Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

29 May, 2006

Fire your PR people

Maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't be jaunting around East Asia visiting orphanages so quickly after being acquitted of child molestation:
Wearing sunglasses, a jewellery-embroidered black blazer and tight black trousers with a simple white T-shirt, [Michael] Jackson did not speak but waved and raised a forefinger to acknowledge a group of reporters before he was whisked inside along a red carpet.

Jackson has remained largely in seclusion since his trial on child molestation charges.

He will also spend time in Tokyo touring the city, visiting orphanages and meeting with Asian business leaders, spokeswoman Raymone Bain said, adding that his trip kicks off the first in a series of planned visits to Asia.
Of course, it's entirely possible that we should expect this from a man who named his child Blanket.

Takin' it nationwide

Unless the wifi hotspots are plentiful (fingers crossed for free wifi at the Washington Court Hotel!), posting will probably be scant this week as I hit the road for D.C. and Ann Arbor.

Even though I'm not posting, I'm still thinking about you, and remember, I do miss you, even if I'm not blogging it.

So - you'll either next read me "live" from D.C. or in a week after this whole ordeal is finished. Until then, ciao.

28 May, 2006


Why have we been led to such a dark abyss where our children and siblings cannot commit such unspeakable acts? And how hollow is the talk of victory when the United States' moral credibility is being eviscerated by insanity like this? The Brits know:
The incident happened after a hidden bomb exploded as a US marine unit passed through Haditha. One marine, Miguel Terrazas, was killed. Two other marines were also wounded in the blast.

What happened next is the focus of the investigations. Eyewitnesses and human rights groups believe the marines swept through the town in a lust for revenge. The attack may have lasted for several hours. At the end of it, 24 Iraqi civilians had been killed. They included a 76-year-old amputee and a four-year-old boy. In one house an entire family, including seven children, were attacked with guns and grenades. Only a 13-year-old girl survived.

British soldiers currently in Iraq said they were anxious to distance themselves from the Americans but that Iraqis did seem able to make a distinction. One private, who did not wish to be named, said: 'We are given an education: the Americans get shown how to use a gun. The Iraqis know the difference.'

Captain Victoria Wedgwood-Jones, of 20 Armed Brigade, said: 'When the British come and say we are British, they welcome us warmly.'

27 May, 2006

Non-political playlist

All songs on this playlist have been vetted for ideological neutrality - or they popped out at random. I forget.
  • Good Vibrations - Brian Wilson
  • Elvis Presley Blues - Gillian Welch
  • Qué Onda Guero? - Beck
  • Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - The Minutemen
  • Bullshit - Minor Threat
  • Meet Me in the Morning - Bob Dylan
  • Night and Day - Charlie Parker
  • Spit on a Stranger - Pavement
  • Motherless Chile Blues - Barbecue Bob
  • Me in Honey - REM
And your fair and balanced bonus #11:
  • Blips, Drips, and Strips - Stereolab

Rock and roll hoochie con

How did I ever get so lucky as to wake up and discover that the National Review had gone in search of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs? Was I really blessed with a chance to mock a conservative's hackneyed attempts at cultural criticism and his taste in music?

Yes. Yes I was.

By what criteria are we going to discern the 50 greatest conservative rockers?:
What makes a great conservative rock song? The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song. We’re biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed in a few little-known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don’t hold any of this against them. Finally, it would have been easy to include half a dozen songs by both the Kinks and Rush, but we’ve made an effort to cast a wide net. Who ever said diversity isn’t a conservative principle?
Now to be sure, they have a good top 5: the Who, the Beatles, the Stones, Skynard, and the Beach Boys - it's hard to argue with the greatness of the songs.

But let's keep moving down the list. I'm sure John Lennon is pleased about the selective quotations from "Revolution" enshrining that song in the conservative pantheon.
14. “Right Here, Right Now,” by Jesus Jones - The words are vague, but they’re also about the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War: “I was alive and I waited for this. . . . Watching the world wake up from history.”
If the words are vague, they could be about finding pink Caddilacs in the Bible. By the way, wasn't one of the criteria actually being a great rock song?
16. “Get Over It,” by The Eagles - Against the culture of grievance: “The big, bad world doesn’t owe you a thing.” There’s also this nice line: “I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass.”
You have the entire Eagles catalog, and the only song that meets your criteria is from the 1994 reunion album? Any song from Hell Freezes Over is by definition not a great song. It's only the sixteenth spot, and we're already stretching to bounds of credibility to populate this list.
18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour - A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: “I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I’m the cult of personality.”
Now's probably not the time to mention the Reagan and W. fetishism (not so much the latter these days) that passes for discourse in conservative circles.
20. “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash - After 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.
Shorter Miller: This song rocks because it's about bombing brown people.
24. “Der Kommissar,” by After the Fire - On the misery of East German life: “Don’t turn around, uh-oh / Der Kommissar’s in town, uh-oh / He’s got the power / And you’re so weak / And your frustration / Will not let you speak.” Also a hit song for Falco, who wrote it.
Who the fuck is After the Fire?
25. “The Battle of Evermore,” by Led Zeppelin - The lyrics are straight out of Robert Plant’s Middle Earth period — there are lines about “ring wraiths” and “magic runes” — but for a song released in 1971, it’s hard to miss the Cold War metaphor: “The tyrant’s face is red.”
I'm sure when he wasn't snorting prodigious amounts of blow or having German Shepherds lick strategically placed slices of bacon off of the bodies of his groupies, Robert Plant was attempting to construct an allegorical narrative of Vietnam-era geopolitics.
29. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Iron Maiden - A heavy-metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?
Okay, this one's pretty fucking cool. Kudos.
38. “I Can’t Drive 55,” by Sammy Hagar - A rocker’s objection to the nanny state. (See also Hagar’s pro-America song “VOA.”)
Well, if you wanted to complete my mental image of your lily-white trust fund ass weaving in and out of traffic on the 5 in your daddy's Boxster, I suppose this would be the song for the occasion, wouldn't it, asshole?
46. “Wind of Change,” by The Scorpions - A German hard-rock group’s optimistic power ballad about the end of the Cold War and national reunification: “The world is closing in / Did you ever think / That we could be so close, like brothers / The future’s in the air / I can feel it everywhere / Blowing with the wind of change.”
Doesn't the inclusion of the Scorpions on any "greatest of" list automatically throw into doubt any pretensions towards greatness? I mean, it's the Scorpions!
47. “One,” by Creed - Against racial preferences: “Society blind by color / Why hold down one to raise another / Discrimination now on both sides / Seeds of hate blossom further.”

