Sunday, June 27, 2010


What Dave Weigel really should apologize for is, well, apologizing. I don't think any rational person (which leaves out Drudge and his legion of butt-hurt readers) thinks that Weigel literally wishes for Drudge to set himself on fire. I don't think there's anything wrong with the shorthand term "Paultard" to refer to the internal inconsistencies of the acolytes of Paul pére and (even moreso) fils. This is especially true when the term was deployed to illustrate Faux News' hypocrisy in its newfound support of Paultardation across the nation.

There's actually a lesson to be learned from the likes of Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle, not to mention the insane outer-world being of the R'lyeh of talk-radio -- don't apologize for saying what you actually think. At least Weigel has the advantage of being intellectually defensible in what he's saying; what he lacks is the courage of his convictions.

Every time somebody apologizes, they let themselves and everyone else who agrees with them get pushed around by people who couldn't give less of a shit whether or not they're remotely accurate or honest in what they say and do. Sack up or go home, ladies.


I think there's a debate to be considered, and it's losers like this that make it a relevant discussion. The debate is not, contrary to the hooting commenters' lurid prison-rape fantasizing, how hard this idiot should be buttfucked by his cellmates.

A saner debate should focus on alternative, more productive modes of punishment, that lessen the burden on the taxpayers, endanger fewer children (and potential children), and don't irredeemably ruin this stupid sod's life, while still providing a punishment commensurate with the crime. It makes more sense to let these two morons out tomorrow with a couple years probation, taking them first to Planned Parenthood, for a vasectomy for him and at least a Norplant for her. In fact, it'd be cheaper in the long run to pay for tubal ligations, though that may be too invasive.

You could "on the one hand/on the other hand" this stuff for days, in addition to running the risk of bringing the would-be eugenicists out of the woodwork. But we're not talking about sterilizing retards or particular ethnic groups -- there's nothing irreversible suggested here, and frankly, with the public social safety network frayed almost irreparably at this point, it merits consideration.

The first rule of triage is to stop the patient's bleeding, even if it requires drastic measures. And when you have horrible people doing horrible things to their children, and having more and more children on the public dime because they neither know nor care enough to exercise a modicum of common sense or impulse control, maybe some "positive coercion" is called for. A mitigated sentence and maybe five hundred bucks to get high on seems a reasonable trade-off all the way around. It's worth it to halt their careless fecundity.

I realize I can be something of a hard-ass on this subject, and I don't apologize for it. I have no patience for these fucking people, and I sure as hell have only basic levels of compassion for them. I reserve that for the hapless kids they bring into the world and mistreat, passing on their bullshit to the next generation. I get the frustration that conservatives (and many liberals and moderates as well) feel about this sort of shit -- nobody likes feeling like they're doing all the right things, working hard, taking care of their families, only to also have to pay freight on these fuckers.

But I don't see the point in tossing them in prison, only to come out more incorrigible and less employable. Stop the bleeding, provide a limit to the cost they exact from society, without ever giving anything back. The system as it stands now fails everyone involved -- the people who work in it, seeing it become an exercise in futility; the taxpayers who pay into it, never getting results; the "parents" who know how to milk it; and most of all, the kids who have no control in their fate. This might be worth a try, if only because it would at least lessen the number of potential victims. Give me some feedback on this -- am I being an uncompassionate fascist asshole, or what?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Notes and Errata

A rarity, but I must quibble with Ed ever so slightly -- the right's martyr complex is hardly "latent". It's pretty much the only card they bother playing anymore, and it was a marked deck to begin with.

Check out the comments in this here article about Hugo Chàvez' latest brush with populist despotism. It's like reading a series of sidewalk sandwich boards, each one nuttier than the last. I'm half-surprised one of them didn't claim to have sucked Obama's Moooslim cock (under dire financial duress, of course, wrought by long years of communist oppression under Stalinbama's iron fist) in exchange for Victory Gin ration coupons and half a pack of generic smokes. Perhaps the encroaching moans from the hapless hitchhikers in these losers' basement sex dungeons prevented them from elaborating further. Maybe they took a break to molest the neighbor's collie, who knows?

Either way, we are apparently precious seconds from scavenging grass and bark in the nearest public park for our Dear Leader dinner soup, because Obammy is about to take a cue from Comrade Hugo and overtake Nabisco or Kraft or something, and cut off the all-you-can-eat buffets everywhere. Just ask 'em, they'll tell ya. Over and over again.

