Thursday, November 30, 2006

Irony-Rich Bloodletting

Okay, I have spent waaaaay too much time tonight and last night catching up with the 836 846 comments on the Tom Watson and FDL posts about language and liberal anti-feminism. Or at least that's what they nominally started out as, but to me both threads ultimately turned into discussions of power: Mainstream media and political establishment vs. blogs; large blogs vs. small blogs; front-pagers/moderators vs. ordinary commenters.

There are two threads of discussion that I want to focus on, because I'm intrigued by their symmetry:

On the one hand, the FDL front-pagers and loyalists argue that Tom and the FDL dissenters' pleas for them to use less sexually offensive language are part of, or of a piece with, the establishment's desire to use the club of "civility" to neuter them of their rebellious, subversive, sometimes even transgressive passion and anger.

On the other hand (and this is not a counterargument to the first hand, merely a different hand pointing in roughly the opposite direction), the FDL dissenters argue that the FDL community, led by the front-pagers, brutally suppresses dissenting opinions with derision, abuse, and outright censorship. (Full disclosure: I made some comments on FDL which put me closer to this camp, although they're not as strongly-worded as my composite summary here.
UPDATE: I may have not been entirely clear. I meant that I was closer to the dissenter camp in this debate, not one of the dissent-suppressing loyalists. Which is not to say that I never piled on or accused someone of trolling. I did, but hopefully not very savagely or often.)

So, in other words, each side of the debate believes that their right to express themselves is under attack by a more powerful adversary who finds them threatening. I'm wondering if this is simply human nature, or if it's an insecurity inherent to the progressive internets. The Republicans and the corporate media have tried to marginalize and demonize liberal bloggers for at least two or three years now, so we're all a little hypersensitive.

The thing is - and this is why I'm more sympathetic to the dissenters - the power that the FDL front-pagers, moderators, and loyalists have over other commenters is far more immediate. Most non-trolls want to fit in. They want to be accepted by the community, so an attack by a front-pager speaking in The Voice Of God (whether they mean to or not, as Pach has realized, and Jane is coming around to), or by a bunch of regulars, can be a very chilling prospect. The end result is that many of the less thick-skinned commenters, myself included, will either self-censor to avoid another('s) beatdown, and/or become increasingly uncomfortable and embarrassed by the disagreements that escalate into screaming matches, until they finally just leave the room. Granted, the latter is not exactly a direct result of intimidation, but it is an indirect and undesirable outcome.

The corporate media and political establishment's power over the blogosphere is similar, in the sense that it can only pressure and not compel, but it is also more tenuous. I really don't think there are very many liberal bloggers who give a rat's ass about whether the media or politicians like them - quite the contrary. But while they may not crave approval, I believe that many do crave credibility, which the establishment is loathe to bestow upon Dirty Unwashed Hippie Bloggers. This allows them to be manipulated with the Carrot Of Civility: the media myth that the only reason no-one takes liberal bloggers seriously is that they use bad words and say mean things, and if they just behave themselves they will attain respectability. I could probably count the number of liberal bloggers this has worked out for on my nose... if I had tertiary syphilis.

Jane, to her credit, sees right through this bullshit, and has pledged never to jump through civility hoops for The Man. I absolutely have no problem with that philosophy, and I say Rock on, sister. Where it gets a little dicey is when Jane and her loyalists project this onto their commenters who take offense to some of the stronger language (or imagery), and treat them as agents of that hostile establishment. They are not. Sure, some of the criticism comes from opportunistic trolls, but most of it comes from regular commenters who, for example, find the "c-word" offensive. But they are friends, speaking on their own behalf, expressing their own personal feelings, and they deserve more respectful treatment than, say, Deborah Howell or Mark Halperin. And with that in mind, viewing honest criticism from a lowly commenter as a form of oppression to be vehemently opposed simply does not make sense. [Warning: Unsolicited advice follows. You may wish to avert your eyes.] Far better to direct the justifiable rage where it belongs, while listening to and nurturing the community of commenters. If a large number of commenters (and some front-pagers, for that matter) are uncomfortable with the c-word, it's okay to retire it. Really. It doesn't mean the bad guys won and you lost. It just means FDL is more welcoming to the people who love it, and that's a net positive.

Yes, you can take this too far and end up declawing yourself, but I think it is possible to weigh a word's utility against its unpopularity or offensiveness. The c-word is very offensive to many people, and it doesn't really convey much beyond hostility. "Whore", on the other hand, does not provoke the same level of visceral reaction in most people, and it conveys an image of someone who has chosen money and power over principle. I would hate to see "whore" go away; it encapsulates the essence of the Republican party and all its enablers, including the Democratic ones. But I would venture to say that there are very few thoughts which are effectively illuminated by the c-word.

But this is veering into an entirely different debate, the one about what language is acceptable and what language should be tossed overboard. There was a lot of juicy, interesting discussion about this, but I don't think I'm qualified to add much to it, so I'm just going to leave that side of it alone and mumble about imbalance of power. I've probably made a big enough fool of myself as it is.

That Certainly Would Explain It...

Thers has just tipped me off to a Startling Confession from my interception-throwing namesake:
Do you see now, people? Have you finally fucking figured it out?

I do not like football. I don't know how much clearer I can make that point. This sport blows. Everyone's running around and hitting each other... yikes. All I wanted when I was a kid was to hang out with my mom in the kitchen and make some zucchini bread. But nooooo, everyone's all like, "You're a Manning. You should play football!"

Fuck that. You should hear my dad in interviews. "We never pushed football on the boys..." Yeah right, old man. I just fell into this shit naturally. It had nothing to do with the family football games we played every afternoon for SEVENTEEN FUCKING YEARS, Dad. Or the film study sessions after dinner. No, that was for fun. Ass.


Give me squash. There's a sport. You got two guys in a box swatting at a dead superball. Now THAT I can get on board with. No coaches. No annoying family members telling you about how "great the game is". None of that crap. Just you, some other sweaty guy, and lots of grunting. Bliss.

I got a bigass signing bonus, you know. I could play that shit all day. All I have to do is prove to everyone that I'm not good enough to play this bullshit football. Critics say I'm inaccurate. Wanna bet? I'm the most accurate fucking passer in the world, people. Those aren't interceptions I'm throwing. They are FUCKING CRIES FOR HELP.


I'm gonna get out of this game. And if it means throwing another 20 dead-on picks and costing the Giants the playoffs, then fuck it. I'm doing it. You can't stop me. Nothing will keep Eli from that squash court.
I don't know why I never saw it before. And I wondered why he seemed to be actively trying to lose games.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You Missed A Spot.

Yeah, Gilliard's a pretty good pessimist, and so are his commenters.

But I was surprised that none of them pointed out the obvious: That if we do withdraw from Iraq, and it becomes an even worse bloodbath than the occupation, the Republican and media spin will be that this is all the Democrats' fault. After all, it was the Democrats who wanted the troops to retreat before the job was finished (of course, whether "finished" means Iraq becomes a paragon of democracy or a lifeless, smoking wasteland depends on which conservative nutbar you talk to).

So therefore, any casualties incurred while doing what the Defeatocrats wanted are therefore entirely on our effete, latte-sipping eggheads. Never mind that we never wanted the troops there in the first place.

Tell me I'm wrong.

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Media Blogging

Video report on the deadly risks of telekinetic abilities.

I don't understand how the mainstream media can ignore a public health crisis of such epic proportions.

An Imperative We Can All Agree On

If only everything in life were this simple.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dream Job Of The Week

They're not even really my thing, but I still think this sounds pretty cool:
The masters of the plastic universe are baffled. From their imaginations, their computers, from their calloused fingers, magnificent kingdoms have sprung. They can re-create the Seven Wonders of the World in a literal snap. But now they huddle in their model shop of Legoland California and contemplate the seemingly impossible:

How in the rectangular heck do you give a Lego bride a Lego bosom?

Tim Petsche considers miniature chef hats borrowed from a Lego kitchen set. Too big. What about a couple of Lego daisies? someone else suggests. Too weird.

