29 June 2003
Mrs. Krabappel: These test will have no effect on your grade. They merely determine your future social status and financial success. [looks at Bart] If any.
Homer: I'm just saying, why not have two geniuses in the family? Sort of a spare, in case Bart's brain blows up.
Homer: (at the opera) Who's the lard-butt?
Lisa: He's the bullfighter.
Bart: No way the bull's going to miss a target that big!
Homer: I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the light bulb.
Well, it's time to clear out all the articles I bookmarked or printed with a brief comment, if warranted. Heaven forfend I should ever be accused of being stale and anachronistic (which, in weblog time, is about 12 hours).
(1) Ten Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq: Only 10? I think the Whiskey Bar is collecting another whopper per day (e.g. "it's not really guerrilla warfare"). Personally, I don't know how he does it. Collecting all of those inconsistent quotes could drive a man to... Vancouver, gas included.
(2) John Edwards' speech on the economy: Condense it down to a 30-second commercial in the Fall of 2004, and you may be on to something. "Never have so many been called upon to sacrifice so much for so few for so little?" Nah, too literary.
(3) Robert Byrd's speech on intelligence cover-ups. Pre-empting those of you who may accuse of me of hypocrisy in giving props to an ex-KKK member who once tried to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964, let me remind you that I ain't said shit about Strom Thurmond (please disregard the "hellbound, mummified carcass" comment I left over at Vodka Pundit's site... that was purely a joke). If Strom ever used his last remaining semi-conscious moments to deliver a speech like this, I would have forgiven him, too.
(4) Bin Laden Huntin' Predator Drones: Now THESE are unmanned aircraft. A brief story to reflect on when questions like "Why didn't the Administration want an independent 9/11 commission?" or "Why the fuck won't they declassify anything?" get raised and ignored.
(5) Nigerians Order Probe Into Halliburton: I wanted this as a "bizarro story" on the Slumbering Pierrot Team Blog, but was overruled in favor of the missing Boeing 727 story. You know you've hit rock bottom when the Nigerians consider you corrupt. Maybe they were taken in by a bunch of spammy e-mails from Dick Cheney?
(5a) Remember those two Air Force cadet love birds that were convicted of murder in Texas a couple of years ago? Well, the female of the pair got married in prison to an inmate in other prison without ever having met each other face-to-face. Was the dowry paid out in worn-out copies of "Gigantic Asses Quarterly" and cartons of generic Diamond Shamrock cigarettes?
Coming up next week: smokin' dope, suin' doctors, redistrictin' the shit out of Texas, and more on everyone's favorite basket-case shithole of a botched reconstruction effort... Afghanistan!! Can it retain its Star Search title for two weeks in a row, or will plucky challengers Liberia and Iraq wrest the crown away? Join me, Ed McMahon, with celebrity judges Karl Lagerfeld, Dionne Warwick, Everybody Loves Raymond's Peter Boyle, and Paul Wolfowitz.
28 June 2003
Adding more and more links with more and more uninspired brief descriptions. A special shout-out to anyone on the list currently mired in rodentia on the Ecosystem; I myself have picked out a lovely Russian Dwarf Hamster, in that they are happy, furry, and enjoy story time. Currently, I am listed twice at #480 and #530... choose wisely, for although the links appear similar, picking the wrong one will cause your browser to irrevocably set your start-up page to Vanilla Ice. Please buy premium speakers to enjoy all that site has to offer.
27 June 2003
Season 6, Episode 22:
6.22 “’Round Springfield” (Bleeding Gums dies)
Marge: OK. Who was George Washington Carver?
Bart: Um...the guy who chopped up George Washington?
Homer: Really? Wow.
Homer: Well, it's like the time that your cat Snowball got run over. Remember, honey?
Homer: What I'm saying is, all we have to do is go down to the pound and get a new jazzman.
Lionel Hutz: [looking nervous] Well, for a case this complex, I had to assemble crack team of lawyers: Ronald Shaporo, trial attorney, Albert Dershman, who can hold three billiard balls in his mouth.
§ 21.01. Definitions. In this chapter: (1) "Deviate sexual intercourse" means: (A) any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or
(B) the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object.
§ 21.06. Homosexual Conduct: (a) A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex. (b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
From Justice Scalia's dissent: "There are 203 prosecutions for consensual, adult homosexual sodomy reported in the West Reporting system and official state reporters from the years 1880-1995.... there are also records of 20 sodomy prosecutions and 4 executions during the colonial period."
Apparently, these approximately 2 prosecutions per year were all that was preventing the American family from utterly disintegrating, according to some reactionaries: "If the people have no right to regulate sexuality than ultimately the institution of marriage is in peril, and with it, the welfare of the coming generations of children.''
There are so many doomsday scenarios being floated in the press releases of moralistic crusaders, I thought it might be nice to imagine the flipside: (1) What if Texas, in a fit of Southern Baptist Old Testament literalism, decided to make consensual homosexual sex a capital crime? (2) What if all sex acts that could not lead to impregnation between married heterosexual couples were criminalized? (3) What if all sex acts between unmarried couples were criminalized? (4) What if adultery were re-criminalized? What if adultery were strictly construed, in the Biblical sense, to include any re-marraige?
Wouldn't throwing Newt Gingrich in jail help the family?
One of my ongoing interests is America's gnat-like memory concerning its own history. Being largely ignorant of Georgia's political history, I wanted to find some quotes from Lester Maddox, its recently deceased former governor. I was immediately directed to the Associated Press sanitized list of quotes (example here). Reading through these, you get to learn about former Governor Maddox's views on foreign aid, living up to people's expectations, challenges, and aging. What a sweet, doddering old codger. Rest in peace, you gallant prince and public servant.
Well, perhaps I should dig deeper. Something tells me that he may have had a few views on race, being the governor of a Southern state in the 60s and 70s and all.
"I'm still a segregationist. I just told you I'm a segregationist. I've told you that 15 times. When are you going to start believing me?" he said in 1973.
"In 1968, Maddox refused to close the Capitol for the funeral of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and expressed anger that state flags were being flown at half-staff."
"Maddox gained national attention in 1964 for wielding a pistol and chasing black protesters from his Pickrick fried chicken restaurant the day after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Whites from his restaurant chased the protesters with pick handles, which became Maddox's symbol."
And from the man himself: ""That's part of American greatness, discrimination. Inequality, I think, breeds freedom and gives a man opportunity."
Postscript-- A different type of historical ignorance: Interestingly enough, the Free Republic types know all this about Maddox. Of course, they're incensed that the obituaries are not correctly identifying him as a Democrat. Given that also recently deceased Strom Thurmond defected to the Republican party in 1964, and that hopefully soon deceased Jesse Helms switched in 1972, bookending the fait accompli of the Nixonian Southern Strategy, such hysterics seem bizarrely ill-suited to the normally cool heads in Freepertonia. But the reader will have to trust the humble author that such defections actually occurred.
