30 April, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Mystery solved! We now know who was behind the North Carolina robocalls:

Facing South has confirmed the source of the calls, and the mastermind is Women's Voices Women Vote, a D.C.-based nonprofit which aims to boost voting among "unmarried women voters."

What's more, Facing South has learned that the firestorm Women's Voices has ignited in North Carolina isn't the group's first brush with controversy. Women's Voices' questionable tactics have spawned thousands of voter complaints in at least 11 states and brought harsh condemnation from some election officials for their secrecy, misleading nature and likely violations of election law.

Women's Voices Women Vote have an explanation worthy of the Bush Administration as to why this all happened:

The group's spokeswoman Sarah Johnson confirmed to me that those were the group's calls and said that they were part of an effort to register three million women voters in 24 states. The fact that the calls came shortly before the North Carolina primary, potentially confusing voters, was unfortunate mistake, she said. We're "incredibly apologetic about the timing of
this." The group was simply working at such a "high volume" that it was "extremely difficult to tailor the mailing to every single state's schedule," she said. The calls precede the mailers, she said, because it increases the rate of response.

Right. So... it's "Women's Voices Women Vote," correct? Then who the fuck is Lamont Williams? They have no answer.

Carpetbagger notes:

Under normal circumstances, an aboveboard voter registration effort would start a robo-call by saying, “This is so-and-so from Women’s Voices, Women Vote and I’m calling to…” But that’s not what happened here; instead the robo-calls used a made-up person to leave messages and at least gave the impression that someone might need to complete some additional paperwork before voting.

The whole thing seems kind of odd, doesn’t it?

Why yes, yes it does. Smells an awful lot like voter suppression still, and I have just one question: why does this look like Hillary supporters trying to ensure potential Obama voters are under the impression they can't vote until they've returned paperwork, eh? I hope an investigation ensues.

In other news, another Bush hack bites the dust:

At the request of the White House, General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan resigned last night as head of the government's premier contracting agency, ending a tumultuous tenure in which she was accused of trying to award work to a friend and misusing her authority for political ends.


Doan's resignation came almost a year after Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he believed Doan could no longer be effective because of the allegations about her leadership.

Waxman's committee began investigating Doan after stories in The Washington Post showed that she had approved a $20,000, no-bid arrangement last July with a business run by a friend and had tried to reduce the budget of the agency's inspector general.

I'm sure she'll be missed - by those she was doing the favors for. The rest of us are just happy to advise her not to let the door hit her in the ass on the way out.

At this point, it'll be news if there's an honest person left in that bloody Administration.

Speaking of dishonest fucking bastards, check out Dick Cheney's latest hit:

The always-creative team of Dick Cheney and his lawyers are at it again.

The lawyer for US vice-president Dick Cheney claimed [Monday] that the Congress lacks any authority to examine his behaviour on the job.

The exception claimed by Cheney’s counsel came in response to requests from Congressional Democrats that David Addington, the vice-president’s chief of staff, testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay.

Ruling out voluntary cooperation by Addington, Cheney lawyer Kathryn Wheelbarger said Cheney’s conduct is “not within the [congressional] committee’s power of inquiry”.

“Congress lacks the constitutional power to regulate by law what a vice-president communicates in the performance of the vice president’s official duties, or what a vice president recommends that a president communicate,” Wheelbarger wrote to senior aides on Capitol Hill.

I see. So, last year, Dick Cheney couldn’t be regulated by executive-branch rules because, he said, he’s not actually part of the executive branch. This year, Dick Cheney can’t be regulated by the legislative branch, either.

Next thing you know, good old Dick "Shoot Your Friends in the Face and Your Country in the Head" Cheney'll be claiming an exemption from God's wary eye.

However, I doubt he'll be able to run from a Democratic majority next year. Mwah-ha-ha.

John Derbyshire Gives Blogger Heart Failure

I hear your two questions: "Who the fuck is John Derbyshire?" and "Which blogger?"

This blogger. Me. And this is John Derbyshire. Everybody say "Hi, John!" Yes, I'm asking you to say hello to a conservative columnist. A cheery hello, at that. Even though he's a homophobic racist hypocrite (as he admits himself), we can extend a cautious hand of welcome. After all, for a conservative, he is, as he says, "a mild and tolerant" racist homophobe, which is damned near miraculous for a National Review Online columnist.

He immigrated illegally from Great Britian before he became legal and started hating on all the brown immigrants, so that likely explains why he's the kind of conservative who can give me heart failure for being rational, reasonable, and uplifiting.

I found him on The Panda's Thumb. He's one of the rare few conservatives who's been quoted as saying non-outrageous things about evolution. I still hesitated before clicking that "Continue reading A Blood Libel on Our Civilization at the National Review" link. I mean, it's the fucking National Review. It's fuckwit central. But I like to think I have courage, and at times even an open mind, although that's been hard to keep open after the abuse it's taken from the neocons. So I steeled myself and clicked.

His article has a promising start. Right under the title, it asks, "Can I expell Expelled?"

Absolutely, John. You most certainly can. By all means. I'd be delighted to hold the door open while you boot them in the arse, even.

Things then became a bit rocky, but I soldiered on:

What on earth has happened to Ben Stein? He and I go back a long way. No, I’ve never met the guy. Back in the 1970s, though, when The American Spectator was in its broadsheet format, I would always turn first to Ben Stein’s diary, which appeared in every issue. He was funny and clever and worldly in a way I liked a lot. The very few times I’ve caught him on-screen, he seems to have had a nice line in deadpan self-deprecation, also something I like. Though I’ve never met him, I know people who know him, and they all speak well of him. Larry Kudlow, whose opinion is worth a dozen average opinions on any topic, thinks the world of Ben.

Oh, deary, deary me. He loves Ben. No good can come of this.

So what’s going on here with this stupid Expelled movie? No, I haven’t seen the dang thing. I’ve been reading about it steadily for weeks now though, both pro (including the pieces by David Klinghoffer and Dave Berg on National Review Online) and con, and I can’t believe it would yield up many surprises on an actual viewing. It’s pretty plain that the thing is creationist porn, propaganda for ignorance and obscurantism. How could a guy like this do a thing like that?

Easy, my dear John. Ben Stein is an opportunistic assclown. He's snookered you into thinking he has a frontal lobe. I am so sorry you had to find out the truth this way.

Heh. You said porn. Hur hur hur.

So far, not so bad. Gingerly, I continued picking my way through the piece, convinced that at any moment, I'd get my legs blown off by a sudden claymore landmine of neocon fucktardedness. There were moments where I'd stop, breathless, convinced I'd just tripped a wire:

The first thing that came to mind was Saudi money. Half of the evils and absurdities in our society seem to have a Saudi prince behind them somewhere, and the Wahhabists are, like all fundamentalist Muslims, committed creationists.

Awshit. Just when it was all going so swimmingly, here we go with the Islamofascists are responsible for everything bad!!1!1!!! spiel. What a fucking disappointment... holy fuck, what's this?

This doesn’t hold water, though. For one thing, Stein is Jewish. For another, he is rich, and doesn’t need the money. And for another, the stills and clips I have seen are from a low-budget production. Saudi financing would surely at least have come up with some decent computer graphics.

