All purpose vertically integrated publishing empire for cynicism, hopelessness and misanthropy. Mild nausea is common when using this product. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to: dizzyness, headache, homicidal rage and yellow discharge. Rarely, users may begin to hear voices urging them to kill. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek psychiatric attention. Do not read when pregnant or nursing; the author thinks that's gross.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mainstream Media Megapost

Heads in the Sand

How's that Surge Working Out?
The news media hates to cover the war they helped sell, but you'd think this sort of story would be significant.

BAGHDAD — A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions on Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias.

The retreat left a crucial stretch of road on the front lines undefended for hours and led to a tense series of exchanges between American soldiers and about 50 Iraqi troops who were fleeing.


Tuesday’s desertions in Sadr City, although involving a particularly hesitant Iraqi unit, left many of the Americans soldiers wondering about the tenacity of their Iraqi allies.

“It bugs the hell out of me,” said Sgt. George Lewis, Captain Veath’s platoon sergeant in Company B, Third Platoon, First Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment. “We don’t see any progress being made at all. We hear these guys in firefights. We know if we are not up there helping these guys out we are making very little progress.”

Company B moved into Sadr City at the end of March as part of a broader effort to secure the southernmost portion of the densely populated Sadr City.

That area has been used by militias to fire 107-millimeter rockets toward the Green Zone. The Americans’ mission is to stop the rocket firings and help the Iraqi government establish a modicum of control.

Some Iraqi soldiers have fought hard. American soldiers have been regularly coaching them on how to protect their patrol bases, conserve ammunition and evacuate their wounded.

One big problem is that the Iraqi troops have responded to militia gunfire with such intense fusillades that the soldiers have endangered civilians, American soldiers and even their own forces. The barrage of Iraqi Army fire has become such a regular occurrence that some American soldiers are worried that militia fighters have tried to insert themselves between nearby Iraqi units to induce the Iraqi soldiers to fire on one another.


The Iraqi convoy drove off, and the Americans began to scramble to find a new Iraqi unit to plug the gap. Senior Iraqi commanders hurried to the scene and a special Iraqi reconnaissance unit was ordered to advance up the road. With the help of an American bomb-clearing unit, Stryker vehicles and attack helicopters, the Iraqis rumbled north, spraying rounds as they went. According to the last reports monitored by Company B, the Iraqis were stopped short by several roadside bombs, and planned to resume the push in daylight.

The furious Iraqi fire on their drive toward the abandoned base endangered the American soldiers who were bringing supplies to one of their platoons, and an American officer issued a plea over the tactical radio.

“They are lighting up everything,” he said. “Tell them to knock it off.”
So the 'elite' Iraqi unit that we had to scramble to find to plug the hole left by the deserters was also completely out of control.

This after mass defection and desertion during the Siege of Basra (which we lost, btw, not that the American media reports our military defeats).

Oh yeah, they're standing up so we can stand down, or whatever the new buzzphrase is.

Source: The New York Times

The big fake 'bash the Democrat' story of the week this week is the intense, almost Talmudic parsing of the exact words Obama used to describe the frustration that working class people feel, and the ways in which conservative splinter factions divide and conquer the resulting electorate.
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Saturday defended labelling struggling working-class voters "bitter," insisting they have every reason to be frustrated.

"I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana ... who are bitter," he said at a rally Saturday.

"They are angry. They feel like they've been left behind," he said of those hit by tough economic times. "That's a natural, natural response."


"So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," Obama said, according to a transcript published by
Gee, you think?

You think that small town people with no hope and no future might be easy prey for opportunistic churches, lobby groups, what have you?


Senator Clinton, of course, always looking for a chance to kneecap Obama even if it puts McCain in the White House, jumped on this in the usual unseemly manner.
Clinton jumped on his statement as condescending.

"I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America," she said at a rally in Indiana Saturday.

"Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know."
Speaking of McCain...
De facto Republican nominee John McCain's campaign also hit out at Obama's remarks.

"It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," McCain advisor Steve Schmidt told The New York Times.

"It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."
Honestly, does she use the same speechwriters as McCain?

Obama, and this is to his credit, refused to retract the statement.
But Friday, Obama said he knew very well the struggles of middle-class voters.

"No, I'm in touch. I know exactly what's going on ... People are fed-up," he said.

"They're angry and they're frustrated and they're bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America."
So that's the state of that one. The polling after what the American press is 'cleverly' calling Bitter-Gate shows that Obama hasn't taken a hit for this at all. Perhaps because people realize that he's telling the truth. More likely because they're apathetic and divided to begin with.

Source: Raw Story

The Hits Keep On Coming
Of course, not content with the failure of their non-story to grow legs, the media kept finding new ways to flog it.
In his New York Times column today, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol claimed that Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) now-infamous “bitter” remarks sound like Karl Marx’s “famous statement about religion.” On the Brian and the Judge radio show today, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asked Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) if Obama is “a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case?”

“I must say that’s a good question,” replied Lieberman, before stepping back to say that he would “hesitate to say he’s a Marxist”
Ahh, Short Bus Lieberman, the man who ran against a Democrat and lost in the primary, so he cheated his way through a general election (with 300k in bribes still unaccounted for), then extorted chairmanships of important committees to keep the Dems in the majority on paper in the Senate, then refused to do any actual work in this committees so that his buddies in the Bush administration could rest easy.

THAT Lieberman. I'd forgotten that asshole.