48. “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” by The Offspring - The lyrics aren’t exactly Shakespearean, but they’re refreshingly blunt and they capture a motive force behind welfare reform.

49. “Abortion,” by Kid Rock - A plaintive song sung by a man who confronts his unborn child’s abortion: “I know your brothers and your sister and your mother too / Man I wish you could see them too.”
If these three make your greatest list, you can have 'em.

And finally, this isn't even a rock song:
50. “Stand By Your Man,” by Tammy Wynette

26 May, 2006

I ♥ Willie Nelson

We all know this, but I'm certainly happy to see it in print every now and again.

And thus was inaugurated...

... a brave new world of plugging the DSL modem into the surge protector.

The internets in the wobs household have been fixed.

25 May, 2006

Blood and Mood

We've changed the CDs in the car again, which means I'm gettting new doses of old albums from the library. One that I've particularly enjoyed rediscovering is the Bad Liver's 2000 swan song, Blood and Mood. Whenever I've seen Danny Barnes perform in the last five years, he's always been very self-deprecating about this album. For sure, Sugar Hill Records had no idea what they were getting into when they signed the Livers, and any bluegrass traditionalist who picked up this recording was likely to be either shocked or disgusted.

What makes this album so enjoyable to me is the cross-pollination of two vibrant musical scenes. The Bad Livers honed their trademark punk/bluegrass hybrid in the phenomenally diverse Austin music scene (indeed, the first time I ever saw the Livers live was when they opened for fellow Austinites the Butthole Surfers - and I enjoyed their opening act until the acid overpowered me in preparation for the freak show to follow). In the late 90s, Livers banjoist and songwriter Danny Barnes moved up to Seattle, and Blood and Mood bears the musical imprint of that city. The Livers' already off-kilter musical sense found itself augmented by post-grunge guitar work, jazz stylings (probably as a result of Barnes collaborations with Bill Frisell), and smatterings of electronica. The result, while certainly defying easy categorization, retains the punk-hillbilly essence of the Livers music. Moreover, the hybridized songs themselves don't seemed forced, and the overall feel of the album, despite the myriad of influences, is surprisingly unified.

Indeed, I always thought it was a shame that the Bad Livers disbanded after this album. Blood and Mood, and its predecessor, Industry and Thrift, were both impressive expansions of their sound, and, I thought, indicative of future worthwhile musical explorations. Barnes has since recorded with his new band and on his own, and has been active around Seattle, teaching courses on traditional American music at the University of Washington, collaborating with Bill Frisell, and sitting in with the Seattle Symphony, but his newer work just leaves me wishing that he and Mark Rubin would get back together to push back against the constraints imposed by musical genres in their own ass-kicking style.



Five years coming, Kenny Boy's going to jail.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

24 May, 2006

Formerly one of the most powerful men in the country

Tom "Bug Man" DeLay has always been a compelling antagonist in the political drama of DC. Self-righteously pious, menacingly Machiavellian, and taking crassness and greed to unprecedentedly baroque heights.

And he still thinks, even after all that's gone on in the past few weeks, that Stephen Colbert is a legitimate conservative pundit who's on the side of the Hammer.

That Show and then some

So based on the first two songs (more on their "first singles" in a moment), I think Taylor won, hands down. His "Livin' for the City" was smokin', and even if his Elton John number was little flat, I still think it was better than Kat's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which - despite what everyone else who watches That Show thinks - was so cloying and pedantically choreographed that I had to leave the room and get high to make the performance palatable.

Now, as for their "first singles," if those two songs aren't an indictment of the songwriting by committee system of industrial cultural production, I don't know what is. As much as people talk up the hit-writing machines of LA, New York, and Nashville - and as great as some of the songs that come from these machines actually are - it's important to remember that for every hit these folks produce, they churn out ten pieces of crap that are apparently foisted on unsuspecting That Show finalists. I mean, you go out and buy Foreigner's or Journey's (two certified hit machines) greatest hits albums, right? You don't buy each of their regular albums because you'll get two good songs and a raft of horseshit.

Moreover, did they have to perform songs that are so transparently anthemic mood pieces - "My Destiny"??? "Do I Make You Proud"??? C'mon! - designed to manipulate our emotions as to make the audience roll their eyes and retch. Those were really, really bad songs, which even the judges recognized.

So, whoever wrote those songs should be sacked.
Whoever decided that Taylor and Kat should perform those songs should be sacked.
And if there are some PR whiz kids who are thinking about promoting those two sorry excuses for songs to the general public, they should be sacked before they do some real damage to the children.

[updated on 5/24/2006 at 3:10 PM]: This guy thinks Kat's monstrosity of a "first single" handicapped her relative to the piece of shit with which Taylor had to work.

