Monday, October 30, 2006

Sticking It To Whitey

The second I saw Billmon's Uncle Wolf spoof, I knew he had to be anticipating the shrill imprecations from all sides to be imminently lobbed at his bunker. Sure enough, they arrive as scheduled, perhaps the safest yet shallowest mode of demonstrating one's putative commitment to at least the appearance of grave concern over something or other.

Of course such nonsense conveniently elides Billmon's essential point, which was how absurd that Blitzer, a toady's toady, as reliable a corporate water-carrier as one is likely to find outside of an Alhambra truck, is suddenly taking umbrage, suddenly noticing the seething contempt that creatures like Lynne Cheney have always felt for people like himself. It took someone as preternaturally smug, condescending, and hostile as she to truncheon Blitzer with the political talking point the current wave of zone-flooders wish to drive home -- "do you want us to win?"

And because Blitzer is conditioned after years of mendicant stooping to his (and our) inferiors, bred to pretend that titles magically confer some sort of holy authority, he is more concerned about his patriotism being questioned by a vile shrew than about the deliberately absurd, pointed scope of Cheney's question. Say what you will about these people, they know exactly how to draw a fucking line, and then stand back and watch the scrambling fun.

If Blitzer (or any of the other people who have been speared with this faux-indignant scrap of cheap sophistry) had an ounce of wit about them, the immediate response would be, "Do you?"

But instead we get bogged down in the political accessorizing, the rallying around of this or that perceived jab at gender or racial or tribal identity, as if Billmon was running around screaming the n-word. It's a needless distraction, always, but especially right now. We should be more concerned on an order of magnitude about Republican operatives like Lynne Cheney and Bill O'Reilly asking this stupid, hypocritical question of their political opponents, and about crafting a well-timed, well-aimed response to it.

People have been speculating since late August about the traditional "October Surprise". Much of that speculation has centered around a destroyer group that is arriving in the Straits of Hormuz for what most are euphemistically terming "military exercises"; i.e., a surprise attack on Iran a few days before the election. This is not exactly an unrealistic notion, though such an attack would fail to utilize basic principles such as sufficiency, necessity, and viability. By that I mean that an attack on Iran would have to consist of air raids exclusively, with no ground support to follow, which would incur many civilian casualties and instantly render us as a rogue nation in the eyes of the rest of the world. It would create a real problem with our Chinese financial patrons, who have a lot of their own money sunk into deals with the Iranians. That's not to say that it couldn't happen, but there is demonstrable lack of sufficiency and viability.

I believe that lack of necessity can be contended by positing that the real October Surprise is that there isn't one. Oh, another Osama tape or some such might surface, or we might kill our 400th #3 al Qaeda commander on November 5th. But once again those are merely media distractions. The real beauty of the surprise is that they haven't needed one as badly as we think they think they do. Because their ground game is much better, much more established at this point. Members of church congregations are generally on the same page, as are owners of extraction industries, as are jingoistic yahoos. It's just a matter of getting and keeping brand recognition from self-selecting demographics. Overtly appealing to the "broken glass" voters, the mouth-breathing retards who will show up out of spite more than anything, is the backbone of their electoral strategy. We seem to think we're supposed to win just because our ideas and principles are better; perhaps we should brush up on our Mencken.

If they lose, it won't be because Democrats got their shit together, though they are finally starting to find spine in at least microscopic quantities for a change. This is a start, but it is only that. Even in a solid victory, even in a retake of both houses, Democrats will have to immediately ramp it up to maintain momentum. Because the Republican media echo chamber has many rooms, from the radio screamer noise machine to passive pussy enablers like Leslie Blitzer, who routinely barter their common sense in exchange for perceived journamalistic credibility.

I don't know how to put this any more simply -- there is no reason to take a person like Lynne Cheney seriously, especially not in a public forum. There is no reason to ask Ann Coulter her opinion on anything, any more than there could be a legitimate reason to interview Charles Manson. Sensible people understand this, even if people like Wolf Blitzer and Tweety Matthews do not.

Those are our concerns, and we do not have infinite time or space to waste on peripheral piffle like complaining about the blogospheric spoofing of journalist lackeys. We are getting a lot better at flooding the zone on the internets, but we need to know when to just let them waste their own time and space on one. This is one of those times. They're looking for anything and everything they can scrounge up on our side, to try to distract themselves and each other -- and us -- from the manifest failure of their people, their principles, and their policies. Creating a bullshit diversion over political correctness is a move of desperation, and as such, should be met with scorn and contempt, and nothing else, if at all.

The Feeling's Mutual

Digby has the right take on this asshole's raving nonsense, in which he tells us how much he hates us. Hey, right back atcha, dickhead.

WHEN I WAS speechwriting at the White House, one rule was enforced without exception. The president would not be given drafts that lowered him or The Office by responding to the articulations of hatred that drove so many of his critics.

This rule was especially relevant to remarks that concerned the central topic of our times, Iraq. Having left the White House more than a year ago, I conclude that the immunizing effect of that rule must have expired, because I now find that I am infected with a hatred for the very quarter that inspired the rule--the deranged, lying left.

These people literally have no shame, they are so completely and utterly disingenuous in their protracted garment-rending. It's as if offical speechifying was the be-all/end-all of the power of the bully pulpit. One would read Burgess' foaming idiocy and think that all this happened in a vacuum, as if the entire administration posse hadn't ridden out consistently over the past few years and deliberately engendered this polarization.

This moron thinks we're all just going to sit back and let him and his punk pals call us traitors and pussies and not say anything? Eat shit and die, Fucko. My only hope is that when the Democrats finally do take over, they have the balls to step up and squash them once and for all, like the corrupt, thieving, mendacious, scuttling cockroaches they are.

Goddamn I'm sick of this bullshit, these people who have sat back and chuckled at every cheap rhetorical scud their friends have launched at the people who voiced principled disagreement -- people, it scarcely needs to be said, have been proven thus far to be correct in their disagreements, and correct in their assumptions regarding this administrations competence and principles. Burgess whines about Howard Dean's realistic assessment of the war, but has nothing to say about, for starters, what serious Republicans like Chuck Hagel and John Warner have said, that essentially jibe with what Dean has actually said.

I don't agree with the things that the extremists Burgess names has said either. I have little use for the destructive sophistry of the Ward Churchills of the world, though I note that if Churchill were a Republican, he'd either have a gig on Fox News, or a Regnery book contract. The wingers do take care of their own over there.

But conflating a few radical academics with a preponderance of regular citizens who have not launched inflammatory rhetoric, but have consistently recognized the administration players for exactly what they are, is deliberately dishonest and obfuscatory. It's by design, as Digby points out, and hypocritically so. The timing is anything but coincidental, but is rather optimized to stir up the haters in their own base, the people who time and again have shown that they vote out of no thought for policy or love of country, but out of pure spite, malice, and ignorance. They let pedigreed fools like Burgess whip them up and point them in the desired direction. They are nothing but automatons, and they deserve to fail miserably.

And make no mistake -- they are already preparing for that eventuality. They are already frantically trying to get their stories straight, to revise their conventional wisdom, and justify their continued employment.

One thing that you can say about Bush is that, by and large, he doesn't change. Any basis for criticizing him has been glaringly apparent for quite some time. All that has changed is the fact that he is now wildly unpopular and that his failures are too glaring for most to deny. Because of that dramatic change -- and for no other reason -- these Bush-worshipping pundits are desperate to shed their Bush-following skin and pretend that they have been open-eyed realists and critics all along.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging one's errors and changing one's mind. When it is genuine, that is a commendable attribute which ought to be encouraged. But that isn't what is happening with the Peggy Noonans of the world (including the serious, moderate Beltway pundits who spent the last five years lecturing all of us on the importance of Supporting the President). They aren't admitting anything. To the contrary, they are pretending to be something that they are not -- namely, wise, objective, insightful analysts who all along have long seen the flaws in the President that have caused his presidency to collapse.

They are not analysts who have changed their minds or bravely recognized their errors. They are just self-serving, deceitful rats jumping a sinking ship that they long helped to keep afloat. Worse, they are doing so while pretending that they were never really on board (Noonan: "it's clear now to everyone in the Republican Party that Mr. Bush has changed the modern governing definition of 'conservative.' He did this without asking. He did it even without explaining"). If Bush's popularity skyrocketed tomorrow, their gushing praise would instantaneously return.

