Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I'd Rather Not Be In Philadelphia 

I honestly don't think it matters to the Democrats who wins in Pennsylvania tonight.

Specter is unlikable and unliked. Toomey's politics only appeal to a far right-wing fringe.

But: Specter is an uncumbent with high name recognition and Toomey is cute, young, and charming.

It'll be an equally challenging fight for Joe Hoeffel with either nutjob. Though, in Joe-Hoe's favor, either one will emerge wounded and poorer from the primary battle.

It will be better for the country if Specter wins against TwoMe, of course (which it's looking like he will at the moment), as if seat remains republican, I'd rather have a sorta moderate shithead than a shithead to the right even of Rick Santorum. Much as I'd rather be prodded repeatedly with a sharp stick than stabbed in the temple with a pair of dull barber shears.

This primary race hasn't interested me all that much, partly because of the reasons I outlined above, and partly because I can't get into the whole "horserace" aspect of politics. It's too much like the meaningless punditry that passes for analysis on cable tv and opinion pages. It's not about the race, for chrissakes, it's about what's at stake. Don't tell me the method and tone with which each candidate responds to the other's brazen smear tactics, tell me what the hell he or she actually believes in and what that means in real terms! Tell me some real--

...hey, look at that funny lookin' dog!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Urban Renewal and Other Modern Tragedies 

Editorial: 9th & Hennepin/A new hotel, an old lament
At last, the old Fairmont Hotel -- the decrepit landmark at the corner of Hennepin Av. and S. 9th St. -- will find new life. Plans for the corner -- including a 24-suite Chambers hotel, La Belle Vie restaurant and a nightclub -- are exactly what the Hennepin Avenue theater district needs to help create a critical mass of attractive venues and activities.

The complex will be a welcome addition to an emerging promenade that encourages people to stroll along a newly inviting streetscape of restaurants and theaters and to partake of a newly bustling, eclectic urban experience.

This is how things go in a growing city, and everyone should be glad that the vacant eyesore will be transformed into another lure for visitors to Minneapolis' increasingly vibrant downtown. That is the appropriate use for this corner at this time.
-Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2004

Well it's Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon's teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill
Like the whole goddamn town's ready to blow...
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road
And Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat...
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
"One for every year he's away", she said
Such a crumbling beauty, ah
There's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
'til you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen...
And I've seen it all, I've seen it all
Through the yellow windows of the evening train...

-Tom Waits, 1985

Minneapolis is a city that, as far as I can tell, refuses to learn from its history. It had a vast, convenient, clean streetcar system. The auto industry convinced them to tear it up completely, and we're left with LA traffic, freeways choking neighborhoods, and the most bloated, inefficient bus system in the midwest. Recent attempts at building a light-rail system have been repeatedly sabotaged by those who wish to see them fail in order to prove that public transportation doesn't work. Everyone bemoans the effect "Urban Renewal" had on Minneapolis' historic downtown architecture and culture (it destroyed them both and put up big, blocky office buildings and Soviet-style apartment complexes). Now we're in the sudden rebirth of Downtown Minneapolis as a place where people from 1st-ring suburbs are no longer afraid to drive to (and they can park right under the Block E mall while they have a lovely dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is across the street from First fucking Ave) and a home of faceless, ugly architecture. A "bustling, eclectic urban experience" in Strib-talk means "a place recently cleansed of punks and black people."

And christ almighty... Minneapolis has an absolutely horrible problem with homelessness, and no one has even tried to do anything about it as long as I can remember. It is literally a case of city-wide Looking the Other Way. Nothing. No, we have our priorities straight -- get some of those suburban sales-tax dollars. And use them for... enticing corporations to tear down our old, poetic buildings and put up big empty malls that, in a perfect world, would make like the notorious "City Center" and fill up with the black people who they thought they'd displaced, thus keeping the easily spooked nightlife/shopping commuters away.

As long as none of that money goes to low-income housing, public works programs, shelters, welfare, job counseling, adult education, or subsidized physical/mental health care, Minneapolis city planners may finally achieve their goal: a city in which no one lives, but into which everyone in the tri-county area drives to shop. Interstates 35 and 94 will each be 150 lanes wide, with diamond lanes for people who can afford the optional "traffic-reduction fee." The Light-Rail system will run in a loop on Hiawatha between 34th and 35th streets, until it is shut down for being wasteful of public funds that could (and should) be going to the Target corporation. The train station will be converted into a TGI Fridays. All those unable to afford new tract housing in Lakeville and Apple Valley will be airlifted to St. Paul and dropped near the entrances to the Wabasha Street Caves.

Monday, April 26, 2004

What's the New Mary Jane? 

I like Eric Schlosser.

He made his name with a really good, shocking piece of old-fashioned muckraking, and is now parlaying that fame into one of his pet causes -- smoking pot.

This is all stuff I thought everyone knew, of course. But clearly if everyone knew it, there wouldn't be 700,000 people in jail for marijuana crimes.

Anyway, let's hope Schlosser's respectability means the beginning of the end of Upstanding Liberal support for a Drug-Free America.

Hey -- I got a Kerry campaign slogan: "A Free-Drugs America"

...Am I the only one who thinks the new anti-drug ads are a bit preachy?

All Those In the New York Area 

Come hear the writing I do when I'm not blogging.

I promise, it's not as lazy. Though it is probably as dogmatic.

My short piece is the big closer, and features a musical number and ukulele proformance. It's also quite political, as even my supposedly non-political writing has ended up being lately...


Where: The Roof* of 819 6th Ave. (at 28th St.)
(Take the N,R to 28th St and then walk one block west to 6th Ave.)

When: Thursday, April 29th
Friday, April 30th
Saturday, May 1st
Sunday, May 2nd

All show times are at 7:30pm
General Admission: $5

Reservations: call the ticket hotline at 646-732-8307** OR
E-mail at absent_character@yahoo.com

*As the show is outdoors, be sure to dress weather-appropriate
**In case of rain, please check the ticket hotline 2 hours prior to show
time for cancellation information

Here's a link to the (rather big) poster. Feel free to print it and put it up wherever you want.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

I Would Compromise the Security of the Network For a Klondike Bar 

A recent British study by the Institute for Advancing Silly Research shows how cavalier we all are about this whole Internet thing:
A man posted outside a London subway station at rush hour offered a chocolate bar to random passers-by if they would reveal the password they used to log on to the Internet. Amazingly, more than 7 out of 10 took the offer.

The authors of the survey decided these results were disappointing. I think differently (I, like John McCain, am a maverick and don't pay any heed to conventional wisdom [though according to the rule of the Old West as I understand it, I am obligated to belong to the first person to successfully brand me]). I think this is great news, as my chances of being given free candy are significantly higher than they were before I learned of this study, and all I have to do is lie to some British guy with a clipboard.

I'm only kidding, of course. I would never give out my password to anyone, and no one could ever figure it out -- not even the Majel Barret-Roddenberry-voiced supercomputer aboard a certain starship. Ahem.

[All British researchers wishing to give me chocolate bars may contact me through the comments section of this blog entry]

I'm a Quarter Italian, A Quarter Dutch, and a Quarter Libertarian 

Your Results:

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Socialist Candidate (87%)
3. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (82%)
4. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (78%)
5. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (74%)
6. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (47%)
7. Libertarian Candidate (25%)
8. Constitution Party Candidate (11%)
9. Bush, President George W. - Republican (9%)

According to a woefully binary selection system, I would support Lyndon LaRouche before George W. Bush.

In Which I Sow Further Seeds of Discontent Among The Shaky Coalition That is the Democratic Party 

All the intellectual, "moderate," blogging-type liberals always be hatin' on the leftist protester-types for making the Responsible, Princeton sweatshirt-wearing capital-L Liberal moderates look like a buncha dirty hippies with crude signs making reductive arguments. One such reductive argument many on-the-fence Liberals didn't care to hear was along the lines of "No Blood For Oil."

Surely, said the Liberals to the leftys, that's an Over-Simplification. This is a question of a post-Marxist ideology of Doing Dangerous Things in the Name of Freedom combined with a Cold War obsession with the Good/Bad dichotomy in dealing with the middle east.

