Monday, October 25, 2004

I Shall Return

I am on assignment and so have not been able to post my regular reports. Now you may believe that the cause for this is sloth and distraction and if so, you'd be right you'd be a filthy liar because, actually, I, Retardo, amateur anthropologist, have been busy expanding the horizons of social science by immersing myself in the curious, mysterious culture of National Review Online.

Now this tribe does not welcome outsiders, and is rumored to be cannibalistic as well as coprophagic (which of course is rendered a redundancy on the occasions when they eat their own), and their rituals... well, you'll have to wait for my Special Report.

As a teaser, I'll say that the tribe's pretty much how you'd think it'd be: K-Lo as the Venus of Willendorf figure, sagging and den-motherly, to whom infant hippies are sacrificed and by whom they are eaten. Then there's America's Worst Mother, famously named and (case-)studied by TBOGG, a giant in our field. And as for group displays, well, I don't think I give too much away when I whisper to you that they gather in a circle and pee on Jonah Goldberg, to the delight of all (especially Jonah).

Material culture? AR-15s and Uzis, which no one knows how to use but insists on having. Sexual devices were formerly in abundance but caused great shame. Recently, however, all have been stolen by a friendly tribe to the especial and great consternation of Kate O'Beirn, who'd had the most opulent examples.

Religion? Their gods are exclusively demented and senile, which goes without saying, since history and mythology are identical concepts for them. But you knew all that, and I can't go farther until I file my Special Report.

I will say that I want to wash my eyes with Drano after K-Lo, Kate, and "Mummy" insisted on posing, National Geographic style, whenever I feigned interest in their religious beliefs. The things your humble anthropologist must endure in the name of science! But at least so far I've avoided intense homosexual aggression, burrowing chiggers, and mangy dogs, which are, you well know (Greatest Hits #1, #4), part and parcel of the red state tribe. Bon chance!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

"Hard Work" And Other Reasons

The NRO Cornertards spent the other day bestowing a jaw-popping blow job on the legacy of polishing the plaster bust of President Calvin Coolidge, whom most Republicans who dabble in history consider a saint.

As well they should, because the traits they admire in him are the same they admire in other Republican Presidents: remarkable absence of intellectual curiosity, a religious devotion to money-making, and astonishing indolence. Calvin Coolidge was one lazy bumpkin.

Peter Robinson is succinct:

LAUDING CAL [Peter Robinson ]
While we're at it, another couple of notes on Coolidge:
1. Reagan liked him so much that he had Coolidge's portrait put up in the Cabinet Room. (Reagan could actually remember the Coolidge years.)

Although that parenthetical sentence is laughably optimistic (memory was never Reagan's, shall we say, strongest suit), he is right about the portrait and Reagan's veneration of Coolidge. What he neglects to mention is why: Coolidge slept more (11 hours a night) than any other President until St. Ronnie. And now of course G W Bush upholds the fine tradition of sleep, vacations, and more sleep. I think this characteristic is worth keeping in mind as one is subjected to the constant drone of the Republican "meritocracy" argument that pretty much goes, "work hard and you'll succeed"; with the flip side of the argument, of course, very heavy in the air: that if you're poor, it's because you're lazy.

One or other of the Cornertards recommends H. L. Mencken on the subject of Coolidge. Shall we take them up on that offer? Of course they hope you read this, and it only. But let's read a few other things Mencken wrote on Silent Cal.

First, on Coolidge's fans. You'll find this oddly familiar:

[Coolidge's] merits, in the Babbit view, are immense and incomparable. He seems, indeed, scarcely like a man at all, but more like some miraculous visitation or act of God. He is the ideal made visible, if not audible -- perfection put into a cutaway coat and trotted up and down like a mannequin in a cloak and suit atelier. Nor was their any long stress in training him--no season of doubt and misgiving. Natrue heaved him forth full-blown, like a new star shot into the heavens. In him the capitalistic philosophy comes to its perfect and transcendental form. Thrift, to him, is the queen of all virtues. He respects money in each and every one of its beautiful forms -- pennies, nickels, dimes, dollars, five-dollar bills and so on ad infinitum. He venerates those who have it. He believes that they have wisdom. He craves the loan and use of that wisdom. He invites them to breakfast, and listens to them. The things they revere, he reveres. The things he longs for, they long to give him.

Through the sarcasm, what a perfect picture Mencken paints of Coolidge as a willing prostitute to the superficial and crass classes. And how they, in turn, deify him: the Cult Of Dear Leader, who is an instrument of God. What's old is new again.

(A further and more complete psychological profile of the Coolidge-loving boob may be found in Sinclair Lewis's short piece The Man Who Knew Coolidge.)

What else do they not want you to read?


Calvin Coolidge, whose intelligence is compared to that of a 'cast-iron lawn dog'. Upon hearing of the death of Calvin Coolidge, he launched the often-repeated line 'How can they be sure?'


"Democracy is that system of government under which the people, having 60,000,000 native-born adult whites to choose from, including thousands who are handsome and many who are wise, pick out a Coolidge to be head of state. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet prepared by master cooks and covering a table an acre in area, should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies"


In what manner he would have performed himself if the holy angels had shoved the Depression forward a couple of years - this we can only guess, and one man's hazard is as good as another's. My own is that he would have responded to bad times precisely as he responded to good ones - that is, by pulling down the blinds, stretching his legs upon his desk, and snoozing away the lazy afternoons.... He slept more than any other President, whether by day or by night. Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored....

Thus establishing Coolidge's work-ethic -- so archetypical for a Republican -- let us move to other subjects. Two of the probably most quoted Coolidge lines are:

"The business of America is business" and
"The man who builds a factory builds a temple, and the man who works there worships there."

Ahh, but not much work gets done when one sleeps as much as Sainted Republicans; the sentiments Coolidge pushes couldn't be better tailored to the Wall Street Journal crowd. Though most rightwingers are too dense to appreciate irony, it has to jar their psyche at some level to constantly worship lazy, untalented men who constantly bloviate on the Protestant Work Ethic. But then the quintessential WSJ type (think of Chainsaw Al Dunlap) must always try to appear busy busy busy when actually he merely nods this way or that at underlings who do all the work of polluting, outsourcing, downsizing. Elbow grease is for peons; what's important is that vison thing. Of profit.

Which is not to say that Coolidge didn't do any hard work at all. But then when he did, it too was quintessentially of the Republican kind because, as Mencken tells it, "[Coolidge] believes naturally in Law Enforcement--by lawful means if possible: if not, by any means at hand, lawful or lawless...he actually got his first considerable posturing as a fascist of the most advanced type." The context for this description is when Massachusetts Governor Coolidge smashed the Boston Police Union. Such are the times when lazy Republicans are for once eager to do a little hard work. Likewise I imagine the few late nights spent in the current White House were devoted to the hard work of "legally" shredding the Geneva Conventions. Sleepy time, on the other hand, was especially reserved for when, say, Ms. Whitman at the EPA came in to complain about the Preznit's polluting cronies. Yeah, I'll get right on that, Christine zzzzzzz. How Coolidgian!

I will say a couple of nice things about Coolidge, though. For one, he had a sort of dry wit that other Republican Saints entirely lacked. I think it was Alice Roosevelt who related the following anecdote: Coolidge was of course known as a man of few words. She sat down beside him at table and said "I have a bet with [So and so] that I can get you to say more than three words to me". Coolidge, without missing a beat, replied, "You lose." This is a nice contrast to Ronnie's "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" and W's "duh duh duhs".

Also, Coolidge wasn't absolutely stupid. Here's Cornertard Mackubin Owens:

One of my favorite lines from the book (from memory) is his description of Coolidge translating Dante for pleasure. “The mind boggles,” Tom wrote, “at the image of Richard Nixon hunched over a copy of The Divine Comedy.”

Amen to that, Mr Owens. But your fellow wingnuts must have been a bit nervous reading it. If the idea of Tricky Dick doing that is mind boggling, then the idea of Reagan or GW Bush doing it is skull-shatteringly impossible -- or if not impossible, hilarious.

The other nice thing about Coolidge is that he followed through on Harding's plans for a disarmament treaty. Very un-Republican that -- why the Lockheeds and Halliburtons of that day might have lost money! And quite mindful of the maxim that a nation armed to the teeth inevitably attacks another or itself. Naturally, this rather lonely virtue of Coolidge's gets little play among his current Wingnut admirers.

