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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Elephant Talk

Talk talk talk, it's only talk
Comments, cliches, commentary, controversy
Chatter, chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat,
Conversation, contradiction, criticism
It's only talk
Cheap talk -- King Crimson


Jeffrey Goldberg has the low-down on the delusional ramblings which continue to emanate -- almost as if for show -- from the Grand Vizier's musty little office halfway up Bush's cloaca. Most interesting is his "if your aunt had balls she'd be your uncle" perspective on the most recent electoral math.

“It’s important to keep in perspective how close the election actually was,” he said. “Three thousand five hundred and sixty-two votes and we would have had a Republican Senate. That’s the gap in the Montana Senate race. And eighty-five thousand votes are the difference in the fifteen closest House races. There’s no doubt we’ve taken a short-term hit in the face of a very contentious war, but to have the Republicans suffer an average defeat for the midterm says something about the underlying strength of conservative attitudes in the country.”


So what? The gap was even smaller in Virginia, where Jim Webb squeaked past Felix Macacawitz, Jr. only in the final hours of the count, and only by some 2,500 votes. Hell, if a couple hundred old farts in Palm Beach had paid attention to those tricksy butterfly ballots, we'd have seen the last of these scumbags back in 2000. If, if, if. If my cock was only a foot longer, I'd have made a fortune in porn.

Rove's selective ratiocinations can't obscure the fact that Jim Webb and Jon Tester, no matter how close the margins, came in and beat two incumbent senators -- one with enough of a conservatard pedigree to have been frequently touted as potential POTUS bait. That's a pretty tall smackdown, and he knows it.

Rove places the blame for the election results on the recent scandals in Congress—congressmen who placed themselves in the orbit of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of the Republican ethics meltdown; and the former congressman Mark Foley’s relationships with congressional pages—rather than the Administration’s management of the Iraq war. “If you look at the exit polling, the No. 1 issue, particularly among swing voters, was corruption and behavior,” he said. “After Foley, people said, ‘It’s just too much.’ After that, spending was the No. 2 issue.”


More whistling past the graveyard. The timing of the disclosure of the Foley scandal was certainly propitious, but it barely merits mentioning how cheap and disingenuous it is to see Rove lamely try to distance himself from the slimy likes of Abramoff. The K Street tentacles were everywhere, and Rove and his lackeys helped facilitate that, because they view the responsibilities of government as "keeping the trough full". That's not just what people such as Rove and Abramoff do, it's what they're there for, to facilitate the systems where such arrangements can thrive. It's why they got the big bucks. There's no other reason to have a chin-laden fuckhead like Rove around, except he knows which knotholes to screw to hit the most paydirt.

And then we bounce from one set of chins to another.

Newt Gingrich is one of those who fear that Republicans have been branded with the label of incompetence. He says that the Bush Administration has become a Republican version of the Jimmy Carter Presidency, when nothing seemed to go right. “It’s just gotten steadily worse,” he said. “There was some point during the Iranian hostage crisis, the gasoline rationing, the malaise speech, the sweater, the rabbit”—Gingrich was referring to Carter’s suggestion that Americans wear sweaters rather than turn up their thermostats, and to the “attack” on Carter by what cartoonists quickly portrayed as a “killer rabbit” during a fishing trip—“that there was a morning where the average American went, ‘You know, this really worries me.’ ” He added, “You hire Presidents, at a minimum, to run the country well enough that you don’t have to think about it, and, at a maximum, to draw the country together to meet great challenges you can’t avoid thinking about.” Gingrich continued, “When you have the collapse of the Republican Party, you have an immediate turn toward the Democrats, not because the Democrats are offering anything better, but on a ‘not them’ basis. And if you end up in a 2008 campaign between ‘them’ and ‘not them,’ ‘not them’ is going to win.”


The article goes on at some length to cast Gingrich as some sort of elder statesman for the conservatard movement. And considering their sheer lack of intellectual heft, he probably qualifies as such. He can actually think and speak extemporaneously, which already puts him leagues ahead of his nominal party leader. Whether or not the ideas make sense or are practical or even moral is incidental -- the point is that they resonate with the sort of people who need reactionary nonsense to harmonize just so with their preconceived notions.

Even deeper into the pit, Goldberg talks with Tom DeLay who, apparently in a futile effort to avoid eternity shoveling shit in hell, has found him some Jesus (who, it should be said, probably did not want to be found this particular time). It's nauseating and cringe-inducing as only DeLay can be, and is only partially redeemed afterward by the obligatory "can the party find its way out of its own ass?" coda, helmed by Beelzebub's hat-rack, Richard Viguerie:

Conservative leaders have always entertained suspicions about George W. Bush’s conservative credentials—in part because his father raised taxes while President, and in part because “compassionate conservatism,” which was a mantra of Bush’s 2000 campaign, sounded to some dangerously like “big-government conservatism.” DeLay’s willingness to spend tax money in order to keep his party in power came as a surprise to those who believed that he was a doctrinaire, limited-government conservative. “Bush was never a conservative, but Tom DeLay was one of us and he betrayed us,” Richard Viguerie, a founder of the modern conservative movement, says. “He’s like a lot of these guys. They campaign against the cesspool. ‘I’ll clean up the cesspool of government,’ but after a while they all say, ‘I made a mistake—it wasn’t a cesspool, it was a hot tub.’ That’s what they called him, you know, Hot Tub Tom.”


The thing about shoveling shit, whether in hell or in Washington, is that the trick is understanding that it doesn't disappear, it just goes somewhere else. The art is in scooting it around sufficiently so that you look like you've actually done something.

Answers

Here are the highly-anticipated answers from the massively popular "blogger or pro" quiz earlier:

  1. David Broder, Straight Talking Again, April 27, 2007.


  2. Richard "Dice" Cohen, Digital Lynch Mob, May 9, 2006.


  3. Joe Klein, Tweety Matthews Show, December 3, 2006, referring to Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) support for setting a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.


  4. Alicublog, Book Club, May 2, 2007.


  5. Politico.com, Social conservatives bit bullet, back Rudy, May 28, 2007.


  6. Hammer of the Blogs, Riffs On Foreign Policy, May 16, 2005. Hey, it's my blog, I'm throwing myself into the mix with these folks.


I suppose, since I included Roy and myself as examples of bloggerista reasoning skills (and in Roy's case, actual style in writing), that fairness presumes that I should have provided an example from someone from the other side of common sense, such as Gun Counter Gomer or Michelle Malkin. Or I could have just repeatedly slammed my head into a random wall nearby, and given you first-hand observations of trying to think coherently with a concussion. Tomayto tomahto.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cheap Suit

Let's take it as a given that, if you're a drunk driver, you are by definition an asshole. That is not to drive a bright wedge between the holy and the damned; people make mistakes, and many of us have been at one time or another in the asshole club to some degree. But it is implicitly understood that you're not supposed to be able to have a posthumous lawsuit filed on your behalf if you were quite clearly the asshole at fault.

ST. LOUIS - The father of Josh Hancock filed suit Thursday, claiming a restaurant provided drinks to the St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher even though he was intoxicated prior to the crash that killed him.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court by Dean Hancock of Tupelo, Miss., does not specify damages. Mike Shannon’s Restaurant, owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster who starred on three World Series teams in the 1960s, is a defendant in the case along with Shannon’s daughter, Patricia Shannon Van Matre, the restaurant manager.

Other defendants include Eddie’s Towing, the company whose flatbed tow truck was struck by Hancock’s sport utility vehicle in the early hours of April 29; tow truck driver Jacob Edward Hargrove; and Justin Tolar, the driver whose stalled car on Interstate 64 was being assisted by Hargrove.


Nice, huh? They're even suing the tow truck company and the poor bastard who had the misfortune to have his hoopty break down in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Authorities said the 29-year pitcher had a blood content of nearly twice the legal limit for alcohol in his system when he crashed into the back of the tow truck. He was also speeding, using a cell phone and wasn’t wearing a seat belt, Police Chief Joe Mokwa said after the accident. Marijuana also was found in the SUV.


