Friday, November 30, 2007

Media Mudslinging

I just read this AP article entitled Presidential race turns a negative page, which seemed to be an underhanded attempt to tell us about the negative things about Romney and Giuliani. And it did so by telling us about ad campaigns that two groups are about to put out in New Hampshire against Romney and how those criticisms might eventually be used against Giuliani too. And to even further the fun, it gives us an idea of what anonymous "analysts" and "some Republicans" think are valid attacks against these two guys.

And so here we have a supposedly objective news article which makes a national news story about negative political ads which haven't even started running yet, as well as ads which haven't even been created. Something's clearly wrong with our media when you have articles informing readers nationwide about possible negatives highlighted in non-existent ads. What's even the point of making the ads? After all, even the ads that have been created were only going to be run in New Hampshire, while the news story is national.

The whole viewpoint of this article is that it's informing us that the first spate of negative ads is starting to run. And that's fine, I guess. Though I don't really see how even that's a news story. But why the detail on what the ads are saying? Or what potential ads might say about Giuliani? And if they get that far, why only those two candidates? Why don't they just tell us about the other candidates' negatives too? Could they find no anonymous "strategists" to give us dirt on McCain or Thompson; two other Republican candidates who have repeatedly "flip-flopped" on key issues?

Because for as much as the article pretends to be telling us that the negative season is starting, the bulk of the article is telling us about the candidates' negatives. I'm talking about sentences like these:

Analysts say similar negative ads are likely against his chief GOP rival, Rudy Giuliani, whose positions on gun control and immigration are markedly different from those he espoused as New York mayor.


But strategists say they are not surprised to see them first in the Republican race, where front-runners Romney and Giuliani have left a long evidentiary trail of their changed positions on key issues.

And that's how most of the article is. It's not about the ads, but rather citing unnamed analysts and strategists on the real criticisms of Romney and Giuliani. And while I'd be happy to hear that kind of thing in an article that was about their positions, this was supposedly an article about negative ads and their impact on the campaign. It doesn't even give us original research on these negatives, but only furthers the narrative that they exist.

This is in contrast to this NY Times news story on Rudy's trouble with the truth. That's how stories should be. You start with a theme and then use facts to back up that theme. That's how I always learned it was done, anyway.

Going Negative

I'm not even sure how the premise of the article is correct. While it does make the point that no candidate wants to be the first to go negative, that point doesn't apply to the two ads it mentions. Because those are from independent groups which aren't affiliated with any candidate, and it's not like the other independent groups need to wait for another independent group to break the negative barrier. In fact, it's obvious that this first independent group's ad has been greatly amplified due to its status as the first negative ad. They got a major news story highlighting their criticism before the ad even ran.

And even then, the wariness of a candidate to go negative has more to do with media manipulation than voters. It's obvious that negative ads work, and as long as the ad is truthful, there shouldn't be a problem with that. If one of the candidates has done something wrong or is lying, I want to know about it and have no problem if that information comes from his opponent. While the media seems incapable of separating truthful negative ads from mudslinging, the truthful ads are certainly a good thing. Particularly if the media isn't doing their job of informing voters of these negatives.

And really, the primary reason why it's bad to be the first candidate to go negative is simply that that's one of the media's stock stories: Candidate X Goes Negative. And so that candidate will get the blame for introducing negativeness into the election season and all the "mudslinging" will be tied back to that candidate. And that was one of the main strengths of the Bushies: They have such a strong network of "unaffiliated" surrogates that Bush could largely stay positive while his henchmen did all the dirtywork. And the media has no problem with that.

And for as much as voters don't like negative ads, I really think it has more to do with the media telling us that candidates who do this are bad. Having completely reversed the definitions of "subjective" and "objective," they're just looking for an easy news story. Truth and accuracy mean little to them, they just want a story about negative campaigning and the trouble with politics. And if a candidate stays "clean" and won't go negative, that's a story too and he'll get attacked for being too nice. You just can't win with these people, as the "truth" has become little more than a side-issue with them. They just want an easy story.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Won the Debate

It's unanimous: I won last night's televised debate. More details soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dumb Politics

Call me crazy, but I've never thought it was good politics to insult voters, particularly not those in the majority. Sure, there are lots of dumb people out there and lots of crackpots, cranks, and boneheads, but I think most people are smarter than they're given credit for. Yes, even the people at the mall.

For example, I always thought it was a mistake for liberals to blame America for Bush's presidency. Even many of those who actually voted for him don't deserve the blame laid at their feet. It may seem weird, but some people really just aren't that into politics. I mean, if you're reading this blog, then you're a political junkie. But don't fool yourself into thinking you're that way because you're so much smarter than others or anything. You're a junkie because it's your hobby. You enjoy it. But not everyone is you. Not everyone enjoys reading political news. Some people prefer crossword puzzles or stamp collecting or doing whatever the hell boring people do that doesn't involve reading about politics. I wouldn't know, as I don't do any of those things. But that doesn't make them dumber than you. Just different. It takes all kinds, even people who don't like politics.

And so some people just don't have time for this stuff. They have other interests. And if the media was doing their job, this wouldn't be a problem. Just imagine if Republicans were actually forced to tell the truth and the media did a better job of presenting issues to the public. Why, Bush couldn't even have become governor of his own bathtub if that were the case. It's not that people are too dumb to see this stuff. It's that they're preoccupied with other things and shouldn't have to bother with parsing and cross-checking everything they hear about in the news. They should be able to read their local newspaper with the confidence that it's actually informing them of what they need to know.

Sure, you can argue that the millions of people who don't pay attention should start paying attention, and I'd argue that it'd be easier to get the thousands of people in the journalism profession to act like professionals. People just shouldn't have to spend as much time as we do in order to make democracy work. Again, the only reason we know better is because it's our hobby. Imagine if you had to start learning about stamp collecting to save the world.

Anyway, screw it. I started writing this yesterday, and I wrote more now, but it's already dead to me. I've got nothing. I'll just cite Mr. Overstock.Com who thinks Utah failed it's IQ test by not approving the voucher program he bankrolled, as well as conservatives who think Americans are idiots for remembering that our government had warnings about 9/11 which were ignored. I think I had another example, but if I did, I forgot it. Tough shit for you.

The main point is that the tides are turning against conservatives, so now they're discovering that America is full of idiots and have no problem with saying so. I'm sure that will go over as well as everything else they've been doing for the past few years.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Retiring the Family Resignation Dodge

Can we please retire the "spend more time with the family" explanation for political resignations? This is just stupid. The phrase is clearly just used as a shorthand for "scandal we'd rather not mention." So what's the point? The phrase is a joke, nobody believes it, and it only makes the rumor mongering more intense.

Hell, it's one thing when they use this excuse when they've got young children. But seeing as how it looks like both of Lott's kids have children of their own, I'm guessing they're not so young. This was also the same excuse given by Karl Rove, even though his only son was in college at the time. Interestingly, Slate's John Dickerson, who wrote a piece in September telling Hillary to change her laugh for political reasons, informed us in April 2002 that Karen Hughes' exile to Texas really was for family reasons because it "rang true for reporters." I guess her family became less important in 2004, when she went back to work for Bush's re-election campaign.

Do I have some better substitute for what they should say? I don't know. On the one hand, if you're resigning for a specific scandal and people are just about to find out what the scandal is, it seems you might as well just go with the scandal. It's not as if a resigner's supporters ever use the "No, it really is for family reasons" as a defense. But unfortunately in life, it often is better to not admit to wrongdoing, even if you have nothing better to say. I actually think the truth is often a much better option than people realize, as they reflexively go with denials. But I guess it's easier for these people to always deny everything than to try to figure out when the truth is better.

But whatever the case, the Family excuse needs to go. It makes the person look silly and insults our intelligence. Karen Hughes apparently made it work, but I think that was just part of the post-9/11 fantasyworld that has now worn off. I think a "I'm just sick of Washington" excuse would work better, and a "reporters are too relentless in their personal attacks" might really work well. Even a plea of too much stress wouldn't be bad. But the family dodge has got to go.

