Monday, December 29, 2008

A Belated Happy Holidays & All That

Sporadic blogging ahead. I'm taking some time off for personal reasons.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Obstacles To Defense Spending Cuts

This post was amputated from "Did NY Times Op-Ed Force Pentagon's Hand?"

The first obstacle faced in cutting defense spending: Defense cuts equal job cuts.

The second, bigger obstacle is Congress. Natch. The NYT gets to the nub of the issue:

Congress will need to develop a lot more realism and restraint. Lobbyists pushing costly and unneeded weapons systems find ready allies in lawmakers looking to create or protect federally financed jobs in their districts. Big contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics have become masters at spreading those jobs around to assemble broad Congressional voting blocs. Work on the F-22 has been parceled out to subcontractors in 44 states.
This is going to be one of the great tests of the Obama administration. Can our new president work with the Democratic Congressional majority and the Pentagon to see beyond the jobs military contractors provide on massively expensive, wasteful DOD projects and reign in runaway spending? Will our government be able to replace any defense industry jobs lost with comparable positions elsewhere? Is it possible to do so and win re-election?

The third obstacle is the defense industry itself.* If Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics are smart, they'd realize the best thing for our country and their business would be to finally face forward. These military-industrial giants would be wise to partner with the Obama administration and Congress to focus their efforts on developing new sustainable biofuels, alternative energy sources and creating a new national energy infrastructure. By so doing, new jobs would be created, energy problems could be solved and taxpayer dollars would be spent on ensuring our future rather than building outrageously expensive weapons designed to fight the wars of our past.

Until that time, as General Dynamics' "whopping $14 billion contract" to build super subs we don't need proves, it's business as usual.

*Note: Sloppy I know but somehow this sentence was clipped in the "amputation."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ACLU Needs Your Help

The two foundations that were the ACLU's biggest donors were cleaned out by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Donate to the ACLU here.


Rick Warren's Church Scrubs Anti-Gay Rhetoric From Website

Think Progess has the deets.


Did NYT Op-Ed Force Pentagon's Hand?

Yesterday, I blogged about a NY Times Op-Ed calling for billions of dollars in defense cuts through eliminating wasteful military programs inappropriate for 21st century warfare.

Among those programs on the Times' hit list:

Halt production of the Virginia class sub. Ten of these unneeded attack submarines — modeled on the cold-war-era Seawolf, whose mission was to counter Soviet attack and nuclear launch submarines — have already been built. The program is little more than a public works project to keep the Newport News, Va., and Groton, Conn., naval shipyards in business.
Good call but it looks like it comes too late. Per today's Boston Globe Political Intelligence blog:

The US Navy this afternoon is expected to award a whopping $14 billion contract to General Dynamics to build eight new attack submarines, providing a stable workload for at least the next decade at the company's Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Conn., and a key manufacturing facility on Narragansset Bay in Quonset Point, R.I., according to several knowledgeable sources.

The contract for Virginia class submarines "guarantees work on the New England waterfront at least through 2019," said a company official who asked not to be identified before the official announcement from the Department of Defense, which is expected at 5 pm.

General Dynamics employs about 10,500 people between its shipyard in Groton and hull-fabrication plant in Rhode Island.

The timing of this multi-billion dollar sub deal is curious. It comes on the first business day after "How to Pay for a 21st-Century Military" is published. The Navy leaks the announcement of this $14 billion dollar contract award to General Dynamic at a time, three days before Christmas, in which it is likely to receive little scrutiny. More importantly, the contract is announced a month before Obama's inauguration.

The Bush administration certainly wasn't going to say no to General Dynamics at this late juncture. President-elect Obama couldn't block it if he wanted to. Once sworn-in, President Obama will be powerfully disinclined to cut 10000+ jobs. (Especially as they are all centered in one region). Not with the state of the US economy. No way. No how.

Which begs this question: Did NYT's call to halt Virginia class subs construction instead have the unintended consequence of ensuring the program's continuation?


**12/26/08: Edited for clarity forming a separate post here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

NYT Offers Defense Budget Tips. Shoots Self In Foot.

Although I'm no military expert, I am a keen student of military history. I follow US weapons program development pretty closely out of curiosity and because of their penchant for fraud and waste.

The NY Times editorial board lays out their plan to cut the US Defense budget. Their research comes off as shaky. NYT heralds the troubled, most expensive program ever as cost saving.

Kicking off their list:

End production of the Air Force’s F-22. The F-22 was designed to ensure victory in air-to-air dogfights with the kind of futuristic fighters that the Soviet Union did not last long enough to build. The Air Force should instead rely on its version of the new high-performance F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which comes into production in 2012 and like the F-22 uses stealth technology to elude enemy radar.

Until then, it can use upgraded versions of the F-16, which can outperform anything now flown by any potential foe. The F-35 will provide a still larger margin of superiority. The net annual savings: about $3 billion.
The NYT needs to check their facts and their math. The F-22 was a colossal mistake but the F-35 is neither a fix nor a bargain. Not even our allies are sold on the F-35. Sept. 14, 2008's Sydney Morning Herald called the "$151m Planes 'A Disaster'":
Fresh doubts have been thrown on Australia's most costly military project in history after aviation experts slammed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a "disaster" that lacks power and punch.

An article in Janes Defence Weekly last week said the F-35 was "overweight and underpowered", lacked manoeuvrability, could not carry enough bombs, was too delicate to withstand ground fire and was overpriced.

Sure doesn't sound like this plane is the answer. It's not just the F-35 performance that's in question, It's price is no bargain whatever the cost. And I do mean whatever the cost.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon touted a $1 billion drop (or about $400,000 per) on the price tag for the 2500 F-35s ordered for the Navy, Air Force & Marines. However, at the same time Bloomberg News noted GAO auditors had a vastly different read:

The cost of Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter, already the most expensive weapons program ever, is projected to increase as much as $38 billion, congressional auditors said yesterday.

That would bring the price of 2,458 F-35s to $337 billion, 45 percent more than estimated when the program began in October 2001.

"Midway through development, the program is over cost and behind schedule," Michael J. Sullivan, director of acquisition and sourcing management for the Government Accountability Office, told two panels of the House Armed Services Committee that oversee military spending.

Personally, I trust GAO accounting over the Pentagon's balance sheet every single time. Bloomberg continues:

The 12-year development of the fighter jet is entering its most challenging phase, including test flights, completing the software, finishing design of the three F-35 models and refining manufacturing processes at Lockheed and its subcontractors.

Sullivan said the Pentagon has identified billions of dollars in unfunded requirements, continued delays and "substantial" production inefficiency by Lockheed and engine-maker Pratt & Whitney that will increase costs.

At $337 billion, the Joint Strike Fighter's price would be more than twice that of the Pentagon's second-most expensive weapons program, the $160 billion Future Combat System.

