Friday, August 31, 2007

"My children EXPECT this movie!" More on D-War!

The Pyggies, spreading awesomeness throughout the land, as is their wont, turned the world (outside of Dave Robson, who's probably got a bootlegged copy of it at home already) on to D-War. Which you know by now, since I posted an entry on my overwhelmed excitement like 45 seconds ago.

So, I showed the trailer to Wife of DCeiver, and, as you might expect, her vagina exploded at the sight of all those dragons. So, she's up ON it. As is her wont, we went to check out the movie's listing at the IMDB.

There, we found the most scrumtrilescent user comment in the whole world:

"To expect well made file for our children...."
By Ellessa Khim

Coming soon? When it comes in malasia? My children, interested in monster movies, expect this movie. It seems that everyone who hated this movie must have written a review, so I thought I'd throw in my two luingit to even things up a bit. First, if you assume every movie is made simply to uppercut some sort of ideology into the audience's chest, then yes, it does seem very racist, xenophobic, and the like. However, this film is based on a South Korean's legend! The Serpents were some of the most terrible monsters, however, evil or good to be more imagination, which was not an kingkong or gozzila fighting for nothing purpose. Should they have been portrayed differently simply to satisfy the current political climate? Are you mad? The cheesy one-liners are also evidence that this movie IS BASED ON A SOUTH KOREAN LEGEND.

So, the $64,000 question is:

To which I declaim: Aw, HELL, yes! Until now, I had no idea that every cheesy one-liner I'd ever heard was BASED ON SOUTH KOREAN LEGEND! It's evidence!

From Whence the "Suck It" Card Did Come.

Bookmark this: Chicago's own PaperStories. "Suck It" comes from the Bittersweet Collection, where you'll also find:

"You Just Suck The Life Out Of Me"
"Sometimes I Just Hate You"
"Thanks...for Nothing"
and, "What Did I Ever See In You?"

The OMFG Do I Feel Good Hit Of The Summer

Holy shit! The Pygmalii have the scoop on a movie that is flat out gray-raping my BRAINS! They cite the following key ingredients: "knights riding dragons, dragons firing missiles, most of LA blowing up, Robert Forster and what looks to be the guy who hosted While You Were Out and was the opening act for Britney Spears." Also: dragons eating helicopters! Someone better go back in time and send a "Suck It" card to the set of Jaws 2! Event team-ups, please!

Stay Classy, Wahoos!


Looks like someone's been too busy basking in their own insanely clever wit to get their registration updated! (h/t: PVo.)

Douchebag Slapfight at the City Paper!

In the clearest sign yet that we are reaching the last days of the pre-Creative Loafing era at the City Paper, an editorial catfight has broken out on their blog between celebrated twit Jason Cherkis and former music critic Michael Little. It's hard to pick who to root for. Little was the writer behind the City Paper's infamous anti-Fugazi cover story--a piece that deafeningly shrieked, "Hey! I Know! Let's be Contrarian For The Sake of Being Contrarian For the 34,576,821,297th Time!" And Cherkis...well, he's Cherkis. Aw, hell--you know who we're rooting for!

The CP's music blog is astoundingly superfluous, after all. And when we think, Cherkisian highlights to the world of music, we think: eager beaver contributor to the Pazz and Jop mediocrogasm, his trenchant use of Rites of Spring to prove to his roommates and landlord that he is just the sort of nightmarish jackass they all suspect he is, complaining that music blogs don't do enough to move Rod Stewart albums, and, of course, being the mastermind behind the most gallingly pretentious website on the face of the earth, Econoculture.

Econoculture stepped in shit right from its outset, alienating a coterie of bloggers (including a number of then-prominent music bloggers whose link traffic Econoculture could have used) by labelling them as racists for daring to like Sufjan Stevens (this from a guy who thinks he's down because he's got a copy of that Congotronics record every indie kid was ordered to buy, along with a copy of that vetted-for-maximum-suburban-crossover-potential grime compilation Run the Road, aka Now That's What I Call Grime, I Think, Maybe. I have to imagine that Cherkis saw Econoculture as his ticket to something other than d'baggin' it up at the CP, but unfortunately, predictably, foundered, sputtered, and is now by the looks of things deader than a doornail because they haven't done squat since mid-July and the last ad sold appears to have come from Stephanie Effing Mencimer.

The key quote from Little that touched this little tete-a-tete off was his contention that he "could write a better and more entertaining blog with our asshole." He's clearly not familiar with Econoculture, because my asshole outdid that thing the last time I wiped myself.

This Blog Hearts the Womens!

Hey! According to BlogHer, we're responsible for pushing vital feminist memes into the zeitgeist! And we did not "gray rape" that zeitgeist, either. We had explicit and enthusiastic permission from the zeitgeist to stick our memes in there. We're not one of those blogs that roofies the zeitgeist.

Anyway, shucks! Glad I could help!

This isn't the first time, neither. Rachel Sklar and I waged a mini-campaign to draw attention to the fact that South Dakota State Senator Bill Napoli is all twisted up and dead inside. Our efforts culminated in, among other things, this post, entitled, "Bill Napoli Is All Twisted Up And Dead Inside."

The Audacity of Dopes: Dem Frontrunners Have Weird Definitions of Withdrawal.

Per Yglesias: Indeed, Bill Richardson may be asking the important questions, vis a vis Iraq withdrawal, but the record should reflect that his own answers aren't very realistic. As recorded here, and elsewhere, Richardson claimed, at the CNN/YouTube Debate, that withdrawal was possible in six months. Yet, recalling the obstacles Michael Duffy mentioned in his piece for Time ("How to Leave Iraq") it's crystal clear that six months is a naive estimation.

But Matt's larger point, which also brings the Duffy article to mind, is worth reiterating:


I'm not sure many liberals have really grasped how absurd it is that we seem destined to witness a 2008 campaign in which both major party nominees support continuing the war. Nor do the Clinton/Obama/Edwards camps seem to have given serious consideration to the fact that their general election adversary will probably find it relatively easy to ridicule this "end the war, but keep fighting it" stance the Democrats have all adopted.
Speaking only for myself, I've been a little more out in front of grasping this absurdity than many others, and have been somewhat slagged for suggesting that the Democratic candidates are substituting "sloganeering" for leveling with the American people. That's why this New York Times article is valuable, for providing cogent and succinct descriptions of the policies the Dem frontrunners actually support in Iraq, to be compared to the promises, panderings, compromises and bargainings they'll do between now and election day on the campaign trail. To wit:

John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator =Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.
Yeah, well, okay then: precisely NONE of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination support the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. It's just that simple. I'd go further, and suggest that the reasons Obama lays out for retaining a "military presence" of "unspecified size"--provide security, train Iraqis, fight the terrorists--are EXACTLY THE SAME reasons the Administration currently cites for why we must stay the course.

The Genius of the WoD.

