Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Pardon me whilst I wield the world's smallest violin to play "Cry Me a River" ...

... for these people.

And with that, I wish you happy Thanksgiving. I may or may not blog over the weekend.
Enlightened Muslims, cont.

Seems the reporter who wrote the piece in the Nigerian paper about Mohammed selecting a wife from among the Miss World contestants (that contest was to be held in Nigeria until the article caused riots) now has a price on her head. (For the uninitiated, a fatwa for Muslims is like a "contract" for Mafiosi. We square now?)

OK, this is, like, the punchline to a bad joke, right?

Henry Kissinger will "lead" the "independent" investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I imagine that the joke will be written by a lot of people, so I'll try to update this post during the afternoon (yr hmbl corrspndt plans to take a long weekend).

For starters, here's Atrios on the subject.

I've got a simple proposal ...

... for whichever moron at the Wall Street Journal wrote this editorial claiming that the poor don't pay enough in taxes. That would be the editorial suggesting that that our tax system is "steeply progressive" when it caps the amount of income subject to FICA withholding and the top marginal rate is in the low 30s. That would be the editorial that, without apparent irony, calls those making $12,000 a year -- $240 a week, before taxes -- "lucky duckies."

CalPundit administers a right proper Fisking to this inane piece of trash, but I've got an even simpler question: Would the person who wrote that editorial be willing to switch places with one of the "lucky duckies" making $12,000 a year? Hands, please? Anyone? Bueller?

Yeah, I thought not.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I could put a punny headline on this item, but the Washington Post has already used them all.

As I pointed out back in August, although outgoing U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., was one of the less rational members of Congress, he had, strangely enough, been a fairly strong defender of privacy, particularly online privacy. Looks like I wasn't the only one who noticed: The American Civil Liberties Union has hired Barr to lobby Congress on privacy issues when that body convenes in January.
My apologies ...

.. to Silfray Hraka, a blog I usually get to at least daily. I've overlooked it the past few days, and I have been upbraided for my unrighteousness by having to spend close to 30 minutes slogging through what I missed, most of which is too good not to share, including:

  • A blessedly unambivalent reaming of FCC Commissioner Colin Powell, not only for being a corporate slut but also for being a beneficiary of Bush II's unabashed effort to give a government job to anyone who ever helped either George: "What's it like, Mike, being coddled by the Left because of your color and by the Right because of your Daddy? Nice work if you can get it, I suppose. Not that you would enjoy such an enviable position if you had been anyone else's son. I gotta hand it to you, though. It's a much better class of welfare than what the rest of Black America gets.
  • A blessedly unambivalent reaming of FCC Commissioner Michael Copp for suggesting that in light of the recent "Victoria's Secret" TV special -- basically, an infomercial for revealing lingerie, but nothing worse than that -- the commission should revisit the Indecency Standard ... on account of the FCC got 300 e-mails of complaint. Wow. Three hundred. I get more spam than that in a day.
  • And, last but definitely not least, an updating of H.L. Mencken's "A Puritan is ... " by substituting the phrase "A Muslim is ... " Caution: If political incorrectness offends you, go no further. Me, I choose to interpret the rant as giving voice to an inchoate rage that many Americans felt on 9/11 and continue to feel today, particularly in light of such homicidal lunacy as this. A sample:

    You can whine about the crusades as much as you want, but the fact is when people think of Christianity, they don't think about suicide bombers and terrorists.

    You can whine about the Occupation as much as you want, but the fact is when people think of Judaism, they don't think about suicide bombers and terrorists.

    You can whine about Kashmir as much as you want, but the fact is when people think of Hinduism, they don't think about suicide bombers and terrorists.

    When people think of Islam, they think about suicide bombers and terrorists. They think about death. Islam isn't the Religion of Peace, it's the religion of Rest in Peace.

    And unless you speak up, loudly, and often, unless you risk your life in defense of your religion against those who have made it the Religion of Death, then your brothers in the Ummah will die.

    Because we're going to kill them.

    I don't buy into this entirely, but I believe there is a great deal of truth to it -- truth that is ignored either out of political correctness, on the left, or diplomatic convenience on the right (i.e., we need Saudi oil and Saudi bases, so we don't make much of the fact that the House of Saud is bankrolling terrorism). That needs to stop. Now.

