31 December, 2008

Much Ado About Maybe Nothing

The folks who specialize in Sturm und Drang are at it again.

No. Not the radical feminists who insist that the failure of Barack Obama to select Hillary as his Vice President was further proof that the male conspiracy against them is much broader than previously expected.

The OTHER conspiracy theorists. The ones that even Art Bell thought were kooks. Yes, that Art Bell, who gave airtime to the supporters of National Tin-Foil Hat Day.

It starts off rather innocuously. Thanks to the Discovery Channel's well rerun special on supervolcanoes, most folks that watch television know that (Insert ominous voice here.) someday the Yellowstone Caldera will erupt again, maybe some day soon. (Close ominous voice.)

With the recent swarm of earthquakes in the Caldera, unfortunately, out come the crunchy nut bars in full force. Regretfully, the linked article is so full of sensational claims that makes it almost impossible to blockquote effectively, so I will explain. No. Forget that. It'll take too long.

Let me sum up.

The Illuminati, using a long-defunct Soviet subsonic weapon, is forcing the ground itself to weaken in the caldera so that it can erupt, cause massive devastation, combine with a 9.0 Los Angeles earthquake and a nuclear detonation in New York City, usher in the New World Order, force the relocation of half the (surviving) American population, bring about the Antichrist and herald the destruction of the entire world!

Not even James Patterson's ghost writers could use such a plot. Maybe Douglas Preston, though...

Is the possibility of an eruption something to be concerned about? Absolutely. Massive death, destruction, mayhem, and missing out on knowing who will be the next American Idol? (Snark!) Certainly a part of everyone's not-to-do lists for the coming year. The significance is overwhelming already, folks. The second-to-last thing we need is to set it to the X-Files theme music.

The last thing, however, is to be grossly ignorant as to the actual impact. From James Pethokoukis, a blogger at the U.S. News & World Report: (Bold mine.)

And what if the supervolcano blew? Kind of like if a giant rock hit the Earth. A planet killer. An extinction-level event. Let me quote the words of President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman) in the comet-hitting-earth film Deep Impact:

Within a week, the skies will be dark with dust from the impact and they will stay dark for years. All plant life will be dead within weeks. Animal life within a few months. So that's it. Good luck to us all.

Such a scenario would be very bad for equity values and the outlook for the labor market.

This is even worse than the conspiracy theorists above. From the Tin Foil Brigade, you can expect grandiose claims and slippery-slope arguments as a matter of course. It's what they do. This is a (now allegedly) respectable blogger in a (very long time allegedly) respectable media publication, crying around in a Chicken Little impersonation until someone comes to check on the wolf.

What would actually happen? It depends on the actual event itself. If it is large enough, a good number of American citizens will be dead within the first hour or two, and a lot more over the next week as panic sets in. If it is not large enough, we breathe in ashes and soot for the next few months until things settle out of the atmosphere. For this to be an "extinction-level event", as James suggests, would require an eruption beyond what the historical records show can happen. Years of deteriorated sunlight, miniature ice ages, loss of most plant species in the Northern Hemisphere and the virtual dessication of a continent? Can happen. Complete annihilation of all life? I'd sooner believe in talking laboratory rats taking over the world.

Will this be Happy Fun Time at the park? Doubtful. Can basic human stubbornness and ingenuity cause some of us to survive? Flights to Australia and New Zealand will be booked solid to give it a good shot, even though it might turn into the set of Mad Max movies for real. Will the dead turn into the undead, requiring all owners of the Zombie Survival Guide to register with the government so as to provide trained countermeasures against the mindless hordes? It's more likely than the Antichrist, especially if the talent for American Idol is as pathetic as it was last year. (Paula Abdul: Zombie Queen.)

As it stands, there should be a wait-and-see attitude. Prepare for the merely bad, certainly. But drive the susceptible population into panic beyond measure in order to solicit donations to your religious organization in return for the salvation of the gullible? Or wax grandiose in order to simply sell a webpage so that your paycheck won't be under the ax when it's time for cuts?

I have a four-letter word for that garbage:


12 December, 2008

The Orwell & Huxley Home Owners Association, Inc.

Read this. The whole thing.

And then tell me that the first thoughts going through your head did not involve either Brave New World or 1984.

Then again, knowing some of my readers, they would probably prefer a planned absolute economic-free-market/social-authoritarian environment. I, however, would be quickly running the other direction while screaming about Big Brother-ism and corporate arcologies and obscure Phillip K. Dick quotations.

If this really is the future of urban planning, then leave me the heck out of it. I'll take my sprawling, allegedly obsolete cities any day of the week, just as long as my cat can still sleep on my bed and I can still stay up well past 11 in the evening without any loss of services.

Just remember, folks. It is not whether or not someone can take your freedom away from you, but whether someone can get you to gladly volunteer to surrender your freedom to them. And in that line, all authoritarians, whether left or right, will always be easy to identify.

[Turn Signal: Gibson]

09 December, 2008

How Long?

Please tell me how long it will take for my party to clean itself up?

Judging from Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and the recently-defeated Exhibit C...

I think the Los Angeles Raiders will win three straight Super Bowls first. "But OC," you say, "the Raiders play in Oakland!"

You think maybe that's the point? My friends, I am thinking it is time to call a shovel a shovel here and admit that, when in positions of power, the party designation beside their name does not really mean a damn thing when it comes to defying the ultimate corruption that power holds.

