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25 January 2004

YOU HAVE TAKEN A WRONG TURN, MY SON

For anyone who's come here from the Koufax Awards, looking to confirm that I have no actual humorous content, please note that my actual address for the last week has been:

norbizness.com

I apologize for your valuable time being wasted in such a reckless fashion.

16 January 2004

RETURN OF THE RED-HEADED STEPCHILD

In posting limbo right now, but it's ready to be let out of the basement:

NORBIZNESS.COM: The New Home of Happy Furry Puppy Story Time

Many thanks again to the King of Fools who helped with the migration. I have no doubt that there will be technical issues aplenty as I try to join the 21st century in blogging, but I've got a warm, positive feeling that we can meet these challenges together (cue swelling violins).

The old content will remain here, uncategorized. The new content will appear on the new page.

Enjoy, or something.

OK, LET'S ASSUME FOR A MINUTE THAT YOU WISH TO BE ENLIGHTENED

Then you should, in all likelihood, go to the following places:

-- Hope at the Appalachia Alumni Association discussing Texas' ongoing desire to screw each and every poor sick kid out of health care programs. We've got unnecessary sports arenas to promote, after all.

-- The Lizard Queen, driver of the Blue Bus, concerning the level of media disinterest in the primary season and the level of media antipathy towards the perceived front-runner. I call it "crabs in a barrel".

-- Pete at Drug War Rant concerning the federal government's overarching concern with the precious bodily fluids of its employees. Remember: smoking weed makes the angels cry.

-- Juan Cole at Informed Comment concerning the potential impact of those darned Shiites marching in Basra for free elections prior to the Summer 2004 transfer of power.

-- Max at Maxspeak (oddly enough) concerning a new political paradigm: government by fiscal time bomb.

-- Buckethead (not the new guitarist for Guns n' Roses) at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy goes into excruciating detail about our baffling desire to return to the moon. "You'll be on a rocket ride to the MOON! And while your there can you pick up some of that nice moon money for me?"

-- Tom at Opinions You Should Have has some ideas about how to spend that sweet, filthy $1.5 marriage promotion money. Personally, I thought a cheap but intensive million study of the marital habits of Mickey Rooney would serve our goals (whatever those are) better.

-- Captain Cromulent at a Perfectly Cromulent Blog has a test concerning whether you've seen the 100 greatest movies (as ranked by the readers of the Internet Movie Database). I have a few thoughts in the comments.

-- The S-Train Canvass drops considerable knowledge on the unsuspecting domes of his readership concerning racial and clothing stereotypes. I've always wanted to people to judge me on the content of my character, not the played-out status of my 8-ball jacket.

Oh, and by the way (thanks to Mithras), there's a great new Get War Your On! series. A preview:



15 January 2004

YOU MAY EXPERIENCE SLIGHT INTESTINAL UNEASINESS OR AN URGE TO GROAN. THE QUALITY CONTROL DEPARTMENT AT HAPPY FURRY PUPPY STORY TIME ASSURES YOU THAT THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DECLINING QUALITY OF THE FOLLOWING CAPTIONS.

This goes out to all the little bastiches that ever tried to visit my cockpit during cocktail hour.

I had no idea the evil mother from The Goonies was still alive, much less running for President.

And in this suit, Former Secretary O’Neil may enjoy his exile on the moon…

Looking for some free publicity, Democratic candidate John Kerry agrees to fight Evander Holyfield in a 12-round non-title fight at the MGM Grand in February.

The Chinese Army prepares to mobilize against Taiwan, who stands accused of stealing four of the Party’s special herbs and spices.

Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot is upgraded to Missy “Class C Felony” Elliot after stealing three Grammys from Steely Dan.

Some all-you-can-eat Asian buffets have a unique approach in dealing with their competitors.

What do you mean, what’s going on behind me? Not a refinery fire, I can tell you that much!

AdultDiapers.com? What the fuck have I been smoking?

A FEW ADMINISTRATIVE NOTES

(1) Thanks to Kop, the permalinks are finally working.

(2) Which may be a moot point, because I'm in the process of getting on Moveable Type through Wizbang's Exodus project and registering the www.norbizness.com website. Estimated completion date: Who knows? Estimated cost: No man can say (Citizen Kane voice).

(3) However, this could flame out, and I'll be stuck here for eternity, and you'll get to click through to classy, tasteful Dubya (re)- election paraphrenalia like this:



(4) UPDATE (new addresses and reclaimed links) : 18 1/2 Minute Gap, Chaotic (not Random), The Hamster, The Head Heeb, How Appealing, Jesus' General, Metajournalism, Mustang Bobby, Opinions You Should Have, Stupid Evil Bastard, and Very Very Happy

(5) E-mail link added to the right, once again, it's norbizness@yahoo.com

UNCONSTITUTIONAL DETENTION FOR SOME, TORTURE BY THE SYRIANS FOR OTHERS!


Sounds like a Kang/Kodos campaign promise...

From the article "Military Lawyers Criticize Tribunal" , a few excerpts:

"Five U.S. military lawyers assigned to defend prisoners captured in Afghanistan in a newly created military tribunal filed a sharply worded 'friend of the court' brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday... The Bush administration has argued that the special nature of the war on terrorism and the fact that the prisoners are held not on sovereign U.S. territory means it does not have to observe the requirements of the U.S. Constitution or the customs of international law... The brief notes that only once before did a sovereign attempt to do what the Bush administration and Pentagon is doing with the Guantanamo prisoners. That was in 1660, when a military commander attempted to move prisoners to an island off England to escape the reach of the courts. That maneuver was used against him in impeachment hearings, and actually became the basis for the writ of habeas corpus in England and ultimately the United States."