Well, Josh Marshall highlights a phrase from the Feb. New Yorker showing that while you can dress it up in fancy-pants political philosophy, it was all about the goddam oil from Day One, if not before:
The top-secret document, written by a high-level N.S.C. official, concerned Cheney’s newly formed Energy Task Force. It directed the N.S.C. staff to coöperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”
(emphasis Josh's)

Still, of course, we can't attribute non-altruistic motives to supporters of the war, because that would make people feel bad about being responsible for this.

And we wouldn't want anyone to feel bad, would we?


Damn, I really want to enter this contest. Unfortunately, they require a faxed voter registration card declaring that I'm a republican. And mine shows that I'm a proud partisan of the New York Democratic Party. I could fix that pretty easily, of course -- I plan on re-registering when I get home to Minnesota anyway, as word on the street is that some idiots are calling my home turf a "swing state," and as long as I can lift my hand to fill out an absentee ballot, Minnesota will not go to a Republican. In fact, even after my death, I will give full permission to our robot overlords to continue to use my name to vote for the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. Richard Daleytron 5000 will make sure that my pets and I will continue to make a difference, even after I can no longer personally pull the lever for Droid B. Olson, Elmer Bensonbot, and Walter "Robot" Mondale.
(the Farmer-Labor Party Robot Joke, ladies and gentlemen)

All kidding aside (but not too far aside), 300 words is not a lot of room in which to express my deep, deep non-loathing of and admiration for everything the Bush administration stands for. Though it will probably be just enough to answer this stimulating writing prompt:
Why is the President's call to community service important and how have you demonstrated it?

How have I, Alex Pareene, demonstrated the President's call to community service? Well, I think it would serve the community to point out that it's rather grammatically awkward to say "demonstrate" when you mean "answer." Unless they actually want proof that I've demonstrated my ability to call for things as effectively as President Bush, in which case I'd like to point out that I'm quite good at calling for things, even though I forgot to call my mom on her birthday this year. In my defense, I did send a card.

Why, just last night I called for my girlfriend to bring me a sandwich from the deli while she was out. And I decided that my inability to finish a term paper on the collapse of the Soviet Union called for another pot of coffee lightly spiked with bourbon.

300 Word Essay In Which I Demonstrate President Bush's Call To Community Service
[Clears throat...]

Friday, April 23, 2004

When They Return, Well There Isn't Much 

Geez... the Japanese, man...

The young Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq returned home this week, not to the warmth of a yellow-ribbon embrace but to a disapproving nation's cold stare.

Three of them, including a woman who helped street children on the streets of Baghdad, appeared on television two weeks ago as their knife-brandishing kidnappers threatened to slit their throats. A few days after their release, they landed here on Sunday, in the eye of a peculiarly Japanese storm.

"You got what you deserve!" read one hand-written sign at the airport where they landed. "You are Japan's shame," another wrote on the Web site of one of the former hostages. They had "caused trouble" for everybody. The government, not to be outdone, announced it would bill the former hostages $6,000 for air fare.

I'm forced to start agreeing with the central thesis of Sofia Coppola's magnum opus: The Japanese are different from us in ways that are weeeeired.

I don't mean to engage in a bit of the ol' Colonial Orientalism, musing on the Exotic Otherness of these weirdos, but I will admit that I really don't understand Japanese culture, and I'm speaking as someone who's seen quite a lot of Pokemon.

Beneath the surface of Japan's ultra-sophisticated cities lie the hierarchical ties that have governed this island nation for centuries and that, at moments of crises, invariably reassert themselves. The former hostages' transgression was to ignore a government advisory against traveling to Iraq. But their sin, in a vertical society that likes to think of itself as classless, was to defy what people call here "okami," or, literally, "what is higher."

They violated a government order. The government is seen as more or less the final word on these things. In my country, if you haven't violated a government edict by lunch, you're falling behind.

This is somehow General MacArthur's fault.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Symbolic of... Something Or Other 

Special Earth Day Bush Archive Treasure:

Time Magazine, September 12, 1994


LENGTH: 88 words

HEADLINE: Sitting Duck


It is a rite of Texas politics that on the first day of dove season, candidates go ahunting -- with cameras in tow. GEORGE W. BUSH, a son of the former President, is running for Governor, and he dutifully appeared near dawn one day last week to do some dove shooting. Instead he shot a killdeer, a protected species whose flight and markings are distinctly undovelike. Bush was fined $130 and was mocked by aides to his opponent, Governor Ann Richards (who also was out that morning with a shotgun but didn't hit anything).

(via JCK at Eschaton comments)

There's No Success Like Failure 

I try not to do the IntaPunter thing too often, but you ought to go read this Juan Cole post:
It is deeply shameful that Perle is still pushing Chalabi, and may well succeed in installing him. Chalabi is wanted for embezzling $300 million from a Jordanian bank. He cannot account for millions of US government money given him from 1992 to 1996. He was flown into Iraq by the Pentagon (Perle was on the Defense Advisory Board, a civilian oversight committee for the Pentagon) with a thousand of his militiamen. The US military handed over to Chalabi, a private citizen, the Baath intelligence files that showed who had been taking money from Saddam, giving Chalabi the ability to blackmail large numbers of Iraqi and regional actors. It was Chalabi who insisted that the Iraqi army be disbanded, and Perle almost certainly was an intermediary for that stupid decision. It was Chalabi who insisted on blacklisting virtually all Baath Party members, even if they had been guilty of no crimes, effectively marginalizing all the Sunni Iraqi technocrats who could compete with him for power. It was Chalabi who finagled his way onto the Interim Governing Council even though he has no grassroots support (only 0.2 percent of Iraqis say they trust him).

I feel justified in simply pointing you to this with no analysis or content of my own because Prof. Cole is much smarter than me and knows a lot more. He is, after all, an expert in the Michiganian culture. And I've only driven through the Lower Peninsula once or twice. Though from what I saw, it was very clear that power should be handed over to the People of Michigan as soon as possible. I've secretly flown in Ahmed Chalabi and given him all of Governor Granholm's files for that purpose.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Riddle Me This, Rumsfeld! 

Pentagon Deleted Rumsfeld Comment

The Pentagon deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bush had decided to invade Iraq.

At issue was a passage in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," an account published this week of Bush's decision making about the war, quoting Rumsfeld as telling Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, in January 2003 that he could "take that to the bank" that the invasion would happen.

Pentagon officials omitted the discussion of the meeting from a transcript of the Woodward interview that they posted on the Defense Department's Web site Monday. Rumsfeld told reporters at a briefing yesterday that he may have used the phrase "take that to the bank" but that no final decision had been made to go to war.

"To my knowledge, a decision had not been taken by the president to go to war at that meeting," Rumsfeld said. "There was certainly nothing I said that should have suggested that, and any suggestion to the contrary would not be accurate."

Woodward supplied his own transcript showing that Rumsfeld told him on Oct. 23, 2003: "I remember meeting with the vice president and I think Dick Myers and I met with a foreign dignitary at one point and looked him in the eye and said you can count on this. In other words, at some point we had had enough of a signal from the president that we were able to look a foreign dignitary in the eye and say you can take that to the bank this is going to happen."

The transcript made it clear that the foreign dignitary Woodward was discussing was Bandar, although Rumsfeld would not say that. "We're going to have to clean some of this up in the transcript," Rumsfeld said in the omitted passage. "We'll give you a -- I mean you just said Bandar and I didn't agree with that so we're going to have to -- I don't want to say who it is but you are going to have to go through that and find a way to clean up my language too."

All told, the Pentagon transcript omits a series of eight questions and answers, some of them just a few words each. Yesterday Rumsfeld described the deleted passages as "some banter."

Hey! They's funny!

Rumsfeld really does have a sense of humor, despite acting, looking, and speaking generally like a less articulate, angrier Robert McNamara. But that little joke he just made, is, well, it's...

wait a second, aren't these the guys who harbor terrorists? Shouldn't we be not tolerating them or something?

Speaking of angry Robert McNamara, apparently, Air Force One's in-flight movie lately has been The Fog of War.Much like this, from the B/C '04 campaign site:

How to explain? Well, first of all they're so convinced of the stupidity of their goddam electorate, that they can be pretty sure no one will actually read "Plan of Attack," and if they do, they'll just read what I like to call the "Hard-on for strong leadership" sections about how "decisive" Bush is.