Well, shit, I guess Dad and his lawyers left out some deep pockets there -- namely, the cell-phone company, the accelerator-pedal manufacturer, and even the seat belt manufacturer, for not including a mechanism to force drunk, speeding, cell-phone yapping self-indulgent assholes to buckle up. I mean, it's gotta be somebody's fault here, right? Anyone but Mister Drunk-Speeding-Asshole-On-A-Fucking-Cell-Phone.

Mokwa said Hancock went to Shannon’s not long after the Cardinals played a day game against the Chicago Cubs on April 28. The lawsuit claimed that Hancock was a regular at the restaurant bar and was there for more than 3½ hours.

“It’s understood that for the entire 3½ hours that Josh Hancock was there that he was handed drinks,” Keith Kantack, a lawyer for Dean Hancock, said. “It’s our understanding that from the moment Josh Hancock entered Mike Shannon’s that night that he was never without a drink.”


As with poor dumb Lindsay Lohan the other day, I cannot help but wonder why someone who can easily afford a cab or even a limo insists on driving while shitfaced. It is a reasonable question to ask why the bar did not in fact insist he call one, but as the article says, Hancock was a regular, and it is a bartender's lifeblood to understand their customers' (especially the wealthier ones) needs and habits. Who knows how often Hancock did this sort of thing, knocked off a hard day's work and decided to throw back a few coldies. People do.

I'm not without sympathy for Hancock and his family, really. It's a sad thing to see a loved one cut down in the prime of life by a preventable split-second mistake. But that mistake is primarily the fault of alcohol, speeding, and inattention caused by cell-phone use, all of which were very much in the control of Josh Hancock himself. The tragedy of his untimely death does not give his father the right to abuse an already maligned tort system with this sort of thing. Ask the Cardinals organization to make some PSAs, make a donation to a good NPO in his name, and thank your lucky stars that he didn't take out a family with his reckless self-indulgence.

Whacks Museum


Fixin' ta go on a edumacational road trip.

At long last, the Creation Museum flings open its doors to welcome unwitting simpletons.

The privately funded museum had more than 4,000 guests on opening day, said Mark Looy, a co-founder of the $27 million facility 20 miles southwest of Cincinnati. The parking lot was filled with license plates from dozens of states.


Sure -- State of Intoxication, State of Catatonia, State of Confusion....hell, the entire South was represented. Who had to keep an eye on Cooter's manure pit whilst he was down to the Jeezus Rode Him A Die-know-sore Museum?

The museum features high-tech exhibits designed by a theme-park artist, including animatronic dinosaurs and a wooden ark at least two stories tall, plus a special effects theater and planetarium.

Some exhibits show dinosaurs aboard Noah's Ark and assert that all animals were vegetarians until Adam committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden.


Ordinarily I'd launch into some preachily earnest cliché about how this would be funny if people didn't believe it, yada yada. Which is true, but still.... they spent $27 mil on this thing and all they got was 4,000 people on opening day? Seriously? In the bidness world, that there's what they call a loss leader, a huge one.

I'm sure they'll eventually recoup it on all the choice Kirk Cameron-approved swag they have to offer, but come on, pretty much every '70s band on the casino circuit pulls in a couple thousand people without breaking a huge promo sweat. And last I heard, REO Speedwagon didn't have to kick down for no animatronic dinosaurs either, unless they want to borrow the inflatable one Blue Öyster Cult uses for their crowd-pleasing encore of Godzilla.



Get 'em while they're hot....in, um, adult large only.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blog Like Me

In an effort to either prove or refute the hoary critiques of the professional journamalists that anonymity and vituperative bloggerosity are ruining -- yes, motherfucker, ruining -- the scope and importance of Serious Discourse, I have slapped together a little blind taste test for you. Following will be some brief excerpts, either from a lowly, uncivil blogger shamelessly operating from his parents' basement, or from an Esteemed Professional Journalist, with a pension and gravitas and shit. It's up to you to figure out which is which. Answers when I get around to it.

  1. Instead of underlining his support for attacking Saddam Hussein and his endorsement of Bush's decision to add troops this year, McCain emphasized the lessons of the war.

    "We all know the war in Iraq has not gone well," he said. "We have made mistakes and we have paid grievously for them. We have changed the strategy that failed us, and we have begun to make a little progress. But in the many mistakes we have made in this war, a few lessons have become clear. America should never undertake a war unless we are prepared to do everything necessary to succeed, unless we have a realistic and comprehensive plan for success, and unless all relevant agencies of government are committed to that success. We did not meet this responsibility initially. And we must never repeat that mistake again."

    That statement by itself will not appease those who think McCain has been wrong in supporting the war and who deplored his quick embrace of Bush after their bitter struggle for the 2000 nomination. The picture of McCain urging Bush's election at the Republican National Convention and at dozens of other rallies will not be easily erased.

    But for John McCain, there must be at least some relief now in being able to speak his own mind -- whatever the consequences. Candor, even belatedly, becomes him.


  2. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

    The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.


  3. “That may well be true, but it’s wrong to say it.”


  4. Al Gore says his favorite book is The Red and the Black, and the National Review guys start going "Oh no he dih-hint" and snapping their gum. Derbyshire at least admits only that he would like to believe Gore is lying about Stendhal (though Clinton, in the Derbview, is presumed to lie about everything, especially the Tomes of the Ancients): John Podhoretz says, with no evidence whatsoever, that Gore was trying to "make it appear he is something he almost certainly isn't: A steady reader of great literature." Not like Podhoretz, who walks around the office in a toga, index finger heavenward, declaiming on lofty artistic subjects between infusions of malted milk.

    You can just see them balling their tiny fists and wishing they could make Gore take a test with lots of trick questions.

    Literature, like everything else in this life, means nothing to them but an opportunity to score points on the people they have been trained to hate. Were they not trusted advisors to the scum who wreck our lives, I'd pity them.


  5. Rudy Giuliani, whose positions on abortion and homosexuality mark him as the most socially liberal Republican presidential candidate in more than a generation, is so far winning the contest for the support of social conservatives, according to a new analysis of recent polls.

    ....

    Some Christian conservative leaders acknowledge the willingness to back a candidate with opposing views on basic principles is a major moment — and for some, a traumatic one — in the history of their movement.

    ....

    With the primaries a half year away, the pushback within evangelical leadership may still trickle down to the grass roots. But thirty-one percent of social conservatives have given the 2008 presidential candidates "a lot" of thought. Only 23 percent of other Republicans have given the race the same level of scrutiny.

    Giuliani has tried to appeal to social conservatives, embracing their agenda by pledging to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court, using Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. as examples. Conservatives expect "strict constructionists" to determine that the Constitution does not mandate abortion rights.

    But, like Dwight Eisenhower's in 1952, Giuliani's national security stature after the Sept. 11 attacks more likely explains his continued popularity within the religious right, whose voters have long held hawkish positions on the issue.

    "These voters care about moral issues, and many of them are conflicted because understandably they see the defense of Western civilization being perhaps the most important moral issue of all," [Gary] Bauer says.


  6. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't John McCain, Chuck Hagel, and Colin Powell about the only Republicans (of national standing) of age who actually went to war? You can make fun of Al Gore's Mickey Spillane duty or John Kerry's Swift Boat patrols all you want, but at least they went. There is a difference, and all the pale, feckless attempts to qualify their service by the armchair generals won't change that.

    And any of them that did support Vietnam, and found the usual lame excuses not to go, are utterly beneath contempt, and probably know it, deep down inside. They're cowards who were content to let someone else get forced to fight their battles for them, and cowards die a thousand deaths.

Health Nuts

Universal health care is going to be the single biggest domestic policy issue next year, and Barack Obama has tallied up the prospective costs of his program:

Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan for universal health care for all Americans require $50 billion to $65 billion in new revenue, according to estimates released this morning by his campaign.


Which is roughly what we've spent on Cooter's Folly so far this year, just to put it into perspective. Ask the British; this is the sort of decision successful but fading empires eventually are faced with -- $2 bn per week to referee a civil war, or half that to make sure people have at least some level of health care?

