Thursday, December 31, 2009

"...if Christ is Not Risen


then our preaching is in vain."

I have always thought that this admonition by Paul to the Christ community of Corinth (1 Cor 15:15) was one of the most brilliant and starkly honest moments in the New Testament. It is not the interpretation of Christianity to which I subscribe (like Jefferson, I prefer my Jebus without a side order of miracles) but I admire its magnificent simplicity: Paul acting as Attorney for the Defense, reducing the totality of Christian doctrine as he understood it to a single hypothetical syllogism --
  1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen.
  2. And if Christ has not risen, then everything we believe is a nonsense.

Keep that reasoning in mind when considering Joe Klein's latest sudden shift from Sad Clown mode to Angry Clown mode, which might have been just another death erection spasm of Left-hating left over from getting his sack spanked off with a folding chair by Glenn Greenwald, but I tend to think not.

I tend to think that that maybe old Joe had been waiting by the phone for his New Year's Eve Prom Night Big Media call for a long time.

Waiting for days. Weeks.

And still they did not call.

Every now and then he picked the receiver up -- just to check the dial tone -- and then immediately slapped it back down again in terror that that was The Exact Moment when the Big Media people had been calling to ask him -- beg him, really -- to shove his face in front of a camera and burble out some mildewy Centrist drivel for the umptee-umpth time.

Sometimes he had to pee, but did it fountain-like, leaning backwards out the bathroom door limbo-style it with one ear cocked for the brrrring...and never flushed or washed his furry little paws for fear the white noise of running water would drown out the sound of Opportunity Calling...which is also why he hadn't done laundry for a month, and why his sink was piled with sticky, old dishes.

And so, as he sat in his stink, panic closing slowly over him as a tiny voice whispered to him that The Call wasn't coming -- that he was finally facing a long-overdue oblivion which would have engulfed him 20 years before in a Better Universe -- Jokeline decided to take matters into his own hands, and do the one thing GUARANTEED according to the ancient and sacred rules of his lodge to earn him the approbation of the douchebag gatekeepers standing between him and the warm, healing light of the teevee cameras.

Punching some imaginary hippies for nonexistent crimes.

From Time Magazine, where this goof still inexplicably has a column:

The Left's Idiocy on Health Reform

By Joe Klein Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

In the snarkier precincts of the left-wing blogosphere, mainstream journalists like me are often called villagers. The reference, so far as I can tell, has to do with isolation: we live in this little village on the Potomac — actually, I don't, but no matter — constantly intermingling over hors d'oeuvres, deciding who is "serious" (a term of derision in the blogosphere) and who is not, regurgitating spin spoon-fed by our sources or conjuring a witless conventional wisdom that has nothing to do with reality as it is lived outside the village. There is, of course, some truth to this. Washington is insular; certain local shamans are celebrated beyond all logic; some of my columnar colleagues have lost touch with everything beyond their armchairs and egos.

But there is a great irony here: villagery is a trope more applicable to those making the accusation than to those being snarked upon. The left-wing blogosphere, at its worst, is a claustrophobic hamlet of the well educated, less interested in meaningful debate than the "village" it mocks. (At its best, it is a source of clever and well-informed anti-Establishment commentary.) Indeed, it resembles nothing so much as that other, more populous hamlet, the right-wing Fox News and Limbaugh slum
...

The prejudices of the tea partiers, birthers, deathers, Palinites and other assorted "real" Americans are well known; the historic conservative opposition to universal health care isn't news. The dyspepsia of the left blogosphere is less easily explained, though. It has its roots in an issue the left got right and almost everyone else got wrong: the war in Iraq. There is still intense, unabated anger on the left because its opposition to the war was often ridiculed and almost always ignored in 2003. The anger at so-called moderates — actually, Democratic conservatives like Joe Lieberman — who supported the war is especially intense. This was the anger that fed the Howard Dean movement in 2004, and it sets the emotional parameters for other issues far more complicated than the war, like health care. Those who were wrong about Iraq can't be trusted on anything else.

...When the public option was killed — by Lieberman, of all people — the left saw Iraq redux and rebelled. ... Bloggers at sites like Daily Kos, the Huffington Post (including Arianna herself) and FireDogLake held a village bonfire. ...

Notice how buying this plate of Villager Feculinni al Dente hinges completely on first accepting -- grudgingly -- that while Left might have gotten one thing right -- once -- the act of being right about Iraq has somehow cursed the Left, making us as insufferably awful as the "right-wing Fox News and Limbaugh slum".

But of course, as Jokeline and his clubhouse pals know full well (but would rather tear their own eyes out than admit) year after year after year, the scurvy dogs on the Left have gotten got quite a number of other things right. Important things: real honest-to-God matters of life and death.

Like Katrina.

Terri Schiavo.

Torture.

Warrantless wiretapping.

US Attorney firings.

The millions -- billions -- looted and lost in the sands of Iraq.

The Plame Affair.

The radical deregulation of everything.

Campaign finance reform.

Election fraud.

Global climate change.

Civil rights.

Workplace safety.

The destruction of the middle class.

The Swiftboating of John Kerry.

Our failures in Afghanistan.

These are some of the many issues around which we Idiots on the Left were organizing and rallying support while comedians like Jokeline and his friends were still desperately pretending that the filth the Neocon/Theocrat Republicans have been peeing into their mouths for 30 years was Chateauneuf du Pape. Frantically contorting themselves to play every issues down some nonexistent "middle"between an increasingly nihilistic, pig-ignorant, rage-drunk "I just don't fucking care if we napalm the Constitution as long as it makes some Liberal somewhere more miserable than me" Right who have been shown to be repeatedly and catastrophically wrong about virtually everything...

...and the Left, who have proven to have been repeatedly right about a whole lot of Very Important Things Besides Iraq.

But journalistic grubworms like Jokeline would literally be out of work tomorrow without a nice, fat Center into which they can burrow and poop out their ridiculous little "both sides are equally wrong" diatribes.

And like mercury in the water, the poison is now everywhere.

Because of the need to appease the God of Centrism, smack in the middle of his column in the Liberal New York Times ("Profiles in Cowardice") excoriating the Modern GOP for its long, violent devolution into a roaring, wrecking mob of bigots and goons...
...
"In many ways, the budget vote 16 years ago ushered in the modern era of hyper-partisanship. Right-wing talk radio hosts were just entering their steroid phase, threatening any Republican who voted for a bill that ultimately led to budget surpluses.

"From then on, nobody could “respectfully disagree.” Moderates were called wussies, traitors and socialists."
...
Timothy Egan felt the need to stop along the way and take a completely gratuitous and unsupported shot at "the fringe Democratic left"

"When Republicans gained control of everything, the fringe Democratic left took their rhetorical cues from their angry counterparts on the right."

By which I assume he means me.

