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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Driving Miss Crazy

What the hell is Geraldine Ferraro's major malfunction, other than shameless intellectual dishonesty and cheap class-baiting?

Here we are at the end of the primary season, and the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day. Perhaps it's because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn't an issue, but reverse racism is.


Oh, boo-fucking-hoo. Look, you want to know what real sexism is? Ask yourself exactly how many women -- from either party -- have any realistic chance at a presidential campaign in this country. Even people who count their fingers in fractions would end up with spare digits. Hillary Clinton is less representative of Vaginal Americans in general than ambitious wives of former preznits in particular. This undue set of advantages more than offsets any supposed incidents of "sexism", though if such have actually occurred at more than a purely anecdotal level, Ferraro is welcome to spend the rest of her life dutifully chronicling them. Anything to get her to climb out of our asses already.

I mean, fuck. Go get me a beer or something.

And by the way, I am not minimizing how far HRC has come in this race at all, by tagging it to her more famous spouse. In any competition, any advantage you can find and utilize should be used. But make no mistake -- those advantages were there, she has utilized them to their fullest, and she was the prospective front-runner last summer. But as time has progressed, more and more people have simply gravitated toward Obama. Deal with it.

It is a testament to the Clinton campaign's increasingly Nixonian bent that there simply must be some set of sinister, ulterior factors involved in her failure to capture the nomination outright. But maybe she just lost a fair fight. Maybe Obama has motivated more people who would otherwise have stayed home. Maybe people have tired of alternating political dynasties, that four or eight years of charmless, calibrated triangulations with henchmen recycled from her husband's tenure just doesn't sound as appealing as it's supposed to. The turnout for each of them has dwarfed that for any of the Republican candidates, even well before Poor Ol' Straight Talk rode his media pony back into the lead of that pack of spavined nags. That's significant, even if it has taken a backseat to the usual horserace nattering.

The fault also lies with the DNC's failure to sufficiently clarify the punitive measures to be taken against Florida and Michigan. This is the thread that HRC has been hanging on, and it is a flimsy one. Just schedule the fuckin' primaries, tell the states that this is how it's gonna be, rotate them around every election, and make it stick. This stupid idea that Iowa and New Hampshire have to be first every damned time is just ridiculous. Maybe the party will have their shit dialed in by 2012, but that's probably too much to ask.

Even California, having lobbied to get bumped up into Super Tuesday, when Clinton still had some post-NH momentum, has had a change of heart, heading into the week when we would have normally had our primary. This may have something to do with the startling consistency of HRC coming across as grasping and petty, and probably deft in a barroom with a broken bottle. But maybe he's just not that into you, honey. Do you really need to boil the poor bunny, or can we just walk away before it gets any uglier?

In the end, though, Ferraro cannot resist temptation, and not only has to go there, but returns to well-tromped ground:

As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama's historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white. It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory "Our Time Has Come" they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.


The stupid, as they say in the 'hood, burns. Interesting how "Reagan Democrats" have been co-opted into this creative cobble of Archie Bunker types who don't hate black people, they just don't get them and they're afraid of them. Perhaps if Obama would just strut out wearing a giant clock around his neck and give his next speech in "-izzle" talk at least muthafuckas would know what time it is. Ferraro clearly is disinterested in any deeper notions of what this finely-parsed "racial resentment" might entail; her goal is merely to raise the usual concerns and doubt about whether these inbred morons can be peeled off by a Democratic candidate, or only a white candidate.

Because simply stepping up and telling these sainted "Reagan Democrats" with their quaint "racial resentment" that they have been getting hosed hard for the last eight years and that John McCain will at best simply pick a different orifice would be too easy. Sometimes you have to just grit your teeth and tell ridiculous people that they're fucking ridiculous. If they want to continue to vote against themselves, then fuck 'em. They'll die sooner that way anyway, and good riddance.

Whom he chooses for his vice president makes no difference to them. That he is pro-choice means little. Learning more about his bio doesn't do it. They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind.



Uh-huh. So let's get this straight, Gerry -- these poor, simple folk simply can't identify with the elitist Columbia-Harvard candidate and his uppity Princeton-Harvard wife, but they can identify with the Wellesley-Yale candidate and her Georgetown-Oxford-Yale husband who famously touted his own rags-to-riches epic, even after he left office. And Obama's actual policies and even his choice of running mate will matter not to these ardent (if uncertain) yokels, so directionless is the toxic passion of their inchoate "resentments". It's astonishing to consider the likelihood that Ferraro lacks the awareness to understand just how despicable such a person with the sentiments she projects truly is. Either qualifications are supposed to transcend issues of gender and race, or not. It's an all-or-nothing proposition, not this high-handed cafeteria-Democrat bullshit.

The "assurance" that this rube niche is "waiting for" about not being "left behind", I have absolutely no doubt that it doesn't ever occur to them -- nor to Ferraro -- that that might be exactly how blacks have felt about every old white man they've been forced to suck it up and vote for since forever.

This cheap, irrational race-baiting in the excuse of an increasingly failed effort, however noble the original intentions of that campaign, is just contemptible now. This is the sort of cornered-animal strategy people use when they are happy to let the lawyers move the goalposts, piss everyone off with two months of useless infighting, and sunder the party at the convention.

[Update: Per usual, The BEAST hits it nastier and better.]

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Poetry Corner

Every week distracts with more
Insipid, worthless fluff
Cutting into drinking time
And other important stuff.

So tough to be a movie star
Days of wine and sugar
Unless of course your mom turns out
To be a grasping cougar.

The mediasphere was all abuzz
With the bombshell from Ms. Yellin
That the sainted media get pushed around
By toadying corporate felons.

The loony fringe preferred to spend
Their time on keffiyehs
Donut-holes who spank it off
To pics of Rachael Ray.

I'll never be a famous face
Or an explorer like Magellan
But at least I'm not a fucking weasel
Like that asshole Scott McClellan.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beg to Differ

Joel Brinkley usually manages to come across as the typical quasi-benevolent moderate -- occasionally passionate when discussing human rights issues in Third World cesspools, but generally not challenging the overall dynamic of corporate imperialism that truly drives most aspects of policy. Thus it is not especially surprising that he weighs in on the appointment of a Sandinista tool to be UN president.

Starting in September, the politician in question, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, will have one of the world's most prominent podiums from which he can inveigh against Washington. D'Escoto was the Sandinista foreign minister during the 1980s, when Nicaragua was at war with the Reagan administration. Back then, he once described America's view of his country this way: "They're saying: 'You drop dead, or I will kill you.' "


I'm not sure what the controversy is, either in the accuracy of D'Escoto's assertion, or the supposedly urgent nature of his selection. It would be practically impossible -- intellectually dishonest at the very least -- to look at systematic US meddling in Central America since the days of William Walker and realize that it has been catastrophically brutal for the majority of the inhabitants there. What exactly does Brinkley think someone from that region who was not lucky enough to come from one of the oligarchic families that run those countries should say?

Brinkley ends his column ominously:

Ortega and d'Escoto, no doubt, still hold an acid view of Washington. Very soon the world will hear all about it.


Sure, and it will be taken about as seriously as the japes of Ortega's buddy Hugo Chàvez. So what? Again, whatever the level of the Sandinistas' corruption, it doesn't remotely approach the violent kleptocracy of the Somozas or even the crude burglar Alemán. That certainly doesn't excuse the self-serving hypocrisy of autocrats such as Ortega and Chàvez, but it's fundamentally dishonest to completely decontextualize the situation the way Brinkley (and, to be fair, most American commentators on the region) has done here.

If D'Escoto wishes to be serious and comprehensive in his critiques of US policy, people will listen; if he decides to act like a buffoon and call Bush a dickhead or a devil, he'll just get an easy laugh. But the idea that we can't tolerate or discuss any grievance, no matter how legitimate, is ridiculous.

Johann Hari places things much more in their overall context:

A corporation called United Fruit took one particular type – the Gros Michael – out of the jungle and decided to mass produce it on vast plantations, shipping it on refrigerated boats across the globe. The banana was standardised into one friendly model: yellow and creamy and handy for your lunchbox.