Regretfully, there is no reset button in life, however useful it may be. For the more corruption scandals that come to light, the more I believe that scrapping the entire system is the only way stop this. It is not a Republican instinct, nor is it a Democratic instinct, to lift your own boat at the expense of lowering the rest. Instead, it is merely a human condition. (For all I know, it could be a condition of sapience. I'll let you know when I have an exclusive interview with Our New High Overlords From Zzyzx Prime.)

It is time to permanently remove all fragments of pay-for-play politics, graft, corruption, and all other forms of how one hand washes the other. Unfortunately, it seems like the only way to do so is to remove the government of the people in charge, by the people in charge, and for the people in charge.

Unfortunately, I think it will take a visit from Zzyzx Prime in order for that to happen.

07 December, 2008


For those that don't really "get" economics, this is officially quoted for truth.

27 November, 2008

Dead Turkeys Aren't Much Fun

As we sit in our collective easy chairs and digest the National Turkey Massacre Day feasts, I find one bit of utter silliness that must needs disposing.


My cohort on the left has been screaming bloody murder, literally, over the background of this interview. Some have segued into a Pollan-esque diatribe against those evil Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Some have cried foul (I don't know if I should change the third letter and make the pun. Do it yourselves if you so desire.) over the lack of consideration she had for what was going on behind her. And some have simply used this as a continuation of the excesively long political campaign, which is finally just as dead as the bird I'm picking out of my teeth.

And all of them need to pull their heads out. We are political bloggers, not theologians. Therefore it is not our place to fulfill the quote by Robert Green Ingersoll and "beat the living with the bones of the dead". Whether the dead be the turkeys or the presidential campaign or the endangered species of Palin Derangement Syndrome, this continued obsession with the former VP Republican candidate is bordering on obsessive.

My recommendation? Tryptophan. Lots of it. From natural sources.

Go and take a nap, folks. And do not worry. There are still plenty of legitimate political stories out there to wring your necks over. This story? Not so much. Sarah doesn't run around with a full crew of media-savvy professionals any more, and hasn't been for well over a week before this was shot. And all the GOP figures are seeing in the background is a small businessman hard at work. They don't understand why the feathers are flying over this. And neither do I.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a drumstick in the refridgerator. I may have to fight the cats over it, but I'm willing to share my own bounty.

The ham, however... That's all mine.

04 November, 2008

Personal Post Mortem

Today, the citizens of these United States have done what was considered unthinkable a mere forty years ago.

We have elected, as President, a man who is not white.

(Take a moment to ponder this, for your sake. Those will be the last positive words in this post.)

From wild and unrestrained elation to simple tears of joy on the left. From restrained congratulations to simple excessive snark on the right. From relief that the long national nightmare known as this election season is finally over to wondering what the heck we are going to talk about now in the center. And yet, with all this going on around me, all I can feel is one thing: fear and loathing for America.

We have, in the last 16 years of American politics, perfected the art of behaving like nasty and brutish thugs to those in positions of power. Two back-to-back eight-year presidents have been hung in effigy, declared agents of evil, vilified, virtually sliced into fillets, pan-seared, and served mostly raw to their various political opponents and the first one hundred customers. With the various strains of Derangement Syndrome still out there, infecting our words and thoughts and actions and generally turning us into inconsiderate social imbeciles whenever a suitable target would present itself, I have to wonder what chance this man has of having a fair opportunity to present his own case.

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Jack all. Squat. Diddly. Null. Fat. Slim. The Raiders have a better chance to win the Super Bowl this year. I have a better chance to date Drew Barrymore, even once, before my timely demise. For that matter, there is a better chance that an unannounced nuclear test somewhere in Pakistan will cause the Earth to plummet into the Sun sometime in 2013.

The lights have yet to go out in Grant Park and, at this very moment, the Rachel Maddows and Kieth Olbermans of the left are spinning up to support every action and inaction that BHO will ever make over the next 4 years, up to and including the status of his morning constitutional. At this moment, the Sean Hannitys and Bill O'Reillys of the right are licking their virtual chops in anticipation of condemning BHO for every action and inaction he will make over the next 4 years, up to and especially including the quality of his morning constitutional. The TPMs and Daily Kos' and FDLs are prepared to defend everything, even what kind of toilet paper he uses during his constitutional. The LGFs and Instapundits and Drudges are prepared to attack on everything, including whether he uses the Constitution during his constitutional.

And the bull constitutional is only begun in earnest.

We have heard that this campaign was to be the end of politics as usual. And what became of that, I wonder. From Day One last January, we have been machine-gunned with press release after press release about what some amorphous They will do. They will raise your taxes. They will give your tax money to someone else. They will take over the world. They will let someone else take over the world. For that matter, They will probably sacrifice a goat during the Summer Solstice and bring about the new reign of Osiris for all we know. And we don't, because for every They, we're told to listen to Us instead.

And the only way to tell the They from the Us was to pound your head into a wall while visiting a web site for more complete information on what plans They have for Us. To learn more about what the Them will do worse than the Us.

(Ah yes. Bruce Bethke was right. Epistemology really is why philosophers drink so heavily.)

We couldn't help but to be informed during this 22-month-long election cycle. It was easier to come out clean after a Three Stooges pie fight scene than it was to remain in the dark about the candidates and their positions and their counterpositions and their shoe sizes and their wardrobe choices and ad nauseum, all feuling each of the various flavors of Derangement Syndrome and working us into a lather at the merest possibility that They will be just like what happened before.

And to my shame, I fell for it. From my own Clinton Derangement Syndrome to my once-removed Bush Derangement Syndrome... Hook. Line. Sinker. For all my self-righteous nose-raising whenever I read a brutal partisan attack on some amorphous Them, I could not help but to be sucked into the gaping maw of vicious partisanship myself.

