Saturday, June 30, 2007

not-terribly-comforting statistics

not-terribly-comforting statistics

the chinese government, in the wake of the melamine food-adulteration scandal, closes 180 "errant" food-processing factories for offenses against food safety and mounts a PR offensive to communicate to the US press how comparatively safe chinese food imports are
In response, the Chinese government reacted at first with defiance and denial. It charged that U.S. authorities were exaggerating the risks, even suggesting that American authorities may be playing up the dangers to fan a backlash against China's imports because of trade disputes between the two nations.

But this week China shifted course by acknowledging problems and cracking down on errant factories, 180 of which were shuttered. At the same time, the Chinese government began to push back in more-sophisticated and nuanced ways, both in Beijing and in Washington.

In Washington, China's team of diplomats -- bulked up in recent years -- has been making almost daily trips to Capitol Hill to try to tamp down growing food-safety concerns and to push back against proposed legislation to pressure Beijing over its trade surplus with the U.S. Chinese diplomats also have begun briefing reporters and distributing fact sheets to try to argue that tainted Chinese products represent only a tiny portion of the country's sales to the U.S., and that the risks shouldn't be overblown.

"In certain quarters, people are trying to create a panic about Chinese products," a senior Chinese official said Thursday, during an unusual discussion with a small group of reporters.

Chinese officials used the occasion to pass around a three-page fact sheet, entitled "Chinese Food Exports Are Safe." The paper stated that last year, the Food and Drug Administration turned away less than 1% of the food shipments sent to the U.S. from China, a figure it said was slightly less than the Chinese refusal rate last year of food shipments from the U.S. "The quality rate of Chinese food exports are above 99%," the report said.

Well, that's a comfort, yes?

Well, no.
Just 1.3% of imported fish, vegetables, fruit and other foods are inspected — yet those government inspections regularly reveal food unfit for human consumption.


With only a minuscule percentage of shipments inspected, they say the nation is vulnerable to harm from abroad, where rules and regulations governing food production are often more lax than they are at home.

"FDA doesn't have enough resources or control over this situation presently," said Mike Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, which works with industry to improve safety.

Last month alone, FDA detained nearly 850 shipments of grains, fish, vegetables, nuts, spice, oils and other imported foods for issues ranging from filth to unsafe food coloring to contamination with pesticides to salmonella.

And that's with just 1.3% of the imports inspected. As for the other 98.7%, it's not inspected, much less detained, and goes to feed the nation's growing appetite for imported foods.


FDA inspections focus on foods known to be at risk for contamination, including fish, shellfish, fruit and vegetables. Food from countries or producers previously shown to be problematic also are flagged for a closer look.

Not really
Last year, inspectors sampled just 20,662 shipments out of more than 8.9 million that arrived at American ports. China, which in one decade has become the third-largest exporter of food, by value, to the United States, sent 199,000 shipments, of which less than 2 percent were sampled, former officials with the agency said.

Less than 2% of a specific subset of food imported from China was inspected last year.

1% of total chinese food imports were turned back.

I leave as an exercise for the reader how confident they should feel about the other 99 percent.

Amused: the WSJ article on this is accompanied by an online poll
Do you check the country origin when making everyday purchases? Share your thoughts.

Why this is amusing
Meat packers and other agribusinesses have formed a new lobbying coalition to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from requiring meat to be packaged with a country-of-origin label.

The group — the Meat Promotion Coalition — has hired a lobbying firm that specializes in agricultural issues to make the case on Capitol Hill that country-of-origin labeling is too costly to implement.

Cargill, Tyson Food, the National Cattlemen’s Association and the National Pork Producers Council are among the nine members of the new coalition, which hired the firm Lesher & Russell.

In a twist, the American Farm Bureau Federation, which had supported mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, is now part of the coalition.

Critics already succeeded in delaying the implementation of the labeling rule — which would enable consumers to see whether their meat was 100 percent homegrown — by attaching an amendment to an omnibus appropriations measure in 2003.


Meat packers and large agribusinesses oppose the rule because they want continued access to imported meat, which is often cheaper, without facing any potential penalty in the marketplace from consumers who may think American meat is safer, said Tom Buis, the chief lobbyist for the National Farmers Union, a group of 300,000 farm and ranch families that wants mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

That was 2005. This is now
Unless the law is changed, or eliminated, country-of-origin labeling (COOL) will be enforced on beef and pork sometime this fall. The law has been on the books since the implementation of the 2002 farm bill. Forces that fear its implications have managed to delay it and are now making a last push to kill the program and have Congress start over. No one is going to get out of this unscathed, from producer to packer, as we are witnessing another "good idea" in concept that ends up in a "regulatory quagmire" that may not really benefit anyone.

