Friday, February 29, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5827

I'm not sure I'd be comfortable getting married in a church where the rose window looks like a sniper scope zeroed in riiiight about where Jesus's crotch should be.
(Image originally uploaded by Deannster; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3748

Y'know what'd be cool? A huge Tim Russert head balloon. Just imagine it floating above cities, scaring children, making dogs bark, and leading even atheists to cross themselves in terror. That'd be cool.
(Image originally uploaded by iszatso; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)

Update: See the General for "X Degrees of Tim Russert."



It seems that Comcast has been caught paying disinterested (indeed, in some cases, barely conscious) people to fill up an FCC meeting in order to keep out interested people who want to complain about—Comcast.

Y'know, it seems to me that a company that can pay people to sit around and fill space is a company with too much money on its hands. Surely it'd be willing to give some of that back in the form of rebates, price cuts, or tax increases. Y'think?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4161

We now join The Four Noble Truths, already in progress:

"There is suffering."
"There is a cause of suffering."
"There is an end to suffering."
"Ah, crap—nachos again."

(Image originally uploaded by gafl; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Give Generik a Hand

'cause it sounds like he's sliced up one of his pretty badly. Get well soon, buddy!

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6325

The other RenFesters soon dubbed him "Sir Suddenly Off Duty" because, even at his most threatening, he still looked like he was hailing a cab.
(Image originally uploaded by clinton.roy; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Dodging a Bullet

Yikes! Somehow I'd missed the fact that the Bush Administration once nominated Pentagon General Counsel William "We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions" Haynes to be a federal appeals court judge. Thankfully, the Democrats managed to stop that particular travesty of justice.

Remember back in the old days, when a liberal who raised even the slightest, teeniest, tiniest criticism of the United States would swiftly be told, "If you don't like it, move to Russia"? Allow me to suggest that a man like Mr. Haynes would be much more at home than any of us in a country ruled by a former KGB thug and sporting a long tradition of show trials.

Remind me again: who won the Cold War?

Idiot or Whore?

It's a floor wax! It's a dessert topping! It's an exciting new game show that will occur to anyone who keeps up with media matters in America! Today's special guest: Tucker Carlson.

Referring to a February 24 Newsday article about then-private attorney Hillary Clinton's representation of an indigent man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson said on his program the next evening: "Now their defense is, 'Well, that's what lawyers are supposed to do.' In other words, it's legal, therefore it's allowed. I guess my response would be, it's still repulsive and immoral."
At first I was going to go with Idiot! here, as it seemed at first glance that Tucker Carlson had simply failed to grasp one of the most basic concepts underlying the American legal system: defense attorneys are required to, you know, defend their clients, as prosecuting attorneys are expected to prosecute them, and the accused is to be presumed innocent until their guilt has been determined through the adversial process of courtroom argument. But then I took a closer look at that "in other words." Notice how swiftly, how deftly, how almost unnoticeably, Carlson uses those three simple words to equate two statements that do not mean the same thing:
  1. "Defense attorneys are supposed to defend their clients."
  2. "It's legal, therefore it's allowed."
Do you see the problem? Statement 1 enunciates a professional responsibility: Someone who is working as a defense attorney is professionally required to do what they can, within the law, to defend their client. Statement 2 enunciates a kind of libertine license: Whatever is legal is allowable, even if it's not moral. The one is not even close to being the other, "in other words." However, by so swiftly and surreptitiously equating them, Carlson manages to move the listener from thinking "Hillary fulfilled her professional responsibility as a defense attorney" to thinking "Hillary immorally supported a rapist." The more I look at what Carlson did, the more it looks like some top-notch whorin'.

Tucker Carlson: Idiot or Whore? You make the call.

You Know What's Fascistic?

Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Beck blathering for an hour on CNN, relying on lame, desperate straw man arguments to try to connect FDR and Barack Obama to Hitler.