26 June 2003
Hopefully enough to tide over my legion of adoring, devoted readers until I discover some way to stop laughing from Justice Antonin "Bonecrusher" Scalia's dissent in the recent sodomy case. From Season 4, Episode 6-- “The Itchy and Scratchy Movie”
Sulu: Captain, Klingons off the starboard bow.
Kirk: [covering his face in annoyance] Again with the Klingons...
Homer: If you don't start making more sense, we're going to have to put you in a home.
Grampa: You already put me in a home.
Homer: Then we'll put you in the crooked home we saw on Sixty Minutes!
Grampa: [meekly] I'll be good.
Marge: Do you want your son to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a sleazy male stripper?
Homer: Can't he be both, like the late Earl Warren?
Marge: Earl Warren wasn't a stripper!
Homer: Now who's being naive?
24 June 2003
I was wondering where the pollsters got those people who thought that Iraqis piloted the 9/11 planes, that WMDs have been found and/or used, or that Kabul is the cradle of democracy. They're apparently all in New York, at GOP fundraisers, giving the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign $4 million. Time for you to ponder the imponderables:
From the President's speech: "In Afghanistan and Iraq, we gave ultimatums to terror regimes. Those regimes chose defiance and those regimes are no more. (Applause.) Fifty million people in those two countries once lived under tyranny, and now they live in freedom. (Applause.)"
From the above-referenced article: "Wilma Mooney, 54, a retired Manhattan stockbroker, pinched the president's cheek and he returned the favor by kissing her on the cheek. 'Thank God he's the president. I love him because he has moral clarity plus he's a hottie,' she said."
Just for the sake of partisan clarity, middle-aged women that fawned/fawn over Clinton also make me physically nauseous. Although I can understand Henry Kissinger. He just oozes power-based aphrodisiac.
As a part of my never-ending quest to kill time, and to find out where exactly my favorite show "jumped the shark" (internet vernacular) or "turned to shit" (East Side vernacular), I have compiled some hilarious one-or-two liners from the Simpsons from glorious episodes past (thanks to the invaluable Simpsons Archive Episode Guide). Starting at Season 5, first epiode--- "Homer's Barbershop Quartet."
Marge: Your teenage son or daughter will think this wishbone necklace is really cool!
Man: I doubt my son or daughter is that stupid.
Abe: That's my son up there!
Man: What, the balding fat-ass?
Abe: Uh, no, the...Hindu guy.
Homer: What'd you kids get?
Bart: I bought this cool pencil holder.
Homer: Heh heh, far out man. I haven't seen a bong in years.
Marge: (with Baby on Board sign) Look what I got! Now people will stop intentionally ramming our car.
Barney: David Crosby? You're my hero!
David: Oh, you like my music?
Barney: [surprised] You're a musician?
And, if anyone knows a good Larry Sanders Show transcript or quotes database, please e-mail it to me. I am trying out some comic possibilities wherein Artie (Rip Torn) poses as an itinerant reporter and socks it to Ari Fleischer. A fitting send-off for our tonsorially challenged chief prevaricator.
It's always good when you can figure out the interlocking mess of public relations, foreign intelligence, criminal justice, and re-election politics before lunch. First, review these two stories: (1) Bush determines Qatari student is an enemy combatant; (2) Terrorists possibly targeting Texas.
The first story talks about a Qatari student, held in normal criminal/material witness detention for the last 18 months with access to a lawyer and all those other Constitutional perks, now being removed to a military brig in South Carolina. Why? Who knows? Given the recent decision concerning secrecy and the Justice Department, we're not likely to know very soon. You can debate the merits of this policy... I personally feel that the first World Trade Center bombing criminal case, conducted in a federal criminal court but with a high sensitivity for security issues, was the best path. This just seems like sour grapes or prosecutorial misconduct (cross-reference the name "Padilla").
The second story talks about how terrorists are targeting East Texas oilfields on July 4th. Here, the non-specific threat gets lots of Homeland Security background: we get to learn the name of the al-Qaeda operative from an internet chatroom, the mysterious moniker of the guy who is supposed to give the go-ahead (the "Sheik"), the triggering event (something in Morocco), etc., etc. Why do we get all of this information? Am I supposed to start monitoring Moroccan newspapers?
The first story reads like a boring advertisement for the ACLU. The second story reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Any reason why?
Incidentally, the second story has an interesting tidbit. Apparently, oil and port facilities (such as the Houston Ship Channel, Beaumont, Port Arthur) were identified as especially vulnerable to terrorist attacks soon after September 11, 2001. Our intrepid Administration's response? "In recent weeks the Homeland Security Department announced about $30 million in grants to upgrade security at port facilities where oil is shipped in Houston and Beaumont." Awesome. Way to cut through that red tape.
23 June 2003
... is pretty much what the twin affirmative action decisions handed down by the Supreme Court guarantees. At least there's a countable majority at the moment for some form of affirmative action in higher education (which will disappear when Sandra Day O'Connor retires and is replaced with Ted Olsen).
My reading is: if you consider race in such a subjective way that nobody knows entirely what's happening, you're safe. This is good for graduate schools who have a relatively small group of applicants. When you have to process tens of thousands of applicants, like the undergraduate program, you cannot streamline the process by assigning points (anyone check the "Upper Peninsula" thing?). Therefore, objectively taking race into account gets you shot down.
So the next step in the evolution, as we learned in Texas, is the "piss-poor surrogate" system. This is where you automatically accept the top 10% of each high school graduating class, regardless of consequence. Or, you can have 25,000 undergraduate applicants write a nice sob-story essay about how the parents wouldn't give them a Gucci purse or a high school graduate Expedition. Being assigned in the admissions office to evaluate the "life experience" essays of a bunch of suburban pricks is a sure ticket to drug abuse. Or, you simply subtract 12 points from the applicant if they like the White Stripes, Limp Bikzit, or Lawrence Welk. Take that, whitey!
Postscript: I type this as a somewhat interested party. My alma mater's affirmative action program was eviscerated by Hopwood v. Texas. Given (1) Texas' pretty sweet history with race, (2) the fact that the plaintiffs in that case couldn't even prove that they would have gotten into the school even without the timid affirmative action program (3) that the graduate programs at the Unveristy were basically Cloroxed overnight (because talented mionrity applicants went elsewhere)--- I would hope that the issue is revisited, but have no confidence that it will be.
