The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang. And now, smeared by Fox News and Sean Hannity, as well! Plus, FEARED by Ted Nugent! AND Hated by the Freepers!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Star Date 4345.8

Part i. Flossing The Gums of Freedom

I hadn't planned this quite yet.

I had wanted to wait until the Black Mass they're holding in Washington D.C. was over. The "conservative movement" -- you know, the one that was on the wrong end of EVERY human rights issue of the XXth Century, from child labor to segregation to medicare and social security, to the right of collective bargaining (unions) and, most recently, torture in contravention of the Geneva Convention and the UN Charter -- THAT "conservative" movement, is holding its high Black Mass in Washington, D.C. this weekend (with the sacrifice of babies by invitation only).

Listen to this, from George Will's speech to that body: "The 1996 Welfare Reform Act is the greatest piece of legislation of the last 30 years. There isn't a state in the Union that does not have a substantial reduction, in some cases up to 90% reduction, of the welfare rolls...."

Gee, Bowtie George, what kind of heartless prick do you have to be to think THAT is the greatest accomplishment of Congress in the past 30 years? Even "conservatives" would be hard-pressed to toe THAT line.

What's goddamned sad is this: Listen to this blog excerpt from "Panzer Commander" -- a tween-to-teen blogger who's an "official" CPAC blogger. Here is his blog from February 28, 2007 (sic):

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Brush Your Teeth!
Brush Your Teeth!

When I was on the football team in PG- county, there was a kid who always complained about his mouthgaurd. We called him a baby and other bad names ( the other hoodlums often used profanity). He quit the football team a week or two after we started some real contact football. No one new why... until now. The Washington Post has the story:

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care.

Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the incumbent paperwork. And some, including Deamonte's brother, get in for a tooth cleaning but have trouble securing an oral surgeon to fix deeper problems.

In spite of efforts to change the system, fewer than one in three children in Maryland's Medicaid program received any dental service at all in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The figures were worse elsewhere in the region. In the District, 29.3 percent got treatment, and in Virginia, 24.3 percent were treated, although all three jurisdictions say they have done a better job reaching children in recent years.

"I certainly hope the state agencies responsible for making sure these children have dental care take note so that Deamonte didn't die in vain," said Laurie Norris, a lawyer for the Baltimore-based Public Justice Center who tried to help the Driver family. "They know there is a problem, and they have not devoted adequate resources to solving it."

This is the first of 3 pages on how this poor kid died. I feel especially bad for him because I didn't see any sort of dad mentioned in this article. So when mom says " BRUSH YOUR TEETH" they mean it.

posted by panzer commander at 6:00 AM


Mandy said...

Oh no! That's terrible! Yes, I think I'll go brush my teeth again. Brb


Go take a look at the kid "schmoozing" with the monsters of the Right. He reminds me of a white mouse in the pet shop cage with the boa constrictor: blindly oblivious to the fact that HE is 'what's for dinner.'

Panzer Commander does the C-pac 2007

This year's C-Pac is being held in the Omni-Shoreham in downtown Ballston. I met alot of people and collected alot of swag and candy. I took the business cards of all the people I met so I could email my adress (sic) to them. Here they are ...

An astonishing list of astroturf operatives follows; 'from the mouths of babes ...' and all that stuff.

I hope he told George Will the story of his classmate. Will would undoubtedly kvell with warm satisfaction that "the greatest piece of legislation of the last 30 years" might have had a small hand in a Washington D.C. child's demise.

It's enough to give a "conservative" the warm fuzzies. And you wonder WHY I chose the "white mouse" simile?

I often wonder what it is that the bastards are "conserving" anyway? The right to own slaves? Drawing and quartering? The right to stick it to your fellow man six days a week, and then to publicly brag about how much money you're donating to the church on Sunday? (I seem to recall a New Testament verse on the subject, but my memory of the book fades in my senescence).

Part ii. Poisoned By The Fangs Of A Rich Fink

But, alas, too many synchronicities for one day, and I'm already sitting on too much information anyway.

A friend took me to lunch, and, as he sorted through his junk mail, there was an appeal from the "Institute for Justice."

Ahhh, quoth I, Clint Bolick's bunch. Do you know what they're up to in Arizona?

My friend admitted that he didn't.

Later, when I checked my mail about midnight, eerily enough, my friend Cap'n Crusty -- who served exactly the same function in my original investigation of the Howie Rich gang last summer -- wrote me:

Yesterday, there was a phone message waiting for me, from [unintelligible female voice], whom went on to prattle something about **** voting "to increase our taxes!" Gasp!

Well, I have little use for ****, but even less for unsolicited phone calls. So, it was "delete" for Ms UFV.

Today, I got a postcard saying essentially the same thing, but this time, I had a group name, with a return address: FreedomWorks, allegedly out of Salem, but...I looked just a bit further, and found this: http://www.freedomworks.org/. A national organization, led by none other than "The Honorable [sic] Dick Armey" (apparently, there are two Dick Armeys).

