Friday, April 22, 2005

Ethics investigations all around!

From a story in the Washington Times today:
House Republicans yesterday called on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to provide documentation to prove that a Washington lobbyist firm did not pay for a trip she and other Democrats took to Puerto Rico in 2001.
"We feel that such lingering questions undermine the integrity of the institution and we hope [the questions] will be cleared up as soon as possible," wrote Republican Reps. Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
Hold your laughter, it gets better...
The questions also come after months of claims against Majority Leader Tom DeLay, accused of accepting a trip paid for by a lobbyist. Mr DeLay and the nonprofit group he listed as the trip's sponsor insist the lobbyist did not pay the bill.
Mrs. Pelosi has called for a full investigation into that matter, which is an inconsistency, say Mr. McHenry and Mr. Westmoreland.
"If you are serious that the mere allegation that a lobbyist paid for member travel warrants a full ethics investigation, it would seem that a member actually disclosing it as fact would more than merit it," the Republicans wrote.

Sure it merits an investigation. Let's get the ethics committee right on it! In fact, let's have investigations into DeLay's golf junkets, Pelosi's Puerto Rico trip, and any other ethically dodgey actions by any other congresspersons. Of course, we'll have to repeal the rules changes passed in January, that essentially killed the committee's ability to commence investigations, but I'm sure the morally upright Republicans will have no problem with that, right? Right? Hello...? Is this thing on...?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Supporting the troops, my ass

As the Senate began to debate President Bush's request for more than $80 billion in supplemental military spending on Monday, senators seized a chance to pack pet projects into an unstoppable bill, adding provisions dealing with oil drilling, forest services, a new baseball stadium for Washington and economic assistance to Palestinians.
Senator Thad Cochran, the Mississippi Republican who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the draft "a straightforward bill" that "meets the needs of our fighting forces overseas" and "addresses emergency requirements here at home." (emphasis added)

-from yesterday's New York Times.

Being a more or less cultured and well bred type, I try to keep the cursing here to a minimum, but are you fucking kidding me?!
"[E]mergency requirements here at home" such as a goddamned baseball stadium? Senator Cochran and I are clearly operating under different ideas of what the word "emergency" means. You want to tell this guy's family why there's a dime in an emergency military spending bill for anything but direct troop support and protection? How about this guy's family? Or how about this one?
Astounding. Pulling this kind of crap while flapping your lips about supporting the troops is so disgusting as to beggar belief. $42 million to build a baseball stadium is a stupid use of public funds under the best of circumstances, and as we all know, the best of circumstances these ain't. Major League Baseball is a business, and as such, should be made to pay for their own facilities. The military, needless to say (or so I thought), is in a different boat. When we withhold money from them, they go without armor and they die.
Thanks, Senators. You're a real bunch of douchebags patriots.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Here's a gem for you:

"So I'm saying to the left: Stop bad-mouthing your own civilization; get over it, you little twerps. I'm saying to the religious far right: If we are defending Western civilization, as you claimed in the incursion into Iraq, then you'd better realize it's much more than Judeo-Christianity and the Bible. You'd better get real and accept that we have a Greco-Roman tradition of literature and art that started in 700 BC. And yes, some of it deals, quite frankly, with sex and the body; you must deal with it and allow students to deal with it, because that is part of the brilliant strength of our arts. I'm demanding that conservatives support the arts and that liberals stop being so snobby about art and quit celebrating art that is simply cheap sacrilege of other people's beliefs."

-Camille Paglia, from an interview in yesterday.
Quite so, Ms. Paglia, says I. Even though they make you watch an ad, do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Worth attention

Say what you will about Marshall Wittman, self-styled Bull Moose, DLC fellow, and erstwhile McCainiac (I know I and others have had some choice words), but he has been doing a fine job lately of keeping his eye on things that actually matter. Namely, the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Today's post contains this doozy of a passage:
We live in an age when more attention is devoted to a celebrity child molestation trial than the mass slaughter of innocents. One can only conclude that this incongruity is explained by either the numbing banality of the times or a racist indifference to the massacre of Africans. Perhaps, it is both.