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

What? It's already past Thanksgiving? Screw it. Y'all really weren't going to be so happy anyway and are probably glad the whole thing's over. Funny how even when things look bad for Republicans, you still don't get to rub it in on Thanksgiving to your rightwing relatives.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Student Bodies with Bullets

I just read of a growing movement which is pushing for concealed handguns on college campuses. Basically, the idea is that if a madman (or madmen) try to start a shooting spree on campus, he/they will instead be creating a gun battle free-for-all where anyone with a gun can join in (and they will); thus spoiling the fun of the madman (madmen), who will no longer have the shooting spree to himself/themselves. Yes! My trigger finger is itching already.

But don't worry. I'm sure each of the non-madmen will know exactly who the "bad guys" are, as will the campus police. So this won't create a scenario where all the people with guns end up shooting all the other people with guns, not knowing which ones are the good guys or bad guys; as well as anyone foolish enough to be on a college campus unarmed. Besides, I've played these games enough to know that you can just use the "Friendly Fire" option and so the only people you can hurt are the bad guys. Only an idiot would attempt this without that option selected.

I quote from the article:

Campuses in higher-crime urban neighborhoods also pose risks for students, said Michael Flitcraft, a 23-year-old mechanical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati.

He argues, like most gun rights advocates, that weapons-free regulations only deter law-abiding students, not thugs or mentally ill shooters.

"Laws only affect the people who voluntarily abide by them," Flitcraft said.

That's right. And it's really too bad too. Laws are great, but the fact that they're voluntary undermines them completely. Wouldn't it be better if we had some way of making them involuntary, so they applied to everyone equally? Like a group of people who were given special privileges to act as law "enforcers." And call me a dreamer, but how about if we then created an entire system devoted towards "judging" whether or not people obeyed the laws, which would include a mechanism where by we could punish those who did not obey the law. Perhaps even special places where we could "imprison" them for a specific time period. Wouldn't that be great?

But no. As things are, laws are only for the dopes willing to obey them. And what's the point of that? If only the good guys obey the laws, we might as well not even have them, because they're good guys and weren't going to do anything wrong anyway. So I agree with Michael Flitcraft completely in his call to do away with all laws. No longer will good guys be forbidden from robbing homes or smoking dope. Why let the criminals have all the fun? Hell, I betcha Flitcraft could probably use a big bong hit right now, if only to take the sting out of having such a bad last name.

And murder most definitely needs to be legalized. Again, if anyone needs to be dead, it's bad guys; and it's not like we can expect bad guys to kill each other, right? Particularly not if they've got the the Friendly Fire option on. So it only makes sense that we legalize murder, so the good guys can start doing it too. After all, if you outlaw murder, then only outlaws will commit murder, right? And that's total bullshit. Good guys should get to murder people too.

I have a dream that one day every dormroom in our nation will be armed to the teeth, and that classroom debates will be decided by the one with the largest weapon. I have a dream that one day our nation's students will respond to each bullet fired by a hail of twenty bullets in return, which will in turn be rebutted with sixty bullets, etc. That'll teach the stupid SOB's.

This is my hope: Some day, I'll be walking around your campus with a Magnum on my belt and a Winchester under my coat, and there won't be a damn thing anyone can do about it until I start shooting; after which all hell will break loose. Now is the time we make vigilante justice a reality for all our students. Let shotguns ring!

Update: I crossposted this at Daily Kos, including a poll. If you're bored, go take the poll. But it's a scientific poll, so no screwing around or you'll mess up the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bad Publicity Gone Bad

There’s a saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, meaning that even bad publicity helps you out by making you more famous. But there are two reasons for that myth: Some bad publicity can be quite good, and spinmeisters always need to put a positive spin on everything, even if there isn’t one.

For example, the news of Clinton’s affair with Gennifer Flowers probably helped him pull ahead of the pack in 1992 to get the nomination. But what about Michael Jackson or OJ Simpson? Can anyone suggest that their scandals were helpful? Of course not. Both of them were ruined by the publicity and it's unlikely that either will have positive fame that will outweigh the negative. Hell, at least Jackson had huge fame that merely got replaced by his notoriety. But with Simpson, he’s more infamous than he ever was famous.

Clinton was helped by the Flowers scandal because the gossip drew attention to him and made him look like a stud. Even the Lewinsky affair helped him, by driving the wingnuts rabid and firmly established his stud credentials by showing that he could bag a twenty-two year old hottie. But what about Michael Dukakis in the tank? That was something they did for good PR, but which backfired so badly that it's now considered a famous example of what not to do. Or Dick Cheney shooting the dude in the face? Or just about anything President Bush has ever done or said? No intelligent observer could possibly put those in a positive light. It's quite obvious that some publicity can be very, very bad.

Everyone's Got a Story

Because it's not about whether the publicity is “good” or “bad,” but rather what the publicity says about the person and how it fits into their overall story. For a bubblegum pop star like Britney Spears to have a few photos taken while snorting coke in a bathroom could make her look edgy and hardcore. But as a divorced mom who keeps getting this kind of publicity, it makes her look irresponsible and crazy. Michael Jackson getting caught having orgies with sixteen year old girls would make him look awesome, while the accusations of him getting prĂȘ-teen boys drunk and horny makes him look like a monster.

It’s not about whether they did something immoral or illegal, but how this fits into their story. That's why the Dukakis-tank photo was such a bad idea. Arnold Schwarzenegger in that tank would have been great. But a dork like Dukakis just looked dorky and desperate. Of course, I always thought that President Codpiece in the flightsuit looked dorky and desperate, while Chris Matthews thought he looked like "Bob Hope and John Wayne combined."

But again, it's all about the story. When I see Bush, I see a poser a-hole with a silverspoon and serious intelligence issues, while Matthews saw a bulge that just wouldn't quit. And so we interpret the picture based upon how it fits into the story. The PR was the same, but the story was different.

Good Luck Chuck

And that's where the main point of my earlier post on Mike Huckabee's endorsement by Chuck Norris came from, and why I don't think this helps Huckabee. RH Reality Check (which kindly linked to my post) suggests that this is giving great buzz to Huckabee, but I'm just not buying it. Because the only parts of the commercial that really work for Huckabee are the parts he's not know, the parts with Chuck Norris. Norris delivers Huck's pitch for him and sells it relatively well (assuming you're a conservative). But as I said before, Huck's parts are outrageously silly and make both men look bad. This kind of thing might help sell furniture on late night TV, but isn't what we want from the President of the United States.

And that's why I was suggesting with my title that this is the beginning of the Norris-Huckbaee ticket. Because Chuck Norris was not only the clear star of the ad, but also delivered the policy goods. In contrast, Huckabee just looked like a goober trying to be funny by stealing someone else's jokes. And I don't think that helps him at all. While people might be talking about the ad, I really think the net result will be that it diminishes Huckabee's credibility and that this was a prime example of bad PR. A commercial showing Huckabee kicking butt as Norris' sidekick might help (assuming the people being beat were brown-skinned and evil), but nobody wants Chuck Norris' comic relief as president. That's just not a presidential story.

But then again, as I mentioned in that other post, conservatives really don't understand irony, including when they're being mocked. So it's quite possible that this ad might help Huckabee after all. Perhaps they don't realize that the Chuck Norris jokes are really just mocking his toughguy image, and aren't meant to be true compliments. Not that I think Norris had his feelings hurt by the jokes, but they weren't meant to represent reality. But again, conservatives always have had trouble with the whole "reality" thing, so it's quite possible they're missing the best part of the joke and really do believe that the world goes down whenever Chuck Norris does a push-up. It wouldn't be the craziest thing they've ever believed.

I'll leave you with two dorks trying to look cool:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crazy for President

So, Atrios thinks I'm crazy just because I really want to be president, huh. Does he honestly think someone with the temerity to have written six posts on his own candidacy, as well as running a campaign with no financing, no public support, and who hasn't left the state of Texas in over five years would be "crazy" for trying to be president? Really?

