Thursday, September 14, 2006

They Don't Know Who The Enemy Is

A point we should be making more clearly:

Democrats think we're at war with Al-Qaeda. Republicans think we're at war with all Muslims. Or at least, all terrorists.

Guess whose war is winnable? Guess who's more likely to stop the people who are actually trying to kill us?

Guess who's out of their frikkin' minds?


Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Old Boy's Lament

Dana Milbank feels really bad for Joe Lieberman, the ex-Democrat who's now running against the Democratic nominee in Connecticut. Apparently Joe hasn't been well-received by the people he's now fighting against:

After Lieberman was vanquished by antiwar candidate Ned Lamont in last month's primary, 40 of the 45 members of the Senate Democratic caucus abandoned their longtime colleague and their party's former vice presidential nominee. In this town, partisanship is thicker than friendship.

Yeah, it's sad that Lieberman's receiving so few hugs. To explain it in the high school terms that seem disturbingly appropriate, Dana, Lieberman dumped the democratic party before they dumped him. If they treat him like he's switched sides, it's probably because he has.

Milbank quotes Harry Truman saying if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Okay, fair enough. But how about this: if you want to be friends with someone, try not being their enemy.

And then this just gets weird:

Lamont made clear that even in victory he wouldn't be magnanimous. When asked if he would vote to confirm Lieberman to replace Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, Lamont said he would not.

I don't see anything rude about declining to endorse your opponent for Secretary of Defense. But then, I'm not part of the Old Boys' Network that sees Lieberman's huglessness as a gross injustice.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Process of Elimination

I just heard a GOP talking head say that we were on the right track because we had "gone on the offensive against these people in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The only possible meaning for "these people" I can see is "Muslims." Saddam and the Taliban didn't have anything else in common.

At least we're clear.


The Truth About The Da Vinci Code

The movie confirms my strong sense that reading a Dan Brown book is like reading a really poor writer describing a moderately interesting movie.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Note from a Planeful of Arabs

As a rule, I never read, much less comment on, Ann Coulter, who I am convinced is a liberal Democrat pulling the world's longest-running prank on our media. It gets less funny all the time. But on this new column makes me think her column is ghost-written by a 12-year-old in a bunker somewhere:

To pull off a 9/11-style attack now, literally half the passengers on the plane would have to be terrorists. (At least the airport screeners wouldn't have to worry about confiscating a lot of deodorants.)

I think a planeful of Arabs would attract attention — except from people who had recently completed a government training program teaching them not to notice anyone's appearance. Not even a group of liberal Democrats flying off to a Renaissance Weekend would stand for that.


Am I wrong, or does she mean that "Not even a group of liberal Democrats [blah blah blah] would stand for" a "planeful of Arabs"? (And yes, she assumes that non-Arabs wouldn't help out with a terrorist attack. This sort of racist ignorance probably hurts Richard Reid's feelings.)

Anyway, I can assure Ms. Coulter, who has apparently led a rather sheltered life, that planefuls of Arabs arrive in United States airports every day. Not only do liberal Democrats like me stand for it; we ride on them. Just last week, I boarded a planeful of Arabs, and had the best flight of my life. (And imagine: One of my travelling companions, in fact, was a conservative Republican.) They're called planes from the Middle East.

Emirates Airlines, it turns out, is not only a sane and well-run operation, it has 500 channels of movies and TV. I watched "Inside Man" and "Mission Impossible III," and then fell asleep because I was so comfortable and secure.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Fog of Getting It Right

It's nice that George Will has come so firmly around to the Michael Moore camp on the Iraq issue. His new column acknowledging that Kerry was right in his approach to the war on terror does everything but admit that Will himself was wrong:

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."


And Will rightly attacks the Bush administration for idiotically insisting that references to law enforcement demonstrated a misunderstanding of the war on terror:

"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."


Reporters should have laughed at anyone who tried to make this argument. And Democrats should have jumped on it every time they tried it in '04. We understand that the war on terror requires a vast global network of government agencies--law enforcement and intelligence and military--working to track down the bad guys. Any time anyone mentions law enforcement, however, Republicans start jumping up and down on their hats and spouting delusional garbage about not understanding that we're at WAR WAR WAR. This is not the way you catch a terrorist.

You'll note that Will uses the word "farrago" to make this point. If you know what he means, consider yourself unrepresentative of the American population at large. (As for me, I'm not going to look it up, as a matter of principle.)

It almost makes you wonder if Will is trying to make sure that only intellectuals and wonks keep reading far enough to realize he's attacking the Bush administration.

By the way, George Will, about this little bit of snark:

The official is correct that it is wrong "to think that somehow we are responsible -- that the actions of the jihadists are justified by U.S. policies." But few outside the fog of paranoia that is the blogosphere think like that.


It must really kill you that the "fog of paranoia" was right about Iraq when you were wrong, huh? Massive vocabulary and all?


Monday, August 14, 2006

Headlines in Today's NY Times Written in the Form of Questions Whose Answers I Am Not Interested In Knowing

Does Testosterone Build a Better Athlete?

Is It a Urinal, or Is It Art?