19 June 2003
Sorry for the light posting, but I'm out of commission until next Monday. In the interim, I think I'm contributing to some sort of international team blog (mentioned below) called Slumbering Pierrot, which is set for launch next Monday. The component individuals are from far-flung places and are sure to bring interesting world flavor to the table. It's hosted by Glenn, with contributions by Alex(ei), Jivha, Jon, and Micah. Check them all out over the weekend, and keep reading up on Afghanistan-- a place where our credibility is being sorely tested on a daily basis.
Via cartoonist-turned-blogger Tom Tomorrow, a bleak, Platoon-like look at a soldier's life in Iraq after "Mission: Accomplished".
"There's a picture of the World Trade Centre hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my flak jacket. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."
Oh, and by the way, how does a 10 year occupation costing a half-trillion dollars sound? Any foreseeable problems there?
18 June 2003
I am told by the mystic elders of the underground records archive that we invaded some country called Afghanistan in the Fall of 2001. Their ruling party at the time was called the Taliban (although that sounds like some sort of 'Thundercats' villain), and they apparently didn't treat women, dissidents, or non-Muslims very well. And there was something about their helping to fund and train al-Qaeda (pronounced 'Al Ki-duh', I'm told), whom we suspect may have blown up several important buildings (although we won't know for sure until the 9/11 Committee report is declassified).
There was an intervening episode of busting up bunkers and cutting daisies, although I'm unsure what gardening has to do with military actions. Some communist sympathizer named Seymour Hersh (is that an alias or something?) said that Pakistani intelligence airlifted most of the guys out of Afghanistan before the shit got heavy. Something about warlords (not the Atari game) fighting, opium production way up, anarchy outside of the capital city of Kabul ('kah-bool'), foreign aid workers getting blown up.... it's all a dizzying mess, and I don't blame the American people one bit for not asking any sort of follow up questions.
However, I assume that some of you have got some sort of pathology that makes you follow up on things. Since you may not follow up on my invitation to move to Canada or the Disputed Territories of Norbiztania, I'll help you out with a few links:
(1) Taliban Warn of Suicide Attacks on Foreign Troops 6/16/03, Reuters. This just sounds like sour grapes to me. I think those Taliban muhjadeen should take their ass-whoopin' with a little more grace and dignity.
(2) Musharraf may seek payoffs from US; Indian Express, today. Yes, that is actually the name of the prime minister of Pakistan. This greedy little bastard doesn't think it's enough that we ignore his intelligence service's role in supporting al-Qaeda or his nukes or the reinstatement of radical Islamic law in some of his provinces. NOW he wants money to round up the Taliban? Well, I stand with Ari Fleischer on this one (before he was laughed out of the room): to suggest that world leaders are influenced by monetary payouts cannot be countenanced.
(3) Heavy Hand of US Fans Taliban Embers; Guardian UK, today. I don't like the bad metaphors, and I don't like objectively pro-Taliban reporters! This article even goes so far as to suggest there's a town called 'Khost'. I mean, whatever, old bean.
(4) US turns to the Taliban: Asia Times, June 14, 2003. Well, you can see right away how this would be false. If you remember my fuzzily reconstructed rundown, I think we fought these guys. Therefore, I encourage you, without even the hint of reverse psychology, to not even read this tabloid journalism! It can only rot your mind!
17 June 2003
Finally, another team blog that seems to cover most every topic under the sun: Metajournalism. Their entry has to do with the drive towards private prisons, which should be required reading for everyone, especially as every single state in the Union seems to be facing a budget crisis. The warehousing of non-violent criminals in America is a serious, ongoing problem.
Our buddy Glenn (aka Michael Clarke Duncan, aka "Hi, I'm Black!) also has fiddled with the Showcase technicalities to submit a post about Bret Boone being a roided-up freak. It pretty much speaks for itself.
On a related note, Glenn is ambitiously embarking on a team blog called "Slumbering Pierrot" (don't ask me to explain it), but has sabotaged his own effort by asking me to contribute. I seriously doubt the Kingpin would have made so grievous an error.
There is apparently some loose confederation of trust-fund political science wankers who have an aesthetically pleasing, topical, humorous new weblog that is being immediately noticed by the gods of the blogosphere. Anyone who wants to e-mail me the secret handshake and donate money to buy a crested jacket can do so at your convenience.
Their entry in the New Blog Showcase was entitled "David Sanger Is Leaking Brain Fluid" or something. I read the column in question, and couldn't decide whether Sanger is a political columnist, a society page item contributor, a brilliant satirist, or a hopeless jackass. It has something to do with President Sock Puppet being forced to vacation in Kennebunkport.
I posted a comment on their deconstruction, which borrows heavily from the greatest political sketch in Saturday Night Live's history: Phil Hartman portraying Reagan as a master of every tiny detail of his administration, while intermittently playing it goofy for the public.
16 June 2003
Not here, I'm afraid. As an aside, I spent several months in London back in the day, during which time there were a few IRA bombs detonated. What surprised me was how matter-of-factly the Londoners seemed to accept this situation; then again, Northern Ireland was across a small sea, not in Oxford.
I've always maintained that the Israelis' original real estate agent should have been stripped of his license and forced to write "Location, Location, Location" 35,000 times on a large blackboard. What has followed in the last 55 years has been a rather intractable series of crises that has garned more attention from pundits than all black-on-black African crises combined (South Africa is excluded because of 'Lethal Weapon II'), and about 10,000 times the coverage of Chechnya.
Worse still, it seems that every smarmy, helmet-haired douchebag on American television has a glib solution or run-down of the situation; one that invariably never mentions the sentiments of the ordinary Israeli citizen. Are they more pragmatic than our American columnists, like Cal "Like Invoking Auschwitz Is Going To Do Any Good" Thomas?
As it should become readily apparent, I have no idea. In this delicate area, I just report the results: for instance, 58% of Israelis opposed the idea of reprisals against Hamas by Ariel Sharon, even after the last terrorist bus explosion (in order to give the new Palestinian leader more time, it seems). I only wish the linked article had had more in the way of detailed responses from those seemingly forgotten people who have to live in a sea of violence every day.
Because of my utterly anemic showing in the previous New Blogger Showcase, I have been graciously allowed by the Great Ursine God to re-submit a post. Checking through the posts that have already been submitted, it's obvious that my entry is of markedly inferior quality, and right thinking person wouldn't piss on it if it were on fire.
But, of course, that doesn't matter. It's all about connivance, gratuitous insertion (no, not THAT gratuitous insertion), sucking up, and other Machiavellian tricks. So, anyone who wants to play the game can link to my post on the smoking ban in Austin. God have mercy on your souls.
I finally found a country I can live with when somebody invites me to leave the country. Some sort of weird mix of Nigeria, Jamaica, Cambodia circa 1976, Gilded Age America, and Japan-imation. How could you not love a country whose motto is "Don't Bogart That Joint, Asshole"?
