Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

31 July, 2006

A beautiful game

I love how passionate leftist academics get about fútbol: an enjoyable read on the long-suffering Italian soccer fan.

Living the goo

Not a bad evening, as far as Monday nights go. I made a delectable rosemary and sage marinade for some lamb chops, which I grilled to perfection. ms. wobs worked her magic with a fantastic salad, the fine folks at the Casbah natural foods company helped us with a delightfully herbed couscous dish, and the whole experience was topped with some mango/vanilla ice cream.

The li'l wobs fell right asleep, the temperature outside is just right, and all is good in this tiny and insignificant corner of the world.

More folks like him, please

When evangelicals get it:
In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

29 July, 2006

I sense a great disturbance in the Force

I've done little more on here in the past few days than dilly-dally in pop cultural obscurities, mostly for the sake of distraction. Gawking at the sometimes bizarre foibles of public figures is good for a cheap yuk, in the very least. Good clean fun.

But sometimes your televised opiate runs headlong into your political reality, and you have to deal with that reality.

But how do you deal with such brutality?

Or those who would cheerlead us all into mass murder?

Or those who believe that the violence is hastening the Second Coming?

Or that these doofuses have squandered lives, treasure, and moral authority (that may have been useful in stopping this new round of bloodshed) on an eclipsed, but bloodier war in Iraq?

I can't think of a goddamned thing to say about what's happening in the Middle East. What could I possibly say that would make any sense of this situation?

There just doesn't seem to be a good ending coming to any of this any time soon.

28 July, 2006

Manufactured pop stars meet puppet president

When reality catches up with spin, the results are pretty ugly. Hoping to get a bounce from the sheen of an overhyped karaoke contest (albeit a guiltily entertaining overhyped karaoke contest) is no way to, um... be president.

[updated 7/28/06 at 9:37 PM]: TBogg invokes Dante.

Another contender for the title of "Happiest Place on Earth outside of Orlando"

Iceland was the first to be touted for this much coveted title, only to find its star eclipsed by an unorthodox methodology which crowned Vanuatu. Now, in strolls Denmark to stake a claim.

Looks like the Scandinavians, what with the blond hair and social democracy, are for-realsies in the race for sunniest (metaphorically speaking, of course) geographical disposition, despite their odd musical predilections.

Yeah, baby!

"Landis Says His Testosterone Is Naturally High."

Uncle D don't lie

It's true. The Bombay Palace is, if I may appropriate a terribly punny colloquialism from the 90s, da bomb.

The food is plentiful and cheap. The freeform restaurant format is charming, even when confronted with a massive lunchtime blitz. And the dose of Bollywood music videos in HiDef? Is transcendent too strong a word here?

Seriously, Eugene finally has a kick-ass Indian lunch buffet. GTFF Fridays at the Bombay Palace are on. Come ponder the sub-continent's fascination with a particularly ubiquitous high and reedy female vocal.

What the hell were these people smoking?

Further proof that the mid-80s "War on Drugs" was manufactured by a bunch of coke-snortin', 'lude poppin' hypocrites. How many turned to hitting the bottle or puffing a jay because of this monstrosity?

Memories of Hasselhoffs gone

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I was a young kid - probably not more than 12, and it was a Saturday night ritual to run out the clock on bad TV until some show that I really wanted to watch came on (care to remind me what would've been on Saturday at 8 PM in the mid-80s?). We'd turn on the hit parade of Solid Gold, not so much to learn what musical excretions would garner the program's eponymous lustrous metal, but rather to gawk at the gyrations of the Solid Gold dancers (I, of course, being ravaged by the sudden advent of testosterone released by my endocrine system).

I feel pretty confident in asserting that at the time of his performance, it was not a hit, nor did it ever become a hit in this part of the world, but there he was, making his Solid Gold premiere, sans KITT, singing "Do You Love Me (Now that I Can Dance)."

I couldn't not watch. Even at 12 (or however old I was), I had the sense of a horrible wrong being committed. Little did I know how right wrong would eventually be.

27 July, 2006

Guilty pleasure

Playlists custom made to fit your mood.

Cultural rubber-necking

Ten days ago I unwittingly joined in on what has been a proliferation of all things Hasselhoff. And now that I've been involved in that sort of cultural buzz - unwittingly stumbling into it - why do I feel so compelled to keep track of the Hoff?

What's his allure?:
But don't write the big guy off yet. At 54 he's the star of another hit US show as a judge on Simon Cowell's latest reality TV contest America's Got Talent. (And you thought Paula Abdul judging a talent contest was ironic.) And to top it all he's set to star in an Australian musical about his own life.