In Steroid Era, Will Golf’s Integrity Stand Test?


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Matt Bai's Twist Ending

So here's a sentence from the first paragraph of Matt Bai's article on the Lamont victory. Try to guess how it ends:

If anyone was in a position, then, to assess the significance of the Connecticut rebellion, it was

Okay, you'll never guess, so I'll tell you. Bai picks Jeffrey Bell, a Republican who in 1978 won a primary challenge against the Republican incumbent senator in New Jersey. Apparently Bell, an aide to Ronald Reagan, ran on an extreme anti-tax platform.

Yes, Matt, if anyone is in a position to explain to you media people what's happening in the Democratic party, it's a 1970s Republican extremist. Let's interview Jane Fonda about Grover Norquist. Then let's interview a three-year-old Scandinavian child about the mayoral election in Kalamazoo.

Or better yet, let's ask the three-year-old Scandinavian child to write the New York Times' articles on the Democratic party.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Second Thoughts About Free Will

On the sign in front of a church at the end of my street, there's a message that reads, "God Never Says Oops." This is clearly not true. For example, one can only imagine what came out of His mouth when He read this Jacob Weisberg piece in Slate:

The problem for the Democrats is that the anti-Lieberman insurgents go far beyond simply opposing Bush's faulty rationale for the war, his dishonest argumentation for it, and his incompetent execution of it. Many of them appear not to take the wider, global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously. They see Iraq purely as a symptom of a cynical and politicized right-wing response to Sept. 11, as opposed to a tragic misstep in a bigger conflict. Substantively, this view indicates a fundamental misapprehension of the problem of terrorism.


Dear Jacob,

Please cite one example of an anti-Lieberman insurgent who does not take the wider global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously.

Love,
Polonius

P.S. If we Democrats think it didn't help the war on terror when we invaded a country that didn't harbor al-Qaeda, does that indicate a fundamental misapprehension of the problem of terrorism?

P.P.S. I bet God had a lot of fun trying to figure out how the same person could write these two sentences in the same article:

The invasion of Iraq was, in ways that have since become hard to dispute, a terrible mistake.

[ . . . ]

Whether Democrats can avoid playing their Vietnam video to the end depends on their ability to project military and diplomatic toughness in place of the elitism and anti-war purity represented in 2004 by Howard Dean and now by Ned Lamont.

Right. So the war was a terrible mistake, and 60% of Americans are perfectly aware of this, but "anti-war purity" is a bad thing.

Just out of curiosity, would you consider Democrats "tough" enough if they advocated going to war against the actual terrorists? Just for example. Or when you said "elitism" did you mean being too stuck up to invade irrelevant third countries? That's all I can figure--that you think Democrats are too snobbish about who to invade because we insist on some actual connection to the people who are trying to kill us.

P.P.P.S. Seriously. What the hell are you talking about?


They're Keeping A Close Eye On Things

So apparently 30% of Americans have no idea what year 9/11 happened in.

30% is also the number of Americans who want a Republican to represent them in Congress.

Coincidence?


Love Them Or Leave Them -- Or Both

I can't help but find this kind of funny: in this post, Marty Peretz accuses Human Rights Watch of lying about the war in Lebanon ("The biggest lie is the one being spread by Human Rights Watch . . . that Hezbollah has not entwined its network of weapons, launching sites, and command centers into the fabric of ordinary civilian life"). Earlier in the same post, he complains about the "press corps" citing a figure of 60 dead in the Qana attack, when the real figure is 28.

Where did Peretz get this figure of 28? Apparently from Human Rights Watch.


I Must Be Missing Something

Wow. Apparently the Rand Corporation did a study and found that teenagers who listen to sexual music are more likely to have sex:

Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.


Putting aside the question of what kind of person says "yes, I like sexually degrading music," back when I was a teenager, the word we used to describe conclusions this obvious was "duh," or sometimes "a-doy-a-DUH." But the Rand Corporation in its wisdom goes on to find causation here:

Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.

"We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions and makes them less thoughtful" about sexual decisions and may influence them to make decisions they regret, he said.


But nothing in the Rand summary of the study suggests they even thought about whether correlation proves causation. In other words, okay, Rand, you proved that kids who like sex like music about sex. Great. Kids who like rodeos probably like songs about cowboys. Does that mean that listening to country music causes increased rodeo attendance?

For that matter, I really like Watership Down; I own two copies. Is that the reason I own two rabbits?

Rand was asking the wrong questions when it spoke to these kids. I suspect most high school science students could have explained the difference between correlation and causation. Or at least, the kids could put them in touch with a science teacher who could.


Three Reasons Lieberman Won't Drop Out

(1) Because this is Joe "We're In A Three-Way Tie for Third" Lieberman, who thought that coming in fifth in the presidential primaries was the voters' oblique way of saying they loved him. He's no more capable of taking no for an answer than Pepé La Pew.

(2) Because his insistence on staying the course in Iraq is a symptom of a deeper character flaw. It's called stubborness. If Joe knew when to abandon a bad policy, there would never have been a primary. (And yes, pundits, taking an unpopular stand is admirable--when that stand isn't crazy.)