As expensive and wasteful as the F-35 project has been over the past 12 years, we still don't really don't know how this turkey will fly. It wasn't until last month, on it's 69th test flight, that the F-35 finally flew supersonic -- for eight minutes. If Lockheed Martin is to be believed, this fighter won't be delivered until 2012.

Conceived over a decade ago, both the F-22 & the F-35 are ill-suited to 21st century warfare. Both programs should be scrapped. We should start over incorporating the best technology of the F-22 & the F-35 in a new design. As the Times pointed out, "upgraded" versions of the F-16 are plenty adequate for now.

Will Obama and the Pentagon have the courage to admit the F-22 & F-35 programs are a mistake and start over?


Somebody's Glad I'm Home

I'll Never Understand Bigotry, Pt. 1

I've mentioned elsewhere I do not understand bigotry. I never have. I don't think I ever will.

Borne of ignorance and nurtured by environment, bigotry grows beyond it's inherent ugliness. It's cowardice. It's irrational. It drives man to commit the most unspeakably evil acts. It's completely pointless.

Yet bigotry seems innate to humanity. Perhaps bigotry is something we were hard-wired for prior to walking upright as a mechanism to defend our turf and its resources against strangers' encroachment. Millions of years later it seems to serve that self-same purpose.

The Nation's Katrina's Hidden Race War is one crucial read -- a powerful story of racism, opportunism, murder and institutional apathy. Check this particularly chilling passage:

"It was great! It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it." A native of Chicago, Janak also boasts of becoming a true Southerner, saying, "I am no longer a Yankee. I earned my wings." A white woman standing next to him adds, "He understands the N-word now." In this neighborhood, she continues, "we take care of our own."

Janak, who says he'd been armed with two .38s and a shotgun, brags about keeping the bloody shirt worn by a shooting victim as a trophy. When "looters" showed up in the neighborhood, "they left full of buckshot," he brags, adding, "You know what? Algiers Point is not a pussy community."
Katrina left Janak's exclusive almost entirely white New Orleans neighborhood of Algiers Point pretty much unscathed. Due to its intact ferry terminal and central location, the National Guard dubbed Algiers Point an "official evacuation site." Federal agencies dropped flood victims there to be herded onto buses to Texas. Unbeknownst to them, African-Americans who headed to the Point on foot risked being treated as "looters."
Some of the gunmen prowling Algiers Point were out to wage a race war, says one woman whose uncle and two cousins joined the cause. A former New Orleanian, this source spoke to me anonymously because she fears her relatives could be prosecuted for their crimes. "My uncle was very excited that it was a free-for-all--white against black--that he could participate in," says the woman. "For him, the opportunity to hunt black people was a joy."

"They didn't want any of the 'ghetto niggers' coming over" from the east side of the river, she says, adding that her relatives viewed African-Americans who wandered into Algiers Point as "fair game." One of her cousins, a young man in his 20s, sent an e-mail to her and several other family members describing his adventures with the militia. He had attached a photo in which he posed next to an African-American man who'd been fatally shot. The tone of the e-mail, she says, was "gleeful"--her cousin was happy that "they were shooting niggers."

I found Katrina's Hidden Race War so disturbing, so sickening and so alien it took me at least 10 tries to read it through. (Stories like these test my weakened resolve to not turn away from suffering). What is absolutelyfuckingmindblowing is to date only three gunshot deaths during Katrina and its entire aftermath investigated by the police involve shootings by NOPD: The Danziger Bridge incident and Danny Brumfield.

I don't think I'll ever truly understand bigotry. Except in those rare cases marked by extenuating circumstances (i.e. self-defense, euthanasia), I am unable to make sense of murder. That something so stupid and irrational as bigotry can "drive" someone to murder is way beyond my capacity to understand.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

They Said It. I Repeat It.

Via Raw Story:

"Just because I like pizza it doesn’t mean I should marry it. Biologically, I am predisposed to enjoy the immaculate melding of mozzarella cheese, red sauce and thick crust baked to tasty perfection.

"But that doesn’t mean I should enter into a lifelong commitment with Sicilian or plain, nor bed it down, nor bring children into the world and have them have to explain to their classmates why their mom’s crust is not a crisp as it once was.

"Does any child deserve to have their friends tossing Monday 2 for 1 coupons in his face? Not in my world they don’t. Yet, to say that I am against pizza-eaters or gays is absurd. Our Saddleback Church offer more weight-watchers meetings to overeaters than any other evangelical megachurch on the west coast."
-Pastor Rick Warren
on NBC's Dateline

Unbelievable. A completely lacking of respect. I'm guessing he thinks his ill-advised analogy to explain his anti-gay marriage stance is funny.

I'm not laughing.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's Not Just The "Gays" That Are Pissed About Rick Warren

LA Times: Obama's choice of Rick Warren to lead prayer dismays Hollywood liberals. I'm still waiting for the media to recognize plenty of people who are not gay and don't work Hollywood that are livid over this.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Delay. Obstruct. Delay.


It's the GOP mantra.


Rick Warren In Action

The Billerico Project has the fascinating details of how Rick Warren initially agreed to and then did everything he could to try to get out of a meeting with gay parents in That Weird Hug from Rick Warren." It's clear Rick Warren has no apparent interest in discourse or dialogue with the gay community. Warren had to be shamed into any form of "honoring" his commitment.

Hey, I'm all about spirituality of any kind. However, it makes me spit blood to see the hypocrisy of those who holler "Praise Jesus" and then divvy up their fellow human beings into groups that do and do not deserve respect, civil rights, Heaven...How is this Christian?

It's not. It can't be. It's a perversion of Jesus' teaching.

I know that my christening of these Evangelicals as "Jesus freaks" causes some to bristle. If Jesus came back today, he might find these folks freaks too.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Was Just Thinking...

Rod Blagojevich looks like he dropped out of a '90s amateur Hungarian porno movie.

He wouldn't have to change his first name either.

The moments before his inauguration is awfully early in his presidency for Barack Obama to be pandering to Jesus freaks who wanna deny GLBT civil rights.

You'd think our first African-American President would not be completely tone deaf on this one.

I still miss Joe Strummer terribly but worse so this month.

Likewise John Lennon.

"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"? - Best. Christmas song. Ever.

Rahm Emmanuel is a badass.

John Stewart too -- ask Huckabee.

George Tenet is most decidely not.

What's with the Bush Administration's mad flurry to screw us all some more before he's kicked out the door? Hasn't he fucked us enough already?

The Red Sox really don't need Mark Teixiera next year.

The seven following years following that are another story altogether.

Dunno how I feel about Bill Clinton's donor list. If this is the way any of the money we've thrown at Blackwater winds up doing some good, it ain't all a bad thing.

The mainstream media is so fucked for thinking that Pastor Rick Warren is offensive solely to "gay groups."

Color million of us straight folks offended as well.

I always liked Coldplay better back when they were called Radiohead. Not so much now.

