Translate

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Little Fred Corvette

Senator Leghorn lets a bunch of rubes buy him breakfast. Awful large of him, doncha think?

When Fred Thompson stopped for breakfast in Jackson on Friday morning, he had only one thing to say about critics who say he is not up-to-date enough on current issues to be president:

"They're wrong; they're wrong.”


Oh, well I guess that settles that, doesn't it?

Thompson's visit to Jackson came the day after he told reporters in Franklin that he did not know about a federal court ruling that found the state's lethal injection procedures unconstitutional. Thompson was a stout death penalty supporter during his 1994 Senate bid.

It was another in a pile of such moments for Thompson, who has said earlier that he was not familiar enough with the 2005 Terri Schiavo right-to-life case in Florida or recent civil rights protests in Jena, La., to comment on them.

In the face of those questions, campaign spokesman Jeff Sadosky maintained that Thompson is a strong conservative leader who is bankable in a general election.

"He's the same person he was in 1994" when he was elected senator, Sadosky said. "He's not going to change for election-year expediency."


Which means what, that he's still not going to pay attention to hot-button issues that his own party cynically uses from time to time? And this is supposed to be a good thing? What's wrong with these people, seriously?

Well, we know what's wrong with them, obviously. They're afraid of even the hint of change, and they have deep-seated daddy issues, so they're more than happy to pay $250 for someone to show up late and tell them that everything they think they know is just right. Thompson has no plan except to function as a psychological mirror and reflect their "concerns" and insecurities. Then again, since he'll be out in a few months with a fat wad of cash in his pocket, it's as good a plan as any.

Friday's event was closed to the press, but those who attended said Thompson talked up the need for stronger national security and immigration controls as well as the preservation of Social Security.

Kathryn Wilson, 70, of Bruceton, Tenn., said Thompson showed he knew what Americans care about by tapping on those topics.

“I think all that time he was keeping up with it,” she said.


Bullshit. If he was up on those things he would have allowed the press in, so's he could shout it from the sagging rooftop of every outhouse in Spittle County. That people care about things like "stronger national security", "immigration controls", and "the preservation of Social Security" (insofar as that last, coming from a "conservative", always means letting Wall Street piss it away on some fucking hedge fund, followed by bailing out the grifters that lost the money in the first place) is not in dispute.

The issue is whether Fred Thompson has any coherent idea of what to do about any of those things. There is nothing to indicate that he does, because he is running a stealth George W. Bush campaign, straight outta 2000 -- let the press reverentially cover every dump you take, enhancing your name recognition, let the rubes spread the word of mouth, and never tell anyone what you actually think about anything, much less let sensible people get the impression that you have no idea what you're talking about.

That's how you get a home-state newspaper to do a fluff piece called "Critics are wrong", while never explaining at all how they are wrong. Thompson could have wrestled a greased pig the entire time, and this guy wouldn't have known it, because he wasn't allowed inside. Yet he, as an astute reporter, feels compelled to transcribe the deep musings of attendees and spokesweasels. I feel very informed now. Thanks, free press!

Campaign officials declined to disclose how much Thompson pulled in Friday in Jackson. The cost of the fundraiser was $250 a plate, and those who kicked in an additional $750 could snap a photo with the former Law & Order star.




Hey, who let the French guy in?

I Fart Huckabee's

Mike Huckabee, one of the few non-undead Republican candidates (but will still be out by the end of the year), wildly miscalculates in his comparison of Bush and Musharraf.

For one, Pervez Musharraf can actually speak English, and think extemporaneously. More importantly, his need to play both political sides off each other is literally a life-and-death matter for him and possibly his country, not just some dumbed-down Oedipal complex wrapped up in frat-boy egotism.

Because, you know, this time it's about character. Or something.

Queer As Dork

Shorter KnuckleHead Retardlution:

No, I don't obsess about Teh Gay a bit much. Or leather, and what a bad boy I've been, and how I deserve to be punished. Or the volcanic eruptions of man-gravy that accompany my regular....ah, no. Not obsessed at all. Why do you ask?

Blackwater Blues

This story has been moving fast, gaining steam, but beyond the details it's really the fundamental principles that should make it a no-brainer to resolve.

As anyone who has been in Iraq (like me) knows, on the ground the unspoken rule of Bush’s counterinsurgency efforts over the past four years has been that almost all Iraqis, at least the males, are guilty until proven innocent. Arrests, beatings and sometimes killings at the hands of security firms and sometimes U.S. military units are arbitrary, often based on the flimsiest intelligence, and Iraqis have no recourse whatever to justice except in a few cases like Haditha. Imagine the sense of helpless rage that emerges from this sort of treatment. Apply three years of it and you have a furious, traumatized population. And a country out of control.



Considering just how often our self-appointed spokestools proclaim the inherent Christianity of the nation, it's astonishing just how little common-sense logic is utilized in applying the Golden Rule to what we've done. Too many Americans seem to be genuinely pissed that the average Iraqi is not more grateful to us. Well, shit, how grateful do you think you would be if some bumbling oaf freed you from your oppressor (for his own reasons), wounding you in the process, and left you to simultaneously fend off a dozen or a hundred oppressors? Something about "the devil you know" might be useful here.

What this Blackwater mess is really bringing to the surface, beyond simply how corrupt and self-contained their operatives are, is how dependent this whole house of cards is on them. Already the Iraqis are simultaneously backing down on their demand for immediate expulsion of Blackwater personnel, even as they claim to have videotape proof of an unprovoked slaughter in the streets. This belies several claims made repeatedly by various Bush lackeys, including Saint Petræus:
  • Sovereignty. Clearly despite all the purple-finger euphoria, Iraqis are no closer to being incharge of their own lives and government than they were four years ago. This is not even in dispute -- the decision on Blackwater was effectively taken out of their hands. This is not just a rejection of the decision they made, it is an active assertion that the decision was not theirs to make in the first place.

  • The surge is working. If it was working, these things wouldn't be happening, but violence has spread largely unabated, if localized differently than before.

  • The Army is in good shape. If that's the case, then why are we, not just the Iraqis, so heavily dependent on mercenary Prætorian Guards for high-level security details? It has been tacitly acknowledged that we would not be able to maintain any diplomatic or political conciliatory presence whatsoever without private security details. Private contractors now equal (or by some accounts, exceed) the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

    The claim has been that even with paying PMCs four to six times the going military rate, it's still cheaper because of the extensive bureaucratic/logistical supply chain issues in the armed forces. Fair enough, but none of that explains why PMCs should be exempt from the UCMJ, or either Iraqi or American civil law.

This is bullshit. There is no reason at all for PMCs to be allowed to have some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, to quite literally get away with murder. This is nothing new; it's been going on the entire time. The hanging and burning of Blackwater contractors in Fallujah back in '04 did not happen by accident, but rather in an utter moral vacuum. And it continues today. What's different is that this time apparently the Iraqis have enough corroborating evidence. Whether there will be actual consequences is highly doubtful; after all, Jenna Bush has a book to pimp, and no doubt Lindsay Lohan is about to do something stupid.

[Update: I think Kaplan is essentially correct in his assertions, that there is a logistical necessity for PMCs. But that is not the quibble, and really never has been. The question, once again, is one of accountability, and really should not be all that difficult to resolve if everything is indeed on the up-and-up. There are reasons for keeping this accountability chasm intact at the policy level, and none of them are good, but all of them are entirely deliberate.]

In Oxy Veritas

I guess there's nothing really to add to fuckface Limbaugh's happy horseshit, except to agree that the double standard is still very much in effect. MoveOn is the spawn o' Satan himself, because they dared to criticize the veracity of General NewJesus' testimony. Therefore, anyone who refuses to completely repudiate MoveOn hates the troops. QED, chumps!

On the other hand, a toxic waste of space like Limpballs spouts off specifically against soldiers who dare to disagree with Junior's Master Plan, which all can agree is going just superbly. Some of these "phony soldiers" have literally given their lives or limbs for what Limbaugh and his dark masters earn quite a nice living to believe in. Someone else always does the wet work.

This is of a piece. This is a person who thinks it's funny to parody Parkinson's sufferers; why should his loathing of actual soldiers be any different? They dare to disagree with the people who put money in Limpballs' greasy pockets. And he's gotta get money for his oxy and boner pills somewhere.

It's only a matter of time before this piece of shit either gets caught cruising for head in a public bathroom, or has a bout of conscience and finally does the honorable thing. It boggles the mind to try to imagine what kind of animal still listens to this fucking creep.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hall of Suck

It is impossible to parody or criticize these idiots adequately anymore.

Madonna and disco queen Donna Summer are among nine acts nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the hall embraces more musical genres.