Goldberg's and Beck's "reasoning" seems to look something like this:

  1. The belief that politicians will solve all your problems is fascistic.
  2. Obama's supporters (like those of FDR and Hitler) believe that Obama will solve all their problems.
  3. Therefore, Obama's supporters are fascistic.
Leaving aside the obvious problems with premise 1—i.e., "delusional" would be a better word for such a belief than "fascistic"—the Straw Man shoulders his scratchy way in in premise 2. I mean, really: is there any good reason to accept premise 2? Can anyone seriously maintain that Obama's supporters believe this? Do you really hear Obama supporters saying things like this? I know that this "People think Obama's the Messiah" schtick is just one of many pieces of moldy rhetorical pasta currently being flung at the walls by the Right's propaganda chefs to see what'll stick—no doubt you recall its comrades, "Obama doesn't engage in empty patriotic displays with sufficient zeal" and "Obama is a secret Manchurio-Muslim candidate"—but come on: an entire CNN hour of Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Beck spouting crap like this?

If people like Beck and Goldberg can't see the obvious problems with this "reasoning," then they're idiots—and they don't belong on cable "news."

If people like Beck and Goldberg can see the obvious problems with this "reasoning" but happily engage in it anyway, then they're shameless whores—and they don't belong on cable "news."

Either way, what does it say about the "Cable News Network" that they'd waste an hour with this sort of idiocy/whoring?

(Cue deep James Earl Jones voice saying "I had Jello today.")

You Know What's Funny?

Armstrong Williams on the teevee, talking about the New York Times-McCain story, saying with a straight face, "I think what it does more than anything else, it causes those of us in the media to lose credibility."

That would be the same Armstrong Williams who, a few years back, wrote columns and gave interviews praising the Bush Administration's "No Child Left Behind" program—without bothering to tell his readers and listeners that he was being paid $240,000 by the government to do so. I mean, just Armstrong Williams's uttering of the word 'credibility' is funny. The fact that someone at MSNBC thought to call him up for commentary on the Times-McCain story is also funny. And the fact that MSNBC didn't bother to tell its viewers about Williams's record of taking Bush payola while distributing Bush propaganda—well, that's just extra icing on the comedic cake.

There's an old joke about tenure in academia—something to the effect of, once you've got it, you can't lose it unless you do something really heinous, like get caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. (Imagine variations for female and/or homosexual professors.) I'm beginning to think that media rolodexes work much the same way. What kind of basic ethical violations do you have to commit before cable news channels will stop treating you like a journalistically respectable source?

To put it another way: What kind of farm animal would Armstrong Williams have to be caught ****ing in order for outfits like MSNBC to evict him from their rolodex? 'cause being a paid government shill in disguise apparently ain't enough.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9285

Yes, very attractive—until you pan up and it's John Ashcroft!
(Image originally uploaded by choolover2; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Another Reason to Love the Internet

FlightAware: besides tracking flights, seeing what's going on at airports, etc., you can just click on "random airport or flight" and get little glimpses of what's going where in the American skies at any particular moment.

Well, it's cool if you're the kind of geek who likes to get window seats in airports and just watch as stuff comes and goes. Shut up.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2540.2

Sometimes, nearsightedness is a blessing in disguise. "I never liked that Mick Jagger fellow." "Grandma, that's mind."
(Image originally uploaded by kimyo; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, February 23, 2008


A curious development in America's Wang:

State Sen. Mike Haridopolos is the newest faculty member at the University of Florida.

Haridopolos, R-Indialantic, will act as a lecturer both within the university's political science department and the newly founded Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

By hiring Haridopolos, the third-ranking person in the Senate and a former Brevard Community College staffer, the university says it has added a teacher with plenty or real world public policy experience.

"Mike Haridopolos brings a combination of academic experience teaching government and real life, hands-on experience in Florida politics to the Graham Center," said former U.S. Sen. and Florida Gov. Bob Graham in a news release issued Thursday.

It also puts on its payroll someone who should have tremendous influence on the university's budget in the coming years. Haridopolos is in line to become Senate president in 2010. From that position, he will hold great sway over how much money flows to the university from Tallahassee.