*Edit: Cleaned up some typos and coding fuck-ups. And again more typos.
** Onion archive link courtesy of digamma.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

They Wrote, Freepers Answered

By now you've read where The Guardian, a British newspaper, proposed that its local readers write to voters in an American swing state, so as to implore those voters to consider the effects their choice has on the world.

Now this is the sort of well-meaning decent sentiment that is bound to set in furious motion the average freeper or redstater. After spitting out their chaw in indignation, and along with it their partial dental plates, they loaded their 12 gauge, kicked the dog, and commenced to ritin' them derned furriners back:


Keep your noses out of our business. As I recall we kicked your asses out of our country back in 1776. We do not require input from losers and idiots on who we vote for in our own country. Fuck off and die asshole!!!!!

Who in the hell do you think you are??? Well, I'll tell you, you're a bunch of meddling socialist pricks! Stay the hell out of our country and politics. And another thing, John Kerry is a worthless lying sack of crap so it doesn't surprise me that a socialist rag like yours would back him. I hope your cynical ploy blows up in your cowardly faces, you bunch of mealy-mouthed morons!

You radical leftwingers are worse than the Taliban. I suggest you stand back and take a good hard look at yourselves.

As a US citizen, I want to advise you that you and anyone that participates in subverting the US presidential election can be criminally charged and perhaps even charged as spies.

Have you not noticed that Americans don't give two shits what Europeans think of us? Each email someone gets from some arrogant Brit telling us why to NOT vote for George Bush is going to backfire, you stupid, yellow-toothed pansies ... I don't give a rat's ass if our election is going to have an effect on your worthless little life. I really don't. If you want to have a meaningful election in your crappy little island full of shitty food and yellow teeth, then maybe you should try not to sell your sovereignty out to Brussels and Berlin, dipshit. Oh, yeah - and brush your goddamned teeth, you filthy animals.


And so on. Pretty much standard issue from those quarters. Whatever the effects of The Guardian's letters here, I'm sure the replies just cost Tony Blair more votes: "We're collaborating with these ignorant bastards why??" And for that, I thank the wingnut cretins.

I think it's funny that several accuse the Brits of criminally meddling. Wonkette strikes exactly the right note of mockery:

Yeah! Imagine that! A foreign power trying to, you know, assert control over a sovereign nation by writing letters. Why don't they just hand-pick a ruling coalition like a real empire would? Pussies.

I think it's worth noting that these same types, these indignant roundmouths and clay-eating white trash fucktards, who wail against "socialist" foriegners "meddling", are exactly the same sort who have historically been either in on the actual meddling of groups like the German-American Bund and AIPAC, or defenders of it.

Jonah, as you might have guessed, is in ecstacy:

Look, everyone here knows I'm a raging anglophile. But this stuff is hilarious. The Lefty newspaper the Guardian launched a letter-writing campaign to get Ohioans to vote for Kerry. Here are some of the responses from America's heartland.


Look, everyone here knows I'm a raging Cornertardophile, but it's still hilarious when someone calls Jonah Goldberg a fat sack of tacky, flabby, yuppie-scumbag, proto-fascist, dishonest, racist, son of a Nixon-slut, bludgeoned-with-an-ugly-stick homely, vapid, semi-literate, jackasstic, witless, couldn't get laid in a Tijuana whorehouse with Bill Gates's wallet, brainpan of a sausage-casing, rancid lard oozing, face farting, unfunny, twinkie-fellating, Mountain Dew mouthed, indolent, pooptescent, shit.

Which is an exact reproduction of something I've heard said many times in America's heartland. Yeah.


*Edited for insult embellishment

The elementropy Audio-Visual Club Part Two

Yeah, everyone's seen it, but let me guide you to the best version of the Jon Stewart appearance on Crossfire.

Here's the partial transcript linked to by just about everyone else in the blogosphere.

The bow-tied humorless dipshit -- apparently the only person on earth who thinks George Will's uber-nerd affectation is worth emulating -- whom Stewart annhilated, is still fuming (read between the lines). Nor has Stewart, for that matter, let it go: he got in more jabs the next Monday. I hope it keeps going; Carlson is a pompous asshat, the Tacitus of television, and as such is the best possible target for Stewart to choose.

Meanwhile, CNN does its level best to get back at Stewart, a delicate job indeed considering how popular his eviceration of Crossfire hacks proved to be:

It's ironic that a comedian whose livelihood comes from what he calls his "fake news" forum on Comedy Central is staking his ground on serious journalism. Stewart might be biting the hand that feeds him, annoying the same media-elite crowd whose enthusiasm for "The Daily Show" has helped give him the platform he now enjoys.

The media can take a ribbing from "The Daily Show," but its denizens might not want to take advice from Stewart.

I don't use the term "hero" very often but Jon Stewart is the greatest hero in American History.

Update: And here's proof: Drudge is trying to say there's a popular backlash against Stewart. Wonkette is right-on in her sarcastic conclusion:

What's important here is that someone declare Stewart irrelevant so that we can continue to believe that Crossfire is a real news show.

Now to completely spell out the facts. Stewart said, or attempted to say, what is not allowed on "serious" National TV: that there's no difference between "Left" and Right as presented on such shows as Crossfire, that their "debates" are a construct, a sham, and as such they serve Demos very poorly or not at all. Drudge, the Cornertards, and Novak have all been on the job here because they especially despise the populist sentiments Stewart is echoing.

The Greatest Ex-President In American History, Martin Van Buren, blogs for us a flash cartoon that's pretty fuckin funny.

No Bush In 04 is a site containing probably the finest collection of lefty-friendly clips on the net. Enjoy.

The masterly Yes Men have made another parody site, Yes Bush Can. Not quite as funny as the first but still well worth a visit and your support.

Here's a history of stupid radio stunts. No, Limbaugh's debut, much less existence, is not mentioned. (Thanks to Poly for the link.)

The First elementropy A.V. Club collection may be found here.

Added: TBOGG has a recent post with the same general theme.

Added Again: Sean Hannity being a dick.

Triumph in Spin Alley (Quicktime), via ...about everyone, but I'll credit Wonkette, because she has the good taste to ignore Richard Perle's adhesive insinuations.

If It Sounds Familiar, It's Because They're Still Stupid, Paranoid, And Mendacious

Secret Papers About China Are Released By The CIA:

The documents show that American intelligence agencies were slow to recognize the emergence of differences between the Soviet Union and China in what is known as the Sino-Soviet split. As late as 1966, three years before clashes along the border took the relationship to its lowest state, an estimate described an open break in relations between the Soviet Union and China as unlikely.

A main shortcoming, Mr. Suettinger wrote in his assessment, was "overestimating the importance of ideological solidarity and other centripetal forces within the Communist Bloc at least during the 1950's."
(My emphasis.)

Totally, dude! Because, like, all commies were a monolithic evil! And therefore there was not only no diplomatic means by which America could deal with communist countries as separate entities, but there was no philosophical reason to assume that their interests would not always, to put it mildly, coincide. Thus, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Tito's Yugoslavia, they were all the exact same. And if you asked someone rightwing enough, they told you that you could throw in Egypt and India, and for good measure those socialists of Sweden, Tanzania, and Chile, too. There, that was easy. And when they are all falsely grouped in dreaded sameness, turn up the hate and invent a doctrine by which you subvert every principle and virtue you ever had -- become a True Believer. And make money while you're at it.

Luckily for US, and the world, Richard Nixon (because of his study of De Gaulle) and his successors until the dread Ronald Reagan did not buy this version of the Enemy. Thus, the exploitation of the rift between the Soviet Union and China, and with it detente and the acceptance of co-existence: the only good thing Nixon ever did, and it was quite good indeed.

But the same principle shown in the CIA's fuck-up in the 1960s is again fashionable among the thoughtless; hence the monolithic label of Islamofascism which is used to describe, uniformly, everyone from Chechnyans to Palestinians to the legitimately vile al-quaeda to (ditto) Saddam Hussein's Ba'athists to China's Uighurs. Yet these groups often hate each other with a passion and so have no way by which they can cohere into the homogenous entity Western propagandists present them as. But then facts are pesky things to be batted away by people who have a tribalist hatred for any Muslim, who wish to use fear of the Monolith to consolidate their own power and effect their own religious standards on a secular populace, who have a hatred for any religion to such an extent that they will endorse any means to destroy it, who desperately wish to acquire the material wealth of Islamic countries, who think that Jesus has sent them on a divine crusade, etc.