The Aristocrats

Recently a commenter at Mick LaSalle's blog asked, because of my rather lengthy responses to him, if I was a professional writer. If only. I wish I knew how to make a real buck at this, because I'd be much better at the actual writing part of it. Still, it was very cool to get that kind of question from someone.

Then you see the logical incoherence -- and there must be some sort of play on Richard Cohen's name you can make for that -- that actual professionals traffic in, and you wonder, "What the fuck?".

The rigors of employment in political punditry seem not terribly unlike those of the politicians and policies they supposedly distill. Counterintuitively, it appears that continued employment, tenure, and all the perks that attend those things (teevee shows; reverential treatment as if you actually knew what the fuck you were talking about; trophy wife; vacation house in Nantucket or Hamptons) are inversely proportional to how willing you are to take on the system and its figureheads of the moment.

I'm not completely sure of why Clinton was an exception when he was in office; I assume it has more to do with the monumentally soap-opera minutiae of his particular scandals, but regardless, he has been treated much more sympathetically since then (except, of course, when the kewl kids are sniping at the missus). The right-wing noise machine that keeps ridiculous people employed and cows everyone else is also obviously a huge factor.

Pseudo-contrarian puff pieces such as Cohen's are really the professional pundit's bread and butter. Consider: what better way to distinguish yourself from the all the other scriveners than to posit something completely ridiculous, and then set about bamboozling your audience into your track of thought? As an added advantage, such antics (if successful) serve to bolster your image as an "independent thinker" or an "honest opinionator". Throw in a few shout-outs to the vaunted heartland, as if you vacationed regularly at the World's Largest Ball of Twine, and you are money, baby.

It helps if such attempts are at least somewhat reality-based, and undertaken with some degree of intellectual honesty. But fortunately for the elite dinosaurs who help power-brokers talk to each other, and at us, it's not a job requirement.

Jokers

Wanda: To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I've known sheep who could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs, but you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it. -- A Fish Called Wanda (1988)


There's a reason why the only "contact", as it were, I might periodically undertake with viewing the gibbering fools in certain quadrants of the blogosphere is the occasional visit to ClownHall. Put simply: there is never even the pretense of accountability with them. If you take something they have loudly, hilariously asserted as an indisputable fact, and conclusively skewer their idiotic contention, they never just say, "Oh, well, I guess I fucked up, didn't I? Maybe I should fact-check shit a little more often." (And, for the record, I have seen much stupider assertions presented pseudo-factually as Drudge-esque "gotchas" by some of these folks, so this Hummel eagle thing is about par for the course.)

Seems simple enough, but it never happens because their investment is and always has been emotional, rather than intellectual or empirical. By definition, it has to be. Since there's not much walking back from calling CIA veterans "morons" and drunk-dialing Juan Cole -- that is, criticizing people who actually know about the things they write about -- all they can do is hem and haw when it's pointed out who the actual morons are in this here fable. And anyway, so they missed a minor detail (it's always major breaking news when they "catch" it; picayune when they get pimp-slapped with it). They've been right on all the major epistemological points, right? Right? The Dow is still over 13,000; ergo, Bush has been correct about everything. QED, muthafuckas!

It would seem axiomatic that stupid people are stupid because they're just too lazy to motivate, educate, or apply themselves. This is not always true; some people put quite a bit of work into it. And the problem is not of the Broderella stripe -- the vituperation and even the sheer ignorance don't matter so much as the utter lack of even basic intellectual honesty.


Intrepid citizen journalist prepares to unearth secrets of Corkonforkgate. Breaking....

Sad But True

I thought Cindy Sheehan's initial appearance on the public scene, instituting a truly grass-roots protest outside the tumbleweed ranch, was a wonderful thing. Here was an idealistic and (more importantly) effective sustained exercise in free speech, and Mister Man had no idea what to do about any of it. Loading up the darkened Suburbans to go next door for a fundraiser was probably the most effective free advertisement Sheehan could have hoped for, because it showed Bush for what he is at heart -- an indifferent patrician pretending to be a cowboy, a person hopelessly out of his depth except when he's glad-handing people for thick envelopes.

But that was then. I thought Sheehan had perhaps diluted her message somewhat by rolling with the likes of Hugo Chàvez. There is a subtle but distinct difference between being amused by Chàvez' buffoonish tweaking of Bush's nose, and standing on stage with him as he rails against American policies in general. Even if we tend to agree with essential points, there are better ways to make these points, though certainly not in the American arena of political discourse. So I have some sympathy for her, but I wish she had stuck to the roots of her message, instead of allowing opportunists to co-opt her as some sort of ideological totem.

And it's especially hard not to sympathize with her as she walks away from it all.

Sheehan criticized "blind party loyalty" as a danger, no matter which side it involved, and said the current two-party system is "corrupt" and "rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland."

Sheehan said she had sacrificed a 29-year marriage and endured threats to put all her energy into stopping the war. What she found, she wrote, was a movement "that often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

But she said the most devastating conclusion she had reached "was that Casey did indeed die for nothing ... killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think".

"Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives," she wrote. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."


She has a point. She sacrificed her son, her marriage, and probably her sense of well-being for a country that worships frivolous narcissism. Sheehan says "it's up to you now", but it was always at least notionally up to us. All that was ever required to prevent what's been happening is for enough people to quit abdicating their responsibility to stay informed and pay attention.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Driving Miss Lindsay

I must be unclear on the concept, because this seems to be happening much more often than it should. If you are a multi-millionaire, and you have, shall we say, a zest for living....aw, fuck it, you like to get your swerve on whenever and wherever possible, and you're infamous for being a shitty driver when you're sober, then why ferchrissakes would you drive drunk, especially with a sack of blow on you? Are limo drivers really that expensive?

The last line was worth a chuckle as well:

Following the incident, Svedka vodka has pulled out of sponsoring Lohan's 21st birthday bash, which was to be held in Las Vegas in July.


Yeah, that'll teach her.

The Poodle Chews It

Having failed to talk his BFF Kid 28% into any sort of real compromise on the global warming issue, Tony Blair returns to the area in which he's perhaps been the most effective -- turning Great Britain into the world's most-heavily surveilled police state.

An interior ministry spokeswoman confirmed the government was looking at including a "stop and question" power in the new legislation. "We are considering a range of powers for the bill and 'stop and question' is one of them," she said.

The "stop and question" power would enable police to interrogate people about who they are, where they have been and where they were going, The Sunday Times said. Police would not need to suspect a crime had taken place.

If suspects failed to stop or refused to answer questions, they could be charged with a crime and fined, The Sunday Times said. Police already have the power to stop and search people but have no right to ask them their identity and movements.

The Sunday Times said the powers already existed in Northern Ireland. Civil rights groups viewed the plan to extend them to the rest of Britain as an attack on civil liberties, it said.


It's hard to look at Blair's track record and not at least wonder if there hasn't been some sort of overriding goal to put a seemingly pleasant, friendly face on technologically-driven fascism. During his tenure, Britain has put surveillance cameras almost literally everywhere possible outside of individuals' homes. And now random checkpoints for interrogation at the police discretion, without cause.

Fine. I suggest they let these yahoos man the checkpoints then, see how everyone likes it.

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly.


One thing I have always been in almost total agreement with hardcore libertarians and right-wingers on is the importance of the Second Amendment. I believe these serve as associative threads that can be tied together to provide reasons for its necessity. In the first example, a nation is disarmed and slowly turned into a carefully-observed Habitrail, where as long as the hamsters don't get any bright ideas, there will always be pellets and water in the appropriate dispensers. Until there isn't, and there's no recourse. But hey, there's always the tattle sheets and the royal family to keep them dull and distracted, unlike here.

And the creeping privatization of the military, with its attendant lack of transparency and accountability, is only going to increase. Bad enough to use them overseas in a time of war, when we are ostensibly trying to make progress by winning hearts 'n' minds; ask a Katrina survivor what they think of deputized private thugs "keeping the peace" by any means necessary.