In any event, nation-building is fun. The rest of Micronesia and Oceania are shaking in their boots.
15 June 2003
In the paper today... it seems that, in judicial arenas with rational sentencing schemes, such as in federal criminal trials, the poor death penalty sentence is being ignored in favor of a cowardly, simpering life sentence. I don't know whether federal prosecutors are overreaching in trying to apply the death penalty, or that doubts about the practical application of state-sponsored death (100 death row inmates being released, DNA projects, state-sponsored moratoria, etc.)
I am personally more than willing to categorically oppose the death penalty in all cases, but that's neither here nor there. I am happy to see that people are beginning to do so on practical grounds, and that one of the cases in the above article occurred in Texas. We here in the Lone Star State have a uniquely effectively plug-your-ears and cover-your-eyes policy on rational intermediate measures, such as a temporary moratorium or giving a criminal jury the life-without-parole option. Any attempts at reform died unceremonious deaths in Committee this year:
(1) HB 127: trying to raise the age limit for applying the death penalty from 17 to 18. We prefer to keep those Third World nations company.
(2) HB 357: trying to create a commission to study the application of the death penalty, including issues of ineffective assistance of counsel, sufficiency of appeals, and (gasp) whether innocent people may have been executed or slated for execution.
(3) HB 590: In a sickening slap to the face of victim's families, trying to introduce the concept of life with parole (in Texas' famous country club prisons) into the sentencing menu.
(4) HB 614: forbidding the execution of a defendant with mental retardation. This appeared to have bi-partisan support, but may have died because of the Supreme Court's pronouncement on the matter. Supreme Courts change, however.
(5) House Joint Resolution 6: I'm not sure of the procedure on this, but would have introduced a constitutional amendment forbidding death penalty sentences involving defendents whose cases were examined by the Houston Police Department crime lab. The HPD people are under severe scrutiny for minor problems, like DNA contamination and bad paperwork (an excellent roundup of the stories is here, thanks to an ongoing investigation by the Houston Chronicle).
Bottom line: while the next of the nation moves forward on re-examining the ultimate sanction, Texas remains steadfastly in the days of Judge Roy Bean.
14 June 2003
For those who have linked to my page or one of my drunken screeds, you now have a link on the right hand side of the page. For those of you still not included, I can only conclude that I would rather listen to the recently released .38 Special boxed set than read your horrific posts (or it's simply an oversight). Cheers!
13 June 2003
Has anyone figured out my placement on the political spectrum yet? Well, every once in a while, an issue comes out of the woodwork that would cause a deeper-thinking person to question their underlying belief system. One of my college friends, an ardent objectivist (but also nature boy) at the time, had to reconcile his feelings concerned the sell-off of Yosemite to Disney with his deep affection for "Atlas Shrugged". Then he turned 21, the age at which the Ayn Rand curse is usually broken.
I don't think I've painted myself into such a corner, but I almost turned libertarian as the debate raged in Austin concerning a smoking ban in bars, which passed recently [in reality, it will not go into effect because the composition of the City Council just changed]. I realize that other states and municipalities have experimented with this, but I don't think any of those places are as dependent on a vibrant live music scene as we are.
In the course of one of my discussions with one of those middle-aged suburbanite anti-smoking fascists (who I presume will be going to Blonde Redhead shows at Emo's and Cannibal Corpse shows at the Back Room now that those venues are smoke-free), I actually said "if there are so many people who want a smoke-free environment, why aren't there any voluntarily smoke-free bars? HUH? Answer me that, you asswipe!" When the issue of bar employee's health came up, I blurted out something about a nanny state, made some analogy to fatty foods, said something about them knowing what they were getting into, cursed again, and went outside to smoke. Until I calmed down, I actually thought about getting some sort of pithy bumper-sticker.
But I really don't want to hear how I should apply these arguments to other things. Let's just chalk up my libertarian fervor to the inventive ways Phillip Morris sneaks added nicotine into my cigarettes.
Thanks to Steve at Little Tiny Lies for kicking my ass into gear. If I don't receive any comments initially, I'll assume it's because the thousands of people who daily peruse my site are in complete agreement with my unhinged invective, not because in actuality I'm an insignificant speck swimming in a oppressively dark sea of nothingness. I promise not to inject myself too much into the fray, although I reserve the right to employ section 9 of my master plan, specifically: 'Gratuitously (using pseudonyms) insert yourself into each talkback' in order to feed my delusion of relevance.
12 June 2003
(a.k.a. 'Like you'd come here before going there')-- Everyone should read Josh Marshall's recent post that should effectively put an end to 'well, Democrats said Saddam had WMDs' bullshit non-argument. I'll have some additional thoughts on this later using President Bush's Iraq Madness kickoff speech in Cincinnati way back in October 2002. Remember: wars are usually fought on the principles of national security. In order to get all of the talking heads in the media to talk about Iraq non-stop at about the one-year anniversary of 9/11, the case had to be made that Iraq, in its present iteration, constituted a national security threat to the United States. More to come...
Well, it's time to go way, way back in time and revisit Patriot Act II. I realize it was only leaked in February 2003, but I'm calling on all blog readers to undertake the monumental task of going back 4 months in time. The original report on the subject was done by the Center for Public Integrity. This becomes important as Attorney General Ashcroft defiantly shouted down Congress with a list of non-negotiable demands in a hearing ostenisbly convened to determine what parts of Patriot Act I should be sunsetted in 2005.
(1) You may or may not remember that Section 201 of proposed Patriot Act II was entitled "Prohibition of Discloure of Terrorism Investigation Detainee Information". Can anyone think of a recently released report that such a provision might apply to? Further, can anyone correctly identify the number of people charged with a terrorism-related crime of the 762 people studied in the Inspector General's report? Hint: it's the number of hits the Yankees got off of Roy Oswalt, Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner last night.
(2) During the hearing, the AG averred that "the Patriot Act has several weaknesses which terrorists could exploit undermining our defenses", moments after declaring the initial Act a success by virtue of no further attacks since 9/11/01. Every once in awhile, we non-Justice Department types like to hear what are called facts... or even decently constructed hypothetical situations. What weaknesses? What type of attack? What sort of investigation? The Justice Department has produced a handful of indictments and convictions in Detroit and Buffalo, and the fate of the 20th hijacker and Padilla remains uncertain because of indefinite detention and delayed hearings.
(3) One of the most noxious provisions of Patriot Act II was Section 501 ("Expatriation of Terrorists"). This section created a presumption that an American citizen renounced his/her citizenship when providing "material support" to a "terrorist organization". Surprise! Ashcroft wants to expand the definition of material support, thereby complicating the already circular group of definitions in Patriot Act I.
