Archive for September, 2006

I Keep Coming Back To This…

If a Democrat somehow manages to win the White House in 2008, and the Democrats somehow manage to take/hold both houses of Congress…

Will they have enough power to restore some semblance of democracy? Arresting and detaining some of the viler Republicans and their pet pundits as terrorist enablers would probably be a big help, but I just don’t see it happening. And it would probably be wrong. Probably.

Bear in mind, they would probably only have 2-4 years to work, as they would undoubtedly be blamed for the inevitable terrorist attacks and economic collapse engendered by eight years of Republican misrule. They need to start working on that restoration-and-recovery plan now.

3 comments September 30th, 2006 at 10:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics

Even Worse Badness

Mark Foley (R-NAMBLA) being a gross old horndog with underage boys on the internets? Just a bad apple.

Republican leadership knowing about it for a year and not doing anything about it? Time for a new barrel.

This is, of course, assuming that the media reports on that aspect of it (we all remember how excited they were about the pedophiles in the DHS, right?), and the Democrats find a way to run with (and on) it. When combined with the Abramoff/Mehlman story which also came out today (and, y’know, that whole “Torture Good, Habeas Corpus Bad” thing), it drives home the message that the Republican party is corrupt and amoral to the core. Hopefully America is finally ready to listen.

3 comments September 29th, 2006 at 09:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Foley,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

SPACE YOGHURT!!!!

Don’t look at me, I just report it.

Earlier this month, Himawari Dairy began selling space yogurt, which is made using two types of lactic acid bacteria that spent 10 days in space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket last spring. The yogurt, called Uchu O Tabi Shita Yogurt (literally: “yogurt that travelled in space”), is now available in Shikoku’s four prefectures. The space yogurt follows Tosa Space Sake, which hit shelves last spring, as the second space-related product created to stimulate business in Kochi prefecture.

(…)

According to Himawari Dairy President Bunjiro Yoshizawa, about half of the bacteria died in the agar medium due to the harsh environment inside the rocket. The strong, surviving bacteria gives the space yogurt a more full-bodied flavor compared to yogurt made with standard earthbound bacteria.

My regular earth yogurt seems so puny and unevolved now. Maybe I should start exposing it to harsh environments to whip it into shape.

1 comment September 29th, 2006 at 09:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

Oh, This Is Bad.

And by “Bad,” I mean “Good.” Take it away, TPM Muckraker:

From The Washington Post:

One exchange of e-mails cited in the report suggests that former Abramoff lobbying team member Tony C. Rudy succeeded in getting Mehlman to press reluctant Justice Department appointees to release millions of dollars in congressionally earmarked funds for a new jail for the Mississippi Choctaw tribe, an Abramoff client. Rudy wrote Abramoff in November 2001 e-mails that Mehlman said he would “take care of” the funding holdup at Justice after learning from Rudy that the tribe made large donations to the GOP.

So in exchange for political contributions, Mehlman made sure the Choctaw got their $16 million contract. I believe that’s called a quid pro quo.

It’s by no means the only example of Mehlman’s favors.

In 2001, he made sure a State Department official wasn’t re-nominated for his post — the official, Allen Stayman was a long-time foe of Abramoff’s.

And according to a report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Mehlman ordered one of his suboordinates at the White House to keep Abramoff updated on issues related to Guam; Abramoff was keen to see the U.S. Attorney there replaced.

I think this is especially significant because we’re talking about the RNC Chair rather than some random congresscritter. It makes it harder to dismiss the Abramoff scandal as a few bad apples when there is, essentially, an operational relationship between Abramoff and someone who represents the Republican party as a whole.

On the other hand, no-one outside the blogosphere has any idea who Ken Mehlman is. Best to refer to him as “the chairman of the Republican National Committee,” just to be on the safe side.

(hat tip to Atrios)

3 comments September 29th, 2006 at 06:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Wankers

Friday Duck Blogging

This week’s quote is from the unfairly underrated Cabin Boy, and no, it doesn’t have any special personal meaning for me:

“She seems completely uninterested in me despite my smoldering obsessiveness.”

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s ducks:


They were just kinda walking around in circles for no apparent reason.


Mallard, I think.


Um, can ducks interbreed with turkeys?