Now that we've learned Chrysler execs will still get paid while the plants shut down, I'd really like to see breakouts of total salaries for Chrysler's white collar workers versus the same for Chrysler's rank and file.

For tens of thousands of people across the Northeast to still be without power after more than a week is completely unacceptable.

At least our Republican Congress folks are predictable.

Elvis Costello has become mellow, even playful, as he's aged.

Dick Cheney has not.

Can we legalize pot already? Now that would boost the economy.

Go Franken go!

Rachel Maddow is on fire.

George Bush's recent address to the War College was downright strange and patently false. Why change now George, right?

**12/19/08: Updated with additional links where appropriate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fun With Seizures

Stupid Brain!

I'm resuming my sometimes pithy, occasionally witty, frequently profane tirades & random ramblings for your dancing and dining pleasure. I first went up to Boston to give my mom a hand ten days ago. Something weird happened up there. Really weird.

You needn't have watched House, ER, Grey's Anatomy et al to know seizures are freaky. Well, they're really freaky for the seizee. Had a series of at least four seizures eleven days ago - that was, how shall I say, waytoofuckinginteresting for my tastes. This in spite of the 3 powerful seizure meds I'm more grateful than ever to be currently taking. Probably why I was conscious for most of my "experience." Thankfully, I was lying down at the time.

I've had innumerable seizures. Innumerable because when you have a seizure, it typically affects your memory. I wasn't even evaluated for seizures for the longest time because no one, including myself, had any idea that I was having them.

Except for the mildest imaginable seizure back in June (My crack neurologist told me that it an anomaly & not to worry about it), I've never been conscious during a seizure. I was barely conscious then. It woke me ever so briefly and I fell back asleep.

Didn't really suss out what had happened until later that day. The slightly bitten tip of my tongue clinched it. That and the feeling that I had been hit with a brick without the pain of actually being hit with a brick. That's what a mild seizure is all about.

I'm going in NYC's Beth Israel next month for a 24-hour neuro-monitoring.

The experiment continues.

*This is not my brain. This head is not nearly big enough and there's no way my eyes would ever look that weird. Ever. Unfortunately, my neurologist currently has my brain scans. Next time, eh?

For Both Of You Who Have Asked

Back up in Boston where my mother's eye surgery went well. Her modem blew up so no internet until now.

Good times.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who's Gonna Buy You That Library Now, George?

Nice one, George. You've pissed off your so-called "evangelical base" by saying the Bible isn't meant to be taken literally and that evolution is just alright by You. The Jesus Freaks feel used and betrayed.

"It was all a lie!" they wail. "We were used!"

Big deal. Let them bawl. You're no longer any use to them. And with one foot out the door, it's not like You need them anymore either, right?


The jewel of Your historical fiction "legacy" project is the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Selection of wifey Laura's alma mater SMU as the site was done all cloak and dagger-like and shit; chock full of drama and controversy from the word go. Over objections from the "Faculty, Administrators, & Staff" of SMU's Theology School(!), You & Your backers (Karl Rove leading the charge) rammed that sucker through faster than You can say Bail-Out or FISA or The Patriot Act or Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

Good times.

Your everlasting monument to self-delusion is scheduled to break ground next year. Jamming Your -- OK, Dick's -- twisted agenda down Americans' throats as President proved remarkably easy. Standing on the verge of becoming the most unpopular ex-Presidents ever, you'll find raising the scratch for a temple to Yourself far harder. Should've thought of that before You put the tagger at a half-a-billion buckaroos.

$500,000,000. Maybe Poppy does have diamonds stashed in a Basel safety deposit box (it's possible -- he's an ex-CIA Director, ex-Carlyle Group "advisor" & Prescott Bush's son). This is one present Pop ain't gonna buy, Junior. Say for the moment we ignore the absolute fucking insult inherent in the construction of an ridiculously expensive edifice to Your egotism in the midst of a worldwide economic disaster that occurred on Your watch because of Your watch. Where are You going to come up with the K.A.S.H.?

Pop's out. Ordinary Americans? That's chump change, George. You're wicked unpopular and, not that You've noticed, times are hard. You're not gonna get dick from the Captains of Industry or Wall Street either. AIPAC and the like are far too mercenary. Plus they've already moved on. Hell, when even Adelson's strapped, You know You're screwed.

Jimmy Swaggart, newly minted Presidential Medal of Freedom owner Chuck Colson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins -- I confess to have a hard time remembering the ones who still haven't "gone gay" -- these people were the few left standing from which You could squeeze filthy legacy library lucre. Tit for tat turnabout what with all that faith-based initiatives tax-payer cash You spiffed them. You made the Jesus Freaks feel special. It's not like You gave that money to Jews or Muslims or liberal Christians.

You had to blow it. You always blow it. Speaking dismissively of The Bible, You've gone and pissed off the Evangelicals but good. Probably Karl's Mormons too. And "mainstream" Christians. Jesus Christ, George, how long's it gonna take You to get it through your thick skull that the "M" in "SMU" stands for Methodist?!?!

Look, churches depend on gifts too. People who have ever less to give don't take kindly to having their churches' donation plates dumped into a rich man's hole in the ground. The Jesus Freaks, Mormons and Methodists will not risk offending the faithful. They will not give you one red cent.

So, who's gonna buy you that library now, George?

Cross-posted at TPM Cafe.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Like Christmas For Democrats

48 more days. It seems like it will never come.

In the meantime, enjoy the Branca-fied-postcore-alterna-metal-jazz stylings of NYC's own Helmet.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Where will this new blood be drawn from?

We've long known that President Obama (How I so love saying that!) will have to clean house. Luring expert help back to our government to replace Bush's uber-partisan political appointees is the great unexamined challenge Obama must face. Under Bush we've seen the size of our Federal government explode. To reign in this monster, we need smart, seasoned bodies and lots of them now.

To be sure the “replacement” pool has been discussed ad nauseam in the world of blogs and big media. But it's been almost exclusively in the context of, and much derided as, the President-elect's "defense" of (read: "excuse for") his "Clinton-retread" cabinet picks. With our society now so polarized (another thing we can thank Bush for) and the best folks all skedaddled, where do you suggest Obama find qualified experienced people, smart guys?

Plugging in the top of the Obama food chain is actually the easy part. It's the middle that keeps me awake at night. 8 years of Bush purges drove our best government officials to often better paying private sector gigs. In their place our Federal government is now riddled with partisan hacks. I call these ideologues AKA Bushies "embeds."

These "embeds" are the cogs on the wheels of our government. It's impossible for Obama to get rid of all of them or even a significant portion of them in the early stages of his administration. Even an almost imperceptible amount of collective foot-dragging on their parts could prove extremely damaging to Obama's efforts.

Perhaps Bush's horrendous stewardship of our country will have unintended benefits. Brilliant minds not previously drawn to public service could heed their country's call. It’s equally feasible our disastrous economy will draw a few geniuses into the relative security of Obama's administration.

