April 2010

It’s unlikely that this could beat the catch, tag and release proposal, but since The Toot has been retained at a considerable price tag to judge the Hispanic Racism One Upsmanship Day Week in the GOP, we might as well take note of this entry from California Representative Duncan Hunter: 

At a tea party rally in Ramona in San Diego County over the weekend, Hunter fielded a question about the issue.   

“Would you support deportation of natural born American citizens that are the children of illegal aliens?” a man in the audience asked.   

“I would have to, yes,” Hunter said. 

He continued: 

    You can look and say, ‘You’re a mean guy. That’s a mean thing to do. That’s not a humanitarian thing to do.’ We simply cannot afford what we’re doing right now.

 “We just can’t afford it anymore,” Hunter said. “That’s it. And we’re not being mean. We’re just saying it takes more than walking across the border to become an American citizen. It’s within our souls.”

 Souls?  I’m not sure he’s even got one.

Hey look, it’s Hispanic Racism One Upsmanship Day in the GOP, and nobody told us.

No mind, now that we’ve had a moment to catch up on the goings on, let’s take a look at the results from the early entrants.  First out of the gate, George Will reminds us that he is a man of the people, unlike you:

Arizonans should not be judged disdainfully and from a distance by people whose closest contacts with Hispanics are with fine men and women who trim their lawns and put plates in front of them at restaurants, not with illegal immigrants passing through their back yards at 3 a.m.

True indeed.  Because outside of Arizona, it’s basically lawnmowers and busboys.  The lot of ‘em.  Amirite!

Not to be outdone in terms of rank douchebaggery, the regal one himself, Rep. Steve King , comments on Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva’s call for a boycott of Arizona in response to the recent trend toward  a police state for certain minority groups:

“Well, it looks like the case is that, that he’s trying to scare the businesses out of Arizona, or he’s trying to get the businesses to change their position and press the legislature to reverse the law that was just signed by the governor the other day.

“I’m wondering if we look at the map of Congressman Grijalva’s congressional district if we haven’t already ceded that component of Arizona to Mexico judging by the voice that comes out of him, he’s advocating for Mexico rather than the United States and against the rule of law, which is one of the central pillars of American exceptionalism.”

Not bad.  Extra points for insinuating treason, while plugging the “rule of law” that makes America exceptional vis-a-vis the rest of the world, while simultaneously defending the Sovietesque “show us your papers brown person” law recently enacted in that same America the Exceptional Law Loving Capital of the World.  

But still, this is the GOP we’re talking about, and garden variety hate is…well, like rampant weeds in the GOP’s garden.  Of hate. 

To truly stand out on a day like today – to rise above the hum drum dog whistlers and clichéd code speakers – you need that dash of savoir* faire, that unvarnished fascist flare, that no-holds-barred thuggery.  Enter Pat Bertroche, a Republican congressional candidate running in Iowa:

“I think we should catch ‘em, we should document ‘em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going…I actually support microchipping them. I can micro-chip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal? That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under.”

You know, kind of like they do on Animal Planet.  To “them.”

Dear readers, give this man a prize!

(* fixed)

This takedown of the conservative obsession (ostensible) with machismo and self-made-man grittitude in political leaders is packed with such a cornucopia of win that it made my excerpting decision excessively difficult.  Probably as hard as it was for Mr. Sese Seko to write the offending post.  In the portion below, the former Prime Minister is focused on separate sports-centric Obama pieces from the National Review and Weekly Standard.  Because, really, there is little else of consequence to discuss, and what better measure of a leader:  

Taken together, the two magazines have a combined subscribership of 210,000 people. According to the current US Population Clock, that’s merely 1 in 1,472 Americans — or .0005% of America. Their impact in any truly democratic sense runs the gamut from barely discernible to meaningless. At most they are, respectively, sinecures for a man whose career relies on trading on his father’s works and a group of also-ran thinkers retreading dead old William F. Buckley and dead old Ayn Rand for a new generation of people constitutionally incapable of encountering a dissonant fact or an atmosphere without affirmation. And they have failed.