The next day, in a mealy, Centrist bit of hand-wringing over the awful partisan awfulness now reaching its nadir in Washington D.C., David Herszenhorn Jokelines his column into all kinds of exciting shapes to obediently apportion the blame equally on both sides for partisan shithole D.C. has become:
In Senate Vote on Health Care Overhaul, New Partisan Vitriol
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

...
"For more than 30 years, the major parties — Democrats and Republicans — worked every angle to transform politics into a zero-sum numbers game. State legislatures redrew Congressional districts to take advantage of party affiliation in the local population. The two-year campaign cycle became a never-ending one.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, who worked on many bipartisan health care bills over the years, often with a close friend, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said that the both parties were to blame but that external factors including ethics rules also discouraged senators from fraternizing.

Both parties have become very polarized,” Mr. Hatch said. “A lot of that is because of the stupid ethics rules. We can’t get together at various events. A lot of people complain about taking foreign trips, which are really critical for us to understand foreign policy. The Internet is constantly badgering everybody. In the process, it’s gotten pretty doggone partisan, both ways. It’s bad.”

But of course this is not a "both ways" problem and never had been. That is simply, factually wrong.

Historically wrong.

Insupportable wrong.

And to make that point, yes, we Idiot Liberals really can go on and on, day and night. All the way back to the Clinton Years if we have to (snipped from a long list of Clinton-era GOP quotes compiled for your convenience in June, 2009):
...
These were a tiny sampling from the irrational exuberance of the Great Wingtard Prose Bubble of the 1990s. Back when the entire Republican Party was propped up by endless, frantic, terrorist-grade-teevee-smashing rage over Bill Clinton’s bad land deal, Christmas card list and penis.

In their tireless, hysterical stabs at a coup d'état, the Right left scattered behind them the now-discarded fruits of a thousand staffers banging away on a thousand computers burning through a thousand thesauruses as they looked for just that right alchemical mixture of faux-indignant and maudlin self-righteousness that would get their bosses into the morning paper and on the evening news.

And the minute George W. Bush took the oath of office, every trace of that roaring, weeping, podium-pounding concern over the fate of the United States Constitution evaporated completely.

Boom. Gone. Just like that.

Because they never meant a word of it.

Not a Single. Fucking. Word.

Their eight years of “founding Fathers, “duty” and “rule of Law” maundering was nothing but incantory flapdoodle, scribbled onto RNC cocktail napkins and stuffed into the skulls of the Base to send them stomping into the world in their millions bleating over and over again that even the smallest hint of an infraction against the Constitution by any President under any circumstances needed to be smote with a Holy Patriotic Fire, screw the cost and fuck the consequences.

And so it was, in Age of Bush, that of the suddenly-inconvenient "Smash Authority" software was all wiped clean away, and the mindless lumps of clay were effortlessly reprogrammed again and again to hate whatever new thing their Dear Leaders wanted them to hate.
...
But we're tired of it. Speaking for every Liberal in America, it has long since gone well beyond annoying and bizarre that, year after year, we have to repeat and re-prove this same point to the same, wingnut-doting Villagers over and over again.

We now fully and finally understand that it doesn't matter.

We know that Newt Fucking Gingrich -- one of the hands-down, all-time Kings of Bile and the Politics of Personal Destruction -- will continue to be welcomed onto the Mouse Circus forever, where he will continue to say things like "You can’t build on bitterness!" without being laughed into the street.

We know that Joe Lieberman will continue to leave his slime trail of sanctimonious hypocrisy from one teevee studio to another.

We know that, if David Gregory found Karl Rove passed out face down in a puddle of his own sick, covered in blood, clutching crack pipe in one hand and and the rigor-mortised cock of a dead gay hooker in the other, Rove could be 100% certain that the worst thing that would happen to him would be waking to find himself in Gregory's guest room with a note next to his tea and toast asking him if he would pretty please agree to go on "Meet The Press" this week.

Because we know that, in the end, reflexively loathing Liberals for being right and excusing the grotesque failures of Conservatives to create a wholly false "Sensible Center" will always be to Villagers what the Risen Christ was to Paul: the central pillar of their theology, without which their entire world would fall apart.

Some Expressions To Be


Put down like sick dogs in 2010.

"Aspirational" -- Semantically identical to, "I won't come in your mouth".

"Size, way, shape or form." -- We get it. You're serious. We can tell by the tiny, tiny line trembling on the verge of forming on the front of your big, smooth Botoxed noggin. Really, really serious.

"Staycation" -- Staying is not vacating. Vacating is not staying. Please try to keep up.

"There is/can be no doubt that..." -- Words used just before a Conservative starts lying.

"Center/right" -- Neither "Right" nor "Left" have any coherent meaning any more, and "Center" never mean anything anyway.

"Continuous Quality Improvement" -- A complex, expensive, multi-year scheme to slowly teach managers how not to pee on the floor. Remember, sloooowly; let's not get all crazy and try to do this without a wildly overpaid consultant in just a few days.

"Some people say..." -- Translation: "The voices in my head are screaming..."

"Innovation" -- Putting socks on a rat.

"Socialist" -- At one time used to refer to a specific, definable governmental and economic ideology. Now is semantically identical to "poopy-head" and used almost exclusively by Conservative Clowns who are desperate to find another "I hate your ass face!" rantspeech trigger-word now that they can't get a rise out of anybody by calling them a Liberal anymore. See also "Marxist", "fascist", ACORN, "Kenyan", "Chicagoan".

"The white flag of surrender" -- Meaning, "Leaving any country, anywhere that we have ever invaded, ever, under any circumstances that doesn't involve candy and flowers and throwing us parades on the way out." See also "socialist".

"Free Market" -- Has been hijacked and sullied beyond repair by Corporate Welfaristas who understand neither "free" nor "markets".

"Collaborative" -- You do it. Or the intern. Or you and the intern. Either way, I'll be over here being "proactive". See also "Empower". See also "Mentor".

"Proactive" -- Holy fuck, I completely forgot to do my job. Well, next time...

"To the next level..." -- Lazyspeak for, "I have nothing left to bill you for but dessert topping slathered onto shit I already conned you into buying."

"Monetize" -- Getting people to pay for your stupid antics.

"Integrated Online Vertical Marketing Strategy" -- Paying consultants who have convinced you that they can get people to pay for your stupid antics, because everybody knows, those kids, they love their blogs and twitters and googles and such.

"Incent(ivize)/Disincent(ivize)" -- "Carrots and sticks" for people with small penises who need to overcompensate with slang they picked up at some overpriced Imagination Acceleration conference in Denver.

"Impactful" -- The go-to word for illiterate executives who dare not admit that they made it all the way into a corner office with ever learning the difference between "affect" and "effect".

"Fox News" -- We live in a busy age and to avoid wasting valuable conversational time on human fudge-sickles who shouldn't be let out of their double-wides without a minder, it would be very helpful if we could all agree that the word "INCURABLE DUMBASS" should be tattooed across the forehead of anyone who really believes that "Fox" has anything to do with "News".

"Christian Conservative" -- Separately, each word means something distinct. Together, they mean the polar opposite of either.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Is This Man


On My Teevee?

This is Larry C. Johnson.

This evening he is/will be/will have been on three prominent, national teevee shows talking terrorism
  1. CNN sometime during the 7 pm ET hour
  2. Jim Lehrer Newshour / PBS
  3. Larry King Live tonight — 9 pm ET hour

-- which is what he used to do for a living.

