Friday, November 30, 2007

Top Ten Rudy Giuliani Dating Tips

10. Refer to wife as "that other broad I been tryin' to lose".

9. Don't be shy about experimenting with combover styles.

8. Masturbate behind podium at next values-voter debate. Dare them to stop you. Who's the king? You're the king, baby!

7. Steam-clean the City Hall casting couch at least once a month or so, before you start sticking to it.

6. Make sure your date looks better in a dress and makeup than you do. This is not as easy as it may seem, if you rock the Carol Channing look as hard as Rudy does. Rrrrroowwwrrr!

5. Never pay for sex, if you can get the taxpayers to foot the bill.

4. Tell her that if she doesn't put out, the terrorists win.

3. Two rules for double-dating with Fat Bernie -- go dutch, and make sure he leaves that sweater at home.

Jesus. Did he get a free bottle of Old Spice with that thing? Everyone knows that made men are supposed to wear suits.

2. It's not really pity sex if they're afraid of you.

1. Trust me on this -- if Ed Koch asks you if you want "a ride in the Lincoln Tunnel", say no.

Fun Bonus Tip: If you have a hot cousin -- or even a mediocre-looking one -- give her a call. It's a good place to start for the first marriage, what with the common ground and all.

Fit to Print

Shorter Pravda by the Potomac:

You can pull shit out of your ass and smear it on the bathroom stall of teh intartubez, and we will literally put your bogus rumors on Page One.

The stupid "doesn't hold his hand on heart for the Pledge of Allegiance Sacred Jeebusy Fealty Oath" is just comedy gold. You couldn't make up something that ridiculous. Nicely done, serious media.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Class Act

Like I've been saying about Mrs. Doubtfire from day one -- the more you get to know this hump, the less you like him. Well, get to know him a little more.

I actually find it hard to get terribly moist about any of this; more than perhaps any candidate since Li'l Fredo hisself, Giuliani's primary skill set seems to be knowing how and where to wet his beak, and not only not get caught, but to convince people to thank him for being their daddy. It's not a fidelity issue, so much as a viewing-gubmint-as-a-big-trough issue.

People like Rudy do things like this because they can, and the people who want to vote for this prick will still do so, if only because they regard the electoral process as therapy, as a way to chip at their lingering projections of manifest failure and daddy issues. It's a sick symbiosis, made sicker by the fact that unless photos surface of Giuliani with his cock stuck in a dachshund -- and hell, maybe not even then -- there's always someone dumb enough to fall for his special brand of ego-affirming bullshit.

Update: Didn't realize Bill Paxon is an adviser to Giuliani's campaign, but I'm not surprised. If the fambly-valyews creeps were allowed to dance, they'd surely have a lifetime of it to do in explaining their acceptance of these people.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bend Over Rover

The question is not whether Rove lied -- of course he did. That's what he does; it's probably an involuntary reflex at this point.

ROVE: One of the untold stories about the war is why did the United States Congress, the United States Senate vote on the war resolution in the fall of 2002?


ROVE: This administration was opposed to it. I‘m going to talk about that in my book.

ROSE: Well, tell me.


ROSE: Come on, give me something.


ROSE: Give me something.

ROVE: I just did. I told you the administration was opposed to voting on it in the Fall of 2002.

ROSE: Because?

ROVE: Because, we didn‘t think it belonged within the confines of the election. There was an election coming up in a matter of weeks. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of it. It seemed to make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad.


OLBERMANN: It‘s an untold story because it isn‘t true. Here is what really happened according to a Rove [ed. -- probably supposed to be "rogue"] Web site called, despite Rove‘s claim that the White House opposed voting on Iraq in the Fall of 2002, on the first full day of Fall that year the president urged Congress to pass an Iraq resolution, quote, “Promptly.” A week later, the president and the House Republicans agreed on Iraq resolution. A week after that, President Bush was pleased with the House vote on Iraq. And a week after that, Mr. Bush signed the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq.

The real questions begged here are more fundamental, more substantial, and thus will never be asked. Why would Charlie Rose -- or any media figure who considers themselves respectable and responsible -- invite Rove on and not even bother challenging his obvious falsehoods? Why is Keith Olbermann the only member of the media bothering to follow up on this, when we keep hearing from the Keepers of the Journamalistic Flame how seriously they take their jobs, which as we all know are the very lifeblood of a functioning and free society? However would we manage to get by without these Princes (and Princesses) of Probity lobbing softballs at pimps and shills for no good reason at all?

Finally, what sort of mouth-breathing, window-licking sack of shit wants to buy a book written by a sociopath like Rove? And what vertically integrated media conglomerate might have a vested interest in the company which pays Karl Rove to continue lying, this time in print (aside from his new Newsweek column?

Jesus, this is despicable. It's been only five years, and it's not too difficult to fact-check this shit on the internets. And this smug little fucker waddles on like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, and fabricates and calumniates events which have led to the immolation of a country, hundreds of thousands of deaths, trillions of dollars of waste, and the subversion of the Constitution.

It should not be too much to ask that every reporter worth their salt takes a break from whatever shiny object has their eye at the moment, and just do their jobs and point out why this man is a goddamned liar, which barely scratches the surface. At the very least Charlie Rose himself might show some alarm at being greased over like that on his own program. For a trade whose currency is credibility, real or perceived, they do not spend or invest it well by giving ratfuckers equal slimetime.

Bearly Legal

More hijinks from religious fanatics:

Hopes that a British teacher could be cleared of blasphemy charges were raised after a Sudanese embassy official said the "minute" matter would be resolved very quickly.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, could be given 40 lashes or six months in jail after she let her seven-year-old pupils in Sudan name the class teddy bear Muhammad.

Hanh? Exsqueeze me? Are we talking about beating and imprisoning someone for naming a stuffed animal? Well, of course we are -- if it's a brutal, over-the-top punishment for a non-offesne, it must be an Islamic thugocracy. I suppose it's stereotyping, but if they wanted to buck the stereotype, then they'd stop brutalizing people for things like getting raped and naming toys.

Dr Khalid al Mubarak, a spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in London, told BBC Radio 4's PM the police had no choice but to follow procedure following a complaint from a parent, but added that the "minute" issue would be resolved amicably.

He said: "The police is bound to investigate just as is the case in any country in which there is rule of law. Our relationship with Britain is so good that we wouldn't like such a minute event to be overblown."

He added: "I am pretty certain that this minute incident will be clarified very quickly and this teacher who has been helping us with the teaching of children will be safe and will be cleared."

Asked about the potential punishments of six-months jail or 40 lashes, he said: "I hope people will not give their imagination free rein to think about such things. That is based on the premise that a person will be charged and the person will be after that condemned and then the judgment has to be passed. But these are all steps ahead of us and my impression is that the whole thing could probably be settled amicably long before we reach stages like these."

Right. Meanwhile, the teacher gets to linger in a Sudanese jail while these people "settle" things "amicably".

Let's also consider how these thugocracies operate. Even the more openly American-aligned ones (Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia) have an important common thread with Sudan and Iran. All of those countries are run by regimes which are despised by the majority of their citizens, but are cynically implored by these regimes to despise us even more.

So maybe the ridiculous interpretation of medival religious strictures is the wrong prism to look at this through. Sudan especially has been very canny in cozying up to China, thus insulating itself from any possibility that we might actually do anything about the slaughter in Darfur. The key here is in what Sudan thinks it may have to gain by using this weird case as leverage to talk to the British.

And as long as bozos like Romney -- who, as a member of a minority sect himself ought to know better than to pick on Muslims -- inadvertently help stoke the fire, there'll always be another tinpot asshole in the desert to leech off his own people while yanking our chain.

Update: 15 days for her brazen act of something-something, and of course hundreds of hillbillies have taken to the streets and demanded her head. Literally.

It would be a fucking shame if some natural disaster swept the street of these "protesters", who are really just Islamic Fred Phelpses further marginalizing a puckered bunghole of a country.

Down Feel Masturbation

I like Emmitt Smith, and it's mean to pick on a guy's poor enuncimatin', but damn, this is pretty funny.

People have been asking me, “How do you beat these Patriots? They are an offensive astronaut.” Well, I think the problem is that teams are not syphilisly equipped to deal with New England’s team speed downfeel. That’s something that you cannot stimulate in practice. No matter how hard you might antipasto it. They are a very prophylactic offense.

No, the key to beating the Patriots is to be able to run the ball. You take a look at a guy like Willie Parker. He has the dexatrim to be able to get past that first level of the defensive line and masturbate the ball down the feel. That’s the key to beating the Patriots, and really any other team: YOU MUST BE ABLE TO MASTURBATE THE BALL DOWN THE FEEL.

