Monday, January 30, 2006

What God Wants

Somebody call the waaahmbulance:

DENMARK faced the full fury of the Muslim world yesterday as a long-simmering row over newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad finally erupted.

There were street demonstrations and flag-burnings in the Middle East. Libya joined Saudi Arabia in withdrawing its ambassador from Copenhagen. Islamic governments and organisations, including the Muslim Council of Britain, issued denunciations and a boycott of Danish goods took hold across the Muslim world.

Rumor has it they're also petitioning to get Love Monkey taken off the air because a woman's ankle was shown. Fuck, do these people not have anything better to do? If I'm gonna beat on the American Taliban, I'm sure as hell reserving some buckshot for the original variety, possibly the most regressive, illiberal ideology festering on this planet. It's a fucking cartoon! Get a grip already.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bobo's World

The latest from the vaunted heartland.

A mother accused of smothering her three young children in southwest Arkansas feels "tremendous remorse," a family priest says.

Paula Eleazar Mendez, 43, was in jail on Sunday evening after being treated at a hospital for swallowing a toxic substance.

Police went to her house in De Queen on Saturday morning after getting a call from the children's father in New York. He said his wife telephoned him to say she had killed the children.

The officers found the bodies of the children – eight-year-old Elvis and six-year-old twins Samanta and Samuel – lying side by side on a bed.

Police allege that Mendez said she smothered the children. Autopsies were planned to verify whether they died from suffocation or poisoning.


"She has tremendous remorse. She is deeply sorry," Rev. Salvador Marquez-Munoz told reporters on Sunday.

Oh, for fuck's sake. She's "sorry". Right, she's sorry that she didn't die along with her kids. I have no patience for people like this woman, or Andrea Yates, and even less patience with the drones that defend their actions. If only there were resources for "sick" people to turn to for help, so they aren't compelled to murder their children.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

By the way, note the town, DeQueen. Da preznit made a funny last year at one of his bullshit Social Security townhall gatherings, asking a person from DeQueen if the town was "right next to DeKing".

Naturally, hijinks ensued.


Josh Marshall is right.

Someone should tell the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, the next time he feels inclined to explain why his party's political gambit won't work, that they already have Republicans to do that shit. Once again, this fucking cat-herding shit has got to stop, period.

And there's no reason for it. Ben Nelson, okay. I get it. He's up for re-election this year in one of the redder states. But Obama? He just won his seat a couple years ago by fifty points. The Republicans surrendered before the campaign even started, by putting crazy aunt Alan Keyes up against him. There's no upside for Obama to be doing this. None of the precious swing voters you're sucking up to are going to remember this when you need them, pal. But you can bet that when Strip Search Sammy helps the rest of the Opus Dei wing of the Supreme Court gut everyone's rights, we'll remember.

Say what you want about creatures like Bugman DeLay and Manboobs Hastert, but they get the job done. They maintain party discipline; they get all the arm-twisting out of the way before the cameras show up, and then they can show their base how everyone's on the same page.

They are not herding cats.

So pretty please, ferchrissake, start showing a fucking spine, Democrats. If you think there's a problem with how your party is framing issues, then fucking re-frame them already, and quit explaining to everyone how it's all fucked up. Fix it already if you think there's a problem, just don't hang it on the goddamned clothesline every fucking time.

You wanna know why the Democrats keep losing, there ya go. Fucking stand for something and stand together on it already. Is that so goddamned difficult to understand? If your principles aren't worth standing for, then why the hell would they be worth voting for?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bank On It

Bellaciao has a very interesting article up, on some contingency planning by the gubmint:

A family member from Irvine, CA (who’s a branch manager at Bank of America) told us two weeks ago that her bank held a "workshop" where the last two days were dedicated to discussing their bank’s new security measures. During these last two days, the workshop included members from the Homeland Security Office who instructed them on how to field calls from customers and what they are to tell them in the event of a national disaster. She said they were told how only agents from Homeland Security (during such an event) would be in charge of opening safe deposit boxes and determining what items would be given to bank customers.

At this point they were told that no weapons, cash, gold, or silver will be allowed to leave the bank - only various paperwork will be given to its owners. After discussing the matter with them at length, she and the other employees were then told not to discuss the subject with anyone.

The family member has since given her notice to quit the bank.

I found the news alarming and decided to find out more myself. On a trip to my bank here in Houston, I remarked to a young bank employee (who’s new there), "well I guess you’ve been told all that stuff by the manager and the Homeland Security about what to tell your customers" - and to my amazement, the young woman came right out and said yes she’d been through all that, then whispered to me across the counter, "but we’re not supposed to talk about - I could lose my job."

Fortunately for me, I keep all my money in coffee cans buried out in the backyard, but I figgered y'all might wanna know about this one. Remember, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean someone's not really out to get you....

How Many People Wanna Kick Some Ass?

This has been an interesting day. The groundswell in the blogosphere to derail the nomination of Sam Alito is gaining momentum. The right people are starting to listen to the calls and the e-mails. It's late in the game, but like the Pittsburgh Steelers, we're peaking at the right time, to say the least. I don't recall seeing this much Senate action on a Saturday before.

I have already written several senators, and plan on hitting several more tonight, and hopefully 10-12 tomorrow. I am hitting everyone I can, at all phases -- on the bubble, anti-Alito/anti-filibuster, and even pro-Alito. Every little bit helps.

Go here. Start with your own senators. If they are already on board with the filibuster, thank them. Let them know you appreciate them standing up on this. If they are not yet ready to filibuster, get on them. Be polite, but impassioned. Persuade them with reason. Let them know that this is bigger than just a filibuster of one jerkoff, this is a test of their commitment to their voters and their agenda.

This is an opportunity to get on the same page and show both passion and oprganization. This is a chance to stand up to the bullies and cocksuckers who are literally pushing around a clear and consistent majority of American citizens. The bonus is that Alito really is a bad choice. He really is an ideologue, he really does stand for a regressive mossback corporatist agenda. We don't want a leftist (whatever that is anymore), we want a true moderate. That's not too much to ask for.

I hate cut-and-paste chain letters of any stripe, so I am certainly not going to provide boilerplate just to pump up the volume. You can do it. Take five minutes and help do some damage to these animals.

Barbarians At The Gate

So let me see if I have this straight: Tweety Matthews can trade fag jokes about Fudgepack Mountain with rotting corpse Don Imus; Father Tim can lecture sanctimoniously to the plebes from his Sunday morning pulpit, conveniently forgetting his own central role in Plamegate, and even plugging his own son's radio show with James "Deliverance" Carville without mentioning the filial connection; Deborah Howl and her gang of idiots can drop unfavorable comments down the virtual poop-chute by falsely claiming them to be rude and/or vulgar; and that psychotic cunt Ann Coulter can "joke" about poisoning Supreme Court justices who don't vote the way she and her fringe fascist buddies would prefer.

But it's we bloggers who are uncivil. Specifically lefty bloggers at that. I'm betting they haven't read many of the righty blogs (none of which I'm going to link to, on principle; they're pretty easy to find, and generally far more hateful and hysterical, and resplendent with violent fantasies -- jokingly, of course).

I have a very simple message which the self-proclaimed callers for civility may pay heed to, as they hop their high horse: Go fuck yourselves.

I am tired of being called a traitor, or an idiot, or being told to leave my country. I refuse to take it, and I refuse to apologize for fighting back. And I refuse to be lectured to by a bunch of sanctimonious assholes whose fondest wish is to be invited to all the best parties. Some of us actually have to live in the real world, where health care is either exorbitant or non-existent, where decent jobs are disappearing, where people have to put up with the craven, gutless behavior exhibited by the people they voted to vigorously represent them.

This is a fucking fight, motherfuckers, and we will not back down, nor will we apologize for the picayune crime of merely being uncivil. We are uncivil because politeness has not worked for quite some time, because the other side has made a cottage industry out of institutionalized incivility. This is a fucking call to arms, and you people are either going to start doing your overpaid jobs with a modicum of decency and probity, or you're gonna find yourselves selling fucking oranges at the freeway off-ramp.

Our representatives and our corporate media whores want to live on the fence. Let them get caught in the crossfire. We've had entirely too much of gutless mismanagement, and false objectivity masquerading as "responsible" commentary. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

Digby has more.

[update: Matt Stoller has even more, and he's right on the money. What this really is is a crisis of institutionalization, of established mainstream media resources conflicting with established internet presences. The MSM think they can still get away with turning their noses up at the smelly proles of the blogosphere, when the fact is very much the opposite. Their content provider model simply cannot compete at the same level for much longer. The only advantage they have is that they are still considered relevant resources for linkage. That will change once some enterprising blogger comes up with an effective revenue model for an internet-only journalism presence. (Slate counts in this regard to a certain extent, but many of their writers and contributors still have ties to the old establishment.) Indeed, Josh Marshall is already setting the standard for the new paradigm. Wait five years -- Deborah Howell will be begging Marshall for a job.]