(3) Because if Joe "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge . . . that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation’s peril" Lieberman cared at all about the Democratic Party, none of this would have happened in the first place.

Okay, and one bonus reason: Lieberman, remember, is the Democrat who defended the Alberto Gonzales memos misrepresenting and undermining the Geneva Conventions. In other words, his moral compass has been demagnetized. Don't expect it to point him out of the race.


How to Get Your Talking Point Swallowed

I don't know why this works, but it works. Josh Marshall notes the absurdity of the Republican talking point about how Ned Lamont is bad for the Democratic party because he makes us look weak on security.

But note the way they phrase it:

“It’s an unfortunate development, I think, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, to see a man like Lieberman pushed aside because of his willingness to support an aggressive posture in terms of our national security strategy,’’ Mr. Cheney said in a telephone interview with news service reporters.

The trick is to assume the talking point is true, and then comment on it. Don't say "Lieberman was pushed aside because he's willing to be aggressive against terrorism." That's obviously false.

Instead say "It's unfortunate that Lieberman was pushed aside because he was aggressive against terrorism." For some reason, burying your talking point this way makes it much easier for journalists to swallow and print. Apparently this creates a little glitch in the journalist's mental process that makes them think, "Oh--the debate isn't about whether Democrats are aggressive against terror; it's about whether their non-aggressiveness is unfortunate or not."

It's very similar to the way telemarketers try to keep you on the phone by framing their questions in a way that makes it difficult not to respond. So how do we teach the journalists to just hang up?


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Spam Sublimity

I feel a duty to preserve this wonderful piece of spam. From "Malone Lavelle," it was titled "re: Voxan" and reads in its entirety:

You do. And of course you are Jim of the Rats. Welcome, welcome
all.

There was plenty of handshaking and glad cries of joy before Heimskur


(This accompanied by an image containing the advertising.) It reminds me of some of Danielle Pafunda's poetry, especially the first stanza.

"Heimskur," incidentally, is apparently an Icelandic adjective meaning "stupid."

There should be awards for this stuff.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Library Name of the Week

The Candor Free Library in Candor, NY.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Shorter Stanley Fish

Academic freedom doesn't mean freedom to say things people think are crazy; it means the freedom to study things they think are boring.


Okay, so this Kevin Barrett character sounds like an idiot, possibly enough of an idiot to deserve a good firing or two. But Fish has gone off several deep ends at once. Yes, it would be nice to have professors who come up with interesting ideas about shoes. But when most people think of academic freedom, I suspect Galileo comes to mind more than Derrida. We let professors think crazy things, objectionable things, because sometimes, centuries later, it turns out they were right. A million Kevin Barretts are the price we pay for that.

And what on earth is wrong with professors urging activism? Professors are the canaries in the coal mine; they're often the first ones to see what's gone wrong. If they don't urge activism, there's often no one who will.

[I'm not back, really, just in between jobs and free to post for a while. --Polonius]


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oath as Incantation

I know, it’s a REALLY stupid time to start blogging again; especially anti-Bush sentiment. But hey, at least I don’t belong to PETA.

It’s getting downright frightening now. You don’t need me to tell you that. But I thought I’d share one frightening thing I heard during yesterday’s press conference.

Bush was asked whether, given the fact that there is no end in sight to the war on terror, we can reasonably expect the “permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the Executive.” He responded by “disagree[ing] with” the reporter’s “assertion of unchecked power.” (Funny, I thought Bush was the one asserting unchecked power). So, what was the first thing he countered this assertion with? His (and presumably others’) oath of office:

Reporter: Well—

Bush: Hold on a second, please. There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters.*

It seems that Mr. Bush mistakes the nature of an oath, which is a promise to live up to certain expectations of conduct, with the nature of an incantation. His oath of office as incantation casts a spell making all of his conduct constitutional, rather than articulating a high standard by which his conduct is measured.

The question of whether Bush is psychotic or just stupid has been a popular one, but whichever it is, it spells disaster for this country, and I don’t think it will be tolerated long. In my own part of the country, the rural south, dyed-in-the-wool conservatives are furious with him, and only the most willfully ignorant of the Christian middle class continue to let themselves be blindsided enough by the faux-issue of retail’s “war on Christmas” to fail to notice the war George W. Bush is waging upon their civil liberties.

*From whitehouse.gov. He went on to say that his briefings of the congress on this program were the other check and balance upon the power of the executive. Other commentators have said plenty about this already.


The War on Christmas

Overheard, today, in the liquor store:


Customer (leaving): Have a good holiday!

Clerk (to manager, after customer leaves): It’s Merry F----ing Christmas! Ha!

Manager: (unintelligible).

Clerk: Well, he’s a f---ing flamer, anyway. Ha!


Friday, July 01, 2005

Robert Bork, Still an Insufferable Dumbass

Well, Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring, and I've been lucky enough to catch it all in real-time on CNN, complete with Bill Frist's strange eulogy on the Senate floor and President Bush's "don't you fuck with me, senate" speech in the Rose Garden.

