30 April 2008

The Ongoing Liebermanification of Hillary Clinton

In between praising John McCain's experience and campaigning for his pandering--and useless--gas tax holiday, Hillary's apparently found time for another grand GOP tradition: rolling around in the sty with Bill O'Reilly.

If she thinks that playing nice with FOX "news" is going to set her apart from Obama and earn her points anywhere, she needs to be drug tested.


The network and its so-called personalities will still look to destroy her and her candidacy and the viewers wouldn't vote for her in a million years. All the FOX bookings in the world aren't going to make GOP voters cross over to put another Clinton in the White House the way they sent their bipartisan fig leaf (and sore loser extraordinaire) Joe Lieberman back to the Senate.

27 April 2008

Don't think she remembers how this story ends...

Hillary tries to goad Obama into a 22nd debate:
"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) on Saturday challenged Democratic frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) to debate her in a one-on-one setting without moderators, hoping that such an exchange would give her a boost in the remaining primaries and help her convince superdelegates that she is the better candidate."
Setting aside her invocation of (and, frankly, arrogant invitation of comparison to) Lincoln-Douglas with the format, you have to love how she tries to sell this.
Clinton said in Indiana that voters in the Hoosier State “deserve” a one-on-one debate.

“I’ve said I'll be anywhere anytime in order to debate because I think the people of Indiana after having wandered in the wilderness of American politics for forty years deserve a debate,” the former first lady said.
So now she's not only Jesus, but Moses, too.

For all those formative years spent in a churchgoing family, I think Hill might want to go back and review who actually made it to the promised land.

26 April 2008

Saturday Shuffle

Glass - Gang of Four
Ghost Dance - Death Cult
The Brilliant Dance - Dashboard Confessional
Moon Dawg! - The Gamblers
Frizzle Fry - Primus
Walkin' on the Sun (live) - Smash Mouth
Marrow - Ani DiFranco
Screaming Gun (live) - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Where Even the Darkness Is Something to See - Coil
A Thief in the Night - Mike Ness

Say anything

And most definitely not in that charming "wooing-Ione-Skye-with-a-boombox" sort of way.

Part 1,237 in the ongoing--and seemingly, endless--series, "Right Wing Gasbags Spewing Contemptuous Shit Unworthy of Being Dignified With a Response":
Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News Friday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the conservative pundit that "the left wing of the Democratic Party, frankly, kind of admires American terrorists." Gingrich then went on to say that "they don't mind at all that Farrakhan is anti-semitic. They shrug off Jeremiah Wright."
As far as the first point goes: fuck you, Newt.

'Nuff said.

More important, though, is how the erstwhile Speaker tried (and, it should be noted, failed) to support that specious bit of bullshit. You really need look no further to see how desperate the far Right has become; their only path to power and prominence is to see terrorists behind every tree and try to fearmonger, accordingly.

Even if every negative thing said about the Farrakhans and Reverend Wrights of the world was 100% true, does anyone with an ounce of sense actually believe that that makes them "American terrorists?" Does someone saying things that you don't agree with--no matter how offensive--put them in league with the bombers and hijackers conjured by the use of the T-word?

'Cause if "God damn America" evokes terror in you, you shouldn't be in a position to lead a cub scout troop, let alone the country.

23 April 2008

The view from the birdcage

Tweety finally gets one right:
“…But I really do think it’s a strange time because we’re all watching to see who won, but as Nora pointed out, 4 out of 5 ,or so, of the Hillary voters today believe she’s still in the running. That this is still up in the air and I think that was probably a mistake of the media. I think in the effort of the media, to try to keep this game going, we’ve created the delusion that somehow this race is still open. I don’t think it is open. I think if you look at the numbers Barack has to really blow it in the weeks ahead to lose.” -- Chris Matthews
Gee, Chris, you think?

Considering everything from its obsession with flag pins to its near-fellatory response to getting invited to the kool kidz' barbeque, I suppose we should be grateful when the stenographers and throne-sniffers in the traditional media get called out on anything at all.

That said...

