Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's Wish

Happy New Year! (?)

Yeah, I know, that question mark. It's troubling. Well look, I certainly hope the year is good for you, and I hope you thrive. I want you to be happy because a rising tide raises all boats. The more happy people, the better off I'll be.

But let's face it, somewhere between the worst-case scenario and the best, there is a likely middle-ground, and that's the one where we're both living on the sidewalk and eating beans out of a dented aluminum can. 

During the coming year, one of us is probably going to kill a hobo for the superior newspaper lining in his jacket. Some of us will sell our bodies for time at an iPod charger; some will rationalize that it's not "losing your leg to frostbite" if you eat the leg.

I see a handful of people coming out ahead in the next year, and I see a renaissance in the appearance of black top hats and monocles.

Oh christ - we'll probably have musicals back again.

Look, don't worry about it. My predictions are usually wrong. I'm really, really ambivalent about the top hats.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Keep Up the Good Work, (R)!

Look, free speech is important. Run with it, boys!

Four days after news broke that the former Tennessee GOP chairman had sent a CD including a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro” to the RNC members he is courting, some of those officials are rallying around the embattled Saltsman, with a few questioning whether the national media and his opponents are piling on.

“When I heard about the story, I had to figure out what was going on for myself,” said Mark Ellis, the chairman of the Maine Republican Party. “When I found out what this was about I had to ask, ‘Boy, what’s the big deal here?’ because there wasn’t any.”

Alabama Republican Committeeman Paul Reynolds said the fact the Saltsman sent him a CD with the song on it “didn’t bother me one bit.”

“Chip probably could have thought it through a bit more, but he was doing everyone a favor by giving us a gift,” he said. “This is just people looking for something to make an issue of.”
I gotta tell you, I have felt pretty restricted by not being able to tell my Jew and Chinaman jokes. I may be a liberal, but I'm secretly rooting for you guys. Maybe we could even effect change... I'd like to see those dizzy woman drivers taken off the road! Don't stop believin'!

The Truth Isn't That Far Out There

I've often wondered why the American car industry has kept churning out enormous gas-guzzlers year after year. I've even entertained the notion that the oil companies influence auto design in some under-the-table, backroom, behind-the-green-door sort of way. I'm backing off from that theory.

Probably the truth is this: auto makers accurately read the market and supplied it. Look, gas is cheap in this country. Even during the summer it was cheap, compared t0 the rest of the world. In London gas was $4 a gallon when I was a kid. Given their narrow roads and easy access to the tube ("mind the gap!") there's less demand for your own car there, thus they sold less volume at higher prices and maintained profit margins.

Here, gas flows like water. We'd rather have our own transportation, and we'd rather have it big so we can see around the big cars in front of us.

Of course, we'd also rather have efficiency in our enormous vehicles. Foreign auto makers, who had to think that way to sell to the natives, were more easily able to supply it. American companies could do the R&D but making wholesale changes in design is expensive. You have to shut down factories and re-tool them. And sure they can do it, but they will tend to wait as long as possible because there's still enough demand for the old-style cars to make waiting a good option. Or at least, there was enough demand.

In the last six months, the market has radically changed. True story - in the early eighties IBM wanted to get into the personal computer business. They were the biggest company around and they wanted in on that action. They did a study and determined that, using proper channels, it would take them nine months from planning to execution... to produce the carton the computer ships in. Big companies tend to take a very long time to change course, the same way that big ships do. Speedboats turn on a dime.

Foreign auto makers are comparative speed boats, to boil it down for ya.

I bet when the smoke clears, GenaFord will be making cars the same size with slightly better milage, and they will continue to cede market share to the wiley Japanese. If we're really interested in efficiency we'll buy cars that are half the size. I don't think that's going to happen. We're Americans and consuming more than we need isn't just a tendency - it's a trademark. If we stop that, the global economy is toast. If that happens, who will we outsource to?

Monday, December 29, 2008


Washington is shut down this week so our leaders are unlikely to produce anything particularly outrageous. During the long holiday weekend I passed the time dodging presents and watching movies.

Two movies, mainly - FROST/NIXON and STUCK.

FROST/NIXON is a mighty rich stew. A backstage account of the big TV interview of the late seventies, it's as much about entertainment as it is about politics, and the interview is as much gladiator match as it is interview. The thing I took away from it is the notion that both of these men, Frost and Nixon, were depending on that 4 night series to save their reputations and ensure their future incomes. Nixon needed a forum to tell his side of the story, thus increasing his speaking fees and bookings, and Frost needed Nixon to admit wrongdoing or his tremendous personal investment would buy an unsalable white elephant of TV programming.

And both men almost fatally underestimated their opponents, though I have to admit I can't blame Nixon for underestimating Frost. For the most part he was right. Had Frost not been so backed into a corner he'd have never summoned the cajones to to deliver that fourth night coup de grace. Forgive the mixed languages. In any event, recommended viewing.

The other movie was an oddball DVD rental, STUCK. The latest project from REANIMATOR maestro Stuart Gordon, this is based on a much smaller true story, about a young rest home nurse who accidentally hits a homeless man as she drives home from a club. He goes head first through her windshield. In shock and a little high on Ecstasy, assuming he's dead, she takes the car home and parks in the garage, only to discover the next morning that he's alive, demanding help. Only she won't help because she fears jail time and the loss of her job.

So again, it's a contest. The man (Stephen Rea) struggles to separate himself from the car, the girl (Mena Suvari in mulatto-face) tries to figure out a way to kill him so he won't talk, then dispose of the body and put the whole incident behind her.

There possibly is a larger message here about how society feels about the homeless, but Gordon thankfully has other fish to fry. Metaphorical content is left to fend for itself as the situation plays itself out. This is a story that Hitchcock would have loved to make - a limited area to work with, opportunities for absurd comedy ("Why are you doing this to me?" the girl whines to her windshield prisoner at one point) and minute, suspenseful attempts to survive. The only thing missing was bizarre camera angles.

If you remember the news story this is based on, know that the movie ends differently. Good choices Stuart! Also casting a white woman as a light-skinned black woman. It seemed a little weird at first, but it took some of the curse off the situation. The last thing you'd want is black villains in this peice and no matter how she looks on screen, ain't nobody whiter than Mena Suvari.

Friday, December 26, 2008

30 Years Between Airings: Even The Kessel Run Took Less Than 12 Parsecs

With so many cable channels nowadays, there is almost no such thing as rare televsion. It seems that anything that ever aired has a channel devoted to its reruns, from game shows to reality shows to, well, shows. If it isn't on TV it's on Hulu, or A&E has a series of DVDs. If you are dying to see a commercial for Winson cigarettes that used Fred Flintstone as a spokesman, google it. It's there.

The New World is only so Brave though, and some things shall not see the light of day. I've been keeping my eye peeled for years now for THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL. It aired on CBS in 1978, featured the real cast of A NEW HOPE, and arguably drove the last nail in the coffin of variety shows. There is some demand for it but George Lucas, who is no stranger to revisionist history, has bought up the rights and locked the master in a vault in the Lucasfilm archives. Reportedly he told a convention of Australian fans "If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it."

The two-hour video tells the story of Chewbacca's family and their tense wait for the big lug to make it home in time for Life Day, which is a familiar-seeming wookie holiday. The empire's evil forces conduct a thorough search of their tree-house for signs of rebel involvement. Variety segments (songs, sketches and the animated segment that introduced Boba Fett) are incorporated though the device of having wookies watch them on screens and other home entertainment devices. Guest stars include Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, Dianne Carroll, Art Carney and a number by Jefferson Starship.

Yes, I'm serious.

This is the year when finally I was able to get my waldoes on a copy of this fabled special. I had it completely downloaded by Tuesday but I saved it until Christmas Day to watch, a little gift for myself and a kind of slow torture for my holiday companions. It's incredible. The first 15 minutes for example, introduce Chewie's family: his wife Malla, his son Lumpy and his irascable father Itchy. 15 minutes with no dialog, only Wookie noises. It's like watching a Chaplin movie in an insane asylum.

Meanwhile on the Millenium Falcon, Chewbacca and a surprisingly comitted Harrison Ford struggle to evade the forces of the empire, abandoning whatever presumably important mission they had been charged with so they can endanger the clan back home with Chewie's presence for Life Day.

The action, such as it is, is interrupted by the lame variety segments. On one hand you get an appearance by Diane Carroll singing a little song, on the other hand, in narrative terms you're watching a wookie watch television instead of doing something. And don't get me started on Harvey Korman. Three different characters and not one of them is even remotely amusing. It's as if he was struck comedy blind that week.

There is a real low-budget feel to the whole enterprise, though to be fair it's probably partially due to this being a VHS dub, and partially due to seeing characters who belong on film shot through the harsher gaze of video. Interestingly, Mark Hamill is so androgynous that he comes off closer to Dorothy Hamill. I think this was shot before the Camero accident that prompted Hamill's reconstructive surgery, which gave him a less boyish appearance.

