Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This summer has been the hottest in California for several years, and as I like to say, it's not the heat, it's the stupidity. Mediawise, it's enough to make one reminiscent for the Summer of the Shark -- except, of course, for what finally knocked all those stupid shark-attack stories off the front page.

But seriously, just the past six weeks has been epic in terms of absolutely useless, meaningless crap being presented as news -- a wave of celebrity deaths culminating in that of the still-dead, still-unburied Michael Jackson; a preening, know-nothing shopaholic pretending to be the governor of a state, pretending to quit yet pretending that she's not really quitting, apparently buying her enough time and funds to purchase a large-enough mountable cross to tow around the country with her; a Bahston cop and a crusading black egghead pushing each other just a little too far, and the president who stepped on his dick when he didn't even need to walk in on the contrived "issue". And which bar skank is getting Jon Gosselin's manchowder written across her tramp stamp tonight? Hope he stocked up on Valtrex!

Ahem. That's an awful lot of stupid to compete against, and yet the "birther" story easily trumps them. Conspiracy theories are a time-honored American parlor game, to be sure, but they're more interesting when there's at least one (1) detail about them that makes sense, or is irrefutable. What made, say, the Vince Foster conspiracy theory interesting was not that there was any credibility to the notion that the Clintons actually had Foster killed, it was that they did send HRC flunky (and 2008 campaign manager after Patti Solis Doyle got shoved overboard) Maggie Williams over to Foster's place to grab a box of documents immediately upon hearing of Foster's death. It was a case where, even though the conspiracy was outlandish, the information revealed about the participants' first instincts was, at best, unseemly.

With the birther weirdos, it's the opposite -- the persistence of the nonsense reveals too much about the idiots perpetuating it. The more evidence available to refute their theory, the greater the conspiracy in their minds. Of course this is true of all conspiracies, by definition, but perhaps never before has such a grain of rumor managed to travel so far, aided and abetted as always by the sheer laziness of the media, of clowns like Lou Dobbs, who has been refuted by his own network, and by his own guest hosts on his own show, yet still persists in feeding the zombie lie.

It's the Paranoid Style all over again, the dumbest goddamn thing since the Birchers' "commies fluoridatin' the water supply" schtick fifty years ago. Except this time around, the wingnuts have had lots of help mainstreaming their obsession. No Richard Cougar Melloncamp Scaife bankrolling this one, folks, this and other foolishness is kept going by outlets like CNN, who spend actual studio time reading aloud the e-mail and twitter comments they receive on this and other non-stories, and then wonder why they've lost legitimacy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


It doesn't matter what the subject is -- anytime a writer chooses to intro their article with a Billy Kristol reference, nothing good can ever come from it.

Bill Kristol, a powerhouse policy guru for Republicans, often has a tin ear for politics. A week before the presidential election last year he predicted John McCain would “win huge.” In May, he said President Barack Obama had decided to nominate Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan to the Supreme Court, and he’s been a cheerleader for Sarah Palin.

Mr. Kristol was prescient, however, 16 years ago in advising Republicans that defeating President Bill Clinton’s health care overhaul would be devastating for the Democrats. He’s making the same case today, imploring Republicans to “go for the kill” on the Obama health care initiative.

He’s right again. A defeat would be a killer for Democrats. The trademark of Mr. Obama’s first year in office would be failure; the reputations of the president and his celebrated White House staff would be decimated.

The occasions of being "right" have everything to do with the usual stopped-clock syndrome, and nothing at all to do with having a principled argument in good faith. Kristol exemplifies the utter worst in American political analysis -- a legacy hack who would have trouble picking the winner in a Harlem Globetrotters game. The only reason he was "right" in 1994 is because his betting pattern happened to pay off that time.

And let's face it -- even when they're successful, there's rarely much downside to betting against Democrats. They're bad at being the minority party, but they're even worse at being the majority party. When was the last time these people found the occasion, discipline, and intestinal fortitude to break out of the usual circular-firing-squad formation?

That's not a rhetorical question; I seriously cannot recall the last time they had this sort of electoral mandate and legislative advantage, yet they have no idea what to do with it. They are continuously flummoxed by the simplest obstructionist clowning from the Republicans, who have nothing to lose by being obstructionist clowns, because they know that the Democrats will fail to do anything meaningful about it.

