Monday, July 31, 2006

Sideshow Ann

I cringe a little every time I type the cunt's name, and I don't want to spend any more time talking about her/it than is necessary to address the point, but Ann Coulter has added measurably to her ongoing Media Matters profile in just the past week.

First she declared that Bill Clinton's womanizing was evidence of his latent homosexuality. This is the sort of quality armchair psychoanalysis one can usually find on Jerry Springer-type shows. Now, if he she wanted to speculate that perhaps Clinton has some issues with women, and that they may even stem from his five-times-married mother's issues with men, okay. It's still ugly and unnecessary, spiteful and cheap, but that's what the cunt specializes in; it's what makes her a cunt in the first place.

Womanizing is not an admirable trait, but I've never heard of it as making someone a probable -- or even likely -- closet case. But that's what Coulter trucks in, throwing shit against the wall. Even if none of it sticks, it still raises a stink. That's really the whole point in the first place; that there are people out there stupid enough to take her seriously is just gravy.

Then the psycho bitch calls Al Gore a "total fag", as a jokey-joke riposte to sock puppet Tweety Matthews' mewling reiterations of her bizarre claims about Clinton's sexuality -- which she then in turn staunchly defended as something "everyone has already known". Who the fuck is "everyone", bitch -- James Dobson and a bunch of "ex-gay" bathhouse queens? Funny how Coulter is never -- and I mean never -- able to cite anything resembling a reputable, checkable source for the lunacy she peddles as "fact".

The week's trifecta was completed later on the same Tweety show with her mangled endorsement of the abortion initiative that the voters of "South Carolina" had on the ballot. Thing is, the initiative is in South Dakota, and is something diametrically opposite to what Coulter, a tiresomely vociferous pro-life advocate, would actually endorse.

"Oh," you say, "so she made a mistake. Big deal." Well, it is a big deal. For one thing, she is inexplicably allowed to pass herself off as a serious commentator. Serious people do not make retard mistakes like that on serious shows; they know the difference between South Carolina and South Dakota, between Slovenia and Slovakia, between pro-life initiatives and pro-choice initiatives.

This is a pattern. Coulter is good at the snappy "oh no you didn't" rhythms of drive-by poseur punditry, but when challenged on the factuality of her increasingly bizarre assertions, she always demurs or elides the point. Then there's the demonstrable allegations of her serial plagiarism, well-documented by The Rude Pundit and Raw Story in recent weeks.

Now here's my point, why I brought this skank up once again. What does it take for Coulter to be held responsible for what she says and writes? How is it that "reputable" corporate media, purporting to be "serious", have this shithouse-crazy bag lady on their shows pulling shit out of her bony ass every fucking time? The woman is the intellectual equivalent of a circus geek, obviously, and it doesn't matter whether it's the 9/11 widows or Bill Clinton -- it's all just more chickens to bite the heads off of, to the amusement of the rubes watching her little sideshow.

I'd like to think Annie's gig is about up, because short of accusing Clinton of necrophilia and bestiality, there's not much further she can go, and her schtick is all about how "outrageous" she can get. Well, that's not serious political commentary, and it's about goddamned time that Tweety and the rest of the kewl kidz start being responsible about the sort of shit they allow on their programs.

I don't think the media humps realize just how much they devalue their own currency with this shit. It really is the political version of Springer et al, spreading lies and toxic rhetoric, catering to people's basest, most idiotic instincts. And not only are they so clueless as to wonder why people have turned to the internets for their information, they have the fucking gall to chastise the eeevil bloggers for being angry and nasty.

Well, if being a "serious journalist" means doing what Tweety and Russert and the rest of the empty suits do, they can fucking have it. Ten years from now, they'll either get with the program, or be on the outside looking in. They don't seem to get or care that when they devalue their shows with people like Coulter, it just contributes that much more to the growing self-selective nature of their audiences. Eventually they will find themselves catering to the mouth-breathers who actually go out and buy and read her "books". And if that's what they want, then go with God on that, but don't look down your nose and point your fucking finger at the bloggers then. You gave up that privilege, Tweety Matthews, when you sucked up to what may be the most toxic political fabulist in America today.

And as with the people who seriously want to vote for a twit like George Felix Allen, Junior, out of sheer ignorance and spite, the people who continue to buy into Sideshow Annie's stupid little spectacle need to be held responsible as well, and put back out on the margins where they belong. Do they have the right to buy her plagiarized nonsense, and believe her ranting bag lady assertions? Of course. They also have the right to watch professional wrestling 24/7; such habits instantly qualify one as a moron, in the eyes of serious observers.

And that's what we need to get back to in our political culture, is serious observation. I don't mean solemn, I mean being intellectually honest and reality-based about one's contentions. Be insulting, be funny, sure, but point out the absurd, don't be a part of it.

Again, Coulter has the right to do what she does, though I seriously don't know how she lives with herself. It must take supreme will and/or delusion for her not to just borrow a gun and blow her brains out, as perpetually bilious and unhappy as she always is. Seriously, to listen to this crazy cunt, you'd think that her side hadn't been completely in charge for the last six years, after spending the previous eight years using that president as daily target practice.

But in a country that had a soul and a brain, Coulter would go broke. Instead she is feted and enabled by corporate assholes and conservative activists alike. And fat fucks like Tweety, squealing and clapping his hooves in approval for her imminent return, after making assertions about people that would get a librul crucified in the media, and showing not even a casual acquaintance with even basic researchable facts.

So again, perhaps it's time to address the root cause, and hold her retard fans accountable, make the media enablers responsible for having her on. It's either that or we have to listen to this braying sow, and the rest of her herd, for the rest of our damned lives.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cracker Barrel

I know that the Lamont/Lieberman Senate primary is the money race, not only literally, but also in terms of demonstrating where political clout and sentiment are actually trending in Democratic politics. However, an equally if not more important Senate race is heating up in Virginia, between former Reagan cabinet Secretary (and current disaffected Republican) James Webb and useless lawn ornament George Felix Allen, Junior. Webb is a serious policy guy and actual Vietnam veteran. Allen is a reliable street-walker for the current gang of pimps in charge, and started pretending to be a cowboy as a teenager in Los Angeles.

Guess who's leading in the polls.

Republican Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) has a 16-point lead over Democratic challenger Jim Webb in the latest independent statewide poll, published Sunday, but a fifth of the electorate is still undecided.

The election is closely watched nationally as an off-year referendum on the embattled Bush presidency because Allen, one of Bush's most reliable Senate allies, is preparing a 2008 presidential bid. Last year, Allen voted in support of the White House more than 95 percent of the time.

Forty-eight percent backed Allen and 32 percent supported Webb in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey of registered voters likely to vote in the Nov. 7 election.

However, 20 percent of the 625 respondents surveyed statewide by telephone July 25-27 said they had not decided between Allen, a former governor seeking a second Senate term, and Webb, a former Republican who was President Reagan's Navy secretary.

The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

So not only is Allen merely a butt-boy for an unpopular moron of a preznit, he also has preznitential aspirations his own self. And rest assured, like his urban cowboy boss, Allen will be just as clueless and out of his depth. Just like he is in the United States Senate.

At some point, we have to start assigning responsibility where it belongs, at the feet of the rubes who think a slug like Allen even belongs in the Senate, much less that he should be there instead of a principled conservative Democrat like Jim Webb. I understand that Allen has name recognition, because his daddy was a famous NFL coach. I understand that he has the money, and the perks of incumbency.

But we have to stop putting all the blame on the evil money machine of politics, the sordid lobbyists and the fabled backroom deals, and the lazy, diffident corporate media. There's plenty of blame to spread to the yahoos who are too lazy to do a little homework, who vote for a good ol' boy whose name they've heard, who piss and moan about partisan rancor and then cast their vote based on nothing more than ignorance and pure spite.

The midterms are more than a referendum on the power of the unwashed librul blogofascists who march in lockstep to Kos, or whatever the lazy-ass media trope is this week from brain surgeons like Lee Siegel (who, as a commenter at MyDD hilariously noted, is coming off more and more like Andy Kaufman's alter ego Tony Clifton). They are, and should be, a referendum on a failed administration, its failed policies, and its abysmal lack of respect for the most basic insitutional functions of this country.

If anything, the real barbarians at the gate are the goofballs who, by their petulant refusal to observe reality and be part of figuring out a solution to the mess their chimperor got us all into, continue to drag this country down into endless dipshit debates over gay married immigrant terrorists burning flags or whatnot. Apparently the need to affirm their projections and anxieties trumps the need of the country they supposedly love and revere to start setting things right. Either the Constitution means something, or these idiots are content to wonder whether it comes in two-ply. Either way, in the end they are every bit as culpable as the assholes they keep pushing in with their "fuck you" vote.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

They Do Chicken Right

Why go over there, where it's all hot and sandy and sticky and shit, and have to get up in the enemy's grille, when you can fight The Good Fight just as effectively from waaaaay the fuck over here:

But Cliff May, another National Review blogger and prominent right-wing pundit, objected. May insisted that Lopez, by blogging for the National Review was “fighting a war” and this war was “equally consequential” with the wars that are fought by the U.S. military. An excerpt:

There is a war of arms. And there is a war of ideas. They are not just inter-related, they are interdependent. They are equally consequential.

