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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Culpepper To Raiders

The acquisition of Daunte Culpepper could be a real opportunity for both him and the team, but it all comes down to whether the new zone-blocking scheme on the offensive line takes hold. It would be almost impossible for the line not to improve on the record 72(!!1!) sacks they gave up last season, which is just monumentally pathetic. But it is crucial that they keep Culpepper and his reconstructed knee upright, and give him sufficient time to hit Jerry Porter and Ron Curry. He's still got a cannon arm.

This has been a disheartening off-season for football fans, even before Mike Vick's nauseating little doggy-torture-chamber was unearthed. Between Pacman Jones' idiot antics, the DUI's, the various antics of the Cincinnati Bengals, and so on, I can't help but wonder about the corporate perspective. Because the NFL is nothing but a corporation, albeit one with the most high-profile employee roster in the country, and one which cultivates working-class fans with upscale prices. And Joe Six-Pack doesn't really want to pay $60/head, $10/beer, and $80/jersey to watch a bunch of spoiled thugs play. At least the league is trying to crack down on some of the behavior issues.

But it still interests me in the more wonky disciplines of resource management, negotiation, and the actual strategery of the games, and in that light, the signing of Culpepper is intriguing, and has a lot of potential upside. He has the talent to help bring Jamarcus Russell along, and seems to be a good character addition to a team that needs all the leadership it can get.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mama He's Lazy

The question is not whether a slick-drawling actor/lobbyist being pushed into the ring by his wife can be the "savior" of his party. Seriously, it is not even remotely a legitimate question, considering the rest of the Republican landscape, which has been laid waste largely by their own excesses.

No, the question at this point is whether such a corrupt cadre of image-spinning idiot-wranglers even deserves to be saved, if this is their last best hope.

"People are not inspired; everyone's flat-lining," says Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff for Ronald Reagan. "Right now, Fred is all things to all people. Everyone's waiting to see if he can live up to expectations."

With those expectations casting Thompson as Reagan reincarnate, it's easy to understand why he's staying out of the race for as long as he can. The next Republican debate takes place Aug. 5 in Des Moines, to be followed six days later by the Iowa straw poll in Ames, an expensive faux election that measures the muscle of a candidate's organization and the thickness of his wallet more than his actual appeal to caucus voters. Thompson advisers decided that the risk of underperforming at either of these high-profile events was too great - and outweighed any advantages that would be gained by launching the campaign over the summer. As one Thompson partisan noted, John McCain's spectacular fall from Establishment front-runner to underfunded underdog proves how hard it is to sustain a lead, month after month, without faltering.


Also, it's gotta be damn near impossible to sustain any momentum with a closet case like Zach Wamp furiously humping your legs for weeks on end. Seriously, have you seen some of this guy's gushing over Big Fred's manly manliness? There's less campy flamboyance in Rip Taylor's love letters to Charles Nelson Reilly. In the stages of official Republican closet gayness, Wamp's slavering mash notes are somewhere between texting teenage pages from the House floor and offering to blow a cop in a public park.

But as far as we know, Wamp is not wearing a diaper, so at least he's got one up on David Vitter. Oh no I di'unt!!1!1!

Of course, as with any good Hollywood narrative arc, right now Our Hero finds himself in a spot of trouble. Oh no! Can he extricate himself in time to save the day and get the girl?

And even before launching, the Thompson campaign has experienced its first staff shake-up. After clashing with Thompson's wife Jeri, acting campaign manager (and close Thompson friend) Tom Collamore was ousted in favor of former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham and Randy Enwright, a veteran G.O.P. strategist. "I do worry that Jeri is the one really running his campaign," says a House Republican who describes himself as "likely" to support Thompson. "She's smart, but that could be a recurring problem."


Uh-oh. I think we know how the Party o' Gawd feels about uppity wimmins. Quick, to the Cleavagemobile!

Thompson is also playing in a gray legal zone by postponing his announcement. Currently his noncampaign campaign is a "testing the water" committee registered as a 527, a tax-exempt group with disclosure requirements far less stringent than those of a real campaign organization. Federal election law requires Thompson to declare himself a candidate once he decides to plunge into the water, which - given that he has signed up more than two dozen staffers, opened two offices and appointed his second and third campaign managers - he seems to have done.


Per my consistent theses that this whole Run Fred Run is just a big scam, I believe that the key to it lies in the above description about the money train. I don't see how a person can spend their entire adult life being a lawyer, a lobbyist, an actor, and a politician, and not look at everything first and foremost as a money-making opportunity. Why else the reluctance to move past 527 status? Either he's overly committed to cultivating this ridiculous Bob Roberts/Lonesome Rhodes/Joe Don Baker mystique that has the dimbulbs clucking in unison, or he's figuring out how to scoot the money into his pockets after he gets the rubes into one corral and decides to mosey back to Hollywood.

Nothing else makes sense, especially in an early primary season where every week counts. The only possible candidate who would benefit from waiting to enter the race would be Al Gore. He can walk in come October, when the Democratic field will have pared down a bit, poach Bill Richardson for a running mate with serious foreign policy cred, and hit the ground running. But Thompson waiting late belies either a lack of confidence in actual (as opposed to rhetorical) gravitas and the ability to extemporize beyond mere sloganeering, or it's a testament to how truly weak the Republican field is, which means no one man -- not even Fred Thompson, goldang it -- can "save" the party.

The party is sinking on its own. Thompson offers nothing new, but rather attempts to absolve the old and the current, by lamely pointing the finger across the aisle, where even goofball Mike Gravel is a better candidate than any of the serial adulterers and jingoist troglodytes the Republicans have to offer. Fred may not be a terribly innovative political thinker, but he's certainly smart enough not to spend a year of his life auditioning to be an anchor. So my guess, once again, is that he rounds up some funds, gets a decent chunk of voters to pass off to the eventual nominee, bows out with the usual avuncular charm, and delivers the keynote speech at the '08 convention, with the promise of a Cabinet post, on the better-than-average chance that the American public loses its fucking mind once again and decides to vote out of spite instead of sense.

[Update: Reliably "objective contrarian" potato Marc Ambinder steps up to defend the missus -- who after all is a professional political consultant -- la-la-la-ing the whole time right past the transparent shell game Thompson is running. Even more amusing is one athletic supporter for Thompson's sweaty junk, who apparently was trying for some sort of haiku when he wrote, "This is news only because it is news. If it were not news, then the quitters would not get any ink and the whiners would not get any ink. It is their only way of hitting back."

Indeed. It could also be a baby's arm holding an apple. Who's to say?]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Death Paw

I suppose it's a bit morbid, but I just thought this was an interesting odd story:

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

....

Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.

....

Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don't know he's there, so patients aren't aware he's a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced[sic] warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.


I used to have a cat with very similar markings to Oscar, and striking blue eyes. Very cool cat, struck down far too early by feline leukemia. It would certainly be strange to be a family member of a patient, and run into Oscar making his rounds, but it sounds like most of them are handling it pretty realistically.

Pantload Of Conscience

Roy correctly susses the burbling hypocrisy 'neath the becrumbed corduroy cubicle uniform of Sgt. Rock Candy™, complete with the epaulets his mom made out of Klondike wrappers.

In other words: liberals like to say they care about genocide, but they obviously don't, because they want to leave Iraq, which stands poised at the brink of genocide (or maybe doesn't, he isn't sure) thanks to the efforts of Jonah Goldberg et alia.

Goldberg is a little like a hostage-taker who, when seized after a ten-hour standoff, wants everyone to know that the hostage negotiator's arguments were really intellectually inferior to his own.

And I'm sorry, but whatever you think of the Kosovo intervention, Iraq makes Kosovo look like we gave everyone in Serbia ice cream and then flew them to heaven in a private jet.


Now, I recall the "what about Kosovo, you meddling liberals" argument from as far back as fall 2002, so in this instance, aside from his usual intellectual laziness and dishonesty, DoughBob is also guilty of either recycling an old hack argument, or pulling a "new" one out of his cornhole, brushing off the cheez-doodle remnants and claiming it for his own, a good five years after better (if more anonymous) minds had already thoroughly discredited it, either by responding to the obvious logical flaws or simply having the nerve to use it.

For the record, I thought that the Kosovo intervention originated from flawed premises to begin with -- much of the rump Serbian fascism in play in that province specifically was the result of UCK (KLA) instigation. Since then, obviously Milosevic' vile designs have been thwarted, but at the expense of apparently turning the area into a distribution point for heroin and prostitution. Still, the aim of preventing more Srebrenicas, or allowing the situation to devolve into a full-fledged Rwanda was accomplished. Unlike Goldberg and his ilk, I can admit when I'm wrong.

