Sunday, October 31, 2004

A Special Moment

Today Thomas Sowell, a professional idiot over at, writes a column about how awful the media is for publishing the disappearance-of-enough-explosive-to-stock-car-bombs-for-months story.

This is, of course, an essential part of the conservative strategy: attack all sources of information that are not controlled by the right. In its most extreme form, this approach leads to book-burning, brainwashing, etc, but even Karl Rove has a hard time spinning those things as pro-democracy, so for the moment we stick with these dumb "media bias" arguments.

Okay, okay, you knew that. I just wanted to point out a remarkable moment in the history of rhetoric:

Evan Thomas of Newsweek has estimated that media bias may add as much as 15 points to Kerry's vote.

...thus actually disproving his own argument by making it. No anti-Bush media would ever print such a preposterous piece of anti-Democratic spin.

Nimble! And thanks to Mr. Sowell for bringing it to our attention.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

SNEAKYRABBIT Special: Translation of the New Bin Laden Tape

Because Bin Laden's latest attack on the American people involves forcing us to listen to moronic analysis of whether his latest tape proves he's rooting for Bush or Kerry, we here at THE SNEAKY RABBIT are pleased to offer a translation of the key passage unavailable anywhere else in the media.

Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.


I don't particularly care whether Kerry or Bush wins. See, I want to kill all of you equally. I'm fucking Osama Bin Laden. You know how little difference Ralph Nader sees between the presidential candidates? I can't even see any difference between them and Nader. I can't fucking tell any of you apart, because my eerily pleasant eyes are completely clouded by bloodlust. I am trying to kill you. All of you. Period.

Do I prefer Kerry? Well, is he American? Then I prefer to kill him. But please don't think killing Kerry will make me want to kill Bush any less. I also continue to be interested in killing you.

I am getting pretty tired of people arguing about who I'm rooting for. I'm rooting for you all to fucking die. Especially Howard Fineman.

Friday, October 29, 2004

A Brief Review of Tom Waits' "Real Gone"

The last album, Mule Variations, really was a series of variations on the theme of "Get Behind the Mule": "You got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow."


Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Truth About Hobbits

You realize what this means, of course.

The Lords of the Rhymes now officially have a healthier relationship with the truth than the Bush administration.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I'm Missing Something Again

About this Raisin Bran Crunch commercial that they keep playing:

So the guy is sitting at his desk eating a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch. And the boss comes by, and says hey, Johnson, didn't I fire you? In fact, didn't I fire you yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that?

But Johnson can't hear his boss, because the Raisin Bran Crunch he's chewing makes a noise inside his head like a trash compactor being amplified through Neil Young's guitar amp. It's really quite unpleasant.

As I see it, there are only two conclusions here: either Johnson's boss stops by at exactly the same moment every day -- which seems unlikely; the boss seems to have been on a random stroll, not a regular patrol -- or, as I'm forced to conclude, Johnson has been eating Raisin Bran Crunch for at least four consecutive days.

Now, I eat Raisin Bran sometimes. And it always worries me a little bit that if you don't wash the bowl immediately, the leftover Raisin Bran turns into a sort of brown teflon coating which can only be scaped off with power tools.

So can you imagine what Johnson's intestines look like after four days of non-stop Raisin Bran Crunch? Between that and the soul-destroying noise of his own chewing, one imagines that Johnson is by now just a shell of a man, frail and disturbed, barely able to pronounce his own name without bursting into tears.

In a way, he's a perfect symbol for all of us who can't tear ourselves away from politics this Zero Week.

And the Raisin Bran Crunch, of course, is a symbol of Bob Novak.

The Least of These

Next time you hear someone say it doesn’t make a difference whether Bush or Kerry wins, ask them to repeat it 37 times—once for each time John Ashcroft has overruled a local prosecutor’s decision not to seek the death penalty, and ordered the prosecutor to seek death against their better judgment.

That’s 37 people it makes a pretty big difference to.

I suspect there are others.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

It's Worse Than You Thought

Thought I'd check to see how the wingnut community is handling the stress of Zero Week, so I wandered over to, "Your First Stop For Nuttery."

What's on their minds, apparently, is their own feces. "Every time I flush the toilet, I think of Congress," writes an exhilarated Paul Jacob. Apparently he's angry about water-saving toilets.