Good to see that we're following the precedent of renegade 17th century British commanders in fashioning our policies. The Supreme Court brief on behalf of some of the detainees is located here (thanks to Talk Left). The main points of the brief are:

(1) the detainees claim that they've never been an enemy combatant or participated in a terrorist act; (2) they have never been formally charged, although they've been interrogated for nearly two years; (3) they have never been informed of their rights [since the Administration claims they have none]; (4) many detainees have been the victim of circumstance, basically handed over by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan or kidnapped; (5) they are confined in cells that average about 50 square feet 24 hours per day; (6) they are being afforded fewer rights than even World War II accused saboteurs.

In other news, kidnapping and storing people in private prisons has become a profitable cottage industry in liberated Iraq. These kidnap victims have roughly the same rights as the Guantanamo detainees.

14 January 2004

ABANDON ALL HOPE, ALL YE WHO WISH TO BE EDUCATED HERE

As much as I love regular readers-- all three of you-- this weblog is really more of an educational resource for the sad and misguided youth of this country. For that reason, I am including this recent list of search terms which led these inquisitive scamps to my extremely humble (some would say ramshackle) website:

Sausage Factory+TV Show (apparently, it's some sort of Canadian teen TV show)

bleeding gums puppy (I can't really help you here)

idol hands spend time at the genitals (It's "idle", dumbass! A quote from Ol' Drippy, the fungus-based spontaneous life form that arose on Aqua Teen Hunger Force)

dead puppies lee ermey (The star of Full Metal Jacket has nothing to do with this, you cretin!)

prime minister lester bryant bird (The current head cheese for Antigua and Barbuda! Who knew?)

ad calvin klein ashton kutcher (I am chastised and ashamed.)

DoD policy on transsexuals (My guess: they're against them?)

become every time happy (#1! Who said I'm a pessimist?)

greedy codes+laura monroe (an article in the magazine Designs, Codes and Cryptography. Higbrow enough for you?)

sex crazed iraqi bitches (In the top 10! Coming soon to a Middle Eastern Betamax Super Fun Outlet near you!)

UP TO YAO MING'S EYEBALLS

Thanks, clip art!

(1) We Are Personally Screwed: "America's consumer debt has topped $2 trillion for the first time. Tied to the record consumer debt levels has been a surge in personal bankruptcies, which reached an all-time high of 1.6 million households in 2003... Credit cards have become 'yuppie food stamps'… Although the credit card industry says average household consumer debt comes to $9,000, Manning said, it is actually closer to $13,000." Remember: growth can be a enriching personal experience, or a tumor. Remind me to steal the 'yuppie food stamps' line.

(2) We Are Nationally Screwed, Short-Term: "To put the deficits in perspective, five years from now the average family’s share of the national debt will be more than $84,000, compared to a projected $500 per family when Bush took office." Goddamn it, someone hammer this point home!

(3) We Are Nationally Screwed, Long-Term: "This year the national debt is likely to hit $7.5 trillion, or about $25,600 for every American. But each American's share of the government's long-term unfunded liabilities—meaning tomorrow's debt as well as today's—comes to about $156,000." Remind me to convert my share of Social Security to pets.com stock or perhaps a set of Greg Ostertag trading cards.

(4) We Are Internationally Screwed: "Add the states' own budget shortfalls and the country's trade deficit, the IMF report notes, and the United States faces an 'unprecedented level of external debt for a large industrial country.'… Most damning of all, the report attacks the 'complicated and nontransparent manner' in which the Bush administration's $1.7 trillion in tax cuts were enacted, designed as they were to mask their true budgetary impact." And I keep telling you, the only drinking problem I have is that I don't have enough to drink!

Sorry, couldn't find any articles on how our crushing debt affects relations with neighboring solar systems.

13 January 2004

I'M GIVING YOU 10 SECONDS TO SPEAK IN TONGUES, THEN YOU'RE OUT ON YOUR ASS

Via Calpundit and Talk Left, we are able to get a glimpse of modern, on-the-go Florida theocracy vis-à-vis the selection for judgeships. The original article ran in the Miami Daily Business Review. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to determine which of these questions (which, if you were a private employer, would get several lawsuits filed on you in a nanosecond) were actually asked by the Judicial Nomination Comission, and which I made up:

(1) "Will you be able to balance your duties as a single mother of twins with your duties as a judge?"

(2) “You do realize that women are spiritually unfit to be in authority positions over men, right? How do you feel about having an all-female docket?”

(3) “Are you a God-fearing person? How about a sense of general dread? Do you at least get a little nervous around God?”

(4) “Would you mind having the Ten Commandments tattooed on your back? I mean, it wouldn’t look so bad. Remember Robert De Niro in Cape Fear? It could definitely work for you.”

(5) “Do you sometimes wonder why it’s even worth applying for a judgeship when the rapture is so close at hand? Do you own a ‘In Case Of Rapture, This Vehicle Will Be Left Unattended’ bumper-sticker?”

(6) “Do you attend church regularly, or are you still wasting your time in one of those hell-bound ‘temples’ or ‘mosques’?”

(7) “Here’s a rattlesnake. Let’s see what you can do with it.”

(8) “Do you believe that homosexuality is something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit? What do you think God’s vomit would smell like?"

HAIRSHIRTS AND INVECTIVE, DAY 2

I've always remained a little bit conflicted about Hitchens. Frankly, I don't really care that he hung out with a bunch of right wing loonies during the Clinton Administration; I think anyone reading or watching The Trials of Henry Kissinger shows that he's done a lot of good work. However, his support of the continuation of Kissinger's policies through old cronies like Rumsfeld and Cheney (lying to the American public about intelligence, rampant corporatism, continued pussyfooting with far more dangerous regimes like Saudi Arabia) due to his excitement over the foreign policy possibilities post-9/11 is baffling and disturbing.

