Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jackson Browne and John Hall / Possible Congressional Condemning of Rush Limbaugh

Left to Right: John Hall, Jackson Browne, John Amato, Lucas Gardner, Howie Klein

Just got back from a fantastic show/fund raiser at Rob Light's house in Encino. The fund raiser was for John Hall, and the show was by Jackson Browne. John also spent a good deal of time on stage with Jackson and they had a great, great set. Mr. Browne's vocals sounded particularly good; he has an amazing head voice.
Before the show, John Amato (from Crooks&Liars), Howie Klein (from downwithtyranny) and I got to have a chat with John Hall where we talked primarily about the infamous ad. Congressman Hall had voted to condemn the ad, which seemed incongruous with his otherwise stellar voting record. During our talk, he defended his positioned and gave us further clarification beyond "yay" and "nay".

The ad, he said, was counter-productive to the Democrat's cause. The controversial headline of the ad distracted people from the valid points laid out in the paragraph below, Hall thought. Furthermore, he believes it gave the Republicans fodder for their ridiculous party line that Democrats don't support the troops (which is funny, because we were pushing to give them more time off).

Hall also pointed out that he is pushing forward a bill to condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling two, now-deceased soldiers "phony soldiers". I believe that condemning Rush would be a fantastic idea. My father listens to him and thusly I grew up listening to him, too. Rush is a fat, slobbering, hypocrite. When I was in the Dominican Republic it was well-known "secret" that Mr. Limbaugh came to Santo Domingo to have sex with people of a "younger disposition". It makes sense that he's deaf in one ear from codeine abuse - if he had two functioning ears he would kill himself if he could hear all of the shit that comes out of his mouth (one can only hope for giant strides forward in hearing restoration). But I digress.

Though the motion to condemn Rush is fantastic, one has to wonder what exactly it accomplishes except a congressional "slap on the wrist". When Howie asked Congressman Hall if voting on bills to condemn people's actions was a good use of congressional time, Hall replied "Probably not". I happen to agree with him. I also agree that the ad gave the Republicans fodder for the endless white noise that they spew instead than talking about substantial issues.

But here's a question: If Congress condemns for an advertisement, and they may condemn Rush Limbaugh for something he said, then why not publicly condemn Blackwater Security for killing civilians and allegedly smuggling guns?

Left to Right: Jackson Browne, John Amato, and Lucas Gardner (photo by Howie Klein)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Night Fun With Stats

Since I am a complete waste of space and have nothing to do on a Saturday night other than read articles, I am doing a roundup of stats that I found entertaining.

1. Faith in the Federal Government is now at Watergate levels. A new Gallup poll shows that people's confidence in the executive branch is at 43%. Nixon's lowest was 40%. This shows that, if you rape people of their rights, run the country into debt and kill off soldiers without much reason, it will take Americans six years to notice there's a problem. Today I left my laundry in the washer for seven hours, so I guess I can't say I'm any better.

2. The divorce rate in America is at its lowest level since the 70s. So why do people think that marriage is dying? Maybe it's because social conservatives want people to think that marriage is too fragile to withstand gays getting married. Because if two dudes filed their taxes together and got on the same insurance plan then things would really start turning to shit.
Isn't it kind of strange how when people talk about marriage, it seems like they're talking about a human? Marriage is fragile, we don't want to violate it. I picture athropomorphized marriage as a little girl wearing a white sun dress, running through a field of wheat? Then, as she makes her way across a small dell, she comes upon two men having intercourse behind a barn. Marriage then grows up to be a prostitute and dies because she mixed heroin and cocaine.

3. Republican voters have heads filled with cotton candy. Sweet, sweet cotton candy. Seriously, how the hell can you want Mitt Romney to be our president? The man is beyond detestable. He said helping him become president was as much a service to our country as being US soldier. Giving your life vs. helping Mitt Romney. I, personally, would chug a beaker of sulfuric acid than spend 10 minutes with Romney.
And how the hell can Giuliani be number two? Look at the shit this guy tries to pull. Of course he blames it on the one thing his campaign is built around: 9/11. Huuuuge surprise.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What the Hell...

You know what's great?
Lots and lots of debt.

We all know that the American people love debt. Which is why the Senate, in their infinite and uncorrupted wisdom, increased the federal debt limit from $8.9 trillion to $9.8 trillion (they thought that if they switched the numbers around then no one would notice).
This is the 5th time they've had to do it since Bush has been in office. They've increased the debt limit nearly $4 trillion dollars (which is worth more than all the tea in China, for those curious).

