Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

30 November, 2006

On comedy

James Wolcott has an interesting meditation on comedy up at his Vanity Fair blog. I'd have to agree with his assessment of improv comedy: improv never seems consistent enough to carry a full sitcom-length television. An improv actor carrying a show, sure, but a show premised around a whole ensemble improvising does not sound compelling.

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The view from abroad

If I'm reading this right, the President of Iran thinks that we Americans are civil liberty-loving, anti-Semitic evangelicals who vote for secular liberals.


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We won't have Bill Frist to kick around anymore:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced yesterday that he will not run for president in 2008, saying that he plans to "take a sabbatical from public life" and return to his Tennessee home and professional roots as a doctor.


Frist began to lose some of that aura after a series of politically damaging events, including an on-going investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into allegations of insider trading in his sale of shares in HCA Inc., a hospital chain founded by his father and his brother. The sale was completed just weeks before the company issued an earnings estimate that fell short of analysts' expectations, causing a drop in HCA's stock price.

Frist has also faced questions about his role on the board of a charitable foundation that paid consulting fees to some of his close political allies.

Last year, Frist injected himself into the legislative drama over Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged and bedridden Florida woman who died after her husband decided to have her feeding tube removed, despite congressional efforts to reverse his decision.

After viewing a videotape of the woman, Frist, a surgeon, publicly questioned the diagnosis that said Schiavo would never recover. That action was widely viewed as a sop to religious conservatives. An autopsy later proved Frist wrong.
So much material to work with, gone.

Also, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) is in.

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Is this really all you've got

George Will takes it upon himself to defuse teh Bomb that is Jim Webb, and in doing so, fails miserably:
Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency.

So, what you're saying is, is that Jim Webb is a big meanie? He's rude? Uh, okay.
Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.

One parent to another? Really? To me it looks like a smug National Guard party boy whose daughters are embarrassing themselves in Argentina trying to play good ole boy with a Vietnam veteran whose son is risking his life to prosecute party boy's ill-conceived war. When the person who is irresponsibly putting your child in harm's way is standing right in front of you pretending to make nice-nice, protocol be damned.
When -- if ever -- Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a "leader" who carefully calibrates the "symbolic things" he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.

Is he talking about Karl Rove & Co.?

In his novels and his political commentary, Webb has been a writer of genuine distinction, using language with care and precision. But just days after winning an election, he was turning out slapdash prose that would be rejected by a reasonably demanding high school teacher.

Oh, dear lord. Please, George Will, please tell me you're going to focus on the substance of his arguments about social inequality and not on lapses in stylistic judgment?
Never mind Webb's careless and absurd assertion that the nation's incessantly discussed wealth gap is "the least debated" issue in American politics.

And never mind his use of the word "literally," although even with private schools and a large share of the nation's wealth, the "top tier" -- whatever cohort he intends to denote by that phrase; he is suddenly too inflamed by social injustice to tarry over the task of defining his terms -- does not "literally" live in another country.


So, there you have it from George Will. Jim Webb is no fun at ginned-up state functions and is given to hyperbole. He's not going to be invited to D.C. cocktail parties, so Virginians like, totally shouldn't want him as their senator.

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29 November, 2006

I like this guy

From page 1 of November 29's WaPo:
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.


"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."


I know that Jim Webb and I have some pretty substantial disagreements on social issues, but between his recent pointed critique of class inequality (for a mainstream politician, no less!) and his willingness to tell George W. Bush to go fuck himself, I kinda like this guy.

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Game on

Boston radio host Michael Graham talked with Tucker Carlson today about Mitt Romney's presidential prospects in 2008. His comments got interesting:
From the November 27 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Wait a second, you have to get past, as you just said, you have to get past all those South Carolina primary voters in the Republican primary. I didn't go to Oral Roberts [University], but last time I checked, evangelicals considered Mormonism not a species of Christianity, but a cult. They don't like it at all. That's not a problem?

GRAHAM: And the last time I checked, evangelicals didn't consider Judaism a form of Christianity either, and yet Joe Lieberman is wildly popular --

CARLSON: Very good point.

GRAHAM: -- and is probably the most popular Democrat among Southern Republicans. In the modern era, it is not one religion versus another. In the modern era, where the media is anti-religious, where people feel like Christmas itself is under assault, and where anytime someone of faith stands up, they're called rubes and rednecks and idiots and Christianists -- the line here is for God and against God. And anybody who's on God's team, with the possible exception of Islam right now, everybody is on -- that's on the God team will be welcomed by Southern Republican voters.

CARLSON: That is, I think, a really smart point about Joe Lieberman. Michael Graham, thank you very much.

My first remark is, of course, bosh. Tell me that a socially conservative person of Central Asian descent who is an openly devout Sikh will be acceptable to a Southern Republican. A white guy who shares at least some of the same holy texts as you, sure, but someone whose religious practices seem foreign (despite the presence of remarkable similarities in core beliefs), no.

More remarkable, however, is the importance that Mr. Graham gives to the "Southern Republican." In one respect, this archetypal voter is important: to win the GOP presidential, you have to appeal to Southern Republicans and their (dwindling) allies in other regions. On the other hand, the last election made fairly clear that a good chunk of the people outside of the South - people who've witnessed six years of one-party rule by Southern Republicans - don't want anyone acceptable to social conservatives in Dixie anywhere near the levers of government. They scare us.

So, if the Republicans want to put up a candidate who plays to their regional base in the South, I say go for it. If Southern conservatives want to support folks who want the government involved in the most intimate aspects of their lives, let 'em. The rest of us will find candidates who reject the bigoted moral authoritarianism of the confederate Elmer Gantrys.


28 November, 2006

If a tree falls in the forest and nothing hears it...

Holy crap:
Malachi Ritscher envisioned his death as one full of purpose.

He carefully planned the details, mailed a copy of his apartment key to a friend, created to-do lists for his family. On his Web site, the 52-year-old experimental musician who’d fought with depression even penned his obituary.

At 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 — four days before an election caused a seismic shift in Washington politics — Ritscher, a frequent anti-war protester, stood by an off-ramp in downtown Chicago near a statue of a giant flame, set up a video camera, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire.

Aglow for the crush of morning commuters, his flaming body was supposed to be a call to the nation, a symbol of his rage and discontent with the U.S. war in Iraq.

“Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country,” he wrote in his suicide note. “... If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country.”

There was only one problem: No one was listening.
I didn't see this in any of the major dailies that I read (the Sun-Times had this little blurb) nor any of the major blogs that I frequent(Technorati shows that smaller blogs, especially Chicago-area blogs, were buzzing about it).

It just seems to me that this gruesome, desperate act of martyrdom in opposition to the war merits a little bit more of a mention than it's received.

