Friday, November 28

Really? You Have Mush For Thanksgiving?

Roger Cohen, "A Command of the Law". November 26

WHAT kind of Indian would say a fool thing like that?
It’s Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for many things right now, despite the stock market, and first among them is the fact that the next U.S. commander in chief is a constitutional law expert and former law professor.

Who didn't just vote to renew the trampling of constitutional rights via FISA, but did a Jim Rockford 180º to get there in time.

Look, we have already suggested that Barack Obama--should he find himself the beneficiary of an actual honeymoon period, and not just the current exasperated longing of an electorate for George W. Bush to vanish, from the Presidency, from history, and/or the planet--is entitled to one which doesn't invoke national commentary written as though the author found the entire honeymoon concept either new or foreign or rare.

So then are we also justified, maybe required, to suggest the opposite: that while the public may certainly indulge in the standard hopeful celebration of a new President accorded even so obvious a dud as George W. Bush, perhaps especially at a time when nothing has gone right for two election cycles now, the Public is an Ass; the punditasters ought to try to keep the tweenie squealing under control, unless they want to be mistaken for Jonas Brothers fans or Keith Olbermann.

It would be one thing if these platitudes could be mouthed in a glass without embarrassment. They can't. This was, as we said earlier, the first election in memory where the people who did vote would be the ones who couldn't bitch. Even the most zomboid of Obama fans cannot insist their man was elected, or plans to govern, as anything other than a career politician. He was, in fact, celebrated for that. This is of itself neither good, bad, fish nor fowl--nor required, as twenty-year-old political geniuses kept informing us during the campaign--it's a description of how we arrived where we are. Obama reversed himself on FISA, then excused the reversal on the grounds it was the best deal possible. At that point he'd been campaigning for President for eighteen months as the guy who was going to put an end to the white-socks-and-sandals unfashionableness of partisan politics. He did not pledge to do so while remaining a First, Fourth, or Fifth Amendment absolutist, not as I recall, but he did vow to "finish the fight with al-Qaeda" and express a preference for hot pursuit over the constraints of international law. Supposing we are still maintaining troops in Iraq come 2009, or still practicing "extraordinary rendition" people will have a right to be angry, but no right to feign shock.
Before I get to why, allow me to add two other reasons for thankfulness. The first is that Barack Obama is a man of sufficient self-confidence to entrust the critical job of secretary of state to his former rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has the strength and focus to produce results.

The second is that he’s a man of sufficient good sense to retain the remarkable Robert Gates as defense secretary.
Well, maybe so...I don't think, given the circumstances, that Gates was a bad choice, and given insider information he might even be a wise one, but neither of us has insider information, though one of us might imagine he does. If it's wise this sort of blather has nothing to do with it; the idea that Gates is retained, or not, as a signal about Obama's intentions in Iraq is prime Inside Baseball idiocy. It's a gurgled cry from anti-war leftists who imagined they were backing an anti-war leftist. Iraq is not your worry with Obama; whether there's enough recognition of our serious, generation-long military deficit is. And I don't mean whether or not he'll live up to that campaign pledge to rebuild the military (remember that one?), but whether we are going to see, at long last, a decision made to bring Cold War militarism to heel while there's still some pressure left in the brake lines, or whether it's going to have to proceed like Reaganomics has, until we're steered off a cliff, screaming all the way down about how we got there. America: You Only Have To Hit Us Over The Head With A Brick Twice Per Issue! It's amusing, in a sick sort of way, to see this from Jim Bianco:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion

• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion

• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion

• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion

• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)

• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion

• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion

• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

TOTAL bailout commitment so far: $4.6165 trillion

but the thing that's left out there is what a colossal pile of shit we've bought since 1946 in the effort to retain our post-war military/economic hegemony. Not to mention how that PR campaign eventually began feeding on itself, and we wound up spending just to maintain the spending, and had to talk ourselves into the hegemony part. We spent more on NASA since 1958 than we spent on the first round of bailouts, yes, but NASA's a trillion-dollar lab coat we put on the militarization of space, apparently to fool the rubes who, it turns out, were with the program from the moment they heard something was gonna blow up anyway. We've spent roughly $23.3 trillion in daylight on "Defense" (figures, taken from the Center for Defense Information, here) since the Second World War ended. That's using budget requests or projections for the last five years (through fiscal 2009), which doesn't change the total much, but it also exempts the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which,  you may recall, we're funding as a sort of side bet. Certainly not all of that $23 trillion, plus whatever's been spent off the books, plus NASA and whatever other extra-military spending's been going on qualifies as boondoggle, but we'd be remiss not to remind you that in there, somewhere, you, your parents, or your grandparents bought $1 billion (in 1950s dollars) worth of Atomic-Powered Aircraft development (after intelligence information suggested the Ruskies had already developed one); sixty-eight AWACS flying radar stations (at $200 million per in 1970s dollars), the realization of a post-WWII dream thirty years late, which had, by the time the first one was delivered, gone through three different justifications just to keep up with changing military and technical environments and which, today, serves basically as a sort of YouTube for the Air Force; the equally belated B-2, proudly fighting the Cold War since 1997 at a cost of $2.1 billion per in 1997 dollars, and whose vaunted stealthiness remains a rumor; God Knows How Much tossed down the Star Wars hole, dutifully dug with $1500 Pentagon-procured shovels for an octogenarian President with terminal brain bubbles; and the tenth carrier of the Nimitz class, the soon-to-be-deployed USS George H. W. Bush, (Motto: "Freedom at Work!"), which, at an estimated $4.5 billion, will thankfully be obsoleted six years later by the new Gerald R. Ford class carrier, at $8 billion per, not counting the $5 billion in development, and fittingly named for the only President of the United States ever to kill a man with an errant golf shot. By the time the third Ford class carrier is completed it is hoped that sophisticated navigational upgrades will keep many of our two-dozen carriers from colliding with each other despite there barely being enough room left on the world's oceans to swing a catfish. (Global warming should also help.)

Carriers, as you might know, represent another WWII solution in search of a problem, though this has largely been solved by our regular desire to push around tenth-rate nations with no navy, or air force, and frequently no coastline.

And these are just examples, folks, and conspicuously leave out the most egregious high-ticket embezzlements (say, the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile Program, which, for $6 billion 1960s dollars, protected one US ICBM site for four months from a theoretical Soviet attack which was theoretically impossible. Safeguard was itself a re-tread of the Sentinel program, which was designed to protect US cities. That one was never deployed at all, if that tells you anything you didn't suspect already).

And, okay, easy to pick on things, even when they are major programs, but leave us also remember that all this money, and plenty more, has managed to fail to achieve political objectives in four intervening wars, "spent" the Soviet Union into a bankruptcy it was already headed for, and found itself a much-needed new justification shortly thereafter, on September 11, 2001, thirty-nine minutes before NORAD managed to get two fighters to the most populous city in the country, assuming you're using the 9/11 Commission's timetable.

So you'll forgive me if I'm less that fascinated by whether Robert Gates is the right man at Defense or not, or whether his retention signals something or other about the Obama administration's real Iraq timetable, as my ratiocination in that area remains focused on how long we're going to imagine we can keep spending our way to a military hegemony notable for its big-ticket expenditures and near-total inability to actually defeat tenth-rate powers armed with sharpened spikes and the F-14 Tomcats we sold 'em back when the Shah was in power. For cryin' out loud, the incoming President faces not just the Sargasso Sea of flotsam left by the Bush administration; it also faces the prospect of trying to turn things around while professing a bipartisanship designed to elicit cooperation from the two parties which have so thoroughly fucked things up to this point. And he, or else some successor, will face the obligation at some point to scrap the whole thing and rebuild one based on reality. Better to try to do that when it's a choice than wait until it becomes a necessity.

So, too, you'll forgive me for imagining that New York Times Op-Ed columnists could find something more important to consider than whether Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be able to work together (!), or to express belated admiration for the (projected) dismantlement of a Gitmo their own paper's tub-thumping helped fill in the first place.

Wednesday, November 26

There's Your Problem Right There

Times illustration by Matt Hollister

Fred Kaplan, "Beware Rumsfeld's Snow Job". November 25

Sir Donald Rumsfeld, "One Surge Does Not Fit All". November 23

FIRST thing: that's not a knot. It may have been inspired by a knot, specifically the sheet (or flag) bend, which is used to join two ropes together at the ends to form a longer rope (and which has the advantage, almost singular among bends, that it works when the ropes are of different diameters), but the free end (the part being held the way someone with terminal Victorian manners'd pick up a bird carcass) should have passed over itself (the "standing part") then under the other rope at the terminus there. Nor does this illustrate the untying of a sheet bend, which would be decidedly unphotogenic and require an extra hand, at least if you want to proceed apace. It illustrates, at most, the untangling of a fairly unremarkable tangle, that is, something short of Our Middle-East Clusterfucks. My suspicion is that Mr. Hollister (the artist) reduced a photograph of a sheet bend to B&W and added the hash marks, getting screwed up just at the end. If it's any consolation, that occurs a lot in knot tying as well.