What happened, Chris? What epiphany did you have that prompted this on-air confession of your profession's maddening record of misfeasance in covering this campaign? There was no final straw in Pennsylvania, last night; barring an eleventh-hour coronation by the superdelegates, Hillary had long since lost the nomination. Whether you're counting states, pledged delegates, or the popular vote, Hillary hasn't had a prayer of overtaking Obama in almost two months.

That much has been more than clear to everyone, save for those involved in the Clinton campaign or, apparently, those drawing a paycheck for covering and analyzing the race for any of the major networks. That inexplicable--and inexcusable--shared delusion has been the chief enabling factor for the scorched earth strategy Clinton has inflicted upon her party and the nation, as a whole.

Hopefully the damage has not been done.

So, Chris...thanks, but it's too little, far, far too late.

19 April 2008

PA-thetic, Part II

On Thursday, George Stephanopoulos tried to defend the previous night's Pennsylvania Democratic screwjob debate that he co-moderated with fellow ABC News' talking head, Charles Gibson:
“We asked tough but appropriate questions,” Stephanopoulos told me by phone this afternoon.

When I asked whether questions about flag pins or Bosnia are actually relevant to voters, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“The vote for the president,” Stephanopoulos said, “is one of the most personal” decisions that someone makes. “When people make that choice, they take into account how candidates stand on the issues,” he said, but also are concerned with “experience, character [and] credibility.”

...Stephanopoulos explained that since the candidates are not far apart policy-wise, the “core of the nomination fight” has been about these issues.
Unfortunately, for Georgie, here, pretty much every bit of legitimate data indicates that the economy and the war are what concern voters. (Driving that point home, when the Philadelphia Inquirer polled its readers, fully 80% described ABC's so-called debate as "disappointing" or "terrible.")

Now with the economy and Iraq monopolizing the "What issue is more important for your presidential vote," polls going back to last June, how to explain this:
"Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag."
You might remember that particularly asinine inquiry from ABC's farce on Wednesday. As it happens, it appears that the questioner, salt-of the-Pennsylvania-earth, Nash McCabe, was no chance participant, but was discovered by ABC and used as a fig leaf to provide cover for the narrative they had already decided to apply to the fight for the Democratic nomination: that sensationalized non-issues are really what's on the minds of the average voter.

Turns out, the flag-obsessed Ms. McCabe is no stranger to the national stage, having appeared in the New York Times a week or so before:
Asked whom she might vote for in the coming presidential primary election and Nash McCabe, 52, seems almost relieved to be able to unpack the dossier she has been collecting in her head.

It is not about whom she likes, but more a bill of particulars about why she cannot vote for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

"How can I vote for a president who won't wear a flag pin?" Mrs. McCabe, a recently unemployed clerk typist, said in a booth at the Valley Dairy luncheonette in this quiet, small city in western Pennsylvania.

Mr. Obama has said patriotism is about ideas, not flag pins.

"I watch him on TV," Mrs. McCabe said. "I keep looking for that lapel pin."

Now, as soon as I read, "How can I vote for a president who won't wear a flag pin," I was ready to unload with all sorts of comments about sticking to voting for American Idol, and wondering whether or not one can use crayon to fill in the lines on optical ballots. Worse, my first thought was that McCabe is a national embarrassment, a stereotype brought to life: the ignorant voter squandering one of our most precious rights on utter inanities (like whether or not you'd want to have a beer with the guy).

Then, I thought about what word is most important to that description:


McCabe and people like her aren't the problem. They're a symptom of the shameless shit-peddling that passes for journalism in our political discourse, best and most recently exemplified by this travesty of a debate. Clearly, the real blame lies with the Gibsons and Stephanopoulos (Stephanopouli?) and all the other architects of this type of coverage: one and all, ethically bankrupt individuals who have long since let their responsibility to the public fall by the wayside in favor of the current circus. The "Nash McCabe" voter is as much a victim of their indefensible choice as the rest of us are victims of the millions of ill-informed citizens that result.