Of course, we all know what game he's really up to. He's just using a little reverse psychology to make us all feel stupid for running for president, just so we'll drop out and then he can swoop in at the last minute and claim the big prize all to himself. Well I fell for that one once before and I'm not going to let it happen again (crudeness alert on that last link!). I'm committed to winning this sucker (or get a plumb VP spot), and I'm not going to let some two-bit blogger psyche me out of it, even if he controls a blog powerful enough to crush me with one link.

Besides, as evidenced above, I've already paid twice the commitment that Fred Thompson has, and he hasn't bowed out yet. And he's just a fat old man who gets his smell from a bottle, while I'm a moderately fit-ish thirty-something with a natural musk that comes from eating real hamburgers. All I need is for a few Washington pundits to get a whiff of my aroma while I drop a few policy-ish sounding factoids which makes it sound like I know what I'm talking about and I'm in. By the time they find out that I actually do know what I'm talking about, it'll be too late.

The more they struggle to impeach me, the more my approval ratings will skyrocket. Who knows, maybe if they attack me hard enough, I'll actually be able to accomplish something. I could be signing Universal Healthcare into existence as the Senate finalizes my conviction, and perhaps even get us out of Iraq from my prison cell. With these guys against me, I might go down as the greatest president ever. And Atrios dares call me crazy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Norris-Huckabee 2008

The reason Mike Huckabee won't become president is the same reason no other "true" conservative can become president: To be considered a "true" conservative, you're actually expected to be "truthful" on policy issues. I put the word "truthful" in quotes because I have no expectations that they'll actually tell the truth, but simply that they'll tell people what being conservative actually means and won't try to dress it up in moderate language.

That's one of the chief rules of conservatism: That a strong majority of Americans are conservative (as well as all "real" Americans) and so there is no absolutely no reason why any politician shouldn't proudly display their conservatism for all to see. I've still seen no good explanation from them on why so many Republican politicians insist on tip-toeing around the whole conservative thing, rather than adopting the whole thing, though I'm sure it has something to do with the liberal media and some sort of conspiracy involving the ACLU.

In fact, most people on the fringes of the ideological spectrum expect their candidates to be unapologetically supportive of their own personal beliefs. The only difference is that most fringe people realize they're on the fringe and don't pretend to have majority support. For example, most Nader people knew they were spoilers, or at least were only supposed to influence Dems to the left, and didn't actually believe Nader would become president. They actually take pride in their ideological purity and don't expect everyone else to agree with them.

Conservatives like the Ron Paul people, on the other hand, have some absurd idea that the 3% support Paul pulls is somehow comparable to the 13% Howard Dean got in 2004, and actually imagine that most Americans would support Paul's platform, if only they saw how fervent Paul's supporters are. As an example of this, please read Pliny's comment at #19 to see the delusional standards of one Paul supporter, who seems to think it's a media conspiracy that got Dean labeled a "front-runner," while Paul continues to be ignored. Somehow, he fails to appreciate that the reason Dean was labeled a "front-runner" was because he was, in fact, in the top of the Dem pack throughout most of 2003, and pulled a strong lead in the month before the primaries, while Ron Paul is still trailing the top two GOP contenders by double-digits. Note to Loon: You have to be a front-runner to be considered a front-runner.

Again, these people are convinced that they represent some sort of majority, despite the fact that the top four leading Republican candidates continue to act like moderates, even among Republican voters. They may repeat Bush's crazy talk on war and torture, but they refuse to go whole hog on the conservative thing.

Fifty Versions of Morality

As an example of Huckabee's campaign-killing conservatism, I submit this article on Huckabee's stance on abortion. In it, he insists that conservatives do not consider abortion to be a state's rights issue, but rather a national issue that will be handled with one law covering the whole country.

As he said on Fox News:
"If morality is the point here, and if it's right or wrong, not just a political question, then you can't have 50 different versions of what's right and what's wrong."

And that just makes sense. Any conservative who insists that Roe v. Wade is a state's rights issue is a lying schmuck Republican who just wants to win elections and doesn't really give a damn about abortion. As Huckabee suggests, it's just like with slavery. If slavery was wrong, it was wrong everywhere, and not just in the places where people thought it was wrong.

And if conservatives can overturn Roe v. Wade, the final step isn't a state-by-state change, it's a national ban inflicted upon everyone. Sure, they might move state-by-state at first, but the eventual goal is a national ban. That just makes sense. Remember, these are people who don't even want us funding abortions in Africa or India, and would surely like a worldwide ban on the practice. And the only people who don't seem to understand that are Republicans who use it as a vote-getting issue, and Democrats who want to steal it from Republicans as a vote-getting issue by giving in to the state-by-state approach.

Of course, Huckabee's logic on this is all wrong. Laws are about aiding society, not about enforcing morality. And if laws were about morality, as he suggests they are, then our federalized system of allowing state and local governments to write their own laws would surely be as wrong as he suggests having fifty different laws on abortion would be. Equally, it would be wrong for each country to have their own laws. So by Huckabee's logic, we should all have a one-world government that enforces the same laws on everyone, based upon Huckabee's vision of morality. And while I'm sure there are too many Christian conservatives who would agree to such a thing, I think if Huckabee actually advocated such a policy he'd be laughed out of politics by the majority of conservatives.

In reality, Huckabee's objection to fifty different abortion laws only applies to this one issue, and even then, would be wildly unpopular. That's the reason why most conservatives focus on the state's rights issue. Sure, a nationwide ban is the only logical position based upon their arguments, but most of them are much too smart to say so. And as long as the Republican leadership needs the issue to get votes, it ain't going to happen.

Chuck Norris for President

That article also had the transcript for a new Huckabee ad featuring his endorsement by the one and only Chuck Norris. Having read it, I honestly thought it was a joke by the reporter who forgot to remove it from his article before publishing it (ala Fox News "accidentally" publishing the fake John Kerry Metrosexual story). But no, Huckabee's ad is real and is so hilarious that I've included the clip of it below.

Of course, it's obvious that it was meant to be funny, but that still doesn't help Huckabee at all, as it really makes him look like a big doofus. This would make sense if he were the guest host on Saturday Night Live, though it's really not quite funny enough for that. But as a real ad from a serious presidential contender, it does nothing but undermine his candidacy and make him look foolish. For as much as I really like the Chuck Norris jokes, it really undermines Norris to be a part of this and makes him look foolish too, which is something I considered so impossible that it again hints at the level of Huckabee's mistake. I wonder if the ass-kicking Bruce Lee gave Chuck had some sort of delaying effect that only hit years later. I suppose that would explain John Derbyshire too.

Despite the theory that all publicity is good publicity, I strongly doubt this ad will help Huckabee in the way he needs it. Which is odd, as I suspect that had it been done seriously, it could have helped him. But as a parody, it only makes both men look foolish. Again, that was clearly intentional, but it still doesn't make it presidential.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Consider It Done

I've decided to do something about Global Warming. Wish me luck.

Water for Everyone!

I just read this story about some problem Atlanta's having with their water supply or something and think this whole thing is stupid. Sure, I'm not some fancypants water bureaucrat, but the answer to this is much too obvious: Try using your sinks, dummies! No matter how bad the news people say the droughts are around here, I can always just open the faucet and let that juicy good stuff pour on out. Sometimes I'll just sit there for hours at a time watching it come out, and it doesn't even slow down. One time, I even turned on all the faucets in the house, including the outside ones, and just let it stay like that for two days. The worst thing that happened is that I ran out of hot water and had a soggy yard, but that's it. No worries.

So these people really need to get a grip on things. Sure, no rain is a bad thing, and low lake levels aren't cool, but there's always the faucets. It might not be as good as the bottled water I normally bathe in, but it is free. And you just can't complain about free.

Update: My mistake. I really don't know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Macaca Conundrum

Modern Republicans are facing a big problem, which I've dubbed The Macaca Conundrum. And that is, how do you appeal to bigots and assholes without offending the rest of the population? And even worse, if you get caught saying or doing something offensive, do you risk offending the bigots and assholes by apologizing?