Guess the WSJ hasn't heard. They don't really keep up with import and regulation issues.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Nostalgia Just Ain't What It Used to Be

Many years ago, when I was in college, some friends who ran the college humor/literary 'magazine' (it was mimeographed, which tells you how long ago this was) did an issue with an enormous FUCK YOU on the cover. The provost, a preening martinet who was later forced to resign for misappropriating funds, confiscated all the copies. My friends went to a local ACLU lawyer, a veteran of the '60s, whose reaction was: "this is great--I haven't seen a FUCK YOU cover in years!"

On Wednesday, some guy who calls himself Mac Ranger--one of the dumbest wingnuts I've seen in a long time (seriously: he manages to misuse both rein and reign)--applauded Giuliani's flip-flop on Clinton, throwing in this bit of anachronistic idiocy:
Of course Clinton will beg to differ saying that his administration was actively trying to pork Monica, er, kill, Vince - er, Ron Brown…..hang on I’m thinking.

Well anyway during his administration they were killing a lot of things, just not Al Qaeda.
Yes, that's right: he actually linked to the 'Clinton Body Count'. Vince Foster...Monica Lewinsky...good times.

A lot of us are (reasonably) nostalgic for the '90s. So are the wingnuts, in their own way. It's impressive how many of the '9/11 changed everything' brigade think the '90s never ended.

[And with that, I'm signing off to go on my own vacation. Thanks again to Roger for the opportunity to post compliments to my fellow guest-bloggers...and for the rest of you, if you're in the neighborhood be sure to check out If I Ran the Zoo]

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Whiner of the Day: Ann Coulter

Watch the video.

John Aravosis is right:
She walks around calling people "fags," mocking their dead children, wishing that they were murdered, then when people respond by saying "uh, you're kind of mean," Ann flips out over the level of venom that's directed against her.

Scooter Gets a New Nickname


That's 110111010001101-10000 in binary.
More at

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dumbass du Jour

Yes, it's Jonah Goldberg again:
Why do I like Dick Cheney? Because at a time when everybody talks a big game about how they don't like people-pleasing politicians who live by the polls, Cheney is pretty much the only guy out there who walks the walk. He truly doesn't care what people think about him. I love that.
Right. Because not giving a shit what the people think is really important in a democratic state.
In particular, I like his stance toward the media. His view of the Fourth Estate is a bit like that of a bull elephant annoyed by varmints shnuffling around his feet: He's not bothered enough to squish 'em ... yet.
And Jonah will be right there applauding him when he does.

Jonah does, however, manage this tepid criticism:
Cheney's approach to government is ultimately counterproductive.
Ouch! That's gotta hurt.

But the contempt for the public? The exterminationist fantasies about the press (yes, that's Jonah's speculation, but we know he's right)?

Those are the things Jonah likes about Cheney.

Update: in other Doughy Pantload Doughbob Loadpants news, he has changed the title of his book. I wonder if this will push back the publication date.

[Cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo]

A Field Guide to Several Men Named Beck

Jeff Beck

Pro: Guitarist for the Yardbirds; Truth, Wired, Blow By Blow LPs.
Con: Appeared on "American Idol" with Kelly Clarkson.

Beck Hansen

Pro: Wrote and performed "Where It's At," "Lost Cause."
Con: Belongs to some weird-ass cult religion.

Rod Beck

Pro: Three-time All-Star pitcher; gracious party bus host while member of AAA team.
Con: Dead, unfortunately.

Glenn Beck

Pro: Claims to no longer be a falling-down drunk.
Con: Inexplicably has both television and radio shows; is an unctuous preening asshole.

(Cross-posted at Yazoo Street Scandal.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Ultimate "Get"

No, it's not Paris Hilton on the Larry King show—that's just sad. Dennis Perrin, whose blog you should bookmark right now (go ahead and do it, I'll wait) and read every day, somehow used his connections and powers of persuasion to land a rare and exclusive interview with God over at the Huffington Post.

And while Dennis never asked the question most of you want to know the answer to—boxers or briefs?—I think it's safe to say that they probably do quite a bit of free-ballin' up there in the celestial kingdom. Wouldn't you?

You Know Things Are Bad...

...when William F. Buckley is your tether to reality.

Still Incoherent After All These Years

Okay...try and make some sense out of this Richard Cohen column:
There are two ways to predict the winner of the 2008 presidential race: Check the polls or read some history....The history I have in mind is 1972....Just as it is hard to understand how the British ousted Winston Churchill after he had led them to victory in Europe in World War II, so it may be hard now to appreciate how Nixon won such a landslide while presiding over such a dismal war. In the first place, he was the incumbent, with all its advantages and with enormous amounts of money at his disposal. In the second place, back then the Vietnam War was not as unpopular as you might think -- or, for that matter, as the Iraq war is now. In 1972, almost 60 percent of Americans approved of the way Nixon was handling the war.
Wh-huh? So 2008 is exactly like 1972, except for...y'know...every single detail being different?

