Friday, November 14, 2008

Update: this blog is only MOSTLY dead

No, the blog hasn't died. No, I haven't either. It's a strange thing: I started the blog when the political season was only in its infancy, and Barack Obama was still a crusading young Senator from Illinois and Sarah Palin was still an ignorant rube from Alaska with delusions of grandeur and brain matter that could not fill an ice cube. Ok, so some things haven't changed. That being said, you'd think that if anything would have prompted a frenzy of writing on this blog, it would have been the election. But, actually, no! That did not happen at all. I actually STOPPED writing, mostly because I was reading so many blogs that anything I wrote would have seemed redundant.

So, anyway, I'm hoping that as the political world assumes a more normal stance (that is, a bunch of guys sitting around not getting much done), I'll have more to write about. Until then, cheers. Feel free to email me and shout at me for being really really lazy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

John McCain is guaranteed to vote against ANY bailout bill.

John McCain is a classic Washington insider. The public identifies him as an insider, and he is stuck with that label. For all his "Maverick' image, the man has been a Senator for 25 years, and he wears his Senate title like a jacket. So, in a hail Mary gambit, he is trying to scuttle the negotiations over the bailout package so that he can (a) take credit for "saving taxpayer money," or (b) wind up with a better bill that he can vote against. Did you get that? The better the bill, the MORE LIKELY McCain is to oppose it. Why? Because being one of a small handful of senators to oppose the bill is far better than being one of 40. The fewer people on his team, the more "independent" he thinks he looks. Trust me on this one, Dems. You can labor all day and night to come up with a bill that includes things that both you and the GOP likes (a scenario that is increasingly unlikely), but McCain is guaranteed to vote against it, and then to proclaim in all commercials from now until election day that he voted against it because his maverick nature couldn't allow him to vote against the taxpayers.

This is certain to happen. Literally everything the man does at this point is designed to get him elected. He is absolutely not the slightest bit concerned with fixing the economy. He could not care less. McCain has got it in his head that ANY bailout package must be opposed, so he is going to do what he can to gum up the works, produce more negotiations that he can claim to be influencing, and then ultimately vote against the bailout package. Just watch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interesting: Palin events being cancelled all over the country

Allegedly, Bible Spice is the most popular Republican around, just edging out the ghost of Ronald Reagan for that title. If that's the case, why is the McCain campaign canceling a ton of her events all around the country? And this isn't one trip, this is a whole bunch of them, some in super-important states like Florida and Colorado.

Two cancellations in Florida.

Two in California.

Two in Washington state.

At least one in Colorado.

And one in Wyoming.
Interesting, no?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh Christ, Palin spews yet more incoherent crap about something to do with Wall Street

Here's an insightful answer she provided to notorious hardball interviewer Sean Hannity today. I think we're starting to see why the McCain campaign has kept her under wraps--because she is just not very smart, and because she really has no ideas. Yay, America!

I think that’s significant, but even more significant is the role that the lobbyists play in an issue like this also. And in that cronyism — it’s symptomatic of the grade of problem that we see right now in Washington and that is just that acceptance of the status quo, the politics as usual, the cronyism that has been allowed to be accepted and then it leads us to a position like we are today with so much collapse on Wall Street.
Whaaaaa? It's like someone took a word generator and had it just crank out a few phrases, and then patched them together with an "and" and an "in." It makes no sense at all.

Behold! Palin's first actual answer to a question from the press!

Obviously she is a master speaker and orator in the model of Virgil, William Jennings Bryan, and George W. Bush.

“Disappointed that taxpayers are called upon to bailout another one. Certainly AIG though with the construction bonds that they’re holding and with the insurance that they are holding very, very impactful to Americans so you know the shot that has been called by the Feds it's understandable but very, very disappointing that taxpayers are called upon for another one.”
Yeesh.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

KGW turns website over to moronic readership, hilarity ensues

Two of Portland's local "news" (aka car crash and house fire) websites, KATU (ABC affiliate) and KGW (NBC affiliate) have recently started to allow readers to comment on various news pieces. The informational value of this exercise is nil, unless of course you are interested in a snapshot at the news-viewing demographic, in which case it is simply frightening. To call the readership "conservative" is an understatement. Mostly they seem to be a group of angry, resentful people, content to sit at home and type angry screeds on their computer. Witness, for example, the following bit of hilarity, in which one exciteable reader advocates beating prostitutes WITH A CROWBAR.



Needless to say, this was brought to the attention of KGW some time ago, and it's still up on the site as this is typed. (And, predictably, has received two positive recommendations.) Just keep this in mind the next time you wonder why your local news has a curious rightward slant.

"You'd learn more about the world by lying on the couch and drinking gin out of a bottle than by watching the news."--Garrison Keillor

Monday, September 15, 2008

One of Palin's first acts upon taking office was to install a tanning bed in the governor's mansion, and I am totally not even joking about this.

This is the kind of thing that, if reported about a Democrat, would instantly end the election. They would literally talk about nothing else on FOX for the next 9 years. But Sarah Palin did it, and she eats mooseburgers and chooses life and says funny jokes about how the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull is lipstick, so I guess it's ok.

One of Sarah Palin's first acts upon being elected as governor was to have a tanning bed installed in the governor's mansion. And that is not a joke.

Take it away, official Alaska comment guy!:

The governor did have a tanning bed put in the Governor’s Mansion,” Roger Wetherell, chief communications officer of Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, confirmed to this newspaper. “It was done shortly after she took office [in early 2007] and moved into the mansion.”

Item #389: Things about Brett Favre I believe to be untrue

A website I was visiting today had this ad, and, though I've seen previous versions of it with other notable people (Bill Gates, Al Gore, etc.), the following iteration struck me as especially unlikely.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh snizzap! Can you believe what Obama just said about Palin??!?!?!?!?

What incredible arrogance! Look at what he said, and tell me he wasn't talking about Palin!

I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time.
Except...well, yeah. That was actually something John McCain said last year. D'oh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Lipstick on a Pig": are you KIDDING me with this crap?

It is the very height of irony that a man who recently called Vietnamese people "gooks" is up in arms over a commonly used phrased, trying desperately to link it to some sort of smear attack against women.

What else upsets the delicate sensibilities of John McCain?

1. "A rolling stone gathers no moss." This statement is highly offensive to venerated US magazines and British rock bands.

2. "All boats rise with the tide." Clearly this is a statement hostile to hard-working fishermen, not to mention the entire marine industry.

3. " Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." This statement mocks the hard-working Americans who work the graveyard shift. Why does the Obama think that only fancy 9-5 workers are entitled to wealth?

4. "The early bird catches the worm." The sheer hatred in this phrase for farmers is palpable.

5. "Throw the baby out with the bath water." I guess my only question is why the Obama campaign wants to legalize child abuse??

Monday, September 8, 2008

In a move that surprises absolutely nobody, ABC News' Charles Gibson whores himself out to the McCain/Palin campaign

Much was made over the first part of the weekend of Sarah Palin's refusal to conduct an interview with, uh, anyone following her nomination for the vice presidency. Perhaps feeling the criticism, the GOP put out word that Palin would not consent to any interviews

"until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."
Got that? Deference Not "respect." Not "courtesy." Deference. One almost literally shudders to think of the outcry were Barack Obama to demand that he be treated with "deference" during interviews. The condemnation--and scorn--would be universal. Yet the Republican Party can make that demand, and have it granted.

The lucky recipient of the interview is Charles "Charlie" Gibson of ABC News, who has apparently promised to conduct an interview filled with so many softballs that Jenny Finch would be impressed. Gone will be any pretense of a real "interview"--in its place will be one of those horrible "profile" pieces that will present Gibson as the awestruck outsider interviewing a real, down-home, aw shucks (but Alaskan!) governer, name of Palin. Sarah Palin. There will be no difficult questions, excepting those presented in the form of "how did it make you feel when critics said that __________?"

Here's a short list of moments I absolutely GUARANTEE you will be found in the interview.

1. Gibson and Palin will walk down a street (bonus points if it's kind of Wild West looking, with boards instead of concrete sidewalks), and Gibson will be amazed at how many people Palin knows by name. Double bonus points if they just happen to run into an old teacher, teammate or schoolmate of Palin's.

2. Palin will serve Gibson something "exotic," l like a mooseburger, and he will act as though she's just offered him something imported from Mars.

3. Gibson will conduct an interview with someone who will be called an "opponent" of Palin, yet they will have only nice things to say. Nobody with substantive criticism will be found or interviewed.

