12 February 2011

Saturday Shuffle

Let The Music Play - Shannon
Walk Away - Tom Waits
(She's) Sexy + 17 - Stray Cats
Smash It Up (Part 2) - The Damned
Taki Rari - Yma Sumac
All I Know - Basement Jaxx
Salvation (live) - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Maybe I'll Catch Fire (live) - Alkaline Trio
Justify My Love - Madonna
Valerie - Amy Winehouse

Maybe I'll Catch Fire

This house is full of ears,
But I can't talk to anyone.
They've heard this one a thousand times.
Most exciting thing I do,
Hang half way out a third floor window,
Maybe throw lit cigarettes down.

And maybe I'll catch fire.
Something warm to hold me,
Something pure to burn away the darkness that hides inside my mind.
All that evil shit's not hard to find.
I guess I only claim to be nice.

This house is full of eyes,
But I can't look at anyone.
They've seen this face a thousand times.
Most relaxing thing I do,
Hang half way out a third floor window,
And look at rocks if I fall out.

Well maybe I'll fall hard.
Something tough to break me,
Something sharp to rip into my insides and bleed out all that pain.
Sorry I don't even know your name.
I guess for me it's easy this way.

Maybe I'll catch fire.
Something warm to hold me,
Something pure to burn away the darkness that hides inside my mind.
All that evil shit's not hard to find.
I guess I only claim to be nice.

10 February 2011

Rep. Steve King: Delusional racists are the president's problem

In the aftermath of Bill O'Reilly's superbowl interview childish badgering of Barack Obama, Rep. Steve King took to the Lawrence O'Donnell show to discuss his Republican constituents who still cling to the paranoid fantasy that the president is a secret Muslim. King, quite comfortable with egging on the Birthers who think the President isn't a citizen or going on the radio to smear him as a racist apparently draws the line at calling Obama a Muslim, but blames him for the misconception, anyway...only to have O'Donnell promptly punch him in the mouth:
"Do you have any doubt about whether [Obama] is a Christian?" he asked King. "I take him at his word," King said.

"Are you a Christian?" O'Donnell asked. "Yes," King said.

"Should I take you at your word or should I maybe suspect you are Muslim?" O'Donnell said. "Do you have a Christian ID you can show me?"

King said that the misconception about Obama's religion among many Republicans is "not a Republican problem, this is the president's problem." O'Donnell asked,"if Republicans believe the world is flat, is that a Republican problem or a geography problem?"

05 February 2011

Saturday Shuffle

Trees - Dr. Octagon
Yesterday - The Beatles
In or Out (live) - Ani DiFranco
Rico's Blues - Jan Hammer
21st Century (Digital Boy) ('90 version) - Bad Religion
Words (For Love) - Paul Oakenfold
Severed (live) - Kittie
Guitar Date - The's
Behind My Camel - The Police
Harold of the Rocks (live) - Primus

In or Out

Guess there's something wrong with me
Guess I don't fit in
No one wants to touch it
No one knows where to begin
I've got more than one membership
To more than one club
And I owe my life
To the people that I love

He looks me up and down
Like he knows what time it is
Like he's got my number
Like he thinks it's his
He says,
Call me, Miss DiFranco,
If there's anything I can do
I say,
It's Mr. DiFranco to you

Somedays the line I walk
Turns out to be straight
Other days the line tends to deviate
I've got no criteria for sex or race
I just want to hear your voice
I just want to see your face

She looks me up and down
Like she thinks that I'll mature
Like she's got my number
Like it belongs to her
She says,
Call me, Ms. DiFranco
If there's anything I can do
I say, I've got spots
I've got stripes, too

Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out
And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
Tonight you can't put me
Up on any shelf

'Cause I came here alone
I'm gonna leave by myself

I just want to show you
The way that I feel
And when I get tired
You can take the wheel to me
What's more important
Is the person that I bring
Not just getting to the same restaraunt
And eating the same thing

Guess there's something wrong with me
Guess I don't fit in
No one wants to touch it
No one knows where to begin
I've more than one membership
To more than one club
And I owe my life to the people that I love

03 February 2011

At the intersection of bigotry and tech savvy

Tech savvy comes up with a nice "gotcha."

Great story of code beating codified hate, here. The Prop (H)8-supporting National Organization for Marriage decided to decorate their anti-gay marriage blog with a cartoon from the website Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal without doing much research into the creator's (Zach Weiner) actual opinions about their social aims.

