Monday, April 30, 2007

Delicious Irony Watch

Randall L. Tobias resigned as deputy secretary of state on Friday because he was a client of Deborah Jeane Palfrey's notorious escort service. Let's see how many people are surprised by this tidbit from the Washington Post writeup:
Tobias, who is 65 and married, was director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He previously held a top job in the Bush administration overseeing AIDS relief, in which he promoted abstinence and a policy requiring grant recipients to swear they oppose prostitution. (italics added to emphasize the extreme deliciousness of this irony)
Sometimes it seems like Washington is built out of nothing but glass houses.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fascinating Report, Midget

Overheard on the local FOX news report tonight:
He fights for truth, justice and the American way. But chances are the real Captain America was never arrested for assault with a burrito.
All of a sudden the cable network news channels don't seem so bad...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shenanigans!

As any regular reader of this blog knows, I'm no fan of President George Bush. In fact, that's putting it very mildly. But, bullshit is as bullshit does and if you don't call bullshit when you see bullshit, well, chances are everything you say is bullshit, too.

To wit: I'm listening to the top-of-the-hour NPR News wrap-up this afternoon, which is largely concerned with the awful killings at Virginia Tech. They played a sound bite of White House spokesperson Dana Perino giving the president's reaction to the news, which consisted of two parts: first, he was horrified; second, he stands behind the Second frickin Amendment.


Don't look now, but your pants are on fire.

That got my blood boiling. Political philosophy notwithstanding, it's just unconscionable to bring up the subject of the Second frickin Amendment scant hours after over 30 innocent people were slaughtered in a hail of gunfire.

The AP confirmed what I heard on NPR. In fact, their most recent write-up of the story still confirms this tin-ear moment from President Bush. Here's how it looks:
A White House spokesman [sic] said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia. "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
That rat bastard!

There's only one problem: the AP/NPR angle is complete bullshit.

Fair minded fellow that I am, I decided to go check out the full text of the press briefing on Whitehouse.gov before laying in to our jerk president. Here's how Dana Perino starts off:
Good afternoon. I have several announcements and then we'll go to questions.

The President was made aware of the Virginia Tech shootings. He was horrified and his immediate reaction was one of deep concern for the families of the victims, the victims, themselves, the students, the professors and all the people of Virginia who have dealt with this shocking incident. And his thoughts and prayers are with them; we are monitoring the situation. And while state and local authorities are in the lead right now — I think that will remain the case, but federal assets are available should they be needed, if Virginia were to request them.
Then she's off talking about funding for the troops in Iraq. You may notice that there's no mention whatsoever of guns, gun control or the Second frickin Amendment.

That's because those comments don't come until after five more paragraphs of Perino's prepared statement and after eight questions from the press corps have been answered. Then we get this:
Q: Dana, going back to Virginia Tech, what more does this White House think needs to be done as it relates to gun issues? The President says current laws need to be strengthened, anything beyond that — you had a conference on school violence with guns — what more needs to be done?

MS. PERINO: I would point you back to the fact that President, along with Secretary Spellings, hosted last October — October 10, 2006 — a conference on school gun violence after the Amish school shooting and the other shootings that had happened, because the tragedies are the ones that just collectively break America's heart and are ones that we deeply feel, because all of us can imagine what it would be like to have been at your own school, your own college, and to have something happen. And those of us who are parents, or brothers or sisters of people at the schools have to take that into consideration.

As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting — I don't want to say numbers because I know that they're still trying to figure out many people were wounded and possibly killed, but obviously that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for.
So, the President's support for the Second frickin Amendment came in response to a reporter's question and was simply a reflection of the administration's previously-stated policy. It was clearly not at all central to the message the president wanted to impart after hearing of the massacre. In fact, there are plenty of nice, squishy quotable lines in Perino's opening gambit that the AP passed up to go with the 'right to bear arms' statement instead.


They're already bad enough. Why make crap up?

So the question becomes: why did the AP/NPR choose to couch their reports the way they did—or does that question even need an answer? It's an extraordinarily misleading juxtaposition for which there really isn't a plausible innocent explanation.

I'll give NPR a provisional pass here because in all likelihood they simply took the AP audio and inserted it into their report. The Associated Press has long been in the business of providing stock text and images, but they now also sell video and—I believe—audio.

The 'liberal media conspiracy' charlatans are always crowing about an alleged 'editorial slant' in the straight news and hell! if this ain't a perfect example. The AP took a prepared statement and an answer to a question posed some minutes later and unquestionably made it appear that both remarks were part of the same statement. There's no other word for that than 'bullshit'.

