Patricia Relf (Hanavan) sent this alternative by Will Durst for getting through the president's infomercial: A State of the Union Drinking Game. Pat reckons she'll be blotto by paragraph three:

"1. Whenever George W mentions the liberation of the freedom-loving Iraqi people, the last person to grab his throat in a choking motion has to drink four shots of beer.

"2. Whenever George W uses the words: "God," "America" or "jobs," drink a shot of beer.

"3. Whenever George W mispronounces the word "terrorism" the last person to knock on wood drinks two shots of beer."

Myself, I'm going to drink coffee and watch the Minnesota/Colorado hockey game. My first encounter with such things was the "X-Files" drinking game. You had to take a drink every time there was a flashlight scene, more than enough to make you recite Chaucer and start singing the Clancy Brothers. Then I'd start drinking because Gillian Anderson got married and had someone else's baby and to think that I used to run five miles past her high school every day when I was going to Aquinas College and living on Heritage Hill in Grand Rapids... Ah, well it's just as well we never met, as people who date actresses probably get what they deserve, and college guys dating goth high school girls is kind of creepy, and Dana Scully was just a character... well, you can see why the X-Files Drinking Game was not a good idea for someone of my temperment. I was in shape and still had all my hair, but it was Just Sad.

The Truth, as they say, Is Out There, and Mulder, Scully and Diogenes himself will have trouble finding it tonight. I want to listen to the State of the Union speech, I really do, but it has become such a contrivance (from both parties) that you'd find more sincerity watching the Essence Awards.

Here's a nifty picture by Jean Leon Gerome : Diogenes lighting his Truth seeking lantern, while faithful pups attend him at the tub he lived in after losing all his money.

UPDATE: Ana Marie Cox, the original Wonkette, is saving our shaky hold on sanity with a couple more drinking games and in vino veritas live coverage of the president's speech:
"9:18 PM “but some men rage and fight against freedom.” to them i say, welcome to the us department of justice. ...
"9:31 PM America respects Iran, except when we don’t. We expect someday to be the closest of friends, because we’d like to fuck you. ...
"9:34 PM “Based on the authority given to me by Congress and by statute.” Right. When is someone going to point out that the post 9/11 act is like the clown car of presidential authority? All these rights keep pouring out."

Fayard Nicholas, 1914- January 26, 2006

Fayard Nicholas has passed away at the age of 91, the last of the Nicholas Brothers. His brother Harold died in 2000.
They were billed as "The Show Stoppers!" with an exclamation point at the Cotton Club in 1932, and that is not hyperbole but simple fact. If you have never seen them-- the "Jumpin' Jive" routine in "Stormy Weather" is a good place to start-- put it on your list of things to do at least once in your life. You will gasp without finding words to describe your wonder. Their dance is graceful and explosive at the same time, a celebration of the body's... I give up, I can't describe it either. They described it themselves as "classical tap". They were the best that ever was.


If you have no desire to waste time trying to find a shred of truth in Bush's State of the Union speech, Steve Clemons and the Washington Note is sponsoring a conference called "Real State of U.S. Foreign Policy 2006". C-SPAN will broadcast it live Monday on C-SPAN 3, and I presume will be running it on C-SPANs 1 and 2 in days to come.

Wesley Clark will give the keynote, and a lot of people with impressive credentials will try and describe that pesky reality this administration finds so troublesome.

Jefferson delivered his State of the Union to congress in a letter. I assume it contained some hypocrisy but not so much dissembling as Bush employs. The man simply has no truth in him.
[UPDATE: Given a chance to justify himself on "Face the Nation" on January 29, he still insists that the NSA only listens to Al-Qaeda associates (how does he know this?), he ignores the existing law that gives him three days to get a proper warrant after the fact, and finally tells us that he can't explain this without giving away secrets that will help the enemy. Huh? I repeat: the man has no truth in him.]

“(You) believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
--Unnamed senior adviser to President G.W Bush, summer of 2002, reported by Ron Suskind

See Also: Jekyll & Hyde President , Why They Voted for Hamas ,Meddlin' Kids ,NeoCon Blogging , Someone Please Give Him a Blowjob so We Can Impeach Him , The Worms Turn , Is Edward D. Wood Jr. George Bush's New Speechwriter?, Doublespeak Finalists, Our Troubled Relationship with the Truth


The White House has bamboozled the Abramoff prosecution with a ju-jitisu move so greasy it's admirable. This was done not not by firing the investigators, but by promoting the prosecutor in charge of the case to a federal judgeship. Now that's good old fashioned politics!

