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June 28, 2008

grover norquist cannot not be a douche

Keith Olbermann makes a good point, and it deserves to be repeated in all the media (even this lil tiny one) -- if anti-tax talking head Grover Norquist calls Sen. Barack Obama "John Kerry with a tan", is that not a noteworthy event?&nbap; As Olbermann puts it:
Am I missing something here?

I know this literal reference to the color of a man's skin may not be new (it appears, with equal dismissiveness, in some chat rooms as long ago as last November, and Anna Marie Cox had a line about Mitt Romney being "John Kerry with a tan" early this year), but it's not like Grover Norquist is some memory from the antique Republican past...

Can you really say this about an African-American candidate and not only not get any grief for it, but not get any coverage?

And as of this Saturday afternoon, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have not so much as mentioned the story, and the Huffington Post (not really a post, just some ones and zeros) has the story about two-thirds of the way down the main page.

I don't think that presses need to be stopped, but isn't it reportable?

Remember also that Norquist is the author of the quote, "My goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub," which was very high comedy back around the time Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans while an incompetent, government run FEMA shuffled its feet and tried to look busy.

Actually, maybe the trade-off on this is that the "tan" comment gets ignored in exchange for the American people never ever hearing Norquist's name again.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:40 AM

June 27, 2008

nobama, i mean, nillary

In light of today's news of the symbolic handshake after the hard-fought race, accompanied by laudatory speeches, promises of support, etc., my thought is this:

With regard to the splinter factions of supporters of Sen. Clinton who have decided to actively campaign against Sen. Obama (no, won't link them today, but you know where to find them), at what point will Clinton's endorsement of Obama, and her campaigning for Obama and the Democratic ticket, cause these splinter factions to turn on Clinton as well?

And when they commence with the innuendo over her religion, or her race, or her husband dropping "whitey"-bombs, once they've decided to drown in self-pity and eat their own spleens, what will be left of them?  Will they become a lost tribe of malcontents, persistent that votes are only counted if your guy wins, defaming anything that moves?

I couldn't have predicted that a small portion of the "independent voters" at stake this November would consist of a handful of crazified crypto-Democrats careening around the political landscape in a clown car.  But I like it all the same.

(For the avoidance of doubt, I have not a thing against Clinton's supporters -- I'm drawing the distinction between the majority of her supporters and the minority of her supporters who seem to be more concerned with flipping over cars than anything else.)

Posted by mrbrent at 3:33 PM

will leitch and buzz bissinger, sitting in a tree

I'm pondering lately on the nature of website-commenting.  What is it that brings the crashing incivility of website-commenters out?  Is it the anonymity?  Is it like inebriation, where the more ideal and truthful version of your self is freed, and the ideal and truthful version of your self is an asshole?

How fortunate, then, to stumble across this very long post -- as part of Will Leitch's farewell to editing Deadspin, he revisited his now-historic clash with sportswriter Buzz Bissinger on the set of a Bob Costas-hosted television show (you remember it, it was emailed to you by all your cousins) with a very long, thoughtful (and polite!) email conversation with Bissinger about the incident, the nature of reporting versus blogging, and the assholery of commenters.

It is very much worth a read, even if you do not like sports.  Or commenters.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:15 PM

david addington does not have time for this

This is the kind of fun I miss by not staying home from work and watching CSPAN all day: in a Washington Post column with the entertaining (and long) headline of "When Anonymity Fails, Be Nasty, Brutish and Short", Dana Milbank describes the Congressional testimonies of two White House eggheads who are unaccustomed to the public eye.

Egghead number one is David Addington, who is the Chief-of-Staff for the Vice President -- kind of like Darth Vader's Freddy Krueger, or maybe vice versa.  Milbank describes Addington as mostly pissed off that he had to waste his time testifying.  He is also rumored to be the lead proponent of the notion that president has a magic fairy wand that he can wave and do what ever he ever wants because terrorists hate freedom, which lead to this widely noted exchange:

When John Conyers (D-Mich.) inquired about Addington's pet legal concept, a "unitary executive theory" that confers extreme powers on the president, Addington dished out disdain.

"I frankly don't know what you mean by unitary theory," Addington replied.

"I see it in the newspapers all the time," Addington replied.

"Do you support it?"

"I don't know what it is."

The usually mild Conyers was angry.  "You're telling me you don't know what the unitary theory means?"

"I don't know what you mean by it," Addington answered.

"Do you know what you mean by it?"

"I know exactly what I mean by it."

This exchange rises above obfuscatory and screams past obstreperous into a-one throbbing asshole, and it makes you wonder if there is any institution that Addington would cede oversight to.  I got nothing against a little disdain for authority figures, but, in this case, I hope Congress subpoenas Addington's ass to appear once a day for the next six months, just so he'll never be able to keep an afternoon tee time.