Other nominees include U.S. rock singer John Mellencamp, Canadian poet-singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, 1960s English band The Dave Clark Five and instrumental rock band The Ventures.

Also nominated are New York-based funk group Chic, rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa and hip-hop group The Beastie Boys, reflecting the Hall of Fame's willingness to accept a diversity of genres.


Where to start? I don't have it in me to rant about the RRHF these days; they've managed even to suck the fun out of that. I'll just say this -- where most past picks managed the simple effrontery of musical lepidoptery, this has to be either a practical joke or the result of the highly technical dartboard selection process.

"Embracing more musical genres". What is this here thing called again?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Preznit Miss Teen South Carolina

Jesus. Now I'm starting to be embarrassed for him:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - How do you keep a leader as verbally gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush from making even more slips of the tongue?

When Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, the White House inadvertently showed exactly how -- with a phonetic pronunciation guide on the teleprompter to get him past troublesome names of countries and world leaders.

The White House was left scrambling to explain after a marked-up draft of Bush's speech popped up briefly on the U.N. Web site as he delivered his remarks, giving a rare glimpse of the special guidance he gets for major addresses.

It included phonetic spellings for French President Nicolas Sarkozy (sar-KO-zee), a friend, and Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH-bee), a target of U.S. human rights criticism.

Pronunciations were also provided for Kyrgyzstan (KEYR-geez-stan), Mauritania (moor-EH-tain-ee-a) and the Zimbabwe capital Harare (hah-RAR-ray).

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the draft, labeled the 20th version and complete with typos and speechwriters' cellphone numbers, had been turned over in advance to help U.N. interpreters who must simultaneously translate leaders' speeches into several languages.


The easy road would be to put (puh-REE-no) after Dana's name, but I prefer to pronounce it "milftastic", and my teevee screen has the dents where I've been grinding my loins to prove it.

Seriously, though -- Mauritania? Mugabe? I know I joke about it, but for Christ's sake, did he really just play pinball, snort coke and brand plebes all through college or what? Wasn't there a Will Ferrell skit back in 2000 about Bush showing up to the second debate with Gore, all proud of himself for saying "Obasanjo" correckly and all?

This is sad. If we're just going to have dopey airheads running things, let's at least make them hot dopey airheads. Americans are much less irritable when they have a good reason to spank their hapless monkeys.

Duck Soup

I figure I spent most of my twenties at a minimum .20, and yet I managed to stay out of trouble, so I'm wondering just how shit-faced this asshole had to have been.

DENVER — The man accused of decapitating a tame duck at a Twin Cities hotel is a Denver federal health agency auditor who was on a government trip, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

Now, Scott D. Clark faces a felony animal cruelty charge and has been placed on paid administrative leave from his job with the Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said agency spokesman Don White.

"He was in St. Paul on an official government auditing assignment," White said. Clark, whose annual salary is $56,378, has worked one year for HHS.

Clark, 26, stunned people at the Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday when he cornered the duck against a wall by an atrium pond and ripped its head off, according to acriminal complaint.

He then told onlookers, "I'm hungry. I'm gonna eat it," and carried the headless fowl on the elevator up to the fifth floor, police said. Hotel security agents detained him there until police arrived.

Arriving officers said "feathers and blood were found strewn about the lobby area." They also saw the duck's head bobbing in the pond and blood drops on Clark's shirt, according to the complaint.

"It sounds like there was quite a bit of alcohol involved," police Sgt. John Wuorinen told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


Oh, ya think there, Fargo? Let's see -- 26 years old, $56K/year cush gov't job, and this is how he road-trips, by getting blotto and going Ozzy Osbourne on a duck in a hotel pond? Jesus, whatever happened to finding the nearest pick-up joint and bringing back some strange? How hard could it be with that kind of money?

This new generation of kids, with their crazy music and their duck-killing, they need to stay off my fuckin' lawn. Somethin' ain't right with 'em.

Pants Afire

You want your smoking gun, here ya go (transcript and analysis here):

Today, the Spanish newspaper El Pais published a transcript of a discussion between President Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in February 2003 in which the Bush told Aznar that the U.S. would go to war with Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein with or without a UN resolution:

“We must take him right now. We have shown an incredible degree of patience until now. There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be militarily ready.”

Though Aznar asked Bush to “have a little patience” and urged, “It is very important to have a [UN] resolution,” Bush pushed for war throughout the meeting, telling the Spanish Prime Minister, “We will be in Baghdad by the end of March.”

Just a few days later, Bush insisted to the American public that war with Iraq was not a certainty:

BUSH: “I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully.” [3/6/03]

BUSH: “We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.” [3/8/03]


Here's Bush plotting teh warporn with noted foreign policy enthusiast Harry Reems Aznar:

Yeah, baby, why doncha put on yer French maid outfit, and invest heavily in oil futures and PMCs? You know how I like it.

[Super Happy Fun Bonus: About 20-25% of the way down the translation page, there's a rather unfortunate remark by the Li'l Genius, comparing the protracted UN resolution process to "Chinese water torture". All those other dummies, getting in the way of his Great Idea. He should have them freedom-boarded for their impertinence. Definitely read through the conversations there. Fascinating stuff.]

Wall of Astound

Party at Phil's place tonight. As always, bring your own gun.

Evidence for the prosecution:

But prosecution witnesses painted Spector as a gun-toting menace, with five women telling harrowing tales on the witness stand of the music producer threatening them with firearms. Spector's driver testified he heard a loud noise and saw the producer leave the home, pistol in hand, saying, "I think I killed somebody."

....

Clarkson was found inside, slumped in a chair in the foyer. She had been shot in the mouth. A .38-caliber Colt Special revolver lay at her feet. It appeared someone had attempted to clean up the blood with a diaper found in the guest bathroom.

....

Prosecutors pointed to the leopard print purse slung over Clarkson's shoulder as evidence she was trying to leave when she was shot.



Exculpatory evidence:

Spector's attorneys argued that Clarkson was depressed over a recent breakup, grabbed the gun and took her own life.

....

The defense argued that blood-spatter evidence on the white women's jacket Spector wore showed he was standing too far away to place the gun in Clarkson's mouth.


Wow. Just wow. Apparently those two fence-sitters (at least one of whom will no doubt grace us with some hack-job of a book explaining away their fucktardery) needed either a video of the crime or a confession from Crazy Phil. Short of that, they got everything and the proverbial diagram drawn for them.

At least now Michael Jackson should have a pretty good idea of just how much more he can safely get away with. If you're an anonymous douchebag, you're gone before you know it, but if you're a rich celebrity freak, you can usually skate.

American Idols

Tucked away at the end of this revisiting of Wall Street, I thought this was interesting, if not at all surprising:

Money Never Sleeps [the upcoming Wall Street sequel] promises a newly globalized milieu (Pressman has stated that the film's locations include London, the United Arab Emirates, and "an Asian country"), but it may also provide an opportunity for Douglas et al. to provide a corrective to one of the unexpected side effects of Wall Street: the cult of personality attached to Gordon Gekko. Douglas says he's still stunned by the number of people who tell him that his Oscar-winning role was the reason they went to work on Wall Street. "It's so depressing and sad," Douglas says.


It is depressing and sad, but it makes perfect sense. Any field where individuals can wield disproportionate influence, they are bound to seek out justification for their being -- or, more problematically, intending to be -- irredeemable shitheads.

For self-absorbed pseudo-centrists wishing to salve their fractured political consciences, there's the freshly powdered pastel summer frock of Bobo Brooks, or perhaps the more testosterone-fueled ravings of Ann Coulter. And for well-heeled number-diddlers choking on their own pelf, there's Gordon Gekko.

I suppose it's good work if you can get it; even better if you can still excuse it enough to sleep at night.

The Big Show

Okay, I think we all get it now -- Ahmadinejad is a little wingy, a little showy and preachy, even ridiculous at times. Not a serious person who should be leading a responsible power.

Sounds familiar.

Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran's 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament.

There is, in fact, remarkably little substance to the debates now raging in the United States about Ahmadinejad. His quirky personality, penchant for outrageous one-liners, and combative populism are hardly serious concerns for foreign policy. Taking potshots at a bantam cock of a populist like Ahmadinejad is actually a way of expressing another, deeper anxiety: fear of Iran's rising position as a regional power and its challenge to the American and Israeli status quo. The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state.


That's pretty much it, all that's left is getting the marketing campaign rolling. Easier said than done; even the military advisors are backing away from this one. They've got their hands full as it is. So what's left is to consistently portray Ahmadinejad as a strutting, preening buffoon tweaking the nose of his betters. (Not that he doesn't make it easy for them to do so.)

