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Mourning in America


Thanks to AliceH from D-Pud for kicking my tail, I’ve finally got a production version of Zombie Reagan up on the Zazzle site. Two Reagan shirt/mug variants and a bumper sticker. More to come.

Sadly, the product AliceH particularly wanted — Zombie Reagan postage stamps for mailing those critical government forms — is not to be. Violation of the postal guidelines:

• Result: Not Approved
• Policy Violations:

o Design incorporates the name or likeness of a current or former world leader or politician, or a local, regional, national or international leader, religious figurehead, or politician.

I was hoping the undead version wouldn’t count.

Anyhoo, thanks to Alice (and Ace!) I’m well on my way to a cool twenty bucks!

October 28, 2009 — 6:54 pm
Comments: 27

Wrong tree. Am I barking up one?


I’ve had requests to put poor old Zombie Reagan on stuff since I first posted him. Sadly, the original drawing is quite small. It would come out about an inch and a half wide printed at 300 dpi.

I have serious finaldraftophobia. If I’m too pleased with a rough idea, I will always fumble the final, for-reals version. So, rather than trying to redraw this illustration, I thought I’d try going back to the official portrait and do a Photoshop job. Fortunately, the photo is available quite large, and I doubt there are any copyright issues with presidential portraits.

The question is, is this creepier than it is funny? I can’t make up my mind. I haven’t invested a whole lot of time in it yet, and before I labor to overlay cobwebs and strings of executive beef jerky, I’d like a second opinion or ten.

You know that “line” people talk about? I can never see the damned thing for myself.

October 19, 2009 — 6:38 pm
Comments: 41



The San Francisco City Hall is a beautiful, ornate building in the Beaux-Arts style. It was built to replace one the earthquake knocked down and has been continuously renovated, including a record-breakingly huge seismic retrofit of the dome after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

But they missed a spot. In the room where the Board of Supervisors sits, the president’s chair is on a raised dais. Five steps leading to one chair. Steps without handicap access.

This is San Francisco we’re talking. Can’t just let it go. Particularly when Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier — who is not the president and never will be, but is in a wheel chair — threatens to sue the city.

Okay, whatever. Let the lady have her ramp. What can it possibly cost to build a ramp over five steps? Oh, about a million and a quarter.

It starts with a hundred grand worth of design work and 3D models. Then there’s the asbestos tile and lead paint removal. The dias is carved out of Manchurian oak, and they don’t just give that stuff away in corn flake boxes, you know.

Let’s see…there’s a supervisor, a construction consultant and an electrical consultant. The Bureau of Architecture, Bureau of Construction Management and Department of Technology and Information Services get involved. There’s $16,500 just in permits and fees. Oh, these things add up. Even before you toss in the $300,000 for the new audio-visual system, which you might as well do at the same time because construction will mess with the existing system.

The kicker? The president doesn’t actually use the chair these days. He sits on the floor with everyone else. So the chair is entirely symbolic.

Exactly! says Michela Alioto-Pier. Symbols matter. We didn’t leave the segregated waterfountains in place because they were historical, did we?

“I deserve equal access to every part of the chamber,” Alioto-Pier told her colleagues, adding that ending discrimination is worth the $1 million.

Discrimination. White people discriminated against black people. The laws of physics discriminate against cripples. Honestly, it’s not the same thing, injustice-wise. And I wonder when persons of color are going to get sick of the civil rights movement being compared to every little bitch and gripe on the leftist To Do list.

The president of the Board of Supervisors balked (after the price tag went public, anyhow), pointing out that a million plus can build a lot of ramps around the city that people will actually use, but Alioto-Pier will have none of it. Access to every inch of City Hall is what she wants, and the law by-god says she should have it.

And this is what’s wrong with grievance politicians: they don’t hugely care about fixing anything. Making things better would be bad for business. It’s about proving how important their particular special need is by forcing vast sums of public money to be thrown at it. It’s about status and dominance and sweet, sweet media attention. It’s about harnessing the awesome power of the state to their personal attention whoring.

That’s how you spot professional activists: when you give them what they want, they get angrier.

I remember years ago, we were all pretty embarrassed when it was pointed out how simple it would be to make sidewalks easier for people in wheelchairs. Everyone happily signed onto the sensible idea of a few spots near the entrance for handicapped parking. That turned into this. Bad liberal movements often get their first push from the good nature of the general population.