Saturday Shuffle

Angel With the Scabbed Wings - Marilyn Manson
Black Sun - The Cult
Am I Only - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Butch Vig Mix) - House of Pain
Reggatta de Blanc - The Police
You & Me (Less Than Zero) - Glenn Danzig
This Love - Pantera
Moonage Daydream - David Bowie
Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
Just a Lil Dude - The RZA (feat. Q-Tip & Free Murder)

18 April 2008

"Awesome" is keeping your own foot out of the crosshairs

I usually dig the content over at Feministing, but I'm really at a loss for the characterization of actress Michelle Rodriguez' following remarks as "her awesome response to repeated prying questions" of sexuality-obsessed journos:
She explains: “I picture [the journalists] turning into pigs, slime coming out the side of their mouth, and I picture them jerking off. I don't answer those questions.

“I just keep it to myself and it's nobody's business. If I wanna f**k a girl, a boy, a dog, that's my business. That's why there's bathroom doors."

I have to say, I'm a little unclear on what's so "awesome" about feeding into the sort of malicious, utterly fabricated comparisons that people use to put consensual, same-sex relationships on a par with bestiality, pedophilia, etc. Rodriguez' intentions in her choice of words are immaterial; whatever they were, the bottom line is that it sounds no different than the horseshit-laden sputterings of bigots like Rick Santorum. Bigots, it should be noted, who would breathlessly cite this as validation of their views and proof of the real goals of the so-called "homosexual agenda."

Criticizing the invasive, voyeuristic obsessions of the press?


Doing it so carelessly that you reinforce and perpetuate vicious attack lines used to demonize tens of millions of people (regardless of whether you're numbered among them)?

Decidedly un-awesome.

However well-deserved a slap at piggish journalists Rodriguez' comments may be, this is one step forward, two steps back.

17 April 2008


I was going to try and write something about the shockingly inane, undeniably contemptible display that was the Pennsylvania Democratic "Debate" on ABC last night. The topics not only sounded like they were cribbed directly from right wing AM radio smear-merchants, they actually were. Unfortunately, every time I try and reflect thoughtfully on the despicable hit-job turned in by slime-covered hacks "moderators" Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, I come that much closer to having an aneurysm.

So I won't.

Instead, here's a video of a chimp smelling his own ass. It'll still be more informative than the high school antics of Messrs. Gibson and Stephanopoulos.

Quote of the Day

Bob Cesca, on George Stephanopoulos' and Charlie Gibson's positively craptastic performance moderating last night's Democratic smearfest debate:
"...the very serious moderators of last night's Democratic debate couldn't have been less serious if they had been wearing clown suits made of dildos while simultaneously tickling each other with monkeys."

14 April 2008

Let me guess, he's still a real credit to his people, though, right?

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) apologizes for his attempt to floss his teeth with his shoelaces:
U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Hebron Republican, compared Obama and his message for change similar to a "snake oil salesman."

He said in his remarks at the GOP dinner that he also recently participated in a "highly classified, national security simulation" with Obama.

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

"That boy."


Leaving aside the hundred-plus years of ugliness you summon up by referring to a black man as "boy," the stupidity of Davis' spontaneous remarks is only eclipsed by that of his carefully planned ones. According to the copy of letter his office provided to The Politico, in his apology, Davis told Obama:
"My poor choice of words is regrettable and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity. My no way reflects the personal and professional respect I have for you."
Because likening someone to a snake-oil salesmen is meant to highlight his integrity, right, Congressman? Seems to me, regardless of whatever else he said, Davis' opinion on that score is quite apparent. Further, as he specifically referenced the "boy" comment in his letter, this was clearly not intended as an apology for the entirety of his statements. The crux of an apology is a recognition of responsibility and Davis can't even bring himself to address what was actually offensive about what he said. The fact that he's going to such rhetorical pains to keep his words' baggage at arms length shows he knows exactly what they evoked, which underlines the weakness of his mea culpa all the more.

13 April 2008

Facts are such pesky things

Looks like someone had better let Deferment Dick know he can stop looking for kryptonite to use against SuperQaeda:
Last week's violence in Basra and Baghdad has convinced the Bush administration that actions by Iran, and not al-Qaeda, are the primary threat inside Iraq, and has sparked a broad reassessment of policy in the region, according to senior U.S. officials.

Evidence of an increase in Iranian weapons, training and direction for the Shiite militias that battled U.S. and Iraqi security forces in those two cities has fixed new U.S. attention on what Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday called Tehran's "malign" influence, the officials said.