6 comments September 29th, 2006 at 07:49am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

In The Year 2525…

Future historians will look back on this decade as an era of collective insanity, and will struggle to explain how Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle so willingly gave up the democratic principles this country was founded on. Or why the majority of the American public did not notice, or simply did not care.

7 comments September 28th, 2006 at 09:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Democrats,Elections,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1199

Just when I thought the Senate in general, and the Democratic caucus in particular, couldn’t be any more craven than when they confirmed Alito to the Supreme Court, they go and top themselves spectacularly.

The 12 so-called Democrats who voted for this abomination against democracy should be ashamed of themselves, and I hope they all get primaried into oblivion when they’re up for re-election. Carper (DE), Johnson (SD), Landrieu (LA), Lautenberg (NJ), Lieberman (there’s a shock), Menendez (NJ), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO), and Stabenow (MI) are all dead to me. I don’t care if some of them are in red states. They can all go to hell for all I care, and they probably will.

I’d also like to know if Harry Reid even bothered to twist arms to try to pull a filibuster together, or if he said, “Eh, just vote however you feel like. Who gives a shit about party unity or due process.” He should have – genuine weakness in the war against tyranny will ultimately hurt the Democrats far more than trumped-up weakness in the war against terror. Instead of sending the message that they’re tough on terrorists, they have merely sent the message that they’re scared of Republicans. Sad.

As for the Republicans who are up for re-election this year and even in 2008 (except Chafee, who voted against), I hope their opponents have the brains and spine to call them out for caving in to the Bush administration’s lust for truly dictatorial power, not to mention it’s desperate need for retroactive immunity for its past criminal behavior. We’ll soon find out whether the American electorate is more disgusted by Republican criminality or Democratic appeasement.

I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m really not. Once the Democrats ceded the field to The Heroic Anti-Torture Wink-Wink Trio, it became pretty clear that they were afraid to be identified with unpopular causes like human rights or constitutional democracy. Pathetic. No shame. No courage. No sense of decency. Yes, most of them voted against it, and some of them even spoke out against it. But not all of them. Not even almost all of them. Not even enough of them to filibuster this monstrosity. If the Democrats can’t pull together 41 emphatic nays in the face of one of the most truly awful bills of all time, I consider that to be a collective failure of the party and its leadership. Perhaps that’s unfair, but to me it simply doesn’t look like they put up much of a fight.

Oh well, at least the Supreme Court will overturn it for being blatantly unconstitutional, right?

Right?

3 comments September 28th, 2006 at 08:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Democrats,Favorites,Politics,Wankers

B&W Charlotte Photoblogging

I’ve been waiting for a chance to slip in some pictures from my business trip to Charlotte, and I guess this is it.


Sort-of awning at the Hilton, where I was not staying.


Leaves greet the water
In black and white reflections
Now they’re on my blog.


Bridge thingy and duck.


And another duck.

September 28th, 2006 at 07:51am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Nature,Photoblogging

Food For Thought

So… If the new torture “compromise” allows the government to imprison someone indefinitely without trial for aiding and abetting terrorists…

And the latest NIE says that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is aiding and abetting terrorists…

I’m thinking that if a Democrat wins in ’08, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld will be on a plane to Israel the day before inauguration…

3 comments September 27th, 2006 at 08:47am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Politics,Torture,Wankers,War

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

This is helpful, but a lot of it is just common sense, really:

MOST people have been abducted by aliens, say some UFO experts — so odds are you’re one of them.

“Extraterrestrials possess the ability to wipe human memory clean,” said Dr. J. Albert Longneck, a UFO investigator from Houston, Texas. “You could be kidnapped once or twice a week and you wouldn’t remember a thing.”

But there are detectable signs that you’ve been taken aboard a spacecraft and examined, according to Dr. Longneck. Here is a revealing excerpt from his upcoming book Did I Forget I Was Kidnapped By Aliens?

o You’re drunk a lot — Aliens take advantage of boozers because they’re used to forgetting huge blocks of time and some really embarrassing stuff, said Dr. Longneck. ETs appreciate drunks because they don’t have to waste their memory-wiper ammunition, which is expensive. They pick up a lot of people stumbling out of bars.

o You are mentally ill — No one believes a psycho when he says he was in a space ship. Extraterrestrials take advantage of that fact by lurking around insane asylums and psychiatrist offices.