  • And on a related subject ...

    Who are our friends? Who are our enemies? And are we treating these respective groups as they should be treated?

    Those are the Big Questions within an excellent column by David Frum at National Review Online. The column is ostensibly about media bias ... particularly as regards framing of issues by the New York Times and the Washington Post. But it goes on to raise the Big Questions explicitly, thereby implicitly showing that these papers engage in the most dangerous kind of moral equivalence.

    Monday, November 25, 2002

    Well, HERE'S a surprise ...

    ... only if you haven't been reading the House of Bile recently: It seems that, intentionally or not, a Saudi princess has been funding al-Qaeda.

    Friday, November 22, 2002

    Corporate welfare, ruined lives

    If you're curious about what your tax dollars just bought what with passage of the new Homeland Security Act and all, you might want to check out the Financial Times, which has the poop.

    Then you might want to check out the Rittenhouse Review, with whose opinions I seldom agree. On this issue, it speaks for me. Eloquently.

    The devil won't let 'em do it

    A law professor at Boston University, Randy Barnett, has some surprisingly lucid advice for Republicans who might want to avoid alienating Libertarians (or small-l libertarians, many of whom are swing voters) who might otherwise be inclined to vote for them. Among his suggestions:

  • "Oppose intrusions into privacy as vociferously as you would if it had been proposed by the Clinton administration. ... Republicans lose credibility ... when they go mute on this issue."
  • "Oppose intrusions upon the Bill of Rights more consistently in Congress."
  • "Nominate more libertarian-conservative judges like Clarence Thomas to the courts who care about protecting individual liberty, not just traditionalist-conservative judges like Robert Bork who care most about the 'liberty' of the majority to enshrine its preferences into law." (Barnett makes clear that these words are Bork's, not his. Also, I think I could find a better example than Clarence Thomas.)
  • "Care about federalism in the Congress ... more consistent[ly]."
  • "Back off Prohibition."

    This is all sound advice. But ask yourself: How many of these tips could the party act upon without alienating the people who run it?

    And, even more interestingly: What are the ramifications of that fact?

  • Don't Piss on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining Dept.

    Bad enough that the Bush administration is trying to let power plants and refineries expand without adding new pollution-control equipment (I say "trying" because several Northeastern states plan to sue immediately); the EPA actually released a statement saying in part that doing so would "encourage emissions reductions."

    At least our religious activists don't riot in the streets ...

    There's a scene in the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail,"* one of the most important movies in your humble correspondent's formative youth, in which a man describes something he's eating as being "good enough for Jehovah," whereupon he is immediately set upon by his fellows, who attempt to kill him for being a blasphemer.

    Now, life is imitating art in Nigeria, where at least 105 people have been killed and more than 500 injured after riots prompted by a newspaper article suggesting that the prophet Muhammad would have approved of the Miss World beauty pageant (OUCH! Excuse me, scholarship contest), being held in Nigeria in December. Although the paper is based in a different city, Lagos, from the one where the rioting is taking place, its offices have been burned even though it has apologized three times.

    As you might expect in a religion with a strong medievalist element, a Muslim religious council has declared a "serious religious emergency" -- not because innocent people are being killed for no good reason, as you might think of a religion that proclaims itself in favor of peace, but because of the newspaper article.

    UPDATE: TBogg has another, and altogether more amusing, take on this.

    *Argh. It wasn't " ... & the Holy Grail," of course; it was "Life of Brian," from 1979. Thanks to the anonymous commenter who brought my mistake to my attention.

    One way to solve the problem ...

    Scrappleface is primarily a satire blog, but one recent post appears to me to have merit as a serious policy proposal.

    And Plan B would be ... ?

    Jeanne D'Arc raises an interesting question: "Don't you hate it when you think you've found just the guy to lead a mutiny in the Iraqi army and replace Saddam Hussein, and he turns out to be a war criminal? Major bummer."

    Thursday, November 21, 2002


    It's no longer surprising that Republicans use a position to beat hell out of their opponents, then flipflop. The only surprise now is the unseemly haste with which some are doing it.