If you can’t masturbate the ball down the feel, you’re going to find yourself in many 3rd and long saturations. You want to be able to POUND it. Be perspiration in running that ball, masturbate it up the hole, and keep that Pats’ offense off the feel. Otherwise, that offense will DI-RECT you. I mean, just direct you and pick you apart all day.

I haven't seen enough of Smith's commentary to know if he's really that bad, though also gives him a hard time pretty regularly. Hell, Shannon Sharpe sounds like a Fat Albert character most of the time, and Terry Bradshaw, especially when he gets excited (which is whenever Jigglian Reynolds does her weather-bunny bit), becomes Boomhauer from King of the Hill.

That's all right. It's just football commentary, and it's more fun that they don't all sound alike with perfect oration, or come off like Howard Cosell -- or god forbid, Dennis Miller.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anything for a Buck

Giuliani continues to troll the marshes for money. If he had an American Indian name it would be "Sleeps With Dogs", "Wakes Up With Fleas" or something equally catchy. Maybe he can make this his campaign song.

Hit and Run

Not to give the "Mexifornians is comin'" crowd any fuel, but even without this piece of shit being illegal, he deserves to be taken out back and fucking shot. Failing that, he can be a San Quentin cell-block puta for the next twenty years. Mowing down little girls, on Thanksgiving no less. It would really be a shame if this useless hump hung himself in his cell. I honestly boggle at what makes sociopaths like this asshole tick.

Update: Don't even get me started on these motherless fucks. Sorry to hear the stepdad tried to kill himself; clearly he just wasn't trying hard enough. Better luck next time, fuckface.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Billion Dollar Babies

Ben Stein has some querulous words for some of his loafing acquaintances.

As I near my 63rd birthday, I'm stunned at a phenomenon I observe among a number of my friends: They don't know how to work.

That is, they literally don't know how to get up in the morning, eat breakfast, get dressed, and then do a day's work for a day's pay.

One of them, who used to be dabble as a consultant at an advertising agency, quit a few years ago with a modest inheritance, and now has simply no idea of what to do to feed his family. Did I mention that he ran through his money in about 18 months?

Another friend, who was my college roommate and is one of the smartest, most well-read and witty writers I've ever met, hasn't held a regular job in his entire life -- and he's the same age I am. He has a well-to-do wife, luckily for him, and he teaches when he feels like it in local community colleges on a volunteer basis. What he would do if he had to earn a living I have no clue.

Yet another one is a former salesman of Internet ads. He's terribly smart, good-natured, and pleasant, but he simply has no clue of how to make a living aside from sales of somewhat dicey goods online, so now he just hangs out. How he pays the rent is beyond me.

It goes on like that. Stein, cheerfully disingenuous as ever, seems truly flummoxed that these folks are trying to hump a grift, rather than, say, use government connections, or write columns, or become well-known for having an amusing vocal intonation. Stein himself has done a variety of things over the years, to be sure, but most of those things have come from capitalizing on his name recognition. How did he achieve that name recognition? Luck. And that's what his "friends" are hoping for, to parlay something they like to do into something they can make money doing.

Americans have funny notions about what constitutes a work ethic anyway. We like our blue-collar class to grind themselves to a hardy nub and do what they're told, our low-level white-collar workers to be just worried enough about replacement or obsolescence that they don't squawk about health care, vacations, or pay, and our executives to be grossly overcompensated, showered with so much Scrooge McDuck pelf that they have to waddle sideways out of the boardroom under the weight of their golden parachutes.

We watch men in corporate uniforms strut around a baseball diamond for $25 million a year, football and basketball players hawking everything under the sun, while our legislators have given themselves more in raises in the past decade than the average American makes. People whose only actual skill is being related to the right person get all sorts of perks that the hardest, most diligent worker you can find will never even get a whiff of.

Given all that, why the fuck would anyone want to work? What's the incentive? Hell, Stein does stuff, but none of it's "work", and I'm sure he'd admit as much. He's never had a straight-up eight-to-five to trudge through, day after soul-deadening day with no opportunities in sight, and he's got no right to lecture people who have managed to find a way around being disaffected wage slaves.

Don't get me wrong -- I spent ten years as a professional and semi-pro musician, and I've met my share of truly lazy motherfuckers. But I think most people are just trying to find a way to get by, in the face of stagnant wages and rising costs. It's very off-putting to watch people with gravy jobs beat on the proles about their laziness.

On a day where the Dow dropped over 1.8% (and NASDAQ and the S&P 500 each lost well over 2%), it begs the question about what defines "work". (And it's not for nothing that American and European stock exchanges took the hit, while the Hang Seng exchange went up 4% -- and is up over a third just in the past six months. The Euros are carrying our CDO scrip, and log-rolling a cascading series of billion-dollar bailouts. The Chinese, conversely, are financing our debt, and slowly monetizing and re-apportioning it so as to not get dragged down with us.)

But none of that CDO shit is "work" either, not as Stein seems to define it. These guys are bookies, pure and simple, creating fungible assets out of fiat value. And while there is some skill involved in finding a statistical regression analysis that will make your high-roller customers want to plop six or seven figures into a bundled derivative put option, it's the same skill the guy on the street-corner with his three-card monte game has -- separating suckers from their money.

The difference here is that when the CDO grift finally goes south, it's considered Too Big To Fail, so the taxpayers -- the people who actually engage in the noble daily endeavors Stein so wistfully praises -- have to bail all the players out, starting with the grifters at the top.

I see enough of what Stein is talking about to know that he's not exactly wrong -- there are a lot of people whose work ethic plain blows. They don't show up to work on time, or they're hungover, or they don't pay attention to what they're doing.

If they keep up that kind of performance, they could be preznit someday.

Part of the Machine

Well now, I've got some advice for you, little buddy
Before you point the finger you should know that I'm the man
If I'm the man, then you're the man, and he's the man as well
So you can point that fuckin' finger up your ass

-- Tool, Hooker with a Penis

I think IOZ has the right idea, in what to make of a Joke Line, if perhaps a bit harsh on Greenwald:

I mean, not to suggest that the state is only a network of power structures, needless to say, best understood holistically and organically, not as a machine but as an organism, simultaneously divided against itself and unified in the common purpose of survival and growth, capable of mediating internal tensions and disagreements to that point, able to acquire new skills and competencies, adaptive and intelligent, sometimes rational and sometimes reactionary, instinctively but not universally territorial, with some physical centers of great importance and others of vestigial uselessness, a totality of abstract powers ideated and actualized by the collective action of human beings, themselves only the material functionaries of a self-perpetuating, self-referencing, self-defining, self-circumscribing, suprahuman entity. How do you like them fucking apples, Gleen Greenwald? To look at the state of human affairs right now and conclude that the real problem is that people like Joe Klein are willing to swallow a government line, when obviously the very purpose of the entire economic sector for which the Joe Kleins of the world toil is precisely to mold, variate, amplify, and disseminate a very particular kind of information, is to find yourself not only missing the forest for the trees, but the trees for one moldy leaf rotting in a puddle on the lee side of a dank Appalachian hill.

This is an existential problem I find myself mulling more and more frequently. Obviously, there are substantial differences in the platform various bloggerses have at their disposal, from a ginormous one like Greenwald has, to inconsequential bit players such as myself. But collectively, it's fair to say that most of us try on some level to sift uncomfortable facts from convenient fictions, to parse truth from truthiness.

And how's that worked? No matter how many people show Klein up for the tendentious hack he frequently is, he changes nothing. Indeed he, like many "respectable" journamalists, since reputation is their currency, coasts on his status as pseudo-moderate organ-grinder for Time, favorably comparing it with those who dare to call him on his bullshit. He'd rather be gulled by people who reify his importance, than be taken to task by his readers. And as angry as the common folk claim to be about things in general, they don't seem to be in much of a rush to do anything meaningful to disengage from the system which supports and nourishes their ideological foes.

BriarPatch sums up the predicament quite well:

The precarity movement seeks to diagnose and challenge the way that work is organized under neoliberal globalization. It speaks primarily to the forms that work increasingly takes in an era of closed borders and liberated capital—increasingly part-time, temporary, contract to contract, and imported from afar. But it also addresses the broader conditions of life that accompany this shift: people are uprooted, indebted, living pay cheque to pay cheque, with an increasingly thin safety net to catch them if they fall, and at greater threat of natural and manmade disasters in a world that is rapidly pushing its environmental limits to the breaking point. From the closing of women’s shelters to the proliferation of food banks, from the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble to the fallout from the overheated Alberta economy, risk and uncertainty are replacing human rights and prosperity—except, of course, for those who profit from risk and uncertainty.