Same with people such as Kristol. When has he ever had to deal with any consequences for being wrong, for failing to bring any insight to a discussion, for being tendentious and intellectually dishonest to a comical degree? Until people stop bringing him on as a commentator, or publishing his water-carrying jabber as if it should be taken seriously, what incentive is there for him to stop?

Kristol has never even bothered with the pretense of displaying more than a surface knowledge of any given subject. He has never attempted to hide his role as a purely partisan strategist. This has never mattered to the corporate media outlets that continue to request his services. Perhaps we can see a pattern here, if we choose to look closely enough. Just incompetence is never a reason to lose one's media gig, so too is it axiomatic that cost arguments are only relevant in certain issues, primary among those being health care.

The so-called public option — some form of government-run plan to compete with private insurers — will only be a fallback in the event private insurers fail to meet the goals, and will probably be in the form of health cooperatives or another mechanism. Liberals simply will have to accept that they lack the votes for a full-fledged public option.

Raising revenue — in the neighborhood of $300 billion over the next decade — may be the toughest nut. The House Ways and Means Committee’s millionaire’s surcharge plan is dead; at most, only a much smaller tax on the rich will fly. More likely will be some amalgam, including a tax on the most generous health insurance plans or the insurers that offer them, that would be part of the $200 billion in tax measures on the Senate Finance Committee’s table. Fears of a budget-busting bill are misplaced. Neither the politics nor the procedures will permit that.

Cost controls, so great in theory, will bite and will require politicians to take on special interests. The Blue Dogs, for all their talk of bills being too expensive, start off demanding more expansive health care for rural areas.

Sigh. Where to start? First, "liberals" do not lack the votes, at least along party lines. Big-tent wanking aside, the Blue Dog assholes take advantage of their all-liberals-are-Democrats-but-not-all-Democrats-are-liberals cred and use it to constantly force their party to negotiate at gunpoint. And they never seem to have to concede a thing; the party is content to let them pad their districts with useless boondoggles in exchange for a constantly fraying party loyalty. Like Billy Kristol, they never seem to have to pay any meaningful consequences for their actions, so there is no incentive for them to change.

Secondly, the issue of "cost" is both a shame and a shibboleth. We sunk $2 trillion into Iraq in just six years, yet there's just no way to maybe one-sixth of that in a decade, not to mention the lost productivity costs that would be offset by a genuine health-care initiative, as opposed to the industry-written handjob that the Democrats will eventually sign off on? We've spent over a trillion in the past year bailing out the thieves who turned the world's financial sector into a giant casino, yet refuse to cover their own losses.

And why precisely is this health-care cost estimate what it is? Look at what we're paying for now even when we have insurance -- increasing deductibles and co-pays, more people getting kicked off for pre-existing conditions, and on and on. So someone ends up paying thirty bucks for a Tylenol at the hospital, and people put their houses up for hock if their kid breaks a leg or gets ill, all so the executive salaries and bonuses of the HMO/pharma/insurance can stay in the eight- or nine-figure range. It is a most insidious version of the usual upward wealth-transfer that afflicts just about all our systems these days, every bit the highway robbery as what passes for our financial system.

They like to tell you that politics is the "art of the possible", but it should be obvious by now that it's really just the art of figuring out what you're willing to put up with.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Frank Rich is correct, of course, about the sneering, patroning hypocrisy undergirding the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Jeff Sessions and Tom Coburn are two of the biggest bozos in a chamber chock-full of them; the rest of the Republicans are either closet cases or sanctimonious moralizers who can't avoid getting caught, knuckle-dragging troglodytes all. No mystery there.

But the vanilla kabuki of the hearings does no favors to their Democratic counterparts -- Chuck Schumer turning on the waterworks like he just finished a case of bon-bons watching Steel Magnolias with the rest of the local Oprah Book Club chapter; Dianne Feinstein conferring a super-special "A-plus-plus" grade on Sotomayor, perhaps with a gold star and a smiley face.

But nothing is revealed, aside from the tendency of senators to enjoy their own tedious jabber. Roe v. Wade is still apparently the apex of American jurisprudence; no mention of, say, Kelo's curious interpretation of eminent-domain laws, or even what Sotomayor's opinion on the previous administration's enthusiastic usurpation of previously clear rights and mores. You can't just wiretap any citizen you want to without any oversight; you can't just yank people off the street and throw them in an island dungeon without charge or representation; you can't use interrogation techniques on prisoners for which we have executed soldiers of other countries for using in wartime.

