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Tag: George Carlin

The sad and funny untruths of Pro-Lifers

From the window of the bus this morning, on my way to the office, I saw that the Pro-Lifers, as they call themselves, have taken over the lawn of the Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building on State Street, filling it with gruesome photographs of dead fetuses. One poster equates a woman’s right to choose with Nazi genocide and Ku Klux Klan lynchings.

The display is offensive and exploitative. Yes, photos of abortion procedures are shocking and uncomfortable. As are photos of heart transplants and cosmetic surgery. Shock tactics do not take the place of thoughtful decision making.

In that regard, the display is also ill informed. The Pro-Life point of view is not backed by science, only faith. Its defenders endlessly repeat dogma that has been refuted by the medical community, but facts do not matter as the Pro-Lifers make their arguments. While access to abortion has been the law of the land for decades, and is supported by a majority of Americans, access to the procedure is becoming increasingly difficult for American women. Laws have been passed requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary tests before they can get an abortion. North Dakota has banned abortions after six weeks of a pregnancy, at a point when many women do not even realize they are pregnant. Texas likes that law, and wants one of its own.

The Pro-Lifer’s tool is intimidation. Doctors have been murdered, bombs set off at health clinics. Pro-Lifers are at war with Planned Parenthood, which does outstanding work with health issues on behalf of economically disadvantaged women, and actually spends very little of its resources on women who have determined that they must terminate a pregnancy. Which they do in consultation with their doctors, and not ill-informed Congressmen.

One of many inconsistencies here is the typical Pro-Lifer’s attitude about life post-pregnancy. They do not want to spend tax dollars on the health and education of the country’s young people. They are all for defunding health programs for not only newborns and children, but medical programs that ensure the good health of a fetus. Pro-Lifers are generally apoplectic at the idea of families bringing their Mexican babies here in the hope of escaping poverty. Pro-Lifers are generally pro-death penalty. Pro-Lifers are often fine with civilian casualties, including children, as collateral damage for the wars we are waging in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Leave it to the genius of George Carlin to define Pro-Lifers: “They will do anything for the unborn, but after you’re born you’re on your own.” Check out the classic Carlin video here. As is often the case, truth is not only stranger than fiction but it is also, sadly, much funnier.

The Critical Mass

Is there such a thing as a genius?

A friend recently said to me, “I don’t understand why people keep calling Jay-Z a genius.’ ”

And yeah, I have to agree. Nothing against Jay-Z. He’s a successful entertainer, but I’m not sure where the “genius” part comes in. It’s this over-use of the word “genius” that’s the problem.

I frequently encountered this issue during my previous life as a sportswriter. Sportswriters  get a little tired of typing simple identifiers like “49ers football coach Bill Walsh.” So over time he was promoted to “West Coast Offense genius Bill Walsh.”

Nothing against Bill Walsh. He was a successful football coach. But I know a little about football and, to be honest: It doesn’t take a genius. Drawing up plays for your 11 guys to run isn’t exactly like designing a suspension bridge. The secret to football is finding enough 320-pound guys with what the scouts euphemistically call “a mean streak.”

Bill Clinton and Karl Rove are frequently referred to as political geniuses. Really? I guess they look pretty good alongside some of their stumblebum contemporaries. But throughout their long careers, both made major miscalculations that proved costly to their political parties. In politics, you’re only as brilliant as the outcome of the last election. Genius seems to beg for some kind of consistency.

Was Albert Einstein a genius? Sure, in some respects. There is some anecdotal evidence suggesting he moved about more comfortably in the realm of theory than reality. Was Ernest Hemingway a genius? He wrote three great books – The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms – that are brilliant. He also wrote The Old Man and the Sea, and it strikes me as vastly overrated. Were Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol geniuses? Marketing graffiti and soup cans strikes me more as right time, right place for an idea. Was Emily Dickinson a genius? Or simply a woman in her bedroom with a lot of time on her hands?

Genius, it now seems to me, might be more about ideas than people. Sure, smart and focused people more frequently come up with moments of brilliance. The conditions that led to one moment of genius might even last for a while, leading to more moments of genius. But the inner voice that spoke to Hemingway as he wrote his three great novels went AWOL for Across the River and Into the Trees.

Is Bob Dylan a genius? I’m not sure. But he has been, at the very least, consistently excellent. An artist who understands who he is, and from where he draws his inspiration.

But there is one 20th-century icon who I do consider a genius. Not Winston Churchill: too many lies and terrible errors accompany his finest hour. No, I was reminded of a man of true genius when friends recommended I type three words into YouTube and watch. I did, and  I thought, yes, this is genius. A man who for years had things to say, and said them with great humor, truth and clarity. Try it yourself: Carlin, God, religion.  Or click here:

Carlin, God, religion

The Critical Mass

Hey, it looked like George Carlin to me!

While checking out news videos on the www.msnbc.com web site, I got caught in a loop of recent religious sightings:

  • An image of the Virgin Mary spotted in the window of a Latvian church.
  • Jesus – or perhaps the smudge from someone’s face – in a mirror in a home in Texas.
  • The Virgin Mary on a griddle in Mexico.
  • A guy in Tennesee with a very convincing portrait of Jesus appearing every morning in the condensation  on the driver-side window of his pick-up truck.   He said he was going to wait a while before washing the truck. 

No. 2,548. Cool, I just got a request to be a Facebook friend with the blues singer Shemekia Copeland. This Internet social thing is starting to pay off…. What, Shemekia already has 2,547 friends? Well, I am special.

News website headline of the week:


Yikes, what planet is this?

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