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Tuesday April 7, 2009

Ooops. Forgot to mention this. Discovered the day after I posted that last post that the “Christopher Walken” Twitter feed is a hoax, originated by the clever people at Clusterflock, but then hijacked and distilled to perfection by one of them, as a kind of hoax-within-a-hoax. It’s a shame it’s not Walken: the consciousness represented by the posts struck just the right tone. But kudos to the guy who created such lovely Walkenish posts.

Comments [66]

  ·  blogarhythms

* * *

Sunday March 22, 2009

Executive summary of what follows: you must subscribe this very instant to Christopher Walken’s Twitter feed. Now I’m in love with him too.

I’ve been so negligent about Mikarrhea in recent months and years I’m not even sure at this exact moment whether I’ve ever previously confessed here (as opposed to on Facebook) my raging adoration for Glenn Greenwald. OK, a hasty search demonstrates that I have at least introduced the topic.

Today Glennzilla had some lovely disparaging words about Twitter (a word I personally associate more than anything else with the conclusion of “To Autumn”) that resonated with me. I, too, even prone to (or undefended against) self-revelation as I am, can’t seem to find a use for it. My Facebook page gets whatever tweet-material I have to offer.

So here’s Glenn’s take on Twitter. What I love most about it is his endearing conviction in the worthlessness of his own feed, even as he advertises it.

John Cole confesses to what he acknowledges is a “Get off my lawn” sentiment in questioning the purpose, value and appeal of Twitter. At the risk of appearing as crotchety as he does, I share that bewilderment. About Twitter messages, John says “they all read like cell phone text messages between 12 year olds,” and indeed, the only purpose I can discern is that it provides a format for expressing thoughts that are too inconsequential to merit a stand-alone article or post. For precisely that reason, it is unsurprising that Twitter has become a huge hit among our media stars, for whom triviality is a guiding principle.

But, pre-Twitter, did we really have a shortage of venues devoted to petty musings? I’d say the opposite is true. In any event, for those interested, I do have a Twitter feed which I’ve been using sporadically in a thus-far-futile attempt to find any real purpose to it (though it does seem to work reasonably well for concise derision). Those interested can find and follow my Twitter feed here, though I recommend as worthwhile neither Twitter generally nor (at least thus far) my Twitter observations specifically.

Even better, though, is the fact that Glenn later posts an update in which, after citing some defenses of Twitter, he mitigates his criticism somewhat:

[O]n Twitter itself, The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer says that the only way someone would doubt the value of Twitter is if one has not been reading Christopher Walken’s Twitter page. Having just perused it, it’s hard to argue with Sewer’s point.

Christopher Walken is fucking hilarious! OMG! THAT’s what Twitter is for!

Comments [50]

  ·  blognet

* * *

Friday February 13, 2009

My one effort to set in motion, and leap on, a bandwagon for what I thought would be an obviously infectious political phrase failed miserably. After many months, the wagon is yet to be hitched, the horses still out to pasture, and the phrase “message-force multiplier” remains essentially recondite, except to a few political junkies fortunate enough to have had their eyes open at a certain moment last April when one of the most important pieces of investigative journalism of the new century flashed past the public eye in the space of a few milliseconds.

Undaunted, though, I’m now gonna make a plea for another lovely, newsworthy, and political useful phrase: “weaponized Keynesianism.” If this one doesn’t have legs, then I’m just an aging fatso blogging on a couch . . . .

Oh, wait . . . .

“Weaponized Keynesianism” is Barney Frank’s phrase, used in a recent piece in the Nation, for the appalling hypocrisy of Republicans who fight with every fiber of their being to limit government spending bills . . . except when the bills concern military spending, in which case the sky’s the limit. Conservatives dragging the budget surplus into a deficit? No problem . . . as long as it’s only to benefit gigantic defense contractors that make generous campaign contributions support our courageous fighting men and women! Plus military spending creates jobs . . . at those contractors!

The whole piece, ‘Cut the Military Budget—II,’ is very much worth reading. A sample passage:

It is possible to debate how strong America should be militarily in relation to the rest of the world. But that is not a debate that needs to be entered into to reduce the military budget by a large amount. If, beginning one year from now, we were to cut military spending by 25 percent from its projected levels, we would still be immeasurably stronger than any combination of nations with whom we might be engaged.

Implicitly, some advocates of continued largesse for the Pentagon concede that the case cannot be made fully in terms of our need to be safe from physical attack. Ironically—even hypocritically, since many of those who make the case are in other contexts anti-government spending conservatives—they argue for a kind of weaponized Keynesianism that says military spending is important because it provides jobs and boosts the economy. Spending on military hardware does produce some jobs, but it is one of the most inefficient ways to deploy public funds to stimulate the economy. When I asked him years ago what he thought about military spending as stimulus, Alan Greenspan, to his credit, noted that from an economic standpoint military spending was like insurance: if necessary to meet its primary need, it had to be done, but it was not good for the economy; and to the extent that it could be reduced, the economy would benefit.

Comments [29]

  ·  politext

* * *

Thursday February 12, 2009

Andrew Sullivan, an avowed Christian, laudably defends the right to blaspheme. He draws attention to a vile situation: a piece on that topic, entitled “Why should I respect these oppressive religions?,” by Johann Hari, is published in India, an Islamic mob calling for the arrest (“or worse”) of those responsible riots outside the offices of the journal that published it, and in fact shortly thereafter the journal’s editor and publisher are arrested and charged with “deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings.”

I blogged about this issue a while back when the Danish journal Jyllands-Posten famously printed cartoons containing representations of the Prophet Mohammad. Personally outraged by the rabid backlash in some Islamic quarters to their publication, I myself posted a couple of the cartoons and linked to the others.

