Sunday, August 31, 2008

Social Distortion

As expected, Sarah Palin's nomination has excited only the already excitable. Already the usual suspects at the Corner of K-Lo Street and Pantload Boulevard are out on the sidewalk, sharpening their virtual crayons and juggling rhetorical lemons. We took a peek at the sideshow back on Saturday. Let's start with the inimitable comic stylings of one Mark Levin:

Over at his blog, David Frum asks: "If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?" Of course, the question is loaded.

This small town stuff is odd to me. If a candidate is mayor of a large town, does that make her more qualified for the vice presidency or presidency? Don't we need to know more? Is Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick more qualified than any small town mayor? Is any major city mayor more qualified than any small town mayor? I suppose the question can also be asked: Is a big state governor more qualified than a small state governor, based on the size and diversity of the state alone? Or don't we need to know more? So, Frum's line about a small town mayor is by itself useless in analyzing a candidate's qualifications.

Of course, that's not what Frum was asking, not at all. Frum correctly pointed out that McCain has made "Country First" a centerpiece of his campaign, that every decision he is making and plans to make will have the country's best interests at heart. This does not remotely jibe with the selection of someone who can only charitably be described as a political neophyte.

I don't think anyone's going to let Kwame Kilpatrick near much of anything anymore, but that's also beside the point. Only a complete dipshit would think that there's no substantial difference between being (even a corrupt and incompetent) mayor of a chronically troubled major city that, despite serious population declines, is still 50% larger than Palin's entire state, and being mayor of a very small town whose mayoralty is more ceremonial than operational anyway.

So, and I'm about the last person to defend David Frum, but Levin's rebuttal completely (and deliberately) obfuscates Frum's point, rendering it meaningless with a barrage of non-sequiturs and irrelevant rejoinders. If we are facing existential doom from the Islamojihadifascistas, and if experience and judgement are paramount, then McCain has very seriously contradicted himself with his choice. Means nothing to the rest of us, since we've come to expect it, but it should mean something to them.

Hey, hey, hey! Pantload's got somethin' to say.

I've been thinking about it and I think the bottom line on Palin is pretty simple. If she does a good job at the convention and survives about three weeks of serious media scrutiny — no horrible gaffes, no unforgivable I-don't-knows to gotchya questions (fair and unfair), no botched hostile interviews — she will emerge as the single most inspired VP pick in modern memory and she will give the Democrats migraines for a long time to come, assuming there are no terrible skeletons we don't know about. But, if she screws up in the next three weeks, gives the press and the late night comedians sufficient fodder to Quayelize [sic] her, she'll be seen as anything from a liability to an outright horrible pick. That's it.

Soooo....because we already have such low expectations (which was surely part of the strategy), she can appear merely adequate and exceed those expectations. Why not? It worked for Bush, and look how well that turned out. Thanks for the penetrating insight, Lunchbox. Didn't see that one coming up the road.

Of course, like potato chips, and most other trans-fat snacks, he can't stop at just one:

But I would rather have John McCain in office for two years with Palin going to school on the job than have Barack Obama in there from day one (particularly with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid running the Congress!). I think Obama is wrong on a whole lot of things, might not be up to the job and would give a blank check to Congress. And he's the guy running for president. Palin might not be up to the job, we'll have to see, but we're not voting for her to be president (a distinction countless liberal bloggers seem intent on deliberately blurring). Obama is wrong from day 1. Palin possible right from day 1, but almost surely right on day 1,082 if, God forbid, that day comes.

His faith is impenetrable here. Notice how smoothly he moves from conceding that Palin might not be ready, but would "almost surely" be ready three years in. Note also that the questioner was asking about a scenario where McCain passes a couple months in, not two, then three years, as in Pantload's hypotheticals.

No matter. Palin's competence would not be the issue anyway. McCain, as with Bush, would "almost surely" turn his policy-making over to whatever vulcans are still skulking through the halls of the Pentagon. Cheney would be sure to leave his rolodex and cell number. The transition from McCain to Palin would be smooth as silk, because neither of them would really be in charge, except for catering to the intellectual boobism that passes for "social conservatism" in this country.

This is the problem with leaving serious choices up to self-righteous fambly-valyews toads; they bray endlessly about how serious they are, then betray their sensibilities on sight of the first shiny object dangled in front of them. Hell, even Sully the Pooh gets it, but these people are mule-stubborn and brick-thick.

And now I'm off to lunch with Kathryn.

Too easy.

Mark Steyn, who actually could write fairly coherently pre-9/11, cobbles together some talking points almost ritualistically.

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are more or less the same age, but Governor Palin has run a state and a town and a commercial fishing operation, whereas (to reprise a famous line on the Rev Jackson) Senator Obama ain't run nothin' but his mouth.

Well, and been president of the Harvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law. Not as romantic as living out Northern Exposure, I suppose, but it's something very few people can do.

Fifth, she complicates all the laziest Democrat pieties. Energy? Unlike Biden and Obama, she's been to ANWR and, like most Alaskans, supports drilling there.

Everyone in Alaska supports drilling there; the fact that Palin's husband works for BP is just gravy. Alaska is the biggest welfare state in the union. If they didn't get their piece of the oil action there they'd be stealing moose steaks out of each other's chest freezers during yet another interminable, besotted winter.

Sixth (see Kathleen's link to Craig Ferguson below), I kinda like the whole naughty librarian vibe.

I like milfs as much as the next guy, and I certainly don't mind having that hot-librarian itch scratched. It would just have never occurred to me, even as a goof, to vote one into the most powerful job on the planet. Then again, I never thought enough people could be stupid enough to vote for a person such as George W. Bush. In many ways, I still can't quite believe it. It's like going to your 25-year high-school reunion, and finding out that the kid who used to eat his own boogers in class and molest farm animals on the weekends is a high-powered CEO. Oh, he still eats boogers and fucks livestock, it's just that someone actually thought he was responsible enough to manage something more complicated than getting his socks on in the morning.

Finally, Special Ed lumbers onto Hot Air to offer a point-by-point refutation of the arguments against Palin's nomination. The points themselves are easy enough to counter-refute, and not really worth the effort.

But the comments, as these things usually are, are priceless. Too many to choose from, really.

[Update: Turns out that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant. Is it a setback or a boon for those coveted valyews? Oh, the hilarity! Will they have to set up a day-care center in the Oval Office?]

Russian Roulette

Couple more items of interest in analyzing the Russia-Georgia conflict, and our unwitting role in the whole thing -- including, of course, the blustery, mavericky incompetence of Poor Ol' Straight Talk. First this piece from the NY Review of Books, laying out the case for how we ineptly encouraged Saakashvili to lay his dick on the table, thinking we had his back. Sorry Misha, but maybe understanding what exactly it means when Bush is two or three times as popular in your country as he is here would be a clue in how that was going to go.

Then there's CNN's interview with The Man himself, Ol' Pooty-Poot. Putin is at once authoritative and discursive, even (for him) almost playing around, as the reporter goes to wind it up and Putin responds, "We could go on. I am in no hurry." This, as we've forgotten, is how people who are in charge of large countries are supposed to sound: clear, coherent, able to speak extemporaneously and at length about actual ideas, rather than endlessly babbled, fractured boilerplate and circular "in other words" handjobs.

While he's at it, Putin explains what he thinks of Faux Noise:

Let's recall, for example, the interview with that 12-year-old girl and her aunt, who, as I understand, live in the United States and who witnessed the events in South Ossetia. The interviewer at one of the leading channels, Fox News, was interrupting her all the time. All the time, he interrupted her. As soon as he didn't like what she was saying, he started to interrupt her, he coughed, wheezed and screeched. All that remained for him to do was to soil his pants, in such a graphic way as to stop them. That's the only thing he didn't do, but, figuratively speaking, he was in that kind of state. Well, is that an honest and objective way to give information? Is that the way to inform the people of your own country? No, that is disinformation.

Funny that a guy with his own, erm, tempestuous relationship with journamalists would have the nerve to point the finger, but point taken. Even he gets that Fox is a bad joke.

I don't think anyone's under the illusion that Putin's a "good" guy per se, but you have to have at least a grudging respect for him. Here's a guy who was handed an enormous basket case of a country that neither the West nor Yeltsin gave a shit about. Yeltsin was a thief and a drunk and a cheap thug, who let the country and its army fall apart in chaos and poverty, while he and his family enriched themselves.