The Boba Fett cartoon (Lumpy watches it to keep his mind off the Storm Troopers wrecking the house) is visual gold and narrative crap. It kind of reminded me of a few segments from eighties cult classic HEAVY METAL.

Anyway, other high points - Carrie Fisher sings an ode to Life Day which is kind of a mashup with the Star Wars theme; Bea Arthur sings a song which is a mashup with the Cantina Band song. Han Solo kills a storm trooper (no face mask either!) by causing him to plunge hundreds of feet to his death. Anything I haven't mentioned as a high point you can assume is a low point, the kind of thing which should have ruined the careers of everyone involved. Indeed, had Lucas not stepped in and sealed this thing up, that's exactly what might have happened. Shepard Smith puts it best when he describes the show as "a 70s train wreck, combining the worst of Star Wars with the utter worst of variety television."

It is, therefore, absolutely essential Christmas viewing. Next quest - a rough cut of THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED!

The Kind of People You Ally Yourself With

Church Members Dress Like Jesus to Protest Secularization of Christmas

"Members of a church in Kansas City, Ks., are protesting the secularization of Christmas by dressing like Jesus at their jobs, malls and restaurants.

"Pastor Kelly Lohrke advised parishioners of the Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship to wear at minimum a crown of thorns and a sash or robe during the week leading up to Christmas."

Waitress, I'll have the chicken soup and kosher... never mind.

The Kind of People I Ally Myself With


"Authorities say Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, dressed in a Santa suit, opened fire at a Christmas Eve party and then set the house ablaze. He is later found dead of a gunshot wound."

See, THAT'S a war on Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Beef With the War On Christmas

This war on Christmas thing bugs the hell outta me because NOT EVERYBODY CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS. Why not use "Happy Holidays" as your greeting? It includes Christmas. It says "whoever you are, whatever you celebrate, I hope you enjoy it." "Merry Christmas" says "I wish you well if you're a Christian like me. Otherwise, you're on your own."

(h/t to Publius, whose thoughts about the orgins of Kwanzaa inspired me to quote my own comment here.)

A Brighter Tomorrow

Apologies for not writing my own version of this, but I'm struck breathless with Tom Tomorrow's snark. I'll try to come up with my own material around lunchtime.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Five Worst Christmases Ever

I got nothing to complain about, because I'm not being killed as a direct result of the holidays.

So far.

3. Xmas Pageant Inferno.It was the climax of the 1924 Christmas Eve pageant at the Babb's Switch, Oklahoma one-room schoolhouse. The last recitation had ended, the last carol faded. Now Santa himself was handing out bags of candy to all the children. But oh no! Santa brushed against the candle-lit tree. Within minutes, the room was a seething inferno, with 200 men, women, and children trying to force their way out the only exit: a door that opened inward. Thirty-four people died. But thanks to the heroic efforts of Santa and the schoolteacher (both of whom were themselves incinerated), only five children were among the dead.
(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

Re: Pastor Rick Warren

Having him speak at the inaguration is a nice guesture, but I doubt it's going to change any minds. Personally I'm hoping he says something extreme ("the gays control the banks and the media") but I don't think Rick rolls that way.

Look for few surprises in the next four years. I think, as a nation, we need less surprises for a while anyway.

Counting Down The Days 'Til 2012

Now available: The Sarah Palin Calendar!

It's a little late for a Christmas gift, but order now anyway, because you probably can't afford it by mid-January.

Clearing the Big Tent A Little

Republicans, bless their hearts. They're doing just fine. They don't need African Americans.

This has nothing to do with racism of course. It's simply an attempt to defend "Christmas" against other, non-european holiday traditions. It's just a way to keep the pagans in line by making sure they at least pay lip service to the one true God. Is that so wrong? Who'd object to that?

Ask your Jewish friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Selling Even Better Than Bruno Maglis

'Bush Shoe' Gets Firm Footing In the Market

ISTANBUL — When a pair of black leather oxfords hurled at President Bush in Baghdad produced a gasp heard around the world, a Turkish cobbler had a different reaction: They were his shoes.

“We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way,” said Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul. “As a shoemaker, you understand.”

Although his assertion has been impossible to verify — cobblers from Lebanon, China and Iraq have also staked claims to what is quickly becoming some of the most famous footwear in the world — orders for Mr. Baydan’s shoes, formerly known as Ducati Model 271 and since renamed “The Bush Shoe,” have poured in from around the world.

A new run of 15,000 pairs, destined for Iraq, went into production on Thursday, he said. A British distributor has asked to become the Baydan Shoe Company’s European sales representative, with a first order of 95,000 pairs, and an American company has placed an order for 18,000 pairs. Four distributors are competing to represent the company in Iraq, where Baydan sold 19,000 pairs of this model for about $40 each last year.

Five thousand posters advertising the shoes, on their way to the Middle East and Turkey, proclaim “Goodbye Bush, Welcome Democracy” in Turkish, English and Arabic.
There's your free market for ya!

Farewell, Beloved Dick

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, deserved it when Cheney launched the f-word at him in 2004.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Cheney was asked if he had any second thoughts or embarrassment. "No. I thought he merited it at the time," Cheney said, laughing.

...The encounter during the 2004 presidential campaign, sources said then, was brought on by Leahy's criticism of the vice president over Halliburton Co. Cheney is the former chief executive officer of the oil field services company, and Democrats had suggested he helped win lucrative contracts for his former firm while serving in the Bush administration.

"It was partly that, it was partly also … it had to do with — he is the kind of individual who will make those kinds of charges and then come act as though he's your best friend, and I expressed in no uncertain terms my views of his conduct and walked away," Cheney said at the time.

..."And we've since, I think, patched over that wound and we're civil to one another now," Cheney said this Sunday.
Re: the italics -- well, mission accomplished! And kudos to Cheney for alluding to wounds, considering the other thing he's famous for. Meanwhile:

WALLACE: According to the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll — and I know how much you like polls — you now have the lowest approval rating of the last eight years. Twenty-nine percent have a favorable opinion, 61 percent unfavorable... does that bother you?

CHENEY: No. We didn't — if — we didn't set out to achieve the highest level of polls that we could during the course of this administration...— is 29 percent good enough for me? Well, we fought a tough reelection battle. We won by an adequate margin in 2004. We've been here for eight years now. Eventually, you wear out your welcome in this business.

But I've — I'm very comfortable with where we are and what we achieved substantively. And frankly, I would not want to be one of those guys who spends all his time reading the polls. I think people like that shouldn't serve in these jobs.
Again, italics-wise, SOME administrations wear out their welcome. Nixon, Carter and Bush 1 for example. Reagan, Clinton and Eisenhower, not so much. And more introspective vice-presidents might pause to wonder if historical low approval ratings may mean you did something wrong. When they're out of office, perhaps Cheney and Bush will blame the antipathy on each other before insisting that we'll all praise them in fifty years time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My War On Christmas Continues

So today I rode my bike to the mall (ha ha, beat the traffic and parking, you piston jockies!) and bought a gift to myself, and you know what I was wearing? This sweatshirt!

To GWK, who frequently complains about my suit, perhaps this picture will prove an adequate substitute.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Brett Favre Vs. Lizard People

One is real, one isn't. Ha ha Minnesota! You shoulda held on to Jesse Ventura; you'd look a lot less stupid now.

An Economic Paranoia Trap

Here's an interesting problem for social scientists over the coming month: the economy is driven, at least partly, by consumer confidence. Most news shows lately have run stories about the surprising downside of falling prices. Deflation is a sign of an ailing economy!

True enough, because it cuts into profit margins and encourages people to wait on their purchases until the price drops farther.

What I'm worried about though is the normal drop of price from after-christmas sales. Some people are going to factor it in, but won't it freak out a lot of consumers to see those deep discounts? Won't it look like a sign of the economic apocalypse, which therefore causes itself? Keep an eye out for that one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Too Cold For Politics

For God's sake, it snowed in LAS VEGAS last night!

Here on the left coast, it's a balmy 40 degrees today. We're not prepared for it. I have a friend who hasn't had to use her furnace in three years and didn't know it wasn't even lit. Nobody has the clothes for this kind of weather in this town. We'll all be dead by the end of the week.

To my right-leaning friends, I'll admit that this proves there's no such thing as global warming when you guys admit that gay marriage doesn't destroy marriage itself. Fair exchange! And send sterno.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Impolite To Forget the Thank-You Note

Iraqis - you just can't win with those people.

Ha ha, seriously. After we've sacrificed 4,000 American lives to the cause of liberating their country from a brutal dictator, they side with the guy who threw shoes at the president? What the hell, muzzies! You wouldn't even have the freedom to demonstrate against the President if Saddam was still in charge! Well, maybe our president, but not yours!