Who knows. Maybe Blair and his pet policies are a petri dish for the prime movers, a smooth face with plenty of faux-neo-liberal homilies, making erudite arguments for profoundly authoritarian actions. Orwell needed the stern proto-Stalinist visage of Big Brother as the totem for his vision of a control system, but even he needed the hydrostatic tension between Inner Party and Outer Party members to preserve the dynamism of fear over the proles. Technology has leveraged such power into ever-smaller groups of administrative keepers, and enabled Big Brother to be replaced by Bigger Neighbor.

The thing that was so arresting about recent dystopic visions such as Children of Men and V for Vendetta is not the scenarios themselves, but how fundamentally they understood human nature, and what it always does when power provides opportunity. Watch how both of the above scenarios unfold -- and more importantly, who's making money from them.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Roberts' Rules Of Boner

In a bout of scenery chewing that would make Shatner blush, John Boehner Boner gives it his all, and still comes up short.


Rumor has it that after the holiday recess, he'll be appearing on Oprah to discuss decorating tips and compare menstrual cycles.

Incoming!

One of Hugo Chavez' sparrow-shaped micro-drones broke through air defenses to deliver Himself a present.


It's just too bad cows can't fly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Opposition Position

As I remonstrated loudly enough the other day, it is not at all unreasonable to already be extremely irritated with the Democrats' level of and commitment to genuine opposition. There's no denying that certain cards are stacked against them, especially in the mean-girl media, typified perhaps by America's most superficial high-profile columnist, Maureen Dowd. (Yes, ClownHall's stable of morons are much more petty and retarded, but they aren't in the New York Times.) And many media meatballs are still cowed by the mighty bully pulpit of Kid 28%, which tells you all you need to know about them.

So no, it's not fair that Democratic congresspersons have to genuinely concern themselves with perhaps a calumnious portrayal, or the willingness of certain media nodes to simply transcribe whatever Karl Rove faxes to Matt Drudge. But unfairness does not absolve us from doing the right thing, or fighting harder, smarter -- and yes, meaner. They should understand by now that even if they "compromise" (that is, capitulate) to the Boy King, he will still lie and defame them. They did, and he did. That is the way the game is played; it's practically choreographed at this point. The newspaper is the libretto.

The Democrats have tremendous advantages, if only they are willing to use them. Facts and reality are huge advantages, even in a perception-driven sphere where, as Al Gore has admirably protested, reason has taken a long holiday. The only way to bring it back is to work at it, day in, day out. If you're worried about how you will be portrayed over the Memorial Day holiday, then maybe instead of simply punting on second down, you're better off sucking it up a little and forgoing the recess. How about that? Work through at least part of the break, making sure everyone knows that in times like these, the people's work is not taking a recess, so neither will you. (Easier said than done, I know; given the current system, "recess" is just a euphemism for a chance to do some fundraising. The money train never takes a holiday, and that's why the system is failing us so miserably.)

I figure if I'm going to rant and point out the usual fuck-ups, I should also throw some attaboys out there when they're due. And Russ Feingold has been a stand-up guy throughout, and wasted no time pointing out what a joke this compromise is. Ditto Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the rest of the Democratic leadership who actually did stand up and vote no on this bill. Perhaps it was politically safe, given that there are always DINO chumps such as Ben Nelson to go off the rez and provide political cover for certain things of this nature. But in the end they voted the conscientious way, and that's what counts.

I don't want them looking to the "left" wing of the Democratic party any more than I want them looking specifically to the "right" wing, or the "swing" demo, for their cues on how to vote. It should be easy; a very clear and consistent majority of the American public has had their fill -- of the war, of Bush's inept handling of it, of Bush himself. It's not that complicated, and they don't need to over-think it.

And come September, when violence and death continues unabated, and Bush's only response is to tell reporters that there are Islamic boogeymen under the reporters' children's beds, so he should have his blank check for as long as he wants, we expect the Democrats to be ready, willing, and able to say "enough", and make it stick. Bush is still standing only through sheer muscle and gall, nothing more. He's a bully, and all bullies are punks at heart.

I think the Democrats would be genuinely surprised at how many people from across the spectrum will rally to their side if, instead of broaching these things tentatively and timidly, they address them with real passion. Bring a rigorous understanding and insistence on what needs to be done, how they can do it, and how Bush and his party have shown quite clearly that they either can't or don't want to set things right. Quit letting them take their game to you, especially since they don't really have one. Take your game to them.

Combover Wisdom

Even a terminal hump, like a stopped clock, can be right twice a day:

"I've always said Rosie is very self-destructive," Trump said Thursday in Chicago. "... As far as Elisabeth Hasselbeck, I've always said she's probably the dumbest person on television, but when she called me ... obnoxious, she was probably right."

....

Trump, who started trading barbs with O'Donnell about six months ago, said he doesn't watch the ABC daytime talk show — then got in another O'Donnell dig.

"Rosie wears thin. Rosie will go on to another show, and like her first show, it'll fail," he said.

Trump was in Chicago to drum up sales for his towering condo-hotel project, under construction along the Chicago River.

His reality show, "The Apprentice," was left off NBC's 2007-2008 prime-time schedule.


Dumb question: why would anyone pay any of those people to do anything, or waste time watching any of them? Do their publicists just fax these verbal farts in to credulous journamalists for transcription or what? It's a very strange system, this "news" universe we observe.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reality Bites

So now that the American Idolt season is finally, blessedly over, I suppose now comes the recaps, retrospectives, and twinkie-depth profiles of these interchangeable doofuses. That is, until the next interminable season clogs up my teevee screen, or Paula Abdul downs a bottle of Patròn and sits on Simon's face and passes out, mercifully suffocating the poncey little twit.

For a show I've literally never seen even one minute of, I know far too much about it, far more than I ever wanted to. I believe that is the common definition of market over-saturation.

Old Made

I'm not sure exactly how "empowering" it is to be a doddering 80-year-old at your children's high-school graduation, but hey, whatever floats your artificially-empowered ovaries. Just give us a break on the ridiculous notions of "freedom" and "role modeling".

It's bad enough when women of normal child-bearing age pump up on fertility drugs and in vitro to give births to entire litters of children, instead of, say, considering adoption if you really need to scratch that nurturing itch. But it's simply unnecessary for sexagenarians to have twins, to cater to their own egos. It just is. Go play with your grandkids, take up gardening, rescue a puppy from the shelter, something. Tweaking the natural cycle of life is not "empowering", it's self-indulgent. And it's certainly no longer newsworthy, nor sociologically transformative. People are just going to assume they're raising their grandchildren.

Pussies

It's official -- change is in the air!

Democrats said this week they would have jeopardized their fall bargaining position if they had insisted on keeping withdrawal timelines in the current supplemental spending bill (HR 2206). Persisting now would likely have resulted in another veto and would have handed Republicans talking points for the Memorial Day recess about which party supports the troops in the field.

Democrats were particularly worried about the prospect of Bush declaring at wreath-laying ceremonies that "Democrats have stopped resources for the troops," said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.


Well, then I guess the problem in September will be that, what with Veterans' Day around the corner, and then the '08 campaign season, their "fall bargaining position" will be comfortably ensconced within their sphincters.

I don't know how many times these people need to have it beaten into their thick skulls. The Democrats still think Washington is high school with money, and in many respects it is. But at the operative level, it is prison, and you either find something to sharpen and prepare to fight dirty, or you grab your ankles and be a bitch. It's not that complicated, and if they couldn't muster the courage to take on Kid 28% now, why will they suddenly screw up the nerve to do so in September? Instead of forcing the Republicans to spend their summer regrouping and retrenching and getting their story straight, they have now allowed them to spend it reconsolidating their position, getting everyone back on the reservation and preparing for the fall campaign.

So again, nicely done, Democrats. Enjoy your recess. Hope no one gets shanked in the yard.

[Update: Olbermann sums the situation up wonderfully. These people, these promised agents of change who were given a very clear mission in the election, abdicated their responsibilities utterly. They are punks, they are clowns, and they sure as hell don't deserve a vacation or a recess until they start getting their shit together. Failing that, maybe it's time for a serious third-party effort. Not Nader, but hell, big what if, but it would just fucking sweet if Gore decided that his party was a bunch of undeserving puds and went his own path. As unrealistic as it sounds, all it really takes is enough people getting seriously tired of this bullshit.]