As it happens I've spent the last week tying knots--not constantly, just every day--to keep my skills up, such as they are. Every so often I try to find where Larry has dragged the practice paracord (two pieces, left bound with a sheet bend) and I tie the five or so I know a few dozen times a day for several days, including by touch rather than sight. Because here is what little I know about knots: it's best to learn one or two useful examples of the types you need than to learn twenty different knots and wind up tying something that inadvertently combines two or more; that the two things you ask of a knot are that it hold under stress and untie easily; and that if you are ever likely to need to tie or untie one--I mean seriously do so--the odds are it will be on a pitch-black night in pouring rain at 34º F and you gloveless. So I know the Portuguese bowline, half-hitch, clove hitch, sheet bend, heaving line knot, and running hitch, and I can tie a highwayman's hitch, which is the only one I permit myself for fun (used, supposedly, to tie up horses when a quick getaway is anticipated; no amount of strain on the standing part will untie it, but those two prissy fingers in the illustration, applied to the free end, will collapse it in an instant. It's a lot of fun at certain types of parties. I have never actually tried it with a real horse, though, so proceed at your own risk). If my life ever depends on a pulley I'm SOL.

Okay, let's be charitable for once: that illustration does capture the incompetent execution of the Iraq War, even if it was unintentional. It's just got nothing whatsoever to do with our extraction predicament.

Kaplan takes the Op-Ed to task:
The first eyebrow-raiser comes in the second paragraph, in which he writes, almost in passing, "As one who is occasionally—and incorrectly—portrayed as an opponent of the surge in Iraq. …"
Let's stop right there.
From beginning to end—from the preparations for the invasion in the summer and fall of 2002 until his (forced) resignation was announced in November 2006—Rumsfeld consistently opposed all proposals to send more troops to Iraq.

Okay, but look: at the peak of The Surge we had fewer troops in Iraq than we began the war with, and next to no Willing Coalition forces. This is part of the The Surge Is Working canard, and it plays off the equally vacuous idea that we went into Iraq with 200,000 troops because of something called the Rumsfeld Doctrine. We didn't invade Iraq with 200,000 troops because that was the "right" number, or because Rumsfeld thought so. We went in with 200,000 troops because that was all we could muster and still conduct the war on the Bush administration timetable. This isn't even open to debate; within a year we were scrambling to find 20,000 troops to replace scheduled rotations, and we've been grinding away ever since, reducing our Strategic Reserve for the first time since WWII, massively restructuring troop alignments overseas, reducing R&R, and, finally, extending the tours of troops already in the field. It's certainly more complicated that just moving chits around a Risk board, but it never was a question of Rumsfeld overruling General Shinseki's plan to use 400,000 troops. We didn't have 400,000 troops then, which should be obvious considering we couldn't find them in the interim, and we don't have them now. We do have a changing set of circumstances (in a war! who'd'a thunk it?) which has allowed us to conduct a more effective counter-insurgency (after being forced by circumstances to acknowledge the Sadrists and bankroll the Sunni) which, combined with the mass-market media's relative disinterest in the present levels of violence has been portrayed as a "success" instead of the more accurate "new definition of failure".
That is to say, he understood (as many of the Army's senior officers did not) that the new GPS-guided "smart bombs"—which could destroy enemy tanks and troop formations from the air with extreme accuracy—meant that massive artillery units, with their heavy weapons and long logistical lines, were no longer necessary. However, he did not understand (as those officers did) that when it comes to postwar "stability operations," the key ingredient is boots on the ground—and lots of them.

For one, GPS-guided bombs are even more remarkably effective when one simply swallows the PR about them instead of bothering to look. But, still, this is bullshit in defense of bullshit. Facing a mostly tenth-rate force, one depleted by two major wars in fifteen years, completely lacking air cover and without anything that might have charitably been called "Command and Control" in the 20th century, we still managed to run into serious local trouble by outrunning our "outdated" supply lines, and, had the Syrians and, especially, the Iranians taken it into their heads to disprove the Rumsfeld Doctrine at that point we'd be talking about more than 4200 American casualties today. Laying this off on antiquated military thinking is bunkum. The plan the Bush administration forced on the military, in part by cashiering Brass until it cooperated, was unnecessarily risky and oriented toward political PR victories and the continued bankrupting of the country through incontinent militarization so beloved of the Right. Mission Half-Accomplished, and I don't need to tell you which half.

Let us state plainly, and again, that this bunch did not throw away American blood and American treasure into a wrong-headed military theory; they threw them away on a calculated act. It's the difference between a tort and a major felony. 400,000 troops required an international coalition. That meant waiting a year to even begin planning, before Germany, France, and Russia were convinced diplomatic pressure had not worked, which, of course as we now know, it already had. In a twelvemonth it would have been obvious, at least to anyone willing to look, that Saddam Hussein was no threat, imminent or otherwise. The alternatives to a large-scale coalition were a) a restructuring of our existing forces, namely our overseas commitments, which would have effectively eliminated most of them, and taken at least a year to arrange redeployment, re-equipping, and re-training, or b) conscription, which would have taken at least eighteen months to begin to make a difference, after the inevitable lawsuits over the exemption of women and gay men, and led to massive resistance and a sudden purple-fingered democracy movement in our own country, in which a public suddenly faced with a pre-pay arrangement on Iraq saw things in a sudden new light, like Saul of Tarsus, let us say. And let's repeat, here: the Bush administration didn't have the guts to put its proposals up to public scrutiny. It thumped that goddam tub for a year without ever making a move to increase or reorganize troop levels enough to cover our commitment to South Korea, for fuck's sake, at the same time it was naming Kim Jong Il World's Sexiest Hitler.

It's hardly surprising that Rumsfeld's autobiography promises to be as self-serving and full of glaring omissions as Krusty the Clown's. We're not going to imprison him; history's never going to absolve him. But leave us not lessen just what Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld set out to do for the sake of what Slate's military geniuses imagine is left of their reputations.

Tuesday, November 25

All Right, Jamesy. Let Me Up, I'm Fuckin' Serious This Time.

Andy Newman, "Irony is Dead. Again. Yeah, Right." November 23

NEVER again:
Its ill health was noted by, among others, no less an ironist than Joan Didion, the nation’s poet laureate of disillusion. The week after the election, in a talk at the New York Public Library, Ms. Didion lamented that the United States in the era of Barack Obama had become an “irony-free zone,” a vast Kool-Aid tank where “naïveté, translated into ‘hope,’ was now in” and where “innocence, even when it looked like ignorance, was now prized.”

Look, here's the thing: I'm from the Midwest. It simply did not occur to me to seek out Joan Didion's take on the election. Or Tina Brown's. Or George Plimpton's. In fact it didn't even occur to me to wonder if the election had brought Plimpton back to life for one last bon mot and Grey Goose martini, or to bother figuring out who's a part of the New York literati scene this century. That's how long ago my Poor Wife's subscription to Vanity Fair ran out, and how small a shit I give about it.

I mean, is someone actively preventing Joan Didion from being ironic in public these days? Does she mostly hang out with 18-to-20-year-old Obama fans? She got to write about the election in VF and lecture about it at the New York Public Library. What fucking more resuscitation does poor ol' Irony need? Maybe the woman should blog.

Oh, wait, here comes Conservative Humorist P.J. O'Rourke to give Dame Irony the Kiss of Life. Really, really side-splittingly funny Life:
But are ironic sensibilities like Ms. Didion’s — the detachment of mind, the appreciation of the folly of taking things at face value — really disappearing?

Not according to the conservative humorist P. J. O’Rourke, who reported from his New Hampshire office on Wednesday that he was finishing a piece for The Weekly Standard with the working title, “Is It Too Soon to Start Talking About the Failed Obama Presidency Just Because He Isn’t President Yet?”

Zing! Y'know, I believe at this point we might safely conclude that Irony is doing fine, but some of her hangers-on got some bad salmon paté. 

Look, when you reach middle-age, let alone roar past it, it's fine to pile on the comic infirmities, but it's unseemly to pretend you've forgotten the last thirty years, at least so long as you still want to make public pronouncements. There were/are irritating, humorless twits who supported Obama, just as there were Irritating Twits for Ron Paul, Irritating Twits for Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, and Vexatious Fops for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, probably. Those of us of an historical bent might cast our eyes all the way back to 2000 C.E., when the contentious selection of George W. Bush, and the launch of the most ideologically-cracked administration in the history of the Republic (an ungracious Inaugural, the transparently ginned-up Clinton Scandals Redux, Dick Cheney's secret meetings with the real US government) resulted in a blistering 17% negative rating for Mr. Bush. Maybe there's such a thing as a honeymoon. Maybe Irony just needs to practice her aim a little. Or stop behaving like a whining seven-year-old with a full bladder staring at the candy shelves in the supermarket check-out line. The Droning Obama Gloriously Non-Sectarian Cloistered Monk Chorus was last fucking winter; since then he's dropped in the polls, fallen behind John McCain, started sounding like a Democrat, and won in a landslide. As we emerge from the Worst Presidency in History By A Factor of Two At Least (there's a fertile Irony field for you, Mr. O'Rourke) it's hardly surprising that a sizable chunk of the public is permitting itself some small degree of hope despite the bleak news on every possible front involving Presidential decisions of the past eight years (got a shovel, P.J.?).  

