Friday, September 27, 2002

Michael Kinsley Speaks, So I Don't Have to:


Link: Michael Kinsley lays down the word regarding the Bush War in Iraq


Read this piece. I think it is the clearest thing yet crystallizing the opposition to the Bush Adminstration I've seen. He hits on the Bushie's untrustworthiness, their lies, and their manipulations in order to drum up support for the War on Iraq.


His final analysis is the best zinger I've seen in a while: "Iraq may be an imminent menace to the United States even though (empahsis added) George W. Bush says it is. You would think that if honest and persuasive arguments were available, the administration would offer them."


I think the Daily Show's Jon Stewart put it best: it's as if the day after Pearl Harbor we decided to attack Australia.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Daschle v. Bush: Why Bush Can't Win


I am never going to be able to keep up with the fast-firing fingers of the professional weblogger, because they have two advantages over me: They have a vicious laser-like focus on the Big Politics Game, and they also get paid to be on top of it all. As such, I'm about half a day off the bleeding edge on this issue. *sigh*


That having been said, I cast Serious Shame (level 4, +3 modifier to goats and political chickenhawks) on the White House this week. Let's review the tape:


On Monday the President uncorked this attack on Daschle and his Senateers:

The House responded, but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people. I will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that does not allow this President, and future Presidents, to better keep the American people secure.


Daschle responded two days later with:

But then I read in the paper this morning, now, even the president, the president is quoted in The Washington Post this morning as saying that "the Democratic-controlled Senate is not interested in the security of the American people".....[President Bush] ought to apologize to the American people. That is wrong. We ought not politicize this war. We ought not politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death.


Ari Fleischer, on behalf of the White House, responds with:

The President's remarks were not about the war in Iraq. The President's remarks were about homeland security. Again, I think when you take a look at what was said, it was put into a context which did not match what the President said.


But both of the quotes above are taken out of context. Ari is right: GWB wasn't specifically taking about the war with Iraq. But he is clearly trying to tie the Homeland Security Bill to his 'tough on Iraq' rhetoric. The two items are wholly unrelated despite the fact that today's 'message' from the White House is that Iraq and Al-Qaeda are cooperating. (On a side note: why does the timing of this 'new information' seem so damn suspect? One gets the feeling that the administration is continuing to float trial baloons until they find the one that sticks, and not uncoincedently giving the right-wing talk and pundit posse more red meat in an effort to keep the debate on Iraq. I'm not ready to declare 'wag the dog', but its hard to ignore the constant emphasis on Iraq draws attention away from the other issues of Campaign 2002, the economy, corporate coruption, education, etc.)


Where Ari (and the pundits) are wrong however, is that Daschle had a whole litany of complaints about the Republicans making hay by politicizing the potential war in an effort to bolster support going into the elections. Read Daschle's complete remarks here (It's NYT, so you might have to register). Daschle is recounting a litany of GOP politicizations of issues which ought not be politicized, including:


  • Matthew Dowd (GOP numbers man): "The No. 1 driver for our base motivationally is this war." Dowd is also on record as saying war could be good for GOP candidates in the election. Says Dowd: "When an issue dominates the landscape like this one, it will dominate the landscape in a way that probably for a long time to come would put the Republicans on a very good footing."
  • Andy Card (White House Chief of Staff) on why we are debating war in September: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products (War with Iraq) in August."
  • VP Dick Cheney giving a speech saying that electing a GOP candidate will help with the war.
  • Finally, Karl Rove admonishing GOP strategists to "focus on war."


What the spinmeisters are failing to do is give Daschle's comments about GWB and his speech any context.


Also, as Timothy Noah in Slate (who supports the President's position on the Homeland Security Bill, btw) points out:

Not even George W. Bush, though, can seriously maintain that the success of his war on terrorism depends on how and whether to redraw the government's organization chart. This is a political fight, turning largely on the question of whether to extend civil service protections to the new department's employees. If it affects the nation's security at all, it will be only at the extreme margins.