[Update #2: Sweet Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, it's even worse than we thought:

Democrats said they did not relish the prospect of leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break — the second recess since the financing fight began — and leaving themselves vulnerable to White House attacks that they were again on vacation while the troops were wanting. That criticism seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left by bowing to Mr. Bush.


I think it's time for a third party; hell, even a second one would be nice.]

[Update #3: Credit where credit is due:

The four Democratic members of the Connecticut House delegation banded together and said in a joint statement today they will oppose the Iraq spending plan, a plan with no timetables for withdrawing U.S. troops, and instead "demand legislation that includes consequences" for the Iraqis and "a plan to redeploy and then bring our troops home."

....

The state's only Republican lawmaker, Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District, intends to vote for the plan.

In the Senate, which is expected to vote Friday, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., opposes the measure. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and is a strong war backer, is observing a Jewish holiday and cannot be reached for comment.


Does Lieberman spend Yom Putzur up Bush's ass, like every other day, or does he come up for air?]

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stupicide Bomber

So many morons, so little time.

LYNCHBURG, Va. — A Liberty University student was arrested after telling a family member he had made bombs and planned to attend the funeral of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, authorities said.

Mark David Uhl, 19, was arrested Monday night on charges of manufacturing an explosive device, Major Steve Hutcherson said. A family member notified authorities.


Now ordinarily, I would be trying to decide which of two predictable snarkastic remarks to use here post-Virginia Tech -- the "here's another example of collegiate tolerance run amok", or the "maybe everyone on campus should arm themselves with soda cans of homemade napalm". But no, there's a fun detail to this. Really.

Investigators determined that Uhl had problems with a group that protested at the funeral, Gaddy said. The group, the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, sent about a dozen members who claimed Falwell was a friend of gays to protest across the street. The group also has picketed soldiers' burials, claiming the deaths are God's punishment for a nation that harbors gays.

Falwell frequently spoke against homosexuality, and gay rights advocates have consistently opposed him. A group of Liberty University students staged a counterprotest; it wasn't clear whether Uhl was involved.

Jesse Benson, 19, of Zanesville, Ohio, said that he roomed with Uhl this year and that both shared the view that the Westboro group is a "sorry, disgraceful bunch of people," but that he was certain Uhl would never have done anything to harm them.


I dunno. If there's one group of "people" -- besides these skeevy cocksuckers -- that's practically begging for someone to do a little karmic house-cleaning and take them out, it's the inbred weaselly fuckfaces at the Westboro Craptist "Church". I am genuinely surprised that, after all the military service members' funerals these bastards have disrupted, some Marine's grief-stricken brother hasn't just walked up and whomped the shit out of a few of them.

I suppose instead we'll just have to wait for nature to take its course, and when Fred Phelps finally does the rest of the planet a huge favor and croaks, the rest of us can converge en masse on his outhouse of a church, and give him and his a taste of their own medicine. Hopefully a Fire Island-sized group pulls a sausage-train on his grave.

Relevance Front

The problem is not that Jimmy Carter broke the code of ex-presidential omerta and said what he meant. The problem is that he recanted what is perfectly obvious to all. The next occupant of the office is going to have devote a significant portion of their term to trying to clean up Junior's doodypants, hopefully without getting their hands too stanky.

Carter's own foreign policy legacy is obviously nothing to write home about either, and perhaps that's part of why he started tiptoeing away from his remarks almost immediately. But he's right about this disastrous administration nonetheless, and when he backpedals he plays right into their hostile jabs at his supposedly diminished relevance. It's too bad, because the end result is that he'd have been better off not even bringing it up if he wasn't going to stand behind it.

Paula Abdul's Drinking Tips

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' dairy. In addition to the usual cows and pigs and horses and such, there were also some turkeys. During a rain storm one of us would have to periodically go out to the pen and make sure that they weren't piling on each other against the fence, and crushing the ones at the bottom of the pile. Turkeys are very dumb animals. There's not a lot you can do with them, besides basting and roasting them for several hours to delicious perfection.

Paula Abdul would probably be more difficult to get away from the fence of death in the rain storm, but at least she's already basted.

Wake Me When September Ends

I can't wait for all the hirsute Nader-bashers to explain this shit, nice and slow, to drooling, unrealistic, treacherous morons such as myself.

In the face of president Bush's unmoving threat to veto any bill that contained a timetable, the Democratic leadership looked certain last night to drop one of the central pledges that they had made in last November's midterm elections.

They appeared to have calculated that if they held out any longer, the party risked being blamed by the electorate for depriving the American troops of essential funding - a charge that they are keen to avoid ahead of next year's presidential elections.


Mm-hmm. I wonder if they have included, in their gruesome moral calculus, how many more troops and civilians get smithereened, how much more money and effort gets wasted, in their "calculations". That must be some calculator.

To sweeten the pill of what at face value appears to be a victory by Mr Bush, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, stressed that this would be the first war-funding bill for Iraq sent to the president "where he won't get a blank cheque".

He vowed to continue the fight to change the direction of the war in debates over next year's funding for the troops.

The Democrats can also point to about $8bn (£4.05bn) included in the $120bn funds provided by the bill that will go towards domestic programmes favoured by the party, such as disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina victims and potentially a rise in the federal minimum wage which would be the first in more than a decade.

As part of the sensitive negotiations between party leaders from both main parties and the White House, benchmarks are likely to be set, which the Iraqi government and army must meet or risk losing economic aid from the US.

However, it is understood that Mr Bush has also won a presidential waiver that would allow him to override the provision.


Whatever. This is the same nauseating, gutless, incrementalist bullshit we should have expected. I understand that politics is the art of the possible. Here's what's possible: force Bush to veto the bill. Force him to explain himself yet again, when most Americans are tuning his dumb ass out anyway. Force him to expend at least some political capital defending the veto, even if there's no chance of actually overturning it.

Look, either you stand for something or you don't. There is no reason to believe anything will be different in three or six months; by that time, all these same Democrats will be worried even more about their electoral viability, and even the non-candidates will be pressured into going with the flow so as not to upset the applecart for the presumptive nominee(s).

This is not why these jokers were put in last November over the other jokers. The election went the way it did for a reason, and it was understood that the party leaders recognized that reason. This is fucking retarded. Exactly what sort of perfect political condition does it take for these people grow the mighty spine to stand up to a 28% knucklehead who can't get out of the way of his own scripted boilerplate?

We were promised that a majority would bring change. So what's changed? Bush got his surge, even after lying about the count and the amount; he hasn't budged on a single meaningful issue. He's been telling them to eat shit and die every chance he gets. And he's dumping the responsibility on to a sucker job pulled out of some political weasel's ass. There has been exactly zero accountability.

Seriously, o esteemed legislative body of the free world -- if not now, when? What the hell are you waiting for?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Original Gingsta

When it comes to pure intellectual thuggery sanctimoniously posturing as serious thought, few people come to mind more quickly than Snoop Newty Newt, culture pimp. Gingrich's breathtaking hypocrisy -- which he manages to publicly internalize to a truly impressive degree -- was in full bling at Jerry Falwell University's commencement address/wake.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich decried a "growing culture of radical secularism" Saturday morning as he hailed the life of Liberty University's late founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, in an address to the school's 2007 graduating class.

....

"In hostility to American history, the radical secularists insist that religious belief is inherently divisive," Gingrich said, deriding what he called the "contorted logic" and "false principles" of advocates of secularism in American society.

"Basic fairness demands that religious beliefs deserve a chance to be heard," he said during his 26-minute speech. "It is wrong to single out those who believe in God for discrimination. Yet, today, it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers."