I'd add imperial decadence to that list, but the point is right on. To that end, I commend to your attention the Coalition for Darfur blog.
For info on another of Africa's ongoing catastrophes, the reign of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, check out Democracy Arsenal. Both have been added to the list of sites more interesting than this one.
After all the usual inanity the media bombards us with, it's refreshing to read about something that's actually worth paying attention to, even if it makes me feel sick and saps what little faith I left left in humanity.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I've gotta get me a gubmint job!

If I was asked to do something crazy like perform my prescribed duties at work, and responded with "yeah, yeah...I'm exhausted," I'd be politely told to cram it and get to work. And my job doesn't involve killing people.

Not George Tenet. He says he's too exhausted to make sure the info we're using to invade a sovereign nation is legit, and he gets a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nice work if you can get it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


It doesn't exactly warrant death threats, but the new Fox News blocker is a silly idea at best.
Kimery figures he's sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets, since its August debut.

Suckers. I got a Fox News blocker for free when I bought my TV. It's called a remote. I'm trying to imagine the poor fool who needs this because he just can't resist the seductive lure of the right-wing echo chamber. No matter how many back issues of the Nation he reads, he just can't keep that snake-charmer,Sean Hannity, off his TV set. Alas, he cannot avert his eyes, so steps must be taken...

Here's a money saving tip from your Uncle Jiminy: Bill O'Reilly doesn't shoot invisible microwave heroin beams from his eyes. Really. All you have to do is not turn it on. No assenbly required.

Integrity's for wussies

Certainly hypocrisy can't be said to be the worst of Tom Delay's ethical transgressions, but it does occupy a prominent position on the list. The latest instance is a doozy. The ever-trenchant William Saletan lays out the bill of particulars at

It's Official

I guess it isn't officially an American media circus until this clown shows up. You can almost hear the calliope music.

The damn shame of it is that Jesse Jackson has done a lot of good in the past and will likely do some more in the future. It's increasingly difficult, however, to pay attention to a man whose chief vocation seems to be getting his name and face inserted into every worthless media frenzy that comes down the pike.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Are they kidding?

Is it possible that the people who run are this sloppy?
Option 1: They were trying to honestly and accurately present their polling data in graphic form, and botched the mission spectacularly.
Option 2: They were intentionally trying to misrepresent the data. To make the party-split look more dramatic? To make Democrats look bad? To make them look good?
Whatever the reason, the verdict is the same: Terrible, sloppy journalism CNN should be ashamed of.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Or maybe this post should be titled "Hannity-larity". Or not. Either way, it seems that Sean Hannity, right wing radio host, Fox News Channel mainstay, author, and blowhard par excellence has jumped into the matchmaking game. On the "Hannidate" section of his website, you can find pics and profiles of lovelorn conservatives from hither and yon looking for some chaste, prayerful lovin'. Now, call it shooting fish in a barrel, or piling on, if you like, but I just have to point out how wonderfuly entertaining these profiles are. A list of the shinier gems would include:

Aaron, a 23 year old former marine and tattoo enthusiast who WILL NOT HESITATE TO BEAT YOU TO DEATH!!! (or, at least, that's what his charming photo seemed, to me, to imply).

Jessica H., a lovely young realtor and recent addition to the Florida panhandle's dating scene. She enjoys Ann Coulter, upscale entertainment, and seems to be looking for a traditional type of man who's not afraid to mete out a swift elbow to the clavicle, should she be foolish enough to back-sass him.

The cavalcade of conservatives craving companionship doesn't end there, so, do yourself a favor and go check out all of the succulent cuts on offer at Hannity's right-wing meat market. If you don't find that special someone, you might laugh so hard you shoot coffee out of your nose-I know I did!