    The latest example is Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who, if you'll recall, accused his Democratic challenger, Bill McBride, during the campaign of plotting to raise taxes to support a state constitutional amendment mandating reduced class size. So ... guess who's plotting to raise taxes now? OK, granted, it's Bush's proxy, incoming Senate President Jim King, and not Bush himself. Still, think King would've laid this on the table without Bush's explicit OK?

    Me neither.

    Massive malpractice judgments drive up medical costs -- NOT

    It is an article of faith among conservatives that big jury awards in malpractice cases are a big factor in the increasing cost of health care. But, like many such articles of faith, it's just not true:

    "Not only has there been no 'explosion' in medical malpractice payouts at any time during the last 30 years, but payments (in constant dollars) have been extremely stable and virtually flat since the mid-1980s."

    This study points out that malpractice rates have risen at about the same rate as overall medical inflation during this period and that the market performance of insurance companies' investments tend to affect rates much more than payouts.

    Remember this the next time someone suggests that you ought not be able to sue, or that your damages ought to be capped at some arbitrary, and arbitrarily low, level. Ask yourself: If payouts aren't the real problem, then why are such limits being sought? Who benefits? Answer: the insurance companies, who, not coincidentally, have been big givers to Republican candidates.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2002

    Oops! Turns out we were just kidding!

    At the urging of the Bush administration's solicitor general, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. ruled 9-4 Tuesday that the government does not have to give World War II and Korean War servicemen the lifetime free medical care it had promised in return for 20-year enlistments. A three-judge panel of the same court earlier had ruled that the government was required to pay.

    "We ... can do no more than hope Congress will make good on the promises recruiters made in good faith to plaintiffs ... " the majority wrote. The technical legal term for this ruling is bullshit, as the minority made clear: "If Congress can appropriate billions for this aspect of national defense and not know how it is accounted for, then God save the Republic. Of course Congress knew; of course the service secretaries authorized promises in return for service; of course these military officers served until retirement in reliance, and of course there is a moral obligation to these men."

    As the relative of Korean War combat vets (albeit ones not covered by the agreement), I'm appalled.

    But as a voter who knew full well George W. Bush's capacity for saying one thing in campaign mode and doing quite the opposite after inauguration, I am hardly surprised ... particularly since we also know full well his feelings about the military.

    Shocked, shocked, I am ...

    Stop the presses, but it turns out that utilities were manipulating California energy prices all along AND that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has had documents proving it for more than a year AND that FERC failed to turn those documents over to the state's Public Utilities Commission until very, very recently.

    Oh, and as if the suffering ratepayers of that state weren't having enough fun, the primary company, Williams, implicated in those documents claims -- with less than complete credibility -- that the state had had this information all along. It also argues -- and this is where we head from tragedy to farce -- that the documents shouldn't be made public right now because doing so could affect ongoing "dialogue" with FERC.


    "It's like they're saying: 'I robbed the bank and got the money. Now let's put this behind us and move forward,' " San Francisco Chronicle columnist Rob Lazarus quotes Carl Wood, a member of the state Public Utilities Commission, as saying.

    I say no, not only do we not move forward, we don't let Williams, or any other publicly held company implicated, pay a dime in shareholder dividends OR executive benefits until the individuals responsible are identified, indicted, convicted and punished AND the ratepayers are compensated to the tune of treble damages, as befits what is clearly organized crime. THEN, if Williams is a California corporation, the secretary of state should simply dissolve its charter, liquidate the corporation and distribute its assets to the ratepayers in the form of rebates.

    Otherwise, it's only going to happen again.

    Runaway federal spending corralled -- decades ago

    I'd never heard of CalPundit, a/k/a Kevin Drum, until this morning (and thanks to Atrios for the link), but right this second he's definitely on the short list for inclusion in "Blogs that Do Not Cause My Own Bile to Rise" because he has gracefully executed one of my favorite performances: debunking neoconservative conventional wisdom with hard numbers.