Both these outlets embrace an ideology of competition, of value as set by the marketplace. But they have never been able to survive the marketplace. Their existence has always relied on the self-interested largesse of oligopoly. That the darwinism of the marketplace they advocate would logically preclude their own existence is an irony secondary only to the Standard and Review‘s continued dependence on subsidies from the exact sorts of business interests most threatened by the readers of meaningful journalism, a market that has already evaluated their works and found them wanting.

Obama draws their petty ire because the man is a market player. He’s lived their core narrative so well as to come to dominate them. He was man of limited means and a broken family. He was hindered by a society that discriminated on race and not only earned himself a first-class education but won a state and national senatorial seat and then was elected President of the United States, at age 47. Sixty-nine million people decided he was the person most fit to lead, over a field of old-guard powers and established brands. It’s no overstatement to suggest he represents the apotheosis of the compelling leader and self-made man, the character conservatives portray in their welfare theater, the person who has a natural right to determine the future of a nation.

Hence people like the Standard and Review‘s Jeffrey Anderson and Daniel Foster’s snipes about Obama’s manliness, especially in relation to America’s National Pastime. (See more below.) Suggesting he’s not a real American man is just a genteel, Buckleyite and toned-down way of saying he isn’t even an American by birth. The first is a social assertion, and the second is a legal one, but as men who understand neither system, the notes sound the same to their dead ears. At the same time, it feeds the comforting fiction that they have not lost, that their supposedly inviolate and exclusive right to control the corridors of power has not been legitimately abridged. Obama cheated, somehow — perhaps with the complicity of the same “liberal” media eager to disappear footage of ill-tossed baseballs. He convinced everybody he’s something he’s not. He proffered and represents an ignoble lie.

In the meantime, the solution to their temporary and illegitimate setback is providing the readership with coverage of the president’s errant throwing arm and waiting for the votes to flow rightward. You know, just hanging out, being stupid and useless, caring about dumb shit, writing badly. Time to self-importantly inveigh about what makes a red-blooded American male for a hobbyist publication built out of a legacy by Bill Kristol, a second-generation New York City Jew who sounds like an inexplicably gayer Waylon Smithers and sports a smile as grotesque as the cartoon Joker’s. Better to castigate the weak of arm, limp of wrist and weak of spirit in the pages of a journal founded by William F. Buckley, a New York and Connecticut patrician whose enunciation was so affected that he sounded like Margaret Thatcher doing drag.

Kristol and Buckley couldn’t even clear brush for a photo-op on an ersatz ranch.

For those keeping score, Mr. Destructo is one of my new favorite sites.  Kudos to The David Horowitz of Ex-Libertarians who first put me on to this trove.

Michael Steele, the Teflon Don himself, is testing out his unfire-ability by actually speaking some truth.  A dangerous endeavor for a Republican leader.  This is perhaps the smartest thing Steele has ever said, which is a bit like identifying the most articulate thud when dropping a ton of bricks from a tall building repeatedly, but still:

Why should an African-American vote Republican?

“You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True,” Republican National Chairman Michael Steele told 200 DePaul University students Tuesday night. [...]

“We have lost sight of the historic, integral link between the party and African-Americans,” Steele said. “This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass. The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don’t walk away from parties, Their parties walk away from them.

“For the last 40-plus years we had a ‘Southern Strategy’ that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, ‘Bubba’ went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton.”

He still managed to, er, whitewash the insidious nature of the Southern Strategy.  It wasn’t so much about innocently “focusing on the white male vote” as it was going full-on racist in an attempt to woo a broad contingent of voters who were experiencing paroxysms of rage over civil rights progress. 

But otherwise, yeah.  Oh, and really, not much has changed other than the octaves on the dog whistle, as per Lee Atwater’s description.

