Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boobs & Balls

I gave this item a miss when the story first hit the papers, mostly because everey other frikkin' blogger on the planet seemed to be writing about it, but also because I didn't think the story was an appropriate one in the first place and the blue-nosed tut-tutting that was going on only fed the fire.

And they call me a pervert, a sex-obsessed freak!

Anyway, you might recall that the other day, the Washington Post ran a story about a speech Hillary Clinton gave in the Senate, and focused on her "low cut" outfit which revealed some cleavage. NEWS FLASH! A WOMAN HAS YABBOS!(to give you an idea of the sexual repression involved, the only clear copy I could find was on some fascist website, who shall remain nameless). To be fair to the WaPo, the writer, Robin Givhan, is a fashion writer and to be sure, fashion and politics go hand-in-hand in Washington.

Her words belie something else, though:
There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.[...]

The cleavage, however, is an exceptional kind of flourish. After all, it's not a matter of what she's wearing but rather what's being revealed. It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!
A rather ham-handed attempt at being faaaaaaabulously snarky fell flat on its face, and Givhan had to man the barricades for the fussilade of criticisms from the left and unintentional shrapnel from the right's brickbats tossed at Hillary's boobs.

For the record, Ms. Givhan, although you've won a Pulitzer, a better comparison would have been "the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting John Edwards' package in a pair of too-tight chinos."

I mean, really, if you're going to get disgusting about it, go the whole nine yards! Oh, it wouldn't have made it past the editor?

Then maybe the question you needed to ask was, "What's the difference between a woman's cleavage and a man's bulge?" and indeed, why is there a difference?

All you did was engage the stereotype and advance it one step further: women's bodies are to be examined carefully, clinically, while men's bodies are referred to in shibboleth. This isn't Pamela Anderson running for President (and even if it were...)! This is an intelligent, involved Senator who by all accounts has worked very hard during her tenure to get up to speed and prepare herself for the most difficult job in the history of the world: cleaning up after that huckleberry, George W. Bush.

The other side of this dust-up is the bizarre reaction from the right wing, who regularly trot out this pundit or that lunatic, dress them up real purty-like for their bohunk masses to jerk their gherkins to while keeping their TeeVees glued to Fox News, thus ensuring ratings.

After all, nothing a man likes after a long day of tamping down his sexuality by harassing the "chicks" than to have a sexual fantasy that one is his equal, sees things exactly the way a man would, showing her boobs while he drinks a beer. And it showed in the way the right wing blogosphere captured this story as a "NOT SAFE FOR WORK" moment, trying to tie Hillary's boobs into some bizarre primal suprstition that burqas protect men from raping women.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

Living Colour - Open Letter To A Landlord

The greatst protest band of the last twenty years, U2 included. Corey Glover's got some pipes!

Friday Kitten Blogging

Doin' whut I duz bess...

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) So China has cloned a rabbit. They weren't breeding fast enough?!?!?!?!?

2) Stuff like this never happens to me.

3) Unlike Paris Hilton, for whom I have zero sympathy, I feel for Lindsay Lohan and wish her well. She clearly had a rough childhood under the surface of placid calm and relative wealth.

To Review: Creepy skank... ...troubled drunk

4) It's nice to know that Kermit will have a place to croak.

5) They don't make rockers like they used to. One thing about growing up in New York, particularly where I did: celebrity encounters are frequent. I met Brian May in, of all places, the now-closing Discovery Store in Grand Central Station, looking at, of all things, telescopes (I could have directed him to about a hundred better stores in the city to find one). This was Spring 2001, I believe, when Queen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With his hair, he was taller than I am (by a lot). He's an extremely nice man, and we had a nice fan-to-icon chat, meaning he suffered me gushing.

6) Rumour has it Lindsay Lohan will be entering her next rehab with NASA.

7) The more stories like this I hear, the more I wonder where in the world Bush hasn't screwed up? Pakistan is barely holding on as an ally, they have nukes, and they have an angry Muslim population. Not good.

8) And this is not good news, on that front, either.

9) As you worry about the stock markets, keep in mind a couple of things: a) many brokers are on vaction, and b) markets never collapse on a Friday, although they have had some spectacular losses.