As I've said before, if you apologize for the remark, none of the people you offended will believe you and you'll end up offending the bigots and assholes you were trying to woo in the first place. But if you don't apologize, the scandal won't go away. It's really a lose-lose situation for them. But with bigots and assholes being such a large portion of the Republican Party, they really don't have much choice, other than to just try to make sure that they do this stuff when no one can record it for posterity.

And what's funny about this is that this was part of their strategy for several decades; to woo southerners to start voting Republican. And they apparently didn't realize why the southerners were willing to be wooed or what a deal with the devil they made. They've been pushing harder and harder for a voter base that was shrinking and which would offend everyone else. Somehow they had imagined that they could say offensive things to crazy people without the rest of us hearing too. And now they're walking a self-created tightrope that just keeps getting smaller with every passing year.


And this isn't just racist stuff either. Politicians are having serious trouble with religious intolerance too. Because let's face it, many Christians believe that a large segment of our population is going to Hell, and for no other reason than having made one wrong decision. And they really find it quite troubling for anyone to suggest otherwise. For example, it was apparently controversial for Howard Dean to tell Jews that they can get into Heaven. And you can find websites attacking President Bush for saying that Jews can't get into Heaven as well as websites attacking him for saying Jews are allowed in (eerie music alert!).

And it's not just the Jews. Many people in many of the major Christian factions don't like people in the other factions. Born agains really do think that you need to be born again to get into Heaven. It sometimes seems that nobody likes the Catholics and the Catholics don't like anyone. And they all seem to agree that there's just something wrong with the Mormons. That's why Republicans try to get things general and speak of "faith" without really getting into specifics of what faith they're talking about.

In fact, according to the Catholic leaders in this article I read while writing this post (and yes, I'm that skilled), it's not even enough to be Catholic anymore. They have to vote Catholic too, or "risk their eternal salvation." And yes, abortion is the single most important issue, and the Iraq war wasn't even mentioned. Fortunately, most Catholics are much too smart to listen to this gibberish and don't vote as a bloc.

Again, this is an issue that you just can't win and you better hope that you never get asked about in the first place, particularly for Republicans. As it is, they're already getting sucked deeper and deeper into an ever shrinking pit of bigoted delusion as they find that many of the people they've been trying to woo are quite insane and will accept no substitutes.

Beating the Bitch

I mention this because I think this is what got McCain in trouble for the "How do we beat the bitch" question. Sure, the question wasn't his, but it was obvious that it put him in a tight spot and he wasn't sure how to respond. The "right" thing to do would have been to politely insist that such language isn't appropriate, before answering the question. But the thing is, many Republicans do think such language is entirely appropriate when it comes to Hillary, and so to say that it wasn't proper might offend them.

And that's exactly how "journalist" Mike Allen took it, when he said "But what Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that and what people like about McCain is his straight talk, his candor." See? Not only did McCain not do anything wrong, but Allen actually praises him for not correcting the lady.

But of course, part of Allen's analysis seems to be based on the odd premise that McCain's mistake was that he didn't pretend to not know who "the bitch" was. So "candor" was preferable over the phony charade Allen suggests the "deftest way" of handling the situation was. Somehow, it didn't seem to occur to Allen that the problem wasn't McCain's honesty, but that he not only allowed the slur to stick but referred to it as "an excellent question."

No Answer

But again, it's obvious from the video that McCain really didn't know how to handle that one. He might even have imagined that his "May I give the translation?" and long pause helped defuse the insult without requiring him to actually admonish the woman. And sure, lots of Republicans think that way, but there is such a thing as dignity and president's usually are expected to have some (present occupant notwithstanding). And there was nothing dignified about McCain's suggestion that it was "an excellent question." Again, it seemed obvious that he had to think about how to handle it, and decided to go for mild encouragement.

Of course, McCain's actual response wasn't much better and he should hope that most Republicans focus on the question and not the answer. It was just some noise about how one poll shows him slightly ahead of Clinton in a matchup. Wow, that's a way to rally the base. Particularly a base that generally scoffs at polls, due to the general bias most polls have towards reality. He could have come out strong on how Americans will reject a far leftie like Hillary, and how he's a manly man Veteran who might just rip out her heart during their first debate.

But no. It was just some muttering about a stupid poll that even he didn't seem to put much faith in. So perhaps it's for the best that everyone's focused on the question and not the answer, because the answer just made him look totally weak. Not that it matters at all. There is no almost no chance that McCain will get the nomination, so all this is just a bunch of noise. The GOP might be better off nominating that crazy woman who asked the question. She won't win, but they'd clearly have more fun with her trying.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rudy Knows Best

Rudy Giuliani is an idiot. Not that you didn't already know that. It just felt nice to say. I was thinking about this after reading his proposal to "solve" an impending crisis of mass retirement by federal employees simply by not hiring people to replace many of them; thus turning a bad situation worse. Genius! I can understand this kind of drivel coming out of the know-nothing nimrods advising him, but you'd think someone who had actually run a government would know better.

He apparently already suggested such an idea as Mayor of New York, before realizing how jackass stupid it was. As it turns out, government employees actually do things, and citizens kind of like to have those things done. Because for as much as people complain about government services, it's usually because they're not getting good enough service, and not because they wish the lines were longer and the workers more surly. But apparently, what wouldn't work for a large city will work much better for a government considerably larger.

And it's obvious why this would appeal to his voter base. Most conservatives consider government work to be little more than a form of welfare; similar to the make-work programs used to keep most conservative "thinkers" from abandoning conservatism the first time they actually had to earn their money. And that attitude has been quite apparent ever since the Bushies took over and turned the government into a giant cashcow for anyone savvy enough to bribe them. It doesn't matter whether or not your services are needed, just as long as you make sure to pony up the cash.

Burning Money

And so it's no surprise that they see Washington as a giant money pit. These people generally aren't competent outside of their limited field of expertise, and usually not even there. They just can't fathom how big things work or how complicated modern life can be. And so because they can't actually see what they're buying with their money, their puny brains insist they're being robbed. From the way they talk, all I can imagine is some sort of giant cash incinerator designed so that tax dollars don't accidentally end up in the hands of the contractors and local governments, where it might accidentally be pumped back into the economy.

Giving tax breaks to rich people on the off-chance they might want to hire more employees is the backbone of a booming economy, but if you use those same dollars to hire those same people to work for the government, it somehow becomes an inexplicable drag on the economy. As if they imagine government workers to be faceless clones who throw their paychecks into that giant incinerator. Apparently, only rich people know how to boost the economy; and their wisdom is obviously well proven, as evidenced by their ability to get richer while the rest of us get poorer.

And so Giuliani plans to play to that ignorance by promoting a scheme that only a child could love; or at least someone with the maturity of a child. It's so simple. As if the problem is that it's too hard to fire government employees, rather than that Americans have a high standard of living which can't be maintained on the cheap. And this just goes hand-in-hand with all the "small government" gurus who can talk endlessly about the evils of government waste, without ever getting around to mentioning exactly what they think we should cut. And how could they? They don't really know what the government does. All they know is that they don't like it.

Beating Rudy

But at this point, I guess Rudy's willing to say any damn thing he needs to to get elected, and figures that if he's elected most conservatives will be too busy battling the newly minted "Rudy-Haters" to bother remembering this idiotic proposal. And maybe he's right. But all the same, most Americans aren't the mindless nimrods Republicans imagine them to be and this is yet another nail of absurdity that Dems should use to showcase how nutty Republicans really are.

The only question is whether they'll use it, or if they'll be kept on the defensive too much to try. And hell, this is one reason I'm leaning against the Hillary nomination. Apparently, she's already given some factish sounding proposal about the number of government employees she'll shed, and I can easily see her getting into a pissing match with Rudy about it. Why not? She'd have little to lose, as she eats into Rudy's territory and forces him to out-conservative her. That's Clinton politics for you.