In the meantime, we wait and we hope.


Bring Me The Heads Of The Jonas Brothers!

I just...can't...take it anymore.


Barack & Hillary's Excellent Adventure: The Quest Begins

Via C&L, Cernig previews the clean the slate at State game plan. Bonus points awarded for 2008's Best Use of Greek Mythology In a Political Analogy:

Following up on reports of Obama's intended Herculean cleaning of the Agean Stables at the Department of Defense, where the entire body of Bush-appointed deputies and under-whatevers are expected to be fired, the Washington Post now reports that the incoming Obama administration has told every single Bush political appointee as an ambassador that their services will no longer be required come January 20th.
That's a whole lot of new bodies. So much rides on how quickly these replacements can get up to speed and start undoing the damage Bush administration has caused.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More McCaffrey

Back when I didn't have this shitty little blog, I went on a months-long McCaffrey comments tirade. Just for kicks, check my Firedoglake bit from March '07:

I’ve said it before, McCaffrey is wildly inconsistent. His views and evaluations of US progress in Iraq change weekly. He’s called the surge “a fool’s errand.” He’s praised the hard work of contractors: “Without that contractor effort, this war would have ground to a halt two years ago”. Now it’s “We need to support the U.S. leadership team in Iraq for this one last effort to succeed.”

McCaffrey is a seriously conflicted individual in every sense of the phrase. It’s not surprising that a decorated Viet Nam vet wants one last push towards victory. It’s well documented that many hawks of that war (ex-soldiers and current politicians) are adamant that we don’t “lose” this one.

McCaffrey is also an NBC military analyst. He needs to express some criticism of US military strategy in Iraq to maintain credibility. He also feels it’s his duty to support the war effort not just as a retired US general but also as a businessman. It wouldn’t be prudent for him to be too critical of the Pentagon.

McCaffery is on the board of: Dyncorp International (supplies security personnel and police trainers in Iraq and Afghanistan), McNeil Technologies ($4.6 billion dollar Army contract thru a joint deal with Dyncorp for Iraq translation and and interpretation services), HNTB Federal Services (military engineering contractor), and The Wornick Company (provides meals-ready-to-eat AKA MREs to the military).

McCaffrey’s making a serious chunk of change from this war while appearing to play both sides of the fence. Barry would take a hit in the wallet if the Iraq war ended any time soon.

From Raw Story, August '07:

Can NBC give a disclaimer on this guy already? I've been saying this for ages: Barry McCaffrey is on the board of The Wornick Company (supplier of MRE's to the military) and McNeil Technologies (supplier of Intelligence, Security, Language "services" to the Federal Government). McNeil & Wornick are both wholly owned by Veritas Capital -- a $1 billion+ private equity firm. Veritas also owns just a few military & Federal contractors you may or may not have heard of: Dyncorp, Trawick & Assoc., Aeroflex, Vangent, Athena Innovative Solutions and Continental Electronics.

In other words, it's clearly in the best interest of McCaffrey (not to mention his primary employer Veritas) to keep the fear level high. This continues increased spending and the support thereof in The Great War for Oil.
Gotta get ready for my town Democratic committee Festivus fete. More later -- sobriety permitting.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Barry McCaffrey Is Sooo Busted

In an era littered with scams of unprecedented number and scope, one standout, a real operator, has displayed extraordinary flair, dexterity and ability in gaming the military-industrial complex. He's literally done it in our faces yet he's flown under the radar.

Since NBC anointed Gen. Barry McCaffrey as their post-9-11 go-to war guy, his extra-curricular businesses have borne little scrutiny. (See McCaffrey Associates). It left McCaffrey free to parlay his unparalleled DOD contacts and his NBC top "military analyst" status into big bucks "consultant" and board member gigs with a slew of defense industry players.

For almost two years, I've tracked Gen. McCaffrey's brazen exploitation of his unique situation with a total disregard of his multiple, flagrant conflicts of interest. I'm talking the kind of conflicts that would have driven him out of any other business and wicked fast (O.K. maybe not the music business). McCaffrey's on my shit list. He's really burned my goat.*

In April, NYT's David Barstow exposed McCaffrey's fellow TV military commentators as Bush Administration propagandists. He touched on their collective conflicts of interest too. Now Barstow takes aim at the worst offender of all, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, in "One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex":

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.
I bet. What defense contractor large or small wouldn't want a 4-star wired to Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq on their payroll? He's all over the tee-vee too. Bonus!

No one at Defense wants to fuck with McCaffrey. They're either former colleagues, served under his command and/or are acutely aware he's on NBC's various networks "analyzing" their military and their Iraq War. From his televised perch, this guy had the balls to bust Rumsfeld's balls.

This all would be bad, bad and more bad on it's own. McCaffrey wasn't nearly done. Oh, no no. He prostituted himself under oath in front of Congress:

...In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He called the plan “not in the right ballpark” and urged Congress to instead equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.

“We’ve got Iraqi army battalions driving around in Toyota trucks,” he said, echoing an argument made to General Petraeus in the Defense Solutions briefing packet.
Yep, he stood before Congress under the guise of impartial expert just back from Iraq. McCaffrey made the most of it. He ripped a client's competitor and pushed for more military spending that would ultimately benefit all those who paid him.

So you think this can't get any worse, do you? Hell yeah. McCaffrey's not your garden-variety sleazy-war-profiteer/TV star. This fucking guy shapes US policy:
His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from both parties have invited him for war consultations. His access is such that, despite a contentious relationship with former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Pentagon has arranged numerous trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots solely for his benefit.

At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism.
That's just great. If you're like me, you're spitting blood right now. You're not? Maybe this'll do it. NBC, itself a military-industrial-media complex** charter member sees no problem with putting him on their combined networks nearly 1,000 times!
On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC’s viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television.
What the fucking fuck?!? During my decade's experience in major market broadcast management, I insisted on disclaimers for stuff insanely stupid more trivial. No problemo, senor sez NBC. We'll pretend this never happened. As the all-powerful NBC, we decide what and where the lines are:
The president of NBC News, Steve Capus, said in an interview that General McCaffrey was a man of honor and achievement who would never let business obligations color his analysis for NBC. He described General McCaffrey as an “independent voice” who had courageously challenged Mr. Rumsfeld, adding, “There’s no open microphone that begins with the Pentagon and ends with him going out over our airwaves.”

General McCaffrey is not required to abide by NBC’s formal conflict-of-interest rules, Mr. Capus said, because he is a consultant, not a news employee. Nor is he required to disclose his business interests periodically. But Mr. Capus said that the network had conversations with its military analysts about the need to avoid even the appearance of a conflict, and that General McCaffrey had been “incredibly forthcoming” about his ties to military contractors.
For years defense industry star Barry McCaffrey has bounced footloose between the very highest levels of civilian government, our military and a Big Three television network. None have the least bit of interest in or a requirement for a disclosure of The General's extensive business ties.

