Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

30 April, 2006

A giant falls

John Kenneth Galbraith has shed his mortal form. I still remember reading The Affluent Society some 10 years ago, and the impression that book made on my thinking. His principled calls for a more equitable distribution of our affluence will be missed.

Declaring himself dictator

In a stunning repudiation of such constitutional principles as divided government, checks and balances, and limited powers, Bushco has given itself the authority to ignore the law whenever it sees fit:
President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.


Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.

Phillip Cooper, a Portland State University law professor who has studied the executive power claims Bush made during his first term, said Bush and his legal team have spent the past five years quietly working to concentrate ever more governmental power into the White House.
Glenn Greenwald has a much more legally informed take than I'm able to offer, but I'll parrot his assertion that the traditional media may finally be waking up to this naked power grab. However, if the Rubber Stamp Congress or the judiciary aren't willing to beat back this executive encroachment upon their respective legislative and interpretive authorities, we may as well call constitutional government in the United States DOA.

I never would have said any of this with the man sitting right there

via atrios

Check out Stephen Colbert's perfomance at the White House Correspondent Dinner.
Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “They are re-arranging the deck chairs--on the Hindenburg.”

Turning to the war, he declared, "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, as well as " Valerie Plame." Then, pretending to be worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, "Uh, I mean... Joseph Wilson's wife." He asserted that it might be okay, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was probably not there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, “photo ops” on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face.

Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."
Colbert also gets jabs in at the complacent Washington press corps. However, in a move that surely signals a hastily arranged quail hunting trip with the veep...
As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling, and left immediately.
But damn, what a skewering.

[update 4/30/2006 10:18 AM]: John has video of Colbert's roast up at C&L.

Worst. Career. Move. Ever.

No, not me.

This guy. While I'm certainly not enamored with his average joe's barely disguised racism, who am I deny this man his needed artistic outlet? His craftsmanship, however, is what I believe most producers would say is teh suX.

Incidentally, if you haven't seen this... uh... piece of performance art? - yet, by all means, watch a few minutes [may not want to have the Bosses and their contracts within earshot when you view this one].

28 April, 2006

Same tune, different verse

digby has a must-read piece today contextualizing racially-based sexual violence. I'm always amazed that the narrative surrounding these incidents treats them as aberrations rather than the norm.

There's a hair's breadth of difference between incidents like these and a full-on lynching, and in an environment where immigrants - specifically Mexican and other Central American immigrants - are being criminalized and dehumanized (if you want examples, I suggest dropping in on random threads at Free Republic or Little Green Footballs - you'll have to find those on your own. No linky-links from me), these might be the leading edge of another wave of racially-motivated violence.

digby sez:
And once again, I have to ask about the forced sodomy. Is it that men were always raping other men with objects and nobody talked about it, or is this becoming more common? [emphasis added] This particular form of violence is showing up everywhere from Abu Ghraib to the less physically brutal but equally terrifying "hazing" of grade school kids. And the common denominator in all of this is that it's being excused by the rightwing moralists. What in the hell is up with this?
Indeed. The answer to the bolded question is, unfortunately, that men were (and are) "raping other men (and women) with objects and nobody talked about it" with an alarming degree of frequency, and that the U.S. certainly isn't the only - or for that matter, the worst - offender. That this racially- or ethnically-motivated violence has such sexualized overtones shouldn't surprise us, given the prevalence of misogynist political-economies and cultural regimes the world over.

The question to us is how do we fix the societal context of a virulently racist society which enables these explosions of hate-based violence? I'm all ears and willing to take my share of the responsibility and do my share of the work.

27 April, 2006

Public Service Announcement

I'm not much in a writing mood this evening, but I'm more than willing to let someone provide the content for me when it helps expose the criminal racket that's running this country . I came across sans-culotte's handy-dandy Internet Guide to GOP Depravity. And as I was encouraged steal and paste here, so shall I encourage you. A lot of work needs to be done to fix the damage they've caused to our world, but the first order of business is making sure that people know what asshats these folks are:
The GOP List of Shame

Abramoff and Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX)

Abramoff and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA)

Abramoff and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)

Abramoff and Sen Conrad Burns (R-MO)

Abramoff and Rep. Dana Rohrabaker (R-CA)

Abramoff and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)

Abramoff and DeLay, Doolittle, Ney, Rohrabacher

Sen Bill Frist (R-TN)

Sen Conrad Burns (R-MO)

Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Sen John Thune (R-SD)

Sen George Voinovich (R-OH)

Gov Taft (R) and Ohio Coingate,,-5746148,00.html

Ky. Gov Ernie Fletcher (R)

Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) (sub req)

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)

Rep Michael G. Oxley (R-OH)

Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH)

Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC)

Rep. Katherine Harris ’06 Sen candidate (R-Fla)

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA)

Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY)

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY)

Ralph Reed ’06 Lt Gov candidate (R-GA)

ex-IL Gov. George Ryan Sr (R),1,6246344.story?coll=chi-news-hed

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr
Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Vice President

Whitehouse OMB Official David Safavian

White House chief domestic-policy adviser Claude Allen

(Karl Rove Coming soon?) can help you get around many of the Reg Req sites.

Please steal this list. Email it. Post it. Let it be known.
Crooks. All crooks. Pass it on.

26 April, 2006

An invitation to Kenny-boy's pity party

Shorter Ken Lay: "I lost my shirt because of crazy financial shenanigans, too! Where's the love?"
From 1999 to 2001, Lay testified that his total Enron compensation -- salary plus bonuses -- totaled $223 million. He said he kept $22 million for living expenses, gave away $25 million and owned three houses in Aspen, Colo., and three in Galveston, Tex., in addition to his Houston home. He had $32 million in Enron stock put into a deferred account that he said was meant for his retirement.

Lay had access to a revolving line of credit afforded some Enron executives. In 2001, Lay testified, he borrowed $77.5 million from Enron and repaid $70 million, using Enron stock. Lay also testified that he got a $10 million bonus for re-taking the chief executive job after Skilling left.

Since Enron's collapse, Lay has sold all three Aspen homes (which garnered $20 million) and all three Galveston homes, primarily to pay legal bills connected to his government indictment on six counts of fraud. He drives a '93 Mercedes, he said.

"It's all gone," Lay said.

Lay's testimony was meant to show jurors that his once-substantial worth has been drained by the government investigation and indictment.
That poor, poor bastard. He has to toodle on the highways in a '93 Mercedes. Surely this man has suffered as much as his employees, who lost their jobs and their retirement savings. Suffered as much, if not more.

Workin' man's playlist

Well, the late nights are coming to an end as I prepare for the 9-5 lifestyle of the salaried employee. So here's one of the last late-night playlists that I'll post. These, of course, will be replaced by the mid-afternoon blowing off work playlists, so don't worry that you'll miss out on the blow-by-blow account of the shuffle function on my WMP. And without any further ado-do-do...
  • Tangerine - Dave Brubeck
  • A Child's Prayer - Sonny Rollins
  • The Card Cheat - The Clash
  • I'll Shoot The Moon - Tom Waits
  • Upstage Rumba - Dave Brubeck (13 gigs of music and I get two Brubeck songs?)
  • Burning Down The House - Talking Heads
  • Two Long Trumpets - Tibetan Prayer Chant
  • Last Fair Deal Gone Down - Robert Johnson
  • Farewell Blues - Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
  • The Sweet Sunny South - Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
And what list of 10 would be complete without your bonus #11?
  • Puffycloud - Ween

Welcome new readers

So, the word on the street is that there's a whole scad of new folks popping in every now and again to read my screeds. A hearty and hale welcome to you. As to what my goal is with this blog, I'd first refer you to my inaugural post, to which I've somehow stayed true. Of course, when your target is the broadside of a barn, it's kind of hard to miss.

And while y'all are here, would it kill you to leave a comment every now and again? I do read them, and oftentimes respond. But right now, it seems that the only folks who are commenting are former presidents of the GTFF (and one potential future former president) and the occassional random passers-by. Not really what we'd call a "broad cross-section" of the readership, eh? So say "hi" every now and again, or even "you suck, jerkwad!", because then, at least I know you're reading and not just being sorely disappointed by finding this crap when you google searched "boobs".