Hello, Pot? This is Kettle.

I, too, have become part of the essential problem in American politics. The anger, rage, and utter inability to participate in fully reasoned discourse has even infected my own thought process, and I found myself unable to realize the fundamental truth of the American two-party system: both the Democrats and Republicans make up opposing sides. Not of a battlefield, but of the exact same coin. One cannot function without the other.

So the fear and loathing I feel for America is the same fear and loathing I feel for myself. For I have met the They. And, as much as I hate to admit it, the evidence is staring me in the face, using my own words to taunt me...

The They are Me.

So I must spend the next two months asking myself a serious question. So I want to remain in this angry state, allowing partisan politics to turn me into yet another rabid dachsund, nipping the heels of those on The Other Side Of The Aisle? Can I revert to being in the uncomfortable center, unable to hold still? Should I go streaking with Drew Barrymore? Can I go back to simply wanting to sieze the throat of everyone that uses the public trust for toilet paper without weighing the greater political considerations?

(Sorry. That third question was my libido talking. It has been restrained yet again.)

And as much as I loathe myself for allowing myself to tiptoe the line, I fear the answers that may come up. For whatever those answers may be, they will hold an insight into why the amorphous We of the political spectrum have become fundamentally cruel.

And that, my friends, is a scary thought indeed.

17 September, 2008

Gray's Morality

With every line drawn, there is always a bit of gray to either side. For example, this line from my last post
And that, my friends, is the line that something or someone needs to cross before any activity can be ethically and morally restricted, hereby bolded for easier retention: actual and measurable harm, whether physical or economic, to another individual.
... combined with today's announcement about Sarah Palin's Yahoo! account being hacked
Now comes word that Anonymous, the fun-loving Internet trouble-makers based loosely around the message board 4Chan, gained access to another Palin email account: gov.palin@yahoo.com.
... and I have to ask myself, does a violation of privacy go against my personal "actual and measurable harm" limitation? Can the breach of privacy constitute "physical or economic" harm to another individual?

For an individual to exist as a member of society, there must be a method of separation between the titles of "I" and "you", the darkness behind the eyes and the brightness of our collective gazes. The method that a vast majority of us use is our privacy. Whether it is our emails, or our private blogs, or our locked diaries, these vessels in which we place vital portions of our selves embody our emotional safety glass: should all things around us shatter, the part that remains under the title of "I" will not break and will remain unscarred.

To use an analogy, what the folks in Anonymous did (and the folks at Gawker continued) was not as simple as reading their big sister's diary. It was, instead, making photocopies of her diary and passing them out wholesale at their big sister's school. This is not a prank. This is a clear and definitive violation of privacy.

Humiliation, particularly on such a large scale as this instance, can constitute measurable harm with little to no imagination necessary. With the added salt in the wounds caused by the posting of the photographs as well as personal contact information for Bristol, Todd, and Track Palin in addition to her own mother's personal address, the "measurable harm" violation becomes clear as day. (All of the above are not running for any elected office and are therefore considered Out Of Bounds under the rules of society unless and until they publicly humiliate themselves. Even then, scandal should be based solely upon what was or was not done in the public eye.) This latter portion is the ethical equivalent of when Rush Limbaugh, on his nationally syndicated television show back in 1995, called Chelsea Clinton "the White House Dog." Unconscionable personal assaults on individuals whose only "crime" is to be members of a politician's immediate family is, in my view, beyond the pale.

(Which reminds me. The Bristol Palin pregnancy thing? I would not have allowed my daughter's name to be dragged through the mud like this. A pox on her mother for allowing her own flesh and blood's personal details to be broadcasted on national television, and particularly through a scandal-addicted venue such as American presidential politics. A vile and vicious pox.)

This matter is only slightly complicated by the fact that the email account in question was also being used as a secondary business account, in violation of the rules of governmental ethics. Yet even then, there are distinct and determined processes that are used to gain access to them via the legal system and/or the Freedom Of Information Act and all the equivalents within the several states. The attack by the Anonymous group circumvented any and all legal methods established.

When it comes to the category of "physical or economic" harm, the argument is somewhat less clear, yet the first part follows under a basic assumption of modern society: time is money.

Every moment spent on recovery from this incident, whether within the McCain-Palin campaign or the Governor's Office of the State of Alaska or within the privacy of the Palin family, is a moment that should have gone towards a better purpose. Whether that purpose be the running of a state government or the running of a political campaign or the operation of a family, a minute spent is a minute forever lost. A minute forever lost is the actual equivalent of loss of the money of taxpayers in the state of Alaska and of campaign contributions to McCain-Palin, in addition to time that a family spends together. For the actual monetary aspects of this, the economic aspect of the harm equation is satisfied.

Please note, however, that I do not include the economic cost to society brought about by the on-going investigation into this incident by the FBI (and, I would assume, the Secret Service), nor do I include the costs of the (I hope) eventual prosecution and incarceration of these individuals. These costs are a function of society under the rule of law and therefore must be borne by us, the members of that society, however it falls upon us.

Yet there is a second prong to the "harm" test: physical harm. As I said in my previous post, "a bruised ego does not cross the . . . line." And here is the gray area of using the harm test to judge what should or should not be considered legal action. Can emotional harm be the equivalent of physical harm?

I am afraid I must waffle on this topic and respond, "It depends." (And now you hear the sound of a dozen people rolling their eyes.) And what determines this is a person's intent to do harm. For this, I must devolve into another analogy. (And the sound of a dozen pairs of eyeballs rotating increases in volume.)