Or can you? Well, it's not like Schumer or Feinstein will ever bring it up, not to mention Coburn and the rest of his claque. And Obama has shown no inclination to push the issue, opting instead for a convenient combination of sweeping things under the rug while double-checking them for future viability. Si se puede, indeed.

And That's The Way It Is

Lost (not that they're going to bring it up) in the well-deserved encomia over Cronkite's passing is how tectonically the media have shifted since his day. With Cronkite, you never got the feeling that you were being pushed or led around by someone who wanted to be a high-paid star and party with the people he covered (though of course, in his later emeritus status, he did just that, but at least he earned it and the potential conflict of interest was gone by then). Although I am half-expecting LaToya Jackson to show up and claim that Cronkite was murdered for his money by scheming doctors. Interesting times.

Cronkite just showed up and did his job, reliably and without attempting to convey any unearned gravitas or self-importance. That was always projected on him by others, by people who self-actualize in public "shared grief" rituals, people who tend to memorialize the famous dead by memorializing where they happened to be when so-and-so died, people who prefer "events" to "facts" and newsreaders to news. And the media we have, with its vested interests, organizational structures, preening celebrity anchors, cage-match idiot pseudo-analysts, and dermis-deep coverage, is the ideal media for just such people. Neil Postman, as I've said before, was an optimist.

To think of Cronkite and what he brought to the craft of journalism is, unfortunately, also to be reminded that the landscape now mostly consists of jokers like David Gregory, smugly hypocritical, much more deeply committed to the branding side of journalism than the, you know, journalism side. It's a sad thing. Gregory knows he's there to move product, to convince his guests and audience that his is the go-to show for ass-covering pols and sound-bite conflict, so that they'll sit through ads for vehicles and pharmaceuticals they don't need. Plus, John McCain the third Sunday of every month. Talk about your winning formula.

On some level, Cronkite no doubt understood the business he operated in, but the difference is that there's no goddamned way he'd have ever gotten on a stage and done a disco shuffle behind a rapping Karl Rove. They can roll out all the collegial "Uncle Walter" schtick they want, but they know perfectly well that they've let him down, and that what they do is not what he did.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Culture Vultures

Heh. I'll never lay any claims to pop-culture awareness, but am I the only person who didn't realize that they had even made a Butterfly Effect 2? Of all the clunkers that seemed least likely to spawn a franchise, it seems to be right down there with Glitter. If it's this easy to get crap made, I really do need to start cranking out some shoddy spec scripts, or an idea for another reality show.

Maybe a spec script about two people trying to start up a reality show, and along the way they have merry misadventures that bring them closer together, and the audience falls in love with them as they fall in love with one another and make the bestest reality show evah. I'm thinking either Vin Diesel and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nicolas Cage and Katherine Heigl, or Zeta-Jones and Heigl. And a masturbating zoo animal, probably a monkey or a bear, or Seth Rogen. Fun for the entire family!

The Honeymoon's Over

Articles such as this, while perhaps a bit early in the offing, are not entirely unexpected. I would agree with Watson in saying that unless Obama egregiously screws the pooch, he should be okay for '12. But that's primarily a function of how comically inept the Republicans have become. They can't get out of their own way; they're seriously debating whether Sarah Palin has a shot as their nominee in three years.

Certainly stranger things have happened, and the inherent stupidity of large swaths of 'murkins means that such a prospect can never completely be written off, but friends 'n' neighbors, let us stipulate for a moment that politics is a business, and businessmen expect a return on investment. Sarah Palin might be the Blessed Virgin Mary for her weirdo refuse-to-watch-anything-but-Faux-News fan base, but she's pure poison to the rest of the country. Why would anyone put their money on toxic sludge?

So she's taking an 18-month sabbatical to bone up on fundamentals in time for Iowa and New Hampshire, BFD. The only way this will fly is with the media's complicity in helping her rehabilitate her well-deserved image as a clueless, blustery dilettante who, after almost a full year of constant coverage, has yet to this observer's knowledge to say anything that is either true or substantive.