Lets do some math:
The debt limit now $9.8 trillion. If they've increased it by nearly $4 trillion, then they've almost doubled the federal debt limit in eight years.

Why did they do this? Maybe because everyone knows that Bush is asking for $190 billion dollars for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghan war is going so well that Osama may have escaped U.S. forces... MAY have... apparently our intelligence isn't good enough to know a flying fuck about the most notorious man in the world.

This is an amazing way for a country to work. If the government finds themselves unable to get more money because of a limit imposed, they just change the limit. The same idea works for laws, I'm sure.

Now, here's an interesting thing about the vote:
The votes came out to be 94 for and 1 against (thanks Russ Feingold, it was a noble effort). There were 5 missing senators - all of them running for president. Clinton, Obama, Biden, McCain, and Brownback.
This is because there is no good way to vote for this gap-widening for the war money.
If they vote against it, they look like they're not supporting the troops (which is a bullshit phrase, by the way).
If they vote for it, they look like a bunch of fucking idiots. Which is why they took the typical politician's route out of it and acted like the problem wasn't there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What is Happening to America?

Last year, around this time, I was in the Dominican Republic working at a hospital that ran off of donations. During the time I was there a few major contributers visited the hospital to check up on things. I ended up spending some time with a few of these people, and got to talk to them about something other than how hot it was all the time.
One of these people, who I'll call John, was a 60-something man from the Northeast. While spending a weekend on the beach John noticed that I was reading America at the Crossroads by Francis Fukuyama, and he asked me what it was about. I told him it was about Neo-Conservatism, and proceeded to tell him why it's so loathsome, and why it's killing America.
John disagreed with me.
John said that what is killing America wasn't the infringement of civil rights, the corrupt officials, the never-ending wars, the over-spending on said wars, the poor foreign policy, or the light-speed progress towards a dictatorship. None of that.
John said that what is killing America was homosexuals.

I laughed. I asked him why he thought that.
"Because that's what happened to Rome," he answered.
Wow. I thought what brought the fall of Rome was political instability and constant agitation from groups like the Gauls. If anal sex can topple one of history's greatest civilizations then humanity deserves extinction.

It was because of this conversation with John that I finally realized what is killing the United States.
It's us.
We can blame our officials and blame our media and blame our education, but we are the root of all of those problems. Because those officials must be elected, that news must be written, and those children must be taught - all of this must be done by Americans.
Something happened a few years ago and there were promises all over the country that "Things would never be the same." America did change - it went to sleep.

I don't even know where to push for change. We live in a nation where this kind of shit makes sense to people. We live in a nation where people want there to be theocratic law. We live in a nation where people willingly have RFID chips implanted in them. We live in a nation where the eye of the government is so omniscient that you could use it to stalk your ex-girlfriend. We live in a nation where this man was elected - twice.

America was founded as nation where man would make the law. Where you weren't bound by your heritage. Where anything could be earned. Where you could be born a pauper but die a prince. And it is that idea that is so fragile in a very certain way. Because that idea can't be killed by a tyrant, terrorist, or invader.
But it can be forgotten; and that is the greatest danger facing America today.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blackwater Will Kill You Dead (and Get Paid)

There's this American mentality that something you pay for has to be better than something you get for free. This is probably rooted in the fact that the US Government screws up nearly everything it touches, for the most part.
You've probably heard recently that Blackwater got suspended from ground operations in Iraq for killing eight Iraqi civilians.
Well, they're not suspended anymore.
Blackwater was suspended, in total, for four days. Which equals out to be a half day for each civillian killed. So if you're Iraqi you should know that your death isn't worth a full 24 hours, just a petty 12. And if you're a mercenary in Iraq, you'll only get suspended for 12 hours for every Iraqi killed (so if you want a week off, then kill ten Iraqis).

Blackwater apparently has been a problem in Iraq for a while, notably as a figure of hate for Iraqi civillians. One of downwithtyranny's neighbors works in Iraq and he refuses to use Blackwater security. This makes sense, seeing as the mercenaries are probably more of a target than the people they're hired to protect.

Despite the fact that they're known to have bad relations with Iraqis, our own Congress has nearly no idea what these people are up to.

We know virtually nothing about them. We think about forty cents of every dollar goes to private military contractors, we think about 800 of them have been killed in Iraq, but we don't know that - they're not even counted. And we think that there are 25 thousand to 40 thousand engaged in combat-related activities - but we don't know and we can't find out.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) House Intelligence Committee
Why is it so damn hard to find out anything about Blackwater? I'm sure it was nothing to do with the fact that Erik Prince is a major Republican contributor and Cofer Black was a counter terrorism official with the Bush administration in 2001. Because politicians never, ever hand out favors in exchange for money.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


We all knew this would happen. It's been like the big pink elephant in the room. Wait, it's been more like ten huge pink elephants with guns and top hats.
The exchange rate is now 1 to 1.0012 between the US dollar and Canadian dollar, respectively.
Isn't that great. Just now, while I was writing this, it's gone down to 1.0010.