Thoreau said "read not the times, but the eternities." I say read the Times, the eternities, and Hecht and MacArthur's script for "His Girl Friday", aka "The Front Page":

How much do you make a week?


(impatiently) How much do you make a week? What's your salary?

(reluctantly) Forty dollars.

(into phone) No -- don't out me off.

How would you like to have a job for three hundred and fifty dollars a month. That's almost a hundred dollars a week!

Who? Me?

(exasperated) Who do you think!

Pinkus is a little startled; the Mayor hastens to adopt a
milder manner.

Now, listen. There's a fine opening for a fellow like you in the City Sealer's office.

The what?

The City Sealer's office!

You mean here in the city?

(foaming) Yes, yes!

(at phone) Well, wait a minute, will you? I'm in conference.

(a very deliberate intellect) No, I couldn't do that.

Why not?

I couldn't work in the city. You see, I've got my family in the country.

(desperate) But you could bring 'em in here! We'll pay all your expenses.

(with vast thought) No, I don't think so.

For heaven's sake, why not?

I got two kids going to school there, and if I changed them from one town to another, they'd lose a grade.

No, they wouldn't -- they'd gain one! And I guarantee that they'll graduate with highest honors!

(lured) Yeah?

(into phone) Hold your horses -- will you, Olsen? Hurry up, Fred!

Now what do you say?

This puts me in a peculiar hole.

No, it doesn't. (hands him the reprieve) Now, remember: you never delivered this. (rushing him to the door) You got caught in the traffic, or something. (opening door) Now, get out of here and don't let anybody see you.

But how do I know...?

Come in and see me in my office tomorrow. What's your name?


(taking out his wallet) All right, Mr. Pinkus, all you've got to do is lay low and keep your mouth shut. Here! (he hands him a card) Go to this address. It's a nice, homey little place, and they'll take care of you for the night. Just tell 'em Fred sent you. And here's fifty dollars on account.

He pushes money into Pinkus's hand and pushes him through
the door. Pinkus goes.

(into phone, desperately) Will you wait, Olsen? I'll tell you in a minute!

The door opens again and Pinkus comes back in.

You forgot to tell me what a City Sealer has to do.

(turning hastily toward Pinkus) I'll explain it tomorrow!

Is it hard?

No! It's easy -- it's very easy!

(pleadingly, into phone) Just one second --

That's good, because my health ain't what it used to be.

(pushing him out the door) We'll fix that, too. (he closes the door after him)

From The New York Times, Friday 27 January 2006:
"The investigation of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist, took a surprising new turn on Thursday when the Justice Department said the chief prosecutor in the inquiry would step down next week because he had been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Bush.

"The prosecutor, Noel L. Hillman, is chief of the department's public integrity division, and the move ends his involvement in an inquiry that has reached into the administration as well as the top ranks of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.

".... Mr. Hillman's departure from the Justice Department creates a vacancy at the top of the Abramoff inquiry only three weeks after Mr. Abramoff, once one of the city's most powerful Republican lobbyists and a major fund-raiser for Mr. Bush, announced his guilty plea and agreed to testify against others, possibly including members of Congress.

".... Colleagues at the Justice Department say Mr. Hillman has been involved in day-to-day management of the Abramoff investigation since it began almost two year ago. The inquiry, which initially focused on accusations that Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees, is being described within the department as the most important federal corruption investigation in a generation...."

See also Demons Delayed, Lifeguard Heads international Think Tank, et alia


A friend of James', a team leader, was killed last week by a suicide bomber.

They're guarding a hydroelectric dam, not much safer than his old job of banging down doors with bolt cutters and a shotgun; the dam is a stationary target, and the advantage of surprise belongs to the attacker.

If you're new to this blog, family friend James Whelan signed up with the Marines after the September 11 attacks and is on his third tour of combat duty in Iraq. He is second from right in the wire photo here. The current (Saturday morning) cost of the war in Iraq is $236,892,800,000 and counting. The cost for a nation that feeds its young to the mother sow Death, all for the sake of a foolish Texan's vanity project, I leave up to you.

See also AP story with James, Bush Broke It, You Bought It, Kipling's Choice, Suspicious Death of Colonel Theodore Westhusing , Scylla and Charybdis in Iraq, Kipling on Blowback, Self-Delusion and Truth, others


[Preliminary from AP: "Hamas leaders are claiming Hamas had won about 70 seats, enough for a majority in the 132-seat parliament. ... Officials with Fatah also said that Hamas had won about 70 seats, which would give the Islamists a majority in the 132-seat parliament."]