…Let’s take just one example: In the 1930s, Churchill fought a war of ideas. He tried to warn the world about Hitler; tried to warn Europe and America that Hitler’s hatred and ambition had to be checked. But most people did not listen. Churchill’s ideas did not prevail. They called Churchill a “war monger.”

…So yes, Kathryn, you are fighting a war. And your e-mailer is ignorant about how wars are fought, about how wars are won and lost, and about the way the world actually works.
[emphases in original]

Do tell, Sgt. Rock. Can't wait for a few years down the road, when Cliffy and Pantload and J-Pod and the rest of the dogfaces of the 82nd Chairborne meet up and swap war stories, talk about their nightmarish tour of duty in the shit. You can tell the Pantload by his thousand-yard stare, and his 80-pound ruck full of dirty socks and popcorn chicken. Just remember not to say the word "Charlie" in front of him, or he will flip the fuck out and gut you like the legacy-defining record trout The Decider caught at his pre-stocked lake.

Civilian pussies just don't get what's it's like out in the shit at The Corner, never knowing when Buckley's gonna toddle by, on another Tanqueray and Vicodin bender, and tell you a-fucking-gain how it was back in the day. You never know when Ponnuru's gonna sneak up behind you, like a fuckin' ghost, man, and pester you to work his stupid fucking book into the blog yet again. Jesus, doesn't he have an agent or a publicist or something?

Yeah, the civilians don't get what grunts like Cliffy and K-Lo do, man, day in and day out, but they do it for us anyway, and they do it for their country. It's a tall job, done by short, dumpy people who basically operate an electronic tin cup.

Semper fi, Cliffy. Semper fi, Pantload. Ooo-rah.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Mayor Of Simpleton

We discussed a lot of issues. The prime minister's laid out a comprehensive plan. That's what leaders do: They see problems, they address problems and they lay out a plan to solve the problems.

The prime minister understands he's got challenges. And he's identified priorities.

Our priority is to help this government succeed. It's in the national interests of the United States that a unity government, based upon a constitution that is advanced and modern, succeed.

And that's what I told the prime minister. You know, he comes wondering whether or not we're committed. He hears all kinds of stories here in the United States.

And I assured him that this government stands with the Iraqi people.

We're impressed by your courage, Mr. Prime Minister, and we're impressed by the courage of the Iraqi people. And we want to help you.

We talked about security in Baghdad. There's no question the terrorists and extremists are brutal.

-- George W. Bush, 7/25/2006, press conference with Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki

Do you agree with Ben, Mr.
Gardiner? Are we finished? Or do
you think we can stimulate growth
through temporary incentives?

As long as the roots are not
severed, all is well and all will
be well in the garden.

(a pause)
... In the garden?

That is correct. In a garden,
growth has its season. There is
spring and summer, but there is
also fall and winter. And then
spring and summer again...

(staring at Chance)
... Spring and summer...
Yes, I see... Fall and winter.
(smiles at Chance)
Yes, indeed...
(a beat)
Could you go through that one more
time, please, Mr. Gardiner?

I think what my most insightful
friend is saying, Mr. President, is
that we welcome the inevitable
seasons of nature, yet we are upset
by the seasons of our economy.

Yes. That is correct.

-- Being There, (1979)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Rapture Index Update

Be honest now. You've been wondering. Here's the current Rapture Index, with some comparative data.

Rapture Index 156
Net Change +1

Updated Jul 24, 2006

2003 High 177 2004 High 157 2005 High 161 2006 High 159
2003 Low 133 2004 Low 135 2005 Low 143 2006 Low 151

Record High 182 (24 Sept 01) Record Low 57 (12 Dec 93)

Note that the record low is about a year into that terrible awful Clenis era of peace and prosperity. That may explain why they hate him so -- they're looking forward to this thing.

But you probably already knew all that. What's really interesting is to look at some of their justifications for the scores in the individual categories. There's, um, 45 categories in all, each rated on a 1-to-5 scale, some with very curious appellations. "Tribulation Temple"?

29 Liberalism
The political scene in the U.S. favors liberal candidates.

Exsqueeze me? Exactly how does one arrive at such a conclusion with both eyes open? Aren't all three branches of American government dominated by conservatives right now? Are these fucking people insane or retarded or something?

Oh, wait. Right.

But not only is the political analysis beyond ridiculous, the math is also hinky, because this sage analysis rates a "2" on their little RaptureMeter. So either the numbering system for the (ahem) "Liberalism" category is reversed, which would throw off the mathematical integrity of the rest of the index (such as it is), or the number is correct and the "analysis" is, to put it mildly, hyperbolic even for their own rating scheme. Either way, pretty dumb.

32 Mark of the Beast:
The U.S. Patriot Act has failed to get enough votes for extension.

The "Mark of the Beast" category is rated "3" for this transgression, so they're actually not terribly clear as to how they feel about the possible extension of the Patriot Act. My guess is that they liken the Patriot Act with the sort of state intrusiveness that would culminate in bar-coding and low-jacking people's wrists and foreheads. (Which, considering the nature of people like Negroponte, Poindexter, Cheney, et al, is not exactly unthinkable. If they could, they very likely would -- and there's no shortage of morons who'd let them.) But again, as such occurrences would hasten the rapture -- which they want -- it's difficult to run this stuff through the usual simple moral filters of "good" or "bad".

So there's a very real moral paradox at play in the Rapture Index -- we godless heathen atheists want to take steps to prevent war and such, while the celestial reckoning these folks pray for (and, not to put too fine a point on it, interfere politically for) depends on accumulating turmoil and upheaval, death and disaster, culminating in a great final reckoning where the pure are transported en masse. Meanwhile the rest of us stay here and divvy up their shit -- and, according to the beliefs of the dominionists and dispensationalists, kill each other off so that they can eventually return. Hey, where do we sign up?

And if you want a real eye-opener, be sure to check out the home page, the right sidebar of which advertises something with a name that most rational people would have just assumed they'd never see or utter at any point in their entire lives: Prophecy Gopher. Yes, you read that correctly.

Say hello to the Prophecy Gopher. Now go find a bottle of anything, and drink until the image has been scrubbed.


Though I haven't commented on it much, I have been watching the Lieberman/Lamont contest diligently. One can draw quite a few lessons from what has transpired thus far. I think Lamont has a pretty good chance of unseating Holy Joe, and I certainly hope that he does. In the run-up to the primary, Lieberman has exemplified the clueless, out-of-touch swell who substitutes "principle" for common sense, when it becomes more and more clear that he has neither of those things in any measurable quantity. Lieberman's principle has boiled down to serving as a moral scold to the picayune transgressors within his own party, while faithfully carrying water for Chimpco's doomed and incompetent policy-making.

So now Lieberman thinks he can save his hide by bringing in The Clenis, the very same person he so pontificated against during the impeachment hearings that blighted the end of the last millennium, to get the black vote for him.

He’s been going around to African American churches of late and with his political tin ear hoping to get them riled about Ned’s Halliburton stock (YouTube above), but Joe has several liabilities within that community which are going to be hard to overcome.

To begin with, Joe was chair of the committee that approved Michael Brown to be the head of FEMA in 42 minutes, and he also famously said that George Bush had the right to appoint anyone he wanted to. He gave cover to the cracker coalition in the mid-nineties by saying affirmative action was wrong, and then tried to pander to the Congressional Black Caucus during the 2000 race by saying he’d always been for it.

Now, I'm sure it's a shock to the media creeps who keep insisting that the only reason anyone wants Lieberman out is because of the Iraq War, and that Lieberman is Bush's shameless point man in the putative opposition party. Those are indeed major reasons, and it's not as if they're bad ones. Were the Bushies to, say, admit that they fucked up royally and set about working cooperatively to start fixing what they've wrecked, things would be different.

But they are resolute in their contention that they meant to do all this shit, that the chaos and death they've unleashed on the region is not a bug, it's a feature. Even some Republicans are starting to break ranks with the administration, if only to try to save their own sorry asses come November.

If Lieberman wants to hang on his vaunted "principles", as if there were anything at all principled about being a willing butt-boy for an incompetent and corrupt administration, that's his problem. He and his lapdog the Bullshit Moose can suck on their principles for all I care. There's nothing principled about people who refuse to admit they were wrong, and need to start figuring out how to set things right again.

The real problem, for the self-styled "serious" politicos, is what a Lamont upset would mean for them and all their cushy little careers explaining shit to the proles. It petrifies them that the barbarians at the gate, who now have a variety of resources and opinions to review and compare, no longer have to rely on the corporate missives of the punditocracy. Something like this really could legitimize a true net-roots movement, which if cultivated could quickly start serving as a political counterweight to the "family values" lunatics that have fucked up American politics over the last generation.

Not that they'd ever admit it; it's far to easy to rely on the usual "purging a maverick" and "ideological purity" tropes:

MONTHS AGO, I was lunching with some savvy Democrats, when one of them asked me: What is the problem with all those Republicans who can't stand maverick GOP Sen. John McCain?