Hmmm. Now, there's nothing unusual about politicians also working in academia; Michael Dukakis, for example, has taught political science at a number of universities, including UCLA, since losing the presidential race in 1988 and leaving the Massachusetts governorship. As the story points out, Haridopolos has taught before, and it stands to reason that poli-sci and government departments might benefit from having around people with real-life legislatorial experience. But check out this sweetheart deal:
Haridopolos will be paid $75,000 a year in his new position, $5,000 more than his predecessor.

Joe Glover, the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UF said Haridopolos' job would cover two areas, teaching and overseeing the Graham Center's internship program. During the fall semester Haridopolos will likely teach one or two classes in the political science department, Glover said.

In the spring, when the Legislature is in session in Tallahassee, he will turn his attention to the internship program.

Glover said his primary responsibility would be to identify and create internships in the public policy arena and to match UF undergraduates with those internships.

$75K—to teach "one or two classes" in one semester (will these be the sort of classes where all of the actual work besides lecturing is done by teaching assistants, hmm?) and to run an internship program in the other semester (and how much of that will actually be done by university staffers, hmm?). But wait—it gets better:
Haridopolos' hiring at UF, which was effective Feb. 15 according to the university, has ruffled some feathers within the university's faculty.

Unlike most full-time faculty members, Haridopolos does not have a doctorate degree. And the hiring was done without consulting the faculty of the political science department, which normally would have input on new hires.

Stephen Craig, the department chair, said he has no problem with Haridopolos himself. In fact, he said, he hired the senator in the past to teach individual classes about campaigning.

"My biggest concern is simply that the department was not consulted."

In his new role, Haridopolos will be paid far more than other lecturers. The two other full-time lecturers in the department, both of whom have doctorate degrees, are paid an average of $46,580.

So: even without a Ph.D., "Senator Mike" will be making $30K more than lecturers who have doctorates—to do what one suspects will be far less work. And the department he'll be a professor in wasn't even consulted about his hiring. This for a guy who's only been a legislator since 2000, so it's not like he's some "old lion of the Senate" or anything. Sweet.

The story mentions suspicions that this cushy deal has been made with an eye to when Haridopolos becomes Senate president in 2010—and can then potentially be a sugar daddy for UF. I'd almost prefer that form of possible corruption to the other one that occurs to me: there's a legislato-educational complex right alongside the military-industrial one that Eisenhower warned us about, and it takes care of its own with the same kind of sneering disregard for taxpayers and others among The Unconnected.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9941

I haven't seen Black Snake Moan, but I must admit that this would be at least 34.8% more interesting with Christina Ricci chained to it. But then studies show that that's also true of washing machines, toaster ovens, and David Spade (Advertising Age, October 2007).
(Image originally uploaded by lopix; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Mama's Boy

What's America coming to when a boy and his mother can't make sh*t up to sell magic boner pills on the teevee without the government gettin' all huffy about it?

CINCINNATI - A federal court jury on Friday found the owner of a company that sells "male enhancement" tablets and other herbal supplements guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

Steve Warshak, whose conviction was reported Friday by The Cincinnati Enquirer, is founder and president of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, which distributes Enzyte and a number of products alleged to boost energy, manage weight, reduce memory loss and aid restful sleep.

Television ads for Enzyte feature "Smiling Bob," a goofy, grinning man whose life gets much better after he uses the product, which allegedly boosted his sexual performance.


Prosecutors claimed customers were bilked out of $100 million through a series of deceptive ads, manipulated credit card transactions and the company's refusal to accept returns or cancel orders. They said unauthorized credit card charges generated thousands of complaints over unordered products.

Warshak's mother, Harriett Warshak, also was convicted of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering.

The government also alleged the defendants obstructed investigations by two federal agencies.

Some former employees, including relatives of Warshak, pleaded guilty to other charges and cooperated with prosecutors. They testified that the company created fictitious doctors to endorse the pills, fabricated a customer-satisfaction survey and made up numbers to back claims about Enzyte's effectiveness.

