Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

31 May, 2007

Dueling dipshits

Ah yes, the digital age, where anyone can be a filmmaker, no matter how grossly untalented. Meet Logan Darrow Clements:

You may remember Logan from his 2004 run for governor in California on the "privatize everything!" ticket. Or, maybe not.

Regardless, our friend Logan is ready to shake shit up this fall. Do tell:
While Michael Moore plans to release a movie, “Sicko,” in the fall advocating socialized medicine, Clements' plan is to release a movie, “Sick and Sicker,” for theatres at the same time which exposes the realities of socialized medicine.

Hoo boy, this interview should be fun...
FP: So tell us what inspired you to make this film.

Clements: I simply don't want the government to force me and everyone else into socialized medicine. I don't like being forced around when I haven't done anything wrong and I can see that nearly everything that government does is a complete and utter failure, often with deadly consequences.

I'd so love to believe he's referring to the Iraq war, but he's not. And I think we've found the only man in America who thinks that receiving health care from the government is some form of punishment.
FP: Why do you think that nearly everything that government does is a failure? Empirical reality does suggest that the free market always works the best. Why do you think this is so?

I love this question. "Empirical reality" suggests the free market always works best? What does that mean? Works best to do what? I'm fairly certain our interviewer doesn't know what "empirical reality" means if he's ignoring such free market "success stories" like energy deregulation in California.
Clements: The reason that nearly everything that government does is a failure is because everything that government does is an act of force. You are forced to do X. You are forced to not do Y. It takes money by force from its rightful owner and gives it to another person. As humans our primary tool of survival is our mind. However, when the government forces us around we are unable to use our mind. Instead of each person using their own mind and acting in their own best self interest we are forced to act in a way that suits the political interests of the people that made the law.

Since government operates on the principle of coercion, they keep you from using your mind. Logan, being the good Objectivist, doesn't believe in the "common good," of course.
FP: So what difficulties have you had, and are you having, to get this film into gear?

Clements: Fundraising.

He forgot to add "lack of talent."
FP: I can tell you that as a Canadian myself I know that most of my fellow Canadians pride themselves tremendously on their health care system. It is a way that they distinguish themselves from Americans and foster their own identity. The tragic thing is that they don’t really know anything about their own health care system but without it they would have no self-definition.

Huh. I was under the impression that Canadians loved their health care system because it provided them with high quality health care at no cost, ensuring Canadian citizens the ability to receive care for almost any condition without risking financial ruin. But you're telling me it's just a way to say, "Look at us! We're not Americans, eh?" I did not know this.
[Clements]:The pragmatic arguments against socialized medicine are that it leads to bad health outcomes. When health care is provided by the government there is always more demand than supply so health care has to be rationed through the use of waiting lists. As a result more people die from treatable illnesses, more people suffer in pain for longer periods of time, fewer new technologies and new drugs are available. Furthermore, the idea that government can provide health care more efficiently, as some proponents advocate, is laughable. When the government does anything it always costs far more than an average buyer would pay in the free market.

This all pretty much bullshit. With a mostly privatized system and the highest per-patient health care expenditures in the world, the U.S. has by far the worst health outcomes (by most measures) of any industrialized country. But "empirical reality" is no match for the siren song of Ayn Rand...
Clements: The long term solution is to remove as much government interference and create an efficient market. In all other markets you see price declining and quality improving. For example, you can buy a computer now that is many hundred times more powerful than one from several decades ago at a small fraction of the cost. We can see similar improvements in the parts of the health care industry which are not dominated by government interference. The cost for laser eye surgery for example has dropped significantly while the quality of the technique has improved. Cosmetic procedures have also gone down in price.

Anyone else enjoying how obtaining basic health care treatment is analagous to getting elective eye surgery? Or buying a computer? Or getting a boob-job? Because obtaining basic health care bears no resemblance to those other items!
And, having something paid for by a third party makes the consumer not care what the cost of it is. Imagine if a third party agreed to pay for whatever car you need. I need a Lamborghini, no, make that two Lamborghinis.

