Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Living Will for Barney

In light of the ongoing Terri Schiavo melodrama, I’ve decided to be responsible and make out a “living will” in order to avoid any unpleasantness in the event that I may turn into a 165 lb. turnip. It is my desire that you, my readers, friends, acquaintances, and most especially, my enemies and rivals, should participate in bearing witness to my final wishes.

Also, I would like to thank Susan Paxton at An Age Like This (another Orwell reference) for providing this living will. I have made a few modifications for my particular circumstances.

If you would like to be a witness, please avail yourselves of the comment section.

A Living Will

I, Barney Francis Patrick McClelland_ (fill in the blank), being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a cigarette, cup of coffee or a pint of Guinness (or, all three), it should reasonably be presumed that I am not going to get better.

When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my children, siblings, parents and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day. I would, however, encourage them to stop by the pub on the way home and have a pint in my honor.

Under no circumstances shall the members of Congress enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damned business, and pay attention instead to the health, education and welfare of the millions of Americans who are not comatose.

Under no circumstances shall any political entity butt into this case. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of Neanderthal rightwing politicians who could not pass ninth-grade biology if they had the answer sheet in their hands.

I do not care how many fundamentalist wing nut votes these smarmy charlatans are trying to scrounge up for their run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that they play politics with someone else's life and leave me the hell alone to die in peace.

I do not give a tinker’s dam if a million semi-literate home-schooled religious zealots send grammatically incorrect and misspelled e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I do not know these people, and I certainly have not authorized them to preach and crusade on my behalf. What I can say with all certainty is that I do not like them while I am conscious, and it is therefore reasonable to assume that my disposition towards them will not improve while I am in a vegetative state. They, too, should mind their own damned business.

If any member of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and haunt them until the end of their days.

___Barney Francis Patrick McClelland___

Witnessed below on this _31st_ day of _March , 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

An Open Letter To The National Press Club

Sean-Paul Kelley | San Antonio | March 28

To add your name and blog, write to

Members of The National Press Club,

We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, The Brookings Institution hosted a panel that originally included no liberal political bloggers and yet while including numerous conservative political operatives in the event. We registered our protest and the Brookings Institution's response was simply to invite a few liberal political bloggers to attend, yet not sit on the panel, as we had originally insisted upon.

Today, however, we are faced with an entirely new situation that is more insult than misrepresentation. The discredited conservative media operative Jeff Gannon, neé Guckert, has been invited to sit on a panel at the prestigious National Press Club to talk about the scandal surrounding his access to the White House and more generally, the similarities and differences between bloggers and journalists. Guckert's token liberal counterpart will be a gossip blogger and sex comedy blogger. While we have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Graff and Ms. Cox we believe that neither represents bloggers who write about hard-nosed politics. And as for Mr. Guckert, he isn't a blogger, he's barely a journalist, and not a single political blogger involved with the Gannon/Guckert scandal, or otherwise, has been invited to sit on the panel to counter Mr. Guckert's arguments.

Therefore, we the undersigned bloggers, respectfully but firmly insist that a serious political blogger such as John Aravosis, of be included on the panel to fairly and accurately represent our industry and us. Mr. Aravosis has agreed to our request that he serve on the panel as our representative and is available should such an invite be forthcoming.

This situation is simply unacceptable. We will push back against the growing bias and sloppiness we see in the mainstream media as it concerns serious political blogging. If we do not we will never achieve any semblance of balance in the media. If we do not, we abdicate our ability to tell our own side of the story. If we do not we leave it to others to define us and defame us.

Please call Julie Shue or Rick Dunham at the The National Press Club and politely insist that they include John Aravosis of at their event. Here are there numbers: 202-662-7500 or 202-662-7501 or email at and