I went on to rant against the notions of religious “dignity” and “honor” and “respect” for causing some of the worst violence, warfare, and atrocities in human history. Needless to say, some of the commentary on that post was none too flattering, mostly consisting of “fuck yous,” claims that I will be punished for my blasphemy, and phrases in what seems to be transliterated arabic saying “son of a bitch,” among other things.

With the expectation that I will be vilified again by those sorts of commenters, I want to repost a bit of what I wrote then, to underscore my solidarity now with Johann Hari and my gratitude to Sullivan for lending his blog’s stature to this issue. Besides, this sentiment can never be expressed too often, to my taste:

For the salvation of humankind, notions like respect, disrespect, dignity, offense, and blasphemy need to be given much more serious consideration by secular Westerners than they typically have been in modern times. And, via a concerted effort by people of good will everywhere, thoroughly stomped out ASAP, completely eradicated like smallpox. These ideas do nothing but make people want to kill each other for no good reason.

Physically hurting someone is wrong. But offending someone’s dignity is a nebulous concept that shouldn’t be, well, dignified by use. And offending the dignity of someone’s god is the most poisonous notion ever allowed to gain currency. Blasphemy as a concept has no virtue at all but to make some religious people mad enough to kill others otherwise innocent of doing real harm.

Comments [9]

politext  ·  ijustgoberSERK

* * *

Sunday December 7, 2008

Technorati Profile

(I posted that only because in order to have a profile on Technorati, you have to have a link to Technorati on your front page, for their bot to find and index. It’s not worth anyone’s clicking on; there’s nothing currently there.)

Comments [6]


* * *

Saturday October 4, 2008

i can’t believe how behind the main thrust, so to speak, i am on this little video about the Catholic Church by Louis CK, which has been circulating without my awareness for many, many months and may be well known to everyone but me.

Louis CK learns about the Catholic Church

An adorable exchange:
Louis CK: So you’re telling me that all Catholic Bibles are printed on paper made from the shit of priests who fuck boys in the ass?
Father MacCready (smiling, brimming with praise for the interlocutor): That’s it, in a nutshell! Yes!


  ·  sexgender-system-files

* * *

Wednesday October 1, 2008

I’m not sure what it says about the standpoint from which I regard Major League Baseball on TV that the set of player statistics that draws my attention most—which statistics unfortunately no one actually compiles, so I just estimate to myself using words like “narrow,” “wide,” and “freakish” —consists of batters’ interpupillary distances.

Actually, I don’t regularly watch MLB on TV, at least not at home. Or, for that matter, any other sport. Or, for that matter any program, especially not those broadcast in real time. Frankly, I generally attend to my television’s rendition of a signal from elsewhere maybe once every couple of months. Broadcast TV programs and I just don’t have much interest in each other.

To whatever degree I do pay attention to MLB it’s mainly owing to the fact that my X has in recent years seemed incrementally to be morphing into the Jimmy Fallon character in Fever Pitch. Spending time at her house due to our mutual kids, I’ll find myself drawn occasionally to a televised performance of professional baseball she happens to be celebrating ritually and, infected by its inevitable narrative—not entirely unlike Oscar Wilde during his Greek Viva on the Passion,—I’ll be subsequently unable to suppress my curiosity about the narrative’s conclusion and driven later to switch on the broadcast at home.

I will inevitably watch baseball more during the post-season if I have a reason to care about the teams (for instance, that someone I care about cares about them), indeed as often as nightly when the Red Sox are playing, as they are right now, just cuz I’m from Boston, and it’s what we’re expected to do.

My amateur’s observation, at any rate, concerning interpupillary distances is that among great baseball hitters of the modern era hitters with incredibly wide-set eyes are overrepresented. I’m not saying they dominate that population. Yet. Just that there is a noticeably greater percentage of them than in the general human population. And my hypothesis is that wide-set eyes, specifically the binocular disparity they produce, should make it easier for the brain to locate moving objects in three-dimensional space swiftly and accurately, such as baseballs approaching at 95 m.p.h. If true, my hypothesis would predict that wide-set eyes would be overrepresented among champions of all sports that require instantly judging the position of rapidly approaching objects—tennis, jai alai, and handball, for instance.

Here’s some hastily compiled and suggestive (but by no means dispositive) evidence from among current players who are considered great hitters:

David Ortiz

Manny Ramirez

Vladimir Guerrero

Chipper Jones

Albert Pujols

Dustin Pedroia

Milton Bradley

Alex Rodriguez

Even those like Pujols, Pedroia, and Rodriguez whose inter-pupil distance isn’t freakish still have noticeably wide-set eyes.

Looks like someone anticipated me by 70 years.


  ·  random-neuron-firing

* * *

Friday September 19, 2008

I totally want to bathe and anoint in oil the feet of James Robertson, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of the District of Columbia (I don’t see how you can logically avoid using the District twice in that phrase, even though I mostly see it used only once in legal citations [wrongly, in my view, unless you write the District of Columbia District, in which case you’re still stuck with using District twice]).

Yesterday, Friday, Robertson decided—displaying reasoning of such extraordinary clarity (please, read the decision!) it’s frankly mind-boggling (though, perhaps, understandable coming from someone inured to confronting daily the confounding Two- District -Usage Dilemma)—that a transgendered woman, Diane Schroer, who had applied for, been enthusiastically offered, and accepted a plum job with the Library of Congress while yet presenting as male under the name David Schroer, subsequently suffered prima facie unlawful Title VII discrimination “because of sex” when, before actually embarking on the new duties, Schroer revealed to her new boss, Charlotte Preece, that she was transgendered and in transition and would be embarking on the new duties presenting as a woman, whereupon the job offer was instantly withdrawn and the position handed over to a significantly less-qualified applicant.