Seem familiar?

Ye Cap'n

PS: One of the staff ( Rob Jordan, Vice President, Federal and State Campaigns) worked for Mark Foley. Proudly, I imagine. Unashamedly, at least.

It's important to note that the Good Cap'n had done EXACTLY the same thing last summer, when he wrote on my blog "Boregasm":

Cap'n Crusty said...

Anybody been getting those damn term-limit petitions in the mail? I got my second one in as many weeks. I don't know where these wads got my address, but the last thing I need is some right-wing drip-dick from Bend telling me whom I can and can't vote for.
Interesting follow-up. The "drip-dick from Bend" was recruited by the Howie Rich gang, and LEFT THE STATE before the election, selling his Bend home, purchased for $500,000 a couple years ago, to Oregon politician Charlie Ringo (no, seriously, that's his name) for $750,000:

Term Limits Figurehead Leaves Oregon
Posted by Scott Moore at 01:31 PM

Innnnnteresting bit of news: Theodore Berthelote, the retired Bend dentist who was recruited to be the chief petitioner for the ballot measure that would bring term limits back to the state legislature, has moved out of Oregon. He's now living in New Mexico for medical reasons, but says he plans to move back to Oregon once his health has returned.

Berthelote hasn't had a whole lot to do with the campaign - he's been something of a figurehead, especially now. 'I've taken a total backseat now that it's qualified for the ballot,' he said. My job was to get the signatures.'

Get the signatures? You mean these ones?
At any rate, he's expecting his absentee ballot in the mail, so he'll still be able to vote for the campaign to which he attached his name.

Oh, and get this: He sold his house in Bend to State Sen. Charlie Ringo, the Democrat from Beaverton who announced last January that he wouldn't seek re-election this year in order to spend more time with his family. (Brad Avakian won the primary in his bid to take over Ringo's seat.) Real estate, as they say, makes for strange bedfellows.

That's Alpha and Omega, almost.

Because of the 35 initiative campaigns that the three millionaires Howard Rich was fronting for ran, 34 lost.

But they won in Arizona. Which is where Clint Bolick is, not coincidentally.

So: When the Cap'n speaks, I listen. And today, FreedomWorks decided to mail him their next poisoned pen letter. (I presume I've been taken off ALL their mailing lists -- for obvious reasons. So keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!)

And this blog would like to tender a heartfelt "Thanks" and tip of the hat to the Cap'n and wish his crew, and, indeed, all passengers on the SS Bullpucky "godspeed."

Which brings us back to Clint Bolick, the Institute for Justice, the Initiative and Referendum Institute, FreedomWorks and, ultimately, the Brothers Koch.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you how they all begin to fit together.

Meantime, here's a partial list of "Howard Rich" related vendors at the CPAC 2007 (from their "exhibitors" page):

Rich's "group" from last time,

  • Americans for Limited Government
    has a table in the exhibitors' hall.

    The "Panzer Commander" kid's blog above lists one of his business cards as from:
    "Ray Wotring, the VP of Coalitions at Americans for Limited Government. www.getliberty.org"

The Chicago office (virtually in toto) of ALG is now called

  • The Sam Adams Alliance
    and also has a table. Their communications director may still be Heather Wilhelm, formerly ALG's communications director. This is their big rollout.
Eric O'Keefe and John Tillman were the heavy water carriers for ALG and "School Choice" and, as the principals of the Sam Adams Alliance (cheerfully acronym'd as SAA) should be there. Tillman is scheduled for an afternoon panel in the agenda.

Their alleged backing cash, the Koch Brothers (now owners of the largest privately held corporation in the world, including, about a year ago, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, makers of Dixie Cups) will be represented by the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

The following exhibitors are all mixed up in it in various ways:

Here's a cached version of their webpage, before they canned Williamson Design in favor of Political Media, Inc. Look at it quick, before THAT'S expunged.

Oh, and take a look at this.

  • The Sam Adams Alliance
    whose FAQ notes:
Q: Is SAA headed by Howard Rich?

A: SAA is not affiliated with Mr. Rich, who remains the head of Americans for Limited Government. The Sam Adams Alliance shares no management or management decisions with ALG or its affiliates, but we do wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Q: But that's not what I read on a website...

A: Many "non partisan research" websites have a distinct agenda--many, for instance, are funded by left-wing maven George Soros--and they don't let the facts get in the way of their quest to defame groups they perceive as threatening. But, hey, it's kind of amusing to see the wacky things they cook up. Reader, beware.