And Putin turned that around, with his own thuggish nastiness, murdering journalists and imprisoning political opponents. But he cleaned up the nightmarishly undisciplined army and now even once-secretive outposts such as Vladivostok are thriving. No doubt he has wet his beak, but he seems content to enrich his cronies and consolidate power instead. He has been extremely effective in prioritizing Russian interests on the world stage, which -- get this -- is what he's supposed to do. I think many of us seriously think that guys like Putin are supposed to check with us first before making a move. Does your neighbor ask your permission before fucking his wife?

Of course, the reason Russia is now thriving is because of oil prices, which is our doing. Straight Talk McCain rhetorically asks what Saddam Hussein would have done with $110-120 oil. A look as Putin's record might give him a hint, albeit a more rational, less Stalinist one. But none of this happened in a vacuum, and our Serious Leaders keep pretending we had no role in any of it. Forget McCain not being fit to be president, the man's not fit to be a senator at this point, if he can't figure this one out.

Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Media Matters catches yet another conservahack smugly inventing shit:

In an August 30 post on the National Review Online's Media Blog, Greg Pollowitz falsely claimed that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin visited troops in Kuwait "a year before Senator [Barack] Obama felt the need to go." Noting a July 24, 2007, Alaska Public Radio Network report that "Palin today visited with a National Guard unit from Alaska serving in Kuwait," Pollowitz wrote: "Unlike Senator Obama's staged trip to the Middle East, Governor Palin went to visit the troops in Kuwait before she was ever under consideration for Veep. ... And a year before Senator Obama felt the need to go," a reference to Obama's July 2008 visit. In fact, Obama also visited troops in Kuwait in January 2006. Indeed, the Coalition Forces Land Component Command's website posted a photo of Obama "listen[ing] to a soldier voice his concerns Jan. 7 during a dinner at Camp Arifjan's Zone 6 dining facility" and a photo of Obama "driv[ing] toward the basket during a game with soldiers Jan. 7 at Camp Airifjan's Zone 1 gym."

To his small credit, Pollowitz actually posted a correction to his idiotic assertion, even attributing his newfound wisdom to Media Matters. But the thing is that he clearly never bothered to check. How hard can it be to use Teh Google and punch in "obama visit iraq" or whatever? He didn't even try; he just assumed he had a cheap rhetorical opening. Or maybe he did know better and just figured he'd get away with it, as they so frequently do.

And if it hadn't been for Media Matters catching it and publicizing Pollowitz' grievous error, not only would it have sat there, the 'tards at The Corner (more on them later) would have repeated it incessantly as "fact". Because in their world, "facts" are simply things that you can gull people into believing. Like the old law aphorism: if the law is on your side, pound the law; if the facts are on your side, pound the facts; if neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound the table.

Or in the case of these knuckleheads, the high chair.

This Just In

I still can't stand Geraldine Ferraro, and I doubt that will ever change.

In an interview with NPR yesterday, Geraldine Ferraro praised Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate, and defended Palin against the accusation that she's not qualified to hold high office. When asked who she was voting for, Ferraro played coy: "When I go into the booth I will make my decision."

I've already made my decision -- you're a preening, disloyal asshole who needs to grow the hell up and realize that there are more important criteria than plumbing. For example, on what basis is Ferraro even considered a worthy or insightful person to interview? What she did 25 years ago -- which, when you get right down to it, was to function as the anti-Viagra to an already hopelessly flaccid ticket -- is irrelevant today, in and of itself. What has she done since? What does she do now other than petulantly undermine her own party and give credence to old "circular firing squad" memes?

The only reason I registered as a Democrat this year is because in California, you cannot vote by mail as a "decline to state" or "independent". Other than that, I have very little patience with a party that seems to take pride in proving Will Rogers right about its lack of discipline and organization. They need to stop letting the Zell Millers and Joe Liebermans fester under the awning of the party; fucking put them out in the cold already.

There's having a big tent, and there's letting the crazy shopping-bag lady in the corner prattle on and waste people's time. Ferraro needs to either get down to Florida or Pennsylvania or something and help out where she can with whatever cred she still thinks she clings to, or just sit down and shut the hell up until it's over.


Sounds like the party's getting rained out, one by one:

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will skip the Republican National Convention because of mounting concerns about Hurricane Gustav, the White House said Sunday.

His Homeland Security chief warned that Gustav could prove more challenging than Katrina and the nation's disaster response coordinator worried about New Orlean's fragile levees.

First lady Laura Bush still was scheduled to address delegates in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday, the opening day.

Really, they might as well just go to their convention; they have about as much to do with halting or alleviating the storm as Laura does. By the time this is over, it'll just be Fred and Rudy strutting around the stage, drunk on their false bravado, desperately trying to convince an emptying hockey arena that McCain and this chick he met back in February and didn't bother to vet thoroughly are the best option in a world full of serious threats. Or something.

I'm almost starting to feel sorry for them, if only just enough to hope that their demise is slightly more swift and merciful than previously envisioned.

(Won't) Get Fooled Again

Cool prefatory anecdote leading into one of the most concisely insightful comments I've seen in a while. Great stuff.

Of course it'll go right past Dreher and his fellow travelers, those things always do. They try to put a bland, benign, less malevolent face on the philosophical trappings, but then go and vote for the exact same people. That they think they mean well is irrelevant. They just can't bring themselves to quit being suckers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Roger Codger

Lotta folks have already pointed out how ol' McCrankypants gets these days when the milk of magnesia runs out, or he makes a boom-boom and Cindy's not around with a fresh set. But the line that got my attention was this:

I can only imagine what Saddam Hussein would be doing with the wealth he would acquire with oil at $110 and $120 a barrel.

The thing is, I honestly don't know if that's just the usual red meat for the rubes, or if he actually thinks that oil would have skyrocketed as it has without parking a quarter-million troops in the Straits of Hormuz, unleashing sectarian hell in the only secular country in the region, and trying to goad Iran into a pretext for another misbegotten war.

I'm pretty sure that most every first-year macro student understands the concept of "risk premium", which makes it all the more perplexing that either McCain doesn't, or that he's counting on no one else to know what it means. As usual, probably a bit of both. Even when he's not grumping through the rest of the interview excerpt, he's so predictably on-message you wonder what the point of the exercise was in the first place, other than journamalists getting to say they interviewed John McCain.

The interview responses and his recent attitude toward the media in general, like today's Palin pick, seem to be his way of tacitly conceding the whole thing. The cookie-cutter Mad-lib answers to essentially every question, regardless of topic, convey that if he even has advisers, either they're out of ideas as well or just suck to begin with.

Kinda like the Republican Party itself. If I were Schwarzenegger I'd come down with the flu or something, anything to get out of being caught giving a pep talk to the losers milling around the Larry Craig Memorial TearoomXcel Energy Center.

[Update: Heh-indeedy. Looks like Ahnult decided to take my advice, and has ceded his Monday night speaking role to -- wait for it -- Ol' Fred Thompson. Schwarzenegger says that his cancellation was forced on him because of the continuing deadlock in the California budget process, otherwise known as "August". What difference he's supposed to make by staying in Sacramento on, you know, Labor Day, he doesn't mention. Maybe he'll spend the entire day crank-calling Fabian Nuñez and Don Perata.

Or maybe, as I sagely prognosticated, he realizes that there's no political upside for him appearing in the same room with these chowder-heads. Hell, they probably even buy his dog-ate-my-homework excuse.]

Shedding Skin

Just a friendly reminder of what we are blessedly getting rid of.

In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president met with a few ranking senators and members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats. In those days, there were high hopes that the United States-sponsored ''road map'' for the Israelis and Palestinians would be a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day was, in part, about countries providing peacekeeping forces in the region. The problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.

''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. ''You were right,'' he said, with bonhomie. ''Sweden does have an army.''

This story was told to me by one of the senators in the Oval Office that December day, Joe Biden. Lantos, a liberal Democrat, would not comment about it. In general, people who meet with Bush will not discuss their encounters. (Lantos, through a spokesman, says it is a longstanding policy of his not to discuss Oval Office meetings.)

I love the penultimate point in that excerpt, the room going silent until the subject was changed. Was it that disagreement with Le Dauphin is punishable by death (or worse yet, downward career mobility)? Or is it that they understood instinctively what sort of person they had to deal with, and that it's always a waste of time to try to argue with a bratty, insolent child?

Think about it -- Lantos was originally from Europe, and had dealt with world issues in Congress for many years at that point, where by that juncture in Bush's abysmal tenure, he hadn't been to much besides Mexico and China, and was only a few years removed from not knowing who ran that quaint little overcrowded nucular backwater known as Pakistan.

