Monthly Archives: October 2009

Going For My Merit Badge in Crack Dealing

Frequent commenter John Sundman’s got a project as could use some help.

In it you’ll find the stuff of all great thrillers: conspiracy,
duplicity, double-crosses, dispensational Christian fascism,
misunderstandings, confusions, car crashes, megalomaniacal villains (in
and out of government), explosions, gunplay, Russian Mafias,
neuroscience, coincidence, mysterious islands not far from Cape Cod,
information theory, disease cowboys in Central Africa looking for the
cause of Lassa Fever in the 1970’s, Jane’s Addiction, Mission of Burma,
love, regret, remorse, nostalgia and sex.



Boo from Crowded House

I usually like Halloween but this year I’m not feeling it. That’s a pity
considering that I live in the capital of costuming. My friend Wendy
showed up at the shop today in zombie makeup. She looked more lively
than me, actually.

In a feeble attempt to muster a bit of Halloween spirit here’s a, uh, spirited version by Crowded House ofSister Madly live at the Sydney Opera House. Rumor has it that Sister Madly wakes up the dead. Do I believe it? Probably not but it’s more plausible thatdemons inhabiting fun sized Snickers:

Friday Ferretblogging

Puck made himself a shoebox bed the other day. The box was what I used to put all their toys in, but he hauled each toy out, then dragged in a blanket and next time I looked he’d taken up residence:



It’s Better Than Mike Huckabee’s MySpace Friends!

Oh, my God, you guys, the forums at are comedy gold.Here’s a thread advocating increasing black GOP turnout in the South. Comment number FOUR:

Republican Party needs to be honest about Abe Lincoln and stop
pretending that he was worthy of respect. Lincoln was a white
supremacist who once proposed sending blacks off to their own colony.
For more information on Lincoln and racism, read the free chapter
(chapter 6) posted online from Judge Andrew Napolitano’s newest book, Dred Scott’s Revenge.

Most southerners did not own slaves. The Civil War wasprimarily
about state sovereignty, not slavery. Lincoln was a statist tyrant and
most definitely was the worst president in U.S. history. You can see a
list of some of Lincoln’s abuses at

It goes, if you can imagine, downhill from there:

Why would we want those people in our party. We would just end up supporting them here as well.

The genius plan for getting minority folks to vote Republican: FUCK ABE LINCOLN AND FUCK YOU.


Who by High Ordeal / Who by Common Trial

About halfway throughlast night’s three-hour festival of awesome known as HOLY HELL THAT’S LEONARD COHEN I MEAN LIKE RIGHT THERE MAN, I leaned over to Mr. A, who was putting up with my fangirling in admirable if slightly bemused fashion, and told him, “try assuming that all the songs are about vampires.” Hopefully that helped.

I don’t know a whole lot about music. I can’t impress anyone at parties with my obscure band cred or encyclopedic knowledge. I don’t usually go to a show knowing the entire set list, or all the lyrics, or have a story in my head to tell my poor friend about each song and when it was written and what it really means and by the way this is what he or she was eating when it was composed, and if you listen carefully to this part you’ll get all this on a level ordinary fans just can’t understand and etc. If I like something I just listen to it to death and then find something else to obsess about.

But by the time Cohen launched into The Partisan, my very favorite favorite of all my favorites of all his songs, I was deep into “and I love THIS SONG TOO” heaven and kind of babbling in sentence fragments. “And then … but this … and here … oh, my God, just …”

I found Leonard Cohen through the Internets, natch, and had read most of his lyrics before I ever heard his voice. And I know it’s like Dylan, in that a lot of people would prefer to hear his music from the mouth of Jeff Buckley or K.D. Lang or somebody with prettier pipes. Part of the fascination for me is the way he sounds different now than he did at 30, the grace age brings to poetry, that deep and worn-out and ragged intone. There was a moment last night, though, that I wish I could bottle and drink deep from, every time I forget what it’s like watching people do what they were put on this earth to do. This video doesn’t capture it exactly but it’s close:


Oooh, Scary

Bill Donohue is upset!

HBO’s hit series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has pushed the comedic envelope
for many years, but what happened in Sunday’s episode was so
disgraceful it’s already received comment from the Catholic League’s
Bill Donohue.

Wow! It’s already received comment from someone whose entire job is being pissed off at stuff that disrespects Teh Jeebus. It must be pretty hard to get his attention. Things must have to be pretty catastrophic for Bill to get involved. I mean, last time anybody took serious notice he was comparing gay marriage to being incarcerated in a mental institution, as well as having his usual hissyfit over politicians he didn’t like taking Communion. Now there’s a guy who can pick his battles.