I'm surprised that anyone is surprised. After years of corruption and killing every moderate in the hemisphere, there's no one left alive but radicals.

We've seen this again and again in history, from Revolutionary France to Batista's Cuba to Somoza's Nicaragua to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and still entrenched power reacts to this news like Aunt Pittypat at the ball, clutching their chests and swooning.

"Your explanation depresses me," I said.
"Your nonsense depresses me," said Simple.
(Langston Hughes, "Bop")


Slayage 18 (a scholarly study of Joss Whedon's work) has an excerpt from a compelling title: Blood Relations: Chosen Families in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel by Jes Battis. This is a theme I'd overlooked, but of course it's there: even the core biological family, Joyce and Buffy, is abandoned by the father, embraces Dawn, and adopts strays like Xander and Spike. (Often to comic effect: as with Xander's erotic fantasies about Joyce, or Joyce in the kitchen with Spike the creature of the night, discussing their favorite soap opera, "Passions".)

I often hear abuse victims express hatred of their blood families, and sometimes reassure them that if they survive to adulthood, their "real" family, their second father, mother, brothers and sisters will be chosen by them. It's often struck me how many historical figures I admire, Churchill and R.F. Burton, start as outsiders to their family or nation and then later are called back to redeem the conformist members of the tribe. Some, like Churchill, build "chosen" families around themselves. Interesting that Whedon is now writing X-Men, another series about an "chosen" or "assembled" family of outsiders.

(Churchill was so broke in the 1930's-- he wouldn't shut up about Hitler-- that after making a speech in Grand Rapids, he had to be smuggled out of town by the pastor of Fountain Street Church, and paid as he was getting on the train-- otherwise the creditors would have taken his fee before he could send it home to his family.)

Here are some excerpts from Battis' "Demonic Maternities, Complex Motherhoods: Cordelia, Fred, and the Puzzle of Illyria":

". ...What begins as a derision towards human cultural customs on Illyria's part develops, over time, into a knowledge gap that frustrates her, just as Fred's social awkwardness was a site of both frustration and desire in that it forced her to watch from the outside, to linger, a bit like Angel himself, looking in on the warm human dynamics of an extended family she didn't quite know how to penetrate. Illyria's outsiderness, although it manifests itself as icy posturing and imperialism-writ-large, is no less predicated on loneliness than was Fred's...

". ...There is a moment, before Fred dies, when Spike, gazing at the Deeper Well which leads all the way to the center of the earth, observes that "there's a hole in the world. Feels like we ought to have known." In truth, both have known that hole, and known it intimately—both have felt Buffy's death, grieved for her, and then come to accept her return in unique ways. But this is a different sort of hole. This is the staggering possibility that someone, a loved someone, could disappear and not come back—or come back wrong...

". ... When Wesley first speaks to Illyria, she is astonished at his boldness. "I thought the humans would have long died out by now" ("Shells," 5016) she says, duplicating the demonic hubris—and critical underestimation of human resilience—that many creatures before her on Buffy and Angel have been guilty of. Wesley tries to use this arrogance against her, telling her that "humans rule the earth. . . crying and sweating and puking their feelings all over you. Go back. Sleep." But, as with future conversations that she will have with Wesley, Illyria sees through his attempts at deception. It does not take long for Illyria to become a version of Cordelia, giving everyone the cold and honest truth whether they want it or don't. Unlike Cordelia, however, who knows who she is and what she has to do, Illyria is directionless. She is actually in much the same position that Buffy was in when she first returned from the grave, not knowing what is expected of her, not understanding what she's supposed to say or do, and experiencing the world as a kind of assault. Buffy describes her waking life as "hard and bright and violent" ("Afterlife," 6003), and Illyria describes it as "too small. . . it's too small. I can't breathe" ("Underneath," 5017).

See also Deconstructing Wesley, The Stone the Builders Rejected: Col. Ted Westhusing, The Stone the Builders Rejected: Susie Scott, Musical Playlist for Giles and Wesley


For weeks now I've been trying to puzzle my way through the language of the Johnson, NIxon, and Clinton articles of impeachment. Maybe someday I'll understand why Bush remains, well, unimpeachable.

Now some uncredited genius has used the power of the Church Sign Generator to explain in one short phrase why the Congress hesitates:
(Brought to public awareness by Eric Pfeiffer at Wonkette)

The mills of the gods grind slow, but I'm told that they grind exceedingly small.