    The conventional wisdom in this case is that federal spending has been "out of control," i.e., growing steadily, pretty much since World War II. The facts, as documented (and elegantly charted) by Drum using figures from the Office of Management and Budget Web site, show just the opposite:

    "Other" expenditures [i.e., discretionary spending, which excludes defense, Social Security, Medicare and interest on the national debt], which is what most people think about when they talk about "runaway" government spending, have actually been on a gentle downward slope ever since the Korean War ended. This decline accelerated in 1983. ... Neither Democrats nor Republicans have increased discretionary outlays in the past half century, so there's plenty of room for increased spending if we decide we have worthy programs we want to spend our money on. "Runaway government" is a myth. ... Right now, discretionary non-defense spending is less than 7% of GDP, which is ... not exactly a sign of a government careening out of control.

    Now I'm not a huge fan of big government (more on which anon), but on the off-chance that the Thief in Chief starts blowing off an initiative with broad popular support just because, in his daddy's words, we "have more will than wallet," here's a 10-foot clue stick with which to bring his crack-addled head up to speed.

    Tuesday, November 19, 2002

    I can't say anything nice ...

    ... except about these two football coaches, about whom I can say without reservation that they do not suck.

    Submit, you whores!!

    Because of her 2-year-old daughter, if we are to believe her, syndicated colyumnist Michelle ("If I weren't a politically conservative minority, I'd be a Jersey City secretary!") Malkin recently vented her spleen (is that even legal in North Carolina??) about Christina Aguilera, alleging that, inter alia, 1) America's young women are all sluts, 2) It's all the feminists' fault and 3) Ah, hell, I don't even remember if there was a third point.

    G. Beato of administers a delightful Fiskeing to "Mistress Malkin," as he calls her. Indeed, it's one of the best of the many, many examples of Fiskeing I've ever seen.

    Freedom of choice

    Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times seems to be implying a new political slogan for the GOP: "Vote for us! We're better for women than the Taliban are!"

    A charge to keep ... or charges prevented?

    The next time you or anyone you know is tempted to think that the Oval Office is occupied by a man of integrity and courage, wander over here, where can be found proof -- not just assertions, not just accusations, but proof -- that the Thief in Chief also was a deserter.

    Ponder the fact that although the documentation was readily available, the best the major news outlets could do before the election -- or after, for that matter -- was a timid little "was he or wasn't he?" bit of reporting. Then try to tell me again that the national news media are liberal.

    Monday, November 18, 2002

    Oh, NOW he tells us ...

    I've said before -- although perhaps not on this blog -- that the people who voted for Ralph Nader two years ago in the belief that "there's not a dime's worth of difference" were both stupid and ignorant.

    Now, at least one such person has recanted: Ronnie Dugan, who writes in The Nation:

    I have played a role in supporting Nader. I presented him to the Green Party conventions that nominated him in Los Angeles in 1996 and in Denver in 2000. Although I knew that supporting him risked helping elect Republican Presidents in both of those elections, we who supported him and began to forge a third-party politics were acting within our democratic and idealistic rights, believing that the short-run damage to good causes that we were risking was outweighed ethically by the long-run damage to democracy and social justice that the capture of the Democratic Party by major corporations has caused and, if not stopped, will continue to cause. We were taking a calculated risk, but we underestimated what we were risking. The Bush presidency is worse than we could plausibly have imagined, and the run-up to 2004 is not just another election, it is a crisis that leaves us no more time or room to maneuver.

    Dubya Reality Check

    Seems that Resident Bush met last week with the chief of the Washington, D.C., police department and told him, "Mr. Mayor, you're doing a great job for the city of Washington, D.C. I feel safe living here. And so does my family."

    Well, hell, if I had the United States Secret Service guarding me with the same level of intensity as it guards the nation's chief executive (or thief executive, depending upon your view of the 2000 presidential election), I'd feel safe, too. However, D.C. residents, particularly those in the Southeast quadrant, don't have it quite that nice.

    Fucking moron.

    Friday, November 15, 2002

    But kiddy-diddling will still be OK

    Seems the Vatican has banned smoking.

    Priorities in Order Dept.

    Seems the war on homosexuality has taken precedence over the war on terrorism.

    I recall a scene in "The West Wing" in which the (black) chairman of the Joint Chiefs recalls how the military resisted integrating its units because doing so would be "detrimental to unit order and discipline."

    "You know what?" he says. "They were right. It did. And the unit got over it."

    If the military wanted to integrate gays, it could do so tomorrow the same way it finally integrated racially: Adopt, and vigorously enforce, a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and harassment.