For what it’s worth, I’ve never found Curb Your Enthusiasm funny, which to me is a far bigger sin than accidentally peeing on a picture of Jesus.


Malaka Of The Week: Evan Bayh

Holy Joe Lieberman was the front runner until I heard something disturbing fromGlenn Greenwaldon teevee about Senator Evan Bayh, which makes him this weeks malaka. Not only is the Hoople-headed Hoosierthreatening to join a filibuster, It turns out that the Bayhs, via the Senator’s wife Susan, have afinancial stake in maintaining the health care status quo:

He’s worried aloud that any public option would be a nod to socialism
and counter to his principles as a fiscal conservative. When pressed on
the issue, he’s said he’s simply a vessel reflecting the views of hisIndiana constituents.

Yet Bayh, who until very late in the campaign last year was
considered a top contender to be Obama’s vice president, is at best
naive and disingenuous, and at worst supremely hypocritical in pushing
his views as those of his voters.

His wife, Susan Bayh, sits on the board ofWellPoint(WLP Quote)
in her hometown of Indianapolis. Over the last six years, Susan Bayh
has received at least $2 million in compensation from WellPoint alone
for serving on its board.

She joined AnthemInsurance (the precursor organization to WellPoint) in 1998, when she was 38 years old and a midlevel attorney working forEli Lilly(LLY Quote). Her work experience prior to her stint at Lilly was five years as a junior lawprofessor
at Butler University in Indianapolis. Her work background at the time
she was appointed to the Anthem board would have been surprising, given
that she had no insurance experience and was relatively young and
inexperienced to serve as a director on a multibillion-dollar board.

However, Susan Bayh had one competitive advantage that made her
stand out as attractive to Anthem: She was married to Evan Bayh —
former governor of Indiana who, in 1998, was elected to the U.S. Senate.

p>Eric Jackson’s article at the Street goes on to detail how Susan Bayh has cashed in on her husband’s office. Shocking? No, it’s a classic inside the beltway story. I have no illusions about Evan Bayh being anything other than a Blue Dog careerist but I’m *somewhat* more disappointed than I should be in hearing this news because I have great respect for his father, former Indiana SenatorBirch Bayh.

Birch Bayh was Ted Kennedy’s closest friend in the Senate: in 1964, he pulled Teddy out of that legendary crashed plane thereby saving his life. Birch Bayh was a fighting liberal in a conservative state who voted his convictions and went down in the Reagan landslide losing his seat to J. Danforth Quayle. Birch Bayh has said many times that he hated losing but didn’t mind *how* it happened because he stood for something. His son stands only for getting re-elected and making money off his position. In this case, the acorn fell far from the tree. And that’s why Evan Bayh is malaka of the week.


Friday Catblogging: Della The Daredevil

That overgrown kitten Della Street has been cruising for a bruising this week: knocking over books and climbing ladders. We had some work done recently, which is one reason the room is a disaster area. The other is that we have too many frakking books and not enough book cases.


Big Brother Oscar was worried about his kid sister and came to investigate. He’s easily confused, so he thought she’d become the only liberal ladder day saint not named Udall. When he was informed that she’d merely climbed a ladder,he resumed licking himself.


Photos by Dr. A.

You Just Knew This Would Be a Thread of Win

South Carolina, where people keep sex toys in their cars “just in case:”

Because you never know when you might be passing through some
graveyard, just, you know, minding your own business, looking at the
graves or whatever, when SUDDENLY: some chick, who I don’t know if
she’s a hooker or what but she didn’t ask ME for any money, just
totally jumps your bone. You gotta have your kit on hand, man, for
emergencies like this one.

What does a South Carolina sex toy look like, anyway? A wind-up mechanical kangaroo that punches you in the junk?

“Corning is perhaps best known in the House for his work on anti-abortion initiatives. “

Not any more.

No, he’s still systematically fucking with women. Same cause, different mode.

Hey, ease up on Roland, will ya? Who hasn’t picked up a lovely young
lady from the local gentleman’s club and driven out to the cemetery
with a bunch of sex toys & Viagra to get their groove on? Wonkettes
are such prudes!

Guess he had to use the cemetery because the Sex Police closed the Appalachian Trail.


‘Come for the Culture War … Stay for the Chicks’


The primary reason our womenfolk are at war with the looming
spectre of the nanny state is because you can’t buy Jimmy Choos in a
socialist paradise.

The only sensible footwear you’ll find in a right-wing woman’s
closet are the Nike cross-trainers that go with her gym membership.