Jeebus helped me leg press a ton

Whether by faith or his age-defying protein shake, Dr. Pat "God Told Me He Hates You" Robertson can leg press 2000 lbs. What makes this feat all the more laudable, IMO, is that he's so brilliant at this task that no one can look at it directly, thus making it impossible to document as a new world record.

23 May, 2006

What is that delightful muzak y'all are playing?

I know I'm supposed to be super-pleased with Qwest for not handing over our phone records to the NSA, but damn does their customer service suck (he said after waiting on hold for 30+ minutes)...

Watching the paint dry

I just finished folding 350 insurance notifications by hand (with the help of the ever-enchanting RP towards the end).

It was an exceedingly dull task. Just thought I'd share.

Shorter response

To sum up this comment in a more pithy and public manner:
  1. I was aiming my comments at those who occupy the elite positions in academia and in academic sub-fields
  2. I do think public intellectualism is important and meaningful to the everyday lives of people, but that this work is often relegated to the margins of academia
  3. Access to the elite and influential positions and publications within academia is highly regulated with regard to academic training and theoretical orientation
  4. To reach the highest levels of academia, often times one must be willing to jettison a)the time to work on social justice projects in order to focus on pubs and b)a critical theoretical orientation that may be unacceptable to certain journals and/or faculties - and even these don't guarantee access to being a "player" in the literature
From my own point of view, 95% of what I read in the core sociology journals has little relevance to my, or anyone else I know, for that matter, existence, and is often times theoretically uninteresting, and in 50% of the cases, methodologically shoddy. The work that I find important and exciting is relegated to secondary or tertiary boutique journals with little chance of influencing public debate. To me, the choice appeared to be follow my passion and risk marginalilization, or try to crash the gates of the elite (a daunting and quixotic process to begin with) by jettisoning any pretense of working for social justice in my writing so that I can be invited to the parties with the kewl kids.

Am I wrong about that?

22 May, 2006

Talk amongst yourselves

Amid the tales of gastrointestinal woe, a rant by the boss on the state of academia:
Perhaps I'm being too cynical, but I'd have a hard time believing that these folks are doing anything but exclusively writing for themselves, and not for any of the people they are actually writing ABOUT.
I don't think that's cynical at all.

A former mentor of mine (who, if I'd not turned my nose at his invitations for collaboration, might have actually convinced me to stay in grad school) described the "sociological literature" as a cocktail party, clustered around the "big names" (those with umpteen citations) in the big journals.

I suppose at the time, the cocktail party idea seemed rather enamoring, given my penchant for enjoying both strong drink and droll conversations. But in retrospect, it's exactly this insular quality that both Court and my former advisor describe that turned me off to academia. That, and the fact that the cost of admission to the party - in terms of time and energy devoted to writing missives that few will read - is way too high.

The idea of sitting around with other "top scholars" (which assumes I'd even reach that level of renown), patting ourselves on the back for neatly placing the "empirical facts" inside our theoretical box, doesn't seem very attractive if one's actual goal is to help people.

I'm just sayin'.

Uh... I broke the internets

The blogging is going to be a little erratic for the next few days. The very cool spring thunderstorm that rolled through town last evening fizzle-fried my modem.


20 May, 2006

Tallarines de la médula

So this is what my blog looks like en español. Heh. Does anyone know if I make any sense in translation?

On the other hand, this might be a neat way to learn some naughty words:
whiny ass titty baby


Go kids

There's been a lot of truth being spoken to power lately. Cheers to the graduating Class of 2006 at the New School in NYC for not letting some asshole hijack their graduation:
The jeers, boos and insults flew, as caustic as any that angry New Yorkers have hurled inside Madison Square Garden. The objects of derision yesterday, however, were not the hapless New York Knicks, but Senator John McCain, the keynote speaker at the New School graduation, and his host, Bob Kerrey, the university president.


The first student speaker, Jean Sara Rohe, 21, said she had discarded her original remarks to talk about Mr. McCain.

"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," she said, to a roaring ovation. "This invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all."

Noting that Mr. McCain had promised to give the same speech at all of his graduation appearances, Ms. Rohe, who was one of two students selected to speak by university deans, attacked his remarks even before he delivered them.

"Senator McCain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our civic and moral obligation in times of crisis, and I agree," she said. "I consider this a time of crisis, and I feel obligated to speak."

She continued, "Senator McCain will also tell us about his strong-headed self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others, and in so doing he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions.

"I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong," she said.

She added, "Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction."

19 May, 2006

Unit esprit

And they still don't want LGBTQs in the military?

Strive for the master-slave dynamic

Unleashed upon the sleepy streets of England:
No one is quite sure exactly why the Koatian sect, as it calls itself, has taken root in a pebbledash street in the north east. An offshoot of the Goreans, a larger group with some 25,000 British followers, they live their life according to commandments hidden within books written by John Norman.

In Norman's fictional land of Gor, which is divided into castes, couples must ditch any pretence of equality and instead strive to achieve the master-slave dynamic in their relationships.


Lee Thompson, 31, who lives at the address that was subject to police inquiries and describes himself as a master who trains slaves, told the Northern Echo: "It works on the system that some women have a desire to serve. Most people think it is a very sexual thing, but it is about every action that they make, they do it for their master.

"I have been called sick but I don't think what I do is bad. There's no reason for people to be afraid of me. I'd die before I see anyone get hurt. Saying that, the girls will do everything they are told when it comes to sex, but it is all voluntary and all safe."

"Lots of girls want to come and try to find out about it," he added. "They think it's exciting, but it's hard work for everyone. Girls leave when they've had enough."