    The fact that it apparently does not want to means that high-ranking military leaders would rather indulge personal prejudice than allow their country to make best use of the skills its citizens -- who, remember, volunteered for military service -- are offering.

    Isn't that the sort of thing we're supposed to be fighting against?

    And Speaking of the Department of Health [ahem] and Human Services ...

    The Bush administration likes to snark that the "fox-in-the-henhouse" metaphor so often applied to it by the media amounts to nothing more than liberal carping. Then, of course, one of its members opens his big, fat mouth.

    The most recent example (as this posting goes to blog) is HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who, in a Tuesday speech to the Grocery Manufacturers of America's board of directors, urged members to "go on the offensive" against people who blame their industry for the country's fatness epidemic.

    Now, uncharacteristically for me, I'd like to be fair and point out that most adults are perfectly capable of making good choices about healthy, nutritious foods, but that many of them just don't. (Me, for example.)

    But there are two caveats to this fact: 1) The food industry markets some of its less healthy products very aggressively to people who are not adults, and 2) the food industry has some alternative ingredients available, such as good-tasting alternatives to the trans-fats that are now considered so dangerous, but chooses not to use them. For example, remember McDonald's' "McLean" sandwich? There's a good case to be made that it failed because of a marketing error: It was marketed as "healthy" when people don't go to McDonald's for healthy food. There's a case to be made that Mickey D's could simply switch to healthier ingredients, and blind taste tests suggests that no one would be the wiser.

    Now, a lot of media critics like to say that the media overplay political differences and suggest that one side or the other of an issue is evil, when the truth is that both sides agree on an end and simply disagree over means. That might be true in a few cases, but applying that scenario to this case appears awfully hard. The HHS Secretary's job is not to serve as national nanny, of course, but it does involve a bit of care for public health.

    Unfortunately, Thompson's remarks make it look as if he's beholden to an industry over which he has at least bully-pulpit, if not regulatory, influence. It's perfectly legal. But it's a damn shame.

    Wednesday, November 13, 2002

    Why Nepotism Is Bad, No. 2,468:

    The Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general is facing scrutiny for allegedly politicizing her nonpartisan office, forcing out longtime career civil servants and mishandling a government-issue gun.

    Complaints about the performance of Inspector General Janet Rehnquist, daughter of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, have attracted attention from other inspectors general and from Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, soon to be the powerful Finance Committee's chairman.

    The panel has asked the General Accounting Office to investigate why 19 nonpolitical employees in her office -- including five of six deputies -- have retired, quit or been transferred since Ms. Rehnquist took over 15 months ago. People familiar with the office say most left at her insistence or in dismay at the presidential appointee's volatile management style.

    "They're cleaning out people that were doing their job of exposing things," Mr. Grassley says.

    You know it's bad when even the Republicans are talking about investigating you.

    Our Thief-in-Chief ...

    ... would never manufacture a diversion, would he?

    Can someone explain to me ...

    Why at least two of the people mentioned in this article aren't in jail this morning?

    (UPDATE: A friend writes, "Because criminals already run the state?")

    Gwen Margolis, an incoming Democratic state senator from Northeast Miami-Dade, raised campaign contributions for the new Republican Senate president -- money that he used to help defeat Margolis' fellow Democrats seeking Senate seats.

    Margolis readily admitted that she was trying to buy influence with Senate President Jim King, a Jacksonville Republican, saying that raising money for King might help her land a prized committee chairmanship or win budget projects for her Senate district.

    ''It helps put me in a better position as far as committee priorities and leadership priorities,'' Margolis said. ``I'll do whatever has to be done to take care of my district.''

    I think Hesiod puts it best: "How about resign? Your district would be better represented by an actual prostitute."

    Another pot heard from ...

    Aw, gee. It seems that the Saudis have glommed to the fact that a lot of Americans consider them as responsible as Iraq for the predations of al-Qaeda, if not more so. And, figuring that the best defense is a good offense, they're accusing America of such heart-rending atrocities as failing to grant visas to Saudis seeking advanced medical treatment at U.S. facilities.

    Now, never mind the heretical notion that we're an autonomous country and will grant, or deny, visas to whoever the hell we want. The underlying problem here is one endemic throughout the Arab world: No one in a leadership position wants to do anything but blow shit up. No one wants to create, research, discover, learn, cure. They've sold themselves a line of bullshit about Israel and have embraced a culture of death to buy that same line.

