Arrogance Unlimited

So White House Flautist Tony Snow today was all like, what the heck would ya need transcripts for, ya dummy?

Speaking of dummies… ==>

He really said it, regarding the ongoing “my contempt of Congress is bigger than your executive privilege, is not, is too.” (I know I used it before. I like it.) He said, “What do you gain from a transcript? The answer is, not much.”

The point isn’t what’s actually “gained” from the transcript, TonySnow. It’s that it exists. So the record may show that Harriett Miers picked her nose at 1:17 p.m. So that if Karl Rove inadvertently comes out of the closet under oath, we might know that. Mostly, tho, it’s so you lying rat-boners will have to start smelling the sweet disinfectant known as “sunlight.”

That reminds me. Did you hear the one about the 18 days missing from the recent e-mail dumps (which may the most aptly named person place or thing out of Washington since the current president started calling Alboo Gonzoo “Fredo”)? 18. Not minutes. Days. Uh-huh.

Finally, the Tables Are Starting to Turn

What a shame that the American government must perodically be pushed to the gnarly edges of Constitutional crisis just to run through its own bowel.

(Yes. We were just watching “Grey’s Anatomy” reruns.)

One would think that the architects of this fine nation would have been wise and wizardly enough to have created some form of government whereby said government were trisected, and whereby each of the sections would have another of the sections looking over it, providing, how you say, “oversight,” so that the American government would not have to poke its own finger down its throat every 30 years or so.

Oh, wait.

It’s a shame, too, that this administration’s smudged blue dress is no more than a bungled personnel issue, that it has nothing to do with a preferential government contract offered for the exact same amount of munny that had been negotiated for a Washington lobbyist to purchase a boat for a Congressman, thereby drawing a direct straight line from a now jailed ex-congressman directly to the top of the food chain or anything that’s all batsexy like that.

Oh, wait.

For some reason, the ancient insult, “may you live in interesting times,” keeps perking up to me. You too? Yeah?

My question is, if the current president does send his beloved Alboo Gonzoo, he who saved the then current governor of Texas from having to cop to a drunk driving charge, packing, does that mean all this subpoena silliness goes away? Or does the “my contempt of Cngress is bigger than your executive privilege, is not, is too” contest commence even if The Torture Guy gets canned/resigns to spend more time with his family?

P.S. A special note to mashup artists: Tracy Chapman’s “Revolution” and Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.” Get to work!

In Which I Unleash My Stream on the ‘Mainstream’ Media

There’s a friend of my Dad’s who is sort of his circle’s George Costanza. And so Dad was in town and on Fry-day we went to the Renaissance bar to watch ACC games we didn’t give a crap about while keeping track of the ticker that told us that KU was embarrassing Niagra. Often, when the conversation comes around to the politics, Dad and I are both wont to quote cross-dressing lesbian Rachel Maddow. She is one of the few AAR radio hosts we seem to agree is wonderful.

Now George has a rather visceral reaction to even the mention of the Air America Radio. It’s a weird reaction from my perspective, one of those that doesn’t just disagree with the views elicited there, but seems to connote that the speaker feels about it the way many people in the world feel about Israel—that it shouldn’t even exist in the first place. But George’s reaction isn’t from a grinchy right-wing agenda, it’s from a real D.C. policy guy who just finds that the coverage AAR offers the issues is superficial and woefully two-dimensional. And of course he’s not entirely wrong.

I’ve been making an effort lately to try to include more mainstream media in my diet in addition to the lovely carbohydrates of Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” and the Air America Radio. I am often plugged into the Span Radio especially if there’s something goin’ on, and I have been recording the XM’s rebroadcast of the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for the commute. But they sure do make it difficult.

The NewsHour is supposed to be the most reliable, most dry source of news that exists. And yet, on the broadcast to which I listened, Gwen Iffel led a discussion panel that included William Kristol.

If you were a listener to the Al Franken Show, then you know that Al was fond of playing the following quote by William Kristol, which he snidely offered to NPR’s Terry Gross in April 2003: “There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America…that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and regular commentator on Fox “News,” was also a founding member of the Project for a New American Century. He was one of the strongest American voices in support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has also been absolutely outspoken in the smearing of Congressman Murtha and has been an otherwise very successful propagandist on behalf of the current president and our ongoing occupation.

And yet, The NewsHour still takes him seriously enough to include him in a panel discussion, as do many other outlets in the “mainstream” media.

In February 2006, Media Matters for America released a study that showed empirically that the leading Sunday morning chit-chat shows tend to lean rightward. Just this week, the media watchdog released “If It’s Sunday, It’s Still Conservative,” which found that the trend continues, robbing Media Matters’ detractors of the argument that more conservatives tend to appear on the shows because they’re in power.

Then there’s the ridiculous sleeping-giant-poking that seems to have occurred over the announced merger intentions of the two satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius. Regulations presently allow the same company to own up to three television stations, the local newspaper, the cable system and up to eight radio stations in one media market, and these folks think a merger of one of the most proprietary, non-public forms of media around is a problem. Fox “News” can exist and can continue its sponsorship of Bill “Your So-Called Compassion Helped Kill Those Kids” O’Reilly, but our George is strangely whapped on the head about bias from an upstart media outlet that admits openly that it’s liberal like Bobby Trendy admits openly that he’s gay?

