Friday links! Spectacle of morality edition

hotdogIt’s Friday, and that means it’s time to look back in evaluation of the week that is about to finish having been. If you’re like me, you’ve been paying extra-special attention to being good lately, in the hopes of getting that Barnes & Noble knock-off Kindle that costs as much as a regular Kindle for Christmas. The problem with being good, though, is that it’s awfully hard for other people to notice. So much of being good is about not doing stuff, especially stuff—stealing, looking at boobs, I think farting—when no one is around to see you anyway. The problem with personal morality is that it’s so personal. If only there were some way that I could make a public spectacle of my goodness, so that all the world would be forced to acknowledge what a moral/books-equivalent-of-a-Zune-deserving person I am. Oh, well. I guess I’d better just resign myself to reading books printed on wood pul—wait a minute! What if I looked to the morality of others? If I were some kind of self-appointed superintendent of other people’s goodness, I could not only make a spectacle of my own righteousness, but also relieve myself of the burden of scrutiny of my own actions. It’ll be like having a maid to clean my kitchen for me, while I accuse her of adultery. Or something. Whatever it is, it’s going to be awesome, at least for me. I guess for everybody else it will be kind of irritating, but what are they going to do? Turn my own righteous indignation against me? That’ll be the day. I just hope nobody has thought of this alrea—oh, dammit. It turns out the totality of world culture beat me to it. I guess I’ll just go back to documenting their craven attempts to aggrandize themselves by pointing out the foibles of oth—HELLO! We’re back in business.

Have you heard about this Tiger Woods thing? It turns out that a millionaire pro athlete who was probably not a real heartthrob growing up has not been completely faithful to the women he married right after he hit the big time. You probably didn’t know that, since the national news media has been so focused on the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the Senate debate over health care reform, and the Copenhagen climate conference, but a couple of reports have trickled in. Woods himself released a statement declaring that having personal problems with his wife doesn’t obligate him to hold a press conference, which was met with pretty much universal derision. Because they’re too classy to indulge in celebrity gossipmongering, Slate has limited itself to pointing out that the term “mistress” isn’t really appropriate when referring to Woods’s past hookups. The article itself uses the word “girlfriends,” which doesn’t seem right, either. In my opinion, a woman you have never made breakfast for is not your girlfriend. Isn’t it funny how there’s no good word for referring to the woman you slept with while you were staying in a hotel without your wife? It’s almost as if you really didn’t talk about that kind of thing at all. Anyway, I’m glad Slate found a totally classy, non-exploitative way to address this breaking story about American English.

Michelle Malkin’s commenters are right: Tiger Woods is “just another powerful man who couldn’t keep his fly zipped.” He should never have won all those golf tournaments, and toiled in mediocrity like the rest of the adulterers who make this country great. Better yet, he could have been an immigrant cab driver who worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, only to be attacked with a meat cleaver by his partner. That’s the story of Pema Sherpa, who came to New York from Nepal and split the $1,400-a-week lease on a yellow cab with the man who eventually tried to kill him, Debindra Chhantyal. The Times story is long, but it’s a fascinating account of the mind-wrecking difficulty of making a living in a foreign country. Plus it has a pretty good description of a cleaver attack, albeit with the obligatory adjective “mild-mannered” used to describe the attacker. I feel that once you have struck another man in the back of the head with a piece of sharpened metal, you are no longer mild-mannered, regardless of how shy you may be at the dinner table. Pema Sherpa is a more forgiving sort, though, and the story ends with him attending the funeral of the man who tried to murder him and expressing his condolences to his parents. In fifty years, when the Sherpa clan are our masters, everything will be much better.