And I can even join with the usual U.N.-bashers to a certain extent, when it comes to the subject of humanitarian interventions. Rwanda, Srebrenica, Kosovo, and now Darfur, all got out of hand because of lack of collective resolution in the matter, which is supposed to be what the U.N. is for. Darfur really picked up steam while Sudan gained infamous entry into the U.N. Human Rights Commission. How'd that work out, anyway?

What Goldberg needs to get through his thick skull is that we're not avoiding Darfur because of Iraq (well, actually it is partly because of Iraq), or even because of U.N. dithering. It's because of China, which now has lucrative oil deals signed with the Sudanese kleptocracy, and are not about to allow anything to adversely affect it. Sudan is also, as one of Roy's commenters points out, the world's largest supplier of gum arabic, which is found in all sorts of commercial goods.

But for Pantload to indulge in this preening, ignorant broad-brush of "liberal" do-gooderism (even though it's been primarily evangelical Christian groups which have had the most direct lobbying access on the issue) tells you everything you need to know about where his head is at. Rather than engage in even a moment of self-reflection, in his show of searching for absolution, it's much easier to set up an army of straw men, and light 'em up.

We don't do humanitarian interventions, and indeed, most conservatarian commenters during Kosovo opined that that was a good thing. Kosovo was the exception to the rule because of its strategic proximity to the rest of Europe, it was doable, and Clinton, feeling guilty about Rwanda, was unwilling to take that chance again. And aside from the heroin and human trafficking, it's worked out well.

But let's cut the bullshit, shall we? Even if we had never invaded Iraq -- indeed, even if Saddam had died in the interim and been replaced by happy elves and ponies who immediately turned Iraq into a desert Switzerland -- there would have always been another excuse not to do anything about Darfur, and the larger measure of it would have revolved around the sort of sneering contempt for humanitarian politics that only a sinecured cubicle rat could conjure up.

Goldberg doesn't want to hear it anymore from libruls, if they're not going to endorse the grand anti-genocide pony plan currently in surge mode, but he didn't want to hear it in the first place. That he seems to think no one realizes this is unintentionally hilarious. He should stick to trying to find yet another snappy subtitle for his upcoming opus.

[Update: I was also recently reminded of how some folks attempt to shallowly conjure rough ratios, to find comparative valuations of American troops versus Iraqi civilians. Apparently the low-ball figure is about 1:1000 these days, possibly more since the Iraqis are evidently not interested enough in rebuilding from what all we've done for them.

But let's run that grotesque moral calculus to its natural corollary. If we use the "low-ball" figure of an American soldier being "worth" 1000 Iraqis, then conversely we can extrapolate the current American casualty count of 3,645 to roughly 13.5% of the pre-war population of Iraq. Small potatoes! Factoring in the wounded (26,558 at last count) to dead or wounded Iraqis would complicate things further by comparing severity of wounds, I suppose. But that's why they put formulas in spreadsheets.

It's a fool's errand to take something so monstrous all the way to its logical extreme, but it's still important to recognize the objective implications here. It seems also to be a necessity, not unlike blaming straw-man libruls for everything, among the would-be brute exterminators, since victory is no longer an option, and anything else is past their level of honesty.

And glib metaphors constructed primarily to highlight librul hypocrisies about the equality of life ("if your child and a stranger were both in a burning house, which would you save") illustrate very little, since they purposefully neglect to mention one's involvement in setting the house on fire, and then sanctimoniously lecturing the neighbors about fire safety with a series of sloppy lies. Even for cheap sophistry it's incompetent.]

CUI Bono?

Just the fact that these weirdos aren't having to meet in a crowded outhouse due to lack of funding and membership is proof that some folks simply aren't working hard enough for their money.

Some say they support Israel because Islam is a satanic faith. Others say it's part of their plan to bring about the apocalypse. All seem united in their hopes that someday there will be no Jews. They want a preventive attack on Iran. And Joe Lieberman thinks they're great.


Good for Lieberman, to legitimize a bunch of apocalyptic loons, presumably (as a commenter notes) to use them for his own purposes. One assumes that either he or they patiently await the second coming of Zell Miller.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dumb Question

Okay, I think we all get that Gonzales is not only a lying sack, and not very good at it, but he's not even trying to be good at it. He really is defying Congress to do something, anything about his blatant falsehoods, changing stories, and tiresome obfuscations. Oooh, a contempt charge. Guess whose prerogative it is to deal with such a charge?

That's right, the Justice Department. Might as well rename it the Ministry of Truth and be done with it.

So Gonzales is all but flat-out telling his questioners to suck on it, that they have neither the stones nor the horses to make anything stick. And he's probably right -- so far, the only Republicans to stray off the reservation even on Iraq policy have only done so rhetorically. Push comes to shove, they meekly tuck their sacks back and side with the same incompetent thugs they made such a show of repudiating when it was convenient. Impeachment, whether of Gonzales, Cheney, or Bush would be no different. It would be several months of tedious bloviating and grandstanding, culminating in a big wad o' nothin', more flippant defiance, more toxic effrontery, just in time for the players to get their campaign faces on.

So here's the dumb question, since it seems that the biggest holes and contradictions in Gonzales' stories seem to revolve around his little midnight prowl in Ashcroft's hospital room: why not depose Ashcroft, even informally? Either he vindicates Gonzales, or he corroborates Comey, simple as that. But let's get some cards on the table, once and for all, and be done with this nonsense. The Republicans have to be badgered into doing what they already know is the right thing, so it's time to force their hand. Ashcroft would seem to be a valuable point witness to accomplish this.

At this point, Gonzales really seems to have the demeanor of a man who knows that whatever respectable career he once had is completely over. He is now bought and paid for by the Bushies, now and forever, and as such, he literally has nothing to lose by serving as an insouciant diversion to buy them time. He'll do it for another six months, if all they're going to do is wave their hands and occasionally vocalize their frustration with his bullshit. It's just another can to kick; clearly, their fallback strategery at this point is simply to run out the clock on everything.

All those backwards counters we have, clicking off the time these criminals have left in power -- and they're doing the same thing. Time's up.

Hey Paula

Apparently my lifelong vision quest to be the lunchmeat in the proverbial Meredith Vieira/Paula Zahn newsmilf sammich has once again hit a snag. O death, where is thy sting? (Better yet: O Sting, where is thy death?)

Newscaster Paula Zahn will leave CNN next month after nearly six years at the cable network to make way for a new prime-time program hosted by freshly hired former NBC News correspondent Campbell Brown.


What, the Campbell Brown who's married to Bush rent-a-shill Dan Senor? That Campbell Brown? How can this be?

Zahn's exit was not unexpected. Her show, "Paula Zahn Now," has struggled in the ratings behind not only Bill O'Reilly on the Fox News Channel, but also MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and "Nancy Grace" on CNN Headline News.


This is all wrong, dammit. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't know about you, pally, but I certainly don't want to continue living in a world where spongy leches like O'Reilly and tentacled, multi-chinned orcs like Nancy Grace can push our sweet midwestern Paula down the ratings ladder. It's like having Arrested Development replaced by Judge Hatchett -- or Jebus forbid, Eye for an Eye.

I'm sure that if we check the handle of the knife, we'll find Wolf Blitzer's paw prints all over it. Anyway, there's always a position for you here at the Hammer, baby. We don't pay all that well, but we treat you right.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brain Surgeons

I guess this is that "do unto others" part the God-botherers keep on keepin' on about:

Chris Hedges, in a widely read article in The Nation, describes a photo showing a U.S. soldier "reaching in to scoop out some of [an Iraqi's] brain, looking at the camera and ... smiling."


Check out the additional hilarity provided by the mildly retarded would-be brute exterminator Jules Crittenden, who apparently never heard that it is an actual crime for a soldier to desecrate a corpse. Ten bucks says he has absolutely no idea why.

At any rate, way to get those hearts 'n' minds....especially the minds.

Monday, July 23, 2007

In Fredo Veritas

Apparently Billy Kristol's grand scheme to become permanent houseboy at the Tumbleweed Farm after Junior finally, thankfully moseys out of our lives is on track:

The Washington Post writes, “Bill Kristol’s the-war-is-being-won piece in The Washington Post brought him plenty of ridicule, but at least one person liked it. President Bush read the July 15 Outlook article that morning and recommended it to his staff.”