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Any remaining doubts that the credibility of the Bush Administration is hovering around zero should be put to rest with an observation buried in this article:
Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats. The visit was originally portrayed as U.S. outreach to its oil-rich Arab ally.
When the leaders of "the most powerful nation in the world"™ are being summoned to the courts of other world leaders and being lectured about the mess they've made, it might be time to re-visit our attitude vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

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Adding it up

According to one report, the Shia ascendency (and rising Iranian influence) are driving Sunni Iraqis into Al Qaeda's waiting arms. In another report, President Bush says that we'll do everything possible to root out Al Qaeda. Given that Salafist, Wahhabist, and Al Qaeda are all code for Sunni, I'm left with a sinking feeling that in Iraq's civil war, we're picking sides.

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One step forward, two steps back

Many on the left look at the nations of Latin America for inspiration and hope, given the general leftward tilt of the region over the last six years. However, it also remains a profoundly patriarchal culture...:
With the exception of Cuba, every nation in this predominantly Catholic region either totally prohibits abortion or limits it to extreme circumstances. And while the global trend over the past decade has been to liberalize abortion laws, efforts to do so in Latin America have been met by an equally determined campaign to strengthen them further.
... and such a culture has consequences:
Jazmina Bojorge arrived at Managua's Fernando Vélez Paiz Hospital on a Tuesday evening, nearly five months pregnant and racked with fever and abdominal pain. By the following Thursday morning, both the pretty 18-year-old and the female fetus in her womb were dead.

The mystery of what happened during the intervening 36 hours might not ordinarily have catapulted Bojorge into the headlines of a nation with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere.

But a week before her death on Nov. 2, Nicaragua's legislature had voted to ban all abortions, eliminating long-standing exceptions for rape, malformation of the fetus and risk to the life or health of the mother. Now, outraged opponents of the legislation have declared Bojorge its first victim.

"It's clear that fear of punishment kept the doctors from doing what they needed to do to save her -- which was to abort the pregnancy immediately," said Juanita Jiménez of the Women's Autonomous Movement, an advocacy group that is leading the campaign to reverse the ban. "This is exactly what we warned would happen if this law was passed. We've been taken back to the Middle Ages."

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Not looking so hot

If the goal was to completely destabilize the Middle East, the Bush administration has hit it out of the park, judging from these headlines:
  • Going... - U.S. and European policies may be damaging to Turkey's secular traditions.
  • Going... - militias local to Muqtada al Sadr have received training from Hezbollah militants in Lebanon (yet another deteriorating situation). I don't think this really surprises anyone too much: al Sadr has consciously modeled the Mahdi Army on Hezbollah. Early on in the Iraqi conflict we saw militias loyal to al Sadr filling the vacuum left by the collapse of Saddam's regime with the provision of security and social services in Sadr City.
  • Gone. - The U.S. has lost the fight in western Iraq, according to a Marine Corps report.

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Snowy Monday playlist

As I write this, a substantial (by Eugene standards) bit of snow lies on the ground, meaning my bike commute tomorrow will be, erm... interesting. So here we go!
  • James and Wes - Wes Montgomery
  • Au Grand Jour' - Stereolab
  • Dear Someone - Gillian Welch
  • I Shook Hands - the Minutemen
  • I'm Looking Through You - the Beatles
  • Instrumental - Pavement
  • Comanche - Cake
  • Clash City Rockers - the Clash
  • Concierto de Aranjuez - Miles Davis
  • Carnival - Tom Waits
And your ice cold bonus #11:
  • Love You Better - Walt Mink


27 November, 2006

Why do we have to take David Horowitz seriously?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question. But honestly, the man makes shit up, as seen in this fun- and fact-filled takedown of his visit to Bloomsburg University. A sampling:

Horowitz writes:

One of the students, Jason Boyer, told me that he had been given a final exam in political science by Professor Diane Zoelle which included a required essay on the topic: Explain Why the War in Iraq is Morally Wrong. For the record, I don't have the exam in front of me and therefore this wording may be imprecise. However, Jason told me that he had to write that the Iraq War was wrong. Instead he wrote that it was right. He got a "D."

There is no Jason Boyer here. Rather, there is a Jason Walter, as Horowitz will say below, but he isn't the one who claims to have taken the exam. It is another student, X (as I will call him), who claims this. Keep in mind that X took Dr. Zoelle's class back in 2003. She has shown me the exam and it is not what the student or Horowitz reports. It is an exam with several sections, two of which are essay sections. The exam questions deal specifically with texts studied in the course. They represent scholarly topics in the field of political ideology (this was a course in political ideology), and are not expressions of the professor's personal beliefs. No question on the exam asks students to explain why the war in Iraq is morally wrong.

Students were required to choose one question topic from each essay section-the first section listed about four questions, the second listed about six. If the student was offended by a question, he could have chosen to answer another. He was not REQUIRED to answer any particular question. (As an aside, I showed X the exam and asked him if this is what he was referring to when talking with Horowitz. Now that three years have passed, the student said that he now doesn't find the question inappropriate-amazing what three years of study will do! To be sure, he remembers being offended when taking the exam three years ago, but now he sees that this may have something to do with his having then misunderstood the material or the nature of the course.)

Can we please stop treating Horowitz as a credible voice about, well... anything?

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Post #667: Punk Rock Monday

I've always had a difficult time reconciling Blondie with the "punk" label, despite their coming out of the Bowery scene in NYC during the 70s. I can, however, appreciate the subversion of the 50s women's rock 'n roll idiom with a decidedly Lower East Side aesthetic (I actually enjoy this doo-wop-esque sound more than "Heart of Glass" era disco-infused Blondie). And, let's face it: there's no sexier woman in rock than Deborah Harry.

"In The Flesh"

"X Offender"


26 November, 2006

Post #666

The Blogger tells me that this is my 666th post here at medulla noodle. Understanding that this blog wouldn't be the titan of blogospheric opining that it is without a midnight visit to the crossroads, I want to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to the Dark Lord who made all of this possible:
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Here's to you, Prince of Evil.

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25 November, 2006

Riddle me this

Okay. When did everyone in the media take to calling the Friday after Thanksgiving "black Friday?"


All the king's horses and all the king's men...

From an incredibly detailed dispatch describing the anarchy that has reigned since the 2003 invasion comes this inescapable conclusion - Iraq is broken:
Rather than remaking the Middle East, the Iraq war has destabilized it. Sunnis throughout the region who already have so many reasons to hate the United States—Abu Ghraib, the Haditha massacre, the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl, Guantánamo—would now have one more, for the Americans would have handed Iraq over to the Shias. We are seeing the death throes, not the birth pangs, of a new Middle East.

The Bush administration persists in its assertions of progress and clings to the idea that something called victory is possible. What victory? By every measure, life is worse for the Iraqis (leaving aside the Kurds, who don’t want to be Iraqis anyway). They are dying by the dozens or the hundreds every day—nobody even knows how many, since the Anbar province and much of the south, and even much of Baghdad, are black holes, with no information coming out. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died violently since the war began, probably eclipsing the number of Saddam’s victims. The ministry of health was recently ordered again not to disclose the number of casualties. The United Nations’ torture expert has stated that torture in Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam. Over 1.5 million Iraqis have fled their country, to Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, and in late 2006 one European official in Syria estimated that up to 3,000 Iraqis a day were fleeing into that country.