But at this point, I think this thing can be won pretty straight forward and we don't need all the fancy triangulating and bankshots. All we need is a steady hand and a deft war room and we should be just fine with anyone willing to run a moderately liberal campaign. After the Bush fiasco, America is ready to greet us with open arms.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Discover Real Manhood

What the hell? Herbal Viagra substitutes actually contain real Viagra?? As do other "herbal" substitutes for boner pills? And yet they're far cheaper?? Has the world really gone this crazy?

According to the article, 69% of herbal Viagra substitutes purchased in China by Viagra's maker contain the active ingredient for Viagra, while the FDA has been prosecuting several companies for illegally importing the drugs. I don't know what stuns me more about this: That herbal pill makers would actually go through the trouble of including real drugs in their pills, or that there are spam emails for products that actually work. What's next? Penny stocks that really can make you rich? Or perhaps there really are hot women in my area who just want anonymous sex with me right now. In either case, I guess it's time to stock-up on the herbal remedies.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Early Santa Post

Can you believe that there's already a fricking Santa Claus at my local shopping mall? A fricking Santa Claus! It's not even quite Veteran's Day yet, and this dude's already got kids lined up to sit on his fat little lap. Not a lot of kids, but a lot more than how many should be sitting on his lap this early before Thanksgiving. I'm watching a movie called Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out) and they waited until after Thanksgiving before bringing out their Santa; and that was a film about a sexually-demented psycho Santa wannabe who totally freaks out and kills a few people. I mean, if they can get it right, why can't my local shopping mall?

And seeing him there really made things kind of awkward with my six-year-old daughter; and being six years old, she's really into that whole Santa thing. Just a few years ago, she told Santa on a whim that she was going to get a goldfish named Fred for Christmas. And sure enough, I'm now stuck with a fishtank full of fish, none of which are goldfish or named Fred (the original Fred died when the pump broke on the older, cheaper fishtank that dumb Santa brought her); nor does she ever look at them. They're now my headache to feed, rewater, and filter until the end of time. Thus is the power of Santa.

And now here we are at the mall, futilely attempting to buy her friend a birthday present, when we accidentally stumble upon ole Saint Nick. Like he's have nothing better to do in early November than getting his picture taken with a few snotty brats. I mean, he hasn't even had a full eleven months to make out his naughty or nice list! Yet he's going to be taking requests on this stuff? Then again, I suppose he could use the extra time to warn the naughty ones that they still have time to repent. But I'm not sure Santa does that kind of thing. He really likes to play things to the wire, and you never do know which column you're going to end up in each Christmas.

But still, under no circumstance should there be a Santa this early. If that means that they'll have to get some giant turkey in the middle of the mall accepting thanks from everyone, so be it. All I know is that I don't want to see Santa Claus on Veteran's Day. Nothing against the big guy, but I don't really see him down in the trenches holding off the gooks. It's bad enough that he totally stole Jesus' birthday by making it his big day to give presents, but Veteran's Day needs to be preserved as the traditional holiday of WWII movies and John Wayne. And while I probably wouldn't protest if Santa showed up to eat with me on Thanksgiving, I still don't want to see the guy begging at the mall until after the bird's been eaten. Is that really too much to ask for?

Oh, and I do recommend renting Christmas Evil, if you're interested in thought-provoking movies about sexual-deviant psycho Santa wannabes who freakout and kill a few people. But if you just want a sexual-deviant psycho Santa wannabe who kills even more people, but don't care so much about having your thoughts provoked, I recommend Silent Night, Deadly Night. It also has more of the sexies in it, if that's your kind of thing. Either way, you won't be disappointed, assuming you're into the whole psycho Santa thing. If not, then it sucks to be you this Christmas; which officially started five days ago.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Remorse

I own the Disney Channel and apologize for nothing. What are you going to do about it? Ron Paul.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Big Money for President

Does Big Money want Giuliani to win? I can't see how. When they supported Bush, they couldn't have imagined that Cheney and the Neo-cons would so totally fuck things up. Sure, they thought things would get a little fucked up. They thought they'd see some government deregulation and that tax revenues would take a small dump, but continue to go up as they almost always do. That's just to be expected.

And most of all, they must have imagined that Bush would get the budget trimmed a little at the expense of the country's parasites and deadbeats. You know, to be compassionate to them. History had already shown that Republicans only want to trim the budget when it's a Democrat spending the money, but perhaps they imagined things would be different this time. But they couldn't have predicted the total freefall these fools put us into.

Hell, even I couldn't have predicted things could have gone this badly and I disliked the guy from the moment I heard he was running for governor of my fine state. I knew he was just using us as a springboard for the Whitehouse and that he was going to be bad news. But nobody could have predicted it'd get this bad.

Too Much

But as usual, the world hasn't ended so things really could have been a lot worse. And that's where a President Giuliani would take us. Not the end of the world (I hope!), but to a worse place than we are already. The man was already a bit of an ego freak before 9/11 and now that the looniest of the neo-cons are advising him on foreign policy, he's really gone off the deep end. It's not just the uber-macho foreign policy stances; he's entirely adopted their toughguy posturing on all issues. Sure, he'll never really drink the neo-con koolaid, but he sure does like their twelve-year-old worldview.

And Big Money has surely noticed that. They're not dumb; just a bit greedy. And one thing is for certain: Bush is bad for greed. It's too much. It's like having a free-for-all with your Halloween candy. It's nice at first, but soon you feel like you're swallowing sugary vomit and maybe you really are. And before you finish off the dregs, you vow "Never again." You get the same thing from excessive drinking. As it turns out, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

And that's how things have been since Bush took office. Many people got stunningly rich during the nineties, but this is a whole new ball game. This wasn't furnished by an economic boom fed by a great new technology. This was the "Haves" just grabbing a bigger piece of a pie that didn't really get any bigger. And there's only so much of that people can take before they start wanting to do something about it. When they look at Exxon's pornographic quarterly profits while paying record amounts at the gas pumps. People can take a lot, but if you give them too much, you don't know what you'll get.

Government Racketeering

And Big Money knows that. Not all of them, but enough. They've had their fun and now they're ready for the adults to grab the reins again. Not just because they suffered from Greed Overload, but because the Republican politicians were really only doing it for themselves. Because the whole thing was an extortion racket. Those weren't fundraising rallies. Those were shakedowns. The Bushies were willing to sell you the shirts off our backs, but first you had to pony up some cash.

And if you didn't give them the money, you were locked out of the deal. Instead, you'd see your competitors getting the no-bid contract that you were better qualified for. It's like the horses took off the saddle and started riding us around for a change. And sure, that's how most politicians do it. But this was different. They took all the fun out of it by asking for the dough upfront. Cash didn't just grease the wheels; it was the only way to get on the train. And you get to the point when you realize that this is no different than how the mafia does things. If you want protection, you've got to pay for it. And the best corporate whores were the ones who essentially turned their corporations into payola factories.

But as I said before, these guys never knew when to say when. If they can get an inch, they'll take fifty miles. Nothing's so good that you shouldn't get more of it. But life just doesn't work that way and the more you ignore consequences, the harder those consequences will hit you. And Big Money knows that. That's why Obama and Clinton are so flush with cash. So will any Democrat who looks like they'll get the nomination. Assuming, of course, that they're better for business than Bush was. But after the mess Bush caused, that'd be pretty hard to do.

There really weren't that many people who got rich during Bush's tenure, but many of the ones who aren't going to jail have realized that Republicans are too much of a bad thing. And Giuliani is the worst of the lot. His foreign policy advisers continue to advocate policies which have clearly shown themselves to be disastrous, yet Rudy's such a megalomaniac that he really wants more of it. But Big Money has learned its lesson and is now willing to take its medicine. They won't play nice about it, but they'll take what they have to.

Oh, and I'd now like to give a big shoutout to Ron Paul, because posting about him is always good for blog traffic. Ron Paul is a prophet of great magnitude and the only man left in Congress not addicted to Viagra. Of course, I would never vote for a man with two first names, so it looks like I'll be stuck voting for Mike Gravel next November. Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Invasion of the Paul People

I recently wrote a post that I never actually posted which supported my theory that Howard Dean really never had very much support in 2004. Sure, the support he had was quite firm, but it was inherently limited to the small percentage of people who had already joined his movement. I didn't post it because it was too number-oriented, and I've found that you people don't seem to like my number-crunching posts (I, being an accountant, happen to love number crunching, but I understand why it's not so fun to read).