Egghead number two is John Yoo, who is the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote the memo advising justifying the Administration's interesting views on its War Against Indefinitely Detained Terrorists as it relates to torturing the righteousness out of them (which memo was later rescinded when someone let the damn fool public read it).  Woo was not as contemptuous as Addington, Milbank says, but tried to keep up so that Addington wouldn't cut off his pinkie later.  Also, Woo is someone that you would want to play Trivial Pursuit against:

After several such dances around the questions (whether, for example, the president could order somebody buried alive), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) offered his grudging respect: "You guys are great on 'Beat the Clock,' " he said.

"I don't play basketball," replied the 41-year-old Yoo.

"That was a game show," Cohen explained.

God, I don't even know what the hearings were for -- who can keep track! -- but I could watch that shit all night long.  It is a revealing glimpse into the banality of these people whose work-product has done so much to fuck our world sideways.


Posted by mrbrent at 8:19 AM

June 26, 2008

max headroom

A moment of cultural reminiscence/appreciation.  As easy as it is to remember the television/movies/etc. that we were fans of as dimmed with the years and aged poorly, "Max Headroom" was good.  Oh, it was cheesy and TV-looking, but it was dystopic (which is good training for the adolescent mind) and Matt Frewer was as charming as shit as the protagonist(s).

Not that this should be a revelation, but it is for me.  Sure, there are those artifacts that everyone remembers (usually because their parents got them the DVD and/or boxsets for Christmas), there are those that fall between the cracks, and, for some reason, have not been unearthed during these past years of constant recycling of ideas.

I hadn't thought of "Max Headroom" in umpty-something years, until I say this io9 post, calling for a new movie.  I dunno if there should be a new movie, but I will remember that TV can be good.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:35 PM

would this count as a scotus listicle?

Anyone else getting the impression that the Supreme Court was getting tired of being out of the spotlight?  Long gone are the days of the days of punting back to the lower jurisdictions, or the very narrow decisions that are useless for precedent.

First, The Court decides that the bar for interfering with voting rights is very high indeed, and that your Fantasy Baseball Team has certain inalienable rights.  Then, going for a big splash, they kick the Bush Administration's War on Indefinitely Detained Terrorists in the stomach.  And finally, in a two-day race to the end of the term, they put death penalty opponents in the difficult position of implicitly defending the rapers of children, decide that the goalpost of corporate responsibility for environmental accidents can be litigated out of existence, and pick the Second Amendment as the new American Idol for 2008.

All that's missing in the look-at-me of the SCOTUS is a decision on Amy Winehouse, or a group appearance for the odious Nancy Grace.

Surprisingly, it's a mixed bad -- some decisions (habeas corpus, death penalty) I like, and others (Exxon, handguns) I do not.  All in all, given the range of decisions, the fix is not totally in.  And even the bad ones are at least well-reasoned and not flagrantly partisan in the face of the law.  As this DailyKossack puts it, "And as liberals -- unlike the other guys -- we ought not try to pretend that the Constitution doesn't exist when it gets in the way of our policy preferences."

But do remember that all of the decisions we like (and a couple we don't) were 5-4 decisions, which makes a presidential election all them more important.  Vote early and often!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:30 AM

June 25, 2008

you like my finger, you really like my finger

Welcome to the last post about my smashing my finger in a door.  It's been a long strange twenty-four hours, but I've been overwhelmed with the outpouring of concern for my ring finger.  True, I do think that maybe some of the concern was, how do they say, tongue in cheek, but my ring finger couldn't tell the difference.

And a special thank you to the Shoebox That Doesn't Stop, who had to go and one-up me with a story about a smashed finger that includes gore and a sexually attractive Scot.  Maybe if enough of you have stories about smashed fingers, we can scotch together some kind of book deal, just like the grown-ups do.

If ever there was a ring finger that was more loved and cared for by a strong community of people than my ring finger, well, then, I would rather have that ring finger.

(The typing is also getting easier, though the s and w keys are still a little bit of a problem.)

Posted by mrbrent at 11:20 AM

June 24, 2008

i'm still talking about my finger

I was just remarking to friends how the Internet can be stupid, like when you get an email that notifies you that you got a message in some other online environment that requires you to click through, sign in, etc.  It may not be killing a fly with a sledgehammer, but it is following a ten-step recipe to boil water.  Stupid Internet.

However, the Internet can be delicious as well, as a day's worth of throbbing led me to this page, in all of five seconds.

I would say that I love the Internet, but then I'd probably owe VH1 a quarter.  Stupid VH1.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:19 PM

ask me about my finger

So the fascinating thing about slamming your finger in the door, is that it really transforms an ordinary day.
"Hey, Titivil, didja catch the game last night?'

"I slammed my finger in the door."

"Hey, Titivil, did you walk the puppy dog this morning?"

"I think, but then again I slammed my finger in the door."

"Hey, Titivil, can you proofread this for me?"