Right on the money, and Digby has been on top of this particular issue for many a moon as well. Nooners herself is not a neocon, but she is an old-school movementarianism, which dovetails neatly with the current Serious Thinkers' angle of epistemological retreat. Because most of the neocons are disaffected liberals, or out-and-out converted Trotskyites, permanent revolution is the backbone of the game plan. It's also wrapped up in their puling, projected daddy issues, which manifest themselves in the utilization of the Great Man theory, in which Bush is supposed to be the rhetorical heir to Churchill or Lincoln.

But when the Great Man's sand castle gets washed away, then they reflexively decide that it was he who failed the movement, not the inherent flaws in the movement itself, nor their own ridiculous clatter. It's as if Nooners, like her one-time hero (I recall one post-SOTU mash note where Nooners actually offered the nauseating riff that she practically felt like Her Hero could suddenly rip open his suit and shirt and reveal the Superman costume underneath. Seriously.), doesn't know that we all have resources where we can capture the record of their contradictions and shameless turnabouts and throw them back.

Either that or, again, when a huge part of your electoral strategy is not only to harness but encourage spite and ignorance, there's not really a downside to making shit up as you go along. It's not like their followers ever hold it against them.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Brief Football Arcana

It needs to be said, football fans -- if the Raiders' offense was even half as good as their defense, they'd be straight-up giant killers right now. Mainly I just enjoy the statistical oddity that in this game, defensive back/kick returner Chris Carr outgunned the entire offensive production by a 2:1 ratio. Between the dropped balls, missed blocks, messed routes, and sacks allowed, the offense did everything they could to hand the game over to the reeling league champion Steelers, but the defense refused to let them. Good for them.

And good for Art Shell for finally coming to his senses and getting Jerry Porter on the field for the first time this season. With Randy Moss dropping more passes than he's hauling in these days, and the inexplicably stupid Doug Gabriel trade at the beginning of the season (when Porter was already agitating for a trade), this pathetic offense needs every weapon out there that it can find.

Quarterback Andrew Walter is not exactly making anyone forget about Joe Montana or Brett Favre, but his veteran receiver corps is doing precious little to hold up their end of the bargain. Walter at least looks like he gives a shit. Hopefully Porter's return will help add some life to a truly dreadful offensive team, otherwise this is just a blip in another 4-12 season.

Crock The Vote

So when Diebold's chairman promises in writing to deliver Ohio for the Republicans, it's just a slip of the tongue, but when Sequoia -- which actually gives you a paper receipt, unlike Diebold -- gets bought by Venezuelans, we gots to get our investimagate on:

Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., based in Oakland, Calif., said the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, was conducting the formal inquiry into it as well as its parent software company, the Smartmatic Corp., at the firms' request after news articles suggested improper ties.

The inquiry was focusing on last year's acquisition of Sequoia by Boca Raton, Fla.-based Smartmatic, which is owned by three Venezuelans, and whether Chavez's leftist government has any influence over their operations.

As the article says, this is at the companies' request, but still, it seems to be the wrong end of the equation to be looking at. The need for verifiable paper trails, and the the ability to foil potential hacking and tampering, are far more important aspects to be looking into than whether every Venezuelan is a Chàvez lackey. Perhaps one of them donated money to his campaign, as Diebold's did to Bush.

Not to mention the stone hypocrisy; how many electoral processes around the world over the past century have we sobverted or outright tampered with?

If you didn't know better, sometimes you might just get the impression that it's more important to maintain the feel and veneer of democracy, than to actually take principled, meaningful steps to ensure that every citizen has at least some say in how their government is run. But that would just be paranoid, wouldn't it?

Crimes Of War

Let's say you have a border skirmish between a legitimate nation and some cells of a terrorist group in a neighboring nation. The terrorist cells have also attempted to legitimize themselves both by getting elected to governmental posts and by actual grass-roots efforts in the community. This has allowed the group -- which may or may not actually be attempting to gain true political legitimacy, and abandon its violent origins, à la the IRA.

Now, let's say that in the context of the aforementioned skirmish, the aggrieved nation retaliated against this terrorist group by taking disproportionate measures, such as destroying the recently rebuilt infrastructure of the entire country, inflicting a roughly 12:1 civilian casualty rate, turning a quarter of the country's population into internal refugees, and dropping scores of cluster bombs, leaving countless unexploded bomblets to indiscriminately ravage further unsuspecting civilians. Still with me?

Now, let's say that in addition to the disproportionate level of retaliation and targeting of civilians and infrastructure, and the morally egregious cluster bombs, it turns out this nation also used enriched uranium and phosphorus bombs.

We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.

But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

If Iran or North Korea had done such things to their neighbors, considering the level and concentration of the provocation, we'd be twisting arms at the UN to commence bombing at once, and rightly so.

This summer's Lebanon war began after Hizbollah guerrillas crossed the Lebanese frontier into Israel, captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others, prompting Israel to unleash a massive bombardment of Lebanon's villages, cities, bridges and civilian infrastructure. Human rights groups have said that Israel committed war crimes when it attacked civilians, but that Hizbollah was also guilty of such crimes because it fired missiles into Israel which were also filled with ball-bearings, turning their rockets into primitive one-time-only cluster bombs.

Many Lebanese, however, long ago concluded that the latest Lebanon war was a weapons testing ground for the Americans and Iranians, who respectively supply Israel and Hizbollah with munitions. Just as Israel used hitherto-unproven US missiles in its attacks, so the Iranians were able to test-fire a rocket which hit an Israeli corvette off the Lebanese coast, killing four Israeli sailors and almost sinking the vessel after it suffered a 15-hour on-board fire.

I have no illusions whatsoever about who the good guys and bad guys are here, but the fact of the matter is that the response was disproportionate and inhumane based on what was known at the time, and now looks to be even worse than previously assumed. This is despicable, but not surprising, least of all to the provocateurs themselves, who deserve a certain amount of blame for expecting the response they got, and putting the civilian population in danger with sheer disregard anyway.

Still. Spontaneously combusting infant corpses. Radioactive pollution with genuinely unforeseeable consequences. Munitions which essentially function as above-ground mines, to rend and shred the innocent who stumble upon them. Is this victory, much less a moral one?


ClownHall raver Kevin McCullough is a notch above (or beneath, if you prefer) the usual level of knuckle-dragging nonsense his associates engage in. McCullough's specialty seems to be what gets loosely termed as "social issues", but the seething pathology informing his toxic schtick appears to run somewhat deeper.

Normally you could just chalk it up to their usual tendentious hackery, and there is plenty of that, but McCullough strives for so much more than just hacktastic shit-shoveling.

Despite of all that their angry-mob front groups argue for in front of television cameras to the contrary, radical homosexual activists despise the institution and more importantly the sanctity of marriage. That is also the fundamental reason why they are seeking to destroy the institution.

How many flat-out lies are in just that introductory paragraph? What "angry mob" has accompanied any of these purported "front groups"? I think the activist groups have been pretty honest about their agenda, and I have yet to hear of anything but peaceful -- if perhaps colorful -- protest.

Next, there is nothing terribly "radical" at all about the desire for equal treament under the law, and if they "despise the institution" and want to "destroy" it, then why are they trying so hard to participate in it? Finally, there is no such thing as the "sanctity of marriage". There, I said it. This a weird fiction that just needs to be put down, once and for all.

Marriage is a great arrangement to help ensure the economic and social stability that a productive family unit thrives on -- which is all the more reason to allow gay couples to participate in it. But these evangelical nuts with their "sanctity" this and "sacred institution" that -- bollocks. As far as governmental entities are (and should be) concerned, it's an arrangement to facilitate certain rights of inheritance, transference, and custody and familial stability for young children.

But the goofballs who constantly fret over "protecting" their sanctified institution (yet for some reason don't say shit about the countless straight people, famous and not, who abuse and defame it on a regular basis) always, always default to their natural law/God's will redoubt. This displays a manifest understanding of the totality of human history, as civilizations existed for thousands of years before sanctified marital writ came about, and most had no significant hangups about sexuality in the first place. Not that these folks are about to let silly facts get in the way of their frantic rhetoric.

Still, it's useful to consider, in addition to the utter lack of factual data to support any of their assertions, the tone and content of their argument.

But why? What's the real goal of the activists, the judges, and the radicals who seek to subvert a moral world view?