Night of the Living Debt

You can always tell the terrorist by his cologne and the watch on his wrist.

-- Clutch, Power Player

You know, as a responsible property owner -- that is, someone who followed the rate market, refinanced only as needed, and did not use the HELOC as a goddamned vacation/plasma-flatscreen fund, and kept things up on a single income at that -- I'm inclined to say screw the underwater crowd.

However, two things: one, moral superiority is no insurance against things like your own property value tanking because too many of your bozo neighbors lost their houses and flooded the market; two, bankers have no room to cry over the mess they helped create, perpetuate, and got bailed out at the top for.

The banking lobby says it could accept the bill as is, on one condition: that it apply only to new loans. In its current form, it applies to any existing loan.

“We really don’t want the legislature redoing contracts,” said Mr. Brown of the California Bankers Association. “That sends a bad signal to investors, to markets and to those whom we extended the credit.”

Whatever the fate of this particular bill, the issue of responsibility for debt is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. New government-mandated modification programs that for the first time will reduce borrowers’ debts will go into effect this fall, sparking another round of debate about who gets help and who does not.

“We’re a little in the Wild West here,” said Paul Leonard, California office director of the Center for Responsible Lending. “People are struggling with what it means to uphold the terms of your mortgage contract and what it means to walk away. There are no tried and true rules.”

This is no different than what goes on on Wall Street -- financial weasels generate a bunch of contract shenanigans to reel in the suckers, get the taxpayers to bail them out when the suckers live down to their names, and piss and moan about "responsible lending", aka legalized usury, permanent penury, etc. There's a moral hazard all the way around here; they fool no one.

The hell with it, bring back the mortgage sluts and start the fun machine all over again. Beats the hell out of this bullshit. We all might as well just open our wallets and dump them into a pile in the middle of the room.

On the Ball

I must be missing something here, because this seems impossibly dumb, even for the US government:

Four senators are seeking to force the Obama administration to blacklist the Pakistani Taliban, a day after the failed Times Square bomber pleaded guilty and admitted getting training from the group.

The senators, all from New York and New Jersey, said Tuesday they would introduce a bill requiring the State Department to designate the Pakistani Taliban a "foreign terrorist organization."

Wait, what? Wasn't the Taliban designated a terrorist organization, oh, I dunno, on 9/12/01? Or was it just the Afghan Taliban, while the Pakistan faction was left untouched, presumably because of deep-seated ideological and strategic differences over exactly how to bring "death to America"?

Or is this -- and I'll go out on a limb here -- a way for certain pols to posture and preen over some newfangled legalistic wrinkle, something that will inevitably (and inadvertently, of course) legitimize the eventual government overreach. Predictably, some dumb sod will find himself flown to a Syrian dungeon in the dead of night, because Chuck Schumer wanted to look tough for a few minutes. Stranger things have happened, yet always the choice in figuring out motivations seems to come down to "unforgivably stupid" vs. "stupidly malicious".

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sick Simper Tearanus

Christ, this Angle broad is worth her weight in comedy gold. Not that Harry Reid should get cocky, because people rarely go wrong in assuming that voters are reactionary mow-rons, but shit, she can't get out of her own way:

"Our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government," Angle told conservative talk show host Lars Larson in January. "In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies."

Sigh. "Lars Larson", is he from the same inbred Scandiwegian fjord-hole as Erick Erickson or what? Here is the original Jefferson quote, by the way:

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Now, if you really think about what Jefferson is implying in the complete quote, it is at best opaque in some parts. The teabaggers certainly live up to Jefferson's phrase "The people cannot be all, and always, well informed"; rarely has there been such a spectacularly overheated yet befuddled "movement" in the spotlight, incoherent, self-contradictory, rudderless. Yet Jefferson acknowledges implicitly that because of their slack-jawed ignorance of the facts, they are the most likely to bray their long-simmered, cognitively dissonant grievances.

