30 November 2006

Excuse Yourself or Recuse Yourself (BR)
Scalia reveals a little too much information in court

I seem to be in a minority of lumpen-liberals who always enjoys Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's brusque courtroom manner and often agrees with his rigid constructionalist approach to the U.S. Constitution. He's an affable, witty guy on top of being a brilliant scholar and jurist, despite his personal politics. In participating in the Court's first foray into U.S. law as it pertains to global warming policy, however, Scalia stepped over the line of judicial propriety he so frequently teases and taunts by stating his total lack of interest in the subject matter:
[Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General James R.] Milkey faced skeptical questioning from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the court's newest members, but the most sustained -- and entertaining -- interrogation came from Scalia.

At one point, he acknowledged the role of carbon dioxide as a pollutant in the air but wondered about it being a pollutant in the "stratosphere."

"Respectfully, Your Honor, it is not the stratosphere. It's the troposphere," Milkey said.

"Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I'm not a scientist," Scalia said to laughter. "That's why I don't want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth."
-- Washington Post
Scalia is well within his rights to display overt skepticism about an argument and even to ridicule petitioners before the bench, enjoying as he does the unparalleled job security of being a Justice, but I would respectfully assert that he is in such a position because he has demonstrated an ability to judge fairly and base his judgments on a meticulously-researched and thorough knowledge on the legal history of the subject at hand, regardless of whether or not he's interested.

Few people know how a case appears before the Supreme Court. Thousands of people petition the court each year, and the Justices, in closed-door sessions, review each one and vote on whether to consider it, and Justice Scalia took part in just such a meeting for this case, evidently voting "Nay." His opinion on the merit of the subject matter having been established and defeated, it is now his call on whether to sit and hear the case or recuse himself based on a failure to see global warming as a Constitutional issue. It is not his privilege to hang out at the most powerful court in the land and cop a "Whatever" attitude more befitting a high-school senior in a late-May pre-calculus class than a Supreme Court Justice.

We feel that Justice Scalia, having evinced an obvious contempt for carrying out the charge of the body which he serves -- in this case, anyway -- should either apologize or recuse himself from hearing the case.

29 November 2006

"Not like I cared anyway ..." (BR)
Bush: I was just trying to be nice!

Just how compassionate can a conservative get? Our Dear Leader settled the question in an exchange with Senator-elect and former Navy Secretary Jim Webb (D-Va.), whose son is fighting in Iraq, reported in The Hill:
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.
Webb said he successfully fought the urge to bitchslap the President, which is probably more restraint than most military fathers would have exercised, having been sassed at by a half-wit chickenhawk boob like Dubya.

28 November 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do (BR)
Our bad example bites back, kills thousands

It appears our president might have more admirers in the world community than one would surmise based on a casual glance around the globe.

Unfortunately, one among them is the chief executive of Sudan, military dictator Omar al-Bashir. Though unilateral military action, haughty derision of the United Nations and denial of the popularly-accepted scale of violence in military conflicts has netted George W. Bush huge props from American conservatives, for some reason the same crowd isn't all that crazy about the same attitude from a Muslim autocrat. Weird, I know.

NPR reports that al-Bashir held a "rare video conference" with the world press yesterday, the aim of which being to play down the severity of the situation in Sudan's Darfur region, which the United States, the U.N. and several other bodies have labeled as genocide. The Sudanese leader, who clearly takes exhaustive notes while watching FOX News, accused the press of hyping Darfur in order to turn public opinion against his nation, thus serving U.S. foreign policy and business goals in the region. Al-Bashir's translator expressed the President's frustration at the lack of a direct Arabic equivalent of "liberal media."

Bush knows he must step lightly in dealing with al-Bashir, whose undemocratic and generally mercliless regime is a nominal ally in the war on terror. Meanwhile the people of Darfur who aren't fortunate enough to be hacked to pieces by machete-wielding militiamen slowly starve to death. What's that saying? Something about reaping and sowing?

22 November 2006

Brow Beat the Big Boxes.... From the Right? (CS)

Wal-Mart gets it from all ends these days. Now even conservatives are protesting the mega-chain.

There are certain elements of this that disturbed me.

For one thing, the motivation of the American Family Association here is that by becoming affiliated with organizations that promote gay rights and equality in the workplace, Wal-Mart is betraying "traditions, which have included efforts to weed out magazines with racy covers and CDs with explicit lyrics." This sort of connection is the result of one of the many myths/lies that the Right propagates*, this one in particular being "Homosexuality equates to rampant, uncontrolled, and lewd expression of sexuality." I just wonder what it would take to prove to these people that this isn't the case. I realize that in this case logic is almost guaranteed to fall on deaf ears, but still... I just wonder.

Also, (and this is mentioned in the article in where they mention the efforts of WakeUpWalMart.com) Wal-Mart seems eager to improve its image by becoming better employers in regards to gays and lesbians (and would i be naive to assume the trans-gendered?). And yet, I'm sure you'll see no efforts on their part to be better employers in regards to paying a better wage or providing benefits or tolerating unions.