SCIRI’s calls for a Shia superstate have grown more strident, and Sunnis have made their own demands. Already in March 2006 Harith al Dhari reminded the rest of Iraqis that Sunnis had means of their own available: just as there was oil in the south, there was water in the center and the north, and it could be held off until “the barrel of water in the south was worth a barrel of oil,” or it could flood the south and drown it. More recently, maps have been circulating on Sunni Iraqi Web sites showing an enlarged Anbar province including Baghdad, Mosul, and the so-called Sunni Triangle in a large Sunni superstate. Iraqi comedians joke about different neighborhoods of Baghdad becoming their own republics. Iraq is dying, falling apart.

America did this to Iraq. We divided Iraqis. We set them at war with each other. The least we can do is stop killing them and leave Iraq.

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22 November, 2006

Screaming for a caption

Photo by AP
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All right wiseguys. Have at.


Useless trivia

Twenty years ago, when I was in the 7th grade at Robertsville Junior High School, I had a social studies teacher named Mr. Charles Napier. He was a short man (I was shorter) whose breath always smelled of coffee and tobacco smoke and who wore dark, wet stains in the armpits of his dull yellow button-down shirt - short-sleeved. Sixth period with Mr. Napier was significant, that twelfth year of my life, for two reasons.

Reason #1: In early fall, we did a group exercise - I vaguely recall it having something to do with a problematic lunar expedition, a bunch of supplies, and having to prioritize which supplies to save and which to leave behind. The first order of business was to choose a leader. I, having done a whole lot of "research" on the Apollo moon landings for my sixth grade TACL class, asserted my claim to the role, being something of an expert, as it were, on being on the moon. I was challenged by a young woman, a transfer from the Catholic school, who maintained that her taking algebra in the seventh grade (when most "above average*" students didn't enroll until the eighth grade) made her the superior candidate for the position. She, of course, won, the quadratic formula being far more useful than knowing about the fucking moon!

Yeah, it's as dorky as it sounds, but thus began one of those awkward teen friendships complicated by surging hormones, consummated only in the awkward negotiation of dealing with the stirrings down below while slow dancing at the 8th grade prom and in a classic "first-summer-home-from-college" drunken make-out session.

But back to Mr. Napier's social studies class...

Reason #2: Mr. Napier was big on pushing the study skills. He made us turn in pages full of "bug notes," where bug bodies (central ideas) had legs (supporting facts). His most pedagogically sophisticated trick was a way of demonstrating the efficacy of repetition. Because of this man, Charles Napier, I am saddled with an otherwise meaningless piece of trivia, a scrap of knowledge that is peculiar to a whole generation of children who passed through this man's classroom. I can tell you, with no uncertainty, that the first American officer killed by a bomb in World War I was none other than First Lieutenant W.T. Fitzsimmons of the American Expeditionary Force. A quick Google search of the name turns up this site:
The first individuals killed by the enemy were Lt. W.T. Fitzsimmons, Pvt. Oscar Tugo, Pvt. Rudolph Rubino and Pvt. Leslie Woods. They were killed in an air raid when bombs fell on Base Hospital No. 5 near Dannes-Camiers, September 4, 1917.
Mr. Napier infused this into our skulls by repeating the name three time, making us write it three times, saying it three times... you get the picture. Then he gave us the mental image of pounding on a mattress, having "fits" on your "Simmons" mattress. Clever, huh?

So there's your blog post for the evening. Hope you can handle the unrequitted love and mental scarring vibe we've go going on. Wallowing in early adolescence for a while might be kind of fun!

* Try parsing what that particular construct signifies at a public school in Tennessee!


21 November, 2006

Portfolio envy

I guess I'm to pity those for whom half billion dollar tech deals aren't enough to assuage their egos. I suppose it makes all my professional grunt-based hatred towards the rich seem kinda petty, doesn't it?


20 November, 2006

Slime time sweeps

Now that O.J. Simpson has crawled out from under his rock, we get to deal with a whole resurgence of unsavory characters from that era. Remember racist cop Mark Fuhrman?:
On the November 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, former Los Angeles Police Department detective and Fox News contributor Mark Fuhrman asserted that the type of "people" he "dealt with ... for 20 years" will "kill somebody and go have some chicken at KFC. You will catch them eating chicken and drinking a beer after they just murdered three people." Fuhrman added that "these people are out there. They're all over the place." Fuhrman's comments came during a discussion about O.J. Simpson's controversial new book, If I Did It (ReganBooks), to be released at the end of the month, and upcoming Fox special about the book, in which Simpson apparently describes, hypothetically, how he would have murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Glad to know he's spent the last 10 years engaged in self-reflection and personal improvement.

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Punk Rock Monday

I'm phoning it in tonight. The Clash playing "I Fought the Law":

And "Police & Thieves":

Punk Rock Monday changes lives! Reader and friend v mentioned that last week's PRM turned him on to the Meat Puppets - a small gift to a person who has hands down introduced me to more music than anyone else. He, of course, promptly turned around and gave me a recording of Curt Kirkwood's Volcano, an obscure release he found on a fan website (?). Good stuff all around.


Fly in the ointment

In an otherwise hokey bit on "the sounds of transition" in the halls of Congress, this:
And then, a cough from behind a stained oak door. A fan. A click of a mouse. Then Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) walks into his office. And you pose the question to him about how to hear change. "There are a lot more discussions," he says.

Into his office push three teenagers dressed in jeans and working for Lyndon LaRouche. "We are going around promoting the policy of double impeachment," one says. "We want Bush and Cheney out in one fell swoop." The receptionist tells them somebody will call them back later.

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19 November, 2006

If it looks like a duck

Quack, quack:
President Bush attended meetings Saturday aimed at turning up the pressure to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons but failed to convince South Korea that it should fully implement U.N. sanctions against its northern neighbor.

Looks like someone's lost his mojo.
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18 November, 2006


via digby

Ed Meese was an Attorney General of the United States - the highest law enforcement post in the country. He is credited with developing the legal foundations of a constitutional legal doctrine to which three current members of the Supreme Court subscribe.

The man is an intellectual midget.

Dear god.


17 November, 2006


It's exceedingly difficult to eat yogurt with a fork. Just thought you should know.


'Tis the season for edible abominations

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This is the first Thanksgiving since I've lived in Eugene where an invited guest to a feast we're hosting hasn't queried, "So, who's bringing the Tofurkey?" As we speak, Tofurkey's are currently taking up valuable shelf space in supermarkets that might otherwise be useful in stocking food products that are actually edible. Now I don't have anything against the much-maligned tofu. I eat it often and find it to be a really versatile source of protein. Indeed, I can't imagine a nice Thai green curry without it.

But Tofurkey is a crime. They've taken a perfectly acceptable soy product, added a horrible fake turkey taste to it, and cooked it to a consistency that resembles a pencil eraser. On top of that, this foul slab of processed soy has the unpleasant personal associations of relationships past. So to my vegetarian and vegan brothers and sisters out there: there are plenty of lovely recipes out there for some absolutely outstanding tofu roasts which would make a wonderful turkey substitute for your Thanksgiving spread. Please, please, please cook one of these rather than shelling out your hard earned $20 for that culinary abomination that is the Tofurkey.