Everything else has a three-inch heel. Minimum.

Left-wing drabs recycle. Right-wing women shop — and the
government measures how much they shop every month to find out whether
we’re still in a recession. Basically, the world economy depends on
right-wing women buying shoes.

You never hear a right-wing woman break out statistics
pointing out that only 25% of elected offices in Canada are held by
women, and then whining about it.

No. A right-wing woman wants to get elected, she runs for office.

If she wins, great. If she loses … well, there’s always more shoe shopping.

It’s like Carrie Bradshaw and Cal Thomas had a stupid, stupid baby.



Say What?

In a sign of how far right the GOP has moved, legendary fantasist, liar and douchebag, Oliver North is advisingHouse Goopers on Afghanistan. I wonder if he’ll suggest sending bibles to Karzai’s brother instead of CIA lucre.

I’ve *never* understood, the Ollie North cult amongst the wingnuts; especially because the Reagans *both* repudiated everything he claimed about his relationship with Ronnie. I guess the Reagan cult is like everything else on the far right: they pick what they like and disregard the rest. Sheesh…

Wow. Just Wow.

Every time I think Republicans in Congress can’t get any pettier …

For the past week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office has
been looking for a Republican co-sponsor for an utterly
non-controversial resolution honoring the legacy and role of Hispanic

None came, his office confirms.


Department of I Would Love to See You Bitches Try It

Oh, HELL no:

On Monday, we reported on the House GOP’s plansto target AARP in the health care reform debate.
Republican leaders say AARP is supporting changes to the Medicare
system included in Democratic health care reform bills because they
would result in more sales of AARP-branded insurance. They claim that
“backroom deals” between executives of the AARP and Democratic
leadership — deals the GOP say are designed to protect the executives’
high salaries — led to the group’s pro-Medicare reform stance.

Yesterday, the message gained traction among the right wing
commentariat. AARP flatly denies the claims and says it’s beginning to
feel a little like the GOP’s new ACORN.

I say this with all due respect to the membership of the AARP, but you’d have better luck separating a South Carolina Republican from his emergency stash of dildos and wet suits than you’d have prying senior citizens away fromtravel discounts. You fuck with the AARP, you are fucking with their treats and that is NOT ALLOWED.

I have traveled with seniors, I have traveled near seniors, and I have known and loved many, many seniors and what I am saying is that while some people greet advancing age with fear and distrust many, many others greet it with joy because they are finally getting the perks they’ve earned. Ten percent off on parking at the airport, people. I am not snarking: Never underestimate the power of small conveniences.


How About a Book to Hawk…


on your motivational speaking tour.

And maybe subtitle it with something like, “And then Pass ALL the Problems You Created on to Your Successor.”

Pssssst, Mr. A…

I think these would make lovely stocking stuffers for someone…

C213_battlestar_galactica_little_frakkers.jpg (JPEG Image, 400x434 pixels)

BSG Little Frakkers, viaThink Geek


Why Can’t I Be a Racist Fuckwad? Why, Mommy?

Poor, pitiful dude:

TAOS, N.M. – Larry Whitten marched into thisnorthern New Mexico town in late July on a mission: resurrect a failing hotel.

tough-talking former Marine immediately laid down some new rules. Among
them, he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern
adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence (he thought
they’d be talking about him), and ordered some to Anglicize their names.

No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain-old Martin. No more Marcos. Now it would be Mark.

management style had worked for him as he’s turned around other
distressed hotels he bought in recent years across the country.

The 63-year-old Texan, however, wasn’t prepared for what followed.

Yes. It never occurred to Captain Asshole here that people would take offense at his attempts to improve them.

Also? Afraid they’d be talking about him? Narcissist, please. If you’re that concerned about it, learn Spanish. And Polish. And Arabic. You’ll discover that all those filthy immigrants you’re so sure are all up in your business are just talking about their own boring old lives, and then you’ll be able to relax and go back to building an entire house out of tinfoil to keep the alien spies at bay.

“I came into this landmine ofAnglos versus Spanish versus Mexicans versus Indians versus everybody up here. I’m just doing what I’ve always done,” he says.


The Virginia-born Whitten had spent 40 years in the hotel business, turning around more than 20 hotels in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida andSouth Carolina, before moving with his wife to Taos fromAbilene, Texas. He had visited Taos before, and liked its beauty. When Whitten saw that the Paragon Inn was up for sale, he jumped at it.