I'd also like to add that it amuses me to watch people go on anti-Wal-Mart tirades, yet find themselves perfectly comfortable with Target. I don't know enough to say that one is worse than the other, though there is evidence out there that " When it comes to wages, working conditions and effect on communities, the two big box stores are eerily similar." I just don't see why, for the most part, Target isn't held to the same scrutiny for providing a proper workplace (and considering its impact on a community) that Wal-Mart is.

*For other propagated bullshit from the Right see, "Saddam was in cahoots with Al Qaeda" or "Liberals want us to lose the war"

13 November 2006

Rush To The Bottom (CS)

Some of you out there may have noticed that I have a habit of picking on Rush Limbaugh. I'm used to constantly hearing his arguments from my grandmother and I'm used to constantly shooting them down. After watching this pattern for years, my sister has been beggging me for some time now to start up a regular feature on the blog where I do so.
Rather than bog The ol' Snapp down with a constant barage of Rush criticism (we're more about the hustle and flow up in here) I thought I'd just start a side-project where I could take the fat gasbag to task. And so, I proudly debut Rush To The Bottom: For All Your Anti-Rush Limbaugh Needs.
Feel free to shoot me an e-mail with suggestions or anything of the sort.
You may now go back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Where our chosen peeps at? (BR)

We don't normally link to other blog posts because we think we're smarter than everyone else, but The New Liberator posted an open letter to American Jews, which frankly and bravely poses questions and proffers answers treated as radioactive by nearly all the media, including the 'sphere.
... I am appalled with what the State of Israel has become domestically, and with what it does beyond its legal borders. I am especially concerned with the hammer-lock grip Israel has on American politics through the Jewish lobbies like AIPAC and the Anti Defamation League. I am appalled that my American Jewish friends uncritically support these lobbies in monolithic fashion, while Jews in Israel openly debate a wide variety of public positions. ...
The whole post is located here. Show some love.

Life of the Party, 2.0 (BR)
Lampshade, your head sold separately

Those of you holding your respective breath waiting for cures for cancer and AIDS may want to exhale. So long as there's money in capturing the imaginations and disposable income of stoned twentysomethings, sick people will have to wait for a more altruistic scientific environment:
Australian scientists have created a T-shirt ... [with] motion sensors built into its elbows that pick up movements and relay them wirelessly to a computer which interprets them as guitar riffs.
-- BBC News
Oh hell yeah! Imagine the practical applications: Well, actually, there aren't any. It would appear that the scientific community is now chiefly in the business of making amusing-cum-annoying novelty items. Still, we're all a-bubble about the possibilities for mischief and hijinks.
"It's an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music-making - even by players without significant musical or computing skills," said the research team leader, Richard Helmer.

"It allows you to jump around and the sound generated is just like an original mp3."
Who hasn't yearned to break up their regular Tuesday morning board meeting with the unmistakable opening strains of "For Those About To Rock"? At church, you could let your deacon know he's going a bit long with his sermon by busting out an "Ave Maria/Crazy Train" medley.

I'm finding myself wishing I were back in school now, now that I think of the situational uses for "Under Pressure" and "Hot For Teacher" and the gut-laughing and floor-rolling which would undoubtedly result.

But clever and referential musical cues aren't even the best part:
By customising the software, the team has also tailored the technology to make an air tambourine and a percussion instrument called an air guiro.
WE are through the looking-glass here. We are talking about a no-holds-barred honest-to-Gee AIR-INSTRUMENT T-SHIRT BAND here. Maybe even an orchestra. You and your friends could be a compact and self-contained rock n' roll apparel assault team. You could stage your own impromptu productions of West Side Story.

And if you're sick of being so damn popular, I reckon the shir-tar -- marketers please contact Whippersnapp regarding naming rights -- is the perfect way to rid yourself of sycophantic hangers-on.

10 November 2006

Waiting On Royalties.... (CS)

It's been called to my attention, after making a comparison between the state of our country and the state of the New York Knicks that The Onion, a couple months ago, did the same thing.

LET THE RECORD SHOW that my ORIGINAL POST comparing the incompetence of our "fearless leader" and the similar incompetence of ol' Zeke was wayyyyy back in February.

Good thing i like those Onion guys, or they'd be feeling my wrath. Plus they probably pulled it off with a bit more artfulness than I did.....

We Salute You
Here's to the bravest people on the planet

This weekend we'd be remiss if we didn't express what we're sure is a common admiration and awe of our U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard veterans, who have protected and served we Americans nobly and unflinchingly in the face of overwhelming danger, regardless of the legitimacy or inanity of their appointed mission.

We could never repay you for the job you've done and continue to do. We both have family who have served or continue to serve the country and much of the country has or does as well. It is a beautiful thing, in its own way, not that we must have these protectors in a world that does not "play nice" but that these protectors in fact exist. Our greatest language of courage and heroism comes from the battlefield, and rightly so.

