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April 6, 2007

disclaimer: i'm white too!

Just to follow up on the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.  A week ago I linked up an op-ed from a veteran of the Civil Rights Division deploring its lack of use under the Bush Administration.

Today, TPM Muckraker does a little legwork and discovers that political appointees were not so much ignoring the purpose of the Civil Rights Division as they were turning it on its head:

During the first five years of the Bush administration, the Justice Department's voting section only filed a single case alleging voting discrimination on behalf of African American voters...  But during that same time period, the section managed to file the first ever reverse discrimination case under the Voting Rights Act.

I hope all you white people are grateful to Ashcroft/Gonzales for protecting your rights not to be discriminated against by the discriminated.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:18 PM

cyanide and happiness

I have a new webcomic to recommend to you.  It is called "Cyanide and Happiness".  It's a daily strip, and I believe that it's put out by a group of fellas, but it has a unified (simple) design that the individuals have some leeway with.  It's a neato idea, if I may use the word "neato".

Plus also it is funny (if you don't mind the dark).  I especially like this one.  I have a strict words-only policy, but the caption alone should suffice in determining whether or not you will like the strip:

Hey, Seizure Man, could you hold my baby and this can of soda so I can turn on this strobe light?

Yeah, that should do it.

And as long as we're talking comic strips, lets check in with Bruce Tinsley's "Mallard Fillmore".  Hey, still not funny!  It's good to see, though, that Tinsley is happy to give credit to global warming, if only to set up a joke comment on political correctness involving penguins.  Including also a faint whiff of racism.  It's good to know that some things you can count on.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:23 AM

April 5, 2007

surf's up: orrin hatch

This may have been obvious to the people of Utah, but it's a bit of a shock to me.  Come to find out, when Rep. Orrin Hatch fell out of the stupid tree, he hit every last branch.  (Nutshell: on "Meet The Press", Rep. Hatch accuses fired, Dukester-prosecuting US Attorney Carol Lam of having the resume of a man who held the same office, but ten years early under the appointment of President Clinton.  When faced with his errors of fact, Rep. Hatch responds with something like, "I admit an irrelevant typo, but stand by the facts.")

At issue is nothing like a Stanford-Binet test, so I am guilty of a florid turn of phrase that may obscure the matter.  On the other hand, Hatch's mendacity, and then his mendacious defense of his earlier lie, speak of someone who is either totally witless or so much smarter that I am that he sees how being perceived as a gutless hack carrying water for a wildly unpopular administration is a feather in his cap, no matter what you people say.

And of course we know that whoever will be doing the laughing last/best will most certainly not be me or TPM or Rachel Maddow.  My persistent belief that being witless is somehow a bad thing is what makes me old-fashioned, and is what would keep me out of the corridors of power, had I any wish to be there.  It's the petard by which I will be hoist.  The American people don't like smart people -- they like winners.  Winners like the president, and Rep. Hatch, who has been kicking ass in Utah since before you were born, snot-nose.

(Choice pick in the linked piece is the first update, which is a lawyer's take on why I may be stupider than Rep. Hatch is for calling him stupid.)

Posted by mrbrent at 3:42 PM

the knights who disagree with the premise of the question

A good catch on the Cheney Hiding In The Bushes contretemps was submitted.  Ordinarily, the heavy lifting in the Good Catch falls to Monk, who is currently avoiding subpoena on hiatus, so I'm grateful to Sam P. (if that is in fact his name) for the deft photoshop illustrating a cultural treasure unwittingly invoked.

This is the second time that Python has come up this week, and one and a half times is my baseline for meaningful coincidence.  Time to let our dork flag fly, I guess, and bust out the funny walks.

Also, Dick Cheney is watching you masturbate.  Thank God It's Thursday!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:12 AM

April 4, 2007

newsmax will love a good flag burning story

Shake hands with the next controversy to push actual news off the blogodar.  Apparently New Haven cops busted some gentlemen for burning a U.S. flag

Yes, it seems alarming on the face of it, especially with passages in the article like this:

They appeared in court in leg irons and handcuffs, the [New Haven Register] said. Bail was set at $25,000 for [accused flag-burners] Angelopoulos and Akbar, and $15,000 for [other accused flag-burner] Anklesaria, it added.

The leg irons and the decidedly non-Western European surnames being the first to jump out at you.  But, while there is a briefcase full of jurisprudence on this issue agreeing that, on a general level, the burning of flags is speech protected under the First Amendment, if the free-speechers are burning someone else's flag, you're no longer talking about a speech issue but rather a crime against someone's property, which is frowned upon here in these United States.