But the real news is that CNN's Daryn Kagen has confirmed that Robert Bork is still, 20 years later, an insufferable, boorish dumbass. Bork was contacted by telephone around 12:15 today for a televised conversation on Justice O'Connor, and wasted no time in reminding the American people what dumbasses are made of. No sooner had Kagen finished her introduction than Bork was declaring that she had no real "judicial philosophy."

To Kagen's credit, she challenged Bork on this, asking whether it was fair to make such a characterization, and suggested that there may be a difference between having a philosophy that was different from Bork and having no philosophy. That maybe she was a moderate while Bork was more conservative. Then Kagen changed her shoes and walked over to picture picture.

But Bork was unmoved, and chastised Kagen for using the word "moderate." (Something like "I really wish you'd stop using the word moderate!") Kagen asked what word he might prefer. "Activist," said Robert Bork, who went on to accuse O'Connor of numerous and significant departures from "The Actual Constitution."

"The actual constitution?" said Kagen. "Did Rush put you up to this?"


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Brief Review of the Title of Zell Miller's New Book ("A Deficit of Decency")

Boy, those truth in advertising laws are a bitch, huh?


Sunday, May 08, 2005

#1 On The List of Unpleasant Phrases That Linger In My Head After I Hear the Beatles' "Come Together"

"Spinal cracker."


Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Frightening Road to Self-Discovery

I just caught myself thinking, "For my money, there's no finer pop album than the Fine Young Cannibals' The Raw and the Cooked."

Am i going to turn into a werewolf?


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hootie's Feeding Tube

Let's face it: all of our consciences have been affected this week by the omnipresent question: should Hootie's feeding tube be removed?

Back in the day, Polonius and I shared the experience of working for a major tobacco company. Our boss was a woman who drove around threatening convenience store owners who didn't bring in enough under-eighteen business. But all that's for another blog. The point is, that was also about the time that Hootie sounded the first note in his death knell for American culture. Our cigarette boss loved him.

Now he's back, and more powerful than ever, with his whopper-hawking version of "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

Anyhow, here are the real lyrics to that song: (The last verse, which gives us the real story the song is telling, is especially relevant to the Hootie situation).

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
He said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm heading for a land that's far away
Beside the crystal fountain
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain

Oh the buzzin' of the bees
In the cigarette trees
Near the soda water fountain
At the lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
On the big rock candy mountain

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain,
It's a land that's fair and bright,
The handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
The boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the sleet don't fall
And the winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain
You never change your socks
And little streams of alkyhol
Come trickling down the rocks
O the shacks all have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And whiskey too
And you can paddle
All around it in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain
The cops have wooden legs
The bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmer's trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the sleet don't fall
And the winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain,
The jails are made of tin.
You can slip right out again,
As soon as they put you in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

The punk rolled up his big blue eyes
And said to the joker, "Sandy,
I've hiked and hiked and wandered too,
But I ain't seen any candy.
I've hiked and hiked till my feet are sore
And I'll be damned if I hike any more
To be buggered sore like a hobo's whore
In the big rock candy mountain


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Another victory for the "poor and lower middle class!" (Today's NYT)

With Friday's vote, Wal-Mart can continue to say that not one of its 1.2
million American workers belongs to a union. Support for organizing dissipated
here after the company repeatedly showed workers videos about what were
portrayed as the shortcomings of unions, and transferred into the shop six new
workers who, Mr. Noble said, had been screened by the company to ensure their
antiunion sentiment


Friday, February 25, 2005

Peggy, You Ignorant Slut

Did we need Peggy Noonan to tell us that Hunter Thompson had a drug problem? Do we need her to psychoanalyze him, too?

He must have been very scared to get tanked like that to write. The empty page,
the blank screen, is scary. But so is a mortgage. So is the stillness of a
courtroom before you make the closing argument. And so is a broken leg that
needs fixing fast. We all have jobs.
Thank you, Peggy. Your moral courage is a comforting example to us all; most especially, I'm sure, to the family of the deceased.


Nordlinger Gives Up "Honest Debate"

In a shocking turn of events this week, the National Review Online's Jay Nordlinger has given up trying to "reason with" people on the political left.

You want to have an honest, robust debate with your political opposition — you
really do. But what if they think you're out to screw old people and enrich Wall
Street? Can you talk to such people?
Can you?

It seems Nordlinger's well-meaning attempts at a mutually elevating dialogue have sustained one too many blows from the emotionally charged fictions that fuel such things as Wal-Mart protests and university conferences.

Yet, though discouraged, he comes out of the battle with the liberal elite with the truth at his side, still secure in the knowledge that "Wal-Mart is a godsend to the poor and the lower middle class." While we might think at first that he means lower middle class and poor Americans, who don't happen to work in manufacturing, want to join unions, or make a living wage, Nordlinger anticipates our misreading and misinformation. Yet, rather than succumbing to the temptation to mock the ignorant liberal reader, Nordlinger serenely turns away from the technique of making straw men out of the opposition and delivers us the cold hard facts, setting us straight about the Wal-Mart issue:


The anti-Wal-Mart mindset is a kind of religion, like dumb
environmentalism, or dumb devotion to gun control, or dumb hatred of the SUV. You can't reason with these people, can't have an honest debate with them: Wal-Mart is simply their devil.