“Being a jackass has worked for me so many times! How dare this place not be a backwards-ass haven for dickheads where I can get away with doing whatever I want just like before?” I seriously do not understand the “nobody ever objected before” defense. Just because someone else wasn’t offended doesn’t mean what you’re doing is inoffensive.

After he arrived, Whitten met with the employees. He says he immediately noticed that they were hostile to hismanagement style and worried they might start talking about him in Spanish.

of that, I asked the people in my presence to speak only English
because I do not understand Spanish,” Whitten says. “I’ve been working
24 years inTexas and we have a lot ofSpanish people there. I’ve never had to ask anyone to speak only English in front of me because I’ve never had a reason to.”

employees were fired, Whitten says, because they were hostile and
insubordinate. He says they called him “a white (N-word).”

You’ve worked in the hotel business in Texas for 24 years and you never picked up enough Spanish to figure out if your employees are calling you a creep? Wow. Either you have a bigger tin ear for languages than I do, which is hard, or you’re just a lazy, entitled prat who pushes around people who work for you just because you can.

The entire tone of this story is “poor, poor confused racist dude.” Which, ain’t nobody with enough cash to buy a hotel on a whim gets a pass from me for beating down the people who work for a fraction of that amount every year just because he doesn’t like how they pronounce their names.

Then Whitten told some employees he was changing their Spanish first
names. Whitten says it’s a routine practice at his hotels to change
first names of employees who work the front desk phones or deal
directly with guests if their names are difficult to understand or

“It has nothing to do with racism.
I’m not doing it for any reason other than for the satisfaction of my
guests, because people calling from all over America don’t know theSpanish accents or the Spanish culture or Spanish anything,” Whitten says.

Um. They’re calling a hotel infreaking New Mexico. I think they’ll get over it. Plus, we have television and the Internet now. Even if you live in the north woods of Bufu, Wisconsin, you still learn that people in other places talk kinda funny. Jesus tits.

Taos Mayor Darren Cordova says Whitten wasn’t doing anything illegal.
But he says Whitten failed to better familiarize himself with the town
and its culture before deciding to buy the hotel for $2 million. “Taos
is so unique that you would not do anything in Taos that you would do
elsewhere,” he says.


Via Trademark Dave at Eschaton.


Is Writing Dead?

Benedictine Monk

Dateline:Monte Cassino, in the year of our lord, 583

At left, a Benedictine monk at work–but for how much longer?

Abbot Bonitus of the monastery of Monte Cassino is one of a growing number of abbots questioning the wisdom of teaching writing in this modern world.“There just aren’t that many jobs out there for people who can write any more.After all, who’s going to hire a scribe when there’s no one to read what he writes?”

Graduates of the Monte Cassino school are finding it difficult to get work.Brother Godulf of Saxony has been sending out resumes for months.“How am I supposed to find a job in an industry that’s laying off scribes right and left?” he says.Godulf doesn’t blame the low literacy rate, however.“It’s all about the money,” he says.“Monasteries used to hire scribes by the hundreds, but ever since the money stopped coming in, what with the fall of Rome and all, they’re so worried about the bottom line.”

Abbot Bonitus acknowledges the drop in income, but maintains the monastic business model is still viable.“We just need to figure out a way to compete with non-literate forms of information dissemination.Word of mouth is just so much faster than the printed word, even though everybody knows how unreliable the spoken word is.”

Bonitus blames the town crier model for turning many away from the written word.“Those criers just stand on their street corners yelling anything.There’s no fact checking, no editorial control.People even turn to them for the word of God, but do they really know what they’re getting?”Bonitus is worried that the town crier model is drawing too many untrained people.“Next thing you know, there’s going to be some guy yelling that the end is near, and how many people will panic as a result?It’s irresponsible.”

Felix of Aquileia scoffs at such concerns from his post in the town square.“Look, the problem is guys like Bonitus just aren’t producing quality work any more, and they’re blaming guys like me.But who reported on the Lombard/Burgundian brouhaha last year?It wasn’t Bonitus—it was Joshua Martialus, one of these dirty street corner criers like me.Where was Bonitus?Sitting up there in his monastery drinking wine and thinking deep thoughts. He’s terrified that he won’t get to be the gatekeeper for knowledge any more–and he should be.”

But Felix doesn’t want to see the monastic model fail.“We depend on them for a lot of great information.They’ve got the connections to get information from all over.I’m a guy on a street corner.I’m just tired of them blaming me for the problem.It’s not me—it’s them. If he wants the monastic model to survive, Bonitus ought to be looking at why people are turning to people like me.People out here are crying for information.I’m just giving one more avenue for them to get it. And even if our particular model doesn’t succeed in the long run, there will always be upstarts finding ways past the gatekeepers. Knowledge can’t be suppressed.”