That's right! If only I had to worry about the cost, I'd see that I don't really need that liver transplant. I'll take the much cheaper take-two-aspirin-and-die-in-the-morning approach. Jesus, Logan, your bio says you have an MBA, but your understanding of basic economics is as sophisticated as that of a frat boy who slept through all but the first two weeks of Economics 101.
It's bad enough when health consumers don't care what something costs because their employer or employer's insurance agency is paying for it. Exacerbating the problem are all the people whose health treatments are paid for as part of a government program. A large percent of all health consumers have their health care bills paid for by Medicaid, Medicare and various state program. These consumers don't care if an x-ray costs $50 or $500.

Poor people on Medicaid are wasting your hard-earned tax dollars on frivolous $500 x-rays. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, hippie.
FP: So when can our readers expect to see the film?

Clements: If we receive a sufficient amount of funding we could have it out in the fall of 2007. If no one steps forward to help fund our movie we'll probably all have to suffer through Michael Moore's film and go home and take two aspirin

So the answer is never? Sounds good to me!

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30 May, 2007

The decider

I suppose I should be heartened that Bushco is doing something to try to avert the disaster in Darfur, despite being somewhat cynical about the whole sanctions business, with reason. But something towards the end of Bush's prepared comments really rubbed me the wrong way:
The people of Darfur are crying out for help, and they deserve it.

I've long ago accepted that most popular media sources will present news as a narrative where there are good people and bad people, people who deserve our sympathies and those who've earned our enmity. The decision about what color hat a person wears is made by a small number of people, usually in their own interest, unless a determined collective effort by the general public forces the elites to pay attention, as may be the case with Darfur.

It's a fucking travesty that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their cabal are the people making the decisions of who is worthy of the Imperial Benevolence of the United States. And it's even worse to know that they probably really believe that they're imposing a pax Americana.

But he's the Decider.

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29 May, 2007


Discovering that ash moved to Eugene within about three months of when I did demonstrates one of this city's charming quirks - it's illusion of intimacy. Eugene has a really small town feel, and you see the same people over and over. Indeed, I keep running into people I met in my first half year enough to count them as "friendly acquaintances." On the other hand, for five years before I actually met her, ash and I lived within five miles of each other and knew many of the same folks, but by accident of personal biographies never crossed paths until 2001.

That first November in 1996, I started seeing Eva and Erin behind the bar while drinking the day sunny at the Vets' Club. Then, we simply knew them as the "Vets' Club Twins," and we knew one of them was dating the guy working the door who looked eerily like Frank Zappa. One of my many friends named Dave later worked with Eva at the Craftworld (the one that's now the Mexican supermarket on 7th), and every now and again I'd go see their band play at the Tiny Tavern. Eva ended up living with some friends of mine who were in my graduate program.

I also see this woman Beth, who I traveled across the country with during the summer of 1996, from time to time. In a testament to what I month cooped up in a car with someone will do to a relationship of any sort, I still loathe her. ms. wobs's former evil roommates, however, seem to have fallen off the face of the planet, despite us knowing exactly where they are.

There's the guy who rides his bicycle around in the dead of winter wearing shorts and no shoes. There's Frog. There's the same hippies who've been there since 1976 at the Saturday Market. You see them all the time, yet they possess vistas of Eugene still unseen by the likes of me.


For fuck's sake

By the look of it, the crack where I'll be moving is dy-no-mite:
Years ago, someone coined the term "neoliberal." I was never sure what it meant, and it has since fallen into disuse, but whatever the case, I'd like to revive (and mangle) the term and apply it -- brace yourself -- to George W. Bush. He's more liberal than you might think.

No, he's not. Having a "diverse" cabinet merely masks an administration that has persistently pursued goals and utilized methods that are racist and misogynistic. The Iraq war was never about freeing the Iraqi people. The Bush years were emphatically not a period of misunderstood and mismanaged idealism. In one way or another, it has been about feeding a private elite from the public trough, like Reaganism on steroids.

Sorry, but Bush is all conservative. And I don't really want any of what you're smoking.