(Same with this phony Oh my God the Change Candidate is appointing former Clintonites routine. For fuck's sake, who do you expect him to appoint--Joe the Fucking Unlicensed Plumber? He's a Centrist Democrat and he's appointing Centrist Democrats. Too bad if he didn't unilaterally disarm. And same for the "Look, no phony quotas" routine. The reason Barack Obama can appoint people without a seeming, or obvious, regard for complexion, gender, or facial hair is that we have given minorities a leg up now for a generation. This is not an excuse to stop trying to rectify 400 years of intentional harm.)

Go ahead and hate Obama, if you wish, but quit fucking hating him by proxy; that was what the election was for. Mindless idiocy, wholly-unsupportable optimism, and ill-informed personal choices are going to be with us always. That is, in fact, the bulk of the recipe for the last thirty years of Republican dominance. Treat them the same, or avoid politics, but, as they say in baseball, act like you fucking been there before, huh?

Sunday, November 23

Just In Time For The Holiday Bankruptcy Season

YES, what boy, girl, or combination of the two wouldn't be thrilled to learn that I personally wasted an entire weekend designing crappy crap the pronoun of your choice can purchase from my new CafePress store? Just in time for the Holidays, only something like seven years late! Offering quality cotton shirts, in the two most popular sleeve lengths, short and long, featuring, respectively, the graphically-challenged "bats left throws right" logo, and the typographically-inept "bats left throws right" logo, plus your choice of motto: "all the shit that sticks™" or "English. It makes a poor cudgel" provided, that is, that you choose the one that has that on it. Proudly proclaim your Philistinism with the Rothko Paint-by-Numbers Large Capacity Mug (Caution: you may never get to drink out of it, because you'll always be spit-taking! It's that funny!). Laugh and learn about the principles of both physics and geometry with the Rectangular "Aphorisms suck" Magnet. I know I plan to stick several on the refrigerator that comes out of my next home, and I hope you will too. Finally, show the world you're not afraid to tempt a Yuletide's worth of mean-spirited wingnuts to run into your car with the "Phyllis Schlafly's the Mother of Modern Conservatism? No wonder the baby's so ugly." bumper sticker. It's something I said on a funnier blog than this one, and I'd like to make a buck or two off of it before Phyllis kicks off. So have a look, won't you? That's You'll want to be the only one on your block who does, guaranteed.

Saturday, November 22

Comments, We Occasionally Read Our Get Comments

arghous said...
That should be Sora Aoi, or if you want to be pedantic (like for Asashōryū Akinori), Aoi Sora.

First, haven't you've read this blog enough not to ask if I want to be pedantic? I took the misspelling from the photo tag, and on top of that, thought I remembered that "Sora Aoi" was correct and "Aoi Sora" was romanized. Which just shows you that I'm not as big a fan of Japanese porn as I pretend to be; in fact, my collection still only numbers in double digits. "Asashōryū Akinori" I got right only because I had to look it up, as a congenital defect prevents me from spelling Asashoryu correctly, let alone remembering where the diacriticals go. I can't figure out the international date line either; today or tomorrow is the final day of the Kyushu basho, the last one of 2008, which means it's either yesterday here or two days from tomorrow. Asashōryū withdrew before the tournament, making three straight he's dropped out of. Reportedly, the Japanese press is hyperventilating about this, and if you have any familiarity at all with the Japanese press you know that's saying something. This has nothing whatsoever to do with racism; it's just a coincidence that when Takanohana sat out more than a year no one said a word. Anyway, it's still all about the Mongolians, with the other yokozuna, Hakuho, tied at 12-2 with Ama, who defeated him on day 12 and is now certain to be promoted to ozeki, the second-highest sumo rank. Meanwhile the Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu, the David Beckham of Sumo* and the first European ever to win a tournament, is 7-7 and playing hurt.

And here's the deal: I get fifteen different feeds from ESPN and none of them carry Sumo any more; how bad could the ratings be? If I want to avoid watching streaming video on the execrable Windows Media, which, frankly, rates a tossup with Blinding Myself, I have to subscribe to Japan TV, which is an a la carte selection from U-Verse. I'm not sure what the thing costs, but I suspect I'd have to add alimony in on top of it.

And, for chrissakes, American football purists are all about the line play; these guys are the greatest linemen in the world. C'mon, ESPN. You sold America NASCAR. That's proof in my book that you're capable of anything.

anonymous said...
I was reading Nixonland recently, and he mentioned Vance Hartke as a liberal senator from Indiana in the 60's. Was that the take the locals had? Just curious about what the Indiana view was.

Good question! And great screen name!

Hartke was the first (and one of the few) politicians I ever volunteered for, stuffing envelopes for his 1970 race against Richard Roudebush, who was a wingnut jingoist even by Indiana standards, or maybe I should say by 1970 standards. It's remembered as one of the slimiest campaigns in Indiana history, though for the life of me I can't really remember any details at this point.

Indiana had two of the most liberal Senators in Washington through the Sixties: Hartke and Birch "Why Did I Have Children?" Bayh. And yes, we noticed, but we also had a strong trades union, auto- and steel-manufacturing population in those days which hadn't yet abandoned the Democratic party. Hartke lost in '76 to Dick Lugar, Nixon's Favorite Mayor; Bayh lasted until 1980, losing to Pulliam family scion and war hero James Danforth Quayle.

All of which is instructive, I think, of where the real "partisan gridlock" comes from: it comes from Nixon's "Silent Majority" speech. I'm not saying there wasn't partisan opposition in Indiana in them days, but it seemed to me at the time (i.e., as a dewy-limbed yout) that there was a basic sense that even opposition politicians voted their conscience, or followed the polls, but were not thought of as mere automatons for party. That changed after Nixon's speech, and Hartke managed to squeak by just before it steamrolled.


Steve said...
Speaking as a Bats Left fan who likes to use windows less than full screen, the hall of fame on the top is too wide.

It's whatever width the (imported) layout called for, which is equal to the three columns plus their gutters, I think. I am working on making the whole thing, or else just the post column, whatcha call "floating", but,  y'know, it's leaf fall/winterizing season in the Heartland, and I try to get things that can be done before it turns -10 F done before it turns -10F, and leave the stuff I can do in the relative warmth, once my wife lets me move up from the basement again, for then. Plus there're no guarantees. Thanks for your patience.


Friday, November 21

No-Compete Friday

Gavin M. meets Goldberg Admiration Society treasurer Katie at Kaubki Village:

"But I waited…waited until I knew I would be in Manhattan for the day…a day when I could purchase it at the book store at Grand Central (making sure to ask the clerk where it was even though it was on a table in the center of the store…just because I knew it would drive the guy nuts) and could then carry it throughout my day of meetings."
Let’s look at this woman’s big day on the town. She created a multi-stage pageant out of buying a copy of Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism — a book devised as though on the spot at a cocktail party, as an insouciant one-liner from a half-drunk Jonah to some cornball editor he was trying to impress (Adam Bellow, let’s imagine), which was then delivered only after years of flop sweat, excruciating mental gymnastics, and probably genuine debilitating mental depression, because as Jonah knew at the time (and as he probably knows still during certain late nights and lonely self-encounters), while its concept is guaran-freaking-teed to make liberals hop-hop-hoppingly mad, it cannot stand as a serious book because it is premised on an absurdity. So here she’s like, “Tee-hee, my plan begins by loudly asking for this book at Grand Central Station, just in case there’s a liberal nearby to whom I’d be sticking it.” It’s like those Mexican guys in Los Angeles with the bouncy cars: On the surface it just looks silly, but then you consider the industry and determination on display — step by step from concept to technical execution — in installing custom hydraulic systems in order to bounce up and down in their car all pocketa-pocketa while scowling at you at a random stoplight, and it’s genuinely sort of terrifying. What sort of people would do this, and by God, what else are they capable of?

WE would just like to add, as a Public Service, that You can observe a lot just by watching. Supposing you would avoid crapping your pants except under the most ungovernable of circumstances, you might also take this to suggest something about your driving habits or political pronouncements, absent any evidence to the contrary. I'm always struck that people (including the author, apparently) consider Being There an indictment of Television mindlessness (which is like indicting somebody who was hanged a half-century earlier, innit?) when it's the simple knowledge gained from gardening that propels Chance into prominence. Maybe that's because I'm a feeble-minded gardener myself, but anyway: the fact that "Reality" does not instantly punish every instance of complete and utter bullshit that comes down the pike owes everything to the quantity of bullshit out there, not its quality. Every time a traffic light saves us from being crushed to death by a speeding dump truck we see the utter refutation of modern Republican Libertoonianism. Certainly, we might make a lot of money producing something like Liberal Fascism, and we might even do so under a nom de plume, thus keeping our shame a secret. But even if we managed to do so, every one of us can see, just walking down the street, that dying in unspeakable poverty is preferable to living as Jonah Goldberg.

Most of us, even some Republicans whose favored form of religious observance does not involve water moccasins and flaming jerrycans of white gas, do our own shopping. We are therefore capable of observing the attitude of most service personnel to the asshole Americanus in a natural setting, since if you're third in line or lower there's bound to be at least one in front of you, and if you're standing patiently in some formless line, at the Deli, say, and they're all behind you, at least one is sure to step in front when it's your turn. We could simply extrapolate from here; the average cashier or counterman must encounter fifty complete assholes and double that in brain-damaged twits in the average shift, and that's assuming the place doesn't serve alcohol. This means it's about as likely they bother him as it is that stepping in cowshit irritates a dairy farmer.