(via the Dennis G-Unit)

I for one welcome our new chicken-based economy.  Here’s a special insider tip for Tootizens: the buzz on The Street is that it’s time to begin diversifying your portfolio by investing in those new fangled derivative securities that the young folk are calling “eggs.”  They’re all the rage.

Pass the drank.


WASHINGTON — US Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that Al-Qaeda had suffered potentially “devastating blows” with the killings of its top leaders in Iraq.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri, who had direct links with Osama bin Laden, were killed early on Sunday in a shootout 10 kilometers (six miles) southwest of Tikrit, the home city of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Their deaths are potentially devastating blows to Al-Qaeda Iraq,” Biden, charged by President Barack Obama with managing the US drawdown in Iraq, told reporters.

Hopefully this devastating blow in the Global War On Terror will spell the end for Al-Qaeda in Iraq, an terrorist organization which didn’t exist until we started our Global War On Terror.  I don’t know that there’s any particular reason to think these people can’t be replaced, but I don’t know they can.  Believe me, I’m all for any kind of good news/happy talk which expedites our exit from Iraq.  But it’s worth noting that many of the problems which have made exit planning so tricky are problems of our own creation.  This certainly implies a responsibility to clean up these problems, but the greater responsibility is to stop doing those things which create more.

The NFL off-season is so fucking magical:

Someone recently asked for the advice I’d give to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Since I took the time to actually ponder the matter, it made sense to summarize the key points here. [...]

Even if he did not have sex, consensual or otherwise, with the alleged victim in Milledgeville, Roethlisberger needs to talk openly and candidly about a lifestyle that seems to suggest the following pattern:  (1) go to bars with an entourage that includes at least two off-duty police officers who serve as bodyguards; (2) congregate in the VIP room; (3) let only girls into the VIP room; (4) ply them with drinks; (5) eventually pick one of them for a possible encounter in a more private area of the club; (6) point her out to one of the bodyguards; (7) allow the bodyguard to take her to the more private area of the club; and (8) rendezvous with her there.

Terry Bradshaw is involved, for reasons which are obscure.  Maybe because this isn’t stupid enough already.

Apparently the Pittsburgh Steelers intend to suspend him for two games, which seems fair, considering what he did.  Or might seem fair, considering what he did, if anyone would say exactly what it is they think he did.  All we’re hearing so far seem to be vague “I’m disappointed in you, young man” statements about “poor decisions” and “off-field trouble”, or finger-wagging about only letting drunk girls in the VIP.  It seems like there are pretty much three ways it could have gone down.  Either:

  1. He’s a dirty, drunken whore, and someone lied to police;
  2. He’s a dirty, dirty whore AND an unbelievably obnoxious drunk who takes his pants off and acts crazy and frightens the shit out of people, leading to a big misunderstanding involving the police;
  3. He’s a rapist.

Let the punishment fit the crime, I say, but that would first require someone say what that crime is.  Because these are not really in the same category.  Now, I know he’s “innocent” as far as the justice system is concerned, but there’s “innocent didn’t do it” innocent and “innocent OJ Simpson” innocent, and these are not the same thing.  (For the record, the current league punishment for being “‘innocent’ but everybody fucking knows you did it” innocent of rape is being sent to the crappy Buccaneers.)  If you are suspending him two games (with pay) for a rape, that’s, um, sort of lenient.  If you are suspending him two games for being stupid and/or disgusting and/or embarrassing, I’ve got no problem with that, either.  But say what you are doing.  You – the NFL, the Steelers – have to address the rape issue.  You have to say what you think happened.  This isn’t quantum mechanics – you can’t punish someone for a superposition of 3 mutually exclusive scenarios, give him the expectation value of justice.  Life doesn’t work like that.  If you think he’s the victim, say so.  If you think it’s a misunderstanding, say so.  And if you think it’s rape, or assault, or whatever – if you think it’s probable, or even possible – well, let’s see how seriously you take it.  Do you want a rapist as one of your biggest (undeserved) stars?  Do you want a probable/possible rapist representing one of your core franchises?

