Saturday, February 26, 2005

The First -- and Still Best -- Sign of Cluelessness

I just read one of the best comments to a post ever, one referencing both the passing of Hunter S. Thompson and the Jim-Jeff affair, over at The Poor Man's place. Here it is, in its entirety:

One could spend countless bottles of ink recounting Mr. Guckert's sins, but chief among them is his latest: Naming a piece "Fear and Loathing in XXX."

This tired device has always been the first refuge of the pathetic and deluded--sad third-rate hacks and ignorant college wanabes ("Fear and Loathing at the Sig Eps Mixer last Friday") who fail to understand that in composing variations on a theme of Mozart, one only invites a comparison that will fail to flatter one's own work.

Like moths to flame, sailors to sirens, drunks to strippers, principled conservatives to modern Republicans, like anyone lured to their ruin by a mirage, by the illusion of the big score, so bad writers to the magic of Thompson. His talent was shocking, terrible, and alien. (God dammit it hurts to write about him in the past fucking tense. God Damn It.) Dark and uplifting, seemingly cynical and bottomlessly human. So unnaturally superhuman that one is led to look for "the trick," and to a no-talent klutz who lacks the wit to feel the shackles of his own mediocrity, "the trick" looks simple indeed: Pop a few amyls, lick a spot or two, and maybe a hit of whatever was in the salt shaker--or in your case you half-assed gutless monkey, another half-glass of that shitty white zin your mom left in the cupboard, and now you're ready to write you some Gonzo. Fear and Loathing in my Parents Basement.

What is it about writing that does this to people? Nobody thought they could just get drunk and play chess like Alekhine. Who reaches for immortality as a composer by wolfing down crate after crate of Viennese rotgut? Somehow, though, everyone thinks they're a writer.

But I digress.

Prior to Black Sunday, the surest sign of bad writing to follow were the words "Fear" and "Loathing" above someone else's byline. Obviously, after that day nobody would dare to use such a form. Even the purveyors of boy-band slash fiction would be able to summon that much professional pride.

But not Guckert. He slams out that headline without a trace of irony, without a hint of self-awareness, without a shred of shame, and looks up at we the audience with a child's look of innocent satisfaction and a smug ain't-I-cute grin, and we're reminded of where we've seen that look before, and we know precisely whose creature he is.

These filth deserve one another.

- Laertes

Read the post that inspired it here. We tip our Generik hat to the very perceptive Laertes for his insight. We'd also like to acknowledge The Poor Man himself for the hilarious brilliance of this: God made Jeff Gannon a cock-headed man-whore in order to make a point; Satan made the details of the affair clownish, and made sure that all of his hilariously embarrassing come-on photos were still available on the web, in order to distract you from that point.

(Note to my pal Lanz and other right-wingers who think the above is a prime example of "liberal hate speech" -- there's a big difference between calling someone a "cock-headed man-whore" and advocating that all cock-headed man-whores be rounded up and shot. Try to keep up.)

Hate, Animosity and Vitriol: Are Both Sides Equally Guilty?

Occasionally I like to go back to my old neighborhood, the blog I contributed to before I started this one, and toss up a quick post now and again just to keep the damn thing from being covered completely with cobwebs. Recently, this particular post drew a few predictably inane (and cowardly anonymous) comments, mostly filled with typical right-wing venom, along with the dismissive suggestion from reader Lanz that I should be comfortable with the brickbats, since, "the left does it too." In other words, he believes -- and this is taken as gospel among the members of the conservosphere -- that any and all insults or accusations hurled our way are matched in equal measure by our own writings about conservatives and neocons.

I find this argument specious, and I'll tell you why. You can read through the postings on this blog or any left-wing blog, and I dare you to find hate-filled rants comparable to even the most mundane mutterings of the posters at Free Republic or Little Green Footballs or dozens of other wingnut sites of refuge. They just aren't there. But according to Lanz and his rightward-leaning pals, we're just as guilty of making unfounded accusations and hurling invective-filled bombs as they are. He even uses the "pot, meet kettle" analogy. I disagree. I find the abuse and the vitriol the right aims at the left to be far more prolific and far more extreme than that which we launch at them.

We on the left are called traitors and unAmerican; we have been systematically marginalized and demonized in a concerted and coordinated effort ever since Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich -- with plenty of help from Rush Limbaugh and his colleagues -- conspired to make the very word "liberal" a pejorative to millions of Americans. That effort, which has been lovingly nurtured by Karl Rove and his minions, has now borne fruit beyond their wildest dreams. Where on the left-wing sites do we find calls for conservatives to be jailed en masse, to be exiled or beaten up or killed? It's commonplace to see such fantasies on the blogs and websites of the right.

The punditry is even worse. Ann Coulter smiles and says the only thing Tim McVeigh did wrong was in targeting the Federal Building in Oklahoma and not the New York Times building. Michael Savage tells a caller who happens to be gay that he "should only get AIDS and die." Limbaugh advises an African-American caller to "take the bone out of (his) nose." We are accused of "being on the side of the terrorists," of giving aid and comfort to "Islamofascists." Michell Malkin argues in favor of the WWII Japanese-American internment (and suggests that such a thing might be advisable again today), Coulter cheerfully defends McCarthyism. Even former President Jimmy Carter is blasted as being a "traitor"! Where do you find the equal of vitriol like that on the left? Molly Ivins? Robert Scheer? Al Franken? Thom Hartmann? Hardly.

Perhaps the closest you can find would be the admittedly somewhat edgy Ted Rall, or the obscure (at least until he became a favorite target of the right) Ward Churchill, whose bemusing comments are generally disavowed or simply unknown among most of us on this side of the fence. The rantings of those two in a month wouldn't equal one one-hundredth of the hatred and anger spewed towards liberals and progressives in one day by Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. Not only that, but the audience numbers for the blowhards at Fox News and EIB and Regnery Publishing and the rest generally dwarf the readers of Rall and company. The right has spent vast sums of money making sure that its message gets out to as many people as possible, with media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Richard Mellon Scaife spending literally billions of dollars to saturate the airwaves with their propaganda. The conservatives then have the nerve to complain about how the media is "controlled by liberals." If only!

And just what is it that these neocons and their supporters are so afraid of? They run virtually everything these days -- the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the media -- yet all you hear from them is victimized whining. It's like Molly Ivins said about the current administration: they don't want to govern, they want to rule. They can't seem to stand any thought that people might disagree with them or disagree with their president. They want to stifle dissent, to crush the opposition, to stop any discussion of policy before it even begins. There is no compromise, no bipartisanship, no give and take, there is only their way. They want one-party rule, now and forever. So they whine and piss and moan about every perceived slight; they obfuscate and twist the meanings of statements uttered by their opponents, loudly hectoring and berating anyone who dares to disagree with them; they accuse of treason every person who finds fault with wrong-headed legislation or points out that the administration blatantly lies, as do their shills in the media and Congress and in the blogosphere.

For this, I'm told that I am a traitor, that I should leave the country, "become extinct," "burn." But according to Lanz, I'm just as guilty of spreading this same kind of crude animosity. Personally, I don't see it. I think there's a huge difference in what I do and say and what I read and hear from the NewsMax and Freeper crowd. I'll admit that, yes, I enjoy satirizing people of low intelligence who find the arguments of Limbaugh and his ilk compelling, or think that Creationism is a viable scientific theory. I freely admit to wanting to point out when people in my government obfuscate and lie and dissemble, as they seem to do on a daily basis, because I believe people should know the truth. There is no question that I have accused the current administration of flirting with fascism more than once, because it demonstrably has. And I truly believe that most objective observers and future historians will agree with me. Just to bolster my case, here's how Mussolini himself defined it:

"Fascism is an extreme right-wing ideology which embraces nationalism as the transcendent value of society. The rise of Fascism relies upon the manipulation of populist sentiment in times of national crisis. Based on fundamentalist revolutionary ideas, Fascism defines itself through intense xenophobia, militarism, and supremacist ideals. Although secular in nature, Fascism’s emphasis on mythic beliefs such as divine mandates, racial imperatives, and violent struggle places highly concentrated power in the hands of a self-selected elite from whom all authority flows to lesser elites, such as law enforcement, intellectuals, and the media."