The howls from the critics in the wake of Ahmadinejad's offer to lay a wreath at Ground Zero were something else. As if Benito Giuliani's shriveled cock and Count Chocula presence could ever be pried out of there, so anyone else could squeeze in. Not gonna happen.

So what's left is self-righteous lectures about Iranian support for terrorist groups, as if we don't support terrorist thugs like the MEK in Iran, under the guise of "democracy building". (Hint: the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq is not democratic, lest the name fool you. I believe it means "Kittens and Rainbows" in Arabic.)

In the end, you have to assume that we're heading to war because this is the way our leaders want it. Nothing else makes sense. Bush has his Majlis just like Ahmadinejad, they just wear Armani suits instead of robes and turbans and ZZ Top beards. And how they choose to go about it is textbook propaganda.

Would there be such fatalist expectation of a strike on Iran if Mohammad Khatami were still president? Try as Fox might, the reformist advocate of a "Dialogue Among Civilizations" could not be made to put on the Hitler mustache. If the United States wanted a diplomatic solution and a rapprochement with Tehran, he was their man. But it didn't, and he wasn't. In 2003 the Swiss ambassador to the US carried a proposal from Khatami to negotiate a resolution to all outstanding issues, including Iran's nuclear program and a two-state solution to Israel and Palestine. Washington's reaction was to censure the Swiss ambassador.

In Detroit, as in many cities and nations ruled by kleptocrats who are aliens to their own citizens, infrastructure has been starved of public funds, and tens of thousands have found themselves without water. Why? To make circumstances so dire that any solution offered will be taken as an escape from institutionalized misery. And the only solution the rulers offer is privatization.

Spurning Khatami's overtures and the season of conciliation from Iran toughened its hardliners, but it wasn't a missed opportunity for Washington. It was the last thing they wanted, while Ahmadinejad is just the devil they needed. ("US Focus on Ahmadinejad Puzzles Iranians," reads a New York Times headline today. “The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad," an Iranian political scientist is quoted. “He is not that consequential.”) Why? To sharpen the tensions to such a point that opinion makers determine the situation cannot be allowed to continue. And the only solution the rulers offer is violence.


When the only choices being offered keep coming down to death or chi-chi, and open, serious debate is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show with barely token opposition followed by rote cringing, then we have to start thinking about ways to get ourselves back into the decision-making loop, and stop dicking around with false compromise and gutless capitulation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Victory or Fubar

By now you've probably heard about this Macleans article, mostly because of its provocative photo. But the article itself also cuts neatly to the nature of the problems with Junior's ongoing folly.

Instead of polls and data mining, the governing Shia parties have taken control by using militias to “sectarian cleanse” Baghdad, a retaliation against al-Qaeda’s spectacular car bombing campaign. By one estimate, Baghdad was once 65 per cent Sunni; today it is 75 per cent Shia. Deaths from sectarian killings are reportedly down, in large measure because there are few mixed neighbourhoods left. Almost the entire Sunni middle class lives in Jordan or Syria. If you are named Omar, a traditional Sunni name, chances are you are dead or living abroad. Under Saddam, no one on the streets of the capital ever uttered the word mukhabarat, mean­ing the feared security police. Today, no one says maktab, meaning “office,” but in fact referring to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army’s bases from which members control neighbourhoods. Their preferred method of torture is the electric drill.


Qualitatively, how exactly is this substantially different from life under Saddam, from the ordinary Iraqi's perspective? If you ask this question, the usual fart-knockers rejoinder obtusely that you're equating American efforts (which are cynically touted as "coalition" efforts when convenient) with the Stalinist tactics of Hussein's psychotic mafia. This has the effect of getting one caught up in explaining the distinction, which is a complete waste of time. They know the difference, just like they know what the stupid MoveOn ad actually means. Everything's a ploy with these people, regardless of how many civilians get murdered with power tools because of chronic neotard bungling.

The discussion in Washington and New York has always drowned out the reality of Iraq. One of the terrifying aspects of the war is the monumental failure of analysis and action on the part of America’s political, military, journalistic and even business elites.

That problem may be systemic—the result of a “fact-based” America confronting a society it did not understand and simply making up an alternate reality, guns ablaze. So far, the Republicans have done an impressive job at failing in Iraq. Soon it may be the Democrats’ turn to fail, albeit in a different way.


I think so too. It seems that the Democrats will benefit electorally from the sheer number of retiring rats and remaining empty suits on the other side. The truly sorry lineup for preznitential contenders on the Republican side speaks volumes; there are cartoon characters that could beat bozos like Tom Tancredo in an election. And he has to know that, but he stays in because either he enjoys the sound of his own voice, or there's money in it. See Thompson, Fred.

But if this past year is any indication, it seems that even another resounding message at the voting booth will ultimately fall on deaf Democratic ears, possessed by people lacking even more in spine. They seem to be remarkably unready for what may, in its denouement, turn out to be a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Peter Galbraith has sufficient insight, on the off chance anyone has the balls to read it to Mister Man before sleepy time some night.

Since 2005, Iraq's Shiite-led government has concluded numerous economic, political, and military agreements with Iran. The most important would link the two countries' strategic oil reserves by building a pipeline from southern Iraq to Iran, while another commits Iran to providing extensive military assistance to the Iraqi government. According to a senior official in Iraq's Oil Ministry, smugglers divert at least 150,000 barrels of Iraq's daily oil exports through Iran, a figure that approaches 10 percent of Iraq's production. Iran has yet to provide the military support it promised to the Iraqi army. With the US supplying 160,000 troops and hundreds of billions of dollars to support a pro-Iranian Iraqi government, Iran has no reason to invest its own resources.

....

The scale of the American miscalculation is striking. Before the Iraq war began, its neoconservative architects argued that conferring power on Iraq's Shiites would serve to undermine Iran because Iraq's Shiites, controlling the faith's two holiest cities, would, in the words of then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, be "an independent source of authority for the Shia religion emerging in a country that is democratic and pro-Western." Further, they argued, Iran could never dominate Iraq, because the Iraqi Shiites are Arabs and the Iranian Shiites Persian. It was a theory that, unfortunately, had no connection to reality.

Iran's bond with the Iraqi Shiites goes far beyond the support Iran gave Shiite leaders in their struggle with Saddam Hussein. Decades of oppression have made their religious identity more important to Iraqi Shiites than their Arab ethnic identity. (Also, many Iraqi Shiites have Turcoman, Persian, or Kurdish ancestors.) While Sunnis identify with the Arab world, Iraqi Shiites identify with the Shiite world, and for many this means Iran.


But hey, what really matters is that the latest administration patsy to show up and lie with a straight face to Congress and to the American people, had a snappy uniform on. No criticism allowed, ungrateful rabble!

The identity of Iranian recipients of US funding is secret but the administration's neoconservative allies have loudly promoted US military and financial support for Iranian opposition groups as diverse as the son of the late Shah, Iranian Kurdish separatists, and the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), which is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Some of the Los Angeles exiles now being funded are associated with the son of the Shah but it is unlikely that either the MEK or the Kurdish separatists would receive any of the $75 million. US secrecy—and that the administration treats the MEK differently from other terrorist organizations—has roused Iranian suspicions that the US is supporting these groups either through the democracy program or a separate covert action.


Here's the thing -- even if the Iranians suddenly became so brazen and stupid as to announce publicly that they were finishing their nuke program tomorrow, and pointing missiles at Tel Aviv, it would still be impossible to trust the current oafs to take the right steps to deal with the crisis comprehensively. They know how to start wars, but have no idea how to end them, which is much more important to success.

One of the main reasons we regard World War 2 as the great, justified war is that we went the extra mile to end it correctly, insofar as rebuilding and investing in conquered enemies, even for rational self-interest rather than altruistic motives, is far better than plundering the ruins and salting the earth. And as long as there's a buck to be made in Iraq's oil reserves, we'll never exactly salt the earth, but we've shot our wad.

Everything here on out, just like everything for the past two years or so, has been pure damage control and risk management. There's not a charitable way to look at this any longer, we're going to spend more money next year than any other year so far in Iraq, and our representatives are playing grab-ass over goddamned newspaper ads.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pool Boy

No, not Vandehei. Better.

"If every American had to pool-boy for these people for a day, you'd have a revolution on your hands," is how he sees things.

The 23-year-old from rural Maine says he cleans several pools in the area, not just the Bushes', for a large pool-cleaning company. He works about 45 hours a week, and calls it the easiest job he ever had. He's paid $9 an hour -- "pennies thrown at my feet," relative to the wealth all around him, he says.


Yeah, but to be fair, most of those folks accumulated their wealth the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it. Why so resentful of the lucky, Chief? Surely they're no different from you 'n' me.

