Saturday, February 26, 2005

Talon News, welcome to limbo.

Oh, and the center of the Gannon/Guckert scandal, Talon News, is currently down. Talon News, for those who might not already know, is the ersatz news service that's actually a clearinghouse for the pro-Republican site, GOPUSA. A short message appears on Talon's site. The firstline reads:

The recent public focus on Talon News, while much of it malicious, has indeed brought some constructive elements to the surface. It has also brought many kind messages of support, and for that we are extremely grateful.

Translation: "They caught us trying to pass off opinion as news. We're going to have to cover our tracks better next time."

In order to better serve those readers across the country who enjoy Talon News content and look forward to receiving it each day, we feel compelled to reevaluate operations in order to provide the highest quality, most professional product possible.

Translation: "Call the plumbers! We gotta plug the leaks!"

The very next line reads:

Thus, Talon News will be offline while we redesign the web site, perform a top-to-bottom review of staff and volunteer contributors, and address future operational procedures.

Translation: "People are actually paying attention now. Let's see if we can't hire a few people who might actually be journalists this time."

The GOPUSA site doesn't seem to be making much of a fuss about the Gannongate. It's full of your standard crap attacking moderates in Congress, bashing education, calling for appointment of judges without vetting them (some people never learn,) and generally pretending to be persecuted for having opinions. Tragic, mean-spirited and nasty, eager to plunge their talons into anyone who deigns to slightly disagree with them. They're not worth your time, except to see just what kind of cesspit breeds people like Jeff Gannon and his fraudulent news.

Jeff Gannon is keeping busy.

Well, it looks as though Bush administration shill Jeff Gannon (aka Jim Guckert) is keeping busy. He's got a blog now, trying to sound tough and to warn all of us that despite the scandal he's in, he's still a potent and relevant voice for the right wing.

I say, good. Let him. His presence can only remind everyone of the conservative hijinks to defraud the media. He's poison to the neocons; I'm sure they must know that. If they don't, they're going to figure it out sooner or later.

By the way: Mr. Gannon/Guckert's don't-ask-don't-tell hookup site, www.hotmilitarystuds.com, is no longer operational. That domain name is for sale. I wouldn't recommend buying it, though, since I'm sure all proceeds would go toward the Jeff Gannon Legal Defense Fund.

Does anyone remember Crazy Cow cereal?

Talking about cereal reminded me of a short-lived chocolate cereal from the mid-seventies called Crazy Cow. Yes, they really called a cereal that, and if it hadn't disappeared from supermarkets before 1980, the mad cow scare would certainly have done it in. It was designed to turn the milk chocolate, and it did that. I had it once, the morning we were supposed to go to Cedar Point, which was the end-all be-all to amusement parks in my childhood world, a three-hour drive past Cleveland to Sandusky, Ohio.

Soon after I finished my first bowl ever of the stuff, I threw up and my head started pounding. It was unusual for me to have such immediate reactions to food as a kid, but one bowl of this stuff did me right in. We didn't go to Cedar Point, and it was all the Crazy Cow's fault.

That's probably my worst cereal-related experience ever. As a kid, I always liked Grape Nuts, and even then I didn't understand the appeal. I still like 'em. I wanted to have some this morning, but my milk, which had an expiration date of just yesterday, was genuinely spoiled. So all I had was coffee and a chunk of mozzarella. Maybe there's some truth to that old saw about bachelor chefs.

If you want to see evidence that Crazy Cow existed, click here. The link leads to an E-bay auction for some promotional magnets for the stuff dating back to 1977 or so. The auction closes March 2, so you collectors of cultural detritus had better hurry!

Chocolate Lucky Charms

I saw these in the store the other day. I was just walking through the cereal aisle, and there they were. Is this really necessary?

Some of you might not be aware of the American version of this traditional Irish breakfastfood. Lucky Charms are sugar-coated cereal bits mixed with six different colors of amusingly shaped marshmallows that turn milk grayish-purple. You know it's Irish because there's a happy leprechaun on the box.