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Punk Rock Monday

Crass is the punk band's punk band. Loud, fast, and unapologetically fuck it all, they nevertheless managed to avoid veering into outright nihilism (which in retrospect is the ultimate punk indulgence).

"Where Next Columbus?"

"White Punks on Hope"


26 May, 2007

11 years down, 1 month to go

I pity you, dear reader. I pity you because this blog is about to take a drastic turn towards the sentimental. I've lived in Eugene for eleven years, arriving in town on a cool summer evening in 1996. That Monday evening in June was the first time I ever tasted Terminator Stout. Within a month's time, I had tried my first Terminator float (stout with a scoop of Prince Puckler's mocha almond fudge ice cream smuggled into 19th St.).

See? Sentimental.

So I'm writing a big old mash note to those who made Eugene such a special place to live, and such a formative part of my being. And by "big old," I mean over a series of posts, loosely organized around something significant. Jeebus, I don't know.

Emily is the woman I moved out here with, ostensibly as a couple, although she disabused herself of that notion far before I did. Somehow, after a rough first few months of living in the same massive flophouse, we became good friends again. She decamped for PDX years ago, but she remains the catalyst to everything that's occured since that weird summer.

When I arrived in Eugene, I initially crashed with my friend Andy (short for Andrea). That summer, she patiently supported my ass on Phish tour in August, got me back to Eugene, whereupon we rarely spoke to each other until she left town, late in 1996. Since then, we've had waves of communication. I'd piss her off, we wouldn't talk for three years, all of the sudden we'd have a reason to talk again, we'd regularly correspond, I'd piss her off, etc. We're in one of the communication black-outs right now.

In 1996, I saw rain like I've never seen before, nor have seen since. Three straight days of torrential downpour in early November, causing a lot of flooding. And my ass, straight from Florida, was thus thrust into my first Oregon winter. I lived in the basement of a house on Willamette street at the time, and came home from work to an inch of water in my bedroom.

I shared this house with 7-12 other people. We scavenged dumpsters and returned bottles to buy food.

We spent an inordinate amount of time at the Vets Club. And on drugs.

Christmas in 1996 was the worst I've ever experienced. Five days before the holiday, I adopted the DeeOhGee from Greenhill.

New Year's eve was ok, but I didn't have anyone to kiss.

Thank you for indulging my reminiscening. More to follow.


25 May, 2007

Why I got out

There were a great many things that motivated me to move on from graduate school sans the terminal degree. This book review is redolent of one of those reasons.

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22 May, 2007

Welcome aboard

Despite the signaling of their indifference to my job application with cold, cold silence, the California Nurses Association is my favorite incarnation of New Labor. I like them even more now that they're affiliating with the AFL-CIO in order to push for single-payer health care.

And because the nurses couldn't say it in a family newspaper, fuck you Andy Stern.

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21 May, 2007

Punk Rock Monday

We've delved deep into the 1970s downtown, CBGBs rock scene for some time at PRM, but we've saved my favorite among favorites until now. Sure, some regular readers of this blog may say that someone who performs an eight minute version of a song can, by definition, not be punk rock. Shine that - I defy you to find a punk band that can match the Talking Heads in intensity beyond the usual two-minute scrum. And, said regular readers should be happy I don't unilaterally declare the String Cheese Incident punk and put up some twenty minute noodle jam that would have us all slitting our wrists.

Check out the early, early years as a three piece - "Psycho Killer"

A 1978 run through of "Life During Wartime"

"Born Under Punches" performed in Rome in 1980. The line-up at this time is just smokin' - it's worth spending some time at ye olde youtube to see the rest of the show (this is the only clip they've allowed embedding for)

And the timeless "Once in a Lifetime" from Stop Making Sense - I don't know how many times I've heard this song, but it still gives me goosebumps, same as it ever was...


