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30 September 2003

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RELATIVELY ABBREVIATED CRINGE-WORTHY MOVIE NEWS

Once again, from the spiralling vortex of industry crapulence, Mr. Elston Gunn.

(1) Naomi Watts has been offered the role of Ann Darrow, an American actress who makes a living performing in Broadway song and dance shows in Depression-era New York in Universal's KING KONG for director Peter Jackson. [In the words of Tom Jackson describing a defensive back's responsibility vis-a-vis a Hail Mary pass: "Naomi! Knock it down!"]

(2) Omar Epps will star opposite Marisa Tomei and Jude Law in the untitled Paramount remake of the 1966 classic ALFIE for director Charles Shyer. [People are always asking me: "What's this bloody useless remake bullshit all about, Alfie?"]

(3) Parker Posey joins the cast of New Line's BLADE: TRINITY. [A sad state of affairs for the former "girl contractually required to be in every independent movie."]

(4) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will star in SPY HUNTER, a film adaptation of the classic 1980s videogame, for Universal. [Oh, this should be good. So long as the movie remains faithful to the video game and only employs one 90-minute long tracking shot from an aerial camera.]

(5) Monica Bellucci will play the evil queen in Terry Gilliam's THE BROTHERS GRIMM, starring Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and Jonathan Pryce. [This doesn't SOUND like something that Terry Gilliam would be doing. Are your sources credible?]

(6) Katia Lund (CITY OF GOD co-director) will helm LIL' ROMEO AND LIL' JULIET, starring Lil' Romeo. [If this is true, I officially hate the American film industry forever and ever. City of God was one of the best movies I've seen in the last five years.]

(7) Danny McBride and Len Wiseman will write a sequel to UNDERWORLD, which Wiseman has said he would again direct for Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment. A third film, a prequel, may follow. [One weekend of more than $20 million, and two predictably shitty (or shittier, depending on your view of the original movie) additional films are planned. Things move fast.]

(8) David E. Kelley will write the feature remake of Agatha Christie's classic mystery WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. [Have I mentioned that David E. Kelley is the anti-Christ? Look, Michelle Pfieffer, you can do so much better. Marry a block of Velveeta cheese, for God's sake.]
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TEXAS IS SO ROPE, THEY CALL US MR. ROPER

You think you've got a lot of people without health insurance in your state, Idaho or Alabama or Mississippi? You're nothing but a bunch of slack-ass pretenders! You couldn't succesfully give a group rabbit-punch to the unemployed and underemployed in your state if someone paid you! Texas is sitting on top of the rankings again with a 24.7% of the population without health insurance. That's two-four-point-seven, you wannabe Third Worlders!

However, being the state that tries harder to beat up sick children with their own prosthetic devices, we aren't satisfied. There's still 75.3% of the population with health insurance, and we won't rest until those lucky bastards are clogging the public hospitals with their colds-turned-pneuemonia or staph-infection-turned-amputations. That's one small step in eliminating the CHIP program for man, one giant leap for mankind.

However, I wouldn't worry about any sort of long-term trend wherein the safety net is sold for scrap at a flea market. According to Bush spokeswoman Claire Buchan, "The president is committed to getting the economy growing faster so the number of unemployed and uninsured Americans will go down." Tell you what, George "Constanza" Bush--- why don't you try ordering the chicken salad, on rye, untoasted with and a cup of tea--- because nothing's ever worked out for you with tuna on toast. Ya dumb bastard.

29 September 2003

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LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ROBERT NOVAK

(1) He won the Heisman Trophy in 1951 under the pseudonym "Doak Walker". He assumed that named because he killed his staff sergeant and 14 local villagers after an opium binge in Korea the preceding year. However, he was sheltered by the Ukranian Mafia in Chicago, and re-emerged as a collegiate football star and all-around ladies man.

(2) He was the original bass player for the surf-rock group The Ventures. He also showed Brian Wilson how to play the theremin for "Good Vibrations". Speaking of that 40-year friendship, he once ate a half-pound of hash brownies with Brian, leading to a marathon 8-hour sandcastle building session in the Wilson Compound sandbox room.

(3) He is functionally illiterate.

(4) Hunter S. Thompson did not base "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" on his own experiences, but rather a mangled mountain of notes left behind by a psychedelically disturbed Robert Novak in the Wayne Newton Suite of the Flamingo. Apparently, Dr. Gonzo was based on a young, out-of-control Charles Krauthammer.

(5) After imbibing 30 gin and tonics at a Reagan election party at the Annapolis Hilton, he body-slammed William Safire onto the roast beef carving table. He was mostly incoherent for the 25 minutes it took to get 8 local law enforcement officers to gang-tackle him in the parking lot; however, according to George Will's memoirs, it had something to do with Safire having grabbed his ass.

(6) During a particularly intense Capital Gang episode in 1993, he psychokinetically caused Kate O'Beirne to burst a blood vessel in her ostrich-like head, requiring her to be hospitalized for three weeks.

(7) He is the only three-time winner (1969, 1974, 2001) of People's Sexiest Man Alive award.

(8) He's lying his ass off about this Valerie Plame thing.
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IF ANYONE'S GOING TO TAKE ME OUT OF CONTEXT, IT'LL BE ME

Context-less highlights of a constant four months of blogging and drug abuse, courtesy of my incomparable archives. Part One: The early months.

(1) There is absolutely nothing in common between a think-tank bookworm and a superstrong Cajun zombie, but I am told by various Beltway Sources that 'Wolfie' has an indescribably pungent body odor.

(2) Nobody gives a fuck about your college, your guinea pig Snuggles, or your hometown.

(3) I'm so mad, I could kick William Kristol in the testes.

(4) The Administration isn't going far enough in dismantling the safety net, and should begin extracting vital nutrients from the elderly.

(5) Go Pakistan! It's your birthday!

(6) 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.

(7) Charles Krauthammer, appearing on 'Fear Factor', is required to eat as many silverfish in a vat as he can in 60 seconds.

(8) If you wait till then, I'll send you a "go fuck yourself" postcard from Vancouver.

(9) 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.

(10) You call THIS potato salad?

(11) How could you not love a country whose motto is "Don't Bogart That Joint, Asshole"?

(12) You simply subtract 12 points from the applicant if they like the White Stripes, Limp Bikzit, or Lawrence Welk. Take that, whitey!

(13) Was the dowry paid out in worn-out copies of "Gigantic Asses Quarterly" and cartons of generic Diamond Shamrock cigarettes?
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UNVARNISHED COMMUNISTISH OPINION CODA

And, regardless of press coverage concerning the success of the reconstruction, I still believe that the War in Iraq was unnecessary, probably illegal, based on a whole series of bad intelligence and outright deception, damaging of our international standing and our troop strength and morale, almost completely unconnected and probably counterproductive to the larger war on terrorism, and a horrible foreign policy precedent.

It's like asking whether the illegal bombing of Cambodia and Laos managed to weaken North Vietnamese offensive capability during the Vietnam War. I'm sure it did. You don't find anyone outside of hardcore Kissinger and Nixon apologists defending it 30 years later. And with that, I'm sure that I'm going to be in trouble with anyone to the right of Noam Chomsky.
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10 SECONDS LATER UPDATE: And, of course, I find someone with a little more balance providing a much better summary. "If the first war predicated on this policy -- call it reverse domino, call it regional transformation -- is slowly discredited by stories like this [bad intelligence from exiles], by stories like the Plame affair, and by stories like the US Army's creeping disintegration, then we're going to lose it. In a sense, we'll deserve to. But I hesitate to say that, because the long-term price for it will be paid in blood."
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WHY WON'T YOU REPORT WHAT I WANT TO HEAR?

There appears to be a growing discussion concerning the role and effect of media reporting in Iraq. Diminishing our resolve, etc. etc. I'm wondering if this is the last stage of pro-Administration apologeia? The international community is frustrating us, the anti-war demonstrators are frustrating, the Congressional Democrats (and a fair number of Congressional Republicans) are frustrating us. Now it's the press that's being touted as the new boogeyman that prevents this country from achieving pure, glorious victory.

I mean, the fact that a group of Iraqi kids got toys should receive about the same column space in the Washington Post as ethnic and religious tensions in two separate areas of the country, right? I may not be a journalism major, but a peaceful city street with normal traffic doesn't get as much attention as a street with a giant bomb crater in it, flaming cars littered everywhere, and dead and wounded American soldiers?

Well, the inverse is true in Afghanistan. Kabul is stable, relatively speaking. The rest of the country is beseiged by warlords who are becoming increasingly armed and dangerous due to the spoils of the resurgent opium trade, as well as attacks by Taliban remnants who are being actively aided by Pakistan, it seems. However, we never hear a goddamned thing about that country in the national headlines, even as it approaches its two year anniversary. Other places (Sudan) get zilch.