Too bad.

Such are the dilemmas of grown-ups in a child's fantasy job.


[Eric] Hunter and the other master model builders work in a Carlsbad shop filled with some 2,000 floor-to-ceiling bins full of virtually every piece Lego has created, in every color (that would include the seven shades of pink). Outside in the theme park, their obsession with detail is why a small black Lego rat can be found in the New York subway display, and why Secret Service men on duty in mini-D.C. all look alike and sport tiny earbuds.


His work is focused on a planned Las Vegas exhibit, due to open next spring in the park's Miniland U.S.A. Designers expect to use more than 2 million bricks to build miniatures of famous Vegas hotels and casinos, complete with a tacky wedding chapel and Lego showgirls.


[T]hey smile at their own inside jokes, such as the home brewery that the model builders constructed and hid atop the model of the Kennedy Space Center, and the Elvis impersonator amid the crowd of mini-commuters at Grand Central Terminal. Then there's the Lego body of Jimmy Hoffa, buried where no tourist will ever see him, deep within a column of the new Freedom Tower in fake Manhattan.
Lego bosoms? Lego rats? Lego Hoffa? Lego Elvis? Awesome. I also like the acronym for the Washington Metro Area Lego Users Group: WAMALUG.

I mean, yeah, I probably wouldn't have a girlfriend, but I bet I could build a perfectly serviceable one out of some Mindstorms kits - a little strategically-placed bubble wrap, coupla really big Lego chef hats, and I'm sure it'd work out fine. I could call her Legolita - you know, like in that KuBrick movie with James Mason.

It's Even Worse Than Sirota Thinks.

I'm coming in a couple of days late on David Sirota's great HuffPo piece on why the punditocracy sucks, and why it espouses an utterly false view of what is Sensible and Centrist, but I had a chilling thought while reading passages like these:
...[W]hen you look at this large group of pundits, what do you know, almost every single one of these columnists lives in Washington, D.C. or New York City.

This is no exaggeration, and unlike most of the commentary in the news, it is not a fact-free opinion: it is cold, hard truth. By my informal count, every single Washington Post Writers Group columnist covering domestic politics lives inside the Beltway or in the Big Apple, except for Ellen Goodman who lives in Boston and Ruben Narvarette who lives in San Diego. Similarly, at least six out of the 8 New York Times columnists live in Washington D.C. or New York. LA Times? Same thing. Every single one of their national political columnists except Meghan Daum and Niall Furgeson live in Washington, D.C. Then take a gander at one of the biggest syndicates - Creators. By my count - which is only an eyeball count - roughly half of their entire stable of columnists lives in Washington or New York. In all, I can find almost none of these people who actually lives somewhere other than one of the coasts of the country - real-life proof that the media Establishment really does see the heartland as "flyover country" to be ignored.


That's right folks, the stereotype is, by and large, factually true: coastal elites are trying to impose a very narrow world view on the rest of the country - and people sense it because the opinionmaking machine is so uniform, and the media so consolidated, that this very narrow world view is being jammed down our throats everywhere. Hell, I can see it right there in my face when I sit down for a bagel at my local coffee shop in Helena, Montana, and open the local paper's commentary section, which - like many local papers' opinion pages these days - is now dominated by "national" pundits. On any given day, I see pieces from George Will trumpeting a New York City billionaire for his Wall Street conservatism. Or, I see right-wing Washington nobody Mona Charen and her latest screed demanding that all Jews adhere to neoconservatism as proof of their religious devotion. At best, if I'm lucky, I get a David Broder piece telling me how anyone who thinks our economic policies should serve middle America is a "protectionist" worthy of being tarred and feathered.

These professional political pontificators have barely ever bothered to even visit the middle of the country. Worse, the very top topics they address are way beyond merely unreflective of opinion in small towns like Helena: they have absolutely nothing to do even with what is important to our community. The people who spew these views are, in short, trying to impose their warped opinions and priorities on the rest of us.


So the next time you, one of the other 97 percent of the non-Washington/New York population read something outrageous from a national columnist or see some pundit arrogantly bloviating on television in a way that would get them a knuckle sandwich in your local bar, ask yourself: Are you really surprised? Is it any wonder that the Establishment's definition of the "center" is so totally and completely divorced from America's? Is it really a shock that when one of these columnists wrote that "voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics" none of his fellow opinionmakers said anything, and in fact, many probably agreed? Are you really stunned that one of these columnists recently wrote with a straight face that the recent election means Democrats must shed all of their ties to pro-choice voters, unions and minorities?

And perhaps most important of all, ask yourself: are the majority of Americans really wrong when they say the media does not actually represent this country's mainstream and, in fact, has, through its leading opinion voices, shown a severe disdain for the very "national" perspective it purports to represent?
My chilling thought is this: The Republicans have (I believe) successfully fostered the myth that the media has a liberal bias, and the fact that almost all media pundits are wealthy coastal elitists plays right into that myth. So not only are these pundits completely full of shit... but I'm afraid that a large chunk of the population thinks they're liberal.

Hopefully, if the general population is smart enough to see that the pundits are full of shit, they're smart enough to see from which ideological direction most of the shit is spewing. If everyone thinks David Broder and Richard Cohen and the pro-war, pro-Lieberman, anti-blog stable of wankers at The New Republic are typical liberals, then the progressive movement is probably doomed.

(Belated hat tip to Blue Gal)

Leaf Photoblogging

It's, um, pictures of leaves. Exciting!

Mmm, leaf BBQ...

More leafs on a grill.

And another.

Leaves in their natural element.

Monday, November 27, 2006


You do not want to pass this up, people. The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. is taking requests for bad movies to watch and mock mercilessly review. If you have read any of V's past reviews, you should know that this is not to be missed.

So shoot V. an e-mail with the worst movie you can think of, and perhaps, one day, you will see it immortalized! It'll be like... Razzymandias or something.

Or you could just point and laugh.

What Can Money Buy?

Dubya apparently believes that enough money can buy respectability:
He may be a certified lame duck now, but President Bush and his truest believers are about to launch their final campaign - an eye-popping, half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.

Eager to begin refurbishing his tattered legacy, the President hopes to raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas....

Bush sources with direct knowledge of library plans told the Daily News that SMU and Bush fund-raisers hope to get half of the half billion from what they call "megadonations" of $10 million to $20 million a pop.

Bush loyalists have already identified wealthy heiresses, Arab nations and captains of industry as potential "mega" donors and are pressing for a formal site announcement - now expected early in the new year.


The rest of the cash will come from donors willing to pony up $25,000 to $5 million.

"It's a stretch," said another source briefed on the plans. "It's so much bigger than anything that's been tried before. But the more you have, the more influence [on history] you can exert."

The half-billion target is double what Bush raised for his 2004 reelection and dwarfs the funding of other presidential libraries. But Bush partisans are determined to have a massive pile of endowment cash to spread the gospel of a presidency that for now gets poor marks from many scholars and a majority of Americans.

The legacy-polishing centerpiece is an institute, which several Bush insiders called the Institute for Democracy. Patterned after Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Bush's institute will hire conservative scholars and "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the President's policies," one Bush insider said.


[P]lanners believe hometown and Texas pride will outweigh any drag from Bush's diminished political fortunes. "The money will be there," a senior Bush adviser said. "The President is very popular in Dallas and the library will be great for the city and SMU."

There's another major inducement for potential donors: Their names aren't required to be made public.
I just love that last sentence. I wonder if any of those megadonors will expect anything in return.

So much for Mr. I-Don't-Care-What-Stoopit-History-Thinks-Because-We'll-All-Be-Dead. Dubya realizes that there's a very real chance that he will go down in history as a disgrace, as The Worst President Ever, and that he needs to hire as many flacks and sycophants as he can to sing his praises, even after his stain has been scrubbed from the White House. In a perfect world, a full-court press might be enough to edge him past his role models, Nixon and Harding. In the real world, it might be enough to bring him close to Reagan, especially if anything even remotely hopeful or positive occurs in the Middle East, which his foundation (and then the media) will immediately hail as the inevitable outcome of his Bold Strategic Vision.