Until he lost his mind (from The American Prospect):

Larry Johnson's Strange Trip

...

In November Johnson posted his first anti-Obama broadside, "Why is Obama in Bed with Karl Rove?" on NoQuarter and Daily Kos. The Obama campaign had used a Robert Novak column as grist in an attack against Clinton; in Johnson's eyes, an unforgivable sin. ...

On Dec. 26, 2007, Johnson unloaded on Obama in a Daily Kos post, accusing "pro-Bush Republicans" of "hyping" him to Democrats. The Daily Kos version of the post drew 1,157 comments, most of them negative. The night of the Iowa caucuses, Johnson called the state "a pimple on the gnat's ass." "Obama, What Drugs Are You Using?" he asked in a Jan. 6 post about Obama's New Hampshire campaign chair (and pharmaceutical lobbyist) Jim Demers. On Jan. 12, Johnson announced that he was "all in for Hillary"; the next day, he pounded the drug theme again...

...

It was ... in late April -- that the "whitey tape" rumor started, mostly among pro-Clinton Democratic donors in New York. One of the earliest versions of the rumor, according to one reporter who heard it in April, was that researchers for Rudy Giuliani had their hands on a tape of Michelle Obama at Trinity United giving a speech where she attacked white America using the word "whitey."

Johnson told me over e-mail that he heard the rumor for the first time in early May. On May 16, he claimed to "have it from four sources (three who are close to senior Republicans) that there is video dynamite -- Michelle Obama railing against 'whitey' at Jeremiah Wright's church." The next day Johnson posted a fresh rumor of "an ultra conservative Republican billionaire" who "hates John McCain" and had put out a $1 million bounty on the tape.

The new story came from a "major Republican operative" who told Johnson that "Karl Rove and his political allies control the tape." It was corroborated by "a retired CIA buddy" who was "friends with a lawyer who saw the tape." Two days later, with this story still uncorroborated, Johnson speculated that Barack Obama's angry response to criticism of his wife came from fear of "the ticking 'whitey' time bomb."

On May 26, Johnson, for the first time publically, explained that he'd originally heard the story from "two friends," one a Democrat and one a Republican, who didn't know each other, but each claimed to have seen the tape.

...

On May 30, Rush Limbaugh dropped a mention of the rumor of a tape that shows "Michelle going nuts in the church, too, talking about whitey this and whitey that." The next day Johnson promised "new and dramatic developments" to come on Monday morning. The day after Johnson's "bombshell" post, Roger Stone appeared on Geraldo Rivera's Sunday Fox News show and gave his own version of what he was hearing.

"There's a buzz," Stone said, "which I believe now to be credible, that some indelible record exists of public remarks that Michelle Obama allegedly made, which are outrageous at best, but could be termed racist, including some reference to white people as whiteys, allegedly." NoQuarter bloggers Bud White and SusanUnPC used the Stone video as proof of the story's veracity; NoQuarter even uploaded the segment onto YouTube.

...

Hillary Clinton dropped out of the presidential race the weekend after Johnson posted his accusation about Obama's "non-denial denial." The "whitey" story had spun itself out. And on June 12 Obama's campaign launched a site called "Fight the Smears" which provided a no-frills response to the rumor: "No such tape exists. Michelle Obama has not spoken from the pulpit of Trinity United and has not used that word."

It was the denial that Johnson didn't get a week earlier, but he wasn't satisfied. On the contrary, the fact that Obama's campaign told Time magazine that they'd heard about the rumor in April convinced Johnson of the veracity of his sources. Reached over e-mail on June 12, Johnson was unrepentant.

"There is a recording of Michelle saying disparaging things about white people," he wrote. "A person who saw the tape said the word 'whitey' was used. I don't know when or where she made the remarks. I do know that the Republicans who are circulating the tape don't want this out until after the convention. Those are the facts as I know them from multiple sources who do not know each other. I stand by their accounts."

Larry Johnson's media career has covered a lot more territory than I've touched on here, but that's not really the point.

The point is that, hardly more than one year ago, Larry Johnson stomped into the spotlight to commit about as loud and spectacular an act of Ritual Credibility Suicide as I have ever seen.

And hardly more than one year later he has been shriven, forgiven and put back in front of three teevee cameras in one day.

Because, like the Chicago Clout List, once you've been let into the Big Media Clubhouse, it really doesn't matter how much of a lunatic or liar or fuck-up you prove yourself to be.

Once you're in the club, you're in for life.

Meanwhile, in News For First Families...



No members of the First Family were in any way even tangentially affected by an apparently minor accident which involved the child of a friend of President Obama.

None of them went in the cage, or swung on the little wooden trapeze, or ate any of the nice millet seed.

Yum, Yum.


Better Media Please!

A Bozo In The Sky


An unabashedly homoerotic kiddie singalong from the Bozo Media Machine...

...or Eunuch bomber sleeper-cell training video?

Disturbing either way.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This Week In Helpful Local Translations


Political Officer Ivan Putin would like a word with you.


In "The Hunt for Red October"

most people were probably introduced to the idea of the "political officer" for the first time. He was the man from Moscow -- the Kremlin's personal representative -- and acted as...
...the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education (ideology) and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military
...

The political supervision of the Russian military, was effected by the Political Commissar, who was introduced to every unit and formation, from company- to division-level, including the Navy. Revolutionary Military Councils (RVS) were established at army-, front-, fleet-, and flotilla-level, comprising at least three members — commander and two Political workers.


What a lot of people do not know is that the City of Chicago has an identical office that performs an identical function; quietly and remorselessly enforcing Da Mare's political will, insuring the loyalty of his directors and commissars commissioners, and guaranteeing the no counter-revolutionary elements are allowed to take root opposition is allowed to develop.

Except in Chicago the office is called the IGA: a department with a rich and pungent history of being at or near the center of many of Chicago's most embarrassing scandals, and within which there was a sudden shake-up last week (from the "Sun Times"):

Joan Coogan named city IGA director

December 21, 2009

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Mayor Daley on Monday abruptly changed horses in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the center of the city hiring scandal.

John Dunn, who has served as IGA director since 2005, resigned his $158,364-a-year job to take an unidentified “position in the private sector.” Dunn will be replaced by Joan Coogan, an 11-year veteran IGA employee who has worked to advance the mayor’s agenda in the City Council.

Dunn was not a City Council favorite. Earlier this year, he unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against Ald. Joe Moore (49th) in front of stunned aldermanic colleagues after Moore dared to aggressively question the mayor’s acting budget director during a City Council hearing.

Although 12 aldermen voted against the mayor’s 2010 budget, Dunn’s close ties to union leaders were credited with helping to deliver furlough days and other cost-cutting concessions that helped Daley reduce 1,600 threatened layoffs to just 431. All but three city unions ultimately agreed to the mayors demand.

“He gets along well with [Chicago Federation of Labor President] Dennis Gannon. He could pick up the phone and talk to these guys,” said a City Hall source, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Joan Coogan doesn’t know labor relations. She’s loyal. She’s been around. She’s hard-nosed. She’s tough. But she can also be a little bit abrasive. She’d be better off as chief of staff. John Dunn and [his predecessor] John Doerrer were smoother.”