Razsa recalls one day when former first lady Barbara Bush was on her way over, and it looked like there wouldn't be time to bring the pool's temperature up to her desired 82 degrees in time. The family's caretaker was in a panic, he says.

"He kept shouting, 'Barbara will go crazy! Barbara will go crazy!'" Razsa recalls. "This is the same woman who after Hurricane Katrina said (of the Houston Astrodome refugees), 'You know, they're underprivileged anyway, so this -- this is working very well for them.'"


You know, the more you hear about this woman, the more she just sounds like a ray of fuckin' sunshine. Again, more corroborating evidence that she regards people of lower socioeconomic strata as an entirely different species. You'd think all the royalties she gets from being on the $1 bill would lighten her mood a bit.

But I think Rasza's most trenchant comment is one that has little to do with the Bushes directly.

That way of life is a common thread in my conversations with Razsa. It's something that's perhaps less abstract for him than for the pool owner.

"My brother was on hard times, pumping gas for Exxon from midnight till 8 a.m. to support his daughter," he mentions at one point. "Exxon is one of the richest companies in the world and he was making $7 an hour. My brother had to go on welfare to support his daughter, even though he was working 40-50 hours a week. Instead of making Exxon pay a living wage, they make the lower and middle classes pay for him."


I think there are certain groups or clubs of people who become so insulated from the people they're supposed to serve that they do pretty much regard those other lives as something in the abstract. They repeat the tropes of "poor people just aren't working hard enough", while they themselves get incredible opportunities and fuck them all into a knothole until they're forty years old, and still manage to get away with it. It's why people develop value system revolving around the principle of karma, even though it's demonstrably untrue. Some people can fail upward through life because they just don't give a damn.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Values Voters Bonus

Bad enough that these freaks had their stupid "debate", which at least all the genuine contenders (plus Poor Ol' Straight Talk) were smart enough to skip. But these goofballs also went the extra inch and re-wrote God Bless America. Here's a nifty sample:

The courts ruled prayer out of our schools
In June of ‘62
Told the children “you are your own God now
So you can make the rules”
O say can you see what that choice
Has cost us to this day
America, one nation under God, has gone astray.


Even granting (ahem) fartistic license, this is a remarkably retarded reading of Engel v. Vitale, and its follow-up, Abingdon School District v. Schempp. The first simply iterates the obvious, that state officials have no place composing and forcing recitation of a religious prayer. It violates the Establishment Clause. Fucking duh. The second case indicated that using parts of the Bible in the public school violated the same clause.

Neither one says "you are your own God now, so you can make the rules". It should be clear to all but a complete dribbling idiot that school officials should be taken altogether out of the goal of religious indoctrination, because it's too inextricably entwined with politics, and it's an all-or-nothing proposition. And, you know, because that sort of thing is what church is for. But no matter how much they protest, they already know all that.

These people are vile, through and through. They only see this country as a vehicle for their hypocritical emotionalism, thinly disguised as "faith".

I look forward to their continued marginalization. All they have to do is keep yapping and braying, to drive home just how whacked they are.

So actually, thanks, values loons, for doing our job for us. May your imaginary sky-buddy grant you your fondest wish and come and get you already.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Shorter Falafel Boy

"So black people do have table manners! Well, f'shizzle, mah nizzle!"

Expect a week or so of foamy playa-hatin' in which El Falafel insists that we are the real racists, and he'll show up a half-hour late in a velvet track suit to prove it. Jesus, maybe he should just start doing football commentary with Rush Limbaugh.

(For the record, I don't really think that Falafel dislikes blacks. I'm sure he thinks everyone should own one.)

[Update: Sure enough. The guy's a predictable, tedious fuckhead. I'm not sure which is worse, that Falafel is in the habit of calling people up and screaming at them, or that the people he screams at sit there and act like it's okay, and say they can't wait to have him on to clear things up.

Fucking morons, all the way around. These are the people who are entrusted to provide you with information and commentary; is it any wonder everything's fucked? Perhaps growing a pair and simply hanging up on people who talk to you like that is the first step toward self-actualization, instead of sitting there taking shit from a fatuous blowhard who sexually harasses his co-workers.

I guarantee you, one Paulie Walnuts vocalization of "Ohhhhh! Who the fuck you think you're talkin' to, Ponyboy?", followed by the slamming of the receiver in mid-tirade, will get either an attitude adjustment, or an even more embarrasing (and thus newsworthy) apoplectic fit from Mister Man. The sooner these idiots figure out that their warped vision of objectivity and comity are wrecking their profession, the better off they'll be.]

Shorter Mitt Romney

"Does James Dobson's cock make my mouth look fat?"

I don't think these people will be happy until every person is low-jacked with a copy of the Ten Commandments and has "In God We Trust" tattooed on their foreheads.

And no, "Mitt", they still don't trust you. They're still weird about Catholics and Jews; how do you think they are about a religion that says the Garden of Eden is somewhere near Branson?

A Hairy, Wrinkly Position

The U.S. Senate is cordially invited to get a sense of my ball-sack.

You wanna know why people vote for Ralph Nader, or don't bother at all? This is why. May every one of these grandstanding feebs spend their next lives shoveling shit in Falluja.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Call Any Vegetable

It's bad enough that, despite his vaunted Yale/Harvard pedigree, apparently C-Plus Augustus spent his entire matriculation either loaded or playing his weird, insecure little towel-snapping frat-boy games. What's worse is that he never stops being proud of that shit.

“I think I got a B in Econ 101,’’ [Bush] said at a White House press conference this morning. “I got an A, however, in keeping taxes low.''

His tax cuts, [Bush] asserted, have helped the U.S. economy recover from the recession he faced when he took office and the terrorist attacks that followed. “I say that the fundamentals of our nation’s economy are strong,’’ Bush said today. “There is no question that there is some unsettling times in the housing market…. (but) I’m optimistic about our economy.’’


Considering his major was history, and he's clearly flunked that while in office, one's confidence in Mister Man's economic insight is definitely not bolstered.

[Bush], in a press conference that lasted little longer than a half-hour, repeatedly played off his own image as a poor student, noting that he likes to remind people that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has “the PhD… I’m the C student,’’ he said, but look who’s the leader and who’s the adviser.


He's made this sort of comment a lot over the years. I'd like him to elaborate on that some time. I'm sure he thinks he's just making a little funny or something, but it'd be interesting to really grill him on this. What exactly does he really think the basis for this hoary chestnut is?

Because the more he trots it out, the more I'm convinced that it's just his way of telling the world once again to suck it, that no matter how much you study, how much you learn, how much you know, you can always be undone by a well-heeled cobag. The meritocracy is for suckas; being born lucky is where it's at.

Since it's been nearly a solid week already, I'm surprised he didn't trot out that stupid fucking story about how Daddy fought the Japanese in WW2, and now he, Prince Junior of Tumbleweedville, can talk to the Japanese leader as a friend and ally. I realize that this is what passes for deep thought and reflection on Bush's part, and that is precisely the problem, or at least one major one.

Honestly, it wouldn't even make sense for die-hard supporters to find these dumb, fake self-deprecations even marginally humorous; seeing as how they constantly evangelize about the existential urgency of What We Face, one would think that seriousness and competence would be of primary importance to them. Then again, they have chronically, tragically mistaken buffoonish, insecure stubbornness for intellectual integrity and clarity of purpose.



Although when it comes to trying to salvage a coherent legacy, you can't say that Bush doesn't at least have intent, if not ontological clarity. For him, it is more important to use Petraeus' squinty reports as selectively as possible, accruing all the credit, and using Petraeus' reputation to absolve himself of any blame. This requires significant revisionism.

There has never been a moment when we were not winning in Iraq. Victory has followed victory, from "Mission Accomplished" to the purple fingers of the Iraqi election to, most recently, President Bush's meeting at Camp Cupcake in Anbar province with Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the Sunni leader of the group Anbar Awakening (who was assassinated a week later). Turning point has followed turning point, from Bush's proclamation two years ago of his "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" to his announcement last week of his "Return on Success." "We're kicking ass," he briefed the Australian deputy prime minister on Sept. 6 about his latest visit to Iraq. In his quasi-farewell address to the nation on Sept. 13, Bush assigned any possible shortcomings to Gen. David Petraeus and bequeathed his policy "beyond my presidency" to his successor.

....