[I guess they're referring to the Center for Public Integrity, and, unrecompensed, to ME. Still, beware my writing. It's been known to take down demagogues. - HW]

Breaking news: The FAQ has NOW been taken down, so get to the cache quick

  • Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
    Richard A. Fink, President
  • National Taxpayers Union
NOTE: Howie Rich's Americans for Limited Government were partnered with ATR and NTU in SEVERAL states last fall, including Oregon, where this whole investigation began. I have not written at length about Norquist, because a GAZILLION other journalists and bloggers have (or SHOULD have) investigated him. Howie is definitely in bed with the atavistically hirsute Mr. Norquist.

And, there's the

  • National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
    notable for running bogus PSAs at stations around the country - one was on KOPT-AM AirAmerica Radio down here in Eugene before the listeners howled about the freebie "stealth" attack on Unions), on whose board Duncan Scott sits -- Scott of Kalispell, Montana, who disbursed millions of "America At Its Best" dollars from his law office to Nebraska, Missouri, California, and lord-knows-where-else. ("All contributions to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are tax deductible.")

"The Secret Life of Duncan Scott" (from my blog)
And, let's not forget:
  • Leadership Institute (The)
Where they send people to learn to yell on Fox TV)
See "this house is my home"s Laird Maxwell on TLI
  • Libertarian National Committee
(Who can't quite figure out if they're Republicans or not, but, I will note, have pussied out over a woman's right to choose, including from the very founding meeting of the New York Free Libertarian Party in 1973, that elected Andrea Millen (Rich) Chair and Howard Rich as a Vice-Chair)

See: FLP SPLIT! From The Libertarian Forum, V.9, No.4

by Roy A. Childs, Jr.
April 1976

... Although there are in this city several brilliant and eloquent libertarian feminists, there has been no renewed response to the renewed push by the so-called "pro-life" lobby to impose a theocracy on the people of United States, through their campaign against legalized abortion. What this campaign amounts to is nothing less than the attempt to impose the peculiar moral tenets of the Roman Catholic Church on the people of America. But there has been no outcry, no opposition, from the F[ree] L[ibertarian] P[arty]....

[Note: others resigning at the same time were Andrea Millen [later Rich], Murray N. Rothbard, Walter Block, Jerry Tuccille, Ralph Raico, Howard Rich, Fran Youngstein and Gary Greenberg. - HW]

And so on and so forth.

I leave you with the weirdly prophetic words of the late Murray N. Rothbard, from that same issue, in an article entitled "COMBATING CONSERVATISM":

We [Libertarians] are the "extreme" (read consistent) heirs, not of the Conservatives, but of their ancient enemies, the Classical Liberals. Classical Liberalism, with its devotion to individual liberty and a peaceful foreign policy, found itself from the beginning at the polar opposite from Conservatism, and this polarity continues today. Then as now. Conservatism has stood for Big Government and statism across the board; for militarism and repression of civil liberties at home, and for interventionism, imperialism and a warlike foreign policy abroad; for a reverence for the State and its Leader (whether King or President or some other Fuhrer); and for a theocratically imposed "morality" in which the State imposes a religiously conceived behavior on its subjects. Libertarianism, as the heir of classical liberalism, stands, on the contrary, for individual liberty and the absence of government intervention at home or abroad. Our reverence is for the peaceful individual and our hostility goes out to the State apparatus. We hold religion and morality to be strictly the private concerns of each individual.

Contemporary Conservatism is very much in the mold of our long-standing Enemy. It still advocates militarism and imperialism, it still believes in a State-coerced morality, it still reverences the State and its Leader, it still represses dissent.... [emphasis added - HW]

Heck, the Whole Sick Crew ought to be there - including Benny Profane and, perhaps, even Tyrone Slothrop.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Buck Rogers, Baby!

And no, not that lame Gil Gerard abomination foisted off by Universally Shitty Pictures back in the late '70s or early '80s.


Let me back up: I was born precisely in time for Sputnik.

Paris Hilton!

October 4th, 1957. I was about 2 years old, and I remember EVERYTHING about the space program. I have been following it since before I could read.

So, it was with great delight that I heard the news this morning about the Pluto probe, but that was tempered with more than a little disappointment at the imbecility of grown-ups* and their utter inability to comprehend history as it is being made. You have to keep your sense of wonder; you have to remember that this is still a magical and astonishingly wondrous world.

[* see "Moon Day or, A Secret History of Neil Armstrong"]

In January of 2006, we launched our first ion-drive. It is a new technology, relying on the decay of plutonium pellets (we'll talk about the evil nukes some other time, snarkers), and within 18 hours, the spacecraft was motoring past the moon.

Now, using Jupiter's gravitational field, it's added 9,000 miles per hour to its velocity, to 56,000 miles per hour. (According to Relativity, the speed of light in a vacuum is 186,000 miles per second, so there's plenty of room to go faster within Einsteinian Space-Time)

But the wonder was missing from the news stories. Like it was "normal." Like it wasn't a miracle. Like it wasn't a milestone in human development. These little naked monkeys were using Jupiter to turbocharge their hotrods!