At any rate, thank you all for reading. I hope that you find this entertaining (in the first), and at least mildly informative. Join in the scream therapy when it suits you.

Horowitz has ass kicked in hair-splitting competition


You know, sometimes I have to believe that David Horowitz's vendetta against those of us who work in or care about higher education has to do with the fact that he is too fucking dumb to make it in the academy himself.
In an April 25 post on his weblog, conservative activist David Horowitz called Media Matters for America employees "creatures" and claimed that Media Matters "pars[ed] the difference between making false claims and lying" to rebut Horowitz's assertion that we accused him of "lying" when we recently noted his false claim that his book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (Regnery, January 2006), doesn't attack "professors' political speech" outside the "classroom." According to Merriam-Webster Online, a "lie" is "to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive [emphasis added]." As such, Media Matters did not claim to know Horowitz's intent in making these false claims, nor did we claim that Horowitz intended to make them; instead, Media Matters simply noted that his claim that he does not criticize what professors say outside the classroom was untrue. Moreover, Horowitz himself employed the distinction in defending President Bush against claims that he lied about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq.
He really should stop picking fights with people who use their brains for a living.

The party's over

So Bush laid out his bold plan to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic today, desperately trying to rein in gas prices that not only threaten to punch another hole in the GOP's rapidly sinking electoral prospects (his primary motivation), but also, quite coincidentally, threaten to send already financially strapped citizens over the edge.

Let's be honest. The band-aid measures proposed by the president today won't amount to a pile of horseshit in terms of ameliorating energy prices. And while oil companies are certainly raking in money hand-over-fist, I'd be surprised if there was any actual price-gouging occurring (as there was in the Katrina aftermath). In fact, accusations of price-gouging deflect from what's really going on here - Peak Oil. The United States' oil binge is quickly coming to a grinding halt, and the DTs are going to be particularly nasty as we dry out. Or as mateosf puts it:
For those of you who studied party economics in college, an analogy: if you have 12 beers, and your friend has only one, and then your friend drinks his beer, how much are your 12 beers worth?

The answer: whatever your friend is willing to pay for them.

America has drunk its beer. In fact, America drank its beer way back in the 1970's - that's when domestic oil production peaked, and has been in gradual decline ever since. So all those domestic oil fields that Big Oil gets for cheap from Uncle Sam don't add up to much anymore.
We should have been preparing for Peak Oil decades ago, investing in public transit systems, alternative energy sources, and conserving technologies, but the one national leader who brought it up, Jimmy Carter, got roundly shunned for his "pessimism" about our future. Now, we have some bumbling idiot trying to bail water out of our sinking boat with a collander.

The days of $100 barrels of oil are upon us (my bet is by August we'll be seeing these prices), and rather than being prepared to meet the challenge with leadership and calls for sacrifice, Bushco continues to pretend that if we can just ride out this temporary bump and discipline those avaricious oil execs, everything will be hunky-dory.

It won't be.

Mick Jagger still stickin' it to the Man

Sometimes Mick Jagger pisses me off with his preening rock 'n roll royalty act. But then, I remember that he's Mick Fucking Jagger, and only Mick Fucking Jagger could get away with something like this:
President George Bush was left red-faced after being told he couldn't rent the hotel room he wanted - because Mick Jagger had already taken it. Bush's aides tried to book the $6,500-a-night royal suite, at the exclusive Imperial Hotel in Vienna, for the president's summit meeting in June.

However, after making enquiries, the president's staff discovered the room had been booked by the rocker for when the Rolling Stones play a concert in the city the same month. Aides tried had hoped the legendary singer would give it up for the president but Jagger reportedly refused.


"Bush's people seemed to be under the impression that they would just hand over the suites but there was no way Mick going to do that."
Stones rule! Bush droolz!


The puns are only going to get worse as That Show builds up to the finale, but this week, I found myself looking for some sort of painkiller to relieve another boooooooring theme night (especially after last week's pretty entertaining standards theme). I mean really, love songs? I felt like I was watching the horrible music videos to late 80's crappy romance movies. Blech.

  • Kat - Purrrrrrrrrrrr. Even more in love with her now, but that's because of the wardrobe. I've never cared much for Whitney Houston, but she's got pipes, and it's hard to compete with the diva's diva. I didn't think Kat deserved the harsh criticism she got this evening, but it wasn't her best outing.
  • Elliot - He sounded great tonight (not make me cry great, but I apparently don't have the emotional sensibilities of a Paula Abdul), but again, he has no stage presence. If it were all about voice, he'd be a shoo-in. But I don't think I'd ever pay to see him perform. Of course, I wouldn't pay to see any of these people perform, but meh.
  • The Pickler - Fucking awful. And I've had enough of her dimfeeb act.
  • Paris - Again, 100% class, and a great performance. It just doesn't seem like she's completely found herself as a performer. Of course, when I was 17, I too was busy "finding" myself, if by "finding" you mean gobbling massive amounts of psychedelics and talking to trees.
  • Taylor - Meh. But I still like him.
  • Chris - Meh. But I'm still glad that I don't have to hear shitty post-grunge alterna-rock.
And does anyone else think that they should stop messing with Paula Abdul's medication before showtime? My god, she's getting to be fucking embarrassing.

Not that blogging about That Show isn't embarrassing. Heh.

25 April, 2006

Socialist softball

Okay, the reason I'm posting this (other than for cheap laughs at the sight of GOP congressional aides acting with the emotional maturity of insecure eight-year olds) is because at least one person reading this blog has a connection (at least a tenuous connection) to one of the teams mentioned in this article, and I guess I'm just curious as to whether or not these asshats are really this petty and stupid. Via the incomparable digby:
Amid all the partisan rancor of congressional politics, the softball league has for 37 years been a rare case of bipartisan civility, an opportunity for Democratic and Republican aides to sneak out of work a bit early and take the field in the name of the lawmaker, committee or federal agency they work for.

This year, the league will be missing something: a lot of the Republicans.

During the off-season, a group of Republican teams seceded from the league after accusing its Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, of running a socialist year-end playoff system that gives below-average teams an unfair chance to win the championship.

The league "is all about Softball Welfare -- aiding the weak by punishing the strong," the pitcher of one Republican team told Mr. Caruso in an email. "The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?" read another email, from Gary Mahmoud, the coach of BoehnerLand, a team from the office of Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.
Oh, the third reason I posted? "BoehnerLand." Sometimes this blog writes itself.

Droppin' the F-Bomb

So I went to a bargaining session today, the first I'd been to since we concluded the silly season bargaining two years ago (complete with Trivial Pursuit questions to wile away the hours spent in caucus), and damn if I didn't have the strangest sense of déjà vu: it was like I was watching myself, only better looking.

What triggered this powerful sense of being there before was the rhetoric used by the university. Yes, that was it... but the rhetoric didn't have the same re-heated quality that the Chinese food from three days ago has. No, it was more like the recurring fruitcake that Grandma keeps sending you for Christmas (and you keep sneaking back into her cupboard while visiting in the Spring) - in this case, the perennial arguments drawn from some Reagan-era Human Resources handbook about "how to deal with your uppity unionized workers."

And so they dropped the "F-Bomb."

I know what some of you are thinking - Linton, sick and tired of our bargaining teams sharp questioning and snide comments, finally snaps and delivers a Cheney-esque "Go fuck yourself!" Now that would be some fireworks, boy howdy! But no, the Bosses delivered the re-heated "flexibility" sermon, served with a fresh sprig of the issue du jour to which they would not agree. And who could be against flexibility? Sometimes you need a day off. We're flexible! Sometimes we need to not pay you. Be flexible!