Ye gods. Logic! Tortured, twisted logic, true, but considering we're dealing with a conservative mind writing in the National Review, that's pretty damned impressive. Most of them just leave it at "Islamofascists didit, blow them all to bits, the end." The man questioned his assumptions. He tried applying reason.

This is where the heart attack happened. Clutching my chest, I continued to read:

It is at any rate clear that [the producers of Expelled] engaged in much deception with the subjects they interviewed for the movie, many of whom are complaining loudly. This, together with much, much else about the movie, can be read about on the Expelled Exposed website put up by the National Center for Science Education, which I urge all interested readers to explore.

Total. Heart. Failure. He, John Derbyshire, a conservative writer for the National Review, just referred his readers, nay, urged them, to visit ExpelledExposed.com, not to debunk or sneer but to learn.

I'd say "be still, my heart," but you've stopped, so that's redundant at this point.

My own theory is that the creationists have been morally corrupted by the constant effort of pretending not to be what they are. What they are, as is amply documented, is a pressure group for religious teaching in public schools.

My heart stopped already, right? Can it stop again? He even freely admits that these fuckers are trying to pass religion off as science!

One of my favorite comments came from “Pixy Misa” (Andrew Mazels) who correctly called Ben Stein's accusing Darwin of responsibility for the Holocaust “a blood libel on science.”

I would actually go further than that, to something like “a blood libel on Western Civilization.”

Wow-e-wow. Just... wow. I know I'm dead, now. Conservatives in our country just don't say things like this. I must have ended up going down the wrong leg of the Trousers of Time this morning. Total alternate universe. Has to be.

Western civilization has many glories. There are the legacies of the ancients, in literature and thought. There are the late-medieval cathedrals, those huge miracles of stone, statuary, and spiritual devotion. There is painting, music, the orderly cityscapes of Renaissance Italy, the peaceful, self-governed townships of old New England and the Frontier, the steel marvels of the early industrial revolution, our parliaments and courts of law, our great universities with their spirit of restless inquiry.

And there is science, perhaps the greatest of all our achievements, because nowhere else on earth did it appear. China, India, the Muslim world, all had fine cities and systems of law, architecture and painting,
poetry and prose, religion and philosophy. None of them ever accomplished what began in northwest Europe in the later 17th century, though: a scientific revolution. Thoughtful men and women came together in learned societies to compare notes on their observations of the natural world, to test their ideas in experiments, and in reasoned argument against the ideas of others, and to publish their results in learned journals. A body of common knowledge gradually accumulated. Patterns were observed, laws discerned and stated.

Glories! Yes! "Spirit of restless inquiry," even so! Science, "greatest of all our achievements," absolutely! I'll even forgive you that little sneer at other countries for not having a scientific revolution, because by your narrow definition of a scientific revolution, you're right. They didn't have one. But you understand the glory and importance of science, John, and that...

...brings to us a feeling for what the scientific endeavor is like, and how painfully its triumphs are won, with what sweat and tears. Our scientific theories are the crowning adornments of our civilization, towering monuments of intellectual effort, built from untold millions of hours of observation, measurement, classification, discussion, and deliberation. This is quite apart from their wonderful utility — from the light, heat, and mobility they give us, the drugs and the gadgets and the media. (A “thank you” wouldn’t go amiss.) Simply as intellectual constructs, our well-established scientific theories are awe-inspiring.

This, my darlings, is where I began to cry. Because John Derbyshire, a conservative, stated precisely how I feel about science. He expressed perfectly my own sense of wonder, my awe and appreciation, my love. His passion and mine recognize each other joyously. This is what draws us together over the divide. This is what makes those differences in ideology solvable. A conservative gets it. He understands, and respects, science. This is hope, people. This is fertile middle ground, this is. He can't be the only conservative in this country who feels this way.

And how does he feel about Ben, now?

And now here is Ben Stein, sneering and scoffing at Darwin, a man who spent decades observing and pondering the natural world — that world Stein glimpses through the window of his automobile now and then, when he’s not chattering into his cell phone.

Ouch. And Intelligent Design?

The “intelligent design” hoax is not merely non-science, nor even merely anti-science; it is anti-civilization. It is an appeal to barbarism, to the sensibilities of those Apaches, made by people who lack the imaginative power to know the horrors of true barbarism. (A thing that cannot be said of Darwin. See Chapter X of Voyage of the Beagle.)

And yes: When our greatest achievements are blamed for our greatest moral failures, that is a blood libel against Western civilization itself.

Very ouch.

All that's needed now is for more true conservatives like John Derbyshire to get so disgusted with the neocons and theocons that they wrest back conservatism from the assmonkeys destroying it. It can be done. That middle ground that I was pining for a bit ago, it can be created again. We'll all be freely mingling in it, visiting from our respective ends of the political spectrum, cheerfully ribbing each other over what we consider each other's silly ideologies, but able to debate rather than degrade, talk rather than shout.

That's what this article has shown me. It's still possible. The divide is not yet an impassable chasm. There are some people on both sides busily building bridges and caulking the cracks. They're making it possible for us to reach each other.

And when we get there, won't we ever have a delightful time bashing the IDiots? Once I get my heart started again, anyway.

Who Was it Who Loves the Terrorists, Again?

If there's anything I've learned about the modern Republicon party, it's this: the louder they decry something, the more likely it is they're doing it. The party of purity loves them some prostitutes. The rabidly anti-gay get up to all kinds of shennanigans in airport bathrooms and White House dormitories. They preach small government and practice unfettered executive power. Bitch about Democrats being governmental spendthrifts while they flush our tax dollars down the national toilet. I could go on, but we'd be here all night, and I think you've got the idea.

So, when Newt Gingrich says that "the left wing of the Democratic Party, frankly, kind of admires American terrorists," what's the first thing that comes to your mind?

Indeed. It occurred to Digby to ask which American terrorists the right wing of the Republicon Party kind of admires, and what do you know:

You remember Rudolph, don't you? He was a God fearing right wing extremist who was on the run for several years for after "bombing an Atlanta-area abortion clinic in 1997 and a Birmingham, Ala., clinic in 1998. In addition to the clinic bombings, Rudolph was indicted in relation to the 1997 bombing of an Atlanta gay and lesbian nightclub that injured five people and the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, which killed one person and injured 111 others."

And when they finally caught him:

Since he didn't look as if he had stumbled out of a cave,
investigators believe Rudolph must have received help over the years. "If he's been living in a mobile home, you'd assume quite a few people knew he was there," says Ronald Baughn, a retired federal law-enforcement agent who helped investigate the Atlanta and Birmingham bombings. Indeed, Rudolph had become a local folk hero. In Murphy, T shirts and coffee mugs appeared saying RUN RUDOLPH, RUN.

That's more than just admiration for American terrorism. That's solidarity.


It doesn't end there. Glenn Greenwald did some digging as well, and ended up with one of the most relentless indictments of the Bush Administration he's ever written. It turns out the Republicons lurves them some foreign terrorists, too:

The New York Times, July 18, 1990

Cuban Linked to Terror Bombings Is Freed by Government in Miami

Orlando Bosch, a right-wing Cuban who is believed by American officials to be responsible for dozens of bombings aimed at the Castro Government, was released from jail here today in a deal with the United States Government [led by George Bush The First]. . . .