Jupiter in less than 14 months! Holeeeee Crap, Batmensch!

I am living IN science fiction. I am living in an Arthur C. Clarke novel, circa 1952:

"The Ion Drive, the fastest object ever created by Mankind, sped past Jupiter, headed for its rendezvous with Pluto, some eight years hence. As it sped past the red giant, the probe turned its cameras and sensors on the Jovian system, sending back new data that would engage the scientists on Earth and Mars for years to come."
-- from an Imaginary Arthur C. Clarke novel, page 124.
Jupiter in 14 months (less than)!

That is wonder to anyone who has not yet lost their sense of same.

And, still, we're hauling plutonium to Pluto.

No word on reaction from Newcastle.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007


A virtual reprint from Tuesday, May 10, 2005
[NOTE: This doesn't show up on Firefox for some reason, but shows up fine on Internet Explorer. I wrote this blog mostly before Firefox, so I apologize. The link is for the entire week's archive, so scroll down for the original. HW]

I'm not going to go long, here. There are a lot of pieces that anyone who CARES to poke around can find.

But the simple fact is that, as I predicted, Afghanistan is heating up. The Taliban are re-forming, and they've watched us long enough to begin to understand just how to hit us and where. This has been their practice with invaders for thousands of years, so it's not exactly a surprise.

Worse, Iraq is turning into that "quagmire" that was predicted by those with a grasp of history and pooh-pooh'ed by those with none.

Remember, we live in a country so damned stoooooopid that the "Swift Boat Veterans" and their minions were actually able to cast the obscenity of Vietnam as a noble war. And we are filled with underage citizens who believe that revisionism.

Take it from one who was issued a draft card, and spent a sleepless night before the draft lottery (my number was 351, the one lottery I ever "won" by losing): Vietnam was an unjustified war that we got into through lies, propaganda, and were tarnished and corrupted by. The destruction of the core of our military because of the corrosive effects of gross mismanagement and political interference has not been much spoken of, but the decent military men (including my first father-in-law, a veteran of the 8th Air Force, who flew his 25 missions over Germany in a B-17 during WWII) took early retirement, and left the Pentagon to the Ollie Norths and their vile ilk.

Now, Iraq is out of control, but it's hard to find that out: nearly all reporters are confined to the hotel in the "green zone" and rely entirely on Goverment PR handouts for their "news."

Huge chunks of the country are beyond our control, and now even Baghdad is only controlled in a few neighborhoods. And the Iraqis are as badly supplied as they were during the sanctions. Perhaps, if you count basic services, they're even worse off.

We know that the infrastructure is damaged and getting worse. The flow of gas, electricity, sewage and fresh water are virtually non-existent in large sectors of the country. The "insurgents" (a vile characterization, considering it's THEIR country, dammit) have expertly taken out the oil infrastructure, denying the US their "cash cow" to pay for the war.

At home, the mere whisper of "supporting our troops" allows blatantly fascist and formerly unthinkable "riders" like the REAL ID act to be attached, without debate to appropriations bills (for $82 billion this time) without opposition to said bill.

What happened to the so-called Republican virtue of getting the government out of our lives? Guess it doesn't mean doodly-squat in a "nation at war."

Nixon went insane (and ultimately got caught) over secrecy and security issues relating to that war (his rationalizations that domestic spying and burglarizing Ellsberg's shrink, etc. are clear, in retrospect: National Security uber alles).

Now, by comparison, old Tricky Dick looks positively virtuous. The war profiteering, the handing out of cash to cronies; the indentured servitude of reservists impressed into endless, involuntary combat service (where you get to go to Iraq, hunker down, and wait for them to try and kill you without any ability to engage in "proactive" action) is the worst case scenario for any soldier in any theater at any time. It is a prescription for insanity, as our K-Mart managers and our shoe salesmen and our other weekend warriors slowly bake in the heat of the Iraqi oven to further Bush's vainglorious and now demonstrably fraudulent war.

Remember, Iraq was going to cost us $8 billion, they were going to throw flowers at us, and the fellow at OMB who (correctly) predicted that the war would cost at least $200 billion was fired for his presumption at reality.

Where is the cry for impeachment now? If a blowjob (or, as rationalized, "lying under oath") is impeachable, then where is the outrage for a criminal war of aggression enabled by lying that has murdered over 100,000 human beings, many of whom were women and children?

How come Saddam is still alive? How come Osama's still on the loose?

Iraq is Vietnam all over again, even more corruptly, even more corrosively.

And they are suppressing all dissent in advance, not wanting a return to Kent State, et al.

But not to worry: in the current, poisonous atmosphere, if they gunned down students today, there would be little outrage, and even less upset.

To paraphrase George Santayana: Those who would forget Vietnam are doomed to repeat it.

Deja vu.