4. After all the "families are private!" talk from the GOP, Gibson will have a few moments with Palin's daughter and her daughter's babydaddy, who will take pains to talk about the awesome support they've gotten from the family.

5. Gibson will ride in a (choose one) helicopter or bush plane with Palin over some sort of natural area filled with deer or elk. She will talk about her love of the environment, and he will ask a softball question about oil drilling.

6. As mentioned above, difficult questions will be presented in the form of "how did it make you feel when your critics accused you of _______?"

All in all, Gibson will come across as a starry eyed outsider, mystified by this crazy "Alaska" place, and will come away raving about Palin. It's a slam dunk. He has no shame--he's turned himself into the journalistic equivalent of a hooker, content to let the customer have their way with him so long as he's taken for a ride in a helicopter and given a mooseburger to eat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How the Palin family defines "privacy"

Not wanting to bring unwanted attention to their teenage daughter at a very private and difficult moment in her life, the Palin campaign flies the father of her unborn child to the site of the Republican national convention, where he is met on the tarmac by presidential candidate John McCain.

Okaaaaaaaaaaay.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Palin Resignation Watch: Day 2

When I wrote my (mostly sarcastic) post last night on the ways Sarah Palin could leave the GOP ticket, I never thought the next 18 hours would bring such a crapstorm of controversy. Today we've learned that she's "lawyered up" regarding her role in the "Trooper-gate" scandal in Alaska, that she used to actually RUN Ted Stevens' 527 group, and then the most scandalous news at all, that her 17 year daughter is 5 months pregnant. Now, yes, of course, 17 year olds get pregnant all the time, but the timing of this news could not be worse.

Well, it could not be worse if you want to keep Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket. For those wishing for her to leave the ticket (and I'd use the phrase "withdraw from the ticket" were it not for the fact that the Palin family is apparently unfamiliar with the term "withdraw"), this presents a golden opportunity. She can give a completely self-serving speech in which she laments the "poisonous effect the media has had on my family," complain that the media's misplaced focus will prohibit her from talking about the issues that really matter to Americans, and talk about her need to provide her family with more attention, and, voila, she's off the ticket.

Yesterday I though that the damage wrought by Hurricane Gustav would give her an out, but today I'm back to thinking it's the old "spend more time with my family" routine.

How soon until she leaves the ticket? 1 week? 2 weeks? I could see if happening this Friday were the GOP convention not in full swing. I'd look for her to give an issues-free speech to the convention this week, limp into next week with all this additional baggage, and then drop off the ticket late next week, paving the way for.... well, who?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Question of the day: how will Sarah Palin gracefully drop off of the ticket?

First off, my sincere apologies to my loyal four or five readers who have been waiting what seems like eons for me to update this here blog thing. Once you take what is intended to be a two-week break from blogging, it's really, REALLY easy for that to turn into a month or more. At any rate, here's to what I hope will be an interesting and productive next several months.

The question of the day is how Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will manage to extricate herself from the national ticket without causing undue harm to herself or to "soulmate" John McCain. There are, of course, two options.

The first is the refuge of about-to-be-indicted-on-some-bizarre-sex-charge Republicans everywhere: "I am resigning to spend more time with my family." Palin is (cough, allegedly, cough) the mother of a 5 month old child, one with special needs, no less, and it is hard for any new parent to imagine how she could possibly find the time or energy to co-run a national campaign under such circumstances. (That's not a judgement, mind you, just that as a parent myself, I can scarcely remember the first thing about what I was doing when my daughter was 5 months old. It was rare that I had the energy to run to the corner store, let alone run a vice-presidential campaign.) So, it's not hard to see her ducking out and claiming that her family needs her more than the national party. That being said, I don't see it: it would be a huge embarrassment to McCain to have his VP candidate drop out for such flimsy and cliched reasons.

Which brings us to our second option: HURRICANE GUSTAV! (Here the observant reader considers writing me an email to inform me that Alaska is unlikely to be hit by Hurricane Gustav.) While her own state will not be affected by this national disaster, it is highly likely that Louisiana and/or Mississippi are about to be leveled once again by a Category 3-5 hurricane. I can imagine Governor Palin, whilst on a heartbreaking photo oppo--I mean, tour of the damage, finding herself overcome by the scope of the human tragedy, and suddenly remembering that MY STATE NEEDS ME! She will duck out of the campaign after making a maudlin and totally self-serving speech about remembering the values that got her elected, and that ordinary Alaskans were voting for when they elected her just two years ago. What would happen, she might ask rhetorically, if a natural disaster (Moose plague? Runaway glacier? Seriously, what happens in Alaska?) were to strike her state while she was traipsing around some corn patch in Nebraska? The consequences are simply too stark to contemplate. With a solemn nod and a wave good bye, McCain will bid her good day and welcome Mitt Romney back to the fold. Or, barring that, someone less feminine, like Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two very important announcements re. this blog

First of all, I have regretfully informed the Obama campaign that I will be unable to accept any potential offers for the vice presidency. I did so with a heavy heart, and I remain steadfast in my opinion that Senator Obama will make an outstanding president. As for my own chances, yes, there were more candidates with "experience" and "expertise" and even "knowledge" about "the issues that matter," not to mention "political ability," but I was honored to be considered.

Second, I'll be going on vacation for the next two weeks, and thus will have no significant posts until July 28. Feel free to send me emails in which you lament the effect this will have upon our nation's discourse--my email address is right over there, to the right of this post.

Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain pioneers new question-avoidance strategy: the long wistful pause, gazing into the distance

Ooooh, snap! A tricky female reporter got all up in WALNUTS'! face, asking him about a recent statement by his national chairwoman Carly Fiorina that it is unfair for health plans to cover Viagra but not birth control. WALNUTS! got pretty uncomfortable at the mere mention of Viagra, saying "I certainly don't want to talk about that," but the tricky female reporter* persisted, noting that in the past he had in fact voted against requiring health plans to cover birth control. When confronted with actual facts, McCain stood still, gazed into the distance, and got a sort of wistful look on his face, as though he really WANTS to talk about this issue, IF ONLY HE COULD REMEMBER IT. Check it out:



Got that, America? That's some straight talk! "I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer."

*have you noticed that there is always a tricky/pushy female reporter in Tom Clancy novels, and that guys like John McCain go crazy for Tom Clancy novels? I'm just saying.

Three unreported benefits of the Bush years

Liberals out there like to act as though everything that has transpired over the past few years is just bad, for some reason. They only want to talk about gloom and doom, yet never focus on some of the positive changes we have seen in society. For example, the following:

1) When you spend $30 for gas, you spend MUCH LESS TIME in line at the gas station, thus increasing your economic productivity!
2) When the stock market drops 2.5% in a single day, it loses far fewer points than it did during the Clinton years!
3) With food prices showing such drastic price increases, more of our nation's children will go to bed hungry, thus decreasing our childhood obesity epidemic!

See? And of course, what are the odds you will see any of these great things mentioned by the LAMEstream drive-by media?

Exactly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

CNN apparently believes Phil Gramm's statements are A-OK

Check out the frontpage at CNN.com right now. Number of stories on John McCain's leading economic advisor saying that we're only in a "mental recession" and that we're a "nation of whiners"?

Zero.

Number of stories about Jesse Jackson criticizing Barack Obama? Two.
Number of stories about Christie Brinkley's divorce? One.
Number of stories about a wild fox attacking a cop? One.

Sigh.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

McCain: Social Security a "disgrace"

Woah. If Social Security is the legendary "third rail" of American politics, John McCain may have just committed suicide. Dude did not mention it in a carelessly offhand way, but flat out said that the system itself--as it functions, and as it was intended to function--is a "disgrace." Let's go to the tape:



Here's what he says: "Americans have got to understand that we are paying retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace."

Really? It is? Now, I expected McCain to say something like "present day retirees get far more out of the system than they put into it," or "as our population ages, we'll have fewer employed Americans to support an increasing number of retirees." Ok, both of those statements are true, for the most part, and both can be used to support some fairly conservative policies on Social Security. But that's not what McCain said. He said the system as it functions today--which is the system as it was intended to function--is a "disgrace." I mean, uh, yeah, young workers in America pay taxes, and those taxes go to retirees. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT!!! That is how the system was designed to work. And that's what McCain says is a "disgrace." Good lord.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Inartful Lede of the Day" award goes to KGW.com

We all the news business is in a rough spot these days. Layoffs mount at every turn, editors grow more and more frantic as they feel the hot breath of the corporate bean counters on the back of their neck, and the second-grader-on-crack attention span of the viewing public has turned every newscast into a police blotter with five minutes for weather.