There ya go. It has to have occurred to Greenwald that Klein's chronic obtuseness stems from his paycheck essentially depending his not understanding the more problematic aspects of the issues he writes about. We could all devote our energies to fisking every column from the rented-establishment-scrivener claque, and precious little would change. They'd just continue to insist that we were cyberstalking them, mischaracterizing their professional judgment and spotless credibility. And most of that never breaks out of the usual choir-preaching radius of influence in the first place.

It's going to take more than simply reiterating to the world at large that they are being mis- or disinformed by credulous bozos, people like Klein who earn a living by keeping their (and our) natural predators at a short-arm's length, that kind ol' Br'er Fox really just wants to help all us chickens, if only we'll stop our unserious clucking. It's going to take more than reminding them of their own roles in their predicaments; on some instinctive level at least, most people know. They've done the cost-benefit analysis and have, in the aggregate, decided to stay the course and just continue grousing about it while they drive to strip malls to scrounge a deal on more toys.

An Inconvenient Tool

Gee, how uncomfortable is this gonna be?

Forget the Mideast peace talks. A meeting that may require even greater diplomacy will take place Monday in the Oval Office, when President Bush receives America's Nobel Prize winners — including his one-time rival, Al Gore.


So, when they meet in the Oval Office on Monday, will they finally bury the hatchet? Don't bet on it.

"This is going to be a very uncomfortable moment for both of them," says Gore's former campaign manager Donna Brazile. "I think after the president looks at Al Gore and says 'congratulations,' Al Gore will probably depart the room."

That sounds about right. It's not like Junior's going to want to whip it out and compare legacies:

After years of obfuscation and denial on the length of the U.S.'s stay in Iraq, the White House and the Maliki government have released a joint declaration of "principles" for "friendship and cooperation." Apparently President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the declaration during a morning teleconference.


A "democratic Iraq" here means the Shiite-led Iraqi government. The current political arrangement will receive U.S. military protection against coups or any other internal subversion. That's something the Iraqi government wants desperately: not only is it massively unpopular, even among Iraqi Shiites, but the increasing U.S.-Sunni security cooperation strikes the Shiite government -- with some justification -- as a recipe for a future coup.

I'm sure both sides will be polite enough not to bring up things like that.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Football Wankery

The lowly Iggles, of all teams, actually gave the Patriots a solid run for their money tonight. The Patriots have a better-than-decent shot at a perfect record, though it speaks volumes that a 24-point underdog could swoop into town -- with their backup QB, no less -- and take this Tecmo Bowl team down to the wire. Still, I think the only two teams that have a real chance at knocking the Patsies off their track are the Steelers and the Giants, and the Giants simply don't have a good enough secondary to cover effectively.

Whatever the case, it would be fun to watch New England run the table through the playoffs, and get busted by Brett Favre on the ultimate victory lap. I don't put huge odds on it, but it would be freakin' sweet.

And congrats to the Raiduhs; if I'm gonna kick 'em when they're down, I gotta give 'em props when they finally do right. And despite themselves, they did all right. A good end to a good long weekend.

Hayseed Dickhead

So a Times guest blogger thinks that the sung values o' de heartland have been nigh unto ignored. If only this could be explained in the context of a Connecticut-born prep-schooled fortunate son being elected (or hell, even being nominated) on a platform of jes' plain folks pablum.

Taken together, contemporary country western music paints a picture of an America committed to hard work and traditional family values. It is deeply God fearing but can be surprisingly compassionate and open-minded, sometimes when you least expect. The songs describe regular people striving to live better lives in the midst of temptations and daily reminders of failure.


Yes, even with its love for the vehicular and alcoholic, country western is the best place to start to learn a little something about what it means to have a family, to struggle making ends meet, to own a gun or a pickup truck, to support our troops unquestioningly, to enlist in the military and fight our country’s wars and to generally be very proud of what America stands for — and to profess confusion over just what all this fuss is about when it comes to our foreign policy choices.

As a musician and a music-lover, this is hard to digest. I'm not at all opposed to the earthy strengths of country -- I grew up watching Hee Haw, and genuinely enjoying their performers, as well as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and other old-school paragons of the people's art form. Indeed, both Kurt Vonnegut and Michael Moore have sung the imperative praises of recognizing the importance of country music to its listeners.

But this fails utterly in describing the cognitive gap in which these niches overlap, where putative practitioners of heartland values are consistently and repeatedly bamboozled into voting against their own interests. On the one hand, your job is being outsourced to northern Mexico, on the other, fags are a-gittin' hitched. Is this coincidental? Studies conclusively imply, eh, not so much.

Look, the continuing plaint is that Dems disrespect or condescend to the salt o' the earth folk when they fail to genuflect appropriately to their loudly professed valyews (as if no one between New York and California is ever gay or gets an abortion). So let them make their points abundantly clear, that they do not get something for nothing, that their fuel and even their food comes at a very real price, that they need to find greater things besides Black Friday to strive toward. Write a fucking song around that shit, if you wanna get real.

It's really not that complicated. Either people want to learn and prioritize appropriately, or they don't. Politicians -- successful ones, anyway -- can ultimately only reflect those priorities.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Suite: Rudy Blue Lies

Here we go again:

As he seeks to court GOP primary voters, one potential sticking point has been his opposition to the Vietnam War in the early 1970s and his vote for Dem George McGovern in 1972. But Rudy has now concocted a new explanation for that vote: He didn't mean it.


The article also delves into Rudy's switch to the GOP, which came in 1980. In the piece Rudy seems to suggest that this was driven partly by his discontent with Dems on foreign policy. But as the Standard article accurately points out, Rudy's switch to the GOP neatly coincided with his desire to get a political appointment from the newly-minted Reagan administration.

So why is it that Romney is the official empty-suit flip-flop candidate in this? Giuliani sucks at least as bad; he'd repudiate the town he visited earlier any given day, if he thought there'd be just a couple extra votes in it. By the time he's done he'll have cobbled together the douchebaggiest niches in the American electorate, people who stand for nothing whatsoever themselves. It makes perfect sense that they'd throw their lot with this shameless creep.

Last Throe Update

Been a while since we did one o' these, but this one merits mention:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three suspected al Qaeda militants, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife, forcing the couple's children to watch, Iraqi police said on Friday.

The militants considered that school guard Youssef al-Hayali was an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers, they told police interrogators after being arrested in Diyala province northwest of Baghdad.

This doesn't really reflect one way or the other on the surge, or whatever level of successmanship we're claiming this week. The monsters are unleashed, and they'll be doing this shit long after we leave, because we clearly can't discern one from the next. It's just ugly, and evil, and unnecessary, and one hopes that these fucks get what they deserve.


You know, for a "culture" that seems to center so much of its brutal mores aorund sexuality and propriety, they shore do seem like a bunch of self-loathing fags:

They are known as "bacha bereesh", boys without beards, teenage boys who dress up as girls and dance for male patrons at parties in northern Afghanistan.

It's an age old practice that has led to some of the boy dancers being turned into sex slaves by wealthy and powerful patrons, often former warlords, who dress the boys up as girls, shower them with gifts and keep them as "mistresses".


The practice, called "bacha bazi" -- literally "boy play" -- has a long history in northern Afghanistan, but sometimes it does not stop with just dancing.

"I very much enjoy hugging a boy. His smell and fragrance kills me," said Yawar.

"I have had him for at least three years, since he was only 15. He was looking for a job and I gave him somewhere to stay," said Yawar, showing the boy's picture.

"I don't have a wife. He is like my wife. I dress him in women's clothes and have him sleep beside me. I enjoy him and he is my everything," he said, kissing the photograph.


"Having a boy has become a custom for us. Whoever wants to show off, should have a boy," said Enayatullah, a 42-year-old landowner in Baghlan province.

"I was married to a woman 20 years ago, she left me because of my boy," he said. "I was playing with my boy every night and was away from home, eventually my wife decided to leave me. I am happy with my decision, because I am used to sleeping and entertaining with my young boy."

Yeah, this sort of goes hand-in-hand (or, perhaps more accurately, hand-on-some-kid's-cock) with their hatred and fear of women. It's like a whole country full of priests with guns, drunk on boy-gravy and thinking that they are anything but utterly despicable.

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Something Else to Be Thankful For

A Democrat doing his job.

Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota took on the task of gaveling the Senate in and out of session; the formalities lasted approximately 28 seconds and no other senators were present. Dorgan followed Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who presided over a similarly brief meeting on Tuesday. By not going into recess, Democrats can prevent President Bush from filling federal government posts without going through the confirmation process.

Whatever it takes. It's good to see them fighting over the small stuff; the philosophy for the duration should be to not give up a single inch of ground. They've compromised quite enough, and gotten nothing for it.