I tell ya, dang liberals are always on about the evils of big corporations, but do ya hear a peep out of 'em when Big Government crushes a good old-fashioned family-run enterprise? Of course not. They hate entrepreneurs and all successful people, that's why.</inner glibertarian>

Friday, February 22, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1103

(Image originally uploaded by uicukie; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton. I gather that this is actually Crown Fountain at Millennium Park in Chicago. Any park with monoliths is all right by me.)


Dialectic's a Bitch

When you have a chance, peruse this piece by Sara Robinson. She's been mining the literature on revolution to see how Bush's America stacks up against historical predecessors, and she finds that all the traditional ingredients for radical upheaval are in place—or are being steadily put into place by a heedless, greedy, hubristic elite. Excerpt:

And here we are again: Conservative policies have opened the wealth gap to Depression levels; put workers at the total mercy of their employers; and deprived the working and middle classes of access to education, home ownership, health care, capital, legal redress, and their expectations of a better future for their kids. You can only get away with blaming this on gays and Mexicans for so long before people get wise to the game. And as the primaries are making clear: Americans are getting wise.

Our current plutocratic nobility may soon face the same stark choice its English, French, and Russian predecessors did. They can keep their heads and take proactive steps to close the gap between themselves and the common folk (choosing evolution over revolution, as JFK counsels above). Or they can keep insisting stubbornly on their elite prerogatives, until that gap widens to the point where the revolution comes -- and they will lose their heads entirely.

Right now, all we're asking of our modern-day corporate courtiers is that they accept a tax cut repeal on people making over $200K a year, raise the minimum wage, give us decent health care and the right to unionize, and call a halt to their ridiculous "death tax" boondoggle. In retrospect, their historic forebears might have counseled them to take this deal: their headless ghosts bear testimony to the idea that's it's better to give in and lose a little skin early than dig in and lose your whole hide later on.

Will we take the hint Michael Moore dropped repeatedly in Sicko and move America in the direction of the sane, humane social democracies of Europe, staving off violent upheaval by building a society where all feel enfranchised and empowered? Or will America continue down the path toward becoming the biggest, baddest-ass banana republic in history, making Jack London's vision of fascist oligarchy coming to Gilded-Age America in The Iron Heel turn out to be a century ahead of its time, until, as Marx might put it, the elite produce a big-enough, desperate-enough, angry-enough mass of their own gravediggers?

I don't know what the future will bring, but thanks to jules, I hear Brian Eno playing in my head at times like these: "It will come, it will come, it will surely come."

An Open Letter to the Students of Prairie View A & M

Dear Students,

I recently became aware of the fact that, since your marvelous county leadership decided not to put an early voting site anywhere near your almost-8,000-student historically black campus, many of you decided to just march 7.3 miles to the county courthouse to vote—and in the process gave us all a magnificent example of citizens uniting in simple, peaceful action to secure the most basic of democratic rights. I'm only sorry that such action is still necessary in the America of 2008.

Please allow me to say that you rock.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The First Three Rows WILL Get Wet

Spot the unfortunate typo in this story about a cancer-fighting pink 757 that will be paying us a visit tomorrow:

As part of the plane's landing -- carrying passengers on the regularly scheduled Atlanta-to-Melbourne flight -- the Melbourne International Airport administration is hosing a cookie and punch reception from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the airport terminal. The event is open to the public.
Either they mean hosting or someone there has been reading The Bull Connor Complete Book of Etiquette.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9298

What Max Boot did instead of going to the prom.
(Image originally uploaded by phagee; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Libertarian Paradise

Just get those pesky old courts and regulators outta the way so big bidness can get its freak on:

THE Supreme Court’s ruling on Wednesday limiting lawsuits by patients over medical devices comes just as independent groups have raised questions about the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to ensure the safety of these products.

The Institute of Medicine, the Government Accountability Office and the F.D.A.’s own science board have all issued reports concluding that poor management and scientific inadequacies have made the agency incapable of protecting the country against unsafe drugs, medical devices and food.