"Non sibi sed patriae"
"Semper fi"
"Un ab alto"
"This We'll Defend"

Oh, and not to play favorites, but Happy Birthday USMC.

Stand down, Capt. Picard (BR)
James Carville, loser from Louisiana, messes with success

Exotic animal and alleged Democratic strategerist James Carville took a few minutes away from buffing his scalp to air the murmurs shared by his disgruntled compatriots in the party.

"But, but Brendan," you might stammer in my direction, "Democrats are coming off what can only be described as a triumph! They took back the House and Senate, and won and ran competitively in places they've avoided for years! This election was an unqualified success!" To which I would respond, "Yes, precisely why Carville and company are furious."

First, a little history: Carville, Bob Shrum, Harold Ickes and other pillars of the neoliberal Clintonian legacy undoubtedly wake up every morning and believe in their heart of hearts that it's still November 4, 1992, and America has just elected its first gin-yoo-wine hillbilly Chief Executive, thanks in no small part to their cunning and genius.

All success in the Carville/New Democrat story ends there. The Republican Revolution which claimed Congress in the 1994 midterm elections owed much to Carville's hubris, and the Democratic Party had been playing defense, with little success, right up until this last Tuesday.

My own withering opinion of the man notwithstanding, he's now floating test balloons about ousting DNC Chairman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, alleging that the Dr.'s "stubborn" insistence on building state and local parties in the southern and midwestern states more or less ignored by Democrats for the last 40 years, diverted resources away from winnable Congressional races and thus prevented a total landslide victory.

It's worth noting that the 50-State Strategy, Dean's brainchild, almost certainly provided the margins of victory for several Democrat candidates in conservative districts, like Kansas' Nancy Boyda and Indiana's Baron Hill. Of course not all credit is due Dean; Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Charles Schumer and the candidates themselves obviously performed well.

The rule is that you clean house after a loss. Howard Dean shook off the embarrassing denouement of his insurgent 2004 Presidential campaign to win the party's national committee chairmanship in a landslide. Two years later, the Democratic Party stands proud and victorious atop a pile of vanquished Republican villians, and what's Carville's big idea?
"Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise?"
Harold Ford? Are you nuts, James? Did your wife find your private stash of letterhead and send out a press release? Ford ran a fine campaign and in most states would likely have pulled out an upset victory, but you want to replace an undeniable success like Dean with the one guy who lost on Tuesday?

But if you think about it a moment, it makes perfect sense. Carville and his cohorts have dropped the ball in every election in which they've participated since Clinton's ascension to power. He thinks the party rewards success and punishes failure and he's been right. Now Democrats are winning, other people are getting the kudos, and he doesn't understand why.

This cueball-looking freak represents a strain of liberalism that even liberals are completely sick of. And we need to disinvite him from the party. Even Republicans have to admit that Dean did a bang-up job turning out volume of small donations from individual voters, which is surely the way of the future for an allegedly "people-powered" party looking to legislatively curb corporate influence on government.

UPDATE: Digby says, "My sentiments, exactly."

09 November 2006

The Midterm Elections of 2006: Does This Mean There's Hope For The New York Knickerbockers? (CS)

So it's been a good week for those opposed to the faulty Republican leadership. We desired change and we got it. If only it were true in all realms where we desire progress..... There is still a blight that spends frivolously and makes boneheaded policy decisions. There is still an establishment figure who will continue to do damage to our beloved institution until it is in a state of almost irredeemable disrepair. And I speak, of course, of Isiah Thomas.

I've made the comparison before and I'll do it again. His years on the Pistons aside, Isiah Thomas is the George W. Bush of basketball. Just when you thought he couldn't possibly do any more in the way of destruction to one of the marquee franchises in basketball (much less all of sports) he manages to find a way. Here I defer to the closest I have to a Keith Olbermann in this analogy, The Sportsguy:
Will there ever be a more inexplicable move than the Knicks spending $30 million on the insanely mediocre Jared Jeffries (really $60 million since they have to pay double for the luxury tax), than allowing the Spurs to steal Jackie Butler (a legitimate sleeper at center) away for $7 million because they were worried about the luxury tax ramifications? What about the illogical Jalen Rose buyout, whose $16.9 million salary could have been used for a deadline deal in a few months? ...I maintained from Day 1 that Isiah would be an unequivocal disaster in New York, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine he could cost the Knicks hundreds of millions of dollars. That's not a misprint. He has cost the Knicks hundreds of millions of dollars.
And this is to not even start on the dealing away of draft picks, the addition of out of shape players, and the installment a coach who has proven to underachieve (himself).
Of course there are differences between the political world and my sports loyalty dilemma. A major one I'll remark on here is that while the Republican accusation that liberals WANT America to lose in Iraq is obviously absurd, it might actually apply in this case. Things have gotten so bad that Knicks fans actually DO want their team to lose. From the Sportsguy's most recent NBA article:

Josh in Brooklyn, N.Y.: "For the first time in my life I'm completely rooting against my own team. Every foul, every TO, it all makes me happy. Even when the Jets were in the Bush sweepstakes last year I wanted them to play well. Now I want the Knicks to look as bad as possible. Blow leads. Play sloppy. Quit on the coach. I just want this fool out of town. I never thought this could happen."