Returning to our usual "lazy Beltway media" trope is the implication from Martha Raddatz that some of her colleagues might be little more than stenographers. Oh noez!!1!1

Needless to say, this wasn’t taken well by some of those she sits with in the White House briefing room. So I reached out to a few reporters to see if anyone would go on the record to discuss Raddatz's quote.

I touched based[sic] with the Houston Chronicle’s Julie Mason, who responded via e-mail:

It's only stenography if you make it that way. The White House is a very controlled environment; it can be quite opaque and yeah, very frustrating. I imagine it must be very disorienting after a war zone, or the Hill. But with apologies to Martha, who I respect and like, it's lazy to dismiss the beat as merely steno work. There are many reporters at the White House doing serious, important work in spite of the limitations. There is also a lot of humor and pathos in covering the president, and to call it merely stenography misses something. For reals.

"For reals"? What the hell does that mean? It works neither straightforwardly nor as some sort of deflecting snarkasm. The fact that she considers the "humor and pathos in covering [Junior]" as having intrinsic value does not reinforce her defense; it undermines it. This is the problem with these people -- they have convinced themselves that their job is giving us a "sense" of what it's "like", what Fredo's mood or demeanor happens to be when he's lying to them and evading their questions. Their job (and really, no matter how many times I do it, I still can't believe I have to say it in the first place) should be piercing that opacity Mason mentions, stripping it bare, confronting non-answers and evasive denials with more penetrating follow-up questions. Some do, but most seem not to. And they get pissy when called on it.

CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller also sent an e-mail along, writing:

Sure, I view it as an insult if someone calls me a stenographer. Yes, I take careful notes on everything the President says. But my reports are far more than mere transcripts of those remarks. As a reporter, I boil his comments down to their essence, put them in context and challenge them for veracity.

If Raddatz gets cabin fever covering the President from the White House Press Room, I can understand that. But there’s important reporting to be done here by those willing to endure what can, at times, be a tedious beat. But it’s important work. Does anyone think we’d be better off if reporters didn’t record, analyze and report what the President says and does. Taking accurate notes is part of our job, but that doesn’t make us stenographers.

Well, maybe it's things like this that give off that impression.

Q I want to discuss Iraq at some length with you, but I don't want to rush you on that. So let me get a few other issues out of the way that we haven't spoken with you about in a couple of months. Do you want Attorney General Gonzales to keep fighting to keep his job?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do. I'm a big fan of Al's.

Q Does he need to clarify his testimony?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to get into the specifics of it. I think Al has done a good job under difficult circumstances. The debate between he and the Senate is something they're going to have to resolve. But I think he has testified truthfully.

Q How do you answer even those Republicans like Senator Specter and Congressman Shays who say that in their view the Attorney General's credibility has been damaged?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't agree with them.

Q Can he remain Attorney General if the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, says point blank he doesn't trust the Attorney General?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've had my differences with Pat Leahy. I think the key is whether or not he has the confidence of the President, and he clearly does.

Q We haven't spoken to you in a hard-news interview since the verdict was rendered in the Scooter Libby case. Let me ask you, have you spoken to your former top aide since his verdict?


Q And can you tell us anything about that conversation?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've seen him socially on a number of occasions.

Q Do you believe the commutation that President Bush gave Scooter Libby for his prison term was enough, or if you had been President, would you have granted a full pardon?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I thought the President handled it right. I supported his decision.

Q Did you disagree with the guilty verdict in the case?


Q Even though the President said he respects that verdict?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I still -- you asked me if I disagreed with the verdict, and I did.

Q Do you think Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald went too far in pursuing a prosecution of Scooter Libby?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to go beyond where I have already. The matter is still pending before the courts. There is an appeal pending on the question, and I don't want to elaborate further.

Q Another issue, why did your office stop filing reports about your handling of classified material with the National Archives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there's an executive order that covers that, that was issued in 2003 that makes it clear that the Vice President is to be treated the same as the President, and neither one of them is to file those reports with the National Archives.

Q There's no cover up?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Nothing to cover up.

Q There was an aide in your office who said that one of the reasons you weren't abiding by that executive order was that you're really not part of the executive branch. Do you have -- are you part of the executive branch, sir?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the job of the Vice President is an interesting one, because you've got a foot in both the executive and the legislative branch. Obviously, I've got an office in the West Wing of the White House, I'm an advisor of the President, I sit as a member of the National Security Council. At the same time, under the Constitution, I have legislative responsibilities. I'm actually paid by the Senate, not by the executive. I sit as the President of the Senate, as the presiding officer in the Senate. I cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate. So the Vice President is kind of a unique creature, if you will, in that you've got a foot in both branches.

Q But you are principally a part of the executive branch, are you not?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I suppose you could argue it either way. The fact is I do work in both branches. Under the Constitution, I'm assigned responsibilities in the legislative branch. Then the President obviously gives me responsibilities in the executive branch. And I perform both those functions, although I think it would be fair to say I spend more time on executive matters than legislative matters.


Q Okay. Mr. Vice President, on the issue of Iraq. In a speech last month you said the U.S. must stay in Iraq until we win. Isn't that the kind of open-ended commitment that could keep the U.S. there for years and years?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think it's absolutely essential that we succeed in Iraq. And the commitment we have made is to complete the mission, in effect, to get the job done, to establish security and to give the Iraqis an opportunity to be able to set up a functioning government -- which they've done -- and to be able to deal with the security situation themselves, which they're on their way of doing.

Q A draft of the joint campaign plan says the U.S. would have to remain there at least through 2009. Does that sound right to you?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to make those judgments. I think those really turn more on the kind of advice we get from the military. We're all waiting to see what General Petraeus produces by way of his report back, in September. But in terms of achieving our objectives, I think it's very important that the United States not withdraw from Iraq, not adopt a posture of some of our friends on the other side of the aisle who are calling, in effect, for accepting retreat as the outcome. I think that would be totally inappropriate. I think it's not necessary. I think we can prevail in Iraq, and I think Dave Petraeus and the troops that are there now are doing a very good job.

Q How long will the surge last?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, that depends on how long it has to last. It's set up so that it kicked in, really, this summer. We began to deploy the additional troops in the spring; the final deployment of additional troops occurred in late June, early July. And so the surge right now is at its maximum peak. How long that continues will be a decision the President will make based on advice he gets from General Petraeus.

You get the idea. Knoller can simply tell himself that hey, he asked the questions, it's not his fault if Big Time chose to respond in the usual boilerplate.

Then there's this:

I’ve got to admit I was stunned by the nature, depth and fury of the responses to my blog post yesterday (below) about the Bill Moyers Journal report on the news media and the War in Iraq.


Look, all I was saying was that reporters were not willing dupes of - or accomplices to - the President’s decision to go to war in Iraq.

Most of us try to report honestly and fairly on Administration decisions, intentions and statements. If there were doubts and reservations about those matters, it got reported too.

Clearly, many of you disagree. So at the risk of poking an angry lion – let me try this.

YOU be the reporter!

It’s March 6, 2003. Pres Bush is moving closer to ordering an attack on Iraq.

You’re in the East Room for his primetime news conference – and he calls on you.

What do you ask?

What finely-crafted question do you pose that both serves the public interest and will get a meaningul[sic] response?

Almost to a person, anytime a professionamal journamalist gets their panties in a wad over criticism of their form and function, it is directed at their (putative) customers -- you know, readers, viewers, that sort of thing. Not the editors who change or squash their stories if they're deemed unsuitable for popular consumption, not the politicans who yank their chains on a daily basis, not the clown at the top who routinely makes them the butt of his little jokes. And keep in mind that Knoller's defensiveness here is from seven months ago, way after the usually acceptable "if I knew then what I know now" line. They can't handle it, the notion that Bill Moyers and an informed chunk of the American public might know what they're talking about.

I'm actually inclined to give people like Knoller something of a break, simply because it's all an exercise in futility. Here's the thing -- every White House correspondent could conceivably, on the eve of aggression, asked unrelenting series of incisive, probing questions, and gotten to the real heart of the matter. And it wouldn't have mattered; these people were not going to be stopped by mere trivialities of facts, truth, morality, or any of that. They signaled their intent to invade Iraq with Bush's speech at West Point in June 2002. Everything after that was pro forma positioning, timing the marketing campaign, going through the motions of giving inspections a chance.

The only question I have for Knoller -- since he brought up March 6, 2003 as some sort of critical date -- or any of the rest of the WH press corpse, is what question do they wish they had asked on that fateful day, knowing then what they know now, and more importantly, what good do they really think it would have done. What good do they think they're doing now, knowing what we all know, doing absolutely nothing about any of it, wringing our hands as if some deus ex Obama will lift us out of our own muck?