The bottom line: reporters report, and generally after an episode where things happen as opposed to when they don't. Talking heads pull it together and spin it, usually incorrectly. Mistaken impressions can be formed (majority of Americans believing that Saddam had a role in 9/11). The alternative is repeating loops that shows a grainy black and white smokestack blowing up, while tens of thousands of soldiers that come home sick goes initially unreported.

28 September 2003

AND I WOULD BE REMISS....

Thanks to Jo Fish over at Democratic Veteran, I am reminded that Mark Kleiman did most of the leg-work concerning the tying together of Wilsongate back in July. Those shrieking that this breaking development represents some sort of payback for the investigations in the previous Administration (lying about blowjobs vs. outing intelligence agents... hmmm) should remember that this thing had laid dormant for a good 2 1/2 months prior to the front page Washington Post article today. Further, Ambassador Wilson (an appointee for multiple Administrations, including Reagan and Bush I) has been trumpeting this to little avail. In fact, I had to find his excellent August editorial on the failure of the Administration to listen to its own Iraq intelligence in the San Jose Mercury-News, of all places.

But that's fine with me. I'd rather have a slow, deliberate investigation (if investigative journalists still exist) in the style of the original Watergate, rather than the Inside Edition style of Kenneth Starr and Ted "Theodore" Olsen. Not to say that, if you click on a random link to your right, you won't get a few overanxious people offering up hopelessly optimistic opinions about prison greys for high-ranking Administration officials. I'm going to just chill out and watch, for the most part.

Finally, I don't think that it's incumbent upon every right-leaning or Administration-friendly weblog to comment, despair, or commit hari-kari over this. However, if you consider yourself interested in politics, it's going to be tougher to roll out those Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, and "I Hate the French" chestnuts without appearing increasingly irrelevant.
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THIS IS WHAT I GET FOR GOING TO A FOOTBALL GAME...

...that I left with 2 minutes to go in the third quarter. While the Longhorns were trouncing the entrails out of hapless Tulane, the Joseph Wilson / Valerie Plame/ Robert Novak / CIA / Senior Administration official dust-up has reached the level that a Justice Department investigation is warranted. Of course, I have half as much faith in John Ashcroft as I did Janet Reno, and I thought she was a useless hack when it came to self-investigation. As usual, non-sleeping weblogging cyborgs Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall are all over this like a starving pothead on a breakfast-time sausage and egg Hot Pocket.

I may not be able to bring you breaking news, but I can bring you instant reaction to the budding scandal from Bizarro Administration Apologist Land (a/k/a Free Republic). It's the least I can do to add some levity to the proceedings:

(1) "Regardless of whether it is being blown way out of proportion, what the actual truth is, if any laws were broken or not, no, it is all about gotcha politics. Whenever there is a thread with the thinnist veneer of a problem with the Bush admin., you are all over it, assuming the worst, taking every bogus spin of Dem/French/media lies as gospel truth." I swear to God, I couldn't write a funnier, more over-the-top thing if I tried without blushing in embarrassment.

(2) "This is political season hyperbole, abeted by Clinton holdovers in the administration. The CIA could serve us better by going after terrorists and not the GWB Admin. This stinks." And maybe John Ashcroft could serve us better by not breaking up brothels in New Orleans or incarcerating dangerous bong-peddler Tommy Chong, but let's not quibble.

(3) "We have as much reason to doubt the truthfulness of the [Washington Post] as we do this administration, maybe more." Now that's the sort of laser-like probing skepticism that makes America the beacon of freedom around the world.

(4) "There is a war going on, and these people are leaking classified information to undermine the Commander-in-Chief's policies. In this respect, their actions are far more treasonous than that of the Democrat politicians, who at least can shelter under the label 'Opposition'." Now that's what I'm talking about! Some good ol' unmedicated firebrand lunacy!

(5) And finally, the right attitude: "If someone in the White House blew the cover of a CIA operative, they need to pay the price. If conservatives don't back this, than we may as well be Clintonistas."

27 September 2003

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AND IN CASE YOU WANT TO JUST CHILL OUT, HERE'S SOME SEALAB 2021 QUOTES

From the Episode "I, Robot". Regrettably, the voice of Captain "Howling Mad" Murphy, Harry Goz, passed away about two weeks ago. I don't know how a Broadway veteran managed to read so many insane lines with a straight face. Training, I guess.
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Sparks: Well, you'd have the strength of five men.
Marco: I got that now!
Murphy: Not five men, five gorillas! But, since you're that strong, if you try to pet a kitten, you'd crush it.
Marco: Oh, no! Poor kitty!

Murphy: A Barbeau-bot would weld that leak with her laser beam eyes.

Murphy: Nails are like candy to robots! And we'll eat tires instead of licorice.

Sparks: Don't expect any mercy during the Great Robot Wars.
Hesh: Yeah? Well, have fun on the robot reservation, suckers! We're not gonna honor those bogus treaties!

Old Gus: Ahem. The penalty for a robot harming a human will be one thousand years, frozen in carbonite!
Stormy: A thousand years frozen in carbonite?? It'll be so cold!
Murphy: My nipples are hard just thinking about it.

Quinn: Shut up! Y'all make me sick! All you ever talk about is robots. "Can they have hair?" "Can they have sex?" The answer to these questions would quite possibly drive you all insane!

Murphy: (in a really good Archie Bunker voice) Aww, there go my nipples again, there, Edith!

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IT'S 9/27/03, 11:00 a.m. (CST), AND O.U. STILL SUCKS!

In case you're not inclined to (a) leave the house or (b) view the extremely lame college football schedule today (yes, that even includes Texas vs. Tulane), here are a few clean-up news articles and opinion pieces that you can munch on. By the way, Happy New Year! Everybody party like it's 5799!

(1) Should the U.S. Repeal Tax Cuts? Well, you can imagine where I partially stand on this issue. However, our good friend Max Sawicky, who apparently has a real job, got in a few choice quotes in this article.

(2) Bush and the Economy Poll: I wonder what would possess a normally patriotic American to disapprove of a strong leader? No jobs and rising interest rates, along with declining health insurance coverage? Couldn't be!

(3) And I Would Have Gotten Away With It If It Weren't For Those Meddling 9/11 Comissions: (via Corrente) Strangely enough, it appears that the families of 9/11 victims are not happy with the pace and the cooperation given to the independent commission. Dates of interest: two weeks of public hearings in January 2004, final report by May 2004.

(4) Enriched Uranium! Good Lord! What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing! I'm beginning to think that I need to hedge my "Invade Syria By March 2004" bet, and start laying down a little side bet on a Tehran quagmire. Can anyone loan me some imaginary money?

(5) Hearts and Minds, Part Deux? I have the military and historical knowledge of steel wool, so I'm just going to let you read the opinion of a war correspondent with nearly a half-century of experience covering armed conflicts. (Registration required to read LA Times article... but don't worry, I think the bulk of the Total Information Awareness Squad is worried about internet bong purchases).

26 September 2003

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NEW CRAVEN SYCOPHANCY LINKS FOR A WET FRIDAY

Standard disclaimer set: (1) each of the following additions to the world's pithiest blogroll is the only weblog you should ever read, to the exclusion of all others; (2) the failure of your humble host to have added them until now represents a stunning lack of insight, intelligence, and basic humanity; (3) you've probably read them all by now anyway, but I'm trying to move to a more prestigious table at the the Blogosphere High School Cafeteria; (4) important weblogs not yet added should recognize that I'm fairly judgment-proof [i.e. broke], if you're considering some sort of class action lawsuit.

That said, say hello to Aldahlia, Drug War Rant, Haggai's Place, The Hamster, Irritant, The Modulator, Open Source Politics, Pathetic Earthlings, Primal Purge, Sadly No, and Sugarmama. At $2.50 each, I think I've just cleared a carton of cigarettes.
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INTERNATIONAL BILL O'REILLY TALKIN' DAY
BILL O'REILLY-WARE BETA v. 3.0


(1) Unpopular Development: Sun will run out of fuel in several billion years. Program Spits Out: I say "Mr. Sun, you're just not trying hard enough". If our forefathers had displayed the same kind of shameful lack of stick-to-it-iveness of your fusion core, the Pilgrims would have drowned halfway across the Atlantic. We appreciate your life-sustaining heat, but I have a feeling you're taking what middle America does for you for granted.

(2) Unpopular Development: Member of 9/11 family criticizes U.S. militarism. Program Spits Out: That's a bunch of crap. I've done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission -- I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do. So you keep your mouth shut when you sit here exploiting those people. [ed: this program is remarkably accurate]

(3) Unpopular Development: 2nd grade girl in Podunkville, Arkansas refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because she's a Jehovah's Witness. Program Spits Out: What this little Fifth Columnist is forgetting is that blind adherence to patriotic ritual is vital to any democracy. Just ask the Founding Fathers and Ronald Reagan. We tried to invite this fellow traveller on the show, where I'm sure I would have trounced her.... but she's ducking the Factor. Not only that, but this 'Jehovah' won't even return our calls.