Remember, Billy, he likes his Jack-and-cokes after the PBJ, not before. It's hard to find good help these days.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pottery Barm

I have nothing against the Harry Potter mania per se, and I assume that when my kid is a bit older, we'll get the books for her if she's interested in them. I might check them out at some point, but I read a lot of fantasy/sci-fi as a kid, and pretty much burned out on the genre long ago.

And I don't buy into the "kids are reading more because of the books" nonsense. Kids make the break between becoming readers or non-readers at a fairly early age, I believe, certainly younger than ten, and they do it by following the parents' example. The more you read, the more likely they will; it certainly seems to be at least correlative. Obviously the test of the theory will be if, after the finale of the series, these kids find something else to jump into.

Anyway, while it's unsurprising to see most of July taken up by the visuals of sidewalk Dumbledorks in home-made robes, waggling their wands as they wait in line endlessly for the movie or book (possibly the most tedious American cultural trait, this moronic need to be "first" to wolf some new thing down, to swallow it whole and dump it right back out, hardly bothering to digest the experience -- or worse yet, running right back in to watch it twenty more times over the next week, like a drooling vegetable), it makes me wonder about why we even hear about it, because there's nothing useful or informative about it. The endless hype has already devolved to the point where pretty much every news program right now has a segment somewhere that seems like a three-minute Hairy Pooter promo, bookended by the usual big trucks 'n' happy pills in the actual commercials.

I think these little pseudo-cultural mini-episodes shed a certain amount of light on the decision-making process at work here. Everybody, audience and content-provider alike, seems to have tacitly agreed, or at least conceded, that they do not expect to be informed, but rather entertained and humored, intellectually coddled and stroked. As such, it makes a kind of perverted sense that national nightly news broadcasts would spend the better part of a month dicking around with the release of a movie and the buildup to a book, happily providing for free a service for which they usually charge five or six figures per minute.

I don't get it -- but then again, I do. It explains a great deal.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Useful Mediots

We keep coming back to the same questions, when we look at political media coverage: is it coincidence, carelessness, or design? Is it misguided efforts to roll with the kewl kids at the alpha end of the pack, or just institutional laziness? What the hell is wrong with these people, and why must we endure their sloppy, inane bullshit yet again? Did they not learn anything from the last empty suit they failed to deflate, just because he played grab-ass with them a little bit better than the other guy?

The 2000 election was close enough that any number of things can fairly be described as having made the difference. But what Bob Somerby describes as the media's "War Against Gore" was undoubtedly one of the biggest factors in Bush's "victory." The contempt many political reporters felt for Gore is clear, as is the inaccurate, unfair, and grossly distorted coverage of Gore that decided the campaign. And, again, you needn't take my word for it: Bob Somerby, Eric Alterman, Eric Boehlert, and others have chronicled the acknowledgements by working journalists of their colleagues' hate for Gore. Jake Tapper described reporters "hissing" -- actually hissing -- Gore. Time's Eric Pooley described an incident in which a roomful of reporters "erupted in a collective jeer" of Gore "like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd."

And Joe Scarborough -- conservative television host Joe Scarborough; former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough -- has said that during the 2000 election, the media "were fairly brutal to Al Gore. ... [I]f they had done that to a Republican candidate, I'd be going on your show saying, you know, that they were being biased."

Somerby has long argued that one of the reasons the media's hatred for Gore was able to define the 2000 campaign so completely is that too few people talked about it -- and demanded that it stop -- at the time.


And now they've decided to turn their sights on Edwards, for one of the most tortured, cynical redefinitions of the word "hypocrisy" imaginable. Perhaps inadvertently, one of the gifted scribes gives up the game:

There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.


As despicable and unprofessional as those admissions are, Ambinder at least deserves some small amount of credit for being somewhat honest about the level of collective perfidy going on in this debauched joke of a profession. And I realize that there are plenty of fine reporters out there, and I'm not trying to broad-brush them, but here's the deal -- this "healthy chunk" Ambinder alludes to needs to be revealed and run out of the business, period. There is no excuse for this sort of thing, and there sure as hell is no excuse for glossing it over with lame "fairly or unfairly" asides.

Equally as interesting is Ambinder's assertion that these gutless weasels, these disgraces to their craft, don't want to "bury" Romney simply because he's perceived as the frontrunner. I happen to think that perception is correct -- Giuliani is starting to take on water; McCain is done; and Fred Thompson is about three months away from aw-shucksing his way up to the podium, 'fessing that he really don't have the fahr in the belly, folks, but if y'all will jes' vote fer whoever'll put ol' Fred in his Cabinet, why, that'd be right nice of ya.

(Let me be more clear about this: Fred Thompson is not really intending to be a serious candidate, even if he "runs". He's there to round up the morons who can't stand the current crop of losers, but don't want to vote Democratic. Get them all into one place, and then pass them off as a rump bloc. And if any campaign finances happen to be left in ol' Fred's war chest, we'll just call that there a finder's fee. All these bozos running their "I'm With Fred" blogs are being played like a washboard on Cooter's front porch.)

So Ambinder has tacitly admitted that, while perhaps not organized enough to be called a conspiracy per se, there is at least enough childish behavior and sheer abdication of professional responsibility to warrant any decent editor to fire their asses, and any sensible colleague to make a point of repudiating this sort of thing. It's inexcusable and unacceptable.

And it's not terribly different from this endless inane, vapid commentary on candidates' sexuality. You know, enough, okay? Is there some sort of by-law in the Journalists' Code of Ethics that says that presidential candidates are supposed to be undermined and worked over as if we, the readers, were a bunch of catty, half-witted seventh-graders?

We seriously need to start repudiating these people when they do this, to the point where they have to find another line of work. Because they really should -- what they do barely qualifies as gossip; it sure as hell isn't journalism. Either they're unspeakably stupid, or unforgivably corrupt, and should be held accountable for both.

[Update: Russell Baker, in the latest New York Review of Books, both elaborates on how the emphasis on revenue enhancement has severely atrophied the reportage model, and has some observations about how the serious, fact-checking passion of the intemperate bloggerses is rapidly filling that void -- and that, much to the chagrin of the neutered Beltway house cats, it might even be a healthy thing:

Journalism was being whittled away by a Wall Street theory that profits can be maximized by minimizing the product. Papers everywhere felt relentless demands for improved stock performance. The resulting policy of slash-and-burn cost-cutting has left the landscape littered with frail, failing, or gravely wounded newspapers which are increasingly useless to any reader who cares about what is happening in the world, the country, and the local community. Cost-cutting has reduced the number of correspondents stationed abroad, shriveled or closed news bureaus in Washington, and crippled local reporting staffs which once kept an eye on governors, mayors, state legislatures, small-town rascals, crooks, and jury suborners. It has also shrunk the size of the typical newspaper page, cutting the cost of newsprint by cutting news content.

....

Blogging is a more interesting development, perhaps because bloggers are so passionate about it. It is a valuable restraint on careless and sloppy journalism, for the vigilance of the bloggers misses not the slightest error or the least omission, and the fury of their rage is terrible to bear. Committed bloggers insist that they are practicing journalism just as surely as a correspondent like John Burns is practicing journalism when reporting on the Iraq war from Baghdad for The New York Times. Anyone wishing to debate the point must be ready to argue all night and well into next week. What is indisputable is that practically every blogger can now be a columnist. With vast armies of columnists blogging away, it seems inevitable that a few may eventually produce something original, arresting, and refreshing and so breathe new life into this worn-out journalistic form.


Exactly. When journalists, and the corporations who employ them, have lost sight of the mission, and the opportunity for a more democratized corrective becomes technologically feasible, the form changes, as does the perception of it. And ultimately, it's for the better, I think, all pretenses of vituperation and offensensitivity aside. Journalists used to be passionate about the job and little else, or so goes the legend; now they are encouraged by corporate to see the big picture and act in a role of fake comity, uphold the status quo.

I think also that the notional opportunity that a role in reportage is an entry vehicle for a star turn, that one could aspire to be the next newsmilf or hunky basso profundo anchor, has attracted a certain number of people who are otherwise completely unsuited for the rigors of the actual job. This would explain a great deal, particularly the repulsive notion that it's even remotely acceptable for someone to use their position as an excuse to nurse and transcribe their grudges and hang-ups. I am not even slightly bullshitting when I implore such cretins to quit, now, and find an honest day's work.

I would also take some issue with Baker's assertion that the press could not have adequately obstructed the juggernaut to war with Iraq. Not so much the veracity of the claim; it may in fact have some truth to it. The public wanted blood for 9/11, rightly so, and the administration was certainly devious enough to divert this kinetic energy to their own aspirations.