Greil Marcus on the Fog:
Throughout a long talk arising from Morris's 2003 documentary The Fog of War, moderator Mark Danner pressed the former Secretary of Defense--under Kennedy and Johnson the tribune of the Vietnam War--to apply his conclusions from that time to the present day. Again and again, McNamara--at 88 in frightening command of his faculties, vehement, direct, lucid, at times even monomaniacally focused--ignored the question, dodged it, refused it, denied it. Finally Danner announced that he would read the "Eleven Lessons" from McNamara's 1995 In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam: "I'll ask you while I do so," he said, "to keep the present situation in mind."

One by one, the items went off like small bombs: "'We failed to...We failed to...We failed to...We failed to draw Congress and the American people into the pros and cons of a large-scale military action before it got underway...We did not realize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient...We do not have the God-given right to shape other nations as we choose...'"

"When I read these lessons again I felt a chill go through me," Danner said. "I was in Iraq. In October, reporting...they seemed to reflect with uncanny accuracy--it's for that that I've tried to push you, not only about--" McNamara cut him off.

"What he has done," he said to the audience, "is extract those lessons from this book. The lessons are in there...I put them forward not because of Vietnam, but because of the future!" He turned to Danner: "You want me to apply them to Bush. I'm not going to do it." He turned back to the audience, full of people who decades ago fought him with everything they had. "YOU APPLY THEM TO BUSH."

News Intrudes (Noise Annoys) 

Bombs in Basra.

You oughtta go read that Voice article if you're up.

Whadya Want From Me, I'm Up To My Ass In Essay-Plagiarizing This Week 

French translation = funny:


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

In Which I Joke About Death Squads 

Atrios shows us the weirdest old queen to ever be wrongly appointed to a diplomatic post:

The man is clearly a Batman villain.

The Negroponce:
"So, Batman, you defeated the Riddler's maniacal mechanical seltzer-bottle, but will you be able to defeat my... Honduran death squads?! (psychopathic laughter, orchestra hit)

Sunday, April 18, 2004

You Shoulda Seen Mailer's "Goofy" Book 

"He is in danger," John Updike wrote in the introduction to a book of Mickey art that Disney published in 1991, "of seeming not merely venerable kitsch but part of the great trash problem, one more piece of visual litter being moved back and forth by the bulldozers of consumerism."

The New York Times (perhaps inadvertently) demonstrates why Mickey's copyright should have expired when the little rat turned 75 (hell, it shoulda expired the day Ub Iwerks left for the great Steamboat in the sky).

Who is the author or creator that the copyright law protects in cases like this? Anyone who had anything to do with the creation of the damned icon is dead dead dead. The copyright is a license to make money and stifle artistic freedom. The day we repeal the law making corporations "people" and given them eternal rights to ideas is the day Mickey becomes an interesting character again.

What's the matter, Disney? You scared you'll stop making so much cash? What the hell happened to "competition," you corporatist free-market worshiping bastards???

We have a duty as patriotic citizens to ignore copyright law whenever and wherever it is abused. Do it fer these guys.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I Wrote a Really Kick-Ass Personal Statement About How No One In Admissions Reads the Personal Statements 

How I Spent Summer Vacation: At Getting-Into-College Camp:
Brighton's nine-day $2,295 program at the University of California, Los Angeles and Tufts is the shortest and least expensive of the three. The June session at U.C.L.A. is nearly full, though there are still plenty of openings in the August sessions both at the California campus and Tufts.

All three programs include preparation for the SAT, writing essays and guidance on college selection, interview tips and college visits. The Musiker program — $2,899 for 12 days at Northeastern University or Georgetown, offered in partnership with The Princeton Review — includes more college visits than the others. Bob Musiker, an executive director, said about 120 students had enrolled so far for 200 openings.


"When student and faculty activists struggle for cultural diversity, they are in large part battling over what skin color the rich kids should have."
-Walter Benn Michaels, University of Illinois, Chicago


"America is a nation of B and C students. But let's keep it fucking real, OK? A black C student can't run no fucking company. A black C student can't even be the manager of Burger King. Meanwhile, a white C student just happens to be the president of the United States of America!"
-Chris Rock

Friday, April 16, 2004

National Commission On Those Who Trespass Against the United States 

Kind of odd Washington Post article:

Her eyes peered out from behind small, wire-rimmed glasses. How frustrating it must be for Reno to have this necessary accessory perched there in the middle of her face. She has done her best to make her glasses disappear. The rims are almost invisible. The style is the sort covered in full by the typical health insurance policy -- functional, reliable, and free from fashion's costly and distracting influence.

Janet Reno was now wearing only brief white panties. She had signaled her desire by removing her shirt and skirt, and by leaning back on the couch. She closed her eyes, concentrating on nothing but Keane's tongue and lips. He gently teased her by licking the areas around her most sensitive erogenous zone. Then he slipped her panties down her legs and, within seconds, his tongue was inside her, moving rapidly.

(c/o Pandagon)

The Liberals Who Control Academia Must Be Different From the Liberals Who Control Organized Labor 

NYU Students:

Barring a miracle, there will be a strike on Tuesday. Some of your professors are almost certainly adjuncts. Support them.

Why Hitchens Doesn't Matter 

Studs Terkel out-condescends Chris Hitchens. You must read it.

Basically, Hitchens is catty about Gore Vidal (who, as James Wolcott posits in this review, has become the unlikely erudite spokesman for the postmodern progressive movement), and Studs calls him on his pettiness in classic turnabout=fair-play form:

He was in Chicago in re his excellent Kissinger book. During those blurry moments at my house, and very delightful they were, he confided that in some quarters he was regarded as the successor to Gore Vidal as America's preeminent man of letters. I've a hunch that Vidal may have a comment on that, especially now.
My point is a simple one: vanity. It's probably the least of our seven deadly sins; all of us have a touch of it, more or less. In some cases, more than less. Saddam Hussein is not the subject of this note; nor the nature of our approach toward the mass murderer. Chris has his opinion; The Nation's editors have theirs. It is the manner in which he has behaved toward those who differ with him: his ad hominem assaults on their intelligence and integrity. It is his vulgarity of language, so unlike the guy I knew, that knocked me for a loop.
I have always admired Hitchens's insights, elegance of style and sharpness of wit. I still do. But the turn he has taken - the sharp one - is more in the direction of Becky than of Orwell. I'm afraid that his psyche is now more possessed of vanity than of fairness.

The money-shot of the letter is its post-script, which is withering in its dismissal of pseudo-intellectual posturing by America's favorite drunken blowhard.

In Hitchens' defense, I'm always in favor of catty, bitchy public debate. And his Kissinger book is required reading. But I know Gore Vidal. Gore Vidal is a friend of Studs Terkel. And you, sir, are no Gore Vidal.

Here is Chris' response. He attempts the same tone of nonchalant dismissal, but falls short. Oh, how the almost-mighty have fallen.

I Used to Be Dead But Now I'm Gay 

Greatest article ever:
Hayes said: "I asked him how come you didn't do the right thing, and he said, `It's because you're a Moonie and I don't want to work with you.' Then, he started saying, `Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie, Moonie.'"

Lawlor recalled saying only "Moonie, Moonie, Moonie."

(via Atrios, as usual)

If you're a crazy ex-homosexual (or a sane current one) arguing with a crazy moonie (moonie moonie), here's some ammunition (and here, thanks to the tireless John Gorenfeld) that might be a bit more effective than an Indian Burn.

Tain't No Zinn 

Howard Zinn on "Majority Report" right now.

Gotta admit, this show's been a lot smarter than I thought it would be. Still not great radio, but they're not NPR pussies.

Could We Do This to Marty Beckerman? 

Lamb: Inmate Writing Erased
Prison officials destroyed computer files containing inmates' personal writing days after a prisoner won a national writing award, best-selling author Wally Lamb said.