(…)

o During an X-ray, your doctor discovers you are missing an internal organ you know you were born with — “A lot of times aliens take out spleens, a lung, a kidney, an appendix so they can examine them closely,” explained Dr. Longneck. Despite their advanced intellect, sometimes they simply forget to put them back.

o You wake up and can’t remember everyday things like your name, the year, your address, your spouse’s name, etc. — “The alien scientists have sliced out a vital part of your brain,” said Dr. Longneck.

o You cut yourself and your blood is green — “This is when they’ve accidentally sucked out too much of your blood and had to give you a blood transfusion from their own blood bank,” explained the expert.

o You suddenly find yourself in a foreign country thousands of miles from where you live — “Aliens have a very bad sense of direction and can’t read maps worth a damn,” said Dr. Longneck. “They’ll circle around the globe a lot, then get disgusted and just give their human abductees the boot when it’s dinnertime — alien wives are not very understanding.”

o You look in the mirror and see that your nose is suddenly smaller — “Many extraterrestrials are interested in plastic surgery techniques and will try them out on their captives,” said Dr. Longneck.

(…)

o You suddenly discover you are missing a limb — “You know you started out the day with two arms and two legs, and yet, when it’s time to go to bed, one is missing,” said Dr. Longneck. “This is an indication they have kept one of your limbs for dissection purposes.”

I don’t think any of those apply to me, but I should probably buy the book just to be sure.

3 comments September 27th, 2006 at 07:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Weekly World News

Question Of The Day

So, given the Republicans’ eagerness to do away with the requirement of habeas corpus, and the Democrats’ apparent willingness to let them (“Please don’t hit us again! We promise we’ll be good!”), I have to ask:

Which is worse – a pre-9/11 mindset, or a pre-1215 mindset?

3 comments September 26th, 2006 at 11:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Farewell-To-NYC Aerial Photoblogging

I did take a handful of shots from the plane back from NYC, most of which were somewhere between Flawed and Mediocre, including my one good look at Manhattan which was hopelessly out of focus. But there were a couple that were reasonably salvageable.


Umm… clouds. And a plane wing. (Note To Self: Start booking seats in front of wing)


I’m pretty sure the woman next to me thought I was insane when I frantically grabbed for my camera every time the plane banked to the left…

September 26th, 2006 at 10:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Aerial,Photoblogging

Niche Marketing

If I had any musical talent whatsoever, I would market myself as the world’s first gangsta crooner, using the nom de mic “Bling Crosby.”

5 comments September 26th, 2006 at 07:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Puns

Commapassionate Conservatism

Conan The Grammarian speaks:

I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is – my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy.

My take on this latest spectacular display of callous indifference is that human lives just aren’t very important to Bush, not as measured against the glorious big-picture fantasy playing out in his head. You know, the one where a democratic utopia radiates out from Iraq and the entire Middle East, nay, the entire world, sings Bush’s praises as The Great Democracybringer.

On the other hand, I think Bush could happily sacrifice several thousand lives for a choice Starbuck’s franchising opportunity and still not understand what all the fuss is about.

This is yet another visceral reminder of why the Democrats need to retake Congress – so they can start turning that comma into some sentences. Long ones.

2 comments September 25th, 2006 at 04:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Favorites,Iraq,Politics,Wankers,War

I Feel So Much Better Now…

Arlen Specter is on the case:

President Bush is pushing Congress to put the agreement into law before adjourning for the midterm elections, but Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Sunday he “vigorously” disagrees with the habeas corpus provision of the bill.

The provision would allow legal counsel and a day in court to only those detainees selected by the Pentagon for prosecution. Other terror suspects could be held indefinitely without a hearing.

“The courts have traditionally been open to make sure that individual rights are protected, and that is fundamental,” Specter said on CNN’s “Late Edition. “And the Constitution says when you can suspend the writ of habeas corpus, in time of rebellion or invasion. And we don’t have either. So that has to be changed, in my opinion.”

Of course, Specter being Specter, he will ultimately conclude that the only acceptable resolution for this kind of affront to the Constitution is to… rewrite the law to make it retroactively legal. I have to wonder if his problem is truly with the Bush administration’s contempt for the law, or with the law’s narrow-minded reluctance to accommodate Bush’s brilliance.