Picture from the University of Oxford, from a 2001 lecture on the history of the book by the librarian of the Bodley, Reg Carr. It’s a cool article, with lots of fun pics.

p.s. Thanks for all the good wishes for last week everybody! My chorus placed fourth, which was lower than we had hoped, but we’re still the 4th best in the world, so I’ll take the big honkin’ medal that goes with it. We had a ball, but now we’re back to work so we can get back there again and do better.

I Still Call Him Holy Joe…

…but it’s hard to argue with Paul Begala who is the latest to call him Traitor Joe:blockquote>

It’s journalistic shorthand to note a politician’s party identification
and state after his or her name. For example: Jane Doe (D-NY). And so
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is identified as (I-CT). But the “I”
does not stand for “Independent.” It stands for “Insurance Industry.”

Lieberman says he will join a Republican filibuster against President
Obama’s health-insurance reforms. You could see this coming from a mile
away—actually from 15 years away.

In 1993 and 94, Lieberman consistently opposed President Clinton’s
reform bill—which did not have a public option. In case you’re keeping
score at home, Lieberman will filibuster the Obama plan, which has a
public option, and he opposed the Clinton reform plan, which did not.
Anything that protects consumers, it seems, is a bridge too far for
Sen. Lieberman…

Actually, Holy Joe ran on the Connecticutt for Lieberman line, which sums up how he sees the universe: it’s Joe-centric. He makes your average Senator look modest and self-effacing. Joe is the prima donna’s prima donna. The big question is: what does he want? The same question applies to the Evan Bayhs and Blanche Lincolns of the world. What do they want and is the price too high?

Questions are all I’ve got this morning. The only answer that sounds good right now is: Reconciliation. I’m, of course, talking about the Senate procedural move, not making up with Lieberman. Been there, done that.

UPDATE:Josh Marshall just posted about Holy Joe’s shifting reasons for opposing the public option. It’s a head-on collision between sophistry and douchebaggery.

Well, this will be interesting

Not only does it refuse to go away, but thenational controversy over Texas governor Rick Perry’s alleged mishandling of the clemency report and subsequent execution of Cameron Todd Willingham keeps growing.

While he may blame this all he wants to on liberal politics in an election year, it’s Perry’s own fault. Most recently, for example, heousted three of nine members of the state Forensic Science Commission(including its chairman) just two days before their long-awaited review of a new report on the arson investigation that led to Willingham’s conviction. Former chair Sam Bassett, replaced with a cherry-picked hardline conservative prosecutor, later told a reporter that he had heard
from Perry’s staffers that they were“concerned about the
investigations we were conducting.”

And now comes a major new challenge for Goodhair — he’s got a whole damnmajor newspaper suing his ass.

Before you read on, keep in mind an old saying that David Simon reminded us of over and over during the last season ofThe Wire: “Never piss off people who buy ink by the barrelful.”

The report is a
summary and status of the case against Willingham that was given to
Perry at 11:30 a.m. on the day of Willingham’s 2004 execution in the
fire deaths of his three daughters. Anti-death penalty advocates say
modern fire forensics show the blaze cannot be proven as arson.

Perry’s office has
refused to release the report, claiming it is a privileged document.
The clemency document was used by Perry in the process of deciding
whether to give Willingham a 30-day stay of execution.

“When it comes to
human life, there is no place the governor should be more transparent
in his decision-making,” said Jonathan Donnellan, an attorney for
Hearst and the Chronicle.

“It should raise
eyebrows that the governor is seeking to shield communications with his
advisers as ‘legal advice,’ when the very idea of executive clemency
power is to make a policy decision after the legal process has run its
course,” Donnellan said.


The lawsuit
contends that Chronicle reporter Lise Olsen on Aug. 31, 2009, requested
documents on the Willingham case from Perry’s office. With her
permission, the Governor’s Office redacted personal e-mail addresses
and then produced 883 pages of documents.

The lawsuit says
the governor’s attorneys never informed Olsen that they wanted to
withhold the clemency report. Nor did Perry’s lawyers tell Olsen the
document was not among those delivered to her.

Perry’s office
responded to Olsen’s e-mail by saying the documents were similar to
reports the Texas attorney general previously had ruled could be held
from public view as privileged attorney product.

The governor has said the document contains nothing that is not in the public record, but he has refused to release it.

So, if everything in the clemency report is in the public record, and if everything done by the Governor’s Office was completely legal, why withhold the report from a newspaper?