Although there are said to be 350 Goreans who meet in pubs and clubs around the north-east on a regular basis, not everyone has taken to the new fad - nor, indeed, to the man apparently leading Darlington's unlikely sexual revolution. The local butcher, for one, has banned Mr Thompson from his premises for turning up with his girlfriend attached to a leash.
Now let me be clear. I'm not mocking this man for his lifestyle choice. Whatever floats your boat, sez me. But I am mocking him for basing said choice on a set of sci-fi novels. Really, couldn't you just be into the BDSM lifestyle for its own sake?

Geek laughs

I enjoy Prof. Juan Cole's contribution to the internets, but this post showcases some true geek humor (read unfunny to 99.99% of the world's population, and only producing a smirk and a chuckle in the other .01%):
They [ed. - the Iraqi government] have a Ministry of Civil Society? Quick, someone alert Jurgen Habermas!

18 May, 2006

Drawn and quartered

Sidney Blumenthal educates the Brits on the disintegration of the GOP:
The nativist Republican base is at the throat of the business community. The Republican House of Representatives, in the grip of the far right, is at war with the Republican Senate. The evangelical religious right is paralysed while the Catholic church is a mobilising force behind demonstrations by Hispanic immigrants. Every effort Bush makes to hold a nonexistent Republican centre generates an opposing effect within his party.

Bush's victory in 2004 depended on the management of highly volatile constituencies: the religious right was shepherded by referendums against gay marriage; the abortion issue was used to elevate Catholic conservatives and isolate progressive-minded bishops; nativists were captivated by hosts of enemies in the whirlwind of September 11.
And at the calm center of this swirling mess? George W. Bush.

I find it difficult not to link the GOP's dismal approval ratings with Bush's own atrocious showing of late. The GOP has hitched its wagon The Cult of W. for close to seven years now, and it's easy to see why. Each of those volatile constituencies that Blumenthal lists could see themselves in W.

The Business Establishment saw W. as their own.

The Nativists believed that W. would always put America First.

Conservative Christians thought him to be a humble man called to serve God.

What a difference two years makes.

The Establishment is learning that W. is an awful CEO by any standard (as if his stints at Harken and as owner of the Texas Rangers didn't raise any red flags).

The Nativists are coming to grips with the fact that W.'s first loyalty is to the almight dollar, not his fellow citizens.

Conservative Christians are hopefully learning that God(dess) works in mysterious and incomprehensible ways.

And as the Cult of W. evaporates, so too, does the Party which enabled this orgy of incompetence and arrogance to run the show for the last five years. The Rubber-Stamp Republicans have made a mantra out of defending Bush, impugning the patriotism of its critics. The GOP - the party which controls all three branches of government, let's remember - is viewed as being complicit with the colossal fuck-ups that are touching the lives of millions of people in the United States and globally, or at the very least as asleep at the switch.

Blumenthal concludes with this prescient observation:
The Republican party as a whole is repeating the self-destruction of the California Republican party. In 1994 the governor, Pete Wilson, advocated proposition 187, which threatened to deny social services, healthcare and education to undocumented workers, and it aroused the Hispanic sleeping giant. From that moment California became one of the safest Democratic states, and only an anomaly like Schwarzenegger, an immigrant, could emerge as a viable statewide candidate. Ronald Reagan's party is a thing of the past.
C'est ça.

17 May, 2006


I've been away from Blogotopia as of late, busy trying to grade papers that I'm clearly not in to reading (I've already quit, in my mind), so the production of content has been somewhat lackadaisical of late.

So, in lieu of an entry worth reading, medulla noodle proudly presents to you, for one night only, ninjas:
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Welcome throwing star fans! George W. Bush still sucks donkeys!


Wow, not only did Randy Jackson admit to being in Journey, he had the requisite genitalia to declare them "one of the best bands ever." Already tattered credibility? Vaporized.

Poor Elliot - he wasn't fortunate enough to have the clearly contrived "it" moment that both Kat and Taylor had during the "judge's pick" round, and that, I believe, will be his ultimate undoing.

Taylor clearly stole the show with "Try a Little Tenderness," which was looser, more fun, and way more soulful than the awful mugging of "You Are So Beautiful." It'll be Taylor and Kat in the finals, with Taylor being the odds-on favorite.

15 May, 2006

Congressional Black Sox

Want to know why the Democrats are going to make only marginal to modest gains in the mid-terms? Shit like this:
Is it really in the best interest of the Democratic Party to win control of the House and Senate in November? Might the party's long-term fortunes actually be helped by falling short?

As strange as it might seem, there are moments when losing is winning in politics. Even as Democrats are doing everything they can to win, and believe that victory is critical for future battles over real issues, some of the party's leading figures are also speculating that November could represent one of those moments.

From this perspective, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world politically to watch the Republicans struggle through the last two years of the Bush presidency. There's the prospect of continued conflict in Iraq, high gas prices, corruption investigations, Republican infighting and a gridlocked Congress. Democrats would have a better chance of winning the presidency in 2008, by this reasoning, and for the future they enhance their stature at a time when Republicans are faltering.
Because we can handle two more years of the GOP sending the federal government to the chop shop. Because there's only one thing American's love more than a loser, and that's someone who throws the game for some illusory reward.

This whole line of argument, "let's keep them in power so everyone can see what a horrible job they'll do, then they'll come running to us," has a long history. I heard leftists in 2000 (and 2004) saying that if Bush was elected and everything went to hell (which it did), the "people" would be ready to rise up and overturn capitalism/representative democracy/western civilization/etc." Heh.

Members of the Spartacus League used a similar line of reasoning in refusing to ally themselves with the German Social Democrats against Hitler and the Nazi party. I don't suppose we know how this political rope-a-dope went over during the 1930s, do we?