(3a) To all of the "oh, the Administration knows a terrorist group when they see it" crowd, do you really want to wait to challenge the law when Attorney General Shrillary Clinton starts stripping NRA members of citizenship, or starts boxing up pro-Eric Rudolph locals in South Carolina to be sent to Cuba? If you wait till then, I'll send you a "go f*ck yourself" postcard from Vancouver.
(4) In the end, none of the above points will matter if Ashcroft gets his wish to make more of these terrorism offenses punishable by life in prison or the death penalty (also a provision in Patriot Act II). Given the country's success in eliminating crimes such as murder through such deterrents, there is no doubt the War on Terror is going to be won before the next Administration comes into office.
So what's the end result? "OK, we won't ask for any new unconstitutional powers, but in return you've got to leave the old Act in place and get those pesky appeals courts to lie down." Until somebody can demonstrate how the Patriot Act I and its multifarious provisions were responsible for catching a few dipshits who went to Terrorist Spring Training in Afghanistan, I'm going to go with my instincts and distrust the Attorney General on this one. Now where's my magic rock that repels tiger attacks in Central Texas?
11 June 2003
I tried not to get too worked up about VH-1 or Grand Ole Opry pronouncements about the top 100 something or others. My main beef with the music industry is their wholesale blacklisting of any band with the word "Pantload" in their title. Luckily, Uncle Jeffington, a local contributor to this website, and I have come up with a list of potential cover band names and the genre in which they would operate. They don't call Austin the "Live Music Capital of the World" for nothing:
(1) Washed up Prog Rockers: Anderson, Bruford, Pantload and Howe
(1a) Totally Washed up Prog Rockers: Emerson, Lake and Pantload
(2) Crappy 70s Lite Rock: Pantload and Tennille
(3) Disco Soul: Earth, Wind, and Pantload
(4) Gospel/Country: Tennessee Ernie Pantload and the Adult Undergarments
(5) Butt-rock/Homer Simpson-rock: Grand Funk Pantload
(6) Classic American Rock: The Lovin' Pantload
(7) Pureed Folk Rock for Fat Hippies: The Mamas and the Pantloads
(8) Pseudo-Springstreen Heartland Rock: John Cougar Mellenpantload
(9) Moody Synth Goth Rock: Orchestral Pantloads in the Dark
(10) Mighty Wind Parody: Peter, Paul, and Pantload [too easy]
(11) Post-Punk: Pantload Image Unlimited
(12) Chevy Rock: Bob Seger and the Light Brown Pantload Band
(13) Straight-to-Muzak or Straight-to-Big-Chill Rock: Three Dog Pantload
(14) College Jangle Pop: Life's Rich Pantload
(15) Bloated wuss rock spin-off: Dennis DeYoung presents Dennis DeYoung and Pantload
(16) 80s Poodle Hair Rock: Faster, Pantload! Kill! Kill!
Needless to say, we're not proud of this list and are thankful for our anonymity.
Well, the kinks finally got worked out, so I'm listed in the Truth Laid Bear's Ecosystem, currently as a "Flappy Bird". Of course, I choose Texas' magnificent state bird, the object of Atticus Finch's affection, the mockingbird. I think the quote goes something like this: "The crows eat the corn, the pigeons are flying disease bags, the grackles serve no discernible purpose whatsoever... don't even get me started on buzzards and pileated woodpeckers. But the mockingbird... all it does is sit on the clothesline outside my window and sing, sing, sing while I'm trying to write my goddamned closing statement. It drives me CRAZY! And that's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, or at least it's against state law. Forget I said anything, Scout".
Currently, this group includes people with 36-47 links, and represents a wide diversity of viewpoints and subject matter, Here's an abbreviated list, followed by their rank in the ecosystem as of today:
508. Aaron's Baseball Blog: I preferred his prior blog on Pokemon card trading, but if you like the national pasttime (specifically, eye-liquefying stats), go here.
520. James Landrith: Also good to read an actually independent-minded libertarian, not an Administration-apologist what-drug-war-and-civil-rights-abuses crypto-libertarian. Also properly uses the term "tirades" instead of "musings".
551. The Raving Atheist: Now, I'm more of a raving apathetic agnostic, but I appreciate the dissembling of religious nonsense as much as the next guy.
554. Brief Intelligence by Tiger Lily: It's very dense, word-wise, but very well-researched and comes with links sections at the end of each post. In other words, the antithesis of what I'm trying to accomplish here.
558. It's Still the Economy, Stupid: It may be the dismal science, but I'm told by certain highly placed insiders that the economy is important.
570. The Dullest Blog in the World: This title is technically misleading, because it's still 10 times more interesting than Mickey Kaus.
10 June 2003
May 2000: President Clinton makes a $216 billion payment on the national debt (the principal, that is).
President Bush, March 2001: 'Even if the slowdown were to turn into a recession similar to that of 1990 and '91, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the 10-year surplus would shrink by only 2 percent, from a little more than $5.6 trillion to a little less than $5.5 trillion.' As for that pesky debt, he comments here: 'And we can also pay down debt. I know a lot of folks around America are worried about national debt, as am I. We pay down $2 trillion of debt over the next 10 years.'
November 2001: After OMB Director Mitch Daniels says 'whoops, I mean deficits until 2005', Ari Fleischer explains that all we really need to do is pass the stimulus package.
July 2002: Oh, I'm sorry. It's up to $165 billion now. I'm pretty sure we can pin this on the vaunted trifecta, maybe throw in a "DAMN YOUR EYES" for Kenneth Lay.
March 2003: OK, we can't officially blame the costs associated with the Iraq War yet. However, the deficit will be $287 billion for 2003 and $338 billion for 2004. And as for paying down $2 trillion in debt over the next 10 years, we meant ADD $2 trillion. Your White House transcripts will be thusly altered.
May 31, 2003: Democratic budget analysis (backed up by a former Bush Administration economist, of all people) predicts further doom-- $416 billion deficit for 2003, $489 billion for 2004. Fucking awesome! That is bold beyond bold, a sort of daring boldness only detectible in the ultraviolet spectrum!
To give you an idea of the Bush Administration's brief and lamentable history in balancing the nation's checkbook, that's a bottom-line swing of $9,000,000,000,000 in accumulated debt over a 10-year period. Divided by 290 million people in America, every man, woman and child is looking at financing a debt of approximately $32,000 with no hope of currently paying down the principal. Can somebody please invent a curse word for me to use here?
UPDATE: Today, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, after scouring the numbers and carrying all the billions, confirms that we're screwed. I am really not fond of servicing my own college loans, and I don't think I like the idea of assisting this incompetent Administration in servicing something approximately its size in the name of EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN.