Why does this happen? A big part of it is because we can't just vote out Isaiah Thomas. Or veto his contract decisions. Or now what will be his day to day decisions as head coach. The only way to affect change is for ticket buyers (especially season ticket holders) to vote with their wallets. If the Knicks owners haven't caught on yet that Thomas is having a monumentally adverse effect on the team by now (and really, they must be blind, completely uninterested in basketball, or morons to let things get this far), then the only option left is to hope for truly abysmal seasons to drive even more business away until the owners finally see their bottom line falling into the red.

The recent election results (and the continuing fallout, such as the situations with Rumsfeld and Bolton) are probably the closest we are going to get to a coup in this country (I hope). It gives me hope that radical change is possible and that even when things seem terribly dire, there is still hope to be had. The alternative is being like a Philadelphia sports fan and I wouldn't wish that sort of depression on anyone.

Whether it's in regards to this country or the Knicks, the damage has been done and it will realistically take some considerable time to recoup our losses and move forward into a brighter future. Of course, as far as the Knicks go at least, we still have to run the bums out.

08 November 2006

Well, that didn't take long (BR)
New York Democrats rediscover the joy of cannibalism

Someone had to be the first to note a dark lining in last night's silver cloud, and Jerome Armstrong at MyDD, a blog I frequent frequently, stepped up to the plate, airing rather legitimate beefs with Spitzer and other top-of-the-ticket New York Democrats' failure to share their respective campaign largesses with progessives running for state offices.

Quoth the Voice:
It struck some Democrats as odd that in such a Democratic year, with top Dems like Eliot Spitzer cruising to victory with money to spare (In their final pre-primary reports, Spitzer/Paterson had about $8 million in the bank, Alan Hevesi $4 million), that more wasn't done to unseat the Republicans in the city.
Yeah, true that. Especially in a year where the Democrats look poised to take hold of a majority of state legislatures, that the New York State Senate remained Republican, despite Spitzer and Hillary winning supermajorities and even admitted felon Hevesi somehow reelected to State Comptroller.

What I don't get is this:
I think all the '12 chatter about Spitzer just got flushed.
I'm sorry, were people already speculating about New York's governor-elect running for president -- in 2012? I didn't vote for Spitzer, but I really don't understand placing the blame for sluggish Dem performances in state races on his shoulders. Armstrong notes Spitzer had $8 million in his war chest for a race he ultimately won by 40 points.

But in the next sentence he has Hevesi with $4 million on hand, and in an election where an alliterative slogan -- that's "culture of corruption," for you just tuning in -- drew more people to vote for Democrats than even the Iraq war, perhaps the state party's failure to strongarm Hevesi out of his extra cash is the real schander, as my bagel-eating brethren might put it.

A visual tribute to departing Republicans

Happy trails, to you ... until we meet again ...

Happy trails, to you ... keep smiling until then ...

Who cares about the clouds when we're toge-ther?

Just sing a song and bring the sunny wea-ther ...

Happy traaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaails, to you ...

Til we meeeeeeet aaaaaaaaa-gain.

WE did it (CS)

It's a good day. Talent (and the lack thereof) recognized.

Here is a video both celebratory and democratic (honestly, I was just dying for an excuse to post something about the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, but can you blame me?)

Good morning, America, how are ya?

It's never been a more beautiful rainy Wednesday morning in November.

Just want to share this nugget, posted conspicuously -- and, to their credit, not retroactively censored -- from RedState.com: I Concede Nothing: We're Not Losing A Single Seat. Period.







07 November 2006

You deserve a break today.

Unlike everyone else writing his and her last-minute "this is it" posts today, I am going to make a point of not talking about the election on Election Day. No disrespect meant to y'all who are bloggin' it, I'm gonna read them anyway and I'm sure they'll be eloquent and lovely.

But today I'm going to shut my mouth, go into the voting booth, do my business and leave in a hope that others will follow my example. All my local races are totally sealed anyway -- Spitzer and Hillary are locks, and I'm going to abstain from selecting a comptroller rather than vote for the Republican to spite the scumbag embezzler Alan Hevesi -- and from here on out, let it be simply known that I'm hoping my guys win so we can begin talking about policy Wednesday afternoon once our victory hangovers have subsided. I have got electoral politicking fatigue out the ass.

So for those who'll be all feverish today we thought we might offer you all a respite from the madness with what we believe is a highly amusing and intellectually challenging survey. I'm all over the place with the subject matter so please exercise your creator-given right to not answer a question if you don't know what the hell we're talking about.

Do us a favor and send this around to anyone you think has earned it. If you'd like, send your answers to Brendan or Craig (contact information on the sidebar) and we'll put the cleverest and most heartwarming answers next to our own. Our answers will then proceed to assault and devour yours. No refunds or returns.