We've done it, America. We're now on par with Junior Varsity America. In a few weeks the Canadian dollar will surpass ours and our towns will be overrun by the mounties and maple syrup will rain from the skies while poutine erupts from the ground.
I, for one, welcome our new amusingly-accented overlords. The prospect of Canadian bacon and french fries drenched in cheese and gravy might not sound that good, but this might help me learn French a bit quicker.

The Saudis have stopped using the dollar, the Euro is completely owning us, and the US Treasury is about to reach its debt limit. Oh, and the housing market will continue to suck for a while. This is awesome. Who wants a good economy? If you want a good economy you're anti-American.

Really, this doesn't have anything to do with the billions-a-week war that we're waging. It's no wonder Bush opposed expanding children's health care.
War vs. Saving Children. It's an easy decision because war is so much cooler. There's explosions and guns. Children are just the future of humanity. Yawn.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Colin Powell: "Terrorists are Not Our Greatest Threat"

I get the feeling that Colin Powell would tell you how much he hated the Bush administration if you got a few beers into him. Maybe GQ got him drunk when they took this incredibly creepy picture of his face for their piece.
Jesus Christ, he looks like one of those homeless guys who have two-sided arguments with parking meters.
Drunk or not, he managed to say something smart:

"What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"
What's he saying there? Basically that we can't let Bush take away our privacy, civil liberties and... uh... what's that other thing... oh yeah, our constitution. But that thing is over 200 years old, so no one gives a fuck about it anymore. Right? He also says something else smart that would piss off most Republicans:
"America could not survive without immigration," he says. "Even the undocumented immigrants are contributing to our economy. That's the country my parents came to. That's the image we have to portray to the rest of the world: kind, generous, a nation of nations, touched by every nation, and we touch every nation in return."
Holy shit. Did he just say that America should fool around with the rest of the world? I'm pretty sure that Australia has the clap, but Sweden's looking pretty nice up there.
He makes a good point that America is now a nation of immigrants (since we fucking laid waste to the native population, setting the tone for the next few hundred years...).

We shouldn't forget that without immigration, and the prompt massacre of anyone already here, America wouldn't be the country that it is today; drunk with power, wandering into other countries and blathering on about how Canada used to be so much cooler, and how Britain was always down to party, before passing out somewhere around the Falklands, promptly starting another war.

But the threat of Bush chipping away the very existence of what makes this a free country is so real that it's becoming very, very scary. On October 1st, there's a new branch of Homeland Security that will be spying on you called The National Applications Office. So we'll officially have a telescope pointing inwards, to our own country.

Why is the government doing this? Because there are two things that gives Bush sustenance: Taking away the civil liberties of Americans, and eating the still-beating heart of a kitten.
And he's fresh out of kittens.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Liberals More Likely to Be Open-Minded, Conservatives More Likely to Be Self-Oppressed Homosexuals

The LA Times had an article today about the differences in the minds of Liberals and Conservatives. No word on the rampant self-oppressed sexual proclivities in today's Conservative culture, though (*cough* Mark Foley, Bill O'Reilly, Larry Craig*cough*). FTA:

"Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M."
Besides being having ninja-like reflexes when recognizing the alphabet, Liberals are apparently better at dealing with change and supporting innovation.

"Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy...

...Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

"There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science," said Sulloway, who has written about the history of science and has studied behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals.""
Well, saying that Liberals deal with change better might be putting a spin on it. Would it sound better if I just said that "Liberals aren't quasi-solipsist elitists who throw tantrums when they see two dudes kissing". Because, really, this is a no-spin zone (©Fox News), and I'd like to keep it as conservative friendly as possible (sorry guys, I don't have any nude pictures of congressional pages).

I don't even know why they needed to hook college students up to an electroencephalograph. Christ, just look at the kind of music that conservatives make. Ted Nugent's biggest hit was "Cat Scratch Fever". Have you heard that song? If you haven't, then enjoy the fact that you can sleep.
John Malkovich, a conservative actor, has played the same fucking character in every movie he's been in. He played an intergalactic politician/messiah in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and he acted exactly the same when he played himself in Being John Malkovich.