Which, frankly, is a scandal the liberal media has been covering up for years. Apparently the regulation began in 1992 or something, "And, with this, American frustration with their toilets began in earnest."

So that's when it was!

To me, the toilet is a triumph of private enterprise and human ingenuity.

Instead, I prefer to see what's left in the toilet bowl as a symbol of Congress. A clogged mass of disgusting waste.

[...]My wife complained to me, recently, about our twelve-year-old clogging the toilet again. I defended the poor kid. Don't blame kids, blame Congress!

I'm not kidding; it goes on for a whole column.

Maybe your kid wouldn't clog the toilet if you'd stop feeding him Grapes of Wrath and Sandwiches of Vitriol, Mr. Jacob.

And for the rest of you, look, I realize is an easy target, but I'm busy, and it's pretty damn funny. Check out the guy's picture! Can't you just see him staring into the toilet, muttering darkly to himself about the Clean Water Act?

Do you think he'll get a cabinet appointment if things go badly next Tuesday?

Are you ready to mutter darkly into your toilet yet?


UPDATE: Jawbones and his intrepid team of researchers have sent in this late-breaking picture and report from the front lines:

Paul Jacob reconstructing the scene...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Brief Review of the Movie "White Chicks," Based Only On A Commercial For It I Saw On Comedy Central

The only words that can adequately convey my horror and loathing are "toilet water in the ice-cube tray."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Dr. Thompson's Plea for Civility

Some people say that George Bush should be run down and sacrificed to the Rat gods. But not me. No. I say it would be a lot easier to just vote the bastard out of office on November 2nd.

This is worth reading. After his plea for civility, Thompson writes his own press release:

Thompson, long known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader as "a worthless Judas Goat with no moral compass."

"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next President of the United States."

I won't ruin the ending, but here's the build-up:

As we rode to the event, I told [Kerry] that Bush's vicious goons in the White House are perfectly capable of assassinating Nader and blaming it on him. His staff laughed, but the Secret Service men didn't. Kerry quickly suggested that I might make a good running mate, and we reminisced about trying to end the Vietnam War in 1972.

That was the year I first met him, at a riot on that elegant little street in front of the White House. He was yelling into a bullhorn and I was trying to throw a dead, bleeding rat over a black-spike fence and onto the president's lawn.

We're lucky to be alive.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Worst System of Government, Except for All the Rest

In case you were feeling like the candidates sometimes talk down to their audience, here's this recent survey of Tennessee voters:

only about half of Tennessee adults can accurately name Kerry as the candidate who supports rescinding the recent federal income tax cuts for people earning over $200,000 a year. About a quarter (23%) incorrectly attributed the proposal to Bush, and 27% admit they don’t know which candidate supports the measure. Similarly, only about half (50%) rightly name Bush as the candidate who favors giving parents tax-funded vouchers to help pay private or religious school tuition. Thirteen percent attribute the plan to Kerry, who actually opposes it. Over a third (37%) admit they don’t know.

Overall, in fact, Tennesseans averaged only two right answers when quizzed about which candidate held which view on the five issues. A fifth (20%) got no right answers, and 19% got one answer right. Another fifth (20%) got two right answers, and still another fifth (20%) got three right answers. Only 13% got four right answers, and a mere 8% got all of the answers right.

So I guess maybe it'd be appropriate for me to swallow my liberal elitism and accept that candidates are going to have to do some repeatin' to get their message across.

Then again, maybe even that wouldn't help:

Nevertheless, Tennesseans profess a high degree of interest in the campaign, with 71% describing themselves as “very interested,” and 23% as “somewhat interested.” Only 6% say they are “not at all interested.” ... Over a third (39%) say they watched the presidential debates at “every single opportunity.” Another 22% say they watched “most of the time,” and about a quarter (24%) say they watched “only some of the time.” Just 16% say they never watched.

So they are paying attention. It's just not helping.

American democracy: a system wherein every four years, the most important decisions in the country are given to those least qualified to make them.

By which I mean, of course, the media.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Strict Constructionism

Just for anyone who thinks it doesn't matter whether Bush or Kerry wins, a federal judge in Utah has recently given us a great example of what Bush meant when he said in the debate that he wouldn't appoint activist judges.