Specter is like a DA whose genius idea to eliminate all crime is to simply make everything legal. Problem solved!

2 comments September 25th, 2006 at 03:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging – Tragedies Of The Digital Age Edition

Courtesy of Pink Tentacle, here are a couple of videos that poignantly capture the depth and beauty of the world of physical experience that the age of computers will soon render extinct. Plus the music is kinda catchy…

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

September 25th, 2006 at 07:34am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

My Views On Religion

Well, since someone posted a long and barely relevant anti-religion screed under my previous post, it seemed like this might be an opportune time to try to briefly describe where I stand on the subject of religion and its followers. You can decide for yourself whether I am the implacable enemy of all things religious that Republicans claim we liberals are.

My own personal religious views are somewhere between atheist and agnostic (or “Jewgnostic,” as the case may be), but I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who strive to follow the teachings of compassion and tolerance and sacrifice contained in most of the world’s religions. They are far more evolved than I.

But those who pore over their sacred texts looking for mirrors of their own ignorance and hate and greed? They are like trolls in a cave of gold, searching for nuggets of coal and filth, and I feel nothing but contempt for them. If I believed in Hell, I would send them straight to it.

September 24th, 2006 at 02:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Religion,Republicans,Wankers

Quick Comments On Torture

Just a few quick thoughts on the “compromise,” and the Bush administration’s love of torture in general. I suppose if my brain wasn’t taking a much-needed weekend off I could probably weave them both together into some kind of coherent narrative, but today is just not the day.

1) If I understand the “compromise” correctly, it means a prisoner can only be tortured if the president says it’s okay. That should certainly cut down on abuses, right?

2) I’m not sure how useful it is to argue that torture is not very effective at garnering usable intelligence, because that’s not really what it’s for. In reality, torture as practiced by the Bush administration has two main functions:

The first is to punish Arabs and Muslims for having the temerity to attack us, or to sympathize with those who attack us, or to look like those who attack us. It satisfies a deep-seated, atavistic desire for vengeance against the Muslim world in general.

The second is to gather politically useful intelligence. Torture is a very effective way to get someone to tell you what you want to hear (Bush must use it on his subordinates on a regular basis…). If you capture some poor schmuck off the street and torture him long enough, he will eventually admit to being a Big Scary Terrorist, and give you all kinds of juicy leads to nonexistent plots that you can crow about. And if the FBI wastes a few man-years chasing them all down the rabbit hole, well, it helps them stay crisp.

3) I would like to see the Democrats go out on a limb and say that torture, as well as warrantless wiretapping, is immoral, and should be prosecuted instead of retroactively legalized. This would be a good time to remind America that the Republicans marketed themselves as the Christian Moral Values Party, and between torture, illegal wiretaps, and rampant corruption, they haven’t exactly been living up to it. Challenge Americans to rediscover their sense of right and wrong. Remind them that Clinton stopped the Millenium Plot and put away the WTC bombers without ripping up the Constitution.

I fear that too many voters this November will say, “If the Democrats won’t take a stand on torture, what on earth will they take a stand on?”

1 comment September 23rd, 2006 at 09:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Favorites,Politics,Torture,Wankers

SayoNYara Photoblogging

Alright, time to wrap up the NYC photoblogging. This is pretty much everything I have left that’s blogworthy, plus a bonus shot from California, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Full collection of NYC photos from this trip can be found here and here.


La Jolla…


Lincoln Center. Should I be alarmed?


GAH!


What could be better than some father-son kayaking? Dad pulling his weight, maybe. Slacker.


Okay, gonna go take a break now.

September 23rd, 2006 at 04:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

Don’t Fuck With The Clenis

Ouch. You do not want to try to blindside Bill Clinton – he will HURT you:

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President?

(…)

[T]he question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. Now, I will answer all those things on the merits, but first I want to talk about the context in which this arises.

I’m being asked this on the Fox network. ABC just had a right-wing conservative run in their little Pathway to 9/11, falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 Commission report, with three things asserted against me directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report.

And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much — same people.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.

WALLACE: Right.

CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.

So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.