For fuck's sake. When you rub it on down to the nub, we're the ones who pay all their salaries and keep all their lights on.

They just don't think we need to know.


*A stoned friend of mine coined this malaproptic(!?!) mashup of "burns me up" and "gets my goat" years ago. It was funny then. It's still funny now. In the case of McCaffrey, the visual perfectly encapsulates my feelings.

**The military-industrial-media complex is a Eisenhower could not have forseen. FAIR's 2005 look at The Military-Industrial-Media Complex has more.

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

Having limited computer access for a week made me realize how odd it is that I get the vast majority of my news from three sources: the internet, The Daily Show and Keith Olbermann. It was weird with them all basically off last week. Not bad weird. Just weird.

Now if I can only get Firefox to work properly again.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Why I Love Apple

I love my MacBook. Between blogging, news gathering, ongoing research projects, fantasy leagues and my screenplay project, my computer gets intensive use -- at least 10 hours a day every day.

I take reasonably good care of it (OK. When I get overly fired up I do tend to bang the keys a little harder than necessary). My only complaint is a largely cosmetic one -- my MacBook was part of the cracking plastic case batch. Other than that I've never had a problem with it.

A year and a half of constant wear and tear on my MacBook resulted in a broken hinge. This never happened to me before with any laptop. Oh, and one of the shift keys cracked two weeks previously. Fortunately, I had invested in AppleCare. Unlike most extended warranties, AppleCare is worth every penny.

So I call Apple. Less than 24 hours later the pre-paid pre-addressed next-day shipping box arrives. (Is there no limit to the number of hyphens I can cram into a sentence?). This past Monday I pack it up and ship it off to Apple.

AppleGuy calls Tuesday afternoon with bad news. My hinge repair is not covered by AppleCare. I have three distinctly distasteful options:

  1. Apple repairs my MacBook to factory standards for $500.
  2. They ship it back to me. I trek to TekServe to see how much they'll nick me knowing full well it may be neither cheaper nor faster than Apple. (Natch).
  3. I hit an unauthorized service dealer and void the 16 months left on my AppleCare warranty.
Cue the pregnant pause that always accompanies this kind of downer AKA the **Gulp**. There's no way we Forester's can scrape up 500 bucks to fix a laptop that is probably worth like $850. Fuck me. I am now officially and totally screwed.

I lay a few facts on AppleGuy. I typically spend most of my day writing and doing research so my computer use is unusually high. Any "damage" occurred through normal use. For real. I never had this problem with my G4 or other iBooks* I had owned. I said all of four short sentences.

AppleGuy: "You sound like a truthful person. And you're obviously a MacFan. I'll tell you what, we're going to take care of it."

I was like, "Excuse me?"

AppleGuy: "Apple will cover the cost of the repair."

Me: "Thank you."

Despite the holiday, my computer showed up today. It's better than new. Looks like Apple swapped out my old hard drive and put it in an entirely new case. New hinge. New disc drive. New Screen. New keyboard. New track pad. New everything. Nice!

Compare my Apple experience to how Dell still handles their customers or how spend $150,000 and still suck. Not one of those folks, their friends or their families will ever buy another Dell.** It's simply not enough to make affordable computers, Mike.

Apple fosters their famously fierce buyer loyalty by coupling fantastic, frequently cutting edge gear with superior customer service. Add Mac's intuitive, often effortless operation and I'm convinced I'll never buy another brand's computer.

Yep, I'm a MacFan and a MacMan.***


*iBooks did have a nasty tendency to blow logic boards. Apple always fixed 'em.
**My mom has a Dell -- Absent the hell they put her through, I'd nonetheless think they're total crap.
***With no apology whatsoever to the late Harry Carey.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Robert Reich

What can I say? The guy's busy...

How Obama is Already Taking Charge


YHTBFKM: Follow-Up

My now notorious "You Have To Be Fucking Kidding Me" post raised a few eyebrows, hackles and gorges. If it made you stop and think, so much the better. We need more of that.

Look. We got our wish. The MSM now does pay attention to blogs. When they strike a current of discontent, they seize on it. Worst of all, our petty grumbling serves to further energize and validate the opposition.

We have to trust that Obama knows what he's doing until he proves otherwise. Or at least wait until he's sworn in to start petitioning for impeachment hearings.

Segue to today's AFP story, Obama's cabinet -- change or Clinton era retreads? The RNC & The NY Post reliably sputter their patented anti-Dem/anti-Bill Clinton vitriol. Ignore them as per usual. This story offers both an important reality check and a history lesson:

But are these anything more than predictable political attacks, and is it fair to brand Obama's picks as retreads?

No, say many analysts, who argue that there is a limited pool of Democratic operatives with government experience qualified for top cabinet jobs.
Obama's personal brand is so strong, after two years campaigning on change that his cabinet picks may be less important than his own actions and rhetoric.
That's the money graph. Picks not nearly as big as Obama's deeds -- Pool of qualified candidates small. Brriiiiiing! Class dismissed.

For extra credit, please keep reading:
Such are the myriad crises facing the nascent Obama team, the president-elect may have concluded that while some officials may hark back to a previous era, he cannot afford to snub the best Democratic brains.
And had he sent a group of neophytes to Washington, he would surely have been pilloried for picking people short on experience.

Former president Bill Clinton, who came to power in 1993, decided not to stack his administration with veterans of the Jimmy Carter administration, which was seen as a failure.

But he soon hit trouble and had to call in Washington hands like veteran White House operative David Gergen.

"With the economy in such critical shape, to not choose people with experience would be foolhardy," said Martha Kumar, a political scientist with Towson University.
Be mindful we are watching a work not in progress but in gestation. The canvas is on the easel. The palette stands at ready. A brush flashes blocking in the foundation over the underpainting. When we can't possibly know what this sucker will look like, it's pointless to harp on these earliest of hues.

So let's be cool, babies. Breathe.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Robert Reich Drops Some Science

Ex-Bill Clinton Secretary of Labor & ex-Harvard prof explains Why We're Rescuing Wall Street and Not the Auto Industry.

Shorter version: Paulson & Bernanke's Street pals scream "'You let Lehman burn so you screwed our economy. Detroit deserves what it gets. Nothing."


It's Over

I've worked on this for a couple days 'cuz I'm positively bereft. Yet another dagger is thrust into the heart of my youth.

I'm a reasonably rational person. I realize as I grow older beacons of my formative years will inevitably dim or die out altogether. But I was not prepared to bid adieu to Out of Town News.

It may be a National Landmark but to call Out of Town News such is to tag the Pyramids a pile of rocks. (Similarly, I believed OOTN to be there for eternity -- Wrong-em Boyo.) Few "landmarks" impact our daily lives. I lived on the NYC waterfront for 13 years. I can tell you with certainty nobody gives a rat's ass about Grant's Tomb.