Then we have Karl Rove going on Fox to abuse the English language.
Yesterday, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol claimed that Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) now-infamous “bitter” remarks were Marxist in nature. On Fox News’s Hannity And Colmes last night, former Bush adviser Karl Rove echoed Kristol’s over-the-top characterization, saying “it was almost Marxian“:

ROVE: I don’t find a lot of people in rural America, I certainly don’t find the dominant view to be — “I’m so bitter that I’m going to hold on to my gun or I’m gonna” — You know, it was almost Marxian in this they cling to their religion. I mean, you know, it’s sort of like it’s the opiate of the masses.
Hey, you braindead bucket of pus, it's 'Marxist'. 'Marxian' isn't a word, though it might be the title of a videogame from the 80s.

CNN Headline news continues of course to be a class act on the issue as well.
Even before Obama’s poorly worded comments last week, many on the right have been making a concerted effort to cast Obama as a socialist and a Marxist. For months now, right-wing talker Glenn Beck, who also hosts a show on CNN Headline News, has been referring to Obama as a “socialist“:

I hope it doesn’t matter to Barack. But he has heard the message of Jesus that shared prosperity is the thing to do. Hope, change, Marxism. This guy is a socialist and all you have to do is listen to his words.
So you see. Obama's a Marxist, for daring to note that people either a: want hope and change and are optimists or b: are frustrated and pessimistic.

What a dilemma, American press!

Sources: Think Progress (Marxist)
Think Progress (Marxian)

Math is Hard, Let's Vote McCain!
The press as a whole might as well wear his damn campaign buttons on air.
Summary: On MSNBC Live, Mika Brzezinski said that Sen. John McCain "wants to eliminate the federal gas tax -- that's about 20 percent of the cost." Later, Monica Novotny said McCain is "proposing suspending the federal gas tax for the summer, potentially cutting prices by nearly 20 percent." In fact, the federal gas tax -- 18.4 cents per gallon -- comprises only 5.4 percent of the current average cost of regular gasoline.
Yeah, I know when I gas up the car and pay 3.45 a gallon, it's not the first 3 dollars and twenty-seven cents that makes me cringe, it's that last 18. BECAUSE I AM A MORON, DUR

I honestly think part of the problem here is that these people are so out of touch they haven't had to gas up their own cars in a few years, and so can't honestly remember whether gas is 1 dollar a gallon or 3 half the time.

Source: Media Matters

Southern-Style Bigot
Hey I know, here's a story we can avoid: a Southern (ok, Kentuckian, but they want to be Southern) bigot called Senator Obama 'boy' at a fundraiser!

No reason to report on that! Everyone knows racism in America is dead.
Rep. Geoff Davis was speaking to about 400 donors at a fundraiser in Kentucky, when he said of Obama, "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."
It gets better, because he was talking out of school about a classified exercise!
It also appears Davis may have released classified information in the exchange.
He said in his remarks at the GOP dinner that he also recently participated in a "highly classified, national security simulation" with Obama. "I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."
Now, I know Republicans tend to be retards, so I'll spell this out for him.


You just have to know how to talk to these guys.

Source: Raw Story

Amazingly, the same week that saw Obama called a Marxist, 'boy', and an elitist snob also saw him compared to Osama Bin Laden.

So much for the liberal media.

John McCain and Barack Obama both appeared before the nation's newspaper editors yesterday. The putative Republican presidential nominee was given a box of doughnuts and a standing ovation. The likely Democratic nominee was likened to a terrorist.

At a luncheon for the editors hosted by the Associated Press, AP Chairman Dean Singleton quizzed Obama about whether he would send more troops to Afghanistan, where "Obama bin Laden is still at large?"

"I think that was Osama bin Laden," the candidate answered.

"If I did that, I'm so sorry!" Singleton said.

"This," Obama told the editors, is "part of the exercise that I've been going through over the last 15 months."
Of course, Milbank then goes on to the BItter-Gate thing because he thinks it's clever. Still, at least he covered what should be, in an rational world, a scandal of epic proportions. So-called 'journalists' sucking up to a Presidential candidate in the most screaming fangirl way imaginable, short of actually asking him to sign their bodies with a marker.
McCain's moderators, the AP's Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti, greeted McCain with a box of Dunkin' Donuts. "We spend quite a bit of time with you on the back of the Straight Talk Express asking you questions, and what we've decided to do today was invite everyone else along on the ride," Sidoti explained. "We even brought you your favorite treat."

McCain opened the offering. "Oh, yes, with sprinkles!" he said.

Sidoti passed him a cup. "A little coffee with a little cream and a little sugar," she said.
Hey, lady. You can stop trying so hard. We know McCain is an adulterer, he'll surely fuck you after the press event.


Source: The Washington Post

Of course this time around the press is being solidly lambasted for being so obviously in the tank for McCain, and they're getting sort of defensive about it. Note the tone here.
Both Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday night appeared at a CNN "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.

Messiah College describes itself as embracing an "evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church."

As such, its "community covenant" states that members of the Messiah College community "avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior."

In the past, Republican presidential candidates have been criticized for speaking at universities where certain religious beliefs are considered bigoted, most notoriously when then-Gov. George W. Bush in 2000 spoke at Bob Jones University, where anti-Catholic dogma was taught and inter-racial dating banned.

Messiah counsels its gay and lesbian students to seek the help of controversial organizations that use Scripture and behavioral exercises to coach them to stop acting on gay feelings and impulses.