The Guardian, December 2, 2002:

The brother of President George Bush, the Florida governor, Jeb Bush, has been instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offences, according to a new book. The Bush family has also accommodated the demands of Cuban exile hardliners in exchange for electoral and financial support, the book suggests.


Rosa Brooks, The Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2007:

LIKE PIRATES, terrorists are supposedly hostis humani generis — the "enemy of all mankind." So why is the Bush administration letting one of the world's most notorious terrorists stroll freely around the United States?

I'm talking about a man who was -- until 9/11 -- perhaps the most successful terrorist in the Western Hemisphere. He's believed to have masterminded a 1976 plot to blow up a civilian airliner, killing all 73 people on board, including teenage members of Cuba's national fencing team. He's
admitted to pulling off a series of 1997 bombings aimed at tourist hotels and nightspots.
Today, he's living illegally in the United States, but senior members of the Bush administration -- the very guys who declared war on terror just a few short years ago -- don't seem terribly bothered.

I'm talking about Luis Posada Carriles. That's not a household name for most U.S. citizens, but for many in Latin America, Posada is as reviled as Osama bin Laden is in the United States. . . .

As Digby said, that's more than just admiration. That's solidarity.

Every time the Republicons start throwing stones, I hear the merry tinkle of shattering glass. In this case, it appears the damage is the result of pipe bombs.

29 April, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

When policies, truth, and just plain good campaigning fail, try voter suppression:

Here's another for the annals of vote suppression. Calls have gone out to an untold number of North Carolina voters telling them that they need to fill out a registration form before they vote. Democracy North Carolina, a government watchdog that has posted audio (wav) of the call, says that the calls went out to "black neighborhoods."

Sounds like the usual Republicon tried-and-true method for making sure Democrats don't get out and vote, although TPM Muckraker hasn't been able to trace this back to a particular group. Still, if you're in North Carolina, might be a good time to let your friends know that this message is a steaming pile of bullshit.

Speaking of steaming piles of bullshit, Bush wants us to believe all our economic woes are due to folks not thinking his tax cuts are permanent:

To hear Bush tell it, the economic anxiety Americans feel right now is somehow related to tax cuts that expire in 2011 — tax cuts that primarily don’t help the middle class or low-income families anyway.

In all seriousness, how many people who are worried about their families’ finances right now are going to say, “I’ve been really worried, but now that I know my tax rate will remain the same in 2011 as it is 2010, I’m feeling better again”? That, in essence, is what the president argued with a straight face this morning. The answer for economic angst now is maintenance of existing tax cuts three years from now.

Ben at TP recently offered a competing explanation for economic anxiety.

[M]aybe American negative attitudes toward the economy stem from the housing and credit crises, job losses, rising unemployment, a volatile stock market, high gas prices, high family debt, flat wages, increasing budget deficits, a weak dollar, and rising health care costs — not to mention the effects of the $12 billion per month war in Iraq that is being bankrolled largely on borrowed funds.

Don't know about you all, but I'm for Ben's assessment. I think the latest round of tax cuts saved me all of $50. That doesn't go very far toward filling the gas tank these days. Sure as fuck didn't help my wages. You know how much of a raise his tax cuts gave me? $.02 per hour. Two. Cents. I'll pay higher taxes in exchange for a better wage, thank you so very much.

And for those reality-challenged sorts who think tax cuts for the wealthy trickle down, just let me ask one thing: why is it that when my company's taxes go down, my raise doesn't go up?

McCain still needs to be bashed in the head with a clue-by-four:

This seems like an easy story for the media to pick up on, if reporters were interested — McCain keeps visiting specific locales for campaign purposes, but in nearly every instance, he either has or intends to undercut the facilities he’s visiting. This should be quite an embarrassment for McCain and his campaign. And yet, I have a hunch this will go completely unmentioned.

And just as an aside, I’ve been mulling over where McCain could go to talk to people who would benefit from his policy agenda. Country clubs? Corporate board rooms? Military-contractor conventions? No wonder McCain is showing up in odd places; he has limited options about where he can realistically go.

Too fucking right. You really need to go read up on his visit to a childrens' hospital in Miami to get the full-flavored fuckwittery involved in this.

In better news, teens and young adults are far wiser than McCain:

The Pew Research Center’s latest report notes, “Trends in the opinions of America’s youngest voters are often a barometer of shifting political winds.” If so, the winds are at Democrats’ backs, and will be for a quite a while. While young people shifted to the Democratic Party a bit in the 1990s, the bottom fell out for the GOP and younger voters during Bush’s presidency.

In 1992, Republicans enjoyed a slight edge in party identification among 18-29 year olds, 47% to 46%. Four years later, Democrats claimed a six-point edge, 50% to 44%. By the time of the 2000 election, Democrats’ lead had expanded slightly to eight points, 49% to 41%.

And voters under the age of 30 have been making a beeline from the Republican Party ever since. In 2004, Democrats’ lead among young voters’ party ID expanded to 11 points, 51% to 40%. And in 2008, the margin became a landslide — Democrats 58%, Republicans 33%.

Who else gets the feeling the GOP has become the party of dinosaurs?

Hangover Discurso

There's so much delicious depravity I just can't keep up these days. It's time for morning-after opining on the public discourse once again. Bring me some hair o' the dog and let's get to it, my darlings.

First up, dday at Digby's Hullaballoo has a delightful dissection of "McCain's Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Week":

I hope somebody's taking notes on this week's travails for John McCain, because if this was October and anyone was paying attention, his entire staff would be fired and the RNC would be gamely talking about random downballot races and how "2012 looks to be an up year."

It's a whirlwind tour of some of the most outrageous bullshit ever to come out of a presidential campaign. Simply gorgeous. Go read it. I'll just sit here sipping quietly until your return.

Welcome back. Let me pour you another. I've got another brilliant take-down of McCain, this time from the incomparable Glenn Greenwald, who points out just how far John "Torture is Wrong - Let's Authorize More!" McCain has gone in creating the moral morass we find ourselves in today:

An article by The New York Times's Mark Mazzetti this morning discloses a letter (.pdf) from the Justice Department to Congress which asserts "that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law." In other words, even after all of the dramatic anti-torture laws and other decrees, the Bush administration insists that American interrogators have the right to use methods that are widely considered violations of the Geneva Conventions if we decide that doing so might help "thwart terrorist attacks."

There are two reasons, and two reasons only, that the Bush Administration is able to claim this power: John McCain and the Military Commissions Act. In September, 2006, McCain made a melodramatic display -- with great media fanfare -- of insisting that the MCA require compliance with the Geneva Conventions for all detainees. But while the MCA purports to require that, it also vested sole and unchallenged discretion in the President to determine what does and does not constitute a violation of the Conventions. After parading around as the righteous opponent of torture, McCain nonetheless endorsed and voted for the MCA, almost single-handedly ensuring its passage. That law pretends to compel compliance with the Conventions, while simultaneously vesting the President with the power to violate them -- precisely the power that the President is invoking here to proclaim that we have the right to use these methods.

Isn't that precious? The President gets to decide. I guess McCain really took all that "I'm the decider" malarkey to heart. His political ambitions even overcome the fact that he understands the evils of torture from first-hand experience. I don't know about you, but I truly do not want a deceptive shitsack like this as our next President.