One week after Petraeus flashed his metrics, a whole new set of facts on the ground suddenly emerged: an admission (previously denied) by Petraeus that the United States was arming the Sunnis, who might use those weapons in the next phase of Iraq's civil war; the release of a Pentagon report that there is "an increase in intra-Shi'a violence throughout the South" (a report conveniently withheld as Petraeus was testifying); the Iraqi government's expulsion of Blackwater, a private security firm with close ties to the administration, after a band of its guards gunned down Iraqi civilians; the restriction of all nonmilitary U.S. personnel in Iraq to the Green Zone; a report by the Iraqi Red Crescent that about 1 million people are internal refugees as a result of ethnic cleansing (apart from the more than 2 million refugees who have fled the country); and the announcement by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of an investigation into the State Department's inspector general for quashing scrutiny and embarrassing studies of fraud in the construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, among other projects.


But we're "kicking ass". Right.

Of course, this has been a well-established behavioral pattern with Bush, a mama's boy through and through. Lacking even the rudimentary skills of intelligent diplomacy or even noblesse oblige that he might have gleaned from his father (were he not locked in lifelong mortal combat with him), he seems instead to have cultivated his mother's more abrasive, abusive people skills. Most of this essentially revolves around viewing people outside the family -- not to mention the üntermenschen -- as a whole 'nother species.

Bush is a classic insecure authoritarian who imposes humiliating tests of obedience on others in order to prove his superiority and their inferiority. In 1999, according to Draper, at a meeting of economic experts at the Texas governor's mansion, Bush interrupted Rove when he joined in the discussion, saying, "Karl, hang up my jacket." In front of other aides, Bush joked repeatedly that he would fire Rove. (Laura Bush's attitude toward Rove was pointedly disdainful. She nicknamed him "Pigpen," for wallowing in dirty politics. He was staff, not family -- certainly not people like them.)

Bush's deployed his fetish for punctuality as a punitive weapon. When Colin Powell was several minutes late to a Cabinet meeting, Bush ordered that the door to the Cabinet Room be locked. Aides have been fearful of raising problems with him. In his 2004 debates with Sen. John Kerry, no one felt comfortable or confident enough to discuss with Bush the importance of his personal demeanor. Doing poorly in his first debate, he turned his anger on his communications director, Dan Bartlett, for showing him a tape afterward. When his trusted old public relations handler, Karen Hughes, tried gently to tell him, "You looked mad," he shot back, "I wasn't mad! Tell them that!"

At a political strategy meeting in May 2004, when Matthew Dowd and Rove explained to him that he was not likely to win in a Reagan-like landslide, as Bush had imagined, he lashed out at Rove: "KARL!" Rove, according to Draper, was Bush's "favorite punching bag," and the president often threw futile and meaningless questions at him, and shouted, "You don't know what the hell you're talking about."


Of course, now he's all righteously indignant about how those meanies at MoveOn have abused poor ol' Honest Dave Petraeus. But make no mistake -- had Petraeus insisted on presenting truly unvarnished information at the hearings, Bush would have unceremoniously dumped him out on his medals, and promptly found someone else to toe the company line. This is not in dispute; the previous pattern makes that abundantly clear.

What is also made abundantly clear is that Bush -- who pretends at convenient moments to be a sensitive soul -- regards other humans simply by their utility to him. If he can look buddy-buddy to them and play on their awe for the office, even better for him.

Those around him have learned how to manipulate him through the art of flattery. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld played Bush like a Stradivarius, exploiting his grandiosity. "Rumsfeld would later tell his lieutenants that if you wanted the president's support for an initiative, it was always best to frame it as a 'Big New Thing.'" Other aides played on Bush's self-conception as "the Decider." "To sell him on an idea," writes Draper, "aides were now learning, the best approach was to tell the president, This is going to be a really tough decision." But flattery always requires deference. Every morning, Josh Bolten, the chief of staff, greets Bush with the same words: "Thank you for the privilege of serving today."


You decide which you find more unnerving, that his staffers have simply learned to work with the adolescent ego-trip buttons Bush wears on his sleeve, or the dickless cringing Bolten butters his boss' ass with at the start of each day.

Is it irresponsible to smack Bush around with his own words and deeds, in some vainglorious attempt at long-distance armchair psychoanalysis? It is irresponsible not to.

Getting any satisfaction out of Bush himself is just never going to happen, even reputation-wise. He's obviously incapable of even considering that he's a monumental fuck-up, much less admitting it, even to himself. Even the utterly failed and fraudulent legacy of this administration is going to get soft-pedaled by the corporate media, whose legitimacy after all is underpinned by the symbiotic relationship they share with the powers of governance. They are wedded to their retarded mommy/daddy party narrative, and they are no longer willing to stray from it. There's no reason to -- they make lots of money peddling that same tired-ass frame.



The illusion of legitimacy -- both in government and in media -- is required apparently, though for the life of me I can't figure out why. There's no fucking way any more than a fraction of a percent of this country is ever going to leave their comfort zone and actually do something constructive. Hell, even resolving not to waste gas and buy shit at Wal-Mart would be an actual statement; it's not as if rioting in the streets is necessary.

But even those two simple things are evidently out of our power. People on either side would rather be seen indulging in the ineffectual karaoke of marching in the street on some agreed day of commemoration, and then go right back to what they were doing out in the 'burbs. A few people make speeches, lock horns, maybe get arrested, the counts get fudged in the reportage, done deal.

The least we can do, one hopes, is to resolve to stop getting bamboozled into letting intellectual and emotional mediocrities mosey into power and ruin the country, on nothing more than the strength of their last names. No more Bushes, and frankly, if she's not going to resist these fuckers more forcefully, I don't see the need for the continuation of the Clinton dynasty either.

But clearly righting the country, and restoring our position and integrity in the world, is going to involve much more than simply waiting out Bush. The people who put him there are still there, in the media, in the commentariat, in the slovenly, despicable Beltway punditocracy that sees everything as an equation of political gamesmanship, instead of policies that affect peoples' lives. Either we want to get the fuck out of Iraq and figure something out with Iran, or we settle for listening to gutless bloviators pretend to insist on yet another last chance, yet one more six-month finale to this mess. Either we start looking for ways to get ourselves and each other off the oil tit, or we wait for somebody to do it for us at a tidy profit.

Because 2008 won't change much at all, really, if 2007 is any indication. So we get a Democratic preznit and a slightly larger Dem majority in Congress. Well, we've had a Dem congressional majority all year now. What, precisely, has changed, and why exactly are we supposed to pretend that more of the same is something better? They'll just engage in further rear-guard faux-centrism, which boils down to talking loud and then letting the thirty-percenters push them around some more. Either stand tall for something, anything, or sit the fuck down already. We need another non-binding resolution like we need another "preventive" war.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Circus Geeks

Okay, who wants to break it to the morons at CNN that it's a "sideshow" because they have chosen to make it so? I don't know anyone who wants to know more about this non-story, nor would I want to. This does not even qualify as the usual celebrijourno crap; it's just freak-show excess churned up by losers who should be reporting on things such as why our illustrious Democratic majority isn't forcing the bastards on the other side (of humanity) to go through the motions of filibustering every bit of obstructionism they can muster.

So fuck O.J. Simpson, and fuck every "news" entity that is still covering this bullshit after the initial report. Clearly there haven't been nearly enough news-copter crashes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to Succeed in Counterinsurgency Without Really Trying

Josh Marshall lays it on the line, I think. We can look at the decisions the British made in India, Kenya, Malaya, where they had to find out the hard way that there was no squashing an indigenous insurgency -- there was only continued occupation and brutality, or outright genocide.

The Latin American model, to which Marshall refers, seems much more likely to me in the end. You want to talk about pure unadulterated evil, read about El Mozote, or pretty much any counter-insurgency op in Guatemala or El Salvador during the '80s. That's where this is headed, ultimately, toward a ruthless thug who keeps a lid on things and does what he's told, who values FDI over his own people.

It's just business. But in any case, it's a completely different lemon than the one we were sold, and should be consistently identified as such, instead of mooning over administration log-rolling and disingenuous sock puppetry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oops, I Did It Again

More tiresome Britney Spears puttering, see if it keeps the hits coming. Plus, the more management-wonk knowledge I accrue, the more certain aspects interest me.

Los Angeles-based The Firm said: "We have terminated our professional relationship with Britney Spears.

"We believe she is enormously talented, but current circumstances have prevented us from properly doing our job," the statement continued.

Spears hired the company for the run-up to her comeback album, which is due out in the US on 13 November.


The big topic of discussion now seems to be some variation of whether or not her career can be revived. This is silly. Of course it can; show business practically lives on the tropes of redemption and renewal for fallen idols. Who says Hollywood is run by gays and Jews? It's run by closet Catholics, apparently.

But seriously folks, the question should be, does she want to revive her career? She seems to have hit some strange rut where she wants the trappings and lifestyle of enormous success, without all the actual work involved, to the extent that singing and dancing are "work". Not to denigrate either of those things, but the fact is that if you actually have a talent and passion for something, then it's not work -- it's a blessing to make a shitload of money to do something you would do for free, which is where 99% of the planet's actual musicians are at.