They compounded their error by hotlinking the image directly from Mr. Weiner's database. (C'mon NOMers, you've never heard of photobucket or imageshack?) In addition to this being, well, stealing, it also afforded him the opportunity to alter the image that was being accessed from--and thus posted to--NOM's website. A little bit of HTML-fu later, this was the result:

Why did Thomas Jefferson hate traditional marriage so much?

What I wouldn't give to have had a few of the NOMers' reactions captured, Philly school district spycam-style...

01 February 2011

GOP: "Well, there's "raped" and then there's REALLY raped.

At least that's the plan outlined by the new GOP House majority, In yet another not-remotely-job-related legislative offering from the allegedly job-focused Republicans on the Hill, we're gifted with this abomination:
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.

...The term "forcible rape" is not defined in the federal criminal code, and the bill's authors don't offer their own definition. In some states, there is no legal definition of "forcible rape," making it unclear whether any abortions would be covered by the rape exemption in those jurisdictions.
Classy, eh?

If you're poor, you better make sure your attacker not only rapes you, but beats the living hell out of you in the process. If not, you need to pay for--or live with and raise--his consequences.

If you were drugged, incapacitated, unconscious, or molested by a non-relative, you weren't raped enough according to John Boehner. Which is perversely appropriate, since they're more than willing to violate you all over again with laws like this one.

Once again, the conservative movement is working, tirelessly, to shrink government until it's just small enough to fit into every woman's uterus.

Cut out the middleman, Huck...

Mike Huckabee (Likud-AR)
And just run for the Knesset instead of the White House. It's becoming increasingly clear which nation is at the forefront of Huckabee's mind when contemplating "national interests."

Mike Huckabee, on his 15th trip to Israel, weighs in on the situation in Egypt -- and essentially comes out against the pro-democracy protesters:
"[T]he events of the past few days in Egypt have created a very tenuous situation, not just for Egypt, not just for the Middle East, but for the entire world, and the destabilization of that nation has the potential of cascading across the globe."
According to another Israeli newspaper, Huckabee also told the Knesset, "the situation could threaten the world and all those who seek peace and security."
I never realized that threatening the Israeli government with (further) regional isolation is equivalent to "threatening the world." Speaks volumes that the Huckster, a legitimate contender for the Presidency of the United States, views them as one and the same. Better for the U.S. to throw its lot in with a despot who jails his opposition--while it occupies and/or bombs several other Muslim nations--than risk nervousness in a nuclear regime with he most sophisticated military in the region.

What could go wrong?

29 January 2011

*Totally* not a dictator

The internet in Egypt is out. No, not some sites. Not a ISP issue, like the one that ruins your day by keeping you from Netflix-ing the last season of The Office. The whole. Damn. Thing.

(But remember, “they" hate us for our freedom, not our billions in aid to repressive regimes with a foot firmly planted on “their” necks).

Ever wonder what an entire country's internet traffic getting shut off looks like? Well, wonder no longer:

If you'll consult your programs, this is our "very responsible" ally whom Vice President Biden "would not refer to as a dictator." Call me crazy, but responding to political protests against you by blacking out the internet, SMS messaging, and cellular service strikes me as a decidedly dictator-y thing to do.

At least it couldn't happen, here, though. I mean, that would take a law vesting the White House with the power to declare some sort of "cyber emergency" and exert control without any judicial review or oversight.

Uh oh.
Portions of the Lieberman-Collins bill, which was not uniformly well-received when it became public in June 2010, became even more restrictive when a Senate committee approved a modified version on December 15. The full Senate did not act on the measure.

The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government's designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review." Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include "provider of information technology," and a third authorized the submission of "classified" reports on security vulnerabilities.
How long until this Connecticut asshat retires, again?

Saturday Shuffle

Death Dealer's Descent - Renholder
Take It Off - The Donnas
Extraordinary Girl - Green Day
Generation - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
TV II - Ministry
Come and Get Some of This - House of Pain
Man With A Mission (live) - Bad Religion
Clavicle (live) - Alkaline Trio
Tick - Ween
Right Between The Eyes - Garbage

26 January 2011

This is not the "democracy" you are looking for...