As a McCainiac, I warmed to the subject. I disagree with McCain on illegal immigration and other issues, but I like the fact that McCain appeals to Democrats and independents and that he can work with senators on the other side of the aisle. I appreciate McCain's efforts to curb Washington's runaway spending, and wish more Republicans followed his lead on fiscal restraint. What is more, I think McCain in the White House could go a long way in healing the country's ugly partisan divide.

Then again, I added, Democrats have their own maverick -- Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Unlike Dems who ran from their support of the Iraq resolution, Lieberman has remained stalwart. He has forged relations with the Bush White House and joined McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in fighting pork-barrel spending.

That's when the table got quiet. It is one thing for Democrats to feel superior to rube Republicans who don't like McCain because he is not sufficiently doctrinaire. When, however, a Democrat gets along with Republicans and espouses moderate positions, well then, he is a turncoat, plain and simple. The episode demonstrated how voters value bipartisanship -- from the other side, only.

Not to pick on Saunders in particular, though she can be a tiresome hack; hers is just the most recent iteration of this "cut and run" nonsense. Democrats -- at least the ones I've been hearing and reading -- are not "running" from their initial (misguided) support of the Iraq resolution, so much as acknowledging what has long been obvious to all honest observers.

Politics is about the only business where you're a better man for stubbornly refusing to admit you fucked up and need to change tack and fix what you broke. No matter how many lives get wasted, no matter how much of the taxpayers' money disappears down a giant hole in the sand, it becomes the height of apostasy to say, "Look, we gotta fix this fucking thing before it gets out of our control. Indeed, it may already be."

It's a common conservative fallback cliché to ponderously intone what something "objectively" means. Well, a deliberate avoidance of what this war of error has devolved to objectively means that you don't really want to fix the problem you've caused, you just want to hang in there in the hopes that a politically viable solution might come along, even though we've completely squandered our position to expect such a windfall. There's no longer much upside for any other nations to do things strictly our way, and our feckless "leaders" refuse to budge on anything. So events just unfold on their own, with no plan, no direction.

If Joe Lieberman can explain precisely why the voters of Connecticut are supposed to willingly endorse six more years of that bullshit, then good luck with that. But to petulantly insult people for expressing their considered opinions shows a contempt for real democracy. Joe Lieberman thinks his seat is an entitlement, that he shouldn't have to earn it, and it doesn't even occur to him that that might be what's really motivating what is turning out to be a nationwide opposition to his simpering appeasement of the most regressive, ass-backwards administration since perhaps McKinley.

Many people, even on the internets, are angry, and they have the right to be, and what they want is real leadership and initiative to counter the current insanity. Lieberman merely represents the party's worst "live on your knees" instincts; he has so thoroughly misread the public sentiment that he really doesn't get that a lot of people are ready to just say fuck it and die on their feet. You know, with their principles. Imagine that.

I really don't think the establishment politicos and commentators can imagine that, seriously; they are so calcified and jaded and co-opted in their current roles, they no longer recognize a genuine bottom-up political movement when they see one -- and when they do, they have nothing but sneering contempt for it. Their paychecks depend on them not understanding it.

If Lieberman had had the presence of mind to honestly examine his errors and come clean about offering real solutions, it might have cost him his Mooseketeer membership and another SOTU kiss from Fredo, and he would have incurred enough GOP wrath to possibly lose, but at least he would have lost like a man. As it is, he'll have a fine career as a Faux News meat puppet, a sop for the farm animals who can't get enough of the likes of Zell Miller.


It's hard to read what could most charitably be characterized as unconscionably lazy analysis, and not reach the same conclusion Billmon does:

If it’s just bad writing or stupidity – if the phrase “building Sunni Arab opposition to Shi’a terrorism” doesn’t actually modify “post-September 11 plan,” but instead is just another way of pretending that Shrub is capable of the kind of leadership that has its “moments,” then the sentence is only unintentionally hysterical. However, given the current situation on the ground (all 18 zillion square miles of it) it may well be precisely the lie it appears to be, to wit: that fighting “Shi’a terrorism” was the point of Shrub’s post-9/11 master plan all along.

Either way, it boggles the mind that anyone who isn't a certified graduate of the Minitrue School for Outer Party Members could write an English sentence even suggesting such a thing. Is that why America crushed the most powerful Sunni regime in the neighborhood? Is that why Democracy Boy cheered as an Iran-friendly government took power in Baghdad? Does it explain why the Iraqi Interior Ministry was turned over to the tender mercies of an Iranian-backed militia movement?

At some point, the pencil-necks of Duh Media have to put aside their arrogant posturing and start being truly self-critical. They have relied on the comfortable defense of "if both sides are pissed at us, we must be doing our jobs". There may have been a time when that was true; this is not such a time. The fact is that one side gets pissed and frustrated when they don't do their jobs; the other side hates them and wants to cause physical harm to them when they do their jobs.

Again, it should not take someone with a master's in Middle East Studies and Poli Sci to parse a Bush White House press release. Billmon was able to raise three damning indictments in less than a paragraph, whilst the Telegraph's DC correspondent simply regurgitated what what he was given by the usual anonymous flunkies.

Seriously, the article is chock-full of unattributed quotes. Talk about useful idiots. Journalists keep deluding themselves that this is the only way to get news stories, to let administration officials launch policy statements that no one will take official responsibility for. They bristle when we barbarian bloggers get uncivil on them and call them stenographers, but exactly how is that article not stenography? Zero attributed quotes; zero objective voices of reason pointing out the sheer delusion (as Billmon did) that if the "plan" was to use Sunnis to counter Shia-sponsored terrorism, then demolishing the only powerful Sunni state in the region, and emboldening and empowering the Shia state next door was the exact wrong thing to do.

A real journalist would find a way, either by including a dissenting voice in his puff piece, or (heaven forfend) by objectively disputing the official account with a recitation of demonstrable facts, to show that what the anonymous "senior officials" are saying is either dishonest or delusional (or, as appears to actually be the case, both). But there are no facts in the Telegraph article, merely unchallenged, regurgitated assertions from anonymous officials.

If journalists really want to know why most people have come to hold their profession in contempt, there ya go. Journalism used to be a guild; if one member of the guild performed his job poorly or dishonestly, other members of the guild -- even if they had no personal contact with that journalist -- took it personally enough to publicly say so. It was a team sport, and the team would not put up with one idiot embarrassing everyone else with substandard performance or conduct.

But now that "legitimate" journalism has devolved into just another networking profession, with a bunch of independent contractors all competing for the same few brass rings -- cushy anchor gigs, fat-ass book deals, partying with the in-crowd, clawing their way to the middle -- the only standards are "don't get caught", and "don't make waves". The only difference between that level of "journalism" and a crack whore is that a crack whore has to give a couple more handjobs to get that sweet fucking house in the Hamptons.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stupid Does

Now that the WW3/5/8 talk of the past week has been shelved for the time being, the usual media zones are being shamelessly flooded with the bizarre notion that Bush meant to do this shit.

In the administration's view, the new conflict is not just a crisis to be managed. It is also an opportunity to seriously degrade a big threat in the region, just as Bush believes he is doing in Iraq. Israel's crippling of Hezbollah, officials also hope, would complete the work of building a functioning democracy in Lebanon and send a strong message to the Syrian and Iranian backers of Hezbollah.

Seems the Syrians and especially the Iranians have received all the messages they needed to know how to proceed. The Iranians in particular are working with a fair degree of upper hand, because of our troops being bogged down in the midst of a civil war, and because right now, Iran is far more useful to the growing power structure of the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization than the U.S. is.

"[Bush] thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "

For someone who majored in history at Yale, and who apparently regards himself as quite the big picture thinkamator, Bush seems to deliberately ignore the simple fact that societies do not transform with violence, unless it's old-school scorched-earth violence. Does he want that level of blood on his hands, because that's exactly what it's going to take here. Hezbollah, while being characterized as little more than a glorified gang, has managed to insinuate itself quite well in Lebanese society. They're in the government, the army, the neighborhoods.

The closest parallel I can think of is the Irish Republican Army. Perhaps Little Lord History Major can ponder the parallels of that and acknowledge that maybe a constant jackboot on the neck is not only not a good way to win the proverbial hearts 'n' minds, it's never going to serve as a pacification tool. It sort of worked in postwar Germany and Japan, but only with massive infusions of rebuilding and infrastructure cash, none of which is taking place in Iraq, nor will it in Lebanon, which had just been rebuilt in the first place before the Israelis went batshit and destroyed it again.

That Bush thinks that this will actually have any other result than inflaming an already furious populace, and destroying whatever Cedar Revolution magic there had been, that all those dead children hit by "targeted" strikes are just "consequences" to be "managed", tells you exactly what a big-picture thinker he is. Look at everything else he's "thought" about.

What it's going to end up doing is isolating us further from the friends we need in the coming years, in an increasingly interdependent world.

President Bush's uncompromising support for Israel in its battle with Hezbollah, a stance now backed by Congress, is threatening to isolate the United States even further from the international community.

It is also putting the administration at odds with fragile democratic governments in the Middle East that it is simultaneously trying to prop up, and sowing increasing anger across the Arab world.

The democratically elected prime ministers of both Iraq and Lebanon have been among the most vocal critics of U.S. policy in the 10-day Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Some foreign policy analysts question whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can make much headway on her trip to the region early next week - especially given U.S. rejection of international calls for a cease-fire and refusal to talk to key players such as Hezbollah or its Iranian and Syrian sponsors.