So you did Fox’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is…

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, sir.

CLINTON: No, wait. No, no…

WALLACE: I want to ask a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?

I want to know how many you asked, Why did you fire Dick Clarke?

I want to know how many people you asked…

WALLACE: Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday, sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you asked them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of…

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE: With Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that?

You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch’s supporting my work on climate change.

And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about — you said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7-billion-plus in three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

CLINTON: What did I do? What did I do? I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president, we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him.

Now, I’ve never criticized President Bush, and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only one-seventh as important as Iraq.

And you ask me about terror and Al Qaida with that sort of dismissive thing? When all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive, systematic way to try to protect the country against terror.

And you’ve got that little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could.

The entire military was against sending Special Forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter. And no one thought we could do it otherwise, because we could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaida was responsible while I was president.

And so, I left office. And yet, I get asked about this all the time. They had three times as much time to deal with it, and nobody ever asks them about it. I think that’s strange.

Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. He might even demolish your bogus Bush-tough-on-terror narrative. And that would be bad.

My prediction is that they air the question in full, and cut Clinton’s response to shreds to make him sound petulant and ineffectual (i.e., maybe just leaving in the parts where he talks about Wallace’s smirk, and about how he “tried” to get bin Laden and failed). Hopefully the fact that Think Progress obtained a leaked transcript will make them think twice about it, but I don’t think they’ll care – they wear their journalistic dishonesty like a badge of honor.

(hat tip to RevDeb in FDL comments)

4 comments September 22nd, 2006 at 09:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Wankers

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is from a bizarre Japanese sci-fi movie called Wicked City. I’m pretty sure it’s the live-action one and not the anime one, but I couldn’t swear to it.

Hello! How are you? You’re inside of me and welcome.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…


Most of my pictures of Gollum involve one of us rolling around on the ground. And no, I haven’t seen him since our initial encounter.

2 comments September 22nd, 2006 at 07:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Oh Dear.

Via Kyklops, some extreme weirdness from Japan:

Japan has recently claimed the world air guitar championship, but Weekly Playboy (10/2) notes that less well known is that Japan already had a world champ in another virtual sport — air sex!

Just like air guitar pits competitors prancing around on stage empty handed but acting as though they were playing a hot riff, air sex requires players to simulate sauciness as though with a partner, but actually while alone.

(…)

“You must be warned, though… air sex can be very dangerous,” Sugisaku says. “Normally what happens with a display is that you perform the same way you normally would when having sex. I’ve seen guys who put on air sex shows that clearly display they’re still virgins. I’ve also seen other guys perform such incredibly authentic fake fellatio that nobody has been left in any doubt that they could only be bisexual. Let me reiterate: Air sex can be dangerous.”

Japan’s reigning air sex world champion is a fella who goes by the name of Cobra. His theory for successful air sex is that it involves more than just blowing.

“On the day that I reached the top, the day I became world champion, I was thinking of my girlfriend. No, my ex-girlfriend. She’d just dumped me two days before the contest,” Cobra tells Weekly Playboy. “The air sex display I put on that day was, in my mind at least, supposed to be the farewell fling I really wanted to have with my girlfriend. It was the best possible condition I could have been in going into the competition.”

Cobra then proceeds to put on an 8 1/2-minute display of air sex for the weekly, with moves including ear nibbling, sphincter licking, attaching a condom while kissing, ejaculation and afterglow. Cobra says that the knack of bogus bonking lies in openness.

“You can’t care about what women watching your performance are thinking about you. When you get down to air sex, you’ve got to immerse yourself in the air sex world,” Cobra says. “Air sex can’t be performed in half-measures. If it is, you’re only asking for trouble.”

So, I have to ask… do they achieve airgasm?

4 comments September 22nd, 2006 at 12:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Puns,Weirdness

Just A Quick Thought

John McCain is Arlen Specter with panache, plus the adoration of the media.

They’ll both talk a good game about holding the administration in check, and then hand them everything they want on a silver platter under the fig leaf of “compromise.”

Lord, deliver us from false moderates.