David Hasselhoff - an extraordinary man of modest talent - Newsblog salutes you!
The man has a fucking musical written about him - that he's starring in! I mean, how can you not keep track of this man?

Peace inaction

Greg Palast examines the conflicts in the Levant through the murky lens of oil politics:
We are trained to think of Middle Eastern conflicts as modern flare-ups of ancient tribal animosities. But to uncover why the flames won't die, the usual rule applies: follow the money.

Am I saying that Tehran, Riyadh and Houston oil chieftains conspired to ignite a war to boost their petroleum profits? I can't imagine it. But I do wonder whether Bush would let Olmert have an extra week of bombings, or the potentates of the Persian Gulf would allow Hamas and Hizbullah to continue their deadly fireworks if by doing so they would cause the price of crude to crash.

You know and I know that if this war took a bite out of Exxon or the House of Saud, a ceasefire would be imposed quicker than you can say "Let's drill in the Arctic."

Bummer of a day

Yesterday wasn't so hot. The wee wobs had a nasty, wheezy cough the previous evening which necessitated a trip to the doctor and an inhaler (hopefully it's not pneumonia). Then, I had to say (what I hope is a temporary) good-bye to friends as they migrated to the east. Add to that the high heat and inability to cool the house, and you ended up with a sad, sad 8:30 bedtime.

Today, however, has started like gangbusters.

26 July, 2006

Go show him some love

jon swift celebrates the clickings on of 100,000 visitors. May you double your hits in half the time, good sir.

25 July, 2006


Tom Petty joins me in worrying about the decline of the album as an artform.

For shits and giggles, the cultural connoisseurs at msnbc also throw in a respectable list of ten classic concept albums not by Pink Floyd or the Who. I must ask, however, is Purple Rain a concept album or a soundtrack?

I want to be stereotyped. I want to be classified.

Behold the retrosexual. Now get thee to a vintage store for bowling shirts.

Light blogging playlist

The enchanting ms. wobs has been monopolizing use of the laptop for her work during my prime blogging hours (we need to get her a new computer, ASAP!), so it's going to be hit and miss with how much I'm able to write. I'm still planning on giving you the final trip report from Boston, but in the meantime, how about a nice, not-too-taxing-on-the-old-medulla-noodle playlist:
  • (Was I) In Your Dreams - Wilco
  • These Lonely Nights - Willie Nelson
  • All Just to Get You - Joe Ely
  • Buddy - De La Soul (w/Jungle Brothers and Q-Tip)
  • Lawn Boy - Phish
  • Disorder at the Border - Dizzy Gillespie
  • And She Was - Talking Heads
  • So What'cha Want? - Beastie Boys
  • Midnight Moonlight - Old & In the Way
  • The Free Design - Stereolab
And what list of ten would be complete without old, reliable #11?
  • Kim - Charlie Parker

22 July, 2006


The revolutionary communists of the Progressive Labor Party have been ingratiating themselves while handing out their daily truth by inciting us to learn what our fascist organization is doing. Now that's some smart politicking.

Shockingly enough, it appears that Ed McElroy will be re-elected, in spite of stiff opposition from... uh... yeah...

We're going to see Organizing Abraham Lincoln tonight, the play based on our friends at TUGSA. Expect a trenchant literary analysis - okay, the uninformed ramblings a philistine - later.

I probably won't be posting again until Sunday night or Monday, as tomorrow's a travel day, and my night will probably, despite my best efforts, be soaked in beer once again. Play nice.

GTFF starts the dance party

I hate to brag, but...

In other goings on:
  • I didn't get my pic taken with the senior senator from Massachusetts (they changed the rules mid-game), but I did get a couple of snapshots of him before my batteries died. He gave a barnburner of a speech, and we can now count him as an AFT member.
  • The AFT is officially against terrorism.
  • Lots of non-controversial resolutions passed yesterday, nothing to write home about.
  • We had dinner with Our Man at the AFT in DC last night, and I think we may have driven him to drink.
  • The AFT rented out the Boston Public Library for a really swank reception last evening. Gorgeous building, but we had to pay for the drinks.
  • Drank way too much last night, but, as I alluded to above, I started the dance party to the really bad dj (he had no idea what we were talking about when we requested "Baby Got Back").
  • Runkle and I were tapped as t-shirt models. Seriously.

21 July, 2006

I'm still standin', yeah, yeah, yeah...