It's not difficult to imagine a big outcry among liberal activists if, say, Republican presidential candidates attended such a forum hosted by, say, Fox News at such a university.
You're quite right, it's not hard to imagine. Unfortunately, when McCain goes to speak at one of these odious 'colleges' like Bob Jones, you people studiously refuse to cover it. When he courts the endorsement of Hagee, a whacko anti-Catholic bigot who wants to bring about the End Times by destroying Israel, you studiously ignore it.

You will, however, write a speculative piece on how liberals must be hypocrites, then bookened it with an anonymous letter from a reader taring into the liberals for not being upset.

Anonymous smears? Faux outrage? Defensive, passive-aggressive reporting?

Yes, it is indeed the Mainstream Media.

Source: 'Political Punch' at ABC News

Of course, Jake Tapper has more fake scandals to peddle.
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Johnson says that former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro was right.

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," she said, just before the resulting firestorm forced her to step down as an adviser to Obama rival Hillary Clinton.

"What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant (is) if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called 'Jerry Smith' and he says I'm going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote? And the answer is, probably not. Would he also start out with the excitement of starting out as something completely different? Probably not. He would just be a freshmen senator ...
But of course, that's not the whole story on Ferraro, who has a history of bashing black candidates, and said Obama was 'lucky' to be black, which is a whole different story.

Tapper undoubtedly knows this and doesn't correct it. I'm not sure why, but doing his job is probably too much to ask at any rate.

Source: 'Political Punch' again

Hunger for the Trivial
If you ever have any doubt that our press hungers, thirsts, lives and dies for the trivial and the stupid, steadfastly refusing to inform people or do any real work, then this should put that doubt to bed forever.
Last August, I ran into Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, outside the Senate chamber in the Capitol.

This was before the Obama surge, before he had omnipresent Secret Service agents, back when you might see him strolling solo.

We chatted for a second, mainly about the Pakistan speech he'd recently given and about how the media had covered it. He was in good spirits.

As any close friend or family member can attest, I have an unusually keen sense of smell and immediately I smelled cigarette smoke on Obama. Frankly, he reeked of cigarettes.
Yes, that's right, Jake Tapper, bloodhound-human hybrid, is on the case!
Obama ran off before I could ask him if he'd just snuck a smoke, so I called his campaign.

They denied it. He'd quit months before, in February, they insisted. He chewed nicorette.

But I knew what I'd smelled and I asked his campaign to double-check and to ask him if he'd had a cigarette.

They reported back that he had told them he hadn't had a cigarette since he quit.

And maybe that was true. Maybe I imagined the cigarette smoke. My olfactory nerve somehow misfired.

Except….last night on MSNBC's Hardball, Obama admitted that his attempt to wean himself from the vile tobacco weed had not been entirely successful.

“I fell off the wagon a couple times during the course of it, and then was able to get back on," he said. "But it is a struggle like everything else.”

Now I wonder about last August.
Oh yes, this is a conspiracy right up there with Iran-Contra, Watergate, the Gulf of Tonkin and the right-wing coup against FDR. Please, Tapper, continue!
It's not a big deal in the scheme of things -- the war on Iraq, a major economic crisis -- indeed, it's miniscule. Hardly worth mentioning.

Except that I don't like feeling that I wasn't being dealt with honestly. And as much as citizens who are suspect of the media might scoff at such a notion, many of us consider ourselves to be your representatives to help make sure our leaders are telling us the truth, and leading the country down a path we as a nation are confident is the right one. (Corny, I know.)
Not corny so much as self-serving, egotistical, arrogant and wrongheaded. But thank goodness we have you to make sure the path our politicans lead us on is the 'right one'.


Source: Same as above. Home of the Idiot.

Not that ABC is alone in refusing to cover important stories in favor of trivial nonsense, of course.

Even the New York Times gets in on that sweet ignoring history action.
Meanwhile, Fair reports on the NYT's excuse for failing to cover the hearings.
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has offered a response to media activists who wrote to the paper about its non-coverage of last month's Winter Soldier hearings. Hoyt's explanation is that reporters at the Times had "not been aware of the group or its meeting," but likely wouldn't have covered it if they had been aware of the event.

The idea that the Times was unaware of Winter Soldier is remarkable; the paper's D.C. reporters were repeatedly sent press releases about the events, the same ones that other media outlets received that did manage to cover the event, ranging from Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! to the New York Times' corporate sibling the Boston Globe.
Yes, who needs to cover a major meeting of Iraq war vets discussing at length the atrocities they and others committed in the name of our country's imperial ambition?

Atrocities like these:
Soldiers and vets told how superior officers instructed them on the official ways to torment and beat detainees. Andrew Duffy, a medic who served on the trauma team at the Abu Ghraib military prison, put it this way, "You can't spell abuse without 'Abu.'" They were told to use the term "detainee" because, unlike "prisoner of war," there are no laws protecting detainees. While he rocked back and forth in his seat nervously, Mathew Childess, a Marine infantryman who served two tours in Iraq, referred to beating detainees and "breaking fingers." When a particular detainee begged for food and water, he took the man's hat, wiped himself with it, and stuffed it into the man's mouth.
Breaking fingers? Denying food and water?

Nah! Total non-story! Quick, did Obama say anything we can label elitist today?

Source: The Impolitic

Eye in the Sky
Speaking of stories that the press would never even consider covering in depth, El Presidente is prepping a new spy satellite network solely dedicated to watching what American citizens do on American soil.
The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department's new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities -- such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.