10) Huh? What? OHNOFUCKINGWAY! You have to be kidding me?!?!?! Why, that makes me want to KILL someone!!!!

11) Memo To NATO: Oops! It's the other guys you want to bomb!

12) Keep THIS cat away from me! (Video report here) What a sweet face for a serial killer...

13) This new Star Trek film is taking forever to get off the ground.

14) I was going to get all snarcastic on this, based on the headline, but now I can't.

15) I don't think Congress has much to worry about. If it's one thing Americans know, it's television. But just in case you weren't aware of it, you have less than eighteen months to replace your TV.

16) Take a message. I'm up to my eyeballs in manure.

17) Duh, no! Really? Anybody who's read the label can tell you this...the ultimate profit center: selling a nearly-free commodity!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Le Tour De Fra

(h/t for the image)
(ed. note: Thor Hushovd has not been accused of doping)

Question: How many men does it take to carry all the dope in Keith Richards' body?

Answer: The Tour De France.

No one knows for certain whether Lance Armstrong doped up, whether it was steroids, human growth hormones, or the old Finnish standby, blood doping. All we can say for certain is he never tested positive under UCI standards. We can, of course, infer whatever the hell we want, including the fact that Armstrong, an avowed patriot and Republican, skipped the road cycling events in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, possibly because the Olympic testing standards are far more rigorous.

We do know that many of Armstrong's top competitors over the past decade were doping, from Erik Zabel to Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, right down to Floyd Landis, the presumptive 2006 Tour De France winner, who was stripped of that title after his urine samples tested positive for large amounts of testosterone, indicative of steroid use.

In point of fact, doping has been around almost as long as the Tour has. You'd think this would be a clue, right?

Apparently not. The 1998 Tour was declared the Tour of Shame, but I suspect this years will wrest that title on points: in this week alone, three riders and two teams have been forced to withdraw from the Tour (call it Cofidis interruptus, and one more rider, the leader, Michael Rassmussen, was taken off the Tour by his team, Rabobank, because of the possibility that he might have been doped heading into the Tour.

What all this comes down to, in terms of the race, is the Discovery Channel Team, Lance Armstrong's team, will hold the first place today, and likely win the race overall on Sunday, making the Armstrong-created team (first sponsored by the US Postal Service) the Tour winner for nine straight years, even if Landis had his "win" pulled.

Steroids have been a big story this year, what I like to call a non-story story. Think about it: what larger issue does steroid use speak to in the world? Cheating? I suppose, but there are billions of people on this planet who cheat in someway, and many are not successful for it.

I hold what appears to be an unpopular view about this particular form of cheating: so what?

The way I see it, if some idiot thinks the fleeting glory and fame associated with holding this title or that record (yes, Barry, I'm talking about you) is worth sacrificing his health for, then by all means, go for it. In the end, all you'll do is cheapen the record to such a degree that no one will remember the record at all much less who held it, but for decades, you'll remember how stupid it was to stick a needle in your body and infest your bloodstream with invading chemicals and who knows what else?

Sports organizations-- leagues, federations, even teams-- also should be held accountable for steroid use, and stop the sham of being the Captain Reynault, "shocked, shocked, I say!", of sport. YOU BEGGED THESE GUYS TO CHEAT! You created an atmosphere and a culture where athletes make enormous sums of money because YOU make enormous sums of money when they do well. Don't kid us! When Jason Giambi signed with the Yankees, they knew he was doping, but looked the other way because they believed it would end up with millions more in the bank, and a bunch of World Championships to show for it.

The biggest sham of all, though, is that governments, including the US Congress, feel a need to "investigate" steroids, putting a game on the same footing as finding housing for the victims of natural catastrophes or investigating the firing of eight federal attorneys.

In fact, in 2005 and 2006, doping in sports was a bigger story than Katrina, the disappearance of billions of dollars in Iraq, the corruptions of the president, possible voter fraud in Ohio, and the suspension of civil liberties under the Patriot Act, at least as far as Congress was concerned.

Why? What national interest is in imminent danger because Barry Bonds does drugs, or some football player does? Who dies, aside from the athlete? Who stands to be harmed? The fan? Can't he find some other entertainment to occupy his time? Where are our priorities????