Sound familar? It sounds to me very much like the place the United States is today. Is saying that hate speech? Is my saying that the equivalent of a conservative saying that all liberals are traitors who are aligned with Islamic terrorists and should be rounded up and shot? I hardly think so.

The comparison, I'm afraid, just doesn't wash. In this case, pot does not equal kettle.

Heil, Heil, the Gang's All Here

"Good evening, maggots, I'm Mistress Condi, and I'll be your Dominatrix for the next four years. Our Chef Alberto and his staff have some mouth-watering specials this decade, and they include waterboarding, cigarettes in the ears, naked pyramid stacking, electro-genital torture and broomstick sodomizing. You have your choice of blindly supporting our Glorious Leader in whatever international criminal activity he chooses or being subject to loss of pay, loss of benefits, loss of life or extraordinary rendition. All right, you insignficant bunch of boot-lickers, let's hear it: One Nation Under God! Say you love Jesus! SAY IT!!"

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bush Gets Pissed

Thanks to our prolific colleague the King of Zembla for this very amusing link about a popular item in Belgium these days. Seems that the country famed for Manneken Pis, the statue of a young boy urinating, has produced massive quantities of the above-pictured sticker and placed them in urinals all over the country. Citizens are invited to literally "piss on Bush" everywhere they, uh, go.

I wonder if they're available for export...?

Social Insecurity

How much do YOU stand to lose if Preznit bin Bush gets his way and "reforms" Social Security with privatized accounts? Check this handy calculator to find out.

(Hint: the younger you are, the more you stand to lose.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Condemned Nation Forgets History

Common Dreams yesterday posted a piece by author Thom Hartmann illustrating the parallels between the events of the past few years here in the US and the events that led up to a very crucial period in 20th century European history that is just a bit eerie in its verisimilitude. I'm sure the True Believers out there would dismiss this out of hand, but it's hard to deny that much of what we've seen happen here since Preznit No Moral Compass came to power is looking awfully familiar...

"This weekend - February 27th - is the 72nd anniversary, but the corporate media most likely won't cover it. The generation that experienced this history firsthand is now largely dead, and only a few of us dare hear their ghosts.

"It started when the government, in the midst of an economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed...

"But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted.

"He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world.

"His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones..."

There's more, plenty more, and you owe it to yourselves to read it and let others know about it. Because it can happen here -- it is happening here.

Wednesday Joementum Blogging

Joe still hasn't decided whether Presidential protocol calls for him to insert just his nose and lips into the Presidential anus, or his whole head. "Better safe than sorry!" he says. "Cover me, I'm going in!"

Traitor Joe's most recent demonstration of his commitment to remaining a member of the Unreality-Based Community came last week when he heartily endorsed the nomination of torture-abetter John Negroponte as National Intelligence Director. In Joe's own words:

"John Negroponte is greatly respected thoughout the world and I think he now gives us an opportunity to regain our trust in American Intelligence, not only here at home but around the world."

Not likely, Joe, but you keep saying it if it sounds good to you. Maybe you'll be rewarded with another chance to explore the Presidential upper GI tract.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Advertise Them

As many of you know, a Swift Boat Veterans for Subterfuge and Damn Lies-affiliated GOP-front group known as USA Next is preparing to put up a series of ads castigating the AARP as a bunch of gray-headed com-symp pinko traitors for not getting on board with the Preznit's plan to utterly destroy "mend" Social Security by switching over to privatized accounts that will greatly benefit his Wall Street backers (and very few others). Thanks to Dr. Laniac, we here at The Generik Brand have obtained a copy of one of the ads this group is intending to run, and present it here for your approval.

One thing I noted last Monday morning while watching the evil Grover Norquist dissemble on the subject of Social Security was just how quick he was to demonize AARP for their opposition to Preznit Eternal War With Iranq's SS plans. Apparently the Torture Party Republican talking points were well in place as of the weekend, and all the Kool-Aid drinkers were busy parroting them whenever and wherever they could.


"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous, and having said that, all options are on the table."

"Name just one thing I've said since I took office that wasn't a lie. Just one thing. I dare you. One thing."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Men Who Pull the Strings

Ever hear of the Council for National Policy? Probably not... because that's the way the members of that organization want it, and the way they hope to keep it. Its members include all of the usual highly-placed right-wing suspects, from Jerry Falwell and Lou Dobson to Trent Lott and Clarence Thomas to Ralph Reed and Tom DeLay and dozens more.

This is a story that goes well beyond tinfoil hat territory and crosses directly over into Let's All Get Scared Shitless Land. Steven D, a diarist at Daily Kos, has outlined -- with good back-up links and references -- an exposé of the ultimate cabal, the players behind the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, if you will. Reading this post, much of it taken from an even more in-depth article at the Americans United for Separation of Church and State website, with its named names and citations, should send chills up the spine of every liberal and progressive and even moderate out there who thinks that America might still be saved from the theocratic fascists.

If these people have anything to say about it -- and apparently they do -- it's already too late.

"The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-three years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.

"Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.


"In the summer of 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as the group's first executive director, told Newsweek bluntly, 'One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government.'

"From the beginning, the CNP sought to merge two strains of far-right thought: the theocratic Religious Right with the low-tax, anti-government wing of the GOP. The theory was that the Religious Right would provide the grassroots activism and the muscle. The other faction would put up the money.


"Bringing together the two strains of the far right gave the CNP enormous leverage. The group, for example, could pick a candidate for public office and ply him or her with individual donations and PAC money from its well-endowed, business wing.

"The goals of the CNP, then, are similarly two-pronged. Activists like Norquist, who once said he wanted to shrink the federal government to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub, are drawn to the group for its exaltation of unfettered capitalism, hostility toward social-service spending and low (or no) tax ideology.

"Dramatically scaling back the size of the federal government and abolishing the last remnants of the New Deal may be one goal of the CNP, but many of the foot soldiers of the Religious Right sign on for a different crusade: a desire to remake America in a Christian fundamentalist image.

"Since 1981, CNP members have worked assiduously to pack government bodies with ultra-conservative lawmakers who agree that the nation needs a major shift to the right economically and socially. They rail against popular culture and progressive lawmakers, calling them the culprits of the nation's moral decay. Laws must be passed and enforced, the group argues, that will bring organized prayer back to the public schools, outlaw abortion, prevent gays from achieving full civil rights and fund private religious schools with tax funds."

Read it and weep, my friends. Cry the beloved country.

Mmm, That's Good Top Ten!

Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots is worth a read pretty much every week, but this week I found it especially enjoyable. Right at the top of the list is our old pal, the whiny, factually-challenged pseudo-reporter Jim-Jeff, who is considering suing liberal bloggers for "political assassination." Criminey... excuse me while I spit milk out of my nose laughing at that.

Also making the list are the Corporate Whores Media, who have collectively shown such courage and determination in getting to the very pink, well-defined bottom of the Jim-Jeff story; the folks over at Free Republic, who are planning a rally in support of their new darling, the poor, put-upon Jim-Jeff; Rush Limbaugh, who is going to Afghanistan on the government's dime to "report" on all the positive warm-puppy-fuzziness going over there (and who, with any luck, will run into a big stash of the good stuff and overdose in a dank Kabul hotel room); Alan Keyes, who never let family ties get in the way of ideological bigotry; Bill O'Reilly, for being the lying liar everyone with a brain always knew he was; and of course the Bush maladministration for playing those previously mentioned Corporate Whores Media members like good little marionettes. Plus a few more all-around mooks and maroons, of which the neoconosphere is apparently full to bursting.

Check it out, and bookmark it if you haven't already. Updates every Monday.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Apocalypse June

Mighty tip of the cap to our esteemed colleague, the King of Zembla, for pointing out this bit of scary information: according to former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter (who, it may be noted, was fucking right when he said that he didn't believe that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a repository for a huge cache of WMD), Preznit Don't Smoke Pot Like I Did has already signed off an order to begin bombing Iran in June of this year. He also made the claim that the Bushists manipulated the results of the January 30th elections in Iraq, but after the Florida and Ohio debacles of 2000 and 2004, is that really news? Is anyone really surprised?

As to the bombing... I can't say that's much of a shocker, either. We all know it's coming, and if the mullahs in Iran are smart, they'll just cede the country to Halliburton now and get it over with.