If the shoe was on the other foot (sorry, was that too much?) things would be different. You can bet that if we were unhappy with our president, we'd be grateful for an outside country to come in, bomb the hell out of us, and hunt him like a dog, then install a new governement that they trusted. We'd greet them as liberators! I for one would be willing to forgo twenty hours of electricity a day in exchange for, say the Taliban, coming in and replacing the Bush administration with previously unknown taliban sympathizers. I wouldn't mind swapping out my fear of illegal wiretaps with fear of kidnapping or IEDs. I'd welcome the sight of Taliban troops keeping me safe.

Who wouldn't?

It's kind of an absurd scenario, obviously. For the Taliban, let's substitute an army hired by Columbian Drug Lords. Makes sense now, doesn't it?

No wonder Americans can't figure out why Iraqis hate us, after all we've done for them. Those people are nuts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kicking A Man When He's Down, By Proxy

The Bush Legacy project took another hit today when a democratized, liberated Iraqi reporter hurled shoes at the president during a press conference. If you like your hostile gestures half-full, at least it proves Bush was right about something: he never should have started giving all those press conferences!

"This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog," the journalist shouted (in Arabic), Steven Lee Myers of The New York Times reported in a pool report to the White House press corps. Myers reported that the man threw the second shoe and added: "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."
Hopefully this will the be the coda to the whole misbegotten enterprise - Bush blamed for it all and America's role in it ignored. After all, we're already spending good tax money to protect Bush for the rest of his life. Protecting the whole country from things that Iraq might want to fling (terrorists, 'cause they ain't got no weapons) is a much pricier job.

The trip to Iraq has been described as a "victory lap" by the White House. Running shoes are therefore an appropriate parting gift.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Competitive Disadvantage

MEET THE PRESS is a kind of wellspring of talking points, god bless 'em. I started watching towards the end of the election cycle and now I rarely sleep past 8:30am on Sundays. This morning I managed to catch David Gregory's first show as host, and he was good enough to keep out of the way, except when he was asking tough questions about Blagojevich. 

But I'm indebted to Democratic Congresswoman Jennifer Granholm for a perspective I lacked. No direct quoting, but she was arguing with some fellah with the unlikely name of Mitt Romney about the amount of money that union-negotiated benefits tack on to the cost of a car. The talking point is, I believe that cars would be $1900 cheaper if it wasn't for those darn health and pension benefits. Greedy workers! Bankruptcy would allow the auto companies to back out of commitments to THOSE leeches! (I'm both paraphrasing and extrapolating here... Romney stopped at the money and left the accusations alone.) 

So how, HOW, do the foreign automakers manage to avoid those costs? Well, Granholm points out that those other countries have universal health care, so that burden is removed from the shoulders of business. I'll add if we were willing to knuckle down and fund Social Security rather than gut it, people wouldn't rely on business for their pensions. 

Finally, at least in Japan, the car industry is subsidized by the government. Therefore, if we're concerned about the gap between what American automakers spend per unit versus what our overseas competitors spend, one solution is to stop fighting the Democrats and be willing to socialize things a little. I suspect the more attractive option to right-wing thinkers is a decade-long crippling depression. Just like it was in the thirties.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Market Correction

Capitalism, unregulated, provides remedies to its own excesses. You charge too much for your goods, demand plummets and you're forced to lower prices to get customers back. A company gets too big and competitors can move in with nimble action, meeting demand for new products before the big company can.

Unfortunately, like the weather, the economy isn't concerned with our comfort. The greatest market correction in memory went by the nickname "The Great Depression." It was a reaction to the sales of exotic financial instruments such as margin selling, and it started by taking down the stock market. Then the world followed, and stayed that way for ten years. People starved for want of a job. People froze because they couldn't pay their bills. Your great grandparents are still freaked out by the depression; it changed the way they think about consuming.

And Republican senators, known for their love of free-market policies, are hell-bent on another Great Market Correction.

Here's what will happen when we fail to bail out the auto makers: It will punish greedy auto executives and union bosses. Great! They'll lose their jobs. So will assembly line workers, parts suppliers, car dealers across the country and their sales staffs. These people, without jobs, will fail to buy stuff the other stuff that Americans make, and the people who work for THOSE suppliers will get laid off. It will be good for the economy in the long run, because the market won't be artificially inflated. It will cut the fat, just as the unemployed individuals will lose weight because they can't afford to support American agriculture like before. So after ten years, perhaps another World War as a stimulus, we'll all be on our feet again. And hopefully we'll win this one too because I don't want to be forced to face Mecca twice a day.

The way it looks right now is we're going to get another great depression but at least we managed to save the bankers before the ship went down this time. Women and children last! If only the collapse had waited another 5 months when a Democrat was in charge.

(Since the big three are as good as screwed at this point, Robert X. Cringely has some excellent advice on ways to remake the American Auto Business, asking how would Steve Jobs fix the problem? I love the way Cringely thinks, and he's retiring next week. Just when we need you most, Cringe!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blagojevich Already Stripped of Appoitnment Power!

The Senate position is up on E-Bay!

(h/t Swampland)

Happy Golden Unicorn Status: A Clarification

When I describe Barack Obama as a happy golden unicorn, understand I don't believe he is magical or above corruption. Rather he is closer to those things than MOST POLITICIANS. I'm grading on the curve. He is, for example, less corrupt and more magical than Bill Clinton. And he appears as uncorrupt as is possible to function in American politics nowadays. I hope I'm perceiving correctly.

I cannot cite specific examples of his magicalness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

That's Not Change You Can Believe In!

I held off on Rod Blagojevich yesterday for two very sound reasons. The first, I figured that as a Democrat, right-wing bloggers would be doing the heavy lifting on it anyway; and two, I didn't want to keep looking up that damn last name. I have some Polish blood (Blagojevich isn't Polish, but close enough) and even I can't wrap my mind around those crazy consonants.

It's gratifying to see so much left-wing attention paid to the story though. Olberman devoted 15 minutes to it last night; Rachel Maddow put in what sounded like 40 to me. Stephanie Miller's show was all over it this morning. We want the guy out as much as the Republicans do, probably even more so. I admit that one reason that we're not hesitating is this, a recorded statement found among the many others:

Blagojevich was overheard complaining ...that Obama's people are "not going to give me anything except appreciation." He added: "(Expletive) them."
You couldn't ask for a better incriminating statement. It leaves Obama's happy golden unicorn status untouched. Interestingly, a tip to Fox News viewers: the Fox News website doesn't think that one is newsworthy enough to include. Well, probably no one is that interested in Obama's role in all this. Who would be, right?

Another fun aspect of Blagejovich's fall is it's spearheaded by that far-left zealot Patrick Fitzgerald. Ha ha, Scooter Libby supporters! How you like Fitz now?

Well, it's all over except for Mr. B's resignation, which I hope happens soon so the criminal trial can proceed in relative peace. It's hard work throwing people under the bus, and we're hoping the weasel will jump under there on his own. Cross your fingers, and Merry Fitzmas.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I Eschew The Holiday Tree

It's kind of a charming joke: every year at this time, Bill O'Reilly trots out his "war on Christmas" rhetoric. And while it's increasingly obvious that it means little more than an extra revenue stream to him, it means a lot to me.

I have my own personal war with Christmas.

And I'm not just imposing my cultural correctness on people, requiring them to substitute the word "Holiday" so as not to offend your Jewish friends. Or Muslim friends. Or Atheists. Or Zoroastrians or Wiccans or people who have trouble pronouncing "s". That kind of thing endorses the holiday itself. As far as I'm concerned, the holiday itself is the problem.

Let this serve as your notice, friends of Daniel K: I'm not playin'. I don't want gifts or cards, but if you send them I'm not sending back. Consider me a giving Dead Zone. I will attend most holiday parties I'm invited to, if there are hot depressed chicks who are so frazzled by the season that they don't know WHAT they're doing. They're more vulnerable to my secular charms.

Christmas is a way of artificially jacking up goodwill and fellowship to a fever pitch. It doesn't increase either of those things. It just sucks them away from the surrounding months.

It's a thorny closet space problem too. In addition to finding a place to hide the gifts (as if they didn't know!) all through December, you have to set aside space the other 11 months for your useless decorations. What the hell do you need a box of colored lights on a string for anyway? And why do you need to jack up the power requirements for a city just at the dead of winter. Oh and whether you kill a tree or buy one made out of synthesized petroleum, you're still hurting the environment for nothing. If you pay any attention to your carbon footprint, it's anxiety you don't need.

Anxiety you don't need, actually, is the next 25 days in a nutshell. If you don't believe me, see how long it takes you to drive NEAR the mall this weekend.