Nothing To Hide

In its repeatedly lame and bullet-riddled defense of its demonstrably illegal domestic-spying campaign, the Bushies have resorted to perhaps the most useless of all pseudopatriot tropes -- if you're not doing anything illegal, then you've got nothing to hide, and thus nothing to worry about. Forget simple data mining, you should just be willing to abrogate all of your remaining civil rights on the say-so of incompetent morons. If they want to strip-search you before you enter a supermarket, you should politely ask if they'd also like to inspect your tonsils with their cocks.

Very well, then. Let's set aside the Constitution -- if Dick Cheney's done wiping his ass with it for the moment, that is -- and apply this reasoning to one of the other current displays of mal-fee-ance by these sanctimonious cocksuckers.

76% of Americans want the White House to come clean with its records of meetings with Abramoff. Meanwhile, Bush glibly vacillates between increasingly pathetic voicings of "Jack who?" and insisting that he "supports" an investigation. Bullshit. If you supported an investigation, asshole, you'd cooperate fully and completely with the people looking into this, rather than asserting the usual imperial superpowers and refusing to release the relevant information.

And despite intrepid newscritter Katie Couric's painstaking research (that is to say, bullshit pulled directly from her sphincter, which I'm sure smells just like a sour apple Jolly Rancher) to the contrary, the Abramoff money machine was in no way, shape, or form an equal-opportunity money dispenser.

A new and extensive analysis of campaign donations from all of Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients, done by a nonpartisan research firm, shows that a great majority of contributions made by those clients went to Republicans. The analysis undercuts the claim that Abramoff directed sums to Democrats at anywhere near the same rate.

Fucking duh. What exactly would be gained by bribing Democrats? A four-year-old -- no, a slow four-year-old -- could figure this out pretty quickly, but not our Katie, kewpie-doll face of blithering, shamelessly equivocating, overpaid corporate meat puppets. Will Katie correct herself? Fuck, no. Sideshow Matt already went on and grudgingly acknowledged that Howard Dean was "technically correct" in his shameless assertion that Jack "Off" Abramoff -- former College Republican, lifetime Republican operative, member of the 2000 transition team for the Department of the Interior, whom George W. Bush has never met -- gave no money to Democrats.

Jeebus. Do these drones all just sit around the fax machine with L'il Debbie Howell and Father Tim, waiting for instructions from Mehlman and Rove?

Anyway, the vaunted administration that vowed to restore ethical conduct to Washington is now frantically trying to get all the photographic evidence of Bush and Abramoff down the memory hole. The memory hole of freedom, no doubt.

Apparently after the steady blitz of speeches and horseshit, Dear Leader's poll ratings are still hovering in the low 40's. As always, I just wonder what exactly it's going to take to get that remaining wad of morons to believe their lyin' eyes, once and for all. Not sure what they're hiding, besides maybe severe cases of lead poisoning and fetal alcohol syndrome. Stop drinking moonshine out of galvanized containers for two seconds, you nitwits, and pay attention and be honest with yourselves and your fellow citizens about what's going on.

Eleven From Winamp Shuffle

Rainy day randomness:

Holiday -- Green Day
Stockholm Syndrome -- Muse
Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja -- Lost Prophets
Suit Fugue -- Kevin Gilbert
Comfort Eagle -- Cake
Karma Police -- Radiohead
2 Minutes to Midnight -- Iron Maiden
Stinkfist -- Tool
Without Me -- Eminem
Misery -- Soul Asylum
Ten Years Gone -- Led Zeppelin

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rebel Without A Clue

So I'm watching The Daily Show just now, and I'm trying to wrap my mind around all the internal contradictions that embodied this fine evening in the guest chair by Fred Barnes. Barnes is the former McLaughlin Group lackey who hosts a Faux News kneepad-fest called Beltway Boys. (Yeah, I know, I don't think it sounds homoerotic either. Nosiree, not one bit. Why not just call it Brokeback Beltway and have done with it?)

Anyway, Barnes has been allowed on to pimp his moronic hagiography about Bush, incredibly called Rebel In Chief. Now, let's think about this for a second. We have a man here (Barnes) who is so button-down, he makes George Fwill look like Wavy Gravy. He hosts a thoroughly establishment show with a fellow traveler (Mort Kondracke) who, amazingly, is even more uptight. These motherfuckers have to spray WD40 on their ankles in the morning, just so they can screw their socks on.

So Fred Barnes knows about as much about "rebellion" as Ken Mehlman knows about pussy. Indeed, Barnes knows so little about it, he's actually written a treatise about a consummate government insider, who has spent his life posing as an outsider, to the point where Bush has actually deluded himself (and apparently Barnes) into believing it.

One more time for the cheap seats: George W. Bush is not a Washington outsider. Never has been; he was born having a US senator grandfather, and a father who was quickly using his connections to get his own congressional career started in Texas. His mother's grandfather was a US president (Franklin Pierce). Doesn't get much more inside-the-halls-of-power than that.

Yet Barnes, to hear him describe it to an incredulous Jon Stewart, has woven a tapestry of these debunked canards and tired tropes. Bush is a "different" kind of conservative; he's a "different" kind of Republican. Well sure, if by "different" he doesn't hew to the traditional conservative/Republican principles of merit, skill, competence, and thrift.

Most offensively, Barnes glossed over how bad 2005 was for Dear Leader, because all these awful truths started showing their ugly faces. In the midst of pooh-poohing the slight poll declines (to, um, the mid-30's in December), he charaterized Hurricane Katrina as a "bump". You know, old ladies dying of exposure in the streets because FEMA's being run by a cronyist moron, and the president's fucking around in San Diego with his git-tar? That's just a rough patch there. Nothin' to see here, folks, just good ol' fashioned maverick preznitin'.

Yeah, maybe Bush is a rebel after all. Just not the good kind. Enjoy your wingnut welfare, Fred. Hope ya choke on it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

NFL Playoff Predictions

Well, the conference championship games, anyway. I never did get around to the wild-card or divisionals, but I wouldn't have predicted Pittsburgh or Denver getting this far in the first place.

AFC Championship Game (Steelers at Broncos): On paper, Denver looks unbeatable, especially with one of the stronger home-field advantages in the league. However, the Steelers have one of the better road records, and rather than sounding like they shot their wad with the upset of the year in Indianapolis, they sound motivated and ready in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's season-saving tackle on the Colts' Nick Harper in the final two minutes of the game. Jerome Bettis, likely to retire, gets the opportunity to cap a spectacular career with something other than a momentous fumble. As long as Pittsburgh's pass protection holds, their stifling defense actually makes this one the Donkeys' game to lose. Besides, Mike Shanahan is a Bush-boosting douchebag with one of the dirtiest O-lines in the league. He deserves to lose. Final score: Steelers 27, Donkeys 21.

NFC Championship Game (Panthers at Seahawks): This should be a great one. Seattle, like Denver, looks like a world-beater on paper -- after all, all-world running back Shaun Alexander set the season TD record, and QB Matt Hasselbeck has been a model of efficiency and production. However, the defense let a crap team like Washington hang around for most of the game, and great teams are supposed to punish bad teams. Carolina showed last week in Chicago that they are far from a bad team, and Jake Delhomme's Cardiac Cats are guaranteed to put up some points against a vulnerable Seahawks team that finally got that 20-year playoff whammy off their backs. Final score: Panthers 38, Seahawks 28.

[update: So much for my guarantee on Carolina's ability to put up points. Guess that's why they actually play the games. Should be a great matchup, with a nice backstory on Jerome Bettis.]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

What Makes Sammy Run, Part Duh

Limp Frist lets rather obvious cat out of bag.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Republican Party activists on Friday night that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was the "worst nightmare of liberal Democrats."

Frist, a Tennessee Republican, made the remark to fellow Republicans during a private tour he gave them of the Senate chamber when the Senate was not in session.

Frist was not available for comment following his remarks.

Hee hee. I'm sure Rove and Mehlman are just thrilled with that one. Not that it will matter in the end. It's not as if the Democrats will actually put up a fight, when making the usual mewling noises seems to work about as well for them.

It would be nice if they would actually fight and filibuster, but if they can't even keep Ben Nelson on the fucking reservation, then what kind of party discipline are they maintaining? And it must be noted that if they did happen to fight, filibuster, and somehow succeed in derailing this chump's nomination, they still have to be ready to gird themselves for an even worse fight. Because these people just do not stop.

The Democrats might be thinking at this point that they should have endorsed the hapless Harriet Miers, she of the serious legal mind and fawning Dear Leader postcards. Because Alito is going to be a much bigger pig in a poke, and unlike Bob Roberts, they can't just swoon over Strip Search Sammy cornflower blue eyes and crooked grin. He's just not as dreamy.