The answer is simple, no longer satisfied with practicing the unspeakable perverse sexual pleasures that their hearts seek in private bedrooms, they wish to be able to do so in public. They are also suffering from such immense guilt over the actions of their sexual behaviors because they know inherently that the actions they perform are in fact unhealthy - that they will go to any means necessary to try and shut down the voices in their heads that tell them it is wrong.

They wrongfully believe that the guilty voice within them is an echo of a prudish state that seeks to limit their freedoms. They wrongfully believe that the judgment they feel is emanating from "bible thumpers." And what they fail to ever admit is that the voice that condemns them the loudest, is never a human voice - but in fact the voice of their own conscience informed by the truth of the God who created them.

It goes on like that. Sure, it's hateful and arrogant and ignorant and all that, but what it really is is obsessive, to the point of being a textbook instance of the psychological projection of a closet case. Really, nothing else makes sense -- because, let's face it, letting Rosie O'Donnell marry her girlfriend has no greater or lesser effect in the aggregate than allowing Britney Spears to marry two guys in the same year. It's nonsense, of course, but if God really does have as much of a problem with it as His presumptive mouthpieces claim, then He will take it up with the people He created. Either way, it's out of your hands and none of your damned business, Jethro.

And it's exactly what I was referring to earlier in pointing out the retarded hypocrisy of Dennis Miller's nonsensical plaint of Nancy Pelosi being "the nosy neighbor from Bewitched". What on earth could be more nosy than constantly worrying about what consenting adults are doing behind closed doors? The Republicans have chosen to align themselves with these crazy bastards, and hopefully they -- much to McCullough's chagrin -- go down together.

Down On Duh Corner

Lodged in the midst of K. Lo's unrequited love sonnets to Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney was this choice pas de deux between legacy doofus P.T. Pantload and legacy troglodyte J. Pod. As always, the tie goes to the one who can actually think somewhat coherently on occasion -- which leaves Goldberg back at the gate scratching the spot where his balls should be:

Legacy Thinker #1:

Re: Babbitry [Jonah Goldberg]

JPod - I find your position interesting on this. You came to the defense of Michael J. Fox's ad on stem cell research, saying politics ain't beanbag. But when the Allen campaign zings Webb on his fiction, you sigh that your [sic] "embarrassed to be on the Right." I'm sympathetic to the idea that one can way overread Webb's fiction as a reflection on the man's qualifications as Senator. But I'm just curious as to why you think one is beyond the pale and the other is just good old fashioned politics?

Legacy Thinker #2:

The Webb-Fox Difference [John Podhoretz]

Here's how I'd define the difference. It is true that Jim Talent wants to restrict some forms of stem-cell research. By contrast, Jim Webb does not take a position in support of grown men placing their sons' penises in their mouths.

You can almost feel for J. Pod, as it must take every ounce of will to restrain himself from smacking the Pride of Goucher with something along the lines of, "Do you really need this explained to you, or are you just fuckin' with me?"

I'm sure Goldberg's next struggle against rational thought, if it ever gets released, should provide almost as many inadvertent snickers as that piece of crap Pornmumu wrote and still couldn't credibly defend. Someday these welfare queens will actually have to find real jobs, the Flying Spaghetti Monster willing, and one assumes there will be paper hats involved.

Serious Thinkers

Shorter Andrew Ferguson:

Jim Webb's supposed policy incoherence and reflexive populism is much worse than Felix Macacawitz' bland toadying for Chimpco, fake redneckery, and history of violent bullying.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Water Sports

It's nothing short of bizarre, the way Big Time's tacit acknowledgement of freedom-boarding -- of people who have not been charged with a crime, much less tried, mind you -- has been hijacked by this idiotic meta-argument. Did Cheney "admit" something, or can we parse this a different way? Does "dunking" actually mean taking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to a waterslide park, or the softball dunk tank at a county fair, or can we safely assume that it means what we all know perfectly well that it means?

It's all very cheap and unnecessary, and it bespeaks what we've fallen to, to put it as succinctly as I can. The media enable this nonsensical dialogue as if it had any intellectual merit, thus permitting us to act as if we're shocked, shocked that gambling is taking place in the casino.

We've known it all along, and we haven't done anything about it, nor will we. This is largely retroactive ass-covering anyway, the legalistic equivalent of brushing the dirt under the nearest rug (which was woven by a 10-year-old Pakistani chained to a loom in the first place).

Can we at least abandon the insulting, asinine pretense that Cheney's "admission" is anything other than exactly what it sounds like? Message received, loud and clear: we're gonna do exactly what we wanna do, and there's not a goddamned thing you can do about it. So shut the fuck up, and get back to work, and just tell yourself that all those people we disappeared five years ago were guilty in the first place, even if you know just enough to realize that you really have no idea, and we're never going to tell you.

The worst part of it is that there are plenty of people who agree with Cheney, and worse, and that's the mindset that's really been undermining us all along.

Winds Of Change

Not to get too optimistic or anything, but this is a start:

"Bimbo"-gate has claimed its first casualty. Terry Nelson, the top-flight GOP consultant who was political director of Bush-Cheney 2004, has lost his gig as a consultant to Wal-Mart because of his role in helping produce the "bimbo" ad targeting Dem Harold Ford, Jr. Nelson had been hired a month ago by Wal-Mart to help the company develop its new voter-registration drive, but because of Nelson's role in producing the racially-charged ad, Wal-Mart found itself targeted by severe criticism from Jesse Jackson and others who demanded that the company fire Nelson. Wal-Mart media relations director David Tovar just issued a statement saying that Nelson had "sent a letter to Wal-Mart ending its working relationship with our company. We believe this is the right course of action." Moral: It's not good for business to attach your name to ads like the "bimbo" spot.

Not just the morality of it, but let's face it -- WalMart is certainly more than large enough to ignore protests and critics. What this indicates to me is the corporate hedging of bets, the hesitation to be seen as politically aligned with people who might be about to get spanked. I think it's fair to consider WalMart at least as something of a bellwether in this sense, especially in the "red" states, and as such, this may be an indicator that they think the tide is about to turn.

Message to mossbacks: learn to swim.

Suicide Solution

I'm thinking a bit more in depth about this comment I left over at TBogg's, in which I polemically encourage professional knuckle-draggers Dennis Miller and Rush Limbaugh to engage in a mutual suicide pact. Sure, it's mean-spirited, and it's certainly not that I'm indifferent to the impact of such things in real life (if anything, it's the opposite), but there is something perhaps a bit cathartic about suggesting to a thoroughly dishonorable person that redemption is possible through ritual seppuku, for example.

If there even is a line between the literal and the polemic any longer in internet discourse, it is at the very least completely blurred. Whether it mirrors or is mirrored by its counterpart in more "mainstream" political discourse is largely irrelevant; the fact of the matter is that it feeds on and perpetuates itself. It is viral throughout all media, a full-tilt echo chamber. So it would be incredibly silly for someone to take me as literally urging someone -- anyone -- to eat a .45 and repaint the nearest wall with their fevered brain.

It is not, however, silly to take people like Limbaugh and Miller at their word, not in spite of, but because of their ascribed legitimacy, which has been bestowed upon them by equally suspect entities. Miller may try to characterize himself as "merely" a "comedian" (which hasn't been remotely true in years, in terms of actually having anything funny to say), but that's bullshit. From his days at HBO, through to his blessedly short-lived CNBC monkey-driven train wreck, he has always tried to carry himself as a thinking man's comic. The results have more and more disproven both the "thinking" and the "comic" parts, as Miller realizes that, as a shameless water-carrier for the moral monsters who rule this country, in for a penny, in for a pound.

And when Limbaugh does his Bill Frist impersonation on his radio show, attempting to diagnose the veracity of Michael J. Fox's illness by watching a 30-second political ad, one is correct to take him literally as well. He insists Fox' spasms are "purely an act". This phrase is weighted with profound moral implications, mostly about Limbaugh himself. No one said shit when Fox campaigned for Arlen Specter just two years ago on the same medical issue, but now it's a problem. No one in the "responsible" media, with its frantic attention to "objectivity" and intellectual probity, mentions Limbaugh's wild hypocrisy when it comes to any issue involving drugs or morality. In a world not gone completely batshit insane, these things would not only be patently obvious, they would be the very first issues brought up any time Limbaugh opened his drug-addled piehole. Instead, Limbaugh is accorded speaking time on Katie Couric's increasingly ridiculous "news" program, which if it were paper, would come on a roll in two-ply.