To quote the great sage Homer [Simpson], "But I digest." **burp**

Out of Town News was an icon. It was a cultural institution. It was a genuine meeting place.+ It defined Harvard Square. Hell, it was the heartbeat of The Square. So much so that OOTN is featured prominently Harvard Square's Wikipedia page, get it now kiddies?

As the Page Fucking 1(!) Boston Globe story tells it:

John Kenneth Galbraith bought a copy of Le Monde there every day. Julia Child searched for obscure Italian and German cooking magazines, and Robert Frost once stopped by - it actually was a snowy evening - to get directions to a reading. Over the years, pretty much anyone looking for news from far and near, be they eminent professors or the masses rushing to work on the Red Line, found it at Out of Town News.
Yes, Out of Town News was that important. Seattle Weekly pinpoints it as the newsstand where Microsoft founder Paul Allen picked up Popular Electronics, had his eureka moment and ran to find Bill Gates. (I hear they both did pretty well after that). Name me any other kiosk to reach this millennium that boasts such a diverse and occasionally historic constituency? Stop now because you can't.

Hub Arts' Joel Brown, whose father used to work there, nails it:
Out Of Town News was second only to Harvard in securing the Square's reputation as an international crossroads of learning and weirdness. You could get anything there, and it was a great relief to many that the newsstand survived the various "improvements" to the Square over the years. It maintained an eclectic clientele even as most of the Square's once-eccentric businesses gave way to the toxic blandness of chain retailing. Now it will probably turn into a f*ing Starbucks. This is heinous news. At least Charlie's Kitchen still serves a cheap martini.
True dat. Even though (and later because) I lived at the very opposite end of the Red Line, I frequented Harvard Square. My mother brought me there early on to experience that "international crossroads of learning and weirdness." Still in elementary school, my first unchaperoned trip on The T was to Harvard Square. (I think we got banned from The Coop -- maybe that was later on). Regardless, it was impossible to go to Harvard Square without a glimpse of OOTN.

Now I'm certainly not a John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Allen or Robert Frost (I swing more Julia Child-like w/o the dress. Natch.), but Out of Town News played an important role in the ongoing development of my musical sensibilities. When I ventured from the 'burbs to "The Square" to taste its "weirdness",++ I could pick Melody Maker and NME without the ball-breaking double-back to the original Newbury Comics. OOTN was also a Ticketron outlet.

This was key. Back in the day, tickets weren't electronically printed at a terminal as you bought them. Concert tickets were much smaller. Unlike today's generic tickets replete with bar codes, old school tix had a color and maybe a font distinctive to each show. Tickets for every seat at every concert were printed ahead of time. Just before on-sale tickets were physically distributed to various individual ticket outlets. Very quaint, I know.

Most music fans preferred the closer, Boston proper ticket outlets. They hit Out of Town as a last resort once the good seats were gone in town. Armed with this knowledge (gleaned from extensive trial & error), I'd split school for a short ride on the old Mattapan trolleys to Dorchester's Ashmont Station. From there it was a long trip to the end of the Red Line, Harvard. I'd pop out of the station, grab some of the best seats available in all of Boston (maybe a Brit music mag or two) and hop a train to the bus back to my safe suburban home. It was ritual.

I rarely wasted time with The Orpheum+++ box office. It was Out of Town where I bought my tix to see The Clash London Calling Tour (3/9/80), Devo Freedom of Choice Tour (7/17/80 - a veritable sauna & 17th row floor!!), Pretenders (5/81 - original line-up & The Jim Carroll Band too!), U2 October Tour (11/14/81 - 3rd row balcony++++), The Jam The Gift Tour (5/20/82 - 1st row balcony!)...I could go on and on.


I'm not alone in my despair.

Out of Town News tributes pour in here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.


+Countless hordes of people have said to one another, "Meet me at Out of Town News."
++In this context probably means smoking pot -- Shocking I know.
+++For Boston-area high school kids (underage by definition), The Orpheum was the prime place to see our heroes. Boston's best club, The Paradise was impossible to sneak into tho' we did get for an early R.E.M. show.
++++The first rows of The Orpheum balcony were fave seats -- unobstructed view and still surprisingly close to the band.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You Have To Be Fucking Kidding Me

...Or Look At All The Chickens Little Run.

The scale of the hand wringing and rending of garments I'm seeing over each and every one of Obama's cabinet picks is unbelievable. This is the shit we liberal/progressive/Democrat-types do every fucking single fucking time. I hate it with the force of a thousand suns.

I'm all about individuality, critical thinking and what have you. But just this once could we show the same unity, discipline and sense of purpose that's proven so effective for conservatives? Fuck no. We run around crying, "Maybe Hillary could bring in Michael O'Hanlon! The sky is falling The sky is falling!"

It's predictable. It's pointless. It's stupid. It's embarrassing. It makes the wingers rub their hands together with glee. It's well past time we ditched this chicken little act.

I'm only gonna say this once: Barack Obama just ran the smartest, most effective, most transformative political campaign in American history! Do you honestly think Obama's picking these candidates impulsively? He's not throwing darts. He's had 2 fucking years to put together his cabinet wish list. Chill the fuck out already.

Much of this angst seems focused on Hillary Clinton's Secretary of State nomination. Stupid. Stupid. And more stupid. I will genuinely miss Hillary Clinton as my Senator. Because she's done overall an exceptional job for NY, I selfishly didn't want her to win the Presidential nomination.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton puts her squarely on the world stage. Short of being President, this singularly prestigious cabinet position offers her the opportunity to make history like few before her. Do not underestimate the importance of this. It's Hillary's best and possibly last chance to silence years of muttering about the Clintons' "legacy".

We used to say in the music industry, "You're only as good as your last record." Let's face it, this could be Hillary's last go 'round in public service. At the end of Obama's first term, she'll be 64 years old.

Yes, she'll still be plenty young enough to serve her country but Obama will be running for re-election. The Senator replacing her will be running for re-election. For Secretary of State Hillary Clinton any office below Prezzie or Veep would be a serious come down.

Then there's those of you who persist in kvetching over potential ego clashes blah yak blah yak. Hillary will not fuck this up. She has demonstrated her honor of and sense duty to her country. Furthermore, Hillary and thus Bill's "legacy" is now inextricably, permanently tied to the Obama Presidency.

Her success depends on Barack's success and vice versa. There's no chance in hell that Hillary Clinton will be anything less than outstanding in her execution of Obama's foreign policy. The ego-thang is overblown. She will defer to him.

Get it? Got it? Good. Get over it.

Let's get back to the hard work of fixing our country. This includes showing great support for our and confidence in President-elect Barack Obama and his cabinet nominees.

Fer crissakes the guy hasn't even been sworn in yet.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

My MacBook Is Illin'

The "lap" is in mortal danger of disconnecting from the "top." Before I ship thus sucker back to Apple tomorrow, I do have a few topics to address. After that posting will be more erratic than usual.