The real sham behind governmental investigations is, often, it's government itself that's created the environment that permits the owner to make billions of dollars off a sports franchise that looks the other way when one of its athletes cheats in order to set a record which earns the owner money who kicks it back to the politician who passed the bill that gave all that money to the owner in the first place.

A pox on all their houses! If you really want to see a change here, then make it so money stops being so important in a game, so players won't choose to ingest drugs so owners won't get high off their earnings so governments and politicians won't take bribes and kickbacks from successful-but-greedy teams.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Wyatt Cenac - Barack Obama announces campaign posters for President

*Lighting A Candle*

Weekly World News to stop publishing


At least they'll still be online...

An Unsubtle Dance

Clearly, this story and this story were timed for simultaneous release:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Terrorists may be conducting "dry runs" at U.S. airports to test security before a possible attack, according to a Transportation Security Administration warning to airport screeners.

In at least four incidents over the past year, security screeners have found items in carry-on luggage -- blocks of cheese taped to electrical components, for example -- that resembled homemade bombs, according to the TSA's July 20 memo.
Jul 24 - U.S President George W.Bush reiterates the threat posed by al Qaeda in Iraq and warns that an American military withdrawal will only enhance the influence.
(video at link)

You mean to tell me that it took Al Qaeda six years to suddenly start sticking cheese into people's luggage, attached to wires and circuit boards?

Please. Don't make me laugh. This has been going on since 9/11 and probably even earlier than that, especially when you consider this part of the warning:
"Past terrorist attacks and plots show that such testing generally indicates attacks will soon follow," said the internal memo, which was posted on the Internet by NBC News on Tuesday.

None of the passengers in question has been linked with criminal or terrorist organizations so far, the memo said.
Right. How many wired cheeses does it take for the TSA to issue an alert like this? One? Two? Three? A dozen? And yet none of the passengers has been found to have any links to terror organizations?

Who smokes that strong of dope in the White House that thinks we'd buy this story at all? Clearly, this is a made-up alert, designed to reinforce Bush's feeble message of the bogeyman:
Here's the bottom line: Al Qaida in Iraq is run by foreign leaders loyal to Osama bin Laden. Like bin Laden, they are cold-blooded killers who murder the innocent to achieve al Qaida's political objectives. Yet despite all the evidence, some will tell you that al Qaida in Iraq is not really al Qaida – and not really a threat to America. Well, that's like watching a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun, and saying he's probably just there to cash a check.
BoogahBoogah! Gee, Mr. Bush, they weren't there before you got us stuck in the glue over there! One can logically assume that if anyone was a threat to the nation, it's the numbnuts who exaggerated and lied and aggravated a situation such that we're viewed as the bully who needs to be taken down a notch!

Um, that means you're the problem, since your reading comprehension is questionable.

The White House admitted as much that these two stories were timed for release:
Kevin Sullivan, the White House communications director, said the speech was devised as a "surge of facts" meant to rebut critics who say Mr. Bush is trying to rebuild support for the war by linking the Iraq group and the one led by Mr. bin Laden.
See? You see? There over there, and they're trying to follow us over here, but if we stay over there, magically all our cheese will be wire free! HOORAY FOR US!

Yea. Right. Let me have a terrorism expert say it:
"I think what the president is saying is in some sense fundamentally misleading," said Robert Grenier, former head of the counter-terrorism center at the CIA as well as the agency's mission manager for the war in Iraq. "If he means to suggest the invasion of Iraq has not created more jihadists bent on killing Americans, and that if Iraq hadn't been there as a magnet they would have been attracted somewhere else, that's completely disingenuous."

The war "has convinced many Muslims that the United States is the enemy of Islam and is attacking Muslims, and they have become jihadists as a result of their experience in Iraq," Grenier said.
In other words, to quote the immortal wrestler, The Rock...IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER anymore, at any rate. They'll kill us here with exploding cheeses AND fight us in Iraq.

Thanks, man. You really fucked us up, big time, asshole!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Neener Neener Neener!

I'm not sure Bush really wants to push this too far:
July 24 (Bloomberg) -- The beauty of the White House's latest claim about executive privilege is its simplicity. All President George W. Bush has to do is utter those two words and his underlings can ignore congressional subpoenas without fear of jail.