After clearing up the whole Wal-Mart thing, Nordlinger moves on to make a compelling argument against the problems in the (other-than-Bob Jones) universities of today:


At Weinstein Auditorium in Wright Hall, you can attend a panel concerning
"What is the new surveillance? An overview of current conditions." Later you can
hear from such scholars as Joy James, "Africana Studies, Brown University," and
Amrita Basu, "Women and Gender Studies, Amherst College," and . . .
I could go on, but it's too depressing. One thing's sure: I bet they're not "invested in
the complexity of human endeavors across the planet"; I bet they regard things
as pretty simple
.

Nordlinger's relentless, brilliant logic is almost too much. It's no wonder his attempts at dialogue with liberals don't work; his arguments are too complex, too mercilessly dazzling in their subtlety and intricacy. All the poor overwhelmed liberal can do in the face of such an opponent is abandon any attempt at logical engagement and resort to name calling and gross generalization, pathetic rejoinders like "oh yeah? Well I bet you regard things as pretty simple! Ha!"

Somewhere, there is a secret academy where minds like Nordlinger's are trained. Until a liberal is admitted to its halls, our cause is hopelessly shackled by primitive thinking and cult-like fidelity to an ideology that ignores the facts. In the meantime, we should be grateful that Nordlinger is still publishing, and take this opportunity to learn from the enlightened.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Liberating Brigitte

My favorite thing on T.V.? “Strange Love,” the new reality show on VH1 chronicling the romance of Flava Flav and Brigitte Nielson. There are few sights more gratifying than that of Flav jumping around in a white bathrobe, slippers, and a Viking helmet, upon whose horns he has impaled two croissants, declaring his love for an aging, brain damaged hysteric.

But this is not your usual reality T.V. show. It is, in fact, a heartfelt homage to the first term of George W. Bush.

When we first tune in, we find Flav on vacation. Already, we begin to see the parallels.

He is attempting to wrest Brigitte (a sort of Iraq-figure who is fond of long, flowing head scarves) from the clutches of her fiancée--in France. His aim is to take her back to New York with him and show her what life’s really about.

But when Flav gets a bit crazy and breaks her stuff while they’re in the bath tub (Baath-tub?), we see Brigitte’s Arab-like ambivalence surface with some not-quite-intelligible verbal abuse. Flav makes it up to her by firing her maid.

Of course, during this difficult but morally correct courtship, Flav, like W., has to deal with the snobbery of old Europe. An Italian vintner is at a loss for what to do with him when, after being invited to stomp on a few grapes, Flav decides to go on stomping for hours on end, demanding more and more grapes, and screaming “we gonna get drunk tonight!” (Purple toes—purple fingers?)

Brigitte puts the whole thing in perspective for us, renewing our sympathy for our noble but misunderstood commander in chief, when she comments to the viewer that “Fufie Fufie” has to understand Europe isn’t like America.

What happens next? Will Brigitte make the transition to Flav’s Laissez-faire values? Or will she remain in the service of her despotic fiancée, content to enjoy the support of the old European establishment, haunted by the painful knowledge of what could have been as her life continues to dissolve into chaos? If he fails in this first attempt, will Flav be able to make the case back home to Chuck D. and Terminator X to loan him more money so he can go back to Europe to finish the job? Only time will tell.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Update

That transcript from Scarborough Country is here. Even better is the next step, in which Scarborough, interviewing Tom Lucero of the Colorado Board of Regents, gets on board with the ever-more popular characterization of liberals as irrational, hate-mongering enemies of free speech (after all, they interrupted the Board of Regents), and asks Lucero point blank if he has "the guts to fire" Churchill.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Try Asking Another Body Part

From MMFA:

Sinclair's Hyman wrong on Ohio voting problems

Poor Sinclair.


Let's Clear This Up

Perhaps it was a show of solidarity with George W. Bush. Or maybe the self-satisfied boasting of the proverbial Ugly American at its most abhorrent. Or just some kind of twisted souvenir.

But whatever anyone says, that purple ink on the fingers of Republicans at the State of the Union was not a show of solidarity with the Iraqi people.


The Great Terror Comes to Scarborough Country

Yes, Ward Churchill is probably an idiot.

An argument along the lines of Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent," that we are all part of a bigger problem involving capitalism, military power, and oppression may be plausible. But to claim that suicide bombers are a good means of counteracting that problem is absurd. Fine.
But the fun hasn't stopped there.

Of course, I don't need to go on and on about free speech here. But I do ask you to take a moment of your time to reflect on how freakin' scary this whole thing is getting: look at the power wielded by Bill O'Reilly, for example.

From his website:

Hamilton College has decided to cancel its engagement this week with controversial University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill. Congratulations, Factor fans! While the college cites security concerns as the reason for the cancellation, we believe that the volume of your messages sent to Pres. Stewart criticizing his appearance was the real factor in deciding to shut down the event. To express your approval for the decision to cancel the Churchill lecture, please contact the school.