And you might notice something about this little snippet that sounds an awful lot like Scalia's recent "torture doesn't violate the Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment because it's not punishment" poison. This is what our culture has been reduced to: semantic arguments. They torture bodies, and then they torture the law to justify it.

I can't put too fine a point on this: I fucking despise these goddamned motherfucking assholes.

And I loathe their media enablers:

Last week, Politico reported that John McCain has an "unorthodox strategy" to capture the presidency -- he "will rely on free media to an unprecedented degree to get out his message."

Interesting word, "rely" -- the American Heritage Dictionary defines it not only as "to be dependent for support, help, or supply," but also as "to place or have faith or confidence."

Planning a presidential campaign around confidence that the news media will get your message out for you might ordinarily be considered a risky gambit. But the media wasted no time in establishing that McCain's faith will be rewarded.

Jamison Foser of MediaMatters.org is relentless in deconstructing the media's passionate desire to attach their lips firmly to McCain's bare buttocks. It's just sad that he has so much material to work with. "Fair and balanced" has apparently come to mean reporting fair and lovely things about McCain while balancing vicious attacks on the Democratic candidates equally between Obama and Hillary.

I feel a desire to protest coming on. Someone get me a picket. Preferrably a sharp one.

From that same article comes this statement that fair took my breath away:

On Tuesday, The New York Times ran what should have served as a reminder to other media outlets that stipulating to McCain's purity is not journalism, it is cheerleading. The Times revealed that McCain helped Donald Diamond, one of his biggest fundraisers, purchase a stretch of California coastal land from the Pentagon -- a purchase that netted Diamond a $20 million profit. Diamond explained: "I think that is what Congress people are supposed to do for constituents. ... When you have a big, significant businessman like myself, why wouldn't you want to help move things along? What else would they do? They waste so much time with legislation." (emphasis incredulously added)

Oh my fucking gods did Diamond really just say something that outrageously stupid?

Does this assclown not realize that Congress is the fucking legislative branch? They write and enact legislation. That's what they do, at least when they're not in bed happily humping "big, significant businessmen" like Diamond.

Remember, McCain likes to present himself as a straight-talking, straight-shooting, lobbyist-and-earmark-fighting maverick. I think that myth has been as thoroughly debunked as the "scientific" theory of Intelligent Design, don't you? If you're undecided, go read the Times article. It even shocked me, and I thought I was long past being shocked by McCain's scumbaggery.

This is our political landscape, my darlings. Look upon it and weep. And then get bloody angry and vote these fuckers out of power, flay the media that licks their toes, and boycott the businessmen who turn our lawmakers into toadying douchebags.

They Cannot Defeat the ERV!

This is by way of a public service announcement for those who might've gotten a nasty shock yesterday morning when trying to drop by ERV. It's all very mysterious, and Abbie's not saying much other than she considers it "malicious behavior," but ERV vanished into thin air.

Wailing and rending of garments commenced. And I really mean it. Abbie's one of the best science bloggers out there.

So it's appropriate that she's now got a happy home on ScienceBlogs. No one could deserve such fortune more - I just hope they know how lucky they are they've got her.

Let that be a lesson to malicious fuckwits who try to get blogs like Abbie's removed, if that is what happened: you're only making it worse. Abbie now has the might of ScienceBlogs behind her. She's a force that cannot be stopped.

Be warned.

Be afraid.

Now go the fuck away.

Right, my darlings. In honor of the new ERV, raise your glasses high. Salud, mi amiga!

What's Up With the "Mike Argento" and "Expelled" Search?

Sitemeter is like the Dark Lord. It sees all, knows all. And yes, I'm afraid my Lord of the Rings fangirldom just got the best of me there. Do pardon me.

What it doesn't know is why a few of you have stumbled into my cantina after doing a Google search for "Mike Argento" and "Expelled."

What's up with that?

In the best traditions of investigative journalism, I searched both Mike's columns in the York Daily Record and Argento's Front Stoop, and found nary a thing. I knew I wouldn't discover anything through Google because you lot kept ending up here. So I found a Deep Throat source - i.e., emailed Mike - and he says he hasn't written anything yet but likely will after he's seen the film. We'll all have to troop over and read it. The man's a modern-day Mark Twain, and besides the fact he's that good, he'll deserve love after the suffering.

I'll keep you posted, so by all means, if you stumbled here looking for Mike Argento and Expelled, stumble back soon. In the meantime, might I suggest some recent Mike:

Bury the groundhog metaphor

Article Last Updated: 04/27/2008 02:19:12 AM EDT

Now that it's over, the first thing we should do to recover from our close-call with the electoral process, as a state, is kill that groundhog.

You know you're going to end up spitting your drink all over the screen and then cracking your ribs with laughter. How do you know? Because I just did.

28 April, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Aw, the poor widdle Republicons are all upset because the meanie DNC's using McCain's own words against him:

It was as predictable as the sunrise. The Democratic National Committee launched a very good ad hitting John McCain — in an entirely fair and accurate way — for his comments about keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for another century. Given that whenever anyone, anywhere, mentions the words “John McCain” and “100 years” in the same sentence Republicans get apoplectic, it stood to reason that the new DNC ad would cause quite a few GOP operatives to really a blow a gasket.

And, right on cue

The Republican National Committee wants CNN and MSNBC to stop airing the DNC’s new national television advertisement, calling it “false and defamatory” and illegally coordinated.

“This is a complaint about the facts that are being misrepresented in the ad, and this being a deliberate falsehood, that we are saying, stations have an obligation to protect the public from airing a deliberate falsehood,” said Sean Cairncross, an RNC lawyer.

The RNC provided no evidence to support their change [sic] that the communication has illegally coordinated, aside for a few newspaper articles pointing out that some Democrats work for both a candidate and the committee, like pollster Cornell Belcher. DNC chairman Howard Dean said this morning that neither campaign saw or heard the ad before the [sic] put it out.

The RNC is ginning up the threat of legal action to give weight to their criticism of the ad’s content. Cairncross would not say whether the party will sue CNN or MSNBC, the two cable networks airing the ad, if they refuse to kill it.

Aren't they adorable? They're just like little four-year old tyrants: they go around the playground beating up other kids, but the second somebody hits them back, they run crying to Mommy. Fairly warms my heart, that does. I say we keep hitting. You can go view the awful, mean ad here, along with Carpetbagger's patient explaination as to why every single point the RNC's making is complete bullshit.

Speaking of adorable arguments worth of a four-year old, Scalia's all ready to explain to us why torture is fine by the Constitution:

Last night, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia granted his first broad-based television interview, to Lesley Stahl on CBS’s 60 Minutes. There he explained that the torture of detainees does not violate the 8th Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” because, according to Scalia, torture is not used as punishment:

STAHL: If someone’s in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized, by a law enforcement person — if you listen to the expression “cruel and unusual punishment,” doesn’t that apply?

SCALIA: No. To the contrary. You think — Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so.

STAHL: Well I think if you’re in custody, and you have a policeman who’s taken you into custody–

SCALIA: And you say he’s punishing you? What’s he punishing you for? … When he’s hurting you in order to get information from you, you wouldn’t say he’s punishing you. What is he punishing you for?

Well, imagine that! By this reasoning, my darlings, any cop in the country can torture information out of you, as long as it's from a spirit of inquiry rather than punishment. Does anybody else notice the grease on this slope?