To be honest, though, I don't know that John Malkovich isn't an intergalactic politician/messiah. He very well could be.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

It's Goddamn Inspiring to Meet an Honest Politician

Today I got a chance to meet Southern California Congressional candidate Russ Warner.
That's Russ in the center of the photo, with the tie. For those of you who are curious, that's me in the upper right hand side looking very, very serious.
I had a great time meeting some experienced bloggers like David Dayden, Tom Beeton, Jane Hamsher and Howie Klein. Jane was gracious enough to link me on her page.

Russ Warner had some things to say about America's current state that I thought were ballsy and spot-on, like how The Soviet Union had already tried what America's doing these days. They went into Afghanistan and ended up running themselves dry by, among other things, trying to take over the country.
And what is America doing these days? We're running ourselves dry by over-extending our military and financial reach.
Now the economy is so far south that it speaks with a Southern Drawl and eats grits.
Our military is stretched so thin that soldiers are sometimes out there for well over a year without any leave to go home.
Can you imagine what it must be like for a hormone-crazed 19 year old to be stuck in a desert for over a year?

What I liked most about Mr. Warner was that he wasn't just spitting out party rhetoric- he believes the words that he says. Finding a politician who does this is harder than finding a Chinese river dolphin.

Warner told an amazing story about his son, Greg, during the party that gave me chills.
Greg gave Warner a call while he was in Iraq to see how the family was doing. Halfway through the conversation Warner heard loud noises and shouting in the background. Of course, like any father, he became frantic and asked his son what was going on. Greg came back on the phone and calmly said:
"Oh, it's alright, Dad. They weren't shooting at me."

Greg was in Iraq for seventeen months. Seventeen months! I haven't even kept a girlfriend for longer than twelve months, and Greg's job was to be shot at in the most dangerous country in the world for SEVENTEEN MONTHS. You have to write that in all caps.

Warner said that phone call with his son was a life changing experience for him, one that made him push even harder for ending the war.
When he says that he wants to bring the troops home - he means it.
Not because it's the party line.
Not because it will get votes.
Not because he has a vendetta.
But because he knows that there are sons and daughters over there, dying, for a reason that no one can seem to stamp down.

When Greg got home from Iraq he sat down with his father and asked him to do something to help end the war. So Russ Warner is running for congress against David Dreier.
Imagine that.
A politician running to fulfill a promise he made to his son.
If you don't think that's awesome then get the hell off of my internet.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bush Would Probably Sleep With Your Girlfriend if She Was Drunk and "Feelin' it"

Some people are pissed off at Bush's recent comments while visiting Iraq. He said that he would base his Iraq decisions off of advice from the military rather than polls taken in the United States. Which is great, because, you know, we don't live in a Democracy...

Yeah, yeah, I know that it's an representative democracy and the proper way to have our voice heard is to vote, have that vote thrown away, and to have men in suits decide who will be fucking us for the next 4 years.
But, really, shouldn't the people's opinion have at least some affect on the President's decision on how long we're going to let our soldiers die? I mean, they are OUR soldiers, right? Like, the people own the government and thusly they're our soldiers. Last I heard, we weren't under Spartan rule. Though that would be badass.

General Petraeus Does Not Care About Black People

Petraeus (who has the name of a Roman hero from a Charlton Heston movie) has said that some of our soldiers might be coming home. About 4,000. Which is about one brigade.

Of course, the headlines I see are "PETRAEUS CONSIDERS IRAQ TROOP PULLOUT", which would lead anyone who reads it to think that he was talking about pulling out all soldiers. Which, according to recent estimates, is going to happen sometime after the sun explodes.

But, really, look at that man. He's got the shining face of a little boy. Who could stay mad at him? Bush likes him because no matter how bad the news is, Petraeus' bright smile will make him giggle and hide under his desk.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Iraq Might Be a Mess...

Even though Bush claimed that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq; we are not.
Not even by a long shot.

But it's not surprising he thinks that because, according to ex-CIA officers, he doesn't give a fuck about intelligence (9th paragraph down). Did Bush ban televisions from the White House? I could ask a fetus how Iraq was doing and it'd give me a more accurate answer.

Keep in mind that this man, our President (Dick Chen... I mean, George Bush), couldn't even remember why he dissolved the native Iraqi army.

God, it's so much easier to just picture this like when you were a little kid and you had to work on this school project with someone you didn't know. And after you start working on the project he gets distracted and you just want him to leave.