Which is why we're in Iraq.

All their interests converge in maintaining the myth of The Monolith. All our interests converge in destroying that myth and then making war on the parts of "it" that are legitimate threats (al-qaeda), making peace with those that are not, and exploiting the differences between the two to our advantage.

A Single-Issue Voter

Martin Peretz, in the L.A. Times, warns against a Kerry presidency because, why, it would be a disaster for Israel.

Which is not exactly true. What Peretz means is that it may not be good for Eretz Israel, an alltogether different matter, and one to which the majority of American Jews do not share Peretz's devotion.

Busy, busy, busy illuminates what Peretz is really afraid of.

Who is Martin Peretz? Well, he's the ruler of The New Republic, a magazine that had had a long and noble liberal history. Mr. Peretz, flush with funds from his wife's Singer Sewing Machine fortune, purchased the grand old mag and promptly turned it into a Reaganite piece of shit, a slightly less constipated version of Commentary, but every bit as vituperative and tribalist. Peretz then went on to hire Andrew Sullivan to run the rag, bringing on its "Town and Country" period while still adhereing to the standard Peretz policy of mendacity (remember The Ruth Shalit Follies?) and super-tribalism.

Yes, tribalism. In 1968, Peretz was heard to say, "I have been in love only three times in my life. I was in love with my college roommate. I am in love with the state of Israel and I love Gene McCarthy." There's something missing from that list, and it's not Peretz's wealthy wife, whom he met after this gushing statement. At any rate, I think it's safe to say only one amour from that list remains in Marty's heart.

But he shouldn't worry about Kerry too much; I seriously doubt that Kerry's policy will be substantively different from Bush's -- or, for that matter, from that of Marty's friend Al Gore, who was so deeply in his, TNR's, and AIPAC's pocket.

On the other hand, Peretz may have something to fear from Bush, if Christopher Hitchens is to be believed:

If you care about the rights of the Palestinians, which I do and I know he does, and you do, there's absolutely no reason whatever to hope for a Democratic victory in November. It's quite obvious to me that the only chance they have is a Bush second term. The possibility that some pressure can be brought in Israel from this quarter, the only quarter that counts, increases if Bush is re-elected. It's an irony, perhaps, but it's not as much of a lousy irony as it would be if the Kerry-Edwards ticket was elected, because that's a more or less straight AIPAC-Likud ticket.

I should note that Hitchens rightly detests Peretz, and (without the rightly part) vice-versa. Anyway, Hitch is sadly, probably, right with regard to Kerry-Edwards but is wrong about Bush-Cheney which is also a "straight AIPAC-Likud ticket", Hitchens's delusions of Paul Wolfowitz's rectitude notwithstanding. While it's not unreasonable to hope for a Carter-like attitude from Kerry on the Israeli issue, we likely won't get it. But then Peretz knows that Bush, like Reagan before him, will continually fan, in a way Kerry will not, the flame of perpetual ideological war, which is exactly the milieu the Likudista tribalist wacko hopes beyond hope to preserve, and what is now status quo.

But Is It Funny?

Roger Ebert pans "Team America". Sully thinks this fact only confirms the film's virtue. After watching it, he 's even more certain of its greatness.

Ebert can be trusted on anything but crude comedies, which he as a rule treats with contempt. Sully, of course, cannot be trusted on anything. After two reviews I still don't have anything trustworthy.

The Times makes a case for the movie, but mostly all it tells me is that Stone and Parker's reactionary streak -- always present -- is far more front and center this time. Hmm. But is it funny? I consider the South Park movie a masterpiece. Little help?

Ahh, Roy at alicublog says it's funny. Well, there's one.

The Shorter Bob Kohn

Political Bias at The Times?

The New York Times is exactly as liberal as Ann Coulter is conservative.

**Disclaimer: Shorter concept inspired by busy, busy, busy from an idea by D-Squared; disclaimer concept gleefully stolen from Sadly, No!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Case For Something Awful

Rightwing nutbars in the punditry -- who are, of course, legion -- often employ trademark schticks in their writing which has the effect, they hope, of sweetening the poison they peddle.

Naturally then it is the job of we in the Reality-Based Community to identify such schticks, and mock mercilessly.

Our dear friend Dr. Sebly F. No is particularly adept at identifying them and then crucifying their authors. Needless to say, he is blessed for his just endeavours with good karma and is carnally rewarded by groupies who can, as it is well known, suck a cannonball through a crazy-straw.

For instance, he has exposed Rightwing Nutbar techniques like The Besides That Syndrome and The Chewbacca Defense. Very good work indeed, Sebly. Our scientist, in netting, as it were, these rogue and virulent memes and then doing the hard work of taxonomy and preservation, has left for us in RealityLand some helpful specimens to which we may refer as we surf along, doing our own fieldwork in the Wingnut Wilderness of Journalism.

In the hope that I may add my name to this proud tradition, I offer you an expose' on a relatively old meme that has been perhaps too familiar to be properly studied. To continue the naturalist metaphor, where Dr. Sebly has captured exotic fauna, I humbly present a common housecat -- for which, as everyone knows, there is more than one method of skinning.

You've seen it many times: lurking, pouncing, retreating. Fortunately, I had my tranquiliser gun with me the other day, and the initial result was published to your collective, I'm sure, delight. It's known as The Case For Something Awful.

And now for a slightly more detailed dissection of The Case For Something Awful. As I said, it's obvious -- many, like Chuck Kraphammer and Niall "It's Important That You Listen To What I Have To Say!!" Ferguson come right out and use the phrase as titles -- but I bet you didn't know it was so frequent.

Of course it's simple. A Rightwing Nutcase simply finds a subject that he has always favored but is universally repugnant to the civilised world, and makes an argument of "exceptionalism" for it. Shall we conduct a test? Yes? Okay, think of something unsavoury or wicked in a banal way, first. Ahh, yes, there's the two subjects mentioned above:

The Case For Fearmongering
The Case For Hypocrisy

So far so bad -- but not quite bad enough, apparently, which is why the authors still had courage enough to make the object of the exercise -- as a current policy advocacy -- plain in the titles. So let us move on to worse things:

The Case For Racist Incarceration and Concentration Camps
The Case For Running Over Civilian Pacifist Protestors With A Bulldozer
The Case For Genocide
The Case For Tertiary Syphillis.

Now that's more like it. The Something Awful is always a thing they take pleasure in, or believe in, or otherwise enjoy. But most Rightwing Nutcases know that the sane people in the world will be horrified, therefore they mean to put either the best possible varnish on the turd of an argument, or they demand that one dismiss his instincts and instead appreciate the counter-intuitive genius of a position that "may" be obscene in most instances, but is, like, a total no-brainer in the "exceptionalist" context for which they advocate.

Add your favourite The Case For [Something Awful] examples in comments, please. I want to have a collection.

*Edit - Slightly revised.

The Character of the St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are in the Championship Series this year, with hope of a World Series appearance, after an overpowering season in which they won 105 games, missing the franchise record for wins by one.

They are my team, my home team and the team I was raised to love; I have no choice if I am to be a baseball fan. And though what kind of fan you are and which team you're a fan of can say something about your character (and for Yankees fans, everything it says is bad), it's just as true that being a fan of certain teams is a determinist enterprise: where and when were you born and raised?

In my case, being raised in various areas of NE Arkansas, SE Missouri, and Western Tennessee, in the time just before the area was unfortunately saturated by the much-dread WGN (Cubs) and TBS (Braves) cable superstations, meant that I had to be a Cardinals fan, which wasn't a hard thing to be in the 1980s.

The Cardinals of that era had style (currently despised by sabremetricians) and had character; they were also successful, with a World Championship in '82, and pennants in '85 and '87. This period happened to coincide, for me, with that period in a boy's life before social awakening and girls are all that matters. When I was twelve years old I desperately wanted to be John Tudor. I loved it that the Cardinals could win by being smart, fast, and on defence, perhaps the best of all time. I loved it that our enemy was the New York Mets, composed of chawing white trash cokeheads, mega-mulleted (even for that era) whiners and, thus, media darlings.