That being said, however, my attention today was drawn to the remarkably hamfisted opening to a local news story turned in by one Erica Heartquist of KGW News in Portland. The story itself was simple: a local man had a heart attack, and his large, 150-pound dog decided to take out his grief by attempting to separate a neighbor from her arm. Simple story. And, pretty sad. How did KGW choose to describe these events, you ask? Witness:

A large dog attacked a Southeast Portland woman over the weekend and the dog’s owner had no way of stopping him because he was dead.
Almost breathtaking in its pull-no-punches simplicity, no?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Really? Oklahoma City? Seriously, NBA? Oklahoma City?

Yesterday brought the sad but predictable news that the Seattle Supersonics will be moving from Seattle, bustling urban metropolis of the Pacific Northwest, to Oklahoma City, a dusty cow town primarily known for being the place where Tim McVeigh blew up a building.

Having visited Seattle, it's hard to imagine that an NBA team would want to leave that place--the city is gorgeous (although horribly clogged by traffic), close to nature, close to the massive international city of Vancouver, BC, an international player in its own right on the Pacific Rim, home to other major sports teams, home to a major research institution and world-class medical school, and home to major industries like Microsoft and Boeing. (Ok, yeah, technically Boeing is based in Chicago now, but a sizable % of its workforce is in Seattle.)

And Oklahoma City is... seriously, do they even have streetlights there? How many feed stores are located within five city blocks of the new stadium? Is the mayor's car parked on the front lawn of the mayor's house, up on cement blocks? What must it feel like to be a Sonics' fan, and see your beloved team leaving for... Oklahoma City? I'm not sure, but I imagine it would feel like whatever Elizabeth Hurley felt when she first saw Divine Brown's photo following Hugh Grant's memorable escapades. "You did this to me... for that? Have you seen me? I'm hot!" Got that? Seattle = Liz Hurley, Oklahoma City = Divine Brown. Supersonics = Hugh Grant. It works.


For real? Oklahoma City? Seriously? Yeesh.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The item from the baseball transactions list you wish you hadn't read

I'll just let the following article do the talking:

Catcher Chris Snyder left Monday night's game after getting hit by a foul tip in the groin area. About an hour before Tuesday's game the Diamondbacks put him on the 15-day disabled list with a left testicular fracture.
Um, excuse me? Fracture? You can fracture a testicle? (Shudder.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Radical redesign of milk jugs proves one thing: Americans are complete and utter morons

I imagine everyone has heard this news that plastic milk jugs are being redesigned into a more square shape in order to reduce the wasted space when packing a pallet full of them. This makes sense, will reduce fuel use transporting milk, etc. Sams Club, for instance, can now stack 224 jugs in a space that could formerly only hold 80. That's impressive. Of course, however, this is America, so we have to waste a ton of time and energy complaining about the change and training people to USE THE JUGS THE CORRECT WAY.

Wal-Mart Stores is already moving down this path. But if the milk-jug example is any indication, some of the changes will take getting used to on the part of consumers. A lot of people spill milk when first using the new jugs.

"When we brought in the new milk, we were asking for feedback," said Heather Mayo, vice president for merchandising at Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart. "And they're saying, 'Why's it in a square jug? Why's it different? I want the same milk. What happened to my old milk?'"
Good lord.

Monday, June 30, 2008

White House War Czar: M.I.A.?

Remember that "war czar" that the White House hired some time back, ostensibly to direct the progress of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? After the job was publicly turned down by everyone ranging from David Petraeus to Charlie Weiss, the White House finally located one Douglas E. Lute to take the position. Here's how it was described at the time:

Mr. Bush selected Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, currently the top operations officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He will retain his active military status and must be confirmed by the Senate, which approves new assignments for three- and four-star generals.

“We needed to get the right concept, the right man — or woman — and we have,” the national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, who led the search, said in an interview on Tuesday evening.
...
His job, which is part of a broader reorganization of the National Security Council staff responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan, would be to brief Mr. Bush every day on the two conflicts, and work with other government agencies — including the Pentagon and the State Department — to carry out policy.

Hey, impressive stuff. Very important, very serious, obvious that his position will be a major mover-and-shaker, and will lead to tremendous change, innovation, etc. Right? Right?

Well, check this out. In an archived list of all NY Times articles to mention the guy, the MOST RECENT appearance is November 27, 2007.

Google News cannot find a single article with the guy's name since May 31, 2008.

What's the deal? I know it's something of a cliche to say that the president's policy on Iraq is non existent, but has it ever been so literally true?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Breaking news: Nancy Pelosi says single stupidest thing ever, in world history

I mean, really, this is so stupid. Nancy Pelosi, talking about Hillary's gracious return to Washington today, said this:

“She has emerged from this campaign as the most respected political figure in America.”
Nancy. Hillary JUST LOST THE PRIMARIES TO BARACK OBAMA. By definition, she is not the most respected political figure, BECAUSE SHE JUST LOST. Are you serious with this crap?

Friday, June 20, 2008

"I am aware of all internet traditions"

For those of you interested in catching the birth of an internet meme just days after it launches, get over to Lawyers, Guns and Money and witness the latest: "I am aware of all internet traditions," spoken by an uptight right wing commentator after an earlier comment of his was roundly mocked by the other commenters. Essentially, he claimed that a blockquote used by the original post was not contained in the linked post, other commenters reminded him that the blockquote in question was a paraphrased reduction of the original argument, and he responded by saying (note the blockquote here)

I am aware of all internet traditions and also of literary conventions in which placing something in quotes or in a blockquote means that your are quoting that person.
And, behold, a meme is born.

It's like seeing the start of a supernova or something.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

John Hinckley's love life proves discouraging for single men everywhere

Look, single men have it rough enough as it is. Their every waking moment, for the most part, is dedicated to attracting a partner. They groom themselves obsessively, they work themselves into a righteous lather trying to decipher coded messages in emails, IMs, phone calls, etc., and they worry themselves stupid wondering when the next phone call will arrive.

With that in mind, imagine how damaging it must be to the psyches of single males everywhere to learn that certified crazy and would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley has not three, not four, but FIVE girlfriends with whom he is intimate. Seriously, imagine that you're a decent, well-mannered, not-crazy, never-incarcerated-for-shooting-Reagan single guy, and you read something like this:

An affidavit filed by federal officials trying to restrict Hinckley's movements claim the would-be assassin has at least three girlfriends and possibly as many as five.
Oh, ouch. That would sting. But then read on in the story, and you come to something fairly disturbing:
The feds claim that Hinckley, who is required by the hospital to keep a log about his relationships with women, is deceptive. Although he told the staff he stopped seeing Miss M, he later confided that he has "fondling privileges" with her.
Oh come on, wouldn't that just be a killer? (Leaving aside for a moment the details of exactly how such privileges are negotiated.) Now, granted, some of these women may not exactly be catches in their own right. Of one, for instance, we learn this:
Hinckley, now 53, has also rekindled a relationship with Leslie deVeau, a former girlfriend who was incarcerated at St. Elizabeths after it was determined she was insane when she shot and killed her 10-year-old daughter. DeVeau was released from St. Elizabeths after eight years of treatment.
Oh hai. And? Sex-ay! Imagine those two out on a date, wouldn't that just be a walk in the park.

Here's hoping that the feds put the kibosh on Hinckley's romantic yearnings, if for no other reason than to maintain the sanity of single men everywhere.

Hinckley: certified playa

Scary: Bush doesn't know the meaning of the word "constitutional"

People have come up with all kinds of theories to explain our president's, uh, nuanced view of his constitutional powers vis-a-vis other branches of government. There's the whole "unitary executive" thing, of course, and numerous other explanations for his not-all-that-subtle thrashing of long-standing beliefs about the Constitution. In watching an interview between Bush and a reporter from the BBC, however, I was struck by the realization that, when you get right down to it, he simply does not understand the meaning of the word "constitutional." Here's the relevant passage:

BOULTON: But the Supreme Court have just said that -- you know, ruled against what you've been doing down there.

THE PRESIDENT: But the district court didn't. And the appellate court didn't.

BOULTON: The Supreme Court is supreme, isn't it?