Today, after a long, drawn out battle with the post office over a stationery order, Wife of DCeiver was finally able to give me her card commemorating our ninth anniversary.

Yep. Pretty much the Best Wife Ever. Obvs.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ready Your Bots!

FishbowlDC is soliciting suggestions for a Larry Craig-themed T-Shirt. They've gotten a lot of solid, funny ideas, and the thought occurs to me, maybe they'll put the matter to a vote?

Well, I hate to be the next person to contribute to the endless blogorrhea on this topic, but it's pretty clear that I've designed the sure winner:

Ensuring the Inevitable.

Here's what I don't get. The looming problem that any Iraq withdrawal scenario has to account for is that once we've quit the scene, the country will inevitably slip into a full-scale civil war. And if that were to happen, well, I guess people will feel really bad about it, and, I imagine the right will shame the left on the grounds that withdrawal created a humanitarian nightmare (you know, as if the right could give a shit about preventing humanitarian nightmares).

Well, even with that in mind, it's hard to fathom why--if it's agreed upon that civil war is a high percentage outcome of withdrawing our troops--we spent all that time ensuring the inevitable empowerment of the Shiite majority, only to now turn around and start arming the Sunni insurgents. It seems to be that if logic dictates that a civil war is unforstallable, the sensible strategy would be to pick who you want to win, arm them to the teeth, and then do whatever can be done to limit the other side's civil war-making capacity.

We're doing precisely the opposite. And, so, I have to wonder, is the idea then, to make withdrawal an increasingly impossible prospect by actively enhancing the possibility of civil war? Seems to me that the administration is bent on manufacturing a fait accompli, and no one has noticed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tucker Carlson's Bathroom Follies

So, yesterday, Tucker Carlson spoke of some incident that took place in some bathroom that sounded awfully like he was propositioned by another guy in a bathroom, so he left the bathroom, got a friend, returned to the bathroom, and teed off on the guy. Now, something about this story didn't add up with us. The thought of Carlson contributing to a physical beatdown...well, look at the guy! That's just laughable on its face.

Tucker cleared it all up today, though:

“Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men’s room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men’s room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived."
Here's how I read this. Carlson was "grabbed" by some guy who wanted to fuck him. He then "yelled," most likely something to the effect of "Hell yeah, sister! Just wait here!" He then "pulled away," spent the next twenty-five minutes trying to score some poppers, finally did so by agreeing to let a friend go in thirdsies with him, they ran back to the stall, "seized" the guy, waited for a security guard to arrive, and then the four of them got down like Sweet Georgia Brown.

Hell, that shit's better then Superbad!

Oh, the Places Life Takes You!

A confession: I'm a bit prone to taking a private moment, now and again, for philosophical reflection, and every once in a while--usually when I find myself up at some odd hour on an unfamiliar street, amid the company of particularly interesting people, or poised on the brink of some seminal episode of hijinks--I think to myself, "Wow. I could never have guessed ten years ago that I'd find myself here, today."

It's in this vein, that were I fortunate enough to run into Garance Franke-Ruta tomorrow, I would ask her if at any time in the past decade, she felt as if her life was leading, inevitably, to a moment that warranted her tracking down a case from the Idaho Court of Appeals that "ruled that (solo) masturbation within an enclosed restroom stall was constitutionally protected behavior as the individual within the stall had a reasonable expectation of privacy within the stall." And if her answer was no, I'd encourage her to just pause for a moment to bask in the perverse wonderment of the universe.

And, speaking of perverse wonderment, the case in question is, I shit you not, State v. Limberhand. You can look it up (117 Idaho 456, 788 P.2d 857 (Ct. App. 1990)).

That's just the best ever. What a heroic ruling! What a storied plaintiff! And, by the way, if the State ever thinks it wants to challenge my own limber hand, my message to them is: BRING IT, JERKS!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Laura Sessions Stepp's "Gray Rape" Idiocy

For some time now, it's been well and rightly concluded that Laura Sessions Stepp is a writer of silly, stupid things. Her take on contemporary sexuality is so out of step with just about everyone currently participating in it that it's hard to imagine that she exists in the same time-space continuum as the rest of us. And what she sees horrifies her on some level, but she's thus far failed to grasp is that it's not us, it's her. Her confusion is what causes her horror. Of course, her confusion only excuses her so far--she's resolutely concerned with the way other people perceive her: she's so desperate to prove she's hip and not a scold bent on raining on the whole sexual liberation parade, that her message gets royally fubared every time she tries to translate it.

But, while it's a given that Stepp is a writer of silly, stupid things, we now have to face up to the fact that she's a downright dangerous writer as well. In the recent Cosmopolitan, she cements this by advocating for the existence of something called "gray rape." And in so doing, her writerly output has veered terrifyingly close to outright delinquency.

What's ridiculous about the whole concept of "gray rape" is the fact that rape is perhaps one of the least "gray" crimes imaginable. It's less "gray" than even murder. There's no "manslaughter" equivalent of rape. There's no such thing as "rape by misadventure," or "criminally negligent rape." I can't think of any situation in which one might commit rape in self-defense or rape someone because one thought one was in imminent harm.

No, there's really nothing "gray" about rape at all--and that's the only perfectly sensible stance to have on the matter--after all, the gold standard for proper, legal sexual behavior is well known: "between consenting adults." There's really not much wiggle room there. "Adults" eliminates children, and by any standard of reasonableness it also explicitly means "adult human beings." And there's very little gray area when it comes to consent--either there is consent, or there isn't. And anything that stops short of consent is, well, the absence of consent.

I am willing, up to a point, to entertain the notion that maybe, maybe, the issue of what consent means has been obscured by the popular "No means no" rhetorical flourish. It would be better, perhaps, if the bumper sticker statement was something more like, "Only yes means yes." That way, nobody would be able to wriggle out of taking responsibility for their criminal behavior by saying things like, "She may not have said yes, but she didn't say no." But, remember, I'll only entertain that up to a point--once you find yourself in the act of "wriggling out"--parsing the middle distance between explicit consent and everything that falls short of explicit dissent, you basically need to face the fact that you are in the act of attempting to get away with something you know full well you shouldn't have done.

But, from what I gather, this isn't even the defining circumstance of what constitutes "gray rape" for Stepp. This is:

Oh, the gray area -- that insidious "if I hadn't gone to that party" place, that "if I had only stopped after one beer" place, that "if I hadn't worn such a revealing top and come on to that hot guy" place where young women go when someone they probably know lays siege to their most private parts and everyone assumes it was at least partly their fault. More than half the time, they're drunk and can't remember details, and most of the time they don't press charges. ...some defense lawyers and even some students have taken to calling such episodes "gray rape" out of a mistaken belief that when both parties have been drinking heavily, responsibility for what happened falls into a gray area.
Ack! So much poor reasoning! Nuts to circumstances that could lead to "everyone assum[ing] it was at least partly their fault!" "Everyone's assumption" has exactly zero bearing on whether the crime of rape was committed! "Everyone's assumption" isn't worth a hill of beans. And the "mistaken belief" is in the existence of a "gray area" in the first place. If one party sticks their body part inside another person's body without their consent, it's pretty effing clear who was responsible! Think about it: if you awoke tomorrow morning to find that your roommate had shoved a garden rake inside your rectum, would you allow your roommate to reason that his action was permissible because you never said it wouldn't be okay? Of course not!