The quote is from 1787, from a Jefferson still flush with the success of a hard-won victory, and the establishment of a new and grand experiment in self-rule. It is not something Jefferson would have reiterated even a dozen years later, and indeed, none of his later writings (at least that I've ever read) burn with the same revolutionary fervor. I'm not saying that Jefferson got in on the top floor, liked the layout, and pulled the ladder up after him; I'm saying that he and the rest of the founders understood that ruling and keeping the ship of state on an even keel is a different game than revolution. Constant revolt -- especially when incited by the most ignorant, regressive, and temperamental elements of a society -- is as sure a recipe for disaster as sitting on your thumbs whilst a true tyrant is ahoof.

More importantly, no matter how hard they wish and squint, TJ's "blood of patriots and tyrants" money quote does not apply to them. This three-corner-hatted fever dream of theirs is a mirage, a sham, a cozy fantasy to tuck themselves into at night. Barack Obama is not a tyrant; Kim Jong-Il is a tyrant. Fat fucks who take their Medicare-subsidized Rascals on public roads to public parks are not patriots; they're lazy assholes who need a week in North Korea to set their stupid shit straight.

I think Mark Lilla has correctly sussed the heart of these preening goofballs' wafer-thin plaints:

The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing—and unwarranted—confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.


Now an angry group of Americans wants to be freer still—free from government agencies that protect their health, wealth, and well-being; free from problems and policies too difficult to understand; free from parties and coalitions; free from experts who think they know better than they do; free from politicians who don’t talk or look like they do (and Barack Obama certainly doesn’t). They want to say what they have to say without fear of contradiction, and then hear someone on television tell them they’re right. They don’t want the rule of the people, though that’s what they say. They want to be people without rules—and, who knows, they may succeed. This is America, where wishes come true. And where no one remembers the adage “Beware what you wish for.”

This is exactly right -- this is a group of people whose aim appears to be to cut off their collective nose to spite their face. They rant about self-sufficiency and the unwanted interference of government regulation, because their self-selected feedback loop tells them they are self-sufficient, even as they waddle to the Costco, instead of going Galt as they frequently threaten, and they have been too coddled all their lives to know what Third World shitholes without government regulations are like.

I've seen this phenomenon first-hand locally, and it perplexes and bothers me deeply -- people whom I know for an empirical fact are on the fucking dole, writing foaming screeds to the local news outlets about their wretched go of it under the iron fist of Barack Obama and his meddling government minions. Negro please.

It is of small comfort to recognize that if the best these dipshits can muster is the likes of Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, then their bench is even thinner than one supposes. Yet the twin stupidities of a decade ago -- the selection of Fredo Arbusto and the usurpation in Gullyvornia of Enron-backed Rainier Wolfcastle -- have probably soured me for a lifetime on being even cautiously optimistic about my fellow votard.

One last indefensible quote from Sharron Angle, and woe betide the media flunky who brings it up and fails on the easy follow-through:

"The nation is arming," she told the newspaper. "What are they arming for if it isn't that they are so distrustful of their government? They're afraid they'll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways. That's why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don't win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?"

[emphasis mine]

Um, the next step is that you field a better candidate for the next go-round, shit-for-brains. Someone needs to call this crazy bitch on this bullshit -- the logical, practical implication of what she is saying is that if a bunch of heavily-armed retards with delusions of being oppressed don't get their way, they will violently overthrow the majority.

They presume too much if they're assuming that they're the only ones with guns. Not that these goons would or could ever seriously organize to a meaningful extent in that regard, but inspiring angry loners is another matter, for which their thinly veiled threats of armed insurrection should be held accountable.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Audacity of Dope

From the news you can lose file:

President Barack Obama's speech on the Gulf oil disaster may have gone over the heads of many in his audience, according to an analysis of the 18-minute talk released Wednesday.

Tuesday night's speech from the Oval Office of the White House was written to a 9.8 grade level, said Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. The Austin-Texas-based company analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choice and their impact on culture.

Sooo....a professional language (read: advertising/marketing/trendmongering) consultant finds an opportunity to toot his own horn by nitpicking a preznitential speech. Count me in as shocked, but kudos to CNN for providing the free advertising, even if the implicit message is "Americans are morons who can't relate to oratory beyond that of a fifteen-year-old". Awesome.

Incidentally, the original piece has some more illuminating tidbits:

Flesch-Kincaid Grade-Level – 9.8 Grade Level. This is the highest of any major Obama speech. Obama’s closest match among recent presidents is Ronald Reagan, whose speeches generally ranged from the 9th to 10th grade levels. (President George W. Bush usually spoke at a seventh grade level.)