Someone might want to remind the mainstream media that the best way to avoid the 'biased' tag is to not deserve it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Conspiracy?

Best wishes to New Jersey governor Jon Corzine as he recovers from serious injuries suffered in a car accident.

That said, I was struck by a bizarre fact as I was skimming through the AP writeup:
Corzine was the third straight New Jersey governor to break a leg while in office. James E. McGreevey broke his left leg in 2002 during a nighttime walk on the beach, and Christie Whitman broke her right leg while skiing in the Swiss Alps in 1999.
It's not exactly like being the drummer for Spinal Tap, but the next governor better watch his or her step—or at least make sure their payments to Tony Soprano are up to date.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Is Dead

Long live Kilgore Trout!

A Real-Time President

This is just a reminder that my Draft David Palmer for President petition is still out there and it's gathered 91 signatures since my initial, impassioned appeal.

Sure, that's pretty damn impressive, but considering that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both raised about $25 million in the first quarter of 2007, it might be time to ramp up our effort.

Palmer in '08! Give America what it deserves: a fictional president.

Clash of Civilizations

The Education Minister of Tajikistan, a Muslim nation in Central Asia, has banned miniskirts for university students.

Creeping sharia! Stop the Islamofascists! Man the barricades for this latest onslaught against Western civilization!!

Oh, he also banned headscarves.

And that's how you give Andrew Sullivan a brain hemorrhage.

'What's Wrong With Being Sexy?'

I really haven't been paying a huge amount of attention to this Don Imus imbroglio since I'm not a fan of either the leatherfaced, Stetson-sporting radio provocateur or of women's college basketball.

As I've listened to the pundits and news anchors parse his idiotic words, though, I'm struck by a strange omission. Let's call it Tiger Woods Syndrome.

Tiger Woods is often referred to as a "black" or "African-American" golfer. He is virtually never referred to as a "Thai" or "Asian" golfer, despite the fact that he is equal parts of both ethnicities. This is certainly not due to an anti-Thai bias in America, but to a preoccupation with race as exclusively a question of black and white. Still, it's worth bearing in mind.

In the current shock-jock fiasco, Imus' words are routinely called "racist" but are only occasionally flagged as "sexist" as well. Clearly they were both—and one could argue that the sexism was actually worse.

Calling the Rutgers basketball team "nappy-headed" was definitely racist, but while the term "ho" certainly has racial overtones (thanks, rappers!), it also has an unambiguously sexual meaning. Calling an entire basketball team made up of successful young women "whores" is glaringly sexist and spectacularly uncalled for.

Imus deserves every rotten thing he's got coming to him. I hope Tiger Woods would agree.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Greek Tragedy

NATO has announced an expansion of its month-old offensive against entrenched and tenacious Taliban fighters and assorted al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan.

It's called Operation Achilles (hopefully theirs and not ours...) and I think they were right to draw on Greek myth for their inspiration. I'm just worried they went for the wrong mythical hero. Somehow, Operation Sisyphus has more of a realistic ring to it.

In the immortal words of Principle Skinner: Prove me wrong, children; prove me wrong.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Worth a Mention

Republicans have traditionally held a fundraising advantage over their Democratic counterparts in presidential elections, to put it mildly. In 2000, Bush raised 43.6% more than Gore, and in 2004, as his popularity flagged, he still managed a 13.6% edge over Kerry as the cost of the election nearly doubled.

There's no similar head-to-head number yet for 2008, but the primary fundraising numbers suggest that the Democratic star may be on the rise. The three top-performing Republican hopefuls—Romney, Giuliani and McCain—raised 23, 15 and 12.5 million dollars respectively in the first quarter of 2007, for a total of $50.5 million.

The three top Democrats—Clinton, Obama and Edwards—raised 26, 25 and 14 million dollars respectively, for a total of $65 million. That's 28.7% more than the Republicans.

It might be early yet, but that can't be a good sign for a stable of GOP candidates who have inspired something short of outright enthusiasm from their base.

Still, no matter who's raising it, the thought of all that cash being wasted on politics makes the stomach turn.

(Historical fundraising data from opensecrets.org. Check out this page for some cool graphs on historical hard and soft fundraising totals for each party.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Americans Are Idiots

Don't take my word for it. Just ask Time and Newsweek.

Baghdad Street Scenes

As we all know from John McCain's brave reportage, Baghdad has become a much safer place of late. Here is what I believe is a shot of McCain taking his leisurely stroll through the Iraqi capitol the other other day:



I was also able to obtain a top-secret shot of General Petraeus making his rounds of the war-torn city in his unarmed vehicle:



So everything's going fine, then.

Move along. Nothing to see here.
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