Apart from occasionally adding a new color of marshmallow, the recipe has remained unchanged since I can remember, though the cereal is older than me. But this is big: the non-marshmallow bits are now available in chocolate, which sounds extra disgusting. But maybe it isn't. It just seems to clash with the marshmallows, which are different colors that almost suggest real foodstuff. If the cereal turns chocolate, then it's not that different from Count Chocula (which is a traditional Transylvanian breakfastfood, consisting of chocolate cereal bits paired with marshmallows that turns milk grayish-brown.)

I guess what really bugs me is how we're just repackaging old ideas and trying to pass them off as new. I just don't see the point. The world could get by just fine without sugary breakfast cereal, but it would also be fine without these faux "innovations." We Americans are addicted to progress, or at least the idea of progress, so a new take on an old idea triggers something in our brains—even if it isn't a real improvement or a change of any kind at all.

I guess they'll continue to churn out crud like clear beer, Chocolate Twinkies, Lime Coke, "Son of the Mask," etc., as long as they resonate with the American psyche. We crave something new, we crave change, and we're satisfied even with ersatz newness and change. I'm not entirely sure that good or bad could apply to this; that's the culture. Me, I'll stick with my Grape Nuts, which is that wonderful brown, gravel-like cereal that remains unchanged after all these years and which suits me just fine. But you know, maybe a little vanilla extract would perk that stuff up some... or maybe a berry flavor... I should write Post and see what they say...

'Forsake the Troops' web site shut down.

Well, it looks like Michael Crook has pulled the plug on his Forsake the Troops web site. It seems it wasn't up for more than two weeks. The claim he's making is that it was pulled because he was allegedly violating the terms of service—never mind that he was only answerable to himself. He took himself off, in other words.

Now he's looking to sell the domain name to the highest bidder. What a cynical bastard. Stupid, too.

I'm grateful to all who held Crook's feet to the fire. Others who wouldn't let up on the guy are Michelle Malkin and Conservative Friends. Obviously, those sites and mine don't agree on a whole lot, but in this case, we do, and I want to give props to them for fighting the good fight and doing good work to help bring down Michael Crook's latest fraud. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, of course. Eternal vigilance, and lots of disagreement. Good work, and good riddance to Crook.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

This one doesn't come with a flight suit.

New for 2005! Poseable Condoleezza Rice doll! Just like the president, you can bend her into any shape that suits you! Acts like a marionette, but you can’t see the strings—if you don’t want to!

Act now to be the first on your block to get this amazing doll! She talks, too! Out of both sides of her mouth! (Scruples and competence not available with this model.)

Amazing Condoleezza Rice doll.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Jeff Gannon: Where's that 'liberal media'?

We keep hearing about how “liberal” the media is, how it skews its stories in favor of leftist causes, and how it’s fundamentally unfair to Republicans. This has been the drum that the Republican Party has been beating since the rise of Newt Gingrich and his claims of persecution by the press. You’d think the media was just another arm of the Democratic Party, to hear them talk.

Of course, the “liberal media” is up in arms about the “Jeff Gannon” scandal. They won’t stop talking about it! That’s because they’re liberal, and this was a press plant by the Bush administration. Yep, that’s all you hear about in the news: Jeff Gannon, Jeff Gannon, Jeff Gannon… when will they finish with this story?!

Seriously, Joe Conason pointed out in his recent column that if this had been done by a Democratic plant to favor a Democratic president, you really would hear nonstop bellowing about it. A liberal media would keep a story like this one aloft, of course, but the media as it is is paying more attention to how this is interfering with Gannon’s private life than the actual implications it has on journalistic integrity and the responsibility that government has to us to be open, fair and honest about its dealings. (The open, fair and honest bit is one where they’ve fallen down quite a bit before, but this one really takes the [beef]cake.) And now the Fourth Estate is falling down on its job, ignoring the White House’s double sin of manipulating the press while doing exactly what the Republican Party claims the Democratic Party does.