For the stupid and soft-headed, maybe this gets confusing because of all the bullshit you've heard about relationships and flirtation and biological imperatives, but it really boils down to this: I will direct you, specifically, where and when you are allowed to place objects inside my body. You, in turn, will wait for my specific direction. And that's the end of the conversation.

And by the way, I've got no pity, no sympathy, no fellow-feeling for anyone who would shove their dick into the Great Unknown. If you find yourself thinking that it's a good idea to stick your dick into an unconscious body, then, Christ, you need to get your fucking head examined. You should respect your cock enough to know that if you cannot ask your would be sexual partner, "By the way, that bottle of Valtrex is your roommate's, right?" and get a cogent answer, then you ought not to be waving your junk around. Your dick is not indestructible. If it was, most guys would dispense with the agonies of courtship altogether, find themselves a sturdy board with a serviceable knothole, and go to town.

In fact, if Laura Sessions Stepp wanted to dispense some actual good advice on sexual gray areas, she'd restrict herself to simply saying: "You see that gray area? DON'T PUT YOUR COCK IN IT." If you are going to have good sex, the sort that neither subjects your would-be lay to harm nor places your own interests or well-being at risk, you'll eschew anything even remotely resembling a "gray" area. Instead, you'll wait for the green light, and then everything will be black and white (but, you know...pink where it counts).

Monday, August 27, 2007

DC's Media Hotties Demonstrate Uselessness of Media in August

If there's any further need of proof that fully vindicates the hottness of Kriston Capps and Catherine Andrews, it comes in the form of the fact that nobody....can....stop...writing...about...them! Jeez, Louise! Wasn't Fishbowl's contest, like, a year ago? And months before that, didn't the Ron Paul campaign basically prove that all online polls are basically infinitely hackable? Yet, I guess there really is nothing to write about anymore, because this online poll--which placed precisely NOTHING at stake and was an exercise in inside baseball in its conception--is suddenly sweeping national news. Freakonomics is talking about this stuff, now, because I guess the radical frisson of developing terror scenarios didn't turn out to be as sustainable as everyone thought!

But what really throws this whole matter over the edge is the first sentence from this Poynter post, which was reproduced over at KnoxNews (this shit has gotten to KNOXVILLE?? Really?!). "Media credibility takes another hit."

Oh, puh-lee-eee-eee-ease! The only hit to the credibility of the media is that nobody....can....stop...writing...about... this contest!

Editors! Before you assign another story or reaction to the Fishbowl HOTTNESS Contest, stop yourselves, reflect on the fact that there's probably a sizable portion of the population that still thinks Saddam Hussein caused the September 11th attacks, and reallocate those resources in the service of articles that are titled: "HEY, BY THE WAY, IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9-11!" You will be doing the cause of "media credibility" a GREAT SERVICE.

Worthless Assbag Valueless, Yet Aromatic Container of General Flatulence Alberto Gonzales Apparently Resigns

[Title updated to accomodate a request for more "flowery" language.]

Well, it looks like the next time Alberto Gonzales wants to tap your phones, he'll likely have to do so under the aegis of private citizenship, because he has apparently resigned to spend more time forcing his family to do horrible, uncomtemplatable things on their deathbeds.

Gonzales, pictured here with the equally terrifying, equally useless ghoul they put in charge of Homeland Security (in a picture that's sure to be widely LOLCatted with the caption "invisible dick" or "Protectin Amurika: Ur Doin it Wrong!!!!!11!") attempted to turn the nation into his own, Shia LaBoeufless version of Disturbia, but despite all the pains he took to mangle the Constitution and torture anyone he felt like, managed to contribute virtually nothing to the safety or well-being of the Nation, save for firing a bunch of U.S. Attorneys that wouldn't ascribe to a full 100% of the Administrations batshit plans.

Just how bad was Alberto Gonzales? Well, he actually managed to find a way to drive the nation into such a dismal, depressing place, that at times, through his actions, I actually came to think of John Ashcroft--JOHN FUCKING ASHCROFT!!!--as a real American hero. Obviously, as a country, we are basically midway through a headlong leap into the void.

Gonzales will be allowed to break whatever law he wants with impunity for as long as his great big buddy George W. Bush remains president, so, if you value your life and possessions, you will keep all of your doors and windows locked and send your children off to boarding school in Iceland, in the hopes that they will survive and one day write an epic poem relating our folly to the world.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Look Who Got a Fuck Lion!

Paul turned me on to this post at Every Day Should Be Saturday, which features the Facebook quiz proffered by Michigan footballer Marques Slocum--who is truly, as they say, teh cocks of meatcakes. Slocum loves the Wire, currently holds an impressive 40oz drinking time, and represents Sprint/Nextel like there's no tomorrow. The whole thing is crazy impressive, but I feel like if there's one thing Slocum would have you take away, it's that we all really should call our moms more often, if only to tell her, from the heart, that you think she's da realest bitch alive.

(how is it that Ryan Adams hasn't named his band "The Fuck Lions?" I mean, really.)

DCeptette: Tickety-Tockety

  1. It was a visceral pleasure reading Matty parry yet another idiotic piece of spew about how effective torture can be with his typical adroitness. But that pleasure is tempered by the fact that many seemingly important people are walking around ignoring the prima facie problems with the torture argument. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: the inherent stupidity of the so-called "ticking time-bomb scenario" is so boundless, that to believe in it, you simply must have your brain switched off. If you have a suspect under torture on the suspicion that he knows something about a ticking time bomb, your chief problem is that, uhm...he might know something about a ticking time bomb! And, armed with that knowledge, can easily manipulate the circumstances so that he both avoids the torture and ensures the detonation of said bomb. And Lord help you if he knows nothing about said time bomb! But, even worse is the fact that advocating torture puts our own servicemen at risk, and worser still is that you simply cannot decry an enemy's use of torture, abduction, beheading and rape, turn around and engage in those same practices, and expect me to buy into your "clash of civilization" scenario. [Yglesias]
  2. Holy shit. Pray for the safety of Pete Doherty's cats. [BWE]
  3. MEATCAKE! From the people who will help me convince brother-in-law to deep fry the Thanksgiving turkey this year. (Really, meatcake is cool where mashed potato martinis--and yes, they exist, and were served at a company event I attended, and were roundly received as either "Mashed potato, what?" or "Huh, wha? Martinis?"--failed.) [PIAB]
  4. Sommer, smokin'. [Washingtonian]
  5. The mascot for the Pittsburgh Steelers apparently injured a pair on construction workers. [WJLA]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rise of the Machines

Folks, that Kriston Capps and Catherine Andrews are the DC area's hottest off-air media types can be stamped with a big ol' OBVS. Though, it should be noted, the voting went down a month before Ryan Avent posted that positively DREAMY new Facebook profile picture of his. I'm guy-crushing on that right now! (Also worth noting: the strangely similar Facebook profile pictures of Amy Argetsinger and Rachel Sklar--they make for a thinking, drinking pair of media titans I refer to simply as SKLARGETSINGER.)