It also occurs to me that Bush can't win in this fight. If the President really wants to take the low road, and make a political fight out of the war, he risks the very 70%+ ratings he enjoys right now in doing so. GWB has been given an extraordinary long run with mid-high approval ratings, which is no doubt in part due to his remaining 'Presidential' and above the fray. Should he want to sink down to the trenches, he will find the 44% ratings that the GOP holds now to start looking like his own. Daschle doesn't have this problem: he is the Senate Majority Leader, and no ever expects him to be anything but partsian. The Majority Leader doesn't have the same national respect that the Speaker of the House gets while leading his chamber. The Majority Leader is invariably political, so Daschle only gains in the sense that he is seen as worthy of Presidential rebuke. The President rubs off a little of the 'Presidential Aura' everytime he goes down into the trenches, whereas his opponent gains the reflected glow of the Presidency and loses nothing.


All in all, this might be a short-term spin win for the GOP, but it looks like a long term strategic win for the Dems. They have brought the Administration into knife-fighting range, and forced the Adminstration into their game.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

The Ongoing Crisis


I think we have finally found a solution the infrastructure portion of SdB. SdB will now be the feature piece of SdC (suckful.com). I'm going to move the domain name suckful.com over to the server of an old friend (Bill Moss), and use a custom piece of php and mysql with a web interface provided by a new friend (Stick). All that's left is for me to design a layout, have the DNS servers point to the new location of SdC, and other equally interesting technojargon.


Another feature of SdC seems to be under development: The McPathead group. The McPathead group is an online discussion of the issues and debates by a rotating cast of pundits and a host, John McPathead. If this sounds like the online version of a certain teevee show, well, I can't be held responsible for whatever parallels your sick mind comes up with. I am a journalist, and have no time for the words of the diseased pundit, dammit. I don't trust this McPathead, but he comes carrying impeccable referrals, so I seem to be stuck with him.


For now.


Anyway, more details as they become available. SdC is committed to bringing you frequent doses of cognitive dissonance, and I'm looking forward to getting it rolling.


Finally, since the fruits of my cranial loins finally seem to be coming together on the long-delayed SdC, I am assuming a new title: Maximum Leader. Already, the staff of SdC is coming together, and so it's time to impose a certain discipline on these fresh young whelps. My first order as MaxLead is to appoint Jakob Fyrste as Chairman of the Council of Oversight (CCO). Jakob will report directly to MaxLead, and serve as intermediary between the Council and MaxLead. He will also offer nutritional insights and fat-burning exercises to get the lean, mean six-pack abs we all deserve.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Buffy!


Well, color me impressed. The show is back! The quippy lines, the scary latex-beasts, the spooky school, characters of unknown purpose, and slayings were all in, and moody, depressive, navel-gazing were all out! Huzzah! I'mn not gonna recap the show, because if you are any type of websurfer at all, you can find whole piles of stuff like that.


It was nice to see a season opener where Buffy wasn't recovering from being dead, or losing a loved one or anything like that. (They put that off on Willow.) And it was nice that, while they put Dawn in danger just for the purpose of rescuing her, she wasn't nearly as annoyingly helpless as she had been in the past. And cell phones! Freakin' cell phones! How many times have you watched BtVS and watched the characters get separated with no way of contacting each other? I'm glad Joss finally gave the team some 20th C. tech.


[pure bullshit speculation mode=ON]I think it's clear that we're getting a Scrappy gang of Dawn and misfits, and that the older characters are getting prepared for their glorious ride off into the sunset. Xander is fully grown up, Willow has became the ne plus ultra Wiccan, Anya will choose between demon and human, and Giles will dotter. Buffy is probably gonna have to die, however. No way she gets to live and have her character hang over the Dawn-centric spinoff.....That leaves the matter of parenting Dawn, and I haven't quite figured that out yet, but Xander or Willow might be moved into that role upon Buffy's heroic death.[PBSM=OFF]


Ack. I've been sucked in by the Buffyweb! How can I not make predictions after reading the stuff at Slayage, Television Without Pity, other sites devoted to all predictions Buffy? It's like reflex, to not be able to talk about Buffy without trying to figure what's going to happen next. (Also, if you feel like reading over-intellectualized analysis of Buffy, go here. At least you'll know that you aren't the worst type of bore there is: the pop-culture pedant.) It's almost as much fun as the multitudinous Apple rumor sites.