There was an entrepreneurial spark of genius there – but United Fruit developed a cruel business model to deliver it. As the writer Dan Koeppel explains in his brilliant history Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, it worked like this. Find a poor, weak country. Make sure the government will serve your interests. If it won't, topple it and replace it with one that will.

Burn down its rainforests and build banana plantations. Make the locals dependent on you. Crush any flicker of trade unionism. Then, alas, you may have to watch as the banana fields die from the strange disease that stalks bananas across the globe. If this happens, dump tonnes of chemicals on them to see if it makes a difference. If that doesn't work, move on to the next country. Begin again.

This sounds like hyperbole until you study what actually happened. In 1911, the banana magnate Samuel Zemurray decided to seize the country of Honduras as a private plantation. He gathered together some international gangsters like Guy "Machine Gun" Maloney, drummed up a private army, and invaded, installing an amigo as president.

The term "banana republic" was invented to describe the servile dictatorships that were created to please the banana companies. In the early 1950s, the Guatemalan people elected a science teacher named Jacobo Arbenz, because he promised to redistribute some of the banana companies' land among the millions of landless peasants.

President Eisenhower and the CIA (headed by a former United Fruit employee) issued instructions that these "communists" should be killed, and noted that good methods were "a hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker or kitchen knife". The tyranny they replaced it with went on to kill more than 200,000 people.


What cheap criticisms and reflexive cries of "anti-Americanism" do is keep the discussion at the surface level, the better to muddle the substantial sociopolitical issues that might inform the antipathy of this or that individual. I mean, none of this destructive interference is a closely guarded secret; it's been going on for generations, to the point where, as Hari points out, phrases like "banana republic" become an uninformed cliché. But it means a bit more to the people who have had to endure the brunt of those policies.

The notion that we (or anyone) should be automatically inoculated from all dissent, that people are not only supposed to just forget decades of systematic expropriation and murder, but are also expected to put our interests before their own, is not automatically bad. It just displays a profound failure to understand human nature.

Hopeless

Those who make a living flirting with catastrophe develop a faculty of pessimistic imagination, of anticipating the worst, that is often all but indistinguishable from clairvoyance.

-- Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Give disease so the swine will marry and propagate lies.
Tough luck for elected officials. The beast you see got fifty eyes.
Bring it on home. Spread the wealth. Play it cool, the hand's been dealt.
Now all the odds are in our favor. Save the victory speeches for later.

-- Clutch, The Mob Goes Wild



At first, inexplicably, I was ready to give Hillary Clinton some benefit of the doubt in her tactless invocation of RFK's assassination. The point seemed clear -- Democratic primaries are sometimes so contentious, they run into June. Of course, none of the previous ones have ever run this long; comparatively, this probably should have been settled back in February, or maybe even late '07. Still, the point seemed innocuous enough, if inaptly phrased.

But the more you think about it, the more you recall that very little that emanates from the Clintons is ever accidental; they perfected the black art of focus-group-driven triangulation, the both of them, always adding a theatrical cherry of rhetorical anguish on top. They loved them some gay folks, until that two-ply bumwipe DOMA got drafted. Bill was all about those rights for the humans when Milosevic got uppity, even though just a couple years prior, he sold the Turks artillery so's they could level a few thousand Kurdish villages, killing far more people than Milosevic actually did. When Srebrenica happens in a day, it's a certifiable atrocity; when it happens over the course of months or years, it hardly gets noticed. Cost of doing business, really.

Obviously it's not hard to find episodes of situational ethics from the Clintons' political history; indeed, moral convenience is the grease of political ascension in every party and every country. The fact is, despite our surface cynicism and misanthropy, we are still loath to ascribe truly morally craven impulses to persons who would aspire to be kingpreznit. This is more of a cringing from the mirror than any true moral purity.

But when cast against the antics of the past two primary weeks, Clinton's comment seems especially abysmal, at least in phrasing and timing, if not explicit intent. Look, we can sniff the quals of the Appalachian mossbacks all the doo-dah day, and make our PC pretenses at avoiding the easy stereotyping of inbred hicks hatin' them some nigras. But the fact of the matter is that Clinton carried Kentucky and West Virginia by 2:1 margins, and nowhere to be found was even an anomalous townie willing to stick up for Obama, though the media lives for such cooter-bites-dawg narratives, 'specially come horse-race season. The most notable aspect of the KY and WV primaries was the proportion of Clinton voters asserting their willingness to vote McCain rather than Obama, as if wishing to affirm everyone else's assumption that these idiots would rather fuck a knothole than pay attention.

Bottom line though -- what the hell is wrong with those people, and what the hell is wrong with her? She's not remotely stupid; she knows exactly what she's saying, and what it means to her remaining marketing niche. It's not that complicated. It could have been entirely accidental, and in fact probably was. But it's of a piece with everything else the Clintons have said and implied throughout the primaries, at least once her inevitability was undone.

She has been backed into a corner where literally her last best hope is to cater to a subset of spiteful, withered crackers, people who detested her and her husband a decade ago. Her bumptious technocratic refrains mean less to many of these people than the quadrennial opportunity to once again affirm their baseless assumptions and validate their toxic insecurities, apparently based on whatever chain e-mail has been passed into their Outlook box.

It should be less of a concern that HRC might damage her career or her party -- how many Republican congressmen have to be caught wearing diapers with hookers or trying to molest teenage pages before their edifice crumbles? -- than the fact that once again, instead of disempowering and/or forcefully repudiating the stultifying ignorance these lapel-pin/apostate Muslim goobers exhibit routinely, they are once again catered to as a coveted demographic niche.

This is less about her "mistake" in particular, and more about what her campaign has left to offer at this point. She's hoping to stick around just long enough for the lawyers to intervene and fuck everything up, which is as Bushian as you can get, while she stokes classist and racist resentments, which is as Nixonian as you can get. All that's left for her is the prize itself since, win or lose, her credibility is pretty much shot. Politics is full of animals who will do literally anything to win, but rarely does it seem to come quite so naturally.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Members Only

Proving once again that we may need to hold a national telethon to find a cure for fuckface-itis, Lieberman continues the epic calumniation of his former party and protégé:

The attack on America by Islamist terrorists shook President Bush from the foreign policy course he was on. He saw September 11 for what it was: a direct ideological and military attack on us and our way of life. If the Democratic Party had stayed where it was in 2000, America could have confronted the terrorists with unity and strength in the years after 9/11.

Instead a debate soon began within the Democratic Party about how to respond to Mr. Bush. I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.


This is slimy beyond belief. It's just this week's iteration of the "appeasement" bullshit Bush shoveled on the Knesset last week. It is incontrovertible that the majority of Democrats signed on to Bush's plan well in advance of the invasion, and uttered nary a peep for well over a year. Even in 2004, when Bush postponed the initial siege of Fallujah from April to October, so he'd look tough come election time while his Texas butt-boys were swiftboating Kerry, most of the opposition was rhetorical at most.

The fact of the matter is that the Democrats did not oppose and confront Bush nearly enough in 2002. Everyone knew what the events of that summer were leading to; the more obnoxious proponents had a cats' chorus of "and there's not a goddamned thing you [traitorous liebruls] can do about it" providing the beat to their nonsensical -- and now throughly debunked -- arguments.

But Lieberman of all people should know full well that the opposition party failed utterly in doing even the basic parts of their job -- such as insisting on accuracy, accountability, probity, integrity. Instead, pallets of shrink-wrapped Franklins were dropped in the fucking desert while conservatard mezzofanucs vetted their subordinates in the occupation effort by asking them how they felt about Roe v. Wade. And Rumsfeld cracked wise about any and all questions and misgivings regarding his colossal clusterfuck. Indeed, Senator Lieberman, this is the rock from which true leadership is hewn. Fucking bozo.