Yay for spring

Maybe it's in anticipation of Camille Paglia's forthcoming book, or maybe I'm just feeling a little sweet lately (quit yer gigglin', dammit!), but for one reason or another I've been on a little poetry kick. On that note, and in honor of the dawning of spring (which, after all the rain here in California this winter, should be spectacular), I post for your enjoyment Shel Silverstein's "The Garden":
Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond,
Grew hisself a garden the likes of none.
Sprouts all growin’, comin’ up glowin’,
Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun.
Colors of the rainbow,
See the sun and rain grow,
Sapphires and rubies on ivory vines,
Grapes of jade, just
Ripenin’ in the shade, just Ready for the squeezin’ into green Jade wine.
Pure gold corn there,
Blowin’ in the warm air,
Ol’ crow nibblin’ on the amethyst seeds.
In between the damonds, ol’ man Simon
Crawls about pullin’ platinum weeds.
Pink pearl berries,
All you can carry,
Put ‘em in a bushel and
Haul ‘em into town.
Up in the tree there’s
Opal nuts and gold pears –
Hurry quick, grab a stick
And shake some down.
Take a silver tater,
Emerald tomater,
Fresh plump coral melons,
Hangin’ in reach.
Ol’ man Simon,
Diggin’ in his diamonds,
Stops and rests and dreams about
One… real… peach.

Friday, March 18, 2005

For Future Reference

I'm with Harry Shearer, who's guest-blogging over at TPM today, on the silliness of pitching my two useless cents in on the pathetic Terry Schiavo circus.
I will, however, take this opportunity to publicly (or at least as publicly as a blog that nobody reads can be said to be), affirm my desire not be be kept alive by tubes and machines if I am ever in a similar condition. That is all.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

La Maison, C'est Moi

This interesting quote appeared in The Washington Post yesterday in a story about Tom Delay defending himself against a massive and growing pile of ethics charges:
"It is very unfortunate that the Democrats have no agenda. All they can do is try to tear down the House and burn it down in order to gain power."
Uh...actually, Tommy, they aren't trying to tear down the house so much as trying to smoke a big rat out of it-a process with which you, of all people, should be well acquainted.
You almost have to respect the size of the stones on a man who would equate efforts to hold him accountable for bribes cash-flow irregularities, with destroying the House of Representatives. Perhaps we should call him Tom DeLouis XIV? Non, monsieur. La Maison, ce n'est pas toi. That's French freedom-talk for "zip your cake-hole, Tom."

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's one of my favorite poems. It really has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day, but its composer, Seamus Heaney, is Irish (and a Nobel Prize winner, at that), so that sort of counts, right? It's called "Digging":
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
SlĂ inte!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I would like to extend my heartfelt personal congratulations to the editors of the Des Moines Register for printing the single most pointless article in the history of newspaper journalism. Some highlights:
A Cedar Rapids service station attendant's penchant for "air drumming" has cost him his job.

"My drums are not a joke; they are a part of me," he said. "People used to come into the store and say, 'Dude, you're so good with those drumsticks.'"

Yes folks,
The Onion truly is redundant.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

And not a moment too soon...

Well, huzzah for Oaktown:
As of this week, the Port of Oakland will be the first major seaport in the nation to screen all incoming cargo containers for radiation. Four years and at least $3.2 million in the making, the port's eight radiation portal monitors are advanced models of devices used in former Soviet bloc countries to prevent the spread of nuclear materials.

It's imperfect, but it's an important step and it's about damn time. For a full explanation of the system, imperfections and all, read the whole thing.

Eww, gross...

So let me get this straight: A CourtTV reporter alerts the Santa Barbara county DA to some evidence for the Michael Jackson molestation case, including "soiled Calvin Klein briefs", in the possession of a New Jersey businessman. And the DA or Diane Dimond, the reporter, are supposed to be embarrassed? What about the guy with MJ's "soiled" (*shudder*) tighty-whiteys in his attic? Hell, I feel dirty having just typed that out!

UPDATE: It turns out that the businessman in question came into possession of the foul undergarments when he was "awarded a warehouse full of Jackson family memorabilia in a bankruptcy settlement..." Truth be told, I'm not sure that isn't even stranger.

Here's Hoping

A quick question: Since Judge Richard Kramer, who yesterday held California's law against same-sex marriage unconstitutional, is a Republican (and Catholic, to boot-yee-haw!!!), are we going to be spared another round of yelping about judicial activism?

No, I'm not holding my breath either, but a fella can hope can't he?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Would you rather...