THE PRESIDENT: It is, and I accept their verdict. I don't agree with their verdict. And it's not what I was doing down there. This was a law passed by our United States Congress that I worked with the Congress to get passed and sign into law.

BOULTON: But it looked like an attempt to bypass the Constitution, to a certain extent.

THE PRESIDENT: This was a law passed, Adam. We passed a law. Bypassing the Constitution means that we did something outside the bounds of the Constitution. We went to the Congress and got a piece of legislation passed.
Do you see what he did there? The reporter points out that Bush's various shenanigans with respect to detainee treatment seemed to be an end run around the Constitution, to which points out that this could not be unconstitutional because he "got a piece of legislation passed." This, to me, reveals a breathtaking ignorance; I mean, this stuff is covered in American Government 101. The legislature passes laws, the executive authorizes them, and then the judiciary determines whether those laws are constitutional. Something isn't constitutional simply because you "passed a law."

Unbelievable, and, pretty scary.

Here's a video of the interview, in which Bush gets thoroughly trashed by the interview. I'd say "humiliated," if I thought Bush was capable of this emotion. "The Supreme Court is supreme, isn't it?" Hilarious.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ABC News slips pro-oil-drilling propaganda into otherwise boring story on economy

In it's daily "here's why the market lost _____ points today" story, ABC News points out that virtually all sectors are taking it in the shorts from the rising cost of oil. Ok, yeah, nobody disputes this. They leave the sainted world of facts, however, and take to the skies with the following flight of fancy:

Those worried about rising oil prices got some good news this morning when President Bush urged Congress to end a ban on offshore oil drilling.
Excuse me, wha? This is clever. First of all, is anyone NOT worried about rising oil prices? No, everybody is. Therefore, everybody got good news when the President urged Congress to end the ban on offshore oil drilling. Why is this good news? Are there any studies that show that this will do anything for the price of oil? No, there are not. Nevertheless, ABC News feels compelled to claim that anyone (that is to say, everyone) who cares about the price of oil will be head over heels in love with the President's awesome proposal. Sheesh.

Radical organization wants US court to apply Sharia Law!!!1!!! OMFG!1!

Er, yeah, crazy. And one of those wetdreams of the neocons on the internets, this late-night fever dream that they'll wake up one day and learn that Mohammad Al Scalia has written the majority opinion for SCOTUS that will decree that all US Courts must decide their cases under Sharia law, the strict law favored by Islamic fundamentalists.

Well, we're just now getting the first instance of someone insisting that a US Court apply Sharia law to its decision. What? Outrageous! Bypass the Constitution in favor of Sharia law? How un-American can you get! Who is making this demand? The ACLU, probably? Well, no. Ok, ok, the Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR? No, not at all.

Actually, would you believe...Blackwater?

Blackwater’s aviation wing recently filed a unique request in federal court, where the widows of three American soldiers are suing the company over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

The company, based in Moyock, doesn’t want the case heard in an American courtroom under American law: it wants the case heard under Shari’a, the Islamic law of Afghanistan.
...
In April, Blackwater asked a federal judge in Florida to apply Islamic law, commonly known as Shari’a, to the case. If the judge agreed, the lawsuit would be dismissed. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.
Classic. I don't even know what to say, that's so classic.

(Via Talking Points Memo)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You will never see a photo of President Bush in which he looks more stupid than in this one

Seriously, hats off to ABCNews, because I thought, up until today, that I had seen every "omg he looks like such a moron" photo of President Bush. But, that was until I gazed upon the following majestic image:

Oh noes teh gheys have teh marriagez!1!1!!!eleven!1!

Seriously, what kind of heartless bastard does not think the following photograph is all kinds of awesome? They've been together for 50+ years and they finally get married? Who on earth could have a problem with this?


I guess my only question is why Christian Bale is officiating? Dunno, weird.

Lieberman, McCain, blast Israel as stridently anti-Semitic

John McCain and Joe Lieberman have made hay over Barack Obama's statements that he would meet and negotiate with anti-American countries like Venezuela and Iran, and groups like Hamas. President Bush went a step farther, equating Obama's position with appeasement of Nazis in the years leading up to WWII:

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said. “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”
With this in mind, it's useful to wonder what conservative Republicans like Bush, McCain, and Lieberman would say about, uh, Israel negotiating a cease-fire with Hamas. Will they accuse Israel itself of catering to anti-Israeli groups, of being anti-Semitic?
A truce between Israel and Gaza's Hamas leaders will go into effect within three days, according to high-level Hamas sources.

A Hamas official said all the details of a truce agreement have been finalized, including a cease-fire and the reopening of border crossing terminals.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Albany (OR) man produces most stoned-out mugshot in world history

There's nothing really remarkable about this story about three idiots who have been charged for committing several auto break-ins at the lovely train station in downtown Albany, OR. What elevates this story to the realm of the FANtastic, however, is this epic mugshot yielded by one of the suspects.


Ha! ZOMG, what an awesome legacy to leave for your descendants! "Hey, remember that time grandpa got absolutely wrecked out of his mind and broke into some cars and got caught by the cops when he stopped to pick up the pack of Cool Ranch Doritos he dropped while running away?"

For when you don't want to withdraw the troops for 100 years...

Always ask for them by name.


And no, I'm not joking.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hot Actress Doesn't Understand Why Presidential Candidate Keeps Returning Her Emails

From The Politico, discussing Scarlett Johansson's surprise that Barack Obama keeps responding to her emails:

Johansson is somewhat shocked that he keeps up their back-and-forth correspondence. “You’d imagine that someone like the senator who is constantly traveling and constantly ‘on’ — how can he return these personal e-mails?” she asks. “But he does, and in his off-time I know he also calls people who have donated the minimum to thank them. Nobody sees it, nobody talks about it, but it’s incredible.” She adds, “I feel like I’m supporting someone, and having a personal dialogue with them, and it’s amazing.”
How can he return these personal emails? Seriously, Scarlett?

John McCain: "I will veto every single beer."

Truly, this man is a monster.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Odds on VP choices

Now that the Democratic race has been decided (someone tell Hillary, please), the attention of the media will inevitably turn to the VP choice of each candidate. Tons of names have been thrown out there, some of them sensible (John Edwards), some of them kind of crazy (Mike Huckabee), and some of them completely unhinged (Al Gore). Without further ado, here is a short run down of my guesses at likely choices for the VP spots, add their respective odds of being chosen. (Disclaimer: odds are listed for entertainment purposes only and should not be viewed as an endorsement of gambling or as a suggestion to gamble.)

DEMOCRATS

1. Jim Webb, Senator, Virginia (3-1). Tough, brash, Vietnam Vet with a military record a mile long and an independent streak to boot. Can bring formidable military background to the table, and was even nominated, back in the day, by Reagan. Top that, McCain! He'd help Obama capture Virginia, and would reassure some voters who find themselves hesitant to support Obama (read: conservative-leaning white guys). On the downside, he's not a woman, and has a few skeletons in his closet in the form of novels featuring sexist talk and crude scenes of sexual congress. Still, I think he's the odds on favorite.

2. Kathleen Sebelius, Governor, Kansas (5-1). She'd help Obama in middle America, she might help bring feminists back to the table, and she's highly regarded in Democratic circles, and is thought of as a pragmatic executive who's able to work with members of the other party. She has very cool gray hair. On the downside, she's something of an unknown on the national scene. A fairly safe choice.

3. Bill Richardson, Governor, New Mexico (8-1). He would help Obama pick up some of the Latino support he lost in the difficult primary with Clinton, and is highly respected for his foreign affairs experience. Frankly speaking, though, the Democrats are already charting new ground by having a racial minority on the ticket; it's hard to say if they'd be exposing themselves to any jeopardy by having two.

4. John Edwards, former Senator, North Carolina (15-1). Look, everyone says Edwards would make a great Vice President, and they're right. He's smart, passionate about issues like health care, very likeable, and a good campaigner. That being said, he wasn't enough to bring NC into the blue column in '04, and he's already had his shot on the national ticket. I just think there'd be too much of a "what, again?" reaction to his selection. I don't think the odds are good. A virtual lock to be Attorney General, however.

5. Hillary Clinton, Senator, New York. 5 trillion-1. Won't happen. Not in a million, billion years. The media, which lacks imagination and is lazy, is pushing this story, as are clueless Dems who can't find an independent thought to save their lives. She and her staff spent the last six months tearing Obama down--what makes anyone think he has the slightest inclination to add her to the ticket? Whatever strengths she brings in the form of blue-collar support would be lost by the fact that she's a polarizing political figure who would negate Democratic advantages in the mountain west and anywhere in the south they might otherwise be competitive.