"You don't just negotiate with your friends. Sometimes you negotiate with your enemies, or at least your adversaries," said Sandy Berger, former national security adviser in the Clinton White House. "We negotiated with the Soviet Union for 50 years."

Both the first President Bush and President Clinton met directly with then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in efforts to advance Mideast peace prospects.

But the current Bush administration is adamant in resisting any direct contact with Syrian President Bashar Assad, son of the former president, or with Hezbollah leaders.

Yeah well, this gang doesn't do nuance, and actual diplomacy is nothing but nuance, when you get right down to it. The Bush foreign policy, rather than speaking softly and carrying a big stick, has been reduced to shouting and holding its dick. There's plenty of guys like that roaming the back streets of most major American cities.

I think there's a corollary here, between the thought functions of this administration, and those of their most ardent supporters in the "respectable" media. It's not a small point that Clinton and Bush Senior both found a way to deal with Hafez Assad, a vicious tinpot thug if ever there was one. But Clinton and Poppy, whatever their faults, understood quite well how the actual world functions. Serious people actually do read books, they don't just make sure to be seen with books they think will burnish their public image as not-quite-as-dumb-as-you-think. They travel to places and understand how different customs and mores are. They know how vast the world truly is, so they are not caught with their pants down sounding like a mildly precocious six-year-old at a conference of world leaders, babbling on about how Russia and China are big like the U.S. I mean, what the fuck is wrong with this guy, anyway? Seriously.

And that incredibly shallow level of thought, where the person is too stupid even to know that he's stupid in the first place (one of Rummy's fabled "unknown unknowns") is reflected quite well in the ramblings of conservatard commentators, especially the younger ones who came of age in the marketing era of movementarianism. The premise is that it doesn't matter if what you write is completely false and/or idiotic; the machine will ensure that not only will it get published and marketed anyway, but that there enough morons to buy it and take it seriously so that you can even make a career out it. And all it boils down to is affirming peoples' projected ignorance and inferiority complexes.

Anyhoo, that's the nut of why we're becoming increasingly isolated. Most other world powers have at the helm learned, educated people who have actually had to work for a living at some point. We have a bumbling fool who has to be spoon-fed information, only to burp it back up in random order at inopportune times. His besotted base may not notice, because they're morons, but there's no mistaking that the rest of the world does notice, and strangely, they find that unacceptable for a country that affects everything for the rest of the planet. As a wise man once said, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

And what's his big plan when Turkey actually does start doing incursions across the Iraqi border, because it is going to happen, and it's not just going to happen once. And as the Kurds accumulate more and more power and prepare themselves for secession, the Turks are going to get more and more nervous.

You want to talk about world wars, you armchair generals, nervous is how world wars get started. Nervous people and unforeseen events is what sets the big shit in motion. I don't even need to ask whether or not George W. Bush has even the slightest fucking clue as to who Gavrilo Princip was.

So now as our Secretary of State drags her vaunted stiletto heels over to the Levant to assure Israel that we don't give a fuck, we venture into the fabled quagmire of moral equivalence, thanks to professional cock-knocker Alan Dershowitz. I mean, if you can't trust a guy who defended Claus von Bulow and O.J. Simpson to know something about morality, who can you trust?

But strategically, this is a real can of worms we're letting be opened. Larry Johnson of No Quarter, an actual CIA agent, explains exactly why the Bushies' approach (or lack of one) is exactly the wrong strategy:

So far Condi has ruled out talking with Hezbollah about any issue. They are a terrorist organization and we don't talk to terrorists. Following our lead, Israel is will rebuff any UN entreaty to negotiate a ceasefire. The table is set for the next evolution of bloodshed.

During the next two weeks we are likely to see combat in southern Lebanon intensify. Most of the action will be on the ground rather than in the air. Both sides will suffer significant casualties. If the United States is perceived (emphasis on perceived) as encouraging or directing the Israeli response, the odds increase that Hezbollah will ratchet things up another notch by playing the terrorist card.

We should not confuse Hezbollah with Al Qaeda. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a real and substantial international network. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a real and substantial international political and financial network. They have personnel and supporters scattered in countries around the world who have the training and resources to mount attacks. Hezbollah has no qualms about using terrorist attacks as part of a broader strategy to achieve its objectives. The last major Hezbollah attack against the United States was the June 1996 attack on the U.S. military apartment complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah also organized the attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. But they also have exercised restraint when they felt they could achieve their objectives through political means. The ten year hiatus in major mass casualty attacks could come to a shattering end in the coming months, and American citizens are likely to pay some of that price with their own blood.

What to Do?

Although Hezbollah uses terrorism as a tactic, it is not primarily a terrorist organization. It has evolved over the years into a genuine political movement and conventional military force. This is a reality we can ignore at our peril. If we choose to view Hezbollah strictly as a terrorist threat then we convince ourselves that we have only one option--fight. But understand this--if we fight Hezbollah we will unleash a new war front that we are not prepared to pursue. At a minimum we can expect to face the fury of Shia militias attacking our troops and personnel in Iraq.

There are some other options. We could recognize Hezbollah does have people in their ranks amenable to negotiation. If we pursue a political path, while not eliminating the option to take out terrorist elements, we have some new possibilities to consider. The United States needs take the lead in organizing a ceasefire, sooner rather than later. The ceasefire must be accompanied by the insertion of an international peacekeeping force with the muscle to shutdown rocket launches from Lebanon and an exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hezbollah.

If we choose to fight get the body bags ready and take out a home equity loan. Americans will die and gas prices will soar. We will reap our failure to learn anything from the last forty years in the Middle East.

That's it. I hate to sound like Bush, but it's axiomatic that leaders lead. We are not leading, we're lurching between letting shit happen and whacking a hornet's nest, then pretending that we meant for everyone to get stung. Oh yeah, that stining venomous feeling you have is the feeling Freedomocracy™, my friend.

And Bush can afford to be sanguine about the consequences, because it sure as fuck isn't him or his loved ones who have to live with any of it. They're all safe and secure in their little bubble, which hopefully, come November, will prove to be much more permeable than they seem to think it is. If not, if there are still enough Americans out there willing to let themselves get bamboozled by these ratfucks yet again, then perhaps they deserve whatever they get. Too bad they drag the rest of us, who actually bother to pay attention and process information and facts, into their bullshit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Kristol Balls

Check out this Tom Tomorrow cartoon from April 1, 2003, then check out this shitbag talking out his worthless ass yet again:

This is what [Kristol] wrote on the pages of the Weekly Standard in the days leading up to the Iraq war:

We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime. … History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.


KRISTOL: We have to be ready to use military force against Iran, if it comes to that. Think what this crisis would be like given what we now know about the Islamic Republic of Iran, its regime, its recklessness, its close, close ties to terrorist groups. Think what the world wore would be like with an Iran with nuclear weapons. This is a very interesting moment in that respect. You know? We are in a way lucky that Iran has revealed its aggression, its recklessness, its terror ties before they succeeded in becoming a nuclear power. We have to stop them from getting nuclear weapons. We can try diplomacy. I am not hopeful about that. We have to be ready to use force.

QUESTION: You know, the down side, though, you know very well, to all of that being that we’re involved in Iraq and Afganistan. Also that Iran is much different than Iraq. It’s huge and more formidable.

KRISTOL: It is, but also the Iranian people dislike their regime. I think they would be – the right use of targeted military force — but especially if political pressure before we use military force – could cause them to reconsider whether they really want to have this regime in power. There are even moderates – they are not wonderful people — but people in the government itself who are probably nervous about Ahmadinejad’s recklessness.

This is why standing up to Iran right now is so important. They’re overreached. They and Hezbollah have recklessly overreached. They got cocky. This is the moment to set them back. I think a setback to Hezbollah could trigger changes in Iran. People can say, wait a second, what is Ahmadinejad doing to us. We’re alone. The Arab world is even against us. The Muslim world is against us. Let’s reconsider this reckless path that we’re on.

This must be more of that real/Riehl world view I keep hearing about. Whatever they're smoking, it must be good shit. Either way, I don't know where Kristol finds the fucking nerve to
  1. show his face on camera;

  2. offer his opinion about anything, as if he knows what the fuck he's talking about;

  3. pretend he wasn't completely clueless about Iraq.

And what's with the "we/us" shit, motherfucker? Nobody named Kristol will be doing any of the fighting or dying, nor will anybody named Kristol truly feel the crunch of $4 or $5 a gallon gas, or lose their job or house in the concomitant economic problems of such a situation. You're in a gated community with your think tank country club asshole friends, Billy, and eventually the suckers in your base will put down their bibles for two seconds and catch on to your little grift. (Or not.)

There is no "we", there is no "us". There's people who run the world with their ruinous policies; there's the lackeys of that class who profit by doing their unholy bidding; and then there's the rest of us who actually get to deal with all the consequences of the short-sighted idiocy of these cocksuckers. Kristol is in that second class, the lackeys, hoping that if he snorkels enough elite cock, his vaunted neocon intemellectual status will get him in good with his masters.