A result, said David Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, is that the public is facing the worst of both worlds: a government health agency that cannot protect them and rules that block them from winning compensation when injured.


The politics of these cases are bewildering, said Susan P. Frederick, federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republican administrations generally advocate limited regulation and deference to state oversight, Ms. Frederick said. But in what she said was its push to reduce court damage awards, the administration has written a blizzard of rules that do just the opposite.

“This is shocking to us because usually Republicans align quite nicely with our federalism policy,” she said.

Yes, we're shocked, shocked! to find the Bush Administration siding with corporations over citizens and states.

One might as well be shocked to find corpses when the sheepfold is run by wolves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Show Trials

Why not just call 'em that, televise 'em on Fox, and have done with the pretense? Have Hannity or O'Reilly host, maybe with Dennis Miller as semi-comedic sidekick; cut away periodically to scantily clad cheerleaders—it might be sick, but at least it would be honestly sick.

Now, as the murky, quasi-legal staging of the Bush Administration's military commissions unfolds, a key official has told The Nation that the trials are rigged from the start. According to Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo's military commissions, the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees in an attempt to foreclose the possibility of acquittal.

Colonel Davis's criticism of the commissions has been escalating since he resigned this past October, telling the Washington Post that he had been pressured by politically appointed senior defense officials to pursue cases deemed "sexy" and of "high-interest" (such as the 9/11 cases now being pursued) in the run-up to the 2008 elections. Davis, once a staunch defender of the commissions process, elaborated on his reasons in a December 10, 2007, Los Angeles Times op-ed. "I concluded that full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system," he wrote. "I felt that the system had become deeply politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively."

Then, in an interview with The Nation in February after the six Guantánamo detainees were charged, Davis offered the most damning evidence of the military commissions' bias--a revelation that speaks to fundamental flaws in the Bush Administration's conduct of statecraft: its contempt for the rule of law and its pursuit of political objectives above all else.

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes--the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. "[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"

George Bush didn't just look into Vladimir Putin's soul; he copied off the former KGB thug's final exam.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2235

I heard the sonic boom (more like a very loud thump coming from nowhere in particular, actually) of the Shuttle coming in a few minutes ago.

William Wegman could do wonders with Derrida, so named because of his penchant for deconstructing everything he can get his paws on.
(Image originally uploaded by lumberchicken; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5619

Well, the box is a mess, but these should do nicely.
(Image originally uploaded by 壽司; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, February 18, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5511

Dirty will also be remembered for trenchant pans of Snoop Doggy Dogg ("for the thugs"), Limp Bizkit ("for the wannabes"), and Vanilla Ice ("there is no God").
(Image originally uploaded by rafe baron; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


"We need more boots on the ground at the plants."

So says the president of the Humane Society of the latest food scandal, in which 143 million pounds of ground beef ("four times bigger than the previous record") has been recalled in the wake of yet more unsavory revelations about slaughterhouses:

The recall by the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, based in Chino, Calif., comes after a widening animal-abuse scandal that started after the Humane Society of the United States distributed an undercover video on Jan. 30 that showed workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to force them to walk.

The video raised questions about the safety of the meat, because cows that cannot walk, called downer cows, pose an added risk of diseases including mad cow disease. The federal government has banned downer cows from the food supply.

Agriculture officials said there was little health risk from the recalled meat because the animals had already passed pre-slaughter inspection and much of the meat had already been eaten. In addition, the officials noted that while mad cow disease was extremely rare, the brains and spinal cords from the animals — the area most likely to harbor the disease — would not have entered the human food chain.

“The great majority has probably been consumed,” said Dr. Richard Raymond, the Agriculture Department’s under secretary for food safety.

I feel safer already.