Wow, that high, eh? Guess the flash-card practice and repeated readings of The Pet Goat really paid off.

You know, Obama deserves a certain level of abuse for his diffident response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, most notably the sheer amount of time he gave BP to dick around with a bunch of Rube Goldberg "solutions" to a problem that was caused by corporate negligence. And his tepid throat-clearing about finding an ass to kick, six or seven weeks down the line, fooled no one.

But the idea that Obama's not dumbing it down enough for us, that we need to be talked to like we're slow third-graders (i.e., Glenn Beck viewers) just confirms the notion that we usually get the government -- and the media -- we truly deserve.

Closet Cases

The most ridonkulous court case of the year finally winds down, and one side is getting a bit desperate in their closing argument:

Winding up a historic trial over same-sex marriage in California, the lawyer for Proposition 8's sponsors told a federal judge Wednesday that allowing only men and women to wed promotes responsible sex and child-rearing, and ultimately ensures the future of humanity.

During more than two hours of intense and sometimes skeptical questioning by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, attorney Charles Cooper maintained that society is entitled to reserve its approval of marriage for those who can naturally conceive children.


But Walker, who presided over the nation's first federal trial on the issue, sounded dubious. He note that the state allows couples unable or unwilling to have children to marry, suggesting that the institution has a broader purpose that same-sex partners might equally fulfill.

"Marriage is a right which extends fundamentally to all persons, whether they're capable of producing children, incarcerated or behind in their child-support payments," Walker said, citing Supreme Court rulings that allow people in all those situations to marry.

I'm sure Walker -- who, as Prop. 8 wingnuts will no doubt scream from the rooftops the second this case is decided, is gay -- feels somewhat silly having to tell these goofballs what they already know. All together now, friends 'n' neighbors -- marriage is designed to protect property. Preservation of fambly valyews, while valuable, is purely ancillary.

But to insist that marriage's primary function is to encourage procreation is functionally retarded, seriously. Moreover, even if that were its function, it would be very difficult to argue that it's been even a qualified success, considering the divorce rate, considering the steady lessening of whatever stigma out-of-wedlock parentage once had.

The disingenuous arguments these morons have wielded are nothing short of legalistic quackery, a deliberate conflation of the obvious notion that children develop best when raised in a stable environment, and the ludicrous notion that heterosexual couples have some sort of sacrosanct monopoly on said stability. Go tell it to Larry King, chump.

The only witnesses for Prop. 8's sponsors were political scientist Kenneth Miller, who said gays and lesbians can protect their political interests without judicial protection, and David Blankenhorn, an author and advocate who said allowing same-sex marriages could lead to more divorces and fewer weddings for men and women.

At Wednesday's hearing, Walker asked Cooper whether Blankenhorn, who heads the Institute for American Values but lacks academic credentials, qualified as an expert witness. Cooper said Blankenhorn was a recognized expert in his field and Olson hastened to endorse him, saying Blankenhorn's testimony helped to discredit Prop. 8.

Olson makes a great point -- much like with "intelligent design", it is the proponents of Prop. 8 who tend to inadvertently make the opposition's argument for them. It's sheer forensic ineptitude, really. What sort of bozo thinks the "marriage should be reserved for procreating couples" argument will fly in an actual court of law, as opposed to some church basement bake sale for the, ahem, "Institute for American Values"?

Well, the sort of bozo who is unused to having to make an argument out of the scope of the usual choir-preaching hortatory rhetoric. The sort of bozo who wants to make "majority rules" the other cornerstone of his argument, apparently unaware that just in the last five years, opposition to gay marriage has declined, and will continue to do so.

As always, I am just mystified by people who are willing to spend precious time, money, effort trying to "protect" an irretrievably debauched appellation. At least half of the heterosexual couples who get hitched find a way to screw it up -- and that's just the ones who actually get divorced, not the ones who stay together "for the kids" or whatever they have to tell themselves.

And many gay marriage opponents, understanding the reality of long-term same-sex relationships, retreat to the bizarre notion of insisting that they don't mind if gay couples call their relationships "civil unions", even though functionally it is a marriage. People are bound to each other, legally, morally, familially, but these folks get all butthurt if any of the participants use the "m" word.