And Miller is following in the same shambling footsteps, dissembling volubly over the notion that Nancy Pelosi is demonstrably stupid. Has Dennis Hastert somehow demonstrated that he is in any way more intelligent or moral than Pelosi? Has anyone in the upper level of this turd of an administration demonstrated such? Have these people been right about any fucking thing yet? No? Then what, pray tell, is so fucking funny about dingbat/shrieking harridan riffs? What legitimate discursive purpose does invoking Gladys Kravitz serve -- especially when you're nothing more than a rented butt-boy for the Gladys Kravitz Party?

Miller begs off such things by pointing out that he personally is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Whatever. Perhaps all the gay staffers toiling for the Republican thugs who exploit their sexuality every other year tell themselves the same thing.

That does not change the cold, hard fact that they are nothing more than perfidious chickens who have been co-opted into working for Colonel Sanders, not just engaging in routine intellectual dishonesty, but living in it. That is unconscionable; it is profoundly immoral. In earlier, more intellectually rigorous societies, such things would have meant the ruination of one's family name, at least in one's own social and professional circle. Really, in as apolitical a sense as I can muster, it's just shameful conduct -- it could no more be condoned to pick on Michael J. Fox if his attacker were Tim Robbins; attacking the 9/11 widows is unconscionable whether it's Ann Coulter or Al Franken.

So it is at least proper in a sense that Miller has been ghettoized to the Eighth Circle of Hell, aka Hannity & Colmes. If Miller wants to spend the rest of his professional days being Sean Hannity's chew toy, then perhaps we can chalk it up to karma, because there's no coming back from there, cha-cha. If Limbaugh starts experiencing a decline in listenership and ad revenue, and ends up spending his dotage holed up in Cape Girardeau seeking kinky butt-sex on the internets, I suppose it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

But it would be better -- more complete, more resolute, more final -- if such people, with their hideous notions and vile ideas, were once again marginalized. I remember when it used to be considered uncool to pick on disabled people. I remember the days when "serious" commentators were expected to provide at least a token sliver of empirical knowledge and genuine truth to their opinion-mongering. Instead we are awash in reckless, toxic nonsense, from people who are quite literally professional assholes -- they are paid for their innate talent to be jerkoffs.

On the one hand, I'm jealous, because I'm doing it for free. But more seriously, this is an industry which holds a very real heuristic sway over a certain swath of the American citizenry. This too is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that regressive theocrats hold a disproportionate sway over how we conduct our business and run our lives. It is unacceptable that lies have more power than truth, because enough people are simply too stupid, too lazy, or too psychologically damaged to face reality. They need to go right back out on the margins along with their media mouthpieces.

I don't know how old Dennis Miller's two sons are, but at least the older one must be in his teens by now. If Miller is so sure about the competency and the goals of these people and this war he so vociferously supports, that he'll encourage his son to join up for a tour of duty -- Iraq or Afghanistan, either one -- then maybe I'll at least give him respect for putting his money where his fucking motor mouth is. Otherwise, maybe he should consider the objective value of his hi-larious yocks.

This is not a joke, motherfucker; these are people's lives and dreams, their country, their future generations, both here and over there. Half a million people have died and another million been displaced in Iraq because Bush and Cheney and Rummy thought they were smarter than everyone else. And when you continue to do stupid things like pretend that "stay the course" didn't mean "stay the course", that you know what you're doing even though you haven't done a single thing right in six years, that homosexuals getting married has anything to do with anything, then you also have to own the consequences of your actions, your thoughts, and your hortatory rhetoric.

I know it's not as funny as cobbling together another wacky Gladys Kravitz riff, but this is real life, and the continued pretense of chickenshits like Miller, that they're "entertainers", does not wash any longer in serious times like this. People like Miller, Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, and the rest of the Horst Wessel gang need to be made to understand, once and for all, that their words actually mean something, and that they and their followers must be made to own the objective implications of the policies they so smugly endorse.

This is it, folks. This election will decide whether we have a viable opposition party in this country anymore, quite literally. If the Democrats cannot gain significant ground in this political perfect storm, if this thing gets derailed in the mindless, unspeakably moronic non-issue of gay marriage and the like, then it's over. It will be shown once and for all that the stupid people rule, that incompetence, corruption, and hypocrisy are valued and prioritized.

For the record, despite how it sounds, I retain some measure of cautious optimism. Contrary to my general misanthropy, I still find it difficult to believe that that many people are really that stupid or spiteful. So I do think gains will be made.

But even if so, it is important that the Democrats not be instantly magnanimous in victory. It's vital that they hold grudges and nurture them -- and just as important that they remember the Republicans that they can work with, and do so. But this is a time and an opportunity to re-marginalize the people and ideas that never should have been normalized in the first place.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Steele Assholia

Ron at CenterFace has a good catch on Oreo stooge Michael Steele's deceptive goobernatorial campaign. It's all of a piece, considering Steele has also been using famous violent thugs to rope in the "hopelessly ignorant negro" vote (and yes, that sounds racist at first blush, but who the hell else is he trying to appeal to with a killer/thief and a rapist?).

Check the signs out for yourself, and see if you think he's trying to put one over on somebody:

[Photo from Talking Points Memo.]

As we've being seeing across the board with the Repuglicans, political desperation, like inbreeding, produces some very ugly traits. Wonder how much these sign-holding dickheads charged for the rental of their principles.

Ohhh, That Course!

In terms of sheer cognitive dissonance, this one's a whopper:

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course. [4/13/04]

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]


STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run” and “stay the course.”

BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,” George. We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.

Several possibilities here, I suppose. The most obvious is that this is just another in an endless stream of Bush's aphasic cognitive skills, as if he's either forgotten that the phrase has been one of his more overplayed rhetorical crutches, or he doesn't think anyone else recorded his many declarations of exactly that.

Another possibility is that it's just another brazen attempt to pass off complete lies as truth. He's certainly stepped up the strawman quotient as campaign season has heated up. Indeed, he and Cheney and Rove and Snowjob have all been gleefully inventing arguments and phony debates whenever and wherever possible. Shame has not been part of the equation before; why would it be at this point?

The third possibility is that Bush, a fourth-rate mind to the very end, thinks he's finessing the debate by pointing up some sort of distinction between "tactics" and "strategy" that only he and the geniuses who got us into this shit can see. Perhaps he also thinks he has a six-foot rabbit following him around, who knows?

But bear in mind that not only is the "stay the course" schtick laughably pathetic in terms of reality, but the rest of his assertion in the Stephanopoulos excerpt is almost equally untrue. There is almost zero chance that we will be able to "complete the mission", as previously iterated. Iraq is not remotely going to be a representative democracy; we'll be lucky if it doesn't revert to a Taliban-style theocracy the day after we eventually leave. So the mission will not be accomplished, we will not have done our job, and we will not have achieved our goal. There is literally no serious observer that I am aware of who believes even a very generalized sketch of what Bush is saying.

And it's because we never adjusted our tactics or our strategy sufficiently. Every major adjustment made was always reactive rather than proactive, and the results bear this out. We're stuck chasing shadows and dodging suicide bombers, with literally no end in sight, and rapidly deteriorating conditions. Between the destruction and death and the diaspora, it will take Iraq a generation to decently recover, and that's if we help. But when everyone with money and/or education has gotten the hell out while they can, it stalls the process. Those are the people who help the most with reconstruction, and if they don't come back, then it's left to the militias and the Iranians.

There's your course, Mister Man. How do you like it? The usual chumps will fall for this crap, which is all the more reason to make sure that once they're out of power, they're pushed way back out on the margins, where they belong.

Monday, October 23, 2006


So on one side is Michael J. Fox, who is tragically, seriously afflicted with Parkinson's disease, and has made a political ad supporting Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, because her opponent, incumbent Jim Talent, has vociferously and consistently opposed stem-cell research. The ad is very moving and effective.

On the other side you have noted sex tourist/pillhead/serial liar/moral leper Rush Limbaugh, who has outdone himself by asserting that Fox deliberately either didn't take his medication or "acted" up the characteristics of his disease.