(4) Unpopular Development: It's 1865. Civil War between the states looms on the horizon. Program Spits Out: Slavery is essential for a healthy agrarian economy. Mr. Lincoln seems to forget that. He should remember where the cloth for his suits from-- cotton from the prosperous South.

(5) Unpopular Development: The internet community decides to parody a thin-skinned, sanctimonious jackass on one specified day. Program spits out: These small time hit and run operators on the net, however, can traffic in perversity and falsehoods all day long with impunity. It's almost impossible to rein them in. [Right on the mark again! I need to start selling this!]

25 September 2003

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TOTALLY UNPATRIOTIC ZINGERS COURTESY OF THE DEMOKKKRATIC POLITBURO DEBATE ROUNDTABLE

The transcript can be found here (thanks, Dohiyi Mir). Now eliminate all of the waffling, pandering, and Republican Lite moments, and cobble together some sort of Frankenstein made up of the absolute disappointment in the incompetence and avarice of the current Administration, and you might have I candidate I can throw away my vote on in Texas in 2004. That's right, you simps. No endorsement from me. Somebody's going to have to pony up a three-digit compensation package for that electoral boost.

KERRY: "Let me say that if George Bush rebuilds Iraq the way he rebuilds the United States, they're going to lose 3 million jobs over the course of the next two years."

CLARK: (regarding voting the $87 billion up or down): "Well, Brian, if I've learned one thing in my nine days in politics... (laughter)... you better be careful with hypothetical questions, and you've just asked one."

SHARPTON (on Clark's entry): "And don't be defensive about just joining the party. Welcome to the party. It's better to be a new Democrat that's a real Democrat, than a lot of old Democrats up here that have been acting like Republicans all along."

GEPHARDT: "The president's economic plan has failed. And we should not keep half of a failure or a quarter of a failure or two-thirds of a failure. If it's failed, let's change the policy. Let's do something else."

GRAHAM: (on a no-new-taxes pledge. I mean, really. What the fuck, Ron Insana?) "I believe it's irresponsible, particularly a candidate for the president of the United States, to make an announcement in advance that they would never seek to increase federal revenue or reallocate the responsibility for paying the cost to the federal government."

EDWARDS: "What this president is doing is trying to shift the tax burden in America from wealth to work. He wants to eliminate the capital gains tax, the dividends tax, the estate tax, all the taxation of wealth or passive income on wealth, and shift that tax burden to people who work for a living. It's an enormous mistake."

KUCINICH: "Well, I think it's defined when you consider that the top 272,000 taxpayers are getting as much of a benefit under the Bush tax cut as the bottom 129 million. So I think that what's happening in this society is, there is a maldistribution of the wealth."

LIEBERMANN: "For the (job creation) details I would forward folks to my Web site, joe2004.com. But--you can imagine how happy I was the day Joe Biden announced he was not running for president of the United States."

MOSELEY-BRAUN: "This administration has not only had a job hemorrhage, but sent us into record deficits. Their policy of borrow and pass the buck has just simply shifted the responsibilities not only to state and local governments and tax payers but to our grandchildren, and that's wrong."

DEAN (to Gephardt): "To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong, it's not helpful, and we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other."
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#1 IN THA HOOD, G

Despite my professed love of the Simpsons, let's face it-- it's been utter dreck for going on six years now. My current favorite cartoon show is definitely Aqua Teen Hunger Force on the Cartoon Network, featuring the exploits of a goateed carton of fries (Frylock), wad of meat (Meatwad), and lactic gelatinous byproduct (Master Shake). They also have a hirsute New Jerseyean neighbor (Carl), and guest stars made up of used hot dogs and mold (Ol' Drippy).
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Frylock: Get in here and look at this! You ever heard of a damn refrigerator or a freakin' trashcan? You've got three raw chickens in here on the floor! A dog wouldn't even take a crap in here!

Shake: That room is dead to me now.

Meatwad: (introducing his "dolls") This here's Vanessa (an apple). I know she looks like an apple, but she's actually a full-grown woman, and she fell in love with her boyfriend, Dewy, here (a papertowl roll), and they go off into outer space and then they get married.

Ol' Drippy: Meatwad, do you have any *real* dolls?
Meatwad: Well, real dolls cost money, and I'd just rather use the unlimited power of my imagination...cuz I ain't got no damn money.

Frylock: What are you doing with that gutter?
Shake: What are you doing with that beard, huh? Answer that, scientist!

Ol' Drippy: Idle hands spend time at the genitals, and you know how much God hates that.

Ol' Drippy: Close your eyes, Meatwad:
Shake: Leave your eyes open, Meatwad. I want to horrify you into a coma.

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I GET NERVOUS WHEN A MAJORITY (PLURALITY) OF AMERICANS AGREE WITH ME

Poll 1. Poll 2.

In following my invisible therapist's advice to be more conciliatory: I never meant to call you a bunch of stupid jackasses who pay attention to war graphics like kittens pay attention to flashlights on a wall. However, I do have a message for the interminable dunderheads (e.g. the 22% who think the Bush administration has a clear plan for rebuilding Iraq): keep it up. What makes this country is a diversity of diversity of opinions, meaning that we can seem simultaneously rational and completely hopped up on goofballs and car exhaust.

Other interesting poll results: (1) 56% said they’d opt for repealing the portion of the tax cuts that Congress passed last May that benefits upper-income taxpayers [rational result: 99%, but I can't complain]; (2) 52% disapproved of Bush’s handling of the economy [rational result: Hey, it's 99% again!]; (3) 60% approve of Bush’s handling of the war on terrorism [rational result: ask the poller "what's that supposed to mean?"]; (4) the "approve of handling the War in Iraq" has dropped 33 points since Operation: Codpiece [rational result from an Administration apologist: you just didn't parse his words enough to completely eliminate your expectations to begin with!]
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FROM HIGH TO DIMINSHED TO BARELY ANY TO NO EXPECTATIONS

No, we're not talking about the music industry response to the new gangsta rap album by Kirk Cameron, we're talking about whether we're going to find weapons of mass destruction. Of course, I'm not fazed, because I fully supported the "he tried to kill my dad" theory of pre-emptive massive bombing campaigns from the get-go (a/k/a "we'll shock and awe them into not trying to kill my dad" or the "we're spending $225 billion because only a sea of red ink will provide the antidote against dad-killing").

I know what you're saying: "He gassed his own people". Seriously, shut up.

Brief Administration apologist update: Bill O'Reilly will never trust this President again and will have to go back to covering Tommy Lee's latest exploits on "Hard Copy", and Charles Krauthammer now looks like a hypocritical, ghoulish weirdo instead of a plain ghoulish weirdo. For a run-down of the rest of these bloated sacs of protoplasm, check out the Nitpicker.

24 September 2003

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LESS POPULAR THAN A SCREENING OF "DOGMA" AT THE VATICAN

March 2003: Speaking at a White House news conference on the eve of a progress report by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix on Iraq's compliance with Security Council demands, Bush said 'No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. ... It's time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.'"

September 2003: "Bush's remarks, which barely mentioned the U.S. need for additional funds and troops in Iraq, were an indication that the administration has reduced its hopes that a new U.N. Security Council resolution would bring it substantial relief. The administration proposed a new resolution last month, and the White House had planned today's speech by Bush to mark its passage. But the U.S. draft has run up against strong opposition, and France and other nations have used its appearance as an opportunity to reopen a debate on the administration's policy of preemption."

I think the hallmark of this Administration, apart from the outright deception, must be the total, paralyzing fear that they will be perceived as "having lost", even if losing makes a political point. We completely back-track on even asking for a Security Council vote, even if it goes to highlight the neocons' assertion that the U.N. is irrelevant. We utterly obliterate a call for assistance that isn't coming, even if it would show that the U.S. is somewhat humble and willing to work multilaterally to rebuild a country. Instead, it gets replaced with a bunch of important (but bizarrely out-of-place) stuff about the international sex trade.

If you're going to comment on this current sorry state of affairs, be sure to end your comment with a "we're less popular than [blank] at a [blank]" analogy.

23 September 2003

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FIRST OF ALL, I'D LIKE TO THANK MY PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST FOR ALLOWING THE PRESIDENT TO OPEN HIS PIE-HOLE SO MANY TIMES THIS WEEK:

Just found the transcript of Bush's U.N. address, which seems to be about as popular as head lice or a lunch buffet that consists entirely of Bistro Jacks right now.

(1) "Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four months ago and yesterday in the memory of America, the center of New York City became a battlefield and a graveyard and the symbol of an unfinished war." If he breaks out 9/11 in the first goddamned sentence to a non-electoral crowd, imagine what we're going to have to put up with for the next 13 1/2 months.

(2) "Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides: Between those who seek order and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man and those who deliberately take the lives of men and women and children, without mercy or shame." Those who recognize a truly ironic moment when it hits them directly in the fucking face, and those who don't.

(3) "The former regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq knew these alternatives and made their choices. The Taliban was a sponsor and servant of terrorism. When confronted, that regime chose defiance and that regime is no more." Why doesn't this moron read my blog before issuing these chestnuts? Re-sur-gent?