"Jesus my fucking finger hurts."

I feel like I'm Nicholson Baker or something, and I'm slowly living a long novel about the day that I slammed my finger in the door.

Also fascinating: typing with six fingers.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:56 PM

June 23, 2008

more george carlin

A small complaint concerning the coverage of the passing of George Carlin -- I notice on the Yahoo! mainpage he is being described as "counterculture comedian".

Comedian?  Well yes, surely.  That was his career, and whatever forays he had outside of stand-up I can barely remember.

But "counterculture"?  I mean, sure, historically, but shouldn't Carlin's thumbnail obit run a little deeper than "counterculture"?

There was a time when he was "counter" to the culture, and that time was over thirty-five years ago.  And Carlin won.  In the last twenty or twenty-five years of his life, Carlin was no longer "counterculture".  He was culture.

He kicked all the asses of all the squares, and I just wanted to have that in print, somewhere.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:53 PM

george carlin

Losing Harvey Korman and then George Carlin in a month's time just doesn't seem fair.  Well, fair has nothing to do with it, duh.

Actually, I will most fondly remember this: every year or two when George would have a new concert on HBO, he would make the rounds on the late night talk shows.  He had gotten far enough that he was not there to perform an excerpt; he was there to sit at the couch.  And each time he made the rounds, each show he visited (Carson, Leno, O'Brien, etc.) he would have pretty much the exact same "conversation" with each host.  He must have had them scripted out in advance, and given the same pre-interview for each host.

With any other comedian, I would call that hackery.  With Carlin, I would call it professionalism.

Here's a nice NSFW (i.e., filled with seven plus dirty words) .wav file (which launches when you click) to remember him by.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:34 AM

June 22, 2008

floyd brown's work galls god

Further to this piece on libel-merchant Floyd Brown -- the man who brought us Willie Horton ads in the '88 election -- I came across this response, which raised points that should have more volume.  Namely, why is the NYTimes giving Brown anything that resembles legitimacy?

In response to the NYTimes' soft-ball description of the ad campaign against Obama Brown is pursuing, David Neiwert writes:

My, isn't that benign.  It somehow manages to neglect pointing out the fairly naked dog-whistle race-baiting that is contained within those ads -- as we noted, anyone watching them can see that there's a larger, underlying theme: they're all about associating Obama with black criminality and supposedly lax liberal policies to "blame" for it, or conversely about his supposed "Muslim background".  It's all about scaring white suburbanites while giving them the cover of hand-wringing about his "judgment."

I would say that the NYTimes, while not marching in lock-step with me or those that believe the same things that I do, does have a responsibility to call it like it is, and it is like this: Floyd Brown does (and has done) nothing other than to support GOP candidates by flinging whispering campaign attacks at the Democratic candidate -- "Obama is a Muslim, Obama is friends with black people, Obama prefers hockey, etc.  These are not valid attacks, and they do not even rise to "dirty campaigning".  They are "McCain has an illegitimate black baby attacks that should neither be popularized nor tolerated.

Even worse, for me, in the NYTimes piece is something that I've been noticing (but not so much as to keep a list of links), namely, the revisionist history that the Swiftboat campaign against Kerry four years ago was somehow, again, legitimate.  Sure, they might have tipped the election, but does success somehow make the tactics of those mendacious Swiftboat assholes permissible?  Now the use of utter fucking lies to manipulate a gullible electorate is a page in the standard playbook that good people should not stand against?

Posted by mrbrent at 3:37 PM

why did thaddeus mccotter cross the road?

Further to the conservative funny-man thesis raised by Gawker's Michael Weiss, please examine this footage of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) giving his comedy routine "Speaking Democrat: A Primer" a dry run on the floor of the House of Representative.  It's a pedestrian premise -- "Democrats mean the opposite of what they say" -- but it's given a Foxworthyian delivery, as he has written down the examples on posterboard for all the world (and himself) to read, and his droll manner belies a man accustomed to wearing the lampshade at the party.

It's counter-intuitive to pullquote a YouTube video, but, let's try:

(Gesturing at his posterboard display.)  This is my favorite part -- "The Rich" means "you".  For example, "The Democrats will only tax the rich," translates as, "The Democrats will only tax you."  (Pausing, to a totally silent room.)  Ouch.

See, now, I was just drinking orange juice, and, when I read that pullquote, I snorted the orange juice up through my nose.  So I advise not to be drinking orange juice if you're going to watch the footage.

The footage was uploaded to YouTube by McCotter's office, so, no, this was not put up by his opponent in a effort to laughing-stock McCotter.  McCotter is laughing-stock himself with nobody else'e help.

And to answer McCotter on the merits: there are no merits, you are a clown, and not the funny kind.  Enjoy your campaign to reelect.

[Via Wonkette, still kicking.]

Posted by mrbrent at 9:43 AM