Even more strange is the notion that Slate would include him in the "liberal hawks" who would possibly reconsider their views on the War in Iraq. They have heard of his legendary intrasigence and... er... feistiness, right? After five paragraphs of pillorying the other Slate contributors who were lily-livered enough to have second thoughts about the need for and prosecution of the war, he uncorks "I cannot see the point of the case about a 'distraction' from the hunt for Bin Laden, and this is not only because I strongly suspect that dear Osama has already passed away," evidently oblivious to the recent Army War College report (or any other developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan). No doubt pointing this out makes me selfish, isolationist, and objectively pro-Saddam, but I generally like to see my $1000-2000 share of this war go towards actually enhancing my feeling of security.

Hitchens is followed up by Fred Kaplan, who I don't know from Adam, who asks the important question regardless of the endless debate about whether we're getting back for our buck, and it's a question that should hopefully resonate with anyone old enough to actually remember Vietnam: "How frankly should an elected leader feel obligated to outline the true reasons for war? If the reasons fail to persuade, should he go to war anyway if he feels the cause is right?"

I think that "Operation: Shifting Rationale" proves, sadly, that we won't demand that kind of accountability, and will continue for the foreseeable future to get fooled again and again.

WE CANNOT ALLOW AN ENIGMA TO BE ELECTED FIRST LADY

I personally don't trust a candidate who would marry somebody who isn't interested in being photographed non-stop and pressed into answering asinine questions from Katie Couric. Therefore, I wish to profoundly thank the New York Times for its brilliant expose of a darkly sinister force invading our political ecosystem... Judith Steinberg Dean. Among the revelations in this clear Pultizer Prize front-running article (number of exclamation points indicate the level of threat to the political process):

1. Dr. Steinberg has given about a dozen interviews — none televised — two fund-raising letters and a cameo on a half-hour advertisement!!

2. She has never been to Iowa!!!!!

3. "I think a lot of couples are like us, where they have two career-couples, and both careers are very important to the individuals," Dr. Steinberg, 50, said in an interview this fall. "Each individual has to do what works for her. What works best for me, and what I'm best at, is being a doctor." (!!!!)

4. Voters also have begun to ask about a marriage in which the partners are so often apart!!!!!!

5. "The whole thing has just struck me as a little odd," said Myra Gutin, who has taught a course on first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey for 20 years!!!! [ed: is this class mainly comprised of athletes on academic probation?]

6. Dr. Dean said he kept the news that former Vice President Al Gore would endorse him secret from Dr. Steinberg for nearly three days!!!!!!!!

7. Most of the time, wearing sensible slipper-flats and no makeup or earrings!!!!!!!!!!

8. Friends here said the couple hardly socializes, except to attend their children's sporting events. They don't cook much, either!!!

As if that isn't enough, miraculously employed National Review contributor Katherine Lopez weighs in with her penetrating insight into a subject she knows nothing about: "I’m not sure how it all shakes out if, heaven forbid, Howard Dean became president—would Mrs. Dr. Dean really stay home and practice medicine and pick up the dry cleaning? I doubt it. (And I’m not sure that’s completely desirable—in the context of a man who you'd want to be reasonably well-adjusted considering his job and his family, for one thing, but that’s another conversation.)"

Add this to Cal Thomas' well-timed "How to Explain Our Lord And Savior Jesus Christ to Confused Half-Jewish Kids" column a few weeks ago, and I think that the Dean family is finally on its way to much-needed rehabilitation. More importantly, I think that America has dodged a bullet.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: A commenter on a similar thread at Calpundit's place points to a 2000 CNN article which made Laura Bush seem much more appealing for the same character traits: "Bush himself loves to remind voters of his wife's appealing reticence." (you decide how many exclamation points to assign to this)

INTERMEDIATE FRIEDMANOLOGY: TERM PAPER ASSIGNMENT

Allow me to pantomime my latest column...

From Slate Magazine's open forum for "liberal hawks" to reconsider the Iraq War, we have our good friend Thomas Friedman. He doesn't so take this time to do some soul-searching, but rather goes off into uncharted territory of New Age foreign policy:

"The right reason for this war was to partner with Arab moderates in a long-term strategy of dehumiliation and redignification. The real reason for this war—which was never stated—was to burst what I would call the 'terrorism bubble,' which had built up during the 1990s... Yes, I know, it's not very diplomatic—it's not in the rule book—but everyone in the neighborhood got the message: Henceforth, you will be held accountable. Why Iraq, not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan? Because we could—period."

There are several components of this assignment: (a) what in the hell is redignification? (b) what in the hell is the terrorism bubble? (c) don't the two last sentences concerning Saudi Arabia and Pakistan negate the concept of accountability in the third-to-last sentence? (d) honestly, doesn't he know this? (e) could it be that he understands words that aren't words and doesn't understand actual words? (f) do turtlenecks actually lend an air of gravity to the man? Extra Credit: develop an additional two justifications for Operation: Shifting Rationale whose core concept is not a word or phrase as we know it.

12 January 2004

EVEN MORE HALF-BAKED THAN DAVE CHAPPELLE

Just running down a few things that have accumulated like so many fat rolls around William Conrad:

(1) War College Study Calls Iraq a 'Detour': And they didn't even mention the "Road Closed", "Pavement Ends", "Uneven Lanes", and "Under Construction Until 2007" signs.