Judge Paul Cassell, a George W. Bush appointee in Utah, recently held that illegal immigrants have no rights under the Fourth Amendment.

In his May 2003 ruling, Cassell determined that Esparza-Mendoza, a Mexican national previously deported from the United States, was illegally detained by police in October 2002. However, Cassell also found that the violation was inconsequential because Esparza-Mendoza was not entitled to Fourth Amendment protections.

This may seem shocking to some. But Judge Cassell is clearly correct on the law. After all, look at the text of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure...against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

It's not like illegal immigrants are people, right?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Walrus v. Mouse

The media's attempts to sound objective while fact-checking the debates are almost cute. They're like trying to report on a see-saw with a walrus on one side and a mouse on the other, and make it sound like the whole thing is balanced. Here's ABC News:

Kerry sharply criticized Bush on port security inspections of ship cargo, saying "95 percent come in today uninspected. That's not good enough."

Kerry's claim ignores that the manifests of all U.S.-bound cargo are screened before they reach American ports and all high-risk cargo is identified. U.S. officials then physically inspect the high-risk cargo which accounts for about 5 percent of the overall total.

Oh! So as long as the terrorists put their bombs on the manifest, that'll be fine, then.

Kerry says the see-saw is tipping heavily to the walrus's side. But Kerry's claim ignores that there is a mouse on the other side of the see-saw.

Honestly, do they read this stuff before they post it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Next Republican Talking Point

John Kerry says stem cell research could help save Christopher Reeve's life.

In fact, Christopher Reeve is already dead.

John Kerry: there's what he says, and then there's the truth.

Monday, October 11, 2004

The Gray Lady Doth Protest Too Much

I don't have much of an opinion on whether the First Amendment allows journalists to be jailed for refusing to disclose their sources. But yesterday's op-ed from the chairman and CEO of the New York Times is interesting.

It talks about how Times reporter Judy Miller is facing jail time for refusing to respond to a subpoena in the criminal investigation of the government officials who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. So here's the Times' argument about why Miller shouldn't have to give information about White House officials who called her to talk about Plame:

The founders of our democracy understood that our government was also a human institution that was capable of mistakes and misdeeds. That is why they constructed a First Amendment that would give the press the ability to investigate problems in the official branches of our government and make them known to the public. In this way, the press was sensibly put in a position to help hold government accountable to its citizens.

An essential tool that the press must have if it is to perform its job is the ability to gather and receive information in confidence from those who would face reprisals for bringing important information about our government into the light of day for all of us to examine. Without an enforceable promise of confidentiality, sources would quickly dry up and the press would be left largely with only official government pronouncements to report.

Right! That sounds great. But in this case, Judy Miller is going to jail -- as best I can tell -- for refusing to expose government wrongdoing. The government is going after her here because she isn't "bringing important information about our government into the light of day." It's a little harder to be sympathetic when the press is actually protecting government officials who've misused their authority and their access to the press.

And I know, reporters are going to have to promise confidentiality to their sources. How about we just add another term to that contract: if you call me with confidential info, I'll go to jail to protect you, but if you call me looking to leak a national secret in order to retaliate against a political enemy, that's a story, and I'm going to report it. If you abuse the process and exploit confidentiality, expect to get burned.

Besides, it's nice to see the Times all up in arms about the duty to expose government wrongdoing, but it'd be a lot nicer to have seen it when we were all being scammed on WMDs.

Sometimes I get the feeling the press is suffering from a sort of collective Sucker Guilt -- they know they've been used to convey all sorts of misinformation, from WMDs and Saddam/9-11 links to the Swift Boat garbage, and every once in a while they spring up with a belated, and often irrelevant, defense of the Fourth Estate's sacred role in our democracy. That's great and everything, but how about just asking some tough questions once in a while?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Being Better Off

Listen carefully when someone tries to justify the war in Iraq by saying, "The world is better off without Saddam Hussein." It's a rhetorical trap meant to ensnare liberals, but it speaks volumes about the people who use it.

"We're better off because of this war" is a long way from "we had no choice but to go to war." "Better off" is not a high bar. I'd be "better off" right now if I had a massage and a glass of 18-year-old Scotch. But that doesn't mean I'm going to send a hundred thousand troops to war to get them for me.