Of course it's untrue, and medically impossible, like it even needed to be said. So what is Limbaugh's purpose in even bringing up such a revolting accusation? What practical effect did he hope to achieve in taking this needlessly offensive tack? Does Limbaugh think that Fox has been faking it all this time, that he's just doing this political ad thing for shits and giggles?

I understand that by definition, the people who still take a cheap carny huckster like Limbaugh even remotely seriously are terminally stupid to begin with. But you know, a few companies still sponsor Limbaugh's show, for some reason. Perhaps it's time to make it not worth their while to do so. It's happened before, and maybe it's time it happened again.

This is not a free speech issue; Limbaugh is free to puke whatever morally craven bullshit he wants on the air. But short of waiting for Peggy Noonan to register her clucking disapproval at all the incivility -- which will never happen if the perpetrator is not named Gore, Clinton, or Streisand -- there's not really another way to register contempt at such vile nonsense. If I were a believer in the power of prayer, I'd simply pray for karma, but it doesn't seem to catch up to these people, at least not to the degree of their scummy rhetoric.

And sadly, Limbaugh (and Coulter, Hannity, Savage, and the rest of these animals) is really as much a symptom as a cause -- he gives his morlocks what they want, and what they want is a toxic brew of ignorance and spite, psychological projection, affirmation, emotional investment. It's important to keep that in mind, that while Limbaugh is smart enough to know better (and when you get right down to it, his personal problems may actually be a manifestation of his profound guilt at knowing better, which I suppose would be somewhat karmic), he presides over a far-flung rabble of emotionally-stunted idiots who take his buffoonery as received wisdom.

And they vote.

Serious People

At first glance I thought this Sally Quinn mash note was titled "Rummy's Other Hole", and after reading it, I can only say that it might has well have been.

Even though Quinn does get around to some bloodless sniping (in the ninth paragraph) at Rumsfeld's lack of an Iraq exit strategy, in the context of the article it feels tacked on. The whole thing reads like a facilitation memo, a set of talking points for the next round of cocktail chatter for the hangers-on in the society set. It's the elites talking to each other, while the 99% of the country not in either the power or the donor class look askance, if they hear it at all.

The main thing is that Quinn's analysis strikes me absolutely correct in its factual content -- Bush is keeping Rumsfeld on for now because it's politically convenient to do so. Rumsfeld's inane bluster and idiotic habit of asking himself smartass questions every chance he gets draws some of the targeted fire away from Bush, which makes Rummy just valuable enough to not have to bother locking horns with Cheney over cutting Rummy loose.

Nor, I fear, would firing Rumsfeld actually solve much of anything. This originated as a problem of planning, knowledge, and overall strategy. It really does appear that the neocons didn't just chug their own kool-aid, they swam laps in a vat of it. They believed so seriously that within a year or two of deposing Hussein's vile thugocracy, Iraqis would erect a statue of George W. Bush in its largest civic plaza and commission patriotic songs about him for the next generations to sing, that they didn't even bother with so much as a pro forma contingency plan. It doesn't even seem to have occurred to any of them that as awful as Saddam was, the fact of the matter is that he was keeping a lid on some brutal factions of violent thugs. So now instead of one medium-sized thug in a relative box, we are now refereeing an increasingly violent onslaught between several smaller thugs.

Which means it's now too late for planning, knowledge, and strategy. It's just a matter of finding the least mendacious way to just bow out and let the Iranians partition the place. So it's political, which is normally right up Chimpco's alley -- it's not just their strong suit, it's their only suit.

But there's nothing on the horizon indicating any remotely advantageous political aspect to this, so they're stuck. Their next option would seem to be replacing Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman, a cynical rope-a-dope of faux bipartisanship that would please nobody and accomplish nothing.

I suppose I find it oddly amusing that people who are purported to be "serious" and "legitimate", and who have parochial advantages in the embarrassingly intertwined spheres of politics and journalism, can still manage to discuss these topics in this dryly mannered style, as if it was just another personnel management decision. I realize that Quinn can't just insult these people, because she's likely to see them and/or their staffers at the next swanky do.

But it's a reckless imputation to smugly assert that we need to shift all the blame to Rummy every bit as much as Bush needs to do so. No, people might not wish to blame the sitting figurehead of their national mythos. It's part of the job description for people like Quinn to reflexively print the legend, rather than dig for the truth. But the fact is that circumstances militate stronger feelings about the players and their known deeds and misdeeds, rather than simply insinuating that Rummy's tired of being blamed unfairly for Junior's mistakes, so he's going to take his ball and go run the Red Cross or something. I don't buy that humanitarian bit for a second; if Rumsfeld gave two shits about what people thought of him, he would have acted like it by now.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cartoon Character

Perhaps the only thing more off-putting than constantly being lectured on issues of character and morals by people who clearly have none themselves, is watching them vote and legislate on their projected inferiority complexes. Can't they just cheat on their wives, beat their mistresses, and harass minorities on their own time? It's adding insult to injury to make us pay them to do it.

But when C-Plus Augustus' last trick is to go pimp for the slugs who poll even lower than himself, you know the jig might finally be up. All that's left is the usual cheap scaremongering, and that just doesn't have the desired effect anymore. Either they've finally run out of wolf cards, or their vaunted base of moralizing nitwits has finally started to get slightly wise to the scam.

Or not, because there's clearly still great emotional investment on their part in hypocritical lectures on "principles" and "values", as well as the usual whining about how persecuted religious people are in American public life.

O'REILLY: You stand — yes, you sink or swim on your principle.

O'REILLY: That's it.

O'REILLY: But there's also something else in play, Mr. President. The secular progressives — I just wrote a book called "Culture Warrior." And we sent you a free copy, by the way.

BUSH: Good.

O'REILLY: The secular progressives...

BUSH: Might entice me to actually read it.

O'REILLY: The secular progressives don't like you because you're a man of faith.

BUSH: Yes.

O'REILLY: You know that.

BUSH: Yes. That causes me to be sad for people who don't like somebody because he happens to believe in the Almighty.

O'REILLY: But you know that's in play.

BUSH: Absolutely. They think you are some kind of evangelical. God tells you what to do and you go out and do it. And they hate that.

BUSH: I guess that I have pity for people who believe that. They don't understand the relationship between man and the Almighty, then. And.

O'REILLY: Don't believe it?

BUSH: Well, that's their choice. The great thing about America is we're equally American. In other words, those of us who believe in an Almighty, and those who don't are equal. And that's the way we got to keep it, because it distinguishes us from Usama bin Laden or the Taliban.

Well, let me finish my point.


BUSH: And so I welcome the diversity of views when it comes to religion. And I think that anybody who dislikes somebody because he happens to be a religious person is someone to be pitied.

Where to start? Perhaps with the setting itself, an obsequious suckupathon stretched over three nights from a sanctimonious douchebag who had to settle a six- or seven-figure sexual harassment suit and still has the balls to try to paint himself as a "culture warrior". That Falafel Factor still stubbornly insists on portraying himself as some sort of crusading hero, instead of the blustering tool that he is, is a pretty huge clue as to the scale of the collective delusion going on here, between interviewer, interviewee, and target demographic. It's all an elaborate kabuki for the braying self-styled Archie Bunker contrarian chumps, people who never seem to tire of telling everyone just how "out of the box" their adventurous thinking is.

Well, it's not remotely out of the box. Hell, they built the box, dug a moat around it, and started a homeowner's association for the damned box. These are people whose thinking is in fact unusually tethered to whatever entity happens to excite their authoritarian impulses. They seriously think that because they arrived at the exact same conclusions via mild differences in toxic rhetoric, they are "free thinkers".

Again, Falafel's known conduct should normally confer at least enough decency and grace to just shut the hell up about criticizing the supposed moral values of others. And it should confer enough common sense on his viewers to at least understand how badly they've been had. But no, the guy writes books about the shit, and these fools buy the books, watch the show, and mindlessly regurgitate their received wisdom.

As for the subject of this turgid kneepadfest, Bush's passive-aggressive strawman sanctimony might have a little more heft if this were a country where a professed atheist had even an outside chance at being elected to anything higher than dog catcher. Bush claims he feels sorry for secular progressives who feel "that way" about the religious. Talk about reckless oversimplification.

But then, Bush knows better anyway. It's all just the usual dog-whistle boilerplate to try to re-energize a base that's slowly realizing that maybe they've been played for suckers to a certain extent, at least in comparison to their expectations. And, you know, it'll probably work for a lot of them. Let's face it, when you're the sort of chump that seriously believes that fags a-gittin' hitched is going to affect your marriage in any way, you'll believe pretty much anything you're told to believe, so long as it conforms to your projected daddy issues.