I will, however, say that the tempeh drumettes are delectable.


A modest (but improbable) proposal

Dave and the gang at The Bellman got me thinking about the nature of our moral obligation to Iraq. I'm pretty firmly in the "withdrawal sooner rather than later" camp, but do have a certain amount of sympathy to the argument that because we've fucked that country up, we should have to fix it. And it seems that in order to fix Iraq, we'd have to dramatically escalate the number of troops there (ours or someone else's) in order to provide a secure environment in which a political settlement could be reached.

Fine, problem is no one trusts the people who are prosecuting the war - not the men and women in the military, not the American public, not the international community, not the Iraqi people. No one. The people of the United States, and of any foreign nation who might be asked to help, have every right to say no to throwing more lives into the Iraq meatgrinder based on the performance of the Bush Administration. We simply have no confidence in them. They've repeatedly lied, they were incompetent in their prosecution of the war, and they've dragged the world into a very, very dark place. Why should they be allowed to keep fighting this war?

Again, however, an unstable Iraq is a potential disaster for the entire Middle East, with effects that would ripple far beyond the region. And while I've argued that the U.S. presence isn't helping the situation, I can certainly see how a rapid withdrawal leaves a vacuum in which millions of lives could be lost. Preventing that, to me, is a compelling reason to stay.

So here it is - if Bush is really sincere about wanting to stabilize Iraq and facilitate a political settlement, here are the conditions that must be met:
  • The mission is framed explicitly in these goals, and any foreign troops leave as soon as they are asked to by the (hopefully solvent) Iraqi government. No permanent bases. No military advisors. We get out, and that's that.
  • A full accounting of the run-up to and prosecution of the war must be had in order to re-establish any sort of public and international trust in the mission, and the Bush administration must be willing to abide by the findings of this investigation. That means rooting out the war criminals amongst the civilian leadership and military brass who pushed an illegal war, approved of torture, etc. etc. That means discussing the real reasons why the Iraq invasion was pushed - geopolitics, oil, world domination, whatever. A full and complete accounting, with the people responsible removed from power and held accountable. Nothing less.
  • An international coalition (preferably mostly non-Western) is brought in to help provide security and mediate.
So there's my scenario for a plan - the only plan - I'd support for maintaining or increasing our involvement in Iraq. Pie in the sky, I know. Bushco will never agree to that. Rumsfeld will go quietly into the night. The generals who toed the line in order suck up to their civilian masters will quietly collect their pensions. But I will go on record as saying that with the current bunch in power, there is no way that the mess in Iraq will be resolved.

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Miscegenated totalitarianisms

I had no intention of learning about a mutant political party that blends fascism and Stalinism this evening, but I did. And for a change, we're not even going to be focusing on our own homegrown lunatic fringe. Fact of the matter is, there's a whole world full of dangerously wacky wingnuts out there that really do warrant our getting to know. And so, with this post, we'll start that process, learning about our fine feathered friends in Russia.

It began with my glimpsing of a photo featured in this spread in the WaPo:

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Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Before reading the caption, my immediate reaction was "student radical." The guy being dragged away by the police looks like Ché, and he has the self-satisfied demeanor of the bonghit revolutionary who's just provoked his first first confrontation with authority in the name of "the People," but before he's gotten his ass kicked by the cops. Not too dissimilar from footage I've seen of Chicago in 1968. Then I glanced at the caption:
Nov 7: Policemen arrest a member of the Russian National Bolshevik Party during a rally commemorating the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in St. Petersburg. The radical party was outlawed in June.
"National Bolshevism," you say? That has a familiar ring to it now, doesn't it? And I see the hammer and sickle displayed on flags in the background there - but not in the manner I remember. But again - it's kind of like déjà vu... I know I've seen that somewhere before! Maybe a better picture will help:

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The party believes in the creation of a grand empire that will include the whole of Europe and Russia to be governed under Russian dominance. The party is vehemently anti-American and sees the creation of this 'Eurasia' as an essential counterbalance to American global domination. However, [...] the NBP [has] diminished the importance of its geo-political agenda in favor of a national one, concentrating on the defense of Russian minorities in the former USSR republics and the opposition to the political regime in Russia.

Oh, National Bolshevism! I get it!

I feel no need to delve into any sort of theoretical discussion of this crew's ideology. Wingnuttery speaks for itself. But I do want to draw attention to this photo I found which combines self-conscious imitation with a shrewd grasp of how to market the movement:

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This photo is the digital age equivalent German propaganda during the Nazi era - the heroic pose, the attractive example of racial purity, and the militant style of dress are carbon copies of Nazi imagery:

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Also note how deftly the National Bolshevik photo appeals to what I imagine is its core demographic. What angry, nationalist, working-class male, aged 18-34 wouldn't want to join a party with hot, racially pure women like that as members!

Neo-fascism has been rearing its ugly head up in Europe more as of late, but this is by far one of the more bizarre permutations I've seen.


16 November, 2006

Music to plan your meal by

I'm putting together ye olde Thanksgiving feastravaganza. And making the thoughts oh so much more delicious, behold:
  • Teo - Miles Davis
  • Hose - Alice Donut
  • Raga Kaushi Kanada: Bhajana (Tala Rupaka) - Lakshmi Shanker & S. Nageshkar
  • 12XU - Wire
  • Sonnymoon For Two - Sonny Rollins
  • Velvet Goldmine - David Bowie
  • Million Dollars - Thinking Fellers Union Local #282
  • Heart of Mine (Live) - Bob Dylan
  • Champagne and Reefer - Dickens
  • I Fall in Love Too Easily - Miles Davis
And like a scoop of vanilla ice cream is to a piece of warm apple pie, so your bonus #11 is to this Miles Davis sandwich of a playlist:
  • D.'s Car Jam/Anxious Mo-Fo - the Minutemen
Ah, good ole bonus #11. We all know the importance of Track 1 on an album, and "D.'s Car Jam/Anxious Mo-Fo" is one of the all time greats. Other favorite Track 1s I have are "Silent Kit" leading off Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Beck's "Loser," and just about every Beatles album has a picture-perfect lead-off track.

Got any favorite Track 1s? Perhaps a Track 1 Playlist?



Local network coverage of the Ohio State-Michigan game is being pre-empted so we can watch the Ducks play Arizona? Are you fucking kidding me?


Unserious people in the Academy

Atrios has a link to a recently released study about women academics (with a bent, I take, towards those in the natural sciences).

On top of his points, which I've also witnessed, I'd add that similar pressures exist for male academics who might actually, I don't know, want to be involved in an equal partnership in raising their children (though not at the same intensity with which they burden women). I think ms. wobs and I were pretty lucky to have l'il wobs when I was still in grad school and she was working part-time. It gave me a chance to spend a lot of time in his formative years (as well as saved on childcare costs). But forget about making any sort of progress on my degree. It took me a year to take a comprehensive exam during that period. It also affected my research - I shifted the focus of my dissertation research in order to work with family-friendly professors, academics who themselves were more marginalized in our department.