So Obama's worst enemy is not Sarah Palin, or any of the other trolls on their bench. It's Obama himself, not doing the things he said he was going to do, having more than sufficient numbers of fellow Democrats to get things done and yet failing to keep them disciplined, leaving people to wonder yet again why voting for Ralph Nader is such a terrible bad awful idea. Sixty Democrats in the Senate, a substantial House majority, a clear popular mandate, and still he's handed the economy back to the people who wrecked it so they can re-inflate and re-crash it -- and recharge us for the privilege. Health care reform is already doomed to be an industry-written abortion. We're finally getting out of Iraq, but nothing will ever be done about the people and lies who got us in there, while we're simultaneously getting more entrenched in Afghanistan.

So if Obama fails in 2012, it will be because enough Americans realized that he has his chance right now, and is failing to take it, despite all the high hopes and high-minded rhetoric. Yes we can, but for some reason, "we" have chosen not to, and if not now, with all the political stars and opportunities very favorably aligned, when? I mean, really, we can bitch about the apathy of the American electorate, but this is exactly why they don't bother to fuckin' vote. And it's getting harder and harder to blame them.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Spectator Sports

Here's a news flash: political consultants, much like the people they represent and work for, are more often than not unprincipled mercenaries. I know, I know, it's a shock. But hilarious all the same in its collegial garment-rending.

“The risk for someone like Howard is that he is surrendering his credibility,” said Joel Benenson, a senior political adviser to President Obama who was Mr. Weiner’s campaign pollster. “He made countless statements to the press during the presidential primaries that were wrong, and now he’s saying things that completely contradict what he said four years ago.”

As opposed to, say, Obama himself, who made a good many statements and promises during his campaign that he now suddenly not in any rush to fulfill, perhaps because it might piss off the Goldman Sachs thugs Obama decided to surround himself with. [Link via Global Guerrillas.]

But really, this notion of "credibility" Benenson plaintively evokes, whence does it originate, and to whom does it redound? Surely no sentient being, whether or not they work in the political snakepit, can take (or even say) this with a straight face. It's been said a million times, and remains ineluctably true -- the only thing that hurts the careers of politicians and their hangers-on is getting caught with either a dead girl or a live boy. Pretty much everything else is negotiable.

Joel Benenson knows that, and he knows that Jim Rutenberg and Raymond Hernandez know that, who in turn know that you and I intuitively know all the metaconnective properties of those epistemological extensions, and so on. Even people who have no clue who or what Howard Wolfson is get that; indeed, it's as likely to be their rationale for tuning out of the political as stone ignorance might be. Who could blame them?

It's an incestuous little crowd of people, discernible only by their lack of belief in anything substantial, who make careers out of appearing on each other's shows, peddling conjecture as analysis and demagoguery as policy. After a while they become indistinguishable, leaving us only to mark time as to when, say, Wolfson would jump from Hillary Clinton's campaign to Faux News, or John McCain will be appearing on Press the Meat yet again. (Answer: Tomorrow, of course. It's Sunday!)

So a rented smear artist has lent his talents to the pint-size would-be potentate-for-life (who just happens to be a billionaire financier) of America's largest city-state. He'd probably work for Sarah Palin's 2012 presidential campaign if the money was there, as would Joel Benenson or any of them. The idea that political advisers -- whose sole purpose is to take a lump of steaming horseshit and either mold it into a favorable impression or chuck it at the nearest opponent -- might be grievously wounded by one of their own creating a bad impression is pretty funny.

Not quite as funny as, say, every one of them -- consultants and media weasels alike -- suddenly having to find an honest day's work, and not nearly as funny as Bobo Brooks letting himself get felt up by a resolutely heterosexual Republican senator, but we have to take our chuckles where we can find them.

Copping a Feel

You know, I've (half-)joked in the past about Bobo Brooks being effete, dickless, possibly latent, definitely a ginormous pussy who wouldn't know which end of a socket wrench to use, but damn:

BROOKS: You know, all three of us spend a lot of time covering politicians and I don’t know about you guys, but in my view, they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space, touch you. I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here.


BROOKS: I can only imagine what happens to you guys.

O’DONNELL: Sorry, who was that?

BROOKS: I’m not telling you, I’m not telling you.