All this is just another bumpy cobblestone in the road to the election. I believe this election is bigger than it's been portrayed, but for perhaps subtler, somewhat less tangible reasons. In all practicality, ceding both houses of Congress to the Democrats simply provides some slim hope for a modicum of oversight, but for every John Conyers who wants to climb up the sphincter of this mendacious lot with a microscope, there's a Joe Lieberman who has staked his "serious" cred on having the dipshits from the Heritage Foundation listen to his enabling nonsense. In other words, it's a nice thought, but it's not the be-all end-all of good governance.

What it really is is a referendum on the people of this nation, and its continued viability. I'm very serious about this. We can argue about the Republican noise machine, the money train, the ground game, the smear ads and the cheap shots, the strawman rhetoric, the intuitive feel for the visceral pulse of so-called red-staters. But what it really comes down to is what all of us know about how these people have chosen to run this country. All of us, Republican and Democrat alike, have the ability and the choice to avail ourselves of a sea of information pointing to the lies, the incompetence, the the perversion and criminality of the various characters who populate this festering tumor of an administration.

And after all is said and done, if after knowing what they know to be at least as reliably true as any other current events news they know, they still vote to keep the destructive, mindless, hypocritical status quo, then it's over. The Democratic Party might as well fold up its tent if they can't secure big wins in this climate. It doesn't even have to be their "fault" specifically, but if you have a preponderance of people who continue to delude themselves and drive the entire country further downward out of nothing more than sheer ignorance and spite, then what's the goddamned point?

And in the end, that's what "character" and "values" are all about, on an individual level -- either you care enough about your country and your family to pull your head out of your ass and pay attention and maybe even admit to yourself that you were wrong, or you don't. And if enough people truly don't, then we're done, not now perhaps, but eventually. Call it idiocracy, call it anything you like; the results are the same -- we collapse under our own stupid weight.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Poppy's Remorse

One trope of contemporary political discussion among "serious" observers (who can always be spotted by their patched tweed jackets, corncob pipes, and argyle kneepads) is the affectation of evoking George H.W. Bush as some sort of eminence grise of American statesmanship. Instead of perhaps correctly noting that more than anything, Poppy Bush simply had a knack for knowing whose to knob to work to grease his way incrementally higher up the food chain, it is apparently simpler to accept as an article of faith his stature as an elder statesman.

Conveniently, more unsavory episodes are simply avoided altogether as topics of discussion, as if the Bush family's habit of periodically renting themselves to the Moonies had nothing to do with anything else. This is more of a testament to the prostrate condition of the supine corporate media, than any real sort of reconsideration of 41's legacy. If he has a true lasting legacy, it is simply that of the career henchman -- he knows where all the bodies are buried, because he helped plant them.

So when I hear tell of yet another ponderous article [link via Talking Points Memo] of how secretly disappointed Poppy is in Junior, I have a hard time mustering the energy to give a fuck.

At this month's christening of the nuclear aircraft carrier bearing his name, former President George H.W. Bush delivered a rousing endorsement of his son.

"I am very proud of our President," the elder Bush said in rain-swept ceremonies in Newport News, Va. "I support him in every single way with every fiber in my body."

Is there any serious person on the face of the planet who doesn't believe that only familial loyalty allows Bush Sr. to utter such things with a straight face? Furthermore, does anybody seriously believe that family loyalty should trump loyalty to country? More directly, if your own administration proactively established a firm policy which is now being recklessly and aggressively countermanded, with predictably disastrous results for the country and the world, and no end in sight, isn't it despicably irresponsible to continuously pretend that your belligerent halfwit of a son actually knows what he's doing?

Indeed, one of the worst-kept secrets in Bush World is the dismay, in some cases disdain, harbored by many senior aides of the former President toward the administration of his son - 41 and 43, as many call them, political shorthand that refers to their numerical places in American presidential history.

For five years, the 41s have bit their collective tongues as, they complain, the 43s ignored their counsel. But as the war in Iraq has worsened and public support for the current administration has tanked, loyalists of the elder Bush have found it impossible to suppress their disillusionment - particularly their belief that many of 43's policies are a stick in the eye of his father.

"Forty-three has now repudiated everything 41 stands for, and still he won't say a word," a key member of the elder Bush alumni said. "Personally, I think he's dying inside."

Good. I hope it eats him up inside. I hope it haunts him to his very last day. Seriously. Even Junior's staunchest supporters acknowledge that without his famous family, their boy would never have been inflicted on this country; you could scarcely make a case for him being anything more than an incompetent middle manager at a chain store. So his family's enablement of and indifference to Junior's demonstrable lack of any marketable skill or ability is something which has affected the course of world history, indisputably for the worse.

And yet, not only is Poppy not really "dying inside", as it's being portrayed, but he's mobilized his old posse to help his bumbling oaf of a son out of yet another jam.

The ultimate sticking point for the old guard is Iraq. They cite the appointment of 41's close friend and former secretary of state, James Baker, to chart a new Iraq policy as belated vindication.

The 41s remain incensed, however, that Brent Scowcroft, 41's national security adviser and once a top outside adviser to this administration, has been demonized since he wrote a 2002 article opposing an Iraq invasion.

"What Brent said is now the accepted wisdom," a senior 41 hand said, "and everyone believes 41 agrees with him, though he'll never say it."

Well, that's chickenshit. He sure had no trouble publicly criticizing Bill Clinton for his sexual exploits, but when it comes to something important, he doesn't say shit, and he gets Jim Baker in to fix Junior's mess. Some legacy.

Because no matter what Poppy says -- or doesn't say -- now, we all know what he said then, no matter how much he'd like us to forget.

We were disappointed that Saddam's defeat did not break his hold on power, as many of our Arab allies had predicted and we had come to expect. President Bush repeatedly declared that the fate of Saddam Hussein was up to the Iraqi people. Occasionally, he indicated that removal of Saddam would be welcome, but for very practical reasons there was never a promise to aid an uprising. While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.


Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.

Yeah, that. So when I hear these dumb little stories about the old man's inner heartbreak at the fecklessness of his offspring, I am not "touched" by his loyalty to stupidity, I am pissed at his blindered callousness to the notions of genuine truth and reason and accountability.

Less Artsy, More Fartsy

I've only been through New York, never to it, sadly, and I was never much of a fan of the late '70s post-punk scene spawned by CBGB's. Still, I can recognize it as the end of an era because it was where bands showed up to play and strut their stuff, and that's generally a good thing in the aggregate.

Roy Edroso has wonderful take on it all, from the perspective of someone who paid his dues and spent enough time there to see the good, bad, and ugly, and take 'em all in stride. And I can particularly sympathize with his distaste for schlepping the artifacts out to Vegas, as if they were rebuilding the London Bridge in the Arizona desert or some shit. As Roy says, it's not an "outrage" per se, but still rather creepy and unseemly. More than that, it's unnecessary.

This is the real problem with the commodification of rock (or any, but rock in particular) music -- it turns participants into mere customers, digging through curios and fetishizing the various sordid knick-knacks accumulated by hangers-on, associates who eventually fall on hard times and cash in by displaying their found goodies in a glass case and gouging the suckers.

So you have corporate museums like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the like, dickless curators draining the beauty and impact out of it by lamely attempting to freeze-dry the immediacy of the music, which is after all the point of it. I can't imagine venturing near such places; they'd make me not want to listen to that genre of music ever again.

It's something of a relief that as I approach the halfway mark through my fortieth year, I find myself gravitating toward ever harder, more aggressive, and sometimes more garage-y music, instead of falling into the horrid "adult-contemporary" niche, where radio stations sport cutesy first names, and every third song is from Sting. I'd like to keep it that way. I do not want musical wallpaper to complement my hamster-wheel lifestyle and mortgaged priorities, I want to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Either there is vitality and passion, or somebody is just trying to sell me a fucking cheeseburger.

It's the energy of rock, in the end, and the commercialized failed attempts to bottle, transport, and sell the lightning to the rubes serve only to separate the fans from the tourists. I'll never find the time to partake of the listless taxidermy the museum dickheads traffic in; were I to venture into such a place and see a stuffed and mounted Lemmy, trapped forever in some lame pose for some schmuck to ogle, I'd have to cause some destruction. I figure I owe him at least that much.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Joe Mama

It seems that, whether he or they win or lose, it's high time the pooh-bahs in the Democratic Party help Uncle Joe find his pants and kick him the fuck out already.