"Flexibility," in the employer lexicon, means "we can do what we want." It's a nice little trick where the Bosses can have their cake and eat it, too: they can agree that work assignments should be delivered two weeks before the start of the term, but they don't actually have to do anything to make sure that this occurs. "Flexibility's" ugly cousin, who rarely gets mentioned, and sure as hell never gets asked to prom, is "non-accountability." If a term is rendered so ambiguously as to be meaningless, it is less likely to be grieved, and even less likely to be ruled upon favorably by an arbiter, making the whole point of a contractual provision moot. The Bosses pretty much 'fessed up to that agenda today at the table. They don't want to have to enforce what's in the contract. And the de facto consequence is that they can continue to do whatever they want.

So that's how the F-bomb was dropped. But now that I think about it, "flexibility" does begin to sound more and more like "fuck you."

See more news from our side of the table at the GTFF's bargaining blog.

24 April, 2006

It was a mistake, but I'd do it all over again

I love it when his handlers let Bush take questions from the audience, first because it provides some "writes-itself" blogging material, but also because you never know what kind of logical and rhetorical contortions the preznit will undertake. Today's installment goes back to the tried and true "resolute, even in the face of colossal failure" meme.
President Bush today said mistakes were made in planning for the Iraq invasion, but he defended the troop level he ordered in the initial strike, saying he would have committed the same number if given a second chance.

Recalling his pre-war conversations with Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasion and is now retired, Bush told a business group in Irvine, Calif.: "The level that he suggested was the troop level necessary to do the job, and I support it strongly."


Bush said the United States erred in attempting large reconstruction projects soon after the invasion was completed.

"It didn't make any sense" undertaking these projects because "they became convenient targets for the enemy," he said. " . . . I'm getting down in minutiae. But there are some tactics that, when I look back, that would have done differently."
So let me get this straight - Bush's big fuck-up wasn't ordering this misguided misadventure in the first place, nor was it failing to commit sufficient numbers of military personnel to secure the country. The big mistake was trying to re-build what his little temper tantrum had destroyed. There's winning hearts and minds for you: "I don't regret destroying your infrastructure, but I think I made a mistake in trying to fix it! My bad!"
He went on to say: "I also want to let you know that before you commit troops that you must do everything that you can to solve the problem diplomatically. And I can look you in the eye and tell you I feel I tried to solve the problem diplomatically to the max and would have committed troops both in Afghanistan and Iraq, knowing what I know today."
Let's count the blatant errors in this statement, shall we?
  1. Exhausted every diplomatic option, eh? Bullshit. Sounds to the rest of us like you were hellbent on war with Iraq from the get-go and you and your cabal cherry-picked information to bolster your case, ignoring the reams of disconfirming evidence that would have averted this senseless waste of life and treasury.
  2. Using a Valley Girl-ism like "to the max" is not going to ingratiate you to your SoCal audience - or anyone else. That clause is, like, soooo 1986.
  3. Can you please stop with the charade that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were in any way related? Iraq didn't become a giant terrorist training camp until after you invaded it! Why is this the trope that won't die?
And finally, there's this little gem:
Later, Bush said: "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true. One, I believe there's an Almighty. And, secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody's soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free."
He bases his foreign policy on things he thinks are true? Rather than on things like facts that, I don't know, are true? This, I suppose, is why Stephen Colbert introduced us to the word "truthiness".

Kenny-boy rids the wah-mbulance.

Ken Lay took the stand today to give his take on Enron's massive 2001 meltdown. His defense? "I was responsible, except for those who fucked-up - that's their fault":
Under questioning by defense lawyer George "Mac" Secrest, Lay said: "I accept full responsibility for everything that happened."

He quickly added, however, that he couldn't accept responsibility "for the individual conduct of all 30,000 employees at Enron, particularly those who appear to have engaged in criminal activities."
I'm sure the people who had to hock family heirlooms to pay their utility bills and the workers whose pensions evaporated will be more than willing to cut Kenny-boy a little slack.

And what was his biggest mistake? Hiring the man who would eventually flip and become the government's star witness:
Lay said his three biggest mistakes during 15 years as chairman and chief executive of Enron all involved Andrew S. Fastow, the former chief financial officer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and became the government's star witness.

Lay said he never should have agreed to Fastow's hiring, never should have let him rise to CFO, and never should have allowed him to create and run the notorious LJM off-the-books partnerships while continuing to serve as CFO.
Now that's contrition!

In other news...

I took the job.

Pattyjoe down, must crush Dave next

Ah the joys of watching my set of numbers beat the tar out of someone else's set of numbers.

Pitching won the day, but my bats need to wake up - although I'll gladly cede the "Hit By Pitch" stat any day (although I do carry on my roster the acknowledged king of getting in the way of the pitch).

Da Vinci Hysteria

I'm not sure which I find more disturbing: that some believe that the Da Vinci Code is a serious examination of Catholic theology and/or organization, or that some locals felt it necessary to debunk a piece of fiction.

23 April, 2006

Kirk Cameron: Life is precious and god and the bible

(A very large and exaggerated doffing of the cranial covering to John at C&L)

I vaguely remember hearing rumblings about Kirk Cameron's post-Growing Pains life, that he had found him some Jesus and was sharing Him with whoever would listen. "Wow," I would think to myself. "Was he always into Jesus, or did the excesses of the wholesome family comedy teenage heart-throb lifestyle cause him to hit rock-bottom, all Chuck Colson style."

Well, I have readily available evidence that Kirk Cameron is indeed down with the Prince of Peace, our man, JC, but no clue as to why. But that's neither here nor there, because Kirk Cameron, god's humble servant, endorses this strangely arousing logical proof of intelligent design, using a banana (watch from about the 3:30 to 4:36 marks).

Some may find this little bit of film to be persuasive evidence of an intelligent designer. I however, believe that this is firm evidence that if we share the universe with a transcendent being(s), that said being(s) have a hella wicked sense of humor and are, in general, more likely to agree with many of us, than with their more earnest followers.

22 April, 2006

Captain Obvious on the scene

From the Department of Stating the Obvious, today's "no shit, Sherlock" headline: [U.S. Treasury Secretary] Snow sees danger in soaring oil prices.

I suppose the news isn't so much that there's a danger in rising oil prices (unless you happen to be, say, an oil tycoon), but rather that an executive in Bushco was a) informed enough to notice or b) candid enough to admit it.

For shits and giggles

The Poor Man Institute's lastest installment of Battle Action Bush and the Keyboard Kommandos is out. It's worth reading just to see "General Lysergic von Shroomingham".

In other news, I've got to learn how to use the GIMP so I can make me some funny pictures to put on this here blog.

Pop culture faux pas

Because I've apparently had enough red wine to suppress my critical thinking faculties to all but the most obvious, that I was able to spot this is particularly sad. From "TV's Biggest Unrequited Crushes":
Ralph and Lisa, "The Simpsons": Poor Ralph Wiggum. One friendly Valentine from Lisa Simpson and he was hooked. He started following her home, mooning after her right up until she rejected him on TV, making it possible for Bart to later "pinpoint the second where his heart rips in half." Ralph, having cranked up the pain of his own crush by choo-choo-choosing a girl too nice to reject him except in a violent, pent-up rage, learned the hard way that nosebleeds and cat food do not attract the ladies. "The Simpsons" is a stealthily sentimental show in many ways, and its sympathy for a hopeless dweeb like Ralph is an example of its surprisingly soft heart.
Ralph was a one time valentine who then promptly returned to eating paste. The true unrequited love is Milhouse and Lisa. Am I wrong?

21 April, 2006

Trashy celebrity news

I honestly don't know why I read this garbage. Why the hell do I care about what Tom Cruise does? Why do I dislike him so much? And then I read the piece and find little snippets like this:
Details about the birth weren’t disclosed, but it had been planned to take place as a silent procedure under the tenets of the Church of Scientology, to which both Cruise and Holmes belong.

Scientologists believe words spoken during times of pain are recorded by the “reactive mind” and can cause potential problems for both mother and child.

What kind of twisted pseudo-psychological anti-woman ritual is this? Why was Tom fucking Cruise making decisions about anyone's birth? Does he know something that women, typically the ones who, you know, give birth, don't about the deep psychological impact of the event? Letting any man control the details of one of your most intimate life experiences seems like it should be a non-starter for most people, but let Tom fucking Cruise do it? You have got to be kidding me.