See also Meddling Kids, Don't Question Me, Too Many Changes, You Stupid Earth People! Your Stupid Minds!, Ming the Merciless, Accidental Truth


"Over 120,000 private contractors are preparing the food, fueling the planes, and protecting the pipelines and generals in Iraq."

Naive question of the week, prompted by "Frontlines" episode "Private Warriors" on PBS:

Don't the security and diplomatic headaches caused by subcontracting military duties FAR outweigh any savings?

See also Yay, Torture!, Third Combat Tour in Iraq, Kipling: "Gods of the Copybook Headings" et alia

Art by Frank Quitely

From left to right: Death, Destiny, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Delirium and Despair, the cast of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series as drawn by the artist Frank Quitely.

I first saw Quitely's work on "New X-Men", where bless him, he took most of the cast off steroids, made Scott "Slim" Summers again, and gave Emma Frost the cheekbones of my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Anderson.

Quitely's art and Grant Morrison's script for the anti-vivisection story "We3" was so wrenching that I had to keep it from my friends. It is correctly described as a 'heartbreaking adventure', and I still can't forgive Morrison for the brave death of Pirate-- doubly painful for those of us who know how aggressive and plucky a rabbit can be-- can he not be saved?

All this is to lead you art junkies to Drawn: the Illustration Blog, from there to Horhaus and a podcast of an interview with Frank Quitely at his studio in Glasgow. Friendly shop talk for working artists and a Glaswegian accent for everyone else.

See also "Signifying Monkey" (anti-cruelty story), Fantasy Artists, Children of Fortune, Bill Griffith et alia

'Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don't forget.'

The Supreme Court may grant the human animal the same consideration we would give a dying pet. Twice the people of Oregon have voted to let doctors prescribe a lethal dose of drugs for mentally competent, terminally ill patients who are within six months of dying. Those patients could then decide themselves whether or not to end their own lives. There were provisions to protect depressed patients from themselves (phew) and to save the wealthy elderly from over-anxious heirs.

Then the nipple-fearing Ashcroft and the mealy-mouth Gonzales decided that helping someone commit suicide by prescribing a narcotic would violate the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and that assisting with a suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose." If you use a baseball bat or a concrete overpass, that's your business. Just don't ask for anything certain and painless. Thanks for your help!

Today Diana Ross, excuse me, John Roberts and the Supremes voted 6-3 against the Attorney General in Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Ashcroft v. Oregon). What happens now depends on who you ask. National Review even dug up the corpse of John Calhoun to equate Oregon's law with "state nullification" and Calhoun's defense of slavery.

See also: Supreme Court: The Kelo Decision


"No one can have a higher opinion of him than I have," W.S. Gilbert once said of an old friend, "and I think he is a dirty little beast."

"I’m in total disagreement with her [Hillary Clinton] on Iraq. It all has to do, in my judgment, with the post-Vietnam image the Democrats got of being weak on defense. So they all had to prove their muscularity by voting for this [Iraq war] resolution. I think this was all wrong. We are a republic. We are not an empire. And this is an imperial policy."
-- Gary Hart in New York Times Magazine, 1/8/06

Now independently wealthy, Jeremy Bentham made the most of his independence. He moved into a house in Westminster once occupied by poet John Milton. There he became something of a recluse and an eccentric. He named his teapot "Dickey," his walking-sticks "Dapple" and "Dobbin," and his cat "The Reverend Dr. John Langhorne.”

“For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
".... What we need is what the ancient Israelites called "hocma" - the science of the heart, the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you." -- Bill Moyers

Unretouched photos from Engrish dot com, a website that specializes in
very bad translations found in Asian advertising.

"I’ve worked with nearly fifty graduate students, and I feel confident saying that not a single one has possessed Derek’s raw talent, his courage, or his willingness to write about the scary stuff that most people refuse to look in the eye. It’s safe to call Derek a "dark" writer. His stories are relentless and terrifying, despite the fact that he writes about the mundane — about manual labor and emotional exhaustion and bad relationships and the like. He’s an innovator, a sorcerer with a sentence and a writer with a vision. In short, he’s not what MFA programs are looking for." – David Hollander on a rejected MFA applicant

Well, the future hasn't quite turned out as Orwell feared, but it's pretty damn close. The British police have more than enough powers to make life very difficult for you if you choose to disagree with Mr. Blair. A woman was arrested in Downing Street recently for reading out the names of the Iraqi war dead; this was justified under the terms of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. And on the other side of the pond, Cousin George is busy phone-tapping everyone who thinks he's a fool; an exercise which should keep him busy for some time.
-- Michael Allen, “Grumpy Old Bookman” (blog)

From “A Man for All seasons” by Robert Bolt:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

Cardinal Wolsey: You're a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat-on, without that horrible moral squint... With a little common sense you could have made a statesman.