Iraq: "Hey, thanks for your help, but... really, you can go now, I can finish this project by myself"
America (playing on Iraq's XBox): "Yeah, in a minute."
10 minutes later...
Iraq: "Dude, really, you need to go. This is getting annoying, you're just over here because your mom gives you money to work on school projects. Also, Jimmy Al Qaeda lives right next door and he keeps throwing rocks at my house because you're over here and he hates you"
America (throws down the controller): "FINE! You like your precious project so much? (stomps all over Iraq's school project) THERE, now you NEED me, motherfucker!"

Now I hear that the Iraqi federal police is saying that they can't do the job anymore because they're spread too thin (what a bunch of pansies, it's only 438,317 square kilometers). Maybe getting rid of the Iraq Army for no apparent reason was a bad idea, because we kind of need supplementary military forces over there that aren't our own (especially since 2/3 of the ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET doesn't want us there).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Steve Jobs is a dick.

iPhone price 2 months ago: $599
iPhone price as of today: $399

It's amazing how fast Apple found a cheaper way to produce the iPhone in 2 magical months. Steve Jobs must do a lot of coke.

But these kinds of things are to be expected from Apple.
I bought a Powerbook a few years ago, and its processor was 1.33GHz. A month after I bought it, they kept the price and changed the processor to 1.66GHz. I wasn't that mad because the performance increase wasn't that dramatic.

Last November they unveiled the G5 iMac and it was cool, everyone was like "Oh, cool, now we get the G5 in the iMacs. I will now purchase one." Then BAM! Apple switches over to the Intel Core Duo processors a few months later. Mass suicide sweeps the nation.

Now they make such a fuss about releasing the iPhone and lure in the geeks like a Dutch hooker, who will pay anything for new technology or sex, and then lower the price by the SAME amount it would take to hire a real prostitute.

It's a brilliant marketing tactic:
Step 1. Release a cool, somewhat-innovative device that is crippled on some key features, but is so aesthetically appealing that people buy it anyways.
Step 2. Wait a few months and then lower the price substantially, or remedy the lacking features.
Step 3. Have everyone who already bought the 1st generation device buy another one (e.g. Profit!)

To top it all off, the special AT&T return policy on the iPhone was 14 days instead of the regular policy of 30 days. At least the 4GB phone has gone down in price. Oh, how fast do things become obsolete.

Phil Spector Will Kill You Dead

I'll be honest, I don't really have anything of value to say about the Phil Spector case.

He was a great record producer and innovator in the studio, many bands owe their careers to him; The Ronettes, The Righteous Brothers...

But look at that face. This man is a stone-cold, eat-your -children, throw-kittens-in-a-blender, killer.
I heard that the US Military tried to recruit him into their special forces, but Spector got so pissed off that someone was talking to him that he killed JFK. (Really, Spector released a Christmas album on the same day Kennedy was shot. Coincidence?)

The only way the courts have been able to quell his blood-lust during the trail is by letting him grow out a fop of ridiculously age-inappropriate hair.
It's hypothesized that the hair stops the cooling of his blood, and soothes the human part of his body. He's more machine than man now.

Someone Said Something About Darfur.

From the BBC...
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (wtf?) went to Darfur and was apparently "shocked and humbled" by the sight of a refugee camp.
Ki-Moon assured people that the plan to send a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force was right on track.
Well, that's nice. Right on track? So those 26,000 soldiers should be there any time now, right?
By "right on track," Ki-Moon meant "they'll be here in a year, motherfuckers."
That's right. The UN Peacekeeping force will be there in a year.

Holy shit. Why didn't he just go around the refugee camp scarfing down Big Macs and calling conflict diamonds "bling bling" while he was at it.

200,000 people have died. Like, not coming back to life dead. And there's a fucking year long delay to send UN support.
How convoluted does a bureaucracy have to do stuff like this?
Anyone remember what happened Rwanda? Of course you do - there was a movie made about it. By the time the UN got an effective (read: able to shoot people) force there, almost 1 million people had died.
It must be hard to be part of the UN.
I bet they just play Bioshock on XBox all day. That's a pretty sweet game. If I had to save thousands of people from a grisly death and there was an XBox 360 in front of me, I would have a hard time getting around to it.


Oh, wow. This is great.

It seems that the man to your left, the honorable Lord Justice Sedley, has decreed (because that's the kind of shit they do) that all citizens of, and visitors to the United Kingdom have to give up swabs of their DNA.


I wouldn't even trust the government to do my laundry, let alone have my genetic code on file. Although there are some days when I don't know if I love my genes or my jeans more. But those are drunk, drunk days.

Keep in mind that this law was declared by a guy with a fucking carpet on his scalp. Think about that for a little bit.
A man with a carpet on his head wants to have your genetic code.

I swear to God if I was an alien visiting earth and I saw this shit I would just keep on moving.