Lamb, who teaches a creative writing workshop at the York Correctional Facility in East Lyme, said Wednesday that 15 women inmates lost up to five years of work when officials at the prison's school ordered all hard drives used for the class erased and its computer disks turned over.
Department of Correction Commissioner Theresa Lantz halted the writing program March 29 after learning that inmate Barbara Parsons Lane had won a $25,000 PEN American Center prize for her work on the 2003 book "Couldn't Keep It To Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters."

It's about time they cracked down on those damn rehabilitory prison programs. I hear Theresa Lantz really did it because of the devastating review Lane gave Lantz's fictionalized memoir in The New Republic. Called it "self-aggrandizing pabulum" (and took some shots at Elizabeth Wurtzel, for some reason).

The truth, as usual, is simply too depressing:
In January of 2003, just days before Couldn't Keep It To Myself was due to be released, the Connecticut Attorney General's office began summoning the book's contributors to appear before Superior Court. It was only then that the writers - both those still incarcerated and those who had served their sentences and been released - learned they were being billed, at the rate of approximately $117.00 per day, for the cost of their imprisonment. Because none of the women had written directly about their crimes, this was not a case of a state trying to apply so-called "Son of Sam" laws; rather, the Attorney General argued it was seeking the monies under Connecticut's vaguely-worded and rarely-applied "Cost of Incarceration" laws on the theory that the state sponsored the writing workshop. The State of Connecticut also sued Harper Collins Publishers for having reserved royalties of approximately $5,600 for each of the women. As one of the longest-serving inmates in the group, Lane received a demand for $339,505.00.
Nearly a year after they were initiated, the State of Connecticut's lawsuits against the women and Harper Collins are still pending. Last June, PEN wrote to the Connecticut Attorney General to protest the state's effort to recover the women's share of the book proceeds, noting that although the law presumably permits the state to attempt to recover the cost of incarceration from any inmate who earns any income whatsoever, it has been applied extremely selectively: of tens of thousands of men and women who have served terms in Connecticut since the law went into effect, only 15 have been the subject of cost-of-incarceration actions - 7 who were targeted following significant financial windfalls, and 8 of the women whose writings appear in Couldn't Keep It To Myself.

Bravo, Connecticut. Way to validate my destructive, useless cynicism.

Somebody, Somewhere, Find a Cool Conservative! 

I read articles like this every so often, and I tell ya, they don't do a lot for the "hip conservative" meme. This particular one seems to have been built specifically as a strawman for lazy leftists to bat around in an unread blog, but I'm not particularly interested in this column specifically as in the bizarre reasoning behind it.

Don't even bother going to read it, I'll summarize: Star Trek is a validation of early-21st century American conservative/capitalist dogma.

This is a topic the ever-cute Jonah Goldberg returns to every now and then, and I gotta say, there's something a little... a little... off about their claiming a classic of campy tv sci-fi for their causes.

Oh yeah, that's right -- Star Trek takes place in a Socialist Utopia.
There is no money. There is a surplus of every good imaginable. There is a world government on Earth. Their "military" is a scientific and exploratory force. They fight empires. Did I mention that there's no money?

And another thing, guys -- the fact that you watch "South Park" and "Star Trek" and read comic books and see zombie movies and have fun in college with the Young Republicans does not mean that you are "hip" and "cool" conservatives. That means you are geeks. I'm not hating on geeks, as my analysis of the politics of Star Trek demonstrates my own credentials, but I am flat-out saying that there are no "cool Republicans," except maybe Neil Young for a little while, but he's gone back to being more bleeding-heart than me even.

Everyone -- try to come up with some "cool conservatives," and if you prove me wrong, I'll buy you a drink and we'll watch Star Trek VI, in which the Cold War ends in making peace with the "evil empire," who turn out to be very nice, if a little harsh. Remember the villains in that one, Jonah? The hawkish cold-warriors of the Federation.

Some criteria for my "find the kool konservative kontest":
a) Americans only -- Brits have completely different standards about these things.
b) No Vince Gallo, as he is a douche, the general good-ness of Buffallo 66 aside.
c) late 20th-century through the present, please
d) No "cool by association" (e.g. Pat Buchanan was friends with Hunter Thompson!)
e) independents and libertarians are iffy, unless they are Republicans In All But Name (on record as supporting Bush, for example)
f) No Dennis Hopper, as he has not been cool for some time.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Al-Qaeda Promises Not to Kill Brian Cox 

So, this last week we've learned something very important:

you can negotiate with terrorists.

Though it does help to bring in other terrorists, to aid in the negotiation.

Wait a second -- we can't let Iran help with Iraq! If they have a few drinks and start reminiscing about the old days, they'll find out about Reagan's hilarious scheme to support both sides of their War!

That will undermine the credibility of our mission! They may stop greeting us with open arms! What if Muammar Qadhafi hears about it and flies another airplane into Scotland! Beloved character actor Brian Cox would be killed! And he's not finished filming his role as Ward Abbott in the upcoming film The Bourne Supremacy!

I Have Freed You All In My Blog 

It's five in the fucking morning, and I haven't slept and I won't tonight so let's fucking blog!

First-off: if you haven't seen this you absolutely fucking have to (pops up, asshole, so watch out).

I had some post a while back where I bemoaned the use of cultural icons of rebellion appearing in commercials, but fuck that -- this is so weird that it has to be enjoyed and loved by all, especially people who have no idea who that weird skinny old guy in the Vincent Price mustache is.

But we're living in a world where Dennis Hopper is stumping for Bush, so all bets are fucking off tonight!

Secondly, my buddy Ross is kind enough to review The Price of Loyalty so you don't have to:

I finished reading Suskind/O'Neill's "The Price of Loyalty" last night. It's got a few of those annoying literary devices that have become so popular with non-fiction writers these days: dramatic language, baseless suppositions about people's inner thoughts, ass-kissing, and just general bullshit. But not very much, really. It is literature, after all. For the most part it is very straight forward and based in fact. It's biased towards making Paul O'Neill look like a great guy, but since Paul O'Neill's greatness is itself based on transparency, objectivity, and honesty, it's not an overwhelming bias. All in all, it's definitely worth reading. It's horrifying, but in a wonky sort of way, and not in bits and pieces. You'd have to read at least a few pages if not an entire chapter to understand how frightening this Administration is, at least from O'Neill's point of view.
I think one of the scariest things is the fact that O' Neill's past experiences in government were under Nixon and Ford, and how badly Bush fares in comparison with them. It sounds like, unless Bush trusts you, he won't listen to you. And he only trusts maybe half a dozen people. He's not powerless, but he's so distrustful of everyone and everything except his tiny little cabal of advisors that they can basically get him to do whatever they want by controlling what information he receives. He's incredibly paranoid and trusting at the same time...if he trusts these people to tell him what's going on in the world, but he doesn't trust newspapers? How dumb can you be? If WaPo can lie to you, why not Karl Rove?
I was impressed that, when Bush fired O'Neill, O'Neill just said "They fired me." None of that "I want to spend more time with my family" bullshit.

Oh, and there's some misty-eyed stuff about poor people in Africa dying of Bono, or something, but not much.

(sorry, ross -- I didn't exactly have your blessing to post this, but it's too good to waste on me)

Thirdly, here's an ancient Roman joke:
An egghead was on a sea voyage when a big storm blew up, causing his slaves to weep in terror. ‘Don’t cry,’ he consoled them, ‘I have freed you all in my will.'

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Wasting Time 

The Times Op-Ed Editor must have quite a laugh every couple days when Baghdad Brooks and Paul Krugman appear together on the same page.

Paul K. comes out with another factually precise, well-sourced, reasonable column.

David, of course, reasons with groundless generalizations, per usual, but at least today there are some proper names and mentions something approaching an actual date.

This is the meat of his argument:
If you follow the 9/11 commission, you find yourself in a crowd of Shultzians. The critics savage the Clinton and Bush administrations for not moving aggressively enough against terror. Al Qaeda facilities should have been dismantled before 9/11, the critics say.

Then you look at the debate over Iraq and suddenly you see the same second-guessers posing as Weinbergerians. The U.S. should have been more cautious. We should have had concrete evidence about W.M.D.'s before invading Iraq.

Step back and you see millions of people who will pick up any stick they can to beat the administration. They're perfectly aware of the cruel uncertainties that confront policy makers, but, opportunistically, they ignore them.