(And by the way, megadittoes to just walking Roberts through the front door. If his minority opinion in the recent Oregon assisted-death ruling is any indication, he's a bit, erm, rightier than he let on. Me, I'd be thrilled with nine centrists. But the people who pushed Roberts -- and now Alito -- want nothing less than total domination. They have no use for balance; they have a big fucking thumb on the scale at all times. This is not exactly a secret.)

Asked about the senator's remark, Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said that Alito "is a thoughtful mainstream conservative jurist who is well respected by his peers, by Democrats and Republicans alike."

Stevenson added, "There are liberals, many of them represented by the outside groups, who will do anything to kill any nominee put forward by this administration."

Please. They can't even get it together enough to filibuster. This sort of brainless hyperbole is just red meat to the Just Us Sunday morons. Alito may have his stare decisis opinions memorized thorughly, but his insistence on running from his record and softshoeing his job applications indicates he's nothing more than a reliable lackey. He's perfect for this maladministration. He'll be a great caddy the next time Scalia and Cheney go duck hunting while they discuss the future of the nation. Between his obeisance to to the imperial presidency, and love for corporate power over individual liberties, he'll fit right in with this gang.

Welcome to your future, America. How's that values vote workin' for ya?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Get A Real Job

So Pravda ombudscrybaby Deborah Howl [sic], upset at all the criticism she's earned from her, um, readers, has decided to give all us reality-based folk the silent treatment.

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell has reportedly posted a comment on the Post's internal message board announcing that she has learned the following "lesson" from exchanges with Media Matters for America: "From now on, I don't reply."

See, Howell has decided, in the pomo irony-free hermetically-sealed environment of bullshit the celebrojournos have cultivated for themselves, that she can make shit up and not have to respond to it.

Except that the very definition of the job she supposedly holds is to one, ensure the quality and accuracy of the newspaper's reportage; and two, to respond to readers' complaints, regardless of whether or not she agrees with their positions. Needless to say, she has failed miserably on both counts, and should be dismissed immediately, if the Post still has any delusions about retaining a shred of its tattered credibility.

Enough is enough. There is a clear common-sense difference between Jack Abramoff -- College Republican, Bush Pioneer, and K Street master strategist -- "donating" money to a slew of congressional Republicans, and a handful of Democrats receiving "donations" from a few of the Indian tribes that Abramoff and Ralph Reed grifted. One is what people in the real world recognize as a direct contribution; the other is not nearly as clear-cut, as brazen, as obscenely corrupt.

In other words, they are not equal situations, and any fool can see that. Yet Howell, again whose job description requires accuracy and probity, has repeatedly characterized those things as equal. Worse yet, she has refused to respond to the hundreds of readers who have pointed this out to her, no matter what their tone. This is the high-handed tack the Post took when it tried to screw with Dan Froomkin's column, and it doesn't work.

Look, you assholes, you're not gonna get away with this shit anymore. You try deleting dozens of reader comments from your site, you better assume that someone out there archived it to shove in your face when the time comes. You try lying and whitewashing the facts, burying the truth under mounds of "objectivity" and "truthiness", you're gonna fuckin' hear about it.

And when people finally realize what a joke you've become, and cancel their subscriptions, don't act so surprised. It's not that newspapers are dead technology, it's that people have options now. They don't need you nearly as much as you need them.

So unless Ms. Howl is prepared to embark on a new career -- one that hopefully involves a paper hat and asking me if I want fries with that -- get ready for the slow but steady drip-drip-drip of dwindling readership. And hell, somewhere in there, you might even want to start taking some pride in your jobs, and put out something that you can not only stand behind, but even respond to critics in a reasonable fashion, instead of acting like you're too good to give a straight answer to the unwashed rubes.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Swift Boat Chickenshits

Pssst! Jack Murtha is a phony! Pass it on!

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the former Marine who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, has become the latest Democrat to have his Vietnam War decorations questioned.

In a tactic reminiscent of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth assault on Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) during the 2004 presidential campaign, a conservative Web site yesterday quoted Murtha opponents as questioning the circumstances surrounding the awarding of his two Purple Hearts.

David Thibault, editor in chief of the Cybercast News Service, said the issue of Murtha's medals from 1967 is relevant now "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement." Thibault said: "He has been placed by the Democratic Party and antiwar activists as a spokesman against the war above reproach."

Bullshit. Murtha took the initiative on his own to present an alternative plan, which was supposedly what everyone was waiting for the so-called opposition party to muster. To imply that he was pushed by Cindy Sheehan, ANSWER, and the party is nonsense. If anything, the Democratic Party didn't do nearly enough to back Murtha's motion on the House floor.

Cybercast is part of the conservative Media Research Center, run by L. Brent Bozell III, who accused some in the media of ignoring the Swift Boat charges, but Thibault said it operates independently. He said the unit, formerly called the Conservative News Service, averages 110,000 readers, mainly conservative, and provides material for other Web sites such as GOPUSA. "We won't run anything against anybody if we don't have the goods," he said.

Uh-huh. You may recall GOPUSA as the site which, while coincidentally named after the Republican Party, scrupulously avoided specific mention of it so as to retain the veneer of objectivity (for drooling idiots, I guess). You may also recall them as the umbrella organization overseeing Talon "News" Agency, which introduced the one and only Jeff Gannon™ -- and his $200/hour, 8" cut throbbing man-meat -- to an unsuspecting world.

Really, it's all just a bunch of happy coincidences. The only thing missing is that jowly cow at the '04 Republican convention, with the purple bandaid on its chin.

Yeah, that's the despicable cunt.

Former representative Don Bailey (D-Pa.), who was quoted in the article, confirmed his account to The Washington Post yesterday.

In a conversation on the House floor in the early 1980s, said Bailey, who won a Silver Star and three Bronze Stars in Vietnam, Murtha told him he did not deserve his Purple Hearts. He recalled Murtha saying: "Hey, I didn't do anything like you did. I got a little scratch on the cheek." Murtha's spokeswoman would not address that account.

Bailey, who lost a House race to Murtha after a 1982 redistricting, said "Jack's a coward, and he's a liar" for subsequently denying the conversation. "That just really burned me," he said.

While saying he has only responded to reporters' questions and is not bitter toward Murtha, Bailey said the congressman's approach to Iraq is "not responsible" and that "it just turned my stomach" to see Murtha acting as a spokesman for veterans.

He said he shared the information with Republican William Choby, who ran against Murtha four times beginning in 1990 and made the Vietnam decorations an issue. Choby raised the issue again during Murtha's 2002 reelection campaign.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing Marine records, reported that year that Murtha was wounded during "hostile" actions near Da Nang, Vietnam: "In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second, he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation." The Cybercast article cites a 1994 interview in which Murtha described injuries to his arm and knee.

Well, I guess that settles that, doesn't it? Couldn't be that Bailey's just a co-opted tool with an axe to grind; couldn't be that Murtha really did say something along that line, out of some misplaced false humility, as many people are wont to do.

I don't give a fuck if Murtha really did just get a scratch on the cheek from flying shrapnel or whatever. He went, and not only that, Vietnam was his second war. The guy dropped out of college to volunteer for the Korean War. Okay? He didn't get a fistful of weasel deferments, and he didn't get his daddy to pull the right strings to keep him stateside in the National Guard (which is obviously no longer the cushy stateside gig that it was 35 years ago). Kerry went. Al Gore went. Whether they were in the rear with the gear or not, whether they were wounded as grievously as the Fightin' Keyboard Kommandos think they should have been or not, they fucking well went, and that should be the end of it.

Just the fact that these animals are willing -- yet again -- to smear a good man who has the temerity to challenge an administration of deferment cowards, further exposes the rotten core of their vaunted ideology. Yeah, they're all about honoring the troops; funny how they never are them. Funny how, out of 11 Iraq War veterans currently running for Congress, nine of them are Democrat.

I'm sure it's all just coincidence, like everything else.

The Medium Is The Meta

The past week has been an illustrative one for understanding how the "legitimate" literary world operates, as well as the boutique swells of certain swanky soiree sets. One was how underground author JT LeRoy, supposed transgendered wunderkind and darling of the San Francisco hiperati, was really just a frumpy hausfrau with a knack for gimmicking the swells, which just doesn't have that hipper-than-thou cachet said swells crave.

But the bigger of the two stories is the revelation that James Frey's Oprah-hyped memoir, soon to be made into a movie, was pulled at least partially out of Frey's sphincter.

First, JT LeRoy, a novelist who claimed to be a transgendered young man suffering from HIV, was revealed to be a fortysomething mother and housewife. This shocked some of his fans, and those who thought they were his friends, but by week's end the scandal was already fading. Novelists sometimes can get away with such things, being licensed liars and all.

A day later, a second kingpin of bestsellerdom was revealed to be even more of a fraud. James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces, the rollicking, readable memoir of addiction and recovery, admitted he exaggerated and invented significant parts of his story.