What does it say when a country can squander billions of dollars on an unnecessary, unjustified war but struggles to keep its food and toys safe? Speaking of which, don't miss either installment (Part I or Part II) of Sara Robinson's "Mythbusting Canadian Healthcare." In Part II, she points out that America's for-profit healthcare system might wind up being a national security issue in its own right:

Our every-man-for-himself attitude toward health care is a security threat on a par with unsecured ports. In Canada, people go see the doctor if they're sick for more than a day or two. It was this easy access to early treatment, along with the much tighter public health matrix that enables doctors to share information quickly, that allowed the country's health care system to detect the 2003 SARS epidemics in Toronto and Vancouver while they were still very localized, act within hours to stop them before the disease spread any further, and track down and treat exposed people before they got too sick to be helped. In both cases, the system worked flawlessly. The epidemic was stopped within days and quashed entirely in under a month, potentially saving of millions of lives.

In the U.S., that same epidemic might easily have gone unnoticed for critical days and weeks. If the first people to get sick were among those 75 million without adequate insurance, they probably would have toughed it out a few extra days before finally dragging their half-dead carcasses into an ER somewhere. Not only would they be much farther along in the course of the disease—and thus at greater risk of death themselves—every one of them could have infected dozens or even hundreds of other people in the meantime, accelerating the spread of the epidemic.

Perhaps Osama hasn't hit us in years because he's on the run, fleeing George Bush's terrible swift sword. Or perhaps he's just kicking back and waiting for the E. Coli Conservatives to do his job for him.

Yet Another Open Letter to Chuck Asay


Once again, I have opened a "Today's Cartoon" email from Slate only to behold another of your cortex-confounding cartoons. Once again, I struggle to find within it humor—or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Once again, I find myself wondering whether you (and perhaps other right-wing cartoonists as well) are astoundingly ignorant, dangerously insane, or shamelessly dishonest. Let's first look at your exciting spaghetti-Western version of the dispute over the "Protect America Act":

Honestly, I suspect that there were Paleolithic scrawlers at Lascaux who, once taught to read and turned loose upon the internet for half an hour, would swiftly exhibit a richer, more nuanced understanding of the relevant issues here than you have managed. And had you at least gotten close to showing an understanding of the issues, then you might have managed to wring some humor out of this "showdown." Recall one of Henny Youngman's famous jokes: "I met a man who said he hadn't had a bite all week. So I bit him." This is funny in part because, while its "logic" is wrong, it's not totally wrong: it's easy to see how one could go from have a bite meaning "eat" to its meaning "being bitten." It's easy for the hearer to build a cognitive bridge connecting "normal" logic to the joke's logic—and crossing that bridge yields amusement. Your cartoon, however, doesn't bend logic and reality in a cognitively interesting way; like a dimwitted, petulant child playing in mud, it just splatters them all over the walls. Where does it go wrong? Let me count the ways.

I rather like the Old West set-up, so I'll give you the first panel. The problem starts in panel two. Surely you are aware that the disputes over FISA and PAA are not over whether the president can eavesdrop on the phone calls of suspected terrorists. Right? FISA already granted that power; it just insisted, in time-honored limited-government fashion, on reasonable oversight provisions to ensure that this power is not abused—by, say, being used against the president's political opponents rather than against actual terrorists. Thus, in choosing to frame this as a dispute over whether the president has the right to listen in "on a call from a suspected terrorist," you are seriously distorting the issue. And not in a funny way, either.

This problem is magnified in panel three, where your bitchy, black-hatted Senator Dodd yanks the Freedom Wire (that's what we'll be calling illegal wiretaps before long, just watch) out of President Bush's hands. Again, the dispute is not really over whether the president can listen to suspected terrorists; FISA gave him that power already. Thus, your portrayal of Senator Dodd as seeking to protect the communications of terrorists isn't a clever bending of reality, as in Youngman's classic joke; instead, it's just totally bass-ackwards from what's actually happening. Of course, it's bass-ackwards in a way that's convenient if you're a particularly subservient supporter of President Bush—and, let's face it, this isn't the first time one of your cartoons has seemed less a product of critical thought than of submissive urination.