But enough on that. The obviousness of Capps' and Andrews' hottness, is not in doubt. But recently, Farhad Manjoo, over at Salon, took a break from dogging the good people at Diebold to point out that Capps and Andrews won with the help of bots. And? So? Manjoo needs to be more of an it-getter. We're living in a Web 2.0 world! Those hoary old print-media ways of cheating on polls don't just cut it anymore. To ask savvy interweb folks like Catherine and Kriston to not use the considerable reach and resources of Unfogged (rivaled in internet poll rigging only by Ron Paul supporters--and I think we can all agree that it's better that the Unfogged folk weaponize uranium driven cyborgs before the Paulites do) is like asking them to wear a bag over their heads--it denies an essential part of their hottness. Bots and hacks are the essence of hot in the world of New Media. One day, Manjoo will realize that.

Of course, if you want to know what's truly weird about Manjoo's article, it's the odd subliminal subtext that comes through whenever he talks about Catherine. Farhad, if you want to go halfsies on a bastard with Catherine, just get it out in the open, baby!

The Next Big Thing: Myth-Appropriation


Here's how it's going to go.
Six playwrights.
Six directors.
Three designers.
And twenty-four actors.
Will have six days.
And four rehearsals.
To adapt and stage six plays.
For two performances.
On one night.

This September, that shit is gonna get Grimm.


Rorschach Theatre presents
Myth-Appropriation: The Brothers Grimm

adaptations by Norman Allen, Randy Baker, Ally Currin, James Hesla, Jacqueline E. Lawton, and Gwyddion Suilebhan

directed by Jessi Burgess, Michael Dove, Dan Pruksarnukul, Patrick Torres, Catherine Tripp, and Andy Wassenich

Designed by David Ghatan, Robbie Hayes, and Debra Kim Sivingny

And starring Evan Casey, Jenny Corbett, Nicola Daval, Christopher Dinolfo, Daniel Eichner, Dana Edwards, Heather Gaither, Maggie Glauber Horn, Jeremy Goren, Michael Grew, Cesar Guadamuz, Lauren Krizner, Jason Linkins, John Michael McDonald, Adrienne Nelson, Sasha Olinick, Helen Pafumi, Ghillian Porter, Betsy Rosen, Mark Ross, Jesse Terrill, Amanda Thickpenny, Wendy Wilmer, and Simone Zvi.

September 8. 8 and 10pm. At the Sanctuary Theatre at the Casa Del Pueblo.
1459 Columbia Road NW.
Take Green Line to Columbia Heights Station.
For more details, click here.

Cognitive Dissidence

There's a lot of simply extraordinary stuff going on in Peter Baker's recent Washington Post article, not the least of which is the scene he describes between President Bush and one "Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leader in the resistance to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak," who must have felt a sharp twang of remorse in having to meet with Bush at all. In it, Bush describes himself, in a "voice of exasperation," as a "dissident." At a time where many people mock Barack Obama's pledge to stay tough on Pakistan when events warrant, too few are talking about what sort of message it sends when Bush meets with foreign leaders and loudly belches for their pity.

But what's more extraordinary is the way Baker treats what he believes to be the root cause of Bush's problem:

In his speech that day, Bush vowed to order U.S. ambassadors in unfree nations to meet with dissidents and boasted that he had created a fund to help embattled human rights defenders. But the State Department did not send out the cable directing ambassadors to sit down with dissidents until two months later. And to this day, not a nickel has been transferred to the fund he touted.

Two and a half years after Bush pledged in his second inaugural address to spread democracy around the world, the grand project has bogged down in a bureaucratic and geopolitical morass, in the view of many activists, officials and even White House aides. Many in his administration never bought into the idea, and some undermined it, including his own vice president.
Oh, gee! You mean the President's ambitions got mired in a bureaucratic morass of insider in-fighting, ignored missives and officials that couldn't be bothered to meet with other officials? Well, land sakes, STOP THE PRESSES. What an unfathomable surprise! To his credit, Baker sees this as "a classic Washington tale of politics, inertia, rivalries and funding battles," but totally misses the point when he calls this moment "a case study in the frustrated ambition of a besieged presidency." The presidency is "besieged" and those "ambitions" frustrated for some perfectly good reasons!

And if you wanted a simple justification for wanting to "frustrate" the President's ambitions, there's many to choose from. Start with the fact that his Presidency is a foreign policy nightmare--his ideas are stupid and have done more harm than good. He pisses money away, right and left, which cannot please any real conservative, and the bulk of his domestic policies run counter to the public good, which isn't going to win you a lot of bipartisan support. Add to that the fact that he's got a poor follow-through rate, and a history of ducking responsibility when it suits him--the apotheosis of which came when--after years of badgering the public with reminders that he was the "Commander in Chief" and "the Decider"--he appointed a War Czar--A FUCKING WAR CZAR!--to manage all the wars he's grown bored of fighting and failing. In short, this is not a President whose capable of commanding a whole lot of respect for his initiatives, and three-quarters of the citizenry would fain agree.

Baker, unfortunately, is too busy recomposing Pagliacci on behalf of the White House to ask an even more vital question: Forget what Washington's bureaucratic morass is doing to the President--he's the least of anyone's worries--what is it doing to the country? Well, not to put to fine a point on it, but it's causing our fellow Americans to, uhm...well...die.

See, whenever I hear speak of the internecine nightmare that Washington has become--the territorial pissings, the interoffice rivalries, the bothersone primacy of ego-based protocols, I have a vivid memory of this:

I did get a response, and the response was that in the Bush administration I should, and my committee, counterterrorism security group, should report to the deputies committee, which is a sub-Cabinet level committee, and not to the principals and that, therefore, it was inappropriate for me to be asking for a principals' meeting. Instead, there would be a deputies meeting.

...

It slowed it down enormously, by months. First of all, the deputies committee didn't meet urgently in January or February.

Then when the deputies committee did meet, it took the issue of Al Qaida as part of a cluster of policy issues, including nuclear proliferation in South Asia, democratization in Pakistan, how to treat the various problems, including narcotics and other problems in Afghanistan, and launched on a series of deputies meetings extending over several months to address Al Qaida in the context of all of those inter-related issues.

That process probably ended, I think in July of 2001. So we were ready for a principals meeting in July. But the principals calendar was full and then they went on vacation, many of them in August, so we couldn't meet in August, and therefore the principals met in September.