If I were still Catholic, I could feel the way I do now and quietly respect the season for commemorating the birth of Our Lord, though apparently he wasn't born anywhere near December 25th. Still, I could simply turn out the lights and meditate all day.

Is it all good for the economy? Probably. Then again, maybe people who buy presents choose not to buy something else. Maybe it's like the goodwill and brotherhood thing.

So when A CHRISTMAS CAROL rears its ugly head again this year, I'm walking out just before dawn comes and Scrooge learns to love Xmas. As far as I'm concerned, Dickens dropped the ball on the perfect happy ending by going on so long.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Blues For the Big Three

Thinking further about those auto exces, I remembered a song from my youth. Lyrics courtesy Martin Mull, on an unrelated subject. Sing to the tune of any BB King song.

I woke up this afternoon - I saw both cars were gone
I woke up this afternoon (lord mommy!) saw both cars were gone
I felt so lowdown deep inside
I threw my drink across the lawn.

The Fall Of Detroit

I'm coming around to the idea that our bailout money could be put to better use than propping up the American Auto Industry. It's time to admit it: foreigners are better at designing and building cars than we are. I have no doubt that some Americans will be able to turn that around, but not the Americans who run GM and Ford. Letting those juggernauts grind to a halt is a free-market solution whose time has come.

The money they're asking for would be best applied to extending unemployment benefits to the auto workers. Obviously they're going to take a huge hit too (the union wages were artificially high for largely unskilled work) but if the industry goes down, it will be a while before those people can find other jobs, and that's a long dead zone in an economy that is driven by consumer spending.

Another benefit to allowing this collapse is it will hurt the oil industry. The Automakers have been very, very sympathetic to the idea that cars should use as much gasoline as possible. This really hurt them this last summer. Even American hybrids get about 20 MPG less than their European counterparts. It's a simple software fix involving when the gas engine kicks in; but if you alter the software you void the warranty. Foreign auto makers don't seem quite so accommodating.

Charles E. Wilson, former GM President and Secretary of Defense under Eisenhower, famously suggested "...(What's) good for the country is good for General Motors and vice versa." It may have been true then, but it ain't now. GM is trying to suck the life out of us. And we recognize it. Enjoy the drive home, auto executives!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Another Cultural Landmark Threatened

I woke up, bleary-eyed, and turned on the local news; shocked I saw that THE BODY SHOP was on fire. Not the mall outlet for lotion and essential oils! This Body Shop is the strip club on Sunset near the House Of Blues.

This place has a history for me. When I was about to married, my improv colleage Debra and her boyfriend Steve asked me about my bachelor party plans. I had to admit I simply didn't have any. They would not let that stand. Debra had a few irons in the fire; in addition to doing improv, she was also a "scream queen" appearing in several low-budget horror movies, and a stripper. While I'm at it, she was also a snake-handler (literally, pervert) and a fire-eater. Anyway, they insisted I come out with them to the Body Shop that night, the first strip club I had ever thought to visit.

It was delightful. This is Hollywood, and you meet a better class of strippers here. Courtney Love, for example, rose from the ranks of Jumbo's Clown Room to win a clutch bag full of Grammys; Diablo Cody is proud of her stripper past and alluded to it when she accepted the Best Screenplay Oscar for JUNO. While I don't recall meeting any such luminaries that night, I did get to chat with all the strippers and they were all intelligent career women. Some had just been offered $500 for sex with a visiting Arab oil magnate, but they just laughed that one off. The line between showbiz and the world's oldest profession seems a little sharper at the Body Shop than most strip clubs.

It struck me then and still does today that these places are kind of theme parks for adults. Just as a roller coaster simulates the experience of plunging to your death with no real danger involved, a lap dance simulates the experience of adultery. I don't know if most wives would agree with me on this one, but ladies, you must know that it's the lesser of two evils. An expensive alternative to be sure, but less so than a hotel room across town.

Debra got out of the business a few years later, breaking up with Steve and marrying a more stable guy in the construction business, but I think of her often. She's the hottest naked chick I've ever called friend. As for the Body Shop, I assume it will rise from this obvious arson accidental fire stronger, better and with a real brass pole instead of chrome. Then again, brass tarnishes with too much skin contact. Screw that. I think I'll stop off at Xposed on the ride home for a drink. I'm single now. It's cool.

GWK Addendum

Can you spot the misused words in the following?

I'll start your Prop 8 post for you. What is your fantasy response to this factual article?
Legislating Immorality
By the Editors
The words are "factual" and "article". The NRO piece you cut and pasted is what the MSM calls an "editorial". It's an OPINION. So my previous post? That's a response in kind. People who confuse editorials and articles are the same ones who believe that The O'Reilly Factor and Countdown with Keith Olberman are newscasts. Or, I'll wager in GWK's case, they believe one is a newscast and the other isn't.

Still thanks for the comments - I got two days worth of postings out of 'em so far! If I'm lucky I can spin a few more out comments to this.

Let's Outlaw Ann Coulter!

Okay, here's why "the will of the people" is not a terrific reason to let Prop 8 stand. I'll start with often overlooked fact - gay people are, in fact, people. People who would like the option of getting married. The fact that there are more people who were fooled into thinking that this would somehow lead to bestiality or the end of civilization is beside the point. They were granted the right to marry because California's constitution, as written, already gave them that right.

(By the way, in the several countries where Gay Marriage is allowed: no rise in bestiality, civilization still thrives. In fact, there isn't even more homosexuality! There is, however, a decrease in gay promiscuity. What's the opposite of a slippery slope? Gay Marriage is a sticky plain.)

I don't like the idea that a larger segment of the population can bully a smaller segment; and as a white guy I can say that by 2050 I'll probably be in the minority in this country. Certainly in California. What if someone convinces the majority of voters that white people can't be trusted to hold public office? It's illegal to ban us from being mayor, but if we amend the constitution to say it ISN'T illegal, well, no more Mayor Chad Smith.

I have decided that doggy style is a bad sexual position - let's outlaw that. Unenforceable? Not if we allow bedroom surveillance. Illegal? Doesn't have to be.

Hey, I like Obama as president. Let's amend the constitution so that he can serve 8 consecutive terms! He's pretty popular; I bet I can find enough people to get it on the ballot.

People are the worst people to put constitutional amendments into the hands of. The constitution is like the motherboard of a democracy - you want a trained geek (let's call them "judges") to upgrade it, not your brother-in-law who doesn't even own a computer but who thinks it would be cool if one could light up when you press the escape key.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Him, Al Franken

GWK is resorting to my old trick of whip-turning the comments section to different topics. In the Lieberman post, he somehow drags poor Al Franken into the mix.

When extremely suspicious bags of ballots are 'found' days & weeks after the election - in an election official's car-trunk, no less (forgot they were there!) - and ALL of them are for Franken, after he already lost the race, so that he can scream for a re-count, that doesn't serve the will of the people.

When Franken's OWN attorney's publically admit that he LOST the race and should concede, but Franken has Dimocrat Reid state that the House will look into the matter, that doesn't serve the will of the people.

In the matter of Franken/Coleman, GWK may not be aware that it's a LEGAL REQUIREMENT that a recount be performed when the election is that close; and that the challenged ballots are reviewed by both sides and disinterested bipartisan observers. See Nate Silver for details. I know I know, it's so frustrating when the Democrats don't simply concede; after all, anyone who votes for a Democrat obviously meant to vote for a Republican. Still, that's how the game is played in Mary Tyler Moore country. Suck it up. By the way, "Dimocrat?" What are you, in grade school?

If I get the chance tonight I'll tackle Prop 8, which I mistakenly referred to as Prop 9. Sue me! Or better yet, sue the Mormons.

Timing is Everything When You're Making A Deal

Saxby Chambliss! Go Saxby! I wonder if that is short for something, like Sebastian. Hmmm.

Well, Chambliss has won the re-vote and taken with him the possibility of a Democratic supermajority in the Senate. You know what that means... we held on to Leiberman for nothin'. Oh sure, there is always the possibility that we'll talk a couple of Republicans over to our side for some specific vote, (Leiberman, for example - *rimshot*) but Alf's Dad has somehow managed to stay in our living room, raiding the fridge and hogging the remote, basically on the promise that he'll do a little yard work once in a while. And he won't do it if his conscience forbids.

The interesting thing about this situation is it's a real power struggle. Leiberman's motivation is the desire to chair a few committees, which he would never be able to do as an Independent. However, that position is dependent on remaining in the good graces of a skeptical but kindly Democratic leadership, so he has to bow to them and vote the way they want him to. Joe Leiberman IS Tantalus.

Well, he was smart to negotiate his position before the recounts and re-votes, obviously. Maybe he's actually Donald Trump.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Move On

As the magic date of January 20th approaches, the question on the minds of a lot of my more extreme left friends is this - when do we finally start impeachin' and jailin'? You know what I mean. And in the past I've said that if we learned anything from the Clinton years, its that impeachment is no big deal. That is snarky. Impeachment is a big deal.