    Fortunately, Amish Tech Support is on the case. I particularly like this part:

    "If you continue to preach that Jews are the sons of monkeys and dogs, well, that just only goes to show how amazing out educational system is here. We can actually train the sons of monkeys and dogs to perform complex surgery, the art of anesthesiology, and the bold steps of chemical engineering and drug testing. What have you accomplished with your supposedly full-fledged, non-monkey/non-dog citizens? Gotta keep coming here to get treated for the big stuff, it looks like."


    Tuesday, November 12, 2002

    Uh-oh ...

    Someone's fuckin' with The Fish. And Ralph most definitely do not play dat shit.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    "Election 2002 does not give the Bush-Cheney administration a mandate to load the federal judiciary with right wing judges. The voters, after all, had the economy and the war on their minds - not the federal courts. But if you doubt it's about to happen, just sit tight and wait."

    So says John Dean, a man who knows a little about fucking over the voters, in an interesting article here. Short version: If you give a damn about the Constitution, it's going to be long, cold winter.

    Saturday, November 09, 2002

    Wrath of God

    Man, this site rules. Ever wanted to call down the wrath of God? Now you can.

    Friday, November 08, 2002

    Good point

    I've got both friends and family in Georgia, although I don't get there much. But I'm now going to make a point of getting there sometime soon, and when I do, I'm going to do as William Burton is doing and stand on the other side of the line and piss on Georgia. I have no time or patience for a state that sends a lying pissant like Saxby Chambliss to the United States Senate over Max Cleland, who served his country honorably and at immense personal cost.

    Thursday, November 07, 2002

    Opportunity society

    Snoop: Just had a great idea. Going to start a business which does IPOs for faith-based initiatives.
    Ralph: Business should be good, at least for the next two years. You handle the underwriting, I'll take care of the PR, we'll make a shitload of money and retire to our mountain redoubt with the helicopter pads and gun emplacements.
    Snoop: Roger.
    Ralph: Also, I think we should consider a sideline in weapons and/or one of the extraction industries.
    Snoop: We could simply form a disinformation consluting practice. This essential government function could be more effeciantly carried out in the private sector.
    Snoop: You know, we're joking, but someone is doing these things now, will make a lot of money, and if the evil doers stay in power, will someday be branded "Patriots" for their efforts.
    Ralph: "consluting." I like it and it's appropriate. But we probably need to spell it with 2 T's.
    Snoop: my bad
    Ralph: No, no, I think we just invented a new name for a new industry. Let's roll with that.
    Snoop: I'll get the trademark application rolling
    Ralph: Outstanding. I'll alert the media.

    Wednesday, November 06, 2002

    The wrong street

    Bad as I think Tuesday's electoral results were for the nation domestically -- and I think they were so bad they could even make Dubya a one-term president -- one good thing could come of them in a very important arena: the war on terrorism.

    A lot of people -- not only some Americans, but also leaders of some of our putative allies, such as France -- have expressed concern about how "the Arab street" might react if we invade Iraq or otherwise continue to take the war on terrorism to the terrorists.

    What they should have been worrying about is the American street. Because when Americans decide they really, really want something, they have the means to get it, which is something Europeans and Middle Easterners generally still haven't figured out about us even though they've been watching it happen for two and a quarter centuries.

    Maybe after they see us bitch-slap the UN, set up a constitutional republic in Iraq and, oh, by the way, visit death from the skies upon more terrorists, they'll start to feel the loving tap of the clue stick.

    No, it isn't ...

    The Washington Post's Richard Cohen can be remarkably silly sometimes, and there's some silly stuff in this column, too. But there's also one dead-bang correct observation that goes a long way toward explaining why people are so turned off by politics and government:

    The thinking in Washington and elsewhere is that these [negative] ads are disconnected from politics as practiced the rest of the year or from government in general. That, though, is not the case. The same people who get elected on lies, exaggerations, half-truths, negative attacks and the like are hardly likely to slip into a new ethical mode once they start to govern. If they have sold out during the campaign -- signed off on some scurrilous ad -- we can hardly be surprised if they sell out while in office. Virginity is not retroactive.