Monday, November 17, 2008


I was well off the mark. CNBC tracks the bail out toll to date: $3,800,000,000,000+.

"Oversight" looms. The American people are impatient and growing more pissed. The piggies go to full feeding frenzy mode hoping to score pieces of that sweet bail out pie before it and their bonuses are reduced to crumbs.

(HT: ThinkProgress)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Months Ago

I said the bailout cost was going to top out at around $5 trillion. That doesn't sound so crazy right about now.


Canada's Banks Good. Our Banks Baaad.

Time tries to explain why the Great White North's financial system is on solid footing as opposed to our all rabid howler monkeys clawing to the front of the bail out line to secure their massive bonuses, Dionysian spa retreats and thus relaxed resume fucking the rest of us.


Blogger Crash

Me unhappy.

Lose many posts.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Gimme A Break

I'm recovering from spending my birthday with AC/DC at MSG last night. It was the loudest, biggest, stupidest rock show. NYT's Jon Caramanica sorta gets it:

It was all, of course, glorious, in the way most uncomplicated pleasures are.
But then he goes all Major Buzzkill on us unnecessarily complicating his review with criticism and thoughtful analysis. (Natch, this is the Times). You don't go to an AC/DC show to split atoms or cure cancer! Be cool, Johnny.

As I used to tell the odd crank calling my radio shows, you're listening waaay too hard.


"He Brought America New Hope"

We sell you cheesey tchotckes!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Non Sequitur

The more I read others' shitty spelling and grammar online, the worse my spelling and grammar get. I just caught myself using "their" for "they're." WTF? That's so unlike me.


Woke Up Feeling Some Cynical Today

I'll shake it off before lunchtime. After all, it is my birthday. 'Til then it's...

The Godfathers - "Birth, School, Work, Death"*

Been turned around till I'm upside down
Been all at sea until I've drowned
And I've felt torture, I've felt pain
Just like that film with Michael Caine*
I've been abused and I've been confused
And I've kissed Margaret Thatcher's shoes
And I been high and I been low
And I don't know where to go

Birth, school, work, death
Birth, school, work, death
(Sony fucked me on the embed. Watch the clip here).

Although diminutive in stature, guitarist Kris Dollimore makes a big noise -- searing stuff. One of the most extraordinary players I've ever known. His "BSWD" riffs & leads cut like a hot knife through butter. Singer Peter Coyne spits, spews and snarls. The rock solid rhythm section kicks up a racket. Super-sonic genius the late Vic Maile (Live at Leeds, the seminal Ace of Spades, Guns 'n Roses EP -- everybody from The Vibrators to Hendrix) puts it down on tape. Rarely does perfection sound so furious.

I caught one of the 'fathers' first US gigs on a Sunday nite at T.T. the Bears'. Maybe 20 people joined me. They were touring to support their debut Hit By Hit. Man, they were awesome. ("This Damn Nation" fucking slew me!) This band had the chops. They had the songs. They had the look down pat: gangster suits, skinny ties & haircuts to match. Nice guys as well. The Godfathers weren't at all dark as their music.

Sadly, The Godfathers landed 5-10 years too soon. Their smart, bleak, crunchy brand of rock was out of step with a nascent rave culture. I did my job by making 'em big in Boston. Like played on KISS 108 big. Elsewhere most folks were scared to spin it on-air.

The Godfathers were a great, great band while they lasted.


* Initial import pressings of "BSWD" 12" came in a nifty black shopping bag.
**I'm kicking myself for never asking which film. Get Carter would be in keeping with The Godfathers' image, I think they're referring to The Man Who Would Be King.
Now playing: The Godfathers - Birth, School, Work, Death

After He's Left, Bush Could Still Block Subpeonas

Harry Truman set a precedent. NYT's Charlie Savage has the skinny.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Why Do Bigots Smell?"

"So that blind people can hate them too."

A very lame joke. It was spontaneous -- the best I could do under the circumstances. I was standing in Sully's (no, not that Sully) BC dorm room twenty-seven years ago. Sully had just moved in. Upon learning throwing furniture out the window was punishable by expulsion, we were considering bringing furniture outside and throwing it back in through the window. You know, just to fuck with the RA.

Sully stepped outside to consider logistics. I cracked a brew with our friends Jay and Chuck. Sully had just introduced his room mate, "G", who was also present. Just four white guys hanging out. Drinking.

About a minute in, "G" tells what is colloquially known as a "nigger joke." (As if any "humor" characterized by such an ugly, hateful word could be a joke). Jay, Chuck and I ignored him. "G" told another one. Now I was officially fucking pissed. But I said nothing. Chuck was a wimp, Jay was confrontation averse and I really didn't want to slug it out with Sully's new room mate his first weekend at school. Did I mention that "G" had twenty pounds on me?

"G" told his third and final "joke."

What came next:

Me: "I have a joke for you."
"G": "Great!"
Me: "Why do bigots smell?"
"G": "Why?"
Me: ""So that blind people can hate them too."
Silence. Jay and Chuck immediately flinched. Two or three beats later it dawned on "G" that I was fucking with him, attacking him for his racism. What ensued was predictable -- "I'm gonna kill you!" vs. "Give me your best shot, cracker!", etc. Chuck and Jay kept us from mixing it up. "G" split presumably to find a more sympathetic audience. Every subsequent visit to Sully, "G" left before I arrived.

Here's what I learned from this incident:
  1. People often choose to ignore racism in their friends, family, co-workers, etc.
  2. If you ignore bigotry, it won't go away.
  3. Ignoring bigotry is read as tacit approval thus encouraging more of the same.
  4. Confronting racism is a tricky, sometimes dangerous, business.
  5. Bigots are bullies. Stand up to them and they usually back off.
  6. Less confrontational techniques might prevent me getting my head kicked in.
Enough for now. I'll pick this up again tomorrow.


They Got It From Their Parents

What's racist, red and white all over? Rexburg, Idaho. That town's children chant "Assassinate Obama" on their school bus." BYU, Rexburg Psych prof sez:

"I think the thing that struck us was just like, 'Where did they get the word and why would they put that word and that person together?'"
This is a job for Captain Obvious!


It's Been A Year

I started this lil' writing exercise a little over 12 months ago. Writing isn't something that comes easily to me. So I'm that much more grateful to you who stop by.

Much thanks.


PS Just cracked 10,000 visits too.

Andrew Sullivan's Misogyny On Display. Again.

kosnomore@MyDD notes that "Andrew Sullivan Never fails To Disappoint":

Discussing lesbians who stuck with Hillary, and voted in lesser numbers for Obama than Kerry, Sullivan says "Maybe there was a particular lesbian bond with Clinton, which may have led some lesbians to pick McCain (they're susceptible to a little Alaskan boobage as well)."

Can you imagine if a conservative referred to "a particular lesbian bond" with Hillary, with all implied by that sentence, or said lesbians voted for Palin's "boobage"? I somehow think they'd be tossed from Matthews' "panel of experts".