As a nation, we just can't afford to investigate the alleged crimes of the Bush administration. First of all, who wants to relive that crap? We got plenty of fresh problems to deal with; one of them the epic fail of our economy. If we pour government resources into lawyers' offices for six years, we lose. Ironically, one of the reasons the Clinton impeachment flew is because we could AFFORD to be that frivolous then.

And ultimately, the reason to prosecute any crime is to prevent other people from committing it. If Clinton was impeached for lying to Congress and a grand jury, it didn't stop Bush from the former. Anyway Bush, hopefully, was a unique animal; he did things that Presidents haven't tried since the mid 19th century. I doubt that we're going to have these abuses of power again, unless Karl Rove goes back into that business. And the money is probably better at Fox News.

Bush's punishment, I suspect, is that he's not going to be doing a lot of international travelling from here on in. We're willing to forgive and forget, but Europe may not be so amnesiac. Any foreign soil he sets foot on is likely to have a warrant out for him. And don't get them started on Cheney. Thus, Bush is in a prison which comprises 50 states. It's roomy, sure, but it's still limiting. Plus also, by his own estimation he's unlikely to see the vindication of history unless he lives to be 105. Until then, he's surrounded by a country who think he was wrong.

One more thing, which I hate to bring up, is the blowback factor. Remember when all these stories started coming out about the Clinton impeachment team? Bob Barr had paid for an abortion once, Henry Hyde had committed the "youthful indiscretion" of an affair while in his mid-forties, and so on. The point is, there's always plenty of dirty politics to bring to light. When you out someones misdeeds, you better have your own misdeeds thoroughly vetted when the dude's defense team goes after you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good News, Alix and Richard

Hillary Clinton is gettin' work!

Positive Economic Indicators

NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - A man working for Wal-Mart was killed on Friday when a throng of shoppers surged into a Long Island, New York, store and physically broke down the doors, a police spokesman said.

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Wall Street analysts seemed to breath a sigh of relief Monday on evidence that unusual price cuts by Apple Inc. helped boost sales of iPods and Macintosh computers over the Black Friday weekend.
Oh hell, we're all screwed.

LOS ANGELES (LA TIMES) - Bargain-hungry consumers gave the nation's retailers a much-needed early holiday boost with surprisingly healthy sales on Black Friday that tapered off Saturday and Sunday."It was a retail manager's dream," said Marissa Marks, store manager at the Beverly Center's L'Occitane boutique, which saw Black Friday sales double to $4,000 from last year. But, she added Sunday, "yesterday and today are not so good."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Explaining Alan Colmes

A helpful analogy to understand Alan Colmes' job at Fox News - he functioned as the Flu Shot of Liberalism. Instead of providing the real thing, Fox gave us a weakened strain, in hopes that real liberalism would stay away. And it largely worked! Still, if it had been a real balanced show, it would have been David Brooks and Colmes.

Monday, November 24, 2008


A number cruncher at the University of Chicago Law School suggests that it's very possible that civilian deaths in Iraq may have been greater if we hadn't invaded. (He also points out that they have more commercial TV stations, a greater "freedom index" and other positives.) Which is great. But you still have to wonder - we committed our troops and a large portion of our GDP for what, to make life better in Iraq? What have they done for US lately? (h/t Andrew Sullivan)

Harry Shearer Reads MY Copy!

I almost forgot about this, but over the weekend Harry Shearer's LeShow featured an email written by yours truly.

There is a regular feature on the show called NEWS FROM THE DIGITAL WONDERLAND, about the impending disaster of the conversion to all-digital televsion. And I had this weird little problem where one of my local channels moved up the dial for the weekend, then came back again, so I helpfully provided a summary of my experience. The result? One of the best voice actors in the business puts my words into a pleasing, friendly baritone. My favorite part -- where I mention that I live in the San Fernando Valley, and Harry interjects "Everybody, say it with me: Awwwwwww."

Click here. The letter is in the first three minutes.

Cookie, Lend Me Your Colmes

Alan Colmes, whom all liberals look like, is leaving his plum pinnacle-of-respect position at the Hannity and Colmes show at the end of the year.

Roger Ailes is in a tizzy, frantically struggling to find another liberal to maintain fair balance across the network. There's talk of hiring Phil Donohue as a footstool for O'Reilly, for example, or promoting Susan Estritch to the position of Chris Wallace's hairpiece. More on this story as it develops.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Z/Z Top Poll: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

At the risk of repeating myself... wait, first let me quote more successful blogger WAMK, in his response to my previous post about the Zeigler/Zogby Poll. Note how the wording suggests that Nate Silver was right:

If the study was done to see if Obama supporters are idiots, then why would one need to poll McCain supporters?...You are unhappy with the poll, because it shows that some of the people who voted for Obama had little knowledge about the candidates, except for what was spoon fed to them by the MSM.
First let me remind you I've already acknowledged that most of Obama voters are idiots, because most of ALL people are idiots. Your man Zeigler blew a chance to "prove" that McCain voters had fewer idiots by failing to interview them as well. In the absence of data, I can conclude that that there are more of them, and that was Zeigler's strategy: to distract from how stupid his people are.  Prove me wrong! 

(By the way, the inclusion of Republican respondents isn't my idea, it's Zogby's. If he hadn't left the decision to underlings, he says he would have insisted on it.)

Second, as I pointed out, in order to get an answer "right" you have to buy into some pretty suspicious language. "82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot" for example, assumes you agree that's how he won that election. "88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket" depends on you taking a remark out of context the same way Zeigler did. 

A fanciful example can be found in a faux Jane Fonda quote that the National Lampoon published in the seventies. "Poor people are poor," Fonda is made to say, "because nuclear power plants are polluting the atmosphere!" Zeigler's questions are the equivalent of "Is poverty caused by atmospheric pollution from nuclear plants?" If you answer "no," you are an idiot. OR, you're a sensible Republican.

I think the thing that is so infuriating Zeigler and WAMK is not that the majority of Obama voters are being spoon-fed information from the Main Stream media; it's that we're refusing to eat from the same spoon that they are. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

More About That Zeigler Poll

Carl Bialik of The Wall Street Journal blogs weighs in on the poll.

John Zogby, the president and chief executive of Zogby International, released a statement on his Web site Tuesday that defended the poll in the face of heavy criticism from bloggers and some media organizations... But on Wednesday, Zogby told me he was on a book tour* when the contract was reached and when the survey was conducted, and wouldn’t have approved the poll in the form it took, or a press release posted on his firm’s Web site. “This was not Zogby International’s finest hour,” he said. “Something, somehow, fell through the cracks.” He said he would review the incident with his staff on Friday to determine what went wrong. Nonetheless, Zogby stood by the results of the poll themselves. “There is valuable information in this poll,” he said.

...The poll was not, as election forecaster and Obama supporter Nate Silver originally called it, a “push poll,” because it was not an attempt to influence respondents by faking opinion research, as former pollster Mark Blumenthal explained on his blog. Blumenthal nonetheless agreed with Silver’s other criticisms, writing, “Describing his biased, leading questions as a legitimate test of knowledge is hugely misleading, at best.”
So not a push poll... I suppose that's possible. It was taken after the election. But a misleading poll - I'm down with that.

My I suggest you read the whole thing? Or not. Your call.

Liberal Bias Extends to Its Logical Conclusion

Bill O'Reilly last night:

O’REILLY: A good case can be made there are more liberal voices in the media than conservative voices. The newspaper industry is certainly left. So is the Internet. NBC News almost completely liberal. So is PBS, so is NPR.

The INTERNET! Literally, anyone, ANYONE, can get up here on the internet and post opinions. And yet the bias is toward the left. Thus, the complaint isn't that the media is influencing society, the complaint is that too many people aren't conservatives.

Gee, sorry guys. It's not that we don't want to be; we simply are too stupid to understand you. I wonder if you could repeat it all for us?

The Wisdom of Talk Show Callers

Just now, on the Stephanie Miller Show:

"I don't think people realize that if gay marriage is outlawed, only gay outlaws will get married."
Is that what you want people? To live in a world where anyone you meet could be secretly married to someone of their own sex? And robbing banks?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joe The Remainder

Joe the Plumber Lands Book Deal

Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the presidential campaign fixture and John McCain advocate better known as Joe the Plumber, won’t have to open his own plumbing business just yet: he has signed a deal to write “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.” PearlGate Publishing, a small publisher in Austin, Tex., announced the book on its Web site, The book, which will be written with Thomas N. Tabback (whose novel, “Things Forgotten,” was also published by PearlGate), will address Mr. Wurzelbacher’s ideas about American values, and is scheduled for release on Dec. 1. In an interview with Fox News Mr. Wurzelbacher said he could have signed a deal with a larger publisher. “But they don’t need the help,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “They are already rich. So that’s spreading the wealth to me.”