And instead of dialoguing with and listening to Lantos' suggestion, he tried to punk him in front of everyone else, 'cause everyone knows that Sweden don't have no army, dumbass. Just a big wall of meatballs and Volvos surrounding Göteborg. Fuck, this guy would lose on one of those "how long do you cook a three-minute egg?" questions they give you in the warm-up round of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Every person in government who has failed to correct or engage this mendacious, clueless slob has done a disservice to the country and the world, whether they realize it or not. By humoring and ignoring his profound ignorance of even simple trivial points, they enabled an attitude of petulance and entitlement which engendered far worse things, which will take a generation to undo. Thanks for that, guys. At least Biden had the balls to share that one with the rest of us. I'm sure it's not even the 100th-worst example of enabled boobery in the past eight years.

A Modest Proposal

What's it like to go through life without a soul? Ask Karl Rove:

“The Republicans can’t seem to get a break when it comes to August and when it comes to the weather,” said Rove, a FOX News analyst.

Indeed. Poor Republicans! Perhaps if they offer Rove up as a sacrifice to their infernal nether-lords, strap him to an oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico while Gustav passes through, the dæmonic bloodlust would be temporarily sated. It's worth a shot.

Milf the Vote

So it's Palin after all; do I get half-credit for guessing close? It's just too bad Straight Talk wasn't feeling quite bold enough to live his dream and pull up Lieberputz for the veep nom. For the amount of gratis ratfucking Holy Joe's been doing, he should get something for his nefarious efforts. Perhaps a Department of Preening Douchebaggery, with Lieberman as its permanent (dick)head and sole occupant.

Palin's actually a decent, inoffensive choice if the goal is to bolster reformist/pro-lifer cred. But that's not been the strategery so far for McCain; his whole schtick has been to lampoon and calumniate his opponent's supposed naïvete and self-indulgent celebrity. Why, to listen to POST tell it, you'd think it was Obama who had the cameo in Wedding Crashers, and had appeared on Jay Leno and Jon Stewart more than a dozen times each, and hosted Saturday Night Live. You'd think that it was Obama's pet lobbyist who nudged Misha Saakashvili to bomb South Ossetia and knowingly provoke the Russians into a border-changing proxy war.

Again, Palin's main advantage right now is her lack of name recognition. And her decision to have her fifth child, who has Down syndrome, will get much play as being an inherently "pro-life" choice. But what people will take from it is that it was a personal choice, which is and always has been the point of that tedious debate. It will win no converts in that sphere, and will probably be insufficient to energize the base enough to remain competitive. They've gotten by on preaching to the choir for so long, they don't know how to stop.

On the other hand, Palin is probably the ideal person for an angry coot to stump with in small towns -- young, pretty, personable, sincere. She'll complement McCain's increasingly glaring shortcomings much better than any of the other potential names. But on the themes the campaign has tried to stress -- foreign policy expertise, experience, judgement, ideological independence -- she can't help but fall short. She'll have to cram on the tour bus, and it'll be obvious.

The debates should be a blowout; if anything, both Obama and Biden will have to hold back on their respective opponents. The instinct of both men is to reiterate and elaborate, and they'd be better off trimming their usual perorations down to efficient portions. It's tempting to try an extensive wind-up in order to land what you think will be a knockout punch, but it's always better to rabbit-punch the kidneys, ribs, and breadbasket first.

McCain will try to POW-POW-POW his way through the debates, and Obama should let him; it is no longer an acceptable rhetorical substitute for his severe lack of judgement and temperament, and even the press knows it. (Incidentally, McCain turns 72 today, which he no doubt would rather not discuss.)

Biden obviously has had a tendency to show his entire hand every time, to explain in comprehensive, frequently excruciating detail the mechanics of policy, and his own role in it. This is understandable, but the more he curbs that in the debate, the less he'll come off as a college professor intellectually berating one of his students. Especially if she lets her hair down.

I thought Obama's speech hit many of the right notes. He will be a much better manager of a fading empire than McCain could possibly be. But two months is a long time for an aphasic populace to retain those images; they are too eager to find the next one to digest and pass through the alimentary canal of their brains. So nothing's guaranteed, obviously. Enough people were dumb enough to at least get someone like Bush close enough to the White House to steal it, so clearly there are no standards.

But ultimately, and too bad for Palin, this is a pick that smacks of desperation, at least operationally. McCain's been the defacto nom for nearly seven months now, and after a couple of last-minute head-fakes (and getting turned down by Colin Powell) he lands on a little-known first-term governor from a practically unpopulated state? I guess as the song says, when you got nothin' you got nothin' to lose.

[Update: After reading this rundown of Palin's hijinks during her brief tenure, clearly I'm being too easy on her. If she really is a god-bothering creationist, that just opens up a whole new level of onslaughts to come. McCain might as well have picked Huckabee in that case. And trying to use your office to get your brother-in-law fired, especially in a politically inbred state like Alaska, sorta puts a cramp in those reformer credentials you're trying to burnish. Ah well, she'll still be much less of a pain in the ass to endure than the rest of the hacks McCain had to choose from.]

Free Speech Zone

Lest we forget that all political investitures are inherently corporate undertakings, here's a reminder:

DENVER -- An ABC News producer was arrested outside a downtown hotel here Wednesday while he and a camera crew tried to shoot footage of corporate donors leaving a meeting with a group of Democratic senators.

Asa Eslocker, who works with the network's investigative unit, was charged with trespass, interference and failure to follow a lawful order. He was released four hours later on a $500 bond.

"We expect to see this kind of behavior in Myanmar, not in Denver, Colorado, at a national political convention where a reporter is trying to videotape big-money donors trying to meet with elected officials," said ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider.

Naw, in Myanmar, the journalist leaves the police station feet first, or at least without his toenails and several teeth. Some sense of proportion is useful. Still, point taken -- corporate goons employ rented thugs to protect themselves from the prying eyes of the peons whose votes they wish to entice. Anything wrong with that picture?

The footage was shown on ABC's "World News" tonight. Eslocker was working with chief investigative reporter Brian Ross, who does stories on conventions and donors every four years. Schneider said the arrest was initiated by an off-duty sheriff's officer working as a security guard for the Brown Palace.

[emphasis mine]
Of course it was. The corporate paramilitary of privatized security. Here they can't get away with shooting up an intersection or openly truncheoning unfortunate passersby, or disappearing snooping journamalists. Yet.

It should be unacceptable to all people, regardless of political persuasion, that people can be pushed around and arrested in public areas, just for wanting to know. Fuck you, moonlighting hotel cop, I have a right to know who's renting my political representatives. If we don't even have that fundamental right, we got nothing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Things to Do in Denver When You're Braindead

So I think we got it now -- Hillary has trumped expectations by being a team player after all, yet for the countless nattering nabobs of nincompoopery malingering at all points in and out of the arena, you wouldn't know it. She didn't praise Obama "enough", she outshone him with her orange pantsuit, blah blah blah. Jeebus knows that I had Clinton fatigue back in 1997, and I'm glad I don't have to worry about holding my nose and voting to reinstate another dynasty, but these people have a pathological need to archly ascribe ulterior motives that they seem to have pulled directly out of their asses.

It's all about the professional prattlers, as it always is, and how well they can preen their pet theories for the cameras. Failing that, one of these genius sets had a "body language expert" opine as to how much Hill was faking it. Christ, why not just break out a phrenologist while we're at it? They can't just let us watch the fucking thing (if we happen to be that bored) and decide for ourselves, you know, they have to turn to some sinecured knucklehead like Bobo Brooks and get his take.

Okay, anyone out there who really gives a fuck what Bobo Brooks thinks about anything, raise your hand and then jump off the nearest bridge.

Then there's MoDo, who rarely misses an opportunity to compete with Peggy Noonan in the "Most Likely to Project Her Not-So-Latent Daddy Issues" sweepstakes. Get a whiff of this trenchant analysis:

But this Democratic convention has a vibe so weird and jittery, so at odds with the early thrilling, fairy dust feel of the Obama revolution, that I had to consult Mike Murphy, the peppery Republican strategist and former McCain guru.

“What is that feeling in the air?” I asked him.

“Submerged hate,” he promptly replied.

There were a lot of bitter Clinton associates, fund-raisers and supporters wandering the halls, spewing vindictiveness, complaining of slights, scheming about Hillary’s roll call and plotting trouble, with some in the Clinton coterie dissing Obama by planning early departures, before the nominee even speaks.