However, the point of issue is not that the media had tested the limits of its powerlessness to challenge official lies and dogma, and found itself wanting, it's that they didn't even try. They fell over themselves to embed, to suck up, to send hacks like Judy Miller over to transcribe whatever factoid was passed to her under whatever debauched conditions, since she has a rep for, um, "compromising" her sources. They are far too timid and deferential and clubby with the people they are assigned to cover, to ever do much good. But they can and should at least make the effort to avoid becoming instruments of propaganda, and at that, they failed utterly.

The question is whether they have learned any lessons at all, as we watch the can be kicked further by a disgustingly cynical Republican minority, and talk of hostilities with Iran continues apace. They can blame the majesty of the offices and the incivility of the bloggerses all they want, but ultimately, either they want to cover the facts and report responsibly and impartially, or they don't. I can't make that choice for them, unfortunately, so I wish to hell they'd grow up and stop blaming us for their self-serving bullshit.]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Caveat Gastropod

Do we have to just start growing, making, and processing our own food, for Christ's sake? This is beyond ridiculous.

Dog Days

What Michael Vick and his "associates", or whatever the hell they are, appear to be involved in is obviously vile and reprehensible. In prison, they'll perhaps gain a bit more empathy for the animals they abused and tortured.

Still, it's nice to see that, even though they're largely ineffectual against, you know, the war and the brazen fuck-you style of the Supreme Executive and Not Executive Except When We Say We Are Fourth Branch that we're all just finding out the existence of, pols still have room to grandstand against the easy stuff:

Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who has addressed lawmakers often about his love for animals, shook with emotion during a forceful condemnation of dogfighting.

"Hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars are often at stake in the breeding, the training and the selling of fighting dogs. How inhuman, how dastardly!" shouted the senator. "The training of these poor creatures to turn themselves into fighting machines is simply barbaric."

Senate criticism increased Friday when Sen. John Kerry said he had sent a letter to the NFL commissioner calling for Vick's immediate suspension. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee also said he planned to introduce new anti-dogfighting legislation.


Sweet. I hope these bastards get exactly what's coming to them. I also hope that some of our noble public servants will take similarly aggressive, bold attacks against the cartoonish nonsense emanating from the (currently occupied) cloaca of this administration.

Here's to more forceful ass-spelunking, senators.

Proctocracy

Here's a textbook example of one asshole outranking another:

Vice President Dick Cheney will serve as acting president briefly Saturday while President Bush is anesthetized for a routine colonoscopy, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Friday.

Bush is scheduled to have the medical procedure, expected to take about 2 ½ hours, at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, Snow said.


Removing Bush's head, as well as those of Billy Kristol and Bobo Brooks, is expected to take forever.

We Don't Need No Steenking Badges

Willard Romney, whose manly shoulders and Hai Karate aroma make the male reporters at Politico swoon in their sundresses until their knickers are around their cankles, has a bit of a problem, with his staff, and not the staff that, um, excites Politico reporters:

In an apparent violation of the law, a controversial aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.

The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.

A campaign source said Garrity directed underlings on Romney’s presidential staff to use the badges at events nationwide to create an image of security and to ensure that the governor’s events went smoothly.

....

The campaign source said the badges were used extensively by Garrity and staffers on Romney’s advance team, which is responsible for coordinating events for his presidential campaign.

Sometimes, the source said, a staffer would use a badge for crowd control to restrict access to Romney. Other times, they were flashed to gain quick access to emergency exits and back hallways at campaign venues. In at least one instance, a staffer used a badge to go through a Massachusetts Turnpike toll booth without paying, the source said.


This is the badge that is being used to strong-arm reporters and foil tricksy tollbooths:


Yes, apparently grown-ups are allowing themselves to be pushed around by something that looks like it was pulled out of a toy crane machine. Jesus H. Christ, there were craftier disguises in Fletch. It's a wonder they're not able to rob banks and get free coffee at Denny's with these ridiculous things. If these are the badges, just imagine what the toy guns and holsters look like.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Please Bathe Your Cat

So I'm trying to watch a couple quick reruns on the Peacock Network (so named for Howie Mandel's habit of painting his ass and running down Hollywood Boulevard with a camera strapped to his back). After being bombarded with promos, I understand that a has-been from a mid-nineties lip-sync dance squad, who happens to be married to someone with an actual skill, has what the kids are calling a "show", in which hapless ruminants watch a spray-tanned blow-up doll do exciting things like, um, move to another house. Oooh, aaah.

I have nothing against fake titties, and I dig looking at hot chicks. But this person is someone whom I feel like I'm being told is hot, and I'm supposed to think she's hot, but it just looks and smells like mystery loaf to me. I could watch Salma Hayek read the phone book with the sound off; ditto Katherine Heigl, and (probably too many) others. They don't call me LL Cool Heywood J for nothin', you know.

But pushy high-maintenance dingbats like Old Spice do not pitch me a proverbial tent, they just make me reach for my trusty remote. Life is just too short.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chicken Run

The next generation of tough guys has their little conclave in a Moonie-owned hotel across the street from Arlington National Cemetery, where they can gaze nervously at the ever-growing field of crosses, polish each others' knobs and practice their excuses:

In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called "war on terror" as nothing less than the cause of their time.

Yet when I asked these College Repulicans why they were not participating in this historical cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. "Medical reasons." "It's not for me."



104th Asthma Battalion preparing to raid the mini-bar, before heading down to the hotel bar to scope some lucky hens.

These clowns might be even worse than the Late Night Shots jerkoffs, if only because mutual aggrandizement from a group of intellectually and emotionally stunted weasels is a tad more off-putting than over-privileged weasels engaged in a collective quest for booze and pussy. (Though, to be fair, there's bound to be some overlap between the two groups.)


The Battalion arrives, a bit short of breath, but ready for the main event. The over/under on how many women they have to harass with "I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I bet I can make your bed rock" before one of them gets lucky is in the double digits, even if the number of the eventual conquest's teeth (or IQ points) isn't. At least then the battalioneers can say they've jumped on a grenade. One thing's for sure -- in this platoon, everyone's a wingman.


In case of recruiter, remember the drill, and run like a motherplucker.

Schrödinger's Dick

I think it's just swell of Cheney to give us all a crash course in the esoteric theoretical constructs of quantum governmental superposition.

Weeks after claiming that it was not a part of the executive branch, the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney appears to be readying an independent assertion of executive privilege.

The move emerged in an exchange of letters with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which granted an extension for the White House to comply with a subpoena on documents related to President George W. Bush's domestic spying program.

Counsel to the Vice President Shannen Coffin appeared to imply that Cheney's office may assert executive privilege after it finishes reviewing documents that are responsive to the committee's subpoena. The documents are due today.


Here's an idea -- let's not bother asking these people to do anything. Let's just let them be right all the fucking time. They are, you know. Just ask them. They've never been wrong about anything, ever. Nor do they have anything to hide. It's simply their prerogative to decide what the peons, and the people they vote to represent them, are permitted to know.

Jesus, it's like having a government run by your mom or something. Why don't we just change the national motto to "Because I Said So" (or whatever that is in Latin) and be done with it? This crossed the boundary into stupid long ago. Now they're just rubbing everyone's nose in it.

"Since June 27, we have been working diligently to assess your requests and identify and collect documents responsive to the subpoenas," he wrote. "However, it has become clear that we will not be able to come close to completing our review process by the July 18 return date."

Leahy said he was willing to grant the extension.

"The Judiciary Committee is willing to accommodate reasonable requests and to work with the Administration on its response to these subpoenas," Senator Leahy said in a statement responding to the request. "I hope the White House uses this additional time constructively to finish gathering the relevant information and then works with us in good faith on ways to provide it so that we will have the information we need to conduct effective oversight at long last."


Yeah, and I "hope" to find a satchel full of hundred-dollar bills on my doorstep tomorrow morning, and that my already enormous cock grows to about 13". The odds appear roughly identical.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kristol Balls

Apparently the Post does not worry about drug-testing their editorial contributors, nor fact-checking their fever dreams:

I suppose I'll merely expose myself to harmless ridicule if I make the following assertion: George W. Bush's presidency will probably be a successful one.


Given Kristol's feckless war-baiting and insouciant cheerleading, I suppose it's too bad that the "ridicule" he's "[exposing]" himself to is merely "harmless". Seriously, at what other putatively private-sector job can someone be so hugely, consistently wrong, and still continue with gainful employment, still be welcomed on Serious Discussion Shows as a Serious Thinker? What, precisely, does it take for responsible observers to simply take the Mister Microphone away from Young Billy? Karaoke Hour was mildly fun; Karaoke Decade, not so much.

Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable.


Well, there was that spate of anthrax attacks post-9/11, for which one scientist was scapegoated before the feebs finally realized that they didn't (and still don't) know. But it's disingenuous for Billy to stake his claim here. First is the rather obvious issue of trying to affirm a negative, by assuming that administration policy is entirely (or even largely) responsible for the absence of additional attacks on the scale of 9/11. I have a stapler on my desk. I have not encountered any elephants. Do I automatically conclude that my stapler is some sort of magical elephant repellent?

As for the economy, strength is obviously a relative metric. Wages are stagnant, though, while prices never are. The vaunted "ownership society" is getting a rude awakening as subprime loans, bundled into equally risky derivatives and hedge funds, are taking a huge dump. It's nice to point at raw GDP numbers (which have been slowing doen anyway), but if these numbers do not redound with sufficient diffusion, then all it means is that some coked-up Wall Street putz is padding his net worth by diddling percentage points based on some regression analysis, while Joe Six-Pack continues to slave away to try to keep up with his mortgage. There is a real house-of-cards whiff to the disconnect between stock market triumphalism and how (or if) the created wealth gets appreciably dispersed.

Look, you don't have to take Kristol's word for it, or mine for that matter. Look in your pocket. Is there more money there? If there is, then it's a stronger economy for you, and if more people can say the same thing in the aggregate, then it's a strong economy overall. But that does not seem to be the case.

It doesn't matter. People like Kristol are not operating in good faith, or from a standpoint of intellectual honesty in the first place. They are cheap shills, renting themselves out to certain breeds of lowlife, people whose operating principle is "Who gives a shit?". Certainly such a philosophy makes it easier for them to accept the consequences of their poor judgment, because they never have to live with those consequences.

Perhpas most offensive is the way these shills continuously use 9/11 as an excuse for all the wrong the Bushies have done. That's nonsense; we knew how they were well before 9/11. It just made it easier for them to rape and pillage the government, salt the earth with their grifter cronies and DoJ flunkies, and consolidate power.

I don't worry too much about the consolidation of power under the unitary executive -- I have absolutely no doubt that Young Billy and the rest of the Cheney Unbound hacks will do a complete about-face on the subject the day after the '08 elections, if they can't squeak out a steal.

One charge that gets consistently leveled at "liberals" by "conservatives" is that of smug arrogance. But I can think of few things more smug or more arrogant than people who have been so consistently and catastrophically wrong about everything, not only having the balls to show their faces in public, but actually having the goddamned nerve to continue to offer their opinions as if they had any credibility left outside the asylum.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Little Nasty Shits

Just think -- the biggest aspiration any of these smug, privileged douchebags has, besides hooking up at some preppy glory-hole, is to be third-tier flunkies for the Cheney administration, ambulatory cock-warmers for the likes of Karl Rove. It's just a damned shame none of them supports the noble cause quite enough to take their tiny, flaccid "Republican cocks" to where the real action is, but I guess that's what they have poor people for.

On this fine Bastille Day, let's take a moment to recall that the guillotine was used for a reason.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Animals

Seriously, fuck the people that did this.

Getting all weepy isn't often a good idea in a place known for gang activity and murders, but it hasn't been easy for 11-year-old Cesar Rojas to hide his feelings concerning the little kitten he found nearly burned to death.

He turns his head when visitors ask about the kitten he and a friend found cowering in the bushes June 19 after two older girls allegedly set it on fire.

"It was barely breathing when we got it," he said, his voice scarcely audible. "It wanted to live."

Cesar saved the kitten's life when he picked it out of the bushes and brought it to the apartment manager, who contacted Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, which took the injured animal to a veterinarian. It was an act of compassion that has been all but ignored amid the widespread outrage generated by the alleged cruelty of two 15-year-old girls.

The girls, whose names have not been released, were charged in Sonoma County Juvenile Court with felony cruelty to animals on Tuesday after they were identified by witnesses as the ones who burned the kitten.


Good for Cesar Rojas, and the outpouring of compassion for the poor kitten is good to see. It's strange that girls did this sort of thing, but it looks like they're going to get three years in juvy to think about it. Perhaps someone will douse them with a flammable liquid while they're locked in their cage. That would be just terrible, really.

Some folks are a mite skeptical about the sympathy.

It is a surreal situation for the mostly Latino residents of the Papago Apartments, who point out that there was no reward and not much concern around the Bay Area when a teenager was slain in the complex last summer. Jose Ayala Ramirez, 16, was shot in the head Aug. 19, 2006, in what Santa Rosa police said was a gang-related shooting that has yet to be solved.

"People are angry and it was wrong, but it bothers me that they're doing so much for the cats and when a person gets killed they just let it pass," said Arturo Mendosa, 20, echoing what many others in the complex are saying. "It makes me angry that they're doing more for animals than for us."

Edgar Palominos, 14, said his brother was a good friend of the slain teen.

"If they really wanted to find the guy who killed him, they would have put up a reward like they did for the cat," he said.


Yes and no. On the one hand, the sheer degree of helplessness of the animal in this instance no doubt prompted much of the outrage. And torturing animals is where most of these sociopaths get their start, before they up the ante to human prey. So maybe there's some preventive maintenance going on here.

The O'Reilly Fucktard

Did you know that roving lesbian gangs are wreaking havoc all across the nation? The Fucktard has the "facts". Bill even helpfully brushed some of the peanuts and corn off one or two of them.

Titled "Violent Lesbian Gangs a Growing Problem," the segment began with host Bill O'Reilly briefly referencing for his roughly 3 million viewers the case of Wayne Buckle, a DVD bootlegger who was attacked by seven lesbians in New York City last August. Deploying swift, broad strokes, O'Reilly painted a graphic picture of lesbian gangs running amok. "In Tennessee, authorities say a lesbian gang called GTO, Gays Taking Over, are involved in raping young girls," he reported. "And in Philadelphia, a lesbian gang called DTO, Dykes Taking Over, are allegedly terrorizing people as well."


Oh my. Whatever will we upright straight law-abidin' folk do?

After this introduction, O'Reilly went to a split-screen live interview with "Fox News crime analyst" Rod Wheeler.

"Tell me what's going on," O'Reilly said.

Wheeler, a Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department officer-turned-paid Fox News commentator, launched right in: "Well, you know, there is this national underground network, if you will, Bill, of women that's lesbians and also some men groups that's actually recruiting kids as young as 10 years old in a lot of the schools in the communities all across the country," he reported. "And they actually carry a number of weapons. And they commit a number of crimes."

....

O'Reilly asked, "Now, when they recruit the kids, are they indoctrinating them into homosexuality?"

"Yes," Wheeler answered. "As a matter of fact, some of the kids have actually reported that they were forced into, you know, performing sex acts and doing sex acts with some of these people."

Flabbergasted by the sheer depravity of it all, O'Reilly nevertheless forged ahead. "I never thought of this," said the host of the "no-spin zone." "It makes sense that, if you had lawless gay people, they would do this kind of thing. You associate homosexuality more with a social movement, not a criminal movement. But you're saying this is all over the country, detective?"


"It makes sense"? Really, Bill? It makes sense that "lawless gay people" in criminal gangs -- which, bottom line, are in it for the benjamins -- are going to spend time forcibly indoctrinating helpless children into their sexual orientation? That's the dumbest thing I've heard in some time, if only because I don't watch The View.

So just who is this Rod Wheeler that Falafel Boy is staking his scoop on?

Confronted by the Intelligence Report, Wheeler was unable, in several phone and E-mail exchanges over a two-day period, to specify a single law enforcement agency or officer, police report, media account or any other source he relied upon for his D.C. area lesbian gangs claim. But he insisted that his report was accurate and that any law enforcement officer who disagrees is "out of touch." "For some reason or other, these organizations don't lay it on the line because they don't know what is going on on the streets," said Wheeler. "This is a serious crisis and the so-called experts are missing it."

According to Wheeler's personal website, he is a member of Jericho City of Praise, a conservative Christian megachurch in Landover, Md., whose leadership publicly advocates against equal rights for gays and lesbians. The website details Wheeler's 500-plus appearances on MSNBC, Court TV and Fox News Channel shows including "The O'Reilly Factor," "On the Record With Greta Van Sustern," and "Hannity & Colmes."

Fox News officials and Bill O'Reilly did not return E-mails seeking comment for this story. O'Reilly is quoted on Wheeler's website heralding Wheeler as "America's most recognized and trusted authority on crime analysis and law enforcement."

Another ringing celebrity endorsement on the site is attributed to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: "We turn to Rod Wheeler to help us better understand and solve some of these terrible crimes in America."