At some point, it occurs to sensible people -- though certainly not Lieberman -- that opposition to Bush can also be understood as opposition to incompetence, to ineptitude, to the indifference that can only come to someone who has never had to be responsible for a single goddamned thing he's done in his life. And in his eagerness to ratfuck Obama, Lieberman might as well just publicly ask McCain for a cabinet position or veep slot, or whatever the hell he's after here. Just be done with it already, and in the meantime, could Harry Reid grow a pair and kick this mendacious fuck out of every committee chairmanship already? Say what you will about the Republicans, they wouldn't put up with this happy horseshit for a nanosecond.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.

John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies.


Really? How many is "too many"? Who are the members of this fifth column, and in what way have they become confused between our friends and our enemies? In what way, given how Bush has lawndarted the country in a bewildered, ignorant stammer for over seven years so far, are the citizens of this country -- much less the countries he's willfully invaded -- supposed to regard him as more of a "friend" than an "enemy"? He sure hasn't done me or mine any fucking favors.

Take a tip from Ronald Reagan, folks -- simply ask yourself if you're better off now than you were four years ago, and put it up against what McCain might bother to change out of all that, to the extent that he (or anyone else) can change. He's going to continue the current Gilded Age economic policies, since too many people have huffed the free-marketeer doxologies that dictate that the less we tax the super-rich, the more money magically lands in all of our pockets. Any guesses as to who might bankroll those happy PR write-ups? Do we understand the clear vested interest that the corporate owners of media entities have in government policy, or are we content to thumb our dicks, watch Deal Or No Deal, wait for that winning lottery ticket, and wonder why shit never rolls our way?

And McCain, despite his almost theatrical repudiation of the Jew-baiting evangicarnies mucking up the big tent with their megachurch blocs, is practically guaranteed to endorse a socially conservative rollback on the usual issues, the better to keep an otherwise broken populace addled with incoherent fears of sodomy and Harry Potter in the classrooms.

One group that seems not to be buying into Holy Joe's Republitard hosannas is, well, Arizona Republicans.

A planned mega-fundraiser for the GOP, featuring President Bush and John McCain, has now been scaled back in the face of a daunting problem: Too few people actually wanted to buy tickets.

According to the Phoenix Business Journal, fundraiser set for this Tuesday in the city's convention center failed to sell enough tickets, leading to fears that the anti-Bush protesters might end up outnumbering actual attendees.

The new plan is for the Bush-McCain fundraising effort, which will benefit both the McCain campaign and the RNC, to be held in private residences in the Phoenix area away from media coverage.


Hee hee. They'd probably be better off digging up the mummified carcass of Bebe Rebozo than trotting out Li'l Lord 28%, but they certainly don't need my advice. They don't need no water, let the muthafucka burn. As long as they take Connecticut's Taint with them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Uptight

This is just weird:

Eating on the street--even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat--displays [a] lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. ... Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. ... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if we feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior.


Jeez, you'd think everyone at your local hamburger joint or sandwich shop was a Homer Simpson in the making. Americans do have (compared to many other parts of the world) rather unhealthy relationships to food, money, time, culture, etc., characterized by impulse and indiscipline. But that's essentially the point of freedom -- each of us gets some latitude to figure it out for ourselves.

It's kind of amusing that Kass chooses this particular area in which to excoriate us for our animalism, thus exposing his more pertinent issues. There's almost an associative psychosexual frisson to the whole thing. But if anything (and I am most definitely a burger/sandwich/ice cream type of person), most people -- even children -- generally go out of their way with hand-held food to not look like slobs. This is one of those old-school cultural hangups, like some people have about the wearing of shorts, or the showing of feet and/or soles.

No doubt Leon would disapprove of Heidi Montag working a popsicle for all it's worth, essentially teasing her dickless, chin-cozy-faced douchey sidekick.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No Justice, No Peace

You know, when I first caught this headline, my initial assumption was that the prison sentence was for deluging the world with shitty boy bands. My bad, though they really should consider doubling the sentence.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lightening the Loafers

I think this cinches the deal -- if Schwarzenegger can handle the gay marriage ruling here in Homofornia, then the rest of the manly men in Gawd's Own Party oughta should be able to.

In a meeting with The Chronicle's editorial board on Friday, Schwarzenegger was asked to clarify his position.

"First, I have always said that for me, marriage is between a man and a woman," he said.

Then he added: "But I don't want to make everyone else go in that direction."

Schwarzenegger said he vetoed same-sex marriage legislation because he felt the Legislature shouldn't override voter-approved Proposition 22, which had defined marriage as between a man and a woman and was nullified by the high court on Thursday.

However, the governor said he doesn't necessarily feel the same when it comes to the Supreme Court overturning a statute enacted by a voter initiative.

"When the people vote, people are not legal experts, constitutional experts or any of that," he said. "I think that's why we have the courts. People may vote with good intentions, but then the court says, 'This is not constitutional.'

"It's not that the court interferes with the will of the people," he added. "But the court says, 'You voted for something, but it's not constitutionally right, so let's rework this.' That's really the idea."

While he supports the notion that same-sex couples should enjoy the same protections as heterosexual couples, the governor said same-sex marriage is not something that he has felt strongly about. He added that he has attended ceremonies for domestic partnerships.


He's exactly right, legally and morally. People (including myself) have given Ahnold a hard time here and there for some of his more meatheaded antics, but the guy was the biggest movie star on the planet not so long ago. You don't get to that point without understanding what motivates large groups of people, and here he iterates precisely that the reason this court ruling is pretty solid is because it restricts the ability of one group of people to impose their proprietary "morality" on another group of people, to the detriment of their basic rights. And that's why future initiatives in California's much-abused referendum process are doomed to fail.

But more than that, what was refreshing about Schwarzenegger's take on this was his personal observation. Essentially he's saying, "It's not my thing personally, but I've been to gay weddings, and it's not a big deal. There are more important issues."

Indeed, you would think that with two simultaneous wars, a tanking economy, and a fractious campaign to anoint the next schmuck who thinks they want to lead this dog-and-pony show, this would not even be a blip. But naturally, the focus instantly turns to how the timing of this ruling favors Saint Straight Talk, especially since Obama couldn't win California. Well, it doesn't help McCain here, except in the areas (such as, um, the one I live in) that were going for him in the first place. So McCain takes San Diego, Orange and Ventura Counties, and most of Central California and the Sacramento Valley. That's not nearly enough to take the whole state, especially in a demotivated Republican climate, especially in a state where the state Republican party leadership is probably a used-car dealer from Bakersfield and a staff of three. Seriously, these guys are fuckin' incompetent.

However, it's the perfect roughage for the constant ideological kampfers. Let's take a trip to ClownHall and see what their geniuses are up to, starting with convicted felon Chuck Colson:

In essence, these judges have created a new right out of thin air. Now, they base this decision, in part, on a precedent of the case in California declaring the ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

But over the centuries in Western civilization, public policy has recognized the vital role of the family—that the heterosexual family needed to be protected and defended in the law, because it provided crucial benefits for the well-being of society and family. That is different than a question of civil rights. Marriage always, everywhere until recent years, has been protected for the good of the state and the families.

Now, the problem is that the people of California cannot overturn this decision. Even an amendment to the California constitution will not help now. It all boils down to this: the need for a federal constitutional amendment—and soon, before other states start doing the same thing.

....

I guess I am not surprised by what happened in California. I have seen judges out of control for years. What I cannot fathom is how they would do it under the guise of natural rights. If the democratic process means anything, it means the consent of the governed. We cannot let the courts do this, or we do not have a democracy.


This is unfettered nonsense. Maybe Colson should have read the Federalist Papers while he was in the joint, and better understood what the Founding Fathers meant by "the necessity of auxiliary precautions"; i.e., the need for checks and balances, not only between branches of government, but on the occasions of buffoonery the people tend to visit upon themselves.

What the predominately Republican California Supreme Court has said is that the "will of the people" cannot be used to deny basic rights to homosexuals any more than it can be utilized to disenfranchise women or keep slaves. There is never a shortage of yahoos begging for the chance to vote against themselves or for the stupidest tripe to be plastered against a brick wall, if they think it voices their need for tribal self-identification. The court recognized that, wisely using Loving as a precedent. What Colson and his cohort need to do, instead of wasting everyone's time and diddling with the Constitution, is just get over it and grow the hell up already.