Dick's Ego Kills Eighteen*

* Preliminary casualty count.
The AP story, as printed in the GUARDIAN (UK):

Cheney OK After Explosion in Afghanistan

Go ahead and read it. While you're gone, it'll give me a chance to go puke.
Well, it finally happened: One "surprise" visit too many, one rubber turkey too many and one act of hubris too many -- and now eighteen human beings are dead.
The right-wing stooges on CNN radio news are, naturally spinning this as "The Vice President wasn't hurt." Yeah. Like that's supposed to be GOOD news.

One U.S. serviceman has been identified among the dead, for you racist bastards who only consider a human death tragic if it's an "American" who died. One American and perhaps seventeen others (but we may never
get an accurate count, what with the "spin" cycle and all).

Yeah: Dick Cheney decided to let the world know he was visiting our troops in Afghanistan, and after visiting Pakistan. And a suicide bomber tried to kill the prick, but killed eighteen decent human beings instead.

"Decent"? You ask.


Decent because they weren't Cheney. Decent because they were stuck at some godforsaken base in Afghanistan defending a mission that seems increasingly indefinable, and decent simply because they weren't that vicious prick Dick Cheney. Where they might have been from we may never know.

I guess this is the answer to "Operation Mount and Thrust." (One good bang deserves another?)

So: here's a little trip down memory lane, from all three incarnations of this blog, foretelling this EXACT kind of mess. Foretelling the resurgence of the "Taliban" (viz. any Afghan who doesn't want us in Afghanistan. Think about how you've been gamed by the propaganda.)

So, here was my warning about these brain-dead macho trips, about the ONLY member of the Bush Maladministration who seems to have any actual balls.
Thursday, November 24, 2005

You don't suppose that Bush is going to pull one of his patented rubber turkey surprises for Thanksgiving, do you? You know, show up with "our brave troops" and display the latest military-drag Commander-in-Chief outfit and accessories addition to his wardrobe?

It's not at all possible that this week Condi Rice was doing an advance tour for it, I realize.

But -- given this cult of the photo-op and their need to grab the spotlight away from ... well, scandals too rife to enumerate -- repeating some trick from the previous stage show isn't beyond them. (Heck, it's their modus operandi.) They DO tend to repeat themselves beyond the life of the magic trick, after all.

So, might there be another rubber turkey surprise visit to the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Could be. We should know by halftime of the Dallas game.

Happy Thanksgiving, no matter what your turkey happens to be.


And here is ONE of MY warnings that considering Afghanistan secure was a grave historic mistake:
30 June 2006
Potpourri, or How Come I Started the Blog Again

1. The Phallusies of Dick and Bush

As noted in my blog, I predicted that the Taliban in Afghanistan were about to pull a John Paul Jones: they have just begun to fight. This was not prescient. This has been their pattern over the last 7,000 years. The invader invades and scores an "easy" victory. They wait. They watch. They expel the invader.

But what scared the heck out of me was the "year in the planning" offensive against the "Taliban." Note how conveniently any Afghan who opposes us is "Taliban." How about those Afghans who, in their ancient and venerable AND successful tradition, don't want to be occupied?

(Note: I have been informed that the Russians are back in Afghanistan, via a veteran who recently returned from that theater. Most frighteningly, when asked about the Russian presence in the only web research 'hit' I've found so far, the ever-parsing State Department Spokesperson stated this spring, "There are no Russians in Afghanistan, today." Note the "today." The Russians, it is no secret albeit under-reported, are massed along the Afghan border, ostensibly to keep the "Jihadists" from entering the former Soviet Union -- Russia doesn't border Afghanistan, of course. The vet's story was horrific, more about it later).

The name of our operation? "Operation Mountain Thrust."

Hey, 'Operation Mount and Thrust' is a porn movie title. And in the political pornography of this braggadocio of bullies (as in a covey of quail, a pod of dolphins, etc.), I don't think it's an accident. They might have thunk it up subconsciously, but I think they noticed. Too bad the media hasn't.

But it sure as heck is the kind of "Macho" sort of bluster that a bunch of draft-dodging chickenhawks would come up with, don't you think?
posted 2:44 PM

And, finally, here is a very clear warning about what was at stake, historically: both for the U.S.A. and the Afghans:
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I read a lot as a kid -- not just books, but periodicals as well. Because I read TIME magazine, I noticed a story on the ore-ship the Edmund Fitzgerald, and noticed again several months later when Gordon Lightfoot turned that story into a song that's seemingly become a classic. I like the song, so it's a happy story.

But there is a horror in this line of inquiry as well. My parents subscribed to READERS DIGEST, which I always found rather trite, but I'd browse them for the three or four stories that might actually be interesting to me.

And there was one of those punchline stories, the low-rent version of O. Henry about a fellow getting out of prison and ashamed to return to his hometown. I read the story and thought it was syrupy and corny and tried to forget it, focusing instead on "I Am Joe's Philtrum" before setting that issue down forever.