(h/t New York Times - emphasis mine. Makes a great War On Christmas Gift!)

Nate Silver Graphs the Far-Right Mind

Nate Silver, that geeky obsessive compulsive who runs, has put his finger on something I've been grappling with for years now.

There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.
This is from his followup to the interview with John Zeigler that he posted yesterday. I have run into this attitude frequently during my recreational forays into right-wing world, but for a better illustration look at President Bush's press conferences. How often have you seen him asked to explain something he's just said, and the explaination is the exact same words, only slower and louder with more emphatic hand gestures? It's not that the reporters aren't buying it, it's that the reporter (or the American people) was too dumb to get it the first time.

It must have been really frustrating on that Privative Social Security Tour. Why wouldn't they understand? Those people are idiots!

It's this refusal to swerve from (I'll rosily refer to it) moral clarity that drives conservatives into their crazier corners. This morning I read the opinion that Democrats (presumably the far-left liberal media, because they're all Democrats) caused McCain to prevail over Romney in the primaries. Obviously all the Republicans MEANT to vote for Romney, but Democrats confused them. Or something. I'm waiting to hear further remarks on that one.

Silver thinks this refusal to believe that people might disagree is rooted in Talk Radio. Seems like kind of a stretch to me, but he could be right. Maybe the whole problem is if you listen to that stuff long enough, you forget that the callers are screened.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Now Who Will The Governement Go To For Internet Advice?

Adieu Ted Stevens. And congratulations to Congress for not having to expel a convicted felon - he left the old-fashioned way! By losing, once all those extra ballots turned up.

Careful sending your condolence e-mails - if you put them in all at once, they'll clog the tubes.


So the other day Zogby published the results of a poll commissioned by John Zeigler. Poll guru Nate Silver took umbrage over the poll, which he characterized as as "push poll," or an attempt to spread disinformation under the guise of conducting a poll. Zeigler invited Silver to interview him, as long as the entire interview was posted without editing, so nothing could be taken out of context.

I am not under such constraints.

NS: Do you stand by all the statements in the survey as being unambiguously true?
JZ: I stand one hundred percent by the notion that there is absolutely zero ambiguity as to what the right answer is to any of the questions.

NS: What was the right answer to that [Palin] question?
JZ: The technically accurate question [sic] is that none of the four people said that, but we counted it as correct if they said Sarah Palin.

NS: Why would you commission a survey question with no correct response?
JZ: The purpose of the question, you pinhead, was we wanted to determine the Tina Fey Effect.

NS: Were the interviews conducted by telephone or online?
JZ: How can you ask a question like that and pretend that you have any clue what you're writing about! That's unbelievable that someone could write what you did! That is unbelievable that you wouldn't know that it's a telephone or an online poll and that you went on my summaries of the questions before the questions were even released!

NS: What did Zogby charge you -- what did you pay for this survey?
JZ: I'm not going to tell you that, I'm not a fucking idiot.

NS: How many Obama supporters did you speak with in total?
JZ: All twelve we spoke with are in the video.

NS: Was there any significance to the fact that in the YouTube video, seven of the twelve Obama supporters were black?
JZ: [Laughs]. The reason why we had more black supporters – that might surprise some of the people that we spoke to -- if we go by your apparent ability to determine race -- the first location happened to be in a black section of town and we were able to get our interviews faster there because of they way that was set up, because of the logistics. We had a second location but it got dark and we didn't have any lights. So, that's it, it was no grand racial conspiracy.

NS: Did you have financing for the project or was it paid for out of pocket?
JZ: It is not self-financed.

NS: Who paid for it?
JZ: You think I'm going to tell you that? When you've already shown yourself to be the enemy?

NS: When do you think Obama was a Muslim?
JZ: I think he was likely -- registered as a Muslim between the ages of 6 and 10 while he was going to school in Indonesia. It would have been highly unusual for him not to be.

NS: Would you consider Obama a Christian?
JZ: You'd have to ask him. There was never any evidence that he was a Christian until he decided to join the church of a racist hate-monger for political purposes.

NS: Who are the two senators from South Dakota
JZ: Thune and, uh, Johnson.

NS: Very good. South Carolina?
JZ: Go fuck yourself. I'm done with this interview if you're going to ask me stupid questions like that. Obviously I know who Lindsay Graham is.

NS: Well, since you’re running a website calling people misinformed, I’d like to see if -- there are certain things you’ve said that I would consider misinformed.
JZ: Misinformed? You're a piece of work! You are never going to have the guts to post a representative transcript on your website! I thought you actually ran a legitimate website!

NS: Thank you, have a good day.
JZ: Go fuck yourself.
Well, I'm satisfied that the poll had no agenda. And any statistician will tell you, 512 people is plenty when you're looking for a representative sample. You just have to accept a margin of error around 80%. Plus OR minus, of course.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Merry Christmas From The American Family Association

Let Your "Light" Shine For Christ This Christmas Season!

Looking for an effective way to express your Christian faith this Christmas season to honor our Lord Jesus? Now you can.... with the "Original Christmas Cross" yard decoration.

Light up your front yard, porch, patio, driveway, business, organization or church this holiday season with a stunning Christmas cross.

This beautiful Christmas Cross is 5.5 feet tall, with 210 individual ultra bright lights.

As Andrew Sullivan says, "just don't put it on someone else's lawn."

Strength Through Weakness

Oh for the love of God, what does Joe Lieberman have to do to make an enemy of Democrats? After a week of threatening to not punish him by removing him from his dozen or so caucuses, the Democratic leadership has decided to not remove him from them. The man supports the Iraq war, he spent the summer advancing the right's weirdest and most scurrilous talking points against the President Elect, he's not even an elected Democrat.

Obviously he's not getting this kind of treatment because he's well-liked. I mean come on, he's Joe Lieberman. Let alone terrorists, can you see yourself pallin' around with HIM? Dude creeps me out. However, he can deliver votes, and there is still the thin possibility of a 60-vote majority in the senate. And after all, who wouldn't trust Joe Lieberman if he promises to always vote with them?

I'll tell you what I like about this situation though. It indicates that my side isn't movitated by revenge. Settling personal scores seldom leads to good governance. And since it's likely that Obama weighed in on this one, it bodes well for the next several years. In fact, it may even be a sign that Obama isn't, in fact, Hitler.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Always Remember to Lock Up Your Bike

I can't help but wonder if the guy on the left parked AFTER or before.

Remember, loop through the wheels kids!

Obama Economy

I keep hearing that the current economic downturn is due to "business" fearing Obama's policies. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are the most prominent big thinkers riding that horse. I dunno, kids. If memory serves, the economy started slidin' when the candidates were just about equal in the polls, and the undertow took McCain with it. "Business", I think, has bigger fish to fry than selling short because they think there is a possible slight tax increase in the possible future. For example, the complete inability to secure credit may be coloring their judgement. Or people not, you know, buying stuff.

Auto Asphyxiation

Hey, I just finally broke down and bought a Blu-Ray player! Times are tough so I went with Woot's crazy deal on a Memorex unit for $139.00. It doesn't have all the features I want, but the one that does would cost me $400, and even after Thanksgiving it will cost over twice what I'm payin'.

So one makes sacrifices.

The trick is choosing your sacrifices wisely. For example, say you have an auto industry that is asking for money. They've been hurting for years because they didn't anticipate the American marketplace as well as the Japanese did. Now they're on the brink of bankruptcy and they claim that if taxpayer money isn't brought in, they're outta business, leaving a big smoking hole in the center of the economy.

Do we ransom the government to prop up a failed business, or do we suck up the damage and let the Japanese win?

This one is hard, because there is no good option. Assuming we go hard-line libertarian and simply let the market sort it out, you have massive middle-American unemployment. Suddenly there is a big consumer dead zone, people who can't afford to buy stuff, and instead of bailing out the auto industry we're throwing money at unemployement benefits. Meanwhile, the malls close. In fact, it's a market correction just like the Great Depression was.

On the other hand, we could go full-on Liberal and just throw money at the Auto Makers. "Take this bag o' cash you guys, and spend it on what works best." That's not likely to help much either. And as I understand it the UAW doesn't want to budge on salaries, which is unrealistic and stupid. Auto workers are going to have to get less, profit margins are going to have to drop, and God knows the executives are going to have to take pay cuts (or move into a more profitable field, like say the airline industry) otherwise no matter how much money we pump into cars, we still lose to the Japanese.

Whose auto industry, by the way, is government subsidized.