REPUBLICANS

First off, there are no easy picks here. The conventional wisdom is that McCain must try to win back the base, while at the same time try to court the independents who may be alienated following Clinton's defeat. What does he do? Does he pick a woman and try to cut into Obama's lead there? Does he take a conservative who can turn out votes in battleground states like Ohio and Michigan? Keep in mind that McCain himself has said that his age means that a Vice President under him must be prepared to step in from Day 1 and be Commander in Chief.

1. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts (5-1). This is one I waver on. On one hand, Romney can appeal to conservatives while at the same time pointing to his record of accomplishment in Massachusetts. On the other hand, all evidence during the primaries this year indicates that McCain hates Romney. Yet, he could bring Michigan and perhaps Ohio into the GOP fold. He's about as smarmily phony and obnoxious as it gets, but the conservative press seems to like him. I'd put my money on Romney now, but who knows.

2. Condi Rice, former Secretary of State (9-1). Kind of the opposite of Romney--female, black, hated by conservatives. She had great name recognition and valuable foreign policy experience, but to me the resume is pretty hollow. What has she actually achieved since becoming SOS? Has anyone even hear from her in the past year? Can McCain risk the Democrats trotting our her pathetic appearance before the 9/11 commission ("what was the title of that August 6 PDB?") every week for the next five months?

3. Charlie Crist, Governor, Florida (12-1). The conservatives like him, he'd bring Florida in the GOP column, and he's a governor, albeit one with a pretty thin resume. However, there are "the lifelong bachelor has long been dogged by rumors about his personal life," stories. In other words, he's most likely gay.

4. Carly Fiorina, former CEO, Hewlett Packard (15-1). This would be an out-of-the-box pick for McCain, but would be well received by the right because she's a former executive of a major corporation (albeit one whose stock jumped dramatically on the day she was let go) and a woman, thus appealing to disaffected Clinton voters. She's a major player in GOP circles, but unknown nationally. Additionally, she lacks any foreign policy experience whatsoever, thus causing problems with McCain's earlier statements about his VP needing to be able to take over at a moment's notice (because he's old, you see).

5. Assorted GOP governors (Mark Sanford (SC), Jon Huntsman (UT), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Haley Barbour, (MS)), 20-1. I think McCain is going to have pressure to pick a governor, and after Crist, these are the names he'll probably consider.However, out of this list only Pawlenty would be from a state the GOP has the slightest chance of losing. Some time ago I would have said Barbour had the best shot here, but if you were to make a cartoon drawing of a stereotypical fat, rich, white Republican, it would probably wind up looking exactly like Haley Barbour. Meaning, in a campaign in which the Democrats are presenting a fresh vision for change in the persona of Barack Obama, the Republicans probably don't want to risk nominating Pasty McWhiterson as their VP.

Ok, so my picks are Obama/Webb, and McCain/Rice. I'll probably be wrong on both fronts, but stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Undecided superdelegates" are pathetic jackass losers who deserve nothing but scorn and hatred

"Undecided superdelegates" are the new "undecided voters," that great mass of people the media lionizes in article after article weeks before an election. Both groups consist of people who have been exposed to months of campaigning, god knows how many debates, and a more-than-thorough discussion of the relative stances on every conceivable issue, yet they still lack the information to make an informed choice. Why? Because they are more contemplative than your average voter, weighing the pros and cons of each candidate in a deliberative manner so as to arrive at the most rational decision?

No, because they are idiots. Seriously, if you are undecided at this point, you are an idiot. Show some backbone. Show some leadership. Show the slightest hint that you're willing to "do the right thing" even if it means you may come out on the losing side. If you can't articulate your reason for endorsing someone at this stage in the game, you obviously lack the decision-making ability to serve in such a position of responsibility. Honestly, grow a spine.

The day of the final primaries, and there are still a good handful of Democratic senators who find themselves unable to make an endorsement. Is it any wonder these guys get rolled time and time again by the Republicans on every Iraq funding measure?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Clinton supporters pretty much just bitter old racists at this point

This is a truly frightening video of a Clinton supporter being removed from the DNC meeting this past weekend. Especially nice touch to call Obama "an inadequate black male." Nice.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wait, is this true? The public just gets free drinks at 7/11?

The Oregonian has a story today about how a 7/11 store in downtown Portland has stopped a longtime practice of giving cops free beverages. The theory is that if a store with a theft problem makes a public show of giving cops free drinks, crooks will think twice before trying to rob the store because odds are decent that a (thirsty) cop could show up at any minute. There's nothing unusual about that--I've heard variations of this story in every city I've ever lived in. However, my eye was drawn to several other items in the story, notably, the idea that 7/11 just gives out drinks to anyone who wants one. For example:

Smith said he also spoke with Amir Gharagozly, the owner of the 7-Eleven, and learned that he offers complimentary drinks to other people who frequent the store. The owner even told him it was a 7-Eleven corporate policy at one time to give complimentary drinks "for anybody who came in and asked for it," Smith said.
and
Gharagozly said the only thing he does allow police to do at night is use his bathroom -- their presence is good for his business. Like the general public, he said, they also can get a complimentary cup of coffee, fountain soda or Slurpee. [italics mine]
Have I been living under a rock all these years? Can the public really just walk into any 7/11 and get a free drink, even a Slurpee?

Insane pro-Hillary site hasn't bothered to update its polls in over a month

I've discovered that if you venture into the murky world of pro-Hillary Clinton websites, you encounter a potent mixture of rabid delusion, outraged misanthropy, and a gleeful willingness to traffic in ridiculous falsehoods. Take, for example, the shining light of the pro-Hillary movement, "Hillaryis44.org" (named for the fact that Hillary would be the 44th president should she manage to topple Obama's lead in every possible category).

This website, whose vitriol toward Barack Obama is unmatched by even the worst websites in the conservative wingnutosphere, has a list of polls purporting to show that Clinton is leading Obama. One problem? We're a few days from June, and they haven't bothered to update their list since April 15. Observe:



Given the refusal-of-reality present in most arguments in favor of Hillary, this isn't really surprising. Nonetheless, it is quite amusing, and somewhat sad.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Your daily embarrassment...

Sigh. Here's a truly lamentable photo of Our President, delivering the commencement address at the Air Force Academy today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary admits she's hoping for an assassination attempt against Obama. Seriously.

There's really no other way to interpret these comments. I wish there was, but there's not.

Hillary Clinton today cited the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign to explain why she was remaining in the race despite long odds.

"We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California," Clinton told the editorial board of a South Dakota newspaper. " I don't understand it," Clinton added, alluding to the calls for her to quit.
That is simply beyond the pale. I don't see how anyone rational can be supporting her at this point. Completely inexcusable. But, sadly, completely in keeping with her behavior of late.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Noted racist Geraldine Ferraro says she might not vote for the black guy

Wow. What. A. Surprise. Geraldine Ferraro, half of the losingest presidential ticket in American political history, says she might not be able to bring herself to vote for Barack Obama once he gets the nomination. Says CNN:

Geraldine Ferraro, the outspoken former Democratic vice presidential candidate and a supporter of Hillary Clinton's White House bid, told the New York Times she may not vote for Barack Obama should he be the party's nominee.
Sigh. Not exactly surprising, given the tone of the Clinton campaign, but it's yet another sad commentary on some of the delusional fools who have hitched their bitter wagons to the Clinton campaign, only to find themselves losing to the superior candidate.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Fun fact: Bush Administration tries to PREVENT companies from doing comprehensive mad cow testing

If there was ever a story to show just how hypocritical the Bush Administration is when it comes to the role of courts in our society, this is it.

he Bush administration on Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease, but a skeptical judge questioned whether the government has that authority.

The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere.
Got that? A private company wanted to do MORE testing for mad cow disease in order to placate their customers overseas who care about whether or not the beef they eat is going to cause a tiny bug to eat away at their brains. And, of course, the Bush Administration is actually suing to keep them from doing this. The whole thing is simply so inane I don't even know what to say.

When it comes to allowing two guys or girls to get married, the White House is adamant that courts should stop imposing their views on society, and likes to rail against "unelected judges" deciding important things like marriage. When it comes to environmental law, the White House frequently criticizes those who would put environmental regulations above the economic well-being of a company/industry/etc. Yet here we have a private company doing something above and beyond the government's laughably minimum requirements for mad cow testing because it judges this action to be in its best interest, and the White House is suing them to stop.