And now...

The First Annual Whippersnapp Take Your Mind Off Election Day Survey!

Name an elected official currently in office whom you admire.

Give the year of your birth and name your favorite President in your lifetime.

Are you a Democrat or one of those miserable, crap-eating Republicans?

Of Nietzsche, Marx and Freud, who would you most want to dine with?

Of Alex Rodriguez, Isaiah Thomas and Terrell Owens, who would you most want to beat with a claw hammer?

Is Ann Coulter for real? I mean, seriously.

Name your favorite and least favorite ethnic/national cuisine.

When did you start beating your wife?

Do you get Jackson Pollack?

Fuck, marry, or throw off a cliff: Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Nancy Pelosi?

F M or ToaC: Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn?

Country whose name ends in "-stan" you're least frightened to visit?

You're Morgan Spurlock for a day and your mission is to come up with something to do morning, noon and night for 30 days that's gross and really gimmicky but probably non-life-threatening. Go.

Of The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park, which once-great cartoon sitcom is in a more embarrassing state of decline?

Did you watch the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, and/or the World Series this year?

How boring was this year's World Series?

Who's your sleeper pick for Congress this year?

Are we hot, or not, or what?

Good work, all of you who've spent the last couple years blogging and campaigning. Go Blue!

06 November 2006

Why America Will Kick the Republicans' Asses (BR)

First, there's the obvious. Iraq. Katrina. Warrantless Wiretapping. The Patriot Act. "You go to war with the army you have." Public Enemy #1 still at large. Automatic "cost-of-living" salary increases in Congress. Stagnant minimum wages for the rest of us. Enron. The "Sixteen Words" and Valerie Plame. Trillions in debt.

But all that is boring. America will dispatch the Grand Ol' Party from their leadership posts in the House -- and possibly the Senate -- for reasons that are more related to aesthetics and therefore harder to pin down. You just get a sinking feeling of ickyness whenever you're forced to watch George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Denny Hastert or any of these creeps attempt flailingly to defend their indefensible actions and statements.

Here are five reasons among hundreds why the Republican Party has worn out its welcome in the heart of the American voter:

1) The only way they can win elections is by turning Americans into snivelling crybaby pussies: And no one wants to be a crybaby pussy. Let's face it, if you have a deep-seated fear, some moderate misgivings, or even mild trepidation about running errands and going about your business because of terrorism, you need to get a grip. New Yorkers and Washingtonians have managed to deal with the real but minor likelihood that something bad might happen on their commute. The great majority of us are not cowed into hermitude. If you live in Cedar Rapids or Wichita or Idaho Falls you have every right to be concerned about national security but no excuse to be afraid.

The Republicans built their post-9/11 majority by completely infantilizing the electorate, convincing them there was a mortal threat around every corner, and that the Democrats, who questioned the wisdom of commencing a pre-emptive strike on Iraq or ceding the Congress' constitutional power to make war to the President, were mollycoddling the terrorists and playing fast and loose with American lives with their fancypants intellectualizing. People who understand the history of America, and what it means to be an American, know that our greatness has been the result of our commitment to justice, not fear.

2) They provide aid and comfort to pimps and predators: At least until they're caught. Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) knew about his colleague Mark Foley's predilection for the teenaged boys working under him (heh) and encouraged him to run anyway, figuring presciently that the GOP would need all the safe incumbent-held seats they had. Which brings us to ...

3) The sex thing: How come Republican officials can have gay friends but voters can't? Some of the most virulently anti-gay Republicans on the Hill, it turns out, have openly gay staffers who put together their churlish and bigoted press packages as red meat for their base. Maybe it's all a big joke to these log-cabinners, but their contributions to the ugly double-standard which is perenially being pushed as legislation damn them just as well as the conservative voters who actually support the stuff.

What's more, with each "pro-family" politician and activist exposed as a closet homosexual, meth-head or pedophile, as it were, the conclusion becomes undeniable that all the social conservatives are an insular cabal who all know full well of the deviance of certain members in their rank, and tolerate it to the extent that it is politically expedient for the party. The tragic part of all this is the impression it leaves on our collective consciousness: That all who claim to be for family values -- whatever those are -- are using it as a front so that they may diddle boys or smoke crack away from prying eyes.

Republicans, just like everyone else, love to get freaky every now and again. Unfortunately, like many people, they also feel bad for having those sort of impulses, and project their freakiness onto the world at-large, then try to ban their own behavior as some weird gesture of atonement. That's why the right-wing attempt to change the subject from Foley to Barney Frank and Gerry Studds held no water: Frank and Studds weren't out there trying to protect people from gayness while having gay sex.