...I don't know where to start.

Dave, the difference is that there was "concrete evidence" that Al-Qaeda posed a threat. And that Iraq didn't. So they lied about Iraq. Can you say that without the coded, guarded language? Go on -- try it. It'll feel better.

Also -- we don't fault the Bush administration for not being aggressive enough in fighting Al-Qaeda. We fault them for not doing a goddam thing.

Look, David: They aggressively went after the one everyone knew wasn't a threat and completly ignored the one that everyone with any sense said should be their number one priority. Is that clear?

Despite my best efforts, I don't think I'm drunk enough to talk at David Brooks' level.

Two decades and a national tragedy later, it is hard to find anybody that consistent [as Caspar Weinberger and George Shultz]

Actually, I agree with Brooks 100% on this one. Very few people are as consistently evil as Reagan's cabinet.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

You Are Possessed by the Spirits of Aliens Murdered 75,000,000 Years Ago by "Xenu." You Have to Exorcise These Spirits, at a Very High Cost Per Alien 

"I also used one of L. Ron Hubbard's discoveries in the field of study in a Muppet Babies episode I wrote."

The Baffled King 

Like Scout at and then..., I'm having a bit of trouble trying to square this quote from the President:
Bush said the document contained "nothing about an attack on America."
with, you know, uh... reality. I guess I made the mistake of living on the plane of existence in which the title of the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing was Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the U.S..

Also, in my world, the PDB said this:
F.B.I. information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

Er... I guess that must have referred to that New York that isn't in America. Or maybe the phrases "suspicious activity" and "preparations for hijackings" are bureaucratic jargon that don't actually mean "an attack."

Or maybe the president is a really lousy liar, facing a press that never challenges his blatantly false statements.

Have a Very Happy Easter on the Road Map to Excitement.

I Hate How Commercial Passover Has Become 

So Blogger was down yesterday, and then my school's network crashed, leaving me without internet access, so there's a bit of a post backlog. These things below should've been posted yesterday, and now they've lost all relevance and meaning, so you may as well not read them and delete me from your blogroll for incompetence.

Sorry about that. More stuff later, on all the goings-on that have gone on while I've been sleeping, worshipping chocolate egg-laying rabbits, and eating delicious hash browns.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Happy Holy Week, Let's Bury Some News 

The Times provides us with a handy chart to document our impressive progress in bringing democracy to a grateful Iraq.

Do you think Baghdad David Brooks was allowed to see it before he wrote his column?

The August 6 PDB is out, very lightly redacted. Still no full transcript that I can find.

Wait, here we go.

Nothing we don't already know, but it's still pretty fucking damning.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ---- service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

Jesus Christ, why couldn't anyone put 2 and 2 together?

Bush went on vacation the next day. Despite very specific warnings of hijackings, Al-Qaeda operatives in the US, and surveillance of New York buildings.

And the fact that they refused to release it for so long, stonewalling and invoking imaginary standards and privileges, spending so much time being so goddam defensive over this one briefing... well, what do they have to hide?

Let's just make sure the media get the story right on this. It does not let anyone off the hook -- if it did, they would have released it months (or years) ago.

FDR Spent Much Less Than 40% Of His Presidency On Vacation, But He Was a Cripple 

Roger Ailes and Atrios want to put an end once for for all to all these WWII comparisons. A few rather uninformed conservatives continue to bitch about the 9/11 and Iraq Intelligence commissions on the grounds that no such commissions were set up to investigate the intelligence failure that led to Pearl Harbor.

Well, in the world of actual historical fact and easily researched public record, we learn that there was such a commission. Oops.

But it's a lousy comparison anyway. In that case, we had an expansionist country allied with an even more expansionist country that was waging war on all our allies in Europe, instead of an isolated dictatorship with no real military or ability to attack any of its neighbors, let alone the US of A. And the intelligence failure was a little more understandable, considering we weren't operating a permanent wartime economy at the time, and there was no ridiculously well-funded NSA, CIA, or FBI to gather all the relevant information. And FDR didn't read to a classroom full of children for a half-hour after the attack commenced. And, he actually declared war on the country that attacked us, despite the fact that everyone'd really been itching to kick the Soviet Union's ass instead.

And Roosevelt didn't recieve a damning intelligence briefing like the one I'm being told is going to be "released" in a few minutes (heavily redacted and edited, obviously).

So -- the Pearl Harbor comparison is pretty moot, in regard to either 9/11 or Iraq. Pretty very moot. In its stead, I'd like to recommend a new meme: Tonkin Gulf. You know, the "attack" on American by a foreign power that turned out to be made up, or at least highly dubious? That gave us a justification for a war all the hawks had wanted to escalate to begin with? That established that it is not only allowed to criticize a "wartime president," but also highly essential to the functioning of a democracy?

Or how about "Remember the Maine!"

You know, Judith Miller would have made a fine journalist for the old Hearst papers. "You provide the intelligence, I'll provide the war."

Cheer Up! Ignore Iraq and Listen to Beatallica 

Iraq is probably even worse than the major media are telling us (though some reports seem a little better informed than others), and it remains to be seen if
a) this is a sustained, para-military effort that will continue or intensify
b) the current level of violence will subside
c) "terrorist" organizations are being formed as we speak (and occupy)
d) the Iraqi police and "civil defense corps" will turn against us
e) the "insurgents" are simply a small group of Iran-funded trouble-makers

David Brooks, who I don't think actually reads the newspaper he writes for, tells us everything is absolutely fine, and we should get back to feeling bad about living in Blue States and looking down on people from Kansas.
Meanwhile, in reality, people are divided primarily over whether this is Lebanon, Vietnam, or the West Bank.

Kerry is being rightly criticized for not being forceful enough in his Iraq talk, but he's in a tough position because the bastard voted for the war despite being smart enough to know it was a huge mistake orchestrated by people with no concept of how to wage a war, let alone occupy an unfriendly nation full of contentious ethnic/religious groups, violent history, and a great deal of admiration for martyrdom against foreigners. He has to come out and say, over and over again, that the situation is even worse than we're being told, and it's being run ineptly. He can't simply call on the UN and the importance of an international coalition, no matter how reasonable that sounds. He has to explain that we're up against, not a few angry wackos with kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, but an organized resistance that is getting more organized every damn day, and the longer we fuck up the reconstruction of the country, the more general support it will receive. He has to appeal to the military families and their supporters -- they know their kids aren't coming home, that more will be sent, that we're spread thin, that morale is down, that they're underpaid, and that civilian cold-warrior chicken-hawks with no concept of how to run a war are still in charge, despite the absolute worst pre-war planning in modern history (despite having had a dozen or so years in which to fixate on it). He has to get fucking vicious, because these people cannot be left in charge.

Now we're getting a hostage crisis, which, if things go even further shit-ward, should make for a nice October Surprise (though it'll have to take a number -- assasination attempts, Reagan's death, Bin Laden's capture, and another terrorist attack should make for a very busy autumn). Knowing the M.O. of the kids in charge of the candy store, they'll probably offer to sell arms to the insurgents in return for the hostages, then funnel the money to whatever anti-democratic right-wing military Latin American "rebels" they're currently starry-eyed over. It'd tie in nicely with the Death of Reagan retrospectives. Symmetry, sort of. They've won it for the Gipper, after all these years.

And the best part is, Ronnie's estate won't be taxed when it's not passed on to his estranged, embittered children.

Fun With Juxtaposition 

Terrifying, soul-destroying fun:

Bush Catches Bass With Crew From TV Show
President Bush skipped a second round of fishing in his ranch pond Saturday with a crew from an outdoors show, though his performance the day before was something to brag about.

"He took the biggest one of the day,'' a bass nearly four pounds, said Roland Martin, host of the Outdoor Life Network program, "Fishing with Roland Martin.''
At about 5:30 p.m., Bush looked at his watch and said he had time to "make a couple casts, so we jumped into the boat real quick.''

Iraq didn't come up. "He didn't really talk about politics at all,'' Martin said. "He was just relieved to have a minute to fish.''

The TV host said Bush is "a very accomplished fisherman. He handled the tackle really well and caught three fish,'' Martin said. "He complains he doesn't fish there enough; so he misses that a lot.''