People are clearly dissatisfied with the folks who have been elected to run our federal government. They're clearly looking for an alternative. And "leading figures" in the Democratic Party opine about the political expediency of not winning either house back. Now that's the type of leadership that voters are craving! Nothing craven or calculating about the Dems at all!

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all of you who are mothers enjoyed your special day. And I hope everyone else called their mother.

We spent a nice weekend on the coast (in Yachats). We went to a wedding Saturday afternoon, which was nice - albeit of the dry kind. I don't think I've ever been to a wedding without alcohol. Very odd, but still nice.

We spent most of today on the beach:
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I was mesmerized by life in the tide pools:
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It was - how do you say? - very nice. I hope your weekend was fantastic as well.
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I ♥ bi-valves...

13 May, 2006

If you need more convincing

Witness the intellectual ravages of basing your political views solely on the writings of Ayn Rand. atlasshrugs2000 apparently has a lot more to say on such topics.

And while chuckling over her site, I came across this apparently unironic headline from another right-wing blog: MSM Blackout: Chomsky meets Hizballah.

Blackout indeed. This is a whole new twist on both the perceived extent of Chomsky's influence and the narrative of his being ignored.


A love supreme

So, who wants to explain how Russia, with an Old Faithful-esque predictability, so easily slides into autocracy?

They really, really hate him

CNN has this fluff bit comparing the current public perceptions of Clinton's and W.'s presidencies:
Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush).
As I've mentioned before, people perceived - both then and now - that life under Clinton wasn't so bad. Here's what I found really interesting:
When asked which man was more honest as president, poll respondents were more evenly divided, with the numbers -- 46 percent Clinton to 41 percent Bush -- falling within the poll's margin of error. The same was true for a question on handling national security: 46 percent said Clinton performed better; 42 percent picked Bush.
The Philanderer-in-Chief out-polls Mr. 29% on the issue of honesty - which, by all means Bush would've run away with four years ago, before people learned that they'd been taken in by Bush's contrived piety. And, Clinton outpolls Bush's performance on what is perceived to be the current president's strong suit - despite all of the ills in the world having been caused by Bill Clinton! Finally:
Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.
Anyway you slice it, Bush comes out looking putrid - incompetent, dishonest, a failure. An no one likes a failure, especially an arrogant failure.

12 May, 2006

Pissin' off Whitey

How dare those South Americans insist upon keeping the money made off the exploitation of their own natural resources when they should be enriching their European superiors.

And in a marginally tangential vein:
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h/t to NL for the photo

Holy brownshirts, Batman!

Isn't this how really bad things start?
From Coulter's May 10 column, "Conservatives Need 12-step Program to Manhood":

Democrats have declared war against Republicans, and Republicans are wandering around like a bunch of ninny Neville Chamberlains, congratulating themselves on their excellent behavior. They'll have some terrific stories about their Gandhi-like passivity to share while sitting in cells at Guantanamo after Hillary is elected.
I think Ann just lumped the GOP in with the Dems and the French! Cheese-eatin' surrender monkeys! But with all of these institutions too infiltrated by truffle-munching francophiles, who will come to the aid of our Homeland and its poor, defenseless women?
Why hasn't the former spokesman for the Taliban matriculating at Yale been beaten even more senseless than he already is? According to Hollywood, this nation is a cauldron of ethnic hatreds positively brimming with violent skinheads. Where are the skinheads when you need them? What does a girl have to do to get an angry, club- and torch-wielding mob on its feet?
Wow. I didn't think she'd really ever go there, but there it is. And she has a syndicated column, appears regularly on Fox News, and she was on the cover of Time!


I'll put it in simple words: workin' men are pissed

Even Teddy K is running against W. Seriously. I don't know whose side that supports, but Teddy K is running against Mr. 29%:
President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January.
Can we please stop pretending that people like this guy?

11 May, 2006

Color me surprised

Chris got kicked off That Show tonight! I thought his rendition of "Suspicious Minds" was stellar, but apparently it didn't appeal to his RockerMan fan base. And I'm continually amazed that Elliot has made it this far.

That said, however, I'm thinking Taylor and Kat for the final two.

Wherein I disagree with Slate and one of its readers

I have to say, the more that I think about it, the more I disagree with a previous comment from Dave, as well as John Dickerson's analysis in Slate. I will cede a few points to Dave's argument. I'm sure Diogenes, too, would have something to say about an "honest investigation" in DC, and I agree that partisan attacks without a substantive, forward looking policy agenda aren't likely to lead to electoral success. Granted.

But, however, I think that promising investigations (but not necessarily impeachment) must be a part of the Democratic election strategy.

First, let's dispense with notion that there's any sort of equivalence with the Clinton investigations and any potential Bush investigations. Dave is right in pointing out that nobody cared about the fact the Clinton was getting blowjobs in the Oval Office. Would people have cared a bit more if "not having sex with that woman" had occurred in this context?:
  • $3/gallon gasoline prices
  • An sluggish economy with an increasing rate of inequality
  • 2400+ dead soldiers, and no apparent exit strategy except "victory"
  • More GOP scandals than you can shake a stick at
  • A major American city flooded and well over 1000 dead due to catastrophic incompetence
  • The NSA collecting phone call data on tens of millions of Americans
  • Osama bin Laden still at large after four and a half years
Shall we go on? I don't think we need to - if one of these things had happened on Clinton's watch, that blowjob becomes a lot more significant. If more than one had happened, major investigations into the incident like the kind being called for now would have occurred.

