November 10, 2005
Misunderstood headline of the day award
On behalf of the world, we would like to be dominated by Maria Sharapova.
Imagine what her unstoppable army of terror's uniforms would look like.
There's still a chance that it might be put back in, but the long-desired plans to drill in Alaska have once again been stripped from the latest spending bill, after Republicans realized that they didn't have the clout to ram it through that they previously had.
Aside from the general meaning of this- that clearly the GOP is taking hits in the public and political eye- it's important to recognize what this entire Alaska argument is really about.
To be blunt, the entire legislation is useless. Drilling in Alaska, by even Republican projections, will not affect U.S. oil output by at least a decade, and even then there's not a single projection of expected petroleum revenues that come close to reducing foreign dependence on oil. No one profits from the drilling, save for the oil companies which, lets face it, have countless other places in America they can exploit for billions of taxpayer dollars.
In other words, drilling in Alaska is nothing to the GOP save for symbolism. To paraphrase the Onion headline, it's the last untouched place on earth that Republicans want to blow to hell. The approval of drilling in Alaska is a literal declaration by the right wing that, yes, they actually can do whatever the hell they want, to anything and anyone.
Juvenile as the fight for this may be, on both sides of the aisle, I doubt there's a member of Congress who doesn't damn well know that's what this is really about. A few hundred caribou and some untouched arctic tundra are the epitome of a decade-long prick-measuring contest. To get this far to "winning" only to face rejection again is an incredibly bad sign for a faction that perceives everything purely in terms of how often they get exactly what they want.
It's the equivalent of taking away a spoiled child's pony. Once they're done throwing a tantrum it'll be time to start learning. Approving drilling in Alaska will teach the GOP that as long as they bawl long enough they get what they want. That's not a lesson they should be allowed to learn.
November 9, 2005
Far from just a Democrat/Republican angle, liberals and progressives almost completely routed conservatives and right-wingers last night. The only thing conservative Republicans really appear to have anything to brag about is destroying the Democrat-led initiatives in Ohio, and passing an anti-gay law in Texas that could technically make all forms of marriage illegal. It's unfortunate, yes, but if the major conservative victory last night was passing a potentially-unworkable law banning gay marriage in a state that already had a ban on gay marriage on the books, then there's not much for them to be celebrating.
Plus, the entire pro-Intelligent Design Dover school board was kicked out of office, as was a Democratic mayor of St. Paul who supported Bush by another Democrat by a 2-1 margin. And the voters flat-out stated the mayor's support of Bush as the reason they kicked him out. On a side note, my deepest apologies to all the parents in Kansas, who now have children that will face an even harder time getting into colleges the minute the admissions officials see what state they were taught science in.
The biggest surprise, however, was the margin of victory for Tim Kaine down here in Virginia. My previous post about the closeness of the contest proved to be, well, fruitless, as Kaine trounced Jerry Kilgore by six points. Not a campaign expert, but you know what might have been a bad move on Kilgore's part? The being a total douchebag thing.
My personal favorite place, as always, to watch conservatives spinning bullshit that would make even Dick Morris swoon is Oliver's comments, where apparently voters kicking out a pro-Bush Democrat and rejecting a Southern state candidate endorsed by Bush 24 hours earlier is a sign of voters "embracing candidates who move to the right." All-righty then.
November 8, 2005
I moved to Virginia last year too late to register and had to absentee for New Jersey, so today was my first time voting in the Commonwealth... and also my first time experiencing voting first-hand with an electronic touch-screen voting booth.
At least with the version I used, I think the idea that people can have problems with it is somewhat dispelled... I've had more trouble understanding the interface on an ATM.
Unfortunately, the problem is true that unlike an ATM, this machine didn't give me a receipt. There isn't even a printable paper record. The voting area was six of these little machines each with a single cord running along the floor to what I assume will be a computer somewhere.
Why is this a problem? Because as many are noting, the odds are starting to lean toward a very close election here in Virginia. In fact, if the results are within a percent a recount is practically guaranteed. With the machine I used this morning, a recount is impossible. There's no physical tangible evidence I voted this morning.