They floated on the pond for about 1 1/2 hours. White House aides told Martin that "things were kind of calmed down'' in Iraq and that prospects were good for another session Saturday.
-The Associated Press

Turmoil in Iraq Jangles Nerves in Allied Capitals, and Bush Works to Shore Up Support
London, April 9 - With their troops threatened and their citizens in Iraq facing kidnapping and worse, allied governments displayed a mix of resolve and unease on Friday as images of the turmoil seemed to encourage their opponents at home.

Even in Britain, the staunchest United States ally with the biggest contingent of non-American troops in Iraq, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, acknowledged in a radio interview that "there is no doubt that the current situation is very serious and it is the most serious that we have faced."
Significantly, Mr. Straw countered suggestions from the Bush administration's supporters in Washington that the sudden spike in violence, drawing in both the Sunni minority and the Shiite majority, had been provoked by small numbers of opponents of the United States-led occupation or non-Iraqi Muslim fighters.

"It is plainly the fact today that there are larger numbers of people, and they are people on the ground, Iraqis, not foreign fighters, who are engaged in this insurgency," he said. "The lid of the pressure cooker has come off, and some of the tensions and pressures which were there and would have come out in any event have to a degree been directed toward the coalition."
-Alan Cowell, New York Times

The Fall At the Knitting Factory 

I tell ya, you haven't lived 'till you've seen Mark Egbert Smith singing "Walk Like a Man." Or, as he interpreted it,
Walk like a may-anhh! Taaah lah a may-ahh! Waaah laaaahh mahhh mahh saaaahh!

Still time to see 'em tonight, if you're in the Hoboken area.

Bush's Support For Plutocracy Thrills Plutocrats 

Why is this a story and not, say, DeLay's Support For Bush Terrifies Everyone? Or Oil Industy's Support For Bush Sure Explains A Lot?

Friday, April 09, 2004

Someone Gets It 

When student and faculty activists struggle for cultural diversity, they are in large part battling over what skin color the rich kids should have.

Government-Mandated Problem-Ignoring 

Does this article remind anyone else of this one?

I've Been Asleep For 14 Hours, Don't Expect Too Much Insight Today 

The discourse is not only polluted, but it's hilarious!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Remember: The Alamo Opens Friday 

Is this a fucking joke?

"Defense analyst" at the Pentagon Thomas P.M. Barnett wrote the new book The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century:
"The United States will admit new members to its union in coming decades, and these will come first from the Western Hemisphere, but over time from outside as well," he writes. "By 2050 the United States could include a dozen more states. The first president of Mexican heritage will be elected directly from a Mexico state."

They're not only openly advocating Empire, but nonchalantly threatening to annex Mexico?

When the Edge Moved to the Middle 

Thurston in the Times. Go, read. I promise this is the only Kurt-related article it is even necessary to look at.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

They Could Spice Things Up By Inviting Sean Penn To Call In and Force Tim To Admit To Killing His Daughter
or, Long Title, Pointless Joke

The problem with Air America summed up in one 30 second segue:

Garofalofalofalfalfoalfolalfoflaofo's show just used Yo La Tengo as bumper music. "Our Way to Fall."

They are following that with an interview with the oh-so-sleepy Tim Robbins.

Tin Soldiers, and Bush Ain't Coming Clean 

If this is true... well, it's the worst news possible for the occupying force.

But I doubt it. I think the more likely scenario, especially considering some of the stuff Josh Marshall's been posting today, is an all-out civil war the minute power is transferred.

Which is why power will not be transferred. They will declare it transferred on July 1st, Ahmed Chalabi will get to sit in the comfy chair, but our military presence will remain the same, if not bigger, unless we want a civil war. And, as we learned yesterday from Tim LaHaye, maybe they do.

It's a fucking mess over there. And it will spread.

And what the hell is going on here? Reuters says 130 "total deaths" over the last three days, but even that sounds like a hell of a lot. Are they counting both sides? In America, Reuters, we only count American deaths. Lousy French wire service.

Why the hell are we there again?

Hey -- here's some good news: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi still has two legs. At least there's that.

"No, that's bad. That means he didn't get a leg amputated in Iraq, which apparently was a major pillar in the campaign to link Al-Quaeda to Iraq."

"Oh. That's bad."

"No, that's good! That means you were right all along!"

"Oh, that's good."

No, that's bad. That means all the violence and horrible deaths in Iraq over the past year meant nothing."

"Oh. That's bad."

"No, that's good! That means the whole thing is now an absurd, existential theatre piece!"

"Go away, please."

...so this means they lied about how many legs a guy has as a justification for war. Let me repeat that in italics for emphasis:

Just wanted to make sure we're all on the same page here.

Writing In the Margin of Error 

I don't want to hear any more fucking polls, and I don't want to hear any more "conventional wisdom."

"Conventional wisdom" has it that the incumbent will either win or not win. Let's not forget that massive corruption and general evil didn't stop Reagan and Nixon, but let's not forget either that Bush I didn't win and Bush II never won to begin with. Let's not forget that we don't fucking know what we're talking about.

One State Two State Red State Blue State 

Tom Tomorrow hits the nail on the head -- Brooks is nothing more than a bad comedian.

Of course, if Tom was from a Red State, he'd use some sort of gasoline-powered motorized auto-hammer to hit that nail, but instead he just mows his big anti-lawn with one of them hippie push-mowers, all the while listening to Arlo Guthrie. Also, George Soros gives him money for no reason, because he is from a Blue State and looks down on Kansas. Don't pay any attention to the Midwest's rich, storied history of progressive politics and economic populism, nor how their current swing towards social conservativism is destroying them economically. And whatever you do, don't read Thomas Frank's fantastic essay about Kansas in this month's Harper's.

The Soros jokes confuse me a little bit... we have one billionaire willing to throw his money around for our causes.

They have... well, all the other billionaires besides Ted Turner and Mrs. John Kerry.

But man, we got Barbara fucking Streisand!

I'm hoping to get my own gig on the op-ed page, now that I can see how easy it is. I have a real insightful piece about how black people be walkin' diff'rent from white people.

He Got an A-, You Know 


Monday, April 05, 2004

His Second Act Was to Retroactively Cover Up the My Lai Massacre 

Wishful Thinking
The president fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week, but more on that later. The day is last Tuesday. The situation: a secret terrorist-attack drill in Washington. Chechen terrorists have seized Russian nukes and fired them at Washington, New York, and Chicago. President Bush is killed. The veep, traveling in Russia, is presumed dead. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the next in line, balks at the top job, bringing us to Secretary of State Colin Powell, played by a fellow top official. He's helicoptered to a remote location to huddle with others playing Rumsfeld, the attorney general, and the treasury and housing secretaries. After landing, Powell is sworn in as president. He then looks over the 40 other officials in the drill and barks out an order: "My first act is to fire Donald Rumsfeld." Look out, Rummy--we hear that even the Pentagon folks in the drill laughed at that one.

-U.S. News and World Report, c/o Wonkette

Somewhere Up There, an Unscrupulous Newspaper Tycoon Is Smiling 

Pulitzers Announced. I'll save you the trouble: I didn't win, but the Soviet Union did.

If the Assholes Are Ascending, I Hope I'm Left Behind 

Today's poll numbers are pretty incredible. Atrios has a short summary. Basically, Bush is down across the board.

The Pew summary includes this line:
"Public support for war in Iraq has been unaffected by the murders and desecration of the corpses of American citizens in Falluja."

How could they tell? The big news in Iraq over the weekend was Falluja, and the numbers fell accordingly. It may just be badly worded -- people's support for the original war as first presented to them is unchanged, perhaps. But everyone is taking a "you broke it, you bought it" approach. It's becoming clear that Bush doesn't know how the hell to occupy an unfriendly nation -- meaning, of course, that he shouldn't have occupied it in the first place, but it's too late for that now. Kerry needs to start telling us in clear, unmistakable language that he can fix that fucking mess.

I don't think he can, really -- and I'm not advocating a Nixonian "secret plan to end the war" -- but he needs to explain that Bush's plan is to cut and run after June, and Kerry is actually interested in rebuilding the fucking country and making sure it's stable.

