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August 11, 2006

put down that sippy cup

As usual, my skills betray me.  As long as we're throwing bandwidth at the British terror plot, its undoing and the implications thereof, go read this post, written by John Rogers, who says everything that I mean to say, but much less gibberishly.

Short version: there is a difference between fear/panic and concern, US foreign policy is welcomed by Bin Laden, FDR was a badass, Welchmen torched Nazi Germany, and don't be a pussy.  Is good read.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:28 PM

repub terror par-tay down!

I think I figured it out.  The GOP response to a day like yesterday, of terror-foiling, and events similar to that, is to gloat.  Maybe take a few shots at a straw man ("those that hate freedom", or "those that think we can retreat behind an ocean"), and then gloat some more.  Really, mostly gloating.  A little sniggering, in a gloaty way.

I have no problem with the gloating.  At least it's an honest expression of the depth of their commitment to govern.  And it gives me hope that maybe they've been so busy aggregating power for power's sake that they've forgotten how naked opportunistic glee in the face of such bad news would make the electorate think that they are feckless and pernicious bastards.  And hopefully, Nascar Sixpack and Soccer Housewife will look upon this orgy of venality and think to themselves, "Hey, maybe this year, I'll let someone else vote for these assholes."

At least now we know why the Republican Party en masse started with the War on Terra talking points on Wednesday -- the White House tipped them off on the Red Alert for the next day.  Go, Nero, go.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:01 AM

August 10, 2006

the newsmaw demands wall-to-wall terror coverage!

How will I know if I'm panicking hard enough?  I mean, the color codes for threat levels are great and everything, but how come they can't just come out and say how much we're supposed to panic, or at least how much panic is required for them to get to "mission accomplished"?

I tend to agree with Larry Johnson on these matters, and Mr. Johnson is of the opinion that the British are overdoing it a bit.  It may well not end up as insipidly as the roleplayers in Miami who were caught for want of uniforms, but shutting down Heathrow seems a bit excessive.  Mix in a healthy cynicism borne of the realization that US foreign policy is about a billion times more likely to be directly responsible for harm to me than terrorism is, and then you get, "Everyone please shut up."  M1-5 busted a cell.  Yippee.  Give everyone a medal and a cookie and get them back to work.  No Apocalypse today, sorry.

And as long as we're banning fluid from airplanes, why aren't we banning fluids from the streets as well?  Apparently the Department of Homeland Security cares a lot more about the lives of the jet-setters than the lives of us ham-n-eggers walking to work.  Wait, isn't the human body ninety-something percent fluid?  Dude, we have to ban people from airplanes or everyone's gonna die!

Somehow, you know that Joe Lieberman will find a way to blame this on the voters of Connecticut.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:13 PM

August 9, 2006

your election results will not stop joe lieberman

I've let the CT primary election pass without comment.  I do not live in Connecticut; primaries creep me out.*  So I left it to the echo-Blogo-box, and we all had our chuckles keeping up on it.  (Those crazy angry blog-people!)

But the primary is now over, and as DailyKos struggles not to break its arm patting itself on the back, I would like to congratulate Ned Lamont, whoever the hell he is, for his victory.  And Joe Lieberman, please enjoy your run as an independent, prolonging your very public and deserved crack-up.  Please hit every branch as you fall out of the ignominy tree.

The press has been wrong, characterizing the race as "peace groups" cannibalizing a mainstream Democrat -- actual, it was a race of an ineffective Senator married to his personal power against a mobilized and committed bunch of electorate sick of Joe's refusal to be neither a check nor a balance.

Damn, I sure do wish there were peace groups.  And I also wish they had wicked parties.  Those are a couple things I can get behind.

*  Yes, primaries are creepy.  The "we must disagree before we agree" spirit of the primary election is awkward and counter-intuitive.  Then again, the two party system is also so, with its tendency to aggregate power for power's sake.  "America: Awkward and Counter-Intuitive!"

Posted by mrbrent at 10:11 AM

August 8, 2006

bruce tinsley, super-cartoonist

While we're thinking comic strips, let's take time for our semi-annual consideration of Mallard Fillmore.  To recap, Mallard Fillmore is a comic strip about a duck (talking, naturally).  It also has a decidedly Conservative viewpoint.  How can we tell?  Well, there are constant references to "liberals", and it's also never ever funny.  No, instead of funny, you get straw men and ad hominem, and also mean-spiritedness towards the those that are not Conservative.  Example (hypothetical): What looks good on a homeless person?  Fire!

And then you get the laughing of people who would like to burn the homeless.

But don't just take my word for it.  Have a taste from last Thursday, and then imagine the Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that would be required to connect that strip with "funny" as we know it.  For the click-weary, allow me to transcribe the strip.

First panel, we see a duck, wearing a tie, holding a book aloft, as if it were a club or a cudgel.  Maybe he's just dancing.  In the background, the title of this day's strip: "Mallard's Back-To-School Tip #37."  Because, you see, in the place where ducks wear ties and beat you in the eyeball with a sharp pointy book, you are back to school by the 3rd of August.