$500 million buys an awful lot of lipstick... but this is an awfully large pig.

Monday Media Blogging


"Under The Tusken Sun" - This is incredibly nerdy, but cracked me up. I'm tickled by the idea of a Tusken Raider named "Becky."

The New Pornographers inexplicably neglected to make a video for "Mass Romantic" - fortunately an intrepid fan was able to use The Sims 2 to fill the gap.

Well, It's Official.

The Giants are a bad, stupid team. With a bad, stupid quarterback, and a bad, stupid coaching staff.

Next year, I want to see a new coach, a new offensive coordinator, and an alternative option at QB. Also, please draft a running back, a wide receiver, a left tackle, and at least one cornerback and linebacker.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Got Nothin' Photoblogging

My political posting mojo has been kinda defunct since the election - hopefully it will return when the Democratic Congress takes over in January (preferably sooner).

So here are some photos in the meantime.

So I find myself in a park, and guess what the first picture I take is.

Grungy lightswitch.

I like spiderwebs.

The face of weevil.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Movie Alert!!!

Today, Sci-Fi Channel, 5PM: King Cobra. Watch it.

It is sheer bad-move genius from start to finish; from Hoyt Axton singing the opening theme song ("Seth Is The Devil"), to Erik Estrada(!) camping it up as a flamingly gay parade organizer, to Pat Morita talking "Is that all you got?" smack to a giant poisonous snake.

Your life will be immeasurably poorer if you do not watch this movie.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from the late Spalding Gray's brilliant spoken-word film, Monster In A Box. He's quoting his new psychiatrist:
Your subconscious is so close to the surface, I can see its periscope.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The shadowy and mysterious Codename B. looking innocent and meek. DO NOT BE FOOLED.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is Our Seniors Learning?

Apparently not:
In Pittsburgh, ''Nursebot'' (a robot which took on male and female personalities of Earl and Pearl depending on the gender of the voice used at the time) was tried out with elderly patients. Despite the stereotype of older people being technology phobic, the patients accepted the robots.
NOOOO!!! Don't do it! It's a trap!!!

Have you forgotten this already?

Or this?

It's a tragedy waiting to happen, mark my words.

Headline Of The Week

Satan Feels Pressure to Score

(That's the front-page headline; the actual article headline is a bit less... provocative)

Hard to put my finger on my favorite part of the story itself, but it's probably the part where the coach gives Satan a pep talk.

And let me just reiterate my wish for Satan to get traded across the river, because just one "Satan Leads Devils to Victory" headline would make my decade.

Blind Item Of The Week

From the NY Daily News' Gatecrasher column:
Which small-screen star - who doesn't get out much - engages a dominatrix in a Manhattan "dungeon" to stand on his groin in a parka and repeat in a loud whisper, "We're on the top of a mountain, no one can hear us ..."
Wow. Now that's a fetish!

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Media Blogging

More video fun:

Desperately Seeking Sasquatch.

Perhaps he should stake out some dance studios...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gingerbread Ubermenschen

Well, that's certainly, um... festive?

OBERLIN, Ohio -- An artist's creation of gingerbread Nazis drew complaints after it was displayed in a hardware store window, prompting the store owner to demand the artwork be removed.

Charlie Palmer covered the gingerbread men during the weekend and said he wanted them out by of his business by Tuesday.

"He's gone way overboard this time," Palmer said of artist Keith McGuckin. "A few of his other displays were on the edge, but never that crazy."

McGuckin said he chose the subject to provoke thought, not to offend.

"I can differentiate between real Nazis and that the atrocities they performed compared to these little gingerbread men, but I guess some people can't," said McGuckin, 50.

Palmer left one of McGuckin's displays uncovered: a depiction of a suicidal snowman sitting under a hairdryer.

"I want people to say 'Oh, my gosh,"' McGuckin said. "And once they look at it, say: 'It is kind of pretty."'
Alrighty then...

Tragically, I could not find a picture of the gingerbread Hitler that I saw on the evening news tease last night.

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

"You got your Chick Tract in my Galactus!" "You got your Galactus in my Chick Tract!"

Hat tip to Making Light, by way of Avedon.

Quick Question

This has probably been asked already, and is probably in poor taste to boot, but... Are the Gemayels the Lebanese version of the Kennedys?

Monday, November 20, 2006


There is some shit even Rupert Murdoch won't serve.

Peace Train's A-Comin'

Right down the tunnel...
Two peace activists have planned a massive anti-war demonstration for the first day of winter.

But they don't want you marching in the streets. They'd much rather you just stay home.

The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

"The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said Sunday. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."


The couple have studied evolutionary psychology and believe that war is mainly an outgrowth of men trying to impress potential mates, a case of "my missile is bigger than your missile," as Reffell put it.

By promoting what they hope to be a synchronized global orgasm, they hope to get people to channel their sexual energy into something more positive.

The couple said interest appears strong, with 26,000 hits a day to their Web site,

"The dream is to have everyone in the world (take part)," Reffell said. "And if that means laying down your gun for a few minutes, then hey, all the better."
Of course, I never got an invite. I'm always the last to know about these things...


Further proof that there is no situation that cannot be improved by a profanity-laced tirade:
Michael Richards stunned a comedy club audience, shouting racial epithets at people who heckled him during a stand-up routine.

The 57-year-old actor-comedian, best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld's eccentric neighbor Kramer on the hit TV show "Seinfeld," was performing at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood Friday night when he launched into the verbal rampage, according to video posted on [I'm not going to provide a direct link; if you want it, you'll find it]

The tirade apparently began after two black audience members started shouting at him that he wasn't funny.

Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--."

He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show, peppering his speech with racial slurs and profanities.

"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother------. Throw his a-- out. He's a n-----!"
Richards shouts before repeating the racial epithet over and over again.

While there is some audible chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping "Oh my God" and various people "ooh" after Richard uses the n-word.
I can't even begin to guess what he might possibly have been thinking. And while "profanity-laced tirade" may be the most beautiful three words in the English language, "racial epithets" and "the n-word" are just plain ugly.

Maybe Richards can do some commercials for George Allen's presidential campaign - he should have ample free time...

Monday Manson Media Blogging

A couple of brilliant clips from The Ben Stiller Show, which died too young:

Pithy advice from a man who knows.

A pilot for what would have been the Greatest TV Series Ever. "I was raised in a prison! I don't know any other way! I like it! Prison's my mother!"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dem Denial

I think this might be the first time Barack Obama has evidenced more of a clue than Congressional Democrats in general:
After railing for months against Congressional corruption under Republican rule, Democrats on Capitol Hill are divided on how far their proposed ethics overhaul should go.

Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, mindful that voters in the midterm election cited corruption as a major concern, say they are moving quickly to finalize a package of changes for consideration as soon as the new Congress convenes in January.

Their initial proposals, laid out earlier this year, would prohibit members from accepting meals, gifts or travel from lobbyists, require lobbyists to disclose all contacts with lawmakers and bar former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists from entering the floor of the chambers or Congressional gymnasiums.

None of the measures would overhaul campaign financing or create an independent ethics watchdog to enforce the rules. Nor would they significantly restrict earmarks, the pet projects lawmakers can anonymously insert into spending bills, which have figured in several recent corruption scandals and attracted criticism from members in both parties. The proposals would require disclosure of the sponsors of some earmarks, but not all.


Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat tapped by party leaders last year to spearhead ethics proposals, said he was pushing for changes with more teeth. “The dynamic is different now,” Mr. Obama said Friday. “We control both chambers now, so it is difficult for us to have an excuse for not doing anything.”

He is pushing to create an independent Congressional ethics commission and advocates broader campaign-finance changes as well. “We need to make sure that those of us who are elected are not dependent on a narrow spectrum of individuals to finance our campaigns,” he said.