This is a very strange obsession, no doubt bordering on projection for many of them. Seriously, any straight person who feels "threatened" by a couple of dudes or a couple of chicks formalizing their monogamous relationship needs to get a grip -- and a hobby.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cock Teas

Media alert: retard gathering in rainy state. MUST CREDIT DRUDGE REPORT. Ho hum. So it appears another knuckle-dragging ex-football player has been pulled out of the mothballs for the entertainment of the rubes. Say hello to former Washington ForeskinRedskin Clint Didier:

"It's time we the people had the courage and fortitude to take our country back," U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier told the gathering Saturday. "When I get to D.C., there's going to be hell to pay."


Didier, who wants to take on Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told delegates his game plan: "Secure our borders, unshackle our industries and get rid of the regulations."

It's time, he added, "to fight our way back to the light, to the truth, to the Lord God Almighty."

Holy shit, it sounds like a translation from some woman-hating asshole from the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan. The transcript doesn't note specifically that Didier ended his oratory with a "Yee-haw!", but no one would be surprised if he had.

There were a couple other mouthbreathers jockeying for position, but Didier was by far the most entertaining, and not just because of his Stamp of Approval™ from Miss Thang. If elected, he'll probably offer to cornhole a Phil Simms effigy on the Capitol steps, or something equally charming. In the meantime, someone -- anyone -- should ask this idiot to clarify: "take our country back" from whom? Someone needs to step up and inform these cockmonglers that there was an election, and the clear majority of this "we the people" these assholes routinely invoke voted for the representatives currently in office. Every call to "take the country back" logically ends with "from the majority of the voters".

So, you know, fuck you, Clint Didier.

Incidentally, another fun fact about Clint and his teabagger aesthetic:

Didier has refuted criticism of his receipt of federal agricultural subsidy money, arguing that farmers need to participate in the subsidy program to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage. "If your neighbor has an advantage he is in the position to buy the next farm up for sale," Didier says.

One thing to keep in mind about the teabaggers, right down to the very last one of them -- they squeal endlessly about money being wasted, but only when it's not being wasted on them. Calling them a bunch of whiny hypocrites understates the case.

Mock the Vote

The curious case of Alvin Greene seems to be one of those "even weirder than you think" deals, doesn't it? After catching his mesmerizing performance on Olbermann the other night, it's impossible not to be intrigued by this mushmouthed, chuckleheaded cipher. Whatever the deal is with this guy and how he got here, you just know it's gotta be good.

But if you want to be pissed at somebody, be pissed at the Democratic party and its minions and mechanisms. What kind of half-assed organization lets an unemployed felon in as its representative in a senatorial campaign? Least they can do is find him a job. Greene looks like he could hold a door open on a windy day, if not much more than that.

No doubt this has more than a little to do with the state itself, and its, let's say, creative approach to political shenanigans. This is, after all, the state with a philandering governor who refused to resign gracefully, not to mention a slack-jawed livestock-molesting galoot of a state senator who called both Nikki Haley and Barack Obama "ragheads". Although the notion of Greene being a Republican plant seems a bit simplistic; even if they had any actual need for a plant in a campaign that should be a cakewalk for them, it wouldn't be this guy.

Perhaps Greene can take a hike up the Appalachian Trail, and find at least one (1) intelligible answer to any given question, such as, "How exactly does someone with no job and no campaign donations come up with $10,440 for a filing fee?"

A Modest Proposal

While most of the topics here are political, every once in a while we'll touch upon the nature of cruelty -- or more precisely, the deeds of cruel people, people who get their kicks preying on the weak and powerless. I make no bones about it, it's part of the reason why I am so pro-death-penalty (at least in principle, while acknowledging the huge flaws of the machinery). As far as I'm concerned, animal abusers are only a half-step above child molesters, a crime which I strongly feel should be a "two strikes and you're out" deal.

(Despite the title, I am not being even a little bit polemic here. Just fucking end these people already; they're no damned good (NSFW) to anybody, and no one will miss them. Even two strikes is too many.)

I don't care what the causes or backstories of these vicious assholes are. A person -- whether 15 or 50 -- who duct-tapes a puppy and bakes it in an oven is a waste of oxygen, and should be dispensed with as quickly as possible. Resources are tight, space is at a premium, the planet is overpopulated, and we're supposed to waste time, effort, and money figuring out what makes evil people do evil things?