But Congress delayed launch of the new office last October. Critics cited its potential to expand the role of military assets in domestic law enforcement, to turn new or as-yet-undeveloped technologies against Americans without adequate public debate, and to divert the existing civilian and scientific focus of some satellite work to security uses.

Democrats say Chertoff has not spelled out what federal laws govern the NAO, whose funding and size are classified. Congress barred Homeland Security from funding the office until its investigators could review the office's operating procedures and safeguards. The department submitted answers on Thursday, but some lawmakers promptly said the response was inadequate.

"I have had a firsthand experience with the trust-me theory of law from this administration," said Harman, citing the 2005 disclosure of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, which included warrantless eavesdropping on calls and e-mails between people in the United States and overseas. "I won't make the same mistake. . . . I want to see the legal underpinnings for the whole program."
Pfft, Harman, calm down. It's not like the Bush administration would ever LIE to us or violate our rights in secret!

Source: The Washington Post

It wouldn't be a post on the near-total wasteland that is the American press if it didn't mention the 'Democratic' debate from Wednesday. A debate that focused, not on issues like the economy, the housing collapse, the failing infrastructure or the war in Iraq, but rather on whether Obama was patriotic enough, whether his pastor (a former Marine) was patriotic enough, and whether, gasp, someone might raise the capital gains tax back up to approximately the level that actual working people pay on THEIR taxes.

A shocking concept.

Basically, the debate went 56 long minutes before a single policy question, and then only asked one more over the rest of the two hours of time suck. They found time for every petty, pointless issue, every campaign 'gaffe', to grill Obama over what, exactly, 'bitter' means, and the like. But no time for the housing fiasco, no time for Afghanistan, no time for our bridges that are literally falling down or our planes that are being grounded en masse for safety violations. Nothing. We got one question on Iraq and one question on.....gas prices. Which really are one issue. There was saber rattling on Iran, but no serious discussion of how, say, we've screwed up that country, and any action we take toward them now will only be seen as aggression by the world community, or how they're a complete non-threat, and the like.

Yeesh. What a mess. By the end the audience was booing the moderators, and with good reason.

Source: The Philadelphia Daily News (Attytood blog)

Charlie Gibson was particularly upset about the capital gains tax during the debate, and it's easy to see why; he's rich, and must not like paying taxes so that the rabble can have their social programs, education, and so forth.

What's even more interesting is that he labors under the misapprehension that ordinary Americans are rich as well. From back in January:
Summary: During the ABC News-Facebook debate, moderator Charlie Gibson suggested that the Democratic presidential candidates' proposals to roll back or let some of President Bush's tax cuts expire would affect middle-class families, adding, "If you take a family of two professors here at St. Anselm, they're going to be in the $200,000 category that you're talking about lifting the taxes on." According to the U.S. Census, however, the median income for a U.S. household is $48,451, and the mean household income is $65,527; and only 3.4 percent of U.S. households have an income of $200,000 or more.
The man is completely out of touch. It's similar to how nobody on tv seemed to know how much a gallon of gas cost these days; they also have no idea what the 'little people' make in a year.

Which might go a long way to explaining how wrong-headed they are on every meaningful economic policy.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein provides a helpful graph showing just how, in fact, completely out of touch Charlie is with his hypothetical 'middle class' family scenario.

These people are shockingly ignorant.

Sources: Media Matters
Ezra Klein

The Media's Greatest Hit(Job)s
Just in case anyone was wondering if Republicans and Democrats face differing standards in the American media, I thought a couple of examples of great distortions from our recent past by the corporate press would prove illuminating.

First, a small taste of the sort of press abuse that helped turn Hillary Clinton into what she is today: a hyperaggressive, defensive and self-destructive Presidential candidate.

The gist of this is the following: in the 90s, when Hillary was considering a move to New York, she was labeled a phony for declaring herself a Yankees fan. The press hopped all over her, and repeated accusations that she was lying, without proof, ad nauseam.
In June 1999, the New York Yankees were coming to the White House to be feted for the previous year’s World Series win. On the Today show, Hillary Clinton told Katie Couric that she had been a fan of the Yankees along with the Cubs when she grew up in Chicago.

To this day, there is no reason to doubt this statement. In 1993 and 1994, in fact, the Washington Post had published two separate profiles which alluded to Clinton’s youthful love for the Yankees. “I needed an American League team,” Clinton told Couric. “Because when you're from Chicago, you cannot root for both the Cubs and the Sox.” None of this was ever worth talking about. But the pre-existing evidence plainly suggests that what Clinton said was accurate.

None of this was worth talking about—except within the “press corps.”

You see, in June 1999, the press corps was busy reinventing Al Gore as the world’s biggest liar. They hated Hillary Clinton’s husband—he had gotten ten blow jobs; they hadn’t—and they were now directing their fury at everyone found in his court. Two Post profiles plainly suggested that Clinton had been a Yankees fan. But the insider press corps was up for some fun. It started in the new York Times, with this report by Katherine “Kit” Seelye:

SEELYE (6/11/99): “The fact is, I've always been a Yankees fan,” the First Lady, who was born and bred in Chicago, asserted this morning to Katie Couric on NBC's "Today Show" in anticipation of the championship team's visit to the White House this evening. When the puzzled Ms. Couric said she thought Mrs. Clinton was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, the First Lady, in a classic Clintonian gesture, quickly claimed loyalty to the Cubs, too.
It goes on and on and on from there. They spilled gallon upon gallon of ink coming up with new 'creative' ways to label her a liar, when the evidence suggests that she, in fact, always was a Yankees fan.
By now, it was a Clintonian lie. “Talk about building a mountain out of a molehill, Sam Donaldson said, interrupting Will—though he himself plainly implied that what Clinton had said was a stretcher. Moments later, Roberts put her cosmic inanity on full display. She explained who it was she most pitied:

ROBERTS: I must say the part that made me sad was Joe Torre standing there [at the White House]. I'm a great admirer of Joe Torre and for him to be used in this way, it was a little—

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I think you'll see her sitting at court side between Spike Lee and Matt Dillon in the Knicks playoffs coming up. But her much bigger problem is the news in the, the New York Times, this morning, whether or not Ken Starr is going to be issuing some sort of a scathing report. I think—

WILL: I'm sorry, that's part of the same thing. This is not a mountain out of a molehill. They can't tell the truth!

“They can’t tell the truth,” Will said—as his panel kept failing to tell the truth. (This is a very familiar pattern from this lunatic era.) But you know what this was really about. At the end, a tut-tutting Cokie was required by law to go there:

ROBERTS: Yes, you should stick with your team. It's one of those loyalty issues.

WILL: And your state.

ROBERTS: Well, and then there's husbands. Well, Sam and I will be back in a moment.

Hiss! Hiss-spit! Hiss-spit! Mee-ow!! And don’t worry—the gasbag gang was just getting started.
Ha! See, you can't trust Hillary, because she exercised different judgment than Cokie Roberts would have in her own marriage.

And everyone knows, Cokie is God.

Unfortunately for America, the press had bigger fish to fry, and moved on from calling Clinton a liar to calling Al Gore one, in order to sink his Presidential ambitions.

Their all-time greatest example of his 'lies'?

That he said he 'invented the internet'.
Internet of Lies

Claim: Vice-President Al Gore claimed that he "invented" the Internet.

Status: False.

Origins: Despite the derisive references that continue even today, Al Gore did not claim he "invented" the Internet, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be interpreted that way. The "Al Gore said he 'invented' the Internet" put-downs were misleading, out-of-context distortions of something he said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Late Edition" program on 9 March 1999. When asked to describe what distinguished him from his challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Gore replied (in part):
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
Clearly, although Gore's phrasing might have been a bit clumsy (and perhaps self-serving), he was not claiming that he "invented" the Internet (in the sense of having designed or implemented it), but that he was responsible, in an economic and legislative sense, for fostering the development the technology that we now know as the Internet.
Ah, but was he in fact responsible for doing so?

Sadly, Yes!
It is true, though, that Gore was popularizing the term "information superhighway" in the early 1990s (although he did not, as is often claimed by others, coin the phrase himself) when few people outside academia or the computer/defense industries had heard of the Internet, and he sponsored the 1988 National High-Performance Computer Act (which established a national computing plan and helped link universities and libraries via a shared network) and cosponsored the Information Infrastructure and Technology Act of 1992 (which opened the Internet to commercial traffic).
So Al Gore sponsored the bill that linked universities and libraries to the proto-Net, and cosponsored the bill that opened the Net to commercial traffic.

But he had nothing to do with it and is a big fat liar, of course.

This sort of thing will always happen to Democratic candidates for President. Our press is made up of a bunch of self-entitled elitists who resent, to the point of pathological loathing, someone from their class who votes against their interests. Witness the disgusting spectacle Wednesday night where the CAPITAL GAINS TAX got time in the Democratic debate but not the mortgage crisis, the environment, or healthcare.

Because the moderators are themselves very, very wealthy, and as very wealthy people, the capital gains tax is important to them. And important to keep low.

Repugnant fools.

Sources: The Daily Howler

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Orchestra of Bloggeral Madness

Litany of Sorrows

New Anime
So it wouldn't be fair to use the Hyper-Dramatic Anime/Videogame title scheme and have nothing about anime or videogames in this post, would it?

Hence I'll note, for my own uses, some of the spring anime premieres that Anime News Network is covering and which sound interesting.

First up is Soul Eater, the new project from Studio Bones, who did the fantastic Full Metal Alchemist and the dizzily beautiful Eureka 7. It's a dark comedic work that sounds like a cross between an action show and I Luv Halloween.

Then there's Kurenai, a low key drama with noir elements about a mysterious enforcer given the task of caring for, hiding, and ultimately protecting a privileged little girl from her powerful family.

Another one I want to see more of is Zettai Karen Children, which is apparently a Powerpuff Girls parody, intentionally or otherwise. It sounds delightfully deranged.

Also this year sees another Macross series, Macross Frontier, done by Satelite, who made the quite respectable Noein that I finished watching a couple weeks ago. They can certainly do action-drama, so I hold out hope that this won't suck.

I'm also interested in Code Geass, which is hitting its second season in Japan and I think comes out in the US soon. Apparently it's a hilarious combination of series drama, giant robots and hysterically over the top melodrama.

Finally there's Wagaya no Oinari-sama, a supernatural horror kind of show about a medieval Japanese fox deity who becomes the guardian of a dying shrine in the modern era. That definitely sounds like it has promise.

A couple of these shows, Zettai Karen Children and Kurenai, have gotten very good reviews on ANN, except for one out of the four reviewers, by the name of Casey Brienza. Quite frankly half the reason I want to watch ZKC is because this one person found it so offensive.