If this is Bobo's idea of being "provocative" then it explains more about him, both as a man and as a journalist, than his entire career as a columnist. First of all, be a man and don't put up with being groped by perverts, unless you're secretly into that sort of thing, in which case don't act all shocked with your "revelation" with this mystery senator (which of course was a Republican, like there was any doubt). I'll go for the easy money and say it was Larry Craig (R-Tearoom), but there's so many to choose from. Hillbilly moralist Mitch McConnell, for one, is rumored to enjoy his share of tube steak, and there's always confirmed bachelor Huckleberry Graham.

Can't wait for the inevitable Lifetime movie where Corey Feldman, as Bobo, uses a doll to show the special prosecutor where the bad man touched him. In the meantime -- sheesh, what a punk-ass bitch, really. "Ehh, get me out of here," like it never even occurred to young Bobo to just look the mystery groper in eye and say, "Dude, what the fuck? You can stop now and retain your dignity, or draw back a stump while I loudly ask the entire table why your hand is massaging my cock. Take your pick. You got two seconds before I stop using my indoor voice."

The man really has no fucking balls -- and that is an unfortunate character trait which will permeate every facet of a person, personally and professionally. People like Bobo actually care who these creeps who are feeling him up are, because he defines himself (certainly professionally, and probably to some extent on a personal level) through them, and through his access to them. It's a damned shame, and no doubt Bobo's experiences -- and more importantly, his reactions to them -- are not unique.

But seriously, I wonder how this guy explains this sort of shit to his wife. It's not a gay/straight thing, really, it's a matter of a grown man allowing himself to be treated at a public function like a cancer-ridden tween in Michael Jackson's hidden bedchamber. Just sad and weird, but it explains a lot about the people who bring us our news and carefully considered analysis.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Palintology, July 2009 Edition

People are coming up to me in the street with alarming regularity and asking point-blank, "Regis, what do you think of Sarah Palin's latest move?" To which my reply is the only truly sensible one, "I don't," presumably leaving the impromptu Q&A session at that.

But that's a dodge, when you get right down to it, for a variety of reasons. One is that the interminable train wreck that is Palin's political career is never not going to be at least entertaining. Another, perhaps more important rationale, is the intensely symbiotic relationship between Palin and her devotees. It is not unlike that between the recently deceased King of Pill Pop (perhaps you've heard about his demise) and his legion of unemployable weirdos. The wampeter becomes almost messianic in the eyes of the followers, in that their adulation cannot be rationally articulated, and refuting evidence is readily ignored, no matter how abundant that evidence happens to be.

Anyway, La Palin. What's the deal? the kids are asking. Well, the deal seems pretty easy to me -- she's heading for the land of more money and fewer headaches. Buried fairly deep into Todd Purdum's already infamous Vanity Fair takedown is probably the clearest message of who and what Palin really is, operationally:

Palin communicated with legislators and her staff mainly by BlackBerry, sometimes using a personal e-mail account to avoid having to disclose documents under the state public-records laws. (The one time Meg Stapleton, who handles Palin’s personal and political public relations, ever answered multiple e-mails was when I wrote her and Palin’s gubernatorial office at the same time, and she replied: “Thank you for emailing. I will email you separately so as to remove us from the state account.”)

It's easy to assume at this point that there are many government officials who use parallel communications in order to circumvent those pesky transparency requirements. But for Palin it appears to be SOP, which belies not only her usual populist "nothin' ta hide" pose, but her other usual pose about do-nothing government. Really, if you're not doing anything all that earth-shattering, if it's really that mundane and needlessly overblown, then why the opacity?

And that seems to dovetail all too nicely with her stock patter on last year's campaign trail. Palin seemed to relish her "pit bull with lipstick" schtick a bit too much; no matter how quickly and thoroughly her assertions were debunked and refuted, she obstinately refused even to alter them, much less drop them for the sake of mere accuracy. This is the mark of someone who neither knows nor cares about the integrity of the things they happen to say, and if your instinct is to use language to conceal rather than to reveal, it's bound to be an overriding instinct. Everything you do and say is going to be used for that purpose.

Even worse than the smooth pathological lying is the endless playing of the victim card. It's gotten so old that even moderate conservatives such as Debra Saunders and Bobo Brooks are sick of it, which means that as soon as Goldberg cleans the Cheeto dust from his paws, he'll be on that wagon as well. It's become painfully clear that Palin, just like her perpetually aggrieved fan club, is much better at dishing it out than taking it. She'll lie about her own and her opponents' records on the campaign trail like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, and casually call people terrorists and socialists, but boy howdy, you do a lame PhotoShop of her kid or make fun of her non-abstinent daughter, and she pops a lung blowing the rape whistle.