20 May, 2007


Nothing like a trans-continental move to make you decide what's worth keeping. Everything I own right now, I'm having to justify with the question, "Why the hell am I keeping this?" The superficial layers of junk were fairly easy to cast off - knick-knacks and odds-and-ends with a little sentimental and historical value that I could never bring myself to get rid of until now. Some of the baby items were more difficult, the emotions attached to those, however, over-ridden by the imperatives of saving space and the ease of cheaply finding them in the future.

Yesterday I tackled my library. This one was painful.

In the first pass, I took out the obvious suspects. Gone was Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, found in a free-box somewhere, but never read (was there a need to read anything beyond Atlas Shrugged)? Also gone, a "scientific" tome entitled We Are the Earthquake Generation, a Star Trek:TNG novel (yes, I'm a dork), and... that was about it.

For the second pass, I needed to start asking myself some more incisive questions: did I need any of Norman Mailer's political books beyond Miami and the Seige of Chicago? Was there a reason to have anything of Hunter S. Thompson's beyond Hell's Angels and the two Fear and Loathings (both of which I've lost - if anyone has a copy of F&L on the Campaign Trail '72 they'd be willing to part with...)? Was their any point in owning the coffee table book about my favorite band from ten years ago? No, no, no.

And yet I knew it wasn't enough.

So it went, asking myself why the hell I was keeping some books. Some odd puppies got thrown in the keeper box. Mezaros's Beyond Capital made the cut, not so much because it loomed large in my intellectual development, but because it's 1200+ pages of inscrutable social theory into which I could only wade 20 pages - the Finnegan's Wake of sociological theory, as it were. It, along with Gravity's Rainbow and a set of golf clubs, serves as a monument to the limits of my patience. Classics within my fields I kept. Whole literature streams got discarded (if anyone's interested in some books on development, lemme know). I abandoned the thought that for many of the books I had acquired I'd eventually get around to reading them. Who was I kidding.

So, what I'm left with is a pretty impressive collection of books on labor and organizations, a decent survey of political economy and feminist theory, a sparse but respectable literature collection, and a smattering of books which have sentimental value (Principia Discordia).

The whole process is pretty exhausting, and I'm slowly taking things down to the bookstore to be rewarded for my diligence.

I'm not sure, however, that I'll be repeating this on our music collection.

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18 May, 2007

Three words: acid, acid, acid

I take some comfort in knowing that Ann Coulter claims membership in the same tribe as I (but definitely a different clan), because then it's relatively easy to explain her hallucinatory stroll down memory lane with the Late Jerry Falwell:
No man in the last century better illustrated Jesus' warning that "All men will hate you because of me" than the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who left this world on Tuesday. Separately, no man better illustrates my warning that it doesn't pay to be nice to liberals.

Falwell was a perfected Christian. He exuded Christian love for all men, hating sin while loving sinners. This is as opposed to liberals, who just love sinners. Like Christ ministering to prostitutes, Falwell regularly left the safe confines of his church to show up in such benighted venues as CNN.

We didn't hate him because of Jesus! We hated him because he was a nasty hypocrital bigot! And she goes on!
Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell.

Actually, there was one small item I think Falwell got wrong regarding his statement after 9/11 that "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians -- who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle -- the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

First of all, I disagreed with that statement because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and "the Reverend" Barry Lynn.

Second, Falwell later stressed that he blamed the terrorists most of all, but I think that clarification was unnecessary. The necessary clarification was to note that God was at least protecting America enough not to allow the terrorists to strike when a Democrat was in the White House.

We should thank God that George W. Bush was in the office when 9/11 happened?


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16 May, 2007

This guy has everything working against him

If it weren't on msnbc, I'd assume that this was the beginning of a joke:
The herpes family of viruses can have a surprising upside — it can protect against the bubonic plague and other bacterial contagions, at least in mice.

Research into whether a similar mechanism applies to humans and other mammalian hosts should be conducted, said viral immunologist Skip Virgin at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

As for me? I'll dance with the Black Death, thank you very much.

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You have the power to complete my life

If you really loved me, you'd get me this for [insert special occasion here].