P.S. - Seriously, Sullivan writes that lesbians were inclined to vote for McCain because they like Palin's boobs, and he's invited on legitimate Sunday morning talk shows? That's THE most sexist thing I've read from an MSM talking head in years. Sullivan really has issues with women.

Sully has issues with anyone who disagrees with whatever position(s) he's taken at the moment. Always somehow winding up at the top of that list, women most frequently become the target of Andy's lame, misogynistic attempts at humor.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Center-Right" Is The New Black

...among many pundits. They cannot accept an electorate that has completely rejected their Weltanschauung. To cope these pundits comfort themselves by substituting this silly "the US is now center-right" fantasy (here, here, here, here) for our mutual reality (i.e. not so much).

A CNN poll out today shows:

59 percent of those questioned think that Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches will be good for the country, with 38 percent saying that such one-party control will be bad…

The poll also suggests that the public has a positive view of the Democratic Party, with 62 percent having a favorable opinion and 31 percent an unfavorable opinion…

That is not the case for the Republicans, with a majority, 54 percent, having an unfavorable view of the GOP and 38 percent holding a positive view.

"The public has a positive view of the Democratic Party, while the GOP 'brand' is hurting. Overall views of the Democratic Party have gone from 53 percent favorable in October to 62 percent favorable now; the GOP overall has seen a 5-point drop in its favorable rating," Holland said.

The 62 percent figure is the "the highest opinion of the Democrats in at least 16 years, since before Bill Clinton got elected," said Bill Schneider, a CNN senior political analyst.

"When has the Republican Party image ever been that bad? Answer: when the Republican Congress impeached President Clinton at the end of 1998," Schneider added.
The incomparable Digby spells it out:
This can only be interpreted to be a mandate that the new administration needs to bring as many of these unpopular Republicans into the administration and enact as many GOP priorities as possible.

And, by the way, the country hasn't been "center-right" for quite some time. This is yet another example of the villagers thinking they are the representatives of Real America --- just as they did when they staged the world's biggest hissy fit over Bill Clinton's zipper. It's all about them.
It always is.


Monday, November 10, 2008

RIP: Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba - "Pata Pata"

The singer may be gone but her song lives on.

The NYT:

Miriam Makeba, a South African singer whose voice stirred hopes of freedom among millions in her own country though her music was formally banned by the apartheid authorities she struggled against, died overnight after performing at a concert in Italy on Sunday. She was 76.
Makeba's voice was as singular as she was brave.


Makeba tributes from around the world.

Dems Renting Joe Like Dodgers Did Manny?

Obama sez "Joe can stay." Hell, even Bill Clinton's joined the action. I've gone back and forth and back and forth all over again on this. My knee-jerk response is to disagree with this play 'cuz it smacks of weakness. But perhaps we're much closer to getting those 59 Senate seats than we thought. It's tough to get a read when the "conventional wisdom" seems to change every day twice a day. Like the Dodgers did with Manny Ramirez, the Dems may be renting Lieberman's 60th filibuster-proof vote for Obama's first term. Because barring some sorta spectacular "come to Jesus moment", Lieberman will not be re-elected.

Forgiveness puts Joe on the shortest possible leash too. He'll have to toe the line or start packing. Switching parties is not a realistic option. If his ego would let him (and it won't), it would be tantamount to political suicide (see re-election). McConnell doesn't even have a ranking position to offer Lieberman let alone a chairmanship. God knows Holy Joe's done a piss poor job as Homeland Security Chair.

can give Joe Veterans Affairs and tell him to shut the fuck up.

(HTs: Digby & TPM)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lies, Lies, Lies, Yeah...

LA Times labels Rush & his fellow fabricators "shameless":

You have to give Rush Limbaugh a perverse kind of credit. At least when he is demonizing Barack Obama, fabricating Obama policies, blaming Obama for single-handedly causing the recession and the stock market crash, he doesn't pretend to be fair.
He just pretends to tell the truth.

(HT: ThinkProgress)

Friday, November 7, 2008

CBS Proposed Wingers Review Rather

I knew CBS screwed Dan Rather royally but I didn't know it was this bad.

Rather is suing CBS for a cool $70 million over the circumstances of his "Rathergate" dismissal. The NY Observer dug through papers Rather's legal team submitted last week. It learned that CBS' shortlist for Rather's "independent review panel" featured a long list of right-wing partisans. Some of them are even journalists:
William Buckley (TNR), Robert Novak, Kate O’Beirne (TNR & then @CNN!), Tucker Carlson (I'm starting to feel dirty here), Pat Buchanan (OK, I'm officially dirty), George Will (What? Pol Pot wasn't available?), Lou Dobbs (WTF? Right wing CNN anchor reviews CBS anchor?), Matt Drudge (Puh-leeze), Robert Kagan (PNAC + Papa do not make one worthy), Fred Barnes (Does anyone even read WS or watch FoxNews?), William Kristol (another Murdoch trust fund baby), John Podhoretz (Mama's Boy is to journalism what cinder blocks are to swimming), David Brooks (Soon-to-be banished to the farthest corner of the realm), William Safire (Wordsmythe, Nixonite & "libertarian conservative" whatever the fuck that is), Bernard Goldberg (FoxNews crank then@CBS News), Ann Coulter (don't even go there -- I said don't), Andrew Sullivan (Why, oh why?), Christopher Hitchens (depends on what he's drinking & for how long), PJ O’Rourke (depends on which PJ shows up & for how long), Christopher Caldwell ("No, my father-in-law did not get me this gig"), Elliot Abrams (like a cockroach, he'll never go away), Charles Krauthammer (a sad, delusional man), William Bennett (nicotine-addict/ex-Drug Czar/ homophobe/degenerate gamber), Rush Limbaugh (not qualified to fucking mowing Rather's lawn) and, written at the bottom, FoxNews' Dark Lord Roger Ailes (**shudder**).

Considering these stalwart wingers for their Rather “independent review panel” is sorta like Frank Perdue announcing plans to have foxes guard his hen house. Had CBS been truly interested in getting to the bottom of how Rather's report was sourced and erred aired, they wouldn't have considered a veritable murder's row of neo-con hacks and competitors! Shortly thereafter the Grand PooBah himself, lifelong Dem Sumner Redstone, conspicuously flipped Republican.

Please note that I chose to break two names out of the above pack as they have been unintentionally and undeservedly tarnished by association. One is NY Observer's own Nicholas Von Hoffman, who CBS fired for saying "Mr. Nixon is the dead mouse on the kitchen floor, and the American family, in slippers and bathrobe, is gathered around him arguing over who will pick him up by his tail and drop him in the trash" is as much a neo-con as you'd expect any friend of Gary Trudeau to be. The other is Robert (no relation to Gnarls or Charles) Barkley has been a tireless education reformer who penned the moving Grandfather's Apology two weeks ago.

(HT: ThinkProgress)