Personally, I plan on being in Europe in June, and so will miss the US news' glorification of the shock and awe that will undoubtedly strike Tehran and points east, west, south and north somewhat. Maybe I'll be able to join in some massive street protests in Paris or Rome, just to let some of the people over there know that not all Americans are fucking bloodthirsty fascists like the good folks in the White House are.

Why Do They Hate America?

Here's an excellent post from media girl at about what she sees as the reality of people in this country today who call themselves "conservatives." I challenge any right-winger out there to read this and then defend yourselves; defend your slavish cult of personality surrounding the idiot son Bush; defend your party's embracing the know-nothing ignorance of Creationism (or Intelligent Design, as it likes to disguise itself); defend your disdain for health care and the environment; defend your poor track record of assistance to the very least among us; defend your lapdog devotion to the rich and powerful.

Go on. I dare you.

Liberal Media, My Ass

Just two quick observations this morning regarding the state of our national media (unhealthy; prognosis dire)...

One is that on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a brief article about Jim-Jeff Gannon-Guckert written by WaPo's Howard "Howie the Putz" Kurtz on page A2, thus officially giving that story the send-off, the bon voyage, the parting gift and don't let the door hit you in the ass when you leave goodbye. If my reading of the SCLM (or MSM if you prefer) is correct, we have seen just about the last of the Jim-Jeff tale in any major media market. It's all over but the shouting here in the Lefty Blogosphere now, and we all know how much the SCLM/MSM listens to us.

Of course the hypocrisy that runs rampant through this incident is still at a fever pitch. Had Jim-Jeff been a left-wing shill in the Clinton White House, talk radio and Faux News and the NY Times and WaPo and other media outlets would still be ranting about how the Democrats had attempted to subvert the Constitution and bring down our fair country and you know how the rest of it goes. But naturally, IOKIYAR. It's Okay If You're A Republican.

The other thing I observed this morning was seeing the noxious presence of Grover Norquist on a local news show (Mornings on 2 on local station -- and Faux affiliate - KTVU) repeating the Brit Hume-created lie about Franklin Roosevelt having been in favor of "privatizing" Social Security. The host of the show never batted an eye when he made this ludicrous and blatantly false statement, thus demonstrating once again how the SCLM/MSM rolls over for Torture Party Republican talking points. Apparently this is just the latest lie to be steamrolled over the American public, and I'm sure we can look for it again and again in the coming weeks.

"FDR was in favor of privatization!"

"Saddam Hussein has WMD!"

What the hell's the difference? Either way, the media will pick it up and run with it -- or at least allow it to go unchallenged -- while the story of a male hooker with a fake name and no credentials getting unfettered White House access (obviously with the assistance and complicity of WH staff) dies a quiet death.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Goodbye, Dr. Gonzo

I just learned that one of my literary heroes, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, is dead tonight by his own hand. Apparently Dr. Thompson, the man who single-handedly created Gonzo Journalism, shot himself in the head at his home near Aspen, Colorado sometime Sunday. He was 67 years old.

Damn. Damn damn god-fucking-damn.

I remember reading his books "The Hells Angels" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" when I was a teenager, and thinking then that I had never read anything like them in my life, and probably never would again. Fear and Loathing, especially, had me smiling, cackling to myself and laughing out loud through page after page. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" was by far the best account of the 1972 re-election of the evil Dick Nixon; and his writings for Rolling Stone and later, the SF Examiner and ESPN online were small gems not to be missed. America has truly lost a unique voice, an irascible, curmudgeonly genius who will be missed for many a long year.

The only way this turns out all right is if, sometime in early 2006, Thompson's publisher comes out with "Fear and Loathing in the Afterlife." We can only hope.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Buy This Book!

One of my favorite cartoonists, local guy Keith "Keef" Knight, has his fourth compilation available for purchase NOW, and you should all hit the link and buy as many copies as your credit card can stand right away. You will be supporting a worthy cause, that of keeping a talented black man housed and fed and off the street.

What are you waiting for? Go! Spend! Hurry up!!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hit the Road, Brit

In other Torture Party Republican-engineered media shenanigans, Faux News' Brit Hume is caught in a blatant misquoting of FDR on the subject of Social Security privatization. It seems that Hume took a few sentences from a Roosevelt speech out of context (Horrors! A Faux News guy putting spin on a report?!?) to try to show that the President who gave us the SS program in the first place would now somehow be in favor of the Bushist plan to destroy privatize it.

Media Matters for America has more on the subject:

"MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and former Social Security associate commissioner James Roosevelt Jr. examined how FOX News Washington managing editor Brit Hume and other pundits distorted a quote by Roosevelt Jr.'s grandfather, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in order to claim that the former president would have supported privatizing Social Security.

During their discussion, Olbermann referenced the distortions by Hume, nationally syndicated radio host and former Reagan administration official William J. Bennett, and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund -- which Media Matters for America has documented. Roosevelt Jr. echoed Air America Radio host Al Franken's call for Hume to resign, saying that 'he rearranged those sentences in an outrageous distortion, one that really calls for a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation.'"

So we here at The Generik Brand say hit the bricks, Brit, you fucking partisan hack, and don't let the door smack you in the ass on the way out.

On second thought, go ahead and let it hit you, dick-brain.

Thanks to Oliver Willis for the banner.

The Story That Won't (and Shouldn't) Go Away

Both Eric Boehlert and Sidney Blumenthal have more on the Guckert/Gannon story that refuses to die in today's Blumenthal's piece has the marveous title Midnight cowboy in the garden of Bush and evil, and is essentially a summing-up of what we know so far:

"Thus a phony journalist planted by a Republican operation, used by the White House press secretary to interrupt questions from the press corps, called on by the president for a safe question, protected from FBI vetting by the press office, disseminating innuendo and smears about critics and opponents of the administration, some of them gay-baiting, was unmasked not only as a hireling and fraud but as a gay prostitute, with enormous potential for blackmail."

Boehlert's article reveals that Guckert was allowed into the White House press briefings even before Talon News was operational, thus further suggesting that he was nothing more than a paid political operative working directly with the Bushists all along.

"Thanks to the continued digging by online sleuths, there's now documented evidence that Guckert attended White House briefings as early as February 2003. Guckert, using his alias 'Jeff Gannon,' once boasted online about asking then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer a question at the Feb. 28, 2003, briefing. The date is significant because in order to receive a White House press pass, Guckert would have needed to prove that he worked for a news organization that, in the words of White House press secretary Scott McClellan, 'published regularly,' in itself an extraordinarily low threshold. Critics have charged that while Talon News may publish regularly, it boasts a nearly all-volunteer news team which includes not a single person with actual journalism experience. (The team does, though, have quite a bit of experience working on Republican campaigns.) In other words, the outfit is not legitimate nor independent, two criteria often used in Washington, D.C., to receive press credentials.

"But what's significant about the February 2003 date is that Talon did not even exist then. The organization was created in late March 2003, and began publishing online in early April 2003. Gannon, a jack of all trades who spent time in the military as well as working at an auto repair shop (not to mention escorting), has already stated publicly that Talon News was his first job in journalism. That means he wasn't working for any other news outlet in February 2003 when he was spotted by C-Span cameras inside the White House briefing room. And that means Guckert was ushered into the White House press room in February 2003 for a briefing despite the fact he was not a journalist."

Wonder how much play this will continue to get in the mainstream press, what with Michael Jackson's flu-like symptoms and Kid Rock's one-night stand in stony lonesome dominating the headlines these days.

Gentlemen, Fire Up Your Batteries

Preznit Who Cares What You Think today announced that he has completed his Torture Triumvirate by appointing John "There are no death squads operating in Honduras" Negroponte to head up the newly-created position of Intelligence Director, responsible for overseeing all the various agencies gathering intelligence for the pleasure of this maladministration. Along with Abu "What Geneva Conventions?" Gonzales and Michael "Gag order" Chertoff, Preznit Dress-Up now has in place three of the finest defenders of torture since the height of the Spanish Inquisition (which no one, remember, ever expects).

Ho-hum. Another day, another outrage. More evidence that we are heading pell-mell down that slippery slope to fascism, tossing human rights right and left as we go. Are you worried about a little thing like torture? You shouldn't be -- at least, Mark Fiore says you shouldn't.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

No Cause for Alarm

In these days of peace and light and hearts and flowers and everything good and nice, it seems that every once in a while the gosh-darned lib'ral media just has try to mess things up for average Americans like us by reporting on some most likely fake story that's only designed to scare us.