See, lefties, this is why righties fight your pet causes so hard. It’s not that wingers hate cripples. It’s that whenever we think we’re signing up for a sensible solution to a real problem, somehow ten years down the line you have us paying $10,000 an inch for an empty gesture. Just to prove you can.


April 2, 2008 — 9:11 am
Comments: 35

The doctor called. Your purity test came back…

moral matrix

Purity test. Feh. I could live without hearing that phrase again. Oooo…conservatives are applying purity tests. How intolerant, priggish, stubborn, unreasonable. Is that a niff of Church Lady I smell? Bullshit. Bullshit tactics worthy of a liberal.

Look, most of us depart in some way from conservative orthodoxy. But because conservatism is a structure built on ideas, where we dissent, we have to explain. How can the platform can stand with a plank removed? People who pick and choose issues randomly without regard to the underlying ideas — à la carte Republicans — can fairly be suspected of not having a fucking clue what they believe.

Take abortion. Not one of ‘my’ issues, really, but it’s a good illustration. I think we’d all agree that the central problem is when does a fetus become a human being? — with the right putting the blessed event more toward the whoopee end of the process and the left more toward the owee end.

Would that be fair? Once it’s a people, you can’t kill it; until then, you’ve got some leeway, right?

So whichever way you come down on this one, you would logically come down the same way on the fetal stem cell question, no? Well, not necessarily. I can imagine ways to justify being, say, anti-abortion and pro-fetal stem cell research.

Pretty good reasoning: embryos for research are taken early, before I believe they constitute a human. Abortion, on the other hand, is still legal too late in the process.

Okay reasoning: I don’t think the fetus is a person, but I believe abortion is harmful to women psychologically and should be outlawed on that basis.

Bad, morally confused reasoning: fetal stem cell research “has helped make progress against Parkinson’s disease.” He added, “I’d like to have less intensity on this issue.”

So, there you have it! Murder, not murder. Whatevs. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.

March 18, 2008 — 12:06 pm
Comments: 43

So what’s halfway between a pickle and a hammer?


I don’t know, but it’s hard and it’s sour.

The language of politics is unhelpful. Left and right. Conservative and progressive. Red and blue. There are places halfway between these two things, aren’t there?

No. There are not.


Each side has a coherent philosophy, a whole set of ideas about how the world works and the proper role of government. The individual issues they address are, for the most part, different. Not on a continuum. You either understand and buy in, or you don’t. You can believe something totally different, but you cannot blend left and right and make a convincing picklehammer.

Zo! A centrist isn’t a mild variety of lefty or righty. A centrist is someone who, at some level, doesn’t get the central argument of either side. They are some combination of

Confused. Intellectually lazy. Not possessing an underlying philosophy at all, approaching every issue individually. Cafeteria style.

Opportunistic. Seeing R and D purely as a branding issue. When one or the other parties has an exceptionally strong election, these are the people who discover whole new worlds of conviction and cross the aisle to sit with the popular kids.

Idiosyncratic. I’m a bit in this camp, myself. Most of us are. There are some parts of the platform I don’t buy. It’s okay to differ from a political orthodoxy, if you can explain how it still works. Ideologies are whole structures; if you pull out that one plank, explain why the the building doesn’t fall down. If you pull out a bunch of planks, you’ll have to use the lumber to build something new.

I’d rather argue with a leftist than a centrist any day. The leftist at least has a structure to push against. Arguing with a ‘moderate’ is like snot wrestling.

March 11, 2008 — 10:54 am
Comments: 78

All the Really Dangerous Fallacies I Learned in Kindergarten

instrument cluster

Have you ever wondered why your speedometer goes to 160, when you’re pretty sure your old hoopty couldn’t do more than 75, 80 tops? It’s because gauges are designed so that “normal” is somewhere toward the middle of the dial.

That porridge-nicking hussy Goldilocks probably started this, and the idea reinforces itself every time we burn our mouths: best is something in between. Not too hot, not too cold. Fair. Moderate. Reasonable. Normal.

This idea goes right down to the bedrock. It’s in our bones. We buy it instinctively. We want to be that thing. That normal, reasonable, moderate person.

Problem is, the best answer is usually not the one poised halfway between two extremes. Even simple concepts that lie along simple scales are more useful at the extremes. Hot is for pizza. Cold is for beer. Room temperature is for…bananas, I guess.

For more complex concepts, there often isn’t a middle ground, because the competing ideas are too different. There are too many parts, and the parts don’t lie along the same scale.