How many American judges would instead have sneered distastefully over the facts of this case and reflexively advanced the tried-and-true Specious-Narrow-Argument Counter-Attack: e.g., that Title VII (which prohibits discrimination “because of sex”) says nothing about, and therefore does not prohibit discrimination against, transsexuals? It’s a proven technique. Just look at the way “Whizzer” White, Burger, et al. reflexively advanced their own version of the SNACA, smugly announcing in Bowers v. Hardwick that the Constitution (even after the Supreme Court’s prolonged fleshing out of citizens’ right to privacy, specifically with respect to questions of sexual intimacy, in the line of decisions subsequent to Griswold v. Connecticut) does not recognize “a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy” and that it is “facetious” to assert that such a right is “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

The same sort of self-righteous SNACA, of course, could be asserted against nose-picking, earwax-excavating, and crotch-scratching. Is the right to scratch one’s crotch “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty”? If you say yes, it sure seems as though you’ve made yourself into a huge figure of fun. If you say no, then you’ve surrendered to the expanding Executive branch yet one more human action for surveillance and criminal prosecution that the Founding Fathers, if they thought about such things at all, surely imagined would never, ever be a subject of Federal legal sanctions.

Robertson’s heroic purity, his intellectual nobility, comes from his pointing out, simply and obviously, like the child ostensively demonstrating the Emperor’s nudity, that the plaintiff was discriminated against, plainly and flagrantly, because of sex:

The evidence establishes that the Library was
enthusiastic about hiring David Schroer -– until she disclosed
her transsexuality. The Library revoked the offer when it
learned that a man named David intended to become, legally,
culturally, and physically, a woman named Diane. This was
discrimination “because of . . . sex.”

Yes! Thank you for seeing and pronouncing the irrefutable obvious, James Robertson! You deserve some sort of plaque mounted somewhere, maybe in the Library of Congress, maybe mounted and polished daily for the next 20 years by the vicious and indefensible Charlotte Preece, who after enthusiastically supporting and eagerly hiring her singlehandedly skippered the attempt to scupper Diane Schroer’s employment upon discovering her transsexuality.

Comments [2]


* * *

Sunday September 14, 2008

Andrew Sullivan has a disturbing post today in which he laments the results of a new survey of global opinion on the desirability of unequivocally banning torture. Whereas 82% of British, Spanish, and French people surveyed support banning torture, only 53% of Americans do, one of the lowest percentages. Which countries in the world boast populations as unwilling to ban torture as the U.S.? Azerbaijan (54%), Egypt (54%), Russia (49%), and Iran (43%)—a lovely cohort.

And among Americans which group is least willing to countenance an unequivocal ban on torture? Who else? Evangelical Christians! Sullivan’s outrage captures the irony perfectly (my emphasis):

How can the country that pioneered the Geneva Conventions now be a nation more supportive of torture than any other developed nation on earth? Of course, it matters that we have had a president and vice-president actively endorsing and campaigning for the use of torture, and torturing prisoners routinely in jails where there is no escape and no due process. But the key segment of the pro-torture enthusiasts are evangelical Christians. Yes: evangelical Christians are now the greatest supporters of doing to prisoners what was once done to Christ.

Comments [1]

  ·  politext

* * *

Tuesday July 15, 2008

My first girlfriend was Leigh Scott. I mentioned her in passing a long time ago. I referred to her as “Leigh Tracy Scott, born in a pan,” because that’s how she styled herself, mimicking her own voice as a child, unable to pronounce “Japan” correctly. From fifth through seventh grade we were, off and on, “going out.” She’s the first person I fell in love with, the first I kissed. The quintessential “bad” girl, she smoked cigarettes, had tried pot before I had, and was regarded as sexually experienced (though I knew she wasn’t). After her, I smoked cigarettes and pot, and had at least made out with someone. She was a year older than I, having been held back a year in school, and she was physically very . . . developed. After seventh grade, she left my school and moved away. I heard from someone a couple of years later that she was in a relationship with a man in his forties. The general sense was that she was on her way downhill for the rest of her life.

I’ve always expected to see her again. I’ve googled her every once in a while, the past few years. Nothing. Tonight, I googled her again. I think I might have been inspired by my 11-year-old son’s own first relationship now: he’s sort of “going out” with a girl he’s known—as I did Leigh—since first grade. Morpheus’s texting with his “girlfriend” today made me think of Leigh. So I googled her again. And discovered that she died, September 2, 2006, in Traverse City, Michigan, at the age of 49. She left no other trail.

I’ve been wailing, and felt I should write something. It’s really not fair. I dreamt of her with love throughout my life.

Comments [2]

  ·  anecdotage

* * *

Tuesday July 1, 2008

I became something of an admirer, I suppose, of General Wesley Clark’s when he declared himself a Democrat during the 2004 campaign, when the whole cry of voices was on the other side, screaming that warriors were only Republicans and vice versa. Clark’s speeches, interviews, and televised inquisitions since then have never failed to win my admiration for the candor, wisdom, comprehensive knowledge, quick thinking, extensive military and foreign-policy experience, and strong sense of social justice he unflaggingly betrays.

The recent vindictive and corrupt upwelling of Republican-manufactured hypocritical outrage against Clark for merely suggesting that John McCain’s having been shot down in Vietnam and suffering as a P.O.W. do not by themselves qualify McCain to take on the mantle of the pre-eminent civilian executive leader of free world makes me physically ill.