I'm not sure who is more contemptible -- people like Kristol who, no matter how often or how badly they've been proven wrong, don't know when to shut the fuck up; the "news" shows who keep letting them slither on to their "serious" discussions; or the halfwits who don't have enough goddamned sense to vote with their remotes.


Short note to all the smug "values voters" who collectively fucked the dog by re-installing their commander-in-chump out of nothing more than sheer spite: when you or your parents have Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, or a loved one is disabled in the prime of life by a tragic accident, and you're praying for a cure, just remember one thing:

This is what you wanted. This is what you get.

Enjoy your snowflake babies.

Exercise In Futility

It's not that Bush gets caught saying "shit" (and showing that he understands the word "irony" like he understands the word "dissemble") to his faithful dog Spot Blair, in the midst of wolfing down a roll. It's not even Rubya's impromptu massage, made all the creepier becuase Angela Merkel was having a conversation with another leader of a world power, Italian PM Romano Prodi. (Unfortunately, the cameras didn't catch the handjob Bush gave Prodi.)

It's his whole fucking performance in Rostock and St. Petersburg, every bit the ugly American, every moment putting his worst foot forward and making us all look like rubes who travel just to see if the Russian Mickey D's sell Quarter Pounders. It's the fact that the world is blowing up all around him (and all of us) and he acts like an idiot at a country club. Does he understand that there are cameras and microphones at these things?

And I thought there might be some remote chance that maybe one honest conservatard fuck-nozzle out there might have the goddamned intellectual honesty to once, just once, be chastened by the public buffoonery of this clown.

Yeah, right.

The usual useful idiots are all a twitter, but if one looks closely at the video, you'll find that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is actually smiling at the very end. What was perhaps a fond exchange, perhaps a bit of a jest (maybe Bush told her to lighten up, given her previously tense look) who knows. Unfortunately, some are trying to turn it into something it obviously wasn't - something we might have expected from Bill Clinton, perhaps? Interesting, I thought the Left didn't have any problem with that?

You know, a couple small things occur to me right off the bat:
  • When you lamely name your blog after yourself as a play on the "real" world, you undermine your entire motif by pathetically trying to invent excuses for what the whole fucking world saw. I mean really, asswipe, just have enough guts to admit it for once. In the "real" world, this man is an absolute dunce, truly a fourth-rate intellect without a clue about any of it. You wouldn't hire him to do anything more complicated than cleaning your gutters, and if you did, disappointment would be a certainty.

  • As someone pointed out in numbnuts' comments, you'd be pissed if someone walked up and did this to your wife or mother, and hey, if you're feeling lucky, try it on a co-worker.

  • Can a functional vegetable be a self-described "carnivorous conservative"? It's like a Zen riddle.

  • These people, still obsessed with the Clenis. Weird, wild stuff. I dunno, seems like Clenis went to plenty of G8 meetings and such, and never acted the fool like this, as far as I can recall.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Name Game

At what point do we officially call declare Iraq to be in a state of civil war, and how exactly will it change anything?

The battle lines of a full-scale civil war in Iraq have been drawn in Baghdad.

Highway 60 has become one of the bloodiest fronts in the war between Sunni and Shia. Known to its frightened inhabitants as the "street of death", the road in the south-east of the capital is a symbol of the sectarian violence that is pushing the country ever closer to the abyss.

A nondescript suburban street containing half a dozen schools, the local hospital and a children's nursery, it has become the dividing line between the Sunnis and Shia, who once lived side by side yet now face each other across a mile-long strip of no man's land.

Members of the once mixed community have been forced to move their homes to what are, in effect, two sectarian enclaves.

But hey, at least according to The Decider, they've got "free press" and "free religion". What else could someone who is about to murder or get murdered by his neighbor want?

Now, I am not as sanguine as some have been about what referring to the non-stop carnage as civil war would actually mean or change on the ground. I think the reluctance to do so is because it's a tacit acknowledgement of failure, of course, but there's also more than mere semantics. It seems pretty clear that the situation is intractable, and there's not much we can do about any of it, especially since much of the violence appears to be committed by some of the very same police and army forces we need to "stand up" so that we can "stand down" (Christ, I am beyond sick of that useless phrase).

So I would reasonably infer that once the "civil war" nomenclature is applied, and it will be soon, Chimpco will take that as their cue to start controlled redeployment. (This is, of course, assuming that Israel doesn't end up goading Iran into attacking in Iraq, in which case all bets are off. Prepare for $5.00 per gallon gasoline.)

In other name game news, America's favorite political amphibian flexed his gills for Father Tim, feebly attempting to burnish his foreign policy cred for his upcoming ill-fated tilt at the preznitential windmill.

I mean, this is absolutely a question of the survival of Israel, but it’s also a question of what is really a world war. Look what you’ve been covering: North Korea firing missiles. We say there’ll be consequences, there are none. The North Koreans fire seven missiles on our Fourth of July; bombs going off in Mumbai, India; a war in Afghanistan with sanctuaries in Pakistan. As I said a minute ago, the, the Iran/Syria/Hamas/Hezbollah alliance. A war in Iraq funded largely from Saudi Arabia and supplied largely from Syria and Iran. The British home secretary saying that there are 20 terrorist groups with 1200 terrorists in Britain. Seven people in Miami videotaped pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda, and 18 people in Canada being picked up with twice the explosives that were used in Oklahoma City, with an explicit threat to bomb the Canadian parliament, and saying they’d like to behead the Canadian prime minister. And finally, in New York City, reports that in three different countries people were plotting to destroy the tunnels of New York.

I mean, we, we are in the early stages of what I would describe as the third world war, and frankly, our bureaucracies aren’t responding fast enough, we don’t have the right attitude about this, and this is the 58th year of the war to destroy Israel.

There's a lot here that Newt has inadvertently conflated in his frantic attempt to posture as some great military historian. First, all these terror cells he refers to in Miami, Toronto, and England have nothing to do with one another. There is not a concerted effort here, it's more of the open-source style of systems sabotage John Robb has been talking about for so long, not to mention that the Miami and Toronto cells appear to be inept groups of garden-variety idiots. That doesn't mean there aren't real threats out there, it's just that it's useless to lump them all into some common entity that we can formulate common policy and strategy against.

Second, if you really want to get serious about the state-funded terror Gingrich prattles on about, then consider which country is conspicuous by its very absence from his litany of rogue states. Where did North Korea get its nuclear technology? Pakistan. Where did Iran get its nuclear technology? Pakistan. And where did Libya almost get its nuclear program started, until Qaddafi got talked out of his tree for the time being? That's right, our good buddies in Pakistan. Funny how they're always absent from the equation. Funny how we found a way to "work with" them, but we're just itching to get our thrill-kill on for the Iranians and the North Koreans, as if they won't respond to soft-power diplomacy as well. Pakistan's military and intel are stuffed to the fucking rafters with hard-line Islamic extremists; if we can find a way to deal with them, we can find a way to deal with the mullahs. And unless we really want the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians on our hands, we better find a way. Sounding the WW3 alarm is not helping, not one damned bit.

So of course The Pantload is all up in that shit.

I thought Newt Gingrich did a very good job making the case that we're at the dawn of World War Three on Meet the Press today. My only caveat is that I think those who argue this is World War Four (Norman Podhoretz, James Woolsey et al) have a better argument. According to this view, the Cold War was WWIII. I like this formulation because A) it recognizes what a monumental effort the Cold War really was and B) it provides for more creative thinking about the predicament we're in now.

It's actually very uncreative thinking, very clichéd thinking, but The Pantload's patented Cliffs Notes way of analyzing issues that are way past his intellectual reach are his stock in trade. As a legacy pundit (don't recall who coined that one but it fits Goldberg like a XXXL pair of Spiderman underoos), it's all he can do to lard his weekly idée fixe with like-minded quotes from people who are only slightly smarter than he.

No word yet on how we'll pay for this Third World War, or who's going to fight it, but you can bet the Serious Thinkamators will insist on keeping their tax cuts. After all, what's the point of being a one-percenter if you can't gobble your cake and still have it?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

War Pigs

I have mentioned before that I have a rule against commenting on the Israel-Palestine situation. It is a fool's errand; both sides are unhinged, committing horrible acts in the insane hope that each will get what it wants.

But the strategic implications of the events unfolding over the past several days are simply too monumental to ignore. I actually can't believe how ineptly Israel has handled the situation so far. Perhaps they were taken aback at Hezbollah's sudden efficiency at hitting Israeli military targets; perhaps this had been in the works for a while, and Israel just bided its time for the inevitable provocation.

Whatever the case, their disproportionate response, killing scores of civilians and decimating Lebanon's infrastructure, has painted Israel into a real corner here. Of course Israel has the right to defend itself (not herself; personalizing a formalized statist construct is, in my humble opinion, a rather cryptofascist rhetorical technique, whether the speaker means for it to be or not). But it has a responsibility in defending itself to use measured, proportionate tactics. Of course Hezbollah is a Syrian-Iranian sock puppet. But Israel plays right into their hands by getting drawn into a proxy war with Syria, effectively destroying Lebanon's nascent democracy (as we were incessantly reminded by the usual halfwits drooling on their keyboards at the hot Lebanese protest chicks) and making itself look like the bad guy causing a bunch of unnecessary civilian casualties.