In retrospect I love it that the Cardinals won by having a balanced lineup of one true slugger complimented by a few guys with doubles power and the rest with speed, decent on-base percentage, and skill at playing "small ball." A wonderful contrast indeed to the "ideal" modern teams composed of no-necks and fat fucks who can barely jog or catch. Long before Moneyball was the buzzword that sneering nerds and addled press alike espoused as Einsteinian genius there was Whiteyball, which built a team common-sense like, tailoring its traits to its cavernous home ballpark, employing cheap retread starting pitchers, and paying fair market rate for quality bullpen arms and Golden Gloves.

The current Cardinals team, of course, is more reflective of its era; it's full of sluggers, but to give it its due, also relatively speedy, spectacular defensively, and puts its best "stuff" pitchers (with one exception: Carpenter) in the 'pen.

Back then, Whitey Herzog was pretty good about getting rid of cancers and troublemakers and those who might create scandal. Cokeheads like Hernandez and Lonnie Smith were eventually shipped out (Hernandez to where he'd be most welcome: with the Mets). I'd like to think he would have rid the team of any cheaters. What John Birch Society nutballs there were in baseball were mostly where they belonged, in San Diego. In those days ballplayers were merely rich instead of obscenely, filthily, rich; far from judging the propriety of the general increase in their salaries, I bring it up only to mention that this fact probably insured at least a passable heterodoxy with regard to the players' politics. Nowadays, though, players are almost uniformly Republican if American, rightwing if foriegn, all of which makes an exception like Carlos Delgado truly exotic. And now of course steroided cheaters abound; and if the cheater happens to be a certain Left Fielder for the San Francisco Giants that is, like the current President, hostile and obnoxious to anyone who dares ask him a question, he is deified.

Of course back then the internet didn't exist, and so people weren't privy to as much of the ballplayers' personal lives and tastes as they are now. In reading about the musical tastes of the current Cardinals team I can only say, "would that were still the case". The Cardinals are as motley a collection of Country Music and Christian Rock enthusiasts than probably anyone else save freepers, who have all the intelligence and cultural literacy of the average australopithecine. Literature? I read in the print version of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (a terrible newspaper that is a disgrace to its name and heritage) that Third Baseman Scott Rolen's favourite novel is The Fountainhead. Too sad. While reliever Ray King is flashy, fellow reliever Steve Kline has an endearing earthiness schtick; First Baseman Albert Pujols is, seemingly, a moral paragon who actually might not be a hypocrite if only because of his absence of cant; and Outfielder Reggie Sanders enjoys a deserved reputation as the nicest man in baseball, I still can't help but think of this team as, privately, a bunch of Ned Flanderses.

But on the field they play with fire and respect; after winning the Division Series they took the field to shake hands with the equally mannered Los Angeles Dodgers, a nice instance of sportsmanship that would never come from (nor, to be fair, wasted on) the likes of, say, the whiny, bitchy, moping Chicago Cubs, a bunch of recalcitrant fucktards who should die and burn in hell. So, yes, the Cardinals have likeable traits.

But there's one other small misgiving: ownership. Bill DeWitt heads the investment group that owns the majority of the team; he is a personal friend of George W. Bush, for whom he is also a major fundraiser. Not surprisingly (considering such a nasty association) the team a few years back tried to get a large chunk of corporate welfare in the form of a new, publicly-financed stadium. Despite much lobbying ($$$), the voters wouldn't buy it. The Cardinals will still get a new stadium, but it'll be mostly privately-financed. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the team this year, and I listened with rolling eyes and churning stomach as the language-mangling dipshit bloviated to the Cardinals' radio team after the ceremonies. (Most of the players go out of their way to say they like Bush.) Make no mistake, DeWitt is in thick; while it'll take several steady years to reach the vileness of Cincinnati Reds owner Carl Lindner, DeWitt is doing his best in Republican stoogery, even though it's doubtful he can reach Lindner of United Fruit Company's scale in that other Republican virtue: being a menace to the Third World.

Where DeWitt is blandly cronyish, former Cardinals owner Gussie Busch was a high-visibility goofball and lovable (at least from a distance) grouch who lived to a Nestorian age and never stopped personally cheering the Cardinals until the last. Need I also add that he was not a Republican? Though personally he had many Republican traits (baronial, ruthless, stingy), he, out of loyalty to FDR, became and remained, for a long while, a Democrat, even after it was, so to speak, no longer profitable to do so. Why "loyalty"? Because Gussie lived and worked through the Prohibition Era, which nearly ruined his family's company, and which, with FDR's leadership, was ended in 1933. Though he was very much Big Business himself, perhaps Gussie, on some level, knew what H. L. Mencken knew: that "Big Business [i.e., Republicans] was in favor of Prohibition, believing that a sober workman would make a better slave than one with a few drinks in him." Whatever he was, Gussie was no dummy. That is, until 1968, when he lavishly supported the campaign of Richard Nixon, and in whose adminstration a family member, one Peter Flanigan, was installed.

After forcing his father out of the company, Augie Busch, Gussie's son, allowed the old man to keep control of the Cardinals. At Gussie's death, the team went back to the company, which promptly sold it. Unlike Gussie, Augie Busch, a chilly and severe man, didn't care much for sports or the limelight: he wasn't about to continue in Gussie's high-profile capacity. Nor was he ever loyal to the party that had saved his industry from his fellow robber barons; Augie was always Republican to the core. But he wanted to concentrate on beer; the team was sold to DeWitt's crew who, to be fair, actually spend more money (which is not saying much, but it is saying something) on the team than did the Busches.

It's just the nature of the system that the Cardinals' owners have, through the years, been a general menace to the public interest. Often, considering their tight-fisted ways, they've been a menace to the game. Gussie Busch had an interesting persona and had a respectable loyalty for a long spell, but that's about the best that can be found in the whole lot. As they get more wealthy, the players, too, are bound to be crappier political citizens. But so what, they play baseball -- and play it well -- and that's what really matters.

Is it an irony then that the Cardinals now come back from the political and cultural hellhole of Texas (a state I heartily encourage to secede from the Union so that it can, as it has long wished, bring back the public firing squad, encourage lynchings, catapult the homeless into tornadoes' funnels, reinstitute slavery, install Tom DeLay as Fuhrer, and make sweet sulphury crude oil the national beverage) down two games to three to the perennially hapless Houston Astros, half of whom are as goofily-bearded as the average mullah, and which is yet another team that has a cozy relationship with Bush?

Who knows what happened down there, but it's time they showed that they had character as a team. For the first time this year, they're behind and have their backs to the wall. Time to show some mettle. And however tacky and dreadful their tastes and opinions are as private citizens, as a team they are likeable and as an entity (team, city, fans, tradition, owners) are damn preferable to both the Astros and the Yankees. More importantly they, like everyone else still alive in the playoffs save the damnable Yankees, are due for a World Championship.

If anyone but the Yankees wins it all this year, I'll be pleased; if the Red Sox win it all, I'll be very pleased; if my St. Louis Cardinals win it all (hopefully after pasting New York 87-0 in a four game sweep, forever destroying the demonic power of the Yankees that is the Nexis of Evil in the baseball world), I'll be ecstatic.

**Edit -- I had to clean this up quite a bit -- I'm still not happy with it -- but I'd hoped it would be good enough to merit my first Clutch Hit, but then I suppose I'm doomed to disappointment.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Oh, Please

I watched Christopher Hitchens on Tim Russert's show after the Cardinals game, and he dropped some whopping tautologies "inductions".

Alas, there's no transcript that I can find but, to paraphrase, in admitting that the resistence was underestimated in Iraq, he says that this just prooves that Iraq was in far worse disrepair than we'd thought, hence another justification for the war. He calls this a fair induction. Right. Then he drops another bomb by saying that the Iraqis can vote out the United States if they wish (a defence against the Truth of the argument that no one native likes an occupier), and thus it's a fair to draw the conclusion that the resistance is in the great minority because their violence has the effect of delaying elections, which they do out of fear that the majority would vote to continue the American presence.

This is shitty reasoning on so many levels, but the main one is this: the Iraqi resistence, like any resistence in any country that has had a colonial history, will assume that the occupier operates in Bad Faith. Vis Iraq, that assumtpion has proven correct innumerable times. In fact, that assumption is why many -- whom Hitchens sneered at and slandered in the grossest way -- were anti-war to begin with. You can't expect ex Nixon and Ford hacks to operate in Good Faith; you can't expect The Enron Administration to be honest with regard to its motives involving petroleum-producing countries; you can't expect people who've thwarted democracy in Florida and attempted to in Venezuela to be honest democracy-builders elsewhere. You can't expect cynical and crooked bastards to be honest and idealist, which was how the "liberation" was marketed.