If the lack of self-awareness these people routinely exhibit could be processed into some form of renewable energy, you'd have an endless supply of bullshit and our oil resource constraints would be over in a fucking heartbeat. But trillions of cubic feet of butt-hurt ain't solar power, and nobody other than the terminally stupid are buying into this Li'l Miss Can't Be Wrong act of hers.

Which is why she has to duck out while the getting's good, before her moron base has moved on to the next batch of fudge-covered nachos that passes for their intellectual lives and replaces their mental stability. Palin's only political options are to either run for a second term as governor, and now that she's gotten a taste of the outside world, that's out; run for Lisa Murkowski's seat next year, which would truly be a match between Dumb & Dumber, but one that Murkowski would almost certainly win; or become the Goopers' nominee in '12, which even Palin has to realize would be a tacit concession by her disarrayed party. Might as well nominate Bob Dole, for what it will get them; even Palin has to realize that her base is as narrow as it is (ahem) deep.

The mark of the true believer is to simply carry their martyr's cross for her, and John Fund is nothing if not absolutely reliable in his sheer intellectual dishonesty. He starts with the usual "baseless ethics investigations" hokum and then jerks the heart-strings.

Everyone in the family was weary of endless personal attacks, including mean-spirited suggestions on liberal blogs that all of her children should have been aborted and that she would run on a presidential platform promoting retardation.

Really? Which "liberal blogs" "suggested" such things, even polemically? I don't even recall reading any commenters who made such suggestions, much less actual blog postings. Near as I can tell, most simply pointed out the shameless hypocrisy and ignorance of Palin's holier-than-thou stances on reproductive choice, and her insistence on using her infant as a campaign prop. But again, she also initiated her own fair share of baseless, intensely personal attacks, and it's certainly no great challenge to find any number of conservatard blog commenters who regularly truck in thinly- (or not-at-all) veiled racism against Obama. I've seen exactly one (1) nasty PhotoShop of Sarah and Trig Palin, and that was recent; there are months worth of Obama pickaninny caricatures and angry-loner threats out there if you've got the stomach for it.

But Fund is nothing if not resolute in his hackery, committed to helping Miss Thang play her victim card just one more time, whatever and ever, amen:

In helping to convince Sarah Palin that her road forward in national politics would demand even more sacrifices and pain than exacted from most politicians, the media did nothing to encourage women or people of modest means to participate in politics. By sidestepping her critics, Sarah Palin is now moving to another playing field where she has more control over the rules of the game. Her friends say her critics may call her a "quitter" now, but they should wait and see what new role she decides to fill. She may wind up having the last laugh.

Oh, boo-fuckin'-hoo, Mary. Sarah Palin is going to where the money is, the Rudy Giuliani route, the traditional home of all good charlatans and hucksters -- the lecture/commentator grift. She can pull some decent bank for probably a year or so on the rubber-chicken circuit, pay down her legal bills and hit the Neiman-Marcus, telling the assholes what they want to hear, without disclosure rules and standards for accuracy and all those inconveniences, impediments to her (and their) peculiar solipsism. Then she can go to Faux News and be a color commentator, if she can live with Hannity and O'Reilly endlessly fwapping outside her dressing room.

I'd like to say that Palin's political career is well and truly over for good, even with a backhanded compliment that her weird celebrity status has transcended the mediocrities of politics. But she's young, and there's always that bloc of Americans that never run out of incoherent anger and volatile stupidity. This country allowed George W. Bush into the White House not once but twice (even if by chicanery); clearly anything's possible.

Monday, July 06, 2009

News of the World

I've been on vacation/out of the loop for a week or so, so just wondering -- is Michael Jackson still dead, or did He rise up on the third day and cure cancer and shit? Say this for the American media, they make every conceivable effort to exceed any possible mode of parody. The only good use for the Staples Center tomorrow would be to lock the doors after everyone's in and turn it into a job fair, since clearly these goofy motherfuckers could use some gainful employment. Or, you know, a few strategically dropped canisters of sarin. Whichever's cheaper.