This Muscle Okama is presented as a gay man. He swishes, he talks in feminine language, he hits on Kouichi, he humps nude male statues. He also shoots bizarre psychic beams from his groin. At first I was amused by the ridiculousness, but it wore off quickly, and I can't remember the last time I've seen an anime series portray a minority group so offensively. No anime these days would represent even black people in so blatantly stereotypical a fashion.

Arguably worse, however, is Kaoru's apparent lesbianism and her characterization as a perverted old man. You know, I get that oogling boobs and butts can be an important part of the pleasure of these sorts of things. But showing a little girl doing it—as if that makes objectifying behavior somehow morally excusable? That's inexcusable in a way that no amount of cheerfully bobbing breasts alone will ever be.
Objectifying behavior? It's an ANIME CHARACTER. Not to mention a satirical one. How can you objectify AN OBJECT?

THe mind boggles. The Muscle Okama thing is harder to dismiss out of hand, but from the sound of it he might be a joke about bodybuilders and all the repressed homoeroticism in their industry rather than gay people in general. Talk to an actual bodybuilder about the subject sometime, it can be quite entertaining.

They also seem to be alone in disliking Kurenai. I'm beginning to wonder if they're my anti-reviewer of choice, that what they love is what I hate and vice versa.

Unfortunately, they like Macross Frontier a lot. That bodes ill for either my theory or the show.

Update: In a new addition to their review page they bash Saiyuki, a very meandering but still hilarious show.

It's official: they are the anti-me.

Source: Anime News Network (spring anime guide)

Here's an ominous anime development for you. A tracking system for conventions was deployed to data-mine the attendees.
Anime Punch, which ran in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend, has become the first anime convention in North America to use radio-frequency identification (RFID) to capture data about attendance at events held throughout its three days. An index card with an RFID transponder was attached to the backs of badges for each of the convention's 1,337 paying attendees, as well as staffers and guests. Information about the location of each transponder, as well as the total number of transponders in certain rooms at any given time, was captured and stored on a central server. Attendees entering the convention's dealers' room had their badges scanned with a reader each time they walked into the room.
Apparently this has been done before at medical conferences and so forth.

In all seriousness it's really not ominous, but it is a bit annoying to be tracked wherever you go. Especially since it's mandatory. If I was going to a convention I knew would be doing this, I'd bring tinfoil to wrap around my card when I didn't need it. Thus I'd be 'off the grid' and all super-spooky.

Or something. I like screwing with data collection, what can I say. I filled out those 'what drugs do you take' surveys in high school with absurdly high and random amounts of drugs, at least the last one. I think I said I took a bunch of stimulants I'd never heard of 20-30 times a month.

I'm fairly sure you'd die if you did half the drugs I claimed to do.

Source: Anime News Network

Older Anime
Some older series I'm interested in to go with the new ones.

First, D.Gray Man, which is apparently about a guy with a cursed left eye that can fight demons and so forth. It's also a historical fantasy series.

I could use a dark historical fantasy series, but I'm interested in this as much for it being yet another show with a character whose left eye is cursed/magical/magically cursed/missing. I wonder if Japan has a thing, some cultural mythos, about left eyes.


Then there's Innocent Venus, a short series about life after the Apocalypse, with a mysterious conspiracy, blah blah. It could be fun.

Finally there's Kyo kara Maoh!, a show which has been compared to Saiyuki in that it has Shoujo art and Shonen sensibilities.

I liked that with Saiyuki, so I'm willing to give it another chance. Plus there are definitely points for a series whose gateway to another world is via the toilet. At least, the first time. (It seems that they use bodies of standing water or something to travel, which is both more classically mystical and boring).

Sources: Anime News Network
D.Gray Man
Innocent Venus
Kyo kara Maoh!

So Spielberg's company Dreamworks is going to make a live action version of Ghost in the Shell, the classic anime cyber-surrealist-noir movie.
Variety reports that Universal and Sony also negotiated for the rights, which the Production I.G anime studio was pitching for the manga's original publisher Kodansha. What turned the dealmaking in DreamWorks' favor was co-founder Steven Spielberg's enthusiasm for the project. The entertainment trade newspaper quotes the acclaimed director and producer: "Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite stories. It's a genre that has arrived, and we enthusiastically welcome it to DreamWorks."
It doesn't say whether he will be involved, though Avi Arad who used to work with Marvel and did work on both the great Spiderman and execrable X-Men movie franchises will produce.

This could go... oh face it, it's probably going to suck ass.

Source: Anime News Network

Onion Tastic
A couple of those great Onion graphics that all right-thinking people love.

First a comic on the Elliot Spitzer scandal and the 'Real Disgrace' involved.

Then a short but pity summary of the death of Charlton Heston.

Very Odd
Some brief odd news items from around the world.

First, in Russia they're cracking down on Madam Cleo types.
Russian deputies are to consider a law that would turn up the heat on advertising by witches and healers enjoying a meteoric growth in demand, the Gazeta daily reported on Friday.

The law, which is to have its first reading in parliament's lower chamber shortly, would allow only officially registered healers to advertise in newspapers, Gazeta reported.

The paper quoted one of the bill's authors, parliamentarian Vladimir Medinsky, as casting scorn on the colourful small advertisements that brim from the pages of Russia's popular press.

The bill's introduction argues that "citizens who believe in the adverts of magicians and witches often become the victims of commonplace fraud," the paper said.
So they'll only allow officially registered frauds to trick people into thinking magic crystals and curses work?