4) Sloganeering: There are dozens ("Cut and run," "Stay the course," etc.) but probably my least favorite is "Fight 'em there so we don't have to fight 'em here." There are two things wrong with that concept: the first part and the second part. If you feel more safe and secure in your home in America knowing that we're occupying a country that never posed a threat to us and is a haven for terrorism now that we're there ... well, by all means vote Republican. If you'd like to give it a second of thought, however, you'll realize that we were attacked "here" by people who lived, worked and planned "here," and so therefore "here," where "they" might be hiding out and plotting another attack is probably the wiser place to fight them, as opposed to "there," where "they" aren't. Arguing with Bush logic, you're necessarily drawn into an Abbott and Costello sort of routine, and as public sentiment against the war mounts, people are getting sick of hearing their questions dismissed or redirected to another topic.

5) They're liars and hypocrites and don't even care that you know it: White House Press Secretary Tony Snow put on his best outraged face in reaction to John Kerry's faux pas about the troops and their intellect relative to overachieving college students. Then over the weekend, four military papers -- not Stars & Stripes, granted, but they still know their audience -- jointly printed an editorial calling for Rumsfeld's ouster. Rumsfeld, who looks increasingly overwhelmed and out of his element with each successive press appearance, has with shocking frequency demeaned and derided and passed his rightful buck onto the American fighting forces, from generals to the grunts on the ground. Snow, incidentally, called the editorial "shabby." There's nothing like consistency.

So this is it. Our best guess is that America is sick enough of being moralized to by the guys and gals who unrepentantly caucus with thieves (Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney), con artists (Tom DeLay), hate merchants (Marilyn Musgrave), unabashed dolts (our Dear Leader) and power-hungry madmen (Dick Cheney).

I'm calling a 30-seat pickup for the Democrats in the House and five seats in the Senate and hoping I'm misunderestimating my party. Happy voting, everyone!

05 November 2006

When Insulting The Troops Actually MEANS Something (CS)
An Open Letter To My Grandma

My grandmother is the most Conservative person I know, associate with, and talk to on a regular basis. I mean Conservative in that "ardently loyal to the cause, whatever the hell that might be" since she listens to Rush every day, loves FOXNews, and thinks I'm a Communist just by virtue of having gone to NYU (but she still loves me all the same, yay for grandmas). I can't begrudge her for it (she's my grandma for chrissakes!) and she has been, in fact, a useful voice in getting me to explore and consider exactly why I disagree with her.
We communicate by e-mail a lot (she's fairly tech savvy for your average member of "The Greatest Generation") and recently after the John Kerry gaffe she shot this one at me:

"Hi darling grandson,

I see one of your "idols" stepped in a big doodoo.

Still love you,

Of course I pointed out the mistake she (and the Right in general) made that John Kerry is ANYONE'S idol, particularly on the Left where he was fairly unwelcome since 2004 and certainly a pariah now. Of course I pointed out that Bush and his administration have made similar, yet less persecuted comments (ex: referring to the war as a "comma"). But thanks to recent developments, the bulk of my e-mail read like this:

I'm sure you've heard (or maybe you haven't if you're stuck in the cloistered miasma that is the FOXNews/WCBS cycle) that several military journals (from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) have all called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. The article they are circulating is insightful and opinionated. Circulated by troops and for troops, the article points out Rumsfeld's strategy (or the lack thereof) and stubborness (as well as the President's stubborness to keep sticking by Rumsfeld) as idiotic, harmful, and unproductive.

How does the president respond? By "shrugging off" the editorial and calling it "shabby."

NOW who is insulting the troops? What's more, it is an insult that is tangible. An insult that is costing them their lives. An insult that is hurting the country and the world.

John Kerry's statement, while idiotic, was not and will not be a factor in loss of lives and loss of stability in the world. John Kerry's statement can easily be augmented to be understood and true and not foolish. Here's a simple retooling:
If you study hard and do your work and stay in school, you can accomplish great things. If not, you can be a closed off, moronic, stubborn and unrealistic person.... and become President.

John Kerry may be an idiot. But it is our President, also an idiot, who is seeing to death and destruction without any progress, without care for reality, without care for the public or the people he claims to serve. Don't you feel insulted?

03 November 2006

Looky here! Readership!

Something incredible has happened at Whippersnapp this week: The regular addition of content and attention paid by scores of new funny, insightful and friendly readers/fellow bloggers.

Thanks so much for your time and linkage, we promise to continue to justify the time you spend dawdling in our little corner of the internets. Anyone who has a recommendation or would like to contribute a guest column, please contact either Brendan or Craig and we'll get right on it. Also, if you'd like some love on the blogroll, it's as simple as asking. Seriously.

Wishing you a safe and joyous weekend,

Our own private Idaho (BR)
Good morning; holy crap!

Reported today on Political Wire:
Despite it’s [sic] deep-red nature, Democrats are slightly ahead in Idaho’s gubernatorial and 1st congressional district race[.]
Of course, at least in the ID-1 congressional race, it doesn't hurt that Republican candidate Bill Sali was once described thusly by fellow GOPer and Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives Bruce Newcombe:
"That idiot is just an idiot. He doesn’t have one ounce of empathy in his whole fricking body. And you can put that in the paper."
(Thanks to Left in the West)
You can help Larry Grant, the Democrat, live the seemingly improbable dream and carve out a blue niche in Idaho at MyDD's ActBlue. I already have.