On the other hand, it's not like the difference between 60% approval and 67% disapproval is significant enough to affect an election.

Cohen does go on to explain why the Republicans are going to win (and, implicitly, why 1972); it's all about the dirty fucking hippies:
Maybe more to the point, most Americans did not endorse the way the Democrats would handle the war -- nor the way the antiwar movement was behaving.
Shorter Richard Cohen: the Democrats can't possibly win if they adopt the majority position on Iraq instead of the consensus position among centrist Beltway columnists.

Look, I'm no Democratic triumphalist. There are about a dozen ways the Republicans could win in 2008--and if you want to understand them, forget Richard Cohen and read what Steve M has to say.
and then one day you wake up and find out you're working for Roger Ailes (do you suppose that's what happened to Bill O'Reilly?)

Anyway, Roger's old friend Frank Luntz is back, and PBS has got him
According to an April 4 press release, Republican pollster Frank Luntz will participate in the Public Broadcasting Service's coverage of the June 28 Democratic presidential forum, which will be televised live and moderated by PBS host Tavis Smiley: "Immediate public feedback on the performance of the candidates will be conducted by noted pollster Frank Luntz, who will also appear on 'Tavis Smiley' on PBS the following evening to discuss his findings." Fellow pollsters have criticized Luntz, a longtime Republican strategist, for mischaracterizing the results of his research, as Media Matters for America has noted. The PBS press release does not mention Luntz's Republican ties, repeating a pattern in the media identified by Media Matters.
Media Matters also points out that Luntz has professional issues of his own
As Media Matters has documented, Luntz's credibility has been a recurring issue. In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research reprimanded Luntz for comments he made to the media regarding his polling work on the Contract with America, according to a 2000 article. Similarly, Washington Post polling director Richard Morin reported in 2000 that the National Council on Public Polls "censured pollster Frank Luntz for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention."
Which is bad enough as far as it goes, but there's something else interesting about Mr. Luntz' "allegedly" non-representative focus groups which Mr. Morin for some reason chose not to mention in his story*
In a two-pronged assault on its own credibility NBC is reporting results of focus groups conducted by Republican pollster and consultant, Frank Luntz. On opening night of the convention he called the focus group’s utterances "representative" opinion...

While focus groups are useful for supplying context and nuance about a variety of issues or topics they are not a reliable gauge of public opinion on these subjects. Conclusions about what percentage of the general public holds a particular view, or any generalizations about the public, cannot be made from a focus group. Luntz talks about Republicans’, Democrats’ and independents’ opinions as though they applied to all members of those groups in the general public. In fact, those are only the opinions of those in his focus group. There is nothing scientific about these focus groups. They are more akin to a parlor game than to a public opinion poll.

While many news organizations have their news polling conducted by non-partisan pollsters (or a bi- partisan pairing) Luntz is widely known for his work in behalf of Republicans., a Web site and Internet service run by the National Young Republicans, sponsors the Luntz focus group.

PBS/Public Broadcasting Service
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
Email PBS

And remember, be polite. Mr. Luntz, helpfully advising us on effective political communications strategy in the Huffington Post, shared with us that Obama is childish and unserious, Boxer is crude, Pelosi is callous, Kennedy is flippant, Democrats are knife-wielding sound bite addicts who are vindictive and don't care about saving lives, and partisan rudeness is counterproductive**


*shorter Mr. Morin: That's a nice professional organization you people got there. Shame if something happened to it.

**He also promises no lines at the Nancy Pelosi kissing booth

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Champagne and—why not?—cocaine for breakfast! Paris Hilton is free at last!

Or until the next time she gets arrested, that is.

In comments, readers are invited to submit their favorite anagram for the name of the Diva of Duh, with or without the aid of this gizmo. I can't decide which of these is my favorite, "Or Plain Shit" or "Hi Slit Apron."

In comments, the redoubtable R. Porrofatto recommends using her full name, Paris Whitney Hilton. Cybelle takes that ball and runs with it, coming up with some good ones. I modified one of her suggestions to obtain "Nail this hot pro, plain sir."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Great Moments in Jurisprudence

ABC News reports:
A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that schools can punish a student--without violating his First Amendment rights--when he promotes illegal drug use at a school event.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: "We hold that schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use."
The full story is here.

Despite repeated entreaties, Jesus could not be reached for comment.

(Cross-posted at Yazoo Street Scandal.)

ChronWatch Watch

As the old saying goes, there is no wingnut angrier than a wingnut living in the Bay area. Thus we have ChronWatch.

ChronWatch is the brainch...well, the creation of a particularly right-wing specimen named Jim Sparkman (and yes, he does live in San Ramon--how did you know?), who, after spending every waking minute of the last 30 years writing letters to the editor and getting maybe three of them published, discovered that thanks to the miracle of the intertubes he could become a Media Critic instead of just an embittered old crank.