I can't believe this fucktard sits on the Supreme Court.

That makes this little gem much less surprising:

When Indiana passed a voter I.D. law, it was ostensibly to protect the integrity of the voting process. What better way to prevent voter fraud than to require those participating in an election to produce identification?

Was there any evidence of a voter-fraud scourge in Indiana? No. Would the law make it harder for “certain kinds” of voters (i.e., the elderly, minorities, and the poor) to participate? Yes. Did this look a whole lot like Republican lawmakers trying to discourage likely Democratic voters from taking part in elections? You betcha.

But that didn’t stop the Supreme Court today from approving the Indiana law.

No, of course it didn't. Remember, this is the same bunch of assclowns that threw the 2000 election to Bush. A little thing like enabling disenfranchisment ain't nuttin' compared to that, now, is it?

Carpetbagger has an excellent breakdown as to why this law is wrong in so many ways.

Our nation: going to hell in a handbasket since January 2001.

Expelled: Extreme Failure Edition

Yes, it's been a while since I did an Expelled post. Got bored, didn't I? They weren't doing anything new and exciting, aside from failing spectacularly. But now, there's some fresh opportunity for fun at their expense.

Premise Media, the assclowns behind Expelled: the Flop, sent PZ Myers and other poor unfortunates on their mailing list an email that has to be seen to be believed:


Secular critics, atheist groups, and now the beloved Yoko Ono are black balling EXPELLED and trying to get it out of theaters.

Seriously. Go read the whole thing. PZ had the patience to present it in all its inane glory, complete with bizarre font changes and pathetic whining. I'm just going to sit back and laugh myself sick at the fact their piss-poor propaganda is flopping so badly they have to send out desperate pleas for rescue. "Ono! It's Ono, suing us for totally stealing John Lennon's stuff! The evilutionists and mean, nasty atheists are all against us! And we're totally lying about everything, but we think you're stupid enough to believe us anyway!"


All of their claims can be thoroughly debunked, but one in particular is too easy:

#5 in per screen box office ($3,000 per screen)
#9 overall, despite being on only half the screens of its competitors

Um. No.


1. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! .... $147.9 million
2. 21 .. $ 75.8 million
3. Nim's Island ....... $39.0 million
4. The Forbidden Kingdom ............. $ 38.3 million
5. Prom Night ......... $ 38.1 million
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall ......... $ 35.1 million
7. Baby Mama .......... $ 18.3 million
8. Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay ........ $ 14.6 million
9. 88 Minutes ......... $ 12.6 million
10. Deception .......... $ 2.2 million

Looks like Expelled got itself expelled from the Top Ten over the weekend. Where are they? Oh. 13th. Well, you know, 5, 9, 13, what's the difference?

I know what you're thinking. These blindingly stupid, morally depraved, terminally truth-challenged ass bandits deserve to be slapped across the face with a fish.

Funny you should mention it...


En Tequila Es Verdad is proud to present a brand-spanking-new feature: Intolerancia. And when I say spanking, I mean spanking: this is where we'll take a whirlwind tour through the world of intolerant religious fuckwits and lay the smackdown upon them. They claim they are holy. We shall leave them holey. Ah-ha-ha.

Ahem. So:

Today's smiting of intolerant bastards.

For those of you still convinced that extreme evangelicals don't pose a threat to your own self, think again:

FORT RILEY, Kan. — When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

What's this to do with you? You're not in the military, so it doesn't matter, right? Wrongo. Let me just put it this way: how happy are you about the idea that a bunch of frothing lunatics have access to the heavy weaponry?

I think we all know what happens when crazed religious fundamentalists get their hands on armies. 'Tain't pretty.

And if that didn't put a chill rushing down your spine, try this:

But Mikey Weinstein, a retired Air Force judge advocate general and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the official statistics masked the great number of those who do not report violations for fear of retribution. Since the Air Force Academy scandal began in 2004, Mr. Weinstein said, he has been contacted by more than 5,500 service members and, occasionally, military families about incidents of religious discrimination. He said 96 percent of the complainants were Christians, and the majority of those were Protestants. [emphasis added]

A special note to you good Christians in the audience: the fundamentalists' Christianity isn't yours. Let them get in power. Let them clear out the atheists, pagans, Muslims, Jews, et al, and then they will come for you. I guaran-fucking-tee it.

PZ Myers and John Lynch both have good takes on this New York Times piece. Drop by and take a gander.

So, moving on, then. What are all you all doing on May 1st? I can tell you one thing I won't be doing: praying.

The National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 1. I oppose it. I believe religious leaders should call people to prayer, not government officials. I believe religious services should take place in houses of worship, not government buildings.

Alas, the federal courts do not agree with me. Thus, we have a National Day of Prayer. Of course it has been taken over by obnoxious fundamentalist Christians who sponsor exclusionary programs that promote their narrow brand of Christianity.

Of course. Having a heart attack from not surprised here. But Morbo doesn't stop there, oh, no. He has to go and grind some salt into the wounds:

If we have to have a day like this, it ought to be interfaith. But the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private group run by Religious Right honcho James Dobson’s wife, Shirley, tells its volunteers not to let anyone near the microphone who has not signed off on a fundamentalist statement of faith.

That statement reads in part:

“I believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God. I believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his miracles, the atoning work of his shed blood, his resurrection and ascension, his intercession and his coming return to power
and glory.”

Jews and other non-Christians can attend the event. They just get to stand there and be window dressing for the Jesus-athon.

Oh, yes. Truly inclusive, that. Maybe The National Day of Prayer Task Force can call up Major IllWelborn for some troops. Nothing like spreading the word of God with the barrel of a gun, is there?

Finally, by way of Dispatches from the Culture Wars, I present you with a pristine exemplar of the brain rot that can occur when you believe that faith = detatch completely from reality:

This has to be one of the strangest lawsuits I've ever heard of. A woman named Joyce Marie Edwards filed a lawsuit in Federal district court in Connecticut - representing herself - against the Federal government, and specifically the Supreme Court, claiming that the Court's ruling against mandatory school prayer violates the Declaration of Independence and has caused all kinds of bad things.

Apparently Edwards was a volunteer at a local school in her hometown and was told that she could not preach to the kids about Christianity.

Hoo boy. I need a drink before I can even touch this stinking pile of rotten logic. Firstly, where the fuck in the Declaration of Independence does it mandate school prayer? I looked and could not find a single mention of school or prayer, let alone both together. Secondly, what fuckwit thinks you can go bring a case against the Supreme Court without a lawyer? Butterknife to a gunfight, anyone? Thirdly, WTF?

And it gets better. The ever-sharp John Pieret has more detail on her complaints, and he tears her down like a cardboard house in a rainstorm:

Examples from the decision should make the difference between "exposing" the children to something and what Ms. Edwards was doing

First, while a presenter was discussing the Native American belief in the healing properties of certain stones during a school field trip, Edwards stated "that the only thing I found to truly help me stop doing bad things and healed me was receiving Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (by reading the Word of God, the Holy Bible)." Second, while distributing candy canes to her oldest child's class, Edwards stated the
students "could read the Bible and find out what the white and red mean and why this gift is first for the Jewish people, and then for everyone else." (References omitted).