It's a sad truth, but this is looking like one of those cases where we gave the same concern to voting procedures as we did to the levees in New Orleans, and that outrage is only going to arise once the flood hits, the machines screw up royally, and a bunch of incompetents who were told it would happen for a decade start asking "how could we have known?" Maybe I'll have a front seat for it tonight.
The monster at the end of this blog post
Via Wonkette, I caught the apparent list of Time's panel for selecting Person of the Year, of which one of the "experts" asked for this increasingly-irrelevant award is Grover Norquist. To which I can only wonder if Time should just cut their losses and get the same people who are "honored" by having their expertise requested on the judging panel of the Miss Teen USA pageant.
Long-time readers might recall that despite all the talk about pundits and moronic conservatives, there's really only one conservative out there whose very existence in the political environment flat-out upsets me, and that person is Grover Norquist. The reason is this: Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin are dangerous, venemous lunatics. But they go on as columnists. Or even "journalists" if you're at the point as many are where the term simply has no meaning anymore. They offer their nonsense opinions as bubbly entertainment for conservative masses. For all their success and relevance in political discourse, their true impact on shaping policy is limited to something witty they say that might be shared on a LGF comment thread.
The same goes for blowhards like Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson. They rally the masses, call for action, and to some degree get some results. Yet we still see them in the public eye as entertainers for their base. Gibson will make millions this year bitching about the "war on Christmas" but he's not going to get a single piece of legislation passed. He's not going to single-handedly take down an elected official anymore than Falafel O'Sexfiend is actually going to "punish France" by calling for boycotts on his show. The closest a FOX News pundit ever came to actual relevance in government was Joe Scarborough's single term in Congress, slightly hindered by the dead staffer later found in his office. (We report, you decide.)
Norquist, on the other hand, has about the same level of credibility as all the others mentioned above. But he's not invited to be a commentator. He's not looked upon as a man of insightful opinions. He's asked by both the White House and the media to help them make policy decisions. Grover Norquist is treated like a legitimate resource in the field of politics, something made freakishly disturbing by the nature of how utterly fucking bad he is at it.
His visions of American public policy are derived from a fantasy utopia crafted in his own warped mind: you might recall the last time I discussed Norquist was last year before the election, when Norquist was asked- again, as an authority on politics- to offer his predictions to the Washington Monthly on the state of America following a then-unknown Bush victory in November 2004. Norquist's response was a few thousand words on how Bush winning would cause the complete collapse of the Democratic Party. For the convenience of others, I did a quick check just now, and it turns out we're still here. In fact, the majority of the American people currently want us running the country.
And contrary to Gibson's personal therapy device mentioned earlier, Norquist is given the authority by the Republican Party to actually affect politics. His organizations are revered, and when he decides that a Republican has gone against his visions of a government completely devoid of, well, government, he calls for their destruction and is listened to.
For all their influence, Coulter and Malkin and O'Reilly haven't really been around that long, and eventually will become boring and/or unappealing. Rush Limbaugh got old years ago and is meaningless to anyone but his disciples. Yet Norquist continues to go on talk shows and write columns explaining how yet again his brilliant perspectives on "reforming America" are the end-all and be-all of political revolution.
Except, of course, when they fail miserably. And you know what? That happens a lot. It's not just that he's against progressive taxation, Affirmative Action, and other conservative boogeymen, it's that his abilty to actually invoke oppostion to them are met with real-life failure.
Coulter and Malkin get away with their daily doses of nonsense for three reasons; of those the one that doesn't have a nipple is that when it comes down to it, they're just opinion columnists. So why, then, is Norquist allowed to be so full of shit for so long and get away with it?