This was a bigger problem, as the book is non-fiction -- i.e., it's supposed to be true. It was also singled out last fall (to join Faulkner and Tolstoy) by the all-powerful goddess of bookland, Oprah Winfrey.

Oh well -- fiction, non-fiction, what's the diff? Seriously. We've entered the post-Springer, post-Survivor era of meta-reality, where facts are merely things to be manipulated for maximum public consumption. Idiots now routinely audition for their shot at a contrived "reality" show, which is not real at all, but merely a heavily-edited wad of scenes featuring people you'd ordinarily avoid on the street. The scenes are deliberately grafted together to fit a pre-conceived story arc.

Similarly, the "mainstream" media faithfully stenographs whatever nonsense Scott McClellan or Dick Cheney throw at them, like chimps flinging their shit at passersby at the zoo. Both versions of "reality" are presented with equally straight faces, unironically. After all, "irony" is now something along the lines of rain on your wedding day, n'est-ce pas?

Mr. Frey's crimes against truthfulness were revealed in The Smoking Gun, a website associated with CourtTV, which sicced two reporters on his case for six weeks. (Ow, ow, ow.) The reporters discovered that Jimbo's claims of having been a badass prior to his morally uplifting recovery were -- well, not really true. In fact, he had "wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw 'wanted in three states.' "

A typical example: Mr. Frey claims in the book to have spent three months in jail for a morass of felonious crack- and alcohol-induced crimes. In fact, the crimes were fairly mild, and his jail time amounted to anywhere from five hours to a few days, while he awaited bail. Even he now admits this.

You know what the worst part of this is? This bullshit is only going to help Frey's sales, and sweeten the back end of his movie deal. Hell, he'll probably get another fictionalized "memoir" out of it.

So what's Queen Oprah, Grand Imperator of the Readin' Milf Book, Biscotti, 'n' Two-Buck Chuck Club, have to say about Frey's deceptions?

Winfrey made a surprise call Wednesday to talk show Larry King Live, where Frey was a guest.

Winfrey, who chose the memoir for her book club last year, said the controversy was "much ado about nothing" and urged readers inspired by the book to "keep holding on."

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict ... and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves," Winfrey said.

No, what is relevant is that he tried to pass off a greatly embellished narrative as biographical -- that is, a retelling of the facts of someone's life. What if Frey had pulled this sort of shit writing about someone else's life?

But in his own defence, Frey said only a small percentage of his 430-page book had been challenged. Memoirs should not be held to the standards of other non-fiction books, he said.

"The essential truth of [my] drug and alcohol addiction is there. The emotional truth is there.... I think you will find people who will dispute every memoir ever written."

King and Frey discussed a specific incident in the book in which Frey claims he assaulted a police officer while under the influence of drugs. Frey refused to say whether the incident was made up.

"I hope the emotional truth of the book resonates with [readers]," he told King. "I couldn't have written it if I hadn't been through a lot of the things I talk about."

Winfrey told King she didn't care whether the incident was true. "Whether or not the car's wheels rolled up on the sidewalk or whether he hit the police officer or didn't hit the police officer is irrelevant to me."

And that's the real problem in a nutshell. Supposedly the book "spoke" to Oprah precisely because of its harrowing "truth", as relayed by the "facts" put forth by Frey. If Frey never really hit the rock bottom that he originally purported to, then he really didn't have nearly as far to pull himself up, now did he? Of course, that kind of story doesn't sell quite as well with this particular crowd -- small-town dipshit gets fucked up once too often, has a minor brush or two with the law, goes to rehab and cleans his act up. Happens all the time.

The problem is that we are in a paradigm of meta-reality, where "emotional truths" resonate more than facts, which is just a handy way of saying that we're suckers for cheap emotional manipulation. Frey's "memoir" is nothing more, nothing less than one of those VH1 Behind the.... deals, with shamelessly clichéd, predictable arcs of innocence, corruption, guilt, and redemption. It's just a cleaned-up Jerry Springer, for people who mistakenly think they're smarter than the rubes on that misbegotten show.

At least the cheating lesbian strippers know what the deal is.

Global Warning

Hometown street sheet Chico News & Review features an outstanding interview with sci-fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson. (Strangely -- and sadly -- its sister papers in Sacto and Reno feature a Viagra story as their cover feature. Target marketing?)

But with abrupt climate change, just as in your novel, I would assume if we’re talking about that kind of potential, the politicians, the environmental groups would be raising the level of concern and debate and call for action at a much higher level than seems to be happening.

I have a hard time gauging that because I'm paying such close attention to it. But I do think it's not so much America as it is the Bush administration taking a very strong stance against discussing these issues. It's really quite shocking how much they're actually trying to oppose action against global warming rather than even being neutral about it. They're actually trying to oppose it and disable the rest of the world's efforts. So, it's pretty damned ugly right now in regard to the Bush administration's approach. I just think that any administration coming next, no matter who they are, will be better on this issue.

I also think people are getting very, very concerned. Global warming is happening a lot faster than people thought even five years ago.

As much as I'd like to put the majority of the blame on the Bushies and their minions, I think Robinson (and many others) overstate the Bushies' culpability at the expense of getting at the clod, hard truth of the matter. Americans are simply not yet willing to budge significantly on the lifestyle they've become accustomed to. After all, it was noted environmentalists Clinton and Gore who first circumvented the CAFE standards, paving the way for the SUV fiasco we're now just in the middle of.

(Yes, in the middle of. These beasts are now just hitting the secondary market, and as gas prices increase, their secondary market value will continue to decrease, putting them in the price range of folks who might ordinarily be driving around beat-up Pintos. Won't that be nice? Regardless, we're stuck with SUVs for quite some time, even if Americans are starting to take hybrids more seriously.)

To be fair, there were some valid reasons for slighting the CAFE standards, mostly revolving around the automakers' intransigence over re-engineering, and their sheer lack of reluctance to layoff tens of thousands to make sure shareholders get their dividend and upper management gets their bonuses. The fun times of commuting from the exurbs in one's Suburban are about to come to a halt; the only question (which isn't really much of a question) is who gets to bear the brunt of all that.

But what I’m noticing is that, for example, there was a recent statement on global warming where 134 scientific organizations around the world signed on to the same statement, saying we have to pay attention to this right now. I think what they’re trying to do is become a much more heavyweight advisory body in the body politic, saying, “Listen. You’ve got to listen to this stuff. We’re not fooling around here. We’re in consensus. Just because you can find a few crackpots to hire and give a lot of money to speak against global warming …”

This goes to this weird journalistic thing about fairness, where for every point of view you've got to find someone to give an opposite point of view in order to be journalistically fair. But if 99 percent of the scientists are saying global warming is a serious threat to human health, and somewhere you can find someone who will say, "No it isn't; it's just natural causes. You haven't proved a damn thing," and then you give those two views equal weight as if they were a 50-50 position, then the populace is being misled. So, journalism, by its standards of fairness, is beginning to actually mislead people about the real consensus that is forming in science.

I have been somewhat skeptical of certain aspects of global warming theory, but that is rapidly changing, as the enormous and unprecedented weather events of the past several years continue to accumulate in an undeniable pattern. At any rate, Robinson is spot-on in his analysis of journamalistas' problem with "evenhandedness" and "objectivity". Much as we look back on the era of Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair as a watershed in truly afflicting the comfortable, we will look back on this era with utter contempt and disgust, as the irresponsibility of starfucking celebrojournos finally started eating its own tail.

Aside from the numerous worthy conferences on blogger ethics, mind you. If only my hands were as clean as Juuudy Miller's, or Timmeh Russert's. I can but dare to dream.

This is where part of the radicalism of your message comes through in your novels and in interviews you give and in your talk at the National Science Foundation--identifying capitalism as the problem behind the problem. That it’s not just a matter of fuel choices or technological choices, but rather those choices that have been put into place and are staying in place because of the structure of capitalism. How have scientists responded to that part of your message as to the power that needs to be confronted and addressed?

I think scientists are more open-minded than most. They know better than most that economics is not a true science, but is rather a kind of politics with numbers. There are tons of political decisions embedded in economic analyses that aren't being identified as such. Scientists are aware of how science really works, and they know that economics is not a science.

So, if you challenge the economic system under which we live, they're perfectly open to the idea that this is a political system, not an economic analysis. So, they're more open to that than most people. They're willing to admit more than most people that we live in an irrational and non-sustainable economic system that also has embedded in it a permanent massive unemployment at the bottom and also a permanent drain of the surplus value of the profits that are made up to a small group at the top. So, we're still in a pyramid system. This is so obvious. It's not as if I'm making any breakthrough analysis.