Opposite of Hitch was his boss at Vanity Fair, who argued, excellently, that what we've done was a mistake and what it's cost US at home is precious and possibly, scarily, permanent. Hitch was mild -- no charges of fellow-travelling with fascists and no sneering at protestors this time -- and it's small wonder why: one doesn't insult the boss in public. Hitch knows who butters his bread.

Still, his "Anything Goes" anti-jihad rhetoric (so much like the "Anything Goes" rhetoric and policies of the True Believer anti-communists he rightly despised back in the days that he was human) was pretty much his standard issue as of late. He closed by "joking" that he was going to invest in some military industry stocks. Ha hah.

Fuck you, Hitch.

** -- Sorry, I had to edit and clarify a bit, because I was a bit sloshy when I first wrote it, something Hitch himself can fully appreciate.

Friday, October 15, 2004


These links have already been heavily blogged but it won't hurt to post them again.

More Marines in Iraq are frustrated and question the policy, as much as they can, of Dear Leader.

Abolutely perfect video on the Adminstration goons. Set to very appropriate music and lyrics. You'll laugh if you're not a Repug.

More scary Seymour Hersh revelations of war crimes in Iraq.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch follow-up on some of the participants in the 2nd debate and their decisions, if any.

Pretty fair, I thought, AP article on where the candidates stand.

At the end of last month, I talked to a friend of mine in Arkansas who is a Democratic organiser. He said in so many words that Kerry had abandoned and conceded the state, which is also what I read online. But this poll shows that Kerry and Bush are virtually tied in the state. I hope Kerry reopens the campaign there. The state's basically populist, because so poor, but is suceptible to the Elmer Gantry brand of RR demagoguery, hence the preacher-governor's power. But traditional Repugs aren't much there, except in the Northwest part of the state; and the Republican scion (whose Daddy, to be fair, was great for a Republican), Winthrop Rockefeller, still manages to be a non-entity.

Grover "The Greatest Generation Hates America" Norquist, the face and voice of the True Believer and therefore of "divisiveness", let out one hell of a whopper last year that people are smartly resurrecting. Via The Poor Man.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Cool Stuff, Huh?

I don't blog about my other interests as much as I'd like -- politics is just too important right now, something I hope that'll, at least for me, change after November.

Anyway, other interests. I've been an archaeology junkie ever since I was very small and would go with my grandfather to "treasure hunt" (metal detecting) and "rock hunt" (look for Native American points, which used to be plentiful and fairly easily found after a hard spring rain). For most of my teenage years, it was what I wanted to do with my life.

But then in my first semester of college, I learned two crucial things about archaeology that spoiled the subject for me. For one, it is a mind-numbingly anal retentive science; for another, professional archaeologists despise the amateur or the dilettante. Now, the latter is a general attitude in Academe, but with archaeology, it's quintessential and especially virulent. Amateurs = Collectors = "Looters" = Evil. Of course this is legit when it refers to pothunting and grave-robbing, which are a lucrative and, unfortunately, fairly common where I come from. But hobbiest folk who walk the fields looking for exposed artefacts hardly qualify as cultural rapists. There are other things about archeologists that I could bitch about, but I'll stop now. Anyway, the last few years, inspired by my girlfriend, I've rekindled my interest in the anthropological part of the field, which is more rewarding and practical, I think, with regard to politics and everyday living.

All the above crap is just an excuse to post two stories I found on Yahoo without jarring readers too much, and all three of whom would sensibly regard that topic as something of a non sequitur.

Thracian mausoleum packed with precious objects unearthed in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria Discovery Sheds Light On Ancient Thracians.

The reasons why, in the last few years, major work has been done and discoveries made in Eastern Europe should be obvious considering the politics, and this should not be taken to necessarily be a compliment to capitalism. But things do seem to be turning up more often (much of the Roman coins on the market seem to be coming from this area). This, however, may just be an illusion by comparison, since it's rare to find such glamourous things in Western Europe anymore, aside the occasion coin hoard, an odd Celtic torque here and there, a bog body; no Indiana Jones stuff that everyone hopes their local museum will someday get to display.

The Thracians, like many of the barbarian tribes to the north of the classical world, are fairly mysterious. On the identity politics front, this sort of discovery should be pleasing to the millions of "European Heinz 57" people like myself, whose political ancestry is Greco-Roman but whose genetic ancestry is more wholly (if not holy) barbarian than not.

But it's interesting to see how much classical culture leaked into that of the barbarians and vice-versa. One finds Greek art stylings in Danish artefacts and finds goods from colonial Greece in German-Celtic tombs. Look at the crown found in Bulgaria:

Note the oak leaves and acorns, and compare with this:

The second crown is that of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. The Thracian crown is older. Now, I'm not going to be fraudulent, pretending, Neosporin-like, an expertise in something I know only a little about; I'm no art historian. But isn't the at worst superficial similarity interesting? Was this design originally from Thrace, then travelled south to Macedonia, at the time the northern frontier of Magna Graeca? Or vice-versa?

Either way, it's not really suprising that Philip would favour a design at least at some time apparently popular in the North; the "real" classical Greeks always considered the Macedonians hicks from the sticks, which doubtless contributed to Macedonian self-pity and inferiority complexes. (As such, Alexander becomes first in the line of many short insecure tyrants who sought to prevail over their adopted country and beyond: Napoleon the Corsican, Stalin the Georgian, Hitler the Austrian. Alfred Adler was no complete fool.)

The relics from Philip's tomb, discovered in 1977, are awesome. Such things may gain a new interest when the new Alexander movie comes out; though its producers foolishly cast Colin Farrell as The Emperor, they almost made up for this gaffe by casting Val Kilmer as Philip. Now it's been years since I read Plutarch, and my copy of Green's Alexander is now in Poland, but I remember Philip being every bit as interesting as his more famous son, if, of course, less successful. He was also every bit as bisexual, though I'm sure the film's producers will neatly excise that fact from the record lest red-blooded and red-stated Americans be offended. It's an article of faith that macho world conquerors (or their fathers) cannot be gay. To further destroy stereotypes, Philip was a tough bastard: he's one of two Kings I know of to have had his eye put out by arrows (for the other, King Harold of Saxon England, the injury proved fatal).

Anything to encourage interest in these subjects I consider a plus.

--**Edited in an attempt to clarify

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Don't Let Up

While it's been hard dealing with the fact that Pete and Sebly are indolent pooptards, one regains hope when observing that TBOGG and Roy of alicublog adhere to a traditional work ethic.

They've been taking turns the last few weeks snarking the living crap out of James "Don't Call Me Bob Balaban" Lileks.

Replay: left hook, a kick to the groin, bitch slap, karate kick, right cross, coup de grace.

Though all these made me smile and/or laugh, none can match the boffo hilarity found in this, entirely different, entry on Lileks: the straight man is always more funny than those who are clued into the joke.

Good Stuff.


I slip into reverie... borrowing from Lileks's own dorktastic sci-fi idiom, I entertain a vision of becoming, ever briefly, the blogosphere alliance's Admiral Ackbar, ordering my favourite bloggers to target this or that particular enemy: "concentrate all firepower on that Super Star Destroyer". The U.S.S. Clueless, of course, has already been blown into so much space rubble, now floating harmlessly away from the Death Star. I wonder if the swarm and flurry strategy would work on others in the same way. What have we got to lose? No, "civility" is not a viable answer.


Yeah, we've heard all the excuses, haven't we? Job interviews, technical difficulties, logistical problems, broken limbs, flaming tongue fungus, jungle rot, crotch weasels, catarrh, cauliflower fingers, intestinal warts, pancreatic splooge, uncontrollable falling know the litany.

But the fact of the matter is that our sworn enemies dear friends Pete Window and Dr. Sebly F. No haven't been entirely candid with us. The real reasons are the usual: Sebly with an ice pack on his crotch and a tennis ball in his mouth, physically exhausted from his latest tryst with that insatiable minx Amber Pawlik. As for Pete, it's S.O.S. with him too: garden variety carpal tunnel syndrome from his tantric masturbation typing technique.

Bah! Tell them we are fed up. We need daily entries that obliterate the most exciting conservative writers of our times!