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Flotsam and Jetsam: Rich, Famous, & Dumb edition

I haven't done any digging through the celebrity compost pile in some time, not so much because there hasn't been weird stuff, but because I like to think that you and I have a much more sophisticated standard for what consitutes truly "weird stuff." Well, today's slop bucket delivered in spades.
  • What is it with celebrities and little people? Now we have Lindsay Lohan hanging out with the world's premier little Britney impersonator?
  • Speaking of Lindsay Lohan, who's already pretty fame-damaged at the tender age of twenty, I imagine being named Maxim's hottest woman is only going to accelerate her tendencies towards self-immolation. And to the dingbats at Maxim - really?
  • Ever wonder what it would be like to have an on-line chat with Bruce Willis? No? There's a reason for that.
  • And to top it all off, we have the Hoff:
    While he says that Hasselhoff can be charming and kind, [British journalist Piers] Morgan claims he’s also insecure about his status since his star has fallen from his glory days. “His ego is massive, there’s no other word for it,” according to Morgan. “Barely a day’s filming goes by when he doesn’t allude to 'Baywatch' and 'Knight Rider' being ‘the biggest TV shows ever’ or to the ‘nine million albums I’ve sold in Germany.”
    The Hoff can make a case for "Baywatch," but "Knight Rider?" C'mon!

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14 May, 2007

Punk Rock Monday

If there was a better band of sarcastic misanthropes than Mudhoney, I'd like to hear them. Mark Arm's fuzzbox belongs in the fucking Smithsonian.

"Touch Me I'm Sick"

"Suck You Dry"


Where are the people?

Like many of my colleagues in the sociology department, I spent a good portion of graduate school quite smitten with Marx. Where many of my friends were drawn to the structuralism of Das Kapital ("When Marx became a Marxist," sneered the more snobby of the structuralists, completely eliding the question of whether Marx was ever a Marxist), I, on the other hand, was drawn to the humanism of his earlier works, being pretty fascinated by his answer to the question, "Why does work suck?" The quotidian is, after all, where structure is generated and replicated. Political economy is only as important as its effects the lives of real people, right? I thought so. So did one of my professors, whose standard complaint at certain job talks was, "Where are the people?"

I found myself thinking that when reading about the bureaucratic infighting surrounding economic development in Iraq:
Paul Brinkley, a deputy undersecretary of defense, has been called a Stalinist by U.S. diplomats in Iraq. One has accused him of helping insurgents build better bombs. The State Department has even taken the unusual step of enlisting the CIA to dispute the validity of Brinkley's work.

His transgression? To begin reopening dozens of government-owned factories in Iraq.

Brinkley and his colleagues at the Pentagon believe that rehabilitating shuttered, state-run enterprises could reduce violence by employing tens of thousands of Iraqis. Officials at State counter that the initiative is antithetical to free-market reforms the United States should promote in Iraq.

The fate of literally millions of people is obfuscated in a paragraph that pits the military objective of fighting a counterinsurgency against the political and ideological objective of building a "free market" economy (forgetting, for a moment, that a state-run economy financed by foreigners doesn't look substantially different than a privatized economy owned by foreigners). The construction of that third paragraph makes people accessories to larger political ends, "Basically, cannon fodder," as Eugene McDaniels would have it. In other words, a goal of providing a better life for Iraqis is incidental to whatever bureaucratic objectives are prioritized (although some will argue that that goal is assumed, the actual objective for both plans is "stability," another lovely reification).

You realize, of course, that the vision of economic development held by those working in Iraq is fucked up six ways to Sunday, right?
Brinkley, who was interviewed in Washington, said he expects several factories to reopen this summer. By year's end, he envisions Wal-Mart stores selling made-in-Baghdad leather jackets and other U.S. retailers stocking Iraqi loafers, hand-stitched carpets and pinstripe suits.

That's right, Iraq. Your economic future in the world trade system can be as bright as Bangladesh's, thanks to your comparative advantage of a supply of low-wage labor! My god.