Ever since the incredible news broke that John Tesh and Oprah Winfrey were totally in love and kissing and everything, I – along with every civic-minded American – have been reading the TeshBlog even more intently than usual, waiting for John to tell us, his devoted Teshoholics, how we can apply this important development to continue our spiritual growth, or raising a healthy teen, or re-organizing our collection of darling glass unicorns, or frightening small children with our ghastly B-movie monster head, or whatever.  For those who missed it, here’s what I’m talking about:

Singer John Tesh , former “Entertainment Tonight” anchor, not only has confirmed that he and talk-show goddess Oprah Winfrey , 56, were a romantic item decades ago but that the relationship was pretty deep, Associated Press reports. But the reason they split may have tongues wagging. According to excerpts from Kitty Kelley ’s book “Oprah: A Biography,” which were published in the New York Daily News, Tesh, 57, and Winfrey lived together in Nashville in 1974 while he was a news anchor at the city’s NBC affiliate and Winfrey was the city’s first female anchor at the CBS affiliate. But the romance fell apart when Tesh succumbed to the pressure of being in an interracial relationship. Kelley quotes an “ex-girlfriend of Tesh’s” saying he told her one night he looked down and saw his white body next to Winfrey’s black body and “couldn’t take it anymore.”

Sorry.  I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Where were we?  Oh yeah – silence on TeshBlog.  Now, I sources close to something which is exactly as close to me have wondered if this is because John Tesh doesn’t really write his own blog posts.  But this is impossible, for two reasons: 1. all posts are signed “John”, so duh-hoy, and 2. I happen to know for a fact that he types them all himself on his personal laptop in his studio, except when his migraines start acting up, in which case Uncle Fester puts a soothing blue light bulb in his mouth and John dictates to The Creature From The Black Lagoon.  (Despite having webbed hands, TCFTBL can type 200 words pr minute.  Mavis Beacon, baby.)   So, if it really is John, why hasn’t he said anything?  Is the memory too painful for him?  Would Connie Sellecca get jealous?  Or is he channeling his powerful emotions into his art?  Will he tell his story in a song? … or a special concert in Red Square? … or – oh God, please let it be – a CONCEPT ALBUM!?!?!

We live in heady times, my friends.  Big heady times.

Top NASA scientists have predicted that, if current trends continue, by 2013 98% of all non-pornographic internet content will be generated by Eric Martin.  At that time, we will read him because nothing else gets past the content filters at work; but now, we read him because we want to.  Example:

One of the over-arching problems with the much-hyped implementation of counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) in recent U.S. war fighting is the disconnect between theory and practice.  COIN sounds great on paper: a highly disciplined force, well-versed in local customs and culture, focused more on securing the population than kinetic operations against militants, with rules of engagement and tactics that subject U.S. soldiers to greater risk in pursuit of avoiding civilian casualties.  However, in the heat of combat (and under the stress of multiple and prolonged deployments), soldiers are rarely able to live up to COIN’s high standards, which are often unrealistic from the outset (it would take a cadre of PHDs to navigate the intricacies of the Af/Pak cultural mosaic).

In practice, soldiers – whether manning checkpoints or calling in airstrikes – will depart from overly restrictive rules of engagement when their lives are on the line.  It’s hard to blame them for this most instinctive of reactions.  Beyond those common and understandable deviations, every large fighting force will also attract a certain amount of sadists, loose cannons and trigger-happy cowboys (and others not initially displaying those traits will be so formed by the experience of combat itself).  No matter how hard you drill soldiers about the virtues of restraint, some will inevitably commit atrocities.  Such is war, and there is nothing we can do to change that.

More here and here.  But really, it’s even worse than that.  Soldiers who follow the most restrictive rules of engagement to the letter, and maintain a level of restraint and self-control which few of us could ever manage, can still find themselves committing what most of us would, in our day-to-day lives consider pretty atrocious.  (“But you see, Your Honor, I made sure that collateral damage would be acceptable before calling in air strikes on the city block in question.”  “Case dismissed!”)  And these are the sorts of atrocities one drills soldiers to perform as duty.  This is what war is.  To quote a noted expert on counter-insurgency:

You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.