I don't agree with Dave's assertion that the American electorate doesn't care. I think that's flatly false. I think the American electorate is willing to let a lot of things slide if they believe they're getting a good deal. Again, Clinton is a case in point. Things were good, and the whole blowjob affair just seemed kind of gauche and tacky. The bill of goods the people were sold with Bush and the GOP, however, did not come as advertised. The American people are learning that they got screwed, that Bush & Co.'s supposed Christian piety and tough talk were a facade covering a bunch of greedy, arrogant, power-hungry assholes who couldn't govern their way out of a paper bag. And as this fact becomes harder and harder to ignore - especially because attention is being drawn to it during the midterm campaigns, I believe that more and more of the American electorate are going to demand accountability.

As for Dickerson's assertion that Pelosi's call for investigations leading to impeachment is a tactical mistake, I think that's just a rote recitation of a GOP talking point (which isn't surprising coming from a Washington-based reporter). First off, the only people who are going to be put-off by Pelosi's announcement are the same 31% of the voting population who inexplicably still approve of the job Bush is doing. The Walla Walla dog catcher could demand investigations and the "dead-enders" (as crazy uncle Rummy would call them) would be up in arms. The only other people who might even know at this point in time that Pelosi is promising investigations (or that Pelosi is the House Minority Leader, for that matter!) are political junkies and the Democratic base.

Wait... appealing to the base... what a novel idea! Republicans have been winning by throwing red meat to their crazy wingnuts for the past three election cycles. They're going to do it again this year, we can be sure. And you know what it looks like to your "average swing voter"? The Democrats are appeasing their base by promising an investigation into the most corrupt and incompetent presidential administration in American history. The GOP is appeasing their base by promising more anti-gay bigotry and more governmental intrusions into your personal life. Given the past few years (Terri Schaivo, South Dakota, etc.), whose base looks crazier? Whose base is more appealing to the 73% of the population that thinks this country is headed in the wrong direction?

Calling for investigations does not harm the Democrat's electoral strategy. It enhances it by turning out the base. In marginal districts, where the average voter is feeling the pinch of out of control gas prices, has seen the destruction of NOLA, and probably knows someone who has served - or possibly died - in Iraq, a candidate who calls for an investigation into the corruption and lies that have sent this country into the shitter is going to tap into a large resevoir of anti-Washington sentiment. And Washington is wholly owned by the GOP right now.

On the other other hand, calling investigations a waste of time while promising to be "tough on security" is a strategy more suitable for 1988 than 2006. The extremists we should be running away from aren't radical feminists and McGovernite pacifists any more. The extremists are anti-woman and anti-gay religious zealots and cowboy imperialists. To not emphasize the need to investigate GOP abuses and demand accountability demonstrates a lack of leadership, and promising to "succeed" in Iraq where Bushco has failed (which, for the centrists, probably means committing more troops to that disastrous endeavor) illustrates a fundamental disconnect with the reality on the ground. It's GOP-lite bipartisanship, the strategy that has gotten the Democrats' collective asses kicked for the past six years. Trotting that dead horse out again ain't going to win any more votes.

So hell yeah, call for investigations. Emphasize keeping an open mind. But as more information comes out, both as a result of keeping GOP failures, malfeasance, and hubris in the limelight during the midterms, and hopefully from Congressional investigations come January, you'll find a voting public demanding more and more accountability.

So there.

10 May, 2006

Another day at l'Université d'Oregon

Dancin', Jesus-lovin' hippies on one end of campus, and right-wing, anti-choice zealots misappropriating the term "genocide" (apparently without bothering to understand what it actually means) on the other.

Good times.

SAT scores dropping

From the WaPo:
Several colleges and universities are reporting significant declines in average scores on the new SAT test, leading many high school counselors and college admissions officers to conclude that the longer exam is wearing out test takers and hurting their performance.
Or, kidz could be gittin' stoopeder.

Seriously, though:
[Charles A. Deacon, dean of admissions at Georgetown University] said his own study of the old and new tests suggests the drop may be explained by more emphasis on reading in the new test, which has for years gotten lower scores than writing.
My question is: does reading comprehension vary across media, that is between, say, reading a print newspaper or an on-line source? If so, is the drop in reading scores related to a print-based bias in the SAT?

These are the things that occupy my mind for, oh... minutes.

No independents for you!

Cecil brought this up to me in one of those, what do you call them... conversations we have that aren't mediated by the internets.

Apparently, a recent law in Oregon bans members of (at the very least) the Democratic and Republican parties from signing a petition to place an independent candidate on the ballot. This law was apparently passed in response to the GOP trying to place Nader on the ballot in 2004 to siphon off votes from Kerry.

While my knowledge of constitutional law is marginal at best, this law sounds like a complete and utter violation of the First Amendment to me.

In response

It's like digby was reading Dave's comments.

Gotta admit, I can see it both ways. But bringing up the GOP's incompetence and corruption at every turn doesn't really seem like a bad strategy, so long as there's a substantive alternative (that's not "more of the same, but different") being presented.

What are they afraid of?

So called centrist Democrats seem hellbent on continuing - even exacerbating - the foreign policy travesties of the Bush administration while simultaneously letting the Bushies off the hook for their numerous fuck-ups. Let the parsing begin!:
These centrist Democrats argued that voters are more receptive to the Democrats because of Bush's mistakes in Iraq. But they warned against calls to launch investigations into past administration decisions if Democrats gain control of the House or Senate in the November elections. Instead, they said, Democrats should concentrate on charting alternative policies for fighting terrorism and succeeding in Iraq.
Two things strike me here. The first is this reticence on the part of the centrists to investigate the Bush administrations massive betrayal of the public trust. Personally, I think an honest investigation into how these crooks led us into the bloodbath in Iraq is necessary to even begin to restore the citizenry's faith in its governing institutions, but this DLC crew believes it to be too "backward looking," and I imagine there's going to be spin that states that, like the Watergate scandal, this sort of investigation would be too demoralizing to the nation.