3 comments September 21st, 2006 at 10:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: McCain,Politics,Specter,Wankers

More Thoughts On Narrative

This is perhaps getting a bit too recursive, but when Blue Gal reacted to the term “scandal fatigue” in my post yesterday talking about Swopa talking about Swopa talking about Peter Daou, it reminded me of a post from late last year, where I took exception to an earlier “scandal fatigue” formulation by Peter Daou, both in the main post and in the comments.

To recap, Daou basically said that there are so many Republican scandals that they’ve lost their impact. My rebuttal was that:

A) Prosecutors and juries don’t care about the Republican or media spin, and indictments and convictions are kinda hard for the media to not report. Plus they pretty effectively take the guilty or indicted person out of circulation for a while.

B) Each additional scandal may have less impact, but they still add to a great big honking Pile O’ Scandal, and contribute to an uneasy feeling that maybe, just maybe, the Republicans are less than honest. Of course, a lot of people will probably just shrug it off as “those damn corrupt politicians at it again” without making party distinctions. Which brings me to my final point.

Swopa was trying to come up with a narrative frame that would tie all Republican actions together, so that everything they do would reinforce that narrative, the way the Republicans frame all Democratic actions in terms of either weakness or flip-flopping/inauthenticity. Frankly, “Republicans have dangerously bad judgment” doesn’t really resonate for me, although it certainly can be applied to almost everything they do.

So I asked myself, What are the most distinctive Republican traits in the Bush Era? And I came up with Greed, Lust For Power, Contempt For The Law, and Negligence/Incompetence. Attempting to pull all of this together, my narrative recommendation is something along the lines of “Republicans are selfish. They care more about their own enrichment and power than they do about protecting this country or respecting its laws.”

It could use some fine-tuning, but I think the basic structure is sound: Republicans always put their own interests ahead of America’s. Hmm, maybe I should just stop there…

1 comment September 21st, 2006 at 08:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans

Riverside Architectural Photoblogging

More pictures, from A COMPLEX OF SHINY NEW BUILDINGS DOWN BY THE RIVER.


I don’t remember these being here. Somehow I suspect they have Trump’s name on them.


But hey, at least they have cool architectural stuff underneath.


And cool shadows.


And even sport!

2 comments September 21st, 2006 at 07:49am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

The Swopa Dope

It’s all about the narrative:

On Sunday at Needlenose, I posted the first part of a long-procrastinated long-planned series on how Democrats can turn the 2006 elections from a one-time opportunity to take advantage of disastrous Republican negligence into the start of a long-term adjustment in how the American electorate views both parties — overturning the “frames” that have increasingly straitjacketed the donkey party over the past few decades.

Citing my Labor Day post here and Peter Daou’s well-noted essay on scandal fatigue, I wrote:

If Democrats don’t find a way to hang together through a unifying narrative, they’re at much greater risk of having Karl Rove hang them all separately in November. And from the standpoint of rehabilitating the Democratic brand — and weaving a common line of argument than helps Democrats nationwide withstand the barrage of below-the-belt attack ads — the answer to Daou’s dilemma isn’t to pick one or three issues and drive them home, it’s to make all of them one issue, which is what a successful narrative can do.

. . .  consider Peter Daou’s cri de couer over NSA spying. Let’s suppose that, rather than simply hammering on the issue independent of any others, Democrats were tying it into a larger argument — saying that it was another reckless, irresponsible example of a president with dangerously bad judgment , which needed to be remedied by electing Democrats who would bring common sense back to Washington.

If that was the case, when a couple of days after Daou’s essay, VP Big Dick Cheney accidentally shoots a hunting companion, it’s not a distraction – it’s exactly the same issue, and an event that powerfully reinforces the contrast of identities that Democrats are presenting.

My point was (and is) that Democrats don’t have to change their beliefs, or cover them up, to build a stronger brand identity — all they have to do is communicate the core values that separate them from Republicans in simpler, more consistent language.

(…)

If someone is interested enough ask what our “better way” is, particularly with regard to torture and NSA spying, an added soundbite I would throw in is that the best way to defend America is to be America. The other day at Needlenose, I quoted Ron Suskind on the real front line against terrorism, which is ordinary citizens in obscure locations around the world who might get wind of a plot against the U.S. — if those random citizens react by thinking, “F—ing Americans, they deserve it” instead of “That’s terrible, I should tell the police,” America is less safe.  When our country is an example of freedom and tolerance across the world — the kind of nation that drew the world’s sympathy after September 11th — America is safer.