02 November 2006

Will someone PLEASE help America vote? (BR)
Beware the Ides of November

"I can do it in 18 seconds," says Watt. "I can train you to do it in 3 minutes. Just push the yellow button, wait 3 seconds and it chimes. Push the yellow button again, wait 3 seconds and it chimes again. Then it's all on the screen prompts. You're asked 'Do you want to enter manual mode?' and you push 'Yes'...And then you're on your way."

HuffPo: Brad Friedman

The man quoted above, Ron Watt, is describing the simple-as-pie method of hacking into an ostensibly secure piece of public-use machinery and manipulating it for selfish gain. Armed with no more information than that one paragraph, I know he is talking about electronic voting machines and not an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

How, you ask?

Because if there were a way to hack an ATM in three minutes there'd be riots. Complete chaos. Public hangings of bank executives and computer programmers would become routine. And lo, in the very next paragraph, my clairvoyant talent is confirmed:
"You can then vote as many times as you want. You won't ever have to stop until someone physically restrains you from voting," he explained.

We have reason to be suspicious -- but not to believe, mind you, they've covered their trails pretty well -- that the results of the last two general elections were manipulated by the nominal victors. After the 2000 election fiasco, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and, no, the law did not mandate free transport for the elderly or disabled to and from polling places.

What it did, rather, was make available billions of dollars in taxpayer money to be spent by federal and state governments on sleek and shiny new electronic voting machines. The bulk of the business went to Diebold Election Systems, a subsidiary of Green, Ohio-based Diebold. (Aside: Please visit Diebold's homepage and tell me the guy staring at you and lolling his head and smirking isn't among the creepiest things you've ever seen.)

Anyway, these ultramodern updates to the lunky old dinosaur called democracy weren't all gravy, you see. The first wave of Diebold voting machines to be shipped out to the states were touch-screen models, which gave the voter absolutely no printed record of who they actually voted for, rendering a paper audit impossible.

Even this lack of basic functionality could be chalked up to boneheadedness, if not for a series of internal Diebold communications intercepted and leaked by the activist groups Why War? and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons in 2003. The substance of the memos reveals the company deliberately instructing its employees to deny any and all problems with the machines, "even when their failings become obvious." And when legislators in Maryland started getting all uppity, demanding new machines that printed receipts, one Diebold official remarked "As a business, I hope we're smart enough to charge them up the wazoo [for this feature]".

And all this is not to mention the hundreds of amateur and professional programmers who have come forward, independently, to demonstrate the ease of tampering with machines from Diebold and Sequoia, instances of voting machines being left overnight in the cars and garages of poll workers in California and Arizona, Floridians already complaining that their early votes this year for Democrats are being counted for Republicans, or Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell's 2003 message to shareholders affirming his commitment to "helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." Old Wally sure turned out to be a man of his word, too.

This isn't to pick on Diebold (though Jesus Christ is that website fella disturbing) or even the idea of electronic voting in general. If the electronic and computerized implements that we rely on every day -- trains, cars, cellphones, Treos, etc. -- were as insecure and prone to malfunction as these newfangled election devices, we'd be up in arms. We'd throw the non-working crap in the trash and press charges against their manufacturer. Maybe even question our way of life that demands we lean so heavily on technology that is so undependable and subject to tampering.

They obviously can make these things reliable. That they don't, and that people continue to lose confidence in the idea that their votes will be counted, and also that you never read about these machines taking Republican votes and counting them for Democrats, makes it hard to draw any conclusion other than the type that Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt would call "tinfoil hat conspiracy nonsense."

Not to be shrill or nothin, but... (BR)

Serves you right, you fucking bitch.

"[Horseface Killah] Ann Coulter is being investigated for possibly voting in the wrong precinct last February."

from tampabays10.com

We see a career change in your future ...
... as Kathy Griffin's stunt double.

Conflict of Ethics (or the lack thereof) (CS)

We Smell A Rat

Polls will show that at least half of Americans think Congress is corrupt. This could perhaps be chalked up to paranoia towards authority figures, common for people who feel like they're in a crappy situation and getting screwed (just look at the widespread notion from blue collar workers that their Unions are corrupt but a necessary evil).

But a simple perusal of headlines shows that American concern over corruption is well founded in fact. Most recently there has been the scandal concerning Rep. Foley and Speaker Hastert. Rep. Bob Ney is just one of many probably connected to Jack Abramoff. Rep. William Jefferson can't seem to properly explain all that money found in his freezer (more reliable than a bank?). And of course there's those pesky issues of lobbyists, pork and the lack of transparency regarding the use of government funds.