Sean-Paul Kelley,
Think Progress, Think Progress
Ezra Klein,
Echidne of the snakes,
Amanda Marcotte,
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher,
Matt Stoller,
Democratic Underground
Lindsay Beyerstein
Shakespeare's Sister, and
Bob Brigham,
Dave Johnson,
Matt Singer,
Kari Chisholm,
Steve Gilliard,
Kevin Drum, Political Animal
Crooks and Liars,
Brian Balta,
That Colored Fella,
Anna Brosovic
skippy the bush kangaroo
David Neiwert Orcinus
Julien 's List
General J.C. Christian,
Laura Rozen,
Liza Sabater,
Chris Patil,
Ralph Dratman,
David (Austin Tx),
Ellen Dana Nagler,
Sean Carroll,
media girl,
Joe Giblin
Stephen Anderson,
-Kevin Hayden, American Street
Elaine Supkis Culture of Life News II
Melanie Mattson Just a Bump in the Beltway
Bill Scherr, Liberal Oasis
Kenneth Bernstein
James E. Shirk
Dennis Perrin -- Red State Son
Margaret Imber
Read The Otter Side
Kerry Lutz
Kelly B
Wes Flinn, Walk In Brain
Greg Turner,
Dean Lawrence Velvel,
The Purple Coalition
Erik Wilson, The Generik Brand
Clif Burns
Sandra Wooten, Dallas, Texas
Nico Pitney, Center for American Progress
Hughes for America,
Ben Varkentine,
Barney F. McClelland, As I Please
Lane Schwark, Dr. Laniac's Laboratory
Jeff Tiedrich, Editor and Publisher, The Smirking Chimp
Ryan Pitts, Dead Parrot's Society
Paperwight, Paperwight's Fair Shot
The Farmer,
Mr. Thomas M. Fiddler, Somerset, KY 42502
Sidsel Anderson,
Boadicea, We are the Resistance
Frederick Rhine, BeatBushBlog
Riggsveda, It's My Country Too!
John J. McKay
Larry Hosek, Silence Is Consent
ice weasel, private blog
James Benjamin, The Left End Of The Dial

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Hitch and the godbotherers

Christopher Hitchens has a scathing piece about the Terri Shiavo case on Slate today. It probably comes closest to my real feelings about the entire matter. Here is a brief sample:

“The immediate crisis has apparently passed. But all through Easter Sunday, one had to be alert to the possibility that, at any moment, the late and long-dead Terri Schiavo would receive the stigmata on both palms and both feet and be wafted across the Florida strait, borne up by wonder-working dolphins, to be united in eternal bliss with the man-child Elián González.” Read more….

You gotta love Hitch, especially when he takes on the godbotherers. After all, this is a man who lacerates the Mother Teresa cult, calling her a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.

Monday, March 28, 2005

DeLay’s Flexible Standards; God Warns DeLay at Press Conference; and Ohio’s Hizballah is on the March

Several articles came to my attention over the weekend and I felt they ought to be shared. The first is an interesting piece from the Los Angeles Times about House Leader Tom DeLay’s father.

“When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."

On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."”

On a lighter note, Andy Borowitz of the The Borowitz Report features a press conference where the big fellow himself expresses his dismay at DeLay’s recent shenanigans:

“When asked if He intended to strike Rep. DeLay with a lightning bolt, God replied with a terse “no comment,” but later said, “I’ve been known to smite people in the past, and I’m not prepared to take smiting off the table.”

Closer to home, Ohio’s right-wing Christians think that the leadership of the Republican Party is behaving like (gasp) a bunch of Massachusetts Liberals and they, according to the New York Times, intend to do something about it.

"The establishment of the Ohio Republican Party is out of touch with its base," said Russell Johnson, the pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church and the principal organizer of the project. "It acts as if it lives in Boston, Mass.".

The Taliban has apparently relocated to Ohio.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Minding Your Own Business

The Washington Post runs an analysis on the political implications of the Schiavo fight. Congressional Republicans turned it into a national issue, only to find that polls say "82 percent of Americans—including a whopping 68 percent of people who identify themselves as evangelical Christians" think they should have stayed out of it. Now some GOP lawmakers are complaining (anonymously) about their leaders.

From Slate Magazine

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What Next?

Not satisfied with the ruling of Federal District Court judge in Tampa, James D. Whittemore, the parents of Terri Shiavo have appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to intervene on their daughter’s behalf. After congress passed extraordinary legislation to have the federal court review the case, the decision by Judge Whittemore was not the one the “right-to-life” movement had hoped for. In a thirteen-page ruling he stated that the Schindlers (Shiavo’s parents) had not established a "substantial likelihood of success" on the merits of their arguments if a new trial were held in federal court. He also said that Ms. Schiavo's "life and liberty interests" had been adequately protected by the Florida courts, and that despite "these difficult and time-strained circumstances," his court was obliged "to apply the law to the issue before it" and deny the parents' request to restore nutrition and hydration to their daughter.

Now the appeals court has denied their motion this morning. Of course, the Supreme Court is the next logical step, by they have declined to hear the case three times in the past. What next? The United Nations security council? Perhaps Bush and company can put together another “coalition of the willing” to trample over the rights of the people of Florida.

Meanwhile, Republican strategists are growing concerned that negative public opinion polls may indicate congressional Republicans made a costly political blunder. Oh really?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Republicans are States’ Rights Advocates – unless, of course, it doesn’t suit them.