When a person rejects your amorous advances (a subject I am well and truly familiar with), this has the possibility of inflicting emotional harm upon you, depending on the stability of your self-esteem. If your self-esteem is high, then there is little opportunity for harm to befall you. If your self-esteem is low, there is a higher chance for emotional harm to occur. And yet, the occurance of harm is, in and of itself, insufficient to be the trigger for emotional harm to be a factor in the "harm" test. It is there, or it is not. The only way for this scenario to breach the "harm" barrier is if the other person rejects your advances deliberately in a publicly humiliating way (See above parenthetical comment re: Bristol Palin's pregnancy.).

For deliberation signifies a willful and purposeful intent to do harm to another person. In this instance, the initial intent was to violate Sarah Palin's privacy. In consequence, they accessed information that allowed them the additional opportunity to violate the privacy of her mother, her husband, her son, and her daughter. They then proceed to purposefully and willfully violate the privacy of those secondary individuals by posting the ill-received gains on a public site. The method of violation is simple: copy-and-paste. The morality of the violation is simple: cut-and-dried.

On behalf of the moral minority of Internet users, I wish to apologize to the Palin family for the harm that has, or will, come to them because of this incident.

10 September, 2008

It Is Official

No, not that I am incapable of working on a single post without being distracted. Admittedly, I have the attention span of a kitten presented with more than one dangling shoe string. That is well understood, and indeed is part of my charm.

Instead, I refer to this.

This makes it official. My vote will not go for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Allow me to explain.

I have been called a civil libertarian absolutist by my ideological opponents on both the right, most notably being Jeff Goldstein, and left, most notably being the entire Green Party of California. (And yes. As far as actual power goes, they're pretty much equal in stature.) I revel in this descriptor. Any possible encroachment on the liberties of Americans must be countered with great fervor, for the government cannot be allowed to tiptoe down the slippery slope.

And here, we have then-Mayor Sarah Palin inquiring as to the official position of a librarian if she were asked "to remove certain books from the collection." The resulting flap about the librarian being terminated for responding in the forceful negative is, in my view, secondary.

She asked, on the public record, about the process for banning books. Period. Full stop. And that is a deal-breaker.

Books contain only information. Information, in and of itself, is not and cannot be dangerous. It simply is. Only through the determined application of information can there be any actual danger. Cases in point one and two. Determined use of the information provided via these two links can cause actual and measurable harm, whether physical or economic, to another individual.

And that, my friends, is the line that something or someone needs to cross before any activity can be ethically and morally restricted, hereby bolded for easier retention: actual and measurable harm, whether physical or economic, to another individual. This means rape, murder, assault, theft, arson, or any other related criminal statutes. While this policy would include the release of toxic substances which can cause actual and measurable harm to those that come into contact, please note that this does not include the possibility of harm to another individual's philosophical worldview. There is zero capacity for actual harm to befall someone by being told that another person disagrees with them, for a bruised ego does not cross the aforementioned line.

The removal of books by public libraries or school systems that refer, whether openly or inferred, to homosexuality or other religions or how-to-be-a-religious-extremist-in-thirty-days or civil insurrection or simply how life really was back in a less-enlightened time, or any of the other possible reasons that books are challenged in this day and age... It is morally and ethically wrong, and counter to the principles behind the the founding of these United States, to "remove certain books from the collection" simply because you, in your religious or political beliefs, disagree with them.

Oscar Wilde says it better than I could. "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written."

I cannot, in good conscience, vote for someone to become second-in-line to the Leader Of The Free World who is willing to participate in censorship, regardless of form or severity, regardless of success or failure, regardless of rhyme or reason, regardless of any other qualifications or lack thereof.

For this reason, among many others, I will ask that you join me in supporting Banned Books Week, for ideas can only be dangerous to those who would keep you from having them.

[Turn Signal: John Cole]

09 September, 2008

He Has My Vote

I'm taking a bit of a break from (failing to write) this post about the legal drinking age folderol. And what do I see?

Pay no attention to his foreign-born status, his utter lack of respect for organized religion, propensity towards transgendered status, and other personality quirks that would make him ineligible for the office. For those are the exact same reasons why I'm thinking about writing his name in this November.

[Turn Signal: TMV]

22 August, 2008

Sonova Crap

Bill is in ICU at Swedish. He has been biking to work and was found unconscious at the side of the road in Englewood this evening. He's had two CT scans and 1 X Ray so far. They are monitoring him hourly to check on his arachnoid bleed. Lotsa blood on the brain. He doesn't remember what happened.
To the man that watched me get shot down in flames, and had the decency not to laugh his butt off about it...

Get well soon, dude.

15 August, 2008

The Art Of Futility

The McEwan is relatively ticked off at this announcement:
Okay, this has got to be a joke, right? The DNC is just [EDITED] with the press, who's dumb enough to fall for the suggestion that Joe [EDITED] Biden is "believed to be at the top of" Obama's veep shortlist. Because there's no way in blue hell that Obama could be foolish enough to be seriously considering for one blinking second putting on his ticket the speech plagiarizing, bankruptcy bill voting, Bush-coddling, racist, sexist [EDITED] Biden, a consummate gaffe machine who launched his own '08 presidential bid with a screeching dog whistle that declared Obama "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." (Hey, if I don't cuss on this blog, no one does. -- Ed.)
Talk about your heated response to what is a simple announcement of the line-up of speakers for the same day that Obama's Veep selection is due to speak. And yet...

And yet this reminds me of when the primaries first started. Everyone and anyone would fall all over themselves at the merest hint that Insert-Candidate-Here would be in the race for The Leader Of The Free World due to Insert-Reason-Here. Whether factual or fictional, whether accused of misogyny or racism or ageism, or the pandering to specific interest groups such as the "LGBTQI issues" she uses later in the post to almost disqualify Bayh in her eyes, the reasons come fast and furious and with absolutely zero consistency.