Another ClownHall denizen takes a more snide attack on California itself, for having the temerity to upset the Gawwwwwd-uh! that lives in her head:

By one vote, the California Supreme Court today rejected the expressed will of Californians to limit marriage to a man and a woman.

In 2000, a 61.4 percent majority of Californians passed Proposition 22, which limited marriage to a man and a woman and precluded California’s recognition of same-sex “marriages” consummated elsewhere.

....

The California Supreme Court has opened the door to a legal battle royal across the nation. Homosexual couples will flock to California to marry, return to their home states, and file lawsuits to force the recognition of their Land of Fruits and Nuts marriages—and the destruction of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.


Heh. "Land of Fruits and Nuts". Never heard that one before. Listen here, Sweet Cheeks -- one in every nine Americans lives in California. The state is the sixth largest economy in the world. We get less back from our federal tax dollars than anyone else, because of all the fucking deadbeat states in flyover country, who apparently don't produce much other than "Jesus Saves" billboards, enormous balls of twine, and the kind of desperation that can only be produced by generations of failure and cultural stasis. What else could possibly be available in Cawker City, Kansas, besides a Stuckey's and poorly-given (if no doubt eager) blowjobs? So, you know, fuck you and the horse you rode in on, m'kay?

As for Plop 22, there was a funny -- no, hilarious -- pained missive on the local news station's viewer e-mail segment. (Unfortunately, no available link to the specific e-mail.) Out of six e-mails read, five were howling in dismay at what these black-robed despots had wrought, and how mad Jeezus was going to be about it. Really, I felt like getting them a tissue.

Anyway, one of these spiteful little goobers wrote in whinging about how she had put in so much work canvassing houses for Plop 22, how all her hard work was now for naught, blah blah blah. Lady, I hope it put corns and calluses on your feet, and 'roids in your pooter. I hope it keeps you up at night, for a while at least. And I can't wait for them to come back by my house this time around; neither I nor my (yes, female) wife will be nearly as polite as last time.

But really, more than the usual scorn and contempt, what I'm really starting to feel for these people is pity, because they're utterly wasting their lives, their time, whatever good fortune they've had in life so far, squandering it on something that means utterly nothing. Their time would be better spent making a house-sized ball of twine, than endlessly nurturing this pointless obsession of theirs.

Finally we have (for ClownHall) the voice of reason, Debra J. Saunders. Saunders, to her credit, voted against Plop 22 and as a libertarian on social matters, has no weird issues about the ickiness of pole-smokers and donut-bumpers. (In fact, with this crowd, the more vocal they are, the more likely that either they're closet-cases or they have gay children that they're embarrassed about.) So Deb's on the right track, but ends her (reader-rated) one-star column on a diminished chord:

Mayor Gavin Newsom went on CNN to chide the fogies of the world who see this decision as a threat to civilization as we know it.

Newsom is right. America will not fall into the sea and Western civilization will not collapse.

In fact, this decision changed little. California law already has ensured equal rights for gays and lesbians. All this ruling did is change a name.

In short, there was no substantive reason for the court to rule as it did. And in jumping in too soon, the judges have created a permanent opposition -- similar to the permanent opposition to abortion laws -- that would not exist if California voters had changed the law for themselves, as they eventually would have done.

Which makes the George court's decision all that much more heavy-handed.


Feh. You can't have it both ways; you can't take the path of moral bravery (given your party base's rhetorical constraints) for yourself, and then turn around and excuse the moral cowardice or stupidity of others on the same issue. This is awful weak tea, prognosticating that Californians "eventually" would have grown up and overturned the previous initiative. It's like the Lost Causers claiming that the former Confederacy would have "eventually" repudiated slavery on their own had that meddling bastard Lincoln not interfered. Some things simply do not deserve to be excused or overlooked.

Not that they won't try, but this is going to be a non-starter for the mossback theosophists this time around. This ain't 2004, fools -- people are broke and pissed, and the current Republican nominee is locked in an ideological embrace with the Worst Preznit Evah, even as he finds the balls to talk about "the change [we] deserve", using a pharmaceutical slogan to inappropriately position himself. [Correction: the "change" slogan is actually being put forth by House Republicans, not directly by McCain himself. It is no less hilarious for that. Perhaps they can put Tom DeLay's mug shot on the posters.] Change what, muthafucka? From Iraq to Iran, from younger and dumber to older and crankier, from a Pinto to a Pacer? Straight Talk might peel a couple of points from the "Gawd Hates Fags" contingent, but fuck 'em anyways. I don't want to find common ground with them, I'm just waiting for them to die off already.

In the meantime, congratulations to the gay peoples for the legal recognition of a formality which many of them had already been living de facto, and hopefully this small victory proves more lasting for you.

The Price of Everything, the Value of Nothing

Interesting article on gas prices here, with plenty of points to agree with and to heckle. First off, he's right that blaming the Saudis or Big Oil or whoever, and endorsing a "gas-tax holiday" or SPR moratorium is just stupid. These things don't even qualify as band-aids, so temporary and useless they would be. Those ideas are scams every bit as much as ethanol.

But the idea of comparing today's prices with those of 1922 rings false, because the factors of demand, supply, and costs of extraction, refining, and transportation were entirely different. Transportation needs were also competely different then; you didn't have hordes of suburbanites commuting for hours every day in and out of the cities where they work, like you do now. There may be comparable factors along the way, among several historical points, but it seems pointless to use these to declaim the complaints about rising fuel costs.

It's also inane to point out that they pay twice as much for gasoline in Europe, for reasons everyone should be at least moderately acquainted with. Europe has extensive and very well maintained public transportation systems, light and heavy rail all over the continent, which is paid for in part by that heavily taxed gasoline.

American fuel is taxed heavily not through the actual taxes, but the externalities -- a defense budget larger than the next couple dozen countries combined, infrastructural improvement and maintenance, heavily favoring air travel over rail travel, etc. And now rising food costs are sufficiently offsetting (and then some) any putative savings conferred by ethanol. Some of these externalities can be attributed to larger geographic distances here than in Europe, but it is a tax all the same, and surely drives the actual price of American gasoline much closer to European levels (where, oddly enough, you don't hear much whinging about prices because there are other options available).

Americans need to get something straight, and sooner rather than later -- gas prices are never coming back down, and most of it is our own damned fault. People allowed themselves to be gulled into buying immense exurban assault vehicles for the most mundane of chores. It's as if it never occurred to them that driving an RV to the fuckin' supermarket was wasteful. Well, it is, and when you multiply it by six million or twenty million or what have you, and run those numbers over the years, you have an aggregate impact on demand and consumption.

And globalization has empowered a billion Chinese with those same toys and desires, and needs for the precious. And they're much closer to most of it than we are, and they have a lot more cash to throw around. And there's not a goddamn thing we can do about it; Fredo's latest hat-in-hand genuflection to his Saudi overlords was rebuffed almost before he got there. Funny how easy he thought all that there jawbonin' would be back in the day. Then again, he was against nation buildin' too, which shows you how reality keeps rudely interrupting his power-nap approach to serious thinkamatin'. This is a guy whose ability to suss the intentions of other leaders basically ends at the tip of his nose.

(Of course, Junior immediately returned from Saudi and tried to sour-grapes the whole prospect anyway, and insists that it just emphasizes the need for more exploration and refining capacity, rather than, say, spending that money and time developing infrastructural uses for photovoltaic technology. There is no reason that air-conditioned office parks across the Sun Belt cannot be solar-powered, right now.)

I do agree (against my own rational self-interest, as it turns out, since I commute) that higher gas prices are the only thing that will get people's heads out of their asses sufficiently to stop being wasteful. But comparisons such as this are completely useless:

(Gasoline is also cheap compared with other essential fuels. A Starbucks venti latte costs the equivalent of $23 per gallon, while Budweiser beer runs $11 per gallon.)


I've also argued with people who used the per-gallon cost of bottled water in comparison. How many gallons of bottled water or Starbucks are these people drinking every day to get to and from their jobs? It's asinine.