(2) For the prospect that long-term deficits and financial disarray actually mean something, we have Brookings Institute Senior Scholar Peter R. Orzag (P.S.: I will assume that he is semi-credible). For the prospect that worrying about deficits is for bed-wetting utopian socialists, we have Vice President Dick "We Won The Midterms" Cheney. Too close to call!

(3) I'm not a big fan of making every single word in a post link to another article, but I'll still attempt to make it short. Blair admits that WMD may not be found. / Iraq threat distorted. / Weapons hunters pulled from Iraq. Eh, what's the difference?

(3a) I'm thinking of changing my favorite unofficial Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign slogan from "Sacrifice Is For Chump-Ass Bitches" to "What's The Difference?" Any thoughts?

(4) Intensely unlikeable redneck Roger Clemens is now a Houston Astro, therefore he is officially "our" intensely unlikeable redneck. "We" experienced a similar, more painful shift when Charles Barkley became a Houston Rocket.

(5) Texas Governor Rick Perry has no Cambodian-Americans in high-level positions in state government. I am shocked, outraged, and disgustipated.

(6) Our idea of what constitutes news may need some serious revision. A Bush supporter heckles Howard Dean for "mean mouthing" Bush? Stop the fucking presses! In other shocking news, people that don't vote straight-party Republican may consider voting for Bush in 2004! I can't deal with these insurmountable odds!

(7) The "Freedom of Information Act" may become its own glorious oxymoron (like "First Amendment Zones") after today's Supreme Court (in)activity.

(8) Breaking news: There has been an above-ground Dick Cheney sighting!



He's totally made up of mechanical tigers!

IN SPIRITUAL NEWS....

Tom Cruise, fresh off of absorbing too many blows to the head while filming The Last Samurai, declared that "Buddhism is the grandfather of scientology."

Buddha, who was severely nonplussed by this comparison, issued the following press release from his double-wide trailer outside of Brenham, Texas: "Yeah, I'm pretty sure that a deranged mutation of a self-help system developed by a certifiably insane, shitty science-fiction writer who started his own religion on a bet at a convention is the spiritual descendant of the precepts I laid down in a cave 2500 years ago. I'd like to think that something that claims to be the heir of Buddhism wouldn't need Jenna Elfman, Kirstie Alley, and John Fucking Travolta to pimp it on brain-dead afternoon talk shows. I guess, in my infinite wisdom, I decided not to set up a system of self-fulfillment and balance with nature on the basis of some sort of grotesque, celebrity-driven pyramid scheme. By the way, Mr. Cruise, you still can't act your way out of a wet paper bag."

Advantage: Buddha!

11 January 2004

ADVANCED COURSE IN ADMINISTRATION APOLOGETICS

A senior administration official said [former Treasury Secretary] O'Neill's "suggestion that the administration was planning an invasion of Iraq days after taking office is laughable. Nobody listened to him when he was in office. Why should anybody now?" However, other administration officials did not deny that contingency plans were made for a post-Hussein Iraq, and pointed out that "regime change" had been the official policy of the United States since President Bill Clinton.

Or, in plain English: "Because O'Neill was unpopular in the Bush White House, you should not believe the claims in his book. Furthermore, what he said was true, but Clinton Clinton Clinton."

Alternate apologetics: "If someone is saying something against the Administration that is objectively provable using documents, meeting minutes, and other secondary sources, this may be overcome with the term 'sour grapes'."

Final exam: If you find a January 2003 article about O'Neill's first public remarks after his resignation, what should you focus on? (a) his criticism of the $674 billion tax-cut plan, which he thought would be better spent on Social Security solvency; (b) his criticism of Bush's failure to file a timely disclosure of his 1990 sale of Harken Energy stock; (c) his views on economic growth and job creation; (d) his praise of President Bush in the war on terrorism and promoting education policy; or (e) his statement that he was "determined not to say any negative things about the president and the Bush administration."

Congratulations! You are now ready to write whiny press releases!

10 January 2004

PROBABLY NOT FAIR AND TECHNICALLY, NUMERICALLY BALANCED
a/k/a George Carlin, Call Your Copyright Lawyer


(A) Five Bad Things, Real or Imagined

1. Child stars complaining about a lack of work, ostensibly from being identified with their character. I mean, that girly little jerkoff son from Who’s the Boss? (answer: indeterminate) was airing that beef. What were you expecting, stupid?

2. The faux-bemused and faux-shocked, and faux-delighted reactions of interviewers on shows like Entertainment Tonight.

3. Frat boys wearing vintage Negro League uniforms, tucked in to a pair of khakis, with a backwards hat and a braided belt that’s six inches too long. Corollary: when Phil Collins tells me how much Muddy Waters influenced him, musically. Corollary to the corollary: Christian-themed rip-offs of the band who ripped off the band who ripped off Alice in Chains.

4. An E! True Hollywood Stories premiering in 2008 that involves the “Men Who Were the Microsoft Butterfly.”

5. Yuppies, be aware. When the revolution comes, let it be known that you fired the first shot with the following line in an SUV commercial: Woman (whiningly): “I’m just telling little Joey about the new Durango!” No quarter asked, none given.

(B) Five Good Things That May or May Not Be Happening

1. The guys that scream at you-- I mean really work themselves into a full, coronary-inducing lather-- to buy baseball cards on late night infomercials.

2. Charlize Theron being unable to get out of character from playing a husky female serial killer in Monster, showing up at an awards show with a full-on fem-mullet, wielding butterfly knife, and drinking a 32-ounce Miller High Life.

3. TV chefs that have hecklers, and that respond to said hecklers with a devastating cayenne pepper in the eye / meat tenderizer to the mid-section combo.