...

Coogan is a graduate of St. Mary’s College and Loyola Law School and spent six years working for then-County Board President John Stroger before joining IGA in 1998.

In 2005, IGA was at the center of the city hiring scandal.

Then-IGA director John Doerrer resigned just days after the mayor’s patronage chief Robert Sorich and two other high-ranking city officials with close ties to the mayor’s native 11th Ward were accused of presiding over a “massive fraud” — complete with sham interviews, doctored test scores and color-coded charts to track political sponsors — to rig city hiring in favor of pro-Daley political workers.

Sorich was subsequently convicted. Doerrer’s predecessor, Victor Reyes, was implicated — first as an unidentified “co-schemer” in the alleged conspiracy to reward soldiers in the mayor's political army, then by name — in an explosive federal court filing unsealed in December 2005.
...

Former City Clerk Jim Laski, the highest-ranking official convicted in the Hired truck scandal, has also said that he brokered Hired Trucks through Reyes, Sorich and convicted First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak.

Reyes has never been charged.
...

Not exactly steeped in a tradition of "Duty, Honor, Country".

And since nothing in Chicago politics happens in a vacuum, this latest departmental defrag needs to be understood in the light of recent events, so consider how much movement there has been just behind the scenes in City government.

The belly-flop of the Olympics bid means that, instead of running a powerful shadow gummint in Da Mare's name, a lot of Hizzoner's top people got caught out in the cold, and a lot of Hizzoner's top allies got stuck with a fistful of worthless political and financial IOUs. Several departments have been reorganized and centralized for the second or third time in as many years (at least one department has disappeared altogether). Some bosses still carry the title of "acting" long after tradition dictates that those positions be permanently filled. And having shown a perfect willingness to fire city workers and cut hours en masse to balance his budget in the past, Da Mare has suddenly done a major about-face and is about to spend virtually all of the loot he got from frittering away the city's parking meters on a 75-year lease...to balance a one-year budget hole and throw Chicagoans a token bribe bit of property tax relief.

So combine the fact that there simply are no more fiscal gimmicks left to prop up Hizzoner's regime and pay off all his political debts, with the reality of a demoralized government that has way too many of its moving parts in unpredictable motion, and all signs point to the Great Machine heaving itself into frantic action to shake up the city's political Etch-A-Sketch (about which Fran Speilman does a fine job of cataloging here) --
...
The Daley shuffle continued with the appointment of CTA President Ron Huberman to replace Arne Duncan to head the city's schools.
...

The City Hall version of musical chairs also shifted Aviation Commissioner Richard Rodriguez to the CTA. Huberman is an education neophyte. Rodriguez has no background in mass transit. Both moves exposed how thin the mayor's bench of trusted advisers had become.

The mayor later also replaced his chief financial officer, chief procurement officer, budget director, inter-governmental affairs director and inspector general in 2009, along with the CTA Board chairman and commissioners of streets and sanitation, aviation, health, human resources, general services, fleet management and animal care and control.
...

-- once again in a way that will further consolidate and concentrate power into hands of Da Fifth Floor.

There are about to be simultaneously many fewer seats in the lifeboats -- and more demands for them -- than at any other time in Da Mare's long career, and for that scenario, Da Mare does not need someone "smooth" overseeing the execution of his political will down to the level of "every unit and formation".

For that, he needs an Enforcer.

Proud member of The Windy Citizen

America Outsources Manifest Destiny



From Yahoo News:
China unveils 'world's fastest train link'

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Saturday unveiled what it billed as the fastest rail link in the world -- a train connecting the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) an hour.

The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 kilometre journey to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven and a half hours, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand a high-speed network aimed at eventually linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, Xinhua added.

"The train can go 394.2 kilometres per hour, it's the fastest train in operation in the world," Zhang Shuguang, head of the transport bureau at the railways ministry, told Xinhua.
...
Ha!

Everybody knows trains are hobos, mass transit is for sissies and that Real Men take the God Damn Tahoe.

Fucking Commie losers.

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Early New Year's Resolution

LemonFont
In the coming year, I hereby resolve to stop writing crucial parts of my posts in "Citrus Limonia Nuance" -- my custom-made, 2.6 point, lemon juice invisible-ink font -- and go back to basic black, 12-point Times Roman.

It was, admittedly, too cute by half, and has already caused several people to come down with severe cases of Sudden Onset Twisted Panty Disorder over something I wrote which the damned Lemon Nuance font obviously made it impossible for them to read, or -- thanks to its sinister citrateous powers -- made them see (and fly into a rage over) something I had never written at all.

It was reckless and irresponsible of me and it shall not happen again.

Too Soon?


I never can tell.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Is All About


Tradition.

The Thin White Duke duetting with the Short White Bing.
Prehistoric Matt Taibbi calling out prehistoric Lloyd Blankfein.
Cylons.
Yuletide hostage-taking.

And, of course, the annual re-telling of the story of

Santa Claus and his old lady.

On Donner, on Blitzen.
On Chuy, on Tavo.
C'mon Beto!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ruh Roh

JandG
But he's so cute and furry and...

Oh.

Never mind.

From The Atlantic:
Odd Couple Of Norquist, Hamsher Call For Investigation, Rahm's Resignation

Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are not often on the same side of anything, beyond both usually being in the Western Hemisphere. Norquist is a leading voice of fiscal conservatism as head of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform; Hamsher is a leading voice of the digital left, whose blog Firedoglake has taken on influence in speaking up for progressives during the health care debate and in pressuring lawmakers through its activist arm, FDL Action.
...


There are plenty of issues over which Liberals and old-line Conservatives can, should and do find common ground: hell, out in the meat world I do it every week.

But Grover Norquist is not an old-line Conservative. Grover Norquist is the plutocrat's favorite demolitions expert, whose fanatical purpose is to destroy the federal government, and whose fanaticism sometimes leads him to do things like compare the estate tax to the Holocaust.

Because he is a lunatic with the moral sense of a nail gun.

And while nothing can be done about moral imbeciles like Grover Norquist running wild in the streets, somebody really needs to remind Hamsher that this sort of collaborating-with-thugs-for-political-convenience bullshit is exactly how the Southern Strategy started.

Protocol Droid Speaks


I am C3-BOBO, Human-Suburb relations…

File under: “The Lyin’ of the Elders of Protocol”

This will be the briefest assay of a Bobo Brooks column I have ever done, because everything that is Epic Fail about it flows from its first, two sentences.

From the NYT:

The Protocol Society
By DAVID BROOKS

In the 19th and 20th centuries we made stuff: corn and steel and trucks.
Now, we make protocols: sets of instructions.
...
No. Stop. Stop right there. Shut it down.

Because this is simply wrong.

A widely accepted economic platitude? Yes.

One that has sold millions of bad books for fatuous globalists like Tom Friedman? Yes.

And wrong?

Absolutely.