The internet, of course, is where these battles are ultimately fought, and here is where the fog of war is lifted. Drawing on extensive military and legal expertise, YouTube videos are checked for kerning inconsistencies and, by the self-correcting nature of the blogosphere, highly precise and reliable determinations are made about the operational failures which may have occurred, and what line-item edits to the rules of engagement would prevent these tragedies from ever again cluttering our beautiful minds.  Scoundrels and wags have suggested that the real-world impact of bitching on the internet is roughly equivalent to the impact of igniting one’s farts.  (Indeed, they have even claimed that the parallels are nearly total, excepting that lit farts are generally more illuminating.  Wags and scoundrels!)  We pay them no mind.

Nevertheless, and with all due respect to the fine and noble work being done to make war humane through blogging, there is another point of view.  This is it: if one has chosen to go to war, one has committed oneself to doing every bloody and cruel thing required to bring about the conditions which would make peace tolerable.  If you chose war, and commit oneself to doing every bloody and cruel thing required to bring about the conditions which would make peace tolerable save even one, you are, even by the gargoyle standards of war, a monster, because you have freely chosen – through cowardice, malice, or foolishness, it makes no difference – to do this partial list of bloody and cruel things for no material reason at all.  You have ensured that the war will continue, indefinitely, atrocity after atrocity, until you realize your monstrous error, swallow your monstrous pride, and force yourself to tolerate peace, and the only way you could be more monstrous is if you wasted one more day avoiding this simple, stubborn truth.  If you can’t handle the barbarous parts of war, even if you can handle all the barbarous parts except for three (say), you do not have three problems which need to be worked out.  You have one essential and unresolvable problem with War, and every minute of War which has passed is a minute of unredeemable savagery.  I wish to God there was a way to avoid this.  There is no way to avoid this.



Singer John Tesh , former “Entertainment Tonight” anchor, not only has confirmed that he and talk-show goddess Oprah Winfrey , 56, were a romantic item decades ago but that the relationship was pretty deep, Associated Press reports. But the reason they split may have tongues wagging. According to excerpts from Kitty Kelley ‘s book “Oprah: A Biography,” which were published in the New York Daily News, Tesh, 57, and Winfrey lived together in Nashville in 1974 while he was a news anchor at the city’s NBC affiliate and Winfrey was the city’s first female anchor at the CBS affiliate. But the romance fell apart when Tesh succumbed to the pressure of being in an interracial relationship. Kelley quotes an “ex-girlfriend of Tesh’s” saying he told her one night he looked down and saw his white body next to Winfrey’s black body and “couldn’t take it anymore.”

And one can imagine Winfrey experienced similar misgivings, when she looked down and saw her black body next to the stainless steel bolts in his neck and wondered “can this ever really work?  Would the other monsters from Frankenstein’s lab ever accept me for who am?  Could my family understand and accept that the love between me – a liberated African-American woman – and him – a hydrocephalic corpse crazy-quilt given unholy life by lightning and a madman’s hubris – could be something beautiful and true?”  It’s easy to judge, but love is anything but.

But it is still hard not to mourn What Might Have Been.  Imagine: Tom Cruise bouncing on Oprah’s couch in the Grand Canyon while the US Olympic gymnastics team flips and twirls in the air to the pounding beat of Tesh’s life-affirming  Casio heroics?  All the world’s problems fixed, right there, bam.  If the combined spiritual uplift powers of Tesh and Oprah were put together, the human race would have already evolved into a wise and benevolent race of light-beings with the power to alter reality with their minds.  Also, the world would be have been transformed into a giant aromatherapy bubble bath with rose petals and lasers and scented candles and smoke machines and DAH-DAH DAH! DAH DAH-DAH-DAH!!! keyboard crescendos blasting off every three to five seconds.  So maybe we’re better off.

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