Like this one, for instance.

I mean, what could be bad about the government just doing everything it can to keep us safe from terrorists and rogue nations and axises of evil and the gays? Isn't that what the government is for? So when an obviously communist -- or at least communist-influenced -- newspaper like the Salt Lake Tribune reports that our own Preznit-appointed Energy Secretary wants to start up testing nuclear devices again, I think we should just let him and the Preznit do whatever they want. Because how else are we going to be safe?

"Although scientists continue work on simulating nuclear bomb tests by computer, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Tuesday that the Nevada Test Site's ability to resume actual underground warhead detonations must be enhanced.

"The Bush administration's commitment to step up preparations for a potential resumption of nuclear bomb testing in southern Nevada comes less than a week after the Utah Senate unanimously approved a House-passed resolution that urged the federal government not to 'return to the mistakes and miscalculations of the past which have marred many Utahns' and that would create 'a new generation of downwinders.'

"Thousands of Utah residents downwind of the Nevada proving ground blame atomic-bomb testing - which began in the 1950s and ended with a 1992 moratorium - for an airborne scourge of disease and death due to radioactive fallout.

"Appearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Bodman said the administration wants $2 billion in the next fiscal year for the nuclear weapon stockpile stewardship program, which verifies that America's aging atomic arsenal remains operational."

Well, my goodnes, what a bunch of nervous Nellies! As if our own government would do anything that might harm us!! That's just silly, don't you think? And you? And... what about you, sir, yes, you back there, the man from Park City with the two heads...?

Entertained and Inspired

Steve Earle came to my neighborhood last night, and am I glad I walked the two blocks it took me to get to the Great American Music Hall on O'Farrell to see him. I hadn't originally planned on going, even though I know he and I see pretty well eye to eye politically, but serendipity intervened. My good pal Marty had purchased a ticket for the show to use for himself, then got a call to go shoot a commercial up in Mendocino this past couple weeks. So, as a birthday present, he gave me the ticket and bid me go witness the rocking power and inspirational polemics of the very talented Mr. Earle.

That was a damn good birthday present.

How can you not like a guy who sings songs about revolution and redemption, with choruses like "Fuck the FCC, fuck the FBI, fuck the CIA, livin' in the motherfuckin' USA"? Or does a reggae-tinged tribute to our new Secretary of State with the chorus "Oh, Condi, Condi"? Or admits that he makes "an embarrassing amount of money for a borderline Marxist"? I walked out of the show feeling like I had just been to a revival meeting. I was filled with the spirit of left-wing Jesus.

Shelby Lynne's sister Allison Moorer ("What's the difference between a red-headed woman from Alabama and a tornado? ...Not a fucking thing.") opened the show, and also sang backup with Steve on about a third of the songs. Easy on the eyes, and her voice added a lot to his deep growl. (I still like her sister better, though.)

All in all, a great show, especially considering the price I paid to get in.

But why take my word for it? Fellow Bay Area Blogger mrgumby was also there, and he has a better review of the show than the one you're reading right now. Funny thing, too, because I had been reading his blog just before I went to the show, and left a comment there saying I was heading off to see Steve Earle, and then, there he was. Well, there they were. Both of them. All of them.

Go on, check it out. All the cool kids are reading it.

Wednesday Joementum Blogging

Filling in today for Joementum, our favorite little Democratic Senator who wishes he could be a Republican when he grows up, is none other than that brand spanking ("Ow! Thank you sir, may I have another?") new darling of the right, Jim Guckert. Apparently Joe himself is busy either exploring new head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff's flinty pink buttocks, or he's off celebrating the win of Carlee the German shorthaired pointer at the Westminster Dog Show.

"I may not have kissed as much Republican ass as Joe has over the years, but I'll bet I get paid more per smooch!"

Because who better to substitute in the nasal prostate probing department than a fake reporter with a documented M4M background? Pucker up, Jim/Jeff/whatever your name is today! Scotty's waiting, and there's a line a mile long after him!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Power of the Written Word

Here's a great example, from one of the diaries over at Daily Kos, of just how powerful a well-spoken, well-researched and well-timed letter to the editor can be. This particular author had some very cogent things to say about the recent Gannon/Guckert case, and it would appear that her missive really hit the mark.

"On 2/11/05, I sent an email to the Houston Chronicle complaining about how their Gannongate story of 2/10/05 neglected all the pertinant facts, and in a round about way called them (the Chronicle) cowards for not reporting the full story.

"My letter did not get published, but in today's editorial section there is a harsh commentary - attributed to no single writer, just the paper - detailing Gannongate and accusing the Bush administration of trying to use the media as propagandists."

Both the letter and the editorial are succinct, to the point and fairly damning of the Bush maladministration's practice of coopting the media for its own ends. Check them out, then write a letter of your own to your local paper. The power of the pen compels you!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Remembering Craig Spence

Reading an excellent post about the whole Jeff Gannon/J.D. Guckert brouhaha on our esteemed colleague the King of Zembla's well-researched site, we ran across this link to a post on a site known as Rigorous Intuition that really puts the whole affair into another light.

That would be a strobe light, shining on a giant disco ball that's twirling around at the speed of the spin coming out of the White House on a daily basis. Seriously, check out these two pieces for perspective you won't find in the SCLM or most anywhere else. (And we have to say that while we mostly agree with the King on his "no shit, Sherlock" stance, we still think that the Gannon scandal should be prominently featured for the time being, if only to have one more thing to hit these bastards over the head with while we still can. Just because it isn't exactly news that the Bushists lie and manipulate and propagandize every chance they get doesn't mean we shouldn't point it out every time it happens.)

And if, in six months or a year, after this story has gone colder than Lynne and Dick Cheney's sex life, Guckert turns up tits up in a pool of his own blood -- or disappears and never turns up again anywhere, any time -- take a moment then to think about Craig Spence, and Republican cover-ups, and how much tinfoil you're going to need for your baseball cap if you want to keep living safely in this country.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Calling It By Its Real Name

Take a look at this posting from Ralph Dratman on Newsfare, decrying the state of our government and the reality of where we find ourselves today.

"...Meanwhile the administration has forged ahead with procedures which cancel the venerable law of habeas corpus, discard the right to an attorney, and laugh at prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. A recent Supreme Court decision was essentially flouted by instituting 'reviews' before military personnel in which the accused were given 'counsel' who were not even lawyers.

"In short, the Bush Administration is a de facto fascist regime. There is at present no other suitable word to describe it, unless one wants to adopt Gore Vidal’s concise 'the junta'..."

I think "fascist regime" describes it just about perfectly. It's time to start calling a spade a spade, and calling a fascist regime a fucking fascist regime.

Friday, February 11, 2005

This Is What You Voted For, America

Somebody should cut out Bob Herbert's NY Times column today and read it aloud to Ken Salazar, Joe Lieberman, Bill and Ben Nelson and every other shitheaded prick bastard misguided Democratic Senator that voted to confirm Abu Gonzales as Attorney General last week -- and then make them read it to all the motherfucking Torture Party Republican Senators. Here is the clearest example of why we don't -- or shouldn't -- condone torture: because it demeans us as a civilized people, because it causes unending pain and humiliation to other human beings, and because it fucking doesn't work.

Herbert briefly tells the story of one Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was spirited away by US government agents who suspected him of being in league with some ill-defined terrorist cell and taken to Syria to be tortured for an extended period of time.

"Extraordinary rendition is the name that's been given to the policy of seizing individuals without even the semblance of due process and sending them off to be interrogated by regimes known to practice torture. In terms of bad behavior, it stands side by side with contract killings.

"Our henchmen in places like Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan and Jordan are torturing terror suspects at the behest of a nation - the United States - that just went through a national election in which the issue of moral values was supposed to have been decisive. How in the world did we become a country in which gays' getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?

"'Terrorism suspects in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East have often been abducted by hooded or masked American agents, then forced onto a Gulfstream V jet, like the one described by Arar. ... Upon arriving in foreign countries, rendered suspects often vanish. Detainees are not provided with lawyers, and many families are not informed of their whereabouts.'

"'Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say.'

"The confession under torture was worthless. Syrian officials reported back to the United States that they could find no links between Mr. Arar and terrorism. He was released in October 2003 without ever being charged and is now back in Canada.