4. Disgusted homeowners calling the cops when one of those Trading Spaces decorators really fucks up and refuses to leave.

5. 400-pound Christian faith healers in motorized wheelchairs who have their own television shows and their own line of holy snack cakes.

AND NOW, A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM NORBIZNESS' DOMICILE



Rot in hell, you Wal-Mart with plywood.

End transmission.

09 January 2004

END OF THE WEEK JACKASSERY

By the way, if you can think of a better caption, enter it in the comments. You might just get to replace my own lazy effort in a subsequent update. Imagine the fame and fortune that could potentially be heading your way!

Now THAT was a big sheepdog.

Teacher! The President’s ruinin’ my construction paper project! Make him stop! (Kop: "See, if you stay between the lines, it looks better than the way you did it, Mr. President.")

We're hoping you'll greenlight this X-treme snow-boarding version of “Spartacus”. (Capital P, channeling the Tony Hawk [c'mon people, it's clearly jumped the shark] Simpsons episode: "I said X-treme, not X-treme to the max!")

I swear to God, the sign just had a “W” with a line through it! Guantanamo? Oh, shit!

Yes, I’m above ground. The subterranean Office Depot didn’t have the Trapper Keepers I like with Kiss on the cover.

OK, it’s back down to yellow. Time to defrost the actual Tom Ridge.

Hey there, fella, I’ll bet you’d like an autograph! You would? You owe me $3,500.

And here’s where the new Halliburton Lunar Excavations headquarters will go. (HWRNMNBSOL: "...and another canister over here! Good God, those Iraqis are cunning!")

Even the whores in the Martian red light district need an edge.

Robin Williams, whose schtick was declared “not funny” by the Office of Homeland Security, is re-assigned to Ice Station Zebra.

ADVENTURES IN FRACTIONS

I am detecting a disturbance in the Enthusiasm Continuum

I hope you'll pardon me if I don't get super-enthused (or, as they say, go all Lawrence Kudlow on your ass) about the new unemployment statistics. As usual, they have been seasonally adjusted and sanitized for your viewing pleasure. The banner headline, of course, is that it's down to 5.7%, the lowest level in over a year and down from 5.9% in November.

However, for those who go against the Guardians of Enthusiasm and actually read the innards of the article, the drop was caused by 300,000 of your fellow Americans deciding to abandon the denominator (i.e. the labor pool), and not by the 1,000 lucky additions to the job creation numerator. Further, they've adjusted the November statistics downward by 43,000 employees (meaning that December, once adjusted, will go into negative territory). Also, economists had expected 130,000 jobs to be created, reminding me of the Kings of Comedy joke: "When can we expect payment? Well, you can expect it anytime! I ain't stoppin' you!"

Finally, it's time to tie this into the big picture. As one of the commenters in Atrios' thread pointed out, the jobs situation was a 20-foot hole, and its hardly an achievement to have progressed to (and stalled out at) an 18-foot hole. For further takes from an actual economist, see Max's take on the subject.

ACCOUNTABILITY: A QUICK PRIMER

It was called the “Texas Miracle,” and you may remember it because President Bush wanted everyone to know about it during his presidential campaign...

... Once he was elected president, Mr. Bush named Paige as secretary of education. And Houston became the model for the president’s “No Child Left Behind” education reform act....

... The Houston school district reported a citywide dropout rate of 1.5 percent. But educators and experts 60 Minutes II checked with put Houston’s true dropout rate somewhere between 25 and 50 percent...

... 60 Minutes II also tried to talk to Paige himself, but he declined. His spokesman said the dropout controversy broke after Paige left Houston to become education secretary...

... Paige’s spokesman suggested that 60 Minutes II talk to Jay Greene, a leading expert on dropouts at the Manhattan Institute...

... But this is what Greene said when asked what he thought about Houston’s “official” dropout rates: “I find that very hard to believe. It is almost certainly not true. I think it’s simply implausible."


Miracles exist, dropouts don't.

08 January 2004

FORMAT: TOWN HALL COLUMNIST (REASON FOR WRITING STUPID SHIT): ACTUAL QUOTE. BRIEF COMMENTARY.

It's no World O'Crap, but this is too rich a tapestry of insane blather for one person with too much time on their hands to bogart:

(1) Maggie Gallagher (lobotomized in Catholic School by Attila the Nun): Rewriting the basic rules of marriage puts all children, not just the children in unisex unions, at risk. I formed this conclusion after a lesbian couple cut ahead of me to get in the express line at the supermarket.

(2) William F. Buckley (actually died in 1987): [Dean] puts too great a strain on us with his novel ideas about how to redirect America's destiny. He would of course end the war in Iraq and rid us of any temptation to venture forth elsewhere. Yes, our grand, 2-year tradition of pre-emptive war, down the tubes.

(3) Rich Lowry (nothing to write about): As Ogden Nash famously observed, "The cow is of the bovine ilk/One end is moo, the other, milk." Neither you nor Mr. Nash has ever really studied the other (a/k/a "business") end of a cow, have you?

(4) John McCaslin (vapors produced by simmering homoerotic fantasy): Another time we disclosed that Thune topped a list of 12 congressmen voted by female lawmakers as the "manliest" men on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, that icky Tom Daschle only rates a 2.5 on the homemade McCaslin Erection-o-Meter.

(5) Ann Coulter (started believing that her own action figure was directing her to write columns): Basically any white person who believes in God is a Republican. And I won’t hear any of your silly counter-examples.

NOBODY DOES CREEPY-CRAZY LIKE MY GAL PEGGY DOES CREEPY-CRAZY

Put on your welding mask and go here......