(4) "And because there were consequences, because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace and the credibility of the United Nations, Iraq is free, and today we are joined by representatives of a liberated country." Condi? Are they saying "Boooo" or "Booo-urns"?

(5) "Across the world, nations are more secure because an ally of terror has fallen." Oh, hi there Pakistan! How're ya doing? Who out there is from the House of Saud? You crazy bastards!

(6) "They have made Iraq the central front in the war on terror and they will be defeated." Alright, Mr. Representative from Indonesia, put your hand down. I'm not going to... look, shut up, dude. Iraq: terror. Indonesia: dissidents. Don't make me throw you out of here.

(7) "Our coalition has made sure that Iraq's former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction. We are now interviewing Iraqi citizens and analyzing records of the old regime, to reveal the full extent of its weapons programs and long campaign of deception." Yes, I know you technically had a similar program, and we've had more time now than you have. However, we feel that the UN inspectors had insufficient faith that the Archangel Gabriel would reveal to them the location of the weapons with a flaming scimitar.

(8) "Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the Middle East. The advance of democratic institutions in Iraq is setting an example that others, including the Palestinian people, would be wise to follow." Yes, I'm sure that the "homicide bombers" in Tel Aviv are just waiting for the results of the Basra City Council elections before disarming.

(9) "Arab nations must cut off funding and other support for terrorist organizations." {Saudi Arabia? It's me again, speaking telepathically. You know we could never penalize you guys for doing anything like that, you adorable little scamps}

I won't criticize or defame the rest of the speech, which has to do with the laudable goals of reducing world famine, eliminating the international sex trade, and trying to commit to true non-proliferation. However, the first 2/3rds of the speech probably went down as well as a Vienna Sausage sauce milkshake.
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COULDN'T THEY HAVE JUST DUBBED IN SOME DIALOGUE THAT MADE SENSE, LIKE THEY DID IN "WHAT'S NEW, TIGER LILY"?

Part 2/2 of Brit Hume's masterful, nausea-inducing interview of the 19th most powerful person in the progressive bluegrass industry, George Walker Bush:

(7) "BUSH: Yes. Well, I think in my speech on the Abraham Lincoln, if they looked at the words, I said it's still a dangerous place. I declared the end of major military actions. By that I meant, you know, tight movement armored divisions and massive airstrikes, that we wouldn't need, you know, the USS Abraham Lincoln deployed there." So, where's the flight suit? At the cleaners. Bought any action figures lately? Nope. So that whole rigamarole on the ship...? Strictly a USO thing, just entertaining the troops by looking ridiculous.

(8) "BUSH: And we had a feeling that groups like Ansar al-Islam would want to stay active I thought they were very active during Saddam's period -- that's the terrorist organization. HUME: And their camp there in the north. BUSH: Yes, it is, northeast. HUME: And you bombed that camp and killed a bunch of them. BUSH: Yes, we did. HUME: Did a lot of them get away, though? BUSH: Yes. Some got away. HUME: And they're back? BUSH: Well, they're operating. Yes, they're back." Does this read like a Bill Gannon / Joe Friday exchange to anyone else?

(9) "HUME: What are you going to do about him? BUSH: With Arafat? HUME: Yes. BUSH: Just convince the Palestinians if they want a Palestinian state, at least with American support, get an interlocutor that is truly committed to fighting terror." Mr. President, what does 'interlocutor' mean? Beats me. Can you spell it? Not really.

(10) "BUSH: I believe we're going to add jobs, because I believe this economy is strong. HUME: How soon do you expect that to start happening? BUSH: Well, you know, I don't know. You ask these economists, they'll say, on the one hand here and the other hand here." And this large group of economists over here, they say 'as soon as that dolt leaves office'.

(11) [ed: biggest lie of the night, bar none] "BUSH: Well, I would say that we've done a very good job of exacting some fiscal discipline here in Washington by getting budget agreements. "

(12) "BUSH: But there is a longer-term issue as well, and that is, how do you change attitudes? What is necessary to defeat that sentiment that causes people to be suiciders and just kill innocent people for the sake of religion or a fake religion? And my judgment on that is the best way to do it is to spread freedom." Of course, freedom only comes from adherence to ritual and brainwashing from true religions, as well as blind submission to iron-fisted authority, you pathetic groundlings.

(13) "HUME: How about Osama bin Laden? The same thing? BUSH: Not really. I mean, he's pretty well hidden. As I like to jest, he's not leading any parades. I mean, he's isolated. But I'm confident we'll get both of them in time." In fact, we've got a whole big book of bin Laden jests, written by our Scottish terrier. We hope to use the proceeds to have Wesley Clark placed into low-Earth orbit.

(14) "HUME: How do you get your news? BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything. I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." Presented for your consumption without further editorial comment. Let it sink in.

22 September 2003

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JUST ONE DAY LATE FOR BEST COMEDY SHOW EMMY AWARD
(part 1/2)


Brit Hume interviewing The Sock Puppet in Chief? Take THAT, Everybody Loves Raymond! You got no skills at all! There's so much disinformation and stupid propaganda, it would take days to shovel. However, there are some surreal and truly groan-inducing moments that your humble host may serve to illuminate:

(1) "HUME: Tell me one thing. How often do you talk to your dad? BUSH: You know, probably once every two weeks. HUME: Really? Because I think a lot of people would imagine that you guys would be in touch constantly. BUSH: No, I'm in touch constantly." Ladies and gentlemen, Brit Hume, master of legerdemain and the power of suggestion! Give it up!

(2) "HUME: What are you doing for exercise? BUSH: Exercise. Jim Ryan, here at the White House during a t-ball game, I believe it was, suggested that I go to the swimming pool back over there and run in the pool, put a little floaty on and run." You cannot improve on the surreal, child-like wonderment with which our President views the world.

(3) "HUME: Now, your faith is an integral part of your life. How often do you pray? Where you do you pray? Talk to me about that. BUSH: Well, I pray daily, and I pray in all kinds of places. I mean, I pray in bed, I pray in the Oval Office. I pray a lot." Anyone else reminded of the Sally Field sketch on Saturday Night Live where, after praying constantly, Jesus (Phil Hartman) appears to her and tells her to knock it off?

(4) "HUME: When things go badly, as many people would feel they have been in Iraq with the continuing casualties and struggles and difficulties, do you ever doubt? BUSH: I don't think they're going badly. I mean, obviously I think they're going badly for the soldiers who lost their lives, and I weep for that person and their family." (you can't see me right now, but I'm putting my hand over my face, crimson with embarrassment)

(5) "HUME: There are people who suggest that, look, you wouldn't have to be dealing with these people at all if you hadn't gone into Iraq. That these, in some sense, are newly recruited or newly minted terrorists. What's your view of that? BUSH: That's probably the same type of person that says that therapy would work in convincing terrorists not to kill innocent life." Yeah, people like the foreign policy expert for the Cato Institute. You stupid, disingenuous asshole.

(6) "HUME: Didn't there exist a similar relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and France that our government may have, to some extent, miscalculated by not recognizing? BUSH: I don't know. I mean, look, I -- the French made a calculated decision to try to lead a lot of nations against what we were trying to do." That's right, Brit. I had Cheney read that stupid-ass Tom Friedman article to me for a bedtime story!
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AFGHANISTAN UPDATE. SHORT VERSION: IT'S ALL GOOD.

(1) Let's not forget that Iraq isn't the only place where we're spending gobs of money. However, it is taking up the disproportionate share. According to the breakdown of the now-infamous and probably low-balled $87 billion figure, Iraqi reconstruction gets $20.3 billion, and Afghanistan reconstruction only $800 million.

(2) Probably the most important threat to internal security and cohesion as a country are the warlords, who still command separate, regional armies in many places. Private armies are seriously tearing up the countryside and terrorizing the locals. Therefore, according to recent news stories, the President of Kabul... er... Afghanistan is attempting to restructure the military and disarm 100,000 troops loyal to the warlords. Within 30 days. Now that's a program worthy of the overused adjective "bold"!

(3) Dammit, I'm sick of seeing "Taliban" always being modified by the word "resurgent". Did the Russians have this much trouble? (a) "The Americans were unable to eradicate the Taliban, to cut out their roots. Now they are growing back."; (b) The Taliban is also starting to work in larger numbers and more sophisticated formations, western security officials believe; (c) "Their ultimate aim is to cause maximum havoc and reoccupy parts of Afghanistan,"; (d) "The Taliban are appealing to Pashtun pride. [Pashtuns] ruled this country for 250 years and now they are in the gutter." Whoo boy.
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AUSTIN CITY LIMITS SHOW REVIEWS

Well, managed to go Saturday and Sunday. Remarkably cool and wet--- almost Seattle-like in Austin for both days, with off and on sprinkles and temperatures in the mid-70s. Since I liked almost everything, this may read like Chris Farley's fawning interviewer.
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SATURDAY

(1) Asleep at the Wheel: Pretty good show, lots of covers ("El Paso", "Hot Rod Lincoln"). Easy to see why they win so many Grammys, 'cause they're so gosh darned inoffensive. Amazingly, did not mention Johnny Cash.