Look, this is the free market everyone pretends to worship. If oil companies thought the market could support $200/bbl, that's what it would be. Hell, if we attack Iran, it almost certainly will be there overnight. There is only one thing individuals can do to make a difference on this, and that's to use it as efficiently as possible. Drive smaller; drive less. I'm not sure what sort of yahoo really thinks that an 18¢ price reduction over the summer -- even on the wild notion that the oil companies wouldn't just put that in their pockets and keep prices right where they are -- makes any sort of difference at all. It barely qualifies as stupid.

The real thing that sucks is that working families who already eke their way through life as it is are stuck; gasoline expenditures simply become a rising percentage of where their income goes. All their options -- find a more efficient car; find a job with a shorter commute; move closer to the decent jobs -- tend to be cost-prohibitive, especially in a tight job market. (Yes, yes, unemployment is 5%, which is great news for the folks who need to get a second Kwik-E-Mart job on nights and weekends to cover their nut.)

It would be nice to see a news story focus on those factors. At least the candidates -- even McCain, to a certain extent -- have proposals to start moving in the right direction. But nothing will impact prices so quickly or so extensively as addressing the issue of waste and consumption. It doesn't mean we all have to bicycle to work and raise hemp in communes, it just means that driving a 10mpg schooner to the goddamned post office is no longer feasible. Something's gotta give, and some things will have to be given up. Maybe we start with waste.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Salesmen

I recall seeing this commercial several months ago for the first time, and saying to the wife, "I bet this guy could sell ketchup popsicles to women in white gloves."

The first thing I notice is the physical grace. Vince puts the Shamwow through its paces with the fluid dexterity of a three-card monte dealer. Cleaning up spills appears not just effortless, but fun.

There's a genius, too, in his hectoring tone. He makes us feel like idiots for even entertaining the notion of not buying a Shamwow. "You're gonna spend $20 every month on paper towels, anyway," he says, palms up and head tilted back. He seems truly dumbfounded that anyone might fail to see the wisdom of dropping 28 bucks (including shipping) on a set of rags.


Salesmanship is one of those knacks that has usually evaded me, though I have had jobs where I believed in the product enough to move it. But Vince has his shit nailed; he conveys his confidence in the product with the deliberation and rhythm of phrasing and emphasis. Robert Fripp once said that technique can be recognized by its apparent effortlessness, and so it is here.

These days, when I do watch the teevee, I always have a book handy so I can just read while the barrage of boner-pill and boner-vehicle commercials wails through my living room. And like most people, I am entirely immune from infomercials. (Somebody's watching them and buying from them, though; I don't know anyone who admits to watching Two and a Half Men either, but somehow it's been keeping Charlie Sheen neck-deep in syndication royalties and pussy for some years now.)

But Vince's little sideshow is actually kinda fun, in the Lyle Lanley sense. I'm never going to buy the monorail, but the pitch is enjoyable enough. It doesn't hurt that Vince has sued both Anna Nicole Smith and the Scientologists. This is the kind of guy who helpfully tells conventioneers who come to his town where the best place to look for strange is, and if you fail at that, he'll steer you to the rub-and-tug parlor his cousin owns. There's never enough people like that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Priorities

Is there some reason (besides, perhaps, his coziness with the telecoms) why Specter is running around like some caricature from Friday Night Lights or King of the Hill? What the hell is this guy's problem? Signal-stealing, if one must, is part of the game; why do you think coaches always have a hand or a laminate over their mouths as they call the next play?

The fact is that a team that has to win by such means is not going to be good enough to win big or consistently, and the Patriots, whatever else I may have ranted about them in the past, have had more going for them than any advantage that might be had by stealing signals or watching practice film (as opposed to, you know, game film, like every team does every week).

If Specter really wants to make himself useful and roll the Pats, he should call a hearing on the "tuck rule" game. That shit was wickety-wack. Failing that, there's gotta be literally a thousand better uses for his very expensive time.

Burning Down the House

I thought it wise to pray to ASHING, though I do not know that god.
-- Stephen Vincent Benét, By the Waters of Babylon

The old people shopped in a panic. When the TV didn't fill them with rage, it scared them half to death.
-- Don DeLillo, White Noise


I think it's safe to say that when Peggy Noonan is making sense, trouble's a-brewin':

If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.

To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.


To be sure, Nooners' epiphanies are no doubt fueled more by instinctive distaste for all things Clinton (and at this point, it's kinda hard to blame her) than by serious commitment to brotherly love. And while McCain might well have sunk himself if he had said what Miss Thang did about the coveted cracker base last week, it's hard to imagine that at least a sizable plurality of conservative commentators wouldn't have resorted to their usual passive-aggressive tropes in his defense.

Still, her essential point is correct, and this cheap cracker-baiting is unacceptable, even if there may be geographic pockets of truth to it. I'd like to think that the media, with their unerring nose for the cheapest, least relevant shit, simply managed to find the angriest goobers they could in limning the peculiar political bent of Appalachia. But every one of them, when pressed on why they could never bring themselves to vote for Obama, either snuffled through the usual nonsense about flag pins 'n' preachers, or were simply more upfront about their racism. Not one of them, as far as I'd seen in the coverage from network news to The Daily Show, could come up with a remotely coherent reason why they couldn't vote for Obama.

Per usual, Taibbi is likely on the right track.

Whereas the Clinton rallies seem to embrace the combative nature of this contest, in the Obama camp one frequently finds people who are deeply troubled by it. "He's been a complete gentleman," says Amala Lane, an Obama volunteer from New York who came down to Pennsylvania for the primary. "This is exactly what Obama is trying to get us beyond: this blue-state/red-state thing."

Listening to Lane — a soft-spoken, white, college-educated intellectual who worked as a teacher overseas — you can see exactly where Obama has gone wrong. In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Obama polled well among people exactly like this: liberals and college graduates. In the Full Metal Jacket paradigm, faggots and sailors. Earlier in the campaign, the Obama camp was so busy stewing over Bill Clinton's comparison of Obama's South Carolina win to Jesse Jackson's and worrying about being painted as a "black candidate" that they forgot to worry about being painted as something even worse, in American political terms: the candidate of liberal intellectuals.

With all his verbose deflections of Hillary's attacks and unconcealed annoyance over silly nonissues like his failure to wear a flag lapel pin, Obama inadvertently painted himself into a corner as a know-it-all, a pointy-head who would rather yammer in polysyllables and talk to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than wear the fucking American flag on his chest — as Hillary, meanwhile, was promising to "obliterate" Iran and in the process roping in hordes of nondescript suburbanites who'll crawl through the mud for "Madam President" while marching to classic rock tunes like the "Horst Wessel Song." Clinton's genius was in seeing that it was possible to play the liberal/intellectual-baiting game not only with Republicans but with Democrats — and that by forcing her opponent to take the high road, she could scour the fish-rich waters of the low road.


Ironic, isn't it, that someone who endured political taunts of "wonkism" and "elitism", of implicit traitorousness and intellectual arrogance, for all those years, resorts to precisely the same tactics in her increasingly futile effort to claw her way to the middle? All that time we listened to them whinge about how unfairly they'd been maligned and hunted, and their shithead friends rushed to the barricades to pen unreadable books in their defense -- and they took the first opportunity to become exactly what they despise. Shee-it, about all that's missing from this one is a clandestine ratfucking of Larry Hagman.

To a great extent, the concern over the Clintons' tactics throwing the election over to Poor Ol' Straight Talk are overblown at this juncture. Most of the disappointed Hillarians will, despite their current plaints, get over themselves and vote for Obama. The ones who don't were never going to, and probably wouldn't have really voted for a girl either. Really, pathological hangups and projected psychological difficulties tend to run in patterns; people who have problems with negroes also have problems with females. Probably something to do with fetal alcohol syndrome.

And speaking of fetal alcohol syndrome, Clownhall takes a stab at spelling out What Bubba Wants (other than a blood relative to sodomize):

The "guns, God and gays" trope has haunted Democrats, and Republicans have enjoyed dusting it off when needed to rile the locals. It's an easy play.