As pundit Bob Harris so eloquently put it: it’s like a new Watergate every day with these people.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson, dead at 67. Civics is dead, too.

He shot himself. Hemingway did it, too. Hemingway shot himself in Idaho, Thompson shot himself in Colorado. Why? I guess the answer lies somewhere along the Idaho-Colorado border. So we'll never know, since Idaho and Colorado don't share a border.

This has me wondering: since Hunter S. Thompson was the inspiration for Garry Trudeau's character Duke, will Mr. Trudeau retire him in the wake of Thompson's death? Trudeau always said that he took Thompson's threats against his life seriously. I always wondered if they weren't really good chums, in reality. At any rate, it's safe to say that Trudeau has nothing more to worry about.

An interesting quote appears in the above-linked Yahoo article about Thompson. It's from Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times, speculating on a theoretical "lapse into good taste" for Thomspon. Lehmann-Haupt writes, "That would be a shame, for while he doesn't see America as Grandma Moses depicted it, or the way they painted it for us in civics class, he does in his own mad way betray a profound democratic concern for the polity," he wrote. "And in its own mad way, it's damned refreshing."

I have nothing to say about Grandma Moses, but I do have something to say about civics classes. Maybe I should have nothing to say about them, since I've never had one, which is a problem. A problem for my generation and the subsequent generations that won't have civics classes. Really, I didn't actually understand how Congress worked until after college, when I finally did the research on my own. It was discussed in the social studies classes in high school, but that's about it. "Social studies" is an umbrella for history, geography and civics curricula, and by trying to serve all of them, it tends to fall short of adequacy.

We need to know what we're doing when we enter the voting booth! Children today should be taught civics. Simple enough. That won't necessarily raise a political conscience or even impress upon them the relevance of their votes, but it could teach them how to be a citizen, which would be wonderful, even if they never develop an interest in actually being one.

I believe that if my generation had had civics classes, George W. Bush would never have taken over the presidency. What further argument for them is even necessary?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Do-it-yourself CoIntelPro

Looks like a new site from White Power activist Michael Crook called Forsake the Troops. This time he’s creating another site that’s designed to attack the U.S. troops, presumably to make those who oppose the war in Iraq look bad. Reminds me of a fake newsreel I once saw that the Nazis made back in the 1930s about a rape of an Aryan woman in Poland. These big, bald, mean-looking Poles ganged up and proceeded to violate a helpless Aryan, and it was reported that this was common. Why the German camera crew didn’t do anything about it was a mystery—almost as much of a mystery as how it was that they got the rapists to stand all around her, letting them get such footage.

Crook’s site is up there with what the Nazis did, and what J. Edgar Hoover’s CoIntelPro tried to do back in the 1960s and 1970s. It may not be as broad-reaching, and it may not have government support, but it works on the same principle, and it’s sleazy as hell. I signed Crook’s guestbook, stating the following:

This is a pretty elaborate effort. This site is obviously fake, though. There's an underlying respect for the military on this site, particularly in your "letters" section, which features articulate and polite letters from your "detractors." I'm not saying that those who support the Iràq adventure are necessarily inarticulate, but I honestly don't think you guys would be showing articulate and polite letters from people you "hate."

You guys really do need someone to hate the troops. There really aren't such people, so you have to invent them. I'm not fooled, and neither is anýone else.

Next time, try harder.

Within fifteen minutes, my comment had been deleted from the site. Shockola.

Crook did something like this last year, I’ve learned, creating a fake “group” called Citizens Against the Troops, as a “practical joke,” he claims. Click here for more information about Crook's first ruse.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Bush should fear Dean

Bush sure is a clever politician. He never said one word about how he expected the invasion of Iraq would go. He left that dirty job up to henchmen. It was Chalabi who promised that the liberated [sic] Iraqis would be greeting the coalition forces in the streets with "sweets and flowers." Donald Rumsfeld said the military leg would be over quickly, but I don't think he ever said word one about the occupation (except in terms of how good it would be for us if the occupation were easy to handle, which is a hypothetical that I'm sure no one would complain about.)