Joe Lieberman is declining to say whether he thinks it would be a good thing if Dems win control of the House of Representatives. Lieberman -- who needs GOP votes as an independent -- was asked in an interview published today in the Hartford Courant whether America would be better off if his lifelong party took back the House. The Courant reports that Lieberman responded: "Uh, I haven't thought about that enough to give an answer."

Has he made himself clear enough yet? Enough is enough. Kick his ratfuck ass to the curb. Let the Goopers have him, let him go on the Zell Miller nutjob circuit. Take a stand, and do it now, before the election. Put his fucking rutabaga head on a goddamned pike and be done with it.

While the political winds are obviously with the Democrats right now, the fact is that the reason they keep choking every couple years is their innate ability to appear timorous and indecisive. Well, here's an opportunity to make what should be a pretty easy decision by now.

Lieberman literally chose to make it a Party of Joe. Quit dicking around and grant him his wish. It's time he was someone else's liability.

That's Senator Shit-For-Brains, Pal

Debra J. Saunders continues the downward slide of intellectual probity and editorial responsibility in returning to perhaps her pet idée fixe, and in so doing, not only aligns herself with such upstanding publications as the Moonie Times, but praises perhaps literally the stupidest member of the United States Senate, heretofore a deliberative body of at least some repute.

Inhofe gleefully represents some of the most regressive, moronic notions to fester in politics. No doubt people like Saunders would like to wish the rest of Inhofe's nonsense away and pretend that, out of everything else he's said and done over the years, at least he knows what he's talking about on this subject. Good luck with that.

Inhofe is even currently under investigation by the FAA for flying a plane that he knew had a damaged rudder. In Inhofe's defense, however, it should be pointed out that Inhofe only knew that the rudder was damaged, he didn't know exactly why. That would just be....well, stupid.

But apparently his mindless contrarianism on the subject of global warming has earned him admiration from Serious Thinkers such as Saunders.

GLOBAL WARMING is a religion, not science. That's why acolytes in the media attack global-warming critics, not with scientific arguments, but for their apostasy. Then they laud global-warming believers, not for reducing greenhouse gases, but simply for believing global warming is a coming catastrophe caused by man. The important thing is to have faith in those who warn: The End Is Near.

Talk about hitting the ground stumbling. Saunders, herself a tiresome self-styled contrarian, is no doubt under the impression that she's puncturing the supposed smug superiority of secular liberals who conveniently find faith in their pet causes. But when the subject she chooses to laud is literally on record as declaring that the United States should base its Israel policy on the Bible (and even suggested that 9/11 was divine retribution for failing to protect Israel sufficiently), well, you may want to find a different well to pump.

What does Inhofe make of the NAS finding? Inhofe recognizes that the Earth is warming, but sees this as part of the natural cycle. Inhofe mentioned the Medieval Warm Period -- 1000 to 1270 A.D. when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland. So he doesn't buy this 12,000-year high. His office referred me to a piece University of Oklahoma geology professor David Deming penned for the Normal Transcript that noted, "The fact that the thermometer wasn't invented until the year 1714 ought to give us pause when evaluating this remarkable claim."

Note that Deming is also the cephalopod who wrote the Moonie Times op-ed I linked to above, but wow. What a remarkably ridiculous analogy. What does the date of the invention of the thermometer have to do with the legitimacy of core sampling and compiled weather data. Hell, weather records weren't consistently kept for statistical tracking purposes almost anywhere until maybe 100 years ago? Is Deming implying that any research compiling data before that period of time is automatically invalidated? What exactly are the University of Oklahoma's standards for their geology professors -- a pulse and a grant from Exxon?

This is the sort of thing that counts for scientific observation in these circles, and as Saunders' husband works for the "Discovery" "Institute", it's no real surprise to find that she shares the same disdain for honest scientific rigor. No wonder people in Tornado Alley think Jesus rode to work on a dinosaur.

I remain agnostic on global warming, as I've seen good arguments on both sides. I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist.

See, that's Saunders' real beef, and that's fine, insofar as it appeals to the notion of truly rigorous scientific skepticism and validation of method. But Inhofe is not only not remotely a scientist, he is quite consistently a scarily unserious thinker. He is absolutely not the horse you want to hitch your "global warming agnostic" wagon to.

I too have expressed some skepticism in the past about global warming, mainly over the degree and rapidity which some scientists speculate changes will occur. But I temper that skepticism with reading as many different opinions by as many different impartial and scientific voices as I can discern. (And frankly, it's impossible to not take the sheer scale of scientific evidence seriously at this late point in the game.) James Inhofe is neither, and again, he has proven himself to be nothing more than a foolish, disingenuous, intellectually dishonest person. Allowing him to head the Environmental Committee is a slap in the face on the scale of putting Libya or Sudan on the UN's Human Rights Commission.

There's no other intellectually honest way to put it -- Inhofe is not just a tendentious hack and an idiot, he is someone who is actively, diametrically opposed to honest scientific inquiry. He's made himself abundantly clear on that count. This is not a case of the New York Times and a claque of lefty scientists picking on poor ol' Mister Smith as he does the peepul's work in mean ol' Warshington; this is a group of educated, serious, sensible people trying desperately to counter the destructive nonsense of a man who is inexplicably allowed to wield actual power over his fellow citizens.

The people of Oklahoma could hardly be any more irresponsible in their civic duty if they slapped a "Jesus Saves" sandwich board on a stray dog, and voted it into office. That's how fucking dumb Jim Inhofe really is. He's the one guy in government who makes Tom Coburn momentarily appear to have a measurable IQ.

Now, here's what serious scientists -- as opposed to hacky newspaper columnists looking for cheap money quotes to bolster their threadbare premises -- have to say in response to Inhofe's bullshit:

Inhofe relies upon novelist Michael Crichton (see here and here) to support his contention that

"We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850, as we emerged from a 400 year cold spell known as the Little Ice Age."

Scientific studies come to the opposite result. All published scientific investigations of the causes of 20th century warming have consistently found that natural factors alone cannot explain the warming. Model simulations of large-scale temperature changes in past centuries , for one, can only reproduce the post-"Little Ice Age" warming through the inclusion of non-natural, anthropogenic forcing. The IPCC concluded in its 2nd asessment report that "that there is a discernible human influence on global climate", based in fact on a variety of different techniques, including so-called "Detection and Attribution" studies. These studies involve detailed analyses of the spatial patterns of the observed 20th century changes, which differ for different causes of warming (e.g. anthropogenic factors such as increased greenhouse gases or industrial aerosols, or changes in land use, and natural factors such as changes in solar output or explosive volcanism), each of which have their own unique spatial pattern or "fingerprint". Another simple reason that natural causes cannot explain recent warming is that none of the natural factors which could potentially cause warming (e.g., the combined solar+volcanic forcing or even the somewhat more dubious hypothesized forcing by cosmic ray flux changes) show a trend since the mid 20th century.

Sorry, but it's a tad more involved and convoluted than "The Bible said it, I read it, and that's that", which really does appear to circumscribe all of Inhofe's legislation, as well as his approach to logic and reason. I'm sure that comes off as more smug secular snark, but Inhofe's record speaks for itself.

Finally it is worth providing a bit of context for this latest speech. Inhofe has a history of making inflammatory and incorrect claims about the science of climate change. He previously gave a speech on the senate floor in July 2003 on "The Science of Climate Change" (partial transcript here) in which he stated that "catastrophic global warming is a hoax" and made a rather substantial number of false claims about the science. In fact, Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona subsequently provided two climate scientists mentioned specifically by Inhofe, Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University (whom Inhofe referred to as "the father and promoter of the catastrophic global warming fearmongers") and Dr. Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the opportunity to respond to several of these false assertions in the Senate record--see the account provided in the article "Earth Last" by science journalist Chris Mooney. In this speech, Inhofe repeated many of the standard contrarian arguments challenging the mainstream, consensus view of the climate research community that the activity of human beings now has had a discernable impact on global climate and that this warming is likely to continue as anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase. Most of these arguments are debunked on the pages of RealClimate. Inhofe, for example, once again promoted each of the "myths" we have documented about the "Hockey Stick" reconstruction of past temperature changes, citing contrarian criticisms that have since been thoroughly discredited.