I know the world has gone topsy turvy, but this seems ridiculous, even for this administration.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Imagine, for just a moment, that McCain said this...

The following words, spoken by Hillary Clinton yesterday, are probably the most objectionable things she's said in this campaign (and there's some pretty decent competition for that title). They are powerfully, deeply offensive. They should not be tolerated by any Democrat. Imagine, if you will, that Senator McCain had said the following:

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
If Senator McCain--or any Republican--had said that, he'd be castigated as an out-and-out racist, a desperate relic of America's shameful past trying to curry favor with people who would still refuse to vote for a man simply because of the color of his skin. Yet here they are spoken by a leading member of the Democratic party. Why should the reaction be any different? If anything, we should be MORE outraged because the political calculation behind the remarks is so naked, so obvious.

People read these remarks and say, "Well, is Hillary Clinton a racist?" Past a certain point, the question doesn't even matter. She may not be a racist, per se, but when your remarks are so clearly trying to gain the support of those who are, what's the difference?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Memo to Hillary: Time to End this Thing

"This primary election on Tuesday is a game changer. This is going to make a huge difference in what happens going forward. The entire country -- probably even a lot of the world -- is looking to see what North Carolina decides,"
--Hillary Clinton, May 2

Tonight:
North Carolina:
Obama 56%
Clinton 42%

Those numbers are embarrassing, Hillary, for a state you called a "game changer" just a few days ago. Honestly, it's time to drop out.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Irony: the one word sportswriters should never, ever use

For the past twenty years or so, I've nursed within my heart a small but passionate thirst for vengeance against those who continually misuse the term "irony." Granted, the word itself is difficult to define--many people simply rely upon a Potter Stewart-esque "I know it when I see it" definition. That being said, I have found that sportswriters and announcers are among the most frequent abusers of the term. Too often, they say "ironic" when they should simply say "coincidental." Let's take today's example, from a piece on the tragic Kentucky Derby breakdown of Eight Belles. Take it away, ESPN:

In '06, we had the Barbaro disaster at the Preakness, followed by the long and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save the Derby champion's life. While that was still ongoing, we saw Pine Island's fatal breakdown in the Breeders' Cup Distaff that fall at Churchill Downs. In a savage bit of irony, the Distaff race was won by Round Pond, who was trained by Michael Matz -- the same man who conditioned Barbaro.
Really, what is ironic about that? The winner of one race was trained by the same guy who trained a horse that broke down in another race. That is...coincidental? Is it even a coincidence? I don't even think it's that--it's something approaching an interesting confluence of circumstances, but hardly coincidental, and certainly not ironic.

Please, journalism industry, I'm begging you: send your writers to an Irony for Beginners class. It's the only way I can stay sane.

Laura Bush says Myanmar government inaction exacerbated cyclone relief efforts. In other news, irony gives up, throws up hands, jumps off a bridge.

Everyone who's anyone knows I hate the Bush administration with every fiber of my being, but I have to admire them for having the brass talks to some up with something like THIS:

U.S. first lady Laura Bush, who has a long-standing interest in Myanmar, urged the government to allow the team into the country, saying she expected Washington would provide "substantial" aid if it could conduct its own assessment of the situation on the ground.

And she blasted the junta, saying the lack of warning before a deadly cyclone hit on Friday was the latest example of "the junta's failure to meet its people's basic needs."
I mean, look, Myanmar has what is without doubt one of the most--if not THE most--repressive governments on earth. There's no question about that. But there's something brutally ironic and galling about a presidential administration whose initial response to Hurricane Katrina was this:



chiding another government for failing to meet the basic needs of its people.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sad story from Portland: long-time Hawthorne business closes to be replaced by...condo parking. Ugh.

There have been rumors for a while, but now it looks like it's official: long time Hawthorne resident Bowers Bakery is closing because the landlord wants to tear down the building and turn it into a parking lot for fancy condos he's building above Noah's bagels. As you can see below, the building also houses FuJin restaurant and Chez Machin, a decent crepe place. Presumably they would get the heave as well.

None of these three are among Portland's elite restaurants, but they are familiar and welcome faces to residents of the neighborhood: my wife and I ate our first meal in Portland at FuJin, wolfing down a plate of their legendary crispy eggplant as we took a moment's rest from our hectic apartment hunting.


View Larger Map

How distasteful is the idea that something like this could be torn down to provide parking for idiots who will move into fancy condos above a bagel store? It's such a typical sequence of events: the dedicated businesspeople who toil for years and make an area "hip" are pushed out by landlords willing to ruin the entire feel of an area just so they can make a quick buck. Lame.

It also creates an interesting conflict between the city's desire for walkable neighborhoods with the city's desire for increased density. Of course, the apartments now above Noah's will be converted into condos, so it's not like the area is going to become more dense. So, will the city just let a building be razed to build parking? I certainly hope not.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Irony alert: "Free Tibet" flags actually made in China

When the actual, real-life news starts to resemble The Onion, you know things have gone sideways.

Take it away, BBC:

Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags, media reports say.

The factory in Guangdong had been completing overseas orders for the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile.



Pop quiz! This flag:

a) is known as the "Snow Lion flag"
b) represents Tibet's victorious accomplishment of a unified spiritual and secular life
c) represents the "Free Tibet" movement
d) is banned in China
e) is manufactured in China
f) it's obviously all of the above, you jagoff

Hey, that's right, "f" is the right answer. (But you don't have to be so antagonistic about it, damn.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The one rumor I simply refuse to believe

Ok, look, I admit that I'm a pretty easy-to-fool guy, but I absolutely refuse, categorically, to believe that Dwayne Wade is dating Star Jones. I simply won't consider it. There are a few things in life that are so completely catastrophic, and could have such far-reaching and horrific consequences, that they must be blocked from the mind at all cost. Peak oil is one, and now Dwyane Wade dating Star Jones is another. It can't be real. No way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One poll number I'm absolutely not worried about, or, why you shouldn't stress about Clinton supporters voting for McCain

In the frenetic back-and-forth between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, one oft-reported statistic is the number of each candidates voters who claim that they would vote for John McCain in the general election if their favored candidate does not win the Democratic nomination. This is often presented as bad news for the Democratic party. Here's a representative example of this kind of reporting:

A sizable proportion of Democrats would vote for John McCain next November if he is matched against the candidate they do not support for the Democratic nomination. This is particularly true for Hillary Clinton supporters, more than a quarter of whom currently say they would vote for McCain if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee.

As would be expected, almost all Democratic voters who say they support Obama for their party's nomination also say they would vote for him in a general election matchup against McCain. But only 59% of Democratic voters who support Clinton say they would vote for Obama against McCain, while 28% say they would vote for the Republican McCain. This suggests that some Clinton supporters are so strongly opposed to Obama (or so loyal to Clinton) that they would go so far as to vote for the "other" party's candidate next November if Obama is the Democratic nominee.
Now, does this spell doom for the Democrats? On the surface, it could be ominous: if you take a random sample of 100 Democrats, and assume that roughly half support Obama and half support Clinton, then 28% of Clinton's supporters would turn out to be somewhere around 12-13 voters. Take those numbers to a state like Florida or Ohio, and they could be worrisome indeed.

However, I'm not at all concerned, for the following reason: this is an extraordinarily unusual primary process, with the race lasting far longer, and with far more bitterness, than you normally see, in either party. Because of this, the committed voters for each candidate have dug in to their positions, and find it hard to imagine that their candidate could lose the election. This makes sense: when you are supporting a candidate in the early days of the primary season, you likely have not supported him/her for that long, and consequently can easily transition to the candidate who gets the nomination.

Clinton and Obama supporters, however, have at this point been in their respective candidate's camp for an extended period of time. There is a good deal of hostility towards the opponent, who at this point is not John McCain. Given this, I'm not at all surprised that so many Clinton supporters claim they would support McCain. It makes sense that more Clinton supporters than Obama supporters claim they would support McCain--Obama, after all, is more likely to win the nomination, so to his supporters the idea of a choice between Hillary and McCain is an abstraction. For Clinton supporters, the eventual choice between Obama and McCain is very likely, and very likely hard to stomach.