Basically, Dean had about a steady 14% of the voting-Dems. That was it: 14%. During the build up to the primaries in December, that number doubled, and stayed high going into Iowa. But after his dismal third-place finish in Iowa pulled the rug out from under him, he went back down to his original 14%. In contrast, the other candidates were fairly loose with the numbers, with Kerry never looking very good until his big win in Iowa. After that, everyone seemed to file in behind him, particularly the people who had temporarily joined the Dean bandwagon. Sure, none of this is conclusive, but if I posted the numbers I crunched, you'd see I'm not completely speculating.

And the reason was simple: Dean grabbed a certain segment of the population that he had tailored his platform on. But the other candidates were all fighting for the same crowd as each other, and that crowd didn't give a damn if it was Kerry, Edwards, Clark, or Lieberman who got the spot; just as long as it was one of those guys (I personally would have supported any of those except Joe, though I preferred Clark). And then there were the bandwagon people who joined Dean when he looked like he was the one, but would have supported any Democrat they saw as the front-runner. That's where a big chunk of Kerry and Edwards support came from after Iowa, as all the other candidates stayed firm in the polls except for Kerry, Edwards, and Dean (as well as Gephardt, who dropped out after Iowa).

But the main point is that Dean never was going to get those Kerry, Edwards, Clark, Lieberman people. He just wasn't. So while he looked strong throughout the pre-primary season, that strength was just based upon people who really weren't like the rest of the Democrats. Dean was the one guy who wasn't interchangeable with the others. While he wasn't going to get less than his 13%, he wasn't going to get much more than that either. And that's the reason he lost. My numbers show that of the first nine primaries, Dean averaged 12.7% of the vote, with his best showing in New Hampshire and his worst in Oklahoma. And that backs up much of what I'm saying.

It wasn't the "Dean Scream" or the Washington Establishment opposing him, because most people really aren't influenced by the Washington Establishment. It was just that he had a message tailored for a specific audience, and that message just didn't translate with the rest of the Democrats. Had Edwards, Clark, and Lieberman not been splitting Kerry's demographic, he would have been trouncing Dean in the polls, not lagging with the rest.

Losing Red State

But like I said, I decided to not post that post. But I started thinking about it again today when Carpetbagger made the mistake of writing a post about Ron Paul. As usual, the Paul People got wind of it and descended upon Carpetbagger with their usual tripe about how Ron Paul is the savior of the universe and the only true American in politics.

Sure, Carpetbagger's post was merely a note about how Ron Paul raised a bunch of money in a short period of time, but no matter. They descended all the same, imagining that they can convince liberals to support Paul because Paul wants us to be able to use gold to buy stuff at stores and some idiocy about how Social Security doesn't exist and how it's only our creditors who are paying the Social Security checks (despite the fact that Social Security is still quite profitable and is one of the government's creditors).

And so I wrote a comment there begging Carpetbagger to stop posting about Ron Paul because it makes all the loons come out of the woodwork and rant about Ron Paul. It's like these people are just desperate to find some forum to discuss him in. And I thought that was crazy, because if anyone was going to get into Paul's old school conservative platform, it certainly wouldn't be the liberals at Carpetbagger. So they were all wasting their time.

And then one of them dropped me the final clue: the conservative blog Red State already hates the Paul People. I couldn't believe it. This guy was actually suggesting that I go to Red State because of their anti-Paul policy. Holy shit! If they lost Red State, they're screwed. Because where does Paul go from there? He's an old school conservative further to the right than the Bushies (using the traditional Left-Right Index, of course, and not the revised Bush Loyalty Index).

I mean, the only thing about Paul that could appeal to moderates and liberals is Paul's anti-war policy, and we've got Democrats who do that. And once any moderate or liberal gets a load of Paul's other policies, they jump ship. So if they can't convert the freaks at Red State, what's the point? They could raise thirty million dollars in a week, and it still won't help them. They've already got all the supporters they're going to get and have got nowhere else to go.

Finding the Herd

And I started thinking about this Paul phenomenon and realized it was just like the Dean phenomenon, except worse for Paul. As I wrote at Carpetbagger's, the issue is that you have a certain number of disenfranchised people on the fringes who are lost in a national sea of moderation and compromise. They're all by themselves and need to feel like they're part of something bigger. It's part of our herd-like instincts, to have other people validate our beliefs and let us know that we're not crazy. It's sort of like a bat's sonar; it makes people feel better when they say something to hear the echo come back to them.

And so when they find some politician who will speak to them, they immediately are attracted like moths to a light, where they find each other. Finally, they've found a group of like-minded individuals. These are people who don't even get along well with people of their own ideology, and so they think it's something special when they can find so many people who think just like them. And the Internet is a big help in that, as now it's easier for thirty thousand people to get together and form a group. But while that's a lot of people, that's really not very many on a national scale.

In the old days, a local politician with a thirty thousand man army of supporters would be quite powerful, but if most of those people couldn't vote in his district, and if this was the most he could get out of the entire nation, it won't help much. Sure, the politician will look good, particularly in national polls, but all those people can't support him in individual state primaries. Nor is it particularly impressive in an age where a presidential nominee can get over fifty million votes and still lose.

While the Internet has been a big help in combining little guys into big forces, those forces can be deceptive. Atrios getting thirty thousand people to send letters might help sway a politician on a particular issue. But thirty thousand votes in a presidential election won't even amount to a small joke. Republicans can toss out more than thirty thousand votes before breakfast. Sure, it's better than being lost in the wilderness, but it still won't put your guy in the Whitehouse.

Nowhere but Down

And as I said, the other issue is where you go with your army. If you've got a solid 14% of the population as Dean did in 2004 and you're moving from a moderate position and can gather huge chunks of the other nominee's votes, you're sitting pretty. But if you got 14% from a fringe that is pretty much limited at 14%, you've got nowhere to go. Instead, you could get snookered by a moderate like John Kerry, who barely made it into double-digits and whose support was never as steady as Dean's. Because again, Kerry was sharing the majority of the Democrats with the other moderates; while Dean was usually grabbing a steady share all to his own.

And the reason Dean wasn't sharing those votes is the same reason he couldn't win: Because nobody really wanted his voters. He got all that support because the other candidates were neglecting that part of the population. But they were being neglected because they were fringe people who rejected moderation and compromise. They latched to Dean because he was the one guy telling them what they wanted to hear; accusing the others of being "Bush-lite". And if that was a smart position to take, you can bet that other candidates would have latched onto it and would have stolen much of Dean's support.

So in essence, Dean was only as popular as he was because he had adopted a position which wasn't very popular. As I suggested at Carpetbagger's, it's like being the only CB radio repairman in town. Sure, every CB owner will flock to you when they need repairs, but there just aren't that many of them. Getting 100% of six million people isn't as good as getting 40% of fifty million people. And that's what we're talking about.

Cheney Buttinski Wins

But for Paul, it's even worse. First off, we're already in November and he's still not polling as well as Dean was. By the end of October 2004, Newsweek had Dean at 13%, where he had been for months. They've got Paul at 3%. And for context, Dean was tied in first with Clark, and was only losing to the "Don't Know/None/Other" category, which stayed steady at 27%. Paul, on the other hand, isn't even included in the General Election polls I saw.

But even worse, the CB radio analogy is quite appropriate. Because the thing is, Ron Paul is an anachronism. He's not a fringe candidate because he's too radical. He's in the fringe because his entire party went off the deep-end and left him there. Sure, his ideas are radical and would be rejected by large majorities, if they were to know what he wanted to do. But the thing is, he's really no different than what most Republican politicians were saying just a decade ago. He didn't change, the party did. But he's just as loony as he ever was.