(Or, in my case, I was once "diagnosed" with clinical Clinton Derangement Syndrome with severe misogynist tendencies, complete with the request that I contact my mental health provider for some chemical asistance as soon as possible. I got a good chuckle out of that one, noted that my "mental health provider" tends to be a confectioner who provides me with high-quality 89% cocoa, and am now kicking myself for not bookmarking the comment so I can show the studio audience. But I digress.)

The base fact is that there is no perfect candidate, just as there is no perfect vice-presidential selection. Somewhere, someone will always be complaining about the choice. The balancing act comes where the candidates try to pick the person likely to offend the least number of people. That is the goal that Obama's selection committee should be focusing on rather than finding someone that the radical far-left progressives won't burn at the virtual stake.

Which means that, if we're trying to find the least offensive person available, it will be someone A) from the east of the Rockies and west of the Appalachians, B) white, C) male, D) moderate, or any 3 of the above. Why those criteria? It leaves out the California Senators, who would be automatic fodder for attack ads throughout the campaign. Ditto Washington State and New England. Kaine has already removed himself from consideration, so Virginia is out. This still leaves the aforementioned Biden and Bayh, plus Kathy Sibelus and Bill Richardson, plus a few others that are also worthy of the nod, well in the running.

With the sole exception of Sibelus, this list leaves the radical-left progressives somewhat in the cold. And that is precisely what needs to happen in anticipation of the general election. It is no longer about securing the base, for the McCain candidacy does that automatically with no-worries no-hurries no-muss no-fuss and only the gentle reminder of the supposed "Third Bush Term" to have them remaining safely in Obama's camp. Now is the time to concentrate on the 20% of the electorate that matters in the general election... The Moderates. The Swing Voters. As Limbaugh calls them, The People In The Middle Of The Road That Always Get Hit By A Big-Ass Truck Because They Can't Pick A Side.

Why am I so confident that the radical left will stick with Obama through the election? For the same reason that the Republicans aren't worried that McCain will hurt their chances with the religious right. They may hold their nose when they pull the lever, but, in the end, they realize that someone that agrees with you part of the time is vastly better than someone that agrees with you none of the time. The bottom line is putting the person of your party into the Oval Office, for that is where the power is concentrated. He may not be your candidate, but he's your candidate now.

And for that reason alone, the theme behind this song applies.

Until the end of the world.

Regardless of what they do, this year I'm still voting for the greater evil.

11 August, 2008

And History Repeats

Via John Cole:
Mr Saakashvilli may also have banked on support from his closest ally, US president George W Bush, whose administration is said to have given tacit support for a Georgian assault on South Ossetia in the believe that the territory could be recaptured within 48 hours.
For some reason, that quote from the Times article joggles my memory. I can't imagine why...
In his famous meeting with U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie on July 25, 1990, just before the invasion, Saddam calmly explained his intention to invade Kuwait, and Glaspie, not informed by the State Department that the policy had changed, proceeded to give Saddam the reassurance of American support that had been the U.S. policy transmitted by ambassadors and back channels for a decade.
Nope. Simply stumped over here.

The weird have all turned pro.

09 August, 2008

To Make A Long Post Short

I guess this means I'll start reading Protein Wisdom again.

Those guest bloggers were not exactly my thing, you know. And now, it's back to being about The Jeff.

Assuming, of course, it survives the transition.

09 July, 2008

Taking (Burnt) Umber-Age

This is really dumb.
Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said it seemed that central collections "has become a black hole" because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office.

Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud "Excuse me!" He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a "white hole."

That prompted Judge Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy.

While I have been known to use the term "quantum singularity" in place of the words "black hole", I do not do so out of some obscene twist of ethnic sensitivity. Instead, I just use it because it makes me appear more intelligent and well-educated than I actually am. Yet if we can no longer use the term "black hole", what else can't we melanin-deprived individuals say?

Is the term "black eye" out? If so, someone tell Ezra that he needs to change that title to "ocular bruising".

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison? Can we still use that?

"Black as night"? Probably out as well.

The bookkeeping term "out of black ink"? Sounds negative to me! You just don't want any more black ink! Doesn't mean anything that the phrase is used when the profit margin is off the scale, just as long as it could be taken as negative. For that matter, the opposite being "red ink" could be found offensive to native Americans if they only thought about it. (Whoops. There goes the Cincinnati Reds! But there's no tribe-based mascot? Doesn't matter. It's still the Reds.)

"All right here in black and white"? Ooooooh, I think we found ourselves a potential lawsuit here! Race-baiting at it's worst!

"Four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie"?? Wow. That's not only racist, but it promotes cannibalism!

I'm certain that I can go on like this for hours. Unfortunately, I have a raid tonight on the Black Temple... Ummm... Ooops?

[Turn Signal: John Cole]

05 July, 2008

Overheards At The Fireworks Show: Part 2

(Group of people playing Nth Degree From X, which is basically Six Degrees From Kevin Bacon without the excessive suffering of always using Kevin Bacon.)

Girl 1: Okay. (Rummaging around in a fishbowl with slips of paper.) This time we start off with... Joan Cusack?!?

Guy 1: Man. This one's gonna be easy.

Girl 1: And we end with... (More rummaging.) Brad Pitt!