Well, sure. What are they supposed to do, explain that their approach to the government basically consists of upward wealth transfers and taking foreign policy suggestions from think-tanks populated by ideological inbreeders, that it's essentially a practical joke? If the Republicans ever took their thumb off the scale, the whole counter would flip over.

But so-called "ordinary Americans" aren't so easily manipulated and they don't need interpreters. They can spot a poser a mile off and they have a hound's nose for snootiness. They've got no truck with people who condescend nor tolerance for that down-the-nose glance from people who don't know the things they know.


Riiiiight. That's why they voted for George W. Bush, twice. That's why they bought the schtick of a lobbyist/actor who tooled around Tennessee in a pick'emup truck. Well, not so much around the state. More like from the parking lot where he left his Lexus, out to the stump in Sixtoe Gulch where he'd tug his overalls for twenty minutes, tell them that everything they think they know is gospel truth, and promise to make Junior Samples his Secretary of State. Yeah, there's just no foolin' these folks.

I mean, really. These people clearly couldn't spot a poser if he showed up in a muscle shirt and started playing Achy Breaky Heart. There's no easier mark on the planet than a hostile rube who refuses to learn or discuss anything he didn't pick up on the third go-round of second grade.

I'm sure this schtick has been around since the first ensi of Eridu told the townsfolk that his rival and the rival's god were claiming to better than them and their god. No better way to get a dumbass' back up than to tell them that someone thinks they're better'n you, whether or not they actually said that, and regardless of whether it's true in the first place. Prob'ly fags anyways.

That dumb fucking cow they showed on The Daily Show earlier tonight, rambling about how she couldn't trust someone from another race runnin' this here country? Fuck her, and fuck the dipshit crackers that think like that. Fuck 'em right in the neck. There are people who better than that, but apparently they don't make as good copy for the intrepid reporter trying to put together his never-been-done-before What's Whitey's Deal With Obama? ofay news item.

Some Americans do feel antipathy toward "people who aren't like them," but that antipathy isn't about racial or ethnic differences.


Sure it is. Oh, you can add cultural differences into that mix as well, but it's a pretty clear pattern that many of us in all parts of the country have seen in play, frequently by our own family members. (Thankfully, I can't think of anyone in my family who's quite that bad, and even the ones who do complain are more of the Archie Bunker, blowing off steam but always voting Democrat(ic) anyway type.) As J. Billington Bulworth astutely pointed out, rich people stay well on top by pitting poor white people against poor black people.

The folks who are getting suckered into registering their ignorance and xenophobia on national teevee as part of a defense-contractor-owned "news program" might do well to follow the overall food chain, consider their own place in it, and kindly sit down and shut their fucking cakeholes until they have managed to read something without pictures or glossy paper, that may disabuse them of their toxic stupidity. Really, it's okay to not want to vote for Barack Obama, but do us all a favor and come up with a marginally responsible reason.

Remember kids, he's not just a black guy with a white mom, he's a white guy with a black dad. Both things are equally true, but when either enters into the decision-making process, the point is already lost.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Caddyschmuck

The sacrifices he makes:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - [Junior] said in an interview out Tuesday that he quit playing golf in 2003 out of respect for the families of US soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq, now in its sixth year.

"I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal," he said in an interview for Yahoo! News and Politico magazine.


You know what else sends the wrong signal, Chief? Grossly exaggerating your rationales; canning experienced military advisors who disagree with your brilliant strategery, while promoting inept yes-men; taunting the enemy with "bring 'em on"; dumping $2 bn per week into this endless snipe hunt; gentrifying the Green Zone with luxury condos and an amusement park while the rest of the country has intermittent power and water at best. And on and on.

Christ, the usual turd-burglars are scrambling to cobble together some sort of observation on what sort of "legacy" Bush will leave. I honestly cannot think of a single thing that didn't either directly benefit his donor class, or adversely impact the nation's fortunes. Usually both. (Small exceptions: increasing AIDS relief for Africa and debt forgiveness. I mean, whoopdee-fuckin'-doo, in the overall scheme of things.)

You made your bed, hoss, you may as well go ahead and play golf in it for all it's worth. The sad thing is that he probably sincerely believes that this matters, not that it's ever stopped him from mountain biking and clearing brush. It doesn't even seem to occur to him that he is deeply resented despite quitting golf, that whether he played or not wouldn't matter in the least if he had ever displayed even a trace of sentience or competence.

Go. Go shoot a round. Really, it doesn't matter anymore, except to the extent that every minute on the back nine is a minute away from lawndarting the country. I just do not understand why this is newsworthy now, four years after we watched that drive on Fahrenheit 9/11. Whatever and ever, amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nothin' Beats a Joe Blob

Lieberman makes the rounds for Ratfuck Monday.

When Wolf Blitzer pointed out that Obama also labels Hamas a terrorist organization, making his position the same as McCain's, Lieberman said, "that's true," adding that Obama "clearly doesn't support any of the values and goals of Hamas."


You think Obama's wondering why the hell he didn't stump for Ned Lamont last year? Jesus, you hope that at least the Dems have enough balls between them to ditch this hump once and for all. No more committee chairmanships, nothin', freeze this prick out. You're dead to us, Fredo.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Neunundneunzig Luftballons

Welcome BalloonJuicers. Feel free to put your feet on the couch; that's why we have it covered in plastic. And a big thanks to Ron at CenterFace for the endorsement. Just when I have lost my faith in humanity. Be sure to check out Ron's nasty little epistle o' love to the garment-rending Clintonistas. As a spectator sport, this will certainly do until football season finally begins.

Lost In Translation

Briefly noting the contretemps between IOZ and La Goldstein, just for the entertainment value. Pound for pound, Goldstein is probably as solid a juggler of deconstructivist chainsaws as anyone out there, I'll wager. But that's primarily because I generally don't have the patience to sift through such flummery unless there is clarity and utility in its ultimate deployment.

While I tend to agree with the principle of originalism as far as acknowledging that the founding fathers said what they meant, it seems that too often people find themselves in the weeds, hacking away and thinking that interminable bouts of semiotic glossolalia won't actually burrow them further into said weeds. Look, even if we acknowledge the infallibility of the FFs' intent and ability to circumscribe said intent with definable permanence, we also have to acknowledge that not all of what they meant was worth keeping, and that grown-ups are able to deal with those verities.

They meant to only give white male landowning gentry a full vote. They meant to subjugate Africans and keep them as slaves; they meant to keep women disenfranchised. They could not have anticipated AR-15's and 90-round banana clips of armor-piercing bullets, nor the creeping authoritarianism of an unapologetic doofus tragically entrusted with the responsibility of steering the ship of state. What is so difficult to understand about the urgency of rectifying situations such as those, without having to dither in tenuous slippery slope arguments, and without discounting the preponderance of rightness that resided in their original arguments?

What makes it a sound exercise in futility is the column itself whence Goldstein's discursion originated, particularly this excerpt [emphasis in original] intimating Obama's pending judicial radicalism.

"Barack Obama," explained spokesman Tommy Vietor, "has always believed that our courts should stand up for social and economic justice, and what's truly elitist is to appoint judges who will protect the powerful and leave ordinary Americans to fend for themselves."

Really? Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, knows full well that the Supreme Court isn't charged with upholding subjective world views on "economic and social justice" — quite the opposite, in fact.

Justices solemnly swear to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich." So judges, incredible as this may sound, are not prohibited from "protecting" the powerful if the powerful happen to be right on the constitutional issue.

To suggest otherwise, as Obama has, is to suggest they should ignore their oath.


Harsanyi lamely "concedes" that "both sides" are "posturing", a noncommittal "no shit, Sherlock" moment if ever there were one. And to call the above excerpt a willful misreading of what Vietor said (or signified, if you must) would be an understatement roughly equivalent to pointing out that George W. Bush is not a terribly skilled orator.

Implicit in all this is that there has heretofore been some (hell, any) imbalance in favor of the poor and disempowered, or even equity between the protections they receive and the protections the powerful receive. You know, the Kelo decision didn't endanger the property of anybody powerful, it merely made it easier for cities and developers to skull-fuck little old ladies if they got in the way of their gentrification efforts. (And yes, Kelo is one decision where the sacred liberal SCOTUS braintrust got it wrong, big time.)