Okay, maybe it wasn't all those calls from "Factor fans" that were responsible for the decision. Maybe it really was a death threat from some psychotic right-winger. None of whom are Bill O'Reilly, or his fans.

But no matter. Now the game is on in Scarborough Country. Last night, Scarborough called for the firing of any state-school professor who expresses views contrary to those of the Cult of the Purple Finger. (Transcript to follow as soon as MSNBC posts it). This wouldn't have bothered me so much before all the fair and balanced questioning Joe and his creepy, slightly dazed junkyard dog, Pat Buchannan did with the Swift Boaters, or before the whole Churchill business.

At the moment, however, it seems like the Great Terror has come to Scarborough Country. These people are in power now, and they can't be satisfied.


Really

Who gives a damn about Kinky Friedman?


Friday, January 21, 2005

The Meaning and Promise of Liberty: Doing the Math

I haven’t been doing much pundit-surfing at all this week, but I imagine a lot of folks have picked up on Bush's mind-blowingly empty rhetoric. Yet Bush told us:

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, it rang as if it meant something.

Well, yesterday Bush seemed to be saying the word “liberty” as if it meant something, but that something seems a bit hard to pin down. All we seem to get is that liberty is something authored by God and spread by America. Be that as it may, we can still have a look at how the word is used in his speech and get some idea, if not of its meaning, of it's function.

In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.
That's great. We're all ears.

I In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Assuming that freedom and liberty are synonyms here, liberty is a necessary condition for justice, as well as human rights. What does that mean?
For all you fans of 10th grade math out there, we’ll do it this way:

Let L=Liberty
Let J=Justice
Let HR=Human rights

~ L --> ~ J ^ ~ HR

II Liberty will come to those who love it.
Here Bush might be reasonably taken to mean that love of liberty is a prerequisite for liberty itself. So:
Let LOL=Love of liberty

~LOL--> ~ L
~ L -->~ J ^ ~ HR

----------------------
~LOL--> ~ J ^ ~ HR


III Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty though this time in history […]We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery.
Here, Bush is implying that questioning the global appeal of "liberty" is tantamount to the acceptance of permanent slavery. Not questioning liberty per se, but it's global appeal. Liberty itself is of course undefined as yet, except that it is something spread by America through the will of it's author, the Almighty. Certainly, an acceptance of slavery is not compatible with love of liberty. So:

Let Q= questioning the global appeal of liberty

Q--> ~LOL
~LOL --> ~ L
~ L --> ~ J ^ ~ HR
-------------------------
Q-->~J ^ ~ HR


Wow.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Vote or Die

Michael Rubin over at the National Review, perhaps another pundit with a close relationship to The Pragmatic Thinker, has identified that certain something that leads to the emergence of a real democracy: “The worsening atmosphere is driving the Iraqi desire to vote.”

Now all the cynical critics of the war can see that 100,000 dead Iraqis, more than 1,000 dead Americans, a depleted military without the resources to intervene in Darfur, and the ire of the rest of the world are not the consequences of deranged and deluded thinking or poor planning. And if they are, so be it: we now have fertile ground for democracy. Iraq has become P. Diddy’s wet dream:

Insurgents and terrorists may kill Iraqis lining up to vote. They may assassinate winning candidates. But only through voting, can Iraqis choose their own government, one that will have the moral authority to undertake remedies forbidden by professional diplomats and intelligence operatives who have had trouble letting go of the old order.

Call me idealistic, but I just can’t get over that misplaced comma after “But only through voting…”


Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Pragmatic Thinker

"You could argue, maybe this is God's hand, because some of their brethren struck Christian America. Maybe God speaks the truth but waits. Seeks the truth and waits. I don't know. You could argue: God struck them."
--Michael Savage on the (Muslim) Tsunami victims: 12.31.04

If there is a funny side to this, it's that one of the nutjob formerly known as Michael Weiner's advertisers is called "the pragmatic thinker."

(You can find the others here).



Intermission

Polonius has suggested that I keep the seat warm for him over the coming months. I’ve had mixed feelings about the whole thing, after my own blog went the way of so many others sometime around the first week in November. You know the story: I got mad, lost focus, drank too much, started wearing a bow tie, and was eventually confronted on live television by Jon Stewart, who begged me to stop. Then Blogger pulled my column, publicly siding with him. What a world.

But Polonius has asked, and I must answer. All you, er, rabbiteers who have come to anticipate the incisive wit and depth of information this site has come to offer can continue logging on to find--at the very least--complete sentences. Think of me as a screen saver, keeping you mildly interested until Polonius re-installs.

But for now, I gotta go. Crossfire's on.


Monday, January 03, 2005

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

So I'm afraid I'll be signing off for a while--at least until May, and maybe even longer. Why? For one of the following reasons:

(a) I am an undercover operative with the U.S. Secret Service, and I'm on the verge of cracking a major drug ring, but to do so I'll need to go undercover like Kiefer Sutherland did during that interminable sequence of 24 episodes where the Mexican girl got shot at the end for no frikkin' reason.