So far...
  • I had the extreme pleasure of listening to a half hour of floor debate about how many people could stand at a microphone. Apparently, the length of the line is integral to union democracy.
  • Dollar per caps are with us for another two years.
  • National per caps will be increasing by 10%, starting in September, I think.
  • One half hour until I wangle my way into getting photographed with Ted Kennedy.


Take two - stupid computer conked out on me, and it sucks blogging while standing:
  • It didn't take long to have to deal with the blatherings on of the person who only read the report until they found something to complain about, ignoring that their issue was dealt with on page 10. Ah, to be angry and uninformed.
  • I was seated on the international relations committee, which had five resolutions opposing the war in Iraq. The committee opted for the one "opposing the war and calling for a rapid and timely withdrawal," rather than the res which was for "opposing the war and calling for an immediate withdrawal.
  • I had lunch with the GEO folks at the LGBTQ caucus. Fun.
  • Lots of speechifying yesterday, including McElroy's call to "Count Me In" - snappy convention slogan, n'est-ce pas?
  • Good seafood and lots of PBR with Swanson last night.
  • Ran into to Liz M. this morning, who apparently had a night similar to mine, and was having similar physiological reactions to said evening.
  • Four hours forty minutes until the senior senator from Massauchusetts.

19 July, 2006


Boy, howdy. Call today my lucky day.
  1. At PDX, I had to get my seat assignment at the gate. Just as I was reaching the desk, they announce that they need volunteers for an overbooked flight. I think, "Hell, I don't have to be in Boston at any particular time." Boom, free ticket, first class to Chicago, stand-by for one flight that's booked (no guarantee of first class), a first class ticket for a later flight if I want.
  2. I get to Chicago and go to the gate for my stand-by flight. Just as I arrive, I hear my name called for the stand-by list. First class again! Score!
  3. So now I get to Boston, kinda drunk from all the free booze. I go to claim my luggage (which was kept on my original itinerary) and find out that had I not volunteered to be bumped, I would've spent a loooooooong time in Denver, as my original plane was delayed for mechanical reasons. So I beat my luggage to Boston.
  4. I get to the hotel, and because they don't have any "normal" rooms, I'm upgraded to a suite. Can this trip get any better? But wait...
  5. I go to the bar for a few before bed alcoholic beverages and strike up a conversation with the bartender, who notices my Netherlands jersey. We talk soccer, I find out he's from Eugene... boom, drinks on the house.
I know somewhere along the line I'm going to pay for this.

18 July, 2006

Light blogging for the next few days

I'm heading out of town this evening for points East to attend the AFT Convention. As much as I'd love to provide you with the up-to-the-minute haps on the convention floor, I'll be travelling sans laptop, as the beguiling ms. wobs will need it for working until we replace her D-E-D dead computer. Rest assured, however - I'll be taking notes in a manner more fitting of a Luddite and reporting back to you when I get a chance (read: sponging off the seemingly omnipresent AFT communications room). And if I get the money shot of me and Ted Kennedy, y'all will be the first to know.

In the meantime, I've marked the bottles in the liquor cabinet. No parties. No boys. Your bedtime is still 11 PM.


Yes, this guy did eventually die pulling stunts like this.

Ain't that America

Did Dan Quayle not realize that John Mellencamp was a raging liberal?
According to, ex-VP Dan Quayle attended rocker John Mellencamp's concert, only to hear Mellencamp slag Bush policies during a song break.

Quayle walked out during Mellencamp's rendition of the song "Walk Tall."

Mellencamp told the casino crowd that the song was “dedicated to everyone hurt by policies of the current Bush administration.”
And do we really take artistic criticism seriously from the man (or his proxy, in this instance) who famously criticized the choices of a fictional character?
"Well, I think Mellencamp's performance was not very good to begin with, and the comment put it over the top" said a publicist for Quayle.

17 July, 2006

Post-modern zeitgeist

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David Hasselhoff is whatever you want him to be:
You see, at some point, right around the midpoint of "Baywatch," long after his stint on "Knight Rider," Hasselhoff became the Hasselhoff, and including him puts [America's Got Talent] right where it wants to be, in terms of the balance between camp and … even more camp. If you're going to make a show where someone is going to sit on a judging panel and admit that he's deathly afraid of jugglers, you want it to be David Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff lends everything he touches an air of the surreal, like his very existence has become so ironic that it's no longer clear whether he's just uncool, so uncool that he's cool, or too much of a symbol of "so uncool he's cool" to actually be cool. The Hasselhoff works on a number of levels both hip and square...