These excerpts are very thoroughly referenced and annotated, so definitely check out the original. Look, again, I remain skeptical of the more frantic Day After Tomorrow theses, but just in the past few years -- chunks of the Antarctic Ice Shelf the size of Rhode Island breaking off; last year's epic hurricane season; an alarming trend of polar bears drowning. They can't all be statistical anomalies, nor can there be absolutely no human causation in any of them. Serious people can debate over the details and facts and find some common ground, but there is literally zero probity or intellectual honesty to Inhofe's stance.

Considering his governmental position, that's simply unacceptable, to borrow Junior's favorite new word, and it's irresponsible for people who characterize themselves as inquisitive agnostics to give Inhofe's cheap nonsense the time of day, especially in the guise of "apostasy". Inhofe's laissez-faire approach to environmental stewardship is as orthodox dispensationalist as it gets. These are people who quite literally believe that it doesn't really matter how we abuse the planet, because the end is nigh and the rapture is coming.

I wish that were mere sarcasm, but it isn't.

All Your Moron Are Belong To Us

Via Froomkin we see this little gem from Brad DeLong:

[Bush:] This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th.* [sic] These numbers show that the budget deficit has been reduced to $248 billion and is down to just 1.9 percent of the economy...

[DeLong:] Should we say that the 2004 budget deficit was $412.7 billion, and that half of that would be $206.3 billion--not $248 billion? Should we say that the fiscal year ends in September, not February? Should we say that February never has 30 days? Should we say that February never had--not even before Julius Caesar--30 days?

I think that Bush and his like-minded flock have shown us earthbound reality-based, calendar-based chumps the folly of our ways by this point. It just doesn't matter how stupid this guy demonstrably is -- someone will vote for him just because he affirms their feelings about themselves. Hell, they can't remember which month it is (nor how many days it has) half the time either, so what's the problem?

Let's all just take a hypocritical tip from the Crazy Jesus Lady, and resolve to be more civil to those who spout virulent hatred and rhetorical violence, to achieve grace in opposition to the manifestly graceless, etc., etc.

These people are rapidly outpacing the ability of the language to accurately observe their consistently monumental level of absurdity and outright bovine stupidity. Seriously. If there actually is a God, He's playing one hell of a practical joke.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mama He's Lazy

I have no idea who Sara Evans is, nor have I ever watched Dancing With the Stars (nor, it should be said, can I quite believe that there is actually such a show on the air, but then again, there are people who actually buy Sean Combs' excuse for music), but this is pretty funny [link via TBogg]

Country singer Sara Evans alleges in divorce papers that her husband committed adultery, was verbally and emotionally abusive, drank excessively and frequently watched pornography in their home.


Schelske, 43 and currently unemployed, ran for Congress as a Republican from Oregon's 5th District in 2002. He is a native of Salem, Ore.

He could not be reached for comment because there was no answer at a phone number for him Oregon.

In the filing in state court in suburban Franklin, where the couple has a home, Evans alleges that Schelske watched pornography on the couples' computers and has at least 100 nude photographs of himself in a state of arousal.

She also alleges that several photographs show Schelske having sex with other women.

According to the court documents, the oldest of the couple's children [a 7-year-old -- ed.] confronted Schelske when he was watching pornographic material on the television in their home.

Sounds pretty wankerific. This must be the "family values" I keep hearing about, or as TBogg points out, fertile subject matter for Evans' next magnum opus.

And funnily enough, it seems that Craiggers still has his campaign website going, replete with phantastic photos, with which you can play our favorite drinking game, Spot the Doofus.

For this photo, you have to chug:

The guy in the middle sorta brings down the intemellectual property value, though we probably weren't on Park Avenue in the first place.

Then there's this:

I just think this is an excellent, well-taken photograph, and I have no fucking clue who Tom Sundquist is. Larry Snarfquist. Bill Smithers. Whoever that guy on the right is. Those are nice.


Anyway, more seriously (but seriously, that's some nice sweater fruit there, mes amis), just perusing the photo pages might lead one to believe that this is a guy who traded rather heavily on his wife's apparent popularity, for a campaign from four years ago.

I dunno, pal, maybe after you're done jerking off to pictures of yourself fucking other broads, you might want to either update or take down your campaign website, maybe saving that sweater-fruit picture. In the meantime, noting how the current crop of candidates has taken pains to dissociate themselves from even old photos with the Chimpster, it's nice to see that at least one chump is just too preoccupied to worry about such niceties. And sorry, Sara, but maybe this sort of thing is what happens when you roll with shitbirds like Tom DeLay.

Diddy Get Bent?

I think I'd rather go on a rafting trip with Scoutmaster Kolbe than even think about our old friend T.C. Diddy, but to be confronted with this asinine nonsense on the very same day that Freddy Fender, a class act to the very end, passes, is just too damned much.

(Note: People who don't regularly read the Comical should realize that Aidin Vaziri is basically their Andy Dick, a snarky, self-conscious little shit who also happens to be a solid pop aesthete, if he could ever get out of his own way. His Sunday Pop Quizzes and CD reviews are frequently must-reads, dripping with alternately contemptuous and celebratory pomo meta-irony. Which is okay in small doses. Here he's just a passive, mildly amused stenographer, which is unfortunate, because he can turn up the heat when he wants to.)

"We will only be talking about the new album," his New York press agent sternly told the gathered throng, even though no one had yet heard the disc, as she handed out fact sheets detailing talking points that included, "Diddy is named by Burger King as the KING of music and fashion."

My, that's quite a selling point. Is a prefab burger chain suddenly an arbiter of music and fashion, or are they implictly saying that T.C. is to music and fashion what Burger King is to quality cuisine and/or dining? I mean, I loves me a Croissanwich™ every now and again, but I have no illusions about the nutritional content. One might have thought that people would have learned from Michael Jackson's poor example of proclaiming oneself the "king" of anything larger than, say, Liechtenstein (yes, I know it's a dependent duchy, smartass), but then one doesn't normally find a way to fuck up a perfectly good song like Kashmir.

Combs arrived more than two hours late. There was some brief talk of staging a walkout among the hungry and frustrated journalists, but it seemed too cruel to deprive the artist of his lifeblood: free publicity.

This is really the problem with the oxymoronic "profession" of entertainment journalism -- they're all weasels, almost by definition. What Vaziri doesn't say is that, even had these noble wielders of the truth decided en masse that this troublesome little shit wasn't worth their time, and repaired to some bar for several rounds of drinks, one of them would have kept one eye to the road for T.C.'s favored mode of regal transportation, a solid gold litter carried by Numidian midgets.

Seriously, the guy's a fucking asshole, and he's only enabled by all the free publicity these goofballs keep handing him. When do we hit the tear-down stage already?

Between takes, Combs furiously fired off text messages and yelled some more into the earpiece, while checking himself out in the bar mirror. A man with a necklace that featured a working miniature clipper covered in diamonds groomed his light layer of hair.

Another half hour went by like this until Combs finally entered the conference room for the roundtable interview. Each of the five journalists got to ask one question.

Mostly he bragged. "Being a leader in culture, I never stop providing entertainment," he said, citing recent commercial triumphs by proteges like Danity Kane and Cassie. "I'm just timeless."

Jesus. Where's Mark David Chapman when you could really use him? If this douche-nozzle's a "leader in culture", then we need to have an election. If he's "timeless", someone buy him a fuckin' clock, mach schnell.

"Every hip-hop artist has a dream to become an R&B singer or a professional athlete," he said. "I think I've accomplished both of those dreams. I ran a marathon and I did a duet with Keyshia Cole."

I have no idea who or what a "Keyshia Cole" might be, and it may interest this nauseating little fag to know that thousands of people also ran the New York Marathon for free, just as they do every year. By definition, this does not make them "professional athletes", any more than shagging balls at Padres training camp makes Garth Brooks a major-league baseball player.

Seriously, what's wrong with this fuckin' guy?

The press agent then said time was up, but Combs -- who on the official Diddy Web site labels himself "The CEO, The Entertainer, The Humanitarian, The Designer" -- granted a bonus question.

"Music is my first love, success is something I acquired," the man who is estimated to be worth $346 million said. "I would make music for free."

I sincerely hope he gets that opportunity, the sooner the better.