Do you think that we could possibly get a 2004 Democratic candidate to read from this speech by Sen. Jeffords? On subject after subject (weapons of mass destruction, job losses, the inability of the tax cuts to help the middle and lower-middle classes, deficits (on the national and state levels), education, the environment), it highlights the important differences between Sock Puppet Bush and Policy Maker Bush.
I realize that he doesn't discuss high-profile murder case, airport haircuts, full-service interns, diseased prairie dogs, indictments of domestic goddesses/fascists, abducted children, stun guns, or corked bats, but do you think that perhaps the topics in his Press Club speech could get some play?
Archaeologists have announced that they have probably discovered the remains of Queen Nefretiti, in Jackson, Mississippi no less! (just kidding). Using space-age reconstructive technology, they have developed a computer-generated image of her legendary face.
Oh wait, that's Anne Baxter from 'The Ten Commandments'. I am put in mind of Vincent D'Onofrio (using the voice of Maurice LaMarche) as Orson Welles in Tim Burton's 'Ed Wood': "You think that's bad... they want me to cast Charlton Heston as a Mexican."
09 June 2003
In my masochist desire to scour the Texas legislature's incomparable archives of asinine bills that passed this last session, some things just leap out of you. Senate Bill 501, though seemingly innocuous, would in essence repeal local prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons into municipal facilities, such as parks, libraries, and police stations. I don't know, but this reminds me of a scene out of 'The Terminator', or maybe 'Menace II Society'. Predictably, bed-wetting anti-gun zealots in local government, such as the chief of police in Houston are becoming hysterical about this development.
Needless to say, I'm being entirely unfair to those decent citizens who have become licensed and safely carry around their concealed weapons. You have to admit, however, that the comedic value of this legislation far outpaces the substantive debate:
City of Abilene Public Library: "What do you mean, you just checked out the last copy of 'The Turner Diaries'? (slams .38 loudly down on checkout desk) How about NOW?"
City of Houston Zoning Board: "What do you mean, I can't put my gentleman's club next to a halfway house for sex offenders? (slams .38 loudly down on speaker's podium) How about NOW?"
Zilker Park, Austin: "(slams .38 loudly down on picnic table) You call THIS potato salad?"
07 June 2003
I have a separate living will for my actual life. It's not really a "do not resuscitate order or something to do with control over my own bowels. Rather, it authorizes anyone I know to instantly terminate my life with extreme prejudice should pop-cultural things occur; e.g. asking someone to turn something down, being able to correctly complete a multi-part Starbucks order, paying more than $40 for a concert (unless it's Jimi Hendrix back from the dead and he's got Hank Williams Sr. in tow), enjoying a martini and a cigar at the same bar (these may be done in separate bars, however).
Simialrly, I think there should be some basic, humane conditions for any weblog and/or associated comments that would consign one's collected typings to Weblog Purgatory forever and ever:
(1) Accusing someone of name-calling. Note: actual name-calling is encouraged.
(1a) Following up the accusation with the phrase: "this proves that people on the [blank] are incapable of debate". You should have died of irony poisoning already.
(2) Using the term "musings", "meme", "money quote", and especially "idiotarian".
(3) 'Fisking' anything without at least once saying "Come the fuck on".
(4) Trying to link to Instapundit, as if that moist shitwad has had an original thought since "Boy, it was humid in Knoxville" back in June 2001.
(5) Saying "sorry I was gone" if your absence was less than 2 weeks. If someone e-mailed you and asked where you were, you may note this and the death sentence will be transmitted to that hapless yokel.
(6) If cats, binge drinking, or the foibles of a particular blogger occupy more than 20% of your verbiage.
I expect to last two weeks.
Can currently be found here. I don't know how Google's news service works, but there are clusters of related stories on intelligence services contradicting the politicians on WMD claims should be accessed via that link.
My current favorite, from a richness of quotable quotes perspective (I will not succumb to the temptation to call something a 'money quote', because that just simultaneously degrades porn and blogging), was the Knight-Ridder story I found in the San-Jose Mercury News. It quotes extensively from the Defense Intelligence Agency's September 2002 report on the subject. I can only hope that it is extensively quoted again during some future Senate hearing.
"There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has - or will - establish its chemical warfare agent-production facilities"
"Some people higher up the food chain made the leap from suspicion to conviction"
"It's looking like in truth the Iraqi (weapons) program was gray. The Bush administration was trying to say it was black" -- Kenneth "I Had Nothing to Do With This" Pollack
"In some cases, they managed to push the intel guys back. In other cases, where they couldn't do that, they simply ignored them." -- Walter "Glad I Got Out" Lang, former Middle East expert on the DIA.
But don't worry, Administration apologists. Your defense for specific, unequivocal announcements can be found here, and may even lead to this unique verb making its way into our lexicon: "I think it's appropriately caveated". Who's up for a round of Caveatgate?
Nuclear weapons, intelligence service emmeshed with al-Qaeda and Taliban elements, nuclear weapons, a wonderful spat with nearly a billion neighbors, selling shit to North Korea, and an ever-hastening drive towards radical Islamic fundamentalism?
Go Pakistan! It's your birthday!
John Dean, no stranger to White Houses who prevaricate about important things, explores the ramifications of lying your ass off in order to authorize military actions. About half of the way through the article, he suggests that the President could have insulated himself with "our intelligence strongly shows" or "I have been advised" that banned weapons existed, rather than unequivocally stating specific numbers and locations. That way, if they don't turn up or if they are sold off in a garage sale, you can blame the incompetence of your national security agencies and they can all go drink poisoned martinis in Dick Cheney Underground Soundproof Bunker #582.
Here's the Catch-22. You sell a war not based on "he's a bad guy", but based on "he's a bad guy who can or will hurt us". Robert Mugabe and that boiling-dissidents-nutcase in Uzbekistan sleep well on feathery pillows with this knowledge. Well, there were a number of political decisions: (1) to overstate the intelligence [select quotes from the intelligence community in an upcoming post], (2) to get your underlings and British allies to make asses of themselves in the court of world opinion, and (3) to yourself take Karl Rove's advise and bewilderingly cement your image as a plain-spoken straight-shooter incapable of nuance in front of the American people on numerous, scripted, unchallenged occasions.
If all of the potential locations, Iraqi witnesses, and international search teams dry up and blow away, where does that leave the erstwhile President? The senile dementia defense? Mass resignations? Electoral discomfort? I guess we'll see the germs of this in the Sunday talk shows tomorrow.
05 June 2003
I won't give it away, so you'll have to click on the link. This is my entry, and it's generic enough. It's not funny, but the picture linked above is. "Look, my clock radio alarm didn't go off, I've got hemorrhoids the size of grapefruits, the goddamned drycleaner gave me heavy starch, someone put a stuffed calico cat in my glove compartment, I've been involuntarily speaking in tongues since Friday, and I CAN'T FUCKING READ. Are you happy now, Senator?"