...Democratic lawmakers argued that the real ethical problem was the Republicans, not the current ethics rules, and that the election had alleviated the need for additional regulations. “There is an understanding on our side that the Republicans paid a price for a lot of the abuses that evolved,” said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, alluding to earmarks. Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, said the scandals of the current Congress were “about the K Street Project for the Republicans,” referring to the party’s initiative to put more Republicans in influential lobbying posts and build closer ties to them.

“That was incestuous from the beginning. We never had anything like that,” Mr. Harkin said of Democrats. “That is what soured the whole thing.”
So let me get this straight: Now that the Democrats are in control, Congress doesn't need ethics oversight because they're not like the Republicans. Oh, okay.

First of all, saying that you don't need rules and oversight because you're the good guys is a Republican trademark, and look what that's gotten us: Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, warrantless wiretapping, the abolition of habeas corpus, etc., etc.

Second of all, aren't there still Republicans in Congress, still up to their corrupt pre-election shenanigans? Are we to believe that they'll voluntarily clean up their act now that the Democrats are in power? Or that their corruption simply doesn't matter if they're in the minority?

The Democrats know all this, and are being willfully obtuse because they're just as addicted to lobbyist money as the Republicans. They may not be as overtly corrupt (at least I hope they're not), but they figure, Why take chances? And they certainly don't want to enact anything that might aid their future challengers (i.e., campaign finance or earmark reform).

This is all very disheartening. I want the Democrats to draw a very clear distinction between the Republican approach to corruption ("If it feels good, do it."), and the Democratic approach (which should be "Zero tolerance, we work for the people of the United States," not "We'll make some of it illegal, but we won't look too hard for it."). Hopefully Obama and his allies can talk some sense into these idiots. Hell, even Rahm is advocating a crackdown on earmarks.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I have just returned from watching Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan with spork_incident. Hilarious stuff, especially the epic fight between him and his producer, and some gags involving a bear.

In a lot of cases, I think the American Bigotry Revealed by the movie has maybe been a little bit overblown, as there were numerous occasions in the film where it appeared to me that some of Borat's more offhand remarks simply didn't register on his victims, because they were so far out of the frame of reference of what they were expecting that they just assumed that they either misheard him or he must have meant something else. Remember, everyone in the audience expects Borat to say anti-semitic, misogynistic things, so we're listening for them. I think that does make a difference; the people he's talking to have no such expectation, so their brains struggle to process it, or rationalize it away.

That being said, there were certainly plenty of occasions where there was clearly no misunderstanding at all. Sometimes humorous, sometimes... kinda creepy.

And after the movie, spork and I went Jew-tipping. I tipped six, spork only tipped two. He is weak, like woman or Jew; I could crush him easily. High-five!

Friday, November 17, 2006

O.J. CSImpson

I think it's great news that O.J. has written a book about how he would have killed his wife and Ronald Goldman, if he were the killer. As anyone who reads or watches a lot of whodunit crime thrillers like CSI or Criminal Minds or Wire In The Blood knows, the key to catching an insane killer is to get inside his head and understand what he was thinking before, during and after the murder. That O.J. has reached this stage can only be viewed as a testament to how serious he is about his quest to find the real killer or killers and bring them to justice. It should also be recognized for the impressive achievement that it is; typically a person has to be borderline insane themselves in order to inhabit the mind of a killer so thoroughly and completely, so for a sane and peaceable fellow like Mr. Simpson to pull it off is nothing short of amazing.

...Or maybe he just figured out a way to cash in on having committed a double murder without actually admitting to it, but only a hardened cynic could believe that.


NYT on Dubya's peculiar definition of "bipartisanship":
The voters sent a clear message last week that they do not want the far right of the Republican Party calling the shots in Washington. But President Bush has ignored the message, resubmitting a group of archconservative, underqualified judicial nominees that Senate Democrats have already said are unacceptable. With the Democrats about to take control of the Senate, it is highly unlikely that these men will be confirmed. But the renominations suggest that when it comes to filling judgeships, Mr. Bush is still not looking for either excellence or common ground.

The four most controversial nominees that President Bush resubmitted are ideological in the extreme. William Myers III, a longtime lobbyist for mining and timber interests, would no doubt use his position on the San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to gut environmental laws. William Haynes II, who helped develop the administration’s torture and “enemy combatant” policies as the top lawyer for the Pentagon, could be counted on to undermine both civil liberties and reasonable limits on executive power.

Terrence Boyle, a district court judge in North Carolina and a former aide to Senator Jesse Helms, has a long record of insensitivity to victims of race and disability discrimination. He would be able to pull the law in the wrong direction in these areas if he became an appeals court judge. Michael Wallace, a former lawyer for Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, has a bad civil rights record, including arguing in favor of letting Bob Jones University, which discriminated on the basis of race, keep its tax-exempt status.

....Mr. Wallace is the very rare appeals court nominee to receive a unanimous “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.


President Bush’s decision to resubmit these names could be a final sop to his far-right base. Perhaps, once this slate fails one more time, he will make more reasonable choices. Mr. Bush may have no other choice, if he wants to get any nominees confirmed in the next two years. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, has said that “the days of hard-right judges” are over, and when Democrats take over in the Senate, he will be in a position to see that they are.
Remember, this is after Bush made a big deal about "bipartisanship" and working with the Democrats after they won both houses of Congress. Thing is, I don't think anyone asked him to define precisely what he meant by "bipartisanship." I can only conclude that he would have said: "Bipartisanship is Democrats voting for what I want." So from his perspective, he's trying to reach out to the Democrats by offering them a hearty dose of bipartisanship right off the bat. Surely it would be churlish of them to refuse such a generous opportunity.

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from the much-maligned Nothing But Trouble, which I actually found quite fascinating and entertaining, in a train-wreck kind of way. Plus it had a cameo by Digital Underground.
Look who's got the front seat to the Mexican hat dance now! Just like a bunch of spiders in a birthday cake!

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The shadowy and mysterious Codename B. meets the shadowy and mysterious Codename Foot.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random B&W Photoblogging

Under the Highland Building awning.

I finally have my ducts in a row.

It's, um, a coffee can with a coffee cup in it. Coffee MADNESS!!!

The fire escape outside America Votes HQ.

Life Couldn't Be This Good, Could It?

Diane/Cabearie ponders what Dubya is trying to accomplish by renominating four awful judges that Senate Democrats shot down without even being a majority:
What I found curious is that Mr. Bush would send these renominations to the lame duck Congress. Yes, the GOP owns this Congress, but the Democrats still have enough votes to use the filibuster. What is Dr. Frist going to do, threaten the dread nuclear option? If he does so, in a couple of months, that tool will be in the hands of the Democrats in the new Congress.
Are the Republicans really that stupid? Six years ago I would have said no, but today... It certainly would make for a very entertaining filibuster debate. The funny part would be watching the Democrats gleefully vote for the nuclear option. President Michael Moore and Vice President Ted Kennedy will be very grateful, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

It seemed like a good idea at the time...
CHICAGO, Ill.--Clothing designers have always taken pains to keep their seams from showing. But a new line of four-dimensional clothes from Abbott's Department Stores has trumped its predecessors.

"Pull the collar through the waistband as often as you like, but you'll never be able to turn our garments inside out," said Abbott's spokeswoman Patricia Rucker, demonstrating one of the new shirts.

"Kids will learn to dress themselves more easily," Rucker added. "And since time runs more slowly through 4D-wear, you can stay fresh all day and extend the life of the garment."

Despite the benefits, initial sales have not met the expectations of Abbott's executives.

"The 4D clothes can be very difficult to fold--some customers find themselves suddenly miles from their laundry rooms," said Tess Eract, a consumer advocate.

"And the pockets exert a strong gravitational pull," Ms. Eract added. "It's a struggle to retrieve your wallet from a pair of 4D pants."

Abbott's belated spin of the gravitational field as 'a security feature' against pickpockets hasn't helped sales.

It's not the first time the company's unusual clothing has proven unpopular.

"Their two-dimensional blouses were very easy to iron, but tended to flatten the figure," the source went on.

Tess Eract. Heh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Woo Hoo.