The intensified focus on Iran coincides with diminished emphasis on al-Qaeda in Iraq as the leading justification for an ongoing U.S. military presence in Iraq.

In congressional hearings this week, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said the U.S. military has driven al-Qaeda from Baghdad, Anbar province and central Iraq, and he depicted the group as now largely concentrated in a reduced territory around the northern city of Mosul.

During their Washington visit, Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker barely mentioned al-Qaeda in Iraq but spoke extensively of Iran.

With "al-Qaeda in retreat and disarray" in Iraq, said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, "we see other obstacles that were under the waterline more clearly. . . . The Iranian-armed militias are now the biggest threat to internal order."

You'd think the Vice President would be someone who'd be aware that there had been "a broad reassessment of policy in the region." You'd be wrong. Just four days ago, he was doing his best Chicken Little impression on the Sean Hannity show, warning against an al Qaeda takeover of the Iraqi oilfields.

So...clueless or mendacious?

I don't know which of those leadership qualities should make us sleep better at night, but I know this: the remains of the old guard in Russia are laughing their asses off hearing Sec Def Gates whine about Tehran's "malign influence."

Temple of the Flashback

28.10.03, though tacking 11 years onto that is more accurate:

I can't say anything that hasn't already been said about these voices...

The sound of chickens roosting...

Schadenfreude n., enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others:
Alberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general, who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.

A longtime loyalist to George W. Bush dating to their years together in Texas, Mr. Gonzales was once widely viewed as a strong candidate to be the first Hispanic-American nominated one day to the Supreme Court. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he carried an impressive personal story as the child of poor Mexican immigrants.

Despite those credentials, he left office last August with a frayed reputation over his role in the dismissal of several federal prosecutors and the truthfulness of his testimony about a secret eavesdropping program. He has had no full-time job since his resignation, and his principal income has come from giving a handful of talks at colleges and before private business groups.
Too bad, so sad...or not.
"The greatest impediment to Mr. Gonzales’s being offered the kind of high-salary job being snagged these days by lesser Justice Department officials, many lawyers agree, is his performance during his last few months in office. In that period, he was openly criticized by lawmakers for being untruthful in his sworn testimony."
You mean, cultivating a reputation as a shameless liar might make it tough to find work?


Gonzo doesn't have the requisite character to be appointed dog catcher.

Strangely, situations like this are actually what makes me think twice about dismissing El Presidente as the bumbling, rhetorically challenged man-child he so clearly appears to be. Mendacious and ethically crippled though he may be, Gonzales isn't an idiot. You have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes for a man like that to be so blindly loyal to an apparent mouth breather like G-Dubs.

Worth the proverbial "thousand words"

Beijing Olympics

12 April 2008

Saturday Shuffle

Omission - Quicksand
Black Balloon - The Kills
Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran
Ruff Riders Anthem - DMX
32 Flavors (live) - Ani DiFranco
Posthuman - Marilyn Manson
What's Left but Solid Gold (acoustic) - Chris Connelly
Strange Loop - Liz Phair
Recently - Dave Matthews Band
Personal Jesus - Richard Cheese

11 April 2008

The "Super Qaeda" fantasies of Dick Cheney

If anything is clear five years into our ill-advised foray into nation-building in Iraq, it's the magnitude of the difficulty posed by the sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shiite populations. Even so, it appears that the shockingly weak grasp of those most basic dynamics (recently and repeatedly exemplified by John "Expereince" McCain) is spreading.

This week, Dick Cheney joined ol' Johnnie Mac in the divorced from reality camp. This latest nugget came up in the loving tongue bath that passed for an "interview" with FOX's Sean Hannity on his radio show. Hannity really brought his "A" game with hard-hitting questions like these:
"... after the President had proposed the surge, there was non-stop coverage. Now that by every measure there has been tremendous success, there is far less coverage at this point in time, which I would argue makes my case about a media that is slanted somewhat. But what are your thoughts on the progress, and where we are, and what it means for the country, in terms of national security?"