Even when we know better, these sordid little tales of celebrity downfall can be interesting, but not because of what we think they "reveal" about people (since we often don't know all or even most of the story). It's that it's strange and somewhat irritating to watch someone essentially take a winning Powerball ticket and wipe their ass with it.

But it must be disorienting to have literally everyone in your life -- and millions of strangers -- wanting a piece of you, acting like it's their right to live vicariously through you. Or in the case of that fucking freak on YouTube (or was it a parody? I honestly can't tell, but I really don't think it was), to use you as some sort of weird cathartic totem for their own demons. The tabulæ don't come much more rasa (rasæ?) than Miss Britney, but she has failed to equip herself with the knowledge and temperament to sustain her career, and has apparently rejected or alienated everyone in her life who can help her in those areas.

It's bad enough when fuckin' K-Fed looks like the better parent, but show bidness has a much deeper bottom, one that could involve porn and robbing liquor stores by the time she's 30 if she doesn't get her remaining shit together. And we'll all see it on YouTube.

Atlas Smugged

The main problem with Atlas Shrugged is that it's sloppy thinking soaked in bad writing. Most people are on board with the core philosophies as such. Productive capitalism is good; rational self-interest even better. These are not in dispute for the most part, even amongst the imaginary hobgoblins of Teh Left.

But AS is the worst sort of cartoon manifesto, chock-full of cardboard characters and turgid pronunciamentos. The parasite villains are single-minded, dogged in their pursuit of stealing from upstanding producers and throwing it to the wind to be wasted and unappreciated by fellow parasites. The noble producers have but one flaw, and it's that they care too much. Oh, boo-fucking-hoo.

By about the umpteenth interminable rendition of this theme, it occurred to me that, despite its pretense toward real-world dynamics, that it was every bit a sci-fi tract as, say, Anthem (an okay book which I retroactively appreciated all the more for its relative economy of prose and theme, and which also is, of course, the template for 2112).

In the world of Atlas Shrugged, nobody ever sent Pinkerton thugs to massacre wildcat strikers along with their families; nobody ever had to literally fight and die for decent working conditions, for a livable wage, for the basic right to not be paid in fucking company scrip and pushed around by company muscle. Rand completely ignores the reality of laissez-faire rapaciousness, of endless work weeks and child labor, to ponder a fantasy of copiously productive benevolence, hamstrung only by the whinging of thieves and moral cretins, and a taped-on love triangle.

I was fortunate enough to read The Muckrakers contemporaneously with AS, which helped to temper Rand's ponderous delusions of grandiloquent, morally righteous industrialists with the more grounded reality of heedless brutality, of incredibly dangerous jobs and places run by obscenely wealthy men. These were not the Henry Reardens of AS; many if not most were corrupt through and through, using pelf and gall as their retaining wall against justice, burning through fellow human beings like cord wood when they weren't collecting them like stamps.

There's nothing wrong with holding the ideals of Adam Smith and David Hume to a more exalted status than that of Marx; indeed, there's everything right about that. But Smith and Hume too often get confused and conflated, willingly so, by every downsizer who's fucked tens of thousands of people to pad his portfolio, by every hedge-fund grifter who's made a killing with bundled subprime mortgage derivatives, by every scumbag who's polluted every waterway within a 100-mile radius of his facility, and then, well, shrugs when the cancer rate turns into a hockey-stick graph.

And in the end, that makes Atlas Shrugged little more than a footstool-sized apologia for the nastiest strains of predatory capitalism, whether Rand intended for that or not. And the more Alan Greenspan tries to buy back shreds of karma, the more I assume that she -- and he -- knew exactly what they'd done all along, with their cultish little reading lab, somehow elevated to the ignoble status of enlightened cocktail-party chatter.

Providing pseudo-intellectual cover for well-dressed, pedigreed barbarism is perhaps the most dismal calling imaginable. To celebrate the anniversary of the publication of this damned thing is nothing but intellectual lepidoptery. It is the Rosetta Stone(d) of every shitbird in a three-piece suit trying to justify his behavior.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Know What You Did Last Hummer

There comes a time when a conservablogger gets a golden opportunity to take off the Klingon uniform, leave his mom's basement for a few hours (allowing her finally to Febreze the captain's chair and the futon, much to her blessed relief), and strap on a pair of golden kneepads. Dear Leader has provided several lucky 'tards just such an opportunity, you'd best believe they did not waste that chance at sweet, sweet war-chowder, tapped directly from the source.

It was very cool. The President of the United States slapped my hand and called me “brutha”. Top that....


Um, okay. I'll try. How's this: I once met Kip Winger, and he was actually very cool. He even let me call him "Kip", while I wager that these guys were just too caught up the majesty of a reg'lar guy that talks to them like he's Huggy Bear or something.

I mean, this stuff barely fits the realm of "empty-headed crap". No one expected any of these tools to be the least bit adversarial about anything, but I'm still not sure we thought they'd be this slavishly sycophantic. This is a chihuahua nervously wagging its tail, endlessly seeking approval, maybe a nice pat on the head.

There are a lot of things that adults can and should be seriously discussing in the context of policy objectives and abject failures. But these are not adults; this was a birthday party for a hopelessly spoiled five-year-old, is all. Can he count on your unwavering support, if he slaps your hand and calls you "brutha", so's he don't hafta remember your name? You betchum.

Usually the old saying is that we know what you are, we're just haggling over the price. These clowns are not haggling, because there is no price. They're more than happy to put out for free.

Bobo Rising

Sweet Jesus, it's like Christmas in September.

The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night, reflecting a growing view in the industry that subscription fees cannot outweigh the potential ad revenue from increased traffic on a free site.


Translation: who in their right mind would pay to read Bobo and MoDo and such? But I'll be more than happy to slap a hoop skirt on the former and take him out dancin' again for free. BoboWatch is back, baby!

Surge Protectors

Seems our allies in Baghdad have had enough of mercenaries, unaccountable to anyone, pushing civilians around with impunity. Imagine that.

The Iraqi government said Monday that it was revoking the license of an American security firm accused of involvement in the deaths of eight civilians in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion near a State Department motorcade.

The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting. It was the latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behavior.


Oh, come on. Who would have a problem with being treated like third-class citizens in their own country by secretive corporate paramilitary thugs?

Of the many scandalous precedents set by this war, the sheer scale of PMC involvement -- and again, their utter lack of accountability under either civil law or the UCMJ -- may potentially be the worst. The ceding of civil authority to a bunch of heavily-armed rental soldiers would be unacceptable here (one hopes). What makes anyone think it'd be any different anywhere else, particularly in a country that has already been violently chafing under the more conventional aspects of occupation?

If the Maliki government chooses to push the issue -- and they have every political reason to do so -- it could drive a real wedge in even the illusory surge gains Bush has been frantically trying to sell us on. Even more worrisome is how the enhanced presence of mercenaries underscores the real problem of personnel issues, that manpower is really just being shuffled around.

It's a huge shell game, and considering that PMCs now rival actual military service personnel in numbers and presence, if not conditions of deployment, this becomes a test of the Iraqi government's sovereignty. Because they're going to want to prosecute the Judge Dredds in the SUV convoy, and Blackwater is going to try to hide behind the agreements it signed with the U.S. government. And if they're gone, and the rest of the PMC guys are out, the landscape suddenly, drastically changes.

I'm not sure what sort of moral cretin would continue to remain willfully obtuse on this issue, but it's a very real one, and regardless of how much Erik Prince and the DeVos family and the rest of the entrenched Michigan mafia bankrolls the GOP, it needs to be addressed. Private military contracting, without sufficient oversight, has very dangerous ramifications for this country, as well as the unfortunate beneficiaries of our "help".

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Woke Up This Morning, Got Yourself A Goon

Yes, award shows suck, but sometimes they serve as a barometer for the industry. This is especially true for the Emmys, where network trolls still hold the power, and keep the real talent (that is, premium cable) ghettoized as much as possible. So you have a couple of rote Sopranos tributes, then James Spader takes Best Actor in a Drama. That sort of shit. Plus the production and pacing off the show were completely jacked.

On the other hand, Katherine Heigl is still pretty hot. You can scan the crowd for quality sweater fruit pretty much constantly on these things.

Tim Goodman has that and much more in his live wine-blogging of the show. It's a fun read.




Oh, and I don't care how many jokey "I never win" skits Kanye West does to try to rehabilitate his crybaby image, if that was really his song that he and Rainn Wilson did in the Don't Forget the Lyrics (on FOX!) parody, then he sucks even worse than I thought.