I just got my 50,000th visitor, courtesy of The Tattered Coat. Thanks, Matt! And it only took a year and a half...

(Per Sitemeter, anyway - my blog was up for 2-3 months before I added it, so it's kinda like Lawrence Taylor's Giants sack record...)

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

This is just unspeakably vile:
The story I read at the above site blew me away. Imagine, volunteering for the Army, getting shelled and wounded in combat, and being told you OWE Uncle Sam four grand when you're discharged.


Spc. Jon Town was in Ramadi when the building he was in took a direct hit from a rocket.

Eventually the rocket shrapnel was removed from Town's neck and his ears stopped leaking. But his hearing never really recovered, and in many ways, neither has his life. A soldier honored 12 times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last two on a painful, downward arc through disability and depression, one that reached its nadir in September, when he was booted from the military and told he would never receive disability pay or medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Twenty-two months later, Spc. Town is back stateside and he's lost all hearing in one ear, and his "good ear" is only at 50%. People have to shout for him to hear them and he's still having headaches. On top of that, he's having increasing trouble remembering things - regulations related to his office work etc. Then he meets psychologist Mark Wexler (this guy needs to be investigated btw) who told him that he could still receive an honorable discharge under Army Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13, "Separation Because of Personality Disorder." Full benefits and severance pay, medical care after discharge if he still had problems, and he could keep the $15,000 bonus he received the year before for re-upping for another 6 year hitch.

His unit was headed back to Iraq and he knew he couldn't pull his fair share of the load, so he decided to take this option so they could replace him with someone more able-bodied.
Town took the deal. "They told me I'd get my full benefits, full severance pay. Everyone I talked to - doctors, JAGs - they all said I wouldn't have to repay the bonus I received in Iraq," he says. "I loved the Army and would have done 20 more years if I was able to. But after hearing that, my wife and I ... we decided to take it. We thought we'd be sitting pretty. At the least, we'd have enough to start a civilian life."
It looks like everyone was either lying to him to get him off the rolls, or they were grossly mis-informed. Because not only did Spc. Town NOT get all those things, he was left with no career, little left of his hearing, increasing memory loss, and probably PTSD to boot.
Under Chapter 5-13, a personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. Thus, by agreeing to label his wounds a "personality disorder," Town was actually signing on to the idea that he had been suffering from hearing loss, headaches and psychiatric problems before joining the military.

That puts Town's problems outside the realm of VA assistance. The organization is only required to treat wounds sustained during service.

With a 5-13 dismissal, soldiers can't obtain disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, who must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast to a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days.


The final blow for Town came when he found out that, despite assurances from Wexler and other Fort Carson officials, the specialist would indeed have to give back the bulk of his $15,000 signing bonus. At the time of his dismissal, Town had served one year of his six-year contract. Under 5-13's regulations, he was allowed to keep one-sixth of his bonus.

It's all in the fine print, says Paul Hanson, an outprocessor who handles discharge papers for the Army. Hanson is not the outprocessor's real name. For fear of retribution, he agreed to speak only if neither his name nor the fort he works at were revealed. Still, he says, he had to speak up because he's disgusted at the way 5-13 dismissals are being used.

"The doctors, they're saying this will get you out quicker, and the VA will take care of you. To stay out of Iraq, a soldier will take that in a heartbeat. But what they don't realize is, those things are lies," Hanson says. "The soldiers, they don't read the fine print. They don't know to ask for a med board. They're taking the word of the doctors. Then they sit down with me and find out what the 5-13 really means - they're shocked."


Town's case is by no means an isolated incident, says Steve Robinson, director of government relations at Veterans for America, a D.C.-based soldiers rights group. Robinson has spent the past year investigating cases of falsely labeled "personality disorders" and, he says, the problem goes way beyond Town and way beyond Wexler.

Discharge statistics acquired from Fort Carson suggest that is indeed the case. Between January and July 2006, 246 soldiers were dismissed from Fort Carson due to "personality disorder." That's 16.3 percent of all the soldiers discharged, almost three times as many as were released for other physical/mental ills (87), seven times the number dismissed for unsatisfying performance (35), seven-and-a-half times those released for failing alcohol/drug rehab (33).

Outprocessor Hanson says that's the kind of ratio he's been dealing with at his fort. "It's getting worse and worse every day," he says. "The numbers started out normal. Now it's up to three or four people each day. It's like, suddenly everybody has a personality disorder. Either that or they're misdiagnosing people."

A second military official who also demanded anonymity says there's no doubt most of these soldiers are misdiagnosed. He has spent the last several months studying cases of 5-13 dismissals and says each one he's studied is clearly misdiagnosed. He laughs at the idea that they're not. "Can you imagine? These are people who have been in four, five years - many of them with top-secret security clearances - and now they're saying they were too dysfunctional to serve," he says. "What would that say about the people we have in our Army? What would that say about the people we're recruiting?"

The real tragedy, says this official, is that many of these soldiers would not have been labeled a "personality disorder" and been booted out under 5-13 if they hadn't gone to the psychiatric unit for help. "Other soldiers see that," he says, "and it keeps them from seeking help."

Tell me again about how the Republicans (you know, the ones in charge of our military for the past six years) have been supporting our troops? About how the Democrats disrespect and spit on veterans? I suppose "Patriotic Republican posturing is a transparent lie" is not exactly news anymore, but conning wounded and shell-shocked combat veterans out of their money and benefits is low even for them.

Somebody needs to put this right (I'm looking at you, Carl Levin) and give these men and women what they were promised. What they are entitled to. Oh, and maybe some respect; that would be nice too.

(Hat tip to Gilliard)

We're Doomed.


(hat tip to Tim Tagaris)

Tuesday B&W Urban Grunge Blogging

Some more random photos of ugly stuff.

Remnants of many ads.

What appears to be a "news shop" of some sort.

A bank deposit box.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Media Blogging Continued

Heh heh heh...

Telemarketer torture, courtesy of d r i f t g l a s s.


As David (Austin, TX) points out, Iowa governor Tom Vilsack is currently the only official candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2008, making him the undisputed frontrunner at this early stage.

With that in mind, I would like to trademark the following words and phrases as mine, all mine, and what they are too.



"Sack Attack"

"It takes a Vilsack."

"Where there's a Vilsack, there's a way."

And, just in case he does win the nomination, I absolutely want royalties every time the Republicans refer to him as "Nutsack".

I had another one I liked but couldn't find a use for (might've been "Sackrilege", but I don't think so). Will update if I can remember it...

Monday Media Blogging

Imitation-Is-The-Sincerest-Form-Of... Something Edition:

Mortal Kombat by... mortals.

Oh, this is just such a bad idea... yet I can't look away. From The Sherman Foundation, with a hat tip to Phila.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Matt Taibbi Rules Our World... Or Should.

I had completely missed Matt Taibbi's brilliant election night diary until Christy at FDL linked to it. There were two passages in particular that I thought nailed the essential, underlying, soulless evil of our current mass media.

Passage #1:
There were really only a few genuinely interesting things that happened on this election night, but all of them were blown off by the TV goons because they didn't fit into the winning-and-losing sports narrative. The Sanders win was one story, but another very interesting one was the Kent Conrad/Dwight Grotberg Senate race in North Dakota. This one was never in doubt, as Conrad completely wiped out Grotberg, but what was interesting was that both candidates agreed not to run negative campaigns and went to great pains to comport themselves like gentlemen in their public appearances. In a world where social responsibility actually played a role in editorial decision-making both candidates would have been extolled at length on the networks and celebrated for their positive contributions to the political atmosphere -- but given what a catastrophe a return to dignified campaigning would be for the TV news business, it's not at all surprising that these guys didn't even get their own blurb in the CNN baseline crawl.
I like to think I'm something of a political junkie, and yet I had never even heard about this until just now. Taibbi is exactly right that in any kind of sane and responsible media, this would have been worth a mention: What does an all-positive campaign look like? How does it affect the election dynamic? How does it affect turnout? Does it favor one party over another? No-one cares, apparently.