When I talk about this system, I am a political radical in the sense that I condemn this system as being unjust and damaging to the Earth and to people. But also, it's a state of mind. It's not that only 5 percent of the world are capitalists, because they're the ones who have gathered all the capital. It's a state of mind that we all live within, that we accept it, that we take our roles in it, that we agree that it's a sane way to live, that we don't vote for people who promise to change it, and that we go ahead and live a life of conspicuous consumption as Americans, where the standard middle-class Americans, though they are squeezed economically to make ends meet and not go into debt, nevertheless they're making tons of terrible consumer choices that are part of the capitalist system, where it's OK to buy SUVs, where it's OK to waste money on one thing or another even though there's a part of their mind that may be aware that this is bad for the environment or bad for their grandkids or whatever, that doesn't overwhelm the OK-ness of it. So, I'm saying that, too, has to change.

This is exactly right, and it's a point that Jim Kunstler makes pretty much every Monday. The question, where do you start, without collapsing a consumerist economy, without plundering savings that most Americans no longer have and can no longer afford? This is a country that lives on the margin, both collectively and as individuals, and only by the grace of the Chinese not calling in their promissory notes have we been able to continue down this dead end.

We need to find a way to wean ourselves from the petro-tit, sooner rather than later. We cannot foot the bill for a garrison state halfway around the world indefinitely, and we cannot afford any more Katrinas, not that we could afford the first one.

Anyway, read the whole interview, you won't be disappointed. Pretty damned good for "mainstream news", much less a small-town free paper.

You're Fired

What John said. (Though Jeebus knows I've been beating this issue into the ground with all my considerable might as well.)

You need to actually LEAD the country, you need to actually CONVINCE Americans that Bush is wrong and you are right. You can't just sit back, do nothing, and hope that the simple fact that you're right leads you to victory.

Yes, this. The Republicans have been in self-destruct mode for most of the past year, and much of the Democrats' strategy has been to watch the implosion. This has only been partially successful, as the Republicans already are preparing a reform strategy for the midterms. Yes, it's the depth of happy horseshit, but it plays to their base. They cater to their base. Imagine that. Not that the Democrats need to pander to the ANSWER faction of their base, but at least get up your hind legs and show the majority in the middle that you mean business.

Instead, they seem to think that if they just shut up and lie low, they'll ride out the Abramoff scandal. Screw that. If they have their own Duke Cunningham or Conrad Burns (which seems incredibly unlikely, but regardless), let 'em walk the plank. Show people you're serious and proactive about cleaning house.

In the meantime, fight over anything and everything. Why is Alito's confirmation a fait accompli? Why is Joe Biden grandstanding with a goddamned baseball cap? Why aren't any of these esteemed orators of the people calling Alito out as the authoritarian corporate stooge that he is?

They did so well on the issue of Social Security last year, too, or so it seemed. Perhaps it was really the sheer irredeemability of both Bush's non-plan and his amazingly poor marketing campaign that did it in. But giving them the benefit of the doubt, the Democrats should approach every issue thusly. Give no ground. Brook no compromise on the obvious issues. Flood the zone every Sunday, and treat Li'l Russ and Tweety and the rest of the morons as hostile.

Because right now, I'm starting to think that for the amount of fight I'm seeing out of the Democrats, I might as well go back to voting for Nader. It's time to push the old guard out and bring in some new blood. Buy Paul Hackett a house in Connecticut and run him against Joementum, if Joementum is not going to present a vigorous strategy.

Energy. Passion. Discipline. If the Democrats are going to regain control, that's how it's going to happen. Compromising on Alito's vote (or all the other major issues) is not what's going to do it.

A Love Song For Howie Long

Let's just say from the get-go that I have the kind of admiration for Howie Long that one straight macho guy can only have for another outside an Ang Lee epic. Having said that, I'm a bit put off by one of Long's pissy little asides on the Fox pre-game show just now.

Part of the shtick on the show is the Frank Caliendo segment. Caliendo is a talented impressionist from MAD TV, and does a segment every week where he impersonates a public figure while offering his predictions for the week. He's an equal opportunity humorist, skewering Clinton, Bush and even John Madden with relative ease.

Today he went after Bush. Unlike, say, Saturday Night Live, even when he goes after political figures, Caliendo never hits them on political issues. So with Bush it's mainly malaprops, as it was today.

Nonetheless, after Caliendo's segment, Long made sure to register his disapproval with how many "shots [Caliendo] keeps taking at the president". Let it be stated for the record that Long has three sons, at least one of whom is of draft age. Of course, that son is currently playing college football (for the University of Virginia), probably preparing for a pro career, maybe even some lucrative cheeseball commercials with some Teri Hatcher wannabe.

Talk is pretty cheap, Howie. Let's see where your support of your president really ends. Unless one of your kids is over there actually fighting for this policy and this president that you apparently endorse, then shut the hell up and quit worrying about harmless apolitical humor.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Good Riddance

Clarence Ray Allen, whom I assume is the world's oldest death-row inmate, is making a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court to commute his sentence, since he is blind, invalid, and near death anyway. Not gonna happen.

Allen, who will turn 76 on the eve of his execution, has been on death row for more than 23 years. He uses a wheelchair and was resuscitated last year after a heart attack at San Quentin Prison.

"The spectacle of Mr. Allen being wheeled into the death chamber, unable to walk and unable to see those who have come to witness his execution, violates all standards of decency and would amount to nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering prohibited by the Eighth Amendment," said Annette Carnegie, one of Allen's attorneys.

Schwarzenegger said Allen's age and health do not matter, noting that he committed his crimes at the age of 50. "His conduct did not result from youth or inexperience, but instead resulted from the hardened and calculating decisions of a mature man," the governor said.

For once, I agree with the Goobernator. Allen is nothing more than a stone killer. Really, he's something of a poster boy for capital punishment. He was already serving a life sentence for one murder, when he commissioned a parolee to kill three witnesses (actually six, but the killer was caught after killing three and wounding one). Two of these victims (as well as Allen's original victim) were teenagers. Sort of puts the whole "they can't hurt us when they're locked safely away" trope in perspective.

Yes, it's unseemly that Allen is now old and feeble, but that's because he was able to work the system for so long. I remember Allen's trial pretty well, as it got change-of-venued up here to the rural county I live in. In the early '80s, that trial was huge around here. My mother was working in the Superior Court at that time, so she saw Allen be marched in and out of court many times, and the judge who presided over the case was an acquaintance. This judge, now retired, was no Roy Bean, but definitely not one to put up with any bullshit either. I know how much he agonized over the application of the death penalty, and I also know that this judge -- who had seen thousands of idiots and lowlifes pass through his courtroom in decades on the bench -- regarded Clarence Ray Allen as the single most evil, toxic bastard to set foot in there.

Three teenagers and a 27-year-old man, brutally shotgunned to death, over a bunch of supermarket burglaries. I take no Bush-mocks-Karla-Faye-Tucker delight in Allen's impending demise, but I sure as hell don't feel sorry for him.

Hearts 'n' Minds

Pakistan Village Bombed, Keyser Söze Still At Large.

DAMADOLA, Pakistan - Pakistani officials on Saturday angrily condemned a purported CIA airstrike meant to target al-Qaida's No. 2 man, saying he wasn't there and "innocent civilians" were among at least 17 men, women and children killed in a village near the Afghan border.

Thousands of tribesmen staged protests and a mob set fire to the office of a U.S.-backed aid agency as Pakistan's people and government showed increasing frustration over a recent series of suspected U.S. attacks along the frontier that appear aimed at Islamic militants.

This must be part of our mission to civilize the wogs. Only when we've not only bombed the bejesus out of them, but bombed some Jesus into them, will they quit stoning homosexuals, and gang-raping and honor-killing uppity women. I'm sure they're getting the message.

While villagers denied outsiders were present, the Foreign Ministry's statement said a preliminary investigation indicated there was a "foreign presence" in the area — which it said had most likely been targeted from across the border in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's government insists it does not allow the 20,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan to cross the border in the hunt for Taliban fighters or al-Qaida members believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of the frontier region.

Yeah well, they also insist they don't have a bunch of Taliban heavies hiding in the mountain hamlets. I'm sure that's equally true. Still, we need to review what's working and what's not working here. We've offered $25 million bounties for bin Laden and al-Zawahri, we've sent strike forces in, we've bombed villages and killed plenty of innocent people. This is already a seething, loosely anti-American populace, there's no need to incite them further. Perhaps not letting bin Laden escape at Tora Bora in the first place would've helped.

This sort of thing also plays into the hands of our good friend Mahmoud "Let's wipe Israel off the map" Ahmadinejad. A pissed-off Pakistani citizenry could incite a destabilizing coup in that country, which would likely replace Musharraf with someone more Iran-friendly and less USA-friendly. So, you know, just keep it up, o masters of the universe. You've completely destabilized Iraq, now it's time to move on to South Asia.

Gee. Maybe we coulda won some of them over by helping out after the earthquake.