(2) Faithful Gospel Singers: Local Austin group, the Blues and Gospel tent was right by the food area (anyone for $5 ice cream? Didn't think so). Apparently liked Jesus a lot.

(3) Los Lobos: Kicked all sorts of ass, played over their hour allotment by 20-25 minutes. Straight rock to cumbia to conjunto without batting an eye.

(4) Jimmy LaFave: Pretty generic Robert Earl Keenish stuff. In Austin, the one progressive/world music radio station is KGSR 107.1; "KGSR" itself is a recognized genre of music.

(5) Robert Randolph and the Family Band: Definitely one of the hot bands there. Great mix of straight up rock, funk, and jam band music. Included a few guest stars, like Skunk Baxter from SteelyDan.

(6) Nickel Creek: Classified as "progressive bluegrass". Either this meant crossing Emerson, Lake and Palmer with Alison Krauss, or it could mean just boring the shit out of a lot of people.

(7) Spearhead (Michael Franti): Definitely the highlight of Saturday. Any sucka-ass poseur that was "jamming" to the 12-minute rhythm guitar solos of String Cheese Incident missed a great rap/reggae/pop/rock show with Spearhead. Only missing thing: the amazing female singer that I've seen with the band before.
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SUNDAY

(1) The Shins: Some of my friends saw them at a club the night before, and they were definitely worn out a little (12:30 pm show), but played some good ol' fashioned college rock mixed with a little Kinks.

(2) Lucinda Williams: Great singer/songwriter. We played the "guess how drunk she is" game with her, and she did admit to a few screw-ups... but all in all, a good show.

(3) Polyphonic Spree: Basically, the Flaming Lips if they added a mini-choir and about 10 extra instruments. Good for about 20 minutes, then way too precious and happy. It felt like getting indoctrinated by a cult.

(4) Yo La Tengo: I've seen them a few times before. When you force them to play in an hour (like today), they are really good. Give them 2-2 1/2 hours, and prepare for a lot of uncomfortable shifting around. Great cover of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War" to end the show. First people I saw that mentioned Johnny Cash.

(5) Ween: What can you say? Kick-ass as usual. Mostly played stuff off of "Chocolate and Cheese" and "The Mollusk", but reached back in time to play "Dr. Rock" off of "The Pod".

(6) REM: The headliners, played at 8:30 with no competition from any other stages, and introduced by Lance Armstrong. Probably 75,000 people in the park by then. It kind of ran like a Greatest Hits package, which was fine with me: "Finest Worksong", "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville", "The One I Love", "It's the End of the World...", "World Leader Pretend", and "Nightswimming" for a few examples. A few new songs were introduced that were well received, including an overtly political one called "Bad Day" that was apparently shown on CNN. They still have it.

19 September 2003

HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND, YOU LAME-ASS NON-AUSTINITES

Off to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Back Monday.

Weather forecast: partly cloudy, low to mid 80s. Music forecast: Damnations, Shawn Colvin, Kevin McKinney, Liz Phair, W.C. Clark, the Mavericks, Los Lonely Boys, Robert Earl Keen, Spoon, Al Green, Dwight Yoakum, Asleep at the Wheel, the Gourds, Los Lobos, North Mississippi All-Stars, Derailers, Hank Williams III, Spearhead, Lucinda Williams, Polyphonic Spree, Yo La Tengo, Ween, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and REM. Beer budget forecast: 2 days * 8 hours per day * $4 a beer * 1 beer / 2 hours = lend me some money!
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LONG-TERM DEFICIT REDUCTION: CODA

As you remember, one of Dick Cheney's numerous flat out knee-slappers during his Sunday Meet the Press appearance was that the Administration expected to cut the deficit in half in five years. Of course, if this is successful, this will be the stunning accomplishment of only running up a quarter-trillion dollars in new debt every year as far as the eye can see instead of the half-trillion per year they're piling on future generations right now.

Of course, this is assuming that the Administration will be successful, which only terminal waterheads would do at this point. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a noted Communist Party and child sacrifice front organization: "A more realistic projection shows the deficit rising from $401 billion in 2003 to approximately $460 billion in 2008, and then climbing further to approximately $650 billion in 2013." Part of the problem, of course, are the costs that are omitted: all costs of Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/30/03, future defense plan related costs, the revenue reduction from the Alternative Minimum Tax, extending business depreciation tax reductions.

Finally, the OMB currently assumes that all discretionary programs will decline in real terms in the future, meaning cuts in homeland security, the environment, veterans' affairs, transportation, and education. And, as veterans' programs go underfunded, remember the new additions to the rolls of the disabled. According to the Guardian, nearly 6000 American troops have been evacuated for medical reasons, although only 1200 are attributable to battlefield injuries, filling intensive care wards at military hospitals. Are our long-term spending and taxing habits going to provide these people the care they deserve?
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HELL IS OTHER STUPID PEOPLE

I'm not sure I believe in a place of everlasting torment, but it sure is fun to create one. I believe most of the categories above the links were anticipated by Dante-- at least the thing about those shithead movie executives that continue to greenlight Robert Redford vanity projects and Lite Beer Drinkers.
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I'LL BE BLINDLY FOLLOWING THE PACK, MATEY!

In honor of today's "Talk Like a Pirate" nonsense....

"I was born on March 6, 1940, in Earlsboro, Oklahoma and died on April 9, 2001, in Wilmington, North Carolina. I batted and threw left. I was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988 with 82.44% of the votes cast. I crushed 475 career homers, leading the National League with 48 blasts in 1971 and 44 in 1973, and helping to popularize the following of 'tape-measure' home runs during the 1960s and 1970s. My influence extended into the clubhouse, where I rewarded teammates with 'stars' for outstanding performances. My father-figure status earned him the nickname 'Pops' and my leadership helped my team win World Championships in 1971 and in 1979, when I shared National League MVP honors. I was the oldest player to earn Most Valuable Player honors at age 39."

"I'm Willie Stargell, you dumb bastards! WE! ARE! FAMILY! There, mission accomplished."

18 September 2003

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BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A FEW TRILLION? (Taxes and the Deficit, part 3)

As we've previously established beyond a reasonable doubt (for my fellow economic illiterates), (1) the deficit is fucking huge; (2) profligate spending has a lot to do with it, and $166 billion in spending on two backwaters hasn't helped; (3) if you attempted to do your home finances like this, your bank would hire several large men to beat you into a coma with a bag of hammers.

How about the other side of the equation? Is the government sucking us dry? Is our jobless recovery starving the government beast? Warning: many of the points in this snippet come directly from a Sunday New York Times article by the Economics Professor of the Apocalypse, Paul Krugman. Even his italicized words are so shrill that you may wish to put on a pair of Ray-Bans or a welder's mask before proceeding any further.

(1) "So here's the picture: Americans pay low taxes by international standards. Most people's taxes haven't gone up in the past generation; the wealthy have had their taxes cut to levels not seen since before the New Deal. Even before the latest round of tax cuts, when compared with citizens of other advanced nations or compared with Americans a generation ago, we had nothing to complain about -- and those with high incomes now have a lot to celebrate." But I saw a cartoon duck complaining about taxes! Advantage: cartoon duck!

(2) "During the 2000 campaign and the initial selling of the 2001 tax cut, the Bush team insisted that the federal government was running an excessive budget surplus, which should be returned to taxpayers. By the summer of 2001, as it became clear that the projected budget surpluses would not materialize, the administration shifted to touting the tax cuts as a form of demand-side economic stimulus: by putting more money in consumers' pockets, the tax cuts would stimulate spending and help pull the economy out of recession. By 2003, the rationale had changed again: the administration argued that reducing taxes on dividend income, the core of its plan, would improve incentives and hence long-run growth -- that is, it had turned to a supply-side argument." It also cures halitosis, water on the knee, gonorrhea, and the vapors.

(3) "The 2003 tax cut delivers a somewhat smaller share to the top 1 percent, 29.1 percent, but within that concentrates its benefits on the really, really rich. Families with incomes over $1 million a year -- a mere 0.13 percent of the population -- will receive 17.3 percent of this year's tax cut, more than the total received by the bottom 70 percent of American families." This isn't class warfare, this is class wholesale beatdown.

(4) "Let's assume that interest on the public debt will be paid, that spending on defense and homeland security will not be compromised and that the regular operations of government will continue to be financed. What we are left with, then, are the New Deal and Great Society programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance. And to close the fiscal gap, spending on these programs would have to be cut by around 40 percent." Or, we can simply wait for the latest round of Discover Card solicitations to come streaming in through the mail.