I want to like Howard Dean. I don't mean I want to support him; I mean I want to like him, or find him admirable even if I don't agree with him. I want the Democratic Party to have a strong nominee this year.

I want to think that the Wall Street Journal wouldn’t employ some sort of Xanax-soaked magical dolphin worshipper, but they do. I want the nation’s foremost conservative newspaper to have a strong editorial section.

We like our presidents sunny, easygoing and optimistic. They have access to the nuclear launch code, and we don't want them losing their tempers easily. Mr. Dean's supporters no doubt see him as optimistic, but optimists aren't angry.

Well, I prefer them not sunnily optimistic that the Invisible Sky Fairy will side with the forces of righteousness in the upcoming Armageddon, but I still sleep at nights.

There is a disjunction between Dean's ethnic background and his personal style. His background is eastern WASP--Park Avenue, the Hamptons, boarding school, Yale. But he doesn't seem like a WASP.

Damn you, master of disguise! Be more WASPy! Here's a yachting jacket!

This may be partly because of his generation. Boomer WASPs didn't really learn How It's Done the way their forebears did. (Boomers of every ethnicity are less ethnic than their forebears.)

Why is “How It’s Done” capitalized? What are you talking about? Is this some sort of code I should be in on?

It will be harder for Republicans to tag Mr. Dean as Son of the Maidstone Club than it was for Democrats to tag Bush One as Heir to Greenwich Country Day.

What is happening? What universe have I been transported to? I need assistance!

Howard Dean's rise is about two things. The first is the war. Most of the other serious Democratic candidates were reasonable about it, if you will. Dean didn't bother to be reasonable, or to appear reasonable: Bush is a bum and his war is a fraud.

I don’t know about bum, but I’m afraid you may want to consult the newspaper articles on Operation: Shifting Rationale today.

I hope something surprising happens in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and in the South. I hope it becomes a real fight on the Democratic side, and I hope that fight yields up someone who is serious, substantive, and thoughtful. But that's not what I see coming.

Of course you don't. Back to the padded cell with her, Roscoe.

NO TIME TO THINK

1. First I'm incompetent when it comes to cars, major and minor appliances, carpentry, Lincoln Logs, and blow-up women. Now I'm a bit concerned about my permalinks not working (once I found out what they were). What code should I cut and paste into my template?

2. Most of the internet intelligentsia is snickering loudly over The New Republic's decision to endorse Joe Lieberman. I was actually pretty heartened by this development, until I learned they had endorsed him as a Democrat. What are they putting in your half-fat skim milk double mocha lattes, you weirdos?

3. I've been nominated for most humorous weblog in the Koufax (i.e. leftie) Awards at the Wampum website. Apparently, "this category seeks to recognize blogs which are consistently humorous while still being thoughtful". Tell them what you think of this awful, reactionary 'thoughtful' criteria by voting for me early and often.

4. Following my New Year's resolution not to brazenly pilfer other people's ideas, I'll simply re-direct you to Jim Henley's take on the "Iraq had a couple of pictures of WMD on a cocktail napkin" yesterday. However, I appropriate little Bongo's take: "Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies."

5. Depending on your slant and the amount of money you're willing to fork over, I can be a real liberal, a fake liberal, a leftist, a Communist sympathizer, an anarcho-syndicalist, a neo-libertarian... or I'll claim that someone else is or isn't really one of those things. It helps to pass the time away.

6. Operation Echo Chamber update (via South Knox Bubba): "Police, DeBusk said, are concerned protesters consumed with being seen and heard might be hit by passing cars." Or accidentally clubbed on the head.

06 January 2004

'TIL DEATH DO US PART

I've been informed at regular intervals that I should "get off blogspot", that blogspot is the shitty-tasting generic cola of weblog hosting services, that I need to upgrade to movable type to enhance my permalink accessibility (I'm assuming those are actual words). For a brief nanosecond, I was almost swayed by these arguments, even though I have less money than a Wal-Mart greeter who's getting jellybeans in lieu of overtime compensation.

Then, much to my delight, intrepid reader Carl pointed out that you can access patriotic, George W. Bush-related products through a blogspot-generated link at the top of the page.

"Is it any wonder it's our best-selling button?"


Holy mackerel! I couldn't come up with a better derisive button if I tried!

Oh stop it, I peed my pants! You evil bastards!

Sam the Eagle! You big, fat Muppet sellout!

No fucking way I'm leaving this place now. I love you, Blogspot!

WOULDN'T IT BE NICE?

We sure would like to see low-wage workers get paid overtime, but here's a a clever way that you can pay them with dry-cleaning coupons isntead.

We sure would like to put a stop to horrific gerrymandering, but we'll leave it up to the voters who are being increasingly herded into impotent, gerrymandered districts to do so.

We would sure have liked to assist undocumented Mexican workers in getting legal status earlier, but I'm not aware that the years 2001, 2002, or 2003 were Presidential election years.

We sure would like to hold exporters of nuclear technology to two-thirds of the Axis of Evil accountable, but come on now. Is anybody really paying attention to this story? I mean, seriously. At least Pakistan isn't exporting terror into Afghanistan. Oh, shit. Well, I think we can safely assume that nobody's paying attention to that old nag of a "news story" either.

ALL THE HORSESHIT THAT'S FIT TO PRINT

Shorter David Brooks: Anyone who uses the well-established word "neoconservative" is a dangerously delusional, unhinged, anti-Semitic, conspiracy theorist who doubts the estimable ability of our President to make up his own mind about foreign policy decisions. Did I mention anti-Semitic?

For a more scholarly analysis of this tripas, see Josh Marshall.