Brute expressions

James Wolcott gets to the nub of the argument:
It was an instructive moment, the male prerogative chestily asserting and inserting itself, and a dramatic reminder that although wars and organized violence have their social-national-ethnic-religious-tribal vectors, they are also brute expressions of patriarchal force...male arrogance and insanity sheathed in metal. The mother was sensibly, rationally decrying the cost of conflict on the lives of her children and other civilians, while the older man (a stranger? a relative?--it wasn't clear) was trying to squelch such talk as ignorant and disloyal. He was the stand-in for every other male blowhard (on every side of the debate) who thinks he knows best and loves to hear himself talk tough. Meanwhile, the children are weeping, or being pulled in bloody pieces out of smoking debris.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Two years ago, we had the good fortune of bringing this little person into the world:
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Wee wobs isn't so wee any more, but he's still got the same sense of style he had when he first burst upon the scene:
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Happy number two, l'il wobs.

It's all downhill from here

My parents and grandmother are in town, bless 'em... [Southerner's will recognize the term "bless 'em" as code for "I'm mitigating the damage caused by what follows..."], but I think I've reached the point where I've had enough family fun with the 'rents. I've heard some pretty uncouth politics coming from grandma, but accusing her of bigotry doesn't seem the most tactful of decisions. I mean, it's Grandma!

Just plain old weird. But this too shall pass.

15 July, 2006

Just so you understand

Tucked nicely in a NYT piece discussing how public schools fared vis-à-vis private on Bush's edjumikashun accountability standards (it makes fundamentalist education look pretty bad!), we find this quote:
Joseph McTighe, executive director of the Council for American Private Education, an umbrella organization that represents 80 percent of private elementary and secondary schools, said the statistical analysis had little to do with parents’ choices on educating their children.

"In the real world, private school kids outperform public school kids," Mr. McTighe said. "That’s the real world, and the way things actually are."
Does anyone else want to give this guy a swift kick to the groin?

It's true, in the real world, people who go to private schools do do better in "life." Interesting sociological tidbit: one of the stronger statistical predictors of an individual's income and other socioeconomic attributes is the occupation of his or her father. Indeed, you don't actually have to do well at private school to succeed - if daddy's connected, any coked-up, cheerleading, asshole fratboy can skate through prep school and Yale, dick around in the Air National Guard while his public school peers perish in the jungles, ruin businesses with verging on criminal incompetence and be rewarded with an even bigger job to fuck up, and then become a mad, mad president of the United States.

What a bunch of assholes.

14 July, 2006

I ♥ Mr. T

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Mr. T pities the fool who isn't moved by victims of natural disasters:
Mr. T has given himself a makeover. The former television action star shed the piles of gold chains that were his signature look after witnessing the destruction from Hurricane Katrina.

"As a spiritual man, I felt it would be a sin against my God for me to wear all that gold again because I spent a lot of time with the less fortunate," the actor said Thursday at the Television Critics Association's summer meeting.

"I saw some, I call it `sorry celebrities.' They'll go down there and hook up with the people to take a photo-op. I said, `How disgusting.' If you're not going to go down there with a check and a hammer and a nail to help the people, don't go down there."
Bad. Ass.

Got $20K to burn?

Who the fuck is paying $20 grand to party with someone whose only claim to fame is twice knocking up a teen pop-tart?

I'll take three letter blog-post titles for $600, Alex


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Why, why would the Who - or, if we want to be really honest, the surviving half of the Who - decide to record a new, typically Townshend-esque, "mini-rock opera" album and go on a World Tour to support it?
“I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a tour as much as this one,” Townshend said. “Roger and I are both fit and well, ready to rock.”
No, no, no! They're fit - eating their veggies and getting twenty minutes of vigorous exercise a day, one's to presume - and well, ready to rock?

Why does Pete Townshend sound like he's your Uncle Larry getting back together with his old band, Jada Blade, to play some hard rockin' party tunes down at the Brickhouse? Why?

Live at Leeds rocks! Please, let that comprise our memories of the Who live! Please?!

13 July, 2006


Ever wonder what's happening on the bleeding edge of contemporary, North American nazi intellectualism?

Wonder no more [WARNING: I was serious about the nazi thing - not so much the intellectualism, however]. Bizarre, huh?

Where will the confluence of satanism and national socialism take us? Discuss.

12 July, 2006

Move over Iceland!