Move along.
"Obama’s praise for the Tunisian revolution and declaration that the United States “supports the democratic aspirations of all people” is particularly relevant in the face of the massive pro-democracy protest movement that has erupted in Egypt over the past week, timed to coincide with the anniversary of Egyptian police revolting against their British colonizers.

...One nation that has been mostly silent during these demonstrations is the United States. This is particularly important given that the United States is a close economic, political, and military ally to the Egyptian government, which receives nearly $2 billion annually in aid from the United States."
All of which ignores the Mubarek regime's support position as the United States' most favored regional figleaf with their status as Israel's Chief Arab Ally™

Personally, I can't see us standing with the Egyptians the same way we are with the Tatooinians Tunisians. The United States sure does love it some democracy...until the democratized masses start casting ballots for people we don't like so much.  It's pretty clear that we "support democratic aspirations" only so far as they institute governments that we can coerce, control, or are otherwise in lockstep with our policy objectives.

25 January 2011

Not-quite-live blogging the SOTU

First of all, could John Boehner have looked any more put out at having to be there?  He's the Speaker of the House for god's sake; one of the most powerful men in the country and he looked like my buddy's eight year-old when he finds out the restaurant is out of chicken fingers.  His level of engagement went no further than spending the better part of an hour practicing his "withering contempt for the black man" expression, Zoolander-style.

Secondly, I'm not sure how you spend the first half of your speech talking about all the innovations you want to support and fund and then turn around and say, "by the way, we're also freezing domestic spending for five years" just weeks after putting the country in a $900,000,000,000 (deeper) hole with that deal-with-the-GOP-devil extending G-Dubs' tax cuts.  I'm a big fan of high-speed rail, clean energy, education, etc., but what's going to get cut?  That's a lot of the oft-discussed, yet never-detailed, "waste and inefficiency" to pare away.

Thirdly: Salmon?  Most bizarre laugh line I've ever heard in one of these things.

At the end of the day, it was all worth it for the gift of Michelle Bachmann's Teabagger rebuttal.  What the hell was she looking at?  She came off like a deranged weather girl, one who can't pronounce "Iwo Jima."

Compromise, capitulation; To-may-to, to-mah-to, really.

As the President prepares to present his state of the union address to Congress, Senate Minority Leader (and noted human/turtle hybrid) Mitch McConnell took the opportunity to remind us what the GOP envisions when they think of "bipartisan compromise" over the next two years.  (Here's a hint: It looks quite a bit like Barack Obama pretending that it was John McCain and not he who was elected back in 2008 and then governing accordingly).
MCCONNELL: If the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway, we’re not going to say no and –

ALLEN: But that’s not much of a concession. That’s not bargaining, to just give you what you want.

MCCONNELL: Um, I like to think I’m a pretty good negotiator.

23 January 2011

Can a dozen and a half "incidents" still be "isolated?"

Digby, a true standard-bearer of bloggering fortitude and perseverance if ever there was one, has been discussing the farce that is the "isolated incident" of anti-left/anti-goverment terrorism since well before the recent events in Tucson. I'd considered reprinting her list of these few-and-far-between happenings (that just keep happening and happening and happening) but then I saw that she picked up the spot-on work from Dave Neiwert at Crooks & Liars.

And while pictures are worth a thousand words...

I highly advise people to check out the words.

22 January 2011

Saturday Shuffle

Murder She Wrote - Chaka Demus (feat. Pliers)
Say Goodbye Hollywood - Eminem
Albatross - Corrosion of Conformity
I Go Crazy - Flesh For Lulu
The Ocean - Led Zeppelin
777 - Danzig
Supernaut - 1000 Homo DJs
Pleasure, Little Treasure - Depeche Mode
I Wrote a Song About Your Car - Mike Doughty
My Philosophy - Boogie Down Productions

21 January 2011

Countdown...and out

Well, there it is. Keith Olbermann and Countdown are gone from MSNBC. There's far too much money at stake for this to be a firing as you or I would experience it, but, effectively, that's pretty much what it is. According to the network, "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract." Conan O'Brien can tell you exactly what that means: the network canned you and is paying through the nose to do so. Though clearly not at a "Tonight Show" level buyout, I'm not going to weep for Olbermann; he's got more than enough fans to land on his feet, elsewhere, and, at this point, more than enough padding in his wallet if his feet aren't what hit the ground first.