Girl 2: (drunken sigh of absolute lust)

[Debate ongoing for 15 minutes without coming to an answer]

ZZZ-List Blogger: Oh for God's sake. You got Cusack and Robin Williams in Toys, Williams and Edward Norton in Death To Smoochy, and Norton and Pitt in Fight Club! There's your connection, and I only needed three movies for it! So do I get that beer? And why the hell are you trying to go through Nicole Kidman and Diane Weist in Practical Magic?


Guy 3: Yeah. Ummm. This is a private game.

[Insert group migration here]

Fifteen minutes later...

Girl 2: Oh. Here's that beer for winning that round.

ZZZ-List Blogger: Thanks! I was just joking about the beer, you know.

Girl 2: I thought so. That's why I wrote my number on the bottom!

[Insert double-take.]

[Insert 2-hour conversation.]

[Insert ditching her friends and going to see Hancock.]

Happy now-belated 4th!

Overheards At The Fireworks Show

Guy 1: So yeah. I think that "Hey Vern!" guy was the first person to get his big break in movies thanks to his commercials.

Guy 2: Man, did I hate that guy.

Girl 1: So does that mean we get to blame Ernest Whatsisface for that Caveman show?

Guy 2: Now I REALLY hate that guy!

23 June, 2008

And We Are Poorer For It

Early this morning, a great mind was lost to us.

No more will he grant us his insights into the complete foolishness of humanity.


07 June, 2008

It's Over

After a 17-month long campaign, we Democrats finally have our nominee.
Hillary Rodham Clinton ended her historic campaign for the presidency on Saturday and told supporters to unite behind rival Barack Obama, closing out a race that was as grueling as it was groundbreaking.
Ye gods, this has gone on forever. Finally we can get rid of the political fatigue that this directed-by-Peter-Jackson-length campaign has inflicted upon us. We can rest, knowing that the candidates are secured and the targets are selected. We can recover with very little additional sniping between the ranks, our very own form of political friendly fire.


Oh the hell with it. I need a drink. Fortunately there is always this.

See you tonight.

04 June, 2008

Bill Murray Had It Easy

Is it over? At long last, has this long cold nuclear-winter of a political season been finished? Are we through with the belly crawl over 47 miles of barbed wire? Can we stop the water torture?

Tonight, I poke my head out of my safe hole and see...

Hillary Clinton's shadow on a stage in New York. Refusing to concede.

Man, does that Punxsutawney Phil have a good life. All he has to do is watch out for his own shadow.

Let me know when the storm has passed completely, which will be the day she concedes.

26 May, 2008

Killing Memes

I got tagged. Looks like two full weeks ago, too. (Sorry, Ang.)

Would you give up one of your values / morals for $1 million?

Yes. I'd say publicly that the new Indiana Jones movie is the first blockbuster hit of the year and destined to win multiple Academy Awards, especially Best Original Screenplay for David Koepp and George Lucas and Best Actress for Cate Blanchett.

Hey, if I'm going to betray a deeply held moral value, I might as well go out in style. (That and Lucas is one of the few people that could afford that kind of payola. I expect it in the mail, George. We'll do lunch.)

As for another set of tagging... Well, I don't do too well historically with my tags. So tag amongst yourselves, but use this question:

For one million dollars, would you insult, abuse, denigrate and completely humiliate a major political figure to their face and on camera? Especially one that has a reputation for vindictiveness and vengeance?

25 April, 2008


Take your favorite song.

Got it?


Now set it on the wayside like a well-loved toy.

I found you a new toy.


25 February, 2008


Via too many people to mention comes a photo of Barack Obama, all dressed up in Somali garb.

All of this proves, of course, that he is a treasonous scumbag that should be run out of the country before he can do even temporary harm to this great nation.

Soon to be revealed will be pictures of Hillary Clinton when she dressed as a witch one Hallowe'en as a child, thus proving that she truly is in league with the legions of Hell.

Also coming down the pipe are photos of Mike Huckabee being placed in a manger as a baby, thus proving that he is the Second Coming incarnate and therefore is to be the leader of the free world.

Coming later this year will be a rewrite of The Ten Commandments, where Moses will say "You can keep this golden calf when you pry it out of my cold dead hands, you damn dirty apes!"

And the Department of Defense will order Kiefer Sutherland to Iraq, where total and complete victory against the insurgency will only be 24 hours away.

And, of course, the below picture has always been the proof regarding the homoerotic nature of the Bush White House.

To quote Pat Cadigan, "Is this high enough in the stupidsphere for you?"

American Idiots, the lot of them.

The going keeps getting weirder and weirder, for all the weird have turned pro.

12 February, 2008

A Light Is Seen

Jeff Fecke:
Until we let boys onto the paths of their choosing, we're constraining just how free girls are to choose their own paths. Until we free masculinity to be as varied and expansive as femininity, we're placing an ultimate boundary on femininity itself.
He seems to be getting closer to the point where he will start to agree with what I said back in October.
To strive for all humans to be treated equally is frustrating. Being what we are, we attach our certain circumstances to our declarations, whether it be for our gender or for our ancestors or for our religion or for our nationality. It ranges from men’s rights, women’s rights, sexual preference rights, hyphenated-American’s rights, yet it boils down to the same thing. We want the right to be free to choose. To be free to decide. To be what we so desire to be, without anyone to gainsay against us or stop us from making the attempt.

And that is the true basis for equality: freedom. So long as you do not actively cause harm against another person with your choices, a truly free society should never stand in your way.

While part of me would love to spread the old snarks about blind squirrels and stopped clocks, the rest of me realizes that to do so would be counterproductive in the extreme. Here he is, one of the most rabid male feminists in the blogosphere, making the argument regarding the next logical step to the core argument of feminism: that one's gender of birth need not determine one's entire existence in the eyes of society.