N-now th-th-that that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger
I need you to hurry up now
Cause I can't wait much longer
I know I got to be right now
Cause I can't get much wronger
Man I been waitin' all night now
That's how long I've been on ya


Jesus Christ. This is the sort of stuff 7th-grade girls scrawled on their Pee-Chee folders back in the day. It's just sad and sub-literate, and completely meaningless. But to be fair, Kanye did rock the Li'l Pee Diddly outfit that somebody laid out for him. Nothing says "asshole with money" like....well, an asshole with money.

Sometimes people will trigger your douchebag radar at first, and then they either start to grow on you, or you just realize you misjudged them initially. It happens. Not with West, man -- the more this fucking guy comes up, the more he comes off as just another talentless prick using this muzak thang to get into the sweatshop industry, where sexually harassed teenagers in Saipan can crank out his crappy signature swag for thirteen cents an hour, and he turns it over at a hundred bucks a piece.

He's not a musician, or an actor, or a clothing guy, he's just a brander, which in this day and age is what passes for entrepreneurship. He's Mickey Mouse with fucking $1200 sunglasses. He'd show up to the opening of an envelope (in this case, literally) to pimp his brand one more time.

[cheesy electronic background beat with a pilfered chord or two from some old Van Halen song] Yeeeaaah, yo, come on now.

When I talk about music, usually it's about hard rock/metal, or guitar-based music generally. But I also like soul and R&B; I grew up listening to Al Green and Bootsy Collins and Billy Preston. I like good rap and hip-hop, though it's increasingly rare. But this guy is just a straight-up fuckin' hack.

Seacrest out.

Sunday Blundery Sunday

I ain't hardly bullshittin' when I say that I hope Mike Shanahan gets a scorching case of ass herpes that dogs him for the next fifty years. For once Janikowski manages to beat the yips back on a clutch kick, only to have that fuckface grab him by the shorthairs with maybe the closest-to-the-actual-snap timeout I've seen.

And what the hell is up with the Chargers? I was at least smart enough to take Denver in the pool, but the damned Bolts are costing me money. Sheesh. Doesn't anybody bug Belichick's hoodie or anything? Let's see some creative thinking here, people.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Details

In the coverage of today's DC protest, one might find some mildly humorous snafus.

The first major protest against the Iraq War in Washington since January kicked off today with speeches near the White House, to be followed by a "die-in" at the U.S. Capitol featuring the playing of tap and a mock 21-gun salute.


This is "tap":

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack. It's loads o' fun for a good five, maybe ten seconds. Then it just sounds like people wearing horseshoes, stepping on bubble-wrap.

Then there's Taps:

Slightly different. But that's the least of it, as we'll see. Here's the thumbnail estimate for attendance, both anti-war and the euphemistically-named "counter-demonstrators":

Protesters and counter-protesters started to gather by 8:30 a.m. for the event, which is expected to be followed by a week of civil disobedience in the Washington area intended to shift the anti-war movement to a more confrontational phase. Organizers were predicting tens of thousands of protesters, though their permit is for 10,000.

....

The demonstrators were immediately confronted by several hundred counter-protesters, who came to the Mall to demand that politicians see the war through to victory.


Okay, keep those estimates in mind. Now, as to the nature of this virulent strain of yahooism that swaddles itself in flag doo-rags other such jingo bunting:

"It will be a lot of bull horns, a lot of 'singing God Bless America', " said Betty Kilbride, 48, of Arlington, a writer who described herself as supporting the troops.


Bullhorns and singing. That qualifies as "support" if you're cheering on your favorite driver at the demolition derby at the county fair. Otherwise, articulate yourself, and do it in the context of the lies and deception underpinning the policy. Thanks for playing.

Deborah King-Lile, 55, of St. Augustine, Fla. said the Gathering of Eagles prided themselves on not being arrested at protests. "We just want a chance to show America we don't agree with the vocal minority."


Uh, yeah. Dingbat, you are the fuckin' "vocal minority", see? Oh, right, I forgot, everyone is in cahoots to lie to you about what's really going on and make you feel bad. General sentiment has been polled at 2:1 or 3:1 in serious disapproval and disagreement over Li'l Lord Pissypants' idear of successmanship and progress. And the particular event you yourself have chosen, well, it sounds like even 10:1 is a pretty charitable ratio.

And if you disagree, lady, then hold your own fucking march already. The only time these scabs ever show up to anything is in opposition to the actual event. They're circus geeks at a sideshow, looking for an unsuspecting chicken.

I'm dead serious about this. If the freepers and the conservatards and the 30% dead-enders are so damned sure that: A) they are correct in their principles, and their understanding of empirical reality; and B) that they are the silent majority, being wrongly shouted down by MoveOn's minions, then it should be no trouble to organize yourselves for your very own Million Moran March. Please, by all means, knock yourselves out.


Git 'er dunnn, Chief.

Okay, so remember those numbers in the Post article, "tens of thousands" expected, versus "several hundred" yahoos? What a difference a creative interpretation can make:

Thousands of anti-war protesters, including a sizeable contingent of military veterans, rallied on Saturday outside the White House in Washington, D.C., to demand an end to the Iraq war.


Ah, "thousands". Two, ten, thirty, how many thousands? One gets the distinct impression that it could have been fifty or even a hundred thousand, and you'd get this lackadaisical "thousands" thrown out. Given the context and the circumstances, this is inconceivably lazy.

CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv reports that counter-protester groups, including a contingent of Vietnam veterans called Gathering of Eagles who support the war in Iraq, lined Pennsylvania Avenue and had a verbal battle of chants and slogans.

Nearly 1,000 counter-protesters gathered near the Washington Monument, frequently erupting in chants of "U-S-A" and waving American flags.


Also the guys with the "D" and the little mock picket fence. D-fence! Unh-unh! D-fence! Unh-unh! That shit never gets old, like the dude with the "Jesus Saves" sign in the end zone.

But notice here, "several hundred" has turned into "nearly a thousand" from the Gathering of Weevils crowd. Interesting, that.

Perceptions can change on one or two judiciously placed words or vague statistical estimates. And we all know that estimating crowd sizes is an inexact science at best, not to mention a politically charged one as well. But there appears to be zero sourcing from the CBS article. And the main effort, far more than simply reporting reliable statistical facts to perhaps illustrate the sheer disproportion between the people of all walks of life who are fucking sick of George Bush's goddamned war and the real vocal minority, is to....wait for it....give both sides equal time.

Disinformation

So is the Mighty Wurlitzer being played once again as stooges for the military-industrial complex?

Though Debat, often described in the American media as “a former French defense official,” insisted he would clear his name and sue Riché and his online magazine Rue89 for slander, the alleged fabricated interviews soon became a problem not just for Debat but for ABC. Since 2002, the network has employed Debat as a counterterrorism consultant and sometimes reporter, sending him to far-flung locations to report on Al Qaeda, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan. (For the past year and a half, Debat has also served as the director of the terrorism and national security program at the Nixon Center; he resigned "for personal reasons" this week, an official with the Nixon Center said.)

Sources also say that Debat claimed in the spring to have received a "large chunk of money" from the Pentagon to conduct a study concerning radical Islam; when I inquired about the contract, a Defense Department official said he would check into it.

Following Riché's report, ABC publicly announced that it had demanded Debat's resignation in June, after obtaining the annotated CV and investigating his claims to have a doctorate. ABC said it had investigated his reports then, and was undertaking a more extensive investigation upon learning of the fabricated interviews at Politique Internationale, but that to date, it was confident that all of Debat’s reports for ABC had been vetted and multiply sourced and were standing up to scrutiny.


Wouldn't it have been easier to just get him on as a staffer at The Note?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Anybody Listening?

Seriously. I honestly can't imagine anyone sitting through this bullshit live; I could barely be bothered to skim the post-mortem.

President Bush's TV address tonight was the worst speech he's ever given on the war in Iraq, and that's saying a lot. Every premise, every proposal, nearly every substantive point was sheer fiction. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional.

The biggest fiction was that because of the "success" of the surge, we can reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15 by next July. Gen. David Petraeus has recommended this step, and President George W. Bush will order it so.

Let's be clear one more time about this claim: The surge of five extra combat brigades (bringing the total from 15 to 20) started in January. Their 15-month tours of duty will begin to expire next April. The Army and Marines have no combat units ready to replace them. The service chiefs refuse to extend the tours any further. The president refuses to mobilize the reserves any further. And so, the surge will be over by next July. This has been understood from the outset. It is the result of simple arithmetic, not of anyone's decision, much less some putative success.


Exactly. The purpose of the surge was never to resolve the war; it was to keep it going, and now that simple math necessitates at least some drawdown, Bush is lamely attempting to couch that in the rhetoric of success.