No doubt there is some perpetuation of victimization at work here, but there is more cause to believe that the results will be worse as time goes on. The puppy-baker is not suddenly going to flip a switch and become a useful member of society; he's going to wake up and decide one day that his next-door neighbor's kid might be more fun and challenging game. These people enjoy inflicting pain on weaker sentient beings, pure and simple. Push comes to shove, it's "explained" by their inner misery or whatever, yet somehow, they never seem quite miserable enough to do the rest of the planet a favor and kill themselves.

It's good to see that at least law-enforcement agencies are taking this stuff more seriously. It may turn out to be a useful preventive tool in some cases, which, if they're not going to take my advice and just machine-gun these troglodytes into a hastily-dug ditch, would at least be a step in the right direction.

California Drinking

Deep thought: the exquisite irony of eMeg "Griff Harsh V's proud mom" Whitman spending $71 million of her own money to peddle herself as the voice of fiscal responsibility, has it registered itself in her Ben Franklin fivehead yet? Obviously not, since eMeg is really no doubt positioning herself as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney's next tilt at the electoral windmill. It takes some real doing to make Jerry Brown look like the best choice, but by gawd she's done it in spades.

As for iCarly Fiorina, the less said the better. The weekend chatter 'mongst the "news" dipshits centers around iCarly's snotty pot-meet-kettle live-mike sniping at Barbara Boxer's hair, because that is the media we have.

And while Boxer is as uninspiring as they come, at least she doesn't have the "I lawn-darted HP and all I got were these ludicrous campaign commercials" albatross. Poor iCarly probably does really think that Sarah Palin's imprimatur will help, but she would probably get more cred with the endorsement of the ghost of former gubernatorial candidate Gary Coleman. Tom Campbell would have been a much better opponent for the Republicans to run, and might have actually won with some financial support, but since the GOP org in this state could find a way to fuck up a baked potato, they declined to even pretend to help him out. So they get what they got, which is a big bowl of wrong.

Forty million people in this fucking state, and these are the choices we have. No wonder we're imploding. It's going to be a long campaign season; I may have to pull an Elvis and just shoot my teevee by the fourth of July.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Four Weddings and a Vicodin

Congratulations to processed aerosol cheese-like substance Rusty Limpballs and his fourth future former missus. No truth to the rumor that the groom is registered at Pfizer.

The couple met six years ago, while she was running a charity golf tournament and Limbaugh was in the process of divorcing for the third time.

Talk about meeting cute. For the eventual rom-com, I see Katie Heigl and, once he gains the requisite seventy-five pounds, James Woods. The hijinks write themselves.

Sunday morning, a source tells PEOPLE, the newlyweds hopped Limbaugh's private Gulfstream jet for a honeymoon in Mexico, Africa and a couple other spots.

Now, if we think about this for a hot second, the ginormous mound of pelf Limbaugh has accumulated through sheer gall, it should chap even the most dedicated libertarian capitalist's hide. True capitalism, as we all know through close reading of Adam Smith is not about creating mere profit, but wealth, things of value which can be utilized by others to innovate and prosper and create yet more value and wealth.

Big Pharma and his smarmy ilk have made their fortunes by generating product with no discernible, intrinsic value, merely recycled talking points that skew reality and play fast and loose with facts. Periodically they rent ghostwriters to compile their choicest schtick as empty-calorie jeremiads for the Walmart cutout-bin set to prop up their living-room milk crates with. It's a pretty good racket.

All that said, I have to admit that after reading Zev Chafets' infamous tongue-job of Limbaugh (now padded into book form, available at your finer True Value hardware stores), the real takeaway for me was how lonely Limbaugh really sounded. Chafets went on and on about the old-school opulence of Limbaugh's Florida estate, a cavernous compound riddled with top-shelf furnishings and a respectable car collection -- inhabited only by Limbaugh and his cat. Just seemed odd, somehow wrong.

Even liars and shills deserve to love and be loved (over and over again in Rusty's case), I suppose, so good luck with it, you crazy kids. No detours to the Dominican Republic this time.