Why? Because the president says so. Who decides whether the claim is constitutional or bogus? He does. Who can challenge it? Nobody.

No check. No balance. No way to bring in a judge. See? Simple.

Of course, it's not so popular with Congress.
Yea....ya think?

Executive privilege is one of those apocryphal things that means more in theory than it does in practice. In an enlightened and honest government, executive privilege allows a president to get advice and to explore avenues to solutions unfettered by an oversight.

This is not necessarily a bad thing in, say, opening negotiations to settle a dispute with a nation that is outwardly not talking to us. When it's used to subvert justice on what amount to essentially administrative matters, it's a horrible idea, and one that a democracy ought to shun.

And had. Nixon claimed executive privilege, and had that claim tested all the way to the SCOTUS, where he was smacked down. Clinton claimed executive privilege with respect to his paramourations in the White House, and likewise (whether you agree with the investigation or not) got smacked down here, as well.

Both men, ultimately, respected the law of the land, which no man is above.

Not Bush, and I should think conservatives across the land ought to be shunning this masterpiece of obstructive justice, full stop. After all, no one party will have a stranglehold on governance, and this will devolve into a game of parliamentary chicken, until ultimately, there will be no government anymore, just a series of tyrants. After all, you know, law and order implies law at all levels.

Bush has the mechanisms in place to thoroughly subvert any investigation by Congress. Save one. I'll get to that in a moment.

Bush controls the Justice Department, headed by buttboy Alberto Gonzalez. Not going to be an investigation there, no matter how many appelate court judges insist. There's not enough time to go to the SCOTUS for relief, and besides, you know, 5-4, they'd rule for Bush, while insisting that ruling has no legal precedence in the future, just as they did when they handed him the Presidency in 2000.

Congress, in short, is fucked. Except they have one nuclear option, one that Bush wll not be able to stop, one that would immediately release an orgy of contempt jailings, right up to the door of the Oval Office:
There is an option the president can't take away from lawmakers. Congress has ``inherent contempt'' powers, which means that it can order the arrest of whomever it finds in contempt, bring them to Capitol Hill for trial and jail them if they are convicted.

This hasn't been done for 70 years, as it's a nasty process. That is why Congress wrote into law a different route: prosecution through the Justice Department.
Re-read that last paragraph: Congress agreed to allow investiggations of the Executive branch to be handled by the Executive branch, in exchange for not releasing this particular nuke.

Keep in mind as well that, as President of the Senate, Dick Cheney would oversee any contempt trial held in that chamber, which is notorious for being more moderate than the House. So it really would be up to Nancy Pelosi to initiate this action.

One more bright light on the horizon: Presidential pardons appear not apply to civil contempt procedures like the above, since it is not an "offense against the United States" or an offense against "the dignity of public authority."

Monday, July 23, 2007

How A Former President Should Act

How much you wanna bet we'd never read a story like this about any former President named "Bush"?
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton launched a program on Sunday to make subsidized malaria drugs available in Tanzania in a test scheme that could serve as a blueprint for Africa as a whole.

The project will make life-saving ACT drugs available at 90 percent less than the current market price to a national drug wholesaler, which will then distribute them to rural shops.

Malaria, caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes, kills up to 3 million people a year worldwide and makes 300 million seriously ill. Ninety percent of deaths are in Africa south of the Sahara, mostly among young children.

Many of those lives could be saved with modern artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) drugs, which are far more effective than older treatments such as chloroquine. But a price of up to $8 to $10 per treatment puts them out of reach for many people.
Lest you think this is your run-of-the-mill project, let's take a look at malaria in Africa:
This year malaria will strike up to a half billion people. At least a million will die, most of them under age five, the vast majority living in Africa.[...]

Four species of malaria parasites routinely infect humans; the most virulent, by far, is Plasmodium falciparum. About half of all malaria cases worldwide are caused by falciparum, and 95 percent of the deaths. It's the only form of malaria that can attack the brain. And it can do so with extreme speed—few infectious agents can overwhelm the body as swiftly as falciparum. An African youth can be happily playing soccer in the morning and dead of falciparum malaria that night.