So I'm in favor of a bailout IF the above compromises are part of the deal. It will still hurt (people who make less buy less, but at least they can afford a cheap blu-ray player) but it doesn't cause bread lines. Like a flu shot that causes you to get a little flu, but doesn't put you away for a week.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Trouble With Going Pro

Publius took issue with my post yesterday, opining that I took the occasion of Veteran's day to promote an anti-war agenda. Though that wasn't my intention (as I pointed out, war is often necessary) it got me thinking - should one be pro-war? I mean let's face it - war is costly and it damages people; often as not, it kills people. How can anyone root for that? It's just as wrong to always deny war is an option. Personally, I think the Iraq war is a mistake - the prosecution was bungled, the rationale for going in the first place, if we ever find out what it was, will probably turn out to be flawed. On the other hand, the war that messed my dad up so much was clearly necessary, and I'm awfully glad we went in.

It's not dissimilar to the abortion argument. No rational person is for abortion, but many believe it should be an option in certain situations.

"Pro" and "anti" are binary terms that we apply too frequently to analog situations. Life is too complicated for an up-or-down vote.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

I was going to wish everybody a happy Veterans Day... instead, please have a thoughtful one.

Me, I'll be thinking about my Dad, one of a handful of survivors of the USS Wasp, a battleship which went down in the Pacific during WWII. He trod shark-infested waters for three days before help arrived, a skinny underaged kid who was accepted into the Navy because this was the Great War and sometimes you use the rule book to prop up a leg of the registration tables.

He came out of the Pacific Theatre with a purple heart and serious drinking problem, spared from the fate of most of his fellow crewmen by sheer capricious chance and his own survial instinct. Even when he was at his happiest, a dark cloud followed him around; he smoked like a chimney and the only reason that lung cancer didn't eventually kill him was that he drank himself to death first. He died in 1977, the year STAR WARS came out. In essence, he'd been living on borrowed time for 33 years.

Frequently war is necessary but it has a terrible cost. When you honor our veterans, praise them all the more for the chunk of their souls that they gave up while acting as human shields for you.

Where I At?

Very few postings from me lately, eh? Call it the audacity of contentment.

Honestly since Tuesday, I haven't been particularly bothered by anything in Politics. I think Rahm Emmanual is a useful Bad Cop. I'd rather the Democrats cut Joe Leiberman loose, but perhaps that is the job of Connecticut voters.

Republicans, who are usually my best source of arguable outrage, have been navel-gazing with occasional wounded pot-shots at scattered targets. I don't hate the Republicans, and they're hurting right now, and I feel inclined to leave them alone until the healing is done. Even Sarah Palin (2012!) seems kinda charming to me this week. I'm awfully glad she doesn't represent me in any way, but because she doesn't, you go girl. I'm looking forward to watching you split the ticket in four years.

Honestly I'm looking forward to Obama making a few mistakes I can deride. Man is so damn cautious though. We'll see. Maybe I need to start watching the Daily Show again, to see how they're handling it. I bet they're in reruns now, exhausted by the long election season, drinking their chianti and eating their arugula. When they come back, probably a flurry of Leiberman jokes.

I'm disappointed that Prop 8 won in California - still maybe it's best to keep the races from mixing. That's a slippery... oh sorry. Maybe it's better to keep the Jews from marrying, with their arcane ceremon -- what? Them? Why? Well, whatever. It's a constitutional amendment that conflicts without another section of the constitiution, so no matter how much people fear teh gay in the long run they'll probably have to live with it and be cautious to not accidentally marry someone of their own sex by mistake. Pardon the expression, but suck it up, people.

I wonder if I'll have any material tomorrow?

Friday, November 07, 2008

We Were ALL In On It

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Joe The Senator

Who wants Joe Lieberman? Anyone? ANYone?

To be sure, Senator Lieberman was a great ally for his support of John McCain. For that we must be grateful to him. With that support, he has made himself a pariah to his own party from which he will certainly see retribution. He will find himself on the outside looking in as the new administration gear up to govern.

At that rate, he may as well jump ship and try on the mantle of the GOP, right? Not so much.

First of all, if Joe Lieberman becomes a Republican he can kiss another term goodbye. The Republican Party in his home state is practically nonexistent and registered Republican voters a pittance. According to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz' office, out of the 2,097,635 registered in Connecticut only 427,020 are registered as Republicans. By contrast, 779,784 are Democrat and 883,274 are registered as Independents.

To stay in office, Lieberman must stay with his wink and a nudge status as "Independent." Everyone knows he's a Democrat in reality and that he only took the Independent title because forces outside of his state attacked him in the last election. His voters know it and so does everyone else. But, if he formally dumps the Party he will lose far too many voters to be able to stay in office in blue, blue Connecticut.

Of course, everyone also knows that Lieberman has been one of our go-to guys on the war. Joe Lieberman had been great on the war, there is no doubt. He has been right on target in every respect. So right, in fact, that conservatives and Republicans the country over have fallen in love with the man. Radio talkers like Sean Hannity have fallen all over themselves to praise the Senator and a universal exclamation of thanks has been on the lips of every center right war supporter.

Yes, he deserves those accolades.

But that does not make him one of us.
Of course this is only the opinion of one man (Warner Todd Huston) but he is pretty sharp-eyed observer here. Leiberman has spent the year burning bridges behind him only to discover that there there are no bridges ahead. Joe Leiberman, unlike other men, IS an island. In fact, he's Gilligan's Island - no contact with the outside world, not a single luxury. And also like that deserted isle, it's not nearly as funny as it should be.

It's Never Too Early To Start Running For 2012

You've probably been astonished by the force with which Sarah Palin has been thrown under the bus in the last few days. Why would McCain campaign staffers be so mean! Well, a darn good explanation is coming out of the Palmetto Scoop.

The sources said nearly 80 percent of Romney’s former staff was absorbed by McCain and these individuals were responsible for what amounts to a premeditated, last-minute sabotage of Palin.

FOX News Channel reported Wednesday that some staffers intentionally leaked negative information to the media about Palin in the final hours of the campaign that painted the Alaska governor as naive, incompetent, and needy. And my sources said that all of those leaks came from the Romney faction of the McCain campaign.

But why would they want to bury the person for whom they were working?

Because they reportedly realized that, regardless of a McCain win or loss, Palin would be a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2012 or 2016. And that made her a threat to a possible second run by Romney. You do the math.

(h/t Wonkette)

This makes sense to me. Just seeking revenge isn't that common in politics; but seeking revenge to advance an agenda is considered pretty good strategy. Who'd have thought the negative campaigning would start so early? Plus, it's a delicious match up, pitting the Romney splinter against the Palin splinter. Man, by 2012 there's gonna be more variations of "Republican" than there are of "Buddhist."

McCain Heals The Nation

How do I get on these mailing lists?

Cindy and I would like to take a moment to thank you for your loyal and steadfast support during the course of this campaign. Governor Palin, her husband Todd, our families, friends and campaign staff extend our deep appreciation for your tireless dedication, support and friendship.

It is the end of a long journey and your support through the ups and downs has meant more to us than you may ever know.

Although we were disappointed with the results, we must move beyond this campaign and work together to get our country moving again.

It is our sincere hope that you will join us in putting our country first and continue to work to keep our nation safe, free and prosperous.

We urge you to join us in not just congratulating Senator Obama, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together as a nation. Whatever our differences may be, we are all fellow Americans.

We are truly blessed to live in this great country and call ourselves Americans, and we will forever be her loyal servants.

Today, let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

With warm gratitude,

Cindy McCain
Cindy and John McCain
Teasing aside, it's nice to see this message out there. I fear it will not reach the people who it would be most useful to - the ones who hated both Obama AND McCain. Ah well.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

All Right, All Right, I'll Upgrade

Via Gizmodo: Somewhere, someone was still using Windows 3.x. The first ready-for-primetime version of the venerable operating system was introduced 18 years ago, and was little more than a graphical shell for DOS. Hah! You probably never used DOS either, youngster!

Amazingly, it was still supported by Microsoft, because it was used in a few cash registers and other such like. I remember when my movie theatre first got computerized cash registers they used Windows '95, and this was in 2002. Anyway, as of this month, the plug has been pulled. No more support, suckers!

Says Giz:

Requirements for the OS included a 8086/8088 processor with clock speed of 10MHz, 7MB of storage (better move Police Quest to a floppy) and 640KB of RAM. And when you realize that Vista requires a minimum of 1GHz processor and 20GB of storage, it's easy to see why at least some low end systems will miss the platform.
Every once in a while you hear tell of some celebrity dying, like Buffalo Bob Smith or Tiny Tim, and your first reaction is "He was still alive?"

Beyond The Red Horizon

Predictably there has been a little soul-searching among Republican thinkers as the result of all the ground lost on Tuesday's election. Where did we go wrong, they cry! Some blame Sarah Palin; others think it was chiefly McCain. Nearly everyone blames Bush. If there's any concensus, it's that Republicans have to return to the Reganesque principals of small government and lower taxes. At the risk of sounding snarky, it's a hallmark of conservative thinking to look to the past for solutions. And often, it's valid. This time, I'd like to offer a view from outside the bubble.