There's a poll out from the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience asking whether voters would choose George W. Bush or a reanimated George Washington if they were running against one another for President. Washington beat Bush overall by about 20 points, but the party-line breakdown has some chins wagging:
Republicans in the survey supported Bush by a margin of more than 2 to 1, while Democrats and independents overwhelmingly favored Washington.

Last night on Air America's horrid show, the Majority Report, host, Sam Seder was shocked (shocked, I say!) that those stinking Republican morons could possibly prefer Bush to Washington. New Donkey has similar (if better articulated) thoughts posted today.
Am I alone in thinking it's a stupid bloody question to ask in the first place? It's like asking if you'd prefer having Hippocrates or Dr. Nick take your appendix out. Next option please...
I wouldn't vote for George Washington for President and I'm anything but a true-Bush-believer. And it's not just because I have an aversion to zombie politicians. I simply prefer a man who's seen the miracle of flush toilets up close as leader of the free world. If the question was put to me I'd have to ask who the third party candidates were.
If we're looking for reasons to criticize the right, there are plenty right here in the realm of the possible.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Check it out...

The current Mayor of Oakland, former Governor of California, likely future Attorney General of California, my mother's favorite politician, and my neighbor, Jerry Brown, has himself a brand spanking new blog.
If it's like his media appearances, it will be anything but boring...
I've added a link on the list of sites more interesting than this one. Give it a gander...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

That's a hell of an idea!

Chris Bowers over at MyDD offers Democratic leaders a fantastic, innovative idea.
Along the lines of's Bush In Thirty Second you should start a wide-ranging, public campaign to encourage individuals within the blogosphere and the netroots to produce television, radio, internet, newspaper, direct mail and door hanging advertisements for both district wide, state-wide, and nationwide distribution in the 2006 Congressional campaigns. The benefits of such a campaign would be enormous[...]

Pelosi, Reid, Dean, et al should consider the plan seriously. Nothing endears someone to you like asking them for help. Some copyright issues and such would probably need to be worked out, but that's what lawyers are for, and I suspect there's no shortage of those at the DNC. There's also the problem of dingbats who think calling Bush Hitler is a good message, but they wouldn't be reinventing the wheel here. already made those mistakes. Their experience could provide valuable lessons on what and what not to do. Either way, huzzah for innovation and breaking out of the stodgy old campaign mold!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union

I'm currently watching and listening to a fabulously lo-fi stream of the State of the Union speech, while simultaneously reading Andrew Sullivan's and Wonkette's runnung blog commentary (blogentary?). God bless the internet, says I.

Best thng about the whole affair? this line from Wonkette:
9:35 Operative: "Oh, great: An ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence, brought to you by the president who wants to ban abortion and starts wars for no reason."

Comedy gold, folks. Comedy gold...

Your liver will thank you

Here it is: The 2005 State of the Union drinking game. Fun for the whole family!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Color me insulted...

I take great umbrage at something the Moose posted today:
The other issue that the Moose will keep an eye out for is immigration reform. Immigration is to the Republicans what trade is to the Democrats - it splits the party right down the middle. Nothing fires up the talk show right than this issue - they are on the side the restrictionists. In reaching out to the Latino community, the President has taken a more progressive approach on immigration reform, but has failed to move legislation. Will he make it a priority and take on the restrictionist right?
The Moose will be watching whether the President is in touch with his inner compassionate conservative or whether he will cave to the xenophobes. (emphases mine)

Well, I think the immigration reform plan the President has outlined is a fantastically bad idea. Does that make me a regressive xenophobe? Mr. Moose might be shocked to learn that there is a rational, non-xenophobic, even *gasp* compassionate case to be made against the plan.

There are two essential parts of Bush's plan:
1) Raising the number of green cards given out each year.
2) Creation of a "guest worker" program, wherein foreign workers will be allowed entry into the US for an unspecified length of time to take jobs that can't be filled with domestic labor. Undocumented workers that are already here will have to pay a fee to enter the program, while those outside our borders will not. All participants in the program will be able to apply for citizenship, but there will be no preference for them over non-participants. There will be various incentives for them to eventually return home.