Passage #2:

Meanwhile, Jeff Greenfield on the Democratic talking points (change, new direction, Baker-Hamilton): "They look to be very focus-group-tested for maximum appeal." He says this approvingly. An ancient fantasy rises from my subconscious: I start looking for the "Instant Leatherface" button on the TV remote that will trigger the entrance onto the CNN news set of a crazed chainsaw-wielding figure...Would pay any mount of money to see Greenfield drop his earpiece and run off the set away from a screaming Leatherface, loafers sliding on the studio floor as he races away in panic. No luck, though.

A friend of mine a few weeks ago wrote me a letter suggesting that reporters come up with a list of press behaviors worth banning before the 2008 elections. One good one, I think, would be commending candidates for successfully manipulating voters and the media with crude fakery and bullshit. In other words, anytime a panel expert like Greenfield says something like "McCain's handlers have clearly done a great job at getting their man to sound more genuine in rural areas," he should have to do thirty hours of community service, ladeling out soup somewhere to paraplegics or something. "They look to be focus-group-tested for maximum appeal" seems worth a double sentence. Anyway, anyone who has ideas for other press traits worth canning, please drop me a note -- maybe some of us reporters can draw up a voluntary treaty to sign.

It's all about the horse race and the gamesmanship; substance and policy don't matter. Glenn Greenwald is absolutely right when he says that not only do these people believe in nothing, but they actually consider such empty cynicism to be admirable and sophisticated.

I pray that the Republican Party's hemorrhaging credibility takes the media's credibility with it, but that's probably too much to hope for. The only way is if the media makes the same kind of mistakes the Republicans made, like overreaching, or getting caught redhanded at their malfeasance. Preferably both.

Also: I would like an "Instant Leatherface" button, please. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

I Got What I Wanted (I Hope)

As I continue to luxuriate in the post-election afterglow, I think back to a post I wrote almost six months ago:
One of the most simultaneously comforting and frustrating notions held by us liberals is that if those salt-of-the-earth, heartland Middle America voters really knew what Democrats and Republicans stood for, or if they really knew what our Republican politicians and their supporters were getting up to, the GOP would end up like a right-wing version of the Green Party. And while I think this is true, I don't think it goes far enough. American voters also need to understand the game that the Republicans and their corporate media are running on them: Campaigns that rely on smears, fears, homophobia and xenophobia; news and opinion that consistently advance Republican narratives.


What I want to see the Democrats do this time is refuse to play the Republicans' game, but call them on it instead. Rather than simply saying, "We do too hate terrorists and gay people just as much as the Republicans! More, even!", call the Republicans on what they're doing. Say, "The Republicans have failed and dishonored this country in every way imaginable, and all they can do is campaign on hate and fear. Do they think you're that easy to distract? Is this all they think you care about?" Americans love to congratulate themselves on their bullshit-detecting abilities, and therefore hate being played. Unfortunately, they hate admitting that they've been played even more, which is why so many still cling to the idea that the Republicans actually want what's best for America, and why the Democrats have to make it very explicit and impossible to dismiss or ignore.

Ultimately, what I want to see is the Republicans' distraction-and-boogeyman strategy blow up in their faces. I believe that the day that Americans see it for the sham that it is and reject it, is the day that we finally start to get our country back.
The Democrats didn't exactly nail it 100%, but they took some huge steps in the right direction. They called the Republicans on their hatemongering and hypocrisy and corruption (with a huge assist from the Republicans themselves - thank you, Messrs. Allen, Foley, Hastert, Ney, DeLay, Cunningham, etc.), and they didn't shy away from the war.

More importantly, it looks like the American people finally Got It. This time around they rejected the narrative that the Rovepublicans have been pushing since 2002, and without it, the GOP has very little left to run on. It's like the moment in V (no relation to The Shadowy And Mysterious One) when the aliens' true reptilian face is revealed, and everyone realizes that they're not here to help us after all.

*happy sigh*

When You've Lost The Sportswriters...

Every once in a while, the NY Daily News' star sportswriter, Mike Lupica, dips into politics. And he does not like George W. Bush one little bit, nosiree:
DALLAS - Even here, where George W. Bush can't even get Republican judges elected, they remind you it was baseball that started to put this President on the map, as much as his last name. They remind you that this President was nothing more than a failed oilman 20 years ago when he came up with the money to become an investor in the Texas Rangers baseball team. Not only did he become a partner with the Rangers, he became the point man for a classic land grab of modern American sports around the building of The Ballpark in Arlington, Tex., promising development around that ballpark that they are still waiting for in Arlington.

Oh, you should go back and read about what Bush and his partners were going to do for their fans and for the community. There were going to be theme parks and the tourists were going to flock there like armies and of course none of it happened. Even then, he was capable of saying anything.

George W. Bush put up $600,000 for the Rangers and when the team was sold a few years later he walked away with $15 million and all of a sudden he wasn't the kind of Thanks, Dad son that someone like James Dolan is at Madison Square Garden, he was the "former owner of the Texas Rangers," on a fast track to being the governor of Texas. Now he is the lame-duck President of the United States, a President the country tried to vote right out of office last Tuesday.

Now it is almost impossible to remember that moment five years ago when he stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series and threw out the first pitch and didn't just make the Stadium cheer, but made the country cheer.

What ballpark would cheer him that way now?


And as much as any swing of the bat made that week by Scott Brosius or Tino Martinez or Derek Jeter, whom the headlines would call Mr. November, the President of the United States provided as much of a moment as any of them by standing on the mound in a jacket that hid the bulletproof vest underneath it, and delivering a perfect strike to a backup Yankee catcher named Todd Greene.

...[T]he country was still afraid about what might happen next. This President chose baseball, where it all really started for him, to stand on the pitcher's mound, out in the open despite how the place was crawling with Secret Service and the NYPD that night, to say, here I am, and here we are.

Five years later, just five, on a week when a midterm election was covered and over-covered the way we cover and over-cover sports events in this country, where it seemed to have everything except Chris (Boomer) Berman of ESPN, here was that same President, beginning to move toward the door now, sounding like some general manager in sports trying to save himself the way they all do, by firing his manager.

Or some college president trying to cover up a scandal that has occurred on his or her watch by firing the football coach.

Here was that same president, the one who made the country cheer at that World Series talking about a "thumping" and acting as if it had happened to somebody else. It turns out he is no better at running this country, six years into this, than he has been at anything else in his life. At least he made himself money as a baseball owner. As a President, he has spent over $300 billion on his war in Iraq alone.

Now his policies and his failures in his office and the lightweights with which he has surrounded himself have produced an election as historic as the country has seen. This election was a referendum on him, on a war that has left more than 2,000 Americans dead and 10,000 wounded and nothing else. His response to all that? It comes right from sports, the kind of desperate, obvious response we get in sports all the time. Bush threw one of his top managers, Donald Rumsfeld, under the nearest D.C. bus. The President who fired that strike five years ago at a ballpark, another dramatic photo op from him, then did what George Steinbrenner used to do at the Stadium in the old days, when the Yankees couldn't do anything right and he was about as popular with Yankee fans as the President of the United States was with the country this week:

He fired somebody else when the one he should have been firing was himself.

Ouch. Maybe Mike needs a blog or a DKos diary or something...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Eli's Obsession With The Google

It just keeps getting better and better.

#3 search result for clingfilm mistress.

Ironically enough, it's a post about how strange the Google searches that lead to my blog are...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from The World Of Henry Orient, in which a pair of teenage girls become obsessed with concert pianist Peter Sellers. I have no idea what it means.
And then two small bladders came out of their mouths. Just as she was starting to hum, too.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats.

Introducing the shadowy and mysterious Codename B.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Iron Jonah

It's time to take Jonah Goldberg's peyote away:
How Bush Should Handle Loss [Jonah Goldberg]

I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear's claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, "I'm not going anywhere."

This will send important messages to Democrats and well as to our enemies overseas, who are no doubt high-fiving as we speak.
I don't know what this even means, but I sure would like to see Dubya attempt it. If the bear didn't gut him, Helen Thomas surely would.