Second (and final) panel is another panel consisting mostly of text, with an illustration accompanying.  It starts with these floating words:

"Don't do your book report on the best book I've read all year, Harry Stein's 'How I Accidentally Joined The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy'..."

The beginning of the tip, apparently.  Then, we see what must be a teacher, either a mannish looking female teacher or a forty-ish Dutch man, frowning a some pieces of paper, thinking to him/herself, "F minus..."  I hope that wasn't the punchline!  And then the remainder of the tip:

"Which demonstrates that liberalism is curable!  (Most educators think that liberals are born that way, and should even be allowed to marry each other and raise kids.)

I'll give you a second to stop laughing.

We will ignore the content of the strip (which advocates interment camps for "liberals"? or at least some form of eugenics?).  The content is low-hanging fruit.  The form of the content, though, is a comic strip, and as a comic strip it fails.  It never even approaches the form of a comic strip.  Sure, it has an illustration, but no nuance of expression, no actually utility in them.  They serve to break up the rant, to let some assistants actually get a brush dirty.  Mallard Fillmore is merely hate-filled screeds written in crayon.  A drunken, aged Al Capp at least managed to adhere to the form.  Mallard Fillmore reads like some desk calendar version of a self-perpetuating spite machine.

And as such, we mock it.  As we mock the creator, Bruce Tinsley.  Mr. Tinsley, you truly are a hack.  No, your politics are not the problem; it's actually your lack of talent.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:00 PM

goodbye bob thaves

As long as we're talking about unhappy endings, tip your glass to Bob Thaves tonight.  Bob Thaves was the creator of the comic strip Frank and Ernest, who has sadly passed away.

Sure, Frank and Ernest wasn't ever the funniest strip ever, but it was genial little gag strip, and it had this unhinged quality about the art that made it look like the jittery stepson of a New Yorker cartoon (with Zipatone!).  Not that I read the New Yorker back then.  No, back then, childhood, I read the Pittsburgh Press (also, RIP), which was where I got my Frank & Ernie, and my Funky Winkerbean.  And my taste for comic strips, I'd guess.

Cheers to Mr. Thaves, and condolences to friends and family.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:18 PM

another little disappointment

This is not news I'd expect to learn reading the NY Times Local section.  Though I guess Newark, NJ plays a part in the story, which is local to us here in NYC, thus, dissemble, dissemble for intro.  However!

The NY Times story concerned how Anheuser-Busch, brewer of yellow beers of great consistency, has acquired Rolling Rock.  As bad as this news is on the surface, the worse news is that A-B has decided to cease brewing operations in Latrobe, PA, and move them to the A-B brewery in Newark, NJ, conveniently located right next to the airport.  No more glass lined tanks.  No more mountain springs.  Thirty-three is now just another integer.

As the NY Times linkage policy is not to my liking, I present to you a link concerning this story from The Beaver County Times.  As a one-time resident of Alleghany County, I shout out to you, Beaver County.  Hopefully you will be able to make do with locally owned and operated Iron City Beer (unless it's still icky like I remember it).

Posted by mrbrent at 10:41 AM

August 7, 2006

it's soapbox monday, with grouper

The rigged elections of the past few years is a topic that I try and remind myself to write about as often as possible.  To the point of annoyance, hopefully.  Everyone has their pet issue, and this one is mine, or one of mine -- no kind of governmental change can happen if the vote is not transparent and honest.  And there are many indications that our vote is not safe -- start here and here and click links as they interest you.

One of the primary flags that has popped up is not so much the motive or opportunity that rigged elections have occurred as it is the means.  Electronic voting machines (as manufactured by Diebold) have been found to have security flaws, enabling a malicious user to easily override votecounting software.  Diebold's response?  Absence of malice.

"For there to be a problem here, you're basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software," [Diebold spokesman, David Bear] said.  "I don't believe these evil elections people exist."

Much like an icepick manufacturer saying, "You're assuming there are an evil and nefarious hired killers out there would use our icepick to stab another person in the brain.  I don't believe such hired killers exist."

In argument against this defense, I present you with Exhibit A -- the St. Pete Times conducted a study and found that, out of restaurants surveyed, less than half would actually serve you grouper after you had ordered grouper, instead replacing it with cheaper fish.  As you may know, grouper is a very popular culinary item on Florida's Gulf Coast, as is eating in restaurants.  And apparently the restaurants of the Gulf Coast won't let a little thing like honesty get in the way of their ability to put grouper on the menu.

Basically, if six out of eleven restauranteurs are willing to risk death by torch and pitchfork wielding angry Floridians just to make a buck or two, then I'm sure that other folk would risk absolutely no scrutiny whatsoever to rig a few elections.

We need transparent voting with paper receipts.  Isn't that what we usually ask of the nations we "build"?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM