Saturday, October 31, 2009


Hillary Clinton says that Abdullah2’s likely decision not to contest the fixed presidential race, given Karzai’s refusal to fire his sycophantic election chief and the decision to increase the opportunities for fraud by creating still more ghost election stations, does nothing to reduce the legitimacy of that election: “When President Karzai accepted a runoff without knowing what the outcome would be, that bestowed legitimacy from that moment forward, and Dr. Abdullah’s decision does not in any way take away from that.” Yes, if there’s one thing that’s a complete fucking mystery, it’s the outcome of an Afghan election.

Hillary has also praised Bibi Netanyahu for his great, ahem, restraint, on settlements: “what the prime minister has offered in specifics, of restraint on the policy of settlements, of no new starts, for example, is unprecedented”.

So, I have to ask you, the discerning reader,

(Update: Eli wrote practically the same post, though without a nifty poll, 41 minutes earlier. I blame Google Reader’s lackadaisicalness for my not having known that.)

Headline/Bad Pun of the Day

“Beauty Spots May Get New Homes.” (Sunday Times of London). I guess Cindy Crawford can afford to buy a house for hers.

In the end the people of Connecticut will respect me for that

Holy Joe Lieberman says that his constituents overwhelmingly support the public option because they are “confused.” He just hopes that when he votes against their wishes, “in the end the people of Connecticut will respect me for that.” If they do, I guess it proves his point about them being confused. Really, really confused.

My favorite anti-public option line, which Mary Landrieu and Lieberman and others have used, is that the public option is so popular because people think it’s performed gratis by the health care elves. Landrieu: “I think when people hear public option they hear free health care. Everybody wants free health care. Everybody wants health care they don’t have to pay for.” I’m not surprised that they’re so contemptuous of the American public, but I’m a little surprised that they feel free to express it so openly.

George Bush, speaking in India, said that because there was a law calling for regime change in Iraq (“It was a law passed by the Congress and the previous administration”), it was his “official duty” to invade Iraq. So that’s okay, then.

WHO GEORGE DOESN’T HATE: “Please don’t let the propagandists tell the people that George Bush and America hate you [Muslims].”

WHO GEORGE DOES HATE: “I hate people who hijack a great religion to murder innocent people.”

“It wasn’t nobody’s fault. People shouldn’t be pointing fingers.”

LA Times reporter Sandy Banks, on the Richmond gang rape: “The students I talked to after the fact at Richmond High all said they would have intervened. And yet, none of them denounced the kids who didn’t.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, seeing Dick Cheney is treat enough

The American Prospect asked “What will Dick Cheney give trick-or-treaters this year?” Some of the answers:
“A playful waterboarding, followed by threats, if they don’t tell him which house is handing out the fun-size Snickers.” -- Megan Carpentier, Air America

“An unexpectedly warm and firm hug.” -- Baratunde Thurston, The Onion

“Buckshot in the face, naturally.” -- Eric Alterman, The Nation

To which I would add, “A terrifying look inside his man-sized safe.”

Or, “A pod, the exact same size of the trick-or-treater, to be kept in their basement...”

Or, “A glimpse into the empty void that is his soul. So cold. So very, very cold.”

Other suggestions?

Thought crime

Just saw someone objecting to the new hate crimes provision protecting LGBTs as creating a “thought crime.” A standard Republican talking point. Don’t see them objecting to the distinction between first-degree murder and manslaughter as a thought crime.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wherein is revealed what makes Hillary Clinton a happy person

Before her trip to Pakistan, Hillary Clinton sat down for an interview with Dawn tv, in which she in no way pandered to her Pakistani viewers: “I love the food, I wear shalwar kameezas. I mean, I want people to know that I am no stranger to Pakistan or Pakistani culture. ... I mean, give me a seekh kebab and some gow and I’ll be a happy person.”

Oh, and it would also help if I were president of the United States. And had Bill’s balls in a box. A nice teak one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Headline of the Day

London Times: “Sarkozy Plans New Patriotism Based on Values of ‘La Douce France.’” That’s douce. Douce! Not that other word!

I know, I know. I’m a little ashamed of myself.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If we don’t do that, we’ll be insulting democracy

Interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Hamid Karzai asserted that the first round of the presidential election had been “defamed, was called a fraud,” and that he had, in fact, won 54% of the vote in a “clean” election. The decision to have a run-off anyway was his and his alone: “I decided -- for peace, for stability and for the future of democracy in Afghanistan and for the future of institutional order in Afghanistan -- to call for a runoff.” The runoff must now go ahead, he says (i.e., no power-sharing deal), because “If we don’t do that, we’ll be insulting democracy”.

And if there’s one thing Karzai hates, it’s an insult to democracy.

Some adult content

A Saudi court has sentenced a woman journalist to 60 lashes for being coordinator on a show that had on a man who talked about sex (he gets 1,000 lashes).

It’s just like America, really: sex bad, violence good.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Criss cross

The Taliban bomb a wedding party in Pakistan, possibly by mistake. Are they us now?

Michelle Obama and the Socialist Hula Hoop of Doom

At the Healthy Kids Fair on the White House south lawn Wednesday. CAPTION CONTEST (alternatively, how will Fox News spin this (geddit, spin this, geddit, geddit?) as showing that Michelle hates whitey and/or America?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

He’s the Motivaterer

Every blog has already pointed out the “Get Motivated!” seminar in Fort Worth with motivational speaker George Bush (hey, I’m always motivated when George Bush speaks, aren’t you?).

One of the other speakers is Colin Powell. What I like about the idea of Bush and Powell crossing paths is that, sure, it’ll be incredibly awkward, but Bush will never know why.

Everyone’s a critic

The Denver alt newspaper Westword (motto: nothing can go wrong can go wrong can go wrong) is planning to hire a pot reviewer. It has received 120 applications so far, “many of them offering to do the reviews for free.”

Compare with this NYT story (Well this sucks. The NYT has disabled the program by which bloggers could insert links to stories that wouldn’t go dead in a few days.) about the AP reporter whose job it is to attend executions in Texas – 300+ of them – and how fewer and fewer other news outlets even bother anymore.

Chilling thought of the day: they could probably easily find 120 Texans offering to do that job for free.

(Some of you are thinking it, so I’ll just pre-empt it appearing in comments: even more people would offer to combine the two jobs. But really, do you want to have a case of the munchies in the death chamber viewing room? And showing up with cheetos is just bad manners.)(Even if you offer to share.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Your daily dose of batshit crazy

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, foams at the mouth all over the pages of the Washington Post (or is it on the website only?) about the threat from “secular saboteurs” and the gays and “moral anarchists” and the gays and “sexual libertines” and the gays and Hollywood and the gays and the ACLU and the gays and Democrats and the gays. It must be read to be believed. Last paragraph:
The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they’re too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels.
I don’t know: every time you walk your dog, an angel dies.

Keeping faith with the best interests of the Afghan people

With 1/3 of Afghan ballots tossed out as probably fraudulent, it is, evidently, time to declare the Afghan presidential election a resounding success.

Hillary Clinton: “And after many weeks of counting ballots and much debate over the flaws in the vote, Afghans showed today that their processes work.” One of those processes (I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere in the Afghan constitution): begging, cajoling, blackmailing and threatening Karzai into accepting the necessity to steal a second round of elections. Indeed, “The leadership shown by the President, Dr. Abdullah and all of the other candidates...” If by leadership, you mean ordering their followers to stuff ballot boxes “...has strengthened Afghanistan and kept faith with the best interests of the Afghan people.” You’d almost believe that all the fraud existed in spite of the candidates.

Obama: “This is an important step forward in ensuring a credible process for the Afghan people which results in a government that reflects their will.” Like a mirror reflects a vampire. Or something. “President Karzai’s constructive actions [not defying the ruling of the election commission] established an important precedent for Afghanistan’s new democracy.” Some precedent. Some democracy.

Throughout the two-month-long post-election wrangling, we’ve been told, essentially, that if only we removed most of the fraudulent ballots, whatever remained would be a legitimate election. This is to willfully ignore the large number of people in areas without polling stations, or who were turned away from polling stations, or whose ballots were thrown out, or who didn’t bother participating in an obvious farce. Further, the process of weeding out fraudulent ballots involved discarding entire precincts whose results were unbelievable, disfranchising all their residents.

The run-off will now be done so quickly, in order to beat the Afghan winter, that the only question is whether the election monitors or the ballot-stuffers can organize faster.

(Update: the Guardian anatomizes the failed election.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Name of the Day

The composer (and singer) of the Addams Family theme song, who just died at 93: Vic Mizzy. Somehow the perfect name.

Why don’t I have an official harpist?

Prince Charles’s former official harpist is on trial for burglarizing four houses. Heaven knows what his unofficial harpist gets up to.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Headline of the Day

AP: “Tijuana Police Find Body Hanged from Bridge, Again.” Oh, I see: not the same body, a different body.

Happy Loma Prieta Day, everybody!

Programming note

Fox has decided to close down the Fox Reality Channel (currently running a marathon of something called The Househusbands of Hollywood). Is it permissible to reverse one of the signs of the apocalypse?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Headline of the Day

From the LA Times: “Dead Man Slumped on Balcony Mistaken for Halloween Decoration.”

(Update: the NYT quotes one of his neighbors, giving Mr. Zayed an epitaph for the ages: “He looked fake.”)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An opportunity to score propaganda points missed

The Italians, naturally, aren’t going to admit to having paid those bribes to the Taliban (see previous post), and nobody, not even the French, who have reason to be a tad miffed, is willing to embarrass them. Which is too bad because the Taliban would presumably also be embarrassed, and their legitimacy undermined, by their having taken bribes not to fight being trumpeted far and wide.


So, Italian forces in Afghanistan were bragging about how peaceful their area was. Turned out, they were paying bribes to the Taliban to prevent attacks. And it worked, by the way, for not really a lot of money: the Taliban can be bought. Anyway, then they left and handed off to the French, without telling them about the bribes. So they thought they were taking over a nice pacific region, and the ambush that killed ten of their soldiers (oh, and the mutilations) came as a bit of a surprise.

The Americans found out about the bribes through intercepted telephone conversations and formally protested to Italy. Two months before the ambush. So the US didn’t warn the French either.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This business we call show trial

Stalin’s grandson has lost his libel suit against a newspaper which suggested that his grandfather was not a very nice man. His lawyer complained, “We are sure the judge decided this case in advance.” Oh, the irony.

In fourteen hundred and ninety two, some white guy got lost

Hey, evidently yesterday was Columbus Day. I celebrated by attempting to try out that pizza place that just opened, but it was closed for some reason. Obama issued a proclamation. It’s fun watching the first bi-racial president attempt to reconcile praising Columbus’s “bold attempt to expand human understanding of the known world” with the, you know, Indian thing.

“These immigrants joined many thriving indigenous communities who suffered great hardships as a result of the changes to the land they inhabited.” Changes to the land? Like having a lot of murdered Native Americans buried under it, that sort of change?

“Although their competing ways of life were initially at odds, ...” At Odds! “...over time, the ‘New World’...” Oo, sarcastic quote marks. “...became a culturally and ethnically diverse place where we now enjoy the free exchange of ideas and democratic self-governance. Tribal communities continue to strengthen our Nation through their rich heritage and unique identity.” Casinos, you mean casinos, don’t you?

“Italian Americans continue to contribute immeasurably to the identity of our Nation, as role models, leaders, innovators, and committed public servants. From the boardroom to the classroom, they are prominent in every facet of American life.” Casinos, you mean casinos, don’t you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

More election tampering in Afghanistan – this time by the watchdogs

The international Electoral Complaints Commission for Afghanistan has decided that, purely in the interests of time, they will penalize all candidates equally by the percentage of suspected fraudulent votes in each polling box, rather than penalize candidates in proportion to their actual responsibility for fraud. In other words, they are now knowingly invalidating legitimate votes for the more honest candidates.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Unfortunate Headline of the Day

London Times: “Gay Activists Demand Action from Obama.”

Obama at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner

Obama gives good speech. Really. It should be quoted back to him every time he doesn’t live up to it. Although he was able to cite one thing he has actually done for Teh Gays: “Michelle and I have invited LGBT families to the White House to participate in events like the Easter Egg Roll -- because we want to send a message.” (Oh, all right to be fair, also something about ordering federal agencies to extend employment benefits to the partners of gay employees.)

I did like his reference to “the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.” Which, yes, would mean more if he actually supported gay marriage. Gay people should be conspiring to contrive a situation where Obama has to introduce a married gay couple as “Jane Doe and her wife Sarah” or “Adam and his husband Steve.”

Not according to Fox News

Passion for porridge

In slow news day news, an American, Matthew Cox, has rocked the world of porridge by winning the Golden Spurtle award. Now, had you not known that a spurtle is a stick used to stir porridge,

you might have thought the Golden Spurtle award had something to do with the adult film industry (headline on a Scottish news site: “US Man Takes Golden Spurtle” – the article uses the phrase “the coveted Golden Spurtle”) rather than being given out at the World Porridge Championships in Scotland. (Today is World Porridge Day, by the way. Celebrate appropriately.) The only American to participate, Cox flew from Milwaukie, Oregon to Scotland to compete in a porridge contest or, as he put it, “to celebrate our passion for porridge”. The special porridge category was won by one Anna Louise Batchelor, for her steamed porridge spotted dick with custard.

Rocked the world of porridge. Coveted Golden Spurtle. World Porridge Day. Passion for porridge. Steamed porridge spotted dick with custard. There is no phrase in this post I did not enjoy typing. Spurtle spurtle spurtle. Porridge porridge porridge.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Switzerland and the minarets of doom

Switzerland will vote on a referendum next month on banning the construction of new minarets on mosques. It is expected to fail. Some cities have banned (in publicly owned spaces) as racist, and some have allowed, this poster by the Swiss People’s Party.

This is what actual Swiss minarets look like.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Meet the most persecuted person in the entire history of the world and the history of man

It’s Silvio Berlusconi. He said so himself, so it must be true: “I am without doubt the person who’s been the most persecuted in the entire history of the world and the history of man.”

For example, he said, he’s had to fork out 200m euros in legal expenses on “consultants and judges.” He then “corrected” himself to say “consultants and lawyers.”

Are you taking the (Nobel) piss (prize)?

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” and his “emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.” In crushing Iran like a bug, for example. And for his “outreach” to the Muslim world. For example, he has ordered bombing in at least four Muslim countries. Really, what’s the maximum number of countries in which you can kill people and still win this prize?

CONTEST: What should Obama do with the 10 million kronor prize money?

(Update: Fafblog: “In other news, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to a man who set fire to a library and then promised to write a book about it.”)

(Updatier: Evidently Obama plans to give it to charity. Actually, I had assumed ethics rules prohibited him accepting a large cash prize related to his official work. Certainly they should do so.)

Wherein the appropriate response to the new Oklahoma abortion law is suggested

Next month, Oklahoma’s We Know Where You Live Act will go into effect, requiring the posting on the internet of detailed information about women who have abortions (the law also bans abortions for sex selection, which many feminists are conflicted about. Personally, people who would abort on those grounds are precisely the people I don’t want to force to raise a baby they don’t want. Also, if abortion is a right, having one for a stupid reason is also a right; that’s what a right means.)

People have suggested that the intention of the law is to intimidate and that the specificity of the questions asked of the pregnant women (on pages 8-17 of the law [note: pdf]) will make it possible to identify those in more sparsely populated counties.

Fortunately there is a way out, which I would commend to all abortion patients in Oklahoma: lie. Lying is appropriate, ethical, and does not even seem to be illegal.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Berlusconi versus the Red Judges of Doom

The law Silvio Berlusconi designed to give him legal immunity is overturned as unconstitutional (in that it was passed as a regular law rather than a constitutional amendment and it violated the principle of equality before the law) by “red judges,” as Berlusconi today called the Constitutional Court, adding, “Viva Italia, Viva Berlusconi!”, which wasn’t creepily fascistic at all.

His argument for demanding immunity was that being tried for bribing judges, bribing MPs, embezzlement, tax fraud, false accounting, witness-tampering, etc etc would be a “distraction.” He much prefers being distracted by, well....

Unemployment is nearly 10%, but Trader Joe’s still employs someone

(at least I assume they do; it’s the only logical explanation) whose sole job is to follow me around the store and then discontinue at random some product I like. Today: the potato and cheese perogies.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

First above equals

Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyer, arguing that he deserves immunity from prosecution: “He is no longer ‘first among equals’, but ought to be considered ‘first above equals.” “The law is equal for everyone, but not always in its application.” Especially if you bribe the judge, which is one of the charges he wants immunity from.

And Haiti once again wins the gold braaaaaiiiins

Will Durst tweets: “Too bad, the Olympic vote wasn’t held in Chicago. That way the dead could have voted for the city early and often.”

Not a great joke, but it occurs to me that Chicago should have argued that if they got the Olympics, the dead could compete. Zombies are very popular right now.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My laziest contest ever

A McDonald’s is to open in the Louvre, or, as it’s known to American tourists, “Can We Just Look at the Mona Lisa and Get Outta Here?” According to an unnamed art historian, “This is the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism, deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odours in the context of a museum.”

(A personal note: when I first visited Paris, there were no McDonald’s. The company had just closed all their restaurants in the city because they weren’t up to the McDonald’s corporate standards. Imagine that.)

LAZY CONTEST: In fact, a contest contest. Come up with your own contest about the Louvre McDonald’s – more snooty quotes from art historians? something about freedom fries? Pulp Fiction riffs? – then submit an entry.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Dear lord, but Michael Steele is a blithering idiot. Which I knew, and you knew, but this one has just been irritating me for days for some reason. Denying Obama’s claim that requiring health insurance is just like requiring car insurance, which should be easy because health insurance is actually not just like car insurance, Steele said, “I think that analogy kind of falls off the radar screen because of the frequency with which I get sick versus the frequency with which I drive a car. I am more likely to need car insurance because I get in my car 7, 8, 20 times a day, where I’m surely not getting sick 8, 10, 20 times a day.” Apples and oranges. If you only “need” health insurance when you’re sick, as opposed to when you have the potential to become sick, then you only need car insurance when you crash, which you’re not doing 7, 8, 20 times a day (unless you’re Lindsay Lohan).

It’s awful, those little teeth

Jacques Chirac has had to get rid of his “depressed” dog Sumo after it bit him for the third time. But here’s the sentence which the BBC reporter most enjoyed writing: “In January this year, Mr Chirac had to be hospitalised after the dog sank his teeth into an unnamed body part.”

Another detail about French presidential canines: Sarkozy, known to be hilariously sensitive about his height, used to own a chihuahua named Big.

(Update: further research – Jesus Christ I’m bored – reveals that the unnamed body part was his butt.)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Burning justice

Texas Gov. Rick “Good Hair” Perry attempts to cover up evidence of the innocence of a man executed for a crime that never happened. Or, as they call this sort of thing in Texas, Thursday.

It’s like I slapped my own family in the face

The government has finished its prosecution of a third Marine for an incident in which four unarmed, surrendered Iraqi prisoners were murdered in Fallujah in 2004. After two others were acquitted, Sgt Jermaine Nelson, who had confessed six different times to executing one of the prisoners, was convicted – of dereliction of duty, in a plea agreement in which the government dropped the murder charge. He will be reduced in rank to lance corporal, serve no time and not be dishonorably discharged. His lawyer said he got such a good deal because he was so cooperative with investigators, although he had refused to give evidence against his sergeant last year (the gov did not go after any of the three for contempt of court in their pact not to testify against each other). (My posts on that trial here and here.)

Said Nelson, “I gave in to the peer pressure and now I have to live with it for the rest of my life... I let down the Marine Corps, which is my family. It’s like I slapped my own family in the face.” Adding, “Oh, and it’s also like I shot that one Iraqi guy in the face.” I may have made up that last part.

He went on, “If the Marine Corps will allow me to stay in, I’d love to stay in.”

(Sources: BBC, AP, North County Times, ditto, San Diego Union-Tribune.)