    Combine that with the fact that way too many people -- journalists among them, unfortunately -- can't be bothered to determine who's actually telling the truth and who's making this shit up as he goes along and so figure "fuck 'em all," and you've got the recipe for a disconnected electorate ripe for the plundering.

    And after Tuesday, you've got even more people in charge who have made a career of plunder.

    Tuesday, November 05, 2002

    About fuckin' time ...


    WASHINGTON (AP) … Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt resigned under
    fire Tuesday night. ``The chairman tendered his resignation to the president,'' Christi
    Harlan, SEC spokeswoman said.

    BLAH, BLAH, BLAH ...

    Conservatives like to criticize liberals for being pious. But there are few conservatives more pious, in a not-necessarily-strictly-religious sense, than Peggy Noonan, who seems to think, against all available evidence, that her speechwriting gig in the Reagan White House imbued her with common sense, wide perspective and an additional 40 or so IQ points.

    Her most recent assault on the public square from the shadows of the prayer closet came in this column for the Wall Street Journal, in which she purports to channel the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, reprimanding his fellow Dems for turning his funeral into a political rally (and booing a few Republicans in the process). She all but asks, "Have you no decency?" which is kind of remarkable coming from a denizen of the party whose idea of decency is stealing the fucking White House in a Supreme Court-led coup.

    Now, as both of my regular readers know, my normal response to this level of idiocy is spewing bile. That's my trademark, that's my brand, that's the tactic that has made me what I am today. But a pitcher can throw 105 mph all he wants, if he doesn't come up with at least one pitch other than a fastball, he'll have a short career. Which is why I stand in utter, flabbergasted awe of the genius who crafted this response. I am not worthy to occupy the same Internet as this creative giant. For that matter, neither are you.

    And as we slog through the last tedious hour or so before East Coast polls close and the good/bad news starts trickling in, I've stumbled across this delightful little time-waster: The Bible of the Damned. (Caution: 18 and older only).

    It may come as a surprise to many conservatives, but one of the most eloquent defenders of a broad offensive against world terrorism is none other than National Public Radio's Scott Simon. A speech he gave shortly after the 9/11 attacks neatly summarizes his feelings, which do not appear to have changed in the interim:

    I'm glad to see reporting now that asks, "Why do they hate us?" We need to
    hear the complaints of those who experience U.S. foreign policy, sometimes at
    the blunt end. But I would not want our increasing erudition to distract us
    from the answer that applies to those who are now physically attacking the
    United States: they hate us because they are psychotics. They should be taken
    no more seriously as political theorists than Charles Manson or Timothy


    Friday, November 01, 2002

    Boy, I bet that's gonna be painful ...

    OK, now that the chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt, has been put in the awkward position -- about as awkward as having your head up your own ass -- of asking his own agency to investigate how he decided to chose ex-FBI head William Webster, someone with what the New York Times' Paul Krugman calls an "impressive but irrelevant" background, to police the accounting industry, is anyone still unconvinced that the foxes are guarding the fucking henhouse in Washington?

    Krugman has even come up with a name for this phenomenon: the Pitt Principle: "The famous Peter Principle said that managers fail because they rise to their level of incompetence. The Pitt Principle tells us that sometimes incompetence is exactly what the people in charge want."

    In other words, Pitt did his master's bidding because his master didn't really want to crack down on the accounting industry, which has aided, abetted and otherwise facilitated fraud at Enron, WorldCom and other large corporations. It only wanted to look like it was doing so.

    Not coincidentally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which is run by people not so beholden to the Bushies, filed a $548 million fraud and negligence suit today against accounting giant Ernst & Yount today, accusing the firm of misstating the assets of Chicago's Superior Bank in 2001, then delaying reporting of the error so as not to endanger the firm's pending $11 billion sale of its consulting arm.

    Superior was the largest S&L failure in nearly a decade, costing the FDIC -- which is to say, taxpayers like you and me -- $750 million. My only complaint about the lawsuit is that the FDIC isn't seeking that total in damages, tripled under RICO because of the fraud involved, and that it isn't suing the officers and directors of Ernst & Young individually.

    Folks, not all Republicans are bad, but this group in the White House is going to rob us blind unless you stop them.