That said, it's just remarkable how little it apparently takes to make a left-of-center personality unemployable, while sending stalkers after people you don't like or accusing the President of hating white people is worthy of ongoing, multi-million dollar contracts.

At any rate, here's Olbermann's farewell, which, by his own account, was allowed to be a bit more heartfelt than his exit from ESPN:

20 January 2011

A short ride off into the sunset

Looks like Rape Gurney Joe is calling it a (Senate) career. It doesn't sound as if there are too many of his constituents who will be too broken up at the prospect of no longer being represented by G-Dubs' favorite-est bipartisan figleaf.
Another friend burned up her iPad tonight when I asked her to enumerate why she hates Joe Lieberman. She ticked off a half-dozen reasons and then said, "The thing is, I did not come up with most of these myself. They come from many rounds of playing the peculiar Connecticut liberal cocktail party game 'I hated Joe Lieberman before you hated Joe Lieberman.'"
Pratt & Whitney, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin, however, look to be getting positively misty at the prospect of a Senate without one of their most loyal sources of taxpayer-funded profiteering:
Defense industry says Sen. Lieberman will be ‘hard to replace’

“He is a giant of the Senate, to me just as important on national security as [Sen. Edward] Kennedy [D-Mass.] was on health or [Sen. Bill] Bradley [D-N.J.] on finance or [Sen. Pete] Domenici [R-N.M.] on the deficit,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution. “In that regard he is very, very hard to replace."

...Lieberman cemented his favorable reputation with defense firms when he advocated for more models of combat systems like the Lockheed Martin-made F-22 fighter and the Boeing-built C-17 air lifter even when Air Force and Pentagon officials argued against them.

...Lieberman has at times teamed up with conservative Republicans like Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri in fights to maintain weapon programs that the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama wanted to terminate or overhaul.
That's Joe Lieberman: an "advocate" and a "fighter." If he can strongarm billions for defense contractors, just imagine what he can do for the average person...and keep imagining, 'cause you don't want to be in the position of having to find out:
Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for "principled reasons" shouldn’t be forced to do so. "In Connecticut, it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital," he said.
For those keeping score: in LieberLand, the Boeings of the world won't have to worry about losing a contract just because the military doesn't want it, and violated women shouldn't worry about little things like having their rapist's baby, since it's a just a "short ride" to go hospital shopping so they can find emergency contraception. After all, what's a little road trip after a few hours of being examined, scraped, swabbed and questioned by the police? If it was really that big a deal, then maybe survivors groups should've had the foresight to pony up $140,000 in donations like United Technologies, so ol' Joe would know how concerned they are.

No wars too big to support, no victims too small to throw under the bus to pander to your cross-over GOP voters.

Don't let the door hit you, Senator.

19 January 2011

Patron Saint of Kiddie Diddlers

A rather revolting juxtaposition emerging this week as the announcement that Pope John Paul II's bid for sainthood is proceeding at a record pace is followed, days later, with the revelation that, under his papacy, the Vatican actively discouraged Irish bishops' mandatory reporting of the sexual abuse of children.
A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims' groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.

...The 1997 letter, signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's diplomat to Ireland, instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."

Storero wrote that canon law, which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church, "must be meticulously followed." Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome, he wrote.
While I might not agree with him on every issue, I've long admired John Paul II's intellectual consistency in his formulation of the "Culture of Life" which was subsequently co-opted--and corrupted--by the far right in the United States (who conveniently tossed aside respect for life when that particular underpinning of their anti-choice rhetoric interfered with their eager, bloody embrace of capital punishment and pre-emptive war). That said, I have a pretty tough time admiring someone with any connection to or knowledge of this freakish deference to "canon law" when children were being assaulted.  Again, the comparison is as striking as it is disturbing:  It's a truly bizarre set of institutional priorities that permits casually waiving rules to get someone canonized at an unprecedented pace, but insists that they are "meticulously followed" when trying to keep abusive priests away from their prey.  Meticulousness is fine when it keeps you from using the wrong fork at a formal dinner, but not so much so when it keeps molesters off the justice system's radar. 

I don't care how many French nuns you heal, running interference for kiddie rapers takes you completely out of the sainthood sweepstakes.  We'll just have to wait and see if the Church of Rome agrees...