"Any government that commits, condones, promotes or fosters torture is a malignant force in the world. And those who refuse to raise their voices against something as clearly evil as torture are enablers, if not collaborators."

"Those who refuse to raise their voices against something as clearly evil as torture are enablers, if not collaborators." Are you listening, Senators? Are you listening, all you so-called brave Americans who think this policy is just fine, who think that Abu Gonzales had it right all along, who think that we have to do anything we can, up to and including torturing and murdering people to avenge the bizarre and tragic events of 9/11?

In a related post, Digby has more on the subject, and he is much more eloquent than I am.

"I keep thinking I'm going to wake from this awful dream in which law professors (and former deputy attorneys general) of the highest reputation do not make arguments like this (from the important article by Jane Mayer in this week's New Yorker called "Outsourcing Torture"):

In a recent phone interview, (Professor John) Yoo was soft-spoken and resolute. “Why is it so hard for people to understand that there is a category of behavior not covered by the legal system?”

"What would that category of behavior be? Mass Murder? Torture? Genocide? Medical experimentation? Eviscerating babies with a bobby pin? No, those are all covered by criminal statutes and international law. So, it must be something worse than that, musn't it? It must be worse than Hitler. It must be something so bad that Satan could only conceive of it. We call it 'terrorism.'

"I wonder when those in this country whose children were killed by a child molester like John Wayne Gacy or who were the victims of a brutal home invasion robbery or even a drunk driver might begin to wonder why the criminals who committed those crimes should should be allowed this 'luxury' of due process when we can simply pluck terrorists off the street, inflict torture upon them and throw them in prison forever. That awful day on 9/11 was shocking, to be sure. But is it more shocking than Tim McVeigh or that woman who killed the pregnant woman and carved her baby out of her womb? An average person can be forgiven for wondering just why we must deal with warrants and grand juries and trials with our homegrown vicious killers when we don't have to deal with such niceties with terrorists. Just what is the principle that guides this decision?

"I'm truly wondering when someone will ask that question. Because when someone finally does we will begin to answer Professor Yoo's startling question about whether there aren't some things that fall outside the legal system.

"The answer is, of course there aren't. The reason, professor, is that the rules of due process were designed to ensure that the government cannot arbitrarily imprison innocent people. That principle is so basic and so clear cut that you wouldn't think that a law professor would have to even think about it.

"Even that ole puritan Increase Mather (Cotton's daddy) spoke out on this after the Salem Witch trials saying, 'It were better that 10 suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned.' Please don't try to tell me that the Puritans in Massachusetts were any less assured that the Devil presented an existential threat than terrorism does today. These people lived in a stew of supernatural fear and they were able to work themselves out of hysteria enough to see that condemning innocent people was the worst evil of all.

"As for torture, we can go all the way back to the English Bill of Rights in 1689 to find that civilization had evolved enough to outlaw cruel and unusual punishment. Certainly, if punishment that was cruel and unusual has been outlawed for more than 400 years, then cruel and unusual treatment of those who haven't even been found guilty of a crime cannot be considered legal in the 21st century. How does one become a first tier legal scholor and not see the implications of what we are doing?"

After reading those two pieces, I really need a drink, and not just because it's my birthday.

The Sheriff John Birthday Polka

Put another candle on my birthday cake
We're gonna bake
a birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

I'm gonna have a party with my birthday cake
Come on and take
some birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

We'll have some pie and sandwiches
and chocolate ice cream too
We'll sing and play
the day away
and one more thing I'm gonna do

I'll blow out the candles on my birthday cake
and when I do
a wish I'll make
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

Happy birthday to you!

I'm another year old today

-- Copyright "Sheriff" John Rovick, Imperial Records,
L. Penny and Commodore Music Corp.

How lucky can I get? It's the seventh anniversary of my seventh birthday. (Damn, I'm old!) I'll have a few cocktails at HiDive on the Embarcadero this evening before I go to dinner with some friends. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, drop by and hoist one with me. I dare you!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

She Wears Skirts Because All Her Pants Are Aflame

By now most of you have probably heard about today's NY Times story regarding all the warnings given to the White House pre-9/11 regarding Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the possibilty of airplane hijackings and suicide operations. The question, of course, is why that report was sequestered until today.

"The report discloses that the Federal Aviation Administration, despite being focused on risks of hijackings overseas, warned airports in the spring of 2001 that if 'the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable.'

"The report takes the F.A.A. to task for failing to pursue domestic security measures that could conceivably have altered the events of Sept. 11, 2001, like toughening airport screening procedures for weapons or expanding the use of on-flight air marshals. The report, completed last August, said officials appeared more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing airlines' financial woes than deterring a terrorist attack.

"The Bush administration has blocked the public release of the full, classified version of the report for more than five months, officials said, much to the frustration of former commission members who say it provides a critical understanding of the failures of the civil aviation system. The administration provided both the classified report and a declassified, 120-page version to the National Archives two weeks ago and, even with heavy redactions in some areas, the declassified version provides the firmest evidence to date about the warnings that aviation officials received concerning the threat of an attack on airliners and the failure to take steps to deter it."

Naturally, the fact that there was an election coming up, and the fact that Condi Rice lied her piano-playing, ice-skating ass off about those reports to the 9/11 Commission had absolutely nothing to do with that delay. Nothing whatsoever. No sir. How could you even think that?

It's just outrage after outrage with these bastards, isn't it? Every day, there's another revelation of duplicity and incompetence and corruption, to the point where even those of us paying attention have a hard time keeping up. I suppose that's probably the point.

Social Security Fact Sheet

Here's a great listing of facts refuting the claims being made by the Busha Nostra regarding Social Security. I especially like the title: "How to Talk to a Conservative About Social Security (If You Must)."

A few excerpts:

CLAIM: “By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]

FACT: In 2042, enough new money will be coming in to pay between 73-80 percent of promised benefits. Even with this reduction, new retirees will still receive more money, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than today’s beneficiaries. [WP, 2/5/05]

CLAIM: “Under the current system, today’s 30-year old worker will face a 27% benefit cut when he or she reaches normal retirement age.” [GOP Guide to Social Security Reform, 1/27/05]

FACT: According to the Congressional Budget Office, younger workers would receive better benefits from Social Security as it exists now, even if nothing changes, than from President Bush’s private accounts plan. [EPI, 2/05]

CLAIM: “Best of all, the [private] accounts would be replacing the empty promises of government with the real assets of ownership.” [President Bush, 2/8/05]

FACT: Social Security trust funds “hold nothing but U.S. Treasury securities,” recognized as “the safest, most reliable investment worldwide.” [Century Foundation, 1/26/05]

Check it out, and pass it along to your friends who still have the wool pulled over their eyes.

More GOP Media Shenanigans

Well, well, well. The hubbub over Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Mike McManus was all but blown over. Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the media pool, it would appear that the Bush maladministration has a bit more 'splainin' to do. It seems that a "reporter" callng himself Jeff Gannon -- who was really a shill associated with GOPUSA named James Guckert -- has been a prominent figure in the regular White House press briefings, making a name for himself ("making a name for himself"! Ha! I slay me.) by asking leading, loaded questions in order to further the Bush agenda and cast aspersions on Democrats and anyone else who might have the temerity to disagree with the Torture Party Republican party line. Guckert has been one of the few reporters to get called on regularly, as poor Scotty McClellan needs every softball he can get pitched to him these days.

Research further reveals that not only is Guckert a Republican activist blatantly pushing the propaganda of the realm, but that he also has a side interest in activities that many, if not most, Republicans might find less than aboveboard. Personally, I'm not going to argue that either prostitution or homosexuality is wrong or immoral, but I do find it rather amusing when someone who is a member of a group that prominently espouses just those views is found to be engaging in one or both of those activities. I believe the correct term for that is "hypocrisy."

You have to wonder how Guckert's sideline will play with the Lou Sheldon-James Dobson-Jerry Falwell crowd. I'm sure we'll be hearing from them on the matter very soon... very... soon...


In any event, here's just one more charge of corruption and malfeasance to add to an already overburdened list of dirty deeds done dirt cheap by this worst of all possible presidential administrations. That camel's back is bound to break at some point.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Wednesday Joementum Blogging

When the fatheaded Honorable Senator Joementum isn't busy condoning torture or kissing the Biggest Ass in the Known Universe,

"Gee, your ideology smells terrific, Mr. Preznit!"

he's off demonstrating just what a real friend he is to Torture Party Republican politicians and corporate contributors everywhere.