(Hat-tip Exit Stage Left)

Not So Fast, Joe.

I've been kind of withdrawn from the blogosphere this week; not entirely sure why. So I missed this very encouraging post from fester yesterday (festerday?) on how the Democrats can prevent Joe Lieberman from being the Big Important Wheel he surely thinks he'll be:
1) A credible promise from Harry Reid, backed up by the money folks on and off line that disloyalty will result in backbench exile along with complete loss of seniority in 2008. Mark Schmidt at TAPPED looks at the initial outline of the 2008 Senate landscape:
These are the Senators of Class II, those whose seats will be up in 2008. There are 12 Democrats, and 21 Republicans.....The only vulnerable Dem in the class is Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.....That's seven possible pick-ups in 2008, plus three more that could be picked up with the right candidate. And what if Harold Ford runs against Lamar Alexander in Tennessee? What if Susan Collins in Maine draws a strong opponent? What about Elizabeth Dole, whose image of competence is as shattered as Dick Cheney's? That's thirteen seats the Republicans have to worry about either a little or a lot. And almost no potential for gains.

Unfortunately Joe Lieberman will be in the Senate on Jan. 3, 2007, but he should be functionally irrelevant by 2009.
There were two more, but the first one was the big one. Of course, it requires the Democratic leadership to show discipline and hardassitude that they conspicuously did not display after Joe turned his back on the Democratic party. But if that Tapped analysis is correct, then it would be a very bad gamble indeed for Joe to flip. He would be a Republican hero (and probably committee chair) for two years, and then... nothing.

But then again, Joe may still be harboring delusions of presidency, and a misguided belief that all the girlies go crazy for a Bipartisan Statesman, especially the backstabbing kind. If he really thinks he can run and win on some kind of phony maverick "unity ticket" with John McCain in 2008, then he doesn't have to worry about what the next Senate looks like. I say bring it on: I can't think of a better way to keep McCain out of the White House.

Eli's Obsession With The Google

Days like this make it all worthwhile.

#2 search result for webs richard grieco spider with boobs.

Who says blogging isn't rewarding?

UPDATE: And the #1 search result for umm kay. I'm humbled, truly.

Random B&W Photoblogging

I'm taking pictures again! Woohoo!!!


Very open, apparently...

I'm not positive, but I think this is the Highland Building.

I guess Snake was here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Heckuva Job, Rummy.

It's almost too much to take in at once.

Democrats take the House and the Senate, at least until Lieberman flips. *checks watch*

Rumsfeld is fired/resigns (firesigns?).

Bush admits that he lied about keeping Rumsfeld on to make the bad mean reporters quit picking on him.

My question is, wouldn't it have made more sense to fire Rummy before the election? I know, I know, sign of weakness, admission of error and all that rot. But everyone knows that Rumsfeld is a blithering incompetent, so by giving him a pre-election vote of confidence, Bush merely makes himself look clueless and out-of-touch rather than resolute. I think firing Rummy would have actually made for a great October surprise, and it might have been just enough to salvage the Senate and probably a few House seats. Too bad for the Republicans that Dubya is ruled by his own arrogance, and is so addicted to lying and concealing that he even does it when the truth would actually help him.

So, Don, now that you're unemployed and pissed off with lots of free time on your hands... have you ever considered writing a book? I'm just trying to help out here - you really should have a hobby to keep yourself busy, and I'm pretty sure Command & Conquer would kick your ass.

Post-Election Musings

Just some impressions from watching MSNBC's coverage of the election:

o Wow, I can't believe how much ass we kicked in the House. That's amazing, and way beyond my expectations. And it looks like we may have actually taken the Senate, at least until the Republicans break the glass on Emergency Backup Republican Joe Lieberman. I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed that that evil, phony bastard won. It's really the only blot on the election for me.

o Pleasantly surprised to see Jason Altmire knock off Melissa Hart - I really didn't think he had much of a chance.

o Rick Santorum's concession speech surprisingly classy, pledging his support to Casey, saying very complimentary things about him, and urging his supporters to applaud and "give it up" for Casey. Could just be because Casey is a Republican...

o Media narrative is, as expected, that Democratic victories are due to Schumer and Emanuel's brilliance at finding and backing centrist DLC-style candidates, not those Wacky Lefties that scare Main Street America. Looking forward to MyDD and FDL doing some serious debunking on this.

o Enjoyed Joe Scarborough mildly flipping out on Chris Matthews for saying he had a Republican/conservative bias, and insisting that for the last two years he's been more critical of Republicans than Democrats. ("Go back and look at my transcripts! Look at them, I say!") Whether true or not (I'm guessing not, although it is true that he's been critical of BushCo), it's interesting that he took such pains to make that point, and he seemed genuinely pissed off about it.

o Could have done without Chris Matthews badgering Howard Dean (who seemed a bit off his game) about the Democratic strategy for Iraq. Dean didn't really have a very good response - "I'm not playing that game" sounded more like something Bush would say.

o Could have done without Rahm Emanuel entirely. Illinois voters, can you help me out with this in 2008? Thanks much.

o I wish I could comment on the Mehlman interview, but I was on the phone. I'll just assume it was wanktastic and horrible, and that he found a way to spin this election as a tremendous victory for the Republicans and the Magical GOTV Machine. ("You see, Chris, there are 200 House seats that the Democrats totally failed to pick up. This is a massive repudiation of the Democrat party and the nutroots.")

o I didn't stick around long enough to get final results on the election initiatives, but it looked like those were turning out pretty badly, with lots of anti-gay marriage/anti-civil union initiatives winning handily (Tucker Carlson: "Americans just don't like gay marriage." Bite me.). While this is disappointing on its face, I find it intriguing and encouraging that it did not translate into success for Republican candidates - I remember 2004 when the anti-gay marriage initiatives were used as a GOP GOTV (GOTGOPV?) tool.

o I stayed away from blog comments last night because I didn't think I really had anything to add, and I didn't really feel like trying to keep up. I'm curious what the Official Troll Talking Points are, though. "Democrats cheated"? "Just wait until 2008"? "Ned Lamont lost, ha ha loosers!"? "..."? I, for one, look forward to saying "Thanks for 2006!" at every possible opportunity.

o Oh, and if the official Republican line does turn out to be that the Democrats stole the election, then they should be all about the election reform now, right? Right?

I'm sure some other stuff will probably occur to me later, so I may be updating this post.

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging, Special Election Edition

Weekly World News is two-for-two on its NY candidate endorsements:
Weekly World News has always supported alternative candidates, including extraterrestrials, mutants, and dolphins. However, we believe that Hillary Clinton deserves reelection to the Senate over Nocturnal Party candidate Dracula.

Beyond the logistics of having a vampire in Congress -- he would miss every vote cast between dawn and sunset, and the intern mortality rate would rise --Dracula's mesmeric powers would make a mockery of the democratic process. While one could argue that this has already happened over the past seven years, there is a difference between bleeding people for oil and bleeding them period.

We also urge New York voters to go to the polls for former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo over his supernatural rival. While we believe that over a century in purgatory can change a man, we are not convinced that justice will best be served by Attorney General George A. Custer.
Well done, guys. Well done.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day GOTV Photoblogging

From Sunday:

I started out at America Votes headquarters...

Then to the GOTV staging area in North Park.

Mmm... Materials...

Get out and vote, dammit!!!! It's important; we absolutely have to throw the rascals out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Media Blogging Continued

Cultural Exchange Edition!

American group pretending to be Russian:

Oh, those Russians...

Russian group pretending to be American (by way of ABBA, apparently):

I love the guy in black - he's just so happy to be in the band. And he kinda looks like Terry Gilliam.

Now, if I had any videos of Germans pretending to be Russian, I could post "Klabautermann"...

Monday Media Blogging

Russian Pop Edition!

Sergei Minaev and his big round keyboard (courtesy of Phila):

It's actually kinda catchy, and it has great... production values.