Really, at this point those numbers are not a sign of Clinton's strength, but her weakness. The more her supporters come to grips with her likely withdrawl from the race, the higher the "I'll vote for McCain!" number will rise. It is, at this point, a tactic unto itself: they are trying to persuade superdelegates that voting for Obama will drive Democrats to McCain. Will it work? Probably not. Is it a credible threat? Perhaps, but not at the level suggested by those polls. I suspect that there is probably a hardcore element, say 5-6%, of Clinton supporters who will find themselves so disillusioned by an Obama nomination that they will chose to not vote. I doubt they'll support McCain, however.

I could be wrong about all this. But really, I think at this point the high number of Clinton supporters who claim they'll support McCain is more representative of their growing sense of the inevitability of her loss than anything else, and threatening to support McCain in the general is the only weapon at their disposal.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A question about the military's "relaxed standards"

Question: Who will be the first Presidential candidate to get in trouble (with the media, with the Republicans, same difference) for saying that it's perhaps not the greatest thing ever, and that it certainly says nothing good about our country, that we are dramatically increasing the "waivers" we give to people who have committed felonies and who are now applying to enter the military, now admitting them when in past years they would have been summarily excluded?

Friday, April 18, 2008

NY Times snarks on pope's visit

Wow. Guess there were more of those victims than we thought.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How to Ignore the Iraq War, by ABCNews

It was a bad day for US forces in Iraq.

Five soldiers lost their lives, including three in Baghdad, which General David Petraeus assured everyone was a veritable Charlie's Chocolate Factory of zany good times in his presentation before Congress yesterday.

As I write this, my computer's clock says "Wednesday, 3:34 pm." Since Sunday, not that long ago, 17 soldiers have died.

Give the seeming rupture between this bad news and the positive spin that George Bush and John McCain have been putting on the news, you'd expect that the media would be all over this story like flies on dog crap. You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. Check out the front page over at ABC News, gathered about two minutes before I wrote this post. (Click the photo to expand it.)



See that? Or, rather, don't see that? That's right--NOTHING about Iraq. Not a word. There's plenty of room for "Boy monkey says no to Barbie" or "Simon Cowell: Smoking is Good," but a major uptick in violence in Iraq? Borrrrrring.

Sheesh. It's kind of unreal. I mean, yes, I know that it gets depressing day after day to write the same "X US soldiers died today in Iraq, etc." stories, but at the same time, you've got the President, the GOP nominee for President, and the main military official responsible for Iraq all selling the same story, and the "facts on the ground" (as the President is so fond of saying) indicate precisely the opposite. It would be refreshing for the media to pay attention, don't you think?

I'm beginning to understand why "Johm" McCain confuses Iraq and Iran

Isn't "spell your name correctly" one of those skills you have to know by, like, second grade?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Madonna: Insane

Superstars of a certain luminosity evidently reach a point where nobody in their lives is willing to tell them to shut up, and so they just continue on their merry way, their remarks losing great touch with reality and sanity with each passing year. So near as I can figure, Madonna passed this point about a dozen years ago, and so it's not too surprising to discover that nearly everything the woman says is touched by some hint of Teh Crazy. Today, she offered some insight into the plight of Britney Spears, and noted that the starlet's troubled relationship with the paparazzi (or "Pavarottis," to quote a certain wife-beatered, hatted, fertile ex-husband of Britney's) is not unlike, uh, well, something about Africa and witches. Here, take it away, Madge:

When you think about the way people treat each other in Africa, about witchcraft and people inflicting cruelty and pain on each other, then come back here and, you know, people taking pictures of people when they’re in their homes, being taken to hospitals, or suffering, and selling them, getting energy from them, that’s a terrible infliction of cruelty.

“So who’s worse off?
Ok, well, first of all, giving the events in recent years in Rwanda and Sudan, I think "the way people treat eachother in Africa" can occasionally rise above the level of "witchcraft," but, that aside, what the heck is Madonna saying here? Genocide is roughly the equivalent of paparazzi stalking someone eating at Hyde? For real?

News flash: Conservative economist Larry Kudlow would support a war tax!

Ok, well, he didn't come out and say it, but take a look at a couple of passages from his most recent blog post on the execrable "The Corner" blog over at National Review:

Surprise, surprise. Having failed to penetrate General Petraeus’s story about the great improvements on the ground in Iraq, liberals are now trying to make the case that the cost of the Iraq war may have somehow undermined the economy, and even caused the current slowdown. What complete and utter nonsense.

First point: The U.S. has spent roughly $750 billion for the five-year war. Sure, that’s a lot of money. But run the numbers and the total cost works out to a miniscule 1 percent of the $63 trillion GDP over that time period. It’s miniscule.
Ok, got it. $750 billion over five years is "miniscule."
Next:
Perhaps the anti-war forces should recall the portion of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, where he called on Americans to pay any price, and bear any burden, in order to preserve freedom, liberty, and democracy. Do these folks actually think 1 percent of GDP is too large a price, too heavy a burden? I sure hope not.
You heard it here first. Larry Kudlow, one of the most conservative/brain-dead economists in America, thinks that a $750 billion war tax over 5 years is a small price to pay for freedom. Pretty incredible news. I only hope that President Bush will follow his suggestion.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Oh, heavens! In a fit of pique, John McCain called his wife a "trollop" and a word that rhymes with "runt"

'Tis not always so easy being John "Walnuts" McCain, apparent GOP nominee and winner of the "Presidential Candidate Who Most Closely Resembles a Friend of Grandpa Simpson" contest. Back in the day, he and his wife, the heiress to the lucrative Budweiser distribution franchises in Arizona, had something of a spat. Normally, so what, many couples have meaningless spats. What makes this one somewhat interesting (and hilarious!) is the filthy talk ("straight talk," natch) that came spilling out of his mouth in response to a fairly mild and genial putdown by his wife.

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.
Yow! First of all, I have to say that the "c-word" is coming back into vogue lately: the key plot moment in "Atonement" owed much to that particular word, and now here we have ol' Walnuts McCain dropping it as well.

However, even more than the c-word is his use of "trollop." Note: if you are attempting to convince voters of your undying youth and vigor, try to avoid using words that even Montgomery Burns himself would find stale and outdated. "Trollop?" Who says that?

John McCain: Hates Trollops

Friday, April 4, 2008

The smartest $10 you'll spend on the internets: Charles Bronson 3-D paper doll

If you haven't wasted hours or weeks of your life wandering around Etsy.com, you owe yourself the chance. It's a website where hundreds if not thousands of independent artists and craftspeople sell all manner of products: t-shirts, art prints, plates, random pieces of wood, you name it. Like most markets, it's got a decent mixture of fantastic stuff and crazy stuff. The following item, however, is definitely one of the strangest (and best) items I've found: a paper figure of legendary action star Charles Bronson. Bronson, far cooler than modern day joke Chuck Norris could ever hope to be, gets the full treatment here, and for a mere $10 this incredible product could be yours. (I'm not affiliated with the artist in any way whatsoever, I just think this is pretty damn cool.)



Etsy.com: Charles Bronson paper toy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

British/US sex-scandal gap grows depressingly wide

Look, the Brits outclass us in many areas. Pop music, for starters. Good TV comedy. CRUMPETS, for crying out loud. But imagine my dismay at discovering that they have done us one better in an area that used to be ours for the keeping: the sex scandal. Sure you've got your Eliot Spitzers and the $750/hour call girl, but, honestly, isn't that whole thing a little played out by now? What has happened to us, America? Have we just gotten fat and content in our old age, no longer determined to bring ingenuity and entrepreneurship to the sex scandal as we did in days gone by? Consider these two recent examples, and tell me which looks like the hungry contender, and which one looks like the self-satisfied champion of yesteryear:

United States

The co-founder and former CEO of the liberal-progressive Democracy Radio and husband of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was caught in February by a Troy police sting aimed at catching prostitutes, according to a police report.

Thomas L. Athans was stopped Feb. 26 by undercover officers investigating a possible prostitution ring in a room at the Residence Inn near Big Beaver and Interstate 75. Athans paid a 20-year-old prostitute $150 for sex in a Troy hotel but was not arrested, according to police reports obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Detroit News. The police report said officers observed Athans enter a room under surveillance and leave 15 minutes later.


Great Britain
Formula one boss Max Mosley is under pressure to resign after he was exposed by a British tabloid enjoying a Nazi-style orgy with five prostitutes.

Jewish groups condemned the behaviour of Mosley, 67, whose father, Sir Oswald, was the leader of the British Union of Fascists and a friend of Adolf Hitler.