We Democrats—and all thinking people who value honest political discourse over vicious and thoughtless demogoguery—must respond to these foul slanders on General Clark with fire. We will NO LONGER tolerate LIES! We will NO LONGER tolerate corrupt attempts to portray our political speakers as anything other than POLITICAL SPEAKERS whose truth and falsity may be tested, but not their supposed “sacrilege”!

Click here to download the flv file of Clark’s performance on “Face the Nation”—if you haven’t caught it already—and listen to the innocent remarks on which a sweeping travesty has been perpetrated. I cannot again bear to watch this video segment, put together by Josh Marshall’s Veracifier team from a sample of clips from MSM and right-wing media fulminating over and clownishly denouncing Clark for “swiftboating” (!!!!!!!) McCain, without myself feeling the desire to barf because such vicious and appalling lies and attacks are so baldly and flagitiously being shouted against, hoping to drown out, an honorable man—shouted by people who in their hearts cannot possibly believe their noxious and spiteful claims (Laura Ingraham, someone I have always detested from the first moment I heard a word from her mouth [as an egregious anti-Clinton guest on Nightline, many years ago], is by far and away the most depraved and despicable, truly noxious and rotten, someone who cares nothing at all for the truth but only for advancing her savage vindictive brand).


It may be impolite to say that McCain’s P.O.W. experience has little, if any, bearing on his supposed ability to function at a superior level as our nation’s chief executive officer. It may be a violation of the Glistening Bubble of Respect, or Cone of Silence, most national reporters in a position to report on him have thrown around him. But to say that his being a P.O.W. tells us little about how competently he’ll run our country is to speak the absolute undeniable truth. And anyone denying this fact is either stupid or a wicked hypocrite.

I call on everyone who reads this post to do his or her utmost to make the following message politically acceptable, so that it pervades the Democratic mainstream to such a degree that it will be reported by the MSM as a common, legit, and widely held view: John McCain’s being a prisoner of war, while admirable in human terms, is ABSOLUTELY NOT by itself a qualification for running for President. Imagine that the fictional character Rambo were real: surely he would have survived torture by the Vietnamese as well as McCain did. But who would want Rambo as our President? Exactly. Rambo is the sort of person I’d hope to have rescue me, if I were held prisoner somewhere. But he is also a simpleton, a vicious killer, and (if he were real) the very last person i would hope ever to hold a civilian political office in the United States. That Rambo may be a true hero and be invaluable for one purpose but very bad for many others, especially being President of the United States, does not belittle Rambo in the slightest. Nor should it belittle John McCain.

Comments [8]

ijustgoberSERK  ·  politext

* * *

Thursday June 5, 2008


I may not be looking hard enough, but poking around the web, I see no one who obviously supports my view regarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Yet I suspect I’m not the only one who believes that Mohammed is full of shit for confessing to playing a central role in the 9/11 attacks, the murder of Daniel Pearl, and apparently some 30-odd other incidents.

My personal belief, based on little more than my sense of the prima facie ridiculousness of some of his testimony, is that he once held some upper-middle-level position in Al Qaida, a sort of Al Qaida beadle, high enough to have learned some important names and dates and to have played a role in some, if not all, of these attacks, but not high enough to have been responsible for planning and ultimately executing them.

Frankly, reading some of his testimony, I find it hard to accept that anyone credits him with the sum of these awful deeds. He’s a stolid mid-level soldier eagerly taking credit for gruesome achievements far beyond his intellectual abilities, social connections, financial resources, and imagination. His participating in two or three of these crimes is plausible; not more. If he dies for all these crimes, it will be his grand triumph, not that of the U.S.

I wasn’t looking hard enough. Here and here are examples of some healthy KSM skepticism.

Comments [3]

  ·  politext

* * *

Wednesday May 28, 2008

The weirdest thing about today’s longish profile in the Times of John McCain is that it has nothing to say about any meaningful skills or traces of intelligence of any kind.

Well, almost nothing.

Beyond, that is, his ability to be a good guy, a guy’s guy, fun to be around, and ready to use the personal connections fate delivered him on a platter to achieve goals he and his friends desired. He’s described, essentially, as a naturally charming salesman from an influential military family, long known for enjoying partying and whose career advances were plainly greased by powerful friends. Change “military” in the last sentence to “political” and you have a pitch-perfect description of George W. Bush. Why do Republicans seem to think this flavor of history constitutes a presidential résumé?

After returning from the Vietnam war, McCain became the leader of a fighter squadron in Florida, intending to follow in the footsteps of his father, a highly regarded admiral in the navy. But a superior officer identified talents of McCain’s that could flourish elsewhere:

Admiral James L. Holloway, the chief of naval operations, saw other uses for Mr. McCain. Mr. Holloway knew that Mr. McCain’s father had once excelled as liaison to the Senate. And though the son had earned a reputation as a playboy at the Naval academy, Mr. Holloway thought then-Commander McCain might have inherited the skills and judgment needed to deal with senators.

Though “he had been a playboy,” he might have inherited “the skills and judgment” to deal with senators. What skills and judgment might those be?

“He could smoke a cigar and play a little poker,” Mr. Holloway recalled in an interview. “But he didn’t let the situation get out of hand. He could tag along and take care of them and pay the bills and remember where they parked the car. And he was very circumspect. He didn’t get them in trouble.”

He could still be a playboy! But not too much of one! He could enable the senators to have fun doing drunken things that should get them into trouble, but he could prevent that from happening! Exactly the “skills and judgment” that our government needs!

And, unsurprisingly, McCain really shone in that role (emphasis added).