Admittedly, he describes this situation using the traditional language of feminism. Yet that cannot be escaped completely. Jesus of Nazareth was a good Jewish man, and he couldn't entirely get away from using the words and phrases he learned as a child. And just as the teachings of the Nazarene were called by a different name to distinguish between itself and its predecessor, so to will the teachings of this brand of feminism be called something else entirely in order to distinguish itself from its own predecessor...

Equality. Pure, undiluted equality. A society where we are free to decide on the lives that we so desire, unconstrained by the slightest modicum of social concerns based on race or gender or creed or anything else, is the ultimate goal of human equality.

I can only hope that Jeff will realize the ultimate goal of his philosophy, as well as realize that you cannot have a philosophy of equality while still attaching gender-specific titles to it. For as long as you fight for one group's rights and ignore the rest, you cannot pursue equality.

21 January, 2008

Honest Question

This one goes to any and all members of the left-leaning blogosphere unfortunate enough to land upon this poor and misused hole in the intertubes.

Ezra said something this morning that makes me seriously wonder if he's paying close enough attention to the 2008 campaign:
On the same day, Romney quietly won the Nevada caucuses, giving him 18 delegates, McCain and Giuliani seem, to me, to be running momentum campaigns, hoping that their profile and earned media will vault them to victory in large states.
Why, oh why, does the Big Media One even mention the name of America's Mayor in this sentence? Does he see something in the tea leaves for Rudy's hopes and dreams in Florida? Because I don't. He will get stomped on just like he has in every contest he's entered since he said he wanted to be the Mayor of America that resides at 1600 Penn. Ron Paul has twice the delegates that Rudy has, and Paul doesn't even have name recognition outside the blogosphere.

But that is the past, you say? Look at the RCP average, you say? Rudy can win this one, you say? Or at least get close enough that he doesn't lose, you say?

I'm afraid that it still won't be enough to hope for a close loss for Giuliani. If he can't pull out anything better than a resounding 15-point surprise shocker in Florida, without voter fraud, then his campaign is dead before Terminal Tuesday even gets here. And if he even wins by a single vote, I go on record and proclaim that I will buy a full round at the next Blogger Bash in penance for my hasty words. (And if that doesn't get David to start working on the next one, then nothing will!)

Giuliani is in a car with four flat tires here. Please stop telling him to get out and push by encouraging his campaign and saying it depends on "momentum". He hasn't had a scrap of positive momentum since August of last year.

For that matter, please stop mentioning him entirely, for that is the only thing resembling momentum he has ever had in the first place.

Carpe jugulum.

12 January, 2008

08 January, 2008

Good For The Goose

While this title could easily be about the Clinton and McCain wins today in New Hampshire simply by following it with the rest of the old yarn, I'm afraid I have something much more important to refer.

After falling short eight times, Gossage received 85.8 percent of the vote Tuesday, easily surpassing the 75 percent threshold for baseball’s highest honor and becoming just the fifth reliever in Cooperstown’s bullpen.
I've said before that I've been a long-time fan of San Diego sports teams, and I'll say it yet again sometime soon enough. Gossage and Gwynn were two of my childhood sports heroes. Few people could close like the Goose. Few people could hit it like Tony. And never unless they were also in a Padres uniform.

Last year was Tony's year. This year is the Goose's year.

Congratulations, Rick. You deserve it.

(And may Trevor Hoffman make it on the first ballot.)

05 January, 2008

No More Feel Good

David J., commenting over at the King of Drunkblogging:
I’m still trying to figure out how Hillary can claim to have been an Agent of Change for the last 35 years. I mean, she can’t even claim to be the wife of the Agent of Change for the last 35 years. I mean, he was an incumbent in there a few times, and that doesn’t translate into Agent of Change status, does it?

I would still take her over the other Democrats, but that’s just because I think she would do the least harm of the bunch.

Sorry to Teh Zomby, but I have to disagree somewhat. For a given value of "somewhat", that is. After all, a slight disagreement in theory isn't quite what causes a volcanic spit-take, you know.

Regardless of who wins in November, nothing will actually get done and nothing can actually change unless and until the New Do Nothings, with the charming [snark] Nancy Pelosi on lead vocals, start actually accomplishing things and stop the self-congratulation for winning control of Congress.

It's been a year now and they've done... [Cricket-cricket-cricket] Yeah. Pretty much sums it all up. Their greatest efforts of last year seem to be with non-binding resolutions and Sense Of The House votes that fail to do anything but make the rabid fanatic progressives happy that someone is "raising the consciousness" regarding certain issues. That is precisely the problem with the theory behind non-binding resolutions: they don't mean anything.

Majority Leader Reid has at least made some effort to move forward, trying to get bills on the table that could possibly accomplish something. However, he is faced with an opposition that possesses a masterful control of parliamentary procedure. Anything that the Republican minority doesn't like, they block. What they can't block, they delay. What they can't delay, they obscure. What they can't obscure, they dismantle. What they can't dismantle, they pass through and let the President veto.

(As much as I hate to say it, I have to hand it to the Republican leadership in the Senate. They are playing the game of the minority better than the Patriots are playing the game of football. Well done.)

Regretfully, the only thing that will change after this political season is in the record books will be that the GOP minority in the Senate won't have a Republican President standing behind them with the veto pen.

How to fix it? That should be the next question on your minds, right? How do we accomplish the merely possible: getting away from simply re-building the consensus that we already have and move towards wielding it like Hacksaw Jim Duggan's trusty 2x4, stomping the terra and becoming what the social-conservatives have feared ever since the Gingrich Revolution stalled in place.

