Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Vanity of Vanities! All is Vanity

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

A cartoon by Steve Sack (but I can't blame the post's title on him).

How Much Wank Would A Wingnut Wank...

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

Assuming you haven’t been permanently blinded by the frightening (and frighteningly apt!) photo above... we’ll proceed!

The Editors over at The Poor Man Institute periodically hand out “Golden Wingnut” awards for impressive feats of wingnuttery and wankery. (And as this handy chart shows, “You can have wanking without the wingnuttery, but not wingnuttery without wanking.”) Now it’s time for the 2006 Kippie Awards for Excellence in Wingnuttery, with five finalists in each category. Vote before it’s too late! Read and let your mind recoil! The main post is here. As for their description of each award:

The Chickenhawk of the Year — One lucky wingnut will be awarded for recklessly and heroically putting someone else’s ass on the line for what he believes.

The Fluffy — Honoring the most egregious fluffing of a Bush administration official and/or mouthpiece.

The Purple Teardrop with Clutched Pearls Cluster— Awarded to honor the sacrifices of those who suffered hurt feelings when someone was just frightfully uncouth.

The Soggy Biscuit— The year’s most pathetic right-wing circle jerk.

Wank of the Year— Lots of wanks embarrass the wanker; but, for Wank of the Year, that’s not enough. A truly outstanding wank should humiliate the audience, shame the human race, and really raise some serious questions about whether this whole “Big Bang” enterprise was really such a hot idea.

The Palme d’Haire— Why celebrate wanking? Why not just note it in passing, and then let it go, as more immediate matters demand our attention? Why indeed. Once, we had never existed; a bit later, and we have passed away, to be no more. Our lives are but a fevered moment in the endless black night of Being; so easily tossed off, so easily ignored, so easily forgotten. For, indeed, are we not, you and I, merely tiny wanks in oceanic Eternity? I think, in a way, that we are. Some more than others, obviously.

So many wingnuts, so little time...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dave Barry's Year in Review for 2006

Dave Barry always produces a fun year in review:


IT WAS A MOMENTOUS YEAR, a year of events that will echo in the annals of history the way a dropped plate of calamari echoes in an Italian restaurant with a tile floor. Decades from now, our grandchildren will come to us and say, "Tell us, Grandpa or Grandma, as the case may be, what it was like to be alive in the year that Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Britney Spears and Katie whats-hername all had babies, although not necessarily in those combinations." And we will smile wisely and emit a streamer of drool, because we will be very old and unable to hear them.

And that will be a good thing, because there are many things about 2006 that we will not want to remember. This was the year in which the members of the United States Congress, who do not bother to read the actual bills they pass, spent weeks poring over instant messages sent by a pervert. This was the year in which the vice president of the United States shot a lawyer, which turned out to be totally legal inTexas. This was the year in which -- as clearly foretold in the Bible as a sign of the Apocalypse -- Howie Mandel wound up with a hit TV show.

Also, there were many pesky problems left over from 2005 that refused to go away in 2006, including Iraq, immigration, high gas prices, terrorism, global warming, avian flu, Iran, North Korea and Paris Hilton. Future generations are going to look back at this era and ask us how we could have allowed Paris Hilton to happen, and we are not going to have a good answer.

Read the rest of here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Froomkin’s Year in Review

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

Dan Froomkin of White House Briefing and Nieman Watchdog makes it look deceptively easy. He’s a blogger’s blogger, offering a wide-ranging, comprehensive round-up of political news along with trenchant, no-BS analysis most weekdays of the year. He’s also a tireless advocate of accountability, champions all the positive aspects of the blogosphere, and has significantly aided the popularity of WashingtonPost.com (he’s also very good about returning e-mails).

His column from 12/20/06, ”White House Year in Review: Bush Loses His Parade,” recaps many of his best columns of 2006, thus serving as a valuable resource for digging up articles on key events and figures of the previous year. I already highlighted one of my favorite Froomkin columns, ”Bush’s Imaginary Foes,” in a post called “Dance of the Straw Men.”

Also on 12/20/06, Froomkin participated in his last discussion of the calendar year. Since he had asked readers about their favorite columns of the year, I dashed off a quick comment (which is the last comment of the chat, but not listed below). I found myself much more intrigued by the following interchanges.

On the only thing that seems to change for the Bush administration, rhetoric:

Winston-Salem, N.C.: I listened today to both the President's and SecDef Gate's press conferences. Is it unfair to say that this whole idea of a "surge" of troops has now evolved into a concept in search of a mission?

Dan Froomkin: What an interesting comment. I sort of got that impression, too.

Bush didn't actually confirm that he's planning a "surge" -- or expansion, as some would put it. But he said that such a surge would need a "specific mission." And I, too, suddenly got the image of a ton of Pentagon people spending their Christmas break trying to come up with one.

On Rumsfeld:

Las Vegas, Nev.: Did anyone make anything out of the Pres'. comment referring to Rumsfeld that they "have been through war together"?

That made me scream at the radio. What war has Bush seen? I was and am incredibly offended by this comment and am surprised it hasn't gotten more travel.


Dan Froomkin: You know, that went right past me. But -- goodness! -- it does seem pretty outrageous.

Here's what Bush said last week, at Rumsfeld's retirement bash: "Don Rumsfeld has been at my side from the moment I took office. We've been through war together."

I think everyone was in so much of a rush to see Rumsfeld go, we didn't pay much attention. But you would think that people who really *have* been through a war might find the comment highly inappropriate.


San Francisco, Calif.: People remember "I'm the decider," but the rest of the quote is "and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." So did President Bush decide what's best was for Rumsfeld to leave? Of course he did, but why didn't anyone ask him this when Rumsfeld "resigned"?

Dan Froomkin: I have savoured that irony. Thanks for sharing.

On the role of the press:

Honolulu, HI: Aloha Dan,
Thanks for your column and chats. Sometimes it seems as though you're the only one in print who is willing to speak the obvious.

On that note, your yearly round-up of columns made me think of how short-sighted most news coverage is. So many news reports have focused on President Bush being in 'listening mode' when the long view shows that this is just another step in the President's deliberate ignorance of both the will of the public and the advice of his generals. Why hasn't the MSM taken a longer view of this, and why are the President's talking points taken at face value by so many, even now?

Dan Froomkin: Thank you. I love that. "Speak the truth" has always struck me as terribly pretentious, and hard to defend. "Speak the obvious" -- that's my goal.

The White House has taken great advantage of the traditional media's short attention span. Daily newspapers, for instance, have a predisposition to write about what happened yesterday -- rather than put it in endless, boring (but in this case, essential) context.

In general, why isn't there more skepticism? I don't know. I think a lot of reporters are indeed skeptical -- but it somehow rarely makes it into their copy. That's the big mystery.

On the unique events that produced Bush’s conduct in the White House (besides Florida 2000):

Durham, N.C.: Here's to another great year of Froomkin-ness!

Dan, isn't this unprecedented in U.S. and possibly world history--the way this President avoids reality and the way his party and the media has supported him?

I think the voters, especially some Democrats, were onto this a long time ago--but couldn't be taken seriously. What did they call us? Cowards? Unpatriotic? Quitters?

Can this happen again?

Dan Froomkin: Thanks!

Unprecedented in U.S. history, yes. In world history? I'm sure there have been many totalitarian dictators who have enjoyed even greater insulation from reality. And of course there was that emperor -- the one who had no clothes.

I think the rare confluence of a president like Bush and an event like 9/11 allowed this to occur. I can't imagine it happening again. But you never know.

Here’s hoping that Bush’s underachievements will never be matched. Happy New Year!