Tom DeLay is probably my favorite (in that "Wow, he is a twisted jerk that needs to disappear" sort of way) character of the bunch of Congressmen with questionable (at best) tactics and impending investigations. He's notorious for his gerrymandering schemes to keep him in office and faces money laundering charges and yet keeps that dumbass smile on his face and high hopes of retaining power and status. He absolutely inspired me with this choice soundbite today:

"I haven't had no ethical problems."

In Latin, the use of a double negative was a tricky way to create an emphatic positive. While I don't think Mr. DeLay meant it, I think when taken that way he's gone and betrayed himself. Funny how a self betrayal would be through stating the truth. But that's just the state that our Government is in.

A Peculiar Failure of Our Founding Fathers

It's an awfully strange and sad time when even a portion of the electorate puts more trust in the military, Supreme Court and even the United Nations before the President or Congress.... But what are we to do?

When crafting the particular design of our government, the Founding Fathers kept in mind, in many aspects, the corrupting nature of power. The Constitution and the government it provides is especially beautiful in its various systems of checks and balances. There was a recognition that a balance of power and competing ideas are essential to keep one person or group from gaining too much sway. But for all their foresight into creating a system that checks itself, they could not see or could not find a way to have a proper policing of the Legislative branch itself.

Ethical reform in the Legislative branch runs into a bit of a Catch-22 as any sort of legislation that would regulate the House and Senate needs to be passed by, you guessed it, the House and Senate. It's entirely within their power to go ahead and create a system of accountability and ethical enforcement... Theoretically. But our Senators and Representatives will never feel the need to do just that as long as they have their precious Ethics Committees. Of course, this is where that tricky issue of Conflict of Interest comes in and if their level of self interest can be assumed from their uncanny ability to ALWAYS vote themselves a pay raise, things don't look good. It's all enough to give you some wicked constipation.

I hate to just "cut and run" on an article like this with a hopeless outlook towards the future... So here's a bit of what I think about the direction we should head toward:

If Congress and the United States Government can't police itself, it is up to the people to do so. I do not think our government needs serious, seasoned ethicists outside the apparatus itself to police it if the people themselves can simply be more vigilant as to these issues and there are indications that we can do so. As much as corrupt people and practices within the halls of government are a detriment to the country as a whole, people should be aware of questionable ethical practices by not only their own representatives but by all government members on Capitol Hill, in the White House, or within the Judiciary. Perhaps we need better civics lessons. Perhaps we simply need to not grow complacent during the not-as-lean years. In the end we must punish those who fail and promote those who succeed our governmental ethical standards at the polls.

My one caveat would be to not make mountains out of molehills. Our ethical vigilance should have more to do with the benefit and harm to the functioning of government for the people than personal, moral standards. It does not take too much educated judgment to see why payoffs from military contractors create a Conflict of Interest for someone on the Congressional Armed Services Committee or how payoffs from judges may be a Conflict of Interest to someone who must select and appoint judicial positions. It also does not take much educated judgment to see how someone receiving a consensual blowjob (even an adulterous one) is not creating a situation where his judgment over governmental function is impaired (except maybe WHILE it's happening). If the government can't police itself, WE must police the government. Be more politically aware. Do not roll over.

01 November 2006

I'm John Kerry and I'm a Total Goon (BR)
Because blowing one election wasn't enough, I guess

I did not vote for Sen. Kerry (Idiot-MA) for President in 2004, for a number of reasons. The foremost being my fondness for Ralph Nader, secondarily, my residence status in a state he was to win handily anyway, but also for his proneness to gaffes that -- Lord knows how -- made him look even dumber than his opponent. To wit:

It sounds awful, indeed, it truly is awful, even if the context is being stretched to fit the GOP's last-ditch agitprop push to hold on to the Congress next Tuesday. When I first heard the clip I figured Kerry was referring to the poverty draft, the virtual Hobson's choice between squalor, privation and crime or military service faced by so many low-income Americans. It's a real problem, and broaching the matter in public has nothing to do with a belief that our troops are retards, which is basically what the right wing has distilled Kerry's remark down to.

Kerry apologized this morning, but he should have left it there. Instead he went on to offer a highly suspect equivocation, parroted by the left's own echo chamber, that he was referring to President Bush as "stuck in Iraq." As we all know, Bush is not stuck there, our troops are. Bush is just in a jam. He does not need to worry about death or disfigurement and wouldn't even face removal from office by a Democrat-controlled Congress. No, Kerry made a poorly-worded reference to the over-representation of the lower-middle class and poor in the military, a subject about which we need to have a national dialogue. The shame is that he then lied about it.

All that being said, however, I find the outrage coming from the Republicans to be highly disingenuous. Just over a month ago, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, our very own President described the deaths of our troops in Iraq as a "comma" in the broader scope of history:

Conservative bloggers completely ignored this fairly shocking assessment, much as the left-o-sphere are currently twiddling and pretending Kerry didn't say what he said. And maybe it's the liberal kool-aid talking, but I'm way more inclined to believe that Bush, not Kerry, is the one with the callous view and valuation of the U.S. soldier.

But the truth is I've had quite enough of both of these douchebags.