So let's see if we have this straight -- you need an objective perspective on some funny vibe you're getting at the DNC, and you consult McCain's former strategist for insight. One assumes that her first impulse was to dig up Richard Nixon and hold a séance, but that would entailed setting down her Sea Breeze.

The next bullet point of the MoDo playbook is to either emasculate a male politician as a fey metrosexual just looking for a pole to smoke, or a catty suggestion of ballbusting passive-aggression on the part of an overly ambitious female pol. Talk about projection.

At a press conference with New York reporters on Monday, Hillary looked as if she were straining at the bit to announce her 2012 exploratory committee.

“Remember, 18 million people voted for me, 18 million people, give or take, voted for Barack,” she said, while making a faux pro-Obama point. She keeps acting as if her delegates are out of her control, when she’s been privately egging on people to keep her dream alive as long as possible, no matter what the cost to Obama.

Hillary also said she was happy about the choice of Joe Biden because he added “intensity” to the ticket. Ouch.

Many people have made the exact same observation about Biden's role on the ticket, without the automatic assumption of sour grapes. But this is part and parcel of the entire punditocracy's role at the convention -- to stir up shit, even if it's not there, even if the PUMAs turn out to be oppo stealth ops. Nope, Miz Thang has to go out and find the anecdotal voice of overripe, self-satisfied dissent to bolster her flimsy argument. Catch the barmy wisdom of the convention concern troll:

At a meeting of the Democratic women’s caucus Tuesday, 74-year-old Carol Anderson of Vancouver, Wash., a former Hillary volunteer, stood in the back of the room in a Hillary T-shirt and hat signed by Hillary and “Nobama” button and booed every time any of the women speakers mentioned Obama’s name.

She’s voting for McCain and had nothing nice to say about the Obamas. What about the kids, I asked. “Adorable,” she agreed. Well, I said, Michelle raised them.

“I think her mother does,” Anderson shot back, adding: “I wonder if Michelle would give the Queen one of her little knuckle punches?”

Yeah. See if that shit would play at any of the Republitard events, granny. They'll toss your ass out just for wearing the wrong t-shirt. Who cares what that anonymous, doddering cow thinks? The idea that some lone crank intrinsically possesses a genuine insight worth uncritically repeating is roughly equivalent to asking random panhandlers their opinion about that whole Russia-Georgia thing.

And no, moron, I don't think "Michelle would give the Queen one of her little knuckle punches". I'm not sure why anyone would consider any of the Times' columnist real estate worth pinching a loaf on. Seeing that one of their esteemed columnists considers it worth her time to stenograph the addled ramblings of some weird biddy having an extended Maalox moment gives a pretty clear idea that real-world property isn't all that's had a bursting of the ol' value bubble. This is the sort of inane jabber that's permeated practically all of the coverage I've been able to stomach.

On the other hand, KTVU polijourno Mark Curtis has a substantially different take on the goings-on there. Perhaps someone should tell him he'll get more face time with the A-team if he amps up the 1% loons and stirs some shit. Forget the issues, and the voters, and the corporate tools bankrolling this dog-and-pony show, this weeklong pageant celebrating the achievement of gutless incrementalism. It's all about you, baby, and the trouble you can invent.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Devalued Currency

It's a floor wax, it's a dessert topping, it's got a thousand-and-one uses:

BURBANK, California (Reuters) - John McCain, who often invokes his ordeal as a Vietnam war prisoner to show his devotion to his country as he runs for U.S. president, drew on the experience again on Monday -- this time to deflect sniping over the number of houses he owns.


In an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, McCain, 71, said his priority was to keep Americans in their homes in tough economic times.

Then he recalled his Vietnam experience.

"I spent 5 1/2 years in a prison cell without -- I didn't have a house. I didn't have a kitchen table. I didn't have a table. I didn't have a chair," he said.

Sigh. It's practically a drinking game at this point.

"Senator, what do you think the weather will be like tomorrow?" "My friend, when I spent a half-decade in Charlie's clutches, no weather at all could seep through that jungle canopy. Except rain....lots and lots of fucking rain."

"Senator, do you have change for a twenty?" "You know, I spent 5½ years without any money at all, wishing that I could break a twenty for my fellow Americans. We used cigarette butts and pictures of each others' girlfriends as currency. When the photos rotted away, we had memories of the USO girls that would come to the base and blow the officers. You can't make change of memories like that."

"Hello, Senator." "Listen, you smart-mouthed punk, for five years no one said 'hello' to me. It was all 'dinky dao' this and 'you no sit' that. Five fucking years and I still couldn't make head or tail of Charles' crazy moon-man language."

Look, here's the thing, and I'm loath to even bring it up and offer any insight as to what they're doing to themselves. (Yes, as if they're going to read this.) But this is the same thing that plagued Giuliani in the final stages of his campaign: the chronic overuse of "9/11" just dulled its edge after a while.

Even that wouldn't have killed Rudy's shot in and of itself, but once people started ignoring his rhythmic invocations of That Day, they realized that that was it, it was all he had. Giuliani has no intrinsic policy knowledge, either foreign or domestic. He knows how to sanitize a city by selling out to Disney and letting the cops run wild on even suspected ne'er-do-wells. He knows how to cash in on his circumstantial notoriety by charging people tons of money to watch him masturbate to his own leadership skills at a podium. He knows how to reward brainless, thuggish flunkies. He knows how to have the taxpayers bankroll his booty calls. Awesome.

Same thing with McCain. He just showed the world how tremendously overrated his foreign policy acumen really is, a couple weeks ago with the Georgia debacle. His campaign is run by the same asshole lobbyists he rails against, one of whom happened to work for the Georgian government, and may have encouraged Saakashvili to instigate this mess. And when the Russians strike back, as Russians are wont to do, McCain immediately goes into bluster mode, before almost as instantaneously dialing it back down to a peep. His economic policies are even more abusive and incomprehensible, encouraging working-class people to bootstrap their own whiny asses on lower real wages, while the top 1% get handed even more tax cuts.

I defy any potential McCain voter to explain what McCain's own proposals are, foreign and domestic. They can't because he has none, and like Giuliani, as he fritters away the good will his undeniably honorable sacrifices had bought him, uses it like some chit to trump the cheapest, most inconsequential gaffes, McCain exposes his paucity of actual ideas. There's nothing there that either translates coherently, or differentiates him substantially from the current regime.

The war hero thing only gets you so far. McCain's made more out of it because, since more Democrats actually served in the military, they're more reluctant to be disrespectful. You'll never see some goony cunt with a purple band-aid on her chin making fun of John McCain, not at the Democratic convention or any other sanctioned event. Never gonna happen.

But that's never stopped Republicans. Ask Max Cleland what kind of treatment his service got him. Ask John Kerry, or George McGovern. But it only plays so far, and only against an opponent that cuts you slack, and after what will probably be an entire convention week of soaking in it and ladling out the kool-aid to the draft-dodgers that run McCain's party, they're probably going to hit a wall. And since there's nothing else, they'll become even more desperate.

I'm almost surprised one of McCain's Rovian surrogates hasn't gone that extra mile and push-polled some 'tards in South Carolina about Barack Obama's black (or better yet, white) love child. Still a couple months to go.

Live Convention Blogging

I've never been able to sit through one of these things, and that hasn't changed. But there's not much else on (still waiting for The Daily Show's coverage starting tomorrow), so occasionally I'll take a break from reading and grind my loins into the screen when Norah O'Donnell appears. Takes the edge off of Olbermann's overwrought deep-throating of the whole thing. Dude's lips must be chapped by now. Take a tip from ol' Norah there, Chief, and breathe through your nose once in a while.

I did catch the very end of Michelle Obama's speech, and the big-screen family meeting with the kids and Dad and all. Very nice, especially the Stevie Wonder (Isn't She Lovely) walk-off music. Of course, I would have preferred Bring the Noise or Mama Said Knock You Out, but you can't have everything.

It'll have to do until the Republitard version, where a good chunk of the planet will likely gather before their teevees and pray aloud for the earth to sunder itself and swallow the arena whole during Cheney's selected readings from the Necronomicon. I assume he will enter and exit to the strains of O Fortuna.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Against I

This just in: rubes continue to vote against their own interests by pretending that they're voting for someone "just like themselves", as if each one of them had married up so far that they could no longer recall how many domiciles they own.

“Illegal immigration needs to be controlled,” said 76-year-old Evelyn Perry of Fort Mill, who was among those surveyed. “I just haven’t really understood what (McCain’s position) is on that — but it needs to be controlled.”