I recently mentioned that Iceland had been deemed the happiest place on Earth, much to the dismay of Disney and their copyright attorneys. Another Happy Index takes exception, arguing that the list looks much, much different if you jettison the assumption that the contemporary Western consumerist lifestyle is the absolute pinnacle of human achievement:
The most deservedly happy place on the planet is the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, according to a radical new index published today.


The innovative global measure of progress, the Happy Planet Index, has been constructed by the New Economics Foundation (Nef) and Friends of the Earth using three factors: life expectancy, human wellbeing and damage done via a country's "environmental footprint".

Vanuatu comes top because its people are satisfied with their lot, live to nearly 70 and do little damage to the planet. Zimbabwe takes bottom place in the table. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia, countries that have experienced recent civil upheavals, all feature in the top 10 on the grounds that they do little environmental harm and manage comparatively high levels of satisfaction with life.

The big industrial nations fare badly. The United Kingdom trails in 108th, below Libya, Gabon and Azerbaijan. The US is 150th and Russia is 172nd, near the bottom of the 178 nations for which statistics are available.
You may now commence debating arcane issues of methodology.

Unionism, lit style

A snappy salute to the General for reminding me of this one...

"The Scab," by Jack London:
After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army. The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.

11 July, 2006

Shine on you crazy diamond

Syd Barrett leaves us to explore his Astronomy Domine.

Proving our point for us

Our favorite crazy covers yesterday's massively small and inconsequential protest outside the NYT. Check out what this genius contributes (on a field of puffy clouds, natch):
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In case you can't read the last line, it says, "Times, why don't you publish a NYC subway system map for Al Qaeda?"

How upset will this man be when he discovers that the treasonous bastards at the Metropolitan Transit Authority - the folks who run the subway! - have already made these maps available! The horror!

I'm pretty sure it loses some of its color in translation

Translation of a transcription of what an Italian lip-reader saw, probably being spoken in English:
An Italian lip-reader last night claimed to have deciphered the words Marco Materazzi said to Zinédine Zidane that provoked the French captain into butting him in the chest during Sunday's World Cup final...

According to the BBC, Materazzi said, "I wish an ugly death to you and all your family," and then told Zidane to "go fuck yourself".
Headbutting words, indeed.

08 July, 2006

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

A terrible YouTube war rages between Atrios and the folks at Sadly, No! Tread lightly as you scroll, as the detritus of the pop culture bombs being dropped has claimed many. I bring you images of the carnage and horror [WARNING: some may find these images disturbing]:

God help them.

Is plagiarism all we've got?

Following the links left in your comments can lead to some very interesting places. Aaron Barlow ends a pretty thorough examination of the plagiarism charges levied against Ann Coulter with this:
Plagiarism of the sort Coulter engaged in certainly does need to be pointed out—but the fact of it should not be used to destroy her career or get her thrown off of the papers that carry her.

There are plenty of other reasons for that[emphasis added].
There are plenty of reasons! Like the fact that she knows nothing about many of the things she talks about, like, say... the very basics of the theory of evolution - or that the creationsism she uses to "debunk" Darwin is itself passé in "intellingent design" cults.

Or maybe her career will crumble around her because of her strident eliminationist statements which teeters on the edge of advocating violence against government officials.

Maybe the smear job suggesting that the surviving wives of WTC victims were enjoying the deaths of their husbands...?

No? Not even her bizarre (for a self-identified fundamentalist Christian) fascination, bordering on obsession, with kinky sex?

Apparently, these views get you invited to spend some quality morning network TV time with Matt Lauer, getting chummy on Today. She is not afraid to say these bizarre, outright crazy things to national audiences. And she sells millions of books which somehow influence policy!

But CNN jumps on the plagiarism bit:
From the July 7 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
KING: For weeks now, conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter has sat high on The New York Times best-seller list with her controversial new book. But there's a new controversy brewing -- not about her comments in that book, but the inspiration behind them. Our Brian Todd is here to explain. Hi, Brian.

TODD: Hi, John. New allegations of plagiarism now against the woman who's made a career out of being a lighting rod...
Is this all we've got on her? Is this the only thing that will make people stop and think to themselves, "Hey, Ann Coulter isn't as bang-up a gal as I once thought she was, that copycat?"

And her book isn't controversial. It's complete rubbish, the very essence of sophistry. A great deal of what she writes is at best just wrong, and at worst outright dangerous. Simply put, she's not only not in the mainstream; she's not even in the fucking river.

What's controversial is that someone this crazy is allowed to say these things unchallenged. Ann Coulter has every right to spout off whatever inanities she wants, but we should also expect that someone will call her on her bountiful bullshit.