The media's role is hopelessly debauched for a variety of reasons -- institutional laziness and cowardice, herd mentality, corporate priorities, the knowing gall of politicians, and our own expectations that someone else do something about all this, while we go deeper in hock to shop our way to orgasmic bliss. But if folks like Knoller want to know where to start, a hint is that it's not the thousands of ankle-biters who call him naughty names, but the Armani-suited motherfuckers who use him and his colleagues to circulate lies and burnish their credibility.

Getting Drafty

Probably a breach of netiquette, but I found a couple of recent drafts that hadn't been posted for whatever reason, and posted them as is under their original dates. This time of year I'm always crunched for time even more than usual (as are we all), and I actually ended up punting more drafts into the ether than I kept. Shit happens. I'm adding to a final one from last weekend, which will be up shortly, in current time given the added text. I'm sure this will cost me my press pass, and I'm not about to go the Jeff Gannon™ route, but them's the breaks.

Love Is Not A Big Enough Word

In which we did up the turkey right (brined and barbecued), watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and remembered to be thankful, and recognize what we appreciate about life, instead of worrying about all the other stuff.

Hopefully your Thanksgiving was a good one as well. Boycott Black Friday.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Versus Typewriting

Not to go all English-teacher on what is probably some intern scraping a few college credits and a couple bucks for pud work, but I see a lot of this these days in the so-called professional media. It's tempting to do a close line-by-line reading, because there's something in practically every sentence here to quibble with, but I'll just hit a couple of highlights.

"It's kind of a shock when that kind of stuff happens with a teacher," Richland High School Senior and neighbor of Eve, John Clearly said. "Especially at Richland because you don't think that that kind of stuff happens that much."

Cleary is a student at Richland High and Eve's neighbor. He heard rumors, but cops said the scandal all started when a student came forward.

She had lurid stories, claiming Eve was teaching more than just how to read music. Those claims led police to find two other potential victims.

"He seemed like a teacher, I mean, he seemed like everybody else," Cleary said.

Fundamental errors all over the place, starting with the repetitive nature of the neighbor/student's (whatever his name actually is, "Clearly" or "Cleary") comments (which add nothing to the story; it's as if someone still thinks this obvious "he seemed like such a reg'lar guy" shit is anything more than a rote cliché). The repetition occurs again in describing who Clearly/Cleary is in subsequent paragraphs. And the "teaching more than just how to read music" bit sounds like a Dateline lede, which I suppose is actually a good thing for this sort of sensationalistic journalism.

"He was there for a long time," Cleary said. "Everyone said he was there forever."

The school put Eve on paid administrative leave last month to begin their own investigation. Eve stepped down shortly after that. He's been with the Richland schools for 15 years.

It's a redundancy within a redundancy; not only are Clear(l)y's parting comments redundant between themselves, but both are made completely useless by the next paragraph's accurate tabulation of Eve's tenure at the school.

It ends with a burp, rather than a whimper or a bang:

Eve's wife was there to see the arrest go down, but she didn't want to talk to Action News.

Love the Mod Squad lapse into the vernacular -- "go down", man. Some heavy shit, bro-ham.

These are small, nit-picky things, and I suppose I'm a small, nit-picky person for pulling a random article out of the ether for the red-pencil treatment. But I read too many articles these days about students arriving at college campuses and immediately having to take remedial math and English classes. How the fuck do they get in in the first place? Don't they have tests for that shit? Why do my tax dollars go to coddle college students who didn't bother learning high-school skills?

Also I confess some fascination with people who are incompetent at their jobs, especially jobs in the entertainment industry (which is what news, even local news, really is), which people do because they want to be in that line of work. It's one thing to be indifferent to the rigors and conventions of a job you work out of necessity, quite another to be ignorant of even the fundamentals of your chosen profession.

Local news is particularly bad about that anyway, but it filters up into the national levels more frequently than most people would think. Misspelled chyrons on CNN are not uncommon, and go hand-in-hand with sloppy analysis and poorly-researched commentary. Everyone makes typos, and lots of people make fairly simple spelling snafus; what I'm getting at is when the lack of attention and skill are glaringly obvious. I dunno, some days it really grinds my gears, dammit.

Fuck These People

Seriously. Fuck that puckered asshole of a country.

A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

This is not an indictment of Islam -- these pukes are "Muslim" like the Ku Klux Klan are "Christian", and this is a conflict between economic and social classes as well -- but perhaps the civilized world could figure out a way to repudiate these creeps, without of course compromising our access to the precioussss.

When it comes to finding reasons to conserve, and to develop alternate sources of energy, there are moral imperatives other than salvaging the environment. Disempowering these closet-case scumbags ranks pretty high as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TV Nation, Part 2

Last week, I took a cursory look at a more devil's advocate side of the WGA strike that is roiling the schlock merchants of Hollywood. Kung Fu Monkey's John Rogers, an actual writer and a good one, brings some well-reasoned and much-needed insider's perspective to the proceedings:

Listen, before you spout off the usual "The free market will out" along with "Hey, I'm smart enough to negotiate my own contracts, why aren't you?" with a side order of "just go somewhere else if you don't like it", you need to understand some things. If you don't, then every argument you make is without merit. Period. It's like trying to discuss the Middle East without the fundamental understanding of the difference between Shia and Sunni.

There is no free market in Hollywood. In television for example, with the dissolution of "finsyn" rules in 1995 almost every independent producer has been either absorbed into one of the big media companies or dissolved. We've gone from 40 producers in television to the big Six.

Six. Six companies control almost all mass media in America. They control all, and I mean all, the standard distribution channels in America. They are also negotiating as a single entity, the AMPTP. If you've read your Adam Smith, you know that this is actually one of the situations he notes in Wealth of Nations which will indeed break the fingers of the invisible hand.


This is where I'm always amused at libertarians, because they so love markets but never seem to understand how business actually works. If you, my fine libertarian friend, decide to forego the union and negotiate your own contract vis a vis residuals (or pretty much anything else), you will find that unless you are one of the maybe eight out of 12,0000 most famous and profitable writers in Hollywood, you will get exactly the same deal from each studio, or slightly worse. Because what possible motivation would they have to share their profits, relative to each of the other five competitors? That's just common sense.

Indeed. The vertical integration of the media conglomerates, the incestuous subsuming and cross-promoting of each other's entities and doo-dads, is the corporate smoke blown out the ass of the people's airwaves. And if the execs can shave a couple points here and there and get their incompetent nephew a gofer credit at someone else's expense, well, if you don't like it there's thirty other people who'll blow Harvey Weinstein in a Sunset Strip phone booth for the opportunity.

Read the whole thing, it's pretty excellent. These studio weasels are shameless; they'll try to fuck anything that stops moving long enough, whether you're the newest schmuck off the bus or Peter Jackson. I still agree with Fake Steve that the content producers (the writers) would be doing themselves an enormous favor by getting a jump on the new model.

Look, I get why writers for well-crafted ensembles such as 30 Rock or The Office, or any of the nightly talk shows, would try to hold their ground and protect their nut. But if you're a fuckin' reality hack, what do you have to lose, really, except that sense of embarrassment that follows you around like a brown cloud. "What do you do for a living?" "I'm a writer for Dancing with the Stars." It's like recording wocka-wocka vamps for porn channels and telling everyone you're a "musician".

Anyway, Rogers' basic point rings true -- it's a business run by unethical, nepotistic sharks, and the little fish need whatever protection they can get. And of course the corporations are in a much better negotiating position -- they've got shows in the can, and they can ride this out for longer.

But it could also be the signal of a shift, a potential disintermediation of one or even both sides. People have a lot of alternatives, and the proliferation of cheap-ass copycat shows indicates that they're looking for knuckle-shuffle distractions over entertainment they give a shit about. This is particularly true for their money demo, who have X-boxes, iPhones, and all sorts of shit to channel their ADHD spans into. It's very self-defeating, it seems.

Of course, I don't have enough profound knowledge about what makes the business or its customers tick; I have no fucking clue how movies such as Fred Claus or Transformers even get made, much less who over the age of seven watches them. Marketing is not my strong suit.

But I can spot a trend from time to time, and this one seems ripe for the running. It's another hollowed-out dinosaur production-revenue model, accelerating its own change, and probably substantial loss of market share.

Translating Nospeak

Let's, I say let's mosey on down to the Tumbleweed Farm, there in the middle o' Petticoat Junction, and examine closely just one (1) paragraph of Mister Man's important pronuncimatin' on matters of some seriousness, to wit, Pakistan.