There’s more, and it’s all great stuff – be sure to read that Needlenose post from Sunday. This is not exactly what Swopa said, but I would really like to see Democrats focus their narrative on what an awful job Bush and the Republicans have done on national security. They have done almost nothing to improve our security, merely taken advantage of our fears to excuse tactics that are as unnecessary and counterproductive as they are illegal and evil.

Torture? Against the Geneva Conventions and Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Warrantless wiretapping? FISA allows for 72 hours to obtain a retroactive warrant, which is only an impediment to illegal wiretapping.

Gratuitous unprovoked war? Morally bankrupt, distracted from the far more relevant effort in Afghanistan (we were going to capture/kill bin Laden and create a model democratic state in Middle East there, remember?), terrorist recruiting/training bonanza.

I’m not sure exactly how to pull that into a coherent narrative, though. Saying that “Given a choice between pragmatism and evil, Republicans will always choose evil,” or “Republicans have sold out your safety and your freedom just to make themselves look tough” is probably a bit too strong…

5 comments September 20th, 2006 at 10:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans,Rove

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

SCIENCE!!!

WASHINGTON D.C. — Since the advent of the telescope, astronomers have been trying to answer the question “Are we alone in the universe?” Scientists still don’t have the answer. But Dr. Al Ternet of the Institute for Miscellaneous Technology has answered a different question.

“I’ve always asked, ‘Is our universe alone?’ Now, I have proven the existence of a polyverse, an infinite number of universes, each with a slightly different version of Earth.”

To make the concept easy to understand, Dr. Ternet described all existence as a roulette wheel, with each number being a different universe. “If you were a ball, you’d see a different reality every time the wheel was spun. I’ve managed to become that ball.

“I’ve created a device I call the Multi-Dimensional Revealer (MDR). Using a combination of sound and light at high frequencies, directed through a prism at certain intervals, I can open a small hole into the dimension that sits right beside our own on the universal roulette wheel.”

We asked Dr. Ternet for a demonstration.

“You will be forced to change preconceived ideas about people and events,” he warned.

We watched, astounded, as Dr. Ternet carefully chose latitudes and longitudes on the neighboring Earth — called Earth B — and showed us shocking sights:

o Bill Clinton was a celibate priest.
o George Bush was a college professor.
o A balding Donald Trump worked as a cashier in a pet shop.
o Paris Hilton ran a soup kitchen in the Third World.
o Britney Spears was a singer.

Among some of the political and cultural differences we saw on Earth B:

o The new Star Wars movie was good.
o Marijuana was legal but coffee was not.
o Iraq was our 51st state.
o Mexico possessed weapons of mass destruction.
o Weekly World News was on every library shelf and quoted on evening news programs.

Stunned by the demonstration, we asked Dr. Ternet how civilization will benefit from his invention.

“Civilization?” he said. “I intend to find an Earth where geniuses are considered sexier than rock stars and athletes. Then I’m going to live there.”

Heh heh heh. “Dr. Al Ternet.” God, I love these people.

2 comments September 20th, 2006 at 07:45am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Ahhrrr!!!

Yo ho ho and a bottle of Dr Pepper, ’tis Talk Like A Pirate Day, me hearties, and me salty blog be the first place to look for scurvy lubbers! ‘Twas a frustrating day for a photo pirate, as the skies be bonnie, but the camera be back in port. D’yahhrrr.Here be some saucy pirate videos to ease the pain:

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1 comment September 19th, 2006 at 08:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

More Riverside Photoblogging

More blogging from A PROMENADE DOWN BY THE RIVER! Probably not the last of them, since this was where most of my best NYC shots came from.


It’s a Lone Duck! By the docks!


A different Lone Duck shakes its head at me.


I think this was some kind of floating walkway, but I’m not really sure what purpose it served, what with being right next to an actual walkway…


Practice makes perfect.

2 comments September 19th, 2006 at 07:53am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

Monday Media Blogging, Part II – Quiz Show Edition

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Quizzlestick

+

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Feelyat!

=

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That’s Numberwang!

Well, more or less.

(Hat tip to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. for all three)

September 18th, 2006 at 09:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Monday Media Blogging

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