But Jesus Christ, it's a mess.

And speaking of Jesus Christ and messes, am I the only one who read this Rolling Stone article explaining the Christian Fundamentalist view of the Iraqi Debacle? It may interest a few swing voters to know that some of the crazier folk with direct access to the president wanted the situation there to become a shitstorm because it increases the chances of a huge fucking war against Isreal, thus bringing on the endtimes.

(c/o the comeback kid, Neal Pollack. I don't miss the old character, Neal.)

I'm Also Not a Crook 

Considering 9 or 10 kids from my school were recently sued by the RIAA, I ought to study this article pretty closely, in case I'm ever called on to defend my right to listen to Dangermouse.

The conclusion reached by the economists has always been pretty apparent to me: people who download music clearly have a bit of disposable income, as they have high-speed internet connections and computers with lots of extra space for thousands upon thousands of Phish bootlegs. They are also generally young, and generally music fans. Young people with disposable income who are music fans will buy more cds than old broke deaf people, which, as I understand it, is the alternative to being a person exactly like me. These are people to tend not to understand why Apple Jacks don't taste like Apples.

But now there's proof, so I can justify theft once again.

I'm a Marketing Genius 

Kerry's new attack talking point is that Bush is a "borrow-and-spend" president, and that this is bad.

Well, we're a borrow-and-spend country, so I don't know how effective this will be. After all, Bush could just get another credit card with a temporarily lower rate to pay off the national debt, right? I mean, he's pre-approved, and there's no credit check necessary (which is great, 'cause I'm not saying the guy's a risk, but let's just say some Harken shareholders might want to exchange a few words with him).

I think Kerry's message should be much simpler: THE FIRST NET LOSS OF JOBS SINCE HOOVER!

Then he should explain that Hoover was the president from 1929-1932, and he responded to the market crash by saying that, as his official biography puts it, "he would cut taxes and expand public works spending." Which didn't work. Though he did keep the budget balanced.

Bush's response to a recession, of course, is to cut taxes and start two wars. Which is a little more irresponsible.

Though I think an equally effective campaign move would be TV ads in every market showing a montage of Cheney sneering, Condi Rice seething with rage, and that cadre of old white men watching their ward sign the Ban On Made-Up Pseudo-Medical Sounding Abortion Process Thing. Darth Vader's Theme from Star Wars plays.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The War For Independence 

Wal-Mart appears to be trying to become a soverign state.

We're all fuckin' doomed.

Okrent Control 

My actual email to Okrent (and the editor of the magazine), which is a bit more reasonable:

Dear Mr. Okrent --

I realize you've been getting a lot of complaints about columnist accuracy lately, and most of that is simply a partisan mud-fight, but I hope you've had the chance to actually look at the more reasoned critics, from both the left and right, as their criticisms of the columnists ability to write "the truth" as opposed to a "wrong-headed" opinion comes to be much more important when columnists write for another section of the paper.

I'm referring to this Sunday's Times Magazine feature by David Brooks. I'll tell you now (so you can safely disregard this email as yet another left-wing whine) that I disagree with his politics. But the man's politics have nothing to do with his ability as a Journalist or a Social Critic, two things I think he is very bad at.

Mr. Brooks is a lazy writer. I'm sure you've been emailed this link a thousand times, but this article in Philadelphia Magazine points out a few examples of laziness in his previous work.

There aren't any lies in Mr. Brooks' "Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopia." There are no misrepresentations of facts, because there are simply no facts in it. There are about four statistics, but other than that, he never bothers to tell us where, exactly, he picks up all the information he relates in such an authoritative, Sociological tone.

How, for example, does he know this:
"For example, if you are driving across the northern band of the country -- especially in Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin or Oregon -- you are likely to stumble across a crunchy suburb. These are places with meat-free food co-ops, pottery galleries, sandal shops (because people with progressive politics have a strange penchant for toe exhibitionism). Not many people in these places know much about the for-profit sector of the economy, but they do build wonderful all-wood playgrounds for their kids, who tend to have names like Milo and Mandela. You know you're in a crunchy suburb because you see the anti-lawns, which declare just how fervently crunchy suburbanites reject the soul-destroying standards of conventional success. Anti-lawns look like regular lawns with eating disorders. Some are bare patches of dirt, others are scraggly spreads of ragged, weedlike vegetation, the horticultural version of a grunge rocker's face."

And, for that matter, what suburb is this? Has he driven through it? Does he know these wacky, rich hippies? I mean, besides having made them up for his last book?

This is what I mean by lazy writing: generalizations based on confirming stereotypes. "Everyone knows" this group lives like this. "Everyone knows" these people shop at these stores. Brooks' writing often seems to be like the routine of an observational comedian -- "you ever notice how rich liberal doctors only drive the cars of countries that are hostile to our foreign policy?" (that bit of paraphrased wisdom is from the paragraph after the one I quoted)

This kind of thing is perfectly fine in his columns, and even in his books, but the Times Magazine, as an instrument of the Times, shouldn't put forth lazy, un-researched stereotypes as journalism or social critique.

A correction would be pointless. There's nothing to correct, because no facts have been presented. But if you could maybe explain a bit further the policies of the Times Magazine, the standards for publication of a work by a Times staffer, or how the requirements for objectivity differ from the rest of the paper, I would be interested. I think all your readers would be served by a higher burden of proof for articles claiming to explain some (possibly invented) new social phenomena.


Coincidentally, "Screw Them" Is Also the Administration's Foreign Policy Doctrine 

So -- a brouhaha erupted because someone had the temerity to not express the proper, government-mandated level of grieving over the death of some well-armed, well-paid mercenaries.

I already said my opinion on the matter -- Iraqis have a right to be pissed off, but the brutality of the actual act was astounding, and I cannot condone it, as a person who is almost invariably against killing people when there are options presented that don't involve killing people.

But jesus, everybody -- these were, after all, fucking mercenaries. A private army brought in to... wait, why the fuck do we have mercenaries in Iraq?

Is this why we can't afford to pay our real troops a reasonable amount or provide them with body armor or stop them from killing themselves -- because we're spending millions on Pinkerton Police with Soldier of Fortune subscriptions?

Jesus. Screw the Pentagon.
...er, Kos can't be reached right now. Try back later, I guess.
UPDATE!!!!!: Interesting take on the whole thing at The Blogging of the President

David Brooks: "My Sprawling, Supersize Ego" 

Dear Daniel Okrent --

You've told us that it doesn't matter if Op-Ed contributers make shit up, because it is their opinion, and William Safire says opinions can't be wrong.

But if you're going to let David "Make Shit Up" Brooks write a magazine feature, why not encourage him to include some actual, verifiable information in said feature.

No -- it's just more making shit up and name-checking chain stores, spewing out your vast recieved widsom in a smarmy, authoritive voice, invoking all sorts of hypthetical Regular Folk to inhabit your completly invented fantasy-land of Our Town, shifted to "exurbia."

Oh, wait -- you're plugging a fucking book.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Hey, I Remember "Did You Just See Air Force One"-gate! 

Scout at and then... has created a convenient guide to all the current scandals and most egregious lies of the Bush administration currently under investigation.

If you worry that, in lieu of some new allegation of Nixonian Dirty Tricks, an older example of foul play has fallen down the Memory Hole, this is a worth effort at keeping all the balls in the air. Now watch as our piss-poor media jugglers drop them all in favor of explosive stories of John Kerry's Wealth, and the time he voted against that spending package for the Iraq War that, while promising body armor for the troops, still has yet to deliver.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Strange and Terrible Saga of Trademark Violation 

I have to say, The Hell's Angels, while still quite good at intimidation, are much more litigious than I remember.

This could just be the "Finland Chapter," of course.

(fucking pussies)

...you know, the Hell's Angels using their powers of intimidation in the service of Copyright Infringement does make one think of the similar strategies employed by Disney against the Air Pirates, no?

Time May Be Money, But You Won't See Any of It 

Congratulations again to those 308,000 with new jobs. To the rest -- a rewarding and challenging career awaits you!

Randi Rhodes 

Condi Rice Snap-On Devo Hair.