The Post excerpt provides no specific examples of the radical secularists' conspiracy to de-Godify the public sphere, but in reading the entire text (yes, I went into the pendulous belly of the beast for you, you ungrateful heathens), we see that Newt does indeed provide salient -- nay, mortifying -- examples:

A growing culture of radical secularism declares that the nation cannot publicly profess the truths on which it was founded. We are told that our public schools cannot invoke the Creator, nor proclaim the natural law, nor profess the God-given equality of human rights.

In hostility to American history, the radical secularist insists that religious belief is inherently divisive, and that public debate can only proceed on secular terms when religious belief is excluded.

In this contorted logic, the public square becomes more welcoming to the extent that it strips away and banishes all religious symbols and language.

Unfortunately, these false principles of secular absolutism have deeply penetrated the legal establishment. It is called upon to justify all sorts of judicial destruction. In New Jersey, school officials prevented a student from reading to the class his favorite story, because it came from the Bible. In Pennsylvania, a teacher's assistant was suspended because she wore a necklace with a cross. And in California, the nation's most persistent secularist has renewed his crusade to strike the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.


He forgot the godless school in San Francisco which invited Ozzy Osbourne to chant the national anthem backwards from Enochian text. People, won't you see that there's a crisis afoot (or ahoof)?

Let's be honest for a second here. Every time Newt says "religious" he means "Christian evangelical fundamentalism, or some reliable offshoot thereof", and every time he says "radical secularist", he means everyone else. There's not even the pretense of intellectual honesty here; a couple of out-of-context stories that are most likely policy issues, and the quixotic effort to return the National Loyalty Oath Pledge of Allegiance to its original form, before the Knights of Columbus leaned on Eisenhower to add two words to show the Russkies how much more noble we were.

I think it's bullshit that a kid couldn't read a story he liked from the Bible; it's also bullshit to suspend a TA for wearing a cross. But every school board in every district in the country has to deal with the usual coterie of whinging helicopter parents, who are invariably precious about their own pet concerns, but couldn't give two shits about analogous situations, such as, say, a Muslim TA who wanted to wear some sort of identifying piece of clothing, or a student who wanted to read a passage from the Qu'ran (or, for that matter, The Satanic Bible).

So many school boards have just said the hell with it, realized that religion is an all-or-nothing proposition, and that it's not worth the trouble to deal with any of them. That makes sense. Many people -- many of them atheists and "radical secularists" -- have proferred the notion of comparative religions classes in school to give everyone an out. The school boards are absolved from having to cater to the usual cage-rattlers, and the kids are getting their recommended daily allowance of Jesus -- and Mohammed, and Buddha, and Shiva, and all the rest.

This is where their bluff is called, where the disingenuous contrivances of pimps like Newt are exposed. Their plaints of "religion" are quickly identified as their religion, the others being consigned to a pro-forma acknowledgement of fake ecumenicism, a cheap exercise in holding one's nose, secure in the inherent superiority of one's own faith.

And just because that's pretty much a "no shit, Sherlock" observation doesn't mean it doesn't bear reiterating. The Post article merely stenographs the most sound-bark-ready quotes from Gingrich's speech, uncritically, with no real context provided to demonstrate depth (or lack of) in his assertions. He's nuts; there's exactly one person in the entirety of the public face of the U.S. federal government that doesn't profess to be a person of faith. The people at the state and local levels tend to be, shall we say, even more strident, even less grounded in empirical reality. There is not a preponderance of policy-makers who are at odds with Gingrich's invisible friend, unfortunately.

What it really comes down to -- and Gingrich knows this -- is not a conflict between "the righteous" and the dogmatic "radical secularists" hijacking Jeebus from the public square. It's a conflict between grown-ups and children; people who acknowledge and are fine with people living their spiritual beliefs in their private lives (and even to a reasonable extent in their public lives), and people who think that since God is an American, it's not just their right but their duty to impose their personal beliefs on every other American -- and it's always, always a one-way street. Heathen religions need not apply.

More from the silly, hapless Post article:

In a brief news conference after the speech, Gingrich derided the process by which Americans pick presidential nominees, saying that he will never participate in "game-show, 30-second-answer, so-called pseudo debates in both parties. . . . I am totally uninterested in applying for a game show as if this were 'Bachelor' or 'American Idol.' "

....

"One year before the election. Somehow that strikes me as good a time as any," he said, after promising: "If I do decide to announce, it will not be on Leno or Letterman or Comedy Central. The whole point of running would be to have dignity. To have seriousness."


Bullshit. More than any other single political figure of the last generation, G. Diddy has made enormous strides in dumbing down the process, understanding intellectually and intuitively that language is key to message control and discipline, far more so than the message itself. This has served to further dumb down the process, turning it into a prolonged kabuki of limbic catch-phrases and key words.

Instead of encouraging yahoos to think or (god forbid) read a book not pumped out by the winger welfare industry, the idea is simply to figure out what motivates them to action. Whether that action is stimulated by right intent or thoughtful discourse is not only incidental, it's actually counter-productive. If people actually took a couple seconds to think, they wouldn't give self-evident clowns like Newt, Rush, Coulter, or the rest of them their hard-earned time and money. Nobody knows this better than the carnies themselves.

As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that "language matters." In the video "We are a Majority," Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: "I wish I could speak like Newt."

That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.


There are literally dozens of words listed, designed and tested to stimulate specifically positive or negative reactions. Check 'em out.

And finally, whatever one's opinion about personal morality, one would at least think or hope that a serial adulterer, a sanctimonious hypocrite who has treated the women in his life execrably, would either be completely repudiated by the self-described guardians of purity and morality in the midst of an eeeevil secular world, or he'd at least not have the pure fucking gall to lecture to anyone about morality. As always, that's just too much to hope for, especially when it's so easy, so tempting to just wrap yourself in the flag, regurgitate a couple of homilies, and shake your fist at the unwashed heathens all around you.

Pimps come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Just because he's not driving an Escalade with spinner rims or wearing a giant clock around his neck, doesn't make Gingrich any less of a pure street-corner hustler.


Awwwww, yeahhhhh, boyeeeee!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Civility

So lately we've been taking quite a few (well-deserved) runs at our good friend John "Poor Ol' Straight Talk" McCain. It has not gone unnoticed that POST was the only debatee last week to be enough of a grown-up regarding the use of torture. Perhaps if Mitt Romney or Mrs. Doubtfire Rudy Giuliani had spent some time in a tiger cage, instead of up their respective asses, they would be grown-ups too. But they are content to cater to the yahooism that underwrites Republican candidacies. POST deserves some credit for bucking this trend, at least rhetorically.

Now, it appears that POST's infamous temper is becoming more thoroughly covered in the press.

Apparently, McCain accused Cornyn of raising petty objections, and Cornyn accused McCain of having dropped in without taking part in the negotiations. "F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," McCain reportedly shouted. Paul Kane added that McCain also "used a curse word associated with chickens."

Oddly enough, these outbursts are not terribly uncommon for McCain. Several years ago, Jake Tapper reported on an incident in which McCain got into a shouting match with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Eventually, a seething McCain told his GOP colleague, "You know, senator, I thought your problem was that you don't listen. But that's not it at all. Your problem is that you're a f**king jerk."


It's nice to see that when McCain finally faces reality and pulls the plug on his hapless windmill tilt, he'll do fine as one of these vituperative bloggerses Broderella is always whinging about.

Depth Perception

In case you were wondering if the band of idiots known as the Republican presidential nominees would pay the same obeisance to Jerry Falwell in death as they did in life, professional taint-licker Christopher Moltisanti LaCivita is here to set you straight:

Veteran GOP strategist Christopher J. LaCivita, architect of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth initiative against Democrat John Kerry in 2004, found the suggestion that religious conservatives would punish no-shows offensive.

"To assume that Christian conservative voters would hold it against any candidate for public office because they did not attend a respected leader like Jerry Falwell's funeral, that's just another attempt to portray Christian values voters as shallow," LaCivita said.


Yes, how could anyone possibly make such an erroneous assumption? People who bought into the SBV's fabrications and smears, and voted instead for a couple of incompetent chickenhawk draft-dodgers because of their brave and vital moral stance against fags a-gittin' hitched -- shallow? Nawwww.