That's just a snippet of the testimony proffered by former national security adviser Richard A. Clarke on the occasion of his appearance before the 9/11 Commission, in which he made it painfully clear that the primary reason the terror attacks succeeded was the very "bureaucratic and geopolitical morass" that Baker cites as "frustrating" the President's "ambition"--as if that was somehow important.

In fairness, President Bush hardly invented the morass. He's gone to great lengths to perfect it, though--as evidenced in some of the examples above, such as the Czarification of his wars--but that's not the truly galling thing. The truly galling thing is that when it's been convenient for Bush to use that "morass" as a way of escaping responsibility, he's been quick to do so.

Ironically, I can think of one glittering example of this. Go check out the transcript of Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the same 9/11 Commission, and count up the number of times she talks about "structure" and "structural problems." Rice is, in essence, echoing Clarke, but she's doing so as a means of dodging the blame that Clarke feels should be invited, even upon himself. (There's a lot to be made of Rice's carefully selected choice of words: "structure" carries the implication of "it was like this when we got here" and does not to justice to the great lengths to which the Bush administration happily participated in the "morass" when it suited their needs.)

So, for Bush to be bitching about being a "dissident"--well, it's pretty disingenuous, to say the least. One would think that the mere instance of his doing so would invite an immediate and well-deserved excoriation, but Baker's only interested in playing up the sad, silly, human-interest angle, and the extent to which Bush's statement bespeaks a tremendous, constantly present incompetence that has had deleterious effects on the nation are dots he seems unable to connect.

The truth is, Bush is not a "dissident," but a "diffident," and he's reached that sorry state not because of what the world of government has done to him, but the world of hurt he's done to the government, and by extension, the nation. I'd be tempted to look sharply askance at the man and sarcastically tell him to "cry me a river," but God knows if he did, his tears would probably overwhelm some levee somewhere, and millions of people would drown.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Your Move, Capital Fringe Festival!

Hey, you people know I am a huge fan of the now two-years-old Capital Fringe Festival. Damian Sinclair and Julianne Brienza are the heroes, as far as I'm concerned. That said, if we're ever to get it up to the point where it is the equal of the venerable and beloved Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it's going to have to get edgier.

Much, much edgier, apparently
.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Nakeder and the Deader.

Rita Cosby, "serious" "newswoman" (TM), wants you to know that she will NEVER FORGET! the important stories of our age, made by the trenchant figures of our time.

As you might surmise from our title, we are indeed SHOCKED! (SHOCKED!) by the absence of a foreword from Norman Mailer.

Tune in eight years from now, when Tina Brown writes her book on the subject and skips around like she invented this shit.

The DCeiver Responds To The Comments Made By Idolator In Their Reponse To The Question Posed By Spin's Rilo Kiley Cover

Idolator, ostensible "music" blog:

"Jenny Lewis isn't fit to carry the train of one of Stevie's '80s nightmare frocks and Lindsay Buckingham wouldn't have killed Blake Lewis and used his corpse's sternum as a pale, scrawny coffee table to do lines off of."
It's Blake SENNETT, you great big DUMBFUCK.

The next time you consider making some historical ur-rock commentary, try to keep your American Idol hardons at bay. KTHXBAI!

(The good news of course, is that their dumbfuckery is, as always, infinitely preferable to their being utter crashing bores.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

You Say "The Prurience of Watching Hot Young Things Get it On" Like It Was A Bad Thing!

Encouraging. Becks likes the Superbad. Yet, in accordance with the Unfogged policy of never letting a moment go by without a clinical over-examination (o me j/k!), she poses the following question:

"What percentage of the enjoyment of teen movies do you think comes from nostalgia vs. schadenfreude vs. the purience of watching hot young things get it on?"
For me, the nostalgia and the schadenfreude go hand in hand. As to the whole prurience things, well, Becks, I think you've already answered this question yourself. C.f. "Today's Lesson."

Friday, August 17, 2007

DCeptette: Black Holes and Revelations

  1. Don Whiteside couldn't be more correct. Side note: I often hear, among the complaints where day-laborers are concerned, that one of their deleterious effects is that their presence lowers property values. Which makes me pretty much pro-day laborer! Oye! Come to my neighborhood! [Metroblogging DC]
  2. I had thought that Jon Stewart went a little overboard pummeling that Dick Cheney biographer last night, until I read today how that dude's main argument in defense of Cheney has become the hot talking point where getting him out in public is concerned: like, "...while his views may be crazy and alarmist, his public presentation of them isn't." Uhm...what? "When he's ventured out of the undisclosed location, he's actually been a much more compelling spokesman for the Administration than the President." So there you have it, folks! When Dick Cheney ventured out of his undisclosed location to shoot his best friend in the face, that was all just a part of the essential pageantry of compelling spokesmanry. [Yglesias]
  3. It pains me that this happened first to us...but my word: it really is beautiful. [Deadspin]
  4. Jeffrey Chodorow crafts his hand-written complaint: "Frank Bruni has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes!" [Gawker]
  5. Classy, cover. But the real worry is the improper use on punctuation. [BWE]

The Audacity of Dopes: Hillary Clinton has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes

From that same Post article. Talk about your negatives!

Christie Vilsack, who with her husband, Tom, the former Iowa governor, was part of the Clinton entourage, spent much of the more than two-hour tour introducing the candidate to familiar voters. But when Vilsack tried to coax 87-year-old Roberta Hindman to come meet Clinton, the elderly woman snapped: "No way. She makes me sick." Another passerby loudly referred to Clinton as "the Antichrist," and a third man argued with Tom Vilsack about whether she would become president, telling him, "I can't stand her."
Yeeowch! We know very little about Iowa, but one thing we do know is that Christie Vilsack, who's like Iowa's Oprah, can't help you, you cannot be helped. (See also: Vilsack, Tom, brief Presidential run of)

I sure hope those Diebold voting machines can count INVISIBLE VOTES!

The Audacity of Dopes: Sweet Christ, How Many of These Idiots' Votes Can I Possibly Offset?

From the Post. One woman's rationale for voting for the slavering mountebank, Rudolph Giuliani:

Melissa Curiel, 34, brought her daughter to meet the former mayor. "He was there on 9/11, and that makes him an awesome person," said Curiel, describing herself as a committed Giuliani voter.
Wow. Talk about a sliding scale for "awesomeness." If you can manage to bumble around New York City in a shellshocked, ineffectual daze on 9-11, guess what? You're presidential material!