Not so strangely, as a result of these incidents, Edwards was precluded from participating in any activities at Booth Hill School during regular school hours by the school principal.

Smart principal, that. I'd be of the opinion that the children would be better off without exposure to the batshit insane, too. Thankfully, this suit was thrown out by the courts, or I would've lost all hope of recovering our government from the clutches of the crazed religious.

We do not need people like these dictating how citizens of this country should think. There's no thought involved, just knee-jerk intolerance of any but the most narrow interpretation of Christianity and a frightening degree of certifiable insanity. I'm all for letting people have their religion, but, for fuck's sake, there are limits. Freedom of religion does not extend carte blanche for one religion to annihilate the others.

Here endeth the post. The smiting of the intolerant goes ever on.

Vintatge Buffalo Bill's

I was hanging about on The Coffee-Stained Writer this evening, soaking up another wonderful treatise on the writing of poetry. She used an e e cummings poem as an example, which immediately reminded me of my all-time favorite poem of his - Buffalo Bill's. That prompted me to do a search, which led to this:

How do you know when you're a literature geek? When you come across a .jpeg image of the original published piece from the Dial, ca. 1920, in Wikipedia, and go "Squee! OMG, I don't believe it!!11!!1!"

That's how.

Ogods. Here comes a treatise on my favorite poets. And I have too much to do... so much stupid to smack down... argh. Must. Wait. Until. Later.

In the meantime, treat yourselves to some Robert Burns, W.H. Auden, Emily Dickinson, and Abu Nuwas. We'll discuss this later, after the burning stupid.

27 April, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Let's all raise a glass to the DNC and hitting McCain where it hurts:

The McCain campaign doesn’t seem especially concerned about Democratic attacks that he’s running to give the nation a third Bush term. He doesn’t seem to care when people highlight his age. He shrugs off questions about his reputation as a hothead with a nasty temperament who flies off the handle on a regular basis. He couldn’t care less when he’s caught flip-flopping, abandoning long-held principles, or getting confused about the basics of public policy.

But bring up his line about leaving troops in Iraq for 100 years, and McCain goes completely apoplectic. It seems to be the one point of criticism that McCain and his campaign fear most.


There’s simply no reason for Democrats to feel even the slightest bit hesitant about using this. Even in its full context, McCain has said, on multiple occasions, that he’s comfortable leaving U.S. troops in Iraq for a century or more. The only way that’s even possible is to establish permanent bases, which are opposed by both Iraqis and Americans, and which fuel anti-American violence. He said it, he meant it, and Democrats would be insane not to tell voters about it.

And yet, McCain and Republicans have, for several weeks, launched a coordinated, carefully-orchestrated campaign to get people — everyone, really — to stop using the words “McCain,” “Iraq,” and “100 years” in the same sentence. No one can do push-back as well as the Republican Machine, and these guys are intent on making it impossible to hit McCain where it hurts.

As such, I’m delighted the DNC is ignoring the push-back and poking the sore spot.

Can't link to videos from our lovely work computers, alas, but if you drop by Carpetbagger's place, you can see the ad in all its glory. And let's all gleefully use "McCain," "Iraq" and "100 years" in every sentence we can possibly think of.

Raise your glasses, now: "Here's to St. McCain, who's willing to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years."

McCain's fuckwitted and completely divorced from reality views strike me as far more important than the hoo-ha over Obama's blank lapels, but apparently, other people don't think so:

In my heart of hearts, I don’t really believe there are any Americans who would base their presidential vote on flag pins and the Star Spangled Banner. People can and do back (or oppose) candidates for some pretty superficial reasons, but no one’s that dumb. My hunch is that voters, when it comes to Barack Obama, may decide they don’t like him for other reasons, and then rationalize backwards, coming up with pins and patriotism to justify a more personal animosity.

Nevertheless, thanks to email chains and the national media, Obama keeps hearing about this. At a town-hall meeting in Indiana, a woman told Obama that her mother wasn’t going to vote for him because he didn’t “address the flag.” Obama responded, “This is a phony issue, so let me address it right now.”

Can I just say how fucking ridiculous it is to base your vote on whether someone "addresses the flag" or not? It's right up there with lackwits choosing our next glorious leader based on his or her beer-drinking credentials. And the media feeds this inanity. They create an issue out of it. It's time for us to hit back.

Glasses up again, my darlings. "To Obama, who understands patriotism without pins. To campaigns with substance, and to a candidate who, unlike McCain, understands that we shouldn't stay in Iraq for 100 years."

I'd like to raise another toast to San Diego, which has apparently decided that Blackwater is an unwelcome addition to their beautiful city:

OTAY MESA – San Diego officials will challenge Blackwater Worldwide's permit for an indoor military training facility in South County, saying the public didn't know about the plan.

“Residents deserve to know when a facility like this is approved – before it is approved,” San Diego City Council President Scott Peters said.


Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, said the opposition seems to originate from anti-war sentiment, not animosity toward the facility itself.

Good for them! And, as Digby wonderfully points out:

If that's so, then we are seeing a major sea change. San Diego is a super military town. If it's gone "anti-war" then you can pretty much guarantee that it's over for the pro Iraq crowd.

I don't know if it's actually true that San Diego is anti-war, but I think it's pretty clear that just about everybody is anti-Blackwater. This is an unAmerican company made up of war profiteers who have no loyalty to anyone but their own bottom line. The soldiers fighting over in Iraq on their third and fourth tours for peanuts certainly aren't crazy about the preening jackasses who make their job more dangerous.

These mercenary "security" companies do not adhere to American law and they don't answer to the American government. They are a very dangerous step toward a privatized military that answers to no one but its owners. The problem is that the rest of the world will hold Americans responsible for what they do and we will all pay the price.

Exactly. So, glasses up yet again: "Here's to San Diego for giving Blackwater the boot, and may they also give the boot to John McCain's 100-years-in-Iraq scheme."

This is fun. Who's raising the next round?

Hangover Discurso

I found some items in my Yahoo! News feed that are too tasty not to pass on.

You know the White House Correspondents' "Let's All Get Together and Wank Over Our Own Greatness" Dinner? Yeah, the dinner that Stephen Colbert delivered his masterful smackdown at two years ago? They still haven't recovered, and that warms my heart:

The Scottish-born [Craig] Ferguson found middle ground between the tepid impersonations of last year's entertainer, Rich Little, and the merciless satire that Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert delivered in

Heh. "Merciless satire." I would've said "absolute fucking verbal slaughter," but merciless satire works.

Craig wasn't exactly kind, either, telling Bush he could "look for a job with more vacation time," and remarking that it "takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon" when noting that Cheney's already started moving.

Bush proved once again that he's not only a lame duck, but a lame-ass joker as well:

"Senator McCain's not here," Bush said of GOP nominee-in-waiting John McCain. "He probably wanted to distance himself from me a little bit. You know, he's not alone. Jenna's moving out too."

Bush then referred to scandals that have dogged the campaigns of the two remaining Democratic candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, in explaining their absence: "Hillary Clinton couldn't get in because of sniper fire and Senator Obama's at church."

Earth to Bush: you're not fucking funny. You're a pathetic little power-mad moron. Shut the fuck up.