It's interesting, however, to take a look at the crew pushing the ix-nay on the investigations - Bayh, Biden and Hillary Clinton are the names mentioned in the WaPo, all of them with professed presidential ambitions. Taking this into account, I see less a concern for the nation's welfare than an unhealthy deference to executive power, with the motivation of preserving these prerogatives for their own potential administrations. In other words, the reassertion of legislative oversight might somehow hamstring their own executive desires down the road.

Second, the DLC remains mired in the thought that "success" in Iraq can be achieved with U.S. troops remaining in country. The evidence to date shows that that is simply wishful thinking. Leaving U.S. troops in Iraq (or increasing their numbers, as some would hope to do) is like picking at the proverbial scab, not allowing the wound to heal. I'm not going to pretend that the withdrawal of U.S. troops is going to solve all of the problems, but it's a necessary start.
PPI President Will Marshall said that Democrats should embrace internationalism in the tradition of Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy. That includes championing freedom and democracy. "We can't abandon [support for] democracy simply because the Bush administration has embraced it or misappropriated it," he said.
Or, we could embrace an internationalism that doesn't place U.S. energy needs and geopolitical concerns at the center of our policy, actually undermining freedom and democracy in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. How novel.

Centrist Democrats: offering us more of the same abroad, but with bread and circuses to keep us happy at home.
"Many of us are disturbed by the calls for investigations or even impeachment as the defining vision for our party for what we would do if we get back into office," he said.
And is anyone else sick of supposed Democrats repeating GOP talking points? Jeebus.

Randomize me!

I actually haven't been listening to much music as of late, so let's see what ye olde WMP delivers us, shall we?
  • Cars, Trucks & Buses - Phish
  • Haunted Road Blues - Clarence Ashley
  • Baby, Let Me Follow You Down - Bob Dylan
  • Paper Tiger - Beck
  • I'm a Dreamer - Inkwell Rhythm Makers
  • Static - Beck
  • Breed - Nirvana
  • Mercy - Widespread Panic
  • Y Tú Qué Has Hecho? - Buena Vista Social Club
  • See See Rider - Big Joe Williams
And never being content with a mere list of ten, I present to you your bonus #11:
  • Blood-Stained Banders - Jimmie Strothers

09 May, 2006

Available for garden work

The wee wobs has taken a liking to working with the soil. It's about time he started earning a living - and if you'd like to hire him...
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Digital non sequitur

Richard Cohen rides the wah-mbulance in today's WaPo, complaining about how nasty those mean people in the blogosphere are. And to a certain extent, he's right: just because Cohen didn't find Colbert funny doesn't mean he's a presidential lapdog. It means he doesn't have a very good sense of humor - Colbert was hilarious.

No, what proves that Cohen and his colleagues at the WaPo and other traditional media outlets are presidential lapdogs is their slavish insistence upon regurgitating administration talking points and refusing to ask the tough questions, lest they offend the gatekeepers who dole out access to inside sources (who, in turn, keep feeding the cute baby reporter birds more fallacious talking points). Cohen and his media counterparts didn't find Colbert funny because they were the butt of his jokes - and that's never very fun, now is it?

Now for non sequitur time: from the thousands of e-mails he's received, Cohen infers this:
But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.
There's a few problems with Cohen's cutesy little attempt at placing the nastiness in his inbox in historical context. First, in 1968, there wasn't a sitting GOP president with an approval rating of 31%, nor a sitting GOP Rubber-Stamp Congress with a flair for corruption that would make Caligula shiver that has been fucking things up for over 10 years. Gas prices were not at historic highs. And to be sure, LBJ wasn't yucking it up with the press about that little Gulf of Tonkin mishap.

It's too early to tell what this sort of anger bodes for the 2008 presidential elections. What it does tell us is that the majority party is in trouble in this year's mid-term elections. Should the GOP lose their majority in either house, investigations into the myriad abuses of power are sure to follow - and if you think people are angry now...

As for centrist Democrats feeling the wrath of the angry Left - these centrists have been "leading" the party to failure for the past decade. They are complicit in the deaths of over 2,400 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis. They are complicit in packing the Supreme Court with conservative ideologues. Yeah, we have a lot of reasons to be pissed at the centrists. And Lieberman might be a bellweather of things to come.

Times are a-changin', and pundits like Cohen, mired in the short-sighted CW of the Beltway cocktail party crowd, may be in for a rude awakening from those of us who aren't members of the chattering classes.

08 May, 2006

Colbert's WHCD speech in all of it's webly glory

C-SPAN has allowed Google to webhost Colbert's roast here.

Enjoy and pass it on.

My sincere apologies

It appears that I've exceeded myself in terms of jackass-itude this weekend. I was being, you know, an asshole. It's kinduva problem, and I'm sincerely sorry for ensnaring others in my, erm... asshole-ed-ness.


06 May, 2006

More confused visitors

How ye olde medulla noodle came out so near the top on a search for "flexible sex contortions" or "sex in small bite size morsels" is beyond me.

Contortionist midgets? Where these people looking for teh circus pr0n?

The price of gasoline

$3 per gallon.
3 soldiers per day.

05 May, 2006


Every now and again at dKos, someone checks the old site meter and has a minor freakout over someone with or domain listings "monitoring" the blogosphere, rather than reaching the more logical conclusion of some cube jockey wasting time when s/he should be doing something more important like, say, catching terrorists. I've had show up on my site meter via some random Google search (not for "boobs," much to my disappointment). It'd be pretty silly to think that the gubmint would be monitoring little old me, or at the very least that monitoring the steaming pile of shit that is oftentimes my contribution to social commentary would provide any sort of enlightenment about, well, anything.