With panels two and three having so thoroughly misrepresented the issue, there's nought left for the rest of the cartoon but to grind its pointless, unfunny way toward its conclusion. I must admit that I rather like panel six—though I can't believe it was your intention to delight readers with the spectacle of a Bush strung up with wire. Alas, to get there we first have to wade through two more panels of cringing and piss-dribbling wherein you try to portray our current president as Protector of the People. This president. The one whose administration failed to stop 9/11, still hasn't caught Bin Laden, still hasn't caught the anthrax mailer, bungled one war, deceived us into another war, threw fiscal responsibility out the window, farted around during Katrina, ignored global warming, spit on the Constitution, legitimized torture—you want us to believe that this president's only interest in having warrantless, unsupervised wiretapping power is to protect the American people. Why not just have Dodd nailing him to a cross in the final panel? It would have about as much resemblance to reality, and it would at least add a certain amount of absurdist shock value to an otherwise sad propaganda exercise.

As so many times before with Bush supporters, we are confronted with three possibilities:

  1. You are woefully ignorant—especially for a man who makes his living commenting on matters of public import in the world's most powerful democracy.
  2. You are, at least to some substantial degree, insane.
  3. You are a shameless hack who will say anything, however silly, stupid, or dishonest, in order to help your side cheat its way to victory.
I suppose there's a fourth, more charitable possibility: you exist as a nexus between alternate universes. In the universe you see, President Bush really is a selfless, white-hatted hero interested only in protecting the American people from dangerous enemies, and Congressional Democrats really are just a bunch of clueless, malevolent fools eager to tie the president's hands and thereby aid America's enemies. In that world, your cartoons are brilliant works of satire that serve the cause of good by holding governmental follies up to biting censure. Unfortunately, your cartoons issue forth not in that world but in this one, where they cannot help but seem products of idiocy, insanity, or mendacity. What a sad ontological plight!

You would be so much more at home in that other world. Perhaps if you pulled up your feet, scrunched yourself up metaphysically, and wished really really hard, you could somehow pull yourself through yourself and plunk all of yourself down once and for all into that good-Bush universe where you belong, and where you could cartoon to your heart's content and not inflict your odd scrawlings on this universe, where we have more than enough to do just cleaning up the messes left by our Bush and his incompetent, kleptocratic minions. You could go there and never come back—except perhaps as a kind of Bushworld Bodhisattva, popping back occasionally to teach other Bush-lovers how to follow you to that world and disappear forever from this one.

Good luck with that.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2494

Middle management soon learned to fear Subcomandante Cindy.
(Image originally uploaded by Jean Sweatergirl; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3568

"Hey everybody! Spring must be here! The f-holes are back!"
(Image originally uploaded by The Empire of Thieves; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, February 15, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9808

New York City, 1965: "Dick, I was tidying up in your room today, and—" "Stay out of my stuff, Mom!"
Product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between Mister Rogers, Carl Sagan, and Billy Bob Thornton.
The worst Silly String accident in human history is another of Los Alamos National Laboratory's many dark secrets.
(Images originally uploaded by philcarrizzi, bubbaofthebubbles, and Joslynan; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5569

Product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between Woody Woodpecker, Foghorn Leghorn, and Denis Leary.
(Image originally uploaded by bennettsocial; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6234

Word of advice: in a classified ad, don't say "Pole" when you mean "Polish." It may seem like no big deal to you, but trust me: It is come audition time for the Eastern European Culture & Heritage Festival. And the directors of that do not respond well to requests like "lighten up," let me tell you.
(Image originally uploaded by jenni6pixie; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2840

It's the "Deposit Sage Grouse Penises Here" signs that bother me. Those weren't put up by the Nevada Division of Wildlife, mind you; they're undisclosed private concern. You might say I could lose face if I said any more. *wink wink*
(Image originally uploaded by Look.; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, February 11, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8009: Happy Birthday to Generik Flickr Blogging

I'm having a bad day. But I hope that's not true of the good Generik, to whom this goes out as a big 'ol Happy Birthday!