The one positive outcome of the entire Terri Schiavo affair is that it has managed to keep the news media focused on something other than the celebrity trial of washed-up pervo, Michael (Whacko Jacko) Jackson. Of course, it has also crowded out news about the possible criminal activities of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who has led the charge to dismantle the federalist system because he wants to do his part, like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, “to uphold human dignity and affirm a culture of life."

Of course, the Republicans are normally in favor of a federalist system in which private domestic matters are litigated in state, not federal courts. You know, when it comes to matters such as teaching creationism, curtailing abortion rights or putting 20 ton marble monuments to the ten commandments in courthouses, the GOP is in the forefront of the battle to defend the state’s right to administer its own affairs, or at least those that they agree with.

But, in recent years the Bush administration seems to have become intoxicated with the power of federal government. And their grasping control of the government has seemed to color their judgement of how conservatives see their role in government. In what has to be one most cynical documents in recent memory, the real agenda of the Republican leadership is revealed. In a memo distributed only to Republican senators, the Schiavo case was characterized as "a great political issue" that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006.

The unsigned one-page memo went on to state that the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.

"This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, which was reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. "This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

Ahhhh, there it is…the real reason DeLay, Frist and company are shedding crocodile tears in front of every camera they can while jettisoning their “strongly held principles” of states’ rights. This has nothing to do with the “culture of life”, or Terri Shiavo, or anything else but the consolidation of their power.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

An Padraig La!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, ostensibly a celebration of one of Ireland’s patron saints. Actually, Ireland has three patron saints; along with Patrick there is Bridgid (or Bride) and Columbcille (or Columba). Just exactly why Ireland needs three patron saints is anyone’s guess. Patrick gets top billing largely because he is credited with converting the Irish to Christianity, although there was already a small community there when he arrived in 432 AD.

The holiday itself has more or less degenerated into nothing more than a drunken fraternity bash with little or no acknowledgement of its origins or its significance in Ireland or the United States (largely a protest against Anglo-Saxon protestant ascendancy and discrimination). Even why the date March 17th is used is a fact that few, if any, of the revelers take into account in their green-tinged debauchery (it is the anniversary of the old boy’s death.) In the not so distant past – my grandparent’s day – it was customary to wear black and a sprig of shamrocks. It was also a day they would have attended mass as it was, and still is, a holy day of obligation in Ireland and until as recently as the late 1970’s, pubs were closed in Ireland on March 17th.

Two things of late have really irritated me about St. Patrick’s Day:

1.) The incorrect use of the diminutive in regards to Patrick’s name. A generation or two ago it would have been thought vulgar and disrespectful to use the diminutive at all, but I’ve noticed recently, they don’t even use the right one. In an advertisement for an “Irish” bar downtown calling itself McFadden’s, it listed its “St. Patty’s Day” activities. Even the most ignorant gobshite should know that there is no St. Patricia. The correct form would be “Paddy”. This derives from the Irish language form of the name Patrick – Padraig. The diminutive or “knick-name” would be Paidín (lit. “Little Patrick”) and would be anglicized as “Paddy”. I would hardly be inclined to patronize a bar that didn’t know the difference.

2.) The use of four-leaf clovers instead of the trifoil shamrock. Without going into a botanical discussion of the preference of Trifolium dubiumas opposed to Trifolium repens, let it suffice to say that for purposes of things relating to St. Patrick, it should be the three leafed variety that is used. The reason? According to legend, Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the heathen Irish. Even Protestants and pagans should know this.

I suppose it is inevitable that any tradition in America is bound to be corrupted by corporate greed in the same manner as Christmas and Easter. Still, it is disheartening, even to a godless infidel such as myself, that the holiday should be stripped of its cultural content and reduced to a grubby occasion to sell trinkets and Budweiser.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hypocrisy Under the Guise of “Free Speech”

The lead in a story from a recent issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer read: “Ohio Senate Bill 9 troubles Majed Dabdoub.”

There are indeed a number of troubling things about SB 9, a Buckeye version of the Patriot Act, sponsored by Senator Jacobson, a Dayton Republican. The ACLU contends that the bill provides government with broad powers to investigate and prosecute potentially any activity.

Mr. Dabdoub, a local spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a Palestinian immigrant and structural engineer residing in Sycamore Township, waxed poetically about the bill of rights at the end of the article:

“For us, who came from other countries, we came for what this country stands for – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of everything. This [Senate Bill 9] is taking away all those rights from us, from all the citizens.”