If Roe and then perhaps Griswold were to get repealed because Preznit Straight Talk filled Stevens' and Ginsburg's seats with another couple Combover Tony clones, the wayward coed daughters of the powerful would still get their abortions, still cherish their many opportunities to go out and look for a new mistake without someone looking over their shoulders. You don't even have to tally up wealth discrepancies to discern class distinctions, you need merely to comprehend the consequences each faces when they fuck up, whether in terms of actual criminality or merely trespassing the moral boundaries of the folks who spend their waking hours worried that someone else might be having a good time.

The idea that even the vague hint of economic and social justice automatically signifies the onset of barbarians at the sacred gates says a lot about the predominant mindset at work. It's as if, usual misgivings about their foreign policy acumen set to one side for the moment, this gang hadn't already done its damndest to reinstate a socioeconomic outlook right out of the Gilded Age, an outlook that has infested even their foreign policy adventures. It is all of a piece, and has been since day one, since well before 9/11. These fuckers would have had Ken Lay running the DoE if they could have gotten away with it.

The cliché is that we are a nation of laws rather than men, which never fails to make me laugh. But even if you accept this premise at face value, the fact is that laws are here to facilitate the quality of the lives of humans, and not the other way around. This does not mean, contrary to the lurid fables originalists like to gull and prod one another with, a deluge of communal hedonism and redistributive theft. It might -- and, given the rational skepticism anyone should have about Obama's ability or even will to follow through on so many rhetorical promises, I emphasize might -- translate into some semblance of accountability from people who are otherwise exempt from such an outmoded concept.

It's something when anyone can muster such energy at the shadow of a rhetorical abstraction, and compose elaborate plaints about the sanctity of the Constitution and its inviolable constructs, without so much as a mention of the current occupants' scorched-earth treatment of the very same document. There is no neoclown who would have sat idly by while people were kidnapped on the other side of the world, held without charge, and violently force-fed for half a decade in Guantanamo, not under a Democratic president. Hell, they took turns mounting their high horse when Clinton bombed Serbia for a couple months (though, of course, they have fuck-all to say about the hub for drug and human trafficking the area has turned into since then). There is no self-satisfied fiscal conservative who would have put up for a goddamned second with dropping pallets of hundred-dollar bills into the Iraq desert, to be disbursed and skimmed at will, under any pretense, much less the Wilsonian one that has been consistently presented. It's going to take a generation to remove Cheney's shit-stains from the Constitution, and they can scarcely be bothered. But one of Obama's lackeys said something about social and economic justice. I mean, holy fucking shit, Batman.

All laws are meant, in principle, to ensure accountability, to grant redress, and yes to protect the weak from the predations of the powerful -- which, by definition, does not typically happen in the other direction. The state, and by extension the entities who propagate it and profit from it, have the monopoly on use of force, Hume's paradox notwithstanding. And if laws to do not protect individuals' right to be left alone, if they don't demand accountability for outright murder, then they -- and the humans who interpret and enforce them -- are not doing their jobs.

The idea that only Obama and his putative acolytes are responsible for shadowing and encoding their own meanings and intentions into the clarity of the legal codes, whether civil, criminal, or military, is intellectually and morally obtuse, and worthy only of the most contemptuously cynical regard as to motive. They're incapable of good-faith efforts.

God Squad

This Slate article on Christian culture starts off rather oddly, I think, beyond just the almost Penthouse Forum stylings of the opening sentence.

One night, a couple of years ago, I walked in on a group of evangelical college boys sitting on a bed watching The Daily Show. I felt alarmed, and embarrassed, as if I had caught them reading Playboy or something else they had to be shielded from. Jon Stewart, after all, spends at least one-quarter of his show making fun of people like them. But they eagerly invited me in. I soon learned that they watched the show every night it was on, finals or no finals. So strong was their devotion to Jon Stewart that I was tempted to ask: If Jesus came back on a Tuesday night at 11, would you get off the bed?


There are at least a couple of peculiar assertions in that opening paragraph. One is that The Daily Show uses Christians and/or their belief system as a comedic punching bag. I watch the show pretty regularly, and I really can't think offhand of anything that fits that description. Poking fun at "intelligent design" advocates, creationist museums, goofballs who peddle quack science in an effort to circumvent evidence that conflicts with their dogma, sure. But those people are few and far between as comic fodder on TDS, and when they are the political subtext can be clearly seen. They are not being picked on because they're Christians, but because they're charlatans.

The other notion is that Christians need their own subculture that caters to them. This smells more like marketing than anything else, the business instinct to niche-peddle to people, rather than simply producing something that can reach out beyond the bounds of the niche and have some mass appeal. Bands such as U2 and King's X are probably no less Christian than, say, Stryper was, but they made more of an impact because they concentrated on making better music, and let that universalize their appeal.

Certainly it's understandable why people from socially conservative belief systems might want to actively dissociate themselves from the lame-brained vulgarities of popular culture. But those are pretty easy to sidestep -- I mean, no one's making anybody watch Tila Tequila or any of the interchangeable has-been fuckfests on the E! Channel. No one makes teenage girls wear the coin slot thong, or get a butt hat, or a nipple/clit piercing. People are either conformist mallrats, all expressing their individuality in eerily similar patterns, or they aren't.

Even TDS itself is only irreverent in comparison to the dutiful, slavish handjobbery that comprises most "news" media, particularly television. Stewart pokes fun at Bush's manifold incompetencies, and then has McCain on for the thirteenth time, for a round of softballs that would make Larry King blush. TDS is more of an outlet of catharsis at this point than anything truly significant, a place where we can go to snicker at the abusive absurdities that comprise our political system, and then go right back to either pretending that we can have any effect on it, or ignoring it all in favor of some cheap video soma. That's something that the religious and the secular alike can appreciate.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Heart of Dorkness

So for no good reason at all, I'm checking out Amazon's "Guitar Gods" contributor section, and I stumble across this happy monkey-fuck of a thread. Note how seamlessly it transitions from the initial asshole "joking" about Dimebag Darrell (who, if half of what I've heard and read about him over the years is true, was a total mensch) being shot, to the other bozo lecturing everyone on how all dictatorships are "leftist". Hunh? I thought this was a guitar thread, you thumb-dick.

Anyway, fun stuff. Do check it out if you have time to kill (and, well, you're here, which means that you do). Like mouth-breathing rats stuck in a cage, some of these folks are. As always, I remember my first beer.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Land o' Flakes

From the state that was too stupid to punch a ballot comes this gem:

Substitute teacher Jim Piculas does a 30-second magic trick where a toothpick disappears then reappears.

But after performing it in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land 'O Lakes, Piculas said his job did a disappearing act of its own.

"I get a call the middle of the day from head of supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue, you can't take any more assignments you need to come in right away,'" he said.

When Piculas went in, he learned his little magic trick cast a spell and went much farther than he'd hoped.

"I said, 'Well Pat, can you explain this to me?' 'You've been accused of wizardry,' [he said]. Wizardry?" he asked.


Usually when you hear "Florida teacher" and "magic trick", you assume it's another hot 25-year-old blondie making sophomores' peckers disappear. Here you have to wonder if the natives are planning to see if Piculas weighs the same as a duck.

Like a Surgin'

This must be more of that sweet-ass successmanship we keep hearing about:

The authorities in Baghdad say they are preparing for an exodus of thousands of people from eastern parts of the city.

Fighting between government and US troops on one side, and Shia militia on the other, has intensified recently.

Two football stadiums are on stand-by to receive residents from two neighbourhoods in the Sadr City area.

The government has warned of an imminent push to clear the areas of members of the Mehdi Army, loyal to the anti-American cleric, Moqtada Sadr.

In the last seven weeks around 1,000 people have died, and more than 2,500 others have been injured, most of them civilians.


If only someone could have foreseen this.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bitter Baby Bubba

Gad, but I am beyond tired of these tedious excursions into the heart of Bubbaville, to churn through what can only charitably be described as autistic thought processes abetted by only marginal acquaintance with facts, not to mention relevance.