That's an improvement? I guess it might bring in tax revenue.

Source: Raw Story

Next up is some jerk who apparently likes to kill squirrels.
An animal protection group is investigating claims made by British band The Falls Mark E. Smith that he killed two endangered red squirrels and condones the deliberate running over of seagulls, it said Thursday.

The revered but unpredictable frontman of Manchester band The Fall said that he would not hesitate setting about a squirrel with a pair of hedge-clippers.

"Squirrels mean nothing to me. I killed a couple last weekend actually. They were eating my garden fence," Smith told Uncut magazine, although it was unclear whether he had confused the animal with their more prevalent American grey cousins.

The singer, whose group has gone through 50 different members and produced 27 albums in their career, also said he "wouldn't have a problem" with people purposefully driving over seagulls in their cars
He may have just killed American grey squirrels, which are something of a pest in the UK, but still not deserving of hedge clipper death.

The worst part for me is that this idiot, if he's telling the truth, killed squrrels for nothing. They don't eat 'fences', whether he means gnawing on wood or eating a hedge. I've never seen a squirrel eat anything but seeds and such. They're hardly a big nuisance.

Also, how would he catch one to kill it? They're wily.

Source: Raw Story

Finally, someone thought up the perfect descriptive term for Joe Lieberman.
Joe Lieberman, whom Chris Durang once called a "sanctimonious Hobbitt," had his ass kicked out of the Democratic party. He's a petty, bitter, nasty little man and he's backing John McCain because that represents his own personal political upside.
How apt! How true!

Thank you, Chris Durang. I shall use your epithet with gusto.

Source: Firedoglake

This is so great.
At 39 months in the doghouse, George W. Bush has surpassed Harry Truman's record as the postwar president to linger longest without majority public approval.

Bush hasn't received majority approval for his work in office in ABC News/Washington Post polls since Jan. 16, 2005 three years and three months ago. The previous record was Truman's during his last 38 months in office.
Most disliked president since they started keeping polls.

There's your legacy, W. Suck on it.

Source: Firedoglake

So Funny Can't Breathe
Alberto 'Fredo' Gonzales can't find work after his disastrous and hilarious tenure as Attorney General.

Man, it's sweet to see a jerk fall so far, so fast, so HARD.
WASHINGTON — Alberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general, who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.


The greatest impediment to Mr. Gonzales’s being offered the kind of high-salary job being snagged these days by lesser Justice Department officials, many lawyers agree, is his performance during his last few months in office. In that period, he was openly criticized by lawmakers for being untruthful in his sworn testimony. His conduct is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department, which could recommend actions from exonerating him to recommending criminal charges. Friends set up a fund to help pay his legal bills.
Shocking. Law firms don't want to hire a man facing serious criminal investigation, who also possesses a terrible track record at work.


Source: The New York Times

So a photographer auctioned off a nude portrait he did of France's first lady back when she was a fashion model for charity. The shot was originally done for Italian Vogue and thus Carla Bruni was hardly unaware that it might be used for commercial purposes one day.

Still, the charity in Cambodia turned down the large sum of cash on 'moral' grounds.
Beat Richner, a Swiss paediatrician who runs a children's medical care group, said he had turned down an offer of $91,000 (£46,000) - the sum paid in a Christie's auction last week for the 1993 picture of the Italian ex-model, now married to the French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

"My decision was taken out of respect for our patients and their mothers", he told Le Matin Dimanche. "Accepting money obtained from exploitation of the female body would be perceived as an insult".

In Cambodia "use of nudity is not understood in the way it is in the West", he added.

He would not allow the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital Association "to be involved in the media exploitation of Madame Bruni".

"The idea behind this gift was to get publicity for the auction and the photographer", Mr Richner was also quoted as saying. "It was a way of using us".

Michel Comte, the Swiss photographer who took picture of the then Miss Bruniposing naked with her crossed hands acting as a fig leaf, was quoted in the Swiss press last month as saying he had thousands more images of her, some more risqué - taken over a ten-year period.
Of course he was doing it for publicity. That's often the case with charity work.

The fact of the matter us, this guy still turned down a ton of money for poor kids because he didn't like a nude photo.

I sincerely doubt the Cambodians closely follow French fashion, so the line about THE LOCALS is a bit much.

Once again, conservatism does not pay. But don't worry, the children will!

Source: The Telegraph

Tax Day Sale
Comedy Central is having a sale on Colbert and Daily Show merch. Considering that their clothing is normally obscenely pricey, this only brings it down to Sanity range, but still.

Source: Comedy Central

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bush Lawyers

For When Newspeak and Doublethink Don't Go Far Enough

John Yoo, Tenured Loser
Apparently John Yoo gets to return to his job teaching at Berkeley law school, despite being the author of the infamous torture memoranda that gave Bush the greenlight for Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the CIA 'black sites' around the world, etc.

The dean of Berkeley's law school says he is "substantively" troubled by former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo's legal memos, which critics say authorize torture, but he does not believe Yoo's conduct while working for the Bush administration justifies his dismissal from the law school where he has taught for a decade.