But let's go ahead and continue our field observations. How do such folk, in the main, respond? They don't. They don't give a fuck about you; if they did we're hear about one or two going postal every single day.

And I don't know, but I would suspect that people working in a bookstore, which, by its very nature, suggests literacy on the part of both employee and patron, pretty much have you pegged if you find it necessary to march up first thing and ask them where such-and-such could be found, whether it's Liberal Fascism, A Thomas Kincade Chanukah, or To the Lighthouse. There are enormous fucking signs delineating each section, lady. You've just announced you're too lazy or stupid to look for them, or else you're too self-important not to have The Help do it for you. It's hardly surprising, under the circumstances, that you're looking for Goldberg's shit sandwich. Aisle Six, on the (snigger) Left. Can I help the next asshole in line?

Yes, we said something about Public Service, and it's not to suggest to these people that they curb the junior-high slumber party antics before they deal with anybody who handles their food. Frankly, we hope they don't. It's that it's well past time to put this tired crap to bed and find a new routine. We'd like to suggest entering liberal bastions like bookstores, libraries, and daycare centers and brandishing a weapon at the employees, just to show your Second amendment absolutism.

Thursday, November 20

Ye Gods

Lisa: Doesn't the Bible teach us, "Judge not, lest ye be judged, And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men," Reverend Mr. Attorney General?

Lovejoy Steve Carter: [sullen] I think it may be somewhere towards the back.

"Blue State" News, courtesy The Indianapolis (1) Racist Star (2):

‘BE GODS’ plate is OK, BMV says

By Jon Murray

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles commissioner today backed off its denial of a woman’s request for a personalized license plate reading “BE GODS.”
The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed this week by Liz Ferris, who had that same plate on her car for eight or nine years but forgot to renew it on time for 2008. When she submitted a new personalized plate application, the BMV denied her request because of a recent policy change banning any references to religion or a deity on new personalized plates.

Mind you, now, this is the state where you are offered, when you renew your plates, the "In God We Trust" plate, the only state-sanctioned special-interest plate that doesn't cost you any extra money. This past Monday the Indiana Court of Religious Appeals and Marsupial Boxing Commission upheld the no-fee provision, on the same grounds it had earlier used to uphold the Constitutionality of using tax dollars to promote monotheism: that behaving otherwise would impinge on the First Amendment rights of people who are trying to violate the First Amendment.
But while it was proposed last year, that policy didn't take legal effect until this month. Commissioner Ron Stiver said in a statement released today that the BMV would give Ferris a new plate bearing her old message — which she intended to mean “Be God’s” or “belong to God.”

See, this is why I remain incessantly sunny in the face of all evidence to the contrary. God, or Her Facsimile, can control the BMV, but the Devil still owns the grammar texts (and Apostrophe is his most accommodating handmaiden, it goes without saying). Today Ms Ferris is happily motoring around, cutting off faster-moving vehicles in the passing lane, sleeping through changing stoplights, chattering on her cellphone, and neatly straddling two parking spaces at a time, if not four (here we are extrapolating from the behavior of the typical God Trusting motorist; supposing Ms Ferris to be, in fact, a safe, courteous, and considerate driver we offer both our apologies and our utter disbelief) while simultaneously, unknowingly, and with the calm confidence of the Christian holding four aces, actually urging people to practice paganism or drink peyote or something. You'd think it might have occurred to her that "Be Gods" sounds more like something the Serpent said in the Garden than what Ann Landers used to tell her readers.

Now, in case you're wondering why the BMV has dragged its feet on your request for that 8THST or 4NIK8R vanity plate, The Commish has your answer:
“Simply stated, if the BMV approves such pro-deity plates as ‘GOD CAN,’ the agency has no grounds to reject such plates as ‘GOD CANT,’ ‘GODLESS,’ or other more extreme anti-deity plates that have been requested and that most Hoosiers would find offensive,” Stiver said.

Store ends inverted-flag Obama protest

Owner relents after objections from employees

Associated Press

DECATUR, Ind. -- A tire store owner has removed the American flag he flew upside down in protest of Barack Obama's election as president after complaints from his employees.
Greg Townsend said he had planned to keep the flag outside his business inverted until Obama left office but took it down Friday morning.
"My employees were all upset with me, and I can't replace my crew right now, I'm going on vacation," he said. "About six applicants came in and said they'd go to work for me, but it's pretty difficult to replace a crew when you're leaving on vacation."

I suppose that some of you have the impression that I'm posting this item to illustrate some point about the Proudly Uninformed and their impending battle with The Junior Antichrist from Illinois; maybe you think I was gonna say "So much for the argument that they don't fly the flag as a political statement", or that I'm about to suggest that the better course of action for offended employees would have been to egg the guy on, into putting Little Black Sambo prints on the walls or in the front window and playing Amos and Andy tapes all day instead of that Cassic Rock station. Maybe you suspect I'm about to make an impassioned defense of the First Amendment, even, perhaps especially, when it comes to brain-dead morons.

But no. I'm just a real fan of the Small Business Entrepreneur Whose Vacation Comes First genre, dating back to when that was used as an excuse in small claims court by a former landlord who'd seized our damage deposit. She lost, by the way, but probably not as much as Mr. Townsend lost the minute he jetted off after telling the AP he planned on getting rid of those Commie troublemakers of his as soon as he returned.

Wednesday, November 19

The Definitive Clip-n-Save Doghouse Riley Guide To People We Like

AS always, apologies that I don't generally get to comments right away.

When I redid the layout I discovered that The New Blogger, And This Time We Mean It! now allowed the posting of more than one picture. Then I discovered that it apparently allowed something approaching an infinite number of pictures. At roughly the same time I discovered that the three-column layout I'd appropriated did not include a separate background color for the far-left column (I should have known the far-left would get the shaft) as I wished, nor could I readily fix the CSS to create one, being that I don't know shit about CSS and I was trying to fix lots of other stuff. Part of that was creating the baseball masthead I wanted.

I should have sensed that storm clouds were gathering. I couldn't get a decent font/color combo to put Bats Left Throws Right over the masthead as a graphic (long story), and the available Blogger control method proved worthless. So I created a title graphic for the left-hand column, and I already had the "Contact Riley" one, which included my new picture. But that was two black squares sitting in a sea of #788778, and they rapidly scrolled from view on the off chance that anybody read more than two paragraphs of my stuff. So I brought back the much-beloved internet tradition of The Old Prospector who, I don't think I've explained this before, actually looks quite a bit like me. This opened the floodgates of a damn-near incontinent picture posting; at some point I hit on captioning things as though they were little personal slices of the Life O' Riley. And I had a bunch of pics of people I admire, mostly left over from wishing them Happy Birthday, and I started adding those without first establishing how they'd be worked into the "narrative".

So around this time I began to realize that this stuff slowed the loading of the page, athough--at least on my machines--the content loads first, so I wasn't too concerned, but it did stop me for a moment. And stopping me for a moment is like getting a sloth to slow down. So I never came up with any way to label those pics, except the obvious one, "I like this guy, and hope some of his accomplishments reflect on my miserable self". Which brings us all up to date.

Now, if you're still here, The List, beginning with the masthead, left to right (which reminds me, yes, all these guys bat left/ throw right. No switch hitters):

Ted Williams, The Splendid Splinter.
Arky Vaughan, second-best hitting shortstop in the Hall (after Honus Wagner)
Ernest Judson "Boojum" Wilson, career .351 hitter
"Shoeless Joe" Jackson, career .356 average, third-highest ever
Tris Speaker, 3514 hits, .345 career average
Edwin "Duke" Snider, at one time the best centerfielder in New York, even though the other two were Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.  career .295, 407 home runs
"Shoeless Joe" again, because he belongs in the Hall and because I thought that earlier picture was Eddie "Cocky" Collins
John Henry "Pop" Lloyd, greatest shortstop in Negro League history, career .337 average
Mel Ott, .304, 511 home runs
Ty Cobb, greatest ballplayer in history, probably no more racist than his contemporaries (he supported the integration of the major leagues), and, besides, he pretty much hated everybody. Highest career batting average (.366); career hits, runs, games, and stolen base marks all stood for more than fifty years.

[Late in his life a reporter asked Cobb what he thought he'd hit in the major leagues today. "Probably .320, .325," he said. "Is that because of night baseball, the travel, the lively ball?" the reporter asked. "Hell no," said Cobb. "It's because I'm 73 years old."]

Larry Doby, first African-American to play in the American League
Yogi Berra. Sorry, I don't know any stories about him.

Left column, top to bottom: rotating picture, currently Route 666 sign, from before the name was changed due to Bronze Age spiritual concerns; Donald Crisp; Ernest Torrence; 30's trunk murderess Winnie Ruth Judd; Stinky; Larry; Hooverville, Seattle; Bloggy buddy Lowflyin Lolana and friend; buoyant AV Idol Sora Aoi; fake cowboy; real racist; Asashōryū Akinori, the 68th yokozuna, throws Chiyotaikai; the great Jim Hurtubise, Terre Haute Action Track; Lowell George; Patsy Cline; Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller; Jorge Luis Borges; yes, Richard Thompson; James Thurber, speaking of autobiographies; Ian Dury; Doug Kenney; Marcel Duchamp; Emo Phillips; Jean "Django" Reinhardt; Bessie Smith; Dorothea Lange; Vladimir Nabokov with Roy Orbison's shades; Peter Sellers as himself, Captain Beefheart (Don van Vliet); Dan Hicks; Bill Hicks, no relation; Patty Smith; Richard Pryor; John Lydon; unidentified meercat.