When we don't get daily wingnut destruction, it hurts us. Pardon us, but we thought that the only person who wished us harm was Brian Cherry, whose "literary sticks" pack all the wallop of a dryrotted whiffleball bat. Does this mean they have joined the Brian Cherry legion? The very thought makes me tear-up, readers!

But, after drying my eyes, inspiration hits me. I have a plan...

In the purest anti-Randian altruism, I, your humble blogger, shall formally offer to sacrifice myself for the common good. Yes I, Retardo Montalban, at an appropriate time, will write an entry or entries as a wingnut, with the hope that my wingnuttery will be so compelling that it will have the effect of forcing Sebly and Pete into resuming what is, after all, their freakin' duty.

Please, control your collective gasping, and someone do try to revive the lovely lady in the front row who has fainted. I will be brave. I'm not afraid. I only regret that I have but one life to give for the blogosphere. This is the last of earth; I am composed.

The Shorter Charles Krauthammer

The Case For Fearmongering

Boo! Boo, I tell you! Be afraid, so very afraid. But do not be afraid of being afraid, because it's entirely rational.

Ah, good old Montevideo Chuck, Psychiatrist, using his "credentials" to convince folks to disregard the old standard: that paranoia sucks, and the people who encourage it are even suckier.

I do have to say, though, that this is my favourite reactionary "The Case For [Something Awful]" since Niall's.

**Disclaimer: Shorter concept inspired by busy, busy, busy from an idea by D-Squared; disclaimer concept gleefully stolen from Sadly, No!

The Shorter Henry Kissinger

Kissinger Defends South America Policies.

Stopping Death Squad activity was not worth the costs of publicly criticising Generals Stroessner, Videla and Pinochet.

The tapestry of deceit Dr. Death weaves here would do any Straussian proud (and that's really transcending traditional realpolitik). The "balance" reference is just perfect. Far from "discouraging human rights abuses", he took care at the time to praise Pinochet for "restraint" -- as if DINA ever held back anything, a fact Kissinger knew full well. It's also swell of Dr. Death -- charitible, even -- for him to say that his methods "can be argued about".

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Semi-Shorter Jeet Heer And Dave Wagner

Man Of The World.

Michael Ledeen, who as a young man studied the dynamics of fascism, has now co-opted fascist techniques, uses them unapologetically, and still declares himself a democrat and hater of tyranny. But he's really smart.

Read it and believe it. What a fucking walking contradiction and utter nutball.

Leonard Peikoff Is Insane

Ayn's heir puts himself squarely in Adam Yoshida territory.

The topic of self-defense brings me to the war in Afghanistan...America went into Afghanistan filled with ambivalence, uncertainty, and even guilt. Our leadership was afraid of Afghan civilian casualties, afraid of American they settled on a pitiful proxy war...They did not dare bomb population centres where al-qaeda and the Taliban promptly hid out, thereby eluding capture. Along with bombs, needless to say, we covered the country with care packages. Was this a war, or a pretense and a charade? A war in self-defense must be fought without self-crippling restrictions placed on our commanders. And it must secure victory as quickly as possible regardless of how many innocent civilians are caught in the line of fire or are deliberate targets of that fire. [Believe it or not, emphasis is in the original.]


If you are curious enough to listen to the whole lecture, you'll see that it gets even more grisly and detailed.

Randians not only think that any regulation of interstate commerce is fascistic, they also have some pretty wacky ideas on foriegn policy, obviously. Happily, most of those who become infatuated with the loony doctrines of Ayn Rand grow out of it by age 16 and then go on to lose their virginity, donate cans of soup to indigents, and develop a sense of humor. But, alas, some do not.

Justin Raimondo, who is often pretty silly himself, nonetheless makes perfect sense in his analysis of Peikoff's lecture and the Cult of Ayn, in general.

[Edited to remove irrelevant (to Peikoff) and dead link, 5-13-07.]

Yeah, He Got Tha Bling Bling, An' He Dresses All Pimp An Shit, But Da Man Got Journalism Cred, Too, Dawg. Check Out These Interviewin Skillz

President Martin Van Buren, one mushroom cloud-layin' brotha ('specially when it comes to National Banks), goes "Dolemite" on those rat soup-eatin' honkey muthafuckas on the Nobel Prize Committee. Then -- check it, yo -- he interviews Stevie Wonder to get a reaction with some tru cred, know what I'm sayin? And Stevie backs Da Prez's shit up 100 percent.

Stranger In A Strange Land

Remember the old SNL episode where Eddie Murphy infiltrated the Caucasian world to see how the other half lived? Well, Matt Taibbi does exactly that, by going deep undercover among grass roots Bushies in Orlando. Though he didn't have to apply the make-up that Eddie did, he still had to learn to walk like he had a stick up his ass. The similarity with Murphy's skit doesn't end there, either:

As the chairman of the Federation of Black Republicans for the Republican Party of the State of Florida, Johnny was used to being called to this sort of duty. On the phone with "Penny," he explained that his job involved traveling around the state to meet people. "Wherever they need me," he said, "that's where I be rolling to." Finally, Ben came through with someone more local. He managed to persuade a thirty-seven-year-old Promise Keeper Christian named Lorin Jones, a phlegmatic fellow who was recovering from two brushes with congestive heart failure, to come in for an interview.


A few minutes later, "Penny" called to cancel, citing car trouble. Lorin hung in there for a few minutes. Our older volunteer coordinator, Don Madden, came over to chat; the two of them apparently went to neighboring schools in California. Don's school, Don said, was great at basketball, but, he said, winking at Lorin, "You were probably the only guys who could have beaten us."

Lorin laughed uncomfortably. "We were OK," he said. "We were pretty good. Our college was pretty good at basketball."

Then another staffer came over to say hi. He knew Lorin from past campaigns and asked if Lorin was planning on coming in to do phone banking. Lorin answered that he wasn't, that he was busy setting up a school-supplies giveaway charity event in his neighborhood. The staffer laughed.

"Oh, come on," he said jokingly. "I know how you people don't like to work." Lorin, who was halfway out the door, stopped at this. His smile disappeared. For a moment, he was genuinely pissed off. "We don't like to work?" he said. "That's all I do is work to make you white Republicans look good."

Oh, there's plenty more where that came from; just read on to where Taibbi is invited to the Fundie's house for dinner.

I'm thinking Taibbi's story has to be a put on -- it's too perfect and too, well, true. If not, then Jesus. If so, then, well, Murphy's skit was "fiction", too, but there was a hell of a lot of truth in it.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Convention Wisdom/Recieved Opinion/Common Consensus

Often it's horseshit, sometimes it's not. But its paid dispensers are full of it in general, and when they start throwing around the charge of "conspiracy theory", full of it in profound particular.

Howard Kurtz has been taken to the cleaners today by the usual suspects, but not even TBOGG has included Kurtz's most egregious statement:

Toronto, Canada: Thanks for taking our questions. The Washington Post carried a story, over the weekend, about a site devoted to exploring whether President Bush may have been using an ear-piece, allowing him to be coached by, by his advisers. The site implies that some reporters have been aware that a linguistically and fact challenged Bush routinely needs, and makes use of an ear-piece. It compared the journalistic silence over Bush's rumoured ear-piece to the silence over JFK's adulteries. Here are my questions: If this rumour were true, how much coverage do you feel it would deserve? How far should responsible journalists go to determine if there is any truth to the rumours? While it remains just a rumour how much coverage does it deserve?

Howard Kurtz: It is nothing but a rumor at the moment and deserves very little, if any, coverage. I'm not sure I would have run a story at all without some shred of proof (beyond a photograph that appeared to show a bulge in Bush's suit) or at least someone making an on-the-record charge. If it turned out to be true, that would be a huge story. The idea that journalists have known about this and haven't said anything is both ludicrous and untrue.


Chicago, Ill.: Love your chat Howard. I'm astonished at how little attention the so called liberal media has paid to the mysterious bump under W's coat during the first debate. Can you imagine the uproar if it were Kerry? You guys have been cowed by the right.

Howard Kurtz: You seem to be suggesting that the press is covering up something here. There is, I repeat, nothing to back up this rumor. Besides, if Bush's handlers were feeding him answers, wouldn't he have done better in the first debate?

Now for the penultimate..

McLean, Va.: Is this chat just for conspiracy theorists or can anyone join?...