Bush never says anything that can come back to haunt him. You get a sense of what he means, but he never says anything. I ran across a comment he made back in 1978 where he asserted that if Social Security weren't privatized immediately, it would be bankrupt by 1988. That's not a typo, I do mean nineteen EIGHTY-eight. Bush is a smarter politician these days—or Karl Rove is, anyway.

It's tricky: all you can do is tar his cabinet, and hope some of the crap sticks to them. Which it usually doesn't. With the passing of Terry McAuliffe from the Democratic leadership and the overdue exodus of Bob Shrum and that crowd, maybe they'll grow less docile. With Howard Dean poised to officially take charge of the party later this week, and with the quiet-but-scary Harry Reid in Tom Daschle's old post, this may happen. I hope it does, but we'll have to see. I'm comforted by the fact that the Democrats are already much more confrontational than they were in 2001, when they could have gotten Bush's first term off to a rockier start. Will it last? Will it matter? One day at a time, one day at a time...

Just watch Reid and Dean. Particularly Dean, who is part of one of the quietest political revoltions I've ever seen. (I mean his rise to the DNC chairmanship—not his presidential bid.) He's already got the Democratic old guard quivering, and he's got the 447 members of the DNC charged up with life that they haven't shown since... well, since ever. We're going to be hearing Dean's barbaric yawp again, and we're going to be hearing an awful lot of it. Fox News is going to be sorry they tarred him so much, helping to knock him out of the 2004 running; staying in would have rendered him an unappealing candidate for the DNC job, though it would be a moot point if he'd beaten Bush in the general election. At any rate, it looks like the Republicans are going to have a real problem on their hands, having to deal with a moderate like Dean. He'll be a lightning rod for conservative attacks, which will help the candidates, since he'll draw fire from them. I don't think Dean could ever get elected president, but that doesn't matter. If I can trust my judgement, I'd say there's a good chance that Dean's going to have more power as DNC chief than he ever did as president. Of course, I've done a pretty lousy job of election prediction; I figured a Democratic landslide in 2004. But sooner or later, I'm going to have to be right, right? Right, so...

YYYYEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Since it worked so well in Vietnam...

From the September 4, 1967 edition of the New York Times. Things are looking up, aren't they? President Johnson's surely going to be reëlected for this! (Please note: this is not satire, but an actual article that appeared in the New York Times back then. If you don't believe me, head on over to your local library and check out the microfiche. It's real, all right.)

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3—United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.

Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.

Significance Not Diminished

The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.

The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.

American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.

Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Time machine for sale.

Someone has sold a time machine on Ebay.

Bidding is closed, but you can still get a bid in, if you have a time machine.

State of the Union 2005

Bush is talking about taking the first step to dismantle Social Security, and he calls it saving.

War is peace, freedom is slavery, etc. How much longer can he damage this country? How much longer until I'm burnt out on outrage? I still can't get over how my disgust for this president still feels so fresh. He really hates those who don't think like him, doesn't he?

Seriously, does it even matter what Bush says anymore? He's stated time and again that he won't listen, and just in case anyone takes seriously the times he's said that he's willing to listen to those who don't agree with him, he's never done anything in the spirit of compromise. And his speeches are all just purple-sounding fluff, speaking of lofty concepts like freedom and liberty and all, but giving us nothing solid. I don't see how those who agree with what he's doing actually feel like they're getting something out of his speeches.

There's no more debate; no one seems to know how to disagree properly anymore. I'm not sure why I should care what Bush says; he's just going to suck up to the right wing agenda and ignore the rest of us. Since there's no more debate, the only thing to do is to dig in and fight Bush. He's completely pointless to listen to and analyze critically. As someone who loves debate and the exchange of ideas, it really pains me to say this; I never felt this way even when Reagan was in office. Reagan was working to strengthen his own party, which is not unreasonable. Bush is working to destroy my party, which is unconscionable. Bush likes war? Okay, he's going to get it. But I really do miss dialogue...