Holy Corollaries

Really, I don't care if these idiots want to construct Reagan altars everywhere they go. I just wish they'd distort the facts to do so, instead of distorting the distortions.

--James "Doghouse" Riley

I AM not a Democrat. Never was. I was told that pretty explicitly in 1973, after a candidate they, not I, had nominated lost in a landslide to the most skillful politician of the second half of that benighted century. Or, rather, a caricature of their candidate lost in a landslide, after a caricature of a campaign. And yet, somehow, the grey men of the Democratic party did not seem to think they'd had a campaign stolen from them, or from "the people", whomever it is they think that is; they did not seem to feel the election had been wrongly decided on the basis of skillful distortion of the facts and easy, uncontested manipulation of the baser instincts of the electorate, nor that the election of a President in a time of dire national straits should have precluded, somehow, a media circus over trivialities; nor that Nixon was noxious enough to have been fought tooth and nail and regarded, after his re-election and before Woodstein made it unavoidable, as himself being the cancer growing on the Presidency, no. They decided the problem was me.

I've had a few decades to ponder this by now, between the time the grey old power brokers swore never again to nominate a raging Bolshevik like George Stanley McGovern and the time, earlier this very year, when their ironic Ché teeshirt-wearin' grandchildren explained the wisdom of the thing to me all over again. And, of course, in that time I've viewed the arc of the other party with revulsion and derision in pretty much equal measures. I don't have any better answer now than I did in 1973: Democrats tolerate Republican excesses in the hopes that they'll get their shot and will be tolerated in turn. The fact that the opposite is always the case never seems to occur to them. Bert Lance's financial dealings--for which he was later charged and acquitted--are an uproar; trading drugs for arms in order to circumvent the law is a matter for careful stepping lest one wake a sleeping (and popular) president. The investigation of Bill Casey and the Reagan administration's involvement in the curious timing of the release of Iranian hostages and Iranian funds conveniently runs aground until Casey is dead and Reagan has terminal brain bubbles; compare Reagan suggesting prosecuting Jesse Jackson (under the Logan Act!) for going to Cuba, and George W. leading the wingnut chorus in a round of "Nancy Pelosi is a Traitor" when the Speaker went to Syria. You know how this goes. Bush I runs slimiest Presidential campaign in fifty years, including not just racial overtones, but racism baldly denied; Dems say, "Gee, that Dukakis was a lousy candidate." Bush I pardons Iran/Contra henchmen; uproar over Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich includes two Congressional investigations. $40,000 land deal swindle--which four investigations find victimized the Clintons--is investigated a fifth time, on the grounds that you gotta roll a Seven at some point; Neil Bush personally accounts for $1.3 billion of $130 billion S & L dunning of taxpayers, pays a civil fine of 50 Gs. Clinton is impeached--despite overwhelming popularity and apodictic certainty of acquittal; Pelosi's first fucking act as Speaker, following long-overdue electoral denunciation of GOP, is to assure war criminal and serial Constitution shredder George W. Bush that his job is secure. And Harry Reid's first fucking official act upon Democrats kicking these criminals out of the White House, and capturing--thanks to Democratic voters, not their own political perspicacity, if it needs to be said--is to reward the slimy megalomaniac Lieberman who'd gone out of his way to dick them because he lost a primary.

I'm not a Democrat.  I am somebody who thinks that if we're going to be saddled with a two-party system it'd be nice if the distinction between them was something more than "one was dropped on its head in 1964 and has the Rage button stuck permanently On, while the other is its secret admirer". 

I'm not a Democrat. Were I a Republican, let's say of the religious bigot sort, I believe I'd have figured out by 1982 that I was being gulled. This, however, does not actually seem to have occurred to the average Republican religious bigot voter, nor his blue-collar Reagan Democrat or middle-management libertoonian cousins. Democratic voters, on the other hand, see it and convince themselves it's the natural order of things, or else that messing with the controls even slightly will cause a serious malfunction.  Supposing I were a Democrat, or at the very least a Democrat like Joe Lieberman, I would not favor stripping him of his chairmanship because he supported John McCain. Hell, I wish we'd see more of that sort of thing.  No, I'd favor stripping him of every privilege I could find, and any I could make up, for a decade of duplicitous behavior, and as the opening salvo of an investigation into both the current administration and Clinton Scandals, Inc.

But I'm not a Democrat. I don't view the re-elevation of Holy Joe as an aberration, or faulty political calculation--I'm sorry, but how old do you have to be to view a "filibuster-proof" Democratic Senate as the sickest political joke of all time?--I view it as the Democratic leadership being exactly what it is. I don't ask, "What th' fuck is wrong with them?" My question is, what all are they hiding, or hoping to hide?

Tuesday, November 18

Beyond Belief


"Because I'm not sayin' that he is or anything, but some Evangelicals think he is, and so does some religious crank who wasn't even funny when she was on Saturday Night Live, which is now so long ago that she's the only one who remembers it. But just in case you might think Evangelicals are some organization of Bronze Age nutjobs who talk to invisible Jews, there's also one who doesn't believe it, although he is collecting all the evidence so that people can make informed decisions on their own."

Y'know, the Third of the ten amendments which constitute our Bill of Rights guarantees that soldiers shall not be quartered in private property in peacetime without the consent of the property owner.  This somehow is not taken as an excuse for major "news" magazines to print the pathological ravings of some guy who thinks Obama's gonna teleport undead zombie Redcoats into his attic while he's asleep. 


Helene Cooper and Scott L. Malcomson,"Welcome to My World, Barack". November 16

WE'RE only gonna say this once. Okay, we're probably gonna say it a few hundred times, but this is the only time we're gonna say we're only saying it once. You cannot bi-partisan your way out of partisanship. I know, I know, its sounds a bit formulaic, doesn't it? If you want to push something down, you have to pull it up. If you want to go left, you have to go right. It-- It's-- The Centrist Democrat playbook is as tattered and out of date as the Bush playbook, but without the diversion of pitchforks and torchlight. You don't lead by tacking to the Center; you lead by leading, and expecting the Center to come to you. This is the same default position--rudderless--the Obama campaign fell into time and again over the past two years, the same one that's held steady for the Democratic party for thirty-five years.  I remind you that during that time the two two-term Republican Presidents we or our Courts elected were hailed as geniuses, at least for a time, despite evincing no evidence of intellectual curiosity, familiarity with discourse, or higher cortical event, while the one-point-five moderate Democratic Presidents were hunted like tundra wolves, or gays. People did not vote for Barack Obama because they thought that was the best way to get Colin Powell back into the cabinet, or return Joe Lieberman to his chair. Nobody gives a fuck about Joe Lieberman except the people who will hate him forever. Give him a gold fucking watch or something, a comfy pillow and a 10 volume set of Six Day War footage, and let him pass away in his sleep.

I mean, you're on notice; the script is being prepared right in front of you, from the Bush retrospectives which attempt--against the bounds of sanity, let alone decency--to find positive things to say about him, through the post-election Dancin' With the Stars Palin coverage, to the inevitable "How Will Obama Satisfy the Left?" (like he intends to try) stemwinders, the stage isn't exactly being set quite yet, but somebody's sure going around with the fluorescent orange paint marking boundary lines. Digby:
Tweety and other gasbags, including Christopher Hitchens(an extremely thoughtful critic as always) are all wringing their hands about Obama's possible choice of Clinton as Secretary of State because he promised change and this is so not it. He's destroying his mandate before our very eyes.

In other news, Obama is also known to be considering keeping Bush administration cabinet member Robert Gates as secretary of defense, and former secretary of State and war architect Colin Powell is breathlessly mentioned being on the short list for a number of posts. This strikes everyone as being a perfect example of how Obama is bringing change to Washington.

That Times Magazine cover story Sunday looked to be the cake topper. Condi Rice's advice to the next President! The mind does not reel. The mind intuitively recognizes the insufficiency of reeling and goes ahead and throws up in its own mouth, in hopes of speeding up the process a bit. Newt Gingrich's Tips for a Successful Marriage comes to mind. Or Paris Hilton's 100 Books That Changed The World! Then the mind throws up again.

In the event the goddam thing reads like a failed attempt at that 20 Questions deal, except Deborah Solomon was busy interviewing Karl Rove for the same issue. (Karl Rove? Please. I'm not about to suggest that the spoils should go to the Victor, but could you at least find someone to talk to you who had something to do with the Loss, aside from being its model of assholicity? Anybody who wants Rove's opinion can tune in FAUX News and, at any rate, isn't likely to be looking for it in the Times.) Maybe Condi's depressed; she should be grateful if that's all she is. Maybe she was drunk. Maybe she just dislikes Helene Cooper as much as I do. Nah, that's not possible. Anyway, if this thing represents an accurate portrayal, or even a mostly un-blurry snapshot, of her mental processes the world has dodged a bullet (we are, by the way, approximating the Times' actual typography, believe it or not):
It’s not that you deliver on it tomorrow. Maybe 2005 was a bit deceptive in that way because you had the Iraqi elections, the Cedar Revolution, the Orange Revolution, the Rose Revolution and the Palestinian election. So maybe people came to expect too much too soon.