But folks are all up in arms about plagiarism. The take-home lesson from this, kids, is that as long as you cite your half-baked sources and ideas properly, you can say just about anything you want about your political enemies, and NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox will keep having you on air.

07 July, 2006


Justin Timberlake does not get to compare his sound to David Bowie, David Byrne, or James Brown.


Why do "they" hate us?
After being held for a week in a prison in the mountains of Malawi, Mr. Saidi said, a group of people arrived in a sport utility vehicle: a gray-haired Caucasian woman and five men dressed in black wearing black masks revealing only their eyes.

The Malawians blindfolded him, and his clothes were cut away, he said. He heard someone taking photographs. Then, he said, the blindfold was removed and the agents covered his eyes with cotton and tape, inserted a plug in his anus and put a disposable diaper on him before dressing him. He said they covered his ears, shackled his hands and feet and drove him to an airplane where they put him on the floor.

"It was a long trip, from Saturday night to Sunday morning, " Mr. Saidi recalled. When the plane landed, he said, he was taken to what he described as a "dark prison" filled with deafening Western music. The lights were rarely turned on.

Men in black arrived, he said, and he remembers one shouting at him through an interpreter: "You are in a place that is out of the world. No one knows where you are, no one is going to defend you."


In prison, Mr. Saidi said, he was interrogated daily, sometimes twice a day, for weeks. Eventually, he said, his interrogators produced an audiotape of the conversation in which he had allegedly talked about planes.

But Mr. Saidi said he was talking about tires, not planes, that his brother-in-law planned to sell from Kenya to Tanzania. He said he was mixing English and Arabic and used the word "tirat," making "tire" plural by adding an Arabic "at" sound. Whoever was monitoring the conversation apparently understood the word as "tayarat," Arabic for planes, Mr. Saidi said.

"When I heard it, I asked the Moroccan translator if he understood what we were saying in the recording," Mr. Saidi said. After the Moroccan explained it to the interrogators, Mr. Saidi said, he was never asked about it again.

"Why did they bring me to Afghanistan to ask such questions?" he said in the interview. "Why didn't they ask me in Tanzania? Why did they have to take me away from my family? Torture me?"
And why do we, as citizens, let our government do this in our name? This is not who we are.

You've got to be kidding me

One day, being an incompetent ideologue can land your name on a "think (and I use that term very loosely) tank":
The Board of Directors of The Center for the Study of Popular Culture announced on the Fourth of July that the organization has changed its name to The David Horowitz Freedom Center.


“We decided on a name change for two reasons,” said Board Chairman Jess Morgan. “First, when the Center began, just as the Cold War was ending, we thought that the significant issue of our time would be the political radicalization of popular culture. The culture is still a battleground, but after 9/11, it is clear that freedom itself is under assault from the new totalitarianism: Islamic fascism. Secondly, David Horowitz, the Center’s founder, has become increasingly identified with issues of freedom at home and abroad. We wanted to honor him and also support the efforts he has undertaken. The name change does this and rededicates us to the mission at hand.”

David Horowitz, an important American writer and thinker since the 1960s, has been called “the Left’s most brilliant and articulate nemesis.” He is the author of several books, most recently The Professors, which describes the corruption of American universities by political ideologues. He founded the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in 1988 with the intention of establishing a conservative presence in Hollywood and showing how popular culture had become a political battleground.
Left out, of course, is Horowitz's making shit up to pursue his political agenda, smearing anyone to the left of Dick Cheney, and being a general ass. But hey, there's only so much room on the old CV, right?

Inside SEIU

I found this article over at MRZine written by a young college graduate turned union organizer on his impressions about briefly working for SEIU 1199. The author writes what I think is a very important piece that's worth the read, especially by those who feel that SEIU is the "reform" wing of the labor movement. I'll readily add the caveat that my own union, AFT, certainly has its issues, but I think we come out smelling a lot better than what this kid observes. Funk definitely provides some insights into SEIU's model of organizing, which (as pattyjoe has mentioned before) seems to be throwing organizers at a campaign.

Also, take the time to read the accompanying comments for some interesting insights regarding the role of paid staff in unions. This comment - likely made by a Sternist true believer - in particular rankled my nerves:
Union organizers are not workers. We are not exploited. Members are not a boss. We get the privelage of being supported by the members in order to more effectively fight the boss as an organization.