And just like with Dean, the only reason he's being noticed is because he's taking up a huge chunk of ideological real estate that's been abandoned. The only reason why he stands out is because no other major Republican is taking that stand, yet there are still quite a few diehard conservatives who are still there. Or who have come back from the deep-end, after they saw how much of a disaster it is. But while Dean was the fringe candidate who was too ahead of his time, Paul just stands out like a sore thumb and is a nasty reminder about how conservatives used to be, before the Bush-Cheney machine came along and ruined everything.

And while that should be a good thing, these are people who don't like to admit to mistakes and are still living in a fantasyworld. They don't want to hear about how they all went off the rails. They want Giuliani to torture the shit out of people (literally) and they want the guy from Law & Order to come riding in on a horse and save the day. They don't want small government and isolationism. They want a government that kicks butt, takes names, and then kicks some more butt.

And Ron Paul won't give that to them. Because that's one of the odd things about the Bush-Cheney movement: They're actually more moderate than the conservatives of the 90's. I guess it's that Compassionate Conservative thing. They believe in powerful government. They went global. They now think it's good to deny individual rights in order to benefit society, just like liberals; the only difference being that they think they own society and that society should work for them. The problem isn't that they're too conservative. The problem is that they're batshit crazy and they really don't give a damn.

And as it turns out, while conservatives liked the "I've got mine, leave me alone" rhetoric, they really liked conformity and butting into everyone else's business. Both those strands were within the crazy conservative ideology, but with Cheney at the helm, the Buttinski's won. They're now the Party of Big Brother and they like it.

The Lonely Paul People

And so all those poor Paul supporters just can't figure out what's going on. Finally, they've found a candidate who represents what they believe. And sure, while they themselves may have lapsed after 9/11, they're now back and have a candidate to support; the kind of candidate they used to have in the good old days. Yet he can't even bust into double-digits among weak competition. Everyone they know whose opinion they trust is supporting Ron Paul and this looks like the real deal. But alas, it won't be.

Again, the only reason why they all support Paul is because his position is so unpopular. Supply & Demand wins again. The bigger demand something has, the more suppliers will show up to fill that demand. But if demand is low enough, you'll be lucky to get even one supplier. And that's what the Paul People have: Their one CB radio repair guy who's getting all the business in town and still can't catch a break. And the more they rally behind him and insist that he's unlike all the other candidates, the more everyone else will reject him.

And that apparently includes the Red State people, who were really his only hope. The Paul People can try to pretend he's the next Dean and try to woo some anti-war support from the left, but all that does is remind us how crazy they really are. Paul may have a tight group of rabid supporters, but it won't do him any good.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My Daily Pick Me Up

I just gave myself the Presidential Medal of Freedom while listening to The Eye of the Tiger and smoking a fat cigar. I totally kick ass!

Update: My apology to the two readers who got brain aneurysms while watching the YouTube clip I linked to. You're right, I really should have posted a warning on that one. All the same, my lawyers have made certain that the double-secret hidden disclaimer on my website is absolutely airtight. I assure you, you will both be paying my legal fees, which will most surely be higher than your own. You've been warned.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ideas Which Aren't Mine

You know something, I've been thinking about it and decided that there really isn't any difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. It's really all just different sides of the same damn thing, so what's the point? Sure, there are different shadings and approaches on a few issues, but I'm now cynical and don't like the fact that these people all aren't doing exactly what I want them to do. Because ideas can be broken down into two basic categories: Those that are mine and those that aren't mine, and in that context, it's obvious that neither side is really going along with all of my ideas.

And so if they're not responsive to my every need and won't choose the exact solutions for the very problems I think are most important, then I'm just going to toss them all away and insist that I'm better than all of them and that until they start obeying my every command, I will denounce both sides equally. Nay, I will hate the side closer to mine for being backsliders and/or ideological abominations. By misappropriating part of my platform, they are doing nothing but undermining my position and stealing my thunder. They are my true enemies and I will do my best to return the favor on every occasion.

When they try to steal poverty as an issue, I will blast their poverty plan for being far too inadequate. When they try to half-assedly save the environment, I will be right there to denounce them as corporate shills. No position will be safe for them. No issue will be their issue. Any issue they try to steal from me, I will steal right back with righteous indignation. And were they to steal my entire platform, I would go so extreme that they'd be begging me to pull back from the abyss of insanity. But that would do nothing but anger me further.

I won't be satisfied until I've gotten them to the point that I can drown them in a bathtub; which I will, before finally taking over the movement and making it right and holy. But until then, I wish a pox on both their houses, particularly the Democrats. While it's unlikely that my actions will do anything except help Republicans, it sure will make me feel good about myself. Tis better to be the infallible prophet than a compromised follower.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Glenn Gould Does Britney Spears

Carl Bernstein recently attacked "celebrity news" as one of the big problems with the media. But he insists that the media isn't the only one to blame for that. As the article says:

Bernstein, 63, said he believes an "idiot culture" is partly to blame for the dysfunction of political life in the United States.

"You can't separate the appetites and demands of the people themselves and what they are given," he said. "The blame simply can't all be put at the feet of those who present news."

But why the hell not? There have always been people more interested in gossip and celebrities than real news. There has always been a big market for salacious stories and juicy rumors. And without any doubt, there have always been idiots. And those idiots have always had sources to satisfy their need for news they can understand. So what? When did popularity become the standard for excellence?

Big Macs outsell filet mignons by a wide margin. Does that mean that fancy restaurants should start selling Big Macs? Or more appropriately, Britney Spears outsells Glenn Gould. Does that mean that Gould should start recording pop albums and hiring half-nude dancers for his concerts? Of course not. So why is it ok for "serious" news shows to cover Britney Spears stories, when there are obviously bigger problems on our plate?

The fact is that there are different audiences who want different things from different people. You go to McDonald's when want a fatty burger and a cheap toy for your kid. You listen to Britney Spears when you're a herd-like pre-teen who wants to bop around to fluffy music. And anyone who wants that kind of stuff goes to McDonald's or buys Britney's albums. In these circumstances, it would be inconceivable for higher quality establishments to sell-out and start pleasing the masses. And if they did, they would most certainly be loudly derided by all serious people and their reputations would go down the tubes.

Only with the media do we take this as a given that it's ok to sell-out. It's all about ratings and high readership. It's all about giving the people what they want. But that's not what journalism is about. It's not about ratings. It's about information. It's about giving people what they need. And if that means that your show won't get as high ratings, well tough shit. That's not what this is about. There is an audience for real news, and if that audience isn't as big as what you want, well that's just too damn bad. That's the business you're in and that's the product you're expected to provide.

We already have news sources that focus on entertainment news. That's why People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight were created. The E! Network even has a celebrity news crawl at the bottom of the screen, for those who want to watch Hef on The Girls Next Door, but are afraid to miss the breaking news on Lindsay Lohan's latest arrest. We already have plenty of celebrity news sources. Now we need real news sources. And if most people don't watch real news unless a big news story happens, well that's just how it goes.

Nobody asked them to make a 24-Hour news channel. But if they're going to have one and it's going to influence real news, which it will, then they have a responsibility to provide real news. And there are no excuses. Nobody promised them an audience. We owe them nothing. They went into the market as real news sources, and that's what they owe us. And hell, if they want to rebrand themselves into gossip news sources, I'd fully support that. I hate those 24-hour news channels and would be perfectly happy if they stopped covering real news.

But as long as they cover real news, they will have a strong influence on it. And as such, they are fully responsible for the crappy state of journalism we're in. There will always be fans of "idiot culture," but that doesn't mean I want to see Glenn Gould lip-synching pop songs while prancing about in a thong. News people can aim for a pop culture audience, but then that's how they should be treated. I have no problem with the existence of shows like Entertainment Tonight. I just don't want those fools picking my president.

P.S. I just saw that Gould died quite a few years ago, which would make it that much less desirable to see him prancing around in a thong. But I love his music and like his name, so I refuse to change this to whomever his living equivalent would be.