While immigrants pay $5,600 a month for the privilege of driving a cab that will allow them to sleep three to the floor of a studio apartment, millionaires in the US Senate are working overtime to ensure that said immigrants don’t accidentally get free hospital visits—even if it means screwing over the rest of us to do it. Over at—which I’m sure seemed like a great name when he was filling out forms at GoDaddy—David Frum points out that Republican obstructionism in Congress has resulted in a less conservative Obama administration. He cites the expansion of Medicare in the most recent Senate compromise over health care (which was really Democrats compromising with themselves, but still something GOP senators called for) as an instance of the zeal to say no to the President resulting in the opposite of what Republicans actually want. From my perspective, it’s evidence that the American right is more interested in beating the left than they are in conservative principles. From a Republican standpoint, it’s a sign that the GOP might be slipping in the one are they’re undeniably better at than the Democrats—politics.

If the Republican Party really wants to play to their strengths, they should take a page from their counterparts in Uganda and distract the country by further demonizing homosexuals. In an effort to put the finishing touches on a country whose prime minister was accused of eating people as recently as thirty years ago, the Ugandan legislature has proposed a bill to further criminalize homosexuality and make testing positive for HIV a capital offense. Under the proposed bill, men and women convicted of homosexual acts will be sentenced to life in prison, or to execution for a second offense. I’m sure that second offense won’t happen once they’re doing life in jail. The gay-baiting stuff is old-fashioned homicidal bigotry, but the HIV punishment is truly baffling. In a country where 1,000,000 adults live with HIV/AIDS, accounting for six percent of the population, the last thing they need is a massive disincentive for anyone to get tested.

One questions where Uganda even got such an idea, and in this case “one” means “the international press.” The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, claims that foreign influences—read: aid workers—are promoting homosexuality in his country. “If the president has said that, he must have information that European nations are promoting (homosexuality) and recruiting homosexuals,” said government spokesman Fred Opolot, in a concrete example of how useful it is to have spokesmen who will treat your statements as something they knew nothing about. Probably, Doctors Without Borders is spending millions of dollars to convince Ugandans to become homosexuals, and they’ve managed to hide their plot from everyone but the country’s canny president. Either that, or the Ugandan government is responding with terrible zeal to pressure from American fundamentalist Christian groups to push out aid workers who promote safe sex.

Did you click on that last link? It describes the influence on Ugandan affairs of something called The Family. And what is The Family, you ask? Well, it’s the scariest goddamn thing ever. Imagine an organization of millionaires, politicians and millionaire politicians, founded by a former Goodwill director who claims that God appeared to him in 1935 and told him that Christianity had mistakenly focused on the poor and downtrodden. Instead, says The Family, we should minister to the rich and powerful, using them to create a Christian empire the way God did with King David. Only, you know, without all the Jews. Lest you think The Family is just some Illuminati-style conspiracy theory, you should probably know that they have a mansion in Washington DC, and several congressmen live or have lived there, including Senator John Ensign (R-NV.) I am not messing with you.

You know who else is a member of The Family? Local boy Chuck Grassley. It seems that when he’s not acting as the GOP’s retirement-doomed enforcer against any sort of health care reform, he’s also coordinating African outreach for The Family—which makes him a prime suspect in whatever bloodthirsty insanity has gripped Uganda. Grassley’s office has no comment on the Uganda bill, but I’m sure a man who believes that God has told him to ignore the poor so that he can focus on building a world religious empire wouldn’t do anything weird. He’s probably just in it for the free prayer breakfasts.

It’s at times like this that I become so angry that only one thing can make me angrier: a moving image of myself. Here’s a video that Ben Fowlkes and I made for If you don’t read Cage Potato, you should. It’s home to some of the best MMA journalism out there, and also this video of me doing a possibly offensive, definitely unrealistic accent. Every time you watch it, my posture gets a little worse.

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  1. I’ll say this about the Family–it’s more intellectually honest than a) claiming to be a Christian as traditionally interpreted while also b) professing fealty to Ayn Randian “virtuous selfishness.” To be internally consistent, you’ve got to choose one or the other–and they’ve apparently chosen Rand, and decided to make Jesus conform to her, not vice versa.

    It also shows, once again, that you can make religion mean whatever you want it to mean.

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