Once upon a time, journalism meant something, to me and to the country. Journalists started the ball rolling on the complete unmaking of a president who was a shoplifter to the current president’s Manson murders. I majored in journalism and I listened to journalists and I still quote the AP Stylebook like some quote Ephesians. But I must take with a boatload of salt a news broadcast the treats William Kristol as if his analysis still works, and I must continue paying attention to the Air America and The Nation and other alternative forms of media. 

Peter Pace Paints a Portrait of Putrid Politics

It’s enough to make you think that some guy at Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace’s boot camp grabbed his ass in the shower, isn’t it?

“I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,” he said recently, and he further likened homosexuality to adultery. Nice!

There are obvious problems with the highest ranking military officer in the nation offering these observations. First: “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” isn’t supposed to exist because the brass doesn’t like Homosexual-Americans. It allegedly exists because of a fear of something called “dissension in the ranks.” This is a fancy way of saying that the U.S. military officially believes that its own enlisted men are homophobic, mouth-breathing apes.

After that little problem, the logic falls apart like the balsa wood bridge I made in my high school physics class. The numbers, culled from the Interet: Since ince 1993, the U.S. armed forces has fired more than 11,000 people for being the gaey. How many troops did we need for the “surge” again?

A DOD survey in 2000 found that 80 percent of the troops had heard derogatory anti-gay remarks and that 37 percent had witnessed or experienced targeted incidents of harassment, 9 percent reported  anti-gay threats, and 5 percent reported witnessing or experiencing anti-gay physical assaults.

That sounds like “dissension in the ranks” to me.

But Pace’s remarks and the installation of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”–unforunately implemented during the Clinton Administration–reveal an enormous problem with the larger logic of the modern conservative movement. Because while Pace is wringing his hands about gay people in the military, there are gay people in the military. They’re not asked, and they’re not telling, but they are there and they are queer, and, as the survey I’ve cited seems to indicate, staying holed up in the closet does not seem to be helping.

Conservatives pull this kind of crap in all kinds of places. Look at the “gay marriage” issue. While this country fusses about whether or not to “allow” “gay” marriage, there are families in this very country where the heads of households are both mommies or daddies. There are children, actual children, who, because of who their parents are, do not have the same legal protection as a kid raised by a mom and a dad. It’s not some hypothetical ethical game. It exists. It is. And all because my country has been highjacked by a rabid cadre of superstitious numbsulls, we are not allowed to consider this issue with any kind of distance; even discussion of a practical solution is cast as witchcraft.

Consider abortion. In 1970, the Supreme Court issued The Compromise. It defined viability and allowed that a pregnancy that is not viable may be considered for termination under the law. This to settle an issue that had, for most of the nation’s history, not been an issue at all. This to make national a law that would not jail doctors for offering care and would offer them guidance as to how to practice and not end up in the slam. This as a law that actually deliniates situations in which a state can step in and deny the procedure. Overturning it will not stop abortions. Not really. It will simply drive the clinics underground and deny the procedure to the poor–a situation that Ralph Giulinai once spoke out on as deplorable, by the by. Modern conservatives think they can outlaw stuff and make it go away. It’s really, really weird. And, incidentally, it’s not really very conservative.

We have former Sen. Alan Simpson to thank for all the recent kerfuffle. He’s raised the issue in a recent column in the Washington Post. I don’t know if there’s any serious legislation before Congress about the issue, but if there is, it should be fairly simple to draft.

Change “don’t ask don’t tell” to “don’t ask.”  
 

Libby

In the office at my day-job, the e-mail is generally reserved for business. However, when you’re a block from K Street in Washington, D.C., some pol on your staff is bound to forward on the big ones. Thus, yesterday, a co-worker forwarded the Libby verdict news at 12:22 p.m.

Five minutes later, another shot back: And yet, nobody has even been charged with intentionally identifying Plame. Five minutes. Five freakin’ minutes of peace and quiet before some dummy in my office piped up with that little fact bender.

No, sir, nobody has been charged, specifically. Yet. Because someone was, how you say, lying, perjuring, and obstructing justice, thus the conviction on the counts of “lying, perjury, and obstruction of justice.” Look, I don’t know about you, but as an American, I’d like someone to keep sniffing around about this. Hello? All signs point to yes, the current vice-president, who specifically told voters that his crew, and not the competition, was the right choice to keep America safe from the evil-doers, led a deliberate effort to show a CIA operative to the world because her husband dared to write what he knew in a newspaper. And, by the by, don’t give me that guff about how she wasn’t no CIA operative, that she just had a desk job and just sharpened pencils and made coffee. I don’t care if she mopped the floor. You don’t write about or discuss an agent’s employment. I’ve got a federal agent in my family, should I write to the Post about it? Stupid asshat Novak. Why isn’t he breaking bricks somewhere?  