One of several senate military liaisons assigned as advocates for their services and escorts for official travel, Mr. McCain quickly emerged as the senators’ favorite. He had a thick head of hair as white as his dress uniform and he showed a natural politician’s gift for winning over an audience. He excelled at leavening official business with a spirit of fun_ — telling deadpan stories about his years “in the cooler,” playing marathon poker games on flights overseas, or surprising senators at a refueling stop in Ireland with a sidetrip to Durty Nelly’s, a 17th century pub. He was the epitome of cool, one senator’s son recalled, with a pack of Marlboros in one hand and Theodore H. White’s memoir “In Search of History” in the other.

It makes a certain sleazy sense that military liaisons would be “advocates for their services”—i.e., lobbyists for the military, paid for by our taxes—but “escorts for official travel”? What does that mean? Are they, like, cruise directors? Are they basically just guys in a fancy uniform who make sure that traveling congresspersons have a fun and hitch-free trip? Furnished by the military? WTF?

The article describes how McCain’s political career was guided and advanced by the famously hard-drinking and (to use a a word from the article) “womanizing” (what a fucking weird word that is! could you imagine saying manizing?) John Tower, McCain’s mentor and “father figure,” and by Senators William Cohen and Gary Hart, his buddies. Here’s how the buddies got to be buddies:

A trip to Asia in late 1978 cemented their bond. Mr. McCain and the two senators stole away from official briefings to stroll in Tokyo’s Ginza district of nightclubs and restaurants, visit the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok and take a memorable midnight tour of what Mr. Hart remembered as that city’s “light and dark sides.” In a memoir, Mr. Cohen recalled drinking beer with Mr. McCain at the Hyatt Regency bar overlooking Seoul, watching beautiful Korean women seduce a tipsy traveler.

”He was a salesman par excellence,” Mr. Cohen recalled in an interview, crediting Mr. McCain with redirecting his career by persuading him to join the Armed Services Committee.

The three became regulars together at the Monocle, a watering hole near the Senate. “We would laugh and tell stories about our colleagues,” Mr. Hart recalled. “ ‘So-and-so said something in a caucus meeting.’ He found it fascinating.”

And McCain found in the “high-living” John Tower a soulmate.

One of Mr. McCain’s first jobs as liaison was accompanying a delegation Mr. Tower led to the Verkunde conference, an annual security meeting in Munich during the Bavarian equivalent of Mardi Gras. The conference became known as kind of senatorial spring break.

The event has grown “a lot tamer” since the late seventies, recalled Senator Cohen, who described the heyday of the Verkunde conference vividly in his novel, “Dragon Fire”: “Beer and passions flowed. All restrictions were off. Grounds for divorce were suspended. Members of Congress, particularly the unmarried ones, would look at the German women, who were ready and willing for the taking, and think they had slipped the surly bonds of moral conformity.”

When McCain astonishingly decided that a life in politics—which for him was clearly a euphemism for guzzling large amounts of alcohol with other naughty guys also into “politics”—was proving more congenial to his temperament than one in the military, his drinking pals were right there for him.

His Senate friends were already moving to jump-start Mr. McCain’s new career. Mr. Cohen connected Mr. McCain with an experienced political consultant, J. Brian Smith, who had initially dismissed working for such a neophyte. And, Mr. Cohen said, he also encouraged Mr. McCain to look away from his previous home in Florida and toward Arizona. His new wife came from a prominent family there, a safe Republican House seat was expected to open up, and Senator Barry Goldwater was expected to retire soon as well.

Mr. Tower did more than anyone else to help. He lent Mr. McCain his fund-raising consultant, raised money for him and enlisted one of Arizona’s most popular Republicans to endorse Mr. McCain over two more experienced primary candidates. “Whatever I asked him for, he gave without hesitation,” Mr. McCain recalled.

Where the article might have really done some damage to McCain’s image, by depicting clearly the vileness of his abandonment of his first wife after she became disfigured in an automobile accident, it takes pains to pull its punches. As McCain “was turning 40 and unsure of his path” :

His marriage to Carol McCain, a former model who was nearly crippled in a car accident while he was imprisoned, was unraveling. He was involved in a series of “dalliances” outside his marriage, he later acknowledged to his biographer, Robert Timberg.

The article offers no evaluation of this fact by anyone. Then, much later in the piece, we discover that, conveniently for his political aspirations, “His new wife came from a prominent family” in Arizona. Obviously, the word “wealthy” was deliberately avoided. As was any mention of the fact that McCain began his affair with the new wife while still married to the first, and that the children from his first marriage refused to attend the second. Here’s Wikipedia (today, anyway) on the topic:

During their time in Jacksonville, the McCains’ marriage began to falter. McCain had extramarital affairs, and he would later say, “My marriage’s collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam, and I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the war. The blame was entirely mine.” His wife Carol would later echo those sentiments, saying “I attribute [the breakup of our marriage] more to John turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again than I do to anything else.”
Considering that he seems never to have behaved as someone older than 25, that’s quite a statement. Wikipedia again:
In April 1979, while attending a military reception for senators in Hawaii, McCain met and began an extramarital relationship with Cindy Lou Hensley, seventeen years his junior, a teacher from Phoenix, Arizona who was the daughter of James Willis Hensley, a wealthy Anheuser-Busch distributor, and Marguerite “Smitty” Hensley. . . .The McCains separated in late 1979; Carol McCain accepted a divorce in February of 1980, and John McCain filed for and obtained the uncontested divorce in Florida on April 2, 1980. He gave her a settlement that included houses in Virginia and Florida and financial support for her ongoing medical treatments resulting from the 1969 automobile accident; they would remain on good terms. McCain and Hensley were married on May 17, 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona, with Senators William Cohen and Gary Hart as best man and groomsman. McCain’s children were upset with him and did not attend the wedding, but after several years they reconciled with him and Cindy. Carol McCain became a personal assistant to Nancy Reagan and later head of the White House Visitors Center. Nancy Reagan’s relationship with John McCain turned cold for a while following the divorce, but eventually they renewed their friendship; the same happened with most of McCain’s other friends, who were eventually won over by his combination of charm and penitence.
If he weren’t so charming, in other words, people would still despise him for what he did to his first wife.