Party time! You know, it may be geographically ironic, but nobody puts more effort into a conga line than Laplanders.
Unfortunately, the sexy German swing choir I hired wasn't onstage for five minutes before it started giving threatening looks to the polka band.
For your birthday feast. As if socialized medicine wasn't enough. Dang French'll be strapping bacon to grapefruit next.
"Late again, huh?" "Yeah, the bus service around here is an original sin, I tell you what."
I hope that your birthday is thoroughly earth-shaking—but not in the plate tectonic way. Best wishes from Categorical Aperitif, --nash
(Image originally uploaded by hailgumby, Würzblog, chaxiubao, ShellyS, and capitalist_b; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2002

"And now, ladies and gentlemen: Say hello to your 2007 Spirit Band and Marching Objectettes!"
(Image originally uploaded by motorsportbabesau; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3676

The neighbors could always tell when Catwoman was doing her leg raises. *squeak squeak squeak squeak*
(Image originally uploaded by mcoffin68; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, February 08, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1757

Whoever at the Star Wars exhibit decided to pipe in dialogue from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? committed a magnificent act of what I have come to call civil dadabedience. "DON'T talk about the children, Martha."
(Image originally uploaded by ChrisDotson; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5151

"Monorail." "Monorail?" "Monorail!"
(Image originally uploaded by ragingmistry; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton. See here.)


An Open Letter to John Gibson

Dear Mr. Gibson:

Catching up on some media news recently, I came across an account of how, on your radio show, you had made light of the death of young actor Heath Ledger—and had mocked Ledger by making repeated nasty references to his role in the award-winning film about the long, difficult "gay" relationship between two ranchhands in the rugged, manly West, Brokeback Mountain. Now, I don't know Heath Ledger from Adam (or Steve)—I still haven't even seen Brokeback Mountain—and you have since offered an apology (of sorts), but really:

Has it not occurred to you that, for probably 90% of people, the first time they see your pasty, fussy white personage, the first thought they have is not "heterosexual"?

I'm just sayin': in your case, gay-bashing makes for a counterproductive kind of camouflage, if that's why you do it, and maybe it isn't, but frankly, I can guarantee you that I'm not the only person who's had these thoughts. So you might want to lay off ridiculing young actors for appearing in award-winning "gay-themed" movies lest you ignite resounding choruses of "methinks he doth protest too much."

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9431

Frank doesn't mind if you refer to him as "Robert Beltrannish," but if you call him "Robert Beltranny" he will take a swing at you.
(Image originally uploaded by Diego P. Wong; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Favorite Words Department

I'm not sure why, but for some reason this popped into my head this morning.

Glagolitic, adj.

Of, pertaining to, or designating an ancient Slavonic alphabet (ascribed to St Cyril and long superseded by Cyrillic), retained in the liturgy of some Roman Catholic Churches in Dalmatia, Montenegro, etc. [New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. See also Glagolitic alphabet and Glagolitic Mass.]

It's Glagoriffic!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3140

It was five years ago today. I listened to the whole thing on NPR. I'm still angry.

As Powell's presentation continued, Peaches began to sing "Bullshit! Bullshit!" over and over. Smart bird.
(Image originally uploaded by Gastäo; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, February 04, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2241

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe even weirder than our own: "That Andy Griffith is one baaaaad motherf—" "Shut yo mouth!"
(Image originally uploaded by tesiak; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8971

Lecter, Tiffany
French Club 2-4
Future Business Leaders of America 3-4
Michael Savage Fan Club 3-4
(Image originally uploaded by nimuroji; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4489

Powered by a hand-cranked propeller shaft turned by a team of bikini-clad Playmates and pressure-tested down to 200 feet, the Hefmarine remains one of the coolest relics of the Sixties.
(Image originally uploaded by radix999; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, February 01, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9483

"You people may like this weather, but frankly, I'm freezin' my fearful symmetry off."
(Image originally uploaded by jskennell; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


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