"Over the years we've had Democratic prominent senators, Dick Durbin compare our troops to Nazis; John Kerry say our troops in Iraq were terrorizing women and children in the dark of night; Senator Ted Kennedy compare our troops to Saddam's troops...What is one to conclude about the Democratic Party and the military and their feelings about it with those repeated statements?

"What did you make of Senator Barack Obama's comments that he would talk to Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier who's repeatedly threatened to blow up and remove Israel from the state -- from the map, the world map, and obviously is pursuing some nuclear capability?"
Really held his feet to the fire, didn't he? I mean, it's not like Cheney was just exposed as having personally participated in high level authorization of the torture of detainees, or anything.

When it came time for Hannity to lob Cheney his obligatory Iraq softball--which, it should be noted, the veep couldn't respond to without invoking 9/11 within about 30 seconds--this was his rationale for our continuing investment in blood and treasure:
For us to walk away from Iraq I think would have at least that bad an effect, probably worse, because if al Qaeda were to take over big parts of Iraq, among other things, they would acquire control of a significant oil resource. Iraq has almost 100 billion barrel reserves, producing 2.5-3 million barrels of oil a day. If you take a terrorist organization like al Qaeda and give it that kind of revenue, there's no telling the amount of trouble they could get into.
Take a second and try to wrap your head around that bit of insanity.

According to our Vice President, a scattered and loosely organized confederation of Sunni militants is going to go into a country of 27,000,000 with a 60% Shiite majority and, not only take control of its oil producing lands, but facilitate the actual production and selling of that oil on the world market as a means of financial support.

Osama Bin Laden, himself, doesn't have that optimistic an opinion of al Qaeda's power and influence. In fact, "optimistic" doesn't even begin to describe such a scenario. Asinine pronouncements like the one above must invariably lead to the conclusion that Cheney is either a shameless liar, fundamentally ignorant, or completely delusional. (Who knows, he might very well believe that General Zod IS the latest in the seemingly endless series of #2 Qaeda "big fish.")

It goes without saying that Deferment Dick's utterly nonsensical prediction was met with Hannity's complete and uncritical acceptance. I suppose it is difficult to ask an intelligent follow-up question whilst busying yourself undoing your guest's zipper with your teeth.

Dig Yo' Self....

Friday funtime from Nick Cave and the Boys...

10 April 2008

Quote of the Day

Courtesy those magnificent sonsabitches at Overheard in New York:
Well, OK, But He's Definitely Not a Creepy Mormon!

Obama volunteer, on super Tuesday: Have you had a chance to make it out to the polls yet?
Old woman, angrily: I don't like Muslims. [walks past].
Volunteer: Ummmm... [shouts after her] he's Christian!
Old woman, turning back, even angrier: No he's not!

09 April 2008

Don't make him angry

You wouldn't like him when he's angry:
Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.
Stay classy, Johnnie Mac.

Setting aside the weird juxtaposition with "trollop"--kind of like calling someone a "cad," then following up with "fuckwad," if you ask me--where are the pearl-clutching guardians of our public discourse? You know, the ones who we see in high dudgeon every time some anonymous blogger drops an F-bomb in response to some new bit of reprehensible garbage oozing its way out of the Beltway? Such language is awful, horrible, inexcusable, and clearly speaks volumes about the person using it.

(Until Dick Cheney tells Pat Leahy to go fuck himself, that is).

Now, we've had, do have, and will have some foul-mouthed officeholders. I've got no issue with that, nor am I one to suggest that getting salty from time to time precludes you from having moral fiber. But to go to DEFCON-1 profanity in an instant...for that bit of ribbing...from your wife, no less?

Sorta gives credence to those temper concerns, dontcha think?

05 April 2008

Saturday Shuffle

Tha - Aphex Twin
Pet - A Perfect Circle
Hawaii Five-O - The Ventures
Picture of the Future - Treat Her Right
We're All in Love - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Glow Worm - Jackie Davis
Little by Little (live) - Twinemen
We Care a Lot - Faith No More
Don't - Dinosaur Jr.
Delusional - Quicksand

04 April 2008

Add "civil rights movement" to the growing list

...of things John McCain apparently doesn't know very much about.