I don't even know what to say anymore. This man is either flat-out delusional, or he is as shameless a huckster as any Crazy Eddie trying to sell you an exploding Pinto. Who the fuck is falling for this still, and how much longer is he permitted to play kick-the-can with other people's lives?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Goddamn

Casualties of war:

NEW YORK The Op-Ed by seven active duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq questioning the war drew international attention just three weeks ago. Now two of the seven are dead.

Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray died Monday in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, two of seven U.S. troops killed in the incident which was reported just as Gen. David Petraeus was about to report to Congress on progress in the "surge." The names have just been released.

....

Mora, 28, hailed from Texas City, Texas, and was a native of Ecuador, who had just become a U.S. citizen. He was due to leave Iraq in November and leaves behind a wife and daughter. Gray, 26, had lived in Ismay, Montana, and is also survived by a wife and infant daughter.


When do we say "enough", and more importantly, when do they finally listen?

Kojo No Tsuki

Maybe the Japanese have the right idea. Abe didn't hold office very long, certainly not long enough for people (especially foreign observers) to pass judgment on him. But at least he understands that lack of confidence in his leadership does -- and should -- translate into administrative paralysis.

Too bad certain other world "leaders" are so obtuse about taking the hint. Perhaps if the citizens had a means of providing it more clearly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spiritual Vampires

Lest we forget on this day of remembrance, screw Giuliani and Lieberman, y'know? Fuck 'em in the neck. Just because. Lock 'em in a fuckin' elevator with Kanye West and let 'em duke it out, girly-style. Better yet, just let the elevator plummet.

This is one of the very rare times that you'll ever see me link to a conservatard site, but there's a mildly interesting note (probably very temporary) at Hannity's manure pile. I know it's all exciting and new, like the Love Boat and shit (but with a higher occurrence of herpes), but wait -- before you click on the rilly cool offerings of Charlie Daniels and Sportin' Life Bill Bennett, check out something else. It's a congratulatory clip, saying "Has it really been six years? CONGRATULATIONS SEAN! Letting Freedom Ring Nationally Since September 10, 2001" [all caps in original; italics mine to emphasize date]

Can it really be that simple? Did a squinty, logrolling Lawn Guyland boyo just happen to find his niche the very day after he started? Apparently so. One wonders, in the glorious exploratory spirit of alternate history, what would have happened to SeanBoy in a 9/11-less world. Perhaps a lower-profile career on the rubber-chicken circuit with interchangeable hacks and ankle-biters, à la Laura Ingraham.

As a wise man once said, they flutter behind you, your possible pasts.

Gay Old Party

WTF is going on with these people?

* the bodies of Republican political consultant Ralph Gonzalez, 39, president of The Strategum Group, his roommate David Abrami and "a friend," Jason Robert Drake, were found in an Orlando apartment.

* Gonzalez served with the Republican Party of Florida's House Campaign Division and executive director of the Georgia Republican Party and counted the Alabama Republican Legislative Committee as a client, producing an anti-gay flier accusing a Dem candidate of supporting marriage equality.

* A newspaper, Florida Today, initially reported that there were signs of a struggle, printing "Lovers' fight may have sparked three deaths" as its headline. The paper later scrubbed any references to a love triangle.

* BradBlog has shown the ties between Gonzalez and Florida's vote-tampering congressman, Tom Feeney. From Pat Go Bye Bye:
Gonzalez, who was out to his friends, had ties to Ralph Reed when he took over the Georgia Republican Party and used unethical tactics to beat Senator Max Cleland. He was also the campaign chair for the ethically-challenged Tom Feeney's congressional campaign as well as his state rep campaign after which Feeney became house speaker and got involved in a software-buying scandal involving Yang Enterprise. Feeney is best known for his vote-rigging scheme (which has ties to an unexplained death of a Florida state investigator in Valdosta GA), Jack Abramoff, and a variety of unethical smear tactics against Democratic candidates.

* Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry has ties to Gonzalez and Drake, the latter was determined to be the shooter in the murder-suicide.

* McHenry's office initially denied knowing Drake but confirmed later that McHenry did know him, but didn't specify the nature of the relationship.

* Drake was also allegedly tied to a gay escort service in Virginia; the prostitution angle -- and who it extends to -- is very murky at this point, with few sources on the record.


[italics mine because I can't do second-order blockquotes]

There's a lot more, and you practically have to have a giant whiteboard to diagram it on. Is it merely a bunch of self-loathing closet cases selling their souls to the dark side, or is their closeted status somehow politically useful as leverage somewhere along the line? But hey, gay porn and prostitution, and suicidal lovers' triangles? Sounds pretty durn Republican to me. The only thing missing is Rush Limbaugh's bag of happy pills and a ball-gag.

Never Forget

  • ....that it didn't have to be this way.


  • ....that Serious Thinkamators such as Richard Bruce Cheney and Billy Fucking Kristol have been -- and continue to be -- wrong about everything.


  • ....that there are people who get paid to lie to you.


  • ....that people tell themselves that everything changed so they can avoid realizing how very little has actually changed.


  • ....that Saddam had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


  • ....that powerful people in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had everything to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


  • ....that Bush airily dismissed a detailed briefing just a month before the attacks, and stared blankly into space and kept reading My Pet Goat after learning of the attacks. Then he ran and hid.


  • ....that we still have no idea who is responsible for the anthrax attacks right after 9/11. The trail seemed to stop when it was realized that it was a rather sophisticated milling process that was probably in the U.S.


  • ....that the Bush family has been doing business with the bin Laden family for a long time.


  • ....that a select few are making a lot of money from a lot of misery.


  • ....that "democracy" really means "a country that will sell us something we want at a price we can agree upon, regardless of what its own citizens want or need".


  • ....that you're on a need-to-know basis. For your own good.

Feel free to add your own.

Dishonorable Discharge

I don't trust anyone with a stupid berries-and-cream haircut anyway, but Petraeus' hacky little dog-and-pony show should be seen for exactly what it is. If he wants to be the sock-puppet/fall guy for a failed preznit and a catastrophic policy, so be it. How many more people get to die so that the Serious Thinkers can try to save face?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Driving the Waaahhhmbulance

I can't fucking stand Kanye West. Still. I just wanted to share that.

Kanye West, a virtual shut out at the Video Music Awards on Sunday night, threw a hissy fit in front of cameras and crew backstage as the MTV show was coming to an end.

While waiting for a an elevator, West, 29, began yelling about losing all five categories for which he was nominated, including male artist of the year.

"That's two years in a row, man ... give a black man a chance," said West, barking his misery at the nearby reporters. "I'm trying hard man, I have the ... No. 1 record, man."

....

Last year, Kanye hit the stage at the MTV Europe Awards after not winning for best video.


I hope he means "Give a black man a chance" in the "help a brutha out" context; there are certainly enough ellipses in the quotes as well. Given his history of inflammatory comments, I'm not terribly inclined to be charitable in my assumptions, but it is possible that he didn't intend that the way it came out, or was taken slightly out of context.

Still, to be that desperate for a cheap trophy from a crappy basic-cable channel that hasn't shown any actual music videos in roughly a decade, damn. Maybe they can make a special Biggest Fucking Crybaby award for him next year, in the shape of a pacifier. Hell, maybe MTV just enjoys jerking his chain now, the way the Daytime Emmys did to Susan Lucci all these years.

In the meantime, Susan Kanye, like I've said before, go crack a few bottles of Cristall, bang some models, and shut the fuck up already. You're just a lucky -- or unlucky -- break from asking us if we want fries with that.

[Bonus Update: Oh, this is fucking rich -- the piano player has suddenly discovered where he really works. Shocking, and of course, entirely in keeping with Mister Man's overarching notion that if MTV would just let him open, and do the main stage, and give him all the awards, why he'd just be okely-dokely with all that. Imagine that.

Here's a thought, pal -- why not just put together your own fucking show, as Timberlake did just last week on HBO (which, you know, just might have accounted for his somewhat enhanced presence at the VMA show)? If you're as popular as you think you are, the networks will be chomping at the bit to air even a snippet of the Me, Myself, & I: Bask In My Immense Greatness and Smell My Farts, You Worthless Fucks Tour. You could probably even pay a clowder of flunkies to present you with a bucket of awards celebrating your enormous importance to the continuance of humanity's ability to carve and organize sound out of blessed silence with Pro Tools.

As the music industry, such as it is, continues to careen into the tar pits of technological and revenue-model irrelevance, I am reminded that I won't miss the presence of spoiled, narcissistic douchebags like this fucking goon, not a bit. Go pimp some hundred-dollar t-shirts to the wannabe suckas, dickhead.]