Add to this the stress of raising a child on the combined incomes of a graduate employee and an adjunct writing professor at a community college, and you have a significant part of the cocktail that induced me to leave academia.

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15 November, 2006

Bang for your buck

digby has a must-read post discussing the conservative consensus. Even though progressives won the day last Tuesday, we still operate in an environment that has been shaped for the last 40+ years by conservatives:
The Republicans may have finally jumped the shark, after failing so dramatically at governance, but they have inculcated their thinking so thoroughly into people's minds that many people don't even know it. The way most people think about government, and the vocabulary they all use, comes from the Republican playbook. It's going to take a huge effort to get people thinking about it in new ways. (There are a lot of smart people working on that, thank goodness.)

But right now, we are stuck in the same old groove:
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said reviving several popular business and middle-class tax breaks that expired at the end of 2005 will be at the top of his party's agenda when Congress returns next week for a postelection session.
It's not that I don't want to see middle class families and small businesses have some more money in their pockets. I do. I haven't looked at the economic implication of these tax reductions and maybe they even make sense. But I'm pretty sure this is simple politics (and undoubtedly good politics) in which the Democrats prove their tax-cutting bonafides to the constituency both parties need --- the middle class. In today's political climate, you aren't delivering, if you aren't delivering "tax relief."

That's as true blue Republican as you can get. And at some point Democrats are going to have to start rolling this back and making the case that delivering for the middle class means providing the safety net and provision for the less fortunate that allows average Americans the freedom to take risks and fuel our dynamic economy --- like taking new jobs or starting a new business. Tax cuts are like candy --- they taste good, but the individual middle class worker and her family doesn't get nearly the nutritious bang for the buck that the safety net and government programs do. Liberals and progressives need to start changing the political dialog in ways that talk about risk management and security and fair trade and wage growth --- things we really believe in and which can make an affirmative, lasting difference in people's lives.


My first suggestion for this new vocabulary isn't really mine, but a reader's from some time back who pointed out my use of the term "tax burden" was an example of unthinking adoption of conservative rhetoric. He was right. He suggested that we start talking about it as "paying the bills" something that everyone understands. I think that makes sense. You can't blow smoke in people's faces by trying to tell them that taxes are "good." That's dreaming. But everyone knows that we have to pay the bills and our bill for the services we get --- national defense, social security for the disabled and elderly, medical research, roads and bridges,air traffic control, clean air and water, veterans benefits and on and on and on aren't free. It's a bill that has to be paid for both the individual and common good.
I've always thought that the current anti-tax mood of the American public was more a misguided desire for efficiency. The current ideological consensus posits that the free market is always more efficient than the government spending, therefore tax dollars are wasted on programs which might be more effectively handled by the private sector. This is the Republican mantra that has been repeated so many times that it's taken on the sheen of actual truth.

Now, it's true that the free market does allocate some goods better than others. I'm personally grateful that I have a choice of products to choose from when it comes to bicycles, computers, automobiles, etc. In these instances, the free market seems to work fairly efficiently (though not perfectly) in delivering the right goods for the right price.

For social goods like health care or education, on the other hand, the free market is a horribly inefficient mechanism for distribution. Health costs, for example, are constantly pushed upwards by a hopelessly bloated administrative apparatus (much bigger in our privatized health care scheme than in the "socialized" medical plans of Europe and Canada) and policies which stress acute rather than preventative care.

If we are to expand health care coverage for people in the United States, the fact of the matter is is that taxes will have to be raised to pay for it. The case needs to be made: you're going to pay for health care one way or another. Do you want to pay $2000 a year in premiums that will only provide coverage after a $3000 deductible is met, making it costly to seek preventative (mainly low-cost) health care which could prevent more costly (for both you and your insurer) treatments down the road? Or would you rather pay $2000 a year more in taxes but have the ability to see a doctor when you needed it, allowing you to take advantage of basic preventative services in order to avoid more acute treatments later? Which plan is going to give you more bang for your buck?

If there's one thing Americans seem to love, it's a good deal. Part of the progressive task in governing will be to demonstrate that the government, in many instances, can deliver the best value for one's dollar, and that these instances are worth the cost.

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They're baaaaaaaaaaack!

Jeebus, the corpse of the last election isn't even cold yet and petition gatherers for the next cycle are already on-campus hawking their wares. Or at least the right-wing ones are. Taking one for the team, I answered in the affirmative to the question, "Are you a registered voter in Oregon" so that you, dear reader, know what's coming down the pipe:
  • A measure to extend the list of mandatory minimum sentences to other (non-drug offense related) crimes like forgery, identity theft, etc. Like we didn't already have a hard enough time keeping truly dangerous folks locked up
  • Another anti-immigrant measure, this one aimed at children who "refuse to learn English" (according to the petitioner) in school
  • A measure to waive building permits for "minor home repairs" - I'm sure "minor home repairs" means "property improvements under $50K," but color me mildy interested if it truly is for minor home repairs
  • And, the one that really caught my attention, a measure mandating performance-based raises for teachers
The odiousness of the measures aside, couldn't have they given us a couple of months to recover from election fatigue?

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Color me intrigued

I'll first admit that I'm a Beatles ho - I'm a sucker anything Beatles related. Not only do I own all three volumes of The Beatles Anthology, but I regularly listen to them - even the first one. However, this new project I find this new project genuinely compelling:
The Beatles’ “Love” album being released on Tuesday is a thorough reinterpretation of their work, with familiar sounds in unfamiliar places, primarily created by the son of the man who was in the control room for virtually all of their recording sessions.

It’s a mashup, even though Giles Martin said he hates the word. John Lennon sings “he’s a real nowhere man” in the background of the instrumental track to “Blue Jay Way.” The keyboard of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” dissolves into the plodding guitar of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

“Strawberry Fields Forever” builds from Lennon’s acoustic demo into a psychedelic swirl of sounds that incorporates bits of “Hello Goodbye,” “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “Penny Lane” and “Piggies.”

The project was created for a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil and has the endorsement of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of Lennon and George Harrison, Martin said.


The rules were simple: Beatles tracks only, no electronic distortion of what they recorded, and no newly recorded music. The single exception was a string arrangement, written by original Beatles producer George Martin, to accompany an acoustic version of Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Purists, of course, are already upset, complaining that it will taint the legacy of the Beatles. I have no problem with what the article calls "mash-ups," or post-modern cut-and-paste production. Let's face it, no future human will mistake the milking of the Beatles cash cow forty-years gone for Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, or Hard Day's Night. The results of this particular project, however, could be interesting.

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A friendly reminder

Lest we get too caught up in this new era of progressive politics, sane public policy, and puppy dogs and kitty cats for every boy and girl - Mike Stark offers this legitimate point:
Harry Reid is not your friend. Barak Obama isn't your pal. Barbara Boxer isn't your playmate.

I'm saying that these are the people that refused to filibuster bankruptcy reform. Every single fucking one of them voted against Kyoto. (OK, Obama wasn't there, but whatever...)