(5) "For the time being, there is a third alternative: borrow the difference between what we insist on spending and what we're willing to collect in taxes. That works as long as lenders believe that someday, somehow, we're going to get our fiscal act together. But this can't go on indefinitely. Eventually -- I think within a decade, though not everyone agrees -- the bond market will tell us that we have to make a choice." Would you keep lending to a guy like Joe Sixpack in part 1, with a debt load in 2006 that's five times his annual income?
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MIDDAY SPORTS-RELATED TIME-WASTERS

One of the things that gets me through the average workday is 3 solid hours of noted blowhard and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder sufferer Jim Rome (if you listen carefully enough, he will repeat a central point at least 8-10 times. I usually wake up and recognize it around #5). However, masked by all the pomposity is a genuinely subversive sense of humor, especially when Jay Mohr guest-hosts. Topics of note today include:

(1) Sports injuries: Joey Porter, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game because of being shot in the ass [i.e. questionable: gunshot]. This immediately prompted an army of e-mailers (clones) to list other injury reports: Billy Martin [very very doubtful: ditch] or Mama Cass [extremely improbable: ham sandwich].

(2) I get the sinking suspicion that radio commercials advertising offshore sports books are not completely on the level. To be perfectly honest, I think that the interview with that owner of the sports book in Antigua was staged, and that the commercial is not an investigative report into the excellence of said sports book at all. Am I being cynical?

(3) I also get the impression from the majority of callers into the above radio program that all women's sports (including men's soccer) are worthless enterprises. Bowling, on the other hand: the Athenian pinnacle of sporting conflict.

(4) The University of Texas football team has, without any provocation from the coaching staff (ahem), imposed a press blackout this week while arduously preparing to take on the mighty Rice Owls, who barely squeaked out a 13-10 non-conference win against St. Agnes' School for Blind Girls last week.

(5) Picks for this week:
(a) Virginia Tech 0, Texas A & M 0, Hurricane Isabel 49
(b) Home Depot #1839 Cashiers Softball Team 11, Detroit Tigers 3
(c) Chris Berman 24, Coherent Commentary 0
(d) Michael Irvin's Outfit 49, My Freakin' Eyes 2
(e) Bowling Green 23, Ohio State 21 [actual pick]
(f) Houston Texans 31, Kansas City Chiefs minus Priest Holmes 17 [completely wishful thinking].
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SPENDING MONEY LIKE A DRUNKEN AIR FORCE RESERVES CADET AT A HOUSTON STRIP CLUB (THE DEFICIT, part 2)

Much of the source material for the upcoming several posts will be from the New York Times article "Dizzying Dive to Red Ink".

Remember: being the current President means never having to say you're sorry, never having to reverse course, never having to ask anyone to overtly sacrifice anything, and never saying no to any new spending that might come down the pike. Remember when the advocates of the line-item veto told us that this was going to be an invaluable tool for reducing out-of-control appropriations? Well, it worked for a little while in the divided government of 1994-2000. Doesn't seem to be taking hold as much with one-party rule: "The conservative Cato Institute noted tartly last month that Mr. Bush had never vetoed a spending bill, had advocated huge farm and Medicare programs and had presided over double-digit increases in spending each year of his term."

Can I go ahead and get a 10-year exemption from being lectured on the dangers of big government liberals? Christ man, this isn't your bar tab at Lipstixx!
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TRYING TO BALANCE THE CHECKBOOK (THE DEFICIT, part 1)

Boy, the graphics ability of Blogger is unsurpassed. I feel like such a tool.

---------------------------GOVERNMENT----------JOE 6-PACK

Yearly income:---------------$1.75 trillion--------------$50,000
This year's spending:------$2.3 trillion----------------$65,700
Deficit:------------------------$550 billion----------------$15,700
Current Debt:---------------$6.8 trillion-----------------$195,000
Debt in 5 yrs:---------------$9.0 trillion-----------------$257,000

I know that this is probably a flawed analogy, but it goes to illustrate the incoming starvation of government, or at least the crushing debt load that we're transferring to our children and our children's children (although nobody wants to see children having children). Now, imagine what happens when Joe Sixpack tries to retire, along with about 50 million of his baby boomer friends.

17 September 2003

REFLEXIVE ADMINISTRATIVE APOLOGIST FISK-WARE BETA v. 2.0

It's time to test out some new software I am claiming to have developed in order to fisk the abject editorial lunacy of Ambassador Joseph Wilson (extensive Middle East foreign service-related biography here). As we all know, anonymous warbloggers and war-commenters have all the expertise that is necessary to defeat the treasonous spewings of some pointy-headed career diplomat. So let's try it out on the very under-circulated editorial "Seeking Honesty In U.S. Policy". Apologies to all of the warbloggers and commenters whose invaluable contribution to the national discourse provided the grist for this project.

"It is returning to normal, we are assured, even as we are asked to ante up an additional $75 billion and pressure builds to send more troops and extend the tours of duty of those who are there. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz tells Congress that all we need is to project a little confidence. The Mad Hatter could not have said it better."

There is, it seems to me, a poison out there, infecting minds that were once clear, blurring argument into a welter of hatred for the United States.

"By trying to justify the current fight in Iraq as a fight against terrorism, the administration has done two frightening things. It has tried to divert attention from Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the wave of terrorist attacks against American interests from New York and Washington to Yemen."

What else did president Bush mean when he challenged the terror-masters to "bring 'em on," in Iraq? Those are not the words of a man seeking merely to pacify a country, but to continue waging war against terrorism. And, don't anybody try to tell me Saddam and OBL hated each other and would never have cooperated with each other. Everyone thought that about Stalin and Hitler, too, before their famous non-aggression pact.

"The 'shock and awe'' campaign so vividly shown on our television screens has galvanized historic Arab envy, jealousy and resentment of the United States into white-hot hatred of America."

I certainly respect pragmatic liberals who opposed the war and still do. But even they can see the benefits of releasing a people from a terrible and grotesque police state and removing Saddam from power. To lose sight of these things is a sign of a warped and increasingly unbalanced perspective.

"It is perhaps not surprising that the administration is trying to redefine why we went to Iraq, because we have accomplished so little of what we set out to do -- and severely underestimated the commitment it would take to deal with the aftermath of war."

Yeah, I bet if Gore were Pres. we would be in the golden age already. At peace with the world and utopia at home.

"Now we know that even if we find chemical or biological weapons, the threat that they posed to our national security was, to be charitable, exaggerated. It all but disappeared from the president's speech last week..."

When 100,000's, even millions of American lives are on the line, I don't need proof at the level of a criminal court proceeding.

"And the cakewalk post-war scenario that had been painted by some in the administration is anything but. More Americans have died since the president announced the end of major combat operations than during the war itself."

But my comrades are blind to the fact that George Bush has liberated more people than the EU, the UN, and ANSWER put together. How depressing.

"Iraqis live in chaotic conditions as crime flourishes in the unpatrolled streets and family squabbles are settled vigilante style; basic services such as electricity remain unavailable to large segments of the urban population."

Liberals believe that their righteousness and beliefs are as obvious, unarguable, incontrovertible, and above discussion as the proposition that 2+2=4.

"Invasion, conquest and occupation was always the highest-risk, lowest-reward choice. The intrusive U.N. inspections were disrupting Saddam's programs and weakening him in the eyes of his key supporters, including in the Iraqi military."

Just the threat of invasion may be enough. But setting up 'fortress America' IS a losing option. You win by taking it to the enemy, killing them by the thousands or hundreds of thousands in their cities, and dictating terms/ writing their constitutions and occupying them for decades.

"One way the administration stopped the debate was to oversell its intelligence. I know, because I was in the middle of the efforts to determine whether Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake -- a form of lightly processed ore -- from Africa."

What redeeming insight do you have about Saddam that nobody else does? What makes you think he would not support terrorism against us? This is a guy who unquestionably gassed his own people, tortured the children of political opponents, and tried to assassinate one of our ex-Presidents.

"Middle East experts warned over and over again that Iraq's many religious and ethnic factions could start battling each other in a bloody struggle for power. Former British foreign secretary Douglas Hurd fretted that we would unleash a terrorist-recruiting bonanza."

I'm not sure how the 'Flypaper' strategy strikes most readers, but to me it looks like the latest variation of a strategy dating back millennia to Sun Tzu where I believe it was described as taking something of great value from your enemy and holding it.

"Essential trust has been broken, and it will take time to repair. At a minimum, we need to jettison the hubris that has driven this policy, the pretensions of moral rectitude that mask a jodhpurs-and-pith-helmet imperialism that cannot succeed."

I'm talking about the left's desire to keep the developing world in thrall to its demons, because they view the West as no better - or worse. It is a form of nihilism, masked as moralism. That's why so much is at stake in Iraq.

"But before we can hope to win back international trust or start down a truly new path in Iraq, the administration has to start playing it straight, with the American people and with the world. Recent administration statements, including the president's speech, suggest that it still prefers to live in a fantasy world."

Evidently there is some overriding character flaw in the author of this piece that is producing some sort of shrill, irrational hatred of the President. [Sorry, the last one was mine, but is an all purpose fisk-ending nonsense sentence].