From The Onion:
PHOENIX, AZ—Ignoring the fact that they live in the middle of a God-forsaken alkali desert, residents continue to demand more water for their parched lawns and bleached-out swimming pools.
1/17/06 1:43 PM

"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return." --Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho), investigating the National Security Agency, 1975.

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.
--“How to Tell a True War Story,” by Tim O’Brien, in The Things They Carried

From an interview in GamePro magazine with the developers of the game “Saint’s Row”:

GamePro: Let's say I want to be a pimp. Do I have to go and find pimp-specific missions?

"Super-apes are never a bad idea. I want that phrase on my gravestone." – “Dave’s Long Box” (blog)

See Also Commonplace Book for December, Commonplace Book 1


"Mr. President, thank you very much. As I told you, we'd like to have some tough and challenging questions."

Transcript from the White House Office of the Press Secretary January 11, 2006, the president speaking at the Kentucky International Convention Center, Louisville, Kentucky:

THE PRESIDENT: How old are you?

Q Seven.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. That's good. (Laughter.)

Q How can people help on the war on terror?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's the hardest question I've had all day. (Laughter.) First of all, I expect there to be an honest debate about Iraq, and welcome it. People can help, however, by making sure the tone of this debate is respectful and is mindful about what messages out of the country can do to the morale of our troops. (Applause.) I fully expect in a democracy -- I expect and, frankly, welcome the voices of people saying, you know, Mr. President, you shouldn't have made that decision, or, you know, you should have done it a better way. I understand that. What I don't like is when somebody said, he lied. Or, they're in there for oil. Or they're doing it because of Israel. That's the kind of debate that basically says the mission and the sacrifice were based on false premise. It's one thing to have a philosophical difference -- and I can understand people being abhorrent about war. War is terrible. But one way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections, is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way, and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy. So that was a good question. Thank you. (Applause.)

See also Don't Question Me, Too Many Changes, You Stupid Earth People! Your Stupid Minds!, Ming the Merciless, Accidental Truth

FUCK Ironic Detachment

from HUMBOLDT'S GIFT by Saul Bellow:
"For some reason this awfulness is peculiarly appreciated by business and technological America. The country is proud of its dead poets. It takes terrific satifaction in the poets' testimony that the USA is too tough, too big, too much, too rugged, that American reality is overpowering. And to be a poet is a school thing, a skirt thing, a church thing. The weakness of the spiritual powers is proved in the childishness, madness, drunkenness, and despair of these martyrs. Orpheus moved stones and trees. But a poet can't perform a hysterectomy or send a vehicle out of the solar system. Miracle and power no longer belong to him. So poets are loved, but loved because they just can't make it here. They exist to light up the enormity of the tangle and justify the cynicism of those who say, 'If I were not such a corrupt, unfeeling bastard, creep, thief, and vulture, I couldn't get through this either. Look at those good and tender and soft men, the best of us. They succumbed, poor loonies.'"

Islands of Sanity: Driving Away Despair with Cartoonist Stephanie McMillan and E Network's "The Soup"

The "ironic" attitude of my generation towards suffering disgusts and drives me to despair. It has led to the lionization of "Sin City" and Saturday Night Live, to a self-preening "hipness" that is in fact no more than collaboration with evil, a homoerotic reacharound for Dick Cheney. It is not to be confused with dark humor, with redeeming laughter in the face of despair; it is indifference.
I am cheered by the emergence of cartoonists like Stephanie McMillan, who remembers what human beings are supposed to be like: human, and outraged by attacks on our humanity.Visit her website here for more., or e-mail her here if you want a cartoon sent to you every week.

Careless channel hopping should be avoided by depressives. The reigning culture of "reality"-TV, celebrity news, sadistic animation and Football is All We Can Talk About in Endless Permutations sometimes drives me under the covers with thoughts of suicide. Given the freedom to express and amuse ourselves, this is what Los Angeles and New York feeds and America swallows, Strasbourg gooses amusing themselves to death.

"The Soup" (formerly "Talk Soup") delivers the bittersweet news that you am not alone. I still miss Aisha Tyler, but Joel McHale has won me over, and the catcalls from the backstage guys-- they can't believe this shit either!-- restores my faith in humanity.