Of course, there were a bunch of totally awesome firefighters that were "there on 9/11," too. But when the call went out on the broken-ass Fisher Price toy radios Rudy Giuliani had given them to get the hell out of the World Trade Center, nobody heard it! And then there was a loud boom, and suddenly those firefighters weren't "there on 9/11" anymore, no sir! I guess that's when they stopped being awesome!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Liveblogging Andrew Keen on The Colbert Report

OMG THIS GUY IS A FUCKING IDIOT WHO OBVIOUSLY THINKS SMUG POSTURING IS EASILY MISTAKEN FOR WIT IS THERE ANY DOUBT THAT I HAVE FORGOTTEN MORE ABOUT THE INTERNET THAN THIS GUY EVER KNOW AND NOT LOST NEARLY AS MUCH MONEY AS THIS DOUCHETOAST AND HOLY SHIT AS IT TURNS OUT I AM IN THE EMPLOY OF "CORPORATIONS AND FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS" AND YES YES YES YES I KNOW THAT THIS ALL-CAPS IS ANNOYING BUT THIS DROOLING SLEESTAK FUCKWIT MAKES MY BRAIN HURTS OH GOD.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More on that Crazy Michael Vick lawsuit...

So earlier, I led you all to this truly mind-warping item on the Fox News website, detailing how a South Carolina inmate, in a “handwritten complaint,” is suing Atlanta Falcons quarterback for $63,000,000,000 dollars over something having to do with with dog fighting, an eBay auction, missiles from Iran, and an oath sworn to al Qaeda. The complaint—which we remind you: hand-written!--includes this line: “Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes,” which basically opens the door for any old Falcon fan to basically attach themselves to the suit in what would be the most hilarious class-action in the history of the universe.

But the best part of the story comes toward the end:

FOXNews.com attempted to contact Vick, but neither he nor his spokesman could be reached for comment.

Really? They bothered? It's up to the guys at Kissing Suzy Kolber to maybe imagine what that conversation could have been like.

A copy of the hand-written complaint is up at The Superficial, and while we're disappointed that crayon does not play a part in any of this, we are convinced that somewhere in that text is BEST AUDITION MONOLOGUE EVER.

Our Love To Retire

I don't know it you saw that recent Interpol cover story in Spin, where everyone in Interpol talk about how they aspire to be less of a band followed by pusstwiddles on the Lower East Side and more of a band that rocks packed arenas in flyover country, but yeah, they basically say that they aspire to be less of a band followed by pusstwiddles on the Lower East Side and more of a band that rocks packed arenas in flyover country.

What's funny, of course, is that this aspiration clearly didn't factor too much into their decision to make their new record Our Love To Admire as deadly fucking dull as any of Carlos D.'s pre-Turn On The Bright Lights gynecological exams.

Nope, gentleman! That dog won't hunt. That dog won't hunt, at all.

This Shit Is Crazy!

Seriously! This is totally fucking crazy!

Print Media: So Adorable

Wonkette points out the unfortunate reality of all those media outlets still stuck in the fucking Gutenberg Age (by which we mean Johannes and "printing press," not Steve and "Police Academy Movies," though the principle is much the same):

“With more than a year left in the fading Bush presidency, Karl Rove’s worst days in the White House may still lie ahead of him.”

— First sentence of the lead story in the September Atlantic.
Similarly, GQ, on Karl Rove's AWESOME-AH POWAH!

Plame hurt. The midterms hurt. But Rove’s still among the few people who get on-demand one-on-one time in the Oval. His legendary—and, after ’06, revenge-oriented—electoral mind will be a valuable resource to the GOP’s eventual nominee.
In Washington, DC, I believe this is what is known as "getting Garrett Graffed."

Mashup Wanted: Lynching The Hills

Like most of you, I do not watch The Fucking Hills, because, really, just how much of The Life and Times Of a Bunch of Sub-Literate Duffledouches can one person stomach in one lifetime. That said, it occured to me today: based upon what little I've seen of this program, wouldn't its content be vastly improved if it were constantly underscored with the jaunty weird-ass jazz noodlings from Twin Peaks or any of the Angelo Badalamenti pieces from movies like Blue Velvet? Seems a mashup is in order. Get on it, YouTubers of America!

Demythologizing Karl Rove.

Today at HuffPo, I wrote a piece describing the extent to which the commonly held notion that Karl Rove was some sort of outsized political genius (emphasis on the "outsized," of course, I'm not necessarily calling the man a dumbass) was itself little more than a deeply believed-in piece of media folklore. The real essential takeaway is for you to read Jay Rosen's excellent diagnosis of the press in his piece at PressThink. (Though it's also worth pimping Bill Plante's account of what happened when he chose not to participate in the Legend of Rove.)

At the risk of repeating myself, though, a cleareyed look at Rove's results is in order. Credit him for the two Presidential wins, but try to not get all carried away. If you examine his success in terms of facts and facts alone, what you see is that the Evil Genius scraped out two thin wins against Democratic opponents running campaigns that no one in their right mind would call brilliant. In the first win, of course, there are sober minded, perfectly reasonable people that to this day contest the results. In the second win, a solid three years of 9/11 pageantry-slash-fearmongering only just got the job done.

It doesn't rank among the Top Two Million Reasons You Wish 9-11 Never Happened, but coming in at, let's say, Reason #4,563,239 is this: I would have liked to see what Rove would have done in 2004 with an incumbent best known for a failed economy, moribund job growth, and his oh-so-brilliant handling of the Hainan Island Spy Plane Incident. I'd wager that set of differing circumstances would have halted the "Rove-as-wunderkind" meme dead in its tracks. At the very least, I'd reserve the honorific "genius" for someone who could take the Bush Presidency and get more than 51% of the country excited about it.

That said, the over-fluffing of political strategists is by no means confined to the GOP side of things. Believe it or now, there are still people who hail Terry McAuliffe as some sort of paragon of brilliance. I've never personally seen much to support that contention, other than the fact that he's a fairly telegenic sort of twit.

[Note: I did, in fact, mean to say "Top Two Million Reasons You Wish 9-11 Never Happened." Not "Ever" happened. A thousand thanks to the commenter who spotted my error, and thus saved me from being lumped in with that Stu fellow from Philly.]

Monday, August 13, 2007

Die Hand Die Verletzt

In the clearest sign yet that the Bush Presidency is a total and catastrophic failure, Presidential adviser and noted coprophile Karl Rove has announced that he will bail out of the more or less sunk ship of state in August, to spend more time with whatever clutch of undead ravens he calls a family or to wait for some new brain-dead git to attach his remora-like suction cups to and ride back into the White House.

Oh, okay: he does have some sort of "family." According to Dana Perino, "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends." His wife, Darby? Agh, now the man has sullied the Germs forever for me.

Rove got his political start at the beginning of time, where he convinced Cain to slay Abel and thus ensure humanity would be even more inbred than ever thought possible. Cain, whose bounty of fruits and vegetables seemed to pale in God's eyes to the suckling pig and hearty meats of Abel, was eventually forgiven, but ever after, vegetarians were thought of as fratricidal pussies, which pleased Rove.