The pernicious belief in moderation even in the face of unreconcilable ideas is how we get extraordinarily bad Third Ways. Tony Blair. Bill Clinton. Edutainment. Christian rock. Culottes. Zombies. Intelligent design. Unitarians. Palestine.

Okay, there’s the spork. I’ll give you the spork.

March 10, 2008 — 10:54 am
Comments: 44

They want me. They want me bad.

Okay, I just got a robocall from the Huckabee campaign. Tomorrow, six p.m., same hotel that McCain was at (big conference center near the airport, that’s why). It starts an hour after Drinking Time, though. I’m not sure Huck’s worth sixty or more of my active boozing minutes.

Say, who’s up on parliamentary procedures? Is there any chance Huck will force it to a brokered convention and somebody totally else can grab the nomination?
Like Zombie Reagan or Maggie Thatcher or Chuck Manson or
Marvin the Martian or…somebody?

February 24, 2008 — 6:22 pm
Comments: 11

I have this here megaphone and I’m not afraid to use it

tiny megaphone
Last week, National Review called for a truce between McCain’s supporters and the flaming wingnut contingent, of which IR1.

I was going to go along — really, what’s the point of taking shots now? — but I had second thoughts. What if a McCain supporter says something that really torques me off seconds after I take the pinkie swear? My spleen would explode. I like my spleen. So, no. No promises.

But I’m not grinding any axes yet, either. I’m still doing math. Which is more dangerous: a misguided man who achieves many of his goals, or a very misguided man who achieves few of his goals?

Then there’s my other question: which is more insignificant, my vote or my blog?

Over sixty-three million people voted in the last presidential election, but there are over ninety million blogs. So, if my math is correct (and it never is) my vote is 1/180,000,000ths more significant than my blog.

But there’s more to it than math. What if one or more of you silly boo-boos actually writes in Zombie Reagan for president? Then my blog becomes several sixty-three millionths more powerful than my vote.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the…you know. The hat. The hat thing with the bells on.

February 20, 2008 — 6:51 pm
Comments: 42

One dead president to another…

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

–Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural address




G’night, Fidel!

February 19, 2008 — 12:21 pm
Comments: 83

It’s a big game; let’s play it on the whole field

Okay, ladies. No sulking. Pessimism is not the Zombie Reagan way! How about a little something to get you motivated?


Boo! That means (among other unfortunate things) he, she or it is going to have all kinds of history with the Senate. Alliances, grudges, favors to call in. The next president is going to know how to play that instrument.

So it’s especially important that we get good people in the House and Senate and maintain some influence over them. A solid conservative in a state a thousand miles away is going to have far more positive effect on your life than a squish (or a Democrat) in your home state (unless you’re looking for somebody to bring home the pork. You’re not looking for pork, are you? Are you?)

By all means, get off your duff and vote in November. Our side isn’t going to be enthused this time, so turnout will inevitably be down. That makes your vote weightier than usual. But many of us live in districts with no interesting contests. And in terms of direct influence over the election and subsequent behavior of legislators, nothing beats money and direct communication.

It’s unfortunate that demonstrators, donors, letter-writers and other loudmouths count disproportionately in the system. But you know what? Tough. They do. We’re like cockroaches to politicians: for every one of us they see, they assume there are a hundred more just like us in the walls.

So let’s make some noise. Small donations and no green ink! Well, no more than you can help, you ‘winger nutcase, you.

SeeDubya got out ahead of me on this one (get out of my head, man!). He suggests a sort of Adopt-a-Pol scheme, where you pick a good guy and send him $20 every month along with a nice letter or an article. It’s a plan.

DoublePlusUndead suggests a place to start — Lou Barletta, mayor of Hazleton. He’s one of the guys drafting local laws that crack down on businesses and landlords who aid illegals. He’s running for Congess in Pennsylvania’s 11th District, which is considered a very safe seat for the Democrat incumbent (all the more fun to make them at least sweat a little).

Me, I’m looking to stick my nose in a number of places it doesn’t belong. I need a distraction this year and this could be more fun than breeding show rats. If you know of vulnerable or up-and-coming conservatives, get out the word. Maybe we can use that internet thing the kids are all het up about.

And don’t forget governors. We make some of our best presidents out of those.

Despite everything, I have a really good feeling about the state of conservatism today. Why? Because I drink excessively and it affects my judgement.

Still, I’m wrong only maybe 50% of the time!




The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going
on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but
a test of wills and ideas. No, really. I said that.

February 13, 2008 — 12:10 pm
Comments: 6