Spell Baby Spell

High on the list for dumbest non-story of the week is the "protest" at the National Spelling Bee. Friends 'n' neighbors, try as you might, you just can't make this shit up:

The Associated Press reported that this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee was picketed by four protesters, some dressed in bee costumes, who distributed buttons reading "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much."

The demonstrators were from the the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society, organizations that aim to do to English orthography what the metric system did for weights and measures. The American Literacy Council endorses SoundSpel, which seeks to "rationalize" the English language by spelling each of the English language's 42 (or so) phonemes one way and one way only. In SoundSpel, "business" becomes "bizness," "equation" becomes "ecwaezhun," "learned" becomes "lernd," "negotiate" becomes "negoesheaet," and so on.

Oh yeah, that's much easier. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people? Who is keeping them in, erm, "bizness", so that they don't have to get out in the real world and actually earn a living doing something useful?

This sort of thing is not merely annoying, it's a pernicious lie. Illiterate people are not illiterate because they are bad spellers, or because English orthography is too irregular and opaque for them. People who don't spell well typically don't read very much, and those who do read but still can't spell well find ways to work around whatever relatively mild learning/memory issue messes up certain words for them. They sure as hell don't want or need the entire language to be reconfigured to accommodate their inability to spell (which is usually a pattern of certain word forms anyway, not an inability to spell all, most, or even very many words).

I suppose I am something of a snob on the subject, because I am a good speller and take pride in it, and won quite a few competitions in school, winning the Northern California regionals three times and getting into the state finals twice. The thing is -- and this pissed off my competition chaperones, believe me -- I never studied, refused to in fact. The state spelling competition (at least in the early eighties) gives each contestant a 200+ page manual of fifty-cent words, complied of lists from encyclopedias, word-of-the-day calendars, obscure word sources, etc. It's even more tedious than it sounds, and there was no fucking way I was ever going to sit down and memorize it for a stupid spelling bee. I learned to spell by -- get this -- reading. Yeah, real tricky, huh? Read books, and you will pick up most spelling conventions, not to mention irregularities, by osmosis, I guaran-fucking-tee it.

It probably also didn't hurt that I proofread court documents for five years, and can spot a misspelled word before I even read the sentence or paragraph it's in. But bottom line, there's no real trick to any of this. I honestly can't recall any point in my life where I just stamped my wittle feet and insisted that everyone else dumb the language down for me because it was too hard and I just couldn't get it. If I encountered a word I didn't know or quite get, I looked it up, I familiarized myself with it. It's really not that difficult. Takes anywhere from three to five minutes, if you're a complete vegetable. The horror.

So beyond my obstinance on the subject, I suppose my real suspicion is that the people who are whinging the most about it are putting in the least amount of work, and would prefer that everyone else -- you know, the majority of people who can read -- accommodate them. As my Sunday school teacher used to say, fuck that noise. Spelling is practice, just like reading is practice, just like math is practice, just like every skill requires practice, repetition, and attention to cultivate. It's not everyone else's fault parents of electronic-addled troglodytes would rather watch Dancing with People Who Useta Be Sorta Well-Known than force their kids to take an hour a day to turn the toys off and read a book.

Spelling itself is an overrated skill anyway. The National Spelling Bee is just a quaint artifact, fun for the kids, and profitable for the tutors of children from bizarrely obsessive Indian families. But the ability or inability to spell arcane, esoteric words will probably not make a difference in your employability. What it is, if it is anything, is a somewhat useful barometer for how well people pay attention to detail, how rigorous their thought processes are, but even there, it's only a piece of the puzzle. There are plenty of people who spell poorly, but are extremely intelligent and skilled, and there are plenty who cannot spell who are borderline retards. (There don't seem to be many stupid people who can spell, so there is probably some correlation.) All poodles are dogs, not all dogs are poodles, yada yada.

Functionally, this ankle-biting claque of senile lexitardrophers haven't thought through their half-baked scheme in the first place:

An overhaul of English spelling would be not without its pitfalls. Even if you could get every printer, publishing house, signmaker, and blogger to agree on a new system, there would still be the problem of those who have learned only the new system of spelling being unable to read literature printed in the old one.

What's more, in giving a fixed value to each letter, someone has to decide what counts as "correct" pronunciation. It's easy to imagine the holy wars that would erupt over whether "either" becomes "eether" or "iether," or whether "envelope" becomes "onveloep" or "enveloep"?