Bravo! What a heartfelt sentiment uttered by someone who is newly arrived on our shores expressing what many of us native born take for granted. However, the applause rings a little hollow when you consider the source – for Mr. Dabdoub is a despicable and disingenuous little censor in his own right.

If anyone is interested in taking a lesson in ancient history – say, almost exactly two years ago – you might find Dabdoub’s concern for “free speech” a little dubious indeed. Given his role in the Paradise fiasco at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park two years ago shows an entirely different Dabdoub: Dabdoub the censor, Dabdoub the intimidator, and Dabdoub the anti-Semite. For good measure, he labelled the play’s author a “racist”, which he later retracted.

For those of you who do not remember the controversy surrounding Glyn O’Malley’s play commissioned by the Playhouse in the Park, it was awarded the $5,000 New Play Prize for Young Audiences and scheduled for a school tour.

Paradise was centered on the real life suicide bombing carried out by Ayat al-Akhras, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman who blew herself in Jerusalem in March of 2002, killing herself and two others including 17-year-old Rachel Levy. In an interview with the New York Times, O’Malley said he had hoped to create “fictional characters driven by psychological, physical, emotion factors, not religion.” He continued, “I’ve worked to show the hard-line point of view from both sides of the conflict without justifying or condoning suicide bombing.” As if anyone could.

The Playhouse had tackled difficult subjects in the past, presenting plays such as Fires in the Mirror about race riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and presented it shortly after the 2001 riot here. Artistic Director Ed Stern said they had presented plays dealing with “homosexuality, incest, parental abuse and American foreign policy. We want to take works with social consciousness and resonance,” and “we’ve withstood all criticism.” That is, until he met Mr. Dabdoub and his gang of bullyboys.

At an unrehearsed reading anticipating the sensitive nature of the topic, where several members of the community were invited including a professor of Islamic history, a rabbi and Mr. Dabdoub, Mr. Dabdoub appeared with ten other Muslims who were not invited.In what was hoped to be an open discussion and forum for constructive criticism, the atmosphere quickly turned rancorous and invectives were hurled at O’Malley and Stern and their “racist, Zionist piece of propaganda.”

Dabdoub and his colleagues tried to involve the Human Relations Commission of Cincinnati in their campaign of censorship with a “fact sheet” alleging the play was “hateful, deceitful, vengeful, spineless and opportunistic.” At this point, one can’t help but wonder if any of these people had ever read Shakespeare’s Macbeth. To their credit, the commission sent a message to Dabdoub saying, “We are not in the business of censorship.” Alas, this was the last honorable act in the whole affair.

Having failed to get the sanctions he desired, he then resorted to a quiet campaign of intimidation. “Expressing his concerns” Dabdoub succeeded in getting the principals of several high schools to cancel the play in their schools. His reason? The fictional character in the play dons a hijab before she commits the suicide bombing. According to Dabdoub he has two daughters who attend high school and they wear head coverings and he fears students might become confused. (As I am writing this it is International Women’s Day and the whole matter of head covering as an act of oppression should make one question Mr. Dabdoub’s commitment to individual rights.)

Shortly thereafter, Stern, expressing his regret, cancelled the play.

Rabbi Barr’s comment (he attended the reading) speaks volumes, “Cincinnati’s reputation as a community that tries to control the arts and allows bigots to dominate the discussion is accurate. Once again Cincinnati looks small, foolish and provincial.”

So, where were the “free speech advocates” during this episode? Surprisingly quiet. Always eager to pounce on transgression of fundamentalist Christians (and rightfully so), they seem to have swallowed diefenbachia when it comes to questioning the motives of Muslims. Is this some kind of misplaced multiculturial piety or is it just plain cowardice? After all, Islam has a pretty nasty record of late when it comes to outspoken writers, poets and playwrights. Salman Rushdie’s death sentence by fatwa was renewed this past St. Valentine’s Day. Several of his translators and publishers have already been attacked and killed. The brutal murder of Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh this past November by an Islamic fanatic is enough to give one pause. There are countless other lesser known writers who live in exile and fear because they have questioned the nature of Islam.

No, Mr. Dabdoub, you are not concerned about free speech, you are only concerned about your own narrow interests. In order to embrace the free exchange of ideas, you must be prepared to hear things you do not like, and then, be prepared to defend that individual's right to say them.

Postscript: Glyn O’Malley’s Paradise will finally take the stage this Saturday on Broadway. Perhaps there is some justice after all.

©2005 Barney F. McClelland

As I Please