I have no problem at all with issuing more green cards. It's good for our labor needs, and it's what the US is about, so we should go for it. No hard numbers were outlined in the plan, but whatever the administration has in mind, they should double it.

The main problem I have is that the plan does nothing to strengthen our borders. Without stepping up enforcement of existing laws, this plan does less than nothing. Employers that hire undocumented immigrants need to be dealt with harshly-jailed if need be. The border also has to be way more tightly controlled to prevent more undocumented workers from coming in. I understand people living in horrendous poverty wanting to claim better opportunity, and don't begrudge them the attempt to do whatever they can to feed and clothe their families, but they should be made to do it legally. There's nothing xenophobic about wanting workers to be able to avail themselves of the legal protections against exploitation and dangerous working conditions that legal workers have. And the guest worker program won't be enough to stop the exploitation. If we continue to allow as many undocumented workers over the border as we have, and do nothing to enforce the law on the employers, the guest worker program will be a joke. Why would an employer hire a guest worker at a higher wage and with more bothersome paperwork when there are forty laborers with the same skills and no hassles on a local street corner waiting to be picked up?

Tightly controlling the border is the indispensable cornerstone without which any immigration "reform" is nothing. And there's nothing compassionate about allowing people to come in under cover of darkness only to be put to work at near slave wages doing crushing work picking strawberries with no recourse if they are screwed out of their pay or injured.

Clamping the border shut is good fiscal policy besides. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that the cost to California alone from undocumented immigrants is $10.5 billion a year. This may be an oversimplified picture. I'm not well acquainted with their methodology so it's possible that this study fails to take a variety of factors such as social security taxes withheld but never collected, and lower produce prices into account. The fact remains, however, that the affected states are paying the high costs and the federal government is not reimbursing them. For a state like California, in pretty dire financial straits, this is calamitous. And the services that will need to be cut to get the state out of its budgetary hole benefit the poor, including immigrants. Is it xenophobic to be concerned about that?

So yes, there is a principled, dare I say progressive, position to be taken against the President's immigration reform plan. I'm not saying all right-thinking people necessarily agree with it. But, resorting to knee-jerk characterizations of those who oppose it as xenophobes makes Mr. Moose sound like something other than the thoughtful centrist he's always seemed to be.


From the AP today:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi militants claimed in a Web statement Tuesday to have taken an American soldier hostage and threatened to behead him in 72 hours unless the Americans release Iraqi prisoners. The U.S. military said it was investigating, but the claim's authenticity could not be immediately confirmed.
The posting, on a Web site that frequently carried militants' statements, included a photo of what that statement said was an American soldier, wearing desert fatigues and seated on a concrete floor with his hands tied behind his back. The figure in the photo appeared stiff and expressionless, and the photo's authenticity could not be confirmed. (emphasis, mine)

Actually, the photo's authenticity can be confirmed by anyone with a functioning pair of eyes. Those bastards have kidnapped GI Joe! I don't care what we have to do-call in the Transformers, He-Man, the Thundercats, anyone! We've gotta get this real American hero back!

Update: They seem to have figured it out. Nice work, folks!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sound the alarm!!!

SpongeBob Squarepants is a damned sodomite!!! The god-danged, homo-sekshul, Jew libruls what own the media's tryin' t'infiltrate our young'uns brains!!! Run fer the hills!!!

According to Focus on the Family's James Dobson, because SpongeBob is an ironic icon to some in the gay community, and appears in a video teaching kids about multiculturalism, he's a cleverly laid (pun intended, thank you) trap to entice American youth into a life of sin. Brilliant. I know I shouldn't help these cretins out, but here goes:

Attention troglodytes! Publicly fretting about cartoon characters being gay recruitment tools makes you look like morons.
Yes, even more than usual. That is all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

That's what I call writin'!

This article is only mildly interesting, but it does contain the phrase "deviant bacon orgies", and that's gotta count for something, right?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

For your reading enjoyment:

Each year I look forward to and heartily enjoy Slate's Movie Club, in which a bunch of film critics spend a week blathering at each other about movies and movie criticism. This year's edition is off to a delightfully batty start. Dig it.