Ah yes, and what a valuable use of time that would be, as opposed to, say, just learning how shit works. I got a better one for the phoneticists, though -- in their endless, tedious oversimplifications of what is a magnificent hodgepodge of word histories and origins, what do the phoneticists propose to do about homophones?

Look, nobody knows how to spell every single word, and because misspelling typically revolves around pattern recognition habits, different people have different sets of words that they misspell. This is so obvious, it scarcely merits mentioning. The only group that will gain a clear and instant benefit from dumbing down orthographic conventions is idiot protest-sign makers.

Spill Baby Spill

Six weeks and counting into the Deepwater Horizon mess, it does seem to be well and truly on its way to being, as Dmitry Orlov has called it, America's Chernobyl. From BP's ongoing series of monkeyfuck "fixes", each more hare-brained than the last, to Obama's diffident responses to the catastrophe, it is clear that this will be years in the undoing.

Mostly the "debate" seems to center around the sufficiency and appropriateness of Obama's reactions, whether or not this is his "Katrina". But this is to misapprehend the situation on several levels. The issue with Bush's tepid response to Katrina had to do with government levels of preparedness to an entirely foreseeable disaster; Mike Brown's indifference, incompetence, and lack of prior experience as head of FEMA; and Bush's immediate response in the wake of the disaster (going to John McCain's birfday party and thence to San Diego, where he gave some self-serving batshit speech comparing his Iraq war to World War 2, finally heading back in the general direction of New Orleans three days after the storm had demolished the city).

Obama's response to the oil spill, on the other hand, has been of a piece with how he responded to Wall Street shenanigans -- stand back, let the people who caused the problem "work" on it, and offer to shovel money and resources in their direction if they want. Really dropping the hammer there, Chief.

Seriously -- no mention of a criminal investigation to figure out whose negligence caused the deaths of 11 people; no mention of a fat fine and sanctions for BP, after years of racking up industry high levels of safety violations; no mention of how maybe we oughta make sure that damage-control technology keeps pace with damage-causing technology; no mention of immediately demanding rigorous external inspections of every other offshore platform. Hell, how about imposing a deadline for BP to get this shit figured out, or the feds step in? How about even a token nod to the notion of conservation, of finding ways to consume less oil, even a little bit?

The problem is that Obama is politically intimidated by everyone. He's afraid to piss off Big Oil, afraid to be portrayed as "anti-business" (as if modest regulatory policies -- to prevent catastrophes like this one, and deal with them more effectively when they do occur -- are anti-business rather than pro-common-sense), afraid to be portrayed as a tree-hugger should he dare to endorse modest steps toward fossil-fuel conservation. He's even afraid to tell Sarah Palin to go fuck herself after she lies about which party takes more money from the oil industry. And not even a word about the foolishness of the stupid "drill baby drill" chant, Exhibit A destroying the Gulf of Mexico right this second.

Nobody's expecting Obama to don a wet suit and go plug the damned hole himself, and we all know he got dealt a ludicrously bad hand by the previous regime. But it's been eighteen months, and all he can hang his hat on is an industry-written ass-spelunking health-care boondoggle. Everything else has been foxes put in charge of henhouses, continued wars and secret wars, gutless incrementalism and unforced errors and ankle-biting diversions.

Bobcat Goldthwait once said something to the effect that blaming the president for every single thing that goes wrong is like getting pissed at Ronald McDonald when you get a bad Big Mac. There's some truth to that, that there are a lot of bureaucratic layers and unanticipated consequences between event and action and response. But the power of the bully pulpit is still considerable, and Obama seems to prefer to use it on pet projects and SCOTUS mediocrity rather than the grand, transformative visions he ascribed to himself.

The repeated lament from the enviro left -- or the usual centrists, for that matter -- was that the US needed a national commitment on the scale of the Manhattan or Apollo projects, to address necessary concerns about non-renewable energy, to mitigate the impending effects of waste, gluttony, and eventual resource depletion. No intellectually honest person can deny the necessity and the utility of such an effort, which would create millions of jobs and enhance national security as well as environmental quality. It would be simple to make it an effort of broad political popularity, if one has the guts to call liars what they are, and to not let it turn into a nationwide pork project.

The problem is not that Obama hasn't accomplished truly great things, it's that he hasn't even tried.