"TV producer Mark Burnett is developing a new reality show inspired by Touched by an Angel. It will be a quest to find the one reality-show contestant who doesn't deserve to go to hell."
"Paris Hilton may also be called to testify in a criminal case involving a two year old burglary. The district attorney's office says that Paris 'just happens to be a witness.' I hope the trial is televised. I don't care about the outcome, I just want to see what happens when Paris puts her hand on the Bible."
"Mick Jagger's daughter Lizzie has defended supermodel Kate Moss following her cocaine scandal, because 'everybody in England is taking the illegal drug.' When asked for comment, Queen Elizabeth went on a tangent about the first Blondie album for three hours."

See Also: Cheap Thrills 2005, Capitalism Stole My Virginity, Richard Pryor, If a Social Darwinist Dies, Should Any of Us Care?, Neo Monster Island 2005, Zippy the Pinhead and others

Abramoff Follies, Two: Demons DeLayed

Abramoff's circus was filled with former employees of the amoral Tom DeLay. According to DCEIVER at Wonkette, the house of cards began to fall when Mike Scanlon (DeLay alumni) was caught flaming it up with an attractive manicurist by his main squeeze Emily Miller (DeLay alumni), who in a rit of fealous jage dropped a dime on Scanlon, who then dropped a dime on Abramoff, who then...

It's been clear for some time that Thomas "I AM the federal government" DeLay is mad as a hatter. This is an incredibly powerful politician who could say things like: "it's never been proven that air toxins are hazardous to people". This is the man who said, in a debate on raising the minimum wage: "Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour [the minimum wage in 1996] are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist." And don't forget DeLay's explanation for not serving in Vietnam: "So many minority youths had volunteered that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like myself."

An alternate explanation-- one I favor-- is that Tom DeLay is demonically possessed. (See Robert Heinlein's story "Lost Legacy", collected in "Assignment in Eternity" for more information.) It is a source of wonder that the man has stayed in office longer than a week. The Texans I know have never voted for DeLay, and DeLay's skill at gerrymandering can only explain so much. It may be that Texans keep re-electing DeLay because they think he's funny, without realizing how damaging he is to the body politic. This is a state that still hasn't done the math on drunk driving, guns and fatalities, in a nation that thinks daytime TV will build responsible citizens.

Why oh why didn't we keep Texas out of the Union when we had the chance? Felt sorry for Sam Houston I suppose, and it all went for naught, since Houston died abandoned and disdained by his fellow Texans.

Jonathon Alter tells this story from 1995:
"I had heard a rumor about him (DeLay) that I figured could not possibly be true. The rumor was that after the GOP took control of the House that year, DeLay had begun keeping a little black book with the names of Washington lobbyists who wanted to come see him. If the lobbyists were not Republicans and contributors to his power base, they didn't get into "the people's House." DeLay not only confirmed the story, he showed me the book. His time was limited, DeLay explained with a genial smile. Why should he open his door to people who were not on the team?"

A Mr. Blunt looks to have the votes for replacing DeLay. Local swineherds are advised to keep their piggies away from cliffs for the next couple of weeks.

See Also: Vaudeville Part One, Masters of Morality, Don't Question Me, Popular Self Delusion, et alia

Abramoff and Scanlon: There’s Nothing Like Vaudeville, Part One

It’s a gray wet Wednesday, and everyone in DC is scrambling to give away the “gifts” they took from Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.
It seems that Abramoff has copped a plea, is naming names, and that has everyone as nervous as a whore in church.
We have to find our laughter where we can, and some was provided in a C-SPAN rerun of John McCain and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee from June 22, 2005.
It seems that the venal Abramoff and the wretched Scanlon were setting up fake corporations to launder the $66 million they scammed from Indian tribes. How low do you have to be to cheat an Indian tribe??? Here a friend of Scanlon’s explains how he became“director of a internationally respected think tank” :

MCCAIN: Mr. Grosh, you and Mr. Mann were designated as directors of the AIC, which was described in its own Web site as a, quote, "international think tank." It's a very interesting on its Web site. It's described as -- "The American International Center is a public policy research foundation founded in 2001 under the high-power directorship of David A. Grosh and Brian J. Mann.”
.... Mr. Grosh, I will begin with you. What did the AIC do?

GROSH: I was only involved maybe five months -- four or five months. The whole time I was involved, we rented the first floor of a house and installed some computers.

**** (omitted for length: Brian J. Mann invokes his Fifth Amendment rights not to answer.)

MCCAIN: Mr. Grosh, did you give Mr. Scanlon permission to put your name up on the AIC Web site?