FOR THOSE ABOUT TO FROTH, WE DISPUTE YOU

1. Howard Dean, Wahabbist and Fag-Lover (link thanks to And Then...):

But Dean doesn’t have to become a terrorist (although his policies do express a hatred of America that can only be inspired by the Quran); he can convince some of his followers to do it for him. You will get 72 civil unions in heaven.

2. Howard Dean, Brownshirt (Projection):

And no public figure embodies the left's contempt for basic freedoms more perfectly than Howard Dean... It's Goebbels again: Just keep repeating the lies until the lies assume the force of truth... Dean never deals in specifics on security issues. Because he doesn't know the specifics. It's all Big Brother Doublespeak.

3. Howard Dean, Post-Modern Caricature by the Ghost of Spiro Agnew:

In the ad, a farmer says he thinks that "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."

4. Howard Dean, Channeling Alec Baldwin in Malice

I'm extremely leery of doctors in politics - right or left, they always veer toward the intolerant, dictatorial and secretive.

5. Howard Dean, Pussy-Whipped Cringing Gentile:

Dean's wife is Jewish and his two children are being raised Jewish, which is strange at best, considering the two faiths take a distinctly different view of Jesus.

The many faces of Howard Dean, according to the well-balanced, never clinically deranged Right side of the aisle. And you wonder why apathetic independents like myself who live in electorally pre-determined states won't entertain voting for this absolute psychopath of a candidate, who apparently likes Jews, the Quran, Alec Baldwin characters, fags, raw fish, and Goebbels.

05 January 2004

MAYBE YOU EXPECTED 2,500 WORDS ON MEDIA CONSOLIDATION

Nope, Jaws 3-D still sucks. What were you thinking, Dennis Quaid?

Of course I value free speech. However, you must take your confrontational query to the "Interesting Questions Zone" located in the White Castle in Gary, Indiana.

HELP! Secret Service! 'Hungry Caterpillar' down!!

Having Duran Duran cover art on ze valls really helps me to pretend to vork.

Please dear, just another half mil to get me through the weekend. You know I'm good for it.

We're putting the nation on alert for people that may be performing early 80's dances. Here, let me demonstrate "The Robot."

Oh, here's the little nipper. I thought I felt a bulgy spot.

[Poor taste alert] Warning: never buy generic Viagra south of the border.

Great, the band's burnin' blunts in the tour bus and I gotta listen to 45 minutes on textile workers.

THE ONGOING, INFINITE WAR ON CRITICISM

(Title taken from The Onion).

I realize that Incurious George needs to have the day's events and articles synopsized for him by friendly staffers, and that he needs to cancel addresses before the British Parliament if anti-war MPs are there to question him, and that the term "Free Speech Zone" is a horrible but necessary combination of oxymoron and doublespeak, and that people with dissenting placards need to be quarantined away from the rest of right-thinking America as if they had some sort of contagious disease, and that construction workers who have taken leave of their senses should be detained in makeshift outdoor camps, and that the Secret Service's function is to insulate the President from viewpoints other than his own, and that it's OK to arrest people in Crawford even if they aren't protesting, and that the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York will resemble some sort of morbid Escape From New York / Citizen Kane hybrid, but....

.... there's no but. It's just a pretty fucking sorry state of affairs.

04 January 2004

REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU'RE RICH AND FAMOUS

Presented without comment, visit them and give them money and show them the adoration and worship they richly deserve (although I have about as much influence with the blogosophere as biracial homosexual vampires do with the GOP):

18 1/2 Minute Gap, And Then..., The Blue Bus, Collective Sigh, Cosmic Iguana, Enjoy Every Sandwich, Fables of the Reconstruction, The Green[e]house Effect, Informed Comment, Just a Bump in the Beltway, Kop's Blog, Low Grade Panic, Metajournalism, Rhetoric & Rhythm, Sidonie's Way, Speedkill, (Evil) Stradiotto, That Colored Fella, A Voyage to Arcturus, and World O'Crap.

Come on, like you really were going to build that huge USS Enterprise model.

BLOG MANIFESTO: END-OF-THE-YEAR AUDIT

(1) Idiotarian is not a word. It does not describe a concept. People who use such terms are idiotarians. Compliance. I have done my part to sneer at this mystifying word’s continued usage.

(2) So and so does not “get it right”. In fact, I don’t care what so and so thinks. Posting somebody’s entire entry, where your entire original content was “(Blogger X) had an interesting post”, is useless. Compliance. I have stolen lots of ideas and links, and have avoided attribution and re-posting.

(3) Nobody gives a fuck about your college, your guinea pig Snuggles, or your hometown. In the words of an Onion T-shirt I can’t afford, “Your Favorite Band Sucks”. Partial compliance. I did get through summer 2003 without saying “Austin’s hot”, but did gloat about the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I did a Desert Island Discs, but have not singled out any band for worship.

(4) You may have libertarian tendencies, but you are not a libertarian. No compliance necessary.

(5) Don’t even try to step to scientific studies, or even pop-scientific studies. Stay away from any math higher than long division, and confine your statistical analysis to such phrases as “why, that’s within the margin of error!” Complete compliance. Haven’t even come close, except to add up the debt.

(6) If called on inconsistent postings by a blog researcher who has combed your archives, admit it freely. Not applicable: nobody is really trying to catch me on anything.

(7) Fundamentalists of any stripe are fucking morons. You don’t have to ever, EVER apologize for making fun of them. Compliance: a moderate amount of derision, and no apologies.

(8) Your analogy is probably wrong on multiple levels. Compliance. This would actually involve research and critical thinking.