Wheeler told the Report that he spent seven years in professional law enforcement before going to work as a corporate security officer for McDonald's Corp., a job he has since left. These days, Wheeler is a "food defense specialist" for the American Institute of Baking. Just this spring, he publicly warned that the Big Mac is vulnerable to bioterrorist attacks at "250 points" during production.


Hoo-boy. Even setting aside the fear-mongering about Big Macs (because, let's face it, it could actually happen, given the unconscionably lax food security we have), can we count enough red flags here? Member of yet another weirdo homo-obsessed megachurch; the go-to guy for professional liar Pony Blow; works the cable-newsrat circuit like a Sunset Strip hooker.

Incidentally, there actually is a Dwayne Buckle who was attacked by marauding lesbos:

Last week, Bill O'Reilly decided to address the problem of lesbian gangs. You probably never heard of this epidemic, but apparently they are a big problem. Hell, they must be because Bill O'Reilly said so, even calling them "roving". Or maybe, just maybe Bill O'Reilly is full of crap again. He has on his website a link to the story about the Lesbian 7. They are the women who were accosted by filmaker named Dwayne Buckle after he rebuffed his advances, defended themselves and now are sitting in jail for six months to 11 years in prison for doing so.


Well now, ladies, there's nothin' wrong with an up-and-coming dorkumentarian tryin' to find a little fee-male companionship this fine evening, is there?

The night of the incident, Buckle spat at the women, threw a lit cigarette at them, pulled one of the women towards him, and told the women that having sex with them would turn them straight.

Now, sometimes, when people act like complete assholes and get what they deserve, they admit that they were assholes and back off. Other people decide to simply forget the incident and move on. Buckle, on the other hand, is not only denying that he did anything wrong, but is actually using the event to bolster his career and get his name in the news. Immediately following the night of August 18, Buckle gave interviews to several newspapers in which he said he was "the victim of a hate crime against a straight man." Several newspapers ran articles in which Buckle painted himself as a gentleman who was wronged by a vicious pack of man-hating lesbians. After getting his time in the spotlight, Buckle decided it wasn't enough to stop there. Nope, now he's trying to really cash in: the man is making a movie about the oppression of straight men!


How this went from a garden-variety he-man woman-hater getting what he deserved to some lurid pot-boiler about roving gangs of crazy lesbians brandishing pink guns, only the fevered imagination of Rod Wheeler, and the desk-thumping pud-pounding of Duh Factor know for sure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Po' Boy

I agree. I don't think anyone in the hardworkin' blue-collar medianistas should take John Edwards' invocations against American poverty seriously until Edwards cancels his family's health insurance and moves them out to a cardboard box on the fucking sidewalk.

I still want to know exactly what all the other candidates and reporters are paying for their haircuts. I doubt it's close to 400 bucks, but it might at least be enough so that they get the damned point, that they are indulging in bullshit navel-gazing, when they could be doing something useful. Are there this many whinging plaints about Fred Thompson's years as a lobbyist, renting a goddamned truck to condemn his opponent for supposedly never having ridden in one, or are we getting jerked off yet again by lazy motherfuckers with too much access to opinion-mongering?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Situational Morality

Moralist David Vitter then:

Some current polls may suggest that people are turned off by the whole Clinton mess and don't care -- because the stock market is good, the Clinton spin machine is even better or other reasons. But that doesn't answer the question of whether President Clinton should be impeached and removed from office because he is morally unfit to govern.

The writings of the Founding Fathers are very instructive on this issue. They are not cast in terms of political effectiveness at all but in terms of right and wrong -- moral fitness. Hamilton writes in the Federalists Papers
(No. 65) that impeachable offenses are those that "proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."


In considering impeachment, Vitter asserted, Congress had to judge Clinton on moral terms. Decrying the law professors' failure to see this, Vitter observed, "Is that the level of moral relatively [sic] and vacuousness we have come to?" If no "meaningful action" were to be taken against Clinton, Vitter wrote, "his leadership will only further drain any sense of values left to our political culture."



Moralist David Vitter now:

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said Monday in a printed statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there — with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."


Aww, gee Dave, you can stuff your sorries in a sack, all right? Particularly obnoxious was the way Vitter's wife, on the campaign trail back in '99, cracked wise about going Lorena Bobbitt on her husband if he ever did what that awful Clenis had done. This was an especially crude way to use Hillary Clinton's public behavior to capitalize politically on the need of moralistic voters to use the electoral process as therapy.

The hypocrisy is bad enough, but it's hardly surprising. What it should be a reminder of is how creatures like Vitter get in in the first place -- by stroking sanctimonious rubes with their happy horseshit about fambly values and the sanctity of marriage and all that. The sacred institution, endlessly debauched by call girls and/or trophy wives, while their practitioners lecture all of us on personal behavior, and use gays as scapegoats.

Personal behavior does have some importance, inasmuch as it reflects to a certain degree how serious a person is in setting about the business of life and being responsible. A guy who skulks around behind his wife's back with $300/hr. call girls, and has the nerve to use someone else's indiscretions as campaign fodder, deserves whatever he gets.

Failing that, I'm sure we'd all settle for these would-be pulpit-pounders to just shut their cakeholes about the subject altogether, and concentrate on running the business.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Problem Solved

You gotta hand it to the Chinese -- when it comes to corrupt weasels in their bureaucracy, they do not screw around:

Zheng Xiaoyu, formerly the man responsible for ensuring the safety of China's foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals, was executed yesterday for corruption.

The Supreme People's Court approved the death sentence for Zheng, 62, the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), for taking kickbacks worth 6.5 million yuan (£420,000) from drug companies to ensure he would approve medicines that should have been taken off the market.



This might serve as a warning or deterrent to our own corrupt tools who don't seem to know when to stop with the smug arrogance and inept lying:

Two senior Justice Department officials said yesterday that they kept Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales apprised of FBI violations of civil liberties and privacy safeguards in recent years.

The two officials spoke in a telephone call arranged by press officials at the Justice Department after The Washington Post disclosed yesterday that the FBI sent reports to Gonzales of legal and procedural violations shortly before he told senators in April 2005: "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse" after 2001.

....

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) noted that Gonzales said in a written statement last week that he first became aware of problems with the FBI's use of a tool known as a "national security letter" earlier this year. Copies of the FBI reports sent to Gonzales in 2005 and 2006 described several problems with the letters, which allow agents to secretly collect Americans' phone, computer and bank records without a court order or grand jury subpoena.


Of course, they could appoint a special prosecutor and indict Gonzales, but what would be the point? The Libby verdict was wonderfully instructive in just how much these idiots will squint at the facts and stamp their widdle feet to avoid even the threat of genuine accountability. Maybe we can swap Gonzo to the Chinese for one of their bumbling bureaucratic crooks.

Here Come The Bastards

Bury your head deep in the sand.
Anonymity is a virtue in this day and age.
Amazing hand dexterity, flagrant misuse of security.
Better run, here they come. -- Primus


Usually when I lob a verbal scud at Holy Joe, I try to leaven the hostility by titling the post with some Daily Show reject of a pun on his name ("Say It Ain't Joe"; "Joe To Hell"; etc.).

But this time around, I don't even wanna bother. The only mystery now is whether Lieberman jumps to the Republicans (as he already has, for all practical purposes), or if the Democrats will formally oust him and prevent him from even caucusing anymore, which they should have done by now.

Lieberman's latest perfidy, slithering on to Sportin' Life Bennett's Radio Show 'n' Gamblin' Hour, and back-stabbing his own Senate leader, should be the last straw.

In the midst of a long tirade against anti-war Senators, Lieberman brought up Reid on his own, without any sort of prompting or even any mention of Reid from Bennett.

"You know, Harry Reid said a while ago that the war in Iraq is lost. It's wrong. It's not lost. In fact, I would say we're beginning to win it. We've turned the tide with the new strategy. And in fact, I cannot conceive of a circumstance in which American forces would lose the war in Iraq, on the ground in Iraq. If we lose it, it's gonna be lost here at home, in a different kind of war for public opinion and political support."


This sort of contrarian tirade might have almost had some practical utility as late as, say, 2005. But this makes no sense at all, politically or morally. It's a lie, for one; it seems pretty self-evident that the violence and chaos is escalating and dispersing, in the face of the surge. Even the military spokesmen have not been so rash as to say "we're beginning to win it". All we're going to hear from them till the end of the year is weasel words about benchmarks and metrics and such. And by then we'll be in full campaign season, listening to paunchy homilies from the phony tough and the crazy brave stumping to impressionable rubes.