Politicians are scumbags. Every last one of the bastards. If they believed their mother's dentures would get them another 20 votes, good ol' Moms would be living on a diet of grits and applesauce.

Don't fucking trust them.

Go ahead - celebrate your wins.

But the minute we start our session, start keeping score.


13 November, 2006

Punk Rock Monday

Well, maybe not exactly, but close enough for our purposes.

We're dipping into the SST stable again this week, a label near-and-dear to my heart. SST bands sound like my musical coming of age. And while I probably didn't know this song until about five years after it's release, "New Gods" - the whole Meat Puppets II album, actually - was in heavy rotation during high school:

Watching this performance of "Up on the Sun," I think my embrace of the Meat Puppets' particularly hallucinogenic country-punk hybrid might have presaged a more decided turn into neo-hippie-dom a few years later. Don't let that stop you from enjoying a great song:


PR problems

I spent a good chunk of this afternoon watching the MLS Cup on the telly. Maybe not the best played match, but certainly an entertainingly scrappy contest. However, soccer's reputation in American sporting circles was not enhanced by Bruce Arena's blindingly bland commentary, nor by Under the Influence of Giant's ridiculous half-time performance, mainly to an audience of 15 year old boys and their moms - most facing away from the band.


Pelosi means business

I like this move. Backing Murtha for Majority Leader sends the signal that Iraq is priority numero uno in Pelosi's House.

[Updated on November 12, 2006 at 11:45 PM]: Ugh. Apparently, Murtha's got some baggage.

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11 November, 2006

The "Holy Crap! We won an election!" playlist

The "Wimpy" decides to be strangely relevant tonight!
  • Jesus, etc. - Wilco
  • I Shall Not Be Moved - The Word
BTW - if you haven't picked up the Word's eponymous album, do so. It's a supergroup (comprised of members of the North Mississippi All-Stars, John Medeski, and pedal steel phenom Robert Randolph) that does up some gospel standards. Really great stuff.
  • Avalon Blues - Mississippi John Hurt
  • Buzzard Pie - Rudy & His Orchestra Green
  • Enfant - Ornette Coleman
  • Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung - Flaming Lips
  • My Melancholy Baby - Charlie Parker
  • Stockholm Syndrome - Yo La Tengo
  • The Tourist - Radiohead
  • It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - REM
And surfing in on a Blue, Blue wave, your bonus #11:
  • Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll - Bob Dylan


09 November, 2006

Damn straight

What digby sez:
I'm a little bit surprised that there hasn't been more hoopla about Pelosi breaking the big glass ceiling. (Maybe it will happen when she actually takes her place.) She's going to be third in line to the presidency, the most powerful elected woman in American history. It's a big deal --- another barrier down.

I don't think this person is going to be hampered in the exercize of leadership by the lack of a proper Republican male organ. She has metaphorical "balls" (or ovaries) the size of cantaloupes. I wouldn't underestimate her.

They are going to continue to demonize her as some sort of deranged succubus, but they'd better be careful. Lot's of women are watching and they aren't going to like her character being assassinated with thinly veiled attacks on female inadequacy or gay insinuations or any of the other usual rightwing tricks. Criticism is fine but this woman has achieved something substantial and I doubt women are going to be happy to see her demeaned by some lowlife fratboy punk with nasty, cheap shots.

Don't play the sexism card, fellas (and Ann Coulter.) At least half of the electorate sees these tired put-downs as an unpleasant reminder of the ex-boyfriend, boss or husband they'd still like to slap upside the head and there are plenty of men who cringe with embarrassment when they hear them. Remember, "proper preparation prevents poor performance."

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True dat

Even as an aside, atrios sums it up:
It's so weird when Democrats hold a press conference and they actually put it on the teevee.


Coming soon to a ballot near you

The religious right has got to be against this, right?:
Scientists have found new genetic evidence that they say may answer the longstanding question of whether modern humans and Neanderthals interbred when they co-existed thousands of years ago. The answer is: probably yes, though not often.


Please tell me I'm reading this wrong

I received this in my inbox this morning from an election reform listserv I subscribe to:
It is indeed fortunate that those three CD's of Diebold's source code were leaked last month, giving just enough time for hacker volunteers to devise "rubytuesdaynot", a virus rumored to have been introduced into networks of touchscreen voting machines in key states last week by election reform activists posing as Diebold technicians performing routine power-up tests at touchscreen storage warehouses. This feat will one day go down in history as a techno-political accomplishment ranking right up there with Turing's decoding of Germany's "Enigma" code in WWII. According to my sources, the code was designed to erase itself and revert back to the certified software at 1:30 am this morning so the rigging of the elections is unprovable.

I think it's rather ironic that the one state where Republicans might want a recount is Virginia, where most of the counties use electronic voting machines as shown in the map at this link (Red indicates "Electronic Voting, Touchscreen"):


So, even if the Republicans wanted a recount, it would be as impossible as the fraudulent recount in Ohio in 2004. Give 'em a taste of their own medicine, I say.
Now let me get this straight. Election "reform" activists monkey with e-voting machines during an actual election, thereby making it impossible to recount the votes in a disputed election, but because the other side will be on the short end of the stick this time, it's all right. Screw respecting the will of the voters, we've got to destroy democracy in order to save it!

Even more stupid, while I've seen confirmation of the leaking of Diebold's source code, I haven't seen any word as to this particular virus being introduced. So did the dumbass "election reform activist" who sent this e-mail actually 'fess up to knowing about the very electoral fraud he's trying to prevent being perpetrated by folks on "our" side, or is he just a tool puffing smoke out of his ass?

Either way, please get these people off of our team. The integrity of our elections are too important to have jerks like this involved.

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What happens when you despise them both?

I know what the real issue of the day is that y'all want me to weigh in on. But I'm agnostic in the matter. Much like having to watch a USC-Notre Dame or Ohio State-Michigan college football game, where I have a passionate and intense dislike for both sides, the bizarro drama of Britney and K-Fed leaves me enthralled at the spectacle, but not really wanting to cheer for either moron.

I will offer this nugget: K-Fed should emphatically not get custody of those kids. Britney's done some stupid things with her one kid, but I can relate - it's easy to be publically embarrassed with a baby. It's apparently easier for Britney, but I digress. On the other hand, K-Fed is a complete and utter foob, an irresponsible cad, a boor, and (while I feel a little bad using the term) is the paradigmatic example of what is derisively referred to as "white trash." On top of that, he doesn't seem like to good a dad, what with the staying out late and not having a "real" job and all. End of story? Kids are prime candidates for future counseling.

So there's my commentary on that particular train wreck.

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08 November, 2006

I really, really, really, really, really hate Moby

I hate his music. I hate his look. I hate his "partied like a rock-star" self-mythologizing. I hate his self-righteousness. I hate the stupid, stupid, stupid things he says (scroll down to the bottom):
Techno musician Moby says that if he ever has children, he hopes they’re gay. “They are less likely to get into a fight and less likely to date rape people,” the musician says, reports WENN. “I’m straight but I’ve grown up around gay people and gay clubs. They are superior to straight people. If you have a gay child you’re more inclined to be a prouder parent.”