Howard Kurtz: A positive note. What a welcome development. But we welcome all views on the chat, even those that should be set to Twilight Zone music.
(My emphases.)

There you have it. If you have seen these photos:
(Der Speigel)
and believe your eyes, then Howie thinks you are in pure tinfoil hat territory, along with those people who believe in Bigfoot and think they've been anally probed by Martians (though I admit that Ann Coulter has to be getting the rod from somewhere, and only so many gun barrels can be corroded into green blobs).

Howie thinks it's a "conspiracy theory" when, really, the outrage is that he and his kind instantly dismiss the idea that Bush had something on underneath his jacket. Now I don't know if it's a wire and neither does Howie. But it is something, and it's Howie's job to find out what, not to dismiss the very notion out of hand. Howie's own paper reported the issue, though only, it seems, to air Bushies' denials. Does Howie object to that, too, or was it suffieciently dismissive for his tastes?

Sorry, Hacktastic Howie, but in American Politics the stakes are so high (admitted euphemism for "there's so much money at stake") and, yes, the candidates and parties are so ambitious and cutthroat, that only a fool can afford to not be cynical. One must assume that any candidate, of any party, is pretty much capable of anything. But Howie can't, and neither can the majority of his fellow media whores, because politicians are just swell guys doing a job; forget what you know about power, absolute power, and all that sorry lot. This is the mentality that, had it been so pervasive then as it is now, would have said "Watergate? Burglary? No President would be so sleazy!"

It's the mentality, stupid. Knee-jerk Conventional Wisdom. Anything that deviates from this, no matter how likely or in character, is to be consigned to the Area 51 School.

Thus, we have National Myths -- which Howie and Co. are paid to protect -- some which include:

George Washington was a great general, even a military genius.
Lincoln prosecuted the Civil War as an Abolitionist Crusade.
The election of 1876 was disputed, not corrupted and/or stolen.
Harry Truman incinerated Japanese civilians only to save American lives.
JFK-MLK-RFK were killed by a lone assassins who never conspired with any organisations.
Richard Nixon was the only very corrupt President.
Ronald Reagan's military spending destroyed the Soviet Union.
The election of 2000 was disputed, not corrupted and/or stolen.

The veracity of these statements is not the issue (for instance, I do believe that RFK was indeed killed by a lone nut), but, rather, the mentality that considers these things indisputable facts, argued only by cranks and X-Files junkies. Again, this is Kevin Drumification at work -- at least in a way -- because it assumes that the mushy-middle's conclusions are the Gospel and only True Believers in the fringe (abducted by Elvis and a Yeti and flown in a UFO to Altair-4) could think otherwise. Sorry, but the "center" is chock-full of its True Believers too, and Howie's mentality illustrates why that is.

**Update on the wiring story: Here's a new Salon article on it.

The Somewhat Shorter Christopher Hitchens

The Tim Russert Show:

In my career I have correctly condemned Liberals for attacking Conservatives from the Right; Helen Gahagan Douglas and John Kennedy aganist Richard Nixon, Walter Mondale against Ronald Reagan. Now watch me attack John Kerry and Andrew Sullivan from the Right. No, this is not contradiction nor hypocrisy; it's irony.

No, he can't sustain it. He shifts to attack Sully/religion from the Left, too; an argument that begins to make sense, but is unfortunately undone by Hitch's "anything goes" counter-jihad against jihad.

Read more here, which is sad sad sad.

Shorter RNC Sales Pitch To The Amish

Reclusive Amish could be thrown into election battleground:

If you can forget your concerns over greed and warmongering, then we're the party for you.

The last religious pacifist to vote Republican was Richard Nixon's Quaker mother. I think it's pretty safe to say that the Amish will stay on the farm come November second.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Down Under Sundered From Us

Here's to hoping the first election of the axis of jackasses meets a happy ending, but I admit things don't look good.

No, not because Ozzies are the reactionary nuts that Bush hopes and thinks they are (Howard is not loved), but because the Labor Party is so structurally damaged. There's just not, apparently, much of an alternative anymore to what amounts to Tory Hegemony.

American conservatives will feel a nostalgia for the good old days when the CIA itself took care of Labor Governments. Nowadays, of course, the Australian Liberals (not liberal in our sense, though not rightwing in the American way, either: think of them as uncloseted Kevin Drums, in other words, Rockefeller Republicans) can do the work all by themselves.

Our wingnuts and their wingnuts aren't the same; less so, even than ours and Britain's. Howard's symmetry to Bush is, however, ample even if it's impossible for an Oz conservative to be quite as proto-fascist and Manichean as the American variety. In just the last few days he's been very Bushie indeed: shrugging at the fact of no WMDs, and in taking a magnificently garbled stance on logging, which is an important issue to environmentally conscious Australia, that amounts to, when translated, a "we had to cut the trees in order to save them" approach. Bush, who says that we need to let loggers cut National Forests to "prevent forest fires" couldn't have done better himself.

At any rate, I expect the opposition to Howard to expand in the event of his victory, and take solace in the fact that, on his crucial foriegn policy stupidities, he's still deeply unpopular.

As in the US, if the reactionaries somehow win, we'll still end up winning larger -- and for longer. I'll try to explain that later in the week, but until then, know that Howard's election means nothing here (though Bush will spin it as a mandate from the world), that Bush lost again tonight, that Kwasiewski knows he's toast, and that Tony Blair is sweating profusely. No matter what happens in Oz, it's not over yet.

The Hilarious Inferno

All right, this contest is over. The most hilarious post of the night goes to Cliff May at The Corner whose lies can't be covered by the standard "pants on fire" descriptions. His deceit is well beyond that: his entire leisure suit is on fire. He's a walking Forest Fire; he's a typing towering fuckin' inferno. And (to mix metaphors/similes), like a "heel" in professional wrestling, it's hilarious:

NRO bloggers try hard to be honest and not to let their partisanship interfere with their analysis. They want to describe what is happening, not what they hope is happening. They bend over backwards to be fair.

This is something that I genuinely think is more common among conservatives than liberals.

Listen to David Brook vs. Mark Shield on NPR. David says what he thinks and criticizes Republicans often. Shields is always a cheerleader for Democrats.
Think of Tucker Carlson vs. Paul Begala and James Carville on Crossfire. Same thing.

Like the best comedy acts, May's gets better with each reading. David Brooks, not a partisan hack! Bwahahahaha. NRO bloggers honest! Stop it, May, you're killin' me! Ahahahahaha.

Philip K. Dickless

Boing Boing catches the AP manipulating the fabric of space-time to give Bush a victory in November.

AP says it was a "test". Yeah.

I wonder if the Jackasses of "Liberty" at Randian Reason will be all over this as much as they were over Lewis Lapham for his accurate precognizance of the Republican National Convention, which, after all, was evident to anyone who read the platform and knew the personalities, and was a part of an editorial, all of which were quite lost on those wily Libertarians who bandied their "triumph" like a regicide holding a severed head, and who in turn quickly passed on the glory to the conservatarians at Volokh's. But then they have always seen Lapham as an enemy where the timeline-flaunting AP's victor, Bush, is merely a fellow-traveler gone incompetent. Put another way, Bush, whatever his fiscal faults in their eyes, still favours the McDonaldisation of the World by force (whether implied and structural, or overt and violent), where Lapham does not, and I'm thinking that's quite enough for them not to be "outraged" at the principle of that AP story.

Debate II

Kerry won, though not by as much as last time. I didn't think he started as well as last time ("He outsourced that job, too"); the only real zinger I remember him giving this time was near the middle of it, where he said to Bush "where we balanced a budget, something you don't know how to do."

Bizarre Moment: How many people still think we have an emotionally stable President after watching him run over moderator Charlie Gibson, break the debate rules, and generally shout his answer like he did at his coke dealer back in the 70s at the Blue Oyster Cult concert? Olbermann likens it to an athlete yelling at a referee, while Atrios compares Bush to an obnoxious tourist. Wolcott's take is fairly apt, too.

One of the least political people I know told me four years ago that she thought Bush was dangerously hotheaded. I've always pretty much agreed with her assessment. Now in these debates, first he's scowling, then edgy, then tonight he, just for a second or so, explodes.

Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall in the Oval Office when Rove gives Bush some little bit of reality (read: bad news)? The guy must go apeshit. Those Presidental tapes that come out after every adminstration are going to be the most vulgar and irrate at least since Nixon's -- provided that they ever come out.