"Mmmph glmph ummma hmph hmm!"*

Joementum. He's everywhere Zell used to be, but with twice the amount of conservative fecal matter on his nose.

*"I can spit or I can swallow, but either way, I keep a firm grip on what's important!"

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Non-Reality-Based Community

I realize it takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to be a conservative these days, what with the whole going to Iraq over that pesky oil WMD WMD-related program activities link to al Qaeda and 9/11 rape rooms spreading freedom and democracy thing -- not to mention so many, many more issues that they have to negotiate with their ideological blinders on -- but every once in a while, even I'm amazed at just how obtuse and how out of touch with reality some of these folks can be.

Take, for instance, two of the responses I got to this particular graphic regarding the Birth Tax that I sent around not too long ago... I thought it was pretty easy to understand, pretty self-explanatory, and made a succinct point, one that would be difficult to dispute. Not so in the world of the people who get their knowledge and information (and marching orders) from Faux News, Limbaugh, Hannity, Novak or any of the rest of that cabal of conservative assclowns.

One response, from a person who regularly chimes in with the latest from what used to be the fringes of wingerdom (but now seems to be increasingly the voice of the conservative mainstream), started out this way:

"A truly bizarre statement. I'm not sure I understand it. Does it mean all children from now until we are blown up by the Muslim world will owe $36,000? I know a few people that pay that much in taxes every year. Being the police force of the world is a tough and expensive job, but somebody's got to do it. Unless you want to be passive like the Europeans were before WWII and basically are now. They didn't get it then, and they don't get it now. These extremists are playing hard ball. Unchecked they would control that entire region within two decades. Who would stop them? How much would it cost our children and the children of the world then?"

Setting aside his historical inaccuracies, yes, I suppose the idea that every child born in the US is now responsible for an enormous amount of Torture Party Republican-created debt would be difficult to understand... if you still believe that Republicans are the party of fiscal responsiblity. That perception, though, has long been blown away by the reality of the mounting deficits that Reagan introduced in the '80s, and that Bush the Lesser has refined into a fine killing art here in the 21st Century.

My correspondent goes on to rant and rave in typical Freeper style... "Ted Kennedy... hasn't said anything accurate or intelligent in weeks, if not years... Terrorists love guys like Kennedy... Free speech doesn't cut it when you make statements like Ward (Churchill) makes... As long as there are scumbags like (Kofi Annan) in charge of the UN, I am plenty worried... There's also a good chance we might have found WMD if we hadn't dicked around with the UN for two months before going in. One thing I'm sure of, the WMD would show up sooner or later with somebody like Kerry in charge. It could happen with Bush too, and it's very possible that the destruction of this planet is imminent and inevitable."

Blah de blah de blah blah blah, and also yadda yadda. Typical wingnut boilerplate.

But as wild-eyed and ridiculous as that letter was, the second one was even worse. This was from a guy with whom I have had a few testy exchanges in the past, but I have to admit -- grudgingly -- that he occasionally makes a good point. Not this time. The response I got from him to the Birth Tax graphic has to be one of the dumbest things he -- or anyone I know -- has ever said. It was simply this:

"Yes, and decades of uncontrolled entitlement spending by a Democrat-controlled congress had nothing to do with it."

I get it. It's all the fault of the Democrats! Criminey, how could I not see that?

Because, let's see, the Democrats last "controlled" Congress back in, what was it, 1993? After that, the deficit was not only paid off under Clinton's watch, but he left office in 2000 with a hefty surplus in place. Then Bush the Lighter came in and essentially pissed that all away like a drunken sailor on a crack-bingeing two-week furlough, cutting taxes for his wealthy pals and corporate contributors while spending money like Armageddon is tomorrow and incurring great debt by killing thousands of military personnel and civilians in wars of choice that further drained the government coffers until we find ourselves saddled with a choking, killing debt the likes of which this country has never before seen. But, see, that's the fault of those damn Democrats!! Somehow, back there in the late '80s and early '90s, they must have done something to cause our surplus to vanish and our platinum card to max out. Beacuse there's no way a fiscally responsible Republican would do something like that.

I'm guessing that what happened was that the Dems actually used time travel. They secretly visited the 21st Century and enacted legislation -- unbeknownst to the rest of the members of Congress or the White House or the public -- that would cause the downfall of our economy. They caused unemployment to rise and the stock market to tank. They are the ones responsible for the biggest loss of jobs under one president since Herbert Hoover, and for creating the largest deficit ever -- and all just to embarrass George W. Bush!

Crikey, I can't believe how evil those treasonous, traitorous, time-traveling Democrats are, treating our country that way!

It would seem that when you've been led to believe that Democrats = tax and spenders, or Democrats = creators of unfair (and budget-draining) entitlements, and that Republicans = fiscal sanity for so many years, even logic and the art of critical thinking can't overcome the mental fictions you've allowed yourself to maintain, no matter how strong the evidence against your point of view. That apparently is the case with my two correspondents.

Monday, February 07, 2005


My younger brother and main man in China, M Otis, is one opinionated sonofagun and a better writer than I am. He sent me this message over the weekend, and I enjoyed it so much that I'm sharing it with all of you, my many and varied readers. I did not personally see the movie in question here -- though I did go see Sideways for the second time yesterday, and liked it just as much as I did the first time I saw it. But enough about me.

Here, then, are my brother's comments about The Brave. Enjoy.


I thought you might enjoy this film review I just wrote. I downloaded the movie from a BitTorrent site, and the guy who seeded it wrote this:

>>Askbollen wrote:
>>Please give some feedback after you´ve seen it., OK, I gave him some feedback.

The film was a Johnny Depp outing called THE BRAVE.

Hi Askbollen,

I downloaded this and watched it today.

First of all, let me thank you for seeding and sharing. I did enjoy the film overall... I think Johnny Depp is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood today, and he did a good job of acting in this one. I liked the rest of the cast too. I liked the atmosphere, I liked the look of the thing, and in every superficial sense I thought it was well done.

Having said all that, I have to admit that I rolled my eyes in a sarcastic derision worthy of a 13-year-old American girl at the mall with her father many times while I watched this movie. When, oh when oh WHEN, will the writers and filmmakers of the world stop smacking us in our collective head with their giant hamlike fists of thinly-veiled symbolic Jesii? It seems like every third movie I see features a character who echoes that little fairy tale they used to try to cram down my throat when I was in Catholic school. It might be OK in a small handful of films, provided that the Christian symbolism isn't too obvious and takes a little careful thought to perceive, but damn near every time they do it it's just painfully, horribly overdone. I feel like I'm being beaten to death with a bible when I watch this shit. I keep expecting the director to kick down my front door and come charging in while I'm watching his movie so he can wrestle me to the floor, pin my shoulders, thrust his nose against mine, and scream LOOK! HE'S JESUS! GET IT? HE'S FUCKING JESUS!!!! DO YOU GET IT YET?

Worst of all, this film really didn't appear to have any other purpose or meaning to it. Did the writer, the producer, the director, and all the other people involved with it seriously think that OH MY GOD HE'S JESUS would make a profound movie (again) all by itself? Did they actually believe that they were being subtle enough about it for it to remain in the subtext? If so, what was the superficial meaning supposed to be... that Native Americans have a shitty life suffering oppression and constant relocation at the hands of THE MAN? I mean, come on... their ancestors got ganked, to be sure, but Native Americans today get free money, free land, low- or no-interest government loans and handouts and scholarships of all kinds, exemption from a lot of our more egregious anti-fun legislation (like the laws against casinos, fireworks, and peyote consumption)... hell, I could go on all day. So if this movie was something more than yet another ridiculously ham-handed attempt at the turgid, stale old theme of WHY GOSH, HE'S JESUS, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, then what the fuck was it

Please, if anyone is reading this and feels tempted to pull out that tired old saw about how it's just a movie, and is meant only to entertain, and tell me I should just relax and not be so critical... well hey, just don't do it, OK? The movies you're thinking of have titles like DEUCE BIGELOW and AMERICAN PIE and ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE. They are sheer fluff, with no pretensions of being anything else. Once you start trying to hint around that your protagonist is Jesus, you leave that territory forever, and are obligated to either deliver something with some literary merit, or be mocked and derided by people like me.