On his opposition to a holiday honoring Martin Luther King:

McCain: I voted in my first year in congress against it. Then I began to learn. And I studied. And people talked to me. And I not only supported it, but I fought very hard in my own state of Arizona for recognition against a governor who was of my own party.


Reporter: What didn't you know when you voted initially against it that you later knew when you changed your mind?

McCain: I had not really been involved in the issue. I just had not had a lot of experience with the issue. That's all.

McCain: In Arizona, I came from the military where we are the greatest equal opportunity employer in the nation and still are. And I had just not been involved in the issue. There were issues that I had not been involved in when I was in the military, and then I went relatively quickly to being a member of Congress.

Reporter: You just didn't realize the large role in American history?

McCain: I think I just explained it about best I could.

Reporter: It's not really an issue to be involved in, to be aware of his impact on this country, it's more of a knowledge of history.

McCain: I think you're entitled to your opinion on it and I respect your opinion on that, but I had not been involved in the issue. I had come from being in the military to running for Congress in a state that did not have a large African American population.

He wasn't "involved" in the "issue?"

What a positively bizarre formulation.

How exactly does a (at the time) nearly 50 year-old man not have enough "involvement" with the activities of Martin Luther King Jr. to recognize the role and influence he had? If that's actually the case, it's a far more damning bit of information than his initial opposition to the holiday ever could be. This man wants us to believe that he is the best choice to lead this nation. Can we really afford to entrust that position to someone who, seemingly, has that much difficulty grasping the significance of such major events?

The MLK holiday, alone, literally took him a decade or more to puzzle out, in part, because there wasn't a large enough African American population in Arizona for him to see the significance it held.


Maybe if he'd had Chuck, here, to 'splain it to him...

Still looking for the mountaintop...

January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

03 April 2008

Profiles in Hackery

This is what issued forth when ABC's "Senior National Correspondent," Jake Tapper, squatted over his keyboard this morning:
Last August, I ran into Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, outside the Senate chamber in the Capitol.

...As any close friend or family member can attest, I have an unusually keen sense of smell and immediately I smelled cigarette smoke on Obama. Frankly, he reeked of cigarettes.

Obama ran off before I could ask him if he'd just snuck a smoke, so I called his campaign.

They denied it. He'd quit months before, in February, they insisted. He chewed nicorette.

But I knew what I'd smelled and I asked his campaign to double-check and to ask him if he'd had a cigarette.

They reported back that he had told them he hadn't had a cigarette since he quit.

And maybe that was true. Maybe I imagined the cigarette smoke. My olfactory nerve somehow misfired.

Except….last night on MSNBC's Hardball, Obama admitted that his attempt to wean himself from the vile tobacco weed had not been entirely successful.

“I fell off the wagon a couple times during the course of it, and then was able to get back on," he said. "But it is a struggle like everything else.”

Now I wonder about last August.

It's not a big deal in the scheme of things -- the war on Iraq, a major economic crisis -- indeed, it's miniscule. Hardly worth mentioning.

Except that I don't like feeling that I wasn't being dealt with honestly. And as much as citizens who are suspect of the media might scoff at such a notion, many of us consider ourselves to be your representatives to help make sure our leaders are telling us the truth, and leading the country down a path we're confident is the right one. (Corny, I know.)
Dearest Jake,

Last I checked, none of the candidates for president are still in high school, yet, for some reason, that's about the caliber of "journalism" we're seeing, here.

I'm not sure what's more embarrassing:

The fact that, in the heat of what was already shaping up to be an historic primary duel, a candidate possibly sneaking a cigarette is what piqued your investigative interests, or that, months later, you think this episode provides your readers with some revealing insight into someone's character.

In your own words, this anecdote is hardly worth mentioning, yet here you are, using a national forum to call into question a man's--sorry, "campaign's"--honesty based on something you think you smelled eight months ago and a surrogate's response to it...despite the fact that, when asked directly, Obama was perfectly candid.

I'm glad you finally found yourself a framework on which to hang your self-righteous (not to mention self-aggrandizing) pronouncement about your oh-so-venerable role as the public's guardian of honesty. I'm sure you were saving that particular nugget for quite awhile. But it could not be more out of place than in the context of this juvenile hit piece.

Corny? Not hardly.