Whiny-Ass Titty-Babies Are Winning

Last week -- as in eight whole days ago -- NBC wheeled out its midseason entry in the late Friday night sweepstakes, a soapy little number called Book of Daniel. I have not sat through either of its two whole episodes as of yet, but the wife watches it, and I have caught several pivotal scenes. Suffice to say that it strikes me as an ambitious, if flawed, entry that borrows from both Desperate Housewives and Rescue Me. The basic logline is that Aidan Quinn is an Episcopalian priest (so, you know, he's married and has kids) who deals with his own Vicodin jones as he ministers to his loopy parishioners and his own family, who like all families are insane. So far, no problem. Either you like this sort of thing, or you don't.

Well, the God Squad don't, and they have made their displeasure rabidly known, by gang-faxing and template-emailing to their wittle walnut brains' content. As a result, advertisers are already getting cold feet, and stations in the Sacred Heartland are already pulling the show altogether.

After two fucking episodes.

Controversial new television show The Book of Daniel has been removed from the lineup of Nashville's NBC affiliate after the show drew thousands of complaints from irate viewers, incuding letters faxed in on church letterhead. The show has now been pulled from seven network affiliates, mostly in the South. The Book of Daniel, which features Aidan Quinn as a pill-popping Episcopalian priest with a gay son, has drawn the fire of conservative Christian groups, most notably the American Family Association, which is encouraging members through its website to protest the show and threaten boycotts of advertisers.

Maybe they should have made a series about a self-righteous hectoring thorn-in-our-fucking-side wingnut with her own gay son, and called it Phyllis Schlafly's Fire 'n' Brimstone Happy Funtime Goin' Ta Hell Hour. And I'm sure there's not a single solitary person in all of the American Family Association who has a gay relative, or an alcoholic in the family, or some sort of dysfunction themselves. Nope. They're all perfect, so why would they expect anything less from the fictional characters on their Holy Boob Tube?

Exactly what do these people want to watch? Endless retreads of Leave It To Beaver and 7th Heaven? Well, buy the DVDs or tune in to TVLand or Nick at Nite. I don't get why these weirdos are so upset about something that airs well after the vaunted family hour, yet I don't hear about them gang-faxing CBS over the goo and gore and lurid content of the various CSI franchises. And if I did hear about such a thing -- even though I have no patience for those series myself -- I'd still be pissed.

Look, you idiots. Here's a simple rule -- if you don't like it, don't fucking watch it. Change the channel. Set the V-chip that you fought so valiantly for ten years ago. Set your satellite TV guide to the channels you approve. Climb out of everyone else's fucking asses already.

Get a goddamned life.

I'm not a Christian, and neither are a lot of other people living in this country. I don't watch televangelism programs. In fact, I consider some televangelists, like Pat Robertson, to be downright dangerous. But Pat Robertson has a First Amendment right to say whatever idiotic things he likes, and people who like him have a right to tune in and listen and nod their heads fervently in agreement, if that's their choice.

And you know what? Maybe that's the problem right there. We're talking about theopolitical activist groups, who are a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the 300 million people in this country. And look at the leverage they hold. Is it because they're right? Is it because they really are the majority? I don't think so. It's because they are organized and they are disciplined. They have people who will sit there, literally with a clipboard and a checklist, and review programs for "objectionable" content, tallying every reference to drug use, promiscuous sex, and so on. Then they have other minions who analyze and collate this data, and prepare talking points.

I wonder what would happen if we were able to organize enough to do this sort of thing to "Pat" Robertson. He's not untouchable, you know. ABC owns his network. What if everyone who was sick of Robertson's incessant lunacy gang-faxed ABC, telling them that not only will they boycott all advertisers, but they'll also boycott Grey's Anatomy, According to Jim, Desperate Housewives, and all the other fine family entertainment product ABC runs?

All these motherfuckers do is shove, and shove, and shove. What if the rest of us actually fucking shoved back?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Moosing The Point

For the most part, I have enjoyed reading the bumpy centrist sentiments of the Bull Moose, just for a different perspective on things. I even occasionally derive some strange bemusement from his twee affectation of referring to himself in the third animal. But lately, the Moose has gotten his antlers into a knot, over the supposed problem of the activist lefties taking over the Democratic Party.

If only they would.

The Moose's latest tilt at the windmill is more than a little off-putting, not only by what it says, but by what it doesn't say.

The Moose can't help but believe that it was planned.

If Sam Alito had choreographed his confirmation hearing, he would not have orchestrated it any differently. The critical element in his scheme would have been hours and hours of Senators hectoring, bloviating, hammering, and imposing the liberal political correctness standard of People for the American Way. At one point, according to the Alito plan, one fine Senator donned Princeton haberdashery to make his point in an ever so odd way. And the wife crying certainly helped the Democratic vote in the exurbs.

And the Democrats seek to become the majority party in this country? Have they learned anything from the previous elections?

You know what was planned? The Harriet Miers head-fake. The Bushies had to have known that it would whip the in-house loons into a frenzy, so they would be "forced" to throw them the winger they crave. Preferably a winger calm in demeanor and reliable in résumé, such as one Strip Search Sammy Alito.

Note how Wittman bitches about the "hectoring", etc., of the liberal senators who are "imposing the liberal political correctness standard of People for the American Way." What, precisely, is that supposed to mean? What, pray tell, would be that "standard"? Recognizing Roe as settled law? Describing one's thoughts on granting imperial powers to the executive branch? Demanding true regulatory safety for dangerous industries, and recourse for wronged persons? What exactly is the fucking problem here?

I'm pretty disgusted at this stupid dog-and-pony show anyway. To loosely paraphrase the Frank Zappa chestnut about rock journalists, this is a bunch of assholes asking questions they know won't be answered honestly, to a person who has no intention of answering anything he doesn't have to, while the whole circus gets covered as if it actually meant something. Well, bullshit. This is about the only job where the applicant doesn't have to say what he thinks about anything, and no one seems to care.

But what's also bullshit is how Wittman again pisses and moans about the lame theatrics of Joe (D-Rogaine) Biden (who proves as always that when you try to please everyone, no one will like it), but has nothing at all to say about Tom (R-Lobotomy) Coburn's sheer lunacy. Coburn went off the fucking map, something about sodomites and prostitution and abortion (oh my!). Somehow this shithouse-rat nonsense does not register on the Moose's radar.

As the Moose has argued before, the Democratic Party should have a legal philosophy that extends beyond abortion on demand and the juris prudence of the ACLU and People for the American Way. On legal and cultural matters, the national Democrats have absolutely no appeal to the "progressive traditionalists" who used to comprise the base of the party.

He does have a point here. I've said this before -- the Democrats beat a single-note tune on Roe until everyone's fucking sick of it. They need to understand that most people are temperamentally opposed to abortion, save a true medical problem or serious birth defect. They simply put up with it as part of a larger privacy issue. I myself split the philosophical difference by opining that for those women who may find the whole thing easy, like pulling a tooth, they really shouldn't be parents anyway. (That doesn't mitigate my contempt for such people, mind you. I'm just not going to let my sheer revulsion at their actions dictate my thoughts on what decent, well-meaning people should do when they're in an untenable situation.)

Still, the real root of Roe is Griswold, and the real root of Griswold is privacy, and the role of the state in regulating private behavior. The Democrats would do themselves a huge favor by emphasizing privacy at least as much as they emphasize choice. The conservatard agenda has been quite open -- either load the Supreme Court outright to overturn Roe (and even Griswold), or at least present the "compromise" of states' rights. This is no compromise at all -- there is no compelling reason to deny women in Utah the fundamental rights that women in New York would have. Yet that is probably what is going to happen now, and Delaware voters are welcome to thank Biden and his dumb fucking cap by sending them down the road the next chance they get. Enough is enough.

But what is enough for the Moose? He never quite seems to get to that part. He's too busy whinging about those awful, awful liberal values (or lack thereof).

Sam Alito would not be the Moose's choice in a Supreme Court nominee. He is far too differential [sic] to money power. And of course, he has been evasive in his answers - that is the way the game is now played.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. Funny how Wittman, for all his sober pronunciamentos against his putative ideological brethren (or at least cousins), he just can't get around to saying exactly how Kennedy and Schumer should have approached this kabuki. They put up a vigorous opposition. They pointed to a record that Alito was happy to own up to when he was just another bureaucratic suck-up, but couldn't run away from fast enough now. Alito is simply another flunky for a worthless administration awash in flunkies. He'll fit right in. He's a lifelong enabler of useless plutocrats like the Bushes. He's a friend to corporate bastards, the sort who look at mining safety fines as merely the cost of doing bidness -- until actual humans die in the bowels of the earth, then they're oh so very sorry and pretty please don't sue us tort reform!