Damn, Oliver Willis does quick work; follow the link to watch the clip of Bush going batshit.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Respondez Vous-Plait

You, Dear Readers (all three of you as well as the spider bots gathering my email address for purposes of spamming!), are cordially invited to join us at Roger Ailes's blog where we speculate on just what "highly embarrassing" medical procedures Rush Limbaugh has had done, and would like to keep secret.

Vulgarity and crudity are not only welcome, but encouraged -- in the name of karma and justice.

Thank you.


Yes, it's nice that Kerry's doing well; moreover, it's a great pleasure to see Bush make an ass out of himself to millions of people.

But the debates are for shit, and here's why:

The League of Women Voters faithfully served as a genuinely nonpartisan presidential debate sponsor from 1976 until 1984, courageously ensuring the inclusion of popular independent candidates and prohibiting major party campaigns from manipulating debate formats.

In 1980, the League invited independent candidate John B. Anderson to participate in a presidential debate, even though President Jimmy Carter adamantly refused to debate him.

Four years later, when the Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale campaigns vetoed 68 proposed panelists in order to eliminate difficult questions, the League publicly lambasted the candidates for "totally abusing the process." The ensuing public outcry persuaded the candidates to accept the League's panelists for the next debate.

And in 1988, when the George Bush and Michael Dukakis campaigns drafted the first secret debate contract -- a "Memorandum of Understanding" that dictated who got to participate, who would ask the questions, even the heights of the podiums -- the League declined to implement it. Instead, the League issued a blistering press release, claiming that "the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter."

The major parties, however, did not want a sponsor that limited their candidates' control. Consequently, in 1986, the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee ratified an agreement between Fahrenkopf and Kirk "for the parties to take over presidential debates." In 1987, Fahrenkopf and Kirk incorporated the CPD, and for the next 18 months, they served as co-chairmen of their parties and co-chairmen of the CPD simultaneously. Though it has been 17 years, Fahrenkopf and Kirk still co-chair the CPD.

Yes yes, do read the whole thing.

Though the debates are better this year precisely because there is noticeable difference between the candidates, it's no excuse to forget that the system, in this regard too, is broken and rigged in favour of the status quo. In effect, there is a sort of Kevin Drum-ification at work here, where the centripetal forces pull everyone to the wishy-washy, empty-headed, technocratic "center", which is to say, objectively to the right.

That River Had It Coming

I mean, it was teasing us, so placid there, so pretty, so, well, wet. Anybody would want to pollute it. And polluting the air around it? Well, that's just the bonus plan, in the Andrew Dice Clay sense of the phrase.

Such is the attitude of Holcim (US), Inc, and its political prostitutues defenders:

Environmental groups agreed Tuesday to drop their four-year legal battle against a proposed cement plant in Ste. Genevieve County after the company agreed to a $3 million settlement.

The deal clears the way for construction of the nation's largest cement plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. Holcim (US) Inc.'s plant would annually produce about 4 million tons of cement and up to 5,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions.

Under the agreement, Holcim will pay $3 million for local air quality monitoring, energy efficiency and land preservation projects.

Three million. Chump change. But then,

The settlement concludes a lengthy fight that pitted environmental concerns against economic growth, with supporters in the Ste. Genevieve area facing off against activists concerned that air pollution from the plant would drift into the St. Louis area.

Politicians weighed in from Jefferson City to Washington, D.C., over the plant. Missouri Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond and Jim Talent, both Republicans who support the plant, personally lobbied top officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the matter.


Environmental groups failed to get Holcim to adopt stricter pollution-control equipment. Their cause got no help from the EPA, which decided this year to spare Ste. Genevieve County from stricter, new ozone regulations. A decision the other way could have made it harder for Holcim to get an air permit.

"Politics trumped science," said Kathy Andria of the American Bottom Conservancy. "Once EPA did that ... it just seemed very futile."

Lobbied this EPA? I doubt that Senators Bond and Talent had to lobby very hard, but then it's the thought that counts, right?

For what it's worth -- and it shows that the going rate was a bargain for the cement gang -- here are the open secret files on Kit Bond and Jim Talent, which demonstrate what Libertarians call Freedom in Action and Conservatives call The American Way, but others, perhaps too old-fashioned, might call legalised bribery quid pro quo.

American Road & Transport Builders Assn $6,000
Associated Builders & Contractors $10,000
Associated General Contractors $10,000
Bechtel Group $2,000
Fluor Corp $2,000
Granite Construction $500
Illinois Road Builders Assn $1,000
Michigan Road Builders Assn $2,000
National Utility Contractors Assn $2,000
Washington Group International $4,000
American Concrete Pavement Assn $1,000
Ash Grove Cement $1,500
Dean Operations $1,000
Holnam Inc $5,000
National Concrete Masonry Assn $1,000
National Ready Mixed Concrete Assn $4,000
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Assn $8,000
Oldcastle Materials $6,000

Jim Talent:
American Portland Cement Alliance $3,000
American Supply Assn $3,000
Ash Grove Cement $4,000
Associated Equipment Distributors $5,000
Caterpillar Inc $5,000
Dean Operations $1,500
National Concrete Masonry Assn $1,000
National Lumber & Bldg Material Dealers $1,000
National Ready Mixed Concrete Assn $2,000
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Assn $5,000
RC Cement $1,000

An Innocent Question

How long do you think it'll be before this guy ends up, at best, done-in like Preston Tucker or, more likely, buried in cement in the endzone of Exxon-Mobil's corporate football field?

From The Department of Ewww

The state of K-Lo's vagina: moist. The reason: Dick Cheney. Our redoubtable K-Lo then links to a woman named after a con game to "show" that NRO vaginas aren't the only ones that are self-loathing and toothy aroused by flaccid vituperative, geriatric Dick:

I’m telling you--Cheney struck an unexpected cord with women in this debate. Listening to female callers on talk radio in Los Angeles and talking with female friends (not just Republicans--but also not wild-eyed Kerry supporters), I keep hearing the same refrain--Dick Cheney was sexy in this debate. Security moms are not only impressed with his command of the issues, we were also strangely drawn to him as he talked . . . and it was more than just gravitas!

After wiping the barf from our chins, let us go back to the NRO, to barf yet again, this time to the butch vagina division, where David Frum informs us that John Edwards, uh, on the other hand, left him frigid:

With his repeated and worshipful descriptions of John Kerry--not to mention Edwards's moist good looks--you have to say that he would fill the role of First Lady much better than Teresa Heinz is likely to do.

Frum certainly has an eye for this sort of thing, eh? I think we know what he expects at home of poor Danielle.

Sully expresses disapproval, but again does it in the wrong way. Might I be helpful? Sully, you have to turn the bullshit back on them. Sexist comments flung back onto sexists stings far worse than emphatic moralism. The same with homophobia. It's on the right track to mock Frum as a macho-man (because everyone knows he's a moral weakling who never misses an opportunity to grovel to a conservative power), but more sarcasm, please. Think of that classic Onion story of the Gun Show that was a latent homosexual free-for-all: hilarious, not a bit homophobic considering context, and God does it sting rightwingers.

Anyway, TBOGG has a bit of fun with another famous conservative who found Edwards too effeminate. You'll never guess who it is! So, here's a hint: it's probable that she's a guy.

Then, of course, there's Jonah's "reader's" take on Kerry's alleged effeminacy.

The rightwing's really been on the ..well, ball with this macho man schtick ever since Colin Powell donned the utility belt and leather daddy outfit and hardhat to show how it's done, ya wimpy lefty pinko homo girly appeasers. They're sayin that is part and parcel of moral clarity, bitchez, so deal.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


I'm a little busy today, so for now light blogging, which, considering that I'm gonna have to meet with an advisor and choose classes this week, may continue for a few days.

But anyway, here are a couple articles to read before tonight's debate. Notice that the Repugs (Ms Matalin, in particular) are trying to make Cheney the underdog.

I see that the Wall Street Journal is still the worst ever national newpaper; the print counterpart to Limbaugh.

This may be more important than any poll. And we win this sort of thing every time; our people are more apathetic. We always had and always have the majority, it's just getting people involved that was hard. But who can blame them?

Republicans = Corporate Whores. Proof in the NYT.

That's it for a few hours. So go read some of the fine blogs listed on the left.