If you look at organizing as a job then shame on you. Movement building is not a job. Movement building is politics in action.
I hope we're all sick of the tired old trope that unless you're willing to work for next-to-nothing, you're a sell-out. Movement building, contrary to the jackass quoted above, is a job, and it's a fucking hard job that requires massive amounts of time and energy. From my own experience as a local leader, it's difficult for members to do this massive amount of work on top of their paying jobs. That's why unions have paid staff in the first place. Now, the role and scope of paid staff is something that should be discussed and constantly reflected on - there does need to be a balance struck between the professionalism of the staff and union democracy. But to say that anyone who does work for the community, be it union or movement organizing, teaching, or childcare work, should do it for its intrinsic rewards is at best asinine, and at worst reeks of a solipsistic and indulgent leftism that has little to do with actual workers in the real world.

06 July, 2006


Care to explain to me this leap of logic by renowned plagiarist, Ann Coulter?
CALDARA: It's -- it's ridiculous. But even beyond that, particularly when it comes to secondhand smoke, let's just assume that all their studies are correct -- which by the way, they're not -- but let's assume that they are. Adults have the right of free association of the perks of adulthood, and they also have property rights. And if they want to run their business the way they want to run their business, and people want to come to their business and be part of it, that's freedom.

But the intolerance of the religion of the left says no, no, no, no. Free people cannot freely associate around the activities that -- the legal activities -- that they enjoy. Now, if we treated homosexuals the way we treat smokers, they would rightfully be rioting in the streets.

COULTER: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's a great comparison. Because meanwhile, these health fanatics, when it comes to smoking, encourage every form of polymorphous perversity, which, by the way, does have public health consequences -- but no, no, no, no. That -- that -- you know, anal sex and fisting, that's part of our deepest privacy rights.
I don't think Ann has her facts straight here, as I've never seen public health advocates encouraging anal sex or fisting in lieu of a tobacco treat (although these would presumably take one's mind of off a nic fit). I also think she's more than a little off-base conflating these particular sex acts with homosexuality.

But what I really want to know is what's up with Coulter's obsession with fisting?

We've got our priorities straight, go back to sleep

You've got to hand it to the U.S. gummint - they can reel in the crazies on trumped up charges like nobody's business:
Yesterday was the bond hearing for the Seas of David cult, the seven "homegrown terrorists" whose arrest two weeks ago was a shining example of anti-terrorism efforts, according to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The ragtag, kooky group, who all belong to a sect "that mixes Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Freemasonry, Gnosticism and Taoism," had plans to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago, prosecutors say.


That said, the group never got their hands on any real weapons. In fact, they apparently trained by shooting paintball guns in the woods. During their raid of the group's Temple, a windowless warehouse, FBI agents found only one knife and a blackjack.

How did the group show up on the FBI's radar? It's unclear, but from the Miami Herald's reporting of the hearing, it sounds like the group's leader, Narseal Batiste, went down to his local 7-11 to "obtain financial and military support." I'm not kidding.
Meanwhile, as the grown-ups roll their eyes:
The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.

The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.
Nice to know where our priorites are, kids.

Uh, yeah...

As clever as K-Fed thinks he might be, we'll still be laughing at him:
...KEVIN FEDERLINE's debut single POPOZAO was a joke, according to the dancer/rapper. Federline claims he released the track to capitalise on the fact people were laughing at him - but he got the last laugh as the curious flocked to his website to hear the tune. He says, "At first, when I put out PopoZao, people were kinda laughing at me. I did it on purpose so people would look at me exactly the way they did. That way, when I come out with my real s**t, people are f**king blown away."

05 July, 2006

Impeccable logic

From the comments at Think Progress:
The real reason global warming is happening is that as the left continues to pull our culture further and further away from its judeo-christian base, Earth resembles hell more and more. And Hell is full of flames, so its hotter there. Can’t argue with science like that.
Can't argue indeed.

When pharmacists take a holiday

via Glenn Greenwald and tbogg

Be forewarned: if you watch this vlog, you will not be able to get the corresponding five minutes of your life back - they're gone forever. However, if you want to see what reading Ayn Rand does to an already impoverished mind, please take a gander.

It's up to us to feel embarrassed for her.