(b) I just can't do the research any more. If I have to read the National Review website one more time, my head is going to pop like a water balloon.

(c) I am going into hiding to avoid agents of Jerry Falwell, who threatened my life after I revealed the existence of Falwell Confidential to a breathless world.

(d) I am actually Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), and I'm tired of the whole facade.

Or possibly it's none of those. Anyway thanks for stopping by; you've been a great crowd.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

Predictions for 2005

Okay, I'll play too. Here are a few random guesses:

Rehnquist will resign, and Clarence Thomas will be appointed Chief Justice. During the confirmation process, Democrats will relentlessly be called racist by Republican surrogates; Republican elected officials will for the most part refuse to distance themselves from these attacks. Dick Durbin will give a really good speech on the Senate floor explaining why they're wrong.

To fill Thomas' seat, Bush will nominate a Latino, because that way he can accuse Democrats of being racist again.

Donald Rumsfeld will continue to insist that things are going well in Iraq.

The new Harry Potter book will be somewhat disappointing.

Bush will push his immigration initiative a bit, but his guest-worker proposal will get so many anti-immigrant provisions attached to it that even the guest workers will start opposing it. Nonetheless, right-wingers will oppose anything that even sounds like it might help immigrants. After the proposal tanks (this will actually be sometime in 2006) the media will blithely announce that Bush has helped his standing among Latinos.

Because life is unfair, nothing particularly bad will happen to Bob Novak.

Barack Obama will give some really good speeches on the Senate floor.

Dr. James Dobson, head nut at Focus on the Family, will choke on something over dinner but fail to wonder whether God is warning him to cut it out.

Alan Alda will not become President on The West Wing--it'll be that other guy, the one Josh likes.

Senate Republicans will fail to pass the "nuclear option," their weird plan to end Democrats' filibusters by having Dick Cheney declare a rules change. They will be pretty angry about this.

Rush Limbaugh will say something racist, and not lose a single advertiser.

There will be negative stories in the national media about Rudy Giuliani, because right-wingers are worried about him running for president and will dig up some of the mountains of dirt on him just to give us all an early taste.

Bush will spend some quality time on vacation.

Thousands of authors trying to get their books published will read The DaVinci Code, and feel their universe stop making sense as Robert Langdon, the stupidest protagonist since The Sound and the Fury, gets everything explained to him five times and still fails to understand the obvious plot twists.

In desperation, some of these aspiring authors will pick up Dan Brown's first book, Angels and Demons. They will be rewarded with koan-like sentences such as "The thought was inconceivable" or the one where Langdon "falls into step with" a character who's in a wheelchair. Most of these would-be authors will give up writing and begin drinking heavily, or vomiting.

More "torture memos" will leak, but people won't get that upset about it.

Michael Moore's new interest in health-care will cause him to be called a communist by Ann Coulter and Michele Malkin.

Hundreds of American soldiers will die in Iraq. Hundreds or even thousands of Iraqis will die, too. American public opinion will continue to swing against the war, but not by more than five or ten percentage points, because it's hard for people to admit the war is wrong when so many people have suffered so much for it.

Meanwhile, in Heaven, Jerry Orbach will make some extremely inappropriate jokes to the recently deceased about the way they died. In spite of themselves, they'll laugh and groan at the same time, and feel a little better about things.

The rest of us will get through somehow.


The Fifth Circuit House of Horrors

Creakings, as of old wood, and groanings, as of souls long tormented, rise quavering through the dim, foggy air. A ghoulish old caretaker gives a yellow-toothed, humorless grin to his nine customers. “Welcome,” he hisses, “to the Fifth Circuit House of Horrors, Frights and Chills.”

Antonin gulps, and turns to Old Bill. “Bill,” he says, “maybe it’s better you wait here. With your health…” A moan echoes from the tottering structure looming before them. “You’re right,” says Bill. “I’m not up to this. I’ll sit here on this bench.”

The eight go on without him. The caretaker takes their tickets, and waves them into two rusty cars. Stephen, Ruth, David and John Paul climb gingerly into the first. Antonin, Clarence, Anthony and Sandra Day settle in to the second. The bars clang down across their laps. “I don’t much like that,” Sandra Day says, her strong voice sounding small and hollow as it echoes out into the gloom. The cars lurch forward with a screech, metal grating on metal.

A recorded voice comes over the speakers, the deep voice of a troubled old man. “Welcome,” it says. “You are entering the Fifth Circuit. Leave your hope at the door.” Doors crash shut behind them, and a cold breeze brushes their cheeks in the darkness. Anthony looks around in alarm, and draws his coat a little closer around him.

“If you listen close,” the spectral voice says, “you can hear the whisperings of the ghost of Charles Pickering.” An eerie murmur arises; a hushed, indistict, worried sound that is not quite human. “They say he has unfinished business here,” the speakers intone, and a series of bright lights and banging sounds startle the company.