Whatever grandstanding Kennedy and Schumer engaged in was at least factually based. You want to talk grandstanding, look at that worthless sack of shit Coburn, that glad-handing moron Sessions. Lindsey Graham's little verbal handjob that culminated in the exquisite timing of Mrs. Strip Search Sammy running tearfully from those eeeeevil libruls. The whole thing was a put-on, and Wittman knows it. He used to work for these fuckers, after all; he knows exactly what they're capable of. Yet apparently the Democrats are just supposed to sit there and parrot the tiresome "heartland values" tropes long-owned by the Republican demagogues, and somehow make something out of them. Well, you know what, pal? The fucking heartland put Tom Coburn in the US Senate.

Besides, the Democrats tried that shit in '04. They did everything by the book except pick on fags, and that turned out to be their undoing. So what the fuck?

I agree with Wittman that Democrats need to revamp their playbook, but I disagree about the direction. The fake Repub shit isn't working anymore, hasn't been working for some time, isn't going to work, period. Regardless, one can be disdainful of the Democrats' frequently ham-fisted tactics, but one also needs to be mindful of the ratfucks they're up against, and either reserve the greater measure of contempt for Crazy Coburn and friends, or just fucking vote Republican already and have done with it.

I, for one, do not want to be part of a political movement that has no greater goal than to cynically genuflect to fickle "values voters" whose true values boil down to merely covering their own asses. Fuck that shit. Either we stand for something, or we don't. Maybe Wittman doesn't care, but I'm tired of these chumps bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Seat-Oilers For Christ

Fucking weirdos.

Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday.

Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name.

"We did adequately apply oil to all the seats," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identified himself as an evangelical Christian and as president of the National Clergy Council in Washington.

Then they sacrificed a chicken, took some peyote, and did a rain dance. Feel better now, goofballs? Good grief, what year is this again?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Blue Sky Mining

ReddHedd at firedoglake has a brilliant post on some of the issues that the West Virginia mining tragedy brings to the forefront:

We have lost our way in this country in terms of values. I don't mean in the wingy sort of way in which values are usually discussed, where you say a bunch of superficial nonsense about gays getting married and the country going to hell as a result, either. That's just another one of those fear tactics stirred up by political types who want to play divide and conquer to win elections by working the ends against the middle.

No, what I'm talking about goes deeper into who we are, into issues of where we ought to be. And these are issues that Democrats used to be for, in the not so distant past, but they have all but disappeared from the discussion in the last few years.


CEOs for some of the major corporations in this country make obscene amounts of money, all the while, in a lot of cases, running the company into the ground and then taking off on their golden parachute ride -- leaving behind the folks who are living on the margins on their $7 an hour (and that's a great salary for a whole huge group of people in this country, let me tell you) to pick the pieces out of all those broken promises.

We need a voice for those people. John Edwards picked up this theme in the last election cycle during the primaries -- with his Two Americas -- and I would love to see that discussion continued into 2006. People who make $7 an hour (or less) can't afford to hire Jack Abramoff to represent their interests to the big shots in Washington. They generally aren't in any sort of union -- which would at least give them a possibility of an organized voice of some sort (although these days, that certainly isn't assured). They have no big money voice to back them up in Washington.

These are the folks that Democrats used to be able to depend on for a vote -- because the party spent time working on issues that lifted up the least of our nation, to give them a shot at the American dream, just like everyone else.

Yep. It's amazing that they've been so easily co-opted on hollow "values" issues, but part of the source of their defection is that the Dems took them for granted, while going along with big-business pelf. Joe Biden is a perfect example of this syndrome, a slick, well-spoken, calculating prick who gets his tough-guy schtick ready for the Sunday morning circle jerks, but heels when MBNA snaps its fingers. How many working-class folks get to watch their credit card bills go through the roof, with no bankruptcy protection, and no way to pay their doubled minimums, because some pencil-psuhers feel that we don't save enough (because there's nothing left to save), and Biden danced with them that brung him?

When people realize that they have no one looking out for them, they figure they may as well just go with someone that'll make 'em feel tough and give them someone else to kick in the process.

Fair wages for a fair day's work are essential. But how does that happen in an era when health insurance costs are through the roof -- for both the worker and the business employing them -- and energy costs are eating up the margins for a lot of other businesses who might have some slack? For that matter, exactly how does a CEO justify making 350 times or more than his lowest paid worker, all the while running a business into the ground with bad decisions?

The bottom line is this: there are some really tough choices facing this nation (and the discussion above is my no means a comprehensive list), and we need to approach them carefully because the results of our action or inaction have long-term ramifications for our children. Democrats used to own these issues because they listened to the voices of those people who needed help, who needed a hand up, and who were willing to do the work on their end to get the job done. And they spoke up for them, gave them a voice in the halls of power.

Amen. Read the whole thing; it's a wonderful, passionate synopsis of this strange malaise that has infected this country's soul.

One final thing about the mining tragedy, and it's really all I'm even going to say on the subject: I note that a pretty healthy chunk of media coverage, from when the miners were still initially thought to be alive, through now, as they prepare for the funerals, seems to revolve around all this ceremonial genuflection to God. Their prayers were first thought to be answered, then the exact opposite. Now the priests are insisting that God was with the miners as they expired. Um, no. If that were the case, they'd have been rescued, no?

The boilerplate response to that is always that it was all just part of His Plan. But you look at the lives of the people in these areas -- even had the miners been rescued, what then? Recuperate and back to work, or move to where there's some opportunity. It's nasty, dangerous work, work that no one aspires to, work that people get caught in, mired in, because they are in an area that presents them with no decent choices.

Top that off with the concessions that the extraction industries have wrung out of this administration, and you wonder what sort of deity has a plan that dooms the hopeful and exalts the useless. If there was a God, wouldn't Paris Hilton or Michael Jackson have been trapped in a mine shaft?

So enough of the mindless navel-gazing, media weasels. We get it -- the pious walk the earth, publicly resigned to their fate, and we must all pretend that the invocations and rituals have some practical meaning. If they spur us to have the sort of national conversation ReddHedd describes, then yes. But when the air time is saturated instead with chanting and praying, not so much. It has devolved into some sort of rubbernecking cathartic Event.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Seeing The World Through Rose-Colored Eyeballs: A ClownHall Fisking

TownHall columnist/chick magnet Ben Shapiro waxes so rhapsodic about America's current role in the world, it makes you wonder just what drugs he's taking, and where the rest of us can score some.

Of course, Shapiro's entire archive is worthy of a good solid scrubbing, but let's take a look at his most current affront to common sense:

Amid all of the end-of-the-year hoopla surrounding wartime executive power, the upcoming debate on Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito and the controversy about renewing the Patriot Act, it's easy to lose perspective. This has been a year of complicated political situations, from Valerie Plame to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, from Jack Abramoff to Randy "Duke" Cunningham, from New Orleans to Iraq.

Actually, none of those examples are "complicated" at all; they're quite simple really. Plame was outed as retribution by a mendacious, calculating gang of partisan thugs; it's a classic case of an insular claque using their flunkies in the lapdog media to do their dirty work for them. FISA has been working as intended to all along; the administration decided unilaterally that it would be too much of a hassle to get them involved with their latest master plan. Abramoff's a pimp, Cunningham's a whore, New Orleans is getting de-negro-fied and Iraq's a clusterfuck. Doesn't sound too "complicated" to me.

With wall-to-wall media coverage blanketing us in details ranging from the fascinating to the dreary, perhaps we've lost the forest for the trees. Because amidst all the political turmoil, something grand happened this year: America's situation in the world improved by leaps and bounds.

Someone's been chugging the Kool-Aid. Let's listen in on the voices in Shapiro's head.

At the end of 2004, grave doubts about the feasibility of democracy in Iraq remained. No vote had yet taken place; no written constitution had been ratified. But in January 2005, the Iraqi people swarmed to the polls, astounding election observers who believed the threat of violence would deter Iraqis from voting. Still, critics pointed out that the Sunni population had not turned out. On Dec. 15, even that shortcoming was remedied as the strong participation of Sunnis forced an extension of poll hours in some areas of Iraq. And in October, the Iraqi people ratified their Constitution.

And since Dec. 15, there's been nothing but claims of fraud and intimidation. The Kurds have actively infiltrated the vaunted Iraqi Defense Forces with their ethnic peshmerga, and have signed their own extragovernmental oil contracts with a Norwegian oil company. The other two-thirds of the country is plummeting into an abyss of sectarian violence and civil war. The loathsome burqa, outlawed even under the vile Hussein regime, is making a comeback in Iraq. All the nice purple-finger pics and rebuilt schools aren't going to change those terrible facts. This is simply not a country on its way up.

There is still work to do, but the end is in sight -- victory is in sight. It is for that reason that the Bush administration, which has been so steadfast in refusing to set a hard pullout deadline, now speaks of drawing down troop levels. In less than three years, America and its allies have turned Iraq from a radical terrorist-funding dictatorship capable of threatening its neighbors into a laboratory of democracy in the Middle East. And 2005 was the turning point.