First, the question, just to put things in context.

Are you at all concerned that General Musharraf may not live up to the promises that you said he's made to you? And are you concerned, as Secretary Gates suggested yesterday, that the distraction, the internal turmoil in Pakistan is actually -- or could have an effect on the effort in Afghanistan? Thank you.

Not too complicated, right? Right? Well, let's see if we can parse the non-answer:

I take a person for his word until otherwise. I think that's what you have to do. When somebody says this is what they're going to do, then you give them a chance to do it.

This is the usual aphasic boilerplate he probably mumbles in his sleep; you can tell because it's practically in iambic pentameter. He genuinely seems to think that, for example, his good buddy Pooty-Poot hasn't worked him over like Rosie O'Donnell on a box of Devil Dogs. Nor is this dispositive factoid applicable to much else in the way of volatile areas of foreign policy. You don't take anyone's word for it.

But even in this case, with Musharraf, it is becoming apparent, even to someone of Bush's intellect, that Musharraf cannot be trusted anymore. He's played both sides for too long, and this is not a situation where hydrostatic tension can be held indefinitely. And Musharraf himself has propelled the crisis forward with a series of autocratic maneuvers which may cement his position with the military which really runs that country, but also secures his popular perception as Our Man in Islamabad. This "give them a chance" bit, hilarious. Musharraf has had six years and $11 bn to do something. There are extenutaing circumstances, there always are, but the results are not there, bottom line, and Pakistan is now on the verge of a political meltdown.

I can tell you this, that President Musharraf, right after the attacks on September the 11th, made a decision, and the decision was to stand with the United States against the extremists inside Pakistan.

And this year has been the deadliest for troops in Afghanistan. How do those two things square and again, how many years are these decisions and policies supposed to be exempt from review just because you invoke 9/11 over and over again?

In other words,....

I get that he has to regurgitate this shit in the same way it was explained to him, but this is the most shopworn rhetorical crutch he employs, by far. It's too bad they can't fit him with a shock collar that goes off every time he spins his wheels with this utterly stupid time-waster of a phrase.

It's the absolute worst sort of intellectual abuse, to constantly recycle this simplistic crap, under the pretense of elaborating on obvious points, while actually obfuscating them further. Everyone talks a good game about Orwell, but this was exactly the thorn in Orwell's side, language being used to conceal rather than reveal. This is Bush's stock in trade.

....he was given an option: Are you with us, or are you not with us? And he made a clear decision to be with us, and he's acted on that advice.

But he hasn't done those things, certainly not to the degree one might expect from the blank checks we've written him the past half-decade. He's helped track and kill several #3's, good. But he's also consolidated his power, signed treaties with Taliban leaders, used our money to buy weapons that appear to be more well-suited for a conventional war with India than for flushing out terrorists, and trampled the institutions of his country, which redounds to us as far as the seething populace is concerned. Meanwhile, no viable successor or opposition has been cultivated, which means the next best plan is to bring back a populist kleptocrat, whose father was deposed and hung. And you thought American politics was a sideshow.

Bush keeps talking about the "goals" he shares with the Pakistani people, but that can't possibly be true. They want Musharraf out -- now. They may decide they want to keep using Afghanistan as a proxy buffer in their ongoing bullshit with India. That too is at cross purposes. Once Musharraf eventually leaves, it is entirely possible that the jihadis and madrassa thugs gain political potency.

Thus that entire paragraph, much like most things Bush has said over the years, literally has almost no meaning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Price Is Right

Funny how our beloved senator, fresh from caving on Surfin' Mike Mukasey's AG appointment, wasted no time in running out here and assigning blame to the Coast Guard (whose response was admittedly unacceptable), while mentioning precious little about the new crew on the Cosco ship which collided into the Bay Bridge. Can it be that her husband still has "consultant" dealings with that company these days? I'm sure it's just coincidence. It always is.

Cops and Mobbers

Rude Pundit's right about this guy's hair -- it's like Eddie Munster taking on Count Chocula. All you need is Fred "Franken Berry" Thompson to complete the picture.

Rudy Giuliani stakes his presidential bid on his record of cutting crime in New York - but the union representing the city's 30,000 police officers won't support his run for the White House.
"The New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association could never support Rudy Giuliani for any elected office," PBA President Patrick Lynch told The Post.

Lynch also claimed that "Rudy Giuliani has no real credentials as a terrorism fighter."

So let's see -- cops don't like Rudy, but well-oiled loon Marion Robertson and his retard followers do. Any more questions?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Four Weddings and a Douchebag

Grampa Simpson has a miraculous come-to-Rudy moment on moralizing pronunciamentos regarding candidates' marriages and fidelity. Interesting timing.

As recently as two months ago -- Sept 6, 2007 -- Broder wrote that the Clintons' marriage was the most important political fact about Hillary. "Her marriage is the central fact in her life, and this partnership of Bill and Hillary Clinton is indissoluble," Broder wrote. "She cannot function without him, and he would not have been president without her. If she becomes president, he will play as central a role in her presidency as she did in his. And that is something the country will have to ponder."

Well, no shit, Sherlock. There are some -- inside the Beltway even! -- who swear anonymously that the Return of the Clenis is part of Hillary!s dynastic inevitability. Apparently (and don't tell the current occupant about this phenomenon) a certain number of mopes find it easier to simply renew their subscriptions than check out different magazines, or even a book. Broder should be thrilled to draw a paycheck for such tedious observations, since an average fifth-grader could come up with them for nothing.

But let us put Broderella's latest case o' the vapors in context.

On May 25, 2006, Broder devoted nearly a whole column to that notorious front-page piece by Pat Healy in The Times that documented the state of their marriage in almost comically absurd detail. Broder was very sympathetic to the piece, saying that it showed that "the drama of the Clintons' personal life would be a hot topic if she runs for president." If Broder thought the Clinton wasn't fair game here in any way -- or disapproved of the level of attention The Times gave to the Clinton marriage in that piece -- he certainly didn't say so.

And back when it really counted -- when the GOP tried to impeach Bill Clinton over his affair -- Broder thought the Clinton marriage was completely fair game. He wrote multiple columns at the time arguing that his affair threw his entire character and even fitness for the Presidency into question.

They all did. Some of them even had a point -- getting blowjobs from the help is something you expect from Guns 'n' Roses, not the occupant of the West Wing. It was tawdry and off-putting, if completely unworthy of reproaches as serious as impeachment, and effectively grinding government to a halt for the remainder of Clinton's term.

But they went on and on and on about it, each one-upping the last with more and more ponderous verdicts, heedless of the practical consequences, long after there was any point to any of it. And now we are where we are, because these pud-whackers can't stop with their knuckle-shuffle. And we can't get enough of it.

Suddenly a candidate who is running overtly on issues of character and judgment is blessedly exempt from scrutiny in those things. He made a point of embarrassing his second wife; his best buddy was a mobbed-up prick who apparently felt entitled to stick his cock in everything within a hundred yards. His own children don't speak to him and won't vote for him. Does this tell you something about how he does things, is there a pattern worth noticing here?

On the one hand, we don't really want to keep up this habit of digging through the neighbor's garbage, trying to dig up something ugly while acting all Simon-pure. On the other hand, this is all already public knowledge. Now Broder wants to take the high road and avoid all that. For now, anyway; he knows as well as anyone that his profession is that of the herd, and that if he doesn't stroke the cheating asshole issue everyone else will be happy to leave him behind.

And in a profession where the appearance of relevance is the real currency, the only thing that matters when the rest of the kewl kidz pull out their Members Only jackets is to follow suit.

Silver and Blecch

Christ, this is getting old. And enough of the big "debate" over whether to throw the kid in the deep end. The season's done, so there's nothing to lose, but the o-line blows, the receivers are slow and don't bother to get open, and the defense plays stout for the first 55 minutes, then reliably finds a way to give it back. (Of seven losses, this is the fifth one where they blew a 4th-quarter lead. In nine total games. Big pattern there.) It's one thing to give a new guy some hands-on experience, but another to just dump him into a situation beyond his control.

They did contain Devin Hester's returns superbly, but the score was still 17-6 at the end. You could have yanked any eleven drunken goons from the stands and put up six points and 180 yards of offense.

Only the Raiders could have given Rex Fucking Grossman his job back. That's how rock-bottom this team is in almost every phase of the game.

Weekend at Bernie's

Giuliani's judgment speaks for itself quite clearly. There is no sensible, rational reason to support his bum-rush to the balcony, so it makes sense that the people most in support of Rudy are neither sensible nor rational.

Where Chuckie the K intersects with Count Chocula and Marion Robertson, albeit more quasi-intellectually, is in the transcendent belief in will to power. And they know that the limbic trolls that populate their respective fanclubs all possess the same gene. There's no mystery there.