When it comes to that above-the-fray, bygone idealism pose you're affecting in order to insert yourself into the (non) story you've manufactured, "pathetic," is what comes to mind, Tapper, not corny.

Your job is not to remind us little people what your role in the public discourse is.

Your job is to report on the candidates and the real issues we can use to decide between them.

Grow up, and start doing it.

Headline of the Week

Part 1,456 in the ongoing series of reasons that F1 is head and shoulders above NASCAR. You can't make up a trainwreck like this:
Nazi Orgy Scandal Rocks Formula One

(AP) Formula One teams and manufacturers are questioning whether Max Mosley should stay on as FIA president following a sex scandal.

Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all issued statements Thursday expressing disappointment over Mosley's behavior, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

"Toyota Motorsport does not approve of any behavior which could be seen to damage Formula One's image, in particular any behavior which could be understood to be racist or anti-Semitic," the Japanese car maker said. "When all the facts are known, it will be for the FIA to decide whether Mr. Mosley has met the moral obligations which come with the position of FIA President."

A British tabloid, The News of the World, reported Sunday that Mosley participated in sex acts with five prostitutes in a scenario that is believed to involve Nazi role-playing.
Not just a hooker, but a five hooker orgy.

Not just an orgy, but a NAZI orgy.

The left turn circuit has nothing on this....

02 April 2008

On second thought, let's NOT burn in hell

Wal-Mart: Brain-damaged former employee can keep money

(CNN) -- A former Wal-Mart employee who suffered severe brain damage in a traffic accident won't have to pay back the company for the cost of her medical care, Wal-Mart told the family Tuesday.

"Occasionally, others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times," Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Pat Curran said in a letter. "We have all been moved by Ms. Shank's extraordinary situation."

Eight years ago, Debbie Shank was stocking shelves for the retail giant and signed up for Wal-Mart's health and benefits plan.

After a tractor-trailer slammed into her minivan, the 52-year-old mother of three lost much of her short-term memory and was confined to a wheelchair. She now lives in a nursing home.

She also lost her 18-year-old son, Jeremy, who was killed shortly after arriving in Iraq. When Debbie Shank asks family members how her son is doing and they remind her that he's dead, she weeps as if hearing the news for the first time.

Wal-Mart's health care plan lets the retail giant recoup the cost of its expenses if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit. And Wal-Mart set out to do just that after Shank and her husband, Jim, won $1 million after suing the trucking company involved in the wreck. After legal fees, the couple received $417,000.

Wal-Mart sued the Shanks to recoup $470,000 it paid for her medical care. However, a court ruled that the company could only recoup about $275,000 -- the amount that was left in a trust fund for her care.

The Shanks appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court declined in March to hear the case. CNN told the couple's story last week, prompting thousands of angry blog responses and at least two online petitions to boycott the company.

On Tuesday, Wal-Mart said in a letter to Jim Shank that it is modifying its health care plan to allow "more discretion" in individual cases.

"We wanted you to know that Wal-Mart will not seek any reimbursement for the money already spent on Ms. Shank's care, and we will work with you to ensure the remaining amounts in the trust can be used for her ongoing care," Curran said.

"We are sorry for any additional stress this uncertainty has placed on you and your family."

Wal-Mart's reversal came as shock to Shank.

"I thought it was an April Fool's joke," he told CNN.

"I (would) just like to let them know that they did the right thing. I just wish it hadn't taken so long," Shank said. "But I thank them and I hope they come through with all that they said they're going to do."
"Occasionally, others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way." kindly pointing out the fact that we're behaving like soulless monsters.

That backpedal, alone, is worth the price of admission. Hilarious.

Not that it matters to the family, who can, thankfully and finally, put this behind them, but I wonder what was more moving: "Ms. Shank's extraordinary situation" or the fact that a nearly $400B/year company relentlessly pursuing a wheelchair-bound woman for $275,000 tends to garner a fair bit of negative attention?

01 April 2008

How does one say, "Mission Accomplished" in Arabic?

Al Maliki takes a page from El Presidente's handbook:
Iraq PM proclaims Basra assaults a 'success'

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki says that a crackdown on Shiite militiamen in Basra has been a success and that 10,000 extra troops would be recruited to keep order in the southern oil hub.