And on the never-ending site for the perfect way to do this blog, I must also reject Moveable Type. Again, too complicated. I just want an easy-to-use site that allows me to divide my entries into categories, but it seems to get that level of functionality, I have to learn a whole new set of byzantine webanalia, and frankly, I'd just rather not. I looked in on Xanga, but it was not as elegant as blogspot, so I quickly gave up on that as well. For now, we're still stuck here.
Biting the hand that feeds me


Well, I've only been blogging for a few days, and already I'm unsatisfied with something. Specifically, Blogger and BlogSpot. While it's nice to go straight into the whole wordsmithing business, I'm not entirely amused at my limited options here.


To switch to livejournal or postnuke or somesuch, however brings on a whole new level of problems. LJ, for example is hugely feature-rich, allows about 1x10^5 user-defined settings, and is engineered around the concept of cross-listing and posting amongst other LJ users, whom are catergorized as 'online friends.'


A brief aside: I like almost everyone I've met in the silly thing called cyberspace. Really. In the unlikely event someone is reading this, I like you, too. But I'm am wholly uninterested in creating the complicated interactions online that one has in real life. So, fie to your online friends, your instant messaging, your ICQ, etc..... Maybe this is the issue upon which I become an official geezer. But I don't want 'presence technology' and 'always-on communication.' I don't even really want a cell phone.....at what point did we have to be so connected that we must be 'accessible' 24-7? Granted, I am involved in an online community of sorts (Ars), but I don't take my engagement there as seriously as I take my real life. And even at an online forum, you basically control the time and place of the interaction. No one at Ars can come rap on your door and bug you with their 9th grade version of why Guns are Good and Clinton is Evil. All this constant connectivity changes the balance of power in interaction from the Self to the Other, and I don't think that this is a good way for humans to deal with one another.


But anyway, I'm looking for a better way to do this weblog, without having to jump in totally feet-first into a maddening array of confusing choices. If my weblog had the simplicity of Neal Pollack's site or the even simpler and cleaner memepool, I'd be happy. All I want is the ability to categorize and archive my posts by category.....So far, in SdB's short existence, we've covered my Real (mundane) Life, some Politics, some TV, some other stuff. Perhaps I'm being anal, but I'd just like to be able to tell any potential readers what they are reading at any given moment.


Ah, well. I've been looking at Moveable Type in the last half hour or so, and it has all of the hallmarks of being difficult ('Open Source,' which generally means hard to use and undocumented) and requiriing me to acquire webhosting, which I dread greatly. Blogging is a terrible habit, but habits only become addictions when you have to pay for them. After all, a smack party is all fun and games until Vinnie the Dealer wants to get paid.


Next post: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 Premiere. The tension has been building, the online BtVS community has been rattling off the rails, spoilers abound, critics are sharpening their whetstones, and the great wailing and gnashing of teeth about big, gay, dead Tara is subsiding.....Oh, the humanity.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Two wholly unrelated things:


First, to finish up yesterday's post, a few more things: The police have gone from passive incompetance to full-on fucktardry*, having refused to inspect the crime scene or make any effort at even pretending to try and solve this attack. I have the same healthy distrust of cops that any ex-minor drug offender would have, and it just got worse today.


* - 'Fucktard' being the worst thing you can call something over at Ars Technica, which is the best website in the world.


That having been said, my friend is doing well, and she already seems to be getting it all back together. I am grateful for that. I am hopeful that the cops are actually looking for this guy, and that they will find him, even thought I'm not holding my breath.


And I'm going to end this subject here. There's just not much more to say. We live in a violent and capricious world and sometimes our loved ones end up on the shit end of the stick. All we can do is perservere, and get a little tougher.