The cars screech around a corner. Suddenly the air is very warm. A giant figure with bulging muscles and a costume of black leather straps holds a gargantuan battle-axe over the neck of a whimpering Mexican. Wailing faces become visible in the background, arms reaching out as if trying to grab the axe and stay its fall—the desperate faces of the International Court of Justice.

“What’s that, Mr. Medellin?” the giant booms, sarcastically. “You want to talk to your consulate?” The axe rises up, and Stephen notices that the giant has scrawled the word “consulate” on it, in what look like letters of blood. “Here you go!” The axe falls, and the Mexican’s head drops into the little basket. The faces of the ICJ wail louder.

“Did you see that?” gasps Antonin. “International law!” Antonin’s face is pale, and quickly begins to go green. Clarence throws a reassuring arm around his shoulders. “Don’t worry,” Clarence says. “There’s no such thing as international law.”

Antonin nods quickly, as if trying to convince himself. Clarence repeats himself like a parent singing a lullaby: “There’s no such thing as international law…there’s no such thing as international law…there’s no such thing as international law…”

The cars move on, and creak past a filmy window, opening on a tranquil view of the outside. A river is visible in the distance, and Ruth thinks wistfully of the First Circuit, where the winters are harsh but mental illness is blessedly rare.

Suddenly a fist comes from nowhere and bangs on the window, and a white staring face lurches up behind it—the crazed eyes of Priscilla Owen, mouth open, bellowing “LET ME IN!” The company starts back in horror as more wide-eyed faces appear at the window, fists banging.

Sandra Day notices the word “filibuster” engraved on the window, just below a great crack beginning to snake its way across the glass. “This glass isn’t going to hold!” she shouts. “Let’s get the hell out of here!”

She jumps out of the car and runs along the little walkway next to the track. But after three steps, she stops in horror. The track and the walkway dead-end, dropping away into a horrible void.

Clarence and Antonin are at the window now, their face inches away from the glass and the horrible faces outside. Clarence turns to face them, his face strangely unperturbed by the screeching and hammering just inches from his head.

“I’m afraid no one’s going anywhere,” Clarence says, an eerie grin playing across his face. Antonin flips a big switch. There is the distant hum of electricity flickering off. Lights flicker off behind them. The group is lit now only by the moonlight filtering in past the screeching creatures at the window. “Things are going to be a little different from now on,” Clarence says. “You might as well get used to the place. And to calling me Chief.”

The glass shatters. The ghouls swarm in.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Thoughts On "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays"

Boy, our friends on the right seem pretty angry that religious minorities exist in this country, don't they? They just can't stand it when people make allowances for that.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Liveblogging Getting Home and Channel-Surfing After A Few Drinks And A Bit Of Dancing

On TNT, Lou Diamond Phillips seems upset that someone called someone else on the phone; meanwhile, Marky Mark, apparently without the Funky Bunch, is holding a Japanese schoolgirl hostage, but his heart isn't in it.

On CNN, someone sitting in for Larry King finished an interview with Bernie Goetz by explaining that he "fought back." Actually, if I remember right, he shot a bunch of dudes execution-style after they asked him for cash. Apparently the woman standing in for Larry King approves of this.

On Bravo, Dave Navarro just announced that if he wins this poker game, it will be the most important thing that ever happened to him. Jane's Addiction aside, I have very little trouble believing that.

I like to think I'm not a violent person, but it frightens me to think what I'd be capable of if I was in a room with these people singing the Old Navy commercials. I don't think I'd last more than a minute or so before it started to look like Reservoir Dogs in there.

TNT seems inappropriately proud of the four Steven Seagal movies they plan to show tomorrow. Comedy Central seems inappropriately proud to be showing a Wayans Brothers movie (I'm trying to avoid learning which one).

On Channel 56, a bunch of cartoon robots seem pretty angry with each other.

On Fox News, Neil Cavuto is pretending to interview a guy pretending to be Santa about his stock picks. I imagine they mean it as a joke, but to me it doesn't seem markedly different from interviewing Donald Rumsfeld about the future of Iraq.

I get the feeling the SciFi Channel's heart just isn't in it tonight.

On Channel 53, someone just said, "There literally are no quacking ducks in Argentina." It's amazing what you can learn without really trying these days. I changed the channel pretty fast.

Things are not going well for Marky Mark. Or anyone associated with this movie he's in.

From VH1, I learn that Johnny Depp has his own private island. Then they move on to Britney and how much she spent on her new husband. I would rather gargle sewage for a living than be one of the people VH1 is interviewing for comments on Britney and Kevin's lifestyle.

Okay, time for bed.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Tonight I Made Some Pork Explode

So, yeah. True story. Tonight I was microwaving some pork--a medium-sized piece, no weird marinade or anything--and I did all the usual things (take pork out of refrigerator, put pork on plate, put plate in microwave, turn it on).

After about thirty seconds, I heard a loud BANG. Once I figured out that it had come from the microwave, I walked over, turned it off, and opened it up. There was pork all over the inside.

I didn't even know pork could explode.

If any of you have any insight into this, I'd love to hear it. Why did my pork explode? I really don't have any thoughts, other than that if this story reminds you of the whole Bernard Kerik saga, well, me too.