There is one tiny part of the article that offers an evaluation of McCain’s skills and judgment unrelated to drinking and having fun, however. It comes from a former Navy superior.

His close ties with Mr. Tower . . . helped Mr. McCain earn high marks from his Navy bosses, albeit with some reservations about his grasp for details.

“Sometimes you had to really explain things to him and put him in a context that he really appreciated,” said former Admiral George Kinnear, Captain McCain’s Pentagon superior. “But he was a hard worker once he bought off on an issue.”

If McCain gets elected, I’m moving to Amsterdam. Of course, that’s what I said about George Bush. In 1988. And 2000. And 2004.

Comments [6]

  ·  politext

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Friday April 18, 2008

You read it here first. I predict that the Pentagon’s graceless germanic noun-phrase message-force multiplier (whose abbreviation “MFM” is conveniently close to the common one for “Mainstream Media”) will become one of the catch phrases of the next few years (pervading, well, the progressive blogosphere, at least).

Judging entirely by today’s* gratifying, comprehensive, drought-ending, faith-redeeming piece by the NYT, the phrase is used by our government to designate an influential but unacknowledged mouthpiece or propagandist.

It’s really a treat to see the MSM actually investigating the Bush administration’s use of the MFM!

And it’s lovely to be present at the birth and installation of a favored group into our alphabet-mad military’s official register of arcane bureaucratic initialisms (AKA our AMM’s ORABI).

If the initialism MFM should really take hold, then it will have fought successfully for its place among such other popular arcane bureaucratic initialisms (ABIs) as MRE, IED, DNI, DO, GWOT, and even FEMA, for all of whose current widespread familiarity we have mainly the scandals and disasters of the Bush administration to thank. (One such initialism new to me until a couple of days ago, FATA, may be just now coming into its own.)

*Anality and hindsight (a pretty combination) require that I point out that the NYT story was actually dated the day following this blog post—i.e., Sunday, April 20. The story, however, appeared on the Times’s web site the evening before, where and when I saw it and flew tizzyward.

Comments [2]

  ·  politext

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Friday April 11, 2008

That 61% of professional historians judge the Bush presidency the worst of all American presidencies should come as a surprise to few literate persons blessed with at least some access to news over the past seven years, some knowledge of history, and an understanding of the noun phrases “professional historians,” “Bush presidency,” and “American presidencies.” Granted, this result derives from an unscientific survey conducted by the History News Network. Granted also the History News Network boasts a truly awful, not to say cringeworthy, not to say flagitious, motto, “Because the Past is the Present, and the Future too” — which, of course, could mean either that the Past is also the Future, that the Future is also the Present, or that the Present is also the Future (which is [a] a slightly different idea from the one preceding and [b] just an instance of kicking the idea that the Past is the Present further down the road a bit) — a grammatical confusion which may well have been intended proudly, but which sounds very 9th grade to me or, at best, like a flatulent attempt to condense into prose the opening lines of Burnt Norton. Nevertheless, it should be worth noting that out of 109 “professional historians” (and, no i don’t know if anyone actually examined their historian’s licenses) responding, “98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.” That would be, uh, 107 and 2, respectively?

Anyway, i thought it should bear repeating, everywhere, including here.

Click here for the original article.

Comments [2]

  ·  politext

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Thursday March 20, 2008

Thinking about the Obama passport scandal today, after reading my love Glenn Greenwald on it.

To associate by public avowal your political opponents with declared mortal enemies of the commonweal, in as many ways as possible, is not only in the interest of those holding political power, but it is also, I would think, practically inevitable psychologically. After all, from the perspective of a career partisan (Bush or Cheney, for instance), the phrase “They would destroy all we stand for” fits political opponents (e.g., Democrats) as snugly as it does mortal enemies (e.g., terrorists).

It is for this reason, it seems, that those in power have difficulty resisting the urge to employ against their (relatively weaker) political opponents those organs of the state (police, military, spy agencies) designed for keeping its declared enemies at bay.

And it is for this reason that it’s crucial that the people hold the line in maintaining a powerful (“robust” is the overused word juridical writers seem to deploy here) fourth amendment.


  ·  politext

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Saturday March 8, 2008

In this blog I’ve consistently referred to the person for whom Greta left me, oh, so long ago—whom, remember, she’s now engaged to marry—as Godfrey. Greta long accused me of insulting him by using that name, doubtless cuz (a) his name’s not “Godfrey,” (b) among some Americans the name “Godfrey” has a stilted, foreign, mildly ridiculous quality, (c) my invoking the name “Godfrey” would often be accompanied by some more-or-less openly disparaging remarks.

I am just now possessed by the desire to comment on the forthcoming wedding of Greta and Godfrey. I hope to do so in the next few days. In continuing to use the blogonym “Godfrey” while doing so here, therefore, I want to affirm with no equivocation that I do NOT use that name intending to give offense. I’m starting to appreciate the value of web pseudonymity, and I simply want everyone in mikarrhea to continue utterly unknown to all but those who know them. ;^)

Personally, as someone who wishes to continue her web presence as it has existed for many years while also now actively seeking out new employment, i am newly grateful that the (unfortunately) legal name under which i seek a job is different from the name under which i’ve posted so much that some employers might consider incompatible with employment.


  ·  greta-garble

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Tuesday March 4, 2008

I don’t really know what happened to me. It’s probably still happening. I lost the desire to write; we all know that. Any idiot can see.