17 January 2011


If one thing is true of every tragedy or disaster, it is that said event will be immediately followed by all manner of fear-driven, reactionary plans to ensure that This Thing Never Happens Again.  Without fail, these plans, themselves, have two things in common: a painfully narrow focus on the unique details over broader issues (shoe-bomber, anyone?), paired with a Magoo-like myopia as to the consequences.

Wasting no time, The New Republic, came up with a solution to help Tuscon-proof the rest of the Union (via Literata):
"The problem is that state and national laws are too narrow to catch dangerous individuals like Loughner. When Congress returns, one of the legislative changes it should consider is passing a law that would require all public entities, as well as all organizations that receive public funds, to file a report on any affiliated individuals (e.g., employees or students) that they deem to be public mental health concerns. These confidential reports (which would be provided to the person in question) would then be entered into the Brady database, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and serve as grounds to prohibit immediate firearms purchases. People would ultimately have the opportunity to prove their mental stability and have the reports revoked in a timely manner—but, until then, or if unable to prove stability, they could not walk into a gun store and buy a weapon. Period."
The TNR crisis response center
What could possibly go wrong with mandating that a bunch of amateurs file assessments on whatever they deem a "mental health concern" and then compiling all their guesswork and supposition into a national database? Once you apply a legal mandate, you're just asking to get filings on every slightly twitchy, disagreeable, odd, or otherwise sketchy individual these entities come into contact with. If someone thinks there is legal--and perhaps funding-related--accountability, the lowest threshold will be applied. After all, who's going to take the chance of not reporting anyone who seems even remotely out of the ordinary if they think that if he/she does go off the deep-end, they will be neck-deep in wrongful death lawsuits from grieving family members?

And with such widely-cast nets come all the people getting caught within them.

If you do end up on the no-gun list, who can afford not to take the "opportunity to prove their mental stability?" Anyone want to wager their next job, loan, or credit application on the belief that this information will only come up if you try to buy a gun? And while you can't afford the consequences of ignoring it, how are people going to afford the finances of addressing it? Barring the establishment of a government office dedicated to proving mental stability, that's a lot of pricey psychological assessments and evaluations. (Not to mention a steadily growing government database of psychological profiles of citizens who've done nothing wrong and committed no crime. Nope, nothing creepy about that, no-sir-ee).

When will TNR and our knee-jerk legislators realize that, regardless of what we do about these situations, there will always be a "next time?" The crazies are out there and they will find a way, eventually. The sooner they accept that, the sooner we can apply common sense solutions to minimize future danger instead of engaging in this game of legislative whack-a-mole, instituting staggeringly impractical policy tailored to stop what's already happened.

16 January 2011

Making the Rounds after the Globes?

Very nice to see non-Hollywood faces like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross take home the Golden Globe for Best Score for their atmospheric work from The Social Network. With any luck, the newfound notoriety will help the long-unreleased (and as-yet-untitled) third album from Ross' band, 12 Rounds, see the light of day. I saw them open for Marylin Manson on the "Mechanical Animals" tour back in 1998 and bought their sophomore effort, My Big Hero, the same night. Then, they dropped off the face of the Earth. After some label wrangling (they were signed to Reznor's lawsuit-riven Interscope vanity imprint "Nothing Records") Ross and his wife/12 Rounds singer, Claudia Sarne, got their rights to the material restored. They're definitely worth checking out:

15 January 2011

Shorter 2011 GOP legislative agenda

The Republican party has been accused of many things.  Being subtle has never appeared on the list.

They were more than open about the fact that their top legislative priority over the next two years is not homeland security, the economy, or jobs, but engineering the defeat of President Obama in the 2012 election.

Then they blatantly held the middle class over a barrel until they got tax breaks extended for the wealthiest of Americans.

Their tax cut "compromise" having been so successful, they've wasted no time in unveiling their strategy for the new year (via Political Wire):

"It's a leverage moment for Republicans. The president needs us. There are things we were elected to do. Let's accomplish those if the president needs us to clean up the old mess."

-- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), quoted by the Washington Post, saying Republicans will insist on their own agenda items in return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.
They might not be driving the car, but they have no problem jerking the wheel into oncoming traffic.

(Click here for your own ransom note-generating fun).