16 September 2003

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JOHN McENROE SEZ: YOU CAN'T BE SYRIA!

Frankly, I didn't want to post any more on this subject, and then I tripped over "Scaring the Shit Out Of You With Greta van Susteren" on Fox News--- interviewing Judith "Mysteriously Still Employed" Miller, replete with the caption "SYRIAN THREAT". Another thought crossed my mind... isn't September the roll-out month for crazy new products? Then I went to the news summaries of John "Cuba Has Biological Weapons" Bolton's testimony before the House Committee on International Relations:

"There is no graver threat to our country today than states that both sponsor terrorism and possess or aspire to possess weapons of mass destruction... Syria, which offers physical sanctuary and political protection to groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and whose terrorist operations have killed hundred of innocent people, including Americans, falls into this category of states of potential dual threat."

Well, seeing as I can't handicap Presidential races, and I can't predict the outcome of college football games, I want to be the first person to call "military action against Syria right around Super Tuesday (March) 2004". This post will be deleted if it doesn't happen.
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JOHN BOLTON vs. SYRIA: STEEL CAGE MATCH

Back in mid-July 2003, I did a little post on John Bolton and the drive to use Syria as an exit strategy for the debate over the reasons for going to war with Iraq and the costs of reconstruction (a debate that the Administration is increasingly losing in the court of public opinion and actual facts).

Well, I guess we've reached the tipping point, because Mr. Bolton is going to the House of Representatives today to detail how Syria has contracted the "imminent threat" virus from Iraq. The intelligence community has finally given clearance to his testimony (which it withheld it July), which will include allegations about Syria's WMD programs and their support for Iraqi insurgents. Currently, only economic sanctions are being discussed.

I, of course, don't know whether it's true or not-- although a report delivered by a serial lunatic like Bolton, reported by Judith Miller of all people, starts off in very low standing with me. Add to it the question of the timing of the clearance, and it looks like Foreign Policy Three-Card Monte all over again.
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MORE REASONS TO SET UP CAMP OUTSIDE THE MOVIE THEATER

Culled again from the invaluable Weekly Recap; actors and film titles have been redacted to protect the terminally dull and worthless.

1. This lighthearted comedy concerns a teen and her single mom. But don't worry, I'm sure that there will be stunning cinematic developments that will render this blase plot line totally watchable.

2. It's about an FBI agent forced to go undercover as an assistant cheerleading coach to protect a group of college cheerleaders after they witness a murder. This sounds vaguely familiar. Wasn't this what George C. Scott did in "The Exorcist III"?

3. The story centers on a teenager from Philadelphia whose normal life is turned upside down when he becomes president for the day after winning an essay contest. Look for a cameo appearance by Donald Rumsfeld, complete with an improvised "step into my office... why?... because you're fucking fired" moment.

4. The movie centers on a woman who is determined to find love but is lousy at dating. She then turns to a dating instructor for help. Hilarity ensues for 3 minutes, followed by uncomfortable twittering, followed by abject nausea, followed by the tearing apart of relationships.

5. It's a "Big Chill" for Generation Y. A 20-something three-way on a sleeper sofa to the songs of Toad the Wet Sprocket and the Gin Blossoms? No thanks, Hollywood!

6. The film is a caper story about a secret code in the Constitution that reveals the whereabouts of a treasure buried during the 1700s. Unfortunately, the treasure turns out to be a bunch of extra sets of wooden teeth, hundreds of dollars in defunct Rhode Island currency, and several vials of some sort of anti-venereal disease quack potion.

7. ...about an autistic 15-year-old who uses the sleuthing methods of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, to uncover the killer of a neighbor's dog. Including freebasing and morphine addiction? Encyclopedia Brown meets Rain Man? Feh!

8. ...about a woman who falls in love with a man 15 years her junior because he might just be the reincarnation of her dead high school boyfriend. In other words, it's a gender-reversed remake of that movie I can't remember with Robert Downey Jr. and Cybill Shepherd? Ideas are flowing! Get on the new concepts train!

15 September 2003

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GOING NUK-U-LAR

Over at Hesiod's site, there's a suggestion posited by the host that there should be a "nuclear allegation" against the Bush Administration, to wit, 9/11 would not have happened under the watch of Al Gore. Personally, I don't know whether this is true, provable, or necessary. Certainly, I think that the United States would have pursued a more sane, multilateral foreign policy in the aftermath of the attacks, and that we would have done so without utterly turning our government bank account to shit.

Simply put, the nuclear allegation approach is not a viable electoral strategy. I think that it's perfectly legitimate to continue to swing a pick-axe at the wall of secrecy surrounding the whole affair... but that's just doing my job as an American citizen that still clings to the fairy-tale notion that there has to be accountability amongst our elected (and especially unelected) leaders.

In these days of totally corporatized and plugged-in political parties, I don't know that there is any such thing as an ace card. I believe in the slow, inevitable entropy of the President's "mile wide and inch deep" popularity, as shown by recent polls. I also implicitly trust that the economy is a greater concern than terrorism, and that only 9% (wonder which income bracket that is) consider themselves "better off now than they were 2 1/2 years ago". I also believe that the sub-50% approval rating for handling the War in Iraq (down from the 75% at the time of the aircraft carrier stunt) was an inevitability, despite the fucked-up "Iraq involved in 9/11" and "war still worth fighting" numbers. Finally, independents are backing a generic Democratic candidate.

In sum, I agree that (in)competence concerning foreign policy and the economy is pretty much all that the 2004 Election comes down to. Mucking it up with unprovable hypotheticals or nostalgia won't help.
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MUST GET THIS OUT BEFORE WATCHING THE COWBOYS (UPDATE: BARELY WIN BY KICKING SEVEN FIELD GOALS, THE LAST COMING IN OVERTIME BECAUSE OF AN IDIOTIC MOVE BY THE GIANTS)

(1) As Texas rolls headlong into a third special session on redistricting (combined price tag: $5 million), it's always good to know that we're doing our best to solidfy our go-it-alone, Third World backwater status. Apparently, we've decided that we don't need $600 million in federal fund for children's health insurance. But not to worry: if we cut 159,000 children from the rolls in the next two years and eliminate psychiatric, dental, and vision benefits, I'm sure we'll get right back in that compassionate conservative caravan.

(2) As weapons of mass destruction heads towards that great memory hole in the sky, it's always good to remember those days when a significant portion of silly Americans were scared shitless by the imminent threat posed to us by the Iraqi Empire. Noted GOP turncoat John Dean provided a good run-down of eight dubious WMD "facts" in July 2003, as well as a topic he knows all too well: Presidential stonewalling and secrecy.

(3) I've decided to let guest columnist John Stuart Mill put into words my ideas on freedom within the walls of your own home, especially the inalienable right to get baked and watch the extended DVD for "Das Boot". In fact he told me I could use this snippet: "But there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it; no more than between the desire of a thief to take a purse, and the desire of the right owner to keep it."

(4) Spy Agencies Warned Of Iraqi Resistance: Because this directly contradicts the unimpeachable testimony of the Vice President in the Superior Court of Meet The Press, I must conclude that these spy agencies didn't know what the hell they were talking about. I await daily confirmation of this fact.

(5) Obligatory Article Demonstrating Obstinance in "Not Moving On" Past The Questioning of Pre-9/11 Activities. Nothing to see here, independent commission. Please disperse!

14 September 2003

EMERGING FROM HIS SUBTERRANEAN FORTRESS OF BUSITUDE.... (Part 2/2)

Roundups of today's "Meet the Press" seance with Dick Cheney appear here, here, and here. I'm sure I'd have a little more fun with the actual transcript, but I think we can all agree that somebody of my preeminence is allowed a little shoddiness now and again:

(1) "Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday the United States had 'turned the corner' to economic recovery and he expected GDP growth next year of 4 percent or better." Unfortunately, 97% of this growth will be concentrated in the underused "foreign pipeline laying" and "fire extinguishing" industries.

(2) "Nearly six in 10 of those polled were critical of the way Bush has handled the federal budget, which the White House says will top $525 billion next year. With deficits projected for the next 10 years, Cheney said he expected it to be halved in five years time." Wow, $260 billion deficits by 2008. This is truly a grand accomplishment by the party of fiscal responsibility.

(3) "Cheney insisted that evidence will be found to back up the administration's claims that the government of ousted President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." Say what now?

(4) "Said 'I have to assume' that there will be another attack on the United States." Shit, I hope his track record for shitty predictions holds true for this one.

(5) "Vice President Dick Cheney hinted Sunday that the Bush administration would seek more money than the $87 billion already requested to pay mainly for postwar costs in Iraq." OK, we'll give him this one.

(6) "Said he had no involvement in a large no-bid contract for work in Iraq to a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company Cheney once led. "As vice president, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of, in any way, shape or form, of contracts'". Yes, I know it's technically not a prediction. However, I predict that he will have a great career in Steven Wright-like stand up comedy beginning in January 2005.