Clearly, the world is "better off" without Saddam Hussein. But anyone from the administration who justifies the war on that basis is quietly acknowledging that we did not go to war as a last resort. If we went to war just to make the world "better off"--without much, much more--then we fought an unjust war by almost any standard.

Which makes none of us better off.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Great Expectations

Our President, from last night's debate:

I can see why people think that he changes position quite often. Because he does.


Look at the record of the man running for the president. They don't name him the most liberal in the United States Senate because he hasn't shown up to many meetings. They named him because of his votes. And it's reality.

Has anyone ever asked President Bush how Kerry could be (a) the most liberal member of the Senate, and (b) an inconsistent flip-flopper?

Does anyone even expect the Republican spin to make sense anymore?

A Cheap Shot I'd Like to Take

Question I'd like to see someone ask President Bush:

Of all the things that have gone wrong during your three and a half years in office, can you name one that you haven't blamed on 9/11?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A Brief Review of "Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn"

So painfully not funny, it's like watching half an hour of someone kicking a nun.

Twin Peaks

So President Bush says that Saddam Hussein was "systematically gaming the system." And then Kerry says the American people "deserve facts that represent reality."

What other kind of facts are there? And how else might one game a system?

My head is spinning. With joy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

So That's Why They're Undecided

I just saw a focus group of 24 swing voters on CNN, with Bill Hemmer, who did something truly wonderful.

"So after this debate," he asked his panel," have you made up your mind about who to vote for? Yes or no -- let's see a show of hands."

The voters looked suitably baffled. Some of them tentatively raised their hands, having no idea whether they were voting for yes or no. Hemmer, looking pleased with himself, announced, "Okay, about half. There you have it."

Wolf Blitzer forged bravely, blithely on, as Blitzers always do. Truly, we are lucky to live in times like these.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Tinfoil Hats on the Horizon

Truly, the Bush administration is resolute, and above all, consistent, as those hoping to avoid a third war between Ethiopia and Eritrea are about to find out.

The truly innovative Bush Doctrine isn't pre-emption; it's the endlessly interesting policy of retaliation against irrelevant third parties. First, we responded to 9/11 by invading Iraq, one of the few countries in the world that actually wasn't harboring al-Qaeda terrorists. Now, in a lower-profile strike, we've pulled our handful of troops out of the UN peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Why? Well, we had to. Because those countries haven't signed bilateral agreements promising not to turn American soldiers in to the International Criminal Court.

Okay, I think that's a bad set of priorities, but so far no tinfoil hats poking out. Not so fast: it turns out that neither Ethiopia nor Eritrea is part of the International Criminal Court. So there's no conceivable scenario in which they could turn our troops over to the ICC anyway.

See, this is a brilliant strategy. Retaliating against totally innocent, random countries is something the enemy would never expect.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

From the Department of Awesome

The Hill reports that a minion of Tom Delay's is on the run from federal marshals:

Michael Scanlon, a public-relations consultant and former aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) now under investigation for his business dealings with Indian tribes, failed to show up to testify before a Senate panel yesterday after federal marshals were unable to serve him with the committee’s subpoena.

“The U.S. marshals tell us Mr. Scanlon is hiding out in his house with the blinds drawn,” said Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, after the hearing. “But we’re going to [subpoena] him again. He will be before the committee one way or another.

Which is absolutely awesome. Savor the visions of Tom "I Am the Federal Government" Delay himself in a white SUV, careening down a Texas highway. But in the meantime, one question: they're federal marshals, right? Can't they, like, go in and get him?


Friday, October 01, 2004

Time Has a Liberal Bias

There's one big reason for Kerry's victory that hasn't been mentioned much. Bush has been able to score lots of points in controlled, friendly fora; and his surrogates are viciously effective in the 20-second sound-bite wars. But last night, for the first time, we had a 90-minute discussion of foreign policy.

In sound bites, it can be effective to say things like "9/11 changed the way we think about war" or "You've got to be tough to win the war on terror." But, as the West Wing once said, what are the next ten words? He doesn't have any other thoughts.

And--this is critical--it's not just that Bush is an idiot. It's the whole movement behind him. He's a 10-second thinker, and neoconservatism is a 10-second philosophy. Put him in a 90-minute debate, and he's like a dandelion in a hurricane.

A very grumpy dandelion, with much better things to do than answer questions for the people of Dandelion Land.