I'm not sure why Israel didn't stick with the tried-and-true method of small-scale border incursions to find and secure the release of its soldiers, or perhaps even allow for a few older terrorist prisoners to be released. Something shy of instigating a real war, of not just upping the ante but ramping it up drastically, practically overnight.

As Billmon points out, this is why asymmetrical warfare ironically benefits the weaker party, especially against stateless agents. The stronger party simply has no targets it can hit without making itself look monstrous.

(In that sense, Hezbollah may have found the sweet spot in Fourth Generation War: It isn't a state and doesn't carry the political or defensive burdens of one, but it controls enough territory, commands enough popular loyalty and has enough allies to mount some fairly sophisticated military operations, using both conventional and nonconventional weapons. It's powerful enough to be successful -- and be seen as successful -- but not so powerful that state actors like Israel can fight it on equal terms. We may be looking at the New Model Army of the 21st century.)

That's it. And just as a matter of practicality, nothing else, but when Israel shells a family going to a beach, or jumps into another country and obliterates its infrastructure in a weekend, instead of targeting its attacks in the area whence the inital attacks originated, they're essentially begging Palestinians and Lebanese Arabs to join Hezbollah or Hamas or whoever. All the happy talk about giving back this or that strip of land means jack shit to someone who has no life and no prospects. I'm not sure what makes them think this policy of collective punishment is ever going to do anything but inflame the existing situation.

I mean, I'm sorry, I'm well aware of the position Israel has been in since day one, and it's a country I really hope succeeds in the long run, but none of this helps its cause. There are no easy answers, obviously, but this one is especially perplexing, how quickly it's escalated.

Coupled with Chimpco's conspicuous silence on the matter, one might reasonably assume that ramping up the violence and further destabilizing the region is not a flaw but a feature. If they really are serious about hitting Iran, this would be one way to force the issue politically, but again, there is just no way to do that militarily without irrevocably alienating our allies and killing a lot of innocent people. There's not going to be even a pretend coalition of the willing; it'll be us and Israel. Blair has his hands full with domestic political scandals, and his party is ready to throw him under the bus out of self-preservation. China and Russia have significant interests in Iran, and they will take none too kindly to our belligerence.

Hopefully I'm wrong, but if we haven't yet learned not to overestimate the sheer stupidity of these people, and the ethical depths which they are more than willing to sink to, then we never will.

Le Carnage

Chris from Americablog asks a pretty good big-picture question about the future of the once-mighty American auto industry:

Who would have ever dreamed that the once-largest company in the world could fall so far that besides shutting down factories across America (while Japanese automakers are building them) might benefit from an affiliation with Renault, a French automaker?


I am amazed at how little is out there in the US about this historic turn of events. GM had all of the money in the world, a massive market that believed buying anything besides GM/American was unpatriotic, friends in Washington and state/local governments, big government contracts/corporate welfare and yet they still couldn't find a way to make it all work.

What an amazing fall from grace for GM and no doubt MBA case study material of how to ruin a thriving business, for years to come. Americans love to admire business leaders and give them the spotlight and right now, I think these so-called leaders actually do deserve the spotlight and plenty of it. How in the hell did they screw up so badly?

I don't claim to know the definitive answer, but one can reasonably speculate in several areas, from least to most problematic. One (as I've found in pursuing this project management degree) is that the Japanese manufacturers took to the concepts of quality management (developed by Americans) much earlier and much more seriously than the American companies did. That is not a critique of the American companies, it's just that by the time those postwar concepts were more formally theorized and implemented, they were already larger and more well-established, whereas smaller yet somewhat more diversified Japanese concerns such as Mitsubishi and Toyota were in a position to adapt and grow from an earlier stage. Maybe they were also more well-suited culturally for such concepts.

Second is that in the '90s, while the Japanese automakers kept with making smaller, more efficient vehicles, the American companies found a sweet spot in the profit margin for making SUVs, and cultivating a needless craze among the much-prized smilf demographic. And while I realize it runs contrary to Al Gore's current hagiography (or perhaps he simply had his come-to-Jesus moment a bit late), the Clinton-Gore administration enabled the automakers by keeping the CAFE standards low. I remember reading articles in 1998 or '99, claiming that Ford was making something like $10-12K pure profit on Expeditions. Is it true? Not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Let's put it in terms of basic financial management -- if they weren't making good money off the SUVs, they wouldn't have hung with them for so long, which in turn acted as a financial disincentive (given their obvious short-run mentality) to re-tool and re-engineer for more sustainable and viable product lines. The Japanese companies are ending up being the little engine that could -- they stuck with what they were good at and kept their eyes on the big picture, knowing that wasting a non-renewable, volatile resource is just plain stupid, and that quality and economy are more sensible selling points than a false sense of security.

It also doesn't help that the price of a barrel of oil is about seven times what it was in the mid-'90s. The American companies couldn't have predicted that, of course, but they apparently weren't prepared for any substantial increase, which is inexplicable, given the indisputably toxic geographic distribution of remaining oil reserves.

But what seems to be the final nail in the coffin is health care. Ford and GM, in their most recent waves of layoffs earlier this year, both attested to that fact. The health care costs of their pensioned workers are simply becoming too high. Now, if I were a Democratic lawmaker from a Rust Belt state, I might take that opportunity to have a sit-down with the CEOs of the Big Three and get them to throw their weight behind a comprehensive health-care system now, rather than when the boomers who missed out on the stock market are forced to choose between meds and food.

They used to say that what was good for General Motors was good for America, such was their impact on American society. In this case, it may still be true -- the health-care crisis of the American auto industry is a warning to the society at large. Much is made of the tremendous percentage of Americans who are uninsured, but even the ones who are insured are essentially left to do battle with an industry that measures its success by how little it has to deal with its customers. Put them together with Big Pharma, a crushing deficit and endless adventurism, and the scores of unprincipled (but fully insured for life, of course) legislators who at least are honest enough to stay bought, and you're looking at a very grim scenario.

In the long run, given the coming impact of the baby boomer bubble on the health care/social security system, there will come a time when Americans will have to make a real choice between guns and butter, because we won't be able to afford both for much longer, thanks to the epic mismanagement of the current gang of creeps and thugs. Or the choice will be made for us, if the East Asian central banks decide they want their money back.

Either way, GM's problem is one of several interdependent levels -- organizational, managerial, and political, all of them exacerbated by a culture of golden parachutes and short-run thinking.

Choke Lyin'

Our latest episode of I Don't Think That Word Means What You Think It Means finds our favorite corporate house liberal attempting a half-hearted climbdown from some rash words he kinda sorta regrets.

A few weeks ago, I made a mistake while bloviating on the Sunday morning television program This Week With George Stephanopoulos. I said that all military options, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, should remain on the table in our future dealings with Iran. I was wrong on three counts.

First, my words were a technical violation of a long-standing protocol: A diplomat friend tells me that while it is appropriate to say, "All options should remain on the table," the direct mention of nukes — especially any hint of the first use of nukes — is, as Stephanopoulos correctly said, "crossing a line." If George had asked, "What about nukes?" the diplomatic protocol would have been to tapdance: "I can't imagine ever having to use nuclear weapons," or some such, leaving the nuclear door open, but never saying so specifically. In truth, I was trying to make the same point, undiplomatically — which comes easy for me: If the Iranians persist in crazy talk about wiping Israel, or New York, off the face of the earth, it isn't a bad idea if we hint that we can get crazy, too. One can easily imagine the unthinkable: a suitcase nuclear weapon, acquired from the former Soviet Union by Iranian agents, detonated in New York, London or Tel Aviv. A nuclear response certainly would have to be on the table then — and the military would be negligent if it weren't studying all possible nuclear scenarios.

Okay, I'm actually with him on this, and he deserves some credit for publicly admitting that he's not all that well-versed in the admittedly esoteric mores of diplomacy. Frankly, if anything, it's an apt demonstration that a magazine or newspaper columnist -- liberal or conservative -- is perhaps not the best person to poke for an extemporaneous analysis of highly-sensitive and specific aspects of foreign policy. Part of columnizing (if that's a word, and I guess it is now) involves keeping the pace of the topic concise and entertaining, so there is always the temptation to extemporize more in the cause of rhythm and punch than accuracy and probity. Klein fucked up, and at least he's big enough to admit that much.

But he's not much bigger than that, unfortunately, because he quickly returns to showing the corporate class that yanks his ball-gag just how different and "centrist" he is from those nasssty librulses, yesss.

Recently, though, there's been a growing sense among some Democrats that since the Republicans have an obnoxious amen chorus of radio talk-show hosts and vituperative elected officials like the late, great Tom DeLay, the Democrats should respond by being equally vehement and obnoxious. There's been a growing sense that since Republicans resort to disgraceful tactics — the impeachment of Bill Clinton, questioning the war records of candidates (John Kerry, Max Cleland) who happen to be Democrats — Democrats should respond in kind, call for the impeachment of George W. Bush and resort to demagoguery whenever plausible. [emphasis mine]

Liberals have quite a ways to go even to approach the level of vituperation "mainstream" "conservatives" have been happily accorded in the corporate media (some of whom, no doubt, have some financial stake in the publishing houses and media companies that peddle their product). I put the sneer quotes over those words to emphasize just how badly those words have been altered and abused. There is no way authoritarian cultists like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity are actually conservative; the very fact that they are allowed on morning shows to peddle their violent rhetoric (oh, won't someone please think of the children?) demonstrates exactly how the marginal has been allowed to become mainstream. Merely selling lots of wingnut welfare "books" and having lots of mouth-breathers tune into your Chimpco-fellating radio screamfests do not make you "mainstream", any more than selling ten million records would make Taylor Hicks a good singer.