Please. In less than three years, the US has spent and allocated over $300 billion trying to pacify a prostrate country that was supposed to have been rolled in a cakewalk of infinite gratitude. Instead we are broke and discredited, tweaked by Iran, encircled by China, looked upon with suspicion and scorn by our closest friends. The whole world knows that it didn't have to happen this way, and they're not in a very forgiving mood right now.

Over the past two years and four months, the economy has created 4.2 million new jobs. Labor productivity continued to rise this year, as it has risen every quarter since the first quarter of 2001; the productivity rate is currently rising faster than it has in 40 years. In the third quarter of 2005, the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent, a solid indicator of economic health. Since 2002, the economy has created 2.3 million additional minority homeowners. And the holiday season this year was incredibly successful, with retail spending up 8.7 percent from the same period last year. All of this despite the economic effects of the continued War on Terror and the costs of a massive hurricane wiping one of America's largest cities from the map. Our economy remains vibrant and continues to grow.

The last two quarters have been good, on paper anyway. But a lot of American families live on the margin, and if the housing bubble bursts, if interest rates keep rising, if credit-card payments keep getting jacked up, a lot of folks are going to go under. The GDP doesn't measure the widening gap between the haves and have-nots; the unemployment rate doesn't count the people who have been thrown off because they couldn't find a decent job. Real wages are pretty much stagnant, while the cost of living never is. People who live in Think Tank World never seem to get that.

At the end of 2004, Americans voted on which candidate would better handle the War on Terror. President Bush won. So far, so good. Since Sept. 11, law enforcement has broken up terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, thanks to instruments like the Patriot Act. Terrorists caught overseas were mined for information -- information that has been extremely useful, as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, a top al-Qaeda mastermind.

I submit that Bush didn't "win", so much as Kerry lost. Bush's 51% "mandate" was more of a referendum on Kerry supposed haughty demeanor. I can't imagine any sane person watched Bush's babbling attempts at extemporaneous thought, and figured he'd be any good. They just didn't like Kerry, because he failed to pierce their bubble of self-absorption, the lizard-brain level at which people conflate their politics with their perception of themselves.

Secondly, this is pure speculation, but based on the conduct of congressional Republicans and right-wing pundits toward all things Clinton, I find it very difficult to believe that if Kerry had won, that they'd just put up with what's happened the past year, and let Kerry spy on whoever he wants, whenever he wants, with no oversight. It just wouldn't happen. Shapiro and friends would be howling at the moon about the sacred rule of Law.

Despite all of this good news, Americans remain pessimistic. Recent polls demonstrate rising support for President Bush, but that support remains well below 50 percent. While the economy continues to climb, only 38 percent of Americans support Bush's handling of the economy, according to CBS News. Americans also show low levels of support for Bush's foreign policy, at 36 percent, for his leadership in the fight against terrorism, at 48 percent, and his management of Iraq, at 36 percent. Over 60 percent of Americans feel that the country is moving in the wrong direction, according to an AP/Ipsos poll from early December.

Ah, here's the Hobson's choice every thinkamator must make, when reciting unfavorable poll figures. How to endorse the vaunted wisdom of the electorate, when said wisdom is at loggerheads with one's own thesis?

Why are Americans so downhearted? Certainly, the media's focus on certain stories (FISA, Plame) at the expense of others (voting in Iraq, the economy) has dampened our enthusiasm while exacerbating our discontent.

Of course, the confounded media! Yes, that same media that helpfully sat on the Plame and FISA stories for over a year each, so that the American people wouldn't know in time to actually do anything about it at the ballot box. That media focus, Ben? Tweety and Li'l Russ picking ticks off each others' asses while John Yoo helps the Bushies wipe their asses with the US Constitution? White House reporters showing up to the daily follies and acting like a faithful steno pool, no matter how thick the bullshit gets?

Is that the media focus Shapiro is pooh-poohing? Look, Junior, take a minute and just imagine the world of shit Dear Leader might be in if the press actually did their jobs and investigated shit in a timely fashion. If half the stuff that came down in '05 had been reported a year earlier -- like it should have been -- Kerry probably would have won in a landslide.

Then again, who knows? Again, it's all speculative, and again, Americans have frequently tended to be their own worst enemies in the long run.

But at the end of 2005, let's pause for a moment and realize that despite 2005's tragedies, we are better off today than we were a year ago, or two years ago, or at any time since the attacks of Sept. 11. We are moving in the right direction. And 2006 will be even better.

He may be right about that. Maybe the tide can finally turn after all. Maybe the Democrats made some halftime adjustments during their holiday break, and can come back and take their A game to these crooked slugs. Maybe they can hang the albatrosses of Abramoff and DeLay around the neck of the GOP, where they truly belong. Maybe they can put as much effort into making sure every American is as aware of Jack Murtha's plan, as they are of George W. Bush's non-plan.

There's always hope. Perhaps Shapiro's morning-in-America prediction will prove true -- just not in the direction he so disingenuously opines.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Marion's Death Cult

Marion strikes again.

On the January 5 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was the result of Sharon's policy, which he claimed is "dividing God's land." Robertson admonished: "I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU [European Union], the United Nations, or United States of America." Although Robertson professed that "Sharon was personally a very likeable person," he nonetheless declared that "God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' " Robertson called the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "the same thing." A previous CBN news article, titled "Dividing the Land, Dishonoring God's Covenant," examined Sharon's decision to return control of the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority.

Shouldn't Marion be wandering the streets in filthy clothes, greasy hair, and a sandwich board proclaiming "The End Is Near"? Why the fucking fuck does this weirdo still have a fucking TV show? Who the hell are the morons keeping this lunatic on the air?

Plus just the sheer inhumanity of it all, compounding Marion's moral ruthlessness. I'm not a huge fan of Sharon myself, but I'll at least assume right up front that everything he's done has been with Israel's interests at heart. Per usual, Marion is talking straight out of his ass, and he has no business denigrating Sharon's commitment to his country and his faith, whatever one's discontents with his various policies and deeds over the years.

And in making the decision to de-settle Gaza, and form another political party to counter Likud, Sharon has indeed made at least the overture to reach out and attempt to make some semblance of peace. I'm not sure which God Marion worships anymore, but I thought it was the One whose Son said, "Blessed are the peacemakers". As always, I'm not sure what sane person would want any part of Marion's vile, bloodthirsty, vindictive deity.

Whatever the case, it's high time someone stepped up and pulled the plug on this loon. And yes, activist Christians have a responsibility to step up and publicly disavow this nonsense. It simply will not stand anymore; not only is it morally reprehensible, but Sharon is a head of state, and once again Marion has inserted his snout in affairs that are simply beyond him.

But then, since Marion's true lord and savior is mere pelf, he may indeed find that he has displeased his master. Seems Marion's been working on building a "Biblical heritage center" in God's land:

A patch of Galilee where Jesus Christ ministered to multitudes has been targeted by Israel for a biblical “heritage center” that may be built in partnership with Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson and other American evangelicals.

According to the Jerusalem Post , the Israeli tourism department said an evangelical consortium led by Robertson, whose Christian Broadcasting Network is based in Virginia Beach, is negotiating a deal with Israel’s government that could yield a flood of new tourists for the country. Various reports predicted an agreement could be reached in weeks or months.

Oh, it would just be too fucking sweet if Marion's big mouth inadvertently squashed the deal, by getting the Israelis' collective back up over this. No doubt he'll climb back down out his tree tomorrow, and "clarify" his earlier statements -- or flat out lie and deny he ever said what he said, like he did with the Hugo Chàvez deal last summer.

....the Jerusalem Post reported that evangelicals would raise about $50 million to build a “heritage center” on land Israel would provide for free.

The project reportedly is targeting land on the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, northeast of Capernaum, a town that was the center of Jesus’ outreach as described in the New Testament. The sea is the famous lake where Jesus is said to have walked on water. The tract would be northeast of the site where Jesus is said to have delivered his Sermon on the Mount.

The size of the tract could be as small as 33 acres or as large as 125 acres, according to various published reports.

A report filed from Tel Aviv by The Guardian, a British newspaper, said the park would include outdoor amphitheaters, a garden and nature park, a Holy Land exhibit, an auditorium and a media center.

One thing I've always liked about Israel -- even when I've disagreed with some of their specific policies -- is the way they handle themselves. They don't take shit from anybody, and they don't let themselves get pushed around. And I hope they realize that, despite all the overtures and hand-holding from Marion and his scummy little friends, they really do believe that Jews are going to hell when the Rapture comes. Oh sure, they make little grunting ecumenical noises about how they're all worshipping the same God, but the evangelicals truly do think they're the only ones who'll be gwine up ta hebbin when the time comes.

So it's really a matter of whether tourist dollars come before national and religious pride, and an overt, public slap in the face by a doddering lunatic who needs to get struck by a fucking bolt of lightning already.