In the meantime, more soldiers and civilians will die horribly, and an eviscerated country will continue to rot and degrade. Even under the ravages of Saddam's psychotic mafia, there was a professional class in Iraqi society. That's gone now, has been for a while, and will be for the next generation.

And the refugees who do escape and survive, get the privilege of pimping their daughters out:

For anyone living in Damascus these days, the fact that some Iraqi refugees are selling sex or working in sex clubs is difficult to ignore. Even in central Damascus, men freely talk of being approached by pimps trawling for customers outside juice shops and shawerma sandwich stalls, and of women walking straight up to passing men, an act unthinkable in Arab culture, and asking, in Iraqi-accented Arabic, if the men would like to "have a cup of tea."

....

Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees. Some women are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families. As a group, they represent one of the most visible symptoms of an Iraqi refugee crisis that has exploded in Syria in recent months.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are now about 1.2 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria; the Syrian government places the figure even higher.

Given the "deteriorating" economic situation of these refugees, girls and women in "severe need" not only turn to sex work in secret, but also with the knowledge or involvement of family members, a United Nations report found last year. In many cases, the report added, "the head of the family brings clients to the house."


For this, Joe Lieberman has chosen to go on radio shows hosted by sanctimonious hypocrites, and sell out his party and his country. And for what? To be a shill for an indifferent fool and his cold-blooded eminence grise, the sort of pricks who would look you square in the eye right this second, and say with all sincerity that if they knew then what they knew now, they still would have done exactly the same thing. Indeed, Lieberman himself joins the amen chorus by asserting that the tide is turning, even as scores of innocent people continue to be smithereened and butchered on a daily basis.

There should be a special place in hell for these people.

Remains Of The Day

A commenter in this article on Sandra Day O'Connor's abbreviated legacy beat me to it, so I'll just second it -- it's damned funny how directly she contributed to the early obsolescence of her own opinions. I'm not a diehard SCOTUS watcher, but I do pay attention, and O'Connor was conspicuous mostly by her apparent lack of any rigorous ideology, idealism, or pragmatism. And the eagerness with which Fredo's replacement vultures have picked her carcass apart reflects exactly that; she cynically enabled people whose own cynicism is merely a tool to implement their ideological ambitions.

Best of all, she's still alive to observe it happening, and comprehend her own role in it. Sometimes the universe does have a sense of humor.

Any Given Scumday

Look, I'm not going to claim to have an Olympian physique myself, nor would I assume that every military service personnel is perfectly sculpted, but I guarantee you, nobody on the ground looks anything like this doughy fuck.

Today, the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank, held a discussion entitled “Assessing the Surge in Iraq,” featuring prominent Iraq war proponents like Fred Kagan, Gen. Jack Keane, and James Miller of the Center for a New American Security.

Bush’s escalation was largely inspired by a October 2006 paper written by Kagan, who stated that the U.S. needed to “re-enter Iraq in large numbers.” In today’s conference, Kagan claimed there was a “general agreement” that “violence overall is down” but refused to provide any factual evidence for those arguments....Desperate to defend his failing strategy, Kagan refused to provide statistical backup for his broad assertions that escalation is showing progress.


Of course he refuses, because he has none. Never mind; I have photographic proof that Kagan has been moonlighting from his sweet, sweet AEI gig.




You have to admit, the resemblance is uncanny, and explains a great deal about the intellectual backing of the overall strategery. All that's missing is the inevitable advice from Stewie to exterminate the brutes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

There's A Fred Under Your Bed

The much-needed daddy figure for disillusioned chickenhawks patriots with other priorities drops in to help them refill their spank bank:

Not yet a 2008 candidate, Fred Thompson energized young Republicans with a speech Saturday that was heavy on rhetoric and short on policy pronouncements. He branded Democrats as "the party of despair."

Chants of "Fred" and "Run, Fred, Run," greeted the actor and former GOP senator from Tennessee from many among the 350 people at the Young Republicans National Convention. The crowd interrupted his nine-minute speech with wild applause and mobbed him when he left.


Well, of course they did. What other choices do they have? McCain's almost out, and they're never gonna pull the lever for Mrs. Doubtfire Count Chocula Johnny One-Note Giuliani. That leaves Trust Fund Willard and Rented Red Fred to eventually out-daddy/out-folksy each other for the adoring closet cases in the crowd.

Thompson's speech came on the heels of reports that a pro-abortion rights group hired him to lobby President George H.W. Bush's administration 16 years ago. At issue were attempts to ease a regulation that prevented clinics that received federal money from offering abortion counseling.

Thompson gave an oblique response when asked about the matter, first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

"I'd just say the flies get bigger in the summertime. I guess the flies are buzzing," said Thompson, who is considering running for president as a social conservative. He refused comment on whether he recalled doing the work.


"[T]he flies get bigger in the summertime". Hanh? Is this some sort of yokel code, lobbyist code, or actor code? Oh, I get it. It's a code used by someone who's been a wealthy lawyer, lobbyist, and actor for most of his adult life, to pretend he's part of the demographic that pretends to hate all them folks who think they're better'n them. And I suppose if you spend your days guzzling corn squeezins and harassing lost canoers, you might even buy into it. Nobody fakes authenticity like Big Fred, as any drooling FredHead can tell you.

In his speech, Thompson fired up the crowded when he said he was the top target of The New York Times and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. He said the United States was the greatest country, and that set the audience off, too.

"I'm getting tired of having to apologize for the United States of America around the world," Thompson said. "I'm tired of other people's perceptions that we need to apologize."

He said voters will not support Democratic candidates who are "driving over a left-wing cliff." Thompson added, "I don't think the people are going to turn the keys of this country over to the party of despair."


He may be right. There are plenty of people who would rather turn things over to someone who will pat them on the head and indulge their fantasies, while letting their buddies in the oil, telecom, extraction, defense contracting, and security consulting industries pick our pockets and get us involved in more dumb schemes.

But Thompson draws an interesting dichotomy that astute observers can borrow from. He wants to characterize it as "the party of despair" versus the party of hope. How about a party of realism and common sense versus a party of fantasists, fabulists, and moral reprobates; how about a party of solutions versus a party of enablers? How about a party of laws versus a party of weirdos looking for somebody to project their hangups and anxieties upon?

Later, Romney dropped by the hizzy to rap wif da peeps:

Kevin Fickert, a 22-year-old college student in Los Angeles who originally is from Massachusetts, said he liked Romney's leadership as governor but thinks Thompson has more appeal. "Thompson has this star power about him that I really like," Fickert said.

Before arriving at the convention, Romney took questions from about 150 people in West Palm Beach. He said he would like to use the country's leading marketing minds to help sell the idea of American values in the Middle East.

"People will give up half a day's salary to get a Coca-Cola in some parts of the world. We market Coke well. We market McDonald's well. We market our rap music, our movies, our jeans," Romney said. "We market everything America sells brilliantly, but when it comes to marketing ourselves and what we stand for, we don't do a very good job of it."


This is bullshit as much as Thompson's tired-ass schtick is. We do a great job of marketing our values. There has only been a problem because of the policies of the past few years -- policies which Romney has already said he would either continue or enhance. Marketing ourselves is easy, it's ensuring that we live up to our hype that's been the problem of this administration, and unless and until Romney specifically repudiates those policies and that direction, he's just talking out of his ass again.

Which still puts him slightly ahead of the rest of the GOP meatballs, but obviously that's saying very little.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Protest Vote

It was not so long ago that Cindy Sheehan decided to walk away from the antiwar movement. It seems she's changed her mind for one more tilt at the windmill.

Cindy Sheehan, the soldier's mother who galvanized the anti-war movement, said Sunday that she plans to seek House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional seat unless she introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.

Sheehan said she will run against the San Francisco Democrat in 2008 as an independent if Pelosi does not seek by July 23 to impeach Bush. That's when Sheehan and her supporters are to arrive in Washington, D.C., after a 13-day caravan and walking tour starting next week from the group's war protest site near Bush's Crawford ranch.

"Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership," Sheehan told The Associated Press. "We hired them to bring an end to the war. I'm not too far from San Francisco, so it wouldn't be too big of a move for me. I would give her a run for her money."


I'm not sure what gives her that idea; Pelosi is a second-generation machine politician, in her tenth term, and has not gotten less than 80% of the vote in her district since 1990. Sheehan might have had a chance to make an impactful statement in that realm last year, and organizing a public demonstration to keep impeachment talk rolling wouldn't hurt. But that's about it. Pelosi erred in pre-emptively removing impeachment from the table, but as more dirt gets unearthed, there's nothing to stop her from changing her mind. Insisting that it happen within the next two weeks could generate some interesting momentum, I suppose, but the idea that Sheehan would be a viable political force, or a challenger to an entrenched career pol with one of the highest re-election rates involves some creative thinking.