The Right of Preemptive Self-Defense

Guest Post by Doctor Snedley, Personal Assistant to Doctor Biobrain

I just read about how our terror watchlist is "ballooning" and let me tell you, I couldn't be happier. I mean really. Reading that there are now over 800,000 terrorists lurking in our midsts scares me shitless and I can't think of any better way to feel during times of such existential turmoil such as this. I mean really. What better way is there to reinforce the fact that we're all about to die and need Bush to save us than to find out that we're finding 20,000 more bad guys a month. That's the kind of thing that makes my blood rush and my bullets pump.

Sure, I can understand why the anti-American freaks at the Prospect are gnashing their teeth over this. And I'd be a bit scared if the authoritarian dungeon masters at the ACLU weren't throwing a hissy fit. Why shouldn't they? They were probably the first ones on the list! That'd be like Saddam's henchmen's complaining about the Most Wanted Playing Cards; but I suppose that was the ACLU too, huh.

But this surely isn't enough. By my calculations, John Kerry got over fifty-nine million votes in 2004, and even discounting all the triple-counted votes and ballots cast by the recently deceased, that still puts our terror watchlist as being short by about twelve million names (please note that this is the exact number of illegals currently parasiting off our fair country; not exactly a coincidence, I'd guess). So I say we've got a whole lot more work to do.

And let's just make this easy. First off, we know that white people don't become terrorists. I mean, why would they want to blow up their own people? Right? So we can just cross them off the list and enroll all the people who don't fit into that category; namely, all the black, brown, red, and yellow people out there. I mean, I haven't met one who I'd trust to carry my luggage and they're all so easily offended and rude to me. And let me tell you from personal experience, it's just one easy step from them tossing out phrases like "pendejo" to them physically attacking you. The Violence-First mentality is extremely common among primitive-minded people, which is why we need places like Gitmo to begin with. So we can deal with these potential terrorists before they can deal with us.

Next we go for the Feminists. I mean, why the hell not? We really should have done that a loooong time ago. And did I need to say it? Of course not. The non-Christians. They're definitely trouble. Especially as any non-Christian who isn't non-white or feminist has got to be bad news. That just goes without saying. In fact, I think it would be helpful if these people had their names on the list for each one of these offenses. So that a black atheist feminist would have her name on the list three times. That way, they stick out better, which is important as these risk categories multiply exponentially. If we assigned three points for each risk category, our black atheist feminist would sure score like a million or something; I don't know. I'm still working on that system, but it's somewhere in that range.

And hell, once we get down to it, it seems like it'd be a helleva lot easier to just come out with a list of the people we don't need to watch. And that would be the real Americans. The commonfolk, like George Bush and Dick Cheney and Bill O'Reilly, as well as myself, Doctor Snedley. The real salt of the earth people who are the obvious targets of all these sicko madmen. We should be able to do whatever we needed to with impunity, with it fully acknowledged that we are simply acting out of preemptive self-defense and know what's best.

Again, why would we attack our own people? We wouldn't. We love our people. That's what separates us from the terrorists. Well that, plus the color of our skin and our political and religious beliefs. But that just goes without saying. We're in an existential struggle to ensure the survival of the good people, and the only way we can do that is if we get rid of all the bad people. That's simply undeniable, and to do so would be the surest sign you belong on that list. I mean, who wouldn't want all the terrorists and terrorist-sympathizers to die in their own rancid feces than a fellow terrorist? That's just self-evident.

It'd be nice if all these people would just up and die for us; and thus allow us to live the peaceful lives we so desire. But as long as these monsters continue to offend humanity by their foul existence, we are left with no other choice than to remove their entrails with their own kneecaps and forcefeed their mothers' eyeballs into their rectums. By their wickedness, they have left us with no other choice. This is a disembowel-or-be-disembowled world, and I don't know about you, but I'm kind of fond of my bowels.

Remember, tis better to kill one hundred innocent men than to be murdered by one guilty one. Because that way, at least you're still alive; and that's a lot more than what most of the bastards can say once me and my buddies get our hands on that watchlist.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A-Holes for Jesus

Well I just got back from Sixth Street for Halloween, and if you don't know what Sixth Street is, then it sucks to be you. I went to my old pre-kid haunt Emo's for the first time in over a decade and actually took my daughter (she really wanted to go); and yes, we had the best costumes there (I was GI Elvis, and looked quite spiffy in my camos, purple shades, and fake sideburns). I'd tell you what she was, but I'm afraid you might not approve.

But that isn't what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about religious people and why the hell they have to block up the street on Halloween. For those who don't know Sixth Street here in Austin, it's a street with a bunch of bars that they block off from car traffic on busy nights so drunk people can walk wherever they want without getting runover. It's usually pretty crowded, even in the street. and on Halloween, it's jam packed. It took us twenty minutes just to walk a few blocks.

But the worst part was the intersection where the Jesus freaks were. Now don't get me wrong, I'm cool with people believing whatever the hell they want to believe, just as long as they don't interfere with me. And that's exactly what these jerkoffs did. They were stopped in the middle of a huge pedestrian jam and beat their tambourines and wore their religious shirts. One guy seemed to be of the opinion that people don't know the Ten Commandments enough, so he had to wear it on a t-shirt. And thank god too, as I was just about to covet somebody's stuff until I saw that shirt.

And that just sucked. The pedestrian traffic went from slow to a complete stop, thanks to those bozos. Because they just stood there in a big group blocking a major part of the road. And what were they doing there? Did they really think they were going to convert somebody right there on Sixth Street? Did they imagine that they'd finally find that dude who would gladly convert to Christianity, if only a schmuck in a t-shirt blocked his path to the next bar? Is it possible that there exists somebody who hasn't heard of Jesus yet, and is just ripe for conversion...on Sixth Street?

I doubt it. I think they were just trying to be a-holes and to start a fight. Like it makes them feel righteous to piss people off and get yelled at. Not that I saw anyone yell at them. In fact, for as much as there is a "war on religion" and this being Austin...on Sixth Street...on Halloween, I think everyone was pretty cool with them. I mean, there were freaks dressed as devils and devils dressed as freaks, and yet I didn't see anyone mess with these guys. And if anyone deserved to be messed with, it'd be these guys. I'm telling you, I just needed to get my daughter home as she has school in the morning, and these guys were totally stopping that from happening.

And I saw something similar last year, except it was just one dude preaching really loudly. And while he personally didn't create too much of a barrier (except that he was standing on a platform), there were always people standing around with big smirks on their faces, and that blocked the road too. And from what I could tell, he wasn't even trying to convert anyone. He was just ranting about all the people with the smirks on their faces, which was everyone, and how he can put up with it. As if this was a test of his will power and faith in Jesus. As if this was all about him.

And it was. Just as it was about the jerks who blocked the way tonight. They weren't trying to save my soul. They didn't really believe they'd find that one guy who hadn't yet heard of Jesus Christ. They were just trying to feel holy and important. This was all about them, and we were just props in their little test of faith. They didn't care if they were blocking the road or preventing my daughter from getting home. They just wanted a little taste of martyrdom; to reconfirm their religiousity by going directly into the belly of the beast and confronting the Devil himself. That's all this was about.

Again, this shouldn't be construed as any kind of attack on religion, because it's not. Religious people do a lot of good things in the name of religion and I won't knock them for that at all. But these guys were something completely different. They weren't raising money for pregnant teens or building homes for the homeless. They weren't even trying to convert us. They were selfishly wasting my time in order to feel better about themselves, and that's just wrong. If they've got nothing better to do on Halloween than to stand around looking dumb, that's their business. But they've got no right to make the rest of us stand around with them. That's just not how this shit works. You mind your business, I'll mind mine; and if one of us wants to be converted to the other person's business, then we know where to find it.

And no, it's not on Sixth Street. That's just the place you go when you want to look like an idiot and have people compliment you for it. And yes, I got quite a few compliments as GI Elvis. But then again, I really did look pretty cool.

P.S. If you ever get the chance, I recommend seeing Nebula (though they sound much better in person than their lousy MySpace page would indicate (their music is like metally Hendrix)), and I strongly recommend seeing Static Static, even though we had to leave the show much too early. Good stuff.