Archive for the ‘Jon Carroll’ Category

Jon Carroll on respecting women

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Jon Carroll writes, in his San Francisco Chronicle column today:

I was an adult when the women’s movement started. Like all men my age, I’ve had to learn to adapt and change according to new information received. Yeah, it was a surprise to me that some of my “compliments” were in fact unwelcome. But I learned those lessons; I am grateful to the women’s movement for dragging me into a better way to interact with the world.

Please read the column.

Save Us from the Saved

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Jon Carroll in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Marco Rubio is a Tea Party Republican and a senator from Florida. He is mentioned as one of the hopes of the party for 2016. Recently he was asked an interesting question by Michael Hainey of GQ magazine: “How old do you think the Earth is?” This was his reply:

“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians. … At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created, and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”


If parents would like their children to take part in the grand adventure of understanding the mysteries of the universe, they should be taught why science thinks what it thinks and how its suppositions are supported by evidence. Some religions, alas, must then resort to the “God left this so-called evidence to test our faith,” which is the end of all conversation and the beginning of fanaticism.

I wrote a song about this shit: “Save Us from the Saved

I put my faith in nature
What I hear and smell and see
Until I meet that Higher Power
I’ll do what makes sense to me

Jon Carroll: There’s more to life than shopping

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Another fine Jon Carroll column:

I’m not saying people shouldn’t buy things; I’m saying that it is unwise for people to buy things because buying things makes them feel rich. I’m saying that it is imprudent to buy things if it means spending the rest of the year paying off interest on credit card debt.

The mania of Black Friday has to do partly with getting deals. I remember a family that used to go to the Black Friday sales every year, even before the name Black Friday was current. I used to ask them what they got at the store; the answer came down to “50 percent off.”

Read it here.

Jon Carroll’s Thanksgiving column

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I love this one, every year.

“At Thanksgiving, all we have to worry about is whether we can wholeheartedly support A) roasted turkey, B) friends and C) gratitude. My opinions on these matters are unambiguous; I am in favor of them all.”

“Bribing for votes” my ass

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Jon Carroll in today’s SF Chronicle:

I think people voted for Obama for other reasons, and I think the Republican Party should try to understand the electoral victory in terms of what the voters believed about why they were voting. Far from being selfish, I think a lot of it was altruism.

It was people voting to help other people achieve full civil rights. It was people voting to protect women from the intrusions of government into their personal health care decisions. Romney cast the issue as “free birth control,” but that’s not it at all. Doesn’t cost a penny not to intervene between a patient and her doctor.

Read the column

Cats: Jon Carroll’s, and ours

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Jon Carroll writes abut his two cats, Bucket and Pancho:

There are some parts of the cat deal they really don’t have down yet.

For instance, lap sitting. One likes to have a good lap sit with one’s cat. Although it’s impossible for me to sit in the cat’s lap, I do like it the other way around. Neither Bucket nor Pancho will sit in any lap. They will only rarely come close enough for a good rub.

They don’t purr very much, either. Sometime you can get the faintest hum from one of them, but it doesn’t last long. I’ll bet black cats know how to purr. Maybe I could just hire one for a week or so to give lessons.

Our late pal Hugo wasn’t entirely black – he had a white blaze on his chest, white hairs in his ears, and a few other pale ones here and there – but he would be easily mistaken for a black from above. Groucho is one of those white cats with black blotches. I used to say, “We have a black-and-white cat names Hugo and a white-and-black cat named Groucho.” And I would say, “Hugo is a black cat, but he’s not a black cat, y’know?” And people would know.

Hugo was the one who purred. Groucho didn’t make a sound for many years. Over time, she learned to purr. We believe she learned it from Hugo.

Hugo was, and Groucho still is, a cat who will sit in your lap. Groucho won’t stay for long, but she’s amenable to our form of affection, and/or willing to repay our providing of room and board by tolerating our (okay, my) insistence upon physical contact.