Really, this is like the Amway salesman telling you you shouldn't have expected that detergent he sold you wouldn't dissolve fabric.
I’ve seen too many peoples dismissed as not ready for self-government. First it was Asians, and then Latin Americans and Africans were there for a while. I know for a while black Americans were, too.

Th' fuck? "I know for a while black Americans were dismissed as not ready for self-government"? What exactly is your definition of "a while", lady?

They’ve got problems, and the basis of this is that the legitimacy of the Russian government is not ideology; it is not a pretension to a different route for human development as Communism was. It is the ability of Russians to, if they can’t afford those Cartier shops near Tverskaya, to be able instead to go to the Ikea store that now completely dominates the Tank Trap Monument that celebrates the repulsion of the final push of the Germans into Moscow.

I'm sorry, really. I'm sure there's something in there somewhere to be snarky about, but I can't figure out what th' fuck any of it is supposed to mean. Is it a good thing that Russians can shop their brains out while ignoring the defeat of the German armies at the Gates of Moscow in 1941? Or a bad thing that they don't remember it? "The basis of [the problems] of the Russian government is that [its legitimacy] the ability of Russians at Ikea". I've read that through eight times and I still haven't got a clue as to what the fuck it might possibly be turned into in an effort to make some sense out of it. I'm not even sure that parse is correct. And the room is spinning again. Maybe she was trying to tell Scooter Libby when the aspens would start turning.

Russia has an aging population that’s not being replaced and unfortunately a sickly population, and an economy that did not take advantage of higher oil prices to diversify. It’s still an infrastructural nightmare if you get outside of major cities and certainly if you start going toward the Far East. So I think we should be calm.

Look, Lady, either you can be Secretary of State or you can tell us to be calm. You can't do both.

I remember telling my European colleagues that I know they always think that America is going to be more aggressive on fighting extremism than they. But you know, we could never, within our context, have passed the law like the basic incitement laws that the British have passed.

Wow, funny thing...Great Britain has different libel laws from us! It's a funny, funny old world. Not that we've paid any heed to our own laws.  But it's still funny.

Bonus Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Friedism:

The West does not go out and conquer countries by using force, try to deprive countries of a choice. It didn’t insist that Poland join NATO. Poland wanted to join NATO. It didn’t impose NATO membership or E.U. membership on Estonia; Estonia chose it. That’s a difference, and it’s a moral difference as well. . . . If you validate the assumptions of Russians who believe that the only proper relationship between Russia and its neighbors is one of subordination and intimidation, then how do you expect a more cooperative Russia to emerge in the future? The United States has learned that it is in our interest that our neighbors, Mexico for example, be prosperous, successful and free. And Russia needs to develop a normal set of relations with its neighbors. The notions of privileged relations or its sphere of influence . . . which the Russians demand is not the formula for greater stability; it’s the formula for greater tension. I’m not stating these things as a fiat; I’m suggesting that the next administration will have to think this through.
Got that, Mexico? Make with the prosperity. Pronto.  Just because we've never used force before...

Y'know, I keep telling myself these people have done everything they can to surprise me, and yet, every time I read them I find myself taking renewed interest in those jet contrails and refusing to eat at Church's Fried Chicken in black neighborhoods.

Monday, November 17

Good News/ Even Worse News

Post-Election Product Roll-Outs Of The Week, courtesy Indianapolis Racist Star:

President? No thanks, Daniels says

Post-election chatter that Gov. Mitch Daniels could lead the national party back to the White House in 2012 hasn't changed Daniels' stance that governor is the only position he's interested in.

"How many ways are there to say no?" Daniels asked reporters this past week while in Washington to accept an award from Governing magazine for his achievements as governor. "We've just been hired for a job we're very serious about. We have a lot left to do. That will have our full attention."

GOP strategist Ed Rollins has predicted the Republican standard-bearer for 2012 will be one of the nation's governors, and he singled out Daniels as one of his favorites.

Wow, Ed Rollins fearlessly predicts the next Republican nominee will be a governor! It's like the old saying: if you need somebody to check a pulse, who better than a dead man?

Revenge? Not just yet

Sen. Evan Bayh thinks Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman should apologize for his attacks on President-elect Barack Obama during the presidential campaign but should keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We ought to maximize our chances of getting good things done for the American people rather than focus on score settling," Bayh told reporters last week....

Bayh said Lieberman's gavel can always be taken away in the future if he "behaves in ways that are hostile to the administration."
"Why not try reconciliation first and see if that can be made to work in a positive way?" Bayh asked. "We can always resort to revenge later."

Y'know, we take pride hereabouts in Indiana's contribution to humor: George Ade, Kin Hubbard, Johnny Appleseed, Don Herold, Eugene V. Debs, Will Cuppy, Herb Shriner, Kurt Vonnegut, Jean Shepherd, Dan Greenberg, Alvy Moore, David Letterman, Dan Quayle, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Jim Gaffigan, just to name all the ones I can think of, and yet none of these, to my way of thinking, could ever have invented Evan Bayh.

(Thanks to for the countdown clock. We loooove the internets!)

Saturday, November 15

Rest Easy

Indianapolis Racist Star:
Butler bulldog mascot costumes found; 4 men arrested

4 arrested in theft and abuse of Butler's bulldog costumes

By Kevin O'Neal
Posted: November 15, 2008

The battered remains of Butler University's pilfered bulldog costumes have been found, a mess of foam and fabric damaged beyond repair.

A team of investigators from three police agencies broke the case this week, and the four men they say are behind the mascot crimes face felony charges of burglary and theft....

Butler police, led by Sgt. Alan Criswell and assisted by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, a consortium of law enforcement agencies, eventually cracked the case.

Emphasis mine, in case you were wondering.

William E. Miller With Tits

FIRST, I'm a bad blog administrator, and deserve to be spanked, and my goddam neighbor with OCD is using her leaf blower or shop vac again, which is how she spends every Friday, hours of every Friday, including yesterday, and the incessant high-pitched whine is probably going to come through in the next few paragraphs, probably in the shape of a few additional "fucks", although you'd hardly notice. Fuck. It's really interesting being surrounded by three lawn-care fanatics and one guy five times slobbier than myself, especially during late fall, because the fanatics can't be bothered to rake leaves before they blow all over the neighborhood, but they've spent the last seven-and-a-half months mowing every time the grass grows 1/8 inch. Even Lady MacBeth next door will watch the leaves befoul the pacific verdure of her front yard without picking up a rake. I'm guessing that the introduction of a popularly-priced gasoline-powered rake would change these matters entirely.

Fuck that whine. Anyway, I don't generally reap blog comments until I sit down late in the PM and check the day's email. So I don't frequently appear in my own comments section. Besides which, out of some odd quirk of the cosmos, every single one of you is smarter than I am, which makes no sense to me, but there you are. And so, for example, kentropic says, "David Brock, not David Brooks, generously leaving out "you moron", to which we reply 1) never mind, then; 2) now you have some sense of what it must be like to be married to me; and 3) you still don't get the t-shirt, because we consider the development of an allergic reaction to right-wing slime over the course of a decade to be less a matter of ideology than public health.

Now, as to Davis X. (who, in case we've never said it on this blog, though we know we've said it elsewhere, was our favorite commentator in the old Table Talk days), and Scott: we do actually try not to go too far on most occasions, right up to the point where we'd have to re-read our own stuff an', y'know, edit it an' shit. We meant no insult to Harvey Weir Cook, American flying ace. We meant to insult the people who appropriated him in the continuing battle to militarize everything. We knew it was hydrogen; we were just riffing on the Tethered Child's Toy bit. We know that flying in the Great War was more dangerous even than being in the infantry, which is saying something, and we suspect, though can't prove, that just flying the things was more dangerous in WWI than combat flying was in WWII. British pilots were denied parachutes, on the grounds that this might cause them to actually bail out (which, by the way, reminds us that while P.J. O'Rourke thinks no one this side of sanity could be a Leftist after the 20th century, we think anyone with the potential of learning from WWI, which pretty much kicked the century off, and particularly, but not limited to, the actions of the British High Command, and yet remains a crypto-monarchist and 9/11 martinet has no room to talk). Millions died between 1914-1918 for antiquated notions of glory; the worst possible way to memorialize them is to append them to latter-day attempts to revive it.

What I really wanted to do this morning was simply thank Sarah Palin for taking the weekend off, while encouraging her to take right back up where she left off next Monday. It's truly heartening to see the Mass Media following up on a story it allowed her to refuse to tell back when it might have informed the electorate. Special thanks to my local teleprompterites keeping me informed of the goings-on at the Republican Governors' Association; we've had a fucking Republican governor for the last four years and I can't remember them ever saying anything about it. Please, keep this up. I think most of us expected the Republican party to behave classlessly post-election; and what better spokespirana could they ask for?

Friday, November 14

Last Kiss

Potted maple shows off (for forty-eight hours).
Hostas are not usually part of the fall show, so we're grading on a curve.
Vines and the baby-shoe windchimes somebody thought was funny.
Autum-blooming clematis gone to seed.