And, of course, to live. I’ve regained neither.

Any idiot can see.

But tonight I remembered both —after living for more than two years in a disturbingly sociable deathlike state, suffocating beneath my burgeoning, geometrically compounding, 21st-century midden (a midden of mind as much as of domestic management): I actually phoned someone important and devastating from my past, from 25 years ago, from my san francisco days, someone vital to my conception of myself and my history, of whom i am right now, as it feels, in need. Someone utterly lost to me, swallowed by time and distance, on whom i’ve never stopped utterly, debasingly, crushing out. My barby—i call her barby—she’s my barby, to me, though i think she probably despises that name now (maybe always?) and no one else in her surroundings uses it or ever has. i imagine she still introduces herself as “Barbara,” not without reason, or maybe “Barb,” with, well, some slight reason—the savaging thorn. I’d been trying to web-stalk her to no avail for many, many, many years , almost since little Timmee B-L invented the Web, i guess. Cuz my barby apparently has no web presence under any names by which I knew her or can imagine her now existing.

A couple of hours ago now, I left her—orally, aurally, drunkenly—some silly, idiotic web traces in a PHONE message.

More than anything, NOW I really want to know what SHE’S doing! She can’t NOT have a web presence, can she? I really want, Derridaliciously, to know what that absent presence is! Surely, under some name, she does something recognized on the web? Please, Barby???? Ugh. Longing, frustration. Adoration. Denial.

Comments [1]

  ·  anecdotage

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Friday November 16, 2007

via the BBC

Internet message boards have been buzzing with comment about the case of Robert Stewart, 51, from Ayr.

He was reported by cleaners at a hostel who unlocked his door and found him engaged in a sex act with his bike.

Stewart was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register, which some posters said was an over-reaction by the sheriff.

Stewart admitted a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex. As well as being put on register for three years, he was put on probation for the same length of time.

More than a million people have read the story on the BBC news website and it has been hotly debated on forums elsewhere.

. . . .

This is not the first legal case involving someone simulating sex with an inanimate object.
  • In 1997 Robert Watt, 38, was fined £100 for trying to have sex with a shoe in an Edinburgh street
  • In 2002 the same man was arrested for simulating sex with a traffic cone in front of a crowd of people
  • Earlier this month, sentence was deferred on teenager Steven Marshall, from Galashiels, who admitted simulating sex on a pavement while drunk.

Human rights lawyer John Scott told the BBC Scotland news website that the case raised important privacy issues.

He said: “It certainly prompts questions about what people can and can’t do behind closed doors with inanimate objects.

“However, the difficulty is that the man involved in this case pleaded guilty to a breach of the peace so these issues of privacy weren’t considered by the court.”

He added: “The sheriff had to act on the guilty plea and make a decision about whether or not there was a sexual nature to the offence. Clearly there was and that’s why the man has ended up on the register.”

However, Mr Scott said it should not be seen as a test case or one that would set a precedent in the future.

“This case should not prevent people who want to engage in this sort of activity doing so.

“What I would say to a client of mine that wanted to do this kind of thing is as long as it’s behind a bolted door, with an inanimate object, then each to their own.”


  ·  sexgender-system-files

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Monday November 12, 2007

From an article in the Times about swarming behavior among insects (mostly):

[I]n the deserts of Utah, Dr. Couzin and his colleagues discovered that giant swarms may actually be made up of a lot of selfish individuals.

Mormon crickets will sometimes gather by the millions and crawl in bands stretching more than five miles long. Dr. Couzin and his colleagues ran experiments to find out what caused them to form bands. They found that . . . [w]hen Mormon crickets cannot find enough salt and protein, they become cannibals.

“Each cricket itself is a perfectly balanced source of nutrition,” Dr. Couzin said. “So the crickets, every 17 seconds or so, try to attack other individuals. If you don’t move, you’re likely to be eaten.”

This collective movement causes the crickets to form vast swarms. “All these crickets are on a forced march,” Dr. Couzin said. “They’re trying to attack the crickets who are ahead, and they’re trying to avoid being eaten from behind.”


now-this  ·  politext

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Tuesday October 30, 2007

I’m certainly not the first — or even the one-hundred-and-forty-millionth — to exclaim how it twists the brain that Top and Bottom make such similar, inseparable fellows, such peas in a pod. Exploring their interdependent resemblance, just now, for me, offers, however, some profit, psychologically.

The Bottom defines herself typically via the pain she can unflinchingly absorb . . . but so does the Top! Bottom says, “Please spank me! Whip me!” or whatever more personalized distractions she prefers. She tingles at both her own suffering and the arousal of the person producing it. In essence, her plea boils down to “Use me as you please!”

The Top says, “I’m tough enough to withstand any pain that comes my way, be it emotional or physical, and to show no expression.” What she hopes most is to furnish incapacitating pleasure skillfully to the Bottom, maintaining her own composure (we’re talking here about the stereotypical butch dyke top, not some random sadist). Her demeanor projects a message something like “Let me know what arouses you; and regardless how much it puts me to the test, I will rise to the challenge and bring you off spectacularly without displaying the effort it costs me.” The Top’s plea, in short, boils down to “Use me as you please!”

Comments [4]

  ·  sexgender-system-files

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Friday October 19, 2007

I’m breaking my silence and, in fact, delaying going out to get my son’s birthday cake to repost the following Yahoo news item, which simply couldn’t be more delicious:

BANGKOK, Thailand – Women in several countries have begun sending their panties to Myanmar embassies in a culturally insulting gesture of protest against the recent brutal crackdown there, a campaign supporter said Friday.