The youngsters are another story. Ringo and ‘Oli are littermates, nearly identical. They’re white with plaid blotches (if you look closely at the grey, you’ll see that there is a faint texture to the coloring). They are, for the most part, uninterested in our touch. At times they are quite resistant to it. When I pick Ringo up, he behaves like an autistic child, tensing up and refusing to make eye contact. ‘Oli a little less so, but it’s the same general mode. Both of them do appear to take the opportunity to look around and behold the world as it appears from their temporary perch six feet up, but they make it clear they aren’t enjoying it much, and they eagerly spring from my clutches as soon as they can manage it. And they do it without clawing, for which I am deeply thankful.

I think it’s because they’re rescue cats, and they were older when we got ’em. We got Hugo and Groucho on the same day; they are not related, but they were both very young when we got ’em. So they were accustomed from a very early age to being picked up, turned upside down, smooched on the belly, and smothered with human attention. Ringo and ‘Oli, I think, came into the world in unfortunate circumstances and didn’t feel as safe, so consequently they’re a little less trusting of the larger creatures who attempt to rule their world.

We are hoping Groucho will teach the boys how to purr. Well, we can hope.

BTW, we also think two cats is optimal, but when we went in search of a new cat to keep Groucho company in her dotage, we came upon an inseparable pair that we couldn’t resist. We’ll be back to two cats again all too soon, but we’re in no hurry. Groucho abides, and Groucho purrs.

Rita says: “I think they are entirely happy gazing at the world from their perches, many perches, and cushions, throughout the house. And they DO come and snuggle, sitting next to us, if not in our laps or with that single paw placed so sweetly on a leg or thigh as Hugo did. But yes, no to little purring.”

And I should also note that there are two black cats on our street who are quite friendly, rubbing up against the legs of neighbors and even total strangers, and even allowing themselves to be picked up.

Let’s ignore Fox News to death

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Jon Carroll asks in today’s Chronicle:

Could it be that the Fox model has played out? Could it be that the lack of civility and grace, the embrace of the most extreme candidates as long as they were Republicans, indeed, the whole idea behind Roger Ailes’ brainchild – a pimping station for the far right – may be politically bankrupt?

It was great fun to watch the paid liars of the right on Election Night as their carefully-constructed anti-reality crumbled in the face of the truth. But I think it’s time to stop rewarding the denizens of Bullshit Mountain with all this attention.

I enjoy seeing Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart take the lies apart day after day after day after day after day – but Fox News was designed and built to destroy the truth, and there is very little to be learned from analyzing the traffic on the channel. We know what their mission is, we know what their methods are, and we know what they’re going to say before they say it.

Why call any attention at all to a media outlet that is the moral equivalent of pumping raw sewage into the town square?

The WELL abides

Friday, September 28th, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll is my friend and neighbor, here in Oakland and also in cyberspace. Here is his column about our online home, The WELL, which recently survived a major challenge and is now owned by a group of its users. We’re both hoping to bring some smart, articulate, curious, and generous people into the deep, informative, and constructive conversation we’ve been participating in for 25 years and counting.

One of the points of the Well is to test your hypothesis against the worldviews and life experience of others. People sometimes spend considerable effort researching their responses; that’s part of the social capital. Be a jerk online, and your social capital is reduced.

I hope you’ll read the whole column, and I hope you’ll consider joining the WELL. It’s been a great place for me to learn and laugh and grow, and we’re always happy to welcome thoughtful new people.

Jon Carroll on religion/spirituality

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

As is so often the case, Jon Carroll speaks my mind:

I have no investment in my beliefs. They’ve changed over the years, but not much. I really don’t care whether you believe what I believe or not. If you don’t believe what I believe, you are not a bad person. “Belief system” is way down the list of criteria I use when choosing whom to hang out with.

Read the whole column here.

Romney the Plutocrat

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Jon Carroll:

The pillaging of this nation by investment bankers and their ilk is a national disgrace. The failure of the government to prosecute a large percentage of the offenders is distressing. Even worse is the notion that the tax laws are written in such a way that they allow people like Mitt Romney to pay less in taxes than someone earning $52,000 somewhere in the depths of Mega-Corp Inc.

Romney is part of the 1 percent, and the 1 percent have not shown themselves to be patriots.

Read the column at sfgate.

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.”


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.”


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.