Thursday, November 13

Why We Fight

• This isn't a news blog, and the only reason it's anything even slightly close to timely is that I find something every day to piss me off, not to mention that I then go on about it interminably, so even if there were news items they'd wind up five page scrolls down in short order. So I didn't mention the Frontline piece on Lee Atwater ahead of time, but I did set the DVR, and it's well worth your time to check local listings or hunt it down somewheres (Here's the PBS page link). It's remarkable what the addition of Joe Conason and/or Eric Alterman can do for teevee coverage of political issues. Maybe they should be on more, and veteran confidence men like Howard Fineman less not at all. Mary Matalin will be the very definition of a useful idiot once somebody discovers a use for her. Tucker Eskew sounds out words as he reads. Seriously. I mean, maybe he's dyslexic. But the thing about it is, every time you hear that, "All y'all Northerners thinks we's scuggins, but that's just when we gitcha," it either comes from, or is said about, someone who by every objective standard available sounds like a fifth-grade remedial reader. I agree, people are quick to judge, but that is just as natural as, and generally more understandable than, the speech patterns of people born below the Ohio (or, in Indiana, south of US 40). But in the aftermath (protects self from Evil Eye) of George W. Bush it's time at least some of the onus travelled back to the other side. I treasure Southern English. But the glories of regionalism are not an excuse for someone in the communications business to act as if there are no rules about speaking clearly which prohibit the actual taking of naps between syllables. My Poor Wife watches that Paula Deen--if by "watches" one means "occasionally lights on for more than her customary 0.6 seconds"--quite possibly just to annoy me. "Naoh-uh whee-ur a'go-an-uh t'aad-duh sum-uh gahhhlic." It's a fucking half-hour show, lady! Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time understanding someone when, by the middle of every sentence, I've begun to keep count of how many extra syllables they've added minus the ones they threw away out of spite, caprice, or pernicious whimsey. 

Anyway, a remarkable document, and even if you lived through it the first time an inducer of nausea (Reagan says of Michael Dukakis, "I won't make fun of an invalid"; Press Corps chuckles). Anyone prattling about bi-partisanship in 2008 ought to be required to view it in its entirety, and write an essay, before he opens his mouth again. O'Rourke thinks Americans love liars because April 15 comes around every year; I suggest that the casual immoralities of daily American life, while instructive of our national and international behavior, in fact fall so far short of the utter amorality of these people--the Bush Crime Family particularly--that the latter is a different, and unexpected, species, and they'd all be tarred and feathered if the public really knew, and could afford tar and feathers anymore. Atwater shived Ed Rollins in the prison shower to get his job; the Finemans of the world then allowed him to pretend he didn't know anything about the Willie Horton ads, even though everyone knew. This is not padding your deductions; this is padding your deductions while indulging in posterior intimacies with the examiner's wife, in his office, with the door open. Some people are gratified by Atwater's supposed Death Bed apologies; I'm just grateful he fittingly remained a Drama Queen to the end. Ed Rollins' story about Atwater's Bible, which the producers were too sensitive to let end the piece as it should've (compounding the error by letting Howard Fucking Fineman spew platitudes), is absolutely worth the price of admission, and the time spent looking it up.

• Kentropic, in comments yesterday, proposes--jokingly--David Brooks as the second American to switch ends of the American political spectrum, which reminds me of a couple of things. An earlier draft of that thing yesterday mentioned Brooks by name, and asked exactly what Liberal credentials he might dig up for us. He was old enough to vote in 1980--how'd that go? And I realize that's not confirmable, but is anything in his past? Maybe he tells the tale in one of those books I'm always intending to read just as soon as one washes up on an island I've been deserted on. He spouts that "parody" of William Fuhbuckley like a Freak Flag, though it seems (okay, reluctantly, it's here, complete with "Hilarious" in the head so you'll be prepared. Do not click.) mostly to demonstrate that Brooks somehow remained a sophomore until 1983, and I mean high school sophomore. Those of us who tenant the slums of political blog comments are, of course, quite familiar with the Youstabee Liberal who cannot seem to come up with a single believable sample of his former belief system, as though your later embarrassment at having been an REO Speedwagon groupie would cause you to forget what a guitar sounds like. But Brooks never gets called on this, though I can't imagine who it's supposed to impress. And this gave me the thought that there might be some sort of Lord Raglan Hero Pattern for Former Liberals, though it would have to account for the milquetoast Brookeses and the retired radical dope smokers.

The new phone books are here, and they only cost a billion dollars! Hoosiers had barely had enough time to stop gawking at the retractable ceiling of our billion-dollar Football Barn before we opened our new billion-dollar Airport Terminal Barn, and the teleprompter readers couldn't be more excited, let me tell you. They kept reminding The Folks At Home that this was the first new terminal since 2001, which tells you something, namely, that if no real city needed a new terminal in that period, Indianapolis sure didn't. The goddam thing's been in the planning stages for thirty-five years, which tells you a couple more things: it's probably 8.2 times even worse than the new Football Barn, and the graft trail would require a team of archaeologists and a baying of bloodhounds to begin uncovering.

We mentioned some time ago--you don't expect us to keep track of this stuff, right?--that an organization had turned up trying to change the name of the Indianapolis Airquotes International Airquotes Airport back to the original Weir Cook Airport, which yours truly enthusiastically supported for as long as it took him to learn (not long) that what these people were up to was not the elimination of the bloated, risible, Bureaucratic Megalomaniacese of its current moniker, nor the simple nostalgia that might help glue Place to Time, but Yet Another Glorification of All Things War. Col. Harvey Weir Cook was a WWI flyboy with the Hat-in-the-Ring squadron who is credited with seven kills, four of them balloons. (I am, by the way, trying to get the Airport Authority to give my Poor Wife's students some wall space to paint a mural depicting one of those heroic triumphs over Helium.  Or was it Hydrogen? I'll let you know how it goes.) There was no more chance that the Board was going to take "Indianapolis" out of the name of the place than they were going to ban price-gouging in the food court, but this gang realized that playing up the Honor our Veterans routine got 'em plenty of airtime, and in the end--after several loudly thumped stories from local "news" organizations which had ignored the name change the previous thirty years--the Board agreed to name the new terminal after the hero of the Battle of Tethered Child's Toy Alley.

This, of course, proved to Not Be Enough Wargasm; it never is. The next step was to delay the fucking opening of our badly-needed luggage-claims upgrade until Veteran's Day. And then they tried to fix it so the first arrival would be a planeload of Indiana Guardsmen returning from Afghanistan, but the timing broke down. Are we not, really, the last nation on earth which needs nearly unrestricted access to firearms?

It's Thursday. This thing has been the lead story on every local "news" program since last Friday. ("In a little over 48 hours the first plane will arrive at the New H. Weir Cook Terminal!" Could you, reader, even spit those words out, let alone while pretending they were important?) I swear to god I actually turned on the nets at 8PM Tuesday to see if they'd cut to a live shot of the first plane landing. And I was amazed to find they didn't.

And the culmination, make that nadir, came when one (or at least one) actually sent a reporter to Philadelphia so she could turn around and fly back and tell us what it was like. Just keep that in mind should you feel the need to use "Indiana is now a Blue State!" in conversation.

Wednesday, November 12

I Am Really, Truly, Sorry That Despite My Obviously Superior Shotmaking That Last Stroke Was Poor Enough To Force Me To Take This Mulligan.

P.J. O'Rourke, "We Blew It: A look back in remorse on the conservative opportunity that was squandered". November 17

HERE'S the thing: I never trusted P.J. O'Rourke's schtick, that is, his I'm-a-Republican-because-I-grew-up-from-being-a-hippie routine. To begin with, I've never trusted anyone who claims to've have some political epiphany after the age of majority. Religion, sure, because religious conversion after adulthood is generally a measure of personal despondency or the severity of one's legal fuck-ups. Politics aren't, at least generally. A polar transposition of political beliefs in adulthood, absent any evidence of massive head trauma, suggests either that one is being disingenuous, or that one was formerly so devoid of sense that measuring one's current level of ingenuousness isn't worth the effort. Sure, this may be well within the range of human possibilities, but it's notable that we don't exactly see it happening all that often when there's no money on the line, and rarely do we find anyone moving from the popular camp to the loser's hangout, which we'd expect to find in close to equal numbers if it were a real, meaning honest, phenomenon. I challenge you to name two, and I'll spot you Kevin Phillips.

For another, y'know, I hope this doesn't fuck with his income or anything, but long-haired casual Leftist dope smokers were not exactly a rare breed in 1968, and I'm pretty sure they grew up to be all sorts of things, Yuppies included, but the vast majority never had the opportunity, or the need, to justify it in print. There's Mitch Daniels, fer instance, though I doubt he was ever much of a leftist, especially once his draft commitment was up. Nobody says "Wow, Mitch overcame Liberalism.  That makes him especially knowledgeable." and you don't hear nearly enough people say, "Gee, Mitch used to be a drug dealer, now he's an ill-tempered autocrat." Mitch has a taste for power as well as money, but he, too, found delivering encomiums to private enterprise to be a lucrative career path. Of course, dealing a little weed as a youthful indiscretion is not just forgivable in the eyes of your modern Captain of Industry or Baron of Real Estate; it shows a healthy, nascent respect for The System, especially if it was mostly shake. Cracking wise about the Tuskegee Experiment when you're in your mid-twenties, on the other hand, may require some 'splainin'.