First, it was developed in 1976. I don't trust words (that don't describe actual inventions) that post-date 1800. Second, it's pronounced "meam" (rhymes with "ream"), so anyone actually pronouncing it, even properly, would be rightly ostracized from polite society. It has no recognized synonyms in any online thesaurus, so I have a feeling it's some hipster doofus surrogate word for what the writer really means.
In other words, what you mean to say it's a "verbal virus" or "nonsense" or "hip pick of the week" (late 80s MTV reference) or "overused tripe" or even "astroturf" (current invention exception to pre-19th century rule).
I'm not sure I agree with George Carlin that language is of absolute, paramout importance, but I do know that it has an unbounded ability to piss me off.
or, ranking 50th in insuring children but 1st in sublime ridiculousness
The legislative session in Austin, Texas has just concluded. Apart from the redistricting shenanigans, which may be inexplicably revived in a special session, it was time for the first all-Republican legislature since Reconstruction to start passing a whole boatload of inane bills (1400 at last count). Of course, many of the listed bills are valuable, but many serve as cautionary tales for those states teetering on the edge of electoral imbalance. Texas, I fear, will remain strictly GOP for the foreseeable future for reasons completely alien to logic or common sense.
Keep in mind that these following pieces of legislation were passed in the face of a $10 billion biennial deficit in Texas; also keep in mind what WASN'T passed: relatively simple legislation closing Governor Bush-era tax loopholes for corporations, meaningful school finance, and a half-decent ethics bill.
(1) House Bill 15: in short, requiring "informed consent" and a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion. Let's make no mistake: the people in current Texas government would outlaw abortion in a nanosecond if they could. Here, the irony of people who disdain waiting periods and background checks for concealed handgun purchases, yet want pseudo-scientific diatribes and fetus slideshows to be foisted on young women exercising a difficult decision by physicians who otherwise know better, is overwhelming and putrescent.
(2) House Bill 219: 'permitting' public schools to display the national motto: 'In God We Trust' wherever they want. Keep in mind that we're the state with all of the prayers-over-the-loudspeakers and graduation baptism controversies.
(3) House Bill 319: Apparently, there are certain platitudinal objectives for public education in Texas, all of which are nicely vague but focus on fulfilling the potential of the student. This bill adds the following objective: "OBJECTIVE 5: Educators will prepare students to be thoughtful, active citizens who have an appreciation for the basic values of our state and national heritage and who can understand and productively function in a free enterprise society." I can just see a room full of kindergarteners being forced to memorize Gordon Gekko's shareholders meeting speech.
(4) House Bill 831: The Laser Pointer Regulation Act of 2003. It even defines "laser pointer"! Look for this to be tied in with Patriot Act II somehow. The pointers in our midst must be rounded up.
Much more to follow. This shit writes itself.
04 June 2003
Driven half-mad by jet lag from constant globetrotting, Paul "Solomon Grundy" Wolfowitz has decided to channel Noam Chomsky and provide grist for a decade's worth of protest placards. Maybe he was channeling James "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" Baker. Either this a trial balloon to see whether Americans will swallow anything, or there will be flaming chunks of Paul Wolfo-bits in the Pacific Ocean shortly.
Don't worry, this is an evenhanded collection of nonsensical rants. If you're an Administration apologist looking to comment on other people's blogs about this gaffe, here are a few starters: (1) He was misquoted; (2) the reporter was a German. A dirty, treacherous cabbage-eater; (3) he was just placating the Asian community jittery over North Korea; (4) didn't you see the statue fall over?; (5) I think I heard Iran has nukes; and finally, if you want to impress the proles out there with your Vulcanian logic, say: (6) He was right! Get on the Realpolitik Express, you naive, bed-wetting liberal!
Partial instant update: Other people have reported that he actually said, in response to a question about economic sanctions instead of war in Iraq and North Korea, respectively: "The primary difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options in Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil." Of course, I can't find a transcript at the Pentagon's website (and they do seem to chronicle every word out of his mouth) that has the word "floats", which appears in both stories.
How exciting. A real-time 'what the hell did he actually say?' controversy!
IT'S OFFICIAL-- I don't want to be out in front of this anymore (3:45 p.m. CST): The official transcript from the Department of Defense has Wolfowitz proffering the much-translated section. Essentially, the question is: so what's different about North Korea and Iraq that would cause you to invade one and not the other? Is it because one has deterrent capabilities (North Korea having admitted to WMDs and nuclear capability), and the other didn't? Solomon Grundy responds: "Look, the primarily [sic] difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage." New spin? Were all those economic sanctions on Iraq useless? Does that mean that we should continue the policy of bribing the North Koreans?
Alright, enough of that crap. Let the important people fight it out.
This may be the ultimate message of America's new foreign policy. However, assuming that terrorism is the greatest ongoing challenge (we'll leave poor China out of this), I would assume that not producing anti-American zealots is an important foreign policy goal. I know that there is also going to be an implacable subset of highly motivated religious nutcases for whom this is not possible. Could we at least work on not creating a global support (implicit or explicit) network?
Therefore, regardless of what the enablers of arrogant empire-builders will tell you, world opinion does matter as a barometer of our long-term success. Either that, or we get Cheney to start burrowing out some additional underground bunker space. I think we were all dimly aware that America had squandered its post-9/11 goodwill, but I had no idea it was this bad (.pdf format, scroll down to page 29).
Good to see we rank in the teens, popularity wise, with two of the largest Muslim countries [extrapolating out, that's 170 million disgruntled Indonesians and nearly 50 million honked-off Turks]. This is down from 75% and 53% in 2000, respectively.
And 1% from Jordan? Maybe this Middle Eastern flyspeck with the smokin'-hot queen isn't geopolitically important, but venereal disease generally ranks higher than this.
And now a word about Pakistan, still nuclear and currently re-evaluating whether it should ratchet up to Taliban-level hard-core Islamic government. 13% approval? Sweet. That was the word.
On a positive note, Nigeria is one of the few countries that has a more favorable opinion of us than 2000 (61% vs 46%). Perhaps those tribal chieftain hidden gold pyramid scams were more successful than originally thought.
03 June 2003
Trust me, new blogs are proliferating like stink waves on a three-day old container of rotisserie chicken salad left out in the Arizona sun (I think Raymond Chandler wrote that). However, it's not all painful, twisted, unchecked prose like this. There are plenty of intelligent people out there, slogging away on their Commodore 64s and on their 14th can of Mountain Dew, producing valuable, insightful commentary on the day's events. Here is but a small sample, all funnier than I could ever hope to be:
(1) DANEgerous (a moniker left over from some sort of personals ad in the 'men seeking miscellaneous' section of an Omaha rough trade bi-weekly), 'fisks' horndog-turned-columnist Gary Hart in this delightful post, solely by using the word 'splat' (a reference to the sound of monkey feces). This risky manuever has not been employed since Publius' daring take-down of the anti-Federalists in Federalist Paper #25. I mean, why do chairmen of bipartisan national security commissions even bother?