Now, a question for you readers and lurkers: at least one of you chooses to browse my humble little blog through a service which hides your IP address. Why? Why would you not want me to know who you are? Do you believe I'm tech-savvy enough to find out? Because I'm not - the only IP addresses that I can match up with names are from folks who leave comments, and as I've indicated before, there's not that many of you commenting to help my blog reach its full potential. Ahem.

Moreover, even if you did leave a comment with your real IP address, but with a pseudonym, unless I knew of your on-line life, or unless you left enough clues about your real life in your comment, I still wouldn't know who you are.

So why so shy?
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Let's all stare at our navels...

04 May, 2006

Proof that there is a goddess and that she truly loves us

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Finally, someone's bringing Mr. T back into our living rooms, and in the capacity that we need him most - dispensing his patented brand of advice:
From the official TV Land press release:
TV Land has picked up six episodes of this Dr. Phil-meets-Tony-Robbins reality show in which Mr. T stars in the unlikely role of social scientist traveling across the country to dispense his own classic Mr. T style advice.
Said T when asked by the Associated Press about his new show:
"My show ain't no `Dr. Phil,' with people sitting around crying," he said. "You're a fool - that's what's wrong with you. You're a fool if you don't take my advice."
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Yes, Virginia, there is life after grad school

And it's good...

Day one as an honest-to-god union organizer and insurance go-to-guy - and I'd like to think I've touched a few people's lives in that time.

So the challenge becomes to weather the next few weeks of dual employment, and then fully embrace the post-graduate school era. But that era's off to a nice start.

Why do they hate us?

I know I've been linking to digby a lot recently. But again, he's a formidable writing talent, and his analysis is usually spot-on, taboot. His take on the traditional media's obsession with the blogosphere's shrillness:
You see, the real difference between the Right blogoshpere and the Left is that the Left blogosphere is angry at the ideology and governance of the Republican party and the media who report on it. We believe the political press has been complicit where it has not been weak and we are taking our complaint directly to them, loudly and in no uncertain terms. It's angry and vitriolic, but it's political.

The right blogosphere, on the other hand, is no longer outraged at the Democratic party. They think they are clowns --- they can barely get off a good Teddy Kennedy joke before nodding off. And except for the war correspondents whom they believe are cowardly and are refusing to report the good news in Iraq, the energy has gone out of their liberal media critique. But, make no mistake, they are still very, very angry --- at rank and file Americans like me.

The gripe on the right side is that "liberals" literally shouldn't exist. We are Godless, death-loving traitors whose very existence is a blight on the American way of life. They don't hate our leadership. They hate us personally.

This post by Thomas Crown at RedState sums it up nicely, I think:

I repeat: Should the entire American Left fall over dead tomorrow, I would rejoice, and order pizza to celebrate. They are not my countrymen; they are animals who happen to walk upright and make noises that approximate speech. They are below human. I look forward to seeing each and every one in Hell.
Shorter digby: us - angry and out to change the world; them - angry and out to kill us.

03 May, 2006

I do say. Bravo, chaps!

Clinically done, gang. I'm sad that I wasn't able to stay for the thrilling conclusion, as I well remember and miss the joy of reaching an agreement, and of the copious amount of drinking that followed.

Actually, in retrospect, we drank heavily for a good chunk of that time...

BUT, I never had the thrill of being in on so much kicking of the proverbial ass as y'all have. Kudos to a job well done, and I hope you are all (still, as of this writing) having the celebration that you deserve.

And flaunt that shit.

02 May, 2006

Stewart has got Colbert's back

Jon Stewart defends his hombre numero uno, Stephen Colbert (via Editor & Publisher:
Probably to no one's surprise, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," hailed the performance of his stablemate Stephen Colbert at Saturday night's White House Correspondents dinner. Colbert's lampooning of the president and the press has generated a good deal of praise and criticism.

"It was balls-alicious," Stewart said. "Apparently he was under the impression that they'd hired him to do what he does every night on television" -- that is, make fun of conservatives, public officials, and the press in the guise of an O'Reillyesque talk show host.

"We've never been prouder of him, but HOLY ----," Stewart added.

He also described the annual dinner as "where the President and the press corps consummate their loveless marriage."

Shouldn't you all be, you know, legislating on matters of consequence?

Let's see here... we're mired in an intractable conflict in Iraq, while painting ourselves into another explosive corner vis-à-vis Iran; gas prices are soaring to record levels, and we haven't even hit the busy driving season yet; the economy is still in the proverbial crapper - and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is proposing legislation dictating that we can only sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in English?

For fuck sake, why the hell are we paying these douchebags?

Playing defense is not a winning strategy

Josh has some sage advice for the marginalized "opposition" party:
Go to his heart. Go to his weaknesses. Though the realization of the fact is something of a lagging indicator, the man is a laughing stock, whose lies and failures are all catching up with him.

To the president the Democrats should be saying, Double or Nothing is Not a Foreign Policy.

The great bulk of the public doesn't believe this president any more when he tries to gin up a phony crisis. They don't believe he'd have much of an idea of how to deal with a real one. Enough of the lies. Enough of the incompetence and failure.

No buying into another of the president's phony crises.
Will party strategists heed the call?

Lacking in bloggy goodness

Sorry for the light blogging duty as of late. I've been a little swamped, what with a raft of papers that needed to be graded, taking a few full-day shifts with the wee wobs, and getting ready to transition to a new work situation. As things get sorted out, I'll hopefully get back to a fairly consistent writing schedule - writing being one of the things that's keeping me sane. In the meantime, here are some more dogs playing poker:
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Yup. Now there's some quality blogging.