First, and this may seem like an idea from the politically oblivious, stop talking about what the other team is doing and start talking more about what your own team is doing. Exhibit A: The website of the Democratic Party's Recent Legislation page. Glance through this for a moment and you will notice one obvious fact. They talk more about what the Republicans are doing, specifically President Bush and those vying for the nomination, than they do of their own accomplishments. (Plus a good four entries in the gotcha politics surrounding the Graeme Frost flap from last year.) Of course, this leads directly into the next point...

Second: Where were the goals? You know, that handy-dandy 6-Point Plan from the start of the 2006 session? Let's see here. Honest Leadership and Open Government? The only actual advancement on this front came primarily from Republican Tom Coburn, with Barack Obama as his co-sponsor, introducing the Federal Funding Accountability And Transparency Act, with the rest of them being along the lines of show trials and public humiliation. (See Point Four below for more on this.) Energy Independence? All signs point to "no". Health care? They made the effort, but it got blocked by the veto pen and humiliated by the aforementioned Graeme Frost debacle. Real Security? Maria Cantwell got the Coast Guard Authorization Act through, which tries to keep the boys and girls in CG blue at current levels, for they are the ones that really stand on the front lines for the safety of Americans at home. Economic Prosperity and Educational Excellence? Well, first they failed for tossing two different points into the same bullet, and then they failed by not being able to accomplish either of the above. Retirement Security? [Cricket] Yeah, sure.

So of their 6(but-really-7)-Point Plan, they got 2.5 points, and that's being generous. In the words of the LOLCat: FAIL. If they were serious in trying to create changes in the capitol, they would have put much more effort into crafting bills that effected the way the country is run and less effort putting together photo opportunities like the various feel-good non-binding resolutions.

Third (and this is where any progressive still reading will file me to the right of Bill O'Reilly): Get rid of the feel-good politics of Nancy Pelosi. She is much better served as being the party's Whip in Congress, keeping people in line and putting votes on the tally board. For that, I can give her all the kudos and salutations in the world. Yet the substantive policies and efforts seem to be lacking. Listening to Pelosi talk about policy is like listening to a certain South Carolina beauty queen talk about policy; they just don't get it.

Running a government is not all about looking good for the cameras and giving good sound bite for the talking heads. Given the state of American politics, some of that must certainly come into play, just as the Gingrich Revolution taught us. Yet beside the photo opportunity must sit the actual substance, which is also what the Gingrich Revolution taught us. A photo-op for the sake of a photo-op is useless. (Exhibit B: Teh Dubya) It may make your base feel good, but feel-good doesn't accomplish anything. (Unless you are actually living in an Orwellian society. But if you were, then you would be outsent to an unfree facility in Greenland just for reading this doubleplusungood unpatriotic drivel.)

Fourth: When you put someone on the ropes, you don't let them stand back up again. Look at all the investigative hearings that happened over the last year: Gonzalez, Schlozman, Doan, Taylor, Sampson, and far too many more to list before dawn. And what really came of them? One significant resignation in Alberto Gonzales, one resignation of a man that outlived his political usefulness in Karl Rove, a bunch of personnel shuffling behind the scenes at the DoJ and DoD and OEOB and the rest of the alphabet soup, and tons upon tons upon tons of feel-good photo ops.

And what did we do afterwards? Nothing. Congressional Democrats had the ball, were charging for the goal line... and dropped it at the 2-yard line to have themselves a premature celebration. Fortunately, not all of them took the time to pat themselves on the back so hard that they sprained a shoulder. Henry Waxman has pounced on the loose ball and kept it from being a turnover. Given the constant and consistent train wreck of fiscal (and personal) irresponsibility coming from the White House these days, there isn't enough time for a Democratic Congress to rest on their rather limited supply of laurels.

Fifth, and potentially the most damaging: When you say you are against something, do not then turn around and act like you are for it in order to score political points. See: Iraq "war" funding. After the 2006 elections, the huge talking point coming from Speaker-Select Pelosi's office and every other Democrat in Washington, D.C. was that the electorate had issued a mandate against the Mess In Mesopotamia. Yet what have we continued to do? Vote for it. Fund it. Give the President his special appropriations. What have they failed to do? Anything and everything they claimed they had the support of the people to accomplish. Why? Because it would not be feel-good. It would be hard. It would be difficult. It would make people not like them. And, least important to us talking heads but most important to them as political actors, it would be held over their heads. Simply talking about the possibility sent them onto the sound-bite defensive. And in feel-good politics, being on the defensive means you aren't doing what is right, simply because you're doing something that someone does not like.


Congressional Democrats need to realize that, regardless of what they do, the GOP will not be their philosophical allies. They need to realize that doing the right thing, the good thing, the thing they swore up one side and down the other that they would accomplish regardless of all opposition, is not something that will win friends and influence people across the spectrum.

All Democrats need to realize this, whether they are running for the House, the Senate, or reaching for 1600 Pennsylvania. If they want to get something done that is difficult, they have to be willing to take the hits.

But hits don't feel good. And that is why the politics of feel-good have to be set aside, right alongside their champion in the House: Nancy Pelosi.

Feel-good works with the progressive base of the Democratic Party, the Atriots and Kossacks and FDL'ers and TAP'd. Feel-good does not work when trying to bring about the very changes that you claimed were the reasons why you retook the majority. Feel-good does not beget change. Feel-good is the comfortable, the traditional, the (Dare I say it?) conservative position.

Democrats are not conservatives. So why be feel-good when that is precisely what the other side wants you to be?

[Linked to by Teh Zomby aforementioned]