Askbollen, please let me once again thank you for sharing. I hope to god you won't take any of the nasty things I've said in this post personally, unless you were somehow involved in the making of this film... or any other film that purports to be deep, but succeeds only in insulting the intelligence of the audience. If you happen to be Johnny Depp, please send me a private message so we can talk about you hiring me to choose your scripts for you, so that you don't continue to waste your formidable acting talent and end up remembered by posterity for being a complete fucking jackass who made movies for fatheads.


Weekend at Pope Bernie's

Did anyone else out there catch the brief video clip of Pope John Paul George Ringo II waving from his hospital room window on the news last night? And if so, was anyone else convinced -- as I was -- that the man has officially shuffled off this mortal coil, and was, in fact, being handily manipulated by his handy Cardinals handling his head and his waving hands? His face looked like a rubber mask that someone turned first one way, then another, and his hands looked as if a really bad marionette puppeteer with a newly-broken string was trying to manipulate it without the audience suspecting. The speculation on is that the few words he spoke were recorded prior to his appearance -- which would certainly make sense if he is, as I suspect, singing with the Choir Invisible at this time.

Am I the only one who thinks this is the case?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dead Wrong In Public

47-10? Uhhh... well, not exactly. How does 24-21 sound instead? One the positive side, at least I had the winner picked correctly. And it was a close game, which is always more exciting than a blowout.

As my friend Sean asked, can you be dead right in public?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Who's That Lady?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the people feted and admired by the Bush maladministration (hello, Ahmad Chalabi!) often turn out to be rather less than they are advertised. For instance, who was the Iraqi woman, Safia Taleb Al Souhail, sitting in the balcony for the STFU SOTU speech last Wednesday night? Well, as it turns out, she's perhaps not exactly who the Bushies would want us to believe she is... see, it seems she left Iraq in 1968, and only recently returned, facilitated by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Here's part of the lead paragraph of the post on DKos, just to pique your interest:

"Held up as a shining example of why we've spent $200 billion and wasted 1,500 lives and counting, it looks upon first glance that she doesn't live in Iraq, has been affiliated with right-wing organizations, her father was killed in Lebanon while planning a coup against Saddam, and her family claims the US was complicit in his assassination..."

Check it out, it's a pretty good read.

Gentlemen, Start Your Torture Engines

Well, it's official: Abu Gonzales has been confirmed as the Attorney General Inquisitor. Six Democrats, including, of course, Joementum Lieberman, joined their compatriots in the Torture Republican Party and voted to confirm. Here is a list of the Turncoat Six:

Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut
Ken Salazar of Colorado
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Bill Nelson of Florida
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Mark Pryor of Arkansas

It's probably a good thing that Zell Miller and John Breaux are no longer Senators, as you can be assured that they would have been happy to make that list bigger. I would suggest to my readers that if any of these Senators represent you, you write and tell them how ashamed you are of their vote.

And Senators, remember, by confirming Gonzales, this is what you've implicitly condoned:

Sleep well, you bastards.

Weekend Prediction

At the risk of alienating all my Philadelphia fans out there (ha!), here is my prediction for the game that will be televised in order to sell massive quantities of beer, potato chips and big gas-guzzling trucks on Sunday:

Patriots over Eagles, 47-10.

It won't matter whether Terrell Owens plays or not, or whether God has healed him or not. The Eagles are going to get their asses waxed and handed back to them. The Pats are intent on proving that they are the dynasty of the '00s, and this will be their signature game. Even Donovan McNabb's mother will hurt after this one.

Remember, you heard it here first.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Birth Tax

This doesn't even need a comment...

Thanks to the Free Speech Zone for the image!

Put Me On That Enemies List

Preznit Armageddon My Purple Finger On, riding the crest of last night's platitudinous STFU SOTU speech, is on his way to Fargo to speak tonight. As he is (allegedly) the Preznit of all Americans, you'd think that all would be welcome to listen to him. Right? Well, you'd be wrong. There's apparently an extensive list of locals who are specifically disinvited to attend the event.

"City Commissioner Linda Coates says she was shocked to learn she and her husband were among more than 40 area residents on a list of people barred from attending President Bush's speech here Thursday.

"The list was supplied to workers at the two Fargo distribution sites, along with tickets and other forms citizens were asked to fill out, The Forum reported.

"The list includes critics of Bush or the war in Iraq. It includes two high school students, a librarian, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors...

"Coates said she had no idea why she would be on a list, other than the fact that she has been outspoken in her political beliefs.

"'I thought that was democracy,' she said.

"'To me, this is very revealing as to what this administration is all about - someone who doesn't want disagreement,' said Coates, whose husband, Mike, is also on the list. 'That's not healthy.'"

After getting rave reviews from paid-off, ass-kissing conservative shills pundits across the country for his say-nothing speech last night, you'd think the Man With The Purple Jingo would welcome as big an audience as possible in his first appearance since then, and would be happy to have a few of his past critics get to join in and see how well the "real Amurkins" like him. Yeah, right. Maybe he's afraid that someone with the facts will confront him on his vague plans for Social Security, or Iraq, or the budget (also here and here), or any number of potentially embarrassing issues that could make him look less than messianic. Without his coterie of sycophants surrounding him, repeating the daily talking points and telling him "Yes, sir, everything's fine!", why, he might get downright testy. And everybody hates to see a testy Preznit. So best to keep those nay-sayers off somewhere that they won't be seen or heard from, at least until Flightsuit AWOL is out of town.

We Pause for This Commercial Message

Over at Attack Ad of the Day, James puts together fictional ads that should run on our nation's television sets. Here's the latest:

Social Security Attack Ad

Average Guy (not a redneck, just a decent looking middle-class guy)sitting on his couch watching a TV. Kids running in and out of the house.

Wife calls out from the kitchen: "Honey, the privatized Social Security account is due."

Husband: "Gee, Honey, I just don't know whether we should go for the hedge funds or the junk bonds this time. What do you think?"

Wife: "Oh, I don't know hon. Maybe we should call the family stockbroker."

Husband looks into camera dumbfounded: "Uh, family stockbroker?"

CAPTION ACROSS SCREEN: "Privatizing Social Security is for People Who Don't Need It. Count on the party that created it to protect it... THE DEMOCRATS"

For more, see,

Confirming the Grand Inquisitor

Thanks to Levity in Action for this photo and accompanying link...

He's got a great post on the subject, with some very appropriate links. Here's a bit of it:

"Alberto Gonzales actually has a long record of helping criminals get around the law, instead of helping to enforce it. In today's news alone, U.S. courts have ruled again that holding Guantanamo prisoners without access to attorneys has been illegal - just the latest in a series of illegal and unconstitutional acts by a White House that has been relying on Gonzales's advice.

"Also today, Gonzales is being added to an international war crimes case. The evidence against him includes his own testimony before the Senate this month! He still condones cruelty and abuse of prisoners, and evidently thinks the President is above the law. This testimony even convinced several Senators, who were planning to support him, that he couldn't be a worse choice for U.S. Attorney General."

Thanks to that post, I was able to send a comment to Senator John McCain about the confirmation of Little Elian Alberto VO5 myself. This is what I wrote:

Dear Senator McCain --

In the upcoming vote to confirm or deny Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, I strongly urge you to vote no. Having suffered the pain, the humiliation and the cruel indignities of torture yourself, it is mystifying and mind-boggling to many good American citizens why you might choose to give your support to someone who wants to excuse the practice by rewriting laws and skirting established treaties. Please re-read Senator Kennedy's remarks on the issue.

If you do go ahead and vote to confirm, as reports indicate, you will have revealed yourself not as a man of dignity and principle, but as just another bought and paid for partisan hack, willing to subjugate your ideals and your morality simply for the sake of partisan gain. Does your Republican ideology really trump the ideal of human rights and human dignity? Do you want the Republican Party to be known as the party that condones torture from this day forward? I would hope not.

Sincerely, etc.