Is there that significant a difference, generally speaking, in the way that Tom fucking Cruise and the Church of Scientology controls Katie Holmes' body (and presumably the bodies of other female church members) and the manner in which women's bodies in South Dakota are being controlled by the state?

20 April, 2006

Why is this man allowed a radio show?

Michael Savage pretty much has it all covered: Homophobe? Check. Racist? Check. Sexist? Big ole check. We could go on. And on any particular day, I'm sure one could tune into his radio show and hear any number of bile-laden statements. But he swung for the fences on Monday with this hate-filled two-fer.

First, Savage fans the flames of racial intolerance by advocating the decimation of the world's Muslim population:
SAVAGE: There are too many RDDBs [red-diaper doper babies, Savage's term for people supposedly raised by Marxist parents] in high places and in the media and in the courts for us to stand up to this fanatical enemy. And so unless the RDDB is reined in somehow or taken out of power, we're going to die as a nation. I swear to God that's what people are saying to me. And these are intelligent people, wealthy people. They are very depressed by the weakness that America is showing to these psychotics in the Muslim world. They say, "Oh, there's a billion of them." I said, "So, kill 100 million of them, then there'll be 900 million of them." I mean, would you rather die -- would you rather us die than them? I mean, what is it going to take for you people to wake up? Would you rather we disappear or we die? Or would you rather they disappear and they die? Because you're going to have to make that choice sooner rather than later.
He then continues his bashing of a rape victim because she had the misfortune of being African-American, female, and a sex worker:
SAVAGE: Now, we got the Durham dirt-bag case. The Durham dirt-bag case disgusts me to my core. Here, you have a drunken slut stripping whore accusing men of raping her when there is absolutely no evidence of such a rape other than what comes out of that filthy mouth of hers. And what really gets to me, here, is not only the piling on by the vermin in the media -- the spineless eunuchs in the media who are taking the side of an unknown accuser without ever having to ask her one question. What kind of system do we have that anyone can scream rape and not have to show her face, not answer to the public. And, yet, those she accuses are suddenly guilty until they're proven innocent. This is all the product of the out-of-control lesbian feminist movement.
That's right, all of us lesbians are out of control trying to protect the victims of sexual assault. And no evidence of rape? I hope Savage never has to endure what he sees as "not evidence."

It's a good thing people can't see Savage's hood and robe over the radiowaves.

Unwanted listserv mail

For those of you who moderate or administer the listservs (yeah, two of 'em...) I'm about to reference, please don't take this as a criticism of the listserv itself.

But WTF? I'm on both an internal union listserv and a professional listserv, and I'm having to read about the "unexplained facts" of 9/11 and how all these "well what abouts" are "proof" of a more sinister design?

Here's the deal - there is a lot of shit we don't know about what happened on that day, either because it wasn't witnessed or it's been hidden. Sure, the government is keeping secrets, because it's hiding a colossal organizational failure - a vast domino maze collapsing because of the arrogance, greed, and hubris of those who held power.

The breaking down of the weakest links, as it were. And the people who were responsible for weaving this tangled web of fuck-ups, they don't want you to know about it because they're Covering. Their. Asses.

That's it. Stupid people hiding massive bungles. They sure manipulated the fuck out of 9/11 afterwards, though, didn't they?

Which is all very important, and there should be a robust and completely open investigation into what happened on that day, examining both the institutional structures that failed and how the nation's political and economic leadership exacerbated the situation. You could have that discussion here if you wanted...

Wait - no you can't.

Why? Because this entry isn't about 9/11 - either reality-based observations or tinfoil hat speculation. It's about hijacking a forum. Discussion listservs are nice ways to share knowledge, and its inevitable that off-topic information will be shared - and usually not much of a bother. It typically goes along the line of MAD LIB LISTSERVE EXCHANGE #23: "Hey I just [action verb] this really cool [noun]. I thought it was [adjective]. You should [action verb], too."

But for the love of goddess, please don't fucking clog my email inbox with a discussion of the minutiae of every single hole in the story (we know about them), excuses about why people who are sceptical are wrong (we mostly agree with the sceptics), and uninformed speculation (we kind of think you're... erm, "off-base"). I'm not saying don't have that conversation. Just don't have it in a forum where people are visiting for a completely different reason. Take it somewhere else where people who give a shit can talk about it.

Let me repeat. A little friendly, informative chatter; maybe a suggestion to take the conversation elsewhere (the internets are HUGE and space is cheap, I hear) = AOK! Posting rambling lists, and then considering it your "duty" to correct arguments you feel to be "unfounded" in multiple off-topic follow-up emails = SYFP!

Oh, and just assuming that it's okay to re-print someone's personal email in a public forum, along with their address, because you can tell what the author's unwritten intentions are is Never. Fucking. Cool. Have the courtesy to fucking ask permission.


19 April, 2006

Mid-week playlist

Just 'cause.
  • Denny's Village Rundown - Galactic
  • Heven Tonite - The Coup
  • Sew, Sew, Sew - White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians
  • Mississippi Heavy Water Blues - Barbecue Bob
  • That Was Your Mother - Paul Simon
  • Surf's Up - Brian Wilson
  • Lonesome, Broke and Weary - Asa Martin
  • Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
  • Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco
  • There Is No Greater Love - Dizzy Gillespie
And lucky #11:
  • Sailin' On - Bad Brains

Better than the book?

The Guardian is seeking to discover the best film adaptation of a written work and has come up with a short list of 50 films - and a pretty good list at that.

My top 10 from the list, in no particular order:Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (the original with Gene Wilder, natch), A Clockwork Orange, Bladerunner, Fight Club, Get Shorty, Apocalypse Now, The Jungle Book, The Outsiders, The Maltese Falcon, and Trainspotting.

I'm curious as to why Brokeback Mountain (based on the short story "Close Range") was included from recent films, but not Capote (based on the incomparable In Cold Blood). A one-film-per-author policy, perhaps (Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's was already included)?

Anyways, take a look and tell me what you think.

A might bit touchy, aren't we?

John at Crooks & Liars has video footage of the presidential temper tantrum over Rummy:
Reporter: What do you say to the critics who believe that you are ignoring the advice of retired generals and military commanders who say there needs to be a change?

Bush: I say I listen to all voices but mine's the final decision and Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror - He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation but I'm the decider and I decide what is best and what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of defense.
What an odd choice of words: "I hear the voices." Not, "I hear the generals," or "I hear the critics."

"I hear the voices." Strange, eerie, disembodied voices.

In positive news, at least Bush is now reading the front page... of something...

Says digby:
Once again, I am stunned that the Republicans had the gall to foist this manchild on the United States of America --- and that so many Americans accepted it for so long. There's a lot of talk in the wingnutsphere about "Bush Derangement Syndrome" which says that we are all suffering form irrational hatred of Dear Leader. But it's not accurate. Bush is just a spoiled, deluded little boy, pushed into a job that was obvious to any sentient being would be too much for him. My righteous anger is for the big money pooh bahs like Dick Cheney who would gamble with this country's future by choosing a brand name in an empty suit for president. They proved that they can sell anything, I'll give them that. But as with their other colossal marketing success and business failure, Enron, the sales job couldn't cover the corruption and poor planning forever. Therefore, I blame the Republican Party more than little Junior. He's just a pathetic loser who believed his own hype --- responsible for his actions, of course, but not the mastermind.

From his little tirade today, it appears that he's feeling like his authority is being questioned. That's just funny. It took his this long to figure out that he's not really in charge?

Tuesday nights can only mean one thing

Actually, they can mean any number of things. I was hoping that this particular Tuesday would've meant me seeing pattyjoe joining Dan and the Squids opening for Dinosaur Jr (I hope it was the experience of a lifetime, pj!), but alas, a horde of nostalgic gen Xers with more disposable income than I beat me to the punch. And even if I'd been on the ball (and financially endowed) enough to get tix a month ago when I should have, ms. wobs picked this evening to come down with a nasty case of something or other.