Saturday Shuffle

Flowers In The Attic - Christopher Young
The Eternal - Joy Division
Whistle Down The Wind (For Tom Jans) - Tom Waits
Soldier Blue [Extended Cut] - The Cult
I Fought The Law (live) - The Clash
One More - Medicine
Pow - Beastie Boys
Elephants - Them Crooked Vultures
Destined For Nothing - Bad Religion
New Girl - The Suicide Machines

14 January 2011

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Priebus

I have to say, I'd kind of prefer "Prince Bierus," myself.  He could be the emcee of Oktoberfest, which sounds like a more plumb gig than this one:
Wisconsin Republican party chairman Reince Priebus won a protracted fight for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee today, replacing his one-time ally Michael Steele at the helm of the committee.

Priebus led on every ballot but picked up momentum once Steele exited the contest after the fourth round of voting.
For all the shit Barack Obama took for his name and how American it was or wasn't, I'll say this, it's not fodder for a round of "American Political Figure or Hogwarts Wizard."

13 January 2011

Shocking poll: The wealthy happy despite recession

The wealthy are happy.

Truly stunning, I know. But the numbers don't lie: as it happens, nearly 71% of the 1900 households surveyed (average income of $235,000/year) report being happy, a huge increase over the 40% who felt that way back in 2007.

Why the sudden explosion of satisfaction and contentment? I wondered that, myself. Unfortunately, I'm only able to relay what I found now, after being forced to seek immediate medical attention to repair the detached retina caused by the spastic, involuntary eye roll that occurred as I read further into the NYT's story:
"Interest in luxury is trending up, but this interest is qualitatively different from the unbridled enthusiasm that characterized ... the mid-2000s," said Jim Taylor, Harrison Group's vice chairman. "People take pride in the way they have managed their finances and family through the recession."

And this pride had led to happiness among the rich, with 71 percent saying they are happy, up from 40 percent in 2007.

"It's because they didn't know they could survive something this bad," Taylor told the Luxury Marketing Council of New York on Wednesday. "They have got competent, they have gotten close to their family, they have self-esteem from their ability to handle a crisis."

"Happiness is now the abiding object of affluent American life, not success," he said. "They're really happy with their ability to operate under pressure."

It's like seeing the lessons of my father brought to life--the intrinsic reward of personal accomplishment and satisfaction in a job well done. Think about it: it has to be incredibly self-affirming to find out you can still "survive" and "handle a crisis" scraping by on--on average--only about a quarter-million dollars per year. The men and women who were able to successfully shepherd their families through that living hell of domestic vacations, non-touch iPods, and C-Class Mercedes should be proud--dammit--cut, as they are, from the same hardy cloth as our pioneering forefathers.

Like so many before them, they've weathered the storm and come out the other side the better for it; voyaging, now, into their futures, sustained by the knowledge that they can rely on themselves, come hell or high water. (Possibly even come "still" over "sparking.") The light from their example of fortitude shines far, even reaching the America that the other 90% of us occupy.

And now for something completely different....

Enough about guns, political pinheads, and bombastic bloviating.

A belated "Happy Marriage" to author Neil Gaiman and punk-cabaret songstress extraordinaire, Amanda Fucking Palmer.

For those unfamiliar, Mr. Gaiman is the noted wordsmith behind more than a few excellent novels, including Coraline, American Gods and Neverwhere, as well as the acclaimed Sandman comic series published by DC/Vertigo.

The inimitable Ms. Palmer was/is half of the "Brechtian Punk Cabaret" duo, The Dresden Dolls, before branching out into a solo career that will astonish, amaze, and totally reinvent how you think about Radiohead and ukuleles.

And yes, if you must ask, I nicked one of their wedding photos for this post from Facebook.  I doubt either would mind, much, as such behavior is only creepy if I had previously dated one or both of them.  Since A.) I can't very well do Neil's writing much justice with an excerpt and B.) I don't want to wait until next October to post it, here's a clip of the reconstituted Dresden Dolls at Irving Plaza in NYC (courtesy BrooklynVegan) this past Halloween...