Mr Mosley was caught on video by the News of the World with five women in an underground "torture chamber" in Chelsea, where he spent several hours allegedly indulging in sado-masochistic sex.
...
Mosley reportedly took part in the scene on Friday at a London apartment near his home, according to the News of the World.

In a video on the newspaper's website, it shows a man identified as Mosley arriving at an apartment.

The man is then greeted by a woman playing the role of a prison guard, checking his hair to s ee if he has been kept clean "at the other facility".

Later, another woman in a prisoner's uniform enters the video and the man said to be Mosley is heard speaking German.

Ok, look, no comparison. The whole Nazi angle is really distasteful, yes, but when is a good sex scandal tasteful? Isn't the whole point of a sex scandal that you are shocked? And in a day and age in which kids can really view all manner of indecency on the computer, you have to give Mr. Mosley credit for bringing his A game to the sex scandal arena. The United States showed some creativity, it must be admitted, by having its contestant arrested on Big Beaver Road, but that's about it, as they lose points by the low amount of money exchanged ($150) and the shockingly small amount of time spent on the actual act--15 minutes. Meanwhile the British guy paid God knows how much and spent hours engaged in his dirty business.

For shame, America.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Point/Counterpoint: Bush on Iraq

George W. Bush, today:

"Prime Minister [Nuri al-] Maliki's bold decision -- and it was a bold decision -- to go after the illegal groups in Basra shows his leadership and his commitment to enforce the law in an even-handed manner," he said.

"This operation is going to take some time to complete. And the enemy will try to fill the TV screens with violence, but the ultimate result will be this: Terrorists and extremists in Iraq will know they have no place in a free and democratic society."

Reality, also today:
Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq's two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias — who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade — would not stop at mere insurrection.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

US military manages to out-parody itself

Congratulations. It couldn't have been easy for spokespeople to come up with something like this. Up is Down! Black is White!

The Pentagon on Wednesday said an eruption of violence in southern Iraq, where US-backed government forces were battling Shiite militias, was a "by-product of the success of the surge."

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said it showed that the Iraqi government and security forces were now confident enough to take the initiative against Shiite extremists in the southern port of Basra.

Don't you get it? It's violent BECAUSE we are winning! That is, it appears that we are losing precisely because we are not losing. Sheesh, why don't you idiots get it?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our cruel culture: prison prohibits father from visiting dying daughter

As the parent to a young girl, it's impossible to read a story dealing with parenthood and not feel some sort of twinge at the old heart strings. Thus, I'm more affected by the following story than I might have been two years ago. Nevertheless, it's hard to view it as anything other than the product of a culture that increasingly feels no sense of sympathy for those who deserve nothing but care and tenderness.

The facts are simple: a young girl, 10 years old, lies dying of brain cancer in a Nebraska hospital. Her father, meanwhile, is in South Dakota, serving a 4 1/2 year sentence for a drug offense. Leaving aside for a moment the idiocy of prison sentences in our "war on drugs," we are faced with the sad news that the warden of the prison has decided to reject the prisoner's request to be transferred to a prison closer to his daughter so that he might occasionally see her in the final month of her life. That's right: he's not asking to have his sentence commuted or anything of the sort, just that he might be transferred from one prison to another.

Why? Well, the reasons are almost laughably absurd: because the circumstances are "not extraordinary." One wonders what could possibly be more extraordinary or compelling than a child dying of cancer. It's hard to read this story and feel anything other than sheer revulsion at people who could be so heartless--not to the father, although it's cruel to him, too, but to the 10 year old girl facing the last month of her life, and knowing that her father cannot be with her.

What should happen here? Well, it's clear. First, the prison should come to its senses and give this man a chance to see his daughter. Second, the governor of the state, if he has the power, should arrange for a transfer. Thirdly, our beloved President, the man who commuted Scooter Libby's sentence because HIS family had suffered, should intervene to transfer this poor girl's dad to a new prison, one that would allow him the chance to see his daughter.

The most disturbing thing about this story is what it reveals about our culture, one that has developed almost a fetish for seeing "punishment" carried out against people we dislike. Whether it is an innocent man in Guantanamo Bay, kept shackled and isolated for years without even being charged with a crime, or a man being kept apart from his dying daughter, we demand that our systems of justice inflict the most brutal punishments, mental and physical, on prisoners. Why? What possible rehabilitative uses can such punishments serve? Well, none, of course. Keeping this guy away from his daughter will do nothing other than nurture within him a burning rage against society, yet the prison warden keeps his head down and insists on the policy.

It's a shame, an embarrassment, and an outrage.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Al Gore is a political failure when it comes to leadership in the Democratic Party

I'm going to ask a very simple question that has really been bothering me as I contemplate the long-term consequences of the increasingly bitter battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: where the living hell is Al Gore? He is perhaps the sole figure in the Democratic political hierarchy who, by virtue of a speech, conference, or interview, could change the dynamic and propel one of the two candidates towards the nomination. Normally that role would fall to the last Democratic president, but since Bill Clinton is the spouse of one of the two candidates, that is an impossibility. So Gore, with his impressive credentials and widespread popularity (not to mention his having won nearly every non-political award of late other than the Cy Young), is the one guy who could step up to the microphone and urge some way forward.

So what's the problem? Is it that he, for example, doesn't like either Clinton or Obama? That seems possible, but certainly he understands the importance of electing one of them over McCain. (Unless, of course, he's planning his own run for 2012.) Does he feel a sense of loyalty to the Clintons, and is he therefore staying out of the way for fear of stepping on their toes by endorsing Obama? It's hard to say, as he has remained, frustratingly, on the sidelines for the past few months. The party is in dangerous territory here, with one candidate seemingly hell bent on attacking the states, voters, and racial groups that have so far propelled her opponent to the lead. It seems highly unlikely that the Democrats would stand an easy chance of winning the general election with a fractured base, yet no "distinguished elders" in the party have lifted a finger.

The three people who garner the most respect in Democratic circles, and who are not affiliated with either campaign, are Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and John Edwards. None of them has made the slightest move to break this stalemate. Gore, because of his role in the 2000 elections, is, I think, the most important of this threesome, so it is his absence that is the most frustrating and maddening. Gore, I suspect, is still living in his "the work I do is so much MORE than politics" dreamworld. It would be nice if he bothered to return to reality.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NY Times tracks down Spitzer's "Kristen," provides unintentional hilarity

The NY Times has done the impossible and located "Kristen," the (alleged) call-girl at the center of the Eliot Spitzer idiot-who-pays-$4,300-for-hookers scandal. And, amidst the usual woe-is-me story about difficult upbringing, they bust out with this moment of hilarity

Her MySpace biography says that she started singing professionally after a musician she was living with heard her singing Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in the shower and burst into the bathroom with his lead guitarist.
Uh, riiiiight. That's why he burst into the bathroom while you were in the shower. Umm hmmm.


"Kristen"

A few questions about this whole Ferraro thing

Ever since the Clinton campaign came up with the dubious strategy of having disgraced loser Geraldine Ferraro leads its racist dogwhistle attack against the Obama campaign, I've been left wondering a few things. Not, "is Geraldine Ferraro actually Camilla Parker Bowles, but with better teeth and hair?" but actual political questions. Namely:

1) Is it a really good idea to court one group of voters IN THE PRIMARY by attacking another group of voters? Granted, this makes a certain degree of sense for a general election, but I'm not exactly sure it's the smartest strategy to pursue in the primary, as presumably you'll have to go after that same group of people you just alienated.

2) Given that, does it make a lot of sense to court a group of people (conservative whites) who are more likely to desert you in the general election by trashing a group of people who are more likely to be loyal to you in the general election? I mean, I suppose you could make the argument that because conservative whites are more likely to vote McCain, Clinton needs to bring them to her side NOW, whereas since blacks are fairly reliably Democratic voters, there's no real need to court them at this point. However, by encouraging attacks that are certain to depress black turnout in a general election, I think the Clinton campaign is really shooting itself in the foot.

3) Finally, is it that smart to have as your spokesperson one of the two people on the Democratic ticket that incurred the most dramatic loss in the past 40 years? Does anyone think of Mondale/Ferraro and say "woah, now THERE was a winning ticket!" Hell no! I was 10 years old in 1984, and I knew they had no chance. I mean, the Mondale/Ferraro campaign made the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign look like a political juggernaut. Is she really the person you want out front and center, making your racist points for you? Because, great, now you've got people thinking you are a racist, and subconsciously associating you with the losingest ticket in Democratic party history.