And I deeply resent Klein's careless abuse of the word "equally", because it really isn't even fucking close, the difference between left and right rhetoric. While pretty much all political discourse on the internets angry and caustic (and news flash, overpaid media tools -- it's been like that for a decade or so. Welcome to the jungle, bitches!), there is simply no analogue on the left for the violent dolchstosslegende exhortations on the right, which quite simply seems to have become a normative behavior pattern that cannot simply be written off as harmless ranting.

Fortunately, an actual journalist has helpfully catalogued some of the more alarming instances, and put them in one place. Even an overpaid halfwit like Klein can follow this bouncing ball, and ponder his abuse of the English language:

Misha of The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler on the Supreme Court: "Five ropes, five robes, five trees. Some assembly required." [7/11/06]

BC of The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler on John Kerry: "Rope. Tree. Justice. The only three things that Qerry [sic] deserves for his 'service'." [10/28/04]

Dean Esmay on New York Times reporters: "Exposing such a secret program is not whistle-blowing -- it is high treason. When I say 'treason' I don't mean it in an insulting or hyperbolic way. I mean in a literal way: we need to find these 21st century Julius Rosenbergs, these modern day reincarnations of Alger Hiss, put them on trial before a jury of their peers, with defense counsel. When they are found guilty, we should then hang them by the neck until the are dead, dead, dead." [12/18/05]

Megan McCardle (who uses the pseudonym Jane Galt) on anti-war demonstrators in New York City: "I think some in New York are going to laugh even harder when they try to unleash some civil disobedience, Lenin style, and some New Yorker who understands the horrors of war all too well picks up a two-by-four and teaches them how very effective violence can be when it's applied in a firm, pre-emptive manner." [2/13/03]

That's not even half of Foser's list, by the way. I'm not sure how seriously to take these patterns just yet; I suppose that unless actual instances start occurring there's just not much you can do. If only these authoritarian retards understood that idea, that when newspapers profile the SecDef's residence with his cooperation in a travel section puff piece, or talk about a supposedly secret (so secret that it has one of the world's largest trade shows, as well as a cleverly disguised website) bank tracking program that is probably being abused by the government like everything else it does in secret, that that is what rational people refer to as "the exercise of free speech".

That is the distinction that Klein and his fellow hacks either refuse to acknowledge or are simply too stupid to get. We would like a little more intellectual honesty and a little less fake objectivity out of Klein and his cohorts; they want to string his mangy ass up for sedition and treason. That is not "equal"; that is not a difference without a distinction. I have never heard of any "liberal" or "left" commentator or activist openly advocate the murder of Supreme Court justices who hand down rulings they don't like, or the assassination of former presidents they don't like. I have never heard of a "liberal" advocating that Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter be lynched for their inciteful and careless rhetoric.

There are bigger issues here than whether accredited journamalism media whores feel crowded and disrespected by the barbarians at the gates of the internets. I honestly don't know what it's going to take for people like Klein to get a fucking clue about this. Maybe when the threats become real, and one of Klein's seditious colleagues (or a member of their families; one of these animals suggested publishing where journalists' children attend school) gets physically attacked by one of these psychopaths, he'll get the picture finally.

But by then it will be too late. As long as "respectable" commentators continue pretending that words do not have meanings and that both sides are "equal" in tone, content, and intent, it may already be too late.

Department Of Popcorn Security

Feeling safer than ever:

About three miles from the nearest town, Brian Lehman's popcorn factory near Berne has somehow ended up on the federal government's list of potential terrorist targets.

"I don't have a clue why we're on the list. We're on a gravel road, not even blacktop. We're nowhere," said Lehman, owner of Amish Country Popcorn, which employs five people.

Nevertheless, Amish Country Popcorn is one of 8,591 places or events in Indiana that the Department of Homeland Security regards as serious potential terrorist targets, according to an inspector general's report that raised questions about the accuracy and relevance of what's known as the National Asset Database.

Indiana has about 30 percent more listed potential targets than New York (5,687) and nearly twice as many as California (3,212), putting Indiana atop the nation's list of potential terrorism targets.

What's more, the number of potential Indiana targets rose from 322 in 2004 to 8,303 in 2005.

And, as they say on the various "newsmagazine" infoporn shows, the reason may surprise you.

Without divulging specifics, the list includes 77,069 U.S. sites where terrorists might strike -- including a flea market, a petting zoo, ice cream parlors, several Wal-Marts and a tackle shop.

The government's database is used to determine how much states should get out of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal anti-terrorism grants.

In its report, the inspector general's office questions the accuracy of the list, especially because of the inclusion of "non-critical assets."


The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said federal officials are to blame for the state's large number of targets.

The list may have become inflated because states were left to interpret a request for potential targets however they wanted.

Pam Bright, a spokeswoman for the state's Homeland Security Department, said federal administrators asked Indiana to make a list of "critical infrastructure and resources," not a list of potential terrorist sites.

"There was not a clear definition of what they wanted, so Indiana took the safe side and submitted all of our important infrastructures," Bright said. "If that's not what they wanted, they should have sent it back and said that's not what they wanted.

"(These) are assets to many local jurisdictions," Bright said in explaining some of the stranger entries on the list.

[emphases mine]

Well, I suppose it's natural that states are going to jockey for position at the pork trough, but jeebus, you'd think there'd be some oversight procedures here. Then again, current Indiana governor Mitch Daniels was the former OMB director (as well as an executive for Big Pharma), so he knows exactly where the soft spot is in the federal budget, and he's an FOD (Friend Of Doofus), i.e., a faithful lackey of the preznit.

Officials would not say whether all the sites have been told they're on the list.

"Nobody from the government notified me," said Lehman, the Amish Country Popcorn owner.

Jim White, director of Marion County Emergency Management, had another explanation.

"The Department of Homeland Security is a relatively new organization and, quite frankly, they are in the process of refining their data," White said.

"Have they got it right yet? Probably not. Will it be different next year? Probably."

White acknowledged the list includes sites in Marion County but would not disclose details.

"You don't put your vulnerabilities out there for everybody to see, because the (intelligence) folks on the bad-guy side read the newspapers every day," White said.
As for the popcorn factory, Lehman said he is "having fun" with the hoopla, and he's not concerned about a terrorist attack.

"I haven't lost any sleep yet."

I'm glad the Amish Popcorn guy is able to "have fun" with it. That's really all he can do in this kind of situation, I suppose, though folks in states with actual terrorism potential (like, um, California and New York) might take some umbrage at being left out of this flyover-state boondoggle.

I think it deserves some looking into; it's not funny at all that the feds are wasting valuable time, energy, and money classifying a goddamned petting zoo in East Buttfuck, Indiana as a potential target. It stinks to high heaven. Everything else in this administration is done on the basis of cronyism, and Daniels is the cronyist's crony. As the Goopers' favorite rum-soaked Reagan worshipper once plaintively asked, is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

While the feds deserve a hell of a lot of blame for not exercising a bit more oversight on the process, it's disingenuous, to say the least, to pass the buck completely on to them. I think the Indiana state and county officials did exactly what they were told to do. I think this is a grift on the taxpayers; what makes it especially despicable is that, in a time when playing politics-as-usual with terrorism is supposed to be a capital political offense, these assholes get away with it by making it so ridiculously silly that people can't help but reflexively laugh.

At first. Now give us our money back.


Wish our oppostition party had Pooty-Poot's balls:

BUSH: I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq, where there’s a free press and free religion. And I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia will do the same thing. I fully understand, however, that there will be a Russian-style democracy.

PUTIN: We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly.

BUSH: Just wait.

Just wait for what? Six more Friedmans? Five more martial-law elections? Wait for the next fractious "unity" government to get its shit together? Wait for the skilled middle class to return to Iraq, which is the only way the country will ever be able to start seriously rebuilding its infrastructure and society, while in the meantime the people who can't afford to escape the nightmare are butchered and terrorized by sectarian death squads?

I mean, really. Iraq has a "free press" and "free religion"?!? Is he dipping into Rush Limbaugh's stash or something? Look, if Bush has an actual plan, then let's fucking hear it already, unless he just wants to keep cracking wise about that fucking pig he sliced. Because it sure as hell seems that Iraq has imploded into a charnel house, with Bush objectively using these people's lives as some sort of currency to prove his vaunted instincts right in the (very) long run, if ever. These are, by the way, those very same instincts that looked into Putin's eyes, and saw his soul.

All together now: How'd all that work out?

Left Behind

I got your voucher program right here:

The federal Education Department reported Friday that, in reading and math, children attending public schools generally do as well as or better than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private-school children did better.