Look, if you want people to stop making fun of your habit of using the ballot box as some therapeutic vessel for your latent sexual phobias, then maybe a start would be to quit (as Matt Taibbi once brilliantly put it) leading the intellectual lives of farm animals. Learn to prioritize, or even to spell "prioritize" and use it in a sentence. That would be a step in the right direction.

Friday, May 18, 2007

National Sock Drawer Night

I swear I thought this was some kind of weird joke when I first heard of it. Not sure what sort of ninth circle of hell your life would have to be to make time for something like this, but I would have loved to have sat in on the pitch meeting for something this fucking dumb.

SCENE: INT. A producer's office. A showrunner is pitching his brilliant new idea for a show to the producer, who just wants to get out, do a couple of lines, maybe troll Santa Monica Boulevard for a tranny hooker to give him a quick blowjob. In other words, Friday.

SHOWRUNNER
Larry, you gotta hear this one. This is the one that's gonna put you over the top, okay? This is going to make The Sopranos look like According to Jim.

PRODUCER
[Disinterested, pulls ziploc bag full of coke from top drawer, dumps a tiny mound on desk] Hang on a sec, Nick. You want?

SHOWRUNNER
Nah, I had some on the way in. [Thinks for a second.] Yeah sure, what the fuck. Line 'em up, Chief.

[They each do a bump.]

SHOWRUNNER
Okay, okay. (sniffing) Okay. See, I've been looking at all these shows that are like, (sniffs) story- and character-driven, right? Sopranos, The Shield, Big Love, all that HBO [derisively] quality shit, right? I mean, who needs more of that, right? Actors and writers, they just eat into your fuckin' bottom line, man, am I fuckin' right? (snorts and shakes his head as a big drain hits his throat) Oh, fuck, dude. Anyway, you see what I'm sayin'?

PRODUCER
I need a handjob, Nick. So either cut to the chase or start strokin'.

SHOWRUNNER
[pauses momentarily, as if actually considering giving the producer a handjob] So we're lookin' at something that would be cheaper to produce, and the reality thing seems a little dead right now. But you know what's makin' a comeback, Larry?

PRODUCER
Funny home videos?

SHOWRUNNER
Well, yeah, but they never went out if you ask me.

PRODUCER
I didn't ask you.

SHOWRUNNER
Well, it isn't funny home videos. No, we're talkin' game shows, man. Fuckin' game shows, right? Right?

PRODUCER
Like Jeopardy?

SHOWRUNNER
Yeah....well, sorta like Jeopardy, but without all the, y'know, questions and shit, man. You know what I'm sayin'? When Joe Six-Pack comes home from a hard day at the, um, talc mines or whatever he does, does he want some fuckin' know-it-all askin' what the capital of Botswana is? Fuck no.

PRODUCER
Gaborone.

SHOWRUNNER
Hunh?

PRODUCER
The capital of Botswana is Gaborone. Our gardener is from Botswana.

SHOWRUNNER
Whatever. I'm sayin' that people like the pretense of competition, without the actual competition part. They don't want Larry the Fuckin' Cable Guy askin' 'em if they're smarter than a fifth-grader. They don't need the intellectual challenge of Wheel of Fortune. They wanna watch Erik Estrada dance. They want Howie Mandel opening a fuckin' suitcase, see? [watches producer rail up remainder of the mound of coke] Uh, hey, you got any more of that shit, Lar?

PRODUCER
[does another bump] Nope.

SHOWRUNNER
Yeah, no prob. So, you know what would be almost as dumb as watching Howie Mandel opening a fuckin' suitcase? Fuckin' bingo, man. Right? You see what I'm sayin'?

PRODUCER
Bingo? The thing with the balls with the numbers and the cards, and the weird little old ladies with the lucky troll dolls and shit? Is that the bingo thing?

SHOWRUNNER
Yeah. Is that beauty or what? I mean, your only cost is the prize money, right, and you can recoup that about halfway through the first commercial.

PRODUCER
Are people gonna watch this bingo deal?

SHOWRUNNER
They're watching Howie Mandel open suitcases, aren't they?

PRODUCER
Good point.

END SCENE

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Simple Plan

Dear Leader approaches his transparent dodge on the Comey-Gonzales allegations about as well as he does everything else that requires extemporaneous thought:

Bush was confronted about recent accusations made by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey regarding the White House’s shocking efforts to seek legal sanction for its warrantless wiretapping program. According to Comey, Bush personally directed a White House effort to bypass Comey’s authority and seek approval from John Ashcroft, who was then hospitalized and in intensive care.

....

NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell pressed Bush on this point. “Sir, did you send your then Chief of Staff and White House Counsel to the bedside of John Ashcroft while he was ill to get him to approve that program,” she asked, “and do you believe that kind of conduct from White House officials is appropriate?”

Bush twice dodged the question entirely. “Kelly, there’s a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn’t happen. I’m not going to talk about it.”


Look, Harvard, as you keep telling us peons just as condescendingly as possible, a simple "yes" or "no" will suffice. Either you did send Gonzales and Card over to Ashcroft's bed to twist his arm while he was doped up and recuperating -- an amazingly tacky move even by the already low bar set by these creeps -- or you did not. Everything's simple, and the American people have a right to know, right? That's what you keep telling us, Chief.

You know who could be really helpful in all this, if he wants to step up and demonstrate loyalty to country over party or former employer? John Ashcroft. Maybe someone should get his two cents on this little episode, which seems to be unraveling several sets of bullshit stories. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that there were still a few stand-up guys like Jim Comey to counter the increasingly pathetic official narrative.

Of course, the way these clowns operate, it just means that Abu G replaces Wolfie at the World Bank, and some Regent U flunkie gets the nod for the AG slot. In the meantime, the pros need to ask someone in the loop every day about this little hospital visit, and keep a running tab of just how long it takes to get a non-evasive answer from the principal players.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Silent Longing

In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were "silently longing" for Christianity, he said.

Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.

Many Indians today struggle for survival, stripped of their traditional ways of life and excluded from society.


Reuters, May 14, 2007 -- Brazil's Indians Offended By Pope Comments.




RAFTERMAN
You know what really pisses me off about these people?

JOKER
What?

RAFTERMAN
We're supposed to be helping them and they shit all over us every chance they get....I just can't feature that.

JOKER
Don't take it too hard, Rafterman. It's just business.

....

JOKER
A bro in Intelligence says Charlie might try to pull off something big during the Tet holiday.

LOCKHART
They say the same thing every year.

JOKER
There's a lot of talk about it, sir.

LOCKHART
I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. The Tet holiday's like the Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year all rolled into one. Every zipperhead in Nam, North and South, will be banging gongs, barking at the moon and visiting his dead relatives.

....

COLONEL
Son, all I've ever asked of my marines is that they obey my orders as they would the word of God. We are here to help the Vietnamese, because inside every gook there is an American trying to get out.


-- Full Metal Jacket.

Of course, an Iraq analogy might be more appropriate, but it's all part of the same mindset, obviously.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smokin' Cigars With Satan

When it comes to unadulterated, morbid avarice informed by megalomania, few can touch the seersucker insanity of Marion "Stop calling me Marion" Robertson. And his time will come soon enough, and he can spend eternity helping his good buddy Mobutu Sese Seko shovel shit in hell.

Jerry Falwell was not Marion Robertson, but he certainly did his part to muck up our political process with his minions o' superstition. No doubt you can thank Falwell for his tiresome encouragement of snake-handling boobs to use the ballot box as therapy for the past 25 years. And you can directly thank him for Monica Goodling, who literally arrogated unto herself the power to coordinate hirings in the DoJ based on who seemed Bushier-than-thou. Goodling is merely the most powerful of the 150 Regent "University" graduates infesting the halls of formerly responsible power. This was no accident; this was Falwell's stated mission.

I'll always remember Falwell for his sanctimonious lecturing of a grief-stricken nation; literally hours after 9/11, he and Marion informed us that it was our secular hedonism, our tolerance of lesbos and abortions and such, that caused it to happen. There's no walking back from that; there's no excuse or act of contrition that can undo such a complete abdication of any pretense to moral authority.