“It’s an extremely strong message in Burmese and in all Southeast Asian culture,” said Liz Hilton, who supports an activist group that launched the “Panties for Peace” drive earlier this week.

The group, Lanna Action for Burma, says the country’s superstitious generals, especially junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, also believe that contact with women’s underwear saps them of power.

To widespread international condemnation, the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, crushed mass anti-regime demonstrations recently and continues to hunt down and imprison those who took part.

Hilton said women in Thailand, Australia, Singapore, England and other European countries have started sending or delivering their underwear to Myanmar missions following informal coordination among activist organizations and individuals.

“You can post, deliver or fling your panties at the closest Burmese Embassy any day from today. Send early, send often!” the Lanna Action for Burma Web site urges.

“So far we have had no response from Burmese officials,” Hilton said.

A nice excuse to purge my overstuffed panty-drawer. Only to binge again, of course.

Comments [4]

now-this  ·  sexgender-system-files

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Wednesday August 22, 2007

AP – Wed Aug 22, 7:19 AM ET
Visitors test Playstation consoles in a toilet ambiance at Japan’s Sony booth at the Games Convention, the fair for interactive entertainment in Leipzig, eastern Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)

Via Dave “Toiletologist” Barry


  ·  random-neuron-firing

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Friday July 27, 2007

Mangum, who described himself as “definitely not a homosexual,” said God called on him to “carry out a code of retribution” by killing a gay man because “sexual perversion” is the “worst sin.”

Mangum believed Cummings to be gay.

Mangum — who claimed he has studied the Bible for “thousands and thousands and thousands of hours” — said God first commanded him to kill during a “visitation,” or dream, while he was in prison in 2001. He said his victim must be a man because men “carry the harvest of the sinner.”

After six months’ planning, Mangum said, he went to E.J.’s, a Montrose-area club, where he met Cummings. After they drank a couple of beers, he said, the two went to Cummings’ home in Pearland.

Mangum said he stabbed Cummings with a “6-inch blade.”

“It’s not that I’m a bad dude,” he said, expressing concern that people might view him as “strange.” Pausing briefly, he said, “I love God.”

Murder suspect says he was doing God’s work
Cypress man is being held in the June death of flight attendant
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

July 15, 2007, 12:34AM

I haven’t done a survey, so my asserting that Texas is the most reviled state in the nation, and justifiably so, is only my opinion. I do have the general sense that even Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas (3 states commonly vying with Texas, in my experience, for the “most abominated” designation) lose out to TX when the question at hand is a state’s eagerness to hustle to death a criminal defendant. Indeed, in my (surely limited, skewed) experience, Texas is ever eager to leap above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to convicting, sentencing, and executing.

I truly can’t imagine how it might come to pass, even theoretically, that I’d form the desire to MOVE to Texas. I deliver this judgment despite having several non-retarded friends claiming happy Texas childhoods (oh, but where are they living now?), along with a handful who’ve cheerfully, and bizarrely, relocated there from Massachusetts. So why can’t I absorb anything useful from them about the delights of being a Texas citizen?


OK, I’m willing to stipulate that Austin may be the rare Texas town reasonably akin to any moderately hip run-of-the-mill Massachusetts, California, Vermont, or Oregon town. Indeed, everyone I know who’s been there proclaims, in the face of my utter incredulity and ridicule concerns, that I’d love Austin. Few neglect to point out that life there’s cheap—which in old movies used to be a reason NOT to move somehwere—but whatever.

There was a time in my life when I was scrunched into a pattern of traveling for hair removal to Dallas three or four times a year, and frankly, much as I respected those I spent time with, I could never pass time there without suffering a great deal of agony simply from the general public discourse (e.g., on most days, nine hours via AM radio, not to mention such other massmarket textcasting as billboards, TV, and newspapers, to which I might be exposed), a discourse that was uniformly out-of-control hysterical, demogogic, and far, far more right wing than anything available in New England.

From the airport, to get to any destination in downtown Dallas, you pretty much have to take the recently completed so-called “President George Bush” freeway, which undoubtedly put me in a sour mood right off the bat.

I chastise myself, therefore, a little, for the moral inconsistency of being pleased that the gentle Mr. Mangum, described and quoted at the top, is actually facing the loathsome Texas legal system. But to me they seem made for each other.


ijustgoberSERK  ·  sexgender-system-files

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Saturday July 21, 2007

Secuestran la revista “El Jueves” por una caricatura “denigrante” de los Príncipes de España

Click for larger size

MADRID (AFP) – A Spanish satirical magazine that was ordered removed from newsstands because its cover featured a cartoon depicting the heir to Spain’s throne having sex with his wife was for sale Saturday on eBay.

Nearly 90 copies of the weekly magazine El Jueves, which has a cover price of 2.50 euros, were on offer on the Spanish website of the online auctioneer for up to 100 euros (138 US dollars) per copy.

High court judge Juan del Olmo ruled Friday that the cartoon “struck at the honour and the dignity of the people represented” and ordered police to seize copies at newsstands.

The magazine, which does not hide its republican sympathies, used the caricature to mock a recent government announcement that families would receive 2,500 euros for each new child in a bid to raise the birth rate.

In the cartoon, a smiling Prince Felipe tells his wife Princess Letizia, who is kneeling on the bed in front of him: “Do you realize that if you get pregnant it will be the closest that I come to working in my life!”

Under Spanish law those found guilty of insulting the royal family can face up to two years in prison or be slapped with heavy fines.

from Yahoo!

I was just pissed that the picture was hard for me to find. So I thought I’d put it up, so others wouldn’t have to work so hard. Plus I hate censorship, as one-time readers of mikarrhea know.

Comments [5]

  ·  politext

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