His statement came as officials said the toll from a military assault the premier ordered on Shiite militias a week ago had helped propel the March tally of Iraqis killed to 1,082, the highest monthly total since August.


Mr. Maliki said he had decided to implement a seven-point program in Basra following "the stability and success of the security plan which achieved the aim of imposing law in the city and restoring normalcy."

Considering the fact that al Maliki's representatives had to approach Iran, hats in hand, to beg for assistance in getting Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army to back off, this whole "crackdown" has been one humiliation after the next for the Iraqi PM. First, he found himself in over his head and needing US forces to pick up the slack in his government's "defining moment." Then, the aforementioned going next door for help from Tehran. Finally, the full account of his security initiative's so-called success puts the lie to his empty boasts and clearly demonstrates how thoroughly compromised his authority actually is:

"In the view of many American troops and officers, the Mahdi Army had splintered irretrievably into a collection of independent operators and criminal gangs. Now, however, the conclusion of the conflict in Basra shows that when Sadr speaks, the militia listens.

That apparent authority is in marked contrast to the weakness of Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. He traveled south to Basra with his security ministers to supervise the operation personally. After a few days of intense fighting he extended his previously announced deadline for surrender and offered militants cash in exchange for their weapons. Yet in the cease-fire announcement the militia explicitly reserved the right to hold onto its weapons. And the very fact of the cease-fire flies in the face of Maliki's proclamation that there would be no negotiations. It is Maliki, and not Sadr, who now appears militarily weak and unable to control elements of his own political coalition."

All he needs now is an imposing military backdrop for his "successful crackdown" photo op and a sock-laden codpiece...

Rock bottom and starting to dig...

Unfortunately, not an April Fool's joke...
Only 1 of 2 students graduate high school in US cities: study

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Three out of 10 US public school students do not graduate from high school, and major city school districts only graduate one out of two students, according to a study released Tuesday.

In a report on graduation rates around the country, the EPE Research Center and the America Promise Alliance also showed that the high school graduation rate -- finishing 12 grades of school -- in big cities falls to as low as just 34.6 percent in Baltimore, Maryland, and barely over 40 percent for the troubled Ohio cities of Columbus and Cleveland.

And it said that black and native American student's have effectively a one-in-two chance of getting a high school diploma.

"Our analysis finds that graduating from high school in America's largest cities amounts, essentially, to a coin toss," the study said.

"Only about one-half (52 percent) of students in the principal school systems of the 50 largest cities complete high school with a diploma."

Based on 2003-2004 data, the report said that across the country the graduation average for public school students is 69.9 percent, with the best success rate in suburbs -- 74.9 percent -- and rural districts -- 73.2 percent.

Asian-Americans score the highest graduation rate, at 80 percent, with whites at 76.2 percent and Hispanics at 57.8 percent.

Women graduate at a much higher rate than men, 73.6 percent to 66.0 percent.

In the country's city schools, the study found that in urban areas generally, just 60.4 percent graduate, and in the principal school districts of the top 50 cities, barely half graduate.

Detroit, Michigan's main school district scored a graduation rate of 24.9 percent.

New York, the country's largest city, has a graduation rate for its main school district of 45.2 percent, and Los Angeles, the second largest, of 45.3 percent.

Only five of the principal school districts topped the national average.
Losing half by the age of 18 doesn't leave a whole lot left to join the ranks of "the best and the brightest," does it?

People are already fleeing an anti-scientific, anti-experience backlash. If we couple that existing "reverse brain drain" with a third of a generation barely developing brains to begin with, the latter is not only a source national embarrassment, but the makings of a crisis.

The fact that 75% of Detroit students fail to get diplomas should be reason enough for the summary firing of at least that many of the existing teachers and administrators in that abysmally dysfunctional school system. More frighteningly, speaking as someone who has some insight into the remaining 25%, the problem is actually worse than it already appears. Students completing 12 years of so-called education are not only inconsistent in their correct usage of the words "they're" and "there," but, seemingly, choose a given spelling purely at random.

Without substantial change, we're not going to have to worry about succeeding on a global playing field, we might not have enough players to even take the field.

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