Richard Vallejo, 65, of Bristol, Pa., a typical working-class town, has voted Democratic all his life. But of Obama, Vallejo says: "He's prejudiced against white people. I'm in a small town and if I own a gun, it's not because I'm bitter. It is because of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms."


Never mind that Obama's widely mischaracterized "bitter" comment had nothing to do with the Second Amendment, and indeed Obama must know that, not only is he strictly forbidden from even hinting at any opposition to it, but come October if he is still in the running, he will be required to show up for the usual Elmer Fudd hunting pictorials to prove his steadfast support of, I don't know, people drinking beer and blowing away birds.

(NB: I'm a big believer in the Second Amendment. I have fired all sorts of guns including assault rifles, and know responsible people who own them. Guns are fun and useful when responsibly used, and I don't think the world needs to be turned upside down because of criminals and miscreants. However, the endless wanking of the gun lobby veers between the utterly devotional and the oddly pansexual, and is thus hilarious.)

This next goob is even better:

In Indiana, the next stop on the primary trail on May 6, Brenda Spreitzer, 42, told a NEWSWEEK reporter at a Clinton rally: "I think Barack's viewpoints and his past is too flamboyant. It's more radical than I want to go … I'm just not comfortable," she said, adding that she is concerned about Obama's practice of generally not wearing an American flag pin. (None of the candidates wear flag pins.) She has been researching Obama on the Internet and discovered that he wants to tear out the bowling alley in the White House (Obama has kiddingly said he wants to replace it with a basketball court). "That freaked me out because no matter if he bowls or not, it's a historic thing that should never be changed."


There is so much that's flat-out wrong and stupid with this person that it hurts my teeth. First is her so-called "research" of Obama on teh intarnutz, which has apparently left her irate over the flag pin nobody wears, and Obama's joke (clearly meant to defuse the earlier stupidity over his poor bowling, versus his pretty decent basketball skills) about replacing the WH bowlong alley with a b-ball court. You dumb fucking dummy, if those are your priorities, then you deserve to go under, period.

I know that ignorant morons pay taxes too, and are thus entitled to elected representation, but there is a reasonable argument to be made for bringing back literacy tests and such. And maybe not giving these bozos so much media space and consideration. "Freaked out" over a "historic" bowling alley. If that's "real" America, we are well and truly done.

Horse Doovers

For a brief moment Saturday mid-afternoon (freaking allergies tore me up this weekend), I remembered that it was Derby Day, and nearly cared enough to saunter in and make smug wisecracks about Saudi gazillionaires renting Venezuelan midgets to ride million-dollar ponies in a circle for the amusement of douchebags. Then, of course, I tuned in that night and read what else had happened. Sad deal. Nothing will change, any which way. Maybe less inbreeding and more developmental time for the horses would reduce the risk.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Double Secret Probation

At least when they declare martial law in third-world dictatorships (whether nominally communist or just the usual oligarchic kleptocrat we can do bidness with), they make sure you fucking well know it:

A legal brief that exempted the US military from criminal laws following the 9/11 attacks was improperly kept classified for years, the former head of the US government agency in charge of document secrecy said today.

The March 2003 brief, which allowed Pentagon interrogators to claim self-defence in sidestepping laws against torture, was made public earlier this month.

J William Leonard, who directed George Bush's information security oversight office until last year, today told Congress that the document never should have been classified in the first place.

"To learn that such a document was classified had the same effect on me as waking up one morning and learning that after all these years, there is a 'secret' article to the constitution that the American people do not even know about," Leonard said.


It is taken as an article of faith that, beyond all the policy promises and rhetorical head-fakes, the most vital reason to put a Democrat in the White House this time around is to protect what integrity remains of the Supreme Court, since two or three non-authoritarians will probably retire during the next term. Clearly Cheney has used executive firewalls and legal trickery to obscure his own little shadow fiefdom, through which the administration has decided which laws it feels like obeying or not, installing or not. You're on a need-to-know basis, pal, which means you never need to know.

Characterizing the timing of the brief as "post-9/11" is a cheap dodge; the timeline is obviously concurrent with the invasion of Iraq. There's a reason for that, and many reasons why it is critical that the next president must make at least some attempt to tear down these behind-the-scenes maneuvers. It may take a while; clearly these people have managed to infest the very workings of government with ideological termites, who couldn't give less than a shit that they are subverting what used to be at least nominally a government by and for the people. It's now just for their people.

Let Them Eat Valtrex

Via alicublog, it appears that Teen 'murka's favorite blow-up dolls, like, have, you know, like um opinions 'n' stuff?

We'll admit, it never would have even occurred to us to ask Hills star Lauren Conrad about her personal politics if her arch-nemesis, Heidi Montag, hadn't come out earlier this month as a McCain supporter. After that, we didn't really have a choice. When we saw Conrad at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday, we asked her who would have her vote. "You know what? I believe in a private ballot," she said. "I’ve done several things to, like, encourage people to vote. But I think when you go in and endorse somebody it kind of affects how people look at you or look at candidates."


I'll say. What a relief. If these two brain-dead, self-absorbed Valley cows started singing Obama's praises (because, like, they'd, like nevuhr vote for, like the, you know, Cankle Queen, like ZOMG), I'd have to sit this one out, just on principle.

Can't wait to see these dingbats in twenty years, bitter, burned-out, botoxed and paxiled, reminding everyone of who they used to be, furiously fucking each others' pool boys for rank in their OC tanorexic milf clique.

It's a damned shame someone couldn't have chained the doors shut at the WHCD and just converted the entire room into soylent green, or even pothole filler. At least there would have been some use for it then.

You've Got Mailman

You know, I always figured Karl Malone for a dick, but banging eighth-graders while he was in college exceeds my expectations.

Writes Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News: “His mother, Gloria Bell, reportedly was only 13 years old and Malone a college sophomore at Louisiana Tech when Demetrius was born. Malone might have served jail time had her family asked the district attorney to file criminal charges.”

Malone had no involvement in the rearing of the child. They first met when Demetrius Bell was 18, and Malone reportedly said to him that it was too late to be his father, and that Bell would have to “earn his money on his own.”


Classy with a capital K.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Suicided

Let the speculation begin:

A body police believe to be 52-year-old Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found in a shed near her mother's mobile home Thursday morning in Tarpon Springs, about 20 miles northwest of Tampa. Police said she left a suicide note, but they did not disclose its contents or how she killed herself.

Police do not suspect foul play in Palfrey's death, according to a press release.

Palfrey was convicted April 15 by a federal jury of running a prostitution service that catered to members of Washington's political elite, including Sen. David Vitter, R-La. She had denied her escort service engaged in prostitution, saying that if any of the women engaged in sex acts for money, they did so without her knowledge.


You know, it's a sad end to what seems to be a rather troubled life (Palfrey apparently had done time during the '90s for similar crimes), and no doubt everyone has their pet theories. One hopes she left her black book with someone trustworthy. But one also has to wonder why she hadn't just dropped the rock already on these people, since she was awaiting sentencing at this point. It's easy to baselessly speculate from the cheap seats here.

Still, if there's a bunch of giant diaper pins at the scene, that may arouse suspicions. More seriously, this is not the first suicide in this case.

One of the escort service employees was former University of Maryland, Baltimore County, professor Brandy Britton, who was arrested on prostitution charges in 2006. She committed suicide in January before she was scheduled to go to trial.

Last year, Palfrey said she, too, was humiliated by her prostitution charges, but said: "I guess I'm made of something that Brandy Britton wasn't made of."


Having this sort of incriminating evidence on very high-profile people, I would guess, can be both a lever and a bullseye for the person holding it. Hopefully justice is found out and done in the case of Palfrey and Britton, because even if both women actually did commit suicide, it's as if they had been driven to it, not over puritan mores over prostitution so much as the money laundering and racketeering charges, but still.

It's the stuff of Robert Ludlum potboilers, and perhaps the unlikely will occur and the rest of the story will come out. People shouldn't have to die because of the sanctimonious pervs they service.