So it was another evening of not watching That Show. Here's the rundown:
  • Chris - Not so bad tonight. His version of "What a Wonderful World" didn't make me tear up like Armstrong's, but it was pretty solid, and I was happy not to be forced to endure another round of late-90s alterna-crap
  • Paris - 100% class
  • Taylor - The man brought it home at the end - Sam Cooke was a great choice
  • Elliot - You know, I really want to like Elliot. He's got great vocal chops, but it pains me to watch him "perform"
  • The Pickler - The only reason she stays after this performance is because she's so fucking charming, but even that act might be wearing a little thin
  • Ace - I didn't hate his performance tonight, and I think he makes it another week because of Pickler's botch and Elliot's lack of charisma
  • Katharine - She's no longer my sleeper candidate for the final two. She's in, barring a monumental meltdown. And I'm still in love with her
If I had to make a bet, it's going to be Ace, Elliot, and the Pickler in the bottom three, with Elliot making an exit.

Not that I was watching, of course.

Apologist round-up

With the news of indictments for sexual assault being handed down to two members of the Duke Lacrosse team (with a third possibly pending), the apologist train has left the station and is barrelling full bore down the tracks. Luckily for our team, we have a crack blogger duo ready to call them on their bullshit.

First off, mcjoan at dKos takes Naomi Schaeffer Riley of the Wall Street Journal to task:
Naomi Schaeffer Riley, The Wall Street Journal's "Taste" editor, weighs in on the Duke rape story. Is it an examination of the racial and social tensions in Durham between residents and students? Is it a thoughtful look at how race, class, and privilege play out in college towns across the nation? Dream on. Here's her title: "Ladies, You Should Know Better: How feminism wages war on common sense."
If you have attended college any time in the past 20 years, you will have heard that if a woman is forced against her will to have sex, it is "not her fault" and that women always have the right to "control their own bodies." Nothing could be truer. But the administrators who utter these sentiments and the feminists who inspire them rarely note which situations are conducive to keeping that control and which threaten it. They rarely discuss what to do to reduce the likelihood of a rape. Short of re-educating men, that is.
Why do we have to hear again that women have more culpability in rape than men? What are you possibly adding to the discourse on rape, Ms. Riley, by trotting out once again the old saw that feminists have caused rape by telling women that they have the right to as much freedom as their male counterparts? What in the hell is wrong with re-educating men, Ms. Riley?
Next, the inimitable TBogg (who has in a short time become my favorite blogger) puts it to Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane in words he can understand:
These guys chose two black women. But before black folks start talking about how, at the very least, Duke lacrosse players obviously don't hold black women in very high esteem, we'd better ask ourselves where they got that notion. Could it have been from those black rap artists who feature black "exotic dancers" in their videos doing the same thing those two black women in Durham were probably doing at the lacrosse team's party?

Respect for black women should start at home. Before we get angry at Duke lacrosse players who may only be guilty of excessive boozing and ogling, we should call into account Jay-Z and Ludacris and 50 Cent and fill-in-name-of-black-male-rapper-here for how black women are portrayed in their videos.
It is very simple; if you're stupid enough to take your behavioral tips from 50 Cent, you're too stupid to attend Duke. Gregory Kane gets to have it both ways; he can defend black womanhood while at the same time excusing poor simple white boys who should have spent the evening playing GTA: San Andreas before going on a harmless carjacking spree.
The fact that it's 2006 and we're still blaming everybody except the fucking rapists boggles my mind.

18 April, 2006

Overprivileged brat of the day

If I were a spoiled heiress and amateur porn star, I could probably get a recording deal too:
The Times pop music writer Chris Lee, who listened to four tracks, reported that Hilton has “a competent, kittenish singing voice” that in one cut is played against a background of orgasmic squeals and suggestive panting that makes it sound like “the musical companion to her sex tape.”

This sort of comment has probably long stopped bothering Hilton, who says, “I am so happy to have so much success. The album is sexy and fun and you will want to dance to it. People will see that I am talented. I think people like me because I am very real myself and I lead an exciting life. There is no one like me. I am unique."
Ooooooookaaaaaaaay. And, without even the slightest hint of irony, Paris utters this gem to little girls who may one day aspire to waste precious oxygen as rich dimfeebs:
“I worked hard for all this. I tell girls that if you basically work hard all your dreams will come true.”
Ah yes, living the American dream, ain't we Paris?


Hittin' the big time in a small way!

Hell, hell, hell yeah! I just discovered that I'm on a big-time blogroll over at My Left Wing! Yeah, I'm buried amongst hundreds of other blogs, but it's nice to be recognized by a luminary such as Maryscott O'Connor!

Thanks MSOC!

Less prolific

Sorry kids, but I've been suffering a bit of the writer's block. Nothing in the news or in Greater Blogistan has been sparking that little je ne sais quoi that gets the words a tumblin'.

I suppose I could write about life events big and small, but right now, a confessional or rant seems ill-advised.

My apologies for not being more fun tonight. But, to keep you entertained, I've found y'all a nice picture of dogs playing poker. Hopefully that will tide you over until the phrases start a-flowing:
Image hosting by Photobucket

Now that's some blogging!

The angry left

Okay - this almost made me pee my pants. Funny stuff: The Pressure of Representing the Left Wing Blogosphere is Really Getting to Me.

17 April, 2006

Suspect results

I've got to quibble with the assumptions of researchers who found that books of poetry inhibited a student's academic achievement scores (ez may want to read the blurb before this on white voting behavior and African-American GOP candidates). Anyways, apparently books in the home are good things for academic achievement, unless they are books of poetry:
A research team headed by demographer Jonathan Kelley, of Brown University and the University of Melbourne, analyzed data from a study of scholastic ability in 43 countries, including the United States. The data included scores on a standardized achievement test in 2000 and detailed information that parents provided about the family. The average student scored 500 on this test.

The researchers found that a child from a family having 500 books at home scored, on average, 112 points higher on the achievement test than one from an otherwise identical family having only one book -- and that's after they factored in parents' education, occupation, income and other things typically associated with a child's academic performance. The findings were presented last month at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in Los Angeles.

Of course, it's not the number of books in the home that boosts student performance -- it's what they represent. The researchers say a big home library reflects the parents' dedication to the life of the mind, which probably nurtures scholastic accomplishment in their offspring.

They also found that not all books are created equal. "Having Shakespeare or similar highbrow books about bodes well for children's achievement," they wrote. "Having poetry books around is actively harmful by about the same amount," perhaps because it signals a "Bohemian" lifestyle that may encourage kids to become guitar-strumming, poetry-reading dreamers.
First off, Shakespeare wrote in verse, not just in the sonnets, but in all the plays. I don't actually ever recall reading any Shakespearean prose. So that in and of itself should invalidate this study.

And do we really have to go into the inadequacy of standardized achievement exams in measuring academic aptitude?

And finally - "guitar strumming, poetry reading dreamers?" So musicians and poets are a bunch of dumbfucks incapable of succeeding in school?

Demographers can tell us some wonderfully useful things. However, they should stay away from such inane research hypotheses as they one they cooked up here. And the WaPo and its columnists should maybe be a little more critical in their reporting (hello war cheerleaders!).

My life, overanalyzed part II

Well, ash found the previous post tantillizingly fascinating - I'm not sure whether it was the original event, the completely silly raconteuring, or the implied critique of structuralsim that piqued her interest. So we'll deal with all three... kind of.

I'm not inclined to go into the gory details, but the original incident involved a decision made by the E-Board when I was president that left an impression of something shady going on behind the scenes - and in retrospect, I can see how what happened could leave that impression (all of which speaks to the importance of a well-defined process, open meetings, accountability, etc.). What happened after that, well, accusations were hurled, feelings were hurt, etc., etc., but the situation was resolved, (most) ruffled feathers were smoothed over, and I think most were happy with the outcome, including the acknowledgment that things could have been done differently. Sorry to be so obtuse about the facts (the readers who were involved in this little fracas will probably know what I'm talking about), but there's little to be gained rehashing the details on this here blog. Over e-mail or a phone call is a different story...