The White House Press Corps handed each other little awards telling each other how wonderful they are. A few of those awards were even given for substantial reporting, such as the National Journal's Alexis Simendinger's breaking the RNC-White House email story. My own Seattle P-I had three reporters walked off with a Poe for their series "The Terrorism Trade-off." It's just too bad that there was so little substantial reporting to choose from.

On to election news. We have work to do, my darlings:

In 2004, Bush won 286 electoral votes to 251 for Kerry. This year's Democratic nominee must triumph in all the states Kerry won, and pick up 19 more votes to prevail — or come up with another game plan to reach the magic number. McCain, for his part, must fend off Democratic challenges to hang on to the GOP advantage.

The AP article cites Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia as prime battlegrounds. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Oregon are listed as Republican opportunities. Wild-card states are Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Montana, Kentucky, Arizona, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, California, and Washington.

You know what to do.

Book Mania Redux

I'll return to spanking the deserving in just a bit. Right now, I'm wearing my new "I'm Kissin' the Muse" t-shirt, I'm listening to Turbo Ocho, and I'm just wanting to think about books and writing and everything.

Oh, and a word about Turbo Ocho: it's not April 29th and I already own it! Ah ha ha! I'm listening to it right now! Woo-hoo! And it's gorgeous, and if you're not a Peacemakers fan, you really need to become one. Like, now. Amazon will let you pre-order.

Look. If a black metal chick can listen to southwestern rock, so can you.

I'm listening to my favorite band ever, so I might as well talk about my favorite author ever: Neil Gaiman, my darlings, hands-down. It's a tough choice - he's competing with Terry Pratchett, Connie Willis, Guy Gavriel Kay, Lynn Flewelling, Patrica A. McKillip, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Friedman, Susanna Clarke, Robert Holdstock, R.A. Salvatore, Warren Ellis, and my dear, departed Robert Jordan, among many others. But Gaiman wins.

He wrote Sandman.

If you've never read Sandman, you have two orders on Amazon to make. Get to it. Preludes and Nocturnes will start you off nicely.

And don't give me any of that, "But Dana, it's a comic book" shit, either. I tried that whine. Because I was a pretentious bitch who wouldn't lower her nose far enough to see the pages of a comic, I missed out on many years of Sandman in my life. If it wasn't for my friend Justin, who browbeat, cajoled, pleaded, and finally just shoved the thing in my hands and forced me to read a few pages, I'd still be Sandman-deprived, and that's a horrible fate.

Sandman changed my life.

It took away my fear of death. You can't fear death when Death is a cute, perky Gothic chick with a mile-wide smile.

It taught me the power of dreams.

It showed me the power of myth.

It made me aware of a lot of different kinds of people I'd never really noticed before, such as lesbians trying to have babies, and the plight of the transsexual when it comes to rituals that are for women only.

It gave me the greatest comeback ever to Descartes's ridiculous "Cogito, ergo sum." Yes, even better than the Descartes-walks-into-a-bar joke. And no, I won't tell you what it is. Go read the series.

The language is phenominal. The art is astonishing. The scope of the stories is incredible. It won a fucking World Fantasy Award, all right? No comic book has ever won the World Fantasy Award, but Sandman's A Midsummer Night's Dream issue did. And it will be the last ever, because the fuckers went and changed the rules afterward. Even the fantasy world can't escape pretentious bullshit, but for one sweet moment, Neil Gaiman's Sandman shattered their pretentions and forced the snooty world to see that comic books could be every bit as "serious and important" as regular old prose.

It's that incredible.

On the wall behind my bed, I have two prints of Dream from Sandman: The Dream Hunters, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. One of them is signed by Gaiman. And one night, on the way to the bathroom after a bout of writer's block, I stopped in front of that print and said jokingly, "Allow me to serve you in whatever capacity you wish, my lord." I even gave a little bow. And that night, I learned you do not joke with the Dream King, because I hadn't even finished peeing when a story idea slammed straight into my brain, and I hadn't finished washing my hands before the thing was whole and complete in my mind. I wrote it in three hours. It's one of the best stories I've ever written.

And no, it wasn't fan fiction. Do shut up.

So that's where my love affair with Neil Gaiman began. And it has never stopped. His short stories are wonderful. There's one, Nicholas Was... that is only 102 words long, that remains my favorite Christmas story ever.

He wrote my favorite poem, "Locks." I read it to my mother one night. It was the only way I could pay her back for all of the bedtime stories that led me to become a writer, and it was lovely.

He wrote my favorite essay, "Being An Experiment Upon Strictly Scientific Lines." Funniest treatise on drinking and writing I've ever read. And I've got a DVD of him reading it in that - oh, to die for! - British accent. I nearly pee myself laughing every time I watch it. "Elephant spunk again?" ROTFLMAO!

I know, I know. If you haven't read it, that's not funny. So go read it.

I've read American Gods. Hallucinated it, too. I got so involved in the book that I forgot to eat for nearly thirty hours, and by the time the battle of the gods rolled around, my blood sugar had dropped so low that I experienced the battle in vivid sensory detail. Very strange and very fun.

I'm not about to try reading it drunk.

Neil Gaiman has not only been my favorite author, he's been one of my compasses. I went to see him in Chicago in 2001, and I'll never forget one of the things he said about writing: "Being contentious is what you should be doing. You should be shaking people up." I try to remember that when the urge to tame down an element in a story in order not to offend anyone tries to overtake me. Writing safe, comfortable fiction is fine for them as likes it, but it doesn't have impact, it doesn't have passion, and it's sure as shit not what I'm wanting to do as an author. Neil Gaiman gave me the two sentences I needed to free myself from fear. If I become a pioneer, it's down to him. If I get burned at the stake, well, oops.

And he's one of the nicest people in the universe. I'm not that nice. I wish I was. I hope I can treat my readers with half of the respect and caring that he treats his with, because if I can, I'll have my fans feeling as warm and special and loved as they deserve.

When I met him, I said, "Neil, I just wanted to say thank you. You've never disappointed me." I was having a rabid fangirl crisis, and it was the best I'd managed to come up with, slightly more original than the omigod you're so awesome can i have your babies!!!11!1! schtick. But it was still silly.

Yet he leaned back in his chair and looked at me as if amazed by my profundity, and he said, "That's the sweetest thing of you to say." And damn it, he meant it. It was as if no one had ever told him how incredible he was before.

When you've won as many awards, achieved the fame and status he has, and can still treat every fan as if they're the most special thing in the universe to you, well, you know you've got humility. He's not into abasing himself, mind, he knows he's good, it's just that it's never gone to his head. He still seems bemused by the fact people like his scribbles so much.

He's an amazing writer, and an even more amazing human being. That's why I love him so.

Now go read Sandman. And when you're totally hooked on comics, as you will be, come back to me for some more. I've got a list will blow your mind.

26 April, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Plenty of red meat for us today, my darlings. Let us forgo bar food and dig in to some nice, juicy steaks (unless, of course, you plump for the vegetarian option).

You remember how a few days ago, I mentioned Tony Snow's joining CNN? Yeah. That Tony Snow. Mr. "My Nose is Glued to Bush's Buttocks" Snow. And I'm sure you're all wondering how he's doing.

Carpetbagger reports: Not too good.

Well, it appears that Snow is having a little trouble making the transition back to broadcasting, because CNN’s latest addition seems to think he’s still the White House press secretary.