I personally think that if your curiosity about the subject shuts down at “well nobody was actually charged” regarding this issue, you should be compelled by law to retake your citizenship test. This isn’t a partisan issue and it’s not a crusted stain on a pretty blue dress. It’s yet another sign that the folks who barked the loudest about providing national security didn’t. So I hope you’re practicing cowering under your desks because duck-and-cover may just be all we’ve got left.

Incidentally, speaking of caked DNA: Liberals, arm up for the inevitable comparisons to the Bill Clinton impeachment. I know and you know that anyone who finds the two to be alike probably also scalds themselves in the shower a lot, but it always comes back with these people to “buh-buh-but Clinton!” Don’t forget: Clinton was impeached for obstruction of justice and perjury. But he was NOT convicted. He was acquitted. Which is the opposite of what Lewis Libby was.

There are many things that could and will happen next. Libby’s legal team is already planning to ask for a new trial, and, failing that, an appeal. The Wilsons are readying their civil suit. And somewhere, in an underground bunker, the current vice president is lying in a coffin and planning his next steps as well.

(“#1 Douchebag” graphic stolen shamelessly from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.)

Hey, FNC: Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Of all the commentators on the broadcast spectrum, of all the newsmen and talk show hosts who blubbered it up afterward, it was Jon Stewart who finally got to me about September Eleventh.

“The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center. And now it’s gone. And they attacked it,” Stewart said during a weepy monlogue on The Daily Show in 2001. “This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can’t beat that.”

I didn’t cry about September Eleventh until I saw this. His words were uncharacteristically stammered and punctuated with fidgets, poking his desktop with a pencil, that sort of thing. It was perfect and powerful, and it was what allowed me to cry. It’s no wonder someone who can move me like that over that can offer me a full-on belly laugh every night.

I’m reviewing Stewart’s monologue today to try to remember and explain why “The Daily Show” is good, because I’m trying to figure out why Fox Noise Channel’s (thanks, Keith) “Half Hour News Hour” is so frightfully bad. Disclaimer: I have only seen the Interweb clip, and that is probably all of it that I shall see. Viewing more of it might require me to seek medical attention.

The success of “The Daily Show” and its spinoff, “The Colbert Report,” was summed up nicely in a recent Rolling Stone article, a feature piece on Stewart and Colbert. Quoth: “Ben Karlin, Stewart’s thirty-five-year-old production partner who oversees both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, says that ‘the biggest mistake people make is thinking that Jon and Stephen sit down before every show and say, ‘OK, how are we going to change the world?’ or any bullshit like that. They both really just want to get a laugh.”

Compare that point of view to that of “1/2 Hour News Hour” creator Joel Surnow, who has also given us the mind-numbing it-will-happen-here propaganda program, “24”: “One of the things that’s definitely not out there is a satirical voice that skews to the right as opposed to the left. You can turn on any comedy satire show on TV and you’re going to hear 10 Bush jokes, 10 Cheney jokes, but you’ll never hear a Hillary Clinton joke or a global-warming send-up.”

Leave it to a guy working for FNC not to even be able to get even the most basic facts correct:

  • Sept. 19, 2006, Jon Stewart puts President Bill Clinton on the “Hot Seat” and asks: “Mr. President, Hilary Clinton may be running for President. If so, what is the key to defeating her?” A Hillary Clinton joke.
  • Just this week: A piece runs by Dan Bakkedahl about how global warming affects the Coney Island Polar Bears. A global warming send-up.

Which is beside the point. It is among many reasons that the “1/2 Hour…Hour” and FNC, the beast what spawned it, are respectively  not-funny ha-ha and the not-funny strange. But it’s primarily because “The Daily Show” is produced by comic performers for a comedychannel with current events as its grist. The other is produced by propagandists for a propaganda channel that uses current events peppered with party talking points. One’s primary mission is to be funny, while the other’s is to obsfucate while wearing a funny hat. 

A Stewart quote from the 9/11 monologue shows that he has always understood his job, profoundly. He said: “A lot of folks have asked me, what are you going to do when you get back? What are you going to say? What a terrible thing. But I don’t see it as a burden. I see it as a privilege. I see it as a privilege, and everyone here does see it that way, and the show in general, we feel like is a privilege, even the idea that we can sit in the back of the country and make wisecracks, which is really what we do. We sit in the back and we throw spitballs, and never forgetting the fact that it is a luxury in this country that allows us to do that.”

Stewart understands that comedy comes from, among other places, freedom—from a drive toward it, from a lust for it, from an utter respect for it. The Fox Noise Channel’s mascot is a big bloated head constantly spitting “shut up!” at people. They don’t view Stewart’s wisecracks as a “luxury.” They think it’s a nuisance, and so they’ve hatched this pile of vomit in part of its broader effort to shout them down.

One can hope that the “Half Hour Comedy Hour” will be the Fox Noise Channel’s Last Big Mistake, that as incredibly unfunny as it is, it will expose its viewers to the truth about itself, and that they will tune out.

After all, it’s got the word “comedy” in the title. What else might they be lying to you about?