How should we combat the oversimplified moral stereotypes of the religious right? According to Moby, with our own equally inane assertions of human - or "gay" - nature. And how about his dismissive attitude towards same-sex sexual assault?

Ugh! Let's please never trot out Moby as a spokesperson for left-wing anything ever again!

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In further parsing

Our Man in DC has the breakdown on what the election results mean for higher education.

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Oh, the humanity!

The wobblie household has only the most basic of cable in our home, so for national election coverage late last evening, ms. wobs and I tuned into CSPAN which, bless their hearts, allows random folk to call in and share their thoughts about the election results. One of the comments we heard from a Republican caller was now that the Democrats are in charge, those who want to "cut and run" should get their boots on, enlist, and serve in Iraq!

I don't get it either.

The other high point of CSPAN's coverage was the poor host, whose face maintained a studied neutrality which belied the pain in her eyes from having to listen to the unhinged ramblings of late-night talkfest junkies.

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Profiles in douchebaggery

George Felix "Macaca" Allen "refuses to concede."

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Let me lick the tears of unfathomable sadness!

So how did Pam from Atlas Shrugs deal with last night? Well, to start off, with bizarre metaphors and delusions of relevance:
Looking in the rearview mirror. That's what the Republicans should be doing going forward. They squandered their historic majority and they were punished. But let's not kid ourselves. The American people have been clubbed to death like baby seals by a drive by, jihad loving media and it took its toll. Years and years of lies and propaganda had its effect. The economy is the best case in point. We are experiencing the strongest most robust economy in recent history and if you listened to the media you'd have thought we were in the midst of a great depression. But it had it's effect. It certainly had it delterious effect on the public's perception of the war on Iraq - practically rooting for the enemy.

This is why the blogosphere is of critical importance. Where else will people get the facts? The news. If we build it, they will come. And so we must build it.
Ah yes, nothing evokes sympathy for Republicans like images of cute baby animals being bludgeoned to death in the name of fashion. And Pammy, dear, there is a conservative source for news you may be familiar with called FOX - and viewers are fleeing from this source for "facts." The right-wing blogosphere, however, is still my #1 source for items to point at and ridicule.

Pam's post-election pity party continues with some fallen hero worship:
Rumsfeld is going? Now I am depressed. The white flag has been raised. Bush has lost it.

I love Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was solid. A straight talking brilliant strategist. He had to take a 19th military, decimated and raped by a shortsighted horndog (Clinton), and transform it into a lean, agile state of the art military overnight to go after the post modern 21st enemy. An enemy that has no specific territory, operates in the shadows, kills large numbers of civilians with an incomprehensible barbaric blood lust, and has made Iraq the central front on the war on Islamic fundamentalism. Rumsfeld did it, hands tied by the PC mentality that infected the Bush administration.

Why the rollover? Because Iraq was not over in 30 minutes and we couldn't pick up our marbles and go home? This is war buddy. War is tough, get over it.
First off, we know to whom you're referring when you say "horndog". You don't need to spell it out for us. You hate Bill Clinton. And Hillary. And probably Chelsea. And Buddy got what was coming to him. We get it.

I'm sure that the Rumsfeld Gambit of attempting the occupation of a nation - one with a history of violent chafing under colonial oppression - on the cheap will be studied in policy circles for years to come, although I somehow doubt scholarly discussions will center on the gambit's alleged brilliance.

As for the icky viral infection of PC that is spreading through the White House - if Abu Ghraib, gutting the Geneva Conventions, secret prisons, and spying on your own citizens is PC, I don't think we really want to know what would have occurred if Crazy Uncle Rummy and gang hadn't had their hands tied.

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Not to be a buzzkill, but things still suck in Iraq:
A pair of mortar rounds slammed into a soccer field while young men were playing a game in a Shiite district of Baghdad on Wednesday as more than 60 people were killed in attacks nationwide.

U.S. forces also said they killed 14 suspected insurgents, detained 48 and rescued a kidnapped Iraqi policeman in a pair of raids outside Baghdad that began Tuesday.

No American casualties were reported in those actions. But the military said separately that a Marine died Wednesday from fighting in the volatile Anbar province west of Baghdad and a U.S. soldier was killed Tuesday in combat around the northern city of Kirkuk.

The deaths raised the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month to 21. October was the fourth deadliest month for U.S. forces since the war started -- with 105 service members killed.

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Après moi, le déluge

Crazy Uncle Rummy resigns!

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So what are you doing tomorrow?

I've been pretty used to getting drunk out of depression on election nights, rather than the giddy, good-natured buzz I've got tonight. Tonight was good. There's the potential now for some good things to happen.

I guess tomorrow it's back to the important work of making sure that those things occur.

Baby steps.


07 November, 2006

Appropriate transportation

I rode my bike to work today. I apparently should've paddled my kayak instead.



Like I said, the GOP will be ruthless in their attempts to hold onto power:
Iraq saw demonstrations against and for the verdict. The pro-Saddam demonstrators were attacked by the Iraqi army. This is how free our media is today: the channels that were showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations have been shut down. Iraqi security forces promptly raided them.Welcome to the new Iraq...


It’s not about the man- presidents come and go, governments come and go. It’s the frustration of feeling like the whole country and every single Iraqi inside and outside of Iraq is at the mercy of American politics. It is the rage of feeling like a mere chess piece to be moved back and forth at will. It is the aggravation of having a government so blind and uncaring about their peoples needs that they don’t even feel like it’s necessary to go through the motions or put up an act. And it's the deaths. The thousands of dead and dying, with Bush sitting there smirking and lying about progress and winning in a country where every single Iraqi outside of the Green Zone is losing.

Once again… The timing of all of this is impeccable- two days before congressional elections. And if you don’t see it, then I’m sorry, you’re stupid. Let’s see how many times Bush milks this as a ‘success’ in his coming speeches.

A final note. I just read somewhere that some of the families of dead American soldiers are visiting the Iraqi north to see ‘what their sons and daughters died for’. If that’s the goal of the visit, then, “Ladies and gentlemen- to your right is the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to your left is the Dawry refinery… Each of you get this, a gift bag containing a 3 by 3 color poster of Al Sayid Muqtada Al Sadr (Long May He Live And Prosper), an Ayatollah Sistani t-shirt and a map of Iran, to scale, redrawn with the Islamic Republic of South Iraq. Also… Hey you! You- the female in the back- is that a lock of hair I see? Cover it up or stay home.”

And that is what they died for.

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Election day predictions

Let's see: reports of voter suppression; reports of e-voting machings not registering votes properly; shameless fear-mongering; and razor-thin margins thrown into court. I keep having to remind myself that while completely and utterly incompetent at governing, BushCo and its pit crew, Team GOP, are going to be ruthless when it comes to trying to maintain their vanishing permanent Republican Majority.

Oh, and when it's all said and done, we'll be looking at Speaker Pelosi and Trent Lott making an outsider's run for majority leader.