Blitzer: What do you think about McCain’s decision yesterday? He was very forceful in making it clear he did not like the Bush administration’s handling of Katrina.

Snow: Of course he also doesn’t know a lot about what went on behind the scenes, but you would expect that. You’ve got somebody who’s running for a nomination. The president’s popularity ratings are low. He’s going to put a distance between himself and the president. Everybody hates what happened in Katrina, including the president.

I see, so Bush’s handling of Katrina was fine, and McCain is just making cheap criticism for crass electoral purposes.

Blitzer: Do you think he’ll be doing more distancing of himself on other issues?

Snow: I think he’ll do it when it’s easy. But on the other hand, there are things, like the war, where he’s agreed with the president…. Right now, Democrats have made it clear they don’t have any issue other than the fact they’re not George Bush. What McCain wants to be able to do is say, “Neither am I.”

Hmm. Democrats are running on their ideas regarding Iraq, healthcare, the economy, the environment, veterans’ issues, energy policy, foreign policy, and homeland security. They don’t, however, “have any issue other than the fact they’re not George Bush.” Why, this is the kind of insightful analysis you can only hear from CNN’s highly-paid political analysts — and any fourth-tier right-wing blog.

Oh, snap! Nice one, CB! Poor Tony's balls must be stinging just about now. Oh, wait, he's a conservative pundit: he doesn't have balls. Never mind.

A funny coinkydink, here: I stopped watching CNN many years back when they stopped reporting the news and started spouting conservative bullshit along with all the sensational marlarkey I've come to expect from the glossy tabloids. This ain't likely to win my viewership back.

Speaking of clueless media sorts, I found this fascinating:

We’ve all heard the expression, “90% of life is just showing up.” It seems to be the basis of an LA Times editorial today, praising John McCain’s week-long tour of small towns, urban areas, and other communities that have struggled economically for years. McCain appeared in impoverished areas in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Ohio, and the LAT thinks that’s just great — even if he doesn’t have any intention of actually helping the families who live there.

[I]nstead of promising truckloads of aid if he’s elected, McCain talked up his vision of a government that helps more by doing less.

It’s not a new message from the Arizona senator, who follows an unpredictable political muse but typically favors smaller government and less regulation.

Excuse me. So sorry for the interruption - I just had to wipe my drink off the screen.

Unpredictable political muse? What the fuck are you assclowns talking about? His political muse is completely fucking predictable! It tells him to follow conservative talking points - except when he's lost a primary using those, so he should try to look Democratic in hopes of getting picked up as a VP. He's absolutely fucking predictable.

In fact, let me predict it right here: his political muse will tell him to keep sailing Republicon, with only minor, safe criticisms of Bush to snooker the Bush-is-anathema crowd, until the media stops saying he's a maverick. In that unlikely event, his muse will tell him to go do something mavericky but flip-flop on it later. Oh, and if the Democrats look to be winning, expect him to attempt to lock his nose onto their buttocks with the same glue Tony Snow's been using for the Bush Administration.

That's it. I'm sending my Muse to go beat the ever-loving shit out of his muse.

In election news, those who aren't satisfied with the current field of candidates now have a fourth option:

Alan Keyes appears to have locked up the Constitution Party’s nomination for president.


I really want to see Alan campaign hard, especially in states like Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and New Hampshire. As you may know, Keyes is one of the great orators of our time, and he’s the genuine item: anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-public programs, anti-public schools, anti-civil liberties, anti-pretty much everything (except guns and Jesus – he’s very pro on those).

I never thought I’d say this, but I mean it sincerely: Give ‘em hell, Alan!

Everybody loves options! I especially love those options that siphon votes from McCain. So I'd just like to give Alan Keyes my blessing. Now, if we could just give him the Colbert Bump, we'd be set.

Update: It appears reports of Alan Keyes's victory were greatly exaggerated. As Morbo says, "Darn! I knew I shouldn't have trusted the MSM!" Chuck Baldwin has won the Constitution Party nomination. Who the fuck is Chuck? I have no idea. And if you ask me how many tugs on a dead dog's dick I give, the answer is, "Very few indeed."

Still, I think we should all let our die-hard conservative acquaintences know they have options.

Book Meme Mania

Book memes! I got these from John Lynch at Stranger Fruit, by way of PZ. And I'm gonna do them both. Just because I'm the kind of person who lurves literature. Actually, no. I love really good books and I hate pretentious fuckers who claim to love books but love prestige more.

Allow me to clarify: If you loved a classic because the story grabbed you, fantastic, you're a person who lurves literature. If you've read every book on the classics list because that gives you snob value, you're a pretentious fucker and you can bugger off.

So. Ones I've read in bold, ones I own but haven't finished reading in italic, ones I've wanted to put through a chipper-shredder struck out.

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Hmm. 30. I must be an unlettered bumpkin, eh? Don't tell that to the hundreds and hundreds of books now threatening to combine my apartment with the one immeditately below.

Let's see how we do with cult books, then.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (1957-60)
A Rebours by JK Huysmans (1884)
Baby and Child Care by Dr Benjamin Spock (1946)
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (1991)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (1993)
The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart (1971)
Chariots of the Gods: Was God An Astronaut? by Erich Von Däniken (1968 )
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1782)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)
Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health by L Ron Hubbard (1950
The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (1954)
Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968 )
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973)
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter (1979
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln (1982)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948 )
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino (1979)
Iron John: a Book About Men by Robert Bly (1990)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Russell Munson (1970)
The Magus by John Fowles (1966)
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1962)
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1958 )
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
No Logo by Naomi Klein (2000)
On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (1971)
The Outsider by Colin Wilson (1956)
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (1923)
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (1914)
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám tr by Edward FitzGerald (1859)
The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937)
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1774)
Story of O by Pauline Réage (1954)
The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda (1968 )
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1883-85)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig(1974)

Not much of a cultist, either, apparently. And what the fuck is To Kill a Mockingbird doing up there in the cult books? That wasn't cult, that was social fucking justice, that was. It was the only assigned book all throughout high school that didn't make me want to vomit. Well, I take that back. I loved A Tale of Two Cities, actually. Yes, I'm one of those awful people who doesn't think Dickens is too verbose. But the rest of them - I mean, for fuck's sake, couldn't we have read something in freshman lit that blew fewer goats than The Oxbow Incident? Like, oh, say, Moby Dick? And if you knew, if you even suspected, how much I passionately loathe Moby Dick, you'll know just how bad The Oxbow Incident is.

Other than the part where some dude gets shot and there's a gory description of one of his buddies heating up a gun barrel and cauterizing the wound. That was entertaining.

A quick note: The Annotated Dracula was awesome. I got my recipe for paprika hendel from it.

One last book note here: you'll remember me mentioning Mr. Vail last night. He's the reason I read Siddhartha. We used to have a lot of chats after school when he was supervising study hall, and one day, he looked at me and said, "You should read Steppenwolf. You're just like the main character." And I suppose he was right. I was ill-suited for the town I was in. But that didn't matter half so much as the fact that Herman Hesse is an incredible author and I enjoyed the whole book immensely, even while being baffled by it. That's why I snapped up Siddhartha, and loved it even more.

See? I read a few things outside of SF and non-fiction. I even like some of it.