So basically, it was a bad political decision that got resolved rather amicably (at least for me), no harm done. This incident, however, was not an epic struggle between the forces of revolutionary labor against conservative anti-unionists bent on destroying our union. Nor was it a gang rumble between the GTFs of two academic departments (although West Side Story with this cast of characters would be pretty sweet). Some people thought what we did was unfair. I can see how they thought that. Was there some passive-aggressiveness going on? Sure. Did people get a little bent out of shape? Absolutely. Will future academics be combing through any paper trail and interviewing participants to shed light on this watershed moment in the class struggle? Hardly. Well, I hope not at least - if this was a watershed moment in the class struggle, I think it's pretty safe to say we're all fucked.

Which is all to say that when I heard this story recounted in this fashion, it sounded completely foreign to me. And even within a structuralist framework, it sounded completely off-base. And it got me to thinking that structuralism can't take into account the fact that sometimes people do stupid things, and other people have stupid responses to these stupid things, and that none of this stupidity is related in any way to the Grand Narrative of History - which some of my dear readers will deny even exists - and the forces which determine our lives.

And why bother retelling it this way? The academic "analysis" certainly doesn't add any understanding to what occurred. It doesn't even make for a good story. And while I would like to think that some of the things in which I've participated in my life are worthy of fitting within a structuralist narrative, this particular incident wasn't.

Well, that was quite a bit of navel-gazing for the evening. Everything's clear as mud now, right?

16 April, 2006

My life, overanalyzed

Friday night I came face-to-face with how bizarre one's life sounds when it gets crammed into the frame of structuralism. A simple misunderstanding from the past got framed as an epic struggle of revolutionary v. reformer, conservative v. radical, department v. department... and the whole narrative didn't bear any resemblance to what actually occurred. In fact, I think it warped the actual incident into some bizarrely determined event where we were all propelled to act in the manners that we were, seemingly with no agency of our own.

I know my structuralist brothers and sisters like to make the claim that those of us who dabble in the micro miss the forest for the trees. After hearing my life recounted to me in these grand terms, I think the case can be made that structuralists forget that the forest consists of trees, and that not every facet of human life, even the parts that are heavily politicized (as this particular recounted incident was), is implicated in the grand narrative of World History, barreling along towards its teleological, inevitable conclusion.

More on my humanist marxism - or is that marxist humanism? - later.


You have too much privacy, the government doesn't have enough. Not a pretty scene.

15 April, 2006

Defending rapists

Michael Savage is a douchebag, and an incredible fucking idiot, taboot:
During the April 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage referred to the woman who alleged she had been raped at a party attended by members of the Duke University lacrosse team as a "Durham dirt-bag" and "dirty, verminous black stripper" because, according to Savage, she "lied when she said she was raped at a party." Savage's comments came after the results of initial DNA tests did not implicate any member of the Duke team. Declaring that the Duke case is evidence that "the cards are stacked against white males in America" because the "white leadership of America is out to lunch," Savage added: "This is the radical, feminist, lesbian agenda being acted out on our campuses in a witch-hunt manner against these white boys, very much like the socialist communist agenda being acted out on the American stage by the extras called the illegal aliens," whom he also referred to as "brown supremacists."
Uh, that's right. Us poor white males are just being screwed by the Man... erm, the, uh... brown... wo...Man. Jeebus.

Just last week I was lecturing my students about institutionalized inequality, commenting on how individual bigotry seemed to be less tolerated today, and then I have to read about this racist, sexist KKKlown (tip of the beret to the General). Not to be outdone, however, Savage hurls bizarro accusations of racism back at the prosecutor handling the case:
SAVAGE: This DA needs to be thrown out of that city. He is worse than the Ku Klux Klan. He is a modern version of the Ku Klux Klan, which is the "Liberal Klux Klan." The LKK is far worse than the KKK. The "Liberal Klux Klan" is far more dangerous to your survival than the Ku Klux Klan because there are more members of the LKK than there are of the KKK. The LKK is behind the illegal aliens in the streets. The LKK is behind the degeneracy on our television sets. The LKK is behind the prognostication of defeat for the United States of America. They have an agenda, ladies and gentlemen. It is time to throw out the DA and accept that there was no DNA.
Wow. Talk about unhinged.

It's disturbing - but hardly surprising - to see the anti-woman, racist right glom on to what ash mentioned yesterday in the comments: that somehow a lack of damning body fluids means a brutal sexual assault and rape didn't occur, or that wearing a condom (or using any form of contraception for that matter) implies mutual consent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

It must be a terribly cold, dark place where Michael Savage is, to be that ignorant and hateful.

14 April, 2006


If you've ever doubted the timelessness of great poetry, read this.

Long and winding

What a freakin' day. I'm exhausted, but my day ended on a high note, which is fortunate, given that I was stunned and infuriated by some pretty egregious examples of stupidity and short-sightedness today.

On the other hand, I had a blast hanging out with the wee wobs this afternoon. He's at the point in his development where he's stringing together 3 and 4 word phrases, almost to the point where we're having an actual conversation. So we sat out on our front stoop this afternoon, me sipping some water, and him enjoying his "fizhy wa-tuh" (seltzer), looking at the birds and airplanes overhead, pointing out flowers and trees, and generally smiling and giggling.

I then had to skedaddle back down to campus for a 5 PM discussion group (we didn't recruit enough facilitators this term, and I'm getting stuck with a group). It seems like a good group, and the fifty minutes flew by, which was nice - especially if you have to be on campus that late.

Then it was a quick swing by the GTFF office to say hi to the peeps stuffing envelopes (including a brief stint with the auto-tongue to seal the deal). It's always a delight to hang out with the kaleidescope of characters who seem to frequent our cozy space above the barber shop and Indian restaurant.

We ended the evening at a Passover seder, which turned out to be a blast, despite the wee wobs needing to be taken outside constantly (he's not so socialized yet with the party etiquette). I had no ideas that the Jews celebrated their escape from slavery in Egypt by drinking so much wine on so empty a stomach. Very good times.

And so that brings us here. And I think I'm going to call it a night with that.


13 April, 2006

Those icky bodily fluids

Try wrapping your head around this one: You ain't doin' it unless those fun fluids are bein' swapped around.

Ah, the convolutions of abstinence-only propoganda.

Dixie Chicks v. Christopher Hitchens

You decide.

It Overtakes Me...

Okay, this'll be my last piece on the new F'Lips album, but I just gotta say that I listened to Mystics as the gods (and the Lips) intended last night, and OMFG. All my previous statements stand, but Mystics is fucking Candyland for grievance organizers.

And while "It Overtakes Me" can certainly be interpreted as a meditation on one's place in the cosmos, it's almost as surely the grievance organizer's anthem.

Get organized, then listen to this album, loud.

The Beijing Alternative

Joseph Stiglitz has an interesting piece in the Guardian on China's approach to growth that also reduces poverty and inequality:
China is about to adopt its 11th five-year plan, setting the stage for the continuation of probably the most remarkable economic transformation in history, while improving the wellbeing of almost a quarter of the world's population. Never before has the world seen such sustained growth; never before has there been so much poverty reduction.