I watched a lot of the Emmy's last night. Actually, 'watched' is too strong a word. It was on teevee, and I would surf back and forth between it and some other programs. I honestly don't give a flying rat's ass about the winners and losers, especially now that the Academy is falling all over itself to annoit cable teevee shows that no one watches (like "The Shield," because it's on FX and no one watches FX, and "Six Feet Under," which no one watches because HBO ain't free). Perhaps one could make the case that the Emmy's are just a baiting tactic to get people to pay for even more teevee, by tricking them into thinking they are missing the 'quality' if they don't rush out right now and get a cable hook-up or dish and get all of the premium channels. In fact, if I were running the Washington Post, I'd get Woodward and Bernstein on this story right now: Teevee Cabal Rigs Awards Show to Entice Viewers to Pony Up Big Bucks for Pay Teevee. (Obviously, I'm no headline writer.)


(As a sidenote: why get cable for 'must-see' shows like the Sopranos, anyway? If you get broadband internet and Kazaa, you can watch all of those shows a day or two after they air, at your convenience. Think of it as free TiVO, or something.)


Anyway, as for the Emmy's themselves, two things stood out to me as emblems of what SdB (yes, that's the acronym I'm using for this weblog: SuckfuldotBlog) stands for: The first was the obligatory scrollong of the dead people that Emmy's (and the Oscars) do for those that passed away the year previous who worked in the industry. The thing that elevates it to truly SdB material is that the audience cheers for the dead people, but only the ones they recognize. So even in death, the actors get all the accolades, and the writers, directors and produces get embarrassed silence, as no one can quite remember who they are. It's just amazing that we as a society are so-conditioned to appaud whenever we hear or see names that we recognize.


Finally, I want to hand out the first SdB Award for Losing through Winning: This award goes to Jennifer Aniston(opolous), who by winning the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series has probably doomed herself forever from being a serious movie actress. "The Good Girl" notwithstanding, she puts herself in a double bind for being famous and lauded for her work, but now having been so lauded with the pinnacle of teevee success, too 'important' and expensive to considered for anything but star vehicles, which will probably, through no fault of her own, keep her from seeing much good material to work on in the film world. Expect a few bad movies and then a comfortable 'second career' in made-for-teevee movies of the week. Congratulations, Jennifer! And our condolences.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

It's time to break out the castration tools


A friend of mine got attacked by a potential rapist the other day. I guess the good news is that she fought back, and he was left only as a 'potential'.


Still, it was violent and brutal, and at the end, the guy tried to black her out, by repeatedly striking her in the face. So now her face is swollen up like a pumpkin. She's ok, and nothing's broken or anything.


I try not to be angry at the cops, because they have the same set of broken things that I have, but the cops seem to be too damn nonchalant about this.


I was going to forego the usual response (or at least what I perceive to be the usual response) of bluster and threats and so forth, because I get the sneaking suspicion that more violence won't make this better for anyone. But the feelings are there. If I ever find out who this guy is.....


There are just some rules even the lowest scum should abide by. And not beating up a woman is one of those rules. One of the joys of being male (at least to me) is to be able to protect and nurture the womenfolk. I don't care if the modern woman rejects this patriarchal notion. This goes beyond identity politics, gender equality, and all of those fancy civilized notions. When you violate this rule, more than any other, I lose whatever objectivity I might have had.


Fuck. Anyway, I'm trying hard not to write what I feel, because I want to be enlightened and above the tit-for-tat response this engenders in me. And I know the shithead that did this is unlikely to read this, as the internet is probably beyond his scope, not to mention this website.


But I can't help it.....If I find you, you sonofabitch, I'm gonna cut your balls off and stuff them in your mouth. And I'm not gonna stop punching you in the face until you swallow them.


Maybe rage is all I get. As we speak, her friends and family are rallying around her, and her mother is flying into town. Meanwhile, I'm stuck about a zillion miles away, unable to do or say anything useful. And I know that my troubles are a millionth of hers, and that my perspective on this ain't worth shit. And I can't even identify with her pain, because nothing like that can or will ever happen to me. But the rage, the rage, the rage, the rage, the motherfucking rage in me right now is scaring me, and I get to live with the stupid paradox of knowing that my rage, however well-justified, is probably as stupid and intense as her attacker's, and that I get a glimpse into my own ugly, because some shithead 3000 miles away attacked a perfectly funny, weird, lovely, charming girl, my friend, who has never done anything to anybody to deserve this.