Still, the drumbeat is getting louder, bit by bit, and the previously unthinkable notion of going through another drawn-out impeachment process is suddenly becoming a topic of discussion. And it doesn't hurt to at least nudge Democrats with more of a sense of urgency in general. Fredo's not backing down, and neither should they.

It's Hard Out Here For A Chimp

Everybody now: Awwwwwwwww. Really. Boo-fucking-hoo.

President George Bush turned 61 yesterday but he had little to celebrate at the end of a week in which his isolation has been exposed as never before.


Bah. His present this year, as in previous years, is the big bowl of shit of his own creation, and his own insistence. We've had enough, so it's your turn to grab a spoon and chow down, Champ.

Although he has 18 months left in office, Mr Bush's options are limited. Last week, he lost his last chance for snatching a lasting domestic legacy when his immigration reform bill was destroyed in Congress. On foreign policy, there is little optimism of a late breakthrough on Israel-Palestine, Iran or Iraq.

The Washington Post reported this week on academics invited to the White House to discuss with him his legacy, including Sir Alistair Horne, author of a history of the Algerian revolt, which has parallels with Iraq. They, as well as former staffers and friends, spoke of his loneliness, his agonising over how history will portray him. Michael Conaway, a still loyal senator and long-time friend, said the president appeared to be worn down by the pressure and spoke of "a marked difference in his physical appearance".


Yeah, yeah, he's a haunted man, blah-blahbedy blah-blah. Jesus, anyone want cheese to go with this whine? Besides, you would think that maybe a man on the ropes, politically and spiritually, might be more willing to make even false overtures of reconciliation, for the good of the country if nothing else. Instead, we get more of this happy horseshit:

President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Saturday of being unable to live up to their duties, citing Congress' inability to pass legislation to fund the federal government.

"Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people's money wisely," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "This moment is a test."


Oh ho, this is rich. Pot, meet kettle. But then, it's about all he's got left, isn't it? He really is in a box here, no credibility on any issue whatsoever, so just take a jab at pocketbook issues and see if that resonates with the bedrock goobers. Good luck with that, but most of them are probably too busy impregnating their cousins and looking for Mexicans to harass.

The main reason the immigration measure died, however, was staunch opposition from Bush's own base conservatives. The president could not turn around members of his own party despite weeks of intense effort.

The immigration bill was the top item on Bush's domestic agenda. With its demise, Bush was left to focus on the annual appropriations process and reining in federal spending.


Get used to it, Junior, because this is how it's going to be for the duration. Eighteen long months of looking and sounding ridiculous, about as popular as Michael Vick at a PETA convention, pissing off even your own base, getting caught up in ever more inept lies, watching your party back away from you, and then moseying out to the tumbleweed farm, an abject failure, synonymous with incompetence.

Sometimes payback really is a bitch.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Khan Job

Speaking of cronyist pardons, noted nuke proliferator asshole A.Q. Khan is back on the loose.

Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, who ran a global network of nuclear-weapons technology -- catering to such clients as Libya, Iran and North Korea --was placed under house arrest by strongman Pervez Musharraf in 2004 under pressure from the Bush administration. House arrest was a compromise: Musharraf feared imprisoning Khan, a national hero, due not only to popular outrage but fear that Khan might disclose collaborators in Musharraf's government. Now, however, the AP reports that Khan is "virtually a free citizen," and has been for "several months," according to Pakistani officials:


Funny how, for the last several years, we've heard all the horror stories about the Axle of Elvis countries getting nukes, but precious little about where they got them.

Musharraf refused to allow U.S. intelligence officials to question Khan, and Congress has raised questions over whether the proliferation network Khan created is truly out of business. Meanwhile, Musharraf's grip on power is loosening, raising the prospect that Khan's newfound freedom is a cynical pander by an increasingly desperate dictator.


And Musharraf just hours ago narrowly escaped yet another assassination attempt, leading one to believe that the inmates are about to take over the asylum there.

Wonder what the would-be foreign policy professors, especially the daddy figures on the right, have to say about this one. I'm sure it rhymes with "stay the schmourse".

[Update: Here is an informative article, essentially describing the reasons why Musharraf should resign, along with commentary on the current siege at the Lal Masjid mosque. Interesting stuff, and it seems to be developing rapidly.]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sacrifice Suckers

Having just slammed the Times columnists, it would be helpful to point out that I do think that Frank Rich and Paul Krugman are skilled writers and thinkers, and here Krugman ably discusses a theme which has been on many of our minds for some time -- the differences between Bush's cynical uses of the word "sacrifice", and its actual application to meaning.

On this Fourth of July, President Bush compared the Iraq war to the Revolutionary War, and called for “more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.” Unfortunately, it seems that nobody asked the obvious question: “What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?”

On second thought, there would be no point in asking that question. In Mr. Bush’s world, only the little people make sacrifices.

You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror™, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars — wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.


Exactly. The whole thing's been done on the cheap, in terms of spreading the sacrifice around. As much as Bush enjoys comparing this fiasco to World War 2, the fact is that that was a genuinely existential crisis, for us, for England, for all of Western Europe, Russia, and much of Asia. And it showed in the measure of real sacrifice of all the countries involved.

We have not even been asked to cut into our large-living ways; indeed, we've been encouraged to indulge them. Consumerism is what keeps this Ponzi economy afloat, that and dangerously bundled derivatives on the esoteric hedge-fund market. So instead of conserving and rationing, the way homefront Americans were glad to do in WW2, to be part of the cause, we continue to indulge and consume, and in particular waste oil profligately, as if we weren't over in the Middle East to -- at least in part, whether people can admit it to themselves or not -- secure our access and supply.

This would seem to necessitate even timid half-measures of sacrifice on our parts, yet it apparently does not register, based on the number of giant, penis-compensating prickmobiles and smilf-driven grocery schooners still dominating the roads. Giant vehicles, hauling practially nothing to nowhere, back and forth.

This is replayed day after day, across the country, heedlessly, rhythmically, almost like a ginormous variation of musical chairs -- if they stopped, they would think about what they were doing, and reality might set in. And the heroic Chinese-made ribbon magnet might then not seem to be enough to justify driving a 3-ton, 10-mpg mini-RV to the post office or the Wal-Mart.

Sacrifice should be shared across the board, rich and poor, wherever possible. But mostly it appears to be two classes of people who need to start sacrificing proportionately to what they take -- the profiteering class and the mindless hyper-consumption class. People who, like dogs, figuratively lick their balls because they can, without bothering to wonder if they should.

To even meekly ask if they should perhaps consider the possibility of driving fewer and smaller vehicles less often is to prompt an indignant barrage of retorts, usually encouraging people to take their "self-loathing" to France or some such.

It should be clear by now, but speaking for myself, I am certainly not "self-loathing", nor "America-hating". What I despise is people who don't pay attention to anything but their own id and raw desire, who think that they're entitled to something for nothing, whose every move and statement betrays the damnable notion that for them, gluttony is a skill. Whether such people happen to be American or Estonian is irrelevant; a jerkoff is a jerkoff.

And as for the political class, clearly no sacrifice is too small or too justified for them to weasel out of with their magic powers.

Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, “that person will be taken care of.” Now we know what he meant. Mr. Bush hasn’t challenged the verdict in the Libby case, and other people convicted of similar offenses have spent substantial periods of time in prison. But Mr. Libby goes free.

Oh, and don’t fret about the fact that Mr. Libby still had to pay a fine. Does anyone doubt that his friends will find a way to pick up the tab?

Mr. Bush says that Mr. Libby’s punishment remains “harsh” because his reputation is “forever damaged.” Meanwhile, Mr. Bush employs, as a deputy national security adviser, none other than Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Abrams was one of six Iran-contra defendants pardoned by Mr. Bush’s father, who was himself a subject of the special prosecutor’s investigation of the scandal.

In other words, obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.


Yep. Four legs good, two legs Scooter. We're all in this together, except for those of us who, as an esteemed politican once put it, have "other priorities". But for all the whinging about how we're in the battle for our very lives, our civilization, and our sacred honor, the actual scut work of the mission seems to be undertaken by a minute percentage of people, while most do exactly what the hell they feel like doing. Talk loud, slap a ribbon on the guzzler, and bray some incoherent, contradictory, fact-free homilies.

Sounds like a winning strategy.