And while it's nice to see someone who doesn't think all nationalization plans are a bad thing (why hello there, inner socialist!), you can really see where their priorities are in this statement:
Brinkley, a balding 40-year-old who speaks in rapid-fire sentences, had joined the Defense Department as a political appointee in 2005 after serving as an executive at JDS Uniphase Corp. At the Silicon Valley manufacturer of fiber-optic equipment, he had helped the company acquire a factory in China that had been run by the government. The experience, Brinkley said, convinced him that "state-owned enterprises can provide jobs, and turn a profit and lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. [emphasis added]"

So, in order of importance: an abstract number of positions created in which to hire someone, profit, and the "well being" of the people.

I'm going to make the wild guess that a workers' rights movement would be relentlessly crushed under either model of development.

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13 May, 2007

Scooby snacks

Shorter "L." Paul Bremer: And I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those damn Iraqis!

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Well, that was alarmingly quick

Our home was on the market for all of two days before we got an offer on it, and we got an offer with our asking price in it. We obviously accepted it.

They like us. They really, really like us.

As much of a whirlwind as that was, it actually allows us to now focus all of our energy on packing, finding a new place, and planning the logistics to get from point A to point B. In other words, the fun stuff.


10 May, 2007

Profiles in douchebaggery

Rush Limbaugh is so, like, middle-school in the way he acts. In proving his point about Don Imus, Oxycotin Boy becomes that smug prick who would be an asshole just to prove the point that he could get away with it and there's nothing you can do about it:
The leading US shock jock Rush Limbaugh is taunting the liberal media by repeatedly airing a derogatory and racially charged song about the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Limbaugh, whose rightwing talk show is one of the most listened to in the US, has been running a song called Barack the Magic Negro, to the tune Puff the Magic Dragon.

On his show Limbaugh says he is an entertainer and the song is a parody. He justifies it by saying the first linkage of the term "magic negro" to Mr Obama was by a black commentator, David Ehrenstein, in the liberal Los Angeles Times.

Really, he's just like a twelve-year old. And Obama seems to understand that Rush is just an angry boy acting out, given his decision to pretty much roll his eyes and shrug, "What're ya gonna do?"

Rush is fishing for a controversy à la Imus to garner some free publicity, I'm sure, and he'll undoubtedly get some. Where Imus's remarks were seemingly off-the-cuff and aimed at a group of young women whose achievements and stature didn't warrant public ridicule, Rush has carefully constructed a parody aimed squarely at someone who expects to be the butt of many, many jokes over the course of a campaign. As an African-American who has run for office before, I'm sure Obama knows that there are those who will be hostile to any black person in a position of power. And the higher the authority, the more intense the hostility. I also love how Rush smugly clues his audience in to the clever historical references that he's made. Really cute.

Even though his actions resemble that of a pimple-faced seventh-grader, I'm still shocked by the cynicism with which he wields his racism. Rush knows his audience. He knows that Senator Obama has received threats. And while able to cover his ass with the claim of parody and distancing himself from more extreme and violent sentiments, there exists no other reason for his actions than to inflame a backwards put potent voting base.

What a douchebag.

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This is not my beautiful house

How did I get here?

Life changes are picking up at such a pace that I'm experiencing a little anomie. We officially put our house up for sale this evening, which is weird, to say the least, and more than a little sad. And we now have a financial advisor.

When did I get to be so middle-aged? And why don't I feel middle-aged?


08 May, 2007

What Jane Austen hath wrought

I'm at a loss to describe how appalled I am about the coverage of the Queen's visit to D.C., breathlessly recounted in the WaPo. The coverage reads like a bad romance novel, with dreary descriptions of pointless protocol and charmingly staged vignettes of "everyday life" at the White House:
President Bush welcomed the queen with a royal faux pas about her age, suggesting she had witnessed American independence in 1776. Expressing admiration for her long friendship with the United States, Bush noted that Elizabeth had dined with 10 presidents and had "helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 . . ." He quickly caught and corrected his mistake, "in 1976."

Her Majesty did not appear to be amused.

Laughter rippled across the South Lawn, but the queen, who celebrated her 81st birthday last month, shot Bush a look that he sheepishly acknowledged "only a mother could give a child."

It wasn't his only comeuppance of the day.