But (and here's where professional journamalists have guys like me over a barrel, with their sheer professionamalness) this one guy thinks that Falwell was a great moral leader -- which, as a commenter at that link points out, is just so awesome. Really, some of these reporters must just spend their days wondering why they didn't just stay in law school and make an honest living for themselves, instead of uncritically regurgitating pablum on cue.

[Update: Here's an especially scathing eulogy from Hitchens, atop his game as he fortuitously pimps the theme of his latest book. Timing, as always, is everything. But if an opportunist, in this instance Hitchens is an honest and erudite one.]

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Event

Mick LaSalle winds up his serialized novel, which I've plugged previously but have been remiss about lately. Good stuff, a nice antidote to all the Left Behind nonsense that flatulated across the sands for the first half of this misbegotten decade. It's an entertaining, quick read. Check it out if you haven't already.

Stupid Bastards

You know, when I first saw the headline, I instantly started wondering which southern state this happened in. Sorry, I suppose that qualifies as unfair presumptive stereotyping -- or, you know, profiling -- but this stupid shit simply does not take place in California.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

....

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

“I was like, ‘Oh My God,’ “ she said. “At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out.”

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation “involved poor judgment.”


Jeez, ya think, Principal Victoria? The worst part of it, really, is that episodes like this just serve to indoctrinate kids even more into this sensationalist cult of fear that's going. They are far more likely to die in a car crash, or at the hands of an abusive relative, than in a random act of senseless violence.

Preparation is important, and violence is real. But these things tend to go wholly unaccompanied by even the pretense of proportion and sensibility. It's just emotional button-pushing, the needless ramping-up of fear.

Crazy Bastards

I missed this one from a couple weeks ago, but it's definitely one for the "What the fuck is wrong with these people?" file:

Whereas, in order for Satan to establish his “New World Order” and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S. There are ways to destroy a nation other than with bombs or bullets. The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nation the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness.

....

Whereas, it is obvious that most promoters of massive immigration and open borders do not like the ideas of patriotism, national identity, sovereignty, our Christian culture and freedom. Many consider themselves cosmopolitans or world citizens. Their religion is atheistic humanism. They are found primarily among the elite of foundations, universities, big business, left-wing politicians, Hollywood, ACLU (Anti-Christian Lawyers Union [sic]), CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), the American power elite and the liberal media. They prefer a world without borders ruled by a one world tyrannical government.

Whereas, we cannot benefit the world by eliminating our borders and sovereignty as advocated by Satan’s “axis of evil”, if we do, the world will pull us down to its lowest common level and we will have committed national suicide. In that case, the U.S. will no longer be a free and prosperous land or light of liberty for all nations. Once he has destroyed the U.S., Satan will be able to establish his “Satanic New World Order” and destroy the freedom of all people.


As they say, the whole thing has to be read to be believed. Nice to see that clinical insanity is not a drawback to becoming a legislator in the Beehive State.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Gospel According To Diane

The mad geniuses at Online Blogintegrity have the current installment up and available for your perusal, from Diane at Cab Drollery. Check it out.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

We Believe

A little somethin'-somethin' from last night's spanking of the Utah....um, Jazz. Jesus, haven't they changed that nickname yet?

Great Gonzos

Gonzo to Congress: Go fuck yourselves.

One of the great discoveries of the Republican Party over the past decade or two is that an awful lot of the rules we take for granted are, in reality, just traditions. Like redistricting only once a decade, for example, or keeping House votes open for 15 minutes. And what Republicans have found out is that if you have the balls to do it, you can just ignore tradition and no one can stop you. It's that simple.

Alberto Gonzales has learned this lesson well. Normally, cabinet officers who have been caught in multiple obvious lies have to either resign or else seriously try to defend themselves. But Gonzales realizes this is just tradition. Unless House Democrats have the votes to impeach him, he doesn't have to do anything. He can just mock them to their face and there's nothing much they can do about it.

....

In Thursday's testimony, Gonzales made it clear that he just doesn't care what anyone thinks. After all, if Democrats don't like it, what are they going to do? Roll their eyes at him?


Well gawrsh, mebbe if we can wheedle some of the "conservative" Democratic douchebags with, say, some peanut-storage subsidies or some such nonsense, we can finally get this smug little fucker's head on a pike, where it belongs.

Can't wait to hear what nuggets of wisdom Dean Wormer Broder, Man O' Duh Peepul, has to say about all this. Since Broder and his coddled ilk simply equate "incivility" with "vituperation" and naughty words, truly uncivil people like Alberto Gonzales invariably have their very real crimes minimized, or falsely equated with someone from the "other" side, so as to give the appearance (which is much more important than actual substance) of "balance".

But there is no balance here; Harry Reid is merely holding as many cloven Republican hooves to the fire as he can, while Abu G is clearly a liar, and a transparently bad one at that. He has lied repeatedly to Congress, pure and simple. When the Clenis evasively perjured himself in a deposition, Broder and any number of grandstanding, opportunistic putzes in the punditocracy and in Congress fell all over themselves lecturing us on how Clenis had defiled "the people's house", and how that merited throwing his doughy ass out of office.

Fine. Gonzales has defiled the people's house, repeatedly, willfully, and I want his fucking ass selling oranges at the next freeway exit. It won't happen that way, of course; even if we get rid of this incompetent, mendacious tool, he'll go the Slam Dunk Tenet route, some cushy sinecure at a university, sucking up "donor"/taxpayer dollars yet again, before scuttling back on to the scene with a fat advance to pretend to tell us something we didn't already know.

Let's face it, there is no such thing as karma, there is merely wishing for it, in an endless cycle of futility. Nothing of real substance will be said by those who need most to say it, with genuine passion and responsibility, and even less will be actually done. Gonzales will merely lose his job when it's politically expedient for the Cheney administration, and then slither on to another unearned reward.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Looking Out For Number Two

So let's see: e-coli spinach; salmonella peanut butter; poisoned pet food; the same toxic chemical from the pet food found in chicken feed; anti-freeze in cough syrup -- hey, shit happens, whaddaya gonna do, right?

But try to get medication at a halfway reasonable price, and suddenly they're looking out for ya, bunky. Wouldn't want you to run the risk of unsafe pharmaceuticals.

WASHINGTON — The Senate sidetracked a controversial amendment Monday that would have let Americans buy prescription medication from foreign suppliers, a move that cleared the way for action on an overhaul of the government's drug safety system.

The drug import amendment, which was tacked onto the Food and Drug Administration overhaul legislation, could save consumers billions of dollars, its sponsors said. But the pharmaceutical industry argued that the provision could flood the market with counterfeit medications, and the White House threatened to veto a bill that eased import restrictions.

That put Democrats, the Senate majority, in a bind: Though many support drug imports, they also consider the larger drug safety overhaul must-pass legislation.

So some Democrats straddled the import issue: They approved the amendment along with a requirement that imports win government certification that they are safe — which the Bush administration is unlikely to provide. Even Democratic administrations have been reluctant to make declarations about the safety of imported medications.

The 49-40 vote to approve the requirement, offered by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), was seen as a victory for the pharmaceutical industry.


Can't say they don't have their priorities straight, at least as far as keeping donations coming in is concerned.

And hey, what's up with the honeybees?

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.


Since many Americans appear to be existing on a diet of Doritos and Red Bull anyway, this may not be such a cataclysmic shift for them. For the rest of us, yeah, it's a bit of a problem.

Scientists are struggling to figure out what is killing the honeybees, and early results of a key study this week point to some kind of disease or parasite.

Even before this disorder struck, America's honeybees were in trouble. Their numbers were steadily shrinking, because their genes do not equip them to fight poisons and disease very well, and because their gregarious nature exposes them to ailments that afflict thousands of their close cousins.

"Quite frankly, the question is whether the bees can weather this perfect storm," Hackett said. "Do they have the resilience to bounce back? We'll know probably by the end of the summer."


And then we can commence with the genetically-engineered honeybees and their accompaniment of parasite-killing nanobots.