(9) If you get negative feedback from screeching lunatics, you’re doing something right. For good measure, delete everything that comes into your e-mail in-box. Gratuitously insert yourself into each talkback, and indiscriminately delete people who keep calling you out (but don’t announce it). When the person complains, delete the complaint. Repeat as necessary. When someone asks “Whatever happened to [unnamed troll]?” delete their post as well. If someone complains about the lack of ideological balance, delete them as well. Leave no evidence of the deletions. Save the e-mails you don’t delete for comic value. Assuming your comments section has many nom de plumes, post stupid e-mails and attribute them to people you don’t like. Make up your own critical e-mails, and respond to them as well, using many fallacious arguments, which in turn generates more e-mails. Not applicable: This is still sound advice, but see #6.

(10) Although this may run contrary to point (2), do selectively quote bloggers you don’t like, punctuated only by the comment “what a fucktard”. For the maximum amount of confusion, use very content-neutral quotes, or even quotes you agree with to make the point again and again that Glenn Reynolds (whoops, Freudian slip) is a fucktard. Consistently leave it up to the reader’s imagination WHY it is you consider Glenn Reynolds a fucktard. Compliance: You can run your own Google search to confirm. However, fewer and fewer people are wondering why he’s a fucktard.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

1. I’m as opposed to the law enforcement overreaching and evisceration of the 4th Amendment in the Patriot Act as the next guy… but as long as it’s here, there’s got to be a provision we can use to get ESPN’s Chris Berman off the air. Isn’t there?

1a. With portions of Patriot Act II in place, guests in Vegas are being subjected to increased scrutiny. I will gladly trade this gross intrusion on my gambling privacy in exchange for the FBI explaining baccarat to me.

2. Now that the Cowboys have lost 29-10 to the Panthers, can we safely declare them the worst team ever to have made the NFL playoffs?

3. Pete Rose is reportedly admitting in his new autobiography that he bet on baseball. In related news, the Sun is admitting in its new autobiography to being rather warm.

4. Pat Robertson, via the great political bookie in the sky, is predicting… oh, what’s the use? The only think that keeps me an agnostic rather than a militant atheist is the “hot coals up the ass for all eternity” possibility for this jackass.

5. 158-year-old Ralph Hall, a Texas Democrat since Reconstruction, is switching parties because he suspects that Tom DeLay poisoned his dog. Or refuses to give his district money. Or was breaking up his district. I get those Russian Mafia tactics confused.

6. Why are we landing grapes on Mars? Is this a peace offering? Is NASA concerned by the documentaries Mission to Mars and Red Planet?

7. If we just required the average pod person who announces the local TV news to say “Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy” instead of “mad cow disease”, I have a feeling that the story would disappear pretty quickly.

8. I just saw a commercial for a 2-CD set for a collection called “The Hard and the Heavy” that actually led off with “Up All Night” by Slaughter and followed up with “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, while only listing songs by Judas Priest and Cinderella. That is just bullshit.

9. OK, one picture, but it’s not my caption, because it’s too surreal. And very wrong.

“A U.S. woman (right) and supporter of the Israeli security barrier shouts at an Israeli peace activist in Jerusalem on January 2, 2004.”

10. Everyone should read Veterans for Common Sense, a site promoted and/or run by James Landrith.

02 January 2004

REDISTRICTING 2004: SEE POINT #5

(1) I may exhibit an even higher than normal level of partisan shrillness on this issue, since my beloved, compact Travis County congressional district is being carved into three parts. My new district connects me with Hidalgo County, some 250 miles away. I'm pretty sure that a county whose median family income is $7000 and which has a chronic shortage of indoor plumbing is necessarily happy to be lumped in the same "community of interest" as my condo-livin' ass.

(2) I'm not sure whether the new map dilutes minority voting rights, although my magic 8-ball says that "all signs point to yes". As somebody who half-believes in participatory democracy and hates the binary two-party system, the fact that the new map "predetermines elections" and reduces electoral competition is enough for me. If two parties aren't enough, I'm not sure I like the idea of the Republican or Democratic primary determining the outcome of the election.

(3) Also note that Republicans, under the current, uncontroversial map could have won 20 out of 32 seats, but are stuck at 15 "because of poorly run campaigns". No more taking chances, I guess. The expert goes on to call my new District 25 "substantially worse" than any district in most every other map.

(4) The new map has gotten, surprisingly enough, pre-clearance from the Justice Department--- mainly by political appointees overruling the objections of career Justice Department attorneys. It's now in the hands of a 3-judge panel in the 5th Circuit, which may or may not be influenced by a far-less-egregious example of political redistricting in Pennsylvania.

(5) This fucking thing stinks worse than Baytown. For you non-Texans and Orwell fans, imagine a boot stamping down on a bag filled with feces and bleu cheese... forever.

01 January 2004

IF YOU'D LIKE, YOU CAN STOP READING AFTER THE FIRST ONE.

I've just had a 24-ounce ribeye to prove that our American beef is safe and... Sweet Jesus, why am I lactating?

No, ma'am, this doesn't have anything to do with terrorism. You just need to get your raggedy ass home and find some clothes made after 1983.

You dare question Emperor Tommy? How about some levitation, puny House Select Committee on Public Health?

(singing) There he is... Mr. Infectious Respiratory Disease...

The Dave Matthews Band has now officially bored everyone shitless.

I'm dreadfully sorry, sir, but it is customary to perform the seated cable rows while not in a three-piece suit.

"$55 for a Loggins and Messina reunion tour ticket, $3.50 for bottled water, $6.50 for Miller Lite, and they only have one Port-o-Potty? Outrageous!"

Local #3189 of the Road Re-Surfacers, Piano Tuners, and Chinese Calligraphers Union just called for an emergency meeting.

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