Falciparum is a major reason nearly 20 percent of all Zambian babies do not live to see their fifth birthday. Older children and adults, too, catch the disease—pregnant women are especially prone—but most have developed just enough immunity to fight the parasites to a stalemate, though untreated malaria can persist for years, the fevers fading in and out. There are times when it seems that everyone in Zambia is debilitated to some degree by malaria; many have had it a dozen or more times. No surprise that the nation remains one of the poorest in the world: A country's economic health has little chance of improving until its physical health is revitalized.
Pretty important stuff, to be sure. And it's not like the countries of Africa aren't trying to fight back, but between malaria and AIDS, they run out of resources awfully fast, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in private aid as well as billions in foreign aid.

Now, Big Dog stood in a field outside Dar-Es-Salaam to make this announcement yesterday, pointedly reminding the world of two things: one, that Al Qaeda had destoryed the US embassy there on his watch, yet he felt safe enough to show up in person, and two, that President Bush couldn't even be bothered to slog through the swamps created after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Or as Kanye West put it, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

There's a foreign policy point to be made here, as well. In the vacuum created by the twin monstrosities o f AIDS and malaria in Africa, the single most Muslim continent on the planet, we could go a long way to engendering both Muslim good will and the world's respect by focusing much more of our resources on solving malaria. George Bush may not care about black people, but America does.

Ways You Can Help

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jimmy Breslin, National Treasure

There are few men like Jimmy Breslin in journalism anymore.

You folks outside of New York probably only know Jimmy Breslin if you are of a certain age, and drank Piels' beer. "It's a good drinkin' byeer!" We here in the city know Breslin to be a champion of the common guy, the Joe Lunchbuckets of the world who make things work and fix things when they don't, who go home at night and read a tabloid with a beer and a meat and potatoes dinner.

A dying breed, in other words.

He's lost a bit off his fastball as he's gotten older, but occasionally can crank out a high hard one when he gets angry enough.

Today, he got angry enough:
The war was there to take his life because George Bush started it with bold-faced lies.

He got this lovely kid killed by lying.[...]

Yesterday, Bush didn't run the country for a couple of hours while he had a colonoscopy at the presidential retreat, Camp David. He came out of it all right. He should now take his good health and go home, quit a job he doesn't have a clue as to how to do.

The other day, Bush said he couldn't understand why in the world would some people say that millions of Americans have no health insurance. "Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room," he said.

Said this with the smirk, the insolent smug, contemptuous way he speaks to citizens.
Plain spoken enough, and to be sure, he is someone who has shaped my own writings: why spend an entire page explaining something you can sum up in three paragraphs?
People, particularly these politicians, these frightened beggars in suits, seem petrified about impeachment. It could wreck the country. Ridiculous. I've been around this business twice and we're all still here and no politician was even injured. Richard Nixon lied during a war and helped get some 58,500 Americans killed and many escaped by hanging onto helicopter skids. Nixon left peacefully. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Democratic Senate majority leader, said on television that the Senate impeachment trial of Nixon would be televised and there would be no immunity. That meant Nixon would have to face the country under oath and if he lied he would go to prison. He knew he was finished as he heard this. Mansfield said no more. He got up and left. Barbara Walters, on the "Today" show, said, "He doesn't say very much, does he?"

The second time the subject was Bill Clinton for illegal holding in the hallway.
So you know where this is going, even tho I've quoted the middle of his column. Like any good journalist, he aleady told his story and is now laying it out for later editing.
And in Washington we had this Bush, and it is implausible to have anyone who is this dumb running anything, smirking at his country. He sure doesn't mind copying those people. On his PBS television show the other night, Bill Moyers said he was amazed at Sara Taylor of the White House staff saying that she didn't have to talk to a congressional committee because George Bush had ordered her not to. "I took an oath to uphold the president," she said.

That president had been in charge of a government that kidnapped, tortured, lied, intercepted mail and calls, all in the name of opposing people who are willing to kill themselves right in front of you. You have to get rid of a government like this. Ask anybody in Rosedale, where Le Ron Wilson wanted to live his young life. His grave speaks out that this is an impeachable offense.
Go read the entire column. Howard Cosell used to call it "Telling it like it is." Jimmy Breslin taught Cosell everything about that.