A fairy tale, and a very, very dangerously one, because the epidemic perpetuation of this bourgeois, Frappuccino-slurping Conservative elitist notion that we don't manufacture things in the United States anymore -- that we are (as such pronouncements always either state outright or unmistakably imply) inevitably and irrevocably becoming a two-class economy of white collar persons living in stylish suburbs manipulating bytes in office parks...and peons living in trailer parks manipulating beds in nursing homes and upscale hotels -- has such a powerful and destructive effect on public perception and policy that we are well on our way to making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

By, among other means, spreading it as the plainsong, axiomatic truth of the New Century in the nation's newspaper of record.

Just one of those things that everybody knows.

Except, of course, that it just isn't true.

We still make stuff (from a handy aggregation of good data here:)


The chart above shows manufacturing output of selected countries and the BRIC countries, as a share of world manufacturing output in 2007, using United Nations data via the BLS (I haven't been able yet to find comparable data for 2008). It's interesting that U.S. factories produced almost twice as much output in 2007 as China, and the U.S. produced an amount equivalent to the total manufacturing output of the four BRIC countries combined (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
...

Lots of stuff (from the incredibly far-right Cato Institute, with which I disagree about so many other things, but which has this one exactly right):

Thriving in a Global Economy: The Truth about U.S. Manufacturing and Trade

Reports of the death of U.S. manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated. Since the depth of the manufacturing recession in 2002, the sector as a whole has experienced robust and sustained output, revenue, and profit growth. The year 2006 was a record year for output, revenues, profits, profit rates, and return on investment in the manufacturing sector. And despite all the stories about the erosion of U.S. manufacturing primacy, the United States remains the world's most prolific manufacturer--producing two and a half times more output than those vaunted Chinese factories in 2006.
...


Lots and lots of stuff (from the Alliance for American Manufacturing):
Manufacturing in the U.S. generates about $1.6 trillion, or 12 percent of our gross domestic product, accounting for nearly three quarters of the nation’s industrial research and development (R&D), two-thirds of our nation’s total exports of goods and services, and supports more than 20 million high-paying jobs. Manufacturing also ensures we have a strong industrial base to support our national security objectives.


In fact making stuff holds the potential for helping to solve lots of our other problems (from the Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper "Renewing U.S. Manufacturing by Promoting a High-Road Strategy" [PDF]):

U.S. manufacturing: Why shrinkage is a problem—and is not inevitable

Why manufacturing matters


A stronger manufacturing sector could alleviate a number of problems plaguing the U.S. economy. These problems include:

1.Sagging infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 2005) rates 27% of the nation’s bridges as “structurally deficient,” a danger exemplified by the recent collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on August.1, 2007. In addition, the ASCE reported large shortfalls on spending for clean water, cleanup of toxic waste sites, and waste-water treatment.

2. Failure to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. According to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007), the world faces potentially disastrous changes in climate.
...
Manufacturing can contribute to this reduction both by adopting energy-efficient production techniques and by making equipment to produce renewable energy.
...


Making stuff also drives innovation (from "Manufacturing a Better Future for America")...
“Contrary to assertions by many that we can jettison manufacturing in favor of focusing on ‘innovation’ and high-wage services sectors to lead growth, the reality is that manufacturing industries account for 70 percent of all U.S. spending on research and development and employs more than 40 percent of all engineers,” Hira continues. “Innovation is inextricably linked to manufacturing and vice versa—lose one and you’ll lose both."
...


And making stuff also not only pays pretty well, but generates other jobs in the economy, effectively propping up the American Middle Class (from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch):
...To understand the cost of losing these jobs, you need to understand just how valuable manufacturing jobs are. Manufacturing supports large numbers of upstream suppliers, pours research and development investment into the economy and stimulates innovation.

With their high productivity, manufacturing jobs pay good wages and provide needed benefits. Moreover, 35,000 retirees and their families depend on the tire industry for their retiree health care benefits; when that industry can't compete because of imports from China, it puts those important benefits at risk.

Manufacturing jobs are the backbone of the middle class, supporting entire communities in many areas of the nation. Every job in the tire-and-rubber industry supports an additional 2.4 jobs in supplier industries and through respending of wages earned by those workers.

This is bang for your buck we just cannot get by creating a new job at Wal-Mart, or even on Wall Street.
...

"Protocols" are fine things, Mr, Brooks, and stacking and shuffling bits for a living around keeps geeks off the streets and out of the gangs, but we are still very much a country that makes stuff, and our future (and, indirectly, jobs like yours) depend on us not only remaining a global manufacturing heavyweight, but on getting better and better at it every year.

Which, in turn, depends on convincing a skeptical public and an ignorant ruling class still drunk on the cheap popskull get-rich-easy dreams of a Goldman Sachs/casino economy that it is worth the expensive, long-term investments and radical changes in our cultural and educational institutions needed to secure this future; a task that is made all the harder every time someone like Bobo Brooks opens his yap to regurgitate another bit of commonly accepted yahoo disinformation on a subject about which he knows almost nothing at all.

Still, perhaps we cannot blame C3-BOBO too much this time around.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Chicago Traditions

WH DIBS
Need to stay in Chicago.


Dear President Obama,

Congratulations again on your election. Now that you've had the better part of a year to settle into your new position, here are a couple of things about which people who caught a severe case of "The fierce urgency of now" last year and figuratively (and very likely, in some cases, literally) gave up their place in line at the unemployment office just so they could go and work on your behalf would like to remind you.

  1. As Leader of the Free World, you no longer have to call "dibs" on your parking space and mark it with that shitty lawn furniture you bought at Da Dominicks ten years ago, or the shell of that IBM 5150 from the Carter Administration you found in the basement.

  2. As Leader of the Free World you no longer have to bend a knee to reeking fucksticks like Joe Lieberman, no matter how much elder political kingpin vibe he's fronting.

  3. As Leader of the Free World you no longer have to dance to the tune of the malefactors of great wealth -- whether they nest on Wall Street or Insurance Avenue -- no matter what Rahm Emanuel tells you.

  4. As Leader of the Free World you really, really need to have your own sammich named after you at Manny's. It's become embarrassing.

And speaking of sammiches, half a loaf is not a loaf, Mr. President, and half of a half, isn't even a half, but being Liberals who survived the Rise and Fall of Reaganism on a nettle soup, "The West Wing" and wishful thinking, we can make do.

However, a fistful of raw wheat and an IOU for yeast sometime in the next decade is not any increment of a loaf.

It is, in fact, impossible to swallow.

Proud member of The Windy Citizen

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday Morning Comin’ Down


"A Zappadan Miracle" edition.

What would qualify as a Zappadan miracle?

How about a reporter telling some unhappy truths about the industry for which he works, and then resigning his job -- in the teeth of the Great Recession -- as a matter of principle?

Because everybody knows that is unpossible, right?

Everybody knows that everybody is on the make. Everybody has a price. Everybody has been slammed to the economic curb so fucking hard that they'll eat shit with a smile and ask for seconds to keep from ending up dancing for nickles in front of their Frigidaire box on Lower Wacker Drive.