Laura Bush acknowledged she and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had tag-teamed Bush to coax him into white tie for the White House's most formal dinner of his presidency.

"Dr. Rice and I took it upon ourselves to talk him into it, because we thought if we were ever going to have a white-tie event, this would be the one," Mrs. Bush told reporters.

For fuck's sake. Getting disciplined by his "mother?" Being "tag-teamed" by Laura and Condi? Barbara Cartland couldn't pack any more innuendo in there.

And someone please explain to me again why everyone has to walk on eggshells around this woman?


07 May, 2007

Punk Rock Monday

If pressed for a description, I'd have to say what happens when punk rockers start taking ecstasy and playing dance music, that's !!!. Yeah, I've been on a kick of late. Enjoy.

"Must Be the Moon"

A spiffier looking and sounding "Intensify"


And when it's actually drowned?

The WaPo does its homework and begins to connect the dots between the series of institutional failures that led to the Virginia Tech shootings.

I've had a hard time knowing exactly what to say to people who believe in Small Government as some sort of Good unto Itself. You tell them about the homeless gathering for morning coffee in the park, or the family living in the pick-up camper behind the church downtown, or the senior citizen spanging at the University. You tell of the relative with a disability who wants to work (well... kind of) but the social agency responsible for placing her is underfunded and not staffed by the most competent people in the world. But those who want to drown government in the bathtub either never see it, floating from one sanitized conclave to the next, or don't think it's their problem. Why should their tax dollars be spent on "someone else?" Someone else who probably doesn't even have a job!

Or maybe someone else is a disturbed college student...

That's not to say a well-funded system of social services, staffed by talented, committed, and respected professionals would have identified and managed someone like Cho before he completely cracked. It may not have. But the events in Blacksburg are only an extreme example of the thousands of catastrophes that happen everyday because the social safety net has been slashed beyond all recognition, and the private charities that conservatives thought would move to fill the gap are completely overwhelmed and unable to respond to the needs presented.

We've been held hostage by the Small Government theocrats in charge for the last ten or so years. It's time we start assertively pushing that they are responsible for failure after failure, Virginia Tech after Katrina, and that these failures are a intrinsic to and completely foreseeable consequence of their philosophy of government. And the goal is not to do Small Government better than they do, it's to try a different way altogether. Maybe instead of drowning it, we can take government to the lake and teach it how to swim.

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06 May, 2007

Welcome to the Fringe, EmRom

I know pattyjoe wants Mitt to make a run at the GOP nom, but it ain't gonna happen (via atrios). Plus, he's as dumb as a box of rocks:
"It seems that Europe leads Americans in this way of thinking," Romney told the crowd of more than 5,000. "In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."

I actually did a quick google search of French marriage and divorce law summaries, and could find nothing that even remotely came close to a "seven-year, risk-free marriage contract." I mean, jeebus, that's fucking out there.

And with a statement like that, we'd like to welcome EmRom as the latest to join the GOP Fringe.

[updated on May 6, 2007 at 3:08 PM]: My bad - I'd already declared Mitt a member some time ago, in which case I should congratulate him for really distinguishing himself from his Fringe colleagues who merely don't believe in evolution.

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You'll begin?

So sayeth John Boehner (R - Cracklyvania):
The leader of House Republicans said today that his members would begin to seek another strategy in Iraq in September, should President Bush's troop "surge" strategy clearly not be working by then.

Now call me crazy, but when undertaking something as massive as, say, a war, shouldn't a Plan B have been thought out well in advance? Along with, say, a Plan C, D, E, F...? You know, basic contingency planning that should have been done for something as unpredictable and fluid as a counter-insurgency campaign?

Well, I suppose I should be thankful that in September, the GOP has at least tentatively planned on joining the reality that the rest of the world acknowledges, right?
But he pledged that his caucus would stand firm against any Democratic timetable or benchmarks that mandate the withdrawal of U.S. troops.


[Boehner] emphasized: "We [will] want a clean bill. We don't want artificial deadlines. We don't want handcuffs on our generals. We don't want artificial measures in there to try to ensure failure. Iraq is very important. And we need to win in Iraq."