GROSH: On the Web site, no.

MCCAIN: Did you give Mr. Scanlon permission to hold you out as a director for the AIC?


MCCAIN: Mr. Grosh, did the AIC conduct any board meetings?

GROSH: I recall one.

MCCAIN: And how long did that last?

GROSH: Fifteen minutes.

MCCAIN: Do you recall any business that was discussed at these board meetings?

GROSH: Off the top of my head, no. I'm sure we discussed something -- not to be glib.

MCCAIN: Mr. Mann, I think it says when these meetings took place, the extent of your role in the AIC at that time was cleaning the downstairs office space. Is that correct? [Mann repeatedly refuses to answer as is his right under the Fifth Amendment.] ....

MCCAIN: ... As far as you are concerned, Mr. Grosh, was this basically another Scanlon entity?

GROSH: Well, legally, no. It was Mr. Mann and -- he was calling the shots, sure.

MCCAIN: So were you really surprised when all this information started coming out that you were a director of a internationally respected think tank?

GROSH: Surprised, not really. The reason I got out of it when I found out it involved the federal government, Indian tribes and gambling, I knew that it was headed down the wrong way.

MCCAIN: Tell me how this all began, Mr. Grosh. Were you friends with Mr. Scanlon or...

GROSH: Yes, I've known Mr. Scanlon since I was about 14.

MCCAIN: And what happened? He approached you in some way.

GROSH: Phone call.

MCCAIN: And said?

GROSH: Do you want to be head of an international corporation?


A hard one to turn down.


MCCAIN: And at the time, were you living in Rehoboth Beach?

GROSH: Yes, sir.

MCCAIN: And Mr. Scanlon then informed you that your home would be the headquarters or did you...

GROSH: Actually, at that point, no, there was no headquarters.

MCCAIN: Well, tell me -- could you tell me just the sequence of events that took place after that?

GROSH: I asked him what I had to do, and he said, "Nothing." So that sounded pretty good to me.


And then he -- I'm trying to think how it all happened. He came by. We spoke about it. And at the time, I was like, "Yes, sure," but not really taking it seriously.

And then he had me sign some papers and then we went to a -- I met him here in D.C. and we took over the bottom of the house I was living in.

MCCAIN: Did you receive compensation for this role?


MCCAIN: And your background -- is a very honorable one -- I understand as a lifeguard, is that correct?

GROSH: Among other things. I'm not a lifeguard anymore. No.

MCCAIN: And could you give us a little resume as some of your background.

GROSH: Right now, I'm a excavator -- machine operator, construction worker, mentor in pre-schools, bartender and typical beach employment.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

And do you remember the extent of the compensation that you received from Mr. Scanlon, roughly?

GROSH: No more than $2,000, $2,500.

MCCAIN: A month?

GROSH: No, total.

MCCAIN: Total.

Did Mr. Scanlon promise you any fringe benefits?

GROSH: Well, I don't know if this is related to the AIC. We went to a Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game.

Grosh’s opening statement was two sentences long: “I’m embarrassed and disgusted to be a part of this whole thing, The Lakota Indians have a word, washichu , which aptly describes all of us right now.”

Washichu, depending on whom you ask, either means “white man” or “he who steals all the fat.” Maybe both.


From an unsigned editorial in the Oakland Tribune December 23rd:

".... We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell.
"To that end, we're asking for your help: Mail us or drop off your tattered copies of "1984." When we get 537 of them, we'll send them to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate and to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"Feel free to inscribe the book with a note, reminding these fine people that we Americans take the threat to our liberties seriously. Remind Congress that it makes no sense to fight a war for democracy in a foreign land while allowing our democratic principles to erode at home.
"Remind President Bush that ours is a country of checks and balances, not unbridled power. Perhaps our nation's leaders can find some truth in this fiction and more carefully ponder the road we're traveling.
"Bring or mail your books to the Oakland Tribune, 401 13th St., Oakland CA 94612. Doors are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m."

I finally replaced my rummage sale, falling apart copy of "1984" (BTW, anybody know how to underline or italicize text on Blogspot?) with a newer paperback. It shouldn't be that much trouble to do this directly.
Poor George Orwell/Eric Blair must keep spinning in his unquiet grave. Everyone wants to claim him. This is relatively easy to do, if you only read the parts that you want. Myself, I'm including him in The Lungers' Hall of Fame, a sort of Valhalla where I'll play cards with Blair, Doc Holliday, Dashiell Hammett, O'Neill, Proust, Mimi and Camille, and all the other tuberculars and asthmatics of history. Why do we cough so much? Because the world is suffocating us.