This, after all, is the subtext of every Smart Money sermonette that smirks out at us from under glossy suits anf bulletproof hair every Sunday at the Mouse Circus: the deck is stacked so cold and tight that we can never win and are fools for even trying.

That the only way up is to sell out.

And every time the American people are sold a little deeper into bondage to corporate interests -- every time another bankster or Pharma lobbyist or health insurance mogul uses a gummint-issued backhoe to pick our pockets from behind after they have shot us in the face from the front -- we are counseled by all the clever dogs to take fucking the deal. To spend the rest of the waning days of the America we knew finding new and maximally-profitable ways of surrendering our futures to the implacable engines of oligarchy.

But I, for one, do not consent.

Will never consent to meekly dig my own grave.

Will never consent to obediently climbing into the lime pit just because the Villagers tell me it's the only open road left to me, which is why I try to spend some time every week opining intelligently bitching about the gassy trolls and skeezy puppeteers who have all but destroyed the honorable profession of journalism in America.

But this time around, rather that banging my sore old head against the same granite wall, I want to instead celebrate a small, local journalistic miracle.

Regular readers know that I am an admirer of the work Steve Rhodes does over at "The Beachwood Reporter". (Almost) every day, Steve emerges from his bunker to talk a little treason about various local sports cartels, link to interesting fellow travelers, and tell us in high style something wormy and compelling about what's happening in the ongoing, malfeasant comic-opera that is Chicago politics.

He is one of the canaries in our municipal mineshaft...if the canary was a mean, old dog...with a lockjaw grip...and a...big bag of adjectives?

OK, admittedly that metaphor toed itself into the wall pretty quick, so let's just let Steve speak for himself.

I am no longer contributing to NBCChicago.com and I feel obliged to tell readers why. It's also a tale that needs to be told in any case.
...

Around 11:30 a.m. the next morning - more than 24 hours after my piece was posted - I received a note from media maven Jim Romenesko notifying me that the link for the post I had provided in my Beachwood column was broken; he had been looking forward to reading the piece. The broken link was new to me. But it turned out it wasn't a broken link at all; the story had been "taken down."

No one had notified me. Perhaps no one would have had I not been alerted to it.

I sent an e-mail to my NBCChicago.com minders asking about it. At the same time, I noticed that a story I had submitted earlier that morning - and which had been approved in the usual morning pitch process - had never been posted. That was about the suicide of Michael Scott, a Daley insider who had most recently been the chairman of the school board.

...

There was not a "comfort level" in Chicago with what happened, I was told, but it happened at "the highest levels" of the company. And that "the highest levels of the company" made the decision "to remove" the [Tribune Company CEO Sam Zell's chief lieutenant Randy] Michaels post.

I was then told that the Michael Scott story had been scotched because he was a friend of a high-ranking station official here in Chicago who had been "ruffled" by the coverage of Scott's death to that point. On the heels of the Tribune controversy, I was told, the folks (or perhaps just one folk) here in Chicago didn't want another battle on their hands.

...

...With 20 years in the business, I know how things work. And yet, with everything I've seen myself and reported on in others, I cannot recall ever being involved in an incident like this. It was truly depressing.

I never set out to be a media critic. All I've ever wanted - well, after it became clear I would never play centerfield for the Twins, shortstop for the Cubs, or lead a rock and roll band - was to be a journalist. Call me corny, but I believe in the calling deeply.

But how can journalists keep quiet about what goes on in their own shops while cajoling - and even moralizing to - others to speak out about what goes on in theirs? We as an industry hail the whistleblower in print while not only keeping secrets ourselves, but expounding on how much the citizenry needs forthright people like us for democracy to survive.

It makes me sick to my stomach.

...

And so he resigned.



Of course, after you read the whole thing here. (also too, the audio here from his interview on WBEZ) you may ask yourself, "Sure, it's an awesome, inspirational story, but what in the world does it have to do with Zappadan?"

Well, first, I felt really bad about not getting a post up this year in support of the fine cats and kittens who sponsor the celebration, so let's just say that somewhichway whatever I wrote today was probably going to end up being a little, ah, Procrustean-ed into that bed.

But second, during his lifetime, Frank Zappa fought relentlessly against government censorship of words, and the faked-up outrage of "What about the Children?!" campaigns by right-wing groups who tried to use that manufactured fear to drive this country into the suffocating bosom of

fascist theocracy.

But of course, "fascism", is just another word for "corporatism":
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."
-- Benito Mussolini.


And when, instead of reporting the news, corporations take it upon themselves to pollute one of the public's few remaining sources of honest information in order to protect the personal interests of the powerful, then the convergence of corrupt government interests and corrupt corporate interests has indeed begun to approach the point where government really has become
"...the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex."
-- Frank Zappa
So thank you, Steve, for having the integrity to take up arms against that particular sea of troubles.

Happy Zappadan, good people.

And may you all find clever ways to put every hour of darkness of this longest night of the year to naughty good use!

Proud member of The Windy Citizen

Attack of the 50 Foot Mamzer

Joezilla

The Shrill One makes some excellent points in today's NYT:
...Democrats won big last year, running on a platform that put health reform front and center. In any other advanced democracy this would have given them the mandate and the ability to make major changes. But the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster — a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule — turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill.

Now consider what lies ahead. We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that — or, I’m tempted to say, any of it — if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate?


He even locates the source of the dysfunction. Care to take a guess about which Party is primarily responsible for pulling down the temple?
...
The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.


The problem -- the real, terrifying problem -- is that there is no one left on the Right to reason with, and there is almost no one left on the Left who dares to say that out loud.

And all because the money for shutting up, going along and selling us all out to the malefactors of great wealth is just too good.

Since the 80s, the "Government is the problem" GOP has made it perfectly clear that their long-term objective is to:

Destroy.

The.

Evil.

Gummint.

By any means necessary.

Win an election, by hook or crook...and Republicans break all land-speed records to loot the place outright and tow the wreck of whatever is left the Impound Lot of History. Lose...and Republicans stand on the Overpass of History lobbing cinder blocks into traffic.

And they can to this because they pay absolutely no penalty for; because their moral imbecile minions actual delight in it and rewards them for it. These millions of jerks -- the Pig People -- who giggle as the world melts. Who smirked as New Orleans drowned. Who reliably whine out the single biggest Big Lie in Modern American political history -- that "Liberals are just as bad" -- when they get cause red-handed gloating over the suffering of the poor and the weak in another fascist circle jerk of orgiastic sadism and misanthropy.

These are the fruits of the 30 years Conservative Base Breeding program designed to produce a crop of berserker wingnuts who regard any Democratic Administration as de facto illegitimate, any Liberal as a dangerous internal enemy to be crushed, and even the most modest attempts to govern responsibly as something (and I am quoting now from a conversation I had recently with an otherwise-pleasant Conservative colleague) straight out "of some Marxist Central Planner's playbook!"

A United State government that has been render so rotted, ineffectual, debt-crippled and idiot-ridden that, outside of occasionally pouring fire on some country on the far side of the Earth, it is incapable of taking any action whatsoever seems like a tragedy and a disaster to people on the Left like Paul Krugman, because they still have a social conscience.