Now, whether Rudy Walnuts can make people believe that his experience at rousting squeegee men and street derelicts translates into the warm pink blanky they crave, and that his sidekick Fat Bernie Gambino's troubles aren't simply a direct product of the very institutions they emanated from, that may be a different story.

But I'm betting not. I always figured Mencken for an optimist.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


First, a hearty and sincere thanks to all who served then and now. Veterans' Day should one of the few days where we can all be on the same page, even if some goofy bastards don't seem to be in the same library.

But what the hell?

Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.


Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

“We’re going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous,” said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.

I don't care what political stripe you claim to paint, that's unacceptable. The parades and ceremonies are all well and good, but what matters is taking care of people, rewarding their sacrifices, and ensuring that they don't fall through the cracks. I don't know when that became too much to ask. But since our geniuses at the top didn't plan for much of anything, it makes sense that they didn't count on thousands of discharged five-tour vets coming home to a desiccated life.

Mother of the Year

For a second, I just assumed that there was an up-and-coming rapper -- or maybe just one of Fifty Cent's hangers-on -- by the name of Red Light. It's not exactly a stretch.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hsu Fetish

As with the rest of the pack of 'tard hyenas clogging up what passes for respectable political discussion, most of Malkin's bluster goes right by me. I suppose it's hard not to notice when a minority pokes at fellow minorities, but obviously it's all of a piece, that of poking at "liberal" orthodoxies, "political correctness" in particular. Ho hum. It's like finding out there's still a niche demographic of people out there listening to Mambo #5 and practicing the Macarena. Whatever floats their leaky boat, I guess.

What interests me more is what sort of follow-up is being done to confirm or refute Malkin's allegations of "straw donors".

One Asian donor admitted to the Los Angeles Times "to lacking the legal-resident status required for giving campaign money." Another, Hsiao Wen Yang, told the New York Post she was reimbursed for her $1,000 donation - setting off clear alarm bells over yet another possible straw donor scheme on the heels of Norman Hsu-gate.

Does anyone really want another raft of "Chinese bagman Johnny Huang" stories coming down the pike? They are tiresome precisely because of their distracting angle on race, though it is certainly noteworthy if any candidate is getting contributions laundered through illegal immigrants.

But again, we need to address the root cause here. Whatever the ethnicity and/or legal status of a straw donor, it is yet another indication of the system failing utterly. Rather than wasting time on the lame snarkasm from a predictable blowhard, we're better off simply paying attention to the story, which is as old as the notion of organized political machinery. This "don't ask, don't tell" system of encouraging laundered donations through phantom entities and shady ward-heelers, possibly originating in profits from organized crime, gambling, human trafficking, etc., is unacceptable.

On the one hand, this is simply how the machinery of politics seems to grind along, particularly in ethnic enclaves, but on the other hand, maybe it's time to look for other ways besides suspicious-looking "bundling" strategies.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Liar Liar

Why is anything this wretched coot has to say anymore even worth mentioning, much less given the veneer of credibility?

“Do they want to bring back Saddam Hussein, these critics?” the elder Bush told USA TODAY in a rare interview. “Do they want to go back to the status quo ante? I don’t know what they are talking about here. Do they think life would be better in the Middle East if Saddam were still there?“


In 1996, Bush Sr. wrote, “Removing [Saddam] from power might well have plunged Iraq into civil war, sucking U.S. forces in to preserve order. Had we elected to march on Baghdad, our forces might still be there.”

In Jan. 1996, Bush delivered an eloquent speech, arguing the “reason we didn’t go after Saddam is that our forces could well have bogged down in an urban guerrilla conflict in the streets of Baghdad.” “We would have instantly handed Saddam a victory out of the jaws of a humiliating defeat,” he said.

I never could stand this man, but this is beyond even what I would have thought he was capable of. Does any person seriously think that had Bill Clinton spear-headed this clusterfuck, that Poppy Bush wouldn't have come out of the woodwork, early and often, to chastise him for wooly-headed idealism meeting the constraints of realpolitik, of a bunch of draft-dodging dummycrats fucking up his, Poppy's, masterful compromise, of needlessly squandering American lives and American treasure, American credibility?

I mean, really. There's defending your idiot progeny, no matter how badly he fucks up the proverbial baked potato. And there's trying not to undermine the "leader", who or whatever that may mean. But this is completely indefensible. He did not change his mind out of honorable intentions; everything he (and Cheney, incidentally) predicted over a decade ago has come to pass. Frankly, it's nauseating, and shameful. I don't know how the man lives with himself, but I do wish he'd piss off already, and at least have the common decency to tell the rest of his ridiculous dynasty to go away. ¡No mas Arbustos!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Ain't Superstitious

Desperation and stupidity, being kissing cousins, tend to produce some pretty funny-lookin' offspring:

ATLANTA - What to do when the rain won’t come? If you’re Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, you pray.

The governor will host a prayer service next week to ask for relief from the drought gripping the Southeast.

“The only solution is rain, and the only place we get that is from a higher power,” Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said on Wednesday.

On the off chance that don't work, Perdue has planned to sacrifice a chicken on the steps of the Capitol, and stick pins in his Algore voodoo doll.

Nice to see PMSNBC turn into The Onion. I swear I thought this was a parody at first.

[link via TBogg]

Oops, I Did It Again

I actually kinda feel bad for Britney's mom, believe it or not. It's gotta be difficult to just sit and watch a very public, slow-motion train wreck, and trying to figure out what your own responsibility in it all is. Knowing that your kid is a short step from holding up liquor stores and/or getting a sex tape leaked just adds to it.

Still, I couldn't help but laugh at the very last bit.

Lynne, who is currently working on a revealing book about parenthood, says the tome will have a spiritual side.

She explained: "I am working on a parenting book that is going to have faith elements to it."

I'm not sure what's funnier, that Britney Spears' mom thinks that she should write a parenting book with "faith elements" to it, or that people will actually buy it, because their favorite pastime is rubbernecking.

TV Nation

Beyond the polemics, Fake Steve has some good points, per usual. Other than Barry Ritholtz, I don't know of anyone else who can discuss the fairly arcane, wonky subject of disintermediating content-revenue models in a genuinely entertaining style.

Up here in Silicon Valley we are busy building the next system and we are laughing our asses off at you guys. We all know you're going away. It's only a matter of time. You're latched on to a dying system like so many fat babies sucking on so many big fat Hollywood fake tits. Now the tits are drying up. That's what this strike is really all about. It's the beginning of the death throes of the network system. At some subconscious level you clueless fuckwits have begun to realize that the future has nothing to do with the system to which you're attached.

Obtain a clue, people. You're sitting there fighting over residuals and terms of this and that when what you should be doing is leaving the system altogether and helping to build the next one. But you can't do that because you can't get off the heroin of network money. You're hooked to a lifestyle. For all your groovy talk and hip little soul patch beards, you're the most risk-averse people in the world. You're lifers. I mean, you belong to a fucking union! How fucked up and 20th century is that?

Listen, Hollywood TV writers. For fifty years you've had a nice little gig going for yourselves. You've unionized and set up all these stupid rules and you've created a closed-off little club and you've done all you could to keep other people out of the club so you could make ridiculous amounts of money just for pumping out piles of shit content. Now guess what? The Internet blows that up. The Internet is anarchy. There's no writers guild. There's no limit on the number of channels. The writers and actors and directors who've been shut out of your club are creating their own alternate universe. They don't want to be in your club. Worse yet for you, they don't want you in their club, either. They don't need you. They don't give a shit about what you do. They view you as a bunch old, fat, stupid, overpaid hacks. Which you are.

Well, good luck with that strike, assholes. And seriously, thanks. I mean it.

He's right about the impending death throes, and the complete inability for either the networks or the writers to coherently navigate the shifts. That's part of the problem, they're just trying to figure out how best to ride the wave. The networks, just like the thrashing dinosaurs of the music industry or the old media, are frantically trying to cover their nut. And it's not working, and it reeks of desperation, increasingly so.

They're kept in place for now simply because of the scope of their operational oligarchy. It's not a carefully imploded Vegas casino, more of a sprawling, ancient edifice crumbling here and there, but faster and faster. Some of them have gotten better at diversifying and spreading to niches to make up the difference; Fox's FX Channel is a very good example of that, with smarter, racier, more HBO-style fare than they can run on the main network. But even they, like HBO, seem to be having more difficulty developing fresh material and making it stick; FX's flagship show, The Shield, will broadcast its final season next year, and like HBO with The Sopranos, there's no contender waiting in the wings to keep the pace. Rescue Me and The Wire, on those respective networks, are both superb shows, but each is also winding down, with the latter braodcasting its final season in January, and the former probably not having more than another season or two left in the tank.