I know everybody's looking for fair and balanced reaction to the VP's appearance, so for that purpose I'm linking to this positively fawning review. If Cheney's looking for a nice deadpan comedian to open up for him...
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UPDATE: Everyone's favorite graphics-intensive blog, Uggabugga, has obtained the transcript from Cheney's appearance and has beaten the everlasting crap out of it. By the way, the Grim Visage of Death mentioned 9/11 25 times.

"RUSSERT: Mr. Horse, what do you think about the continuing exploitation of this national tragedy? MR. HORSE: Well, sir... I don't like it!"
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EMERGING FROM HIS SUBTERRANEAN FORTRESS OF BUSITUDE.... (Part 1/2)

Vice President Emeritus Dick Cheney regales Tim Russert with tales of wonderment and whimsy. Russert, slack-jawed open receptacle for administration propaganda, may have done a better job cross-examining the VP on issues of national security and the economy this time around (I wouldn't know, I was watching the pre-game run-up to the Houston Texans). However, let's harken back to a happier time in human history: March 16, 2003, as America prepares to somberly go to war. Let's examine the track record of the alleged "brains" behind the present Administration:

(1) "RUSSERT: What do you think is the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq? VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think I’ve just given it, Tim, in terms of the combination of his development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons."

(2) "MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties? VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators."

(3) "CHENEY: He’s always had the option of coming clean, of complying with the resolution, of giving up all of his weapons of mass destruction, of making his scientists available without fear of retribution, turning over the anthrax, and the VX nerve agent, and the sarin, and of the other capabilities he has developed, and he has consistently refused."

(4) "CHENEY: We know he’s reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War. We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization."

Ummmm... well, older and wiser, as they say. Part two will lay out Dick "Criswell" Cheney's current predictions.

13 September 2003

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WEEKEND BILE AND PROPAGANDA POSTERS

Poster 1: I never said "Mission: Accomplished". I said that major combat operations were over, but we could slowly expect guerrilla firefights, bombing of civilian targets, inter-religious and ethnic flare-ups, and another $100 billion in costs for Fiscal Year 2004. Didn't I?

Poster 2: Nothing soothes my unease about erosion of the 4th Amendment like a crypto-fascist administration apologist telling me "you've got nothing to worry about." It's totally Morning in America.

Poster 3: Why does the protestor look like a Joad? You must take care to remember that all protests and criticism are invalidated by the statements of a Bali bomber as he's sentenced to death. In fact, criticizing this inane line of reasoning may itself provide material support for the forces arrayed against us.

Poster 4: Just to let you know I'm non-partisan, although not really. By my advanced econometric calculations, I'd say we actually have 1.38 political parties in America. Doesn't Switzerland have 23 or something? And they're fucking neutral, for shit's sake!

Poster 5: There's nothing that gets those latent patriotic fluids flowing like some pasty cable news commentator with waving American flag and terror alert level graphics. Now get me some 1980 U.S. Embassy archival footage so I can start hatin' on Iran, you goobers.
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BURNT-ORANGE-LIGHT SPECIAL

Looks like this deal has just come on the market. Have a small college or high school football team that is consistently overperforming? Are you sick of the heartbreak of your team always giving 110% and taking it one game at a time? Do you need more rote predictability and the coaching skills of roadkill in your football program?

Well, have I got a deal for you. For a pack of chewing gum, a used hamster, and all the spare change in your couch, I can hook you up (no pun intended) with University of Texas head football coach Mack Brown. If you take advantage of this limited time offer, you also get dull, uninspired offensive coordinator Greg Davis and clinically brain-dead defensive coordinator Carl Reese.

Take advantage of this offer by the time the Horns get their yearly beat-down at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners. Please. For the love of God.

12 September 2003

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WE'RE GOING TO GO AHEAD AND NEED YOU TO START THINKING ABOUT DEVELOPING A BETTER ATTITUDE, PETER

As a die-hard office drone, raised on recirculated air and shitty coffee, I definitely appreciated Bill's Office Tips For Retards. Perhaps they can be incorporated into "Office Space 2". I added a few extra office conversation pieces that invariably thrill and delight me, if by "thrill and delight" you mean kill me right the fuck now:

(1) Please, tell me more about your 8-year-old son's pee-wee football game. I must have missed the extensive coverage of the event on Sportscenter.

(2) Really? Is that how that diet works? That's pretty fucking interesting! And you say you're on it?

(3) Allergies? In this day and age? Who would have thunk it?

(4) Please, for the love of Christ, don't spoil this week's "Sex in the City" for me! I haven't seen it yet! I know! It's like the best show ever!

(5) Wow, you miss so much by not watching fourteen hours of E! red carpet coverage of the Daytime Emmy Awards. What was Lorenzo Lamas wearing, again?
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ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, OR MINERAL?

Selected answers. For the full scoop, click on the above link, which has been quoted and reproduced at length by people who have much deeper pockets than I do.

1. What did National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tell President Bush about al Qaeda threats against the United States in a still-secret briefing on Aug. 6, 2001?

I believe that you're confusing some conversation that never happened with an extensive 45-minute briefing on the late fees and penalties charged by the Crawford Blockbuster franchise.

2. Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft and some Pentagon officials cancel commercial-airline trips before Sept. 11?

There was a "calico cats fly free" promotion offered by Delta? He thought that fluffing a pillow was a form of prohibited sexual contact? He hallucinated a gremlin on the wing of the airplane, tearing out vital wires?

3. Who made a small fortune "shorting" airline and insurance stocks before Sept. 11?

Biff Tannen?

6. Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets?

The main supercomputer was too busy playing a nice game of tic-tac-toe?

7. Why did President Bush continue reading a story to Florida grade-schoolers for nearly a half-hour during the worst attack on America in its history?

I believe that the Showtime movie on the subject conclusively shows that this is a horrific, baseless allegation. Next question, stinky!

9. Was Zacarias Moussaoui really "the 20th hijacker"?

We prefer to think of him as "Wrong-Way Zacarias" or "The Littlest Hijacker".

10. Where are the planes' "black boxes"?

Jerry Seinfeld, lead FTA investigator, answers with his own question: "Why don't they make the whole plane out of black box material? And Wheat Thins! What is up with those?"

11. Why were Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials so quick to link Saddam Hussein to the attacks?

(a) Because it's true, silly! 70% of the American public can't be wrong, large box office receipts for Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star notwithstanding! (b) questioning the wisdom of Secretary Rumsfeld only encourages terrorists to form fictitious alliances.

13. Why did the Bush administration lie about dangerously high levels of toxins and hazardous particles after the WTC collapse?

According to James Watt, only trees produce dangerous toxins and hazardous materials. Collapsing asbestos-filled buildings filled with electrical devices produce a sweet spring bouquet. Here's an EPA pamphlet proving it.

14. Where is Dick Cheney's undisclosed location?

He is currently posing as a Sunglass Hut salesperson at the Mall of the Americas until his indestructible robot body is completed at Langley Air Force Base.

15. What happened to the more than $1 billion that Americans donated after the attack?

Funny you should ask that question right after #14.

17. Who killed five Americans with anthrax?

Look, we tried an 8-minute America's Most Wanted segment on this. Obviously it's just one of life's great mysteries.

19. What is in the 28 blacked-out pages of the congressional Sept. 11 report?

A bunch of diagrams with large arrows connecting dollar signs to a certain crafty little Middle Eastern country without whose previous natural resources we'd wither up and die like one of my neglected house plants? Or maybe it's just copyrighted song lyrics.

20. Where is Osama bin Laden?

I say this without the slightest hint of irony or disgust: Can't you move on already?
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IT'S 9/12 NOW. CARPING MORATORIUM OVER.

From a recent Washington Post article: "Every day, I'm reminded about what 9/11 means to America," Bush said when asked in July about the $170 million budget for his primary campaign, where he has no opponent. "We're still threatened," he said, explaining that he wants to "continue doing my job, and my job will be to work to make America more secure."

For a partial transcript of the press conference where 9/11 was used to justify $2,000 a plate hot dog lunches, see here. For a prescient Propaganda Remix poster, see here.

To my bestest buddy, Karl Rove: I wish you good luck and godspeed in brainwashing the Commander in Chief to the point that he doesn't look like a shameless exploiter of the dead during the September 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.
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JOHNNY CASH, 1932-2003

Well you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well there's a reason for the things that I have on

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin' in the hopeless hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he's a victim of the times

I wear the black for those who've never read
Or listened to the words that Jesus said
About the road to happiness through love and charity
Why you'd think he's talking straight to you and me

Well we're doin' mighty fine I do suppose
In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there oughta be a man in black

I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in morning for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

And I wear it for the thousands who have died
Believin' that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believin' that we all were on their side

Well there's things that never will be right I know
And things need changin' everywhere you go
But till we start to make a move to make a few things right
You'll never see me wear a suit of white

Oh I'd love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything's okay
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Till things're brighter I'm the man in black

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