Even without those specifics, Perry said she trusts McCain more. "Overall, I just think McCain understands better."

However, in a glimmer of hope for the Democratic nominee-to-be, more likely Southern voters polled said Obama "understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives" better than McCain does.

However, Deep South and working-class white voters disagreed, saying McCain understands them best.

They just know, yet they are completely unable to articulate -- or even comprehensively hint -- as to why. This is why Mencken loathed democracy, and damned if he didn't have a point. Wide swathes of goobers, inhabiting the states that dominate every low-end quality-of-life metric -- divorces, abortions, suicides, murders, violent crimes, lowest incomes, highest rates of child and family poverty, needing to be maintained by infusions of money from blue states -- apparently wishing to maintain all those proud statistics.

Do the rest of us a favor and secede already, please. Seems like everyone on both sides would be much happier.

House Bunny

You know, I also dig me some Anna Faris, who is hot and funny, and generally a plus to whatever project she's in. (I definitely agree on Just Friends, a movie that I would normally detest, but is actually a lot of fun. Plus, Amy Smart. And Ryan Reynolds, if Pajiba is any indication, seems to have initiated a scary number of mancrushes with that movie. I'm not going there, but he does look like he's having fun with a rom-com.)

But The House Bunny looks like one of those things where Faris is the only decent thing about it, otherwise a pastiche of Revenge of the Nerds scenes. At least the reviews have been fun to read, and in a couple weeks the in-laws will visit and we can go check out Tropic Thunder.

Biden His Time

So it's Biden after all, which, aside from his flacking for MBNA on the execrable bankruptcy bill, is more or less an acceptable choice. Even though Obama had a deeper bench to choose from than Straight Talk has, he is still obviously constrained by various in-house factionalizing, and realizes that he's not going to please everybody, but is at least smart enough not to piss off giant blocs of voters (as he would have with Bayh or even Clinton).

Some of the comments, as always, are priceless in their vitriolic lack of self-awareness, but the second of these two consecutive ones sum up the sentiments of most sensible people, I would hope:

No to Hillary means that I vote for mccain!

Posted by: joe | August 23, 2008 8:29 AM

If you consider yourself a Democrat and have rationalized voting for McCain because your candidate did not get picked, you do not deserve to be called a Democrat for you are actually an idiot. How one could rationalize voting for a man who has voted with George Bush 95% of the time is beyond my comprehension. The country's future is more important than your celebrity and/or feminist obsessions. I would have voted for Hillary but, she didn't win and that's it.

Posted by: Matt | August 23, 2008 8:32 AM

So now the prognosticators turn to Straight Talk's prospects, the announcement for which is scheduled for next Friday, McCain's own 72nd birthday. Heading into a holiday weekend. Should be good times.

Some of these clowns are "please, pretty please" type picks; can you imagine the fun in store if McCain were to make Giuliani his running mate? Christ, the comedic value of the rhetorical and visual contrasts would be worth its weight in gold, two angry one-note jackdaws warning the world off their damned lawns against two much more knowledgeable and polished speakers twice their size.

McCain's "safest" picks are the unknowns: Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, and Rob Portman. But they're only safe because they're unknown; Pawlenty is regarded as a drab but reliable pro-life tool from a potential swing state, Palin an entertaining and well-liked pro-life milf from one of the most corrupt, politically-inbred states in the country (which, to her credit, she has attempted to clean up where possible). Still, Alaska. Not bringing much to the electoral table there.

And either of those two will certainly be a shit-or-get-off-the-pot pick for people who are still(!) wondering about McCain's pro-life cred. Given all the other massively important problems facing this country, I don't have much sympathy for people (pro or con) who have chosen to make abortion their single issue, but I also don't see how he could be much clearer about where he stands on it and what he intends to do. So all these sixtyish dowagers I keep reading about who fought for Roe v. Wade back in the day and are now seriously considering McCain out of misplaced spite, good luck with that. Guess your struggle wasn't that important to you after all.

And Portman is a Bush hack, which gives the Obama team an opening to do what they should have been doing all summer -- hang the manifest idiocies of this administration around Straight Talk's neck. Jesus H. Christ, do these people need a diagram? One thing about Biden, like him or hate him -- he won't be shy about doing just that, and he won't be rope-a-doped by this tedious playing of the POW card at every opportunity. Biden can land a lot of body blows in this area that are simply off-limits to Obama and his perceived standing. But it's gotta be done; this dopey "John McCain means well, but he's wrong and he's mean to us" shit is not gonna fly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Waste of Oxygen

Serial philanderer, sick-wife abandoner, and receiver of blowjobs from assistants because-it-doesn't-count-as-sex Newt Gingrich goes a stupid too far on a network where neither the proprietors nor their customers have enough damned sense to know better:

Seeming to outdo his previous false attacks on this issue, Gingrich claimed that Obama’s idea is actually encouraging Americans to “enrich Big Oil” because selling air has “a higher profit margin than selling gasoline”....

There are too many ways to take this idiocy apart, beyond even what the article discusses, so I'll just take the high road and assume that Gingrich and Hannity save money and avoid filling Big Air's coffers by blowing each other up.

Cone of Stupid

Fools living up to their names, the usual experts have already proclaimed McCain as the "winner" in the Great Purpose-Driven Circle-Jerk this weekend, sponsored by the Saddleback franchise of JeebusCo, a division of God, Inc., blah blah blah. And in terms of preaching to the self-selecting choir, of course McCain won; these people, in their spasms of Pharisaic false piety, were simply looking for affirmation. No news there. Gee, the two-note thumbsuckers at Dobson's turd farm suddenly got religion on him. Didn't see that one coming. Shouldn't they still have the vapors from Ellen DeGeneres getting hitched that same day?

Perhaps counterintuitively, I would propose some sort of loose equation, to the effect that outside the megachurch, the larger the overall viewing audience, the better Obama does. Look, Warren's flock was McCain's in the first place, so going there to win them over was really a waste of McCain's time. To win, he either has to energize the base sufficiently, which is iffy, as he consistently peters out ~44%, or he has to poach the disaffected Clintonistas.

And most of those sob sisters are not going to appreciate McCain's pro-life stance, which he was quite clear about. They've stamped their wittle feet plenty now; once they cool down with a nice Sea Breeze and a Sex and the City/Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants/Beaches estrogen-fest, they'll think a bit more clearly about what their temper tantrum will ultimately bring them. Play a little ball, and maybe your gal would be up for the next SCOTUS seat (which actually would be a pretty good choice).

Until recently, POST had been very effective at milking that maverick label to the extent that most people couldn't really pin him down with clarity on the issue of abortion. Finally he's getting called on it, and his increasingly antagonistic relationship with a suddenly skeptical media is boxing him into a real corner. He's hugged an evangelical tar-baby here, and he can't extricate himself without alienating one or another major potential bloc.

His choice of running mate, whatever it is, may very well seal the deal; if the evangos are insufficiently enthused, they stay home, if he whips 'em up, he loses the independents and Clintonistas. The poor bastard already has to skulk around and avoid being seen with fundraising buddies like Ralph Reed and George W. Bush.

And again, he's already losing his media pals, and they're really the ones that got him to this point in the first place. Of course, they'll always be around for a booty call, but it won't be quite the same. They might be starting to get a little wise to his self-serving horseshit.

He's been running ads on NBC throughout the Olympics, but has the balls to say that its networks have it in for him. He now bookends his professed reluctance to talk about his time in the Hanoi Hilton with boilerplate aphorisms about his time in the Hanoi Hilton, which is starting to wear a lot like John Edwards' "daddy was a mill worker" card. (And for anyone who wants to insist that military service is sacrosanct in a political campaign, I have two words: Max Cleland.)

POST also whines that Andrea MitchellGreenspan is in the tank for Obama. I suggest someone take him up on that one, and openly speculate how he, John McCain, could lose the heretofore thoroughly establishment Greenspans. Maybe it's at least partly because, as he himself admitted and later denied saying, he doesn't know much about economics. Or, as it turns out, much of anything else. And if Biden ends up getting the veep nod, McCain's (fictional) foreign-policy advantage is done for.

Which would bring McCain full circle, turning him into what he once despised, a butt-boy for the very same thumpers who worked him over in South Carolina in 2000 at Fredo's behest.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pump Chumps

These are incredibly silly people:

A prayer group in Washington DC is claiming the credit for the recent sharp drop in the US price of petrol.

Rocky Twyman, 59, a veteran community campaigner, started Pray At The Pump meetings at petrol stations in April.