You guys devote too much of your resources to hate and fear. If the Bush presidency will be defined by anything, I think it's going to be by the paranoid belief that the terrorists are EVERYWHERE, and we have to sacrifice everything to stop them. And if the race to the white house was about anything, it was fear of Obama vs. hope for Obama. And hope, in this case, wins.

The hate button (it's next to the fear button, and it might as well be it as well) is an easy one to press. There is a common behavioral experiment where you put an electrode into a rat's brain, then hook it up to a bar which sends a stimulus to the rat's pleasure center. As soon as the rat learns that pressing the bar causes pleasure, it never stops pressing it until it starves to death. The difference between the electorate and a rat is this: they recognize when pushing a button over and over again starts to become unhealthy. Also, the electorate won't gnaw through your wiring.

I've been watching the reds for a while now, and I've never seen them as wingnutty as the last week before the election. Obama supporters will riot in the streets, even if he wins! Obama will abandon support of Isreal! He's the illegitimate son of Malcolm X! Not a citizen! Tear up the constitution! Take our guns! Look you guys, I'm not going to tell you to stop thinking that way, because frankly I like the idea of a Democratic majority in all three houses. However, since I don't like a SUPERmajority, I'm counting on you to sober up, be realistic, and stop looking more extreme than Code Pink. Be fearful if you want, just try to LOOK calm in public.

Quote of The Day

...I would also like to encourage Randy Scheunemann, Bill Kristol et al to continue to coalesce around Sarah Palin--her intellectual rigor and clarity, especially on foreign policy, indicate that she represents the real future of the neoconservative movement.
-Joe Klein, Swampland

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Glad To Put This One To Bed

For all the whining, it appears that Racism didn't play that much of a role in the election after all. African Americans voted for Obama but they traditionally vote for the Democrat; white males voted for Obama in higher numbers than they usually do for the Democrat. While we can all pat ourselves on the collective back for electing an African-American, it appears that the change we were after was of party affiliation.

Still, the overt racism that I linked to over the months probably helped engender sympathy, so I'm weirdly grateful for it. Ha ha racists! Hope you learned your lesson!

Rub Your Eyes, Sift Through the Rubble

First of all, to my conservative friends - sincere condolences. We don't agree about a lot of stuff but I know what it's like to be on the losing end of a Presidential race, even with a candidate you weren't thrilled about. I'm here for you man.

As the numbers come in, it's clear that Obama didn't win by anything like a landslide. It looks like a three point (update: Apparently it's closer to 6.1 points, which is delightful but still no landslide, just a comfortable margin) popular vote lead. While Bush called half that number a "mandate" in his victory speech, I don't think Obama is going to look at his victory the same way. It's too early to tell, but the signs are that he wants to listen to others and cooperate whenever possible. Reportedly he told McCain that he valued his experience, wanted his advice and needed his help.
Speaking of McCain, a classy, statesmanlike concession speech! I was a little freaked out by the booing, but it's not like we didn't boo in 2000 and 2004. I'm told Palin grinned while it was going on; I wasn't watching because like a lot of Americans I watch TV and surf the internet at the same time. If she was, I have to say that's UNstatesmanlike.

Speaking of unstatesmanlike, Ralph Nader described Obama as "an Uncle Tom" on Fox. Sorry Alix, but I gotta say your candidate of choice don't impress me much.

Among the other challenges Obama faces in the coming months is modulating the mistaken impressions of that segment of the voting public who believes that he's a Muslim and that it would matter if he was. He's also probably going to have to make mention of his lack of desire to take away their guns; and the unavailability of funds to round people up and put 'em in camps. There has been enough staggeringly weird disinformation coming out of this campaign to freak out the most reasonable conservative. Let alone Free Republic readers.

(Note the last sentence there - it's not bad grammar. I am endorsing letting those people alone and not dealing with them in any way.)

One last thing - I wish that this campaign would have a lasting effect on future campaigns. The more negative it got, the worse the numbers were for the attackers. It would be great if we, the people, always reacted that way. However, I don't think we're less effected by that tactic than we were; I think Obama happens to be good at deflecting it. He is an attack-ad martial artist. They say Reagan was made of teflon; Obama seems made mirrored teflon. Putting it another way, he's rubber and his opponents are glue. I doubt it's going to work for everybody.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

8:01 PST, Nov. 4th

Well, I'm glad THAT'S over. Let's get some free Starbucks.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Election Fatigue

This week's episode of Dark Meat: Music for Depressives may be just what the doctor ordered to cool you down after the presidential race, now entering its 1003rd day. 

Download it here!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Interesting Theory Of The Day

The great minds at Atlas Shrugs suggest that Barack Hussein Obama is hiding his birth records because he's actually the son of Malcolm X! Still five days left, wingnuts! This one could be a winner for ya!

Hey, Friends for WITHOUT PARTY!

I know, I know, there's other blogs too. I just get the feeling that the PUMAs are like Velvet Underground fans - only a handful of fans, but every one of those fans formed their own band. It's a limited phenomenon that looks bigger than it is, in other words.

Hey, at least I'm admitting that there ARE such people.

Pro-Obama Racists

Is THIS change you can believe in?

In an informal Esquire survey, three out of four white supremacists prefer Obama, while McCain is the clear favorite among black nationalists. (Sure, our methodology suffered from an extraordinarily low sample size -- limited to four white supremacists and one black nationalist -- but just because it wouldn’t fly with Gallup doesn’t mean there ain't a kernel of truth in there.)
Ron Edwards is clearly for McCain, and it's amazing that the journalist was able to get a quote by that time, because his head had probably exploded.

It's worthwhile reading, if you can stand to take a tour through the twisty tortured minds of proud racists. But it says a lot less about racism than it does about George Bush, and his historic quest to alienate every segment of the American spectrum. Man, McCain picked a bad, bad year to run as a Republican.

(h/t to Ben Smith at Politico)

If Only We Could Apply This To That Vegetable Jerky Machine

The Politics-Is-Good-For-Television meme I brought up a couple of weeks ago takes it to the extreme:

On average, Obama's 30-minute primetime infomercial managed to outperform usual broadcast network programming in the time period.

The Obama special was seen by 26.3 million viewers across broadcasters CBS, NBC and Fox, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.

I don't know what to make of that. As the article points out, it's such an extraordinarily weird half-hour of programming that there's little to compare it to. Ross Perot did a similar stunt in the nineties but I guess he just wasn't Change We Could Believe In then.

Can one realistically compare "Knight Rider" to a political ad? That would normally seem unfair -- to the politician. Obama improved NBC's rating by 43% and CBS by 10% compared with last week. And keep in mind Obama was competing against himself.

The lowest-rated of the three presidential debates received a 52.4 million viewers -- but that was carried by more networks and was, after all, a debate.

The Ross Perot specials in 1992 averaged 11.6 million viewers, but those were 15 separate specials that ran on different nights.

NBC was the most-viewed and highest-rated network for its presentation of Obama's ad, pulling 9.8 million viewers and a 3.0 rating. CBS had 8.6 million (2.3) and Fox had 7.9 million (2.8).

As for ABC's underdog "Pushing Daisies," airing on the only major broadcaster not to carry the ad, the counterprogramming still came in fourth place in the adults 18-49 demo. "Daisies" (6.8 million, 2.2) was up by 16% from last week, which isn't as big of a boost as the network had likely hoped for.

I might as well admit it here - I'm an Obama supporter. But a half-hour infomercial getting big ratings - it's probably a sign of the Apocalypse. I'm busting out the Nostradamus on this one. I'll get back to you.

(h/t to myself: Cross posted from Box Office Weekly)

All Right, All Right, The Polls ARE Narrowing

Five Thirty Eight is putting the poll average at 52.0 for Obama and 46.6 for McCain. Now the lead is only 5.4 points! Check out the electoral numbers too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Final Silent Debate

Moderated by Le Show host Harry Shearer. Kind of makes you long all the more for next Wednesday.

Dammit, Now It's My Turn ***Updated***

West Hollywood Resident Refuses to Take Down Sarah Palin Effigy

The mannequin is dressed in brunet wig, glasses and a red business suit. Another mannequin dressed as John McCain emerges from a flaming chimney.

Chad Michael Morisette, who lives in the house, told CBS 2 News that drivers and bus passengers have been stopping to snap pictures of the macabre scene.

Morisette says the effigy would be out of bounds at any other time of year, but it's within the spirit of Halloween.
It's creepy rather than funny, it doesn't help, the dude should listen to the community and take the damn thing down, and fast. On the plus side, one of his neighbors has put up an effigy of HIM, which is a message I can support.

***Update*** Dude took Palin down, though he left McCain in the chimney. (Hat tip to WAMK. It's make nice with WAMK day here at KIRY)