So please, let the Forces of Righteousness build their strawmen and call for the gallows without response -- there is no dog in this fight for us.  Unless of course someone wants to argue the legality of burning your own flag, in which case, that's always a fun conversation to have.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:32 PM

cheney's ghost can't wait to get started

If you haven't seen this yet, go do.  During yesterday's Rose Garden press conference (wherein the president asserted that the sole power granted to Congress under the Constitution is to pass legislation suggested by the unitary executive), the vice president is caught on camera sneering alone behind some shrubbery.  I don't often click over to watch these things.  With this one, I did, and what I will lose in sleep I will gain in satisfaction that the world is getter weirder.

In the post, Wonkette suggests that this imagery is somehow David-Lynchian.  I disagree.  Lynch is creepy, but also affably dreamy at the same time.  I think the footage is more reminiscent of the spooky ghostboy in "Three Men And A Baby".

Wonkette also follows up with valuable research into the ghost of Dick Cheney haunting the Rose Garden.  It's about time we stopped talking about Cheney's obvious supernatural powers and did something about it.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:54 AM

April 2, 2007

circuit city laughs at your funeral

The fundamental belief in my anti-corporatism is this: corporations have achieved sentience and want to consume us as food.  This may be a goofball tenet to hold, but I hold it, and accordingly I spend a substantial amount of time worrying about the day when a corporation will consume me as food, or alternately planning ways to defend myself against the eventual corporation who will try to consume me as food.

There is of course a longish argument to support this, which I'm pretty sure I've made at least a couple times, and will return to in the future.  The shortish version -- and I, senator, am no economist -- is that the prime directive of the corporate entity is to "increase shareholder value", which is not only completely ignorant of employee welfare or common social good, it is in many cases mutually exclusive with these higher values that apparently only pinko communists believe in anymore.

And it is this mild obsession that spurs me to, occasionally, note further exhibits of corporations consuming people as food.  Maybe you've heard of this one: Circuit City's gonna shitcan 3,400 workers.  This may not seem like much, when you consider the tens/hundreds of thousands laid off by automakers and the "can't you see me suffer" worker givebacks demanded to prop up a dying airline industry. 

There are, however, two salient points of interest.  First of all, Circuit City isn't exactly on the brink of Chapter 11, as the automotive/airline industries tend to be.  They may be getting their butts kicked by other retailers, but they are solvent.  So the layoffs are not a last-ditch hands-are-tied move; nope, instead it's just a garden-variety naked ploy to spike the stock price.  And the second point is the nature of the layoffs -- this is not a buyout/no rehire of retiree positions, the gentle workforce shrink you sometimes see.  Circuit City is "targeting better-paid employees", or, in other words, the employees with seniority, who put in tenure with Circuit City in order to obtain these higher wages.  Which may be refreshing in its openness w/r/t the absence of any principle at all, but is still a pretty shitty thing to do, and the kind of corporate tactic that collective bargaining was created to prevent.  All the while Circuit City paid out more than ten million dollars to the top two executives (which figure is very low, as it does not include stock options that have not been exercised) last year, which of course is not excessive and seems to be fair compensation for arbitrarily tossing 3,400 workers out on the street for the simple crime of being loyal to the company.  (For the record, the CEO compensation is not a figure reported in the AP story, or even in the many other stories about the layoffs -- I had to dig around.) (which is something you don't get from reading the above-linked AP story).

Finally, there is also a very good column by the NYTimes' David Carr concerning this, which I won't link directly because of their paywall -- for the next week or so, though, it will be indexed and available for free at this link.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:09 PM

terry jones is a film director, actor and python

I have no smarty-pants for the following.  if you click over to this op-ed by Terry Jones, you will see that he brings enough smarty-pants for everyone:
It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later.  If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all.  Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.

I'm trying to figure out if the piece is "satire" or "irony", but it's hard because people keep telling me that neither exist in these digital playgrounds.

But it's always good to hear from a Python.

[Via Americablog, via Media Matters]

Posted by mrbrent at 12:00 PM

it is my understanding that the mets are now in first

I don't want to get all Roger Angell or anything.  But I am genuinely relieved that another baseball season is upon us.  And it's not "overjoyed" or "rabidly anticipating" -- I feel relief.  It takes the sting out of the passing of the years.  Also, it is conducive to beer and conversation, which, if you're gonna spend an afternoon avoiding your chores, etc. etc.

But not everyone shares these vague feelings of goodness!  Take this guy, who keeps experimenting with more and more visceral reasons for impeachment.  Hey, if the forces of righteousness can impeach a president for falling into a perjury trap, then we might as damn well file charges against a chief too lily-livered to face 35,000 booing fans for the sake of America's game.

Yes, that's right.  "Hey"!

For the record, I am a fan of the Metropolitans of New York in specific, and the National League in general.  To read of the Mets' prospects this year, read this excellent thing here, and this one too.  To learn more about the National League, where pitchers take off their skirts, try a newspaper, or a television, if you're not feeling so literate.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:52 AM