Since then, the average price of what the US calls gasoline has fallen from more than $4 a gallon to $3.80.

Usually when you hear about hardcore saps like these, they are resolutely engaged in equally useful activities, such as looking for the image of the Virgin Mary in a jelly doughnut. I suppose it's easier than, for example, understanding demand destruction, or realizing that this is a tremendously complicated process which will shortly resume course, economically and geopolitically.

They do deserve some credit for realizing that concrete measures such as carpooling and conserving gasoline are important. But the idea that beseeching your supreme being for months on end results in a whopping 20¢ drop -- to a price that's still twice what it was just a couple years ago -- and that constitutes some sort of success, well, talk about lowering the bar. Not to mention exactly how they are getting to all these gas stations all over the country; I suppose they're being miracled there by divine teleportation.

Battle Plan

Michael Moore is making sense. The only reason this thing is running so close is because the Dems have typically conceded the national security issue with their ham-fisted tactics. It does no good to complain about Republican failures, differentiating themselves from incompetence, and then turn around and embrace belligerent policies on Iran and Israel, as Obama as done in an attempt to tack "center". It merely, as Moore points out by way of Harry Truman, blurs the distinction between the fake Republican and the real one, and we know who usually wins that one.

The current Russian invasion of Georgia is a perfect example of this syndrome. (Chris Floyd has been exhaustive in his analysis on the subject, light-years ahead of practically every MSM take.) Here is a textbook example of the administration's manifest failures, wrapped up in a nice neat package. Bush's failure to recognize Putin as the crafty restorationist he has turned out to be is paramount in all of this. Conventional wisdom has had it that Iran is the chief regional beneficiary of the Iraq War, but what about Russia? Who has profited more in terms of a pure money-to-power ratio, in converting ramped-up oil profits to leverage and influence? Iran has a weak sister next door to it, but Russia has Europe under its thumb now.

Georgia was the ideal wedge for Putin to drive between us and the Euros, and Bush and McCain gave him the perfect provocations to do so, in making hollow promises to Saakashvili, in encouraging NATO expansion into the Caucasus(!), in thinking that encircling the Russians was a viable option at this point. This is the Great Game at its highest level, and the Bushies have failed spectacularly, as has McCain, whose lobbyist advisors have got him balls-deep in this pooch.

These people seriously have no clue what they're doing, and all Obama needs is a way to distill that to a bite-size phrase, since the average 'murkin has trouble finding the American state of Georgia on a map. Sending Joe Biden over as a counter-move to McCain's overt interference (talk about presumptuous) is a start, but only if Biden can return with ideas that draw a stark contrast to the Fiery Wreck that defines the decision-making processes of the administration and its potential extensions. They cannot keep me-tooing their way through things in misplaced efforts to look tough.

Handled wisely, the Georgia issue is one that can and should be made to blow up in Straight Talk's face, emblematic of all the wretched incompetence of his buddies. But as Moore points out, there has to be a willingness to engage McCain proactively on these issues, and draw tangible distinctions. This chickenshit "my opponent's a good man, we just disagree on specifics" boilerplate -- who needs it? It serves no purpose; it merely glosses over important differences in how serious events could be handled or even prevented. Georgia was highly preventable, but hell, what's to stop Ukraine's restive Transnistria province from giving a resurgent bear sufficient pretext to slap down another, larger former province from getting too many bright ideas about westernizing.

Saakashvili is on record as saying that Putin deliberately and repeatedly told Georgia to stick its resolutions and promises up its ass, and no doubt Putin's just itching to tell Yulia Tymoshenko that he's got an Orange Revolution in his pants. (I know I am.) Whatever else the guy is, there's no mistaking where he stands. It's just mind-boggling that an amateur like Bush seriously thought he had a handle on this guy. Putin's a fucking KGB colonel who's an expert in judo and chess, while Bush has yet to provide convincing evidence of a single skill or talent, marketable or otherwise. Playing dress-up doesn't count, unless you're five years old.

The armchair warriors of the cryptofascist right level their vicious threats and lies without hesitation, most of them idle, some of them not, more of them undoubtedly to come. There is no counterpart to them, political or otherwise, as the fellow travelers of "the left" were long ago co-opted, to the point where their putative political avatars still have trouble breaking out of their bad habits. Even if they are able to break those habits sufficiently to win the election, they must understand that they still have to deal with a halfwitted, easily bamboozled corporate media, and an increasingly ridiculous population that (as even the populist Moore points out) would rather slave away for peanuts, get drunk and watch Deal or No Deal, then vote out of spite and ignorance rather than simply pay attention to who's condemning them to such a life.

But then, as we all know, since both candidates are bankrolled by many of the same entities, maybe there's more of a motive to the Democrats' measured diffidence than anyone wants to acknowledge. After all, if Obama loses, he goes back to his lifetime peerage in the Senate, along with all the other contestants in this year's dog show. It's the widening bottom of the economic pyramid that bears the actual consequences.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pick a Winner

Let's hear from all of you out there -- what are the names you'd like to see (or, failing that, realistically think you'll see) picked as running mates? Who do you want, who do you like, who can you live with? Either party, any reason, whether ideological or practical, who will these guys pick, who should they pick and why, anything and everything.

For that matter, who might have been better party nominees, in your opinion? Show me whatcha got.

Doing the Jeebus Dance

So the candidates for the office of Preznit of these here Yewnighted States have been (one assumes) at least electorally coerced into participating in yet another tedious evangelical dog-and-pony showthe, ahem, purpose-driven summit. The Atlantic's Jeff Goldberg has the pre-game warmup, letting the famously jovial Warren swing the fungo bat to his heart's content. After the usual round of boilerplate questions, and Warren's predictable digressions into the importance of civility -- or at least the veneer of it -- the interview caps thusly:

JG: Some people wonder why this event is happening in a church.

RW: I believe in the separation of church and state, but I do not believe in the separation of politics from religion. Faith is simply a worldview. A person who says he puts his faith on the shelf when he's making decisions is either an idiot or a liar. It's entirely appropriate for me to ask what is their frame of reference.

Let's cut through the horseshit and deconstruct this a bit -- when people of Warren's ilk talk about "the separation of church and state", they mean the inequitable relationship where the state stays out of their business (and as always, business is good) while they proffer various electoral carrots and sticks based on the premise of a monolithic flockbloc. It is an unmistakably distinct bargain, whether it is being proposed by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, or in this case Rick Warren.

To his credit, Warren seems to be much less dogmatic than his ideological ancestors, but still, there is no mistaking the deliberate conflation of politics and superstition. All that stuff about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's apparently does not apply, or else it doesn't mean what they think it means (or hell, what I thought it meant, and it seemed pretty clear).

This is not to say that one's political views can't be informed by the moral underpinnings of their faith. But conversely, Warren and the rest of them need to internalize the fact that agnostics and atheists can and do have very serious and rigorous moral precepts as well. Implicit in their meanderings is that since that code is not inscribed in an ancient, often abused collection of Levantine superstitions, it cannot exist, at least not to the more, um, tangible extent their divinely-ordained text says it does.

The position of imperial manager, while largely figurehead, does have some important components. This is a pivotal moment in this country's history; all our relationships and fortunes are at key points that can easily change for the worse if we continue to fuck around with encouraging people to drone out and vote their gut, or "pray for guidance" or whatever piffle they're being spoon-fed. Given that context of seriousness (even if, like me, you believe the system's rigged in the first place), why are we fooling around with belabored tautologies, waiting for some megachurch proprietor's imprimatur? Maybe Goldberg should have considered asking that question.

Crystal Balls

The difference between political prognostication and predicting the outcome of the upcoming football season is that the pigskin pickers generally know what they're talking about and don't dance around the facts. And they're usually more accurate.

Yet for all the breathless analysis and number-crunching that has convinced observers Obama is en route to an epic victory, there is one key historic fact that is often overlooked — most popular vote landslides were clearly visible by the end of summer. And by that indicator, 2008 doesn’t measure up.

In five of the six post-war landslides (defined as a victory of 10 percentage points or more) the eventual winner was ahead by at least 10 percentage points in the polls at the close of August, according to a Politico analysis of historical Gallup polls. Over the past week, however, Gallup’s daily tracking poll pegs Obama ahead of John McCain by a margin of 2-5 percentage points.

I think historical data may be practically useless for these attempts, seriously. For one, campaigns have become focus-marketing groups, poring through the offal of polling data looking for this or that sliver to poach. In the process each party is essentially writing off 40%, and just competing for that last twenty. They always claim different, and they always revert to form. Obama may be a mild exception in that, but even then more in the results than anything; he would be less likely to try to govern with a 51% "mandate".

Let's face it -- if McCain were able to pull this off after eight years of non-stop monumental Republitard fuckuppery, of basically instituting "suck it" as an operational policy guidelne for everything from foreign relations to hiring DoJ staffers, he would crow about a 50.0001% victory as carte blanche. And he'd be right to do so. Power belongs only to those who assert themselves and seize it. Ask Vladimir Putin, either you have balls or you don't; only a simp asks their opponent if they'd mind giving up the reins for a while. [Mocking Homer Simpson voice: "Oooh, let's hold the reins together! Tra-la-la, here we go gathering nuts in May!"] At some point the battered wife has to get wise and either leave the bastard or fight back; capitulation to assholes merely emboldens them. They are never going to stop being assholes, because there is no disincentive to being one.

Perhaps more importantly, historic campaigns were not saddled with such a technologically-enabled cohort of media morons and polling homunculi tracking their every fart. Politico is a perfect example of this modern phenomenon, and Charles Pierce touches on the root of the situation -- these people have no off-season, so they spend a great deal of their time in story-churn mode, turning up meaningless things and pretending they're stories, inventing crude subjective angles through which to perceive the people they cover.

This is an industry that has sprung up around an entire subset of Beltway cyberloafers who do very little but talk to each other, find out who's gossiping about what, and "report" that, permalinking each other along the way. It's turned it into a perpetual campaign; they probably already have their templates set up for the day after the inauguration, no matter who it is. If it's Obama, he has to contend with the Clintons while building a consensus for the '12 campaign (instead of, say, finding out how he's going to be able to clean up Fredo's messes); if it's McCain they'll wonder if he'll make it to 2012, or if he should start grooming a successor. It's political Mad Libs.

“This may sound kind of harsh, but if the Democratic nominee were a white male from a red or purple state, the theory would be dead on that this would be set up, there would be a very, very high probability for a Democratic landslide,” said Brad Coker, the managing partner of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

Which is why, as much as it pains most of us, I still think Bayh's got the inside track on the veep nom. He inoculates Obama from the xenophobes and assorted Appalachian morons, bitter codgers who don't know their assholes from their elbows but think they know something about that uppity nigra.

Obama also has to deal with the hypocrites of the media, who barely conceal their crushes on McCain and their weird disdain for Obama. Republicans understand something about these media assholes that Democrats seem not to -- they are (well, sorta) human, in that they would rather have their egos stroked than simply do their damned jobs. McCain plays grab-ass with them the way Junior did, while people like Obama and Edwards, smart as they are, think they'll win these tools over by talking about how much better their ideas are. Dudes, have you seen what people will sit through on the teevee lately? It's either idiots humiliating themselves for chump change, or cartoon blowhards like Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck on a channel that has the word "News" in its name.

I mean, I still can't believe that Cokie Fucking Roberts, an old-money to-the-manor-born hack if ever there were one, had the gall to complain about Obama visiting his grandmother in Hawaii. Fine, "Cokie", suppose you tell us all where you go on vacation, how many more houses you have than Obama or the reg'lar folk you claim to speak for. It's horrible to think that some impressionable halfwit might see that, and think that such a person knows something about anything. The only thing people like that know is where to schmooze and starfuck their way a little further in their imitation of life. It's galling to think that a person with such despicable observations and opinions could make any difference.

It is all an epic bamboozlement, a 24/7/365 sideshow to distract people from the upward wealth transfer, the grand theft being enabled by the aforementioned Roberts and her worthless colleagues, while they line their own pockets, all without any identifiable skills. It's a pretty neat trick, now that I think about it. Where do I get mine?

Some separation and momentum should take place after the conventions, with the running mates picked and the usual perpetually aggrieved groups placated. And the debates should be an amusing blowout, not that necessarily helps.

It is also no small thing that Obama has had to contend with the Clintonista crybaby faction, a sizable chunk of idiocy that refuses to accept their loss, and will not stop stamping their wittle feet until they are duly genuflected to, at the convention and beyond. Fuck them and the horse they rode in on; if they fuck this up with their pathetic whinging they can count on being finished for good. If they think that throwing the election sets their gal up to swoop in in '12, they've been hitting the kool-aid nearly as hard as the Bush dead-enders. I don't know about you but I'd be done with voting altogether; what would be the point?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where the Elite Beat the Meat

Ten bucks says that when Cokie Roberts goes on vacation -- somewhere besides up her own ass, anyway -- it ain't to fuckin' Myrtle Beach. And if it is, it sure as hell isn't in some working-class area of the town, which as I've heard it from several people who have vacationed there, is primarily known for bikers and pussy during vacation season.

The ofay race-baiting from these half-assed chumps is one thing. But this constant preening "elitist" bullshit, like they can be found at your local Stuckey's working on a chicken-fried steak and home fries....beyond tedious. These people are every bit as phony as they keep trying to paint these high-falutin' pols (well, Dummycrats anyhow -- no way they're going to say anything about Saint Barbecue's seven houses and eight-figure net worth).

But then, as I always say, these assholes pretend to talk to us, but are really just talking to each other, while counting on enough of us to be dumb enough to tune and think their self-indulgent jabber means a goddamned thing.

Days of Whine and Poses

These people just never stop:

Sen. Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year, insists a top Clinton campaign aide, making a charge that could exacerbate previously existing tensions between the camps of Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.


"Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people," Wolfson said the Clinton polls showed. "They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."

I can only speak for myself, but had I not voted for Edwards in the primary, it would have been Obama. This is exactly like the Gorons' insistence that all those Naderistas would have automatically given Al what had been comported to him by divine fiat. Which is a load of crap, to put it mildly.

Hell, if you must go there, maybe if Puffy hadn't mistaken the Oval Office for a happy-ending massage parlor, people wouldn't have gotten so sick of all things Clinton-Gore that they handed the keys over to the village idiot. Is that where Wolfson wants to take this? Because that's certainly one logical conclusion.

....And I Feel Fine

Shorter car guy:

Self-righteous preening environazis with their fruity bumper-stickered toastermobiles are not going to castrate me.

I actually feel for the guy to a certain extent, I really do. A great car, classic or modern, is a work of art, a feat of engineering, a vessel of innovation, a labor of love. Unfortunately we have conditioned ourselves into believing that they are also penis extensions, and that our illusions about our status need to be broadcast through our product choices. Okely-dokely then. See how much longer that lasts when oil starts heading north again -- as it will once the summer's incremental demand destruction has been reapportioned.

Enjoy sport/pleasure drives and auto racing while you can, because another few years of China and India ramping up auto ownership and gas demand, coupled with a burgeoning current account deficit going into China's already overflowing pockets -- well, supply and production are already maxed out, so who starts getting more out of the existing margin, the people with cash or the people without?

Car Guy doesn't have to take the word of Ed Begley or whatever arugula-humping twit he thinks is trying to hypocritically impose major lifestyle concessions on him. Hyman Rickover put it pretty well:

Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank. A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.

The weekend warrior taking his Shelby out for a spin is not really the problem, so much as the millions of grocery schooners being used for the most mundane errands on a daily basis. That's where the most excessive waste is adding up, and that's where you start addressing the problem.

Or not; we'll see how far the rugged independence of defensive indignation gets us when Jeebus lets the wells run dry despite all our pious entreaties and increasingly reckless bargaining.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's the End of the World As We Know It....

In which the cranky bear continues to awake from its hibernation and assert itself once again, with pipeline-routing interests at stake. Russia will certainly keep using its resurgent power to shift influence eastward, pending Euro complaisance, since they really have no choice in the matter. Georgia has no leverage here, and their good buddy Fredo is just going to leave them twist in the wind, so it should be over quickly enough. But Pooty-Poot will have made his point, one that the next president gets to deal with on top of everything else.

Sidekick to Failure

Thinking about Obama's veep options earlier highlights the serious contrast between what he has to choose from and what McCain's got to work with. Supposedly even Lieberputz has wormed his way onto the short list, which would be great news -- for Obama. Plus Holy Joe would then have the dubious distinction of helping to doom a ticket from each party.

But that Lieberman might even be seriously (or hell, even humorously) considered simply emphasizes this dearth of choices for McCain. The only other remotely viable choice -- aside from tapping an unknown -- would be Romney, and then only because as a corporate tool, he can bring in the cash. But the god-bothering nutbase McCain needs to coax to the polls would be put off by Mittens' queer pioneer-Scientology beliefs. Mormon politicians obviously do quite well in the Rocky Mountain states, and have since before Mo Udall. Outside that sparse electoral region, not so much.