12 January 2011

Andrew Breitbart in lead at the Summer's Eve invitational

Always up for a challenge, when Right-wing blogger raving, utterly discredited, con-man Andrew Breitbart found himself with the opportunity to face Sarah Palin in a contest to see which one of them could cram his/her foot further into his/her mendacious, truth-averse pie-hole, he didn't flinch.  Even when the Quitter led off by responding to the recent assassination-spawned controversy over her militant rhetoric and gunsight imagery by not merely playing the victim, herself, but by invoking the anti-Semitic smear of "blood libel" to do it, Andy knew he could still do better.  Summoning heretofore unseen levels of tone-deafness, staggering ignorance, and the most casually exploitative view of other people's pain and human suffering, he took to his Twitter account and went straight-up Kobayashi in this competitive eating contest of moronitude (h/t Feministe):
"I used ‘blood libel’ because I thought using analogy of lefties at pinball machine in Jodie Foster film ‘The Accused’ was too obscure."
Now, to clear up the "obscurity": The Accused earned Ms. Foster an Oscar for her portrayal of a woman who was--wait for it--thrown up against a pinball machine, beaten, and gang-raped by a bunch of drunks.  (Such a wit, that Andy; always ready with the perfect 160 character bòn mót.)  Because, really, when you think about it, what could be more similar to violent sexual assault than having people criticize your choice of words as having a negative effect and suggest that you tone it down a bit?

My question is this: If Mr. Breitbart is of the opinion that what Sarah Palin has gone through is on par with rape, exactly what does he think about what happened to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, or Judge John Roll, or Christina Taylor Green?  If questions that one can parry with safe, one-sided, unchallenged video releases are akin to a fundamental violation of one's body and dignity, what analogy would he use for what the nine year-old Green's parents and family are now going through?

At least Mr. Breitbart has answered the riddle of where he comes up with his views and provided the solution in an equally cinematic bit of framing: the As Good As It Gets rule: You think of a man...and take away reason, accountability, and every last shred of human decency.

11 January 2011

Outsmarting the conscientious assassins

How to look busy while doing nothing:
"Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman's intentions.
...It is already illegal in the U.S. to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. King's legislation to make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of the president, vice president, members of Congress or judges of the Federal Judiciary, would offer government officials the same protection."
Setting aside the unintentional humor in headlining this as "strict" legislation, from what sort of imaginary offender would this protect anyone?  It's some interesting pathology, indeed, that would find someone with murder on the mind hesitating at the prospect of a weapons charge, wouldn't you say?
"Y'know, I'm prepared to face the gas chamber, but those fines are *really* steep."
What's next, Pete, a bill forbidding unicorn grazing on public lands?
The only people this will affect--hilariously, if you ask me--are the gun-toting Teabaggers who would no longer be able to show up at town halls and constituent meetings while packing heat.  The larger rallys would be even more fascinating.  When the Michelle Bachmanns of the world showed up somewhere to address their embittered, ill-informed minions, would organizers clearly mark the 1,000 foot line so as not to cramp anyone's Second Amendment style? Maybe a nice velvet rope dividing the "strapped" section from "non-strapped" section?

10 January 2011

The Gray Lady goes 1 for 2 on Tucson shooting

Credit where credit is due, the Times' editorial department remembered that it can do more than produce birdcage liner following the tragic shooting of US. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this past weekend.  Ignoring the inevitable pushback from the usual suspects dothing their deflective best to protest too much, the NYT stepped up to the plate, albeit with mixed results.

First came the triple:

"It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman's act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people."

Unfortunately, they followed up with a one-hopper back to the mound:

"(Arizona's) gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit. That was before the Tucson rampage. Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments."

Arizona's gun laws, however an appealing target they may seem right now, weren't the problem, here.  First off, as foolish as such a law may seem on its face, the fact that Arizona doesn't require a permit for concealed carry is beyond irrelevant.  Does anyone really believe that if a permit were necessary, Loughner would've cursed its inconvenience and A.) scrapped his plan, or B.) decided that, while he is still down with the whole "assassination" thing, he'll carefully observe the local gun laws in the meantime and proceed to the supermarket event, openly be-Glocked, for all of the world and law enforcement to see?

Secondly, while plenty of anecdotes have emerged to show just how disturbed Loughner was/is, what was the actual paper trail?  He wasn't a felon.  He hadn't been committed.  He wasn't the object of a personal protection order.  Beyond his bizarre YouTube videos, he flunked a military enlistment drug screen and got himself suspended--and later withdrew--from a community college.  What sort of background check would've caught any of that?

In this post-Heller America, any gun regulation is going to be an uphill slog.  And as much as Jared Loughner might look like the perfect poster-boy to rally people to make that climb, even a cursory review of the facts should've shown the NYT editors that his is a narrative that doesn't have a chance of holding up to the scrutiny it would surely face.