Long, Rambling, Post (I've Had Neither Caffeine Nor Nicotine Today) 

Oh, David Horowitz, you dumb bastard. It's a shame people are paying any attention to you. It's a bigger shame that those people are in the House of Representatives.

This is an interesting article -- David and his ilk will probably take it as evidence of Liberal Bias, but I think it's simply another example of the Times' "establishment" bias. When not doing an investigative or a reporting job, the Times style is (in very Classically Dramatic structure) to present a status quo, introduce a rabble-rouser or attempted reformer, then feature defense from the status quo for a while, and after defending the hell out of the whatever established system is under attack, end on a sort of but maybe he will succeed??? rhetorical note, to drive a little fear into the hearts of Times readers on their way to work for said establishment.

Now -- Horowitz's claims are baseless, his arguments meaningless, but everyone basically agrees that Professors are liberal bastards. Does anyone ever look at why that is? Besides a well-organized Liberal Conspiracy that managed to infiltrate every college and university in the nation from the bottom up but even after controlling the thoughts and education of our nation's youth for 30 years still can't manage to win a congressional election...

Let's look at this logically. There are some people in America today who have a great deal of power despite being in the private sector and being basically unelected. Are these people liberals? I'll give you a hint: No. They are not. Why? Because all the liberals went into academia instead of making billions of dollars and becoming Oil tycoons.

Anti-intellectualism is the strongest driving force behind Horowitz's ability to sell his snake oil, but I'm not making the claim that Conservatives are absent from teaching positions at colleges because they are stupider.

In fact -- conservatives are not absent from teaching positions at colleges -- has Mr. Horowitz ever been to a business school? No -- he focuses his energy on berating the Humanities and Liberal Arts departments. Let's think about that, shall we? The Liberal Arts.

Look -- if you're a young conservative culture warrior kid, don't fucking go into the Cultural Studies department and complain of bias against you. The department you pick is going to dictate the kind of professor you get, and what will be read. Conservatives love the martyr complex (see: that movie where Jesus pecks out some dude's eye for suggesting that maybe the Romans were equally responsible for his death, after all, Pontius Pilate was removed from his position in a few years for excessive brutality and cruelty, he was not a conflicted, weak-willed guy), and will take any chance possible to rail against the Liberal Establishment holding them down. They will use highly-charged civil rights terms because they know it gets a rise from us.

But though they rage and fulminate, they miss the greater point.

As I mentioned earlier -- they're in fucking charge. Academia is filled with liberals because it's the absolute last place in public life where a guy can be a liberal and actually reach people.

Let's say you're that young conservative kid from a few paragraphs ago. You have a lot of money with which to go to college, and you're actually a smart kid, so you can pick any school. Say you pick my school, New York University, which has a reputation (completely unearned) as being one of the most liberal in the country. Well, you're smart and rich, so this school is absolutely perfect for you. Maybe you can date one of the Olsen Twins. Now, when it comes time to pick your major and its subsequent career paths, you have some choices: do you want something that will make you a lot of money, or do you want to be a student for the next 12 years, and then teach until you die?

If you are a conservative, the option where you make a lot of money and get a lot of power will seem more attractive to you, because you have no Liberal qualms about "selling out" or being "part of the problem with this country" or being "a soulless, bloodsucking monster." So, you leave academia behind, and because it's a closed, insular system of academic criticism circle-jerks and meaningless rivalries, it never bothers you again as you become CFO of a company that manufactures mp3-players to be attached to AK-47s. Then one day you read a mass emailing by David Horowitz in which he paints a terrifying picture of your child under attack from Liberal Professors and their reign of unimaginable terror and their great power over the easily molded minds of today's youth. So you lobby your Republican congressmen and Horowitz's fucking manifesto is passed as a non-binding resolution in the House, because you have the real fucking power, not some Comparative Literature professor in Indiana, no matter how many times he assigns kids from Peoria to read Theo Adorno!!!!

Friday, April 02, 2004

Plenty of New Jobs in the Mercenary Sector 

Hey, there were jobs last month! About fuckin' time.

The lefty bloggers are sort of quiet about this today. Josh Marshall notes it in passing, many don't at all. Atrios doesn't have too much to say. So -- they met their projections for the first time ever. Good job, guys. I, personally, won't be surprised if they find that something in the numbers was fudged, but even if not, this still isn't the political slam-dunk people like the Times copy editor are calling it.

As that article notes:
The unemployment rate -- measured through a different household survey rather than company payrolls -- inched up to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent in February. The survey recorded a slight decline of 3,000 jobs driven by a decline of 304,000 in the self-employed, who are not captured in the payroll statistics.

So... in other words, unemployment is up, and there's still been a net loss in jobs so far this year.

Keep in mind also that this "Job Growth Strongest in 4 Years." E.g. -- since Clinton.

And, still, first administration to preside over a net job loss since Hoover.

Still -- congratulations are due to all 300,000 people enjoying their new jobs in the fast-growing service industry. Minimum wage is still $5.15.

Next Big Thing: Ironic Hitler Youth Uniforms 

Williamsburg, Brooklyn Revealed To Be Center of Everything Wrong With World

The image seems mostly a visually compelling logo to those who are buying Che-wear today. "Mao Zedong's is another head we're thinking of," Ms. Manwarring said. "Both of these have become strong pop cultural images; I don't think people want these things on their clothes as a political statement but I think they are drawn to the graphic intensity."


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Smart Host, Unfortunate Radio Name 

Randi Rhodes is a great broadcaster, but she's gotta stop taking calls from lefties who spend their time "deconstructing an hour of CNN" and plug their websites. This will be the downfall of Lib'ruhl radio -- the lib'ruhls.

The righties know enough to mock and abuse their loving followers when the call in.

In fake news, Gawker is full of lies and frauds today. And in addition, they feature wacky April Fool's Pranks!

Some good stuff. Though if you find a satire of Jim Romenesko hilariously pithy, you may be worse off than even I.

Jokes Are Fun 

While this is clever, the author is clearly not familiar with Eno's actual music, merely snippits of his reputation. This is the guy who wrote "Music For Airports," not the Chemical Brothers.

Prophet of Rage, On Your AM Dial 

Chuck fuckin' D is on Air America right now.

No sign of the bomb squad, but the day is young.

'Cause I'm livin' low next to the bass C'mon
Turn up the radio

I Ignore the Important Stuff For Your Entertainment 

I guess blogging has been light the past few days, but I've been busy not doing my schoolwork and drinking gin and tonics, so fuck off.

It was a rather horrible day in International Events today, and I don't care to go into it that far, because my snarky commentary does not do justice to the image of pure hatred on display in Falluja. If you'll notice, the Serious Guys didn't touch it either. I think it was even more important than it seems, because it was a disaster and a tragedy with powerful, simple images that explained everything. The AP video footage and the photo on the bridge are probably the most powerful war-related mass media images since Vietnam. They are complex, though -- while the little girl burned by napalm helped define that war in terms of our own complicity in acts of horrible brutality, this is an event that implicates just about everyone involved in a horrible, negative light. There are no heroes in this story. I think Iraqis of all ethnic groups and political backgrounds have a right to be extremely pissed off at Americans in general, and contractors in particular -- these are the carpetbaggers and the ones doing a half-assed job of repairing the schools and a wonderful job of selling off Iraqi industries and utilities to foreign price-gougers and oligarchs. But jesus christ, the brutality of it... unforgivable. So I refuse to interpret it further and I refuse to simplify it and I refuse to attach it a meaning.

Watch, I'll do the TV anchor tone shit:
On the lighter side, April Fools is upon us and Google has their annual prank up.
NOTE TO THE INTERNET: The "Google Email" story is not a joke or a prank. It is a business venture that they announced at precisely the wrong time for a company with a history of clever April Fool's Day gags.

Fark has some sort of filter that turns half of all comments into Homestar quotes. If you're into that kinda stuff. The main page is also periodically replaced by one in which every bit of text refers to beer. Oh, those funny kids love beer, don't they?

Here's some reading material to keep you occupied.

And, in a truly wacky prank, New York State Legislators pretended to have been late delivering this year's budget for the 20th year in a row. What cards, they are! Oh, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver! What crazy gag will you come up with next?

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