About a year later, I heard a dreadful tin-pan-alley song on the top-40 radio that dominated the airwaves. After deciding that the song was awful as music, I realized that it was that same dumb story about the convict.

I hoped that it would go away. But I was horribly, awfully wrong. It did not go away. It became a big hit. And for nearly a year, I would have to plug my ears whenever that dreadful ditty polluted my acoustical environment.

And then, for years, it went away.

But no, the performers got their own TV show, and don't cha know? they ALWAYS sang that awful song based on that awful story to conclude the show.

They were finally, mercifully, cancelled.

And more years of bliss.

But then, the Ayatollah Khomeni returned to Iran, after years of exile in Paris. And the Shah was deposed, with the greatest high-tech arsenal in the Middle East falling into the hands of the Revolutionaries, and our Embassy staff was taken hostage for 444 days.

ABC News began a nightly newscast, marking the days that the hostages had been held. This newscast was anchored by Ted Koppel, and it's run, from that time, for twenty five years now.

That song came back during Koppel's first year on Nightline. Some addled Midwestern couch potato had remembered it, and for some reason, it became the "anthem" for our collective national hope that the hostages would soon be returned.

And I began to understand that "Tie A Yellow Ribbon ('Round The Old Oak Tree)" had purposely and malevolently dogged me from the first moment that I read it. It passed into cornball Valhalla. When the first Gulf War was fought in '90-'91, it became permanently enshrined as some kind of patriotic song of homecoming, and either Americana has horrifically poor taste, else I am opaque to the muses of the rubes.
Americana, who art in the Heartland
Hollywood be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be dumb,
On Earth as it is in Peoria
And I was struck, staring at a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of an SUV -- with a "Bush-Cheney 04" sticker leering derisively from the window -- that Koppel's Nightline career started with our utter incapacity for understanding the peoples of Persia and Babylon, and a quarter century later, we STILL have no real understanding.

We've managed to establish an Islamic Republic in Iraq, and, for the first time since that hostage crisis, Iran is a regional power again, politically, religiously, militarily. And, soon, atomically.

How had that yellow ribbon dithered so disastrously since it was first tied for returning embassy hostages a quarter century ago?

At the time, Iran was our "great friend" and grand ally, with our latest tanks, guns and fighter jets in the happy Shah of Iran's armed-to-the-teeth forces. Saudi Arabia were friends, but we had the "central square" in the great cold war game of chess in the Middle East.

And then it went south. All those U.S. lend-lease aircraft and weapons were in the hands of the Ayatollah's incomprehensible fanatics. We were thrilled by (and secretly backed, with the USSR) Iraq's eight-year-long war with Iran.

We chuckled to ourselves at the Soviet Union's quagmire in Afghanistan, as we watched their nation slowly churn a death odometer after a rapid conquest. They had laughed at us over Vietnam, and now we were watching them slowly bleeding in Afghanistan, whose holy warriors, the "Mujahadeen" were amply financed and stealthily supplied with the latest hand-held stinger missiles by us.

So how did it get to this? We occupy Afghanistan AND Iraq, the former Mujahadeen are now Al Qaeda, Iran has more influence within Shia-majority Iraq than they ever had before, and, seemingly, the Shia-Shia bond may be stronger than old blood feuds between two nations that spent a huge chunk of the 1980s slaughtering each other. Or perhaps not.

But that Yellow Ribbon is on just about every other bumper now, and we've got 170,000 troops hostage to Iraq and Afghanistan, with no date in sight for their release, repatriation and all those bands playing that awful song.

So, it must be a weird feeling for Ted Koppel to sign off after a quarter century, still covering the top story, which seems to be about our foreign policy blundering in old Mesopotamia and Persia.


Even that awful song may finally pass away before we manage to get this one right, it seems. Good grief.


Monday, February 26, 2007

A Clarification Without Correction

Received the following email on today's blog entry:

On 2/26/07, **** wrote:

a few words got left out. I remember when AP first started sending stories on punch tape so that Linotype machines could set the text in hot type without a need for human intervention. Same typos appeared from coast to coast.

With rare exception, could our national press corps be any more self-regarding, empty, corrupt and worthless? --Glenn Greenwald
To which I replied:

You don't need to quote my own words back to me. I got it the FIRST time. :-)

[quoting myself] The point is NOT that "Gary Gentile" elided part of the quote. Typos happen all the time -- especially on deadline. No: It's that NO ONE in the proofreading process, either at AP, or around the world NOTICED IT!

That's how we get our news.
Let me elaborate: I have been concerned for some time about the manner in which our newspapers are becoming satellite radio stations -- all coverage comes from a central, sloppy source.

This was the perfect example to kick off that discussion.

What is at issue is that every newspaper involved had someone who watched the Oscars, and every newspaper involved might have LOOKED at what they were printing before posting it. But they're not even proofreaders anymore, let alone journalists.