Oh shit.

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05 May, 2007


It's been another busy week that has either found me asleep or out in the blogging hours, thus leaving my promise of content, content, content to you, the reader, left unfulfilled. So, a fun-filled week in review:
  • May Day found me whooping it up with the GTFF for an International Worker's Day rally, highlighted by the traditional delivery of flowers and the Big Card to university administrators, and keeping the GTFF's streak of situationist actions alive and well. That evening ms. wobs and I got our groove on to !!!, which has been the most welcome CD that pattyjoe has dropped on me (and he's dropped an awful lot of welcome CDs). If they're coming 'round your area (ash! May 12!), I highly recommend checking them out.
  • Got to have a fun swanky "professional" lunch with patty joe and dave on Thursday at the Excelsior. Nothing like a new job to give you a reason to blow some dough, eh?
  • I helped with my last GTFF officer election yesterday. On Monday, we welcome a new board who 7/8s of will remember me as "the insurance guy."
  • We're doing a massive house clean-up today as we prepare to put our home on the market. This morning was dedicated to getting rid of the detritus of grad school in my office, where lots of other stuff resurfaced (like my diplomas! and mouseshit!). Tomorrow will be dedicated to doing some scraping and touch-up painting around the exterior of the house.
That's the update for now. Just wanted to let you know that I'm alive and still "believe" in evolution.


04 May, 2007

Profiles in Douchebaggery

What. A. Dick:
A missing pair of pants has led to one big suit. A customer got so steamed when a dry cleaner lost his trousers that he sued for $65 million. Two years later, he is still pressing his suit.

The case has demoralized the South Korean immigrant owners of the mom-and-pop business and brought demands that the customer -- an administrative law judge in Washington -- be disbarred and removed from office for pursuing a frivolous and abusive claim.


01 May, 2007

Flotsam and jetsam: presidential edition

I've been avoiding talking about politics for awhile now, not for any reason, per se, other than the fact that plenty of other people do it, and for the most part I don't really have anything to add, other than a little snark. But all this hoopla surrounding the potential Fred Thompson candidacy (not to be confused with the already declared and mortally wounded Tommy Thompson candidacy) has gotten me hot under the collar, and pattyjoe has been fanning the flames playing Fantasy Ticket '08. I'll see his EmRom-Thompson v. Obama-Edwards, and will state unequivocally that the best "political theater" match-up will be Thompson-EmRom v. Gore-Obama.

Is anyone else more than a little intrigued that for the second time in thirty years, the GOP may have an actor at the top of its slate?

The NYT is currently running a pretty bland is he is or is he ain't piece on Thompson. What's missing from the article, you ask? Any mention of Iraq.

I'm announcing a new caucus, the "We can do better than Hillary" caucus. I know many of you have professed some strong Anyone but Hillary inclinations, and I can hardly blame you. She's been wrong on some pretty important issues, and I can say that I'll do my share of the lifting to see that we elect a good alternative - and for once, we do have some very palatable alternatives in the top tier of presidential contenders. However, if the Hillary Juggernaut does happen to steamroll the competition (a distinct possibility), I know damn well that she is better on my issues six way 'til Sunday than anyone the GOP might beat out of the Bushes, and I know damn well that another GOP presidency - with a narrowly divided Senate hanging in the balance - would be disastrous for this country: for women's rights, for civil rights, for Iraq, for unions... do I need to go on? Hillary will never be ideal. Indeed, we're fortunate right now, because we know we can do better. But let's stay real and act accordingly.

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Putting the cart before the horse

From the WaPo:
World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz said yesterday that he is the victim of a "smear campaign" designed to portray him as unethical and an ineffective leader and that he will "not give in to such tactics" by resigning.

Oh, Wolfie. We already knew you were unethical and an ineffective leader thanks to your performance in selling the Iraq War. Your current actions demonstrate that you're also slimy and that you put your ladyfriend on some sort of sexual retainer.

You. Are. Icky.