09 January 2011

Filed under "G"

For either "Gee, I wonder..." or "Guantanamo."

Take your pick, really. Michael Moore with the Tweet of the Day:

Moore Giffords Tweet

The Courage of Your Redactions

Anonymous Politician

Way to take a stand:
A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy, told POLITICO that the Giffords shooting should be taken as a “cautionary tale” by Republicans.

“There is a need for some reflection here - what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”

The vast majority of tea party activists, this senator said, ought not be impugned.

“They’re talking about things most mainstream Americans are talking about, like spending and debt,” the Republican said, before adding that politicians of all stripes need to emphasize in the coming days that “tone matters.”

“And the Republican Party in particular needs to reinforce that,” the senator said.
It really speaks volumes that, even in the wake of an attempted assassination, a sitting U.S. Senator won't make calm, measured comments about "reflection" and "tone" on the record out of fear of the political consequences of being perceived as blaming the hysterical fearmongering of the Becks, Palins, and Limbaughs.

The "too far" that Sen. X (R-Witness Protection Program) is talking about isn't far at all; it's clearly in control of the Republican Party.

Sarah, Sharon, & the Shooter

Remember, "Don't retreat, RELOAD:"


And who can forget:
"I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."
"Well it's to defend ourselves. And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems."
And if it's not, Sharon?

Those individuals--like noted Red State turd-in-chief Erick Erickson--who are now bristling at the the notion of teabagger rhetoric being discussed in the context of yesterday's atrocity in Tuscon or claiming progressives are "playing politics" are, as is so often the case, missing the point, entirely.

None of this is about "political advantage." It's frustration at the possibility that this tragedy was foreseeable and perhaps avoidable.

You tell people long enough, not that your ideas are better, but that your opponents hate America and are actively trying to destroy it, accuse them of "palling around with terrorists" and sympathizing with dictators and despots and lie about people wanting to take your rights and put grandma to death, it's going to have an effect. If you further stoke those fears with aggressive, militant rhetoric and talk of "second amendment remedies," it doesn't take a genius to see what can happen. Unequivocally, the responsibility lies with the shooter, but the hysterical climate is a contributing influence.

Pretending that one of the clear sources of this rage-filled, violent milieu is just some sort of inconsequential triviality transcends simple ignorance; it's a cowardly avoidance of accountability.

Jared Lee Loughner is clearly a nut who went around the bend. That said, how much easier is it to take that step when you have, not just other beady-eyed trolls on the internet reinforcing your paranoia, but mainstream political figures claiming that elected officials are conspiring to destroy the country, kill grandma, and planting the seeds for looking to bullets when you lose on the ballots?

08 January 2011

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot At Arizona Event

TUCSON — Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and at least 17 others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents.

Six of the victims died, among them John M. Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for Arizona, and a 9-year-old girl, the Pima County sheriff, Clarence W. Dupnik, said.

Ms. Giffords, 40, whom the authorities called the target of the attack, was in critical condition Sunday morning at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where she was operated on by a team of neurosurgeons on Saturday. Dr. Peter Rhee, medical director of the hospital’s trauma and critical care unit, said Saturday that she had been shot once in the head, “through and through,” with the bullet going through her brain.

Investigators identified the gunman as Jared Lee Loughner, 22, and said that he was refusing to cooperate with the authorities and had invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. Mr. Loughner was in custody with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday night, the Pima Country sheriff’s office said.

After everything we've heard and seen for the past two years, is anyone remotely surprised?

Saturday Shuffle

Gladiator - The Jesus Lizard
King Without a Crown (live) - Matisyahu
You Were The Fool - Ween
Wall Flower - Switchblade Symphony
Fantasy - Lush
Into The Night - Julee Cruise
Break Ya Neck - Busta Rhymes
Repetition (live) - Helmet
Phone Call - Los Lobos
Colombia - Jan Hammer

01 January 2011

Saturday Shuffle

New Year's Day Edition

Some Kinda Hate/Radio (live) - Alkaline Trio
Palace of the Brine - Pixies
Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth - GZA
Unyielding Conditioning - Fishbone
Burning Hell - R.E.M.
Platinum - Orgy
Hey Ya - Richard Cheese
Love Spreads - The Stone Roses
Closer (live) - Nine Inch Nails
Don't Stay Home - 311

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