Part of the key to China's long-run success has been its almost unique combination of pragmatism and vision. While much of the rest of the developing world, following the Washington consensus, has been directed at a quixotic quest for higher GDP, China has again made clear that it seeks sustainable and more equitable increases in real living standards. China realises that it has entered a phase of economic growth that is imposing enormous - and unsustainable - demands on the environment. Unless there is a change in course, living standards will eventually be compromised. That is why the new plan places great emphasis on the environment.
I found that last part particularly interesting - sustainability has been incorporated into the five-year plan, often in the form of taxes which help moderate energy consumption, according to the article.
Its future growth will have to be based more on domestic demand than on exports, which will require increases in consumption. Indeed, China has a rare problem: excessive savings. People save partly because of weaknesses in government social-insurance programmes. Strengthening social security (pensions) and public health and education will simultaneously reduce social inequalities, increase its citizens' sense of wellbeing, and promote consumption.
Read that again - a stronger social safety net will help spur growth!
Market economies are not self-regulating. They cannot simply be left on autopilot, especially if one wants to ensure that their benefits are shared widely. But managing a market economy is no easy task. It is a balancing act that must constantly respond to economic changes. China's plan provides a road map for that response.
I suppose the question becomes, how do you sell this idea of managing the market economy to an American public that has been raised on the ideology of "free marketeerism," doesn't have an educational system which prepares people for effective citizen involvement, and is prone to voting for the good-looking chap who can promise the best "free lunch"? It seems to me to be something of a Catch-22: the citizenry needs to have the necessary educational tools to be able to decide that they need to invest more into education. Ruh-roh, Raggy.

A very interesting read, at any rate, and I'd be interested to hear what those of you who are more versed in economic policy have to say about this.

Dave asked for it...

My impressions of this week's installment of the show which we emphatically do not watch - where they had to perform songs by Queen (a marked improvement over last week's country theme):
  • Bucky - He made it this far by some combination of luck and the grace of goddesses, but obviously, that luck and good grace came to an end. But what a way to go out - "Fat Bottom Girls?" Fuck yeah!
  • Ace - The more I see of him, the more I dislike him. Good looks and mugging for the camera will only take you so far before people get sick of it and your whiny falsetto, and I won't be sad to see him go.
  • The Pickler - What was up with that lighting and makeup? With the backlight, she looked like a 43 year old trailer park mama with years of hard-drinkin' on her and a 2 pack-a-day habit. Yeesh. However, she pulled off "Bohemian Rhapsody" surprisingly well. Boo hiss, however, to the truncated arrangement. I need the Mama Mia part.
  • Chris - Technically, he's a great singer. However, I'm bored with his schtick. The world doesn't need yet another heart-on-their-sleeve post-grunge rocker. And I thought Creed sucked the first time around
  • Katharine McPhee - I'm in love with Katharine. She's my sleeper candidate for the final two.
  • Taylor - I also love Taylor's act. Didn't think he was over-the-top this week, and I wish they'd get back to a theme where he could pull out some of the 70's soul he does so well.
  • Elliot - I really dig his voice and style, but he has the stage presence of a half-dead carp. If he didn't look so fucking terrified every time he took the stage, I might be a bit more in his corner. As is... meh.
  • Paris - Singing Queen? WTF?
And there you have it, not that I'm watching of course.

12 April, 2006

Ann Coulter is so fucking witty

Showing all the subtlety of a herd of stampeding pachyderms, Ann Coulter announces the release of her new, um... book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism on June 6, 2006, or 6-6-6.
From the April 11 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: All right, June 6th, 2006: 6-6-6. It's the sign of the devil, they say, and this year, the release of Godless, Ann Coulter's new book, and the latest attack on liberals. It's probably not a coincidence. Ann joins us now from West Palm Beach, Florida. Ann, that can't be an accident, can it?

COULTER: No, it's my little tribute to liberals, to have it come out on 6-6-6.

CAVUTO: Why? What are you saying?

COULTER: Uh, godless.
Hil-fucking-arious. I love having the woman who cited a need to put rat poison in a Supreme Court justice's dessert lecture us on morality and religion. She sure showed us.

In terribly shocking news... part II

Yet again, are we really surprised?
Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. recently funded five studies that compared its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa with Risperdal, a competing drug made by Janssen. All five showed Zyprexa was superior in treating schizophrenia.

But when Janssen sponsored its own studies comparing the two drugs, Risperdal came out ahead in three out of four.

In fact, when psychiatrist John Davis analyzed every publicly available trial funded by the pharmaceutical industry pitting five new antipsychotic drugs against one another, nine in 10 showed that the best drug was the one made by the company funding the study.
Um... there's a reason why independent studies are the gold standard here.

Yahoo Republicans and guns

What the fuck is it with Republicans and guns? Am I to believe that all GOP politicians are incompetent boobs when it comes to firearms? Because the media ain't paintin' a pretty picture here.

As for trying to make me feel somewhat sympathetic by noting that Cheney himself was once "peppered" by buckshot... uh, nice try. He's still a big-time asshole.

In terribly shocking news...

Admit it. We all knew this was coming sooner or later:
Child welfare officials and a sheriff’s deputy visited the home of Britney Spears but declined to say Tuesday whether they were investigating the pop princess.


In February, DCFS visited Spears’ home after publication of photographs showing the 24-year-old singer driving with then 4-month-old Sean Preston in her lap, rather than in a car seat as required by law.

Spears later apologized, saying she did it because of a “horrifying, frightful encounter with the paparazzi.”
Yeah, it seems I've had it in for Britney lately, but after that wretched pro-life monument, I don't feel too bad about it.

This is not helping with the healing process

Dick Cheney, still trying to recover from the horrible trauma of shooting another man in the face, is jeered off the field throwing out the first pitch at the Washington National's home opener.

Seems that some baseball fans have forgotten that Cheney is the victim here, and entitled to a supportive and nurturing environment where his tiny, unfeeling heart can heal.

11 April, 2006

An ignominious end

It's strange to think of someone who, just a few short months ago, was shaping world events has had their career end with a simple pronouncement of "permanent incapacitation."

Such, I suppose, is the fragility of life.

This can't be good...

Whether this is just posturing or in fact true, it only seems to fan the flames of Bush's messianic desire to rid the world of evil:
Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced that his country has succeeded in enriching uranium while insisting that Tehran has no plans to produce nuclear weapons.

He said that Iran intended to reach industrial levels of nuclear production and demanded that western countries respect his country's right to nuclear technology.


"Enemies can't dissuade the Iranian nation from the path of progress that it has chosen," Mr Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iranian television as saying at a speech in the northeast of the country.

10 April, 2006

Unions and students win

This is what a vibrant and vital national labor movement looks like.

Unfortunately, France isn't out of the woods yet. Unemployment remains a problem, and the government, student leaders, and unions are going to have to hammer out some painful and creative compromises, but balancing a crummy situation on the backs of the young should have never been an option.

Felicitations, mes amis!

Stating the obvious

Josh, per usual, hits the nail on the head:
It is also not too early to point out that the evidence is there for the confluence of two destructive and disastrous forces -- hawks in the administration's Cheney faction whose instinctive bellicosity is only matched by their actual incompetence (a fatal mixture if there ever was one), and the president's chief political aides who see the build up to an Iran confrontation as the most promising way to contest the mid-term elections. Both those groups are strongly motivated for war. And who is naive enough to imagine a contrary force within the administration strong enough to put on the brakes?
I'd add to this volatile cocktail an unstable, fundamentalist theocratic regime in Tehran who may see provoking a confrontation with the United States as a way to bolster public support:
ElBaradei’s overriding concern is that the Iranian leaders “want confrontation, just like the neocons on the other side”—in Washington.


“The Iranian economy is in bad shape, and Ahmadinejad is in bad shape politically,” the European intelligence official told me. “He will benefit politically from American bombing. You can do it, but the results will be worse.” An American attack, he said, would alienate ordinary Iranians, including those who might be sympathetic to the U.S.
This does not inspire confidence.

At War With The Mystics

Let's get the bad news out of the way first. For the first time, I don't think the Lips really stretched themselves musically. Mystics seems like the logical follow-up to 2002's Yoshimi - and for the Lips to do something that's, well, logical, is something of a disappointment.

Also, the songs on Mystics don't seem to form a cohesive whole the way that their two previous albums did. I thought Yoshimi followed a thematic arc that gave the album a conceptual unity, while The Soft Bulletin seemed exquisitely arranged to the ebbs and flows of an MDMA trip. Mystics, on the other hand seems to bounce around both musically and narratively, leaving a more disjointed impression.

That said, what I'm saying is that Mystics is the "White Album" to The Soft Bulletin's Sgt. Pepper, maybe not as brilliant and groundbreaking, but still a fucking great listen.