Ironically, Mormonism is by far the least worrisome feature about Romney, a wholly political creature cobbled together from stage hair and an empty suit, an unsettlingly smooth career corporate raider waiting for further instructions. The more people find out about him, the less they'll like him.

This is why McCain has held off so long to pick a running mate -- there's just nothing to choose from, the usual gaggle of washed-up morons, each bringing their own bucketful of negatives to the table. Indeed, that's how McCain himself got the nod in the first place; his media butt-boys who have coddled and excused him for years kept up their fine work and bought him donuts, and once America's Mayor turned out to be the self-serving douchebag everyone already knew him for, and Ol' Fred decided he'd grifted enough monorail loot from the rubes and ambled off stage, that left Straight Talk.

Obama has several choices that will probably solidify and/or increase his numbers, while virtually all of McCain's options are practically guaranteed to hurt his. It's looking like Bob Dole all over again.

Jesus Cramp

I had thought that sensible people had long ago forgotten Hal Lindsey and his apocalyptic mumbo-jumbo, but an acquaintance (a very nice guy, but he and people like him are what's wrong with the voting process -- he admits that he doesn't know much about the people or policies he's voting on, and so prays for guidance on whom to vote for) swears by Lindsey's claptrap, so I had to mosey through WorldNutDaily and see for myself. The headline, just a hair north of "Obama and Bat Boy Have Love Child in John Edwards' Basement" country, does half the work for me.

There are no surprises in Lindsey's burbling horseshit, not a one, but supposedly the guy considers himself a Christian, and in their mythology one of the primary betrayals of Jesus was not just the crucifixion itself, but the denial and calumniation of him. Lindsey counters those very teachings he proclaims to uphold.

Barack has apologized to the French and Germans for Americans who are too ignorant to learn their language before embarking on their once-in-a-lifetime two-week visit abroad.

This is a profound contortion of what Obama has said, which is essentially that learning a foreign language in school (any language, not necessarily French or German) is practically guaranteed to upgrade any American's skill set in a globalized job market. This is such an obvious point it shouldn't have even needed to be said, but Lindsey is no doubt spoon-feeding the bozos who take that apocryphal Ma Ferguson quote seriously.

And yet, not true. No American politician in their right mind would hit a high-profile gig in Europe and invoke ugly American stereotypes, and then apologize for them. And Obama certainly did not do anything of the sort. But Lindsey counts on the notoriously thin skin of his audience to be reflexively offended by something that never happened.

He's apologized for the simple Midwestern rednecks who, forced to cling to religion and guns to justify their antipathy, just can't help themselves.

Another lie. There was no "apology" involved; this was merely another attempt to figure out why large groups of people keep enthusiastically voting directly against their own self-interests. Obama's explanation is as likely as anyone else's, I suppose, but there was no apology involved, simply a somewhat ham-fisted attempt to elucidate how these goobers might be won over by common sense, in a situation that Obama had assumed was off-the-record.

The reason Lindsey goes through these logical contortions is to bolster his own point, one that reeks of defensiveness. In Lindsey's brain-scrambled dimension, any attempt to right the ship of state, and identify, correct, and undo past and current wrongs where possible is an admission of error. And since these whackjobs consider the U.S. to be God's True Promised Kingdom, they conflate the country with their sky-buddy. Criticize America, and you're telling God that His wife is fat or something. Big no-no.

And Lindsey knows that he's lying here -- he's got links to newspaper articles satirizing Obama's messianic pretensions, but nothing for his assertions about Obama apologizing to the Eurotoffs for his retard hillbilly cousin.

America has never faced so many different crises at the same time in living memory. The war with al-Qaida and Islamic terror, the Iran crisis, Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, the rising price of oil, the falling dollar, enemy acronyms like OPEC, NAM, OIC, U.N. ...

Indeed. Many of these crises have been created or exacerbated by the current regime. The idea that not just Obama in particular, but the 90% of the planet that stands against the Cheneyites in general is that knowing something about how the world works actually has some importance, and that responsibility and accountability are critical.

Even making the caveat that, at this stage of human geopolitical development, there is going to be a hegemon, and as such, the U.S. presents the least malicious option of hegemony, the fact is that we're slipping behind ascending hegemons. Obviously, this is in no small part because people keep allowing themselves to be bamboozled by superstition and outright hucksterism, smooth-talking assholes with a rarely-thumbed Bible in one hand and a script of lies in the other.

[Update: Time inexplicably lowers the bar by chronicling the ravings of some of these Left Behind goobers.

Everything from Obama's left-handedness to his positive rhetoric to his appearance on the cover of this magazine has been cited as evidence of his true identity.

John McCain is also left-handed. So is Bill Clinton, so is Poppy Bush. So, amazingly enough, are a lot of people, possibly even some Left Behind readers. I expect sites that explicitly cater to the worst sorts of dipshit tendencies of the American electorate, such as WhirledNutDaily, to spend time chronicling the straitjacketed utterances of a horrid little sliver of weirdos. Even though I don't expect much out establishment boilerplate such as Time, I would have thought them at least smarter than to bother with the sort of people who a generation ago would have been bothering unfortunate passersby with their ridiculous babble. Then again, for an industrialized nation, this country is infatuated with superstition, awash in it on a level that would make a Borneo witch-doctor uncomfortable.]

Cockroach Olympics

Overemployed sack of shit scuttles out from under a rock to offer his opinion, which oddly never seems to change:

Republican strategist Karl Rove said on Face The Nation Sunday that he expects presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to choose a running mate based on political calculations, not the person's readiness for the job.

"I think he's going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice," Rove said. "He's going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he's going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He's not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president."

So let me get this straight -- a candidate for president might base his choice for VP at least in part on that person's electoral strengths in strategic regions? No shit? Not that it's guaranteed to work; John Edwards couldn't even carry his home state in '04, and the less said about Lieberman as veep candidate in 2000, the better (not to mention that Gore couldn't carry his own home state, which would have given him an unquestioned victory).

Kaine seems like a head-fake choice anyway; he'd bring Virginia but is virtually unknown outside that state, and is probably too close in age to Obama to provide sufficient contrast to downplay the usual "lack of experience" charges. If I were putting money down on an Intrade pick or some such thing, I'd bet that Evan Bayh gets the nod, which would be at least as strategic a pick as Kaine, and with better "serious" imperial management cred, which apparently does not apply to the angry coot who thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border.

This mindless kabuki where a mendacious chump such as Rove is still being welcomed on "serious" shows to discuss "serious" policy issues, as if his career of enabling death and destruction and failure shouldn't automatically eliminate him from such considerations -- and they say the bloggerses are incivil and offensive. Time to start a new dictionary.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Rock Me Dr. Zaius

In which David Gregory is a fucking moron:

Gregory opened the show by saying, "Tonight, more on Edwards and the fallout from his admission today about a sexual affair: Is this another skeleton in the Democratic closet that Barack Obama must struggle to overcome?"

Yes, and McCain must answer for Larry Craig's wide stance, and Mark Foley's page-hunting, and Denny Hastert's live-in assistant, and Huckleberry Graham's prolonged spinsterhood. Everyone knows that a party's nominee is absolutely responsible for each and every moral indiscretion, real or imagined, committed by a member of his party.

I dream of a world where shameless idiots like Gregory are compelled to find legitimate work in order to justify their continued existence.

The Mangina Monologues

Not that I expect the usual roughneck "man's man" archetype out of every single fellow testosterone farmer, and Jeebus knows that when he's on his game, few can match wits with The Ocicat Whisperer. Still, I find it difficult to believe that an adult heterosexual male can spend so much time watching ballet, and is holding out for the sequel to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (a movie which one assumes had made its point the first time around) over the sequel to a creatively exhausted franchise which has undergone a genuine rejuvenation. Maybe he was kidding. It's hard to tell, which is not a good sign.

I admit to being pretty tired myself of the seemingly endless supply of profound opinions on What Batman Means, one way or t'other, and I haven't even seen the freaking thing yet. It's an action movie based on a comic book; belabored pronunciamentos on its ontological significance might be overthinking it a tad. And yet, reverting to giggly adolescent girlhood had not occurred to me. Surely a Steel Vaginas bonbon-and-comfort-food party can't be far off. Homeslice might want to rent a Harley for the weekend and hit a steakhouse en route to a B&B for a romantic romp with the wife, if only to prevent ending up on the same menstrual cycle as Vageena Hurtz.