Some of Rove's other career highlights included:

--the disappearance of the entire Roanoke colony
--setting the Hindenberg on fire
--the assassination of William McKinley
--getting aliens to kidnap Agent Mulder's sister
--fixing the Academy Awards so that Crash, inexplicably, won
--Shelly Sekula Gibbs (spawned from a lanced boil on his ass)
--most of the famines and a goodly portion of the pestilence
--the wreck of the Andrea Gail

While many tinfoil-hat clad morons believe Rove caused 9-11, this was not the case. That said, you never heard him complaining about it!

The precise date and time of Rove's departure is not known, but White House officials will probably awake to the faint but unmistakable smell of brimstone and discover the words "It's been a pleasure working with you" scrawled on the walls of the Oval Office. Decades of attempts to clean those words off the wall will be a failure. Also: one or two corpses will inevitably be found on the White House grounds.

After Rove's departure, President Bush will be advised mainly by a set of Star Wars action figures and a monkey wearing a fedora.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Most Significant Email I Have Ever Received.

Included this phrase:

"...we could use your talents on the penis issue."

Indeed, that is a lot to process.

Multitude of Casualties

This is probably, "too soon," as they say, but really: does anyone really have any doubt that the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis is going to spawn, like--SEVEN new Hold Steady songs? After all, CNN hasn't yet said whether Charlemagne survived or not. I mean, I can feel Craig Finn waxing philosophical from here.

The Hold Steady, w/ Art Brut present
"Theories in Indie Rock Authenticity, or 'Suck On It, Avent!'"
The 9:30 Club
November 20, 2007

Would somebody please think of the children camps down by the banks of the Mississippi River?

Countdown to an Yglesias filleting...five...four...three...

Sheesh. Slate just seems to want the static, these days!

But now Too Hot for TNR is just another anti-war portal, and one that has become more in sync with the retuned editorial position of the magazine it tweaks.
Just in case you were wondering what the "proximate cause" is going to be.

Why This Is Doesn't Matter...

...but seriously: if I hear the word "schema" one more time, I'm going to immediately depart on an interstate killing spree.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Audacity of Dopes: Welcome to Florida!

The ongoing saga of Florida Representative Bob Allen, who is/was the co-chair of John McCain's campaign efforts in Florida (such as they are), is absolutely hysterical. Oh! And, absolutely, weirdly, racist, because the excuse he offered up was that he found himself surrounded by "the Blacks!"--and, because he did not want to become "a statistic," naturally, offered to pay one of them twenty dollars and blow him for good measure. Makes perfect sense! There's so much talk in behavioral studies circles about the "fight or flight response" that hardly anyone mentions the equally common "fight, flight, or suck a cock response." More study needs to be done! I nominate Allen to serve as the very skittish guinea pig.

Until then, I'll have to add Allen to a spreadsheet I've started:

List of Human Beings Who Expect Me to Believe That They Would Proffer Payment and Oral in Response to the Imminent Threat of Bodily Harm.
1. Bob Allen

Oh, look, Bob! You became a statistic anyway. Douchebag.

Well, That Figures.

I typically only root for the shitty baseball team that Washington DC currently has custodial possession of when they are in position to assist the Cardinals (and they're in need of more help than the Ex-pos can muster this year). But I was sort of hoping they'd do well tonight, but who was I fucking kidding. Of course those turds gave up the record-breaker to the Asterix. Bums!

Hey, Mike Bascik! Enjoy being a footnote to history!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pants Off Dance Off

Not long ago, an emailer sought to solicit comment on the ongoing michegas between that crazy-ass judge Roy Pearson and his eleventy kabillion dollar lawsuit against Custom Cleaners of DC. I don't really know what I can possibly add to the coverage we've offered over at DCist, other than to say Pearson is a complete loon and that you can contribute monies to the Custom Cleaners Legal Defense Fund here.

The Powers That Be have apparently been vacillating on whether Pearson should be allowed to keep his job. Realistically, I don't see how that can happen. That Pearson's, uhm...judgement should be questioned is evident in his lawsuit. Nevertheless, you can't entirely blame the people in charge for hedging their bets at the moment. After all, Pearson is demonstrably sue-crazy, and, if, having canned his ass, he manages to win his appeal, you can bet your bottom dollar he'll file some unholy wrongful termination suit.

I guess, my main worry is that this case will be used as ammunition by the tort-reform goombahs, who thrust their fists against the posts and still insist that everytime I have spilled coffee on myself, it's perfectly reasonable to expect third degree burns and debridement treatments (which has never happened...I guess I am some sort of super-hero!). What will get lost, of course, is that as insane as Pearson's case is, the system has so far worked!

Anyway, I guess I might feel differently if I could somehow manage to form some sort of deep, sentimental attachment to a particular pair of pants. But that hasn't happened yet, and I chalk that up to my being not a complete fucking imbecile.

DCeptette: A Good Day For Bad Ideas

  1. Or for the love of crimony. Please tell me the makers of 24 are kidding. Jack Bauer's going to fight global warming?? What's next? Is he going to take on gambling addiction? Diabetes? Existential ennui? Fuck--we know that the possibilities become somewhat circumscribed after saving the planet repeatedly. But we were hoping for a series reboot that scaled back the threat scope into a story with real intrigue. At this point, our suggestion of having a comedy season of 24 where they plan the CTU Christmas party is looking better and better. (Besides, Joel Surnow has already dome his part for environmentalism by daring to dream of a Los Angeles in which traffic is so light that one can just zip around at will and get virtually anywhere in twenty minutes.) [Washington Post]
  2. Sometimes, they come back. And by "they," I mean the disgraced zombie incompetents of corporate America. [Consumerist]
  3. Sorry, but the Hawk and Dove's official policy of disallowing unaccompanied Marines into their bar is utterly repellent. Even after wading through various anecdotal tales of unruly Marine patrons, I can't in any way get behind it. Sorry, but I think centuries of bars have established pretty basic guidelines and precedents for dealing with the brawlers and shitheels--by all means, toss the fucks, ban them from your establishment, and do so with no regrets or concern to whether or not they're serving the country in any specific capacity. But what Hawk and Dove is doing isn't right--so much Typical Bullshit (punishing the 90% for the sins of the 10%; slippery slope stumbling that can lead to all sorts of additional discrimination). That said, they've got the right to decide who comes into their place, and, at least they're entirely up front about it, thus allowing me to say, unequivocally, that owner Paul Meagher is an outright punk and that no one within the sound of my voice should continue to patronize their establishment. [DCist]
  4. And to make my point more clearly: surely the worst the Corps has to offer is better than the typical gathering of 311 fans. [Bostonist]
  5. John Catoe is idiotically mulling shuttering the Metro's late-night service. Horrible idea. And unrealistic, too. In all likelihood, DC will, over time, only continue to progress toward the status of a full 24/7 city--what city won't? It's just not realistic to be doing anything other than planning for an expansion of Metro's hours. A better idea would be to target stations for closure based on ridership and proximity (e.g. Surely Farragut West and McPherson Square don't always have to open). [DCist]

Sigh. Still Missing the Point Entirely

While Ankush notes correctly that Mr. Dodd and Mr. Richardson are, to put it nicely, "long shots" at winning the nomination. (Though is that true? I'm told the Richardson has, at times, polled higher than Edwards...so, if we must accept Edwards as a favored candidate, surely that means Richardson is in the mix as well.) He's got the point in his hands but he fumbles it. Candidates like Dodd and Richardson are fighting to stay in the game, and, as I predicted, they're using "withdrawal" as one of the bargaining chips to do so, in a game of one-upsmanship that is wholly divorced from the reality of withdrawal. Again, this was the key takeaway from the Duffy article, and there's no refutation of that point offered.