And as we see on an ever-widening basis these days, the problem with these guys is not their acceptance of, nor their proselytizing for, free-market economies and private enterprise. It's that through cupidity, stupidity, or in certain cases frankly unnatural shortness they, and many others, came to imagine that the people most in need of economic defense and protective legislation were, in fact, the the largest of the breed, who, it turns out, were also the most likely to part with considerable wads of cash in return for services rendered. O'Rourke speaks at The Cato Institute, not the North Platte Jaycees. Daniels junkets to Asia, having funded the semi-annual exercises by raising enough "private" "donations" to give a leg up to every aspiring entrepreneur minority student at Ivy Tech. I mean, I'm sure they're both nice to their barbers, too, but it doesn't seem like either party gets much out of that.

The short answer, if it's not already too late for that, is that having been a dope-smoking pseudo-leftist up until you needed a job does not particularly qualify one as an expert on Nancy Pelosi. It just qualifies you to impress a roomful of well-born idiots and associated toadies who only wish they could have spent 1967 thru 1974 smoking hash with braless nubile bareback riders. It's like a gig selling backwoods Jesus aficionados on the utter depravity of your smack addict/boy prostitute days before you were Saved. It doesn't make you a liar, but a little evidence to the contrary would be nice. And there's the fact that O'Rourke has wrung the neck of this particular chicken longer now than Erma Bombeck made a living off the length of teenagers' phone calls.

But nothing lasts for ever, as Ozzy Mandus said to Wavy Gravy, and now O'Rourke finds himself telling the Weekly Standard audience, "We blew it, man." His is, actually, my favorite Wha' Happen? piece of the whole glorious sennight [Warning: contains excessive scenes of passive-voice pooch sex]:
Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone--gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that's headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.

Bummer, dude. Maybe you should have thought about implementing it before last Tuesday.
No, we on the right did it. The financial crisis that is hoisting us on our own petard is only the latest (if the last) of the petard hoistings that have issued from the hindquarters of our movement. We've had nearly three decades to educate the electorate about freedom, responsibility, and the evils of collectivism, and we responded by creating a big-city-public-school-system of a learning environment.

Okay, I think we'll be getting back to that inner-city school remark, but meanwhile, what sort of "education" about "freedom" mitigates the fact that the second consecutive two-term laissez-faire Republican administration closes with the nation's financial institutions having been plundered, and the Little Guy footing the bill? And considering you had an eight-year Revolution with an effective control of Congress, followed by four years of Get Saddam, Get Noriega, Get Willie Horton! stewardship, followed by eight years of hunting a President because he was more moderate than you (his dick will yet appear today! If the whole Clenis™ thing was disgusting before, there's the added hint of necrophilia to reverse our gorges now), a practice which was shepherded by a group of Republican officials so personally and professionally repugnant that any normal person, male or female, straight, gay, or none of the above, would have gladly blown Bill Clinton just for the promise that he'd help you cross to the other side of the street to avoid them. This was accompanied by Republican Revolution II. Then, thanks for making us remember, came 2001-2008. Th' fuck, really, was stopping you? Assuming the entire electorate to be made up of programmable Randian zombies over the last three decades, what more would you have gotten out of it?
In our preaching and our practice we neglected to convey the organic and universal nature of freedom. Thus we ensured our loss before we even began our winning streak. Barry Goldwater was an admirable and principled man. He took an admirably principled stand on states' rights. But he was dead wrong. Separate isn't equal. Ask a kid whose parents are divorced.

"An admirable stance on States' Rights which was unfortunately wrong?" P.J., man, stop bogartin'.
In how many ways did we fail conservatism? And who can count that high? Take just one example of our unconserved tendency to poke our noses into other people's business: abortion. Democracy--be it howsoever conservative--is a manifestation of the will of the people....

If the citizenry insists that abortion remain legal--and, in a passive and conflicted way, the citizenry seems to be doing so--then give the issue a rest. Meanwhile we can, with the public's blessing, refuse to spend taxpayers' money on killing, circumscribe the timing and method of taking a human life, make sure parental consent is obtained when underage girls are involved, and tar and feather teenage boys and run them out of town on a rail.

We pause here to remind you that this is a guy who keeps insisting he's smarter than you, or at least knows better, in part through the moral superiority of his positions, and who has just suggested that killin' a person is a minor quibble compared to coalition-building.
Our impeachment of President Clinton was another example of placing the wrong political emphasis on personal matters. We impeached Clinton for lying to the government. To our surprise the electorate gave us cold comfort. Lying to the government: It's called April 15th.

Pooches were screwed! Look, goddamit, by the time you impeached Bill Clinton everybody in the country, including even the pathetic gang of House "managers" who would soon, to a man, be enjoying the freedom to earn their livings off the private enterprise system, knew that Clinton wasn't going to be convicted. And everybody in the country knew you'd been on a seven-year witch hunt, or, more accurately, a ten-year series of witch hunts. You fucking couldn't stop yourselves then; you want absolution now?  And by the way, I don't recall you spending the decade lecturing on Hayek rather than sniffing Clinton's crotch with the rest of the hounds.
The sludge and dreck of political muck-funds flowing to prosperous businesses and individuals have gotten deeper and more slippery and stink worse than ever with conservatives minding the sewage works of legislation.

Again, 1) what sort of theoretical climate must we enjoy for this not to be the case, and 2) why should the rest of the nation be consigned to looking for it for you?
For what we will spend on the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2008 we could have avoided the war in Iraq and simply bought a controlling interest in Saddam Hussein's country.

Frankly, some of us expected you to. And to bring along your own WMDs for good measure.
Yes, we got a few tax breaks during the regimes of Reagan and W. But the government is still taking a third of our salary. Is the government doing a third of our job? Is the government doing a third of our dishes? Our laundry? Our vacuuming? When we go to Hooters is the government tending bar making sure that one out of three margaritas is on the house? If our spouse is feeling romantic and we're tired, does the government come over to our house and take care of foreplay? (Actually, during the Clinton administration  .  .  .  )

See, it's funny because Bill Clinton has a dick!
Anyway, a low tax rate is not--never mind the rhetoric of every conservative politician--a bedrock principle of conservatism. The principle is fiscal responsibility.

Then why were you just griping about taxes?

Look, let's try this again: it's been twenty fucking years since the Reagan presidency ended. It's been twenty fucking years since a man who'd spent sixteen years running for President on the single issue of the evils of the National Debt left office having nearly quadrupled it. And not just that; "conservatives" cheered while he was doing it, and then they tried to excuse it by claiming he'd single-handedly spent the Soviets into bankruptcy when we knew in the 70s they were about to crash. Then, like, two days later these same fucking "conservatives" hit the roof because the Clinton administration dared to take a pair of manicure scissors to the edges of the Defense budget! Twenty fucking years. That was certainly long enough for you to go from first taste of sweet sweet hemp to Professional Grown-up. Maybe it's long enough to drop the pretense of Republican fiscal conservatism. By the way, did you know Bill Clinton got a blow job?
Is there a moral dimension to foreign policy in our political philosophy? Or do we just exist to help the world's rich people make and keep their money? (And a fine job we've been doing of that lately.)
If we do have morals, where were they while Bosnians were slaughtered? And where were we while Clinton dithered over the massacres in Kosovo and decided, at last, to send the Serbs a message: Mess with the United States and we'll wait six months, then bomb the country next to you. Of Rwanda, I cannot bear to think, let alone jest.

Where were You on Kosovo? Easy--sniffing Clinton's crotch, right where You were the rest of the decade, and trying to make political hay out of the situation once he acted.  

As for the rest, y'know, we can indict the US government's humanitarianism and amoral foreign policy beginning with the 18th century, but the idea that the American Right is somehow ethically exempt? What th' fuck are you smokin' now?
And now, to glue and screw the lid on our coffin, comes this financial crisis. For almost three decades we've been trying to teach average Americans to act like "stakeholders" in their economy. They learned. They're crying and whining for government bailouts just like the billionaire stakeholders in banks and investment houses. Aid, I can assure you, will be forthcoming from President Obama.

Ri-iight. What is founding a major international criminal cartel or two compared to expecting to eat a few crumbs off the table?
Then average Americans will learn the wisdom of Ronald Reagan's statement: "The ten most dangerous words in the English language are, 'I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to help.' " Ask a Katrina survivor.

See, that's funny, since at the time you were busy blaming Liberals for creating an underclass that was insufficiently buoyant. And blaming the Carter administration for creating FEMA. No, I'm not making that up.
What will destroy our country and us is not the financial crisis but the fact that liberals think the free market is some kind of sect or cult, which conservatives have asked Americans to take on faith. That's not what the free market is. The free market is just a measurement, a device to tell us what people are willing to pay for any given thing at any given moment. The free market is a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on the scale. "Jeeze, 230 pounds!" But you can't pass a law making yourself weigh 185. Liberals think you can. And voters--all the voters, right up to the tippy-top corner office of Goldman Sachs--think so too.

Here's the thing about that: I'm happy to learn, now that its collapse has taken the rest of the country down with it, that we all lost our savings to faulty bathroom scales and not a cult. That would have been devastating. And I'm assuming this means y'all have managed to hide all the evidence that you've been selling the Free Market as a Miracle Solution To Everything, Guaranteed! ever since you started wearing ties.
We've had the rule of law largely in our hands since 1980. Where is the transparency? It's one more job we botched.

Damn! And y'all were so vigilant about it, too.