Am I holding my breath? No. But we all should do what we can.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Plagiarist In Chief

When Preznit Purple Finger utters these words in his State of the Union speech tonight:

"Our third responsibility to future generations is to leave them an America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace. We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy - and chief among them is freedom from fear." advised that they were lifted directly from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union speech. Isn't it a bit ironic -- or perhaps just disgusting -- that the man who is intent on destroying the best and most lasting program of the New Deal, Social Security, is plagiarizing a speech given by the president who created that program in the first place? That speech was the inspiration for Norman Rockwell's series of paintings known as The Four Freedoms. For Chimpy to associate himself with perhaps the greatest president of the 20th Century is just sad. To coopt his words is criminal.

We have nothing to fear but Bush himself.

(Many thanks to Oliver Willis for the link.)

Fool Me Once...

"...can't get fooled again."

Or words to that effect. It would appear that the US media and military had some olive-drab wool pulled over their eyes recently, when it was revealed that the fellow in the picture on the left, below, purportedly showing a terrorist-captured GI being held at gunpoint, is actually the action figure on the right.

GI Joe captured! Will Ken and Barbie be next?

Man, that's low, messing with American toys like that. Tsk.

If The Iron Maiden Fits...

Speaking of Torquemada...

Wednesday Joementum Blogging

Today we see the illustrious Joe in his business suit inspecting one of Alberto VO5 Gonzales' hastily-rigged Guantanamo Specials.

"Gosh-a-roonie, Mr. Gonzales, this is the coolest stopping-just-short-of-torture device I've ever seen!"

While the official word is not yet out, there is a possibility that Joe will come to his senses somewhat and actually join the Democrats in voting no to Gonzales' confirmation as Torquemada Attorney General. On the other hand, we have freshman Colorado Senator Ken Salazar saying that he plans on voting for confirmation. Apparently Salazar, who happily introduced Gonzales, is looking to pull a Ben Nighthorse Campbell trick by getting elected as a Democrat, then immediately crossing the aisle and declaring himself a member of the Torture Republican Party.

It seems that Senator Salamander Salazar didn't hear what his esteemed colleague, Massachussetts Senator Ted Kennedy (a man with a pair bigger than Salazar could ever dream of) had to say about Gonzales. Damn shame, too. It's a bit longwinded, but well worth the read. The last paragraph says it all:

"The continuing effort to blame the torture scandal on a 'few bad apples' among our soldiers while rewarding Mr. Gonzales with promotion to Attorney General is a despicable signal for America to send the world. We should not support a nominee who has done so much to harm America's basic interests and fundamental values. I urge my colleagues to reject this nomination."


Deja Vu All Over

"United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 percent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam."

- Peter Grose, in a page 2 New York Times article titled, 'U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote'
September 4, 1967

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


So I was in the local Rite-Aid this afternoon getting a prescription refilled, and on the way out I took a look at the tabloid newspaper headlines posted up by the cash registers. I don't know if it was Weekly World News or The Enquirer or what (though I think it was the WWN), but the whole page was taken up with the headline "Antichrist to Run for President." There was an artist's rendering of an evil-looking visage underneath the headline and some ominous clouds surrounding it, and all I could think was, hey, excuse me, but the friggin' Antichrist already ran for president... and he won!

Now I'm not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know something about the tenets of that particular religion. And if there is any world leader who regularly practices the exact opposite of the teachings of the liberal peacenik who allegedly founded that sect, it's our current Preznit. He cares nothing about the poor, the sick or the hungry. He is all about pride and greed and false witness. Rather than turning the other cheek, he is all about striking first. He and the many members of the so-called "religious" right who support him demonstrate over and over just how NOT to follow the teachings of the Christian New Testament.

They are the Anti-Jesus Christians. They are the Americans stupid enough and superstitious enough and judgmental enough to take a Weekly World News headline to heart; to believe that somewhere out there in the scary secular world, an entity lurks that is the embodiment of Satan on this Earth; and they are too blind to see that the man they worship as the current Preznit Given Power By Divine Right actually fits the model of the Antichrist as they believe in it.

Maybe the Weekly World News headline actually has it right, and it's just a couple months late.

Voice of the Veteran

A friend of mine in St. Louis is a Navy veteran, and he occasionally sends me articles or emails concerning veterans' affairs that he thinks I might be interested in. This morning he sent me a letter from a vet to Duncan Hunter, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, concerning some recent remarks by the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. David Chu. Below is the letter in its entirety.

January 31, 2005

The Honorable Duncan Hunter
Chairman, House Armed Services Committee

The Honorable John McHugh
Chairman, HASC Subcommittee for Military Personnel


I call to your attention to the very disgraceful and reprehensible conduct of our Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. David Chu. He will be presenting testimony before the Military Personnel this Wednesday, February 2nd.

In the January 25, 2005, Wall Street Journal, Greg Jaffe highlights the Pentagon modus operandi of pitting retired career veteran against active duty warrior.

Over the years, the DOD and the President have declared military retirees' medical care and other earned/promised benefits as areas of low priority. Funds are diverted to other programs. Now Dr. Chu claims the funding ox is in jeopardy of being gored because military retirees have finally had enough of the "use and abuse" attitude of DOD and many in Congress and are demanding restoration of earned benefits.

Dr. David Chu, Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness is well known for his mouth and his opposition to military retiree benefits as wasteful and detrimental to current DOD efforts. His recent statements reported by Jaffe's article regarding funding in support of military retiree benefits are beyond the pale. "The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful. They are taking away from the nation's ability to defend itself," says Undersecretary Chu. To read a statement from an upper level Pentagon policy maker describing past warriors as hurtful to our nation should send a chill from President Bush to the lowest private in the most forward of remote foxholes . Does Dr. Chu represent your position? His statements should send a chill up your spine. It certainly sends a chill up my spine. Do our widows and the general public think our past warriors are "hurtful" to our nation? I don't think so. We both know that recently restored benefits, which you had some influence in bringing about, are funded not from the DOD budget but from the Treasury General Fund. This makes Dr. Chu a liar, because he knows the truth.

Dr. Chu makes another slur: "I'd like to believe 19-year-olds paid attention to their annuity package." But they don't. "Nineteen-year-olds want cash to buy a pickup truck," he says. This is yet another example of a highly placed bureaucrat who does not understand the (needs of) today's warriors (vs.) those of yesterday. How many of these young warriors are working credits toward the completing their education? How many of these young warriors are making a career of service to country based on empty promises and pushing uphill against the negativity of the likes of David Chu? What does Dr. Chu know? He only served two years on active duty and has no active reserve time. What all warriors want is leadership that understands DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY and what it means to fulfill obligations and commitments the warriors after the smoke disappears. They also want honesty from their chain of command. Dr. Chu runs counter to this philosophy.

Those on active duty are not stupid. I do not consider my 15 years of active duty as being stupid. By the way, I bought my first pickup 5 years after leaving active duty. But those on active duty do look at their retirement benefits. Those about to enlist do look at those retirement benefits. Yes, the War on Terror and in Iraq have something to do with it, but the real reason the Army and Marine Corps can not make enlistment goals is the perception that the current benefits are not going to be there when today's enlistees reach retirement eligibility. Thank you Dr. Chu for your negativity. After all, these young warriors only need to look at recent history as to the erosion of health benefits, the fights over concurrent receipt, survivors' benefits, VA funding, exclusion of Chapter 61 retirees from benefits, and the like.

Military retirees, spouses and widows of the WWII/Korea eras were promised and earned government-funded medical care for life. The law changed in 1956. Those of the Viet Nam era were made "the promise" notwithstanding that the law had been changed years before. Dr. Chu would have us believe we "paid no attention to our annuity package." Rather, we were promised one thing when the opposite was true; the annuity package and "earned benefits" were different from what we were told and they are now being told. This situational ethics and shallow thinking is dishonorable at best; it is betrayal of the warrior at worst.

I am personally offended and disgusted that a DOD official would pit active duty warriors against past warriors in such an egregious and distorted manner, particularly while our nation is engaged in war. Dr. Chu must apologize and resign! Regardless of his apology, he must go or be removed! He does not serve the war fighter.

I would appreciate receiving your assessment and what you believe the Congress should do in this matter.


Charles D. Revie, LTC, USAR, Retired
720 Sundown Court, Las Cruces, NM 88011
Phone 505-522-3317

Regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, it should be an area of agreement acrosss all political lines that our military men and women should receive the best in health care and benefits for serving their country. That they aren't -- and that bureaucrats and hypocrites like Dr. Chu are in position to denigrate and deny them -- is a national shame.
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