So it's diminishing returns, and an attenuated content development setup, because it's so much easier and cheaper to just round up a dozen random candidates for forced sterilization and cobble an interminable piece of "reality" crap around them. And their first instinct when the ratings and revenues drop is more commercial time. As if paying $60+/month for fifty shopping channels and about five channels with watchable shows wasn't enough, now commercial breaks are even longer and more frequent. I've seen some shows with what appears to be roughly a "7-4" run -- four minutes of commercials after every seven minutes of content. (FX is even more insidious with its hour-long shows -- they'll suck you in with a 15-20 minute block, then 7-4-7-4 for the rest of the hour.)

So what it has devolved to, in the aggregate, is reeling in potatoes who don't mind watching other potatoes play guessing games with suitcases, or some D-list doorstop try to dance. That chases as many people away as it attracts, hence the dwindling shares. There's just too much else out there, and for me the kicker is the shorter DVD cycle time these days. I already rarely go to the movies as it is; it's expensive and noisy and there's a half-hour of promos before the fuckin' movie starts. I don't mind waiting three months to Netflix the DVD.

Lots of other people have gotten the same idea, and it was only a matter of time before they also realized that it's not a big deal to wait a few months for most series, especially with all the extras they throw in to please the die-hard fans. Seriously, other than The Daily Show and football, I don't really give much of a shit, and most of TDS is available on the website. Why do I want to spend $750 per year to watch the same mind-numbing commercials in Pavlovian repetition? Why would anyone?

I'm not quite as down on writers or unions as FSJ comes off as being; there are many good shows out there too, and it's hard work accomplished in an environment run on muscle and gall. They would get rolled without some protection, and they can't really make the jump as individuals just yet, though like lemmings, once one does, they all will. But FSJ is correct in spotting the institutional inertia at work here; the writers are too scared to make the intuitive leap to start getting their arms around this new media thing, and the networks will only do it in a manner that sustains the rest of their rotting carcass oligopoly.

And that's the thing that really oughta scare both sides in this, that they have so steadily eaten away the value of their product that a lot of people won't bother coming back. There's too many other distractions now; they don't have to settle for the umpteenth iteration of Survivor or whatever. The vegetable market will always be there, and always go back for more, like Bush's 25% core. You can always count on a moron to do what morons do.

But you can't always build and keep a solid revenue model around them. I couldn't care less about the teevee aspect of it; what intrigues me is the slow-motion crumble, and what could come out of it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Casino Economy

It's nice to know that this is all just a giant slot machine.

Analysts say that the oil market looks overheated, and a number of factors could puncture the price bubble. Most important, speculators have played a key role in driving up crude prices this year, and if the trend reverses they'll get out fast. Certainly, global demand remains strong for now. But a number of factors—technical indicators, an economic slowdown, lower demand—could prompt investors to exit en masse.

"Oil prices are in uncharted territory," says Peter Fusaro, co-founder of the Energy Hedge Fund Center, which tracks commodities hedge funds. "My worry is that if the market tanks, everyone will want out at the same time. The market would collapse, and who knows what the bottom is."

Speculators have played a growing role in the oil market in recent years (,1/17/07). There are 595 hedge funds that engage in at least some energy trading now, more than triple the 180 funds involved just three years ago. Fusaro estimates the assets involved in such trading total more than $200 billion, up more than 60% from the beginning of the year.

It's tough to get a firm handle on the speculation. A large portion of trading takes place in the unregulated, over-the-counter market. Still, some of the trading in crude oil takes place on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), and there the market is approaching a record in terms of the number of crude oil contracts that predict a price rise. Traders have committed to 135,000 contracts—each representing 1,000 barrels of crude—betting that prices will continue to rise. That's just shy of the record 155,000 contracts reached this summer.

Some analysts say that if the number of contracts rises sharply, oil prices could fall. "The exit signal for investors could be breaking through the 150,000 or 160,000 contract barrier," says Joel Fingerman, president of, an energy consulting firm. "At that point investors could feel they're using all their bullets."

In the meantime however, investment continues to flood the crude oil market, as well as commodities in general. "The mentality now is very bullish," says Fingerman. "As long as money keeps flowing in, people will keep buying [oil] as though it's going to go to the moon."

The optimism has helped the stocks of the oil majors. ConocoPhillips (COP) is up nearly 40% (, 10/26/07) over the past year. ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), British Petroleum (BP), and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) have posted similar if somewhat smaller gains.

So speculators and hedge-funds, not exactly discouraged by the oil companies themselves, have overvalued oil futures to their own benefit. Real supply is probably either peak or past-peak, and China's demand (and ours, of course) is only accelerating. Since oil companies have profiteered handsomely this entire time, once future specs do correct themselves and drop (assuming they do, which is no guarantee, given demand and supply issues), they're not going to let their own valuations be adversely affected. They'll find other modes of price support if they have to.

Trickle-down enthusiasts informed us, usually as condescendingly as possible, that if the people at the top made money, the people at the bottom would also make money. What they never want to admit is that not only is the profit-taking never commensurate with labor input, thus enhancing income disparity, but that since it's their casino, they also make money even when (frequently because) we don't.

The house always wins.

Traveling Lightly

Anne Applebaum vents her irritation with mischievious political activists.

In fact, for the malcontents of Hollywood, academia, and the catwalks, Chávez is an ideal ally. Just as the sympathetic foreigners whom Lenin called "useful idiots" once supported Russia abroad, their modern equivalents provide the Venezuelan president with legitimacy, attention, and good photographs. He, in turn, helps them overcome the frustration John Reed once felt—the frustration of living in an annoyingly unrevolutionary country where people have to change things by law. For all his brilliance, Reed could not bring socialism to America. For all his wealth, fame, media access, and Hollywood power, Sean Penn cannot oust George W. Bush. But by showing up in the company of Chávez, he can at least get a lot more attention for his opinions.

As for Venezuelan politics, or the Venezuelan people, they don't matter at all. The country is simply playing a role filled in the past by Russia, Cuba, and Nicaragua—a role to which it is, at the moment, uniquely suited. Clearly, Venezuela is easier to idealize than Iran and North Korea, the former's attitude to women being not conducive to fashion models, the latter being downright hostile to Hollywood. Venezuela is also warm, relatively close, and a country of beautiful waterfalls.

Oh, dear. Well, let's have a look at Chàvez' depredations to humanity and civil liberties. There is one allegation from 2004 of 9 protesters being killed, and two dozen more detained and beaten, which should not be minimized or ignored. But the rest? Packing the court system with reliable cronies and rubber stamps; attempting to suspend due process; various methods of harassing unfavorable media entities. Sound familiar?

Look, Chàvez is a preening buffoon, no doubt about it. Penn and Glover obviously share anti-Bush (as opposed to, you know, anti-American, which is really what Applebaum's imputing here) sentiments, along with roughly 90% of the world and two-thirds of the American public on an average day. A useless slice of ass like Naomi Campbell undoubtedly has common cause with anyone who thinks other people are simply to be used to further one's own interests and whims. Not a huge deal; indeed, hardly worth mentioning at all.

Of course Chàvez, nursing a permanent grudge from this administration's aborted attempt, is always going to take advantage of any and every opportunity to tweak El Pendejo's nose. The degree to which that feeds into this or that celebrity's urge to appear profound is obviously open to speculation, but why even bother?

Is this really any more obnoxious or offensive than, say, Chuck Norris writing a regular column of retrograde political chunder? How about Fred Thompson moseying for president (or at least raising money by acting like he's running)? Celebrities use and misuse their status all the time, often for much worse causes than playing grab-ass with a clownish South American autocrat. I haven't heard of Chàvez torturing (or even "debating" false denials), nor has he destroyed a country and ruined millions of lives to show his dad how tough he really is. People who worry about Chàvez seem to have completely forgotten what sort of monsters roamed that continent not so very long ago.

Hell, with the ever-progressing confluence of journalism and celebritainment, you could even make an argument that journalists themselves, especially teevee journamalists, have been at least as irresponsible about whom they are seen with or tacitly endorse. Penn and Glover at least make no pretense to objectivity as far as partisanship, whereas staid sensible types such as Dean Broder literally stenograph the RNCC's sales pitch and pronounce it "moderate".

Compared to that sort of thing, archaic epithets such as "useful idiot" and "fellow traveler" have essentially lost whatever sting they may have genuinely possessed, seeing as how all manner of unimaginable cruelty, around the world and for decades, has been given a pass simply by waving a flag and telling people what they want to hear.