(2) The Mudville Gazette (circulation: 12 humans, 3 pigs, the burned out shell of a '68 Dodge Dart, and the ghost of William Faulkner) opines that bile-spewing leftists should stop emulating Colin Powell, e.g. throwing cooked intelligence reports and yelling "I can't read this bullshit", and get on with it! I can't really argue with that. Thinking about reactionary triumphalism can only serve to angry up the blood and reduce sperm count. However, I can't let quotes like this pass without some sort of recognition: "Recall when Reagan replaced the ineffective Carter in '81 - Iran immediately released the hostages. Some would claim this was an attempt to embarrass Carter. Others (the Ayatollah included) knew the truth; a new sheriff was in town." Of course, if the Ayatollah knew this kindness would be rewarded by Reagan's arming his mortal enemy (Iraq) to the teeth, thereby allowing a million or so Iranians to be killed in the upcoming decade.... ah, never mind. Do I have to go Free Republic clone and start blaming the public education system for this shit?
(3) Hawken, some sort of anonymous, loose collective of Renaissance Festival bit players. It's not a bad collection of articles and observations, but about half-way down the page (sorry, the individual links aren't working), I came across an unexpected outpouring of admiration: "I loved (Thomas) Friedman's 'Theory of Everything' on the topic of why the rest of the world hates America. It makes a lot of sense to me." If this unfortunate phenomenon ever occurs in anybody else out there, call the local emergency room of the hospital. You have apparently suffered a massive head injury, and will begin tasting spinal fluid a la Rudy Tomjanovich in a matter of minutes.
Well, in any event, vote for one or all of these sumbitches. And if you figure out how to vote, be sure and tell me.
Calpundit, who successfully negotiated 112 levels of Robotron 2084 on a single quarter, has some musings about the free market. Of course, this is done in the exciting prose one usually finds in "Introductory Macroeconomics" textbooks. Former Senator Sherman, 110 years in the grave, will be happy that his antitrust legislation is given a legitimate exemption in an otherwise purely capitalist society. 8-year-olds in West Virginia will also breathe a sigh of relief that they will not be sent back to the coal mines.
However, in fairness the hordes of Communist sympathizers who read and draw strength from my webpage, I present the following numbers: Greg Ostertag $39 million, 6 years; Jim McIlvaine $33.6, 7 years; Shawn Bradley $30 million, 7 years; Bryant Reeves $65 (?!?) million, 6 years. In the paraphrased words of Kent Brockman, "I've said it before and I'll say it again: capitalism simply doesn't work".
I find myself making at least 5-10 economically shaky decisions per week. NBA teams make asinine decisions on paying white centers, despite decades and decades of experience indicating that they will get dunked on, tear up their knee ligaments, and get real fat in the offseason. People buy carnival ring tosses, Franklin Mint plates, and sugar water... er... energy drinks. The CEO-go-round (the corporate equivalent of the white center phenomenon) continues unabated, fueled by stock options rather than long-term performance. Does all of this idiocy cancel out in the end?
Or, like democracy, it's a shitty system, but just has the advantage of being better than everything else on the menu?
02 June 2003
I have great difficulty watching most political talk shows. The format is generally dreary, the the host is smarmy, the 2 of the 3 panelists are reactionary and are in a sort of race to get me to destroy my television in a fit of fury, the show employs a "screaming conservative vs. timid moderate" format... the list goes on. Worse still, it has elevated to the rank of minor celebrity complete assclowns like Chris 'Tweety' Matthews (head shot from his 'wacky neighbor' days in NBC's Blossom), Fred Barnes (shown here at a support group for douchebags who can't uncross their arms), or one of those interchangeable blonde lunatics that were all the rage in 1998. Perhaps we would all be better served and entertained if these pantloads would try their hat in another form of TV show:
(1) Charles Krauthammer, appearing on 'Fear Factor', is required to eat as many silverfish in a vat as he can in 60 seconds. After the time expires, he spends an additional 5 minutes going to town on the silverfish vat, much to Joe Rogan's horror. I mean, look at this guy.
(2) The 'Black Panther 35th Anniversary Reunion' starring David Horowitz (shown here about to get his freak on). No... that wouldn't work. Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton, and Eldridge Cleaver are all dead, and couldn't administer the beatdown Diamond Dave richly deserves. Better yet, an Evening at the Improv, whereupon he could tell hilarious jokes like this: "Congress should also look to reactivating sedition laws that would meet the threat posed by the deadly seriousness of the anti-American Fifth Column." You know, the ones that allowed Saddam Hussein to rise up and crush the coalition forces back in April.
(3) The 'George Will Sports Machine'. Shit, 16 years too late. "Throw the ball, George!" George is shown here, trying to silently alert the photographer that these two guys are about to take him to the men's bathroom, rough him up, and take his per diem.
Sorry, the first one was the only real idea I had. I'll try to come up with some others later.
(warning: this may only be funny to my People's Republic of Austin comrades, and probably not even then). Of course, on the down side:
(1) the Sunday Help wanted section of the Austin American-Statesman was conveniently printed on a cocktail napkin.
(2) Motorola's headquarters has been converted into the world's largest 'Everything's 99 Cents' store
(3) the hulking concrete skeleton formerly known as the Intel Building is serving as a wonderful bed and breakfast for the downtown homeless
(4) I saw some computer programmer busking on 6th Street with his harmonica-driven renditions of Air Supply's greatest hits, and
(5) 11,000 state employees are about to hit the Goodwill outlets and day-old bread stores after passage of the latest recession-driven state budget.
Items #3 and #5 are totally true, #1 is almost true, and #2 and #4 are only wishful thinking. Sigh.
Since our friend Mr. Bear was kind enough to single me out for some vaguely homoerotic praise last week HERE, thereby eliciting a firestorm of outraged comments, I thought I would re-enter the new blogger contest. The only catch: I would have to learn to link to other new life forms in the ecosystem. You should see new links and a new e-mail challenge on the right. Never let it be said that I didn't learn my lessons from Spinoza's 4th Treatise on Sucking Up To People For No Apparent Reason.
One question, though. After seeing 'The Andromeda Strain' last night, my mind is all a-flutter with bad Crichtonian pseudo-science. Can I inhabit a new section of the ecosystem: Crystalline Extraterrestrial Microbes?