Dschingis Khan and their signature song (courtesy of rorshach):

The guy in green is my favorite, but he's really not at his best in this video.

More Dschingis Khan:

I have no idea what this is about, and the subtitles are not helping me. I kinda like it, though.

And finally, lest anyone believe that this is all a frivolous waste of time, let me point out that Dschingis Khan serves a valuable educational function:

Teaching Finns how to disco dance! I think.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I Bow.

From tonight's Family Guy, in which Brian and Stewie enlist in the Army:
Drill Sergeant: "I'm sure you'll do your country proud tomorrow morning, when you're all shipped off to Iraq."

Brian: "WHAT?"

Stewie: "Oh, don't worry, I'm sure he means Fraggle Iraq."

The Three-Party System

In Which Eli Reverts To Incoherent Babbling

Pachacutec has a fascinating post up at Firedoglake about the three political parties competing for control of the United States. And no, it's not the Democrats, Republicans, and Greens. Instead, he breaks it down into the Grassroots Theocrats and Grassroots Progressives, which are in clear opposition to each other, and the DC/K Street Elite, which wants to co-opt both of the other parties to advance their corporate agenda.

I'm not positive that three is the true number of parties, but I think the basic dynamic is mostly correct. It's an excellent explanation of why the Democratic party establishment is so unwilling to oppose the Republican agenda, yet so willing to oppose the Democratic one, and so openly hostile to what most people would consider their base. They're not really Democrats at all, but well-paid corporate shills who might as well be lobbyists. It also explains why we progressives have such a visceral, instinctive dislike for them.

Where I disagree is on whether the Elite can truly be considered a party. I don't think they are in any meaningful sense of the word. They're behind-the-scenes interest and power brokers, more of a super-constituency that politicians ally themselves with or sell themselves to, rather than a party unto themselves that politicians are actually members of. For as complicit and as co-opted as the establishment Democrats may be, I believe they still think of themselves as belonging to a separate party from the Republicans, and (mostly) genuinely do want to beat them in elections. The problem is that the DLC arm of the Elite has seeded the consultant class with Grima Wormtongues who advise the Democrats that the only way to beat the Republicans is to be just like them. And because it worked for Bill Clinton (never mind that that was because he was a brilliant politician, or that it's never worked since), this ridiculous idea still has legitimacy.

But regardless of whether the Elite can be considered a true party or not, the important thing is that they have captured the Democratic party and steered it away from its traditional guiding principles. From the Elite's perspective, it's a win-win situation: By stacking the Democratic leadership with soulless, uninspiring corporatists who alienate their own voters, they essentially ensure that their true soulmates, the Republicans, stay in power. But at the same time, they also ensure that a majority of the Democrats will support the Elite's interests as well. So if the Republicans should, just hypothetically, fuck things up so monumentally that they get turned out of office in a landslide of epic proportions, well, the Elite-owned Democrats won't abuse their new-found power by doing anything rashly anti-corporate. (It will be interesting to see how Medicare reform and the minimum-wage increase fare in a Democratic Congress, and where their support and opposition comes from.)

Of course, from a Grassroots Progressive perspective, this is an unacceptable situation. Worse yet, even if the Democrats do retake both houses of Congress, it will only be seen as a repudiation of the Republicans and/or Grassroots Theocrats. It won't even occur to anyone that it's a rejection of the Elite, even if Grassroots Progressive candidates significantly outperform Elite ones, because the Elite simply isn't part of the election narrative (did I mention that the Elite own the media?). This is why I'm glad to hear that Firedoglake will be tracking and analyzing the election results from a Grassroots-vs.-Elite perspective, not just the usual Democrats-vs.-Republicans perspective. I'm hoping MyDD and DailyKos and maybe Atrios (although he's more about media critique than election analysis) will pick up on this as well, to counter the media and Democratic spin that this Stunning Democratic Victory is entirely due to the strategic, triangulatory genius of Elite toadies like Rahm Emanuel and Charles Schumer.

My longterm questions are:

1) What will it take for the Democratic leadership to realize that the Grassroots Progressives are a force to be reckoned with; or more accurately, a force that will not go away or sell out? At what point does it become true and obvious that Grassroots support is more essential to electoral success than Elite support?

2) What is the "critical mass" of Grassroots Progressives in the House and Senate where they would be able to take over the party leadership? Is it a simple majority? Plurality? Supermajority?

3) How long will it take to reach that critical mass? I suspect it will be easier in the House, simply because every seat is in play every year, and I think the bar for entry into the race is easier than for the Senate. I think it also lends itself better to retail campaigning, which I suspect Grassroots candidates are better at.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I Blame God.

Since Bradrocket insists on staying on the religious tip, I am forced to deviate from my original counterattack strategy:

It's ON.

Ohcrap, here we go again. Atrios should have just kept his mouth shut.

I do this more in sadness than in anger.

Mmm... Sweet, Sweet Candy...

The only downside to getting linked by Cursor and Avedon in the same day is that now I feel obligated to post something other than incoherent babble. Coherentiness is very difficult for me to sustain for more than one post in a row, but I'll take a stab at it:

It's not often that I enjoy reading an Ad Nags story - I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he's not actually a Republican hack, but just someone who really really likes writing "______s In Disarray" stories. On the other hand, I see quotes from both parties, so there's a very good chance that this was written by a body-snatcher or impostor of some kind. Or maybe Robin Toner is just a bad influence.
The battle for Congress rolled into a climactic final weekend with Republican Party leaders saying the best outcome they could foresee was losing 12 seats in the House. But they were increasingly steeling themselves to the loss of at least 15 and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years.


Party strategists on both sides, speaking in interviews after they had finished conducting their last polls and making their final purchases of television time, said they were running advertisements in more than 50 Congressional districts this weekend, far more than anyone thought would be in play at this stage.

Nearly all of those seats are held by Republicans, underscoring the degree to which President Bush and his party have been forced onto the defensive two years after he claimed that his re-election had given him the political capital to carry out an ambitious domestic and foreign agenda.


“It’s the worst political environment for Republican candidates since Watergate,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster working in many of the top races this year.
Maybe because the Republicans have been blindly supporting the most criminal and incompetent presidency since Watergate? And then some?
Joe Gaylord, who was the political lieutenant to Newt Gingrich when he led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, said that based on polling he had seen in recent weeks, he expected his party to lose 25 seats to 30 seats on Tuesday. That general assessment was repeatedly echoed in interviews with Republicans close to the White House and the Republican National Committee.

“It’s very grim,” Mr. Gaylord said. “Things are dreadful out there.”
Sounds like they might just be managing expectations, so that anything short of total disaster (i.e., getting crushed in the House and just barely hanging onto the Senate by one seat) can be spun as a triumphant come-from-behind victory by those plucky Republican underdogs.

On the other hand...
Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, has assured nervous associates that the Republican turnout operation would help save the party from electoral disaster.

“There are a lot of seats on the bubble, and that is why turnout makes such a difference,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the deputy Republican whip.

Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, the New York Republican heading his party’s effort to hold the House, said: “Turnout will be key to us in these three dozen races that are close across the country.”


Ken Mehlman, the Republican national chairman, said in an interview that the “race for the House remains very close, and I believe we will keep our majority.

“And I think the Senate, in the last week,” he said, “has been very good for Republicans and very difficult for Democrats.”
Karl Rove's brilliant Get-Out-The-Vote plan will save the day! Huzzah! So if the election results have no relation to the polling over the last 2-3 months, that's because of that great Republican turnout machine we saw in 2002 and 2004, and absolutely nothing to do with purging voter rolls, or vote suppression, or dodgy and unverifiable electronic voting machines.
(Side note: My dream scenario is that the Republicans pull out all the stops to try to game the vote in every way imaginable, and not only is it not enough, but they actually get caught so in flagrante derigto that the media actually has to report it.)

Only the Republicans would be able to concoct and sustain two mutually contradictory narratives at the same time. I guess it's like when a newspaper composes two different front pages and editorials before a big election or championship game, so that they're fully prepared for either outcome...