the districts of elderly congressmen can buy shiny new fire engines.

The administration lives in a sort of fantasy world where petroleum consumption has no long-term consequences…. And the hurricane season would not have been as severe were it not for the changes brought about by global warming. The administration still treats global warming as some sort of zany hypothesis, when it has long since been accepted as fact by anyone really paying attention. And, lest we forget, the No. 1 cause of global warming is emissions from petroleum-burning machines.

Read the column here.