Personal Best of 2005

In spite the title, there are, alas, no naked pictures of Mariel Hemingway here, still a fine figure of a girl (forever younger than me, anyway.) An incomplete list of the best of what I read, saw, listened to, smelled, tasted or suspected this last year, in no particular order:
  • Three by Raymond Chandler: "The Long Goodbye"; "The Big Sleep"; "Farewell, My Lovely": Damn, he's good. I wasn't old enough to appreciate Chandler the first time I read him, being all agog with John D. MacDonald and Dashiell Hammett. Believe the cover hype, Chandler really did "write like a slumming angel" and "as if pain mattered". Chandler is also instructive to read for all the, excuse me, psychopathic Frank Milleresque punks who spew out imitatation noir: both Hammet and Chandler (and Ellroy, and Welles, and etc.) believed in certain things that they found discarded, degraded or abused by the fallen world. It's not just chiaroscuro lighting, asshole attitude, guignol gore, treacherous-yet-sexy women, small mean souls and boxes of bullets.
  • Jim Harrison, "True North": Jim Harrison's look at the clear-cutting of the Michigan wilderness and the family echoes of the crime. God forgive us, we were once the model for Longfellow's "forest primeval"; north of the line it ALL looked like Hartwick Pines. The hero is using up his life trying to transcend his evil ratfuck bastard ancestors.
  • Mary Renault, "The Nature of Alexander": a short biography that I read chapter by chapter like a good novel. Renault changed my opinion of Alexander, who I'd thought of before as a glamorous psychopath.
  • John M. Ford, "The Last Hot Time": Elves, EMTs and a kind of dreamlike gangland Chicago, can't be bad, as the British say. An innocent hero growing wiser with experience but not harder; the toughness was already there. Also a startling apologia for light bondage.
  • Alan Moore, "Promethea" (Volumes 1-5): Holy shit, is this an amazing series. I know Moore is good, no matter what he turns his hand to, managaing to be both funny and sad in the same page, but this time he does his best to make incredibly abstract concepts into funny, sad, involving concrete characters. And the art by JH Williams III is just as wonderful. A synopsis of the first few pages won't do it justice, but here goes: In the last years of the pagan world (around the time of the death of Hyapatia) an Alexandrine father saves his daughter from Christian fanatics by transforming her into a mythical/fictional/legendary archetype called Promethea. Throughout the ages, a series of people have inhabited the archetype with all the danger and glory that implies. There are also (this is typical in Moore) hundreds of little throway gags going on in the background, like the Weeping Gorilla and a politician with Multiple Personality Disorder who becomes possessed by demons (but no one notices).
  • John Lukacs, "Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred": a wonderfully written book about the dangers of populism. America is so busy congratulating itself about its triumphs over fascism and communism that we ignore-- or embrace-- "a dangerous and possibly irreversible-- populism.... the tyranny of the majority." Propaganda and publicity instead of thought and discourse, entertainment instead of knowledge, etc. How we got where we are since 1945, while amusing ourselves to death.
  • Lots of anecodtes and quotations from the personalities of the French Revolution, and a generation earlier, Voltaire as the flag bearer for religious freedom. Started with will and Ariel Duant's "Age of Napoleon" and working my way out from there.

    FILMS: (Not as many details given; films are overly publicized anyway.)
  • "Syrianna": I think a masterpiece; I'm envious of the writer's ability to present a picture of the modern web of oil, power and terrorism. It takes me years to fully comprehend current events enough to write about them; I'm just now catching up with the French Revolution and just finishing my nemeses-come-home-to-roost 9/11 novel.
  • "Secretary": Every hand has its glove somewhere. A Domme/Sub relationship blossoms into love. Horny, too.
  • "Last Orders": Cockneys fulfill their best mate's last request to scatter his ashes out to sea.
  • "El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil’s Backbone)": The best ghost story I've seen in many a moon. Child refugees from the Spanish Civil War, menaced in a haunted orphanage.
  • "Kung Fu Hustle": Watch it in Chinese with the subtitles on. All the tropes of the genre and more. At least watch the scene where Stephen Chow tries to assassinate the landlady with a throwing knife.

    Kenyan AA coffee, fresh ground from beans.
    Fresh French green beans as cooked by Josianne.
    Pinaud aperitif (the red).

  • Fanny Foo Fountain, Best Bunny
  • Cleo by-the-Sea-O, a Little Black Cat
  • Richard Pryor
  • Saul Bellow