Which is a blessing, but also a terrible blind spot.

Because no matter how many times they say it -- and no matter how many times their actions prove it -- we still seem incapable of comprehending that, for the Right, a government that has been methodically kneecapped to the point of complete dysfunctional -- where a fuckstick like Holy Joe Lieberman is made 30 pieces of silver richer every time he nicks another of democracy's arteries -- smells like Victory.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Musical Traditions of the Season

I Want You To Remember


That no bastard ever won the War for Christmas by dying for his dogma.

He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his dogma.


As Chris Beam notes here in Slate, the War to End All Wassails is basically over for a lot of reasons, but a big one is that the Reality that there never really was one finally swamped the Fox News propaganda:
...another recent story alleged that a school in Taunton, Mass., suspended a second-grader and required him to undergo psychological evaluation because when the teacher asked the class to draw something that reminded them of Christmas, the boy drew a picture of Jesus on the cross. The child's father cried religious bias. As it turns out, the boy was not suspended and the teacher had referred the child to psychological services because he had identified the person on the cross as himself. The teacher feared it might be a cry for help.

You can still hear a few crack and pops of faraway artillery from the wingnut rear guard itching to gin up fight, but the real War on Christmas mongers -- the Hate Media outlets, who always need some Fresh!Fake!Outrage! to keep the Pig People amped up and watching -- has gotten bored with it. Like many a toy from Mithrasmases gone by, the GWOX's (Global War on Xmas) paint has faded. Its moving parts have worn out. And it goes through batteries like David Vitter goes through hookers.

Not that any of that matters.

Swap "Clinton Impeachment" out for GWOX and you get exactly the same rhetoric. Swap GWOX for Teabagging, ditto. Swap it for ACORNoia, ditto. Swap ACORN for Obama-the-Kenyan-Usurper, ditto. And so on, and on, and on without end.

It is the same poison with different food coloring offered up to those millions of criminally delusional citizens who cling to their belief that Barack Obama (the guy who buddied up to the Conservatives in his class at Harvard, then buddied up to his Republican colleagues in Springfield, and who has again and again sacrificed or cripplingly compromised core Liberal policies and ideals to mollify some nonexistent group of "reasonable" Republicans) is a really secret Commie who has been (as was explained to me at a party last week) " steeped I tell you in the ways of radicals like Saul Alinsky" every bit as fiercely and irrationally as any Evangelical clings to Creationism and The Rapture.

For these people, I have no hope at all. None. For 30-years-plus they have proven beyond any doubt that they have no capacity for introspection; no ability to recognize that the fault, dear Brutus, is not in Alinsky, but in themselves.

And for 30-years-plus they have proven beyond any doubt that they will always fall for the Internal Enemy bullshit being marketed to them by the very people whose policies are actually fucking them and the country the claim to love into the ground.

And so I bring you another driftglass seasonally appropriate "War on Christmas" repost (stolen from the movie "Patton" and cruelly forced to serve wicked, Liberal ends by me), because, the War Behind the Global War on Xmas is the one that never ends.
Men, all this stuff you've heard about Pig People not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the War for Christmas is a lot of horse dung. Pig People, traditionally, love to fight for Jesus. All real Pig People love the sting of battle.

When you were kids you all admired the champion draft deferrer, the biggest rich kid, John Birch, and the guy whose daddy could hire the toughest boxer. Pig People love a winner and will not tolerate a loser…except for the whole War of Northern Aggression thing.

And the Jim Crow thing.

And the “Segregation Now” thing.

And the “Loving vs. Virginia” thing.

But other than that, Pig People play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Pig People have never lost and will never lose a war…and Vietnam does NOT count because it was only a “police action” and not a Real War like the War on Christmas. And anyway, we coulda won – were on the verge of winning – when we were betraaaayed by Cronkite and Jane Fonda and the dirty hippies.

Anyhoo, the very thought of losing is hateful to Pig People. As is the thought of Tolerance.
And Science.
And Causality.
And Compromise.
And every other religion in the history of the Universe.

Now, a Chairborne-Again army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality and “thinking for yourself” and “asking gotcha questions of the Sarah Palin” stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Washington Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about the why fornicating and terrorism are both caused by feminists, queers, teaching Evolution in the public schools and the ACLU.

Now we have the finest food, Chick Tracts, the best hair, and the most extremely heterosexual men in the world. You know, by God I...I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against, by God, I do. We're not just going to shoot these Liberal “Good Will Towards Men” bastards; we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of Santa’s Sleigh.

We're going to murder those lousy “Tolerant”, “Turn the other check” bastards by the Hanukah Bushel.

Now, some of you boys, I know are wondering whether or not you'll chickenhawk out under fire. Don't worry about that.

I can assure you that you will, just like your fathers and grandfathers before you.

That is, if this were an actual “war” war. Then we’d just send poor Negros, Spics and hillbillies off to do our fighting for us.

But this is just some faked-up Holiday Hatred invented by knee-biters like Bill O'Reilly to keep the stoopids distracted and divided, facing the wrong direction, and screaming the wrong slogans so they never noticed how routinely and ineptly the Cheney Administration lied to them and fucked them over.

The Liberals are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood in the name of the Redeemer. Shoot them in the belly for the sake of the Lamb of God.

When you put your hand into a bunch of Nondenominational “Holiday” goo that a moment before was your best friend's Manger Scene, you'll know what to do!

Now there's another thing I want you to remember: I don't want to get any messages that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Liberals do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested into holding onto anything except the enemy.

To celebrate the fake birthday of the King of Kings, we're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. In the name of the Son of the Living God, we're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like mouthbreathers through a WalMart on double-coupon day!

Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back to you Mommy’s Basement, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you what did you do in the great Operation Eternal Clusterfuck in Iraq?

You can proudly say, "Well, first I called everyone that didn't support the Cheney Administration a traitor and a coward. Then I cowered under the bed like a little bitch while far better men and women than I went off to bleed and die to cover the margin call on the Cheney Administration's stupid, reckless gamble. Then I re-elected him! Then I went out and spit on a dirty Jew to commemorate the fake birthday of my Lord and Savior."

Alright, now you sons-a-bitches, you know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful fucktards into a completely faked-up, Potemkin battle anytime, anywhere.

Like, say, Easter.

That's all.

The Strange Vexations


of the Aerie Dwellers.

Sandwiched in among dozens of Daily Dish posts by Patrick Appel, Chris Bodenner (whose Friday holiday tune selection was somehow amazingly also too Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis"), Andrew Sprung and Conor Friedersdorf, one finds that some sort of kerfuffle has broken out between Ann Althouse and the Andrew Sullivan Collective.

A Daily Dish reader put it this way...
If Newbusters is going to be give The Dish a hard time for openly using underbloggers, they'd better also go after most every op-ed columnist at this country's major papers. For example, the Times illustrious Nick Kristof almost always uses an assistant or two for help with research, editing, and idea formulation. I've only ever seen this acknowledged on his blog; he has perhaps mentioned it in a column, but it is neither acknowledged regularly within or permanently along-side his columns, which is a notable difference in comparison to Andrew, Chris, and you. I say this not to pick on Kristof, but merely to point out a high-profile and Pulitzer Prize-winning example. Andrew is far and away more open about the assistance he receives than are most, if not all, opinion leaders.