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Jekyll and Hyde, pt II

I don't know why I didn't realize this sooner! The clues were all there - the eclecticism, the in-jokiness, the cultish fan bases...

They Might Be Giants are our chaming, cute, polite, and fun-to-be-around rock band.
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And Ween are their evil twins...
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I have got this shit dialed in tonight!


Jekyll and Hyde, pt I

Word in parenting circles is that all two-year olds are bi-polar. Meet ours:

L'il wobs is our charming, cute, polite, and fun-to-be-around two-year old...
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And l'il snobs is his evil twin...
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Word in parenting circles is it's always fun to be able to embarrass your kid with unflattering baby pictures.



Seeing as to how we're mere hours from election day, let's buck up on the cute, 'cuz tomorrow is going to be U-G-L-Y.

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5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

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L'il wobs took a little while to catch the hang of trick-or-treating. At his first house, he kept ringing the doorbell, then he tried to bumrush the house rather than take candy. By the time the following picture was taken, he'd gotten the hang of it:
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06 November, 2006

I stand corrected

I've learned a thing or two today. There are some readers who knew me as a hippie (and said folks should comment more often!). And while many of you may think of me as a hippie, I'm going to have to pull a "you should have known me when..." If you're still not sure, here are some qualifying events of your witnessing my hippie-dom:
  • You've seen me in a flowery hippie skirt when I wasn't dressing in drag
  • You've observed me seriously twisted on some heavy psychedelics
  • You've smelled patchoulli oil on my person
There might be a few more qualifying events, but those are three bellweathers of my own personal hippie-ness.

Now, there are some pics around of me in full hippie regalia, but they aren't in digital format. I'll see if I can scan them in somewhere for some comparing and contrasting. Until then, imagine me with hair halfway down my back, a big, furry red beard, dilated pupils, a hippie skirt, and bearing the reek of body odor, kind bud, and patchoulli.

Actually, don't do that. It's kinda gross.


Punk Rock Monday

I still have the closing of CBGB's on my mind, so what better way to pay tribute to this landmark institution than by showcasing the Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith. First up, "Free Money" from 1976:

And from 1975, a song which needs no introduction:


Pitch perfect

Driving back from Florence today, I saw a big "Vote Saxton" sign in the middle of a roadside clearcut.

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03 November, 2006

the noodle goes underground

The family and I will be starting our holiday (in the British sense of the word) down on the south coast this morning. We've rented a nice little cottage overlooking the sea near Port Orford. We plan on seeing redwood trees, drinking wine, walking along the beach, and sitting in the hot tub (among other things). We do not plan on consuming or producing any form of media other than music, books, and (for ms. wobs) the New Yorker.

Which is all for the best. Yes, yes, I know that the four days before the election are the most important, etc. etc. However, the four days before the election are also the most toxic if you're a media junkie: saccharine sweet ads about candidates who love children and senior citizens combined with the media frenzy over... uh,... anything a Democratic candidate can do that is even mildly scandalous. As they warned at Woodstock, "Don't eat the brown acid." This time, I'm listening.

I'll be back Monday with an evening Punk Rock Monday and pics of the l'il wobs Halloween extravaganza. Until then, please don't let them break anything!

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Grok this...

I just realized that there's no one who reads this blog with whom I was close before (I'm guessing) January 2002 (if you do fall into this category, this is the thread where you'll want to give it up!). This is actually fairly significant in terms of who knew me as a "hippie" and those who knew I "used to be" a hippie. Two very, very different contexts.


02 November, 2006

Not too much of an overstatement

I went to check out the ponies over at dKos when I came upon this line:
Viq adds that it's not too much of an overstatement to say that the most oppressed minority in America is the minority in the "lower body."
Let me be blunt. It's not too much of an overstatement to say that the most oppressed minority in America is the minority in the House. It's an utter and complete crock of shit.

Jeebus, where do these people come up with this horseshit?


01 November, 2006

Missing the point

The WaPo reports on yet another study which demonstrates the benefits of drinking red wine for one's health. Leave it to a fuddy-duddy molecular biologist at Harvard to draw the exact wrong conclusion:
"We've been looking for something like this for the last 100,000 years, and maybe it's right around the corner -- a molecule that could be taken in a single pill to delay the diseases of aging and keep you healthier as you grow old," said David A. Sinclair, a Harvard University molecular biologist who led the study. "The potential impact would be huge."
The correct response, of course, would've been: "We've been looking for something like this for the last 100,000 years, and it's been under our noses this whole time! So drink up, friends!" Leave it to science to take something that's good on its own and put it in pill form, thus removing all the fun. The bastards did the same thing with pot when they formulated synthetic THC in the form of marinol.



If you say so, George

George Will has an interesting take on the 2008 GOP presidential nominee sweepstakes. His line of thought goes like this: with George Felix Allen's rich, wannabe-redneck, racist, and thuggish act wearing very thin (to the point of potentially not winning re-election), his 2008 chances have nose-dived as well. Since the fundie wing of the party is looking for another reliable christianist wingnut to rally around in order to counter McCain's run as the prohibitive favorite, Allen's buffoonery benefits Mitt Romney as the social conservative of choice in '08.

Okay. Will's logic makes sense but for one thing. Romney is Mormon, and I'm not sure how the evangelical Bible brigades of the southland are going to respond to this little personal nugget in Mitt's biography. My gut tells me that Mormonism doesn't pass the evangelical heresy sniff test and Romney's candidacy will be a non-starter, but I could be wrong.

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Rolling in the mud

Even Laura Bush can't resist kicking a person with a chronic, debilitating disease:
Q: One of the issues that’s come up. Michael J. Fox. The whole issue of stem cell research. Your reaction to the events of the past week.

LAURA BUSH: Well, I don’t have any idea about any of those. I mean, I’ve watch on television just like you have. But the fact is President Bush is the only president that authorized funding for stem cell research. And, um, you know, it’s an issue that it’s easy to try to manipulate people’s feelings about and I understand that. My dad died of Alzheimer’s. You know, there’ s nothing I’d like more than to think there was a cure for Alzheimer’s. Especially before I get to be the age he is, but knowing also how he suffered. It’s always easy to manipulate people’s feelings, especially when you are talking about diseases that are so difficult.
She should know. She's had a front-row seat to Bushco's manipulations for almost six years.

And for the record, she wasn't on my list.

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Spooooooooky Halloween Playlist

Unlike ash's mood-sensitive iTunes, the old WMP (or "Wimpy," as I like to call it) doesn't seem to have the same sense of occassion that us sentient types have:
  • Yellow Submarine - The Beatles
  • Roll on the Ground - Thaddeus C. Willingham, Jr.
  • Fourth of July - Galaxie 500
  • Flamenco Fling - Natalie MacMaster
  • Down - Swell
  • New Orthophony - Stereolab
  • Up on Cripple Creek - The Band
  • Midnight Indigo - Duke Ellington
  • L.A. - Widespread Panic
  • Go with Me to That Land - Blind Willie Johnson
And your CHUD-like bonus #11:
  • Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan
Boo! What's spinning for you on the day for all saints?