Assuming one believes as I do that Professor Yoo offered bad ideas and even worse advice during his government service, that judgment alone would not warrant dismissal or even a potentially chilling inquiry. As a legal matter, the test here is the relevant excerpt from the "General University Policy Regarding Academic Appointees," adopted for the 10-campus University of California by both the system-wide Academic Senate and the Board of Regents:

Types of unacceptable conduct: … Commission of a criminal act which has led to conviction in a court of law and which clearly demonstrates unfitness to continue as a member of the faculty. [Academic Personnel Manual sec. 015]

This very restrictive standard is binding on me as dean, but I will put aside that shield and state my independent and personal view of the matter. I believe the crucial questions in view of our university mission are these: Was there clear professional misconduct—that is, some breach of the professional ethics applicable to a government attorney—material to Professor Yoo’s academic position? Did the writing of the memoranda, and his related conduct, violate a criminal or comparable statute?
I guess advocating torture and murder in an official government capacity is legal for an American.

In World War II, we put people like Yoo on trial at Nuremberg, but times have changed.

Source: Raw Story

Just So You Know Who You're Dealing With
Here's an excerpt of Yoo's sterling legal thinking, from a 2006 debate with an actual human being.
This came out in response to a question in a December 1st debate in Chicago with Notre Dame professor and international human rights scholar Doug Cassel.

What is particularly chilling and revealing about this is that John Yoo was a key architect post-9/11 Bush Administration legal policy. As a deputy assistant to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, John Yoo authored a number of legal memos arguing for unlimited presidential powers to order torture of captive suspects, and to declare war anytime, any where, and on anyone the President deemed a threat.

It has now come out Yoo also had a hand in providing legal reasoning for the President to conduct unauthorized wiretaps of U.S. citizens. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole wrote, "Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush’s legal policies in the 'war on terror’ than John Yoo."

This part of the exchange during the debate with Doug Cassel, reveals the logic of Yoo’s theories, adopted by the Administration as bedrock principles, in the real world.

Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
Yes, Yoo thinks that there is no treaty or law that Congress can pass or approve that would ban the President of the United States from ordering the torture and mutilation of children.

It all depends on WHY he wants to crush a child's testicles with a hammer, you see.

Source: Information Clearinghouse

Eighth Amendment? What's That?
John Yoo is also the man who argued that torture doesn't violate the 8th Amendment because, even though a person has been declared an enemy combatant and is being held against their will, they're not being CONVICTED of anything, so it's ok to beat them and strap electrodes on and so forth.
A second constitutional provision which might be thought relevant to interrogations is the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment, however, applies solely to those persons upon whom criminal sanctions have been imposed.
The Eighth Amendment thus has no application to those individuals who have not been punished as part of a criminal proceeding, irrespective of the fact that they have been detained by the government.
The detention of enemy combatants can in no sense be deemed "punishment" for the purposes of the Eighth Amendment. Unlike imprisonment pursuant to criminal sanction, the detention of enemy combatants involves no sentence judicially imposed or legislatively required and those detained will be released at the end of the conflict.
See? It's ok to torture people as long as they have not been convicted of anything!

His reasoning, ironically enough, means that the only people safe from torture are convicts.

Justice Scalia shares this Alice in Wonderland approach to punishment of course.
Scalia said that it was "extraordinary" to assume that the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" also applied to "so-called" torture.

"To begin with the Constitution ... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime," he said in an interview with the Law in Action program on BBC Radio 4.

Scalia said stronger measures could be taken when a witness refused to answer questions.

"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the Constitution?" he asked.

"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game" Scalia said. "How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"
See? Torture is ok, if people are not yet convicted of a crime!

You can only punish the legally innocent!

What incentive is there for anyone to ever be tried at all? Just round up all your enemies, shove them in holes, and every couple of days haul them out for a rousing waterboard session. Don't bother thinking up charges; YOU WON'T NEED THEM.

Source: Firedoglake

Yoo Memo
And here of course is the famous Yoo Memo from last week, where he argues that, amongst other things, the military can MAIM YOU in the course of an interrogation, and that's ok.

Seriously. He does.

He also argues that the Fifth Amendment doesn't apply to torture, so long as it's done outside the United States, or to people who aren't US citizens.

And that the 8th amendment, again, has no place in torture.

From just a skim of this trash, which I intend to digest later when my blood pressure goes back down, it appears that Yoo likes to dance on the edge of any number of knives; what the President does to prisoners is ok, because we're at war, and you can do what you like during a war to people on the other side, according to the Constitution and Federal Law. Of course, if we WERE at war, the Geneva Conventions would apply, so we're not, because that would be wrong. But if we're not at war, then the Fifth Amendment would apply, at least on US soil (which Guantanamo is, for example, by treaty)... so we're not.

We're in a Quantum War state, both in, and not in, war at the same time. Our prisoners are both POWs, and not POWs. Our prisons are both US facilities, and foreign ones, as we see fit.

And on, and on, and on, down and down we go into the very pits of hell.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Finally, From the Bill of Rights
Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
It almost seems like the Fourth Amendment guarantees your right to being safe in your own body, doesn't it?

And the Fifth, to being held against your will without due process, except perhaps during a war, which we never declared.

Or the Sixth, guaranteeing that you can't be held forever without a trial.

Or the Eighth, that doesn't seem to deal strictly with stuff that happens after a trial, as Scalia says, does it? I mean, you don't have bail AFTER a conviction. It's almost like they're NEVER supposed to beat you with metal rods.

And the Ninth would seem to say that, just because the Constitution never spells out 'We cannot torture people, cut off their fingers, torture their kids and rape their wives', that doesn't mean that the Government can, in fact, cut off your fingers, torture your kids or rape your wife.

Funny. I must be wrong, because a Berkeley law professor says it just isn't so.

Source: Cornell Law