The answer, of course, is Occam's Razor at it's finest. He gets away with it because he is a filthy fucking liar. His job is to not be the doctor, but play one on TV. Norquist needs to be considered by the media as legitimate because it's the only way his diatribes against "the Death Tax" can be considered plausible. His plans are faulty and his actions, quite literally at this point, are fraudulent. But he's allowed to say "I'm an expert" and gets invited to the big kid's tables. And for all our whining about Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly and James Dobson and even Karl Rove, we push aside the fact that the legitimacy we allow Norquist to have makes him among the most dangerous people in the United States of America.
I am not an economist. I'm not an economic expert. I can barely balance my checkbook at the end of the month. But I do think I'm smart enough to take a look at most of the random, unsubstantiated horseshit that Norquist vomits out on a daily basis and realize that it has the credentials of a wino on a New York City street corner. And yet news networks and legitimate media centers invite Norquist to join them- not to offer opinions, which are begrudingly understandable in debate-based infotainment, but as some kind of "expert" on both fiscal and public policy. A caged chimp trained to holler wildly as the sight of a tax form would provide the exact same amount of precision about these subjects as Grover Norquist. The only difference is that even if the cage was lined with the Wall St. Journal the monkey would still jerk off on it less.
Man, oh man
What is up with Republicans writing lurid sex novels?
A steamy novel by Lewis "Scooter" Libby has become a hot item now that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff is under indictment.This will go great with the Sisters and Those Who Trespass multi-pack discount on Amazon.
An inscribed copy of "The Apprentice: A Novel," which Libby wrote in 1996 when he was a relative unknown outside Washington, was on sale on online bookseller Amazon.com on Monday for $2,400. Unsigned hardcover copies were going for $700.
Now out of print, the novel tells the story of an innkeeper apprentice in a bizarre coming-of-age story set in Japan in 1903. It is littered with edgy sexual material and strong language.
"Wow, who would have thought that clean living, family values man Scooter Libby was capable of writing such filth," said one reviewer on Amazon. Another Amazon reviewer noted its "lavish dollops of voyeurism, bestiality, pedophilia and corpse robbery."
November 7, 2005
Latest comic - "The Center for Conservative Disease Control"
Sorry to everyone who e-mailed in the last few weeks and never got a response. I read every e-mail I get but I'm simply at a point right now where I can't repond to everyone. There's a lot of stuff going on in the background, not even including all the great work I'm part of over at Campus Progress. I've been trying to get some new projects started, not to mentioning finding ways to get cartoons in the hands of some editors and such.
I'm sure you don't want to whole sob story so just enjoy the cartoon. As if you needed a reminder, it's about conservatives not giving a shit about human life. I'm so the king of subtlety, aren't I?
Adult Swim SOTU
I'm going to swallow my pride here and confess to rapidly warming up to Squidbillies. I went in just ready to utterly hate the damn show, and of the three episodes they've aired each one has been more fun to watch. It's sort of a counter-balance to that 12-oz Mouse show, which I can't even reflect on whether I like it or not- it's like saying whether or not you liked an infomercial. The show just sort of sits there and gurgles for eleven minutes and then you look at your watch and wonder how many bills you could have paid in that time or something.
Of course, the big thing to talk about is The Boondocks. My friend Nicole and I reached the same conclusions on our own after watching it: it was really nothing compared to the comic strip. That needs to change, right now.
In terms of the suggestions that the show would be "outrageous," it was a huge letdown. Most of the plot, and for that matter dialogue, was really, really cliched. A lot of people were led to believe this was going to be the next Chappelle's Show in terms of opining on race relations and black vs. white culture, and I'm betting those people were sincerely disappointed.
What's great is that the show is freakin' oozing potential, though. We know what a funny person McGruder is and what he can do- I've heard some stuff about planned episodes, so I'm hoping that this pilot/premiere was just rusty because of the first go at it. I'm willing to watch in the long run because I want it to succeed so bad, but if it's just another badly-written sitcom then it's just not going to.
Ironically, right after The Boondocks they aired some god-awful pilot called Minoriteam which tried to go for some Jack-Kirby inspired take on racial stereotypes, and ended up having lousy, near-non-exitent animation, no humor, and no room for potential at all. They refused to greenlight Saddle Rash and yet they're considering stuff like this?