Well, that's certainly worth the extra $15K per year or whatever, isn't it? Of course, most of the point of private schooling is not actually better education, but better opportunities for the future. People are somehow impressed that you went to Philips Andover prep school, even if you come out unable to pronounce fairly simple words like "nuclear" and "malfeasance".

More seriously, what if it's just a big fucking scam perpetuated by an educational industry, that is going to have the ancillary effect of separating equally (or better) qualified have-nots from the upper class of ignorant swells that get the jobs and perks just because they networked at the "right" schools and it looks good on their résumé? What if that's what's already happening, it's just going to take an extra decade or so for the statistical results to come in, and by then a whole generation is wasted because of public misperceptions about public schools and the educational system in general?

Mind you, I'm as sick to my stomach as anyone when I hear about x% of x-grade students being perplexed at the daunting task of finding Canada on a map, or being completely unable to speak, write, or think extemporaneously. There is a systemic problem inherent in any bureaucracy that is federally mandated to be everything to everyone. Critical thinking, both as a subject and a principle, falls by the wayside.

But when it comes out that there isn't really much of a difference between what kids learn at public and private schools, then you have to start wondering what exactly the private-school customers (and that's really what they are) are paying for, and why we can't convey those same intangible traits of security, stability, and upward mobility on the great unwashed underclasses who simply can't afford to shell out five figures a year for an elite school transcript.

Here's an added bonus:

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools in 2003, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools when it came to eighth-grade math.

Heh indeedy. No wonder the theocons want to get rid of the Education Department; they refuse to recognize their divinely-inspired belief that 2+2=6.

Snakes On A Plame

Since the federal gubmint is not only taking its sweet fucking time but has already let Rove off the hook, the Wilsons are fighting back.

Former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, former CIA officer Valerie Plame, said yesterday that Vice President Cheney, presidential adviser Karl Rove and other administration officials knowingly lied and abused their power to get revenge against the couple for criticizing President Bush's rationale for going to war in Iraq.

Plame's identity as a classified CIA officer was allegedly leaked to the media by top Bush administration officials. She and her husband filed a civil lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court accusing Cheney, Rove, former top Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and other unnamed government officials of violating Plame's and Wilson's constitutional rights, invading their privacy, endangering their children and ruining their careers.

It's despicable what these people will stoop to just for sheer political payback, and it's unconscionable that most of them will not be held accountable. At the very least, embarrassing Cheney by forcing him to depose at a lawsuit, à la Clenis at the Paula Jones suit, will turn the screws on these humps ever so slightly.

I mean, the damage is already done, and for all intents and purposes, they (except, perhaps, for Scooter "Bottom Bunk" Libby) got away with it, in the sense that Diebold gave them Ohio before the gory details of their mal-fee-ance starting coming out. And since holding power is all these fuckers really care about, they already won. But at least maybe there'll be some monetary justice, which might hurt the Cheneyites' wallets until their scummy "donors" cough up more pelf to spread.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lost In Translation

There is so much conveyed in this segment of a recent interview of The Decider by the European press, it begs to be deconstructed. Let's do just that.

Q Well, Mr. President, you've known Mr. Prodi for a long time, and you've known Mr. Berlusconi -- you've known both of them. And how would you assess the personal relationship that you had with Mr. Prodi and with Mr. Berlusconi? Is there a difference how comfortable would you feel with one or the other?

THE PRESIDENT: I feel very comfortable with both. The first thing that's important is I feel comfortable with the people of Italy. We've got very close ties.

And let me just take a step back. What's interesting about our country is that we've got -- we've had close ties with a lot of countries. My ranch was settled by Germans.

Q Really?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. There's a huge number of Italian Americans. A lot of Russian Americans. You know, Norm Mineta in my Cabinet is a Japanese American. In other words, so when you talk about relations with an American President, you've got to understand that there's a -- at least I have, I know my predecessors have, connections, close connections with people who have fond -- either fond memories and/or great pride in their motherland.

And the way I like to define relations is that we've got -- that I've got good relations and great respect for the country of Italy. Obviously, people are so different that you've just got to gauge your relationship to meet certain objectives. And our objective with our European friends is to have a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace and is in close concert with the United States.

And so I think in this case, Prodi and Berlusconi share that objective. Both share the same objective. Same in Germany. And so I deal with them differently. They're just different types of people with different backgrounds. But I've known Romano Prodi, particularly since he was the head of the EU. I've worked with him quite a bit. Ask him about the time when I was riding my mountain bike on the beaches of Sea Island, Georgia. I came roaring by as fast as I could. There was Prodi with his head down. I made some kind of noise, or something startled him out of his walking shoes, you know. (Laughter.) My point is, there he was. He's a guy who I felt comfortable enough roaring by on a mountain bike, three Secret Service agents spewing up sand. (Laughter.)

[emphasis mine]

It's the part I put in bold that has gotten most of the play in the blogosphere, and for good reason. He sounds like a third-grader who is just becoming aware that there's other countries and people out there. And he's needlessly patronizing with his meandering "we got Russians, we got Italians" boilerplate. It's as if he's internalized the idea that America has many ethnicities, but that other countries aren't ethnically heterogenous at all, and that that's some type of subtextual distinction.

It's not the first time he's alluded to this way of thinking; remember the odd Schroder anecdote from Ron Suskind's seminal Without A Doubt piece?

In response to a question, he talked about diversity, saying that ''hands down,'' he has the most diverse senior staff in terms of both gender and race. He recalled a meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroder of Germany. ''You know, I'm sitting there with Schroder one day with Colin and Condi. And I'm thinking: What's Schroder thinking?! He's sitting here with two blacks and one's a woman.''

The implications of this are actually rather offensive, I would think, but at the very least, they're incredibly ignorant.Why exactly would Bush think that Schroder would find anything amiss or unusual about women or blacks being in positions of power? Even if Germany were statistically more ethnically homogenous than the U.S., it's still presumptuous to make anything more of it than that. Bush's BFF Junichiro Koizumi, coming from a gender-conscious country that is ethnically homogenous, might in fact find such a situation peculiar; it doesn't make it any less rude to presume to ventriloquize his feelings on the matter.

But that is how Bush processes information and regurgitates -- passive-aggressive pastiches of frat-boy one-upmanship, coupled with gobbets of ignorance that would be off-putting enough in a surly teenager, but are obnoxious in a supposedly adult person in a position of extreme responsibilities.

There's also the infamous Brazil gaffe, but since that was never conclusively verified or attributed, it would be unfair to pin it on him -- but it's not exactly out of the realm of the possible, either.

And as for his charming little anecdote about how he's so "comfortable" with Prodi that he can scare the shit out of him on a bike ride and blow sand in his face, well, let's put it this way -- exactly how "comfortable" do you think a smug, self-indulgent little shit like Bush would have been with Prodi and his security detail (assuming he even has one for bike rides) doing something like that to him?

Finally, the infamous pig. (No, not Rove -- the other pig.) The wild boar feast in Rostock, to which Bush seemed a bit too enthralled, sounding more and more like Forrest Gump as he dodged even simple questions. Per usual the liberal media met him halfway, pronouncing his autistic rectitations of pig-slicing as an attempt at "humor".

I'm sorry, I don't get it. Seriously. This is not snark, this is not schtick; I fail to understand how responding to simple questions of international respect and courtesy, as well as questions pertaining to the rapidly escalating Israel-Hezbollah conflict, with babbling non-sequiturs about a fucking pig are supposed to be funny, or leavening the very real and very dire circumstances his asinine foreign policies have led us to. You wanted the most important, serious job on the planet, Hoss, you fucking well got it, so howzabout a more comprehensive answer than "me wantee slicey piggie". Fucking simp.

Even a simple question such as this one, loaded as it was with exhortations as to cultural amicability and shared histories and futures and whatnot, went right on past him:

"Apart from the pig, Mr. President, what sort of insights have you been able to gain as regards East Germany?" a German reporter asked.

Here's what someone with just a dash of intelligence and style might have responded to that softball:
As a history major at Yale, I was fortunate to have many opportunities to study many of the world's great civilizations and movements, and how they altered or almost altered history. Standing here in a city as rich in history as Rostock, in my more idealistic moments, I find myself wondering what might have happened if the Hanseatic League had been able to succeed and prosper, and export its healthy combination of anarcho-syndicalism and mercantilism in a confederated city-state paradigm. I think that humanity might have been healthier, happier, and more productive and creative under such a scheme, given a chance. Instead we have had to fight for enlightment by going around the anti-individualist forces of organized religion, all-powerful Hobbesian daddy-statism, jingoistic militarism, and corporate fascism. If humanity is to have a future, it must work toward a more balanced approach to individual excellence and collective harmony, instead of control and fascism, whether mandated by religious dogma or money.

Instead, he responded:

"I haven't seen the pig yet," Bush said, sidestepping the question about insights gained from his two-day visit to this rural seaside region that once rested behind the Iron Curtain.

Bush is exactly the sort of idiot American that goes to Europe and eats at McDonald's, the type of moron where you wonder why they bothered to leave home at all. And it's all wrapped up in his aforementioned neuroses, which again is fine in an everyday chump, but look where it's gotten us having someone like that running the show (right into the ground).