Can we really AFFORD that? Is THAT the MSM that increasingly and reflexively slams bloggers? That calls OUR veracity into question?

And sloppy "Gary Gentile" (a name I don't believe for a minute) becomes the ONLY voice of record. This afternoon, I had great fun noticing how many "news" writers' "original" pieces mindlessly quoted the AP elide, as well. *

Plagiarism Über Alles.


Never before have we had so many outlets for news, and yet, paradoxically, never before have we had fewer sources of news.


* see Playfuls.com which reminds me of the old "cheating by looking at the other guy's test paper" and getting caught because the student repeated the idiotic mistakes as well.

Speaking Of The Catamite Press*

[*See yesterday's blog, Oscar Über Alles]

The pathetic boobs who keep dissing blogs for their "lack of standards" put their whole, corrupt, creaky system of "NEWS" on display last night in reporting Al Gore's Oscar (OK, the Oscar won by Guggenheim, et al for the DOCUMENTARY on Al Gore). The mindless xerox machine of a world press allows imbecilic mistakes sorely lacking in professionalism to be broadcast around the world without anyone NOTICING the idiocy. Where we used to have any number of reporters, increasingly, it's the AP hack assigned whose story becomes the ONLY historical record of major events. And this is merely symptomatic.

From the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune (whose headline was identical to the Indianapolis Star's pseudo-Variety style headline -- increasingly, the HEADLINE is the ONLY piece of the newspaper that was written in town; the rest is straight off the all-but-monopoly Associated Press):

Gore's Global Warming Doc Wins Oscar
Monday, February 26, 2007

LOS ANGELES - "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary that turned former vice president Al Gore's power-point presentation on global warming into an engaging and entertaining film, won the Oscar Sunday night...

"My fellow Americans," Gore said to laughter from the crowd. "People all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a political issue, it's a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started with the possible will to act. That's a renewable resource. Let's renew it."

Doesn't anything about that statement, er, BOTHER you? Like, NOT MAKE SENSE? (Or, are you one of those Republican brainwashing victims who believed the phony quote about Gore saying he "invented the internet"? -- another garbled quote, albeit intentionally garbled.)

Here is the ACTUAL transcript of Gore's 'acceptance' speech (courtesy of Grist.com)

Thank you. I want to thank Tipper and my family. I want to thank the Academy and everyone on this amazing team.

My fellow Americans ... [audience laughs]

People all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a political issue; it's a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That's a renewable resource -- let's renew it.

And that's what I heard. But AP reporter "Gary Gentile" managed to send out his mangled quote (and it's obviously mangled to anyone who heard it) and HUNDREDS of newspaper editors around the USA and around the world didn't notice it, and printed an ungrammatical, UNathoritative bit of lower-than-amateur journalism! One is surprised they spelled Gore's name right.

And, if they had bothered to read the Washington Post writer William Booth's piece (reprinted in the SF Chronicle yesterday), Al was PRE-quoted, so it can't be that DIFFICULT.

... "AIT," as Team Gore calls it, is also the hot pick for Best Documentary, and if its director, Davis Guggenheim, wins an Oscar, he plans to bring Gore along with him to the stage to accept the golden statuette and perhaps say a few words about ... interstitial glacial melting? (More likely, Gore will deliver a favorite line about "political will being a renewable resource.") ...

So, here's a very partial listing of The DUMBASS Honor Roll (for watching the damned thing on TV, and not noticing that the quote was garbled, and incoherent, but going ahead and printing it mindlessly, anyway):

  • Guardian Unlimited, England
  • San Francisco Chronicle, California
  • Indianapolis (Indiana) Star
  • Kansas City Star, Missouri
  • Miami Herald, Florida
  • Forbes Online
  • Chandler News-Dispatch, Minn.
  • Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio
  • Business Portal 24 (press release), Germany
  • San Jose Mercury News, California
  • The Hindu, India
  • WJLA, Washington DC
  • Jordan Falls News, Iowa
  • Bismarck Tribune, N. Dakota
  • Brocktown News, Nevada
  • Carlisle Sentinel, Pennsylvania
  • Foster's Daily Democrat, N. Hampshire
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Penn.
  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Florida
  • The Columbian, Washington State
  • Sabah, Turkey (English Language Edition)
  • San Luis Obispo Tribune, California
  • Denver Post, Colorado
  • Fox News (everywhere)
and, finally,

  • The Washington Post, Washington, DC

[Your dead gopher 'awards' will be arriving in the mail, so watch for them, newspaper types!]

GreenPrices, Netherlands and News24, South Africa got the quote right (not on the AP feed, of course), as did the Cybercast News Service (formerly the Conservative News Service). Hell, even the Budapest Business Journal, Hungary got the quote right. But the 'mainstream' newspapers of America excelled at what they're best at these days: acting comatose.