A lot of folks have mentioned that the Lips latest foray was a reaction to the Bush Administration (with Steven Drozd going as far as saying that Wayne Coyne wanted to try out some "half-baked protest lyrics"), and listening to songs like "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," with it's cynicism about the use of power for good, and "Haven't a Clue" (You haven't got a clue/And you don't know what to do/You used your money and your friends/To try and trick me... but you won't trick me) certainly gives credence to this perspective. I don't have any recollection of Coyne's lyrics being this overtly political, and they sometimes come off as a bit ham-handed and a little silly. But they're couched in such memorably fun tunes that they make for a great listen, be it the white-boy funk of "Free Radicals" or the Sabbath-esque crunch of "The W.A.N.D."

The real soul of the album, however, comes when the Fearless Freaks get busy doing what they do best, which is sketching out psychedelic introspections about our common humanity. "The Sound of Failure," "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," and "Vein of Stars" are a mid-album cycle acknowledging sadness and regret which I think marks the emotional centerpiece of the album.

This album also marks the Lips most trippy outing in some time (which says a lot, as every Flaming Lips album begs to be listened to with headphones at high volume while sucking down copious bonghits). Mystics has two tracks that are heavily influence by Pink Floyd ("The Wizard Turns On..." and "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung"), while the remaining tracks are marked by the production tricks that have been a hallmark of the Lips work with Dave Fridmann. The kaleidescope of sounds continually reveals itself upon repeated listens.

Finally, I just wanted to note the albums goofiest, but in my mind most endearing track, "It Overtakes Me," where Coyne repeatedly sings the tune's title over a bouncy Michael Ivins bass line before spacing out into a psychedelic reverie as the narrator marvels about his insignificance in the vast universe. The song is brilliantly conceived and produced, is silly and fun, but manages to convey an emotional depth that's wholly unexpected. And really, that last statement could be used to just sum up the Lip's entire musical career.

Sy Hersh on CNN

C&L has video and a partial transcript of Seymour Hersh on CNN's "Late Edition" discussing his latest article in the New Yorker. The part of the transcript that John has posted discusses the military desperately trying to get Bushco to take any plans for a nuclear attack off the table in dealing with Iran.

Now if they could only walk back the idea of attacking Iran to help with the GOP's sagging poll numbers...

09 April, 2006

For funsies

A hoist of the microbrew to the incomparable egalia at Tennessee Guerilla Women for this little nugget.
  1. Load up Ye Olde Google
  2. Type "asshole" into the search bar
  3. Click "I'm feeling lucky" (make sure the sound is on!)
  4. Enjoy!

Pray your kids' camp counselors don't have Republican legislators for parents


Ho. Lee. Shit:
A 19 and 17 year old from Arizona, have been offered a plea deal which requires no jail time and virtually no penalty for crimes they admitted to commiting. What were these crimes?

As counselors at a boys camp, the 19 and 17 year old punished 18 of the 11-14 year old boys by making them lay face down on their bed, in front of all the other boys, shoving a broomstick into their anus through their pants. Eighteen 11-14 year olds! And, no penalty despite the parents outrage.

One may ask how this could happen. It is really quite simple. The 19 year old, [Clifton] Bennett, is none other than the son of Arizona's Senate President, Ken Bennett, a Republican who is part of the effort to ban equal rights for same-sex couples in the state, viewing same-sex relationships as immoral.

After his son's admission, Bennett wrote a letter to the D.A. handling the case informing her that his son could not rightfully serve time in jail, because he is prepared to leave the country on a mission - to teach the word of Christ to youth around the world.
A more detailed account can be found here by Desert Rat Democrat. I don't know who's the sicker fuck here - the privileged, abusive brats hired on as camp counselors, the self-righteous "christian" father who feels that the rules shouldn't apply to his family, or the spineless D.A. cowed by such an immoral prick.

1000 unique visits! w00t!

The old site meter says that I've reached 1000 different visits! A tiny milestone achieved at a glacial pace, to be sure, but a milestone nonetheless!

Thanks for reading!

A trip to the turd farm

Our man at the AFT in D.C. goes to Horowitz's "first-ever" conference on academic freedom.

THRILL! as he learns of how teachers' unions and Al Jazeera are working together to indoctrinate the collegiate youth of the United States!

MARVEL! at how a disturbing lack of evidence morphs into "the obvious"!

GASP! as he discovers that institutions of higher education are nothing more than state-sanctioned havens for child molesters and Castro sympathizers!

Let's hear it for our man taking one for the team, and let's hope he had access to some powerful disinfectant soaps after a day like that.


We had our spring GMM last night, a heartily drunken time for all. In all likelihood, it's my last, which made it pretty bittersweet.

On the other hand, I saw a room full of people who were proud of their Union, and proud to be unionists. And for all the fretting that I (and others I'm sure) have done about what impact I've had as a union activist, seeing that sort of pride made it all worthwhile.

3544 is the fucking shit, and I'm really going to miss being associated with this band of scallywags, ruffians, and all around good folks.

08 April, 2006

And thus into the breach

We lefties have been concerned about Bushco's saber-rattling against Iran for some time, but have hoped that the morass of Iraq and the military's subsequent recruiting problems would act as a brake on their overt mission of imperiali... I mean, "spreading freedom." However, after digesting the details in Sy Hersh's must read article in the April 17 New Yorker, I've become decidedly more pessimistic - and much more terrified - about the prospects of military action. What follows are some excerpts and commentary, but the piece deserves to be read in its entirety (as is the case with most of Hersh's reporting).
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’”
Let's be clear - Ahmadinejad and his merry band of theocrats are 100% nutsos, but Nazis they ain't. This rhetorical trope only complicates the issue of non-proliferation and firmly establishes a mindset in which military intervention is the only avenue available to deal with someone who views supposedly views diplomacy as a means for appeasement.

I also find that last sentence to be more than a little ironic, given that the more immediate threat of the Bush Administration pre-emptively bombing yet another oil-rich Middle Eastern country is far more likely to precipitate another world war (if you don't believe that we aren't already in the midst of a low-intensity global conflagration).
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
I've learned to be very, very frightened when Bush is portrayed with having this much conviction. And I thought his legacy was going to be "saving" Iraq - is this an implicit admission that our mission there has failed? As for having the courage to do what no other elected official would do, substitute "stupidity," "arrogance," or "hubris" for "courage," and I'll buy that argument.
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’”
It's not what I smoke, which tends to leave me feeling mellow and giggly. And haven't we heard the humiliate the government, people rise up, welcomed with flowers argument before - say, about four years ago?
When I spoke to [Patrick] Clawson [of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy], he emphasized that “this Administration is putting a lot of effort into diplomacy.”


In response to detailed requests for comment, the White House said that it would not comment on military planning but added, “As the President has indicated, we are pursuing a diplomatic solution”; the Defense Department also said that Iran was being dealt with through “diplomatic channels” but wouldn’t elaborate on that; the C.I.A. said that there were “inaccuracies” in this account but would not specify them.
Inaccuracies, eh?
“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”
In recent weeks, the President has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of Congress, including at least one Democrat.
Would anyone like to place a bet that the name of said Democrat is one Joe Lieberman?
[A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee] said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”
There's much more to this article, including some obvious similarities between "our" fundamentalist government and "their" fundamentalist government, as well some scare-the-shit-out-of-you talk about nuclear first-strikes, but I want to end on that last bolded quote.

How do we deal with a man and his enablers who clearly believe that they are doing the work of god on earth? People who believe that their "accountability moment" was in November of 2004, and their razor-thin victory entitles them to operate carte blanche? People who couldn't give fuck-all about public opinion? People who believe that they have the right to spy on and imprison whoever they deem a "threat" whenever they please, evidence and Constitution be damned? Because I'm scared as hell and am quickly running out of ideas, and the people were fighting against are seriously batshit insane. Unquestionably. It's come to the point where I feel like I'm relying on senior military officers standing up to our civilian leadership:
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”
And that's fucking scary!