"Underblogging"?
"Ghostblogging"?
Assistants who "help with research, editing, and idea formulation"?

Do these strange words have anything to do with


Ghost Dogging?

Or spirit leveling?

Or maybe

The Ghost and Mr. Chickening?

I am just a simple, unfrozen caveman blogger, unfamiliar with the big city ways of Real Bloggers.

I have a fanny pack of Oban, some interstitial moments between units of grocery-paying work and a lovingly-maintained diesel-powered laptop.

My assistant is a driftcat who very often does not try to avenge herself for some imaginary slight by peeing on the exact spot where I was just sitting.

I do not understand one thing these people are saying.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Santa and His Ward Heelers


A mug of warm nostalgia from the early days of Chicago children's teevee.

Of course, little did I realize as a wee driftglass that "Hardrock, Coco and Joe" was also being used to propagandize us future Chicago voters to accept the basic template of machine politics -- the benevolent bestower of gifts and his make-work goofs -- as a law of nature :-)

Proud member of The Windy Citizen

From The Sayings of Chairman Kringle


“Heightened Vigilance Will Defend our Jesusland!”

As I’m sure everyone knows, two of Santa’s most famous sayings are, “Mistletoe grows out of the barrel of a gun.” and “Christmas is war without bloodshed, while war is Christmas with bloodshed.”

This has been another driftglass seasonally appropriate "War on Christmas" repost.

Hizzoner Declares New Golden Age


Of Crappy Jobs for Marginal People!

(h/t Frank Chow for breaking in on my debauchery to tip me to the story)

From the Tribune:

Daley calls ending impasse on Wal-Mart a 'priority'
Mayor wants retailer, unions and aldermen to find common ground

By John Byrne and Hal Dardick

Tribune reporters

December 17, 2009

Wal-Mart stores offer a rare opportunity to create jobs in a city desperate for work, Mayor Richard Daley said Wednesday, turning up the heat in the fight over expanding the retailer's presence in Chicago.

Union leaders have met privately with aldermen in recent days to try to agree on what wages and benefits Wal-Mart would have to offer for organized labor to stop its fight against the company. Aldermen sensitive to the union case have refused to pave the way for new stores after approving just one in 2004 for the West Side. Ending the Wal-Mart impasse is "a priority coming up," Daley said.

After the City Council meeting, Daley called on aldermen, the community, the unions and Wal-Mart "to sit down and come up with some common ground as quickly as possible."

But significant obstacles remain.

Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon expressed frustration that Wal-Mart executives have not participated in the talks. Wal-Mart spokesman John Bisio said the company won't negotiate on wages and benefits.
...

Up until October 2, 2009, Da Mare had one-and-only-one, big-time jobs program.

It was called "The Olympics".

He went 100% all-in on it, going so far as to declare that, if we didn't get it, there was nothing that could save the Great City from collapsing into a vast hobo jungle hell ruled by knife-wielding gangs of superrats. Or something. Da ‘Lympics were gonna make all of his friends crazy-pirate-rich, with enough overflow dribbling out of that Deep Tunnel-sized hog-trough to hire a bunch of people and buy a lot of forgiveness.

But it was not to be.

Of course there are other, viable paths back to rebuilding Chicago's middle class, but they’re all boring, requiring years of plodding patience and consisting of a lot of invisible, unglamorous battles won in little rooms and factory floors, over bad coffee and stale donuts. None of them are big, whiz-bangy and sexy enough to attract Da Mare's jaded, imperial attention.

A mistake Chicago voters and reporters make over and over again is that Hizzoner is not a man of the middle class; he is, at heart, a feudal lord and plutocrat.
Apres Moi
And a damned petulant, tantrum-prone one at that.

He is a True Believer in the Chicago School/Radical Downsizing/Bubble Economics cult of the last 20 years, and his long-term vision for the City always looked far too much like a Dubai By The Lake, ruled by real estate and banking moguls and built on the shifting sands of a hotel, convention, barista and money-manager-driven "service" economy.

If he can't cut a Big Ribbon in front of it or put fireworks, a hundred teevee cameras and a ten-mile-long parade behind it, he ain't interested. And so when the Big Shiny Thing fails, we've got nothing in reserve. And instead of a coherent industrial and urban policy,

we get WalMart. (h/t Blue Gal for the timely graphic awesomeness)


Of course, to be fair, WalMart is succeeding because it is targeting neighborhoods that haven't had any serious money or political capital spent on their grave economic and social problems in at least the last 20 years. Neighborhoods that have been cheated. So while Liberals like me may whine righteously about the predations of WalMart, if I'm living in an economic wasteland that offers me no genuine alternatives other than real-albeit-crappy jobs and another generation of empty promises...I'll be taking the jobs. Every fucking time.

To be even more fair, perhaps someone other than cranky, little bloggers might want to take note of the fact that you-know-who
clout_club3
-- friend to CEOs, Presidents and Princes of Industry -- has been the undisputed Overboss of Chicago for those 20 years during which economic foundation of Chicago was being replaced with cotton candy, and the neighborhoods that WalMart is now targeting were being systematically screwed.

Proud member of The Windy Citizen

First They Came For The Demagogues


As regular media consumers know, Laura Ingraham (above, right) is one of those untouchable Elect of the Calumniati (tm driftglass) who -- for reasons that passeth all understanding -- are allowed to glide unchallenged back and forth between their day jobs as Hate Media gorgons, and their sometimes-weekend gigs as Honored Members of the Media Peerage at the

Sunday Morning Mouse Circus, where their media compatriots very politely agree not to mention to the viewers that they spend most of their time as one of Rupert Murdochs' lie-spewing hellbeasts.

This is known as "j-o-u-r-n-a-l-i-s-m".

And since Ms. Ingraham's has decided to use her privileged media position to launch into a breathtakingly offensive debasement of the "First they came ..." poem (usually attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller's, about the round up and murder of the Jews in Nazi Germany) into an yet other paranoid, self-pitying Hate Media paean to the Republican Party base ("First they can for the rich..."), I thought I would return the favor by using my privileged position as virtually invisible potty-mouthed blogger to give Ms. Ingraham a peek through the other end of her wingnut telescope.

Ahem.
First they came for the bigots, and I did not speak out because my cousin had a gay friend, and there's a black guy in my office;

Then they came for the oligarchs and fascists, and I did not speak out because I'm broke and brown makes my ass look fat;

Then they came for the theocrats, and I did not speak out because, Jeez, those people are just friggin scary;

Finally they came for me and the other eleven people left in the Conservative Movement — and there was no one left to speak out for us.

And America lived happily ever after.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tom Waits Pre-Christmas Friday Special


If you want to give your co-workers a case of the whistling fantods, just try busting out "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" when it comes your turn during office party holiday song karaoke time.
Charlie, I'm pregnant
And living on 9th Street
Right above a dirty bookstore
Off Euclid Avenue...
What? It's tradition!