An evil little toad at the NY POST named Ian Bishop did some weird things to the quote, (because he's a Rupert Murdoch employee, porobably), but got it correct anyway, even though he's a Rupert Murdoch employee.

Oh. The "cute" headline was from AP, since Akron, Indianapolis, Casper, etc. all quote it. So not even that much was locally generated. Newspapers are getting to be like satellite radio stations: all from faceless central programming, with virtually nothing "local" about them.

"We have everything we need to get started with the possible will to act," doesn't parse. Period.

The point is NOT that "Gary Gentile" elided part of the quote. Typos happen all the time -- especially on deadline. No: It's that NO ONE in the proofreading process, either at AP, or around the world NOTICED IT!

That's how we get our news.

And that's the way it is, Monday, February 6th, two thousand and seven.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Über Alles

Well, I have to thank the Academy.

They've finally realized that Dream of the Schuberts and the Theatrical moguls of New York:

The writer is no more.

When the "author" of the best original screenplay (who "had to quit his job as Matthew Broderick's personal assistant," according to the Oscar trivia voice-over) thanks his family for "the funnest" time he ever had, we know that the primacy of the word has ended.

You see, the theater people of Broadway always hated the influence and power over productions that playwrights had on the stage, and when Hollywood was aborning, it was resolved that the writer would never be better than a second class citizen.

And, as a writer, I watch in rapt awe as they insulted us in every way, letting us know that movies had almost achieved the grand coup of the publishers: writing without authors; the word without the scrivener. Just celebrity. Just sad little monkeys having the "funnest" time imaginable.

I tried to ignore the many multiple named screenplay nominations (hint: there are virtually NO screenplays written collaboratively). I tried not to think of the endless parade of serial hacks brought in to gang-rape each script. And no, what was written isn't what ended up on the screen, so it's really not germane here.

What was sad was the poor "best adaptation" screenwriter (from a Japanese flick, BTW, not a literary source of any sort) made some long bullshit toadying speech about how no writer works alone, and it's a collaborative gig, etc.

Fuck that. You write alone, baby. You are born alone and you die alone, and you WRITE alone, and that takes as much courage as either of the aforementioned. Try it sometime, if you don't believe me.

I will cheerfully admit that writing in Hollywood requires endless abilities to schmooze, take lunches and submit cheerfully to the intellectual equivalent of forced sodomy ("My girlfriend read your script, and she's got this GREAT idea...."). But he WROTE alone.

In the beginning was the word, inconvenient as that truth may be. One day, I had hoped, we would remember that. But no: aside from a creepy little "reading the screenplay" device, we were assured that the vain monkeys who speak our words are MUCH more important, and much smarter than we who toil in this unseen mine, quarrying the human heart, slaving long and lonely hours for a few paragraphs of truth.

It ain't the funnest profession around, granted.

But we aren't chopped liver. And we deserve some shred of dignity. Certainly moreso than I saw tonight. Now, I only bring this up because the catamite press will flood the world with their turgid prose tommorrow, and what will be important in all of this will be why Beyonce wore THAT designer and not THAT designer. And who had the best and worst dresses.

In the beginning was the word, but in the end there's just shit.

I watched the "montage" of a bunch of phony actors pretending to be writers in the movies, the movies' idea of what a writer is: the final erasure of the playwright from cinema. All that is left is actors pretending to be writers. I was reminded of when Johnnie Carson had enough mojo with NBC to cut the Tonight Show from 90 minutes to an hour, so that he wouldn't have to have any more "boring" writer interviews.

And I thought of the "Daily Show" and the "Colbert Report" whose interviews are almost exclusively with "authors" who are almost exclusively personalities and actors who are, at best, the alleged writers of the books in question.

And I thought of how pleased the Broadway types of an earlier era would be, knowing that the place of the writer, of literacy, of letters in our society had finally been relegated to that spot usually reserved for trained monkeys.

Except that I realized that trained monkeys are inherently more entertaining, and in a visual medium, writers would only be trotted out as substitutes for the chimps as a matter of scheduling or budget.

Dumbasses über alles.

It is appropriate, perhaps, that Martin Scorcese won his 'best director' Oscar at last, considering that Scorcese has been on a one-man crusade (he's in EVERY documentary ever made on film, you might note) to plant the notion that literacy in having watched a lot of movies is THE SAME THING as literacy in having read a lot of books.

[Hint: I've done BOTH, and there is no comparison. A mediocre book is as good as a great movie, and always more challenging intellectually.]

So, all hail the pretenders, the phonies and the dumbasses. All hail the Illiterati, of Hollywood and New York.

Oscar über alles.

I had the funnest time watching my profession laid out as an object for ridicule.


[*And yeah, this is a first draft, like most of my stuff. Forgive the typos, but the Oscar spectacle ain't worth a "polish."]