At some point, the Dodds will cede the race to their betters. The field will narrow. Someone else will be fighting to stay in the game. Is there really any doubt that "Iraq withdrawal" will continue to be the key bargaining chip? Is there really any doubt that the candidates won't vie for the nomination with competing rosy scenarios and unrealistic promises? I hope I'm wrong, but I'm feeling altogether confident betting that number.

Ankush also, strangely, believes that "Hillary Clinton is advocating a policy that's rather similar to the one Duffy is putting forth." My first response is basically: "Really? That's not at all how I remembered it!" Let's take a look!

Duffy says very little about who might be left behind, but here's what he does offer: "After a majority of U.S. troops depart, a military presence of some size will still be needed — not so much to referee a civil war, as U.S. forces are doing now, but to try to keep it from expanding," and later, "Most plans for a reduced U.S. mission in Iraq — including the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker III and Lee Hamilton — call for retaining a small counterterrorism force there." That's about as far as Duffy goes--there are other descriptions of "regional forces," but none are specifically defined as being bound inside Iraq.

So, Duffy says, at most--a force to contain the civil war (which I'll concede could be quite sizable and potentially "in country") and to operate counter-terror strikes. But, in a stark contrast, here's what Clinton says: "...she would keep a reduced military force there to fight al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military."

So, uhm...where's the "similarity?" I suppose that one could equate Duffy's "counterterrorism force" with Clinton's "fight al Qaeda." But deter Iranian aggression? Protect the Kurds*? Sorry...but that's heavy lifting, and it places a real limit on the number of troops that can be withdrawn (especially in the whole "protecting the Kurds" song and dance). That's even before we get to whatever the hell "supporting the Iraqi military" is--it sounds suspiciously like the time-honored argument for remaining in Iraq with the full forces we have! Plus, this "support" would likely include any number of civilian contractors that would need to be escorted out safely in the event of a phased withdrawal.

That said, Duffy very specifically keys into the need to prevent the Iraqi civil war from expanding. How, then, did Ankush not note the following glaring dissimilarity in Clinton's plan? It's laid out in the second graf of the NYT piece, for Christ's sake!: "In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence — even if it descended into ethnic cleansing."

So, I'm to believe that one plan, which makes pains to note that a key rationale for leaving troops in the region is to prevent the expansion of civil war, is "SIMILAR" to another plan, which makes pains to note that NOTHING WHATSOEVER WILL BE DONE about the civil war?

Wow. Just...wow.

This now makes a second fumbled attempt to parry my original contention. Looking forward to a third!

*What does "protecting the Kurds" even mean? Heading off violence that's directed at them? Fully supporting a independent Kurdistan or a regional partition? Who knows? Either way, it's a) gonna take a lot of troops, b) is precisely the sort of pretty-sounding thing you say when you're looking to connect with voters ("I'll see your "fight terrorists" and raise you "protecting the Kurds!"), and c) is really ignorant, in light of geo-political realities, vis-a-vis Turkey flat-out despising the very idea of even a semi-independent Kurdish "state" on their border.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dick Cheney: Man of Letters

Hey kids! Remember a few days ago how President Bush had surgery because Alberto Gonzales told him that a bunch of polyps had to be removed from his colon because they weren't adequately following Karl Rove's grand ideological plan for the President's gastric system? Well, while those polyps were getting ready to spend more time with their families and write tell-all books about how Bush fucked up the world, Vice-President Dick Cheney was in charge! You probably realized that, though, round about the time a troubling eerieness crept up your spine and made you long for the chance to curl up inside some sort of fallout shelter and stop breathing.

Well, while Dick was President, he took the time to reflect on the occasion, and he penned a letter to his spawn, which Swampland has lovingly reproduced here. The author of that post and I spent a chunk of yesterday afternoon on the IM-Tubes expressing to one another how deeply creepy Cheney is, noting the following things:

1. The man literally cannot go even an hour without talking about fucking 9-11.
2. He signs his letter, "Acting President of the United States" and includes his middle initial.
3. He refers to himself as "Grandpa Cheney." Freakshow!
4. HA-HA! He thinks God loves him! LOL!
5. And, of course, after you read the letter, you die in seven days.

Cheney's like, the one grandfather who his grandchildren will find to be less alienating and scary once he lapses into senility. It made me wonder what a letter from Dick Cheney, recapping the family Christmas would be like:

"The kids and grandkids were up early this Christmas, turning the Naval Observatory into a riotous din of joy and color. Fortunately, everyone reached into their stockings soon enough, and there they found, lovingly giftwrapped, the same present I always stuff into their stockings: stern rebukes. Everyone fucking kept a lid on it after that, I can tell you!

PS: I bought Mary a copy of The Manny, to which she replied, "Dammit, Dad. You just don't get it, do you?" Fuck her. I'm going to get through to her one of these days, you watch."
We should all be glad that it was Paul, and not Dick Cheney, who wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, because that would have ruined every single wedding in recorded history.

Some Reporters are Bigger than Others

Recent stories in the news got us thinking about one of our favorite episodes of The West Wing, "On the Day Before," in which press secretary CJ Cregg responds to a cheap shot from a trifling-ass fashion reporter caught out of her depths in the White House Press Room by calling her out in front of her colleagues:

C.J. Cregg: Well, I'm not gonna get into the details of the diplomatic exchange. There'll be more on that tomorrow. I'm told at this moment the House is getting ready to vote on the override of the President's veto, and I know you'll all want to cover that. Since this is the President's first veto, I thought it might be helpful if we brushed up on the rules. Sherri, can you tell us how many votes it takes to override a veto?

Sherri Wexler: I'm sorry?

C.J.: How many votes does it take to override, Sherri?

Wexler: A majority.

C.J.: Actually, it takes two thirds.

Wexler: Yes, a two-thirds majority.

C.J.: Yeah, 290. And how many votes does it take to sustain? [pause] That should be easy. You just subtract 290 from the total number of members in the House, and add one.

Wexler: [Nods.]

C.J.: How many people sit in the House of Representatives, Sherri?

[uncomfortable pause as Wexler can't answer the question]

C.J.: Okay, maybe you can get the notes from a classmate.

Ahh, yes. The memories. It makes one wonder, would Clinton-cleavage maven Robin Givhan fare any better?

Let's hope so! Some say she won a Pulitzer!