04 July, 2006

Someone's off his meds again

How David Horowitz became the right-wing "go-to guy" on higher education is a mystery to me. The man can barely express a coherent thought. His response to the recent contrived controversy surrounding the NYT's publication of photos of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsefeld's vacation homes barely makes sense. Let's take the last paragraph:
The main security concern in my mind in writing the piece was not al-Qaeda but deranged cranks whipped into a frenzy by the reckless hatred directed at the Bush Administration by the left from Michael Moore and Huffington Post to Ted Kennedy and Al Gore.
So let's be clear: Horowitz isn't worried in the least about the folks who managed to crash multiple passenger jets into buildings, but he can barely sleep knowing someone might be a bit angry after seeing Al Gore's Powerpoint presentation - I mean movie - and motivated to take action. Does that qualify as whipped into a frenzy? Am I to believe that the man who was described in 2000 as "wooden" and "boring" is now stoking the revolutionary aspirations of *ahem* Democrats? But little Davey H. is just gettin' warmed up!
Anyone remember John Muhammad, the DC sniper? So far as we know, he a lone individual ginned up on the passions of the times.
Did I miss something in this trial? Honestly, because I really wasn't paying it much attention - did Horowitz assert that John Muhammed and his accomplice went on a killing spree after viewing Farenheit 9/11 or reading a particularly snarky Harry Shearer post at HuffPo? No? I'll let Dave clarify what he means:
For those who don’t catch my meaning, consider this email I received today – one among many that I receive virtually every day:
Okay, so apparently David Horowitz receives e-mail on a daily basis. Apparently one of them is a fairly nasty screed against Israel, going so far as to wish for the Iranian president to succeed in his wish to annihilate the Israelis. Whether he receives a lot of e-mails like this is unclear from his ramblings. Nor is it clear that isn't a clever troll feeding Horowitz's nasty outrage habit.

And really, it isn't clear what that e-mail has to do with John Muhammed. Was he driving around the DC area killing Jews? Were the random acts of violence he perpetrated expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people? Is Horowitz saying that because I think he's a complete dingbat and that the Bush Administration is a bunch negligent, corrupt nincompoops, I'm going to go out and start shooting random passers-by?

What the fuck is this man talking about?

And again, why are the big money conservatives like the Scaifes funding this guy? If they're going to try to combat the big, mean liberals in higher education, wouldn't they want someone who could win an argument with a second grader?

03 July, 2006


Sy Hersh has another outstanding piece in the New Yorker on the Bush Administration's fascination with Iran - a definite must read.

A couple of things: all of Hersh's sources talk with an eerie sense of certainty, discussing what will happen when Iran is brought into compliance with the dictates of the "international community."

This sense of certainty is amplified a hundredfold when I read statements like this:
A retired American diplomat, who has experience in the Gulf, confirmed that the Qatari government is “very scared of what America will do” in Iran, and “scared to death” about what Iran would do in response. Iran’s message to the oil-producing Gulf states, the retired diplomat said, has been that it will respond, and “you are on the wrong side of history.”
Being on the right side of history. When I was still a kid - probably up until I went to college - I used to have this sense of being on the "good" or "right" side of history.

Then I learned that history is a bloody complex affair, and what once seemed like a clear moral struggle between the forces of good and evil becomes an ambiguous affair tainted by foibles and fanaticisms of humanity.

So it really bothers me to see this sort of certainty, this ability to label one's self as "good" (simultaneously downgrading their enemy to "evil" or "sub-human" status). These appeals to a grand narrative of history are pervading the policy decisions of both the Bush Administration and the Iranian regime, and they obscure what should be the real issue. I'm down with nuclear non-proliferation and making sure that Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons (I'm also in favor of the United States working to eradicate its own nuclear arsenal). Let's do everyone a favor and genuinely talk about and work on non-proliferation. A nuclear weapons program can be bargained. You can't, on the other hand, negotiate a final settlement between "Good" and "Evil."

Getting what one so richly deserves

Amanda at Pandagon puts our all-grown-up Wonkette back in her place.

There are scores of talented writers on the blogs, some who even match Ana Marie Cox in the, shall we say, "sassy" factor. The print media choosing the most vapid of the bunch to comment on politics pretty much sums up their "style-over-substance" method of social commentary.

02 July, 2006

This is not progress

Dear god:
The explosion on Saturday morning, in the sprawling Sadr City district, ignited dozens of cars around the marketplace and sent a thick column of smoke above the skyline of eastern Baghdad, framing minarets in the foreground.

Ambulances raced through streets littered with smashed apple crates and wrecked stalls to carry wailing victims to nearby hospitals. As firefighters struggled to hose down the flames, Shiite militiamen tried to coax angry mobs of onlookers to leave, fearing that another bomb would go off. A tarpaulin covered the body of a donkey in a pool of blood. Children threw rocks at American and Iraqi soldiers who drove up in Humvees. One American soldier pointed an assault rifle with a grenade launcher at the children to scare them off. Men and boys screamed slurs about the Americans and the new Iraqi government.