And so he founded ChronWatch, to document and combat pervasive left-wing bias in the San Francisco Chronicle (" is a counter force to the liberal advocacy that is so dominant in today's media. The San Francisco Chronicle is critiqued as a prime example of media dedication to the liberal cause."). It's a really classy site--and by 'classy', I mean they have a 'Miracle pill halts disease!' ad smack in the middle of the front page.

It's too bad Sparky doesn't seem to be doing any writing for ChronWatch lately, because his columns are truly an experience. To read a piece by Sparky is to picture him in bathrobe and slippers drinking coffee and reading the Chronicle with cartoon steam coming out his ears, every section chock full of outrages, every page a fresh affront to his worldview. His work is full of adjective and insult and very little else; his logic, such as it is, is implicit rather than explicit and generally boils down to 'because I said so'. His ideological dedication was breathtaking: he could read a Pickleresque smear on the Democrats and declare it left-wing socialist propaganda. (For a sample of Sparkman's wit, see here.)

Sparky's absence, however, is filled by a stable of writers who apparently couldn't make the cut at Clownhall and so decided that Clownhall is just too liberal. We're talking the dregs of the dregs here, folks--writers who are hopelessly crazy and entertainingly inept.

At ChronWatch, you can find articles like What Is It With Jews and Guns? ("If liberals had their way and the Second Amendment was repealed, the only people in America with guns would be cops, criminals, and the military. Interestingly, of those particular groups, criminals are the ones liberals hate the least.") and Mrs. Clinton Discovers the Women with Needs Vote ("My guess is what many find alluring is her enthusiasm for redistribution of wealth schemes."). I guess Women Without Needs are all voting Republican?

There's Prove to Us That You're Still on Our Side, which despite its title is not about the Democrats and Iraq; no, it's about immigration ("Those elected to office need to prove to the American people that they are at least "on our side." A good way to do that is to immediately and successfully secure the borders."). As, less surprisingly, are quite a few of the pieces there--xenophobia being a staple for them as for better-known wingnuts.

They're not afraid to take on popular culture, as in The Price is Wrong, Rosie ("Rosie O'Donnell as emcee is a big step down for CBS: from Bob Barker's grandfatherly manner and superb business sense to Rosie's extremism and grandstanding."). Do they figure she'll hector contestants about gay marriage and 9/11 conspiracies? And what about the 'business sense' bit--do they think she'll put all the wrong prices on things? Read it and...well, still wonder about the latter.

My favorite, though, is a piece called Can America Survive Evolutionary Humanism?, which warns us that "Evolutionary Humanism is the most dangerous delusion thus far in history." Apparently 'secular humanism' has lost its shock value, so they had to re-brand; either that, or the Evolutionary Humanists are much more dangerous than the Secular Humanists who believe in biblical creation.

This one has it all: apocalyptic rhetoric ("If not stopped, as history warns us, this rapidly escalating downward process leads inevitably to totalitarianism, enslavement, and eventually mass murder"); a pseudo-rational classification system ("The primary denominations of Evolutionary Humanism are Cultural Marxism/Communism, Secular Humanism, Postmodernism, and Spiritual Communism"1); and pseudo-scholarly footnotes ("'The Black Book of Communism,' p. 752"); all in service of the proposition that
America, the "moral force that defeated communism" is on the verge of completely rejecting God, the natural order, and moral absolutes, and instead, embracing the godless religion of evolution, amorality, and the unnatural.
Best of all, it has the Platonic ideal of batshit crazy wingnut non sequiturs:
Jeffrey Dahmer, a psychopath who cannibalized his victims, acted on Darwin's advice.
It just doesn't get any better than this.

(More ChronWatch hijinks here.)

1The offshoots of these are among others, New Age/green environmentalism/Gaia, socialism, progressivism, liberalism, multiculturalism, and atheism. Now you know.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

When Idiots Attack

The good people at Shakesville have been hit with a denial of service attack for the past three or four days.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that this attack came shortly after Melissa McEwan, Shakesville's founder and chief blogger, wrote a post making fun of some weird-ass cult religion that claims a few bad actors among its adherents. Yeah, probably no connection there at all.

Posting at Shakespeare's Sister, her former site, Melissa says that the Shakesville crew are trying to move their operation to a dedicated server, which should fix the problem. What she didn't say is that the fees associated with such a server will be substantial. If you can afford to, please consider showing her some financial love via her Amazon Honor System PayPage.

Once a Concern Troll, Always a Concern Troll

[Tom Hilton here, from If I Ran the Zoo. Many thanks to Roger for the opportunity to post here in his absence.]

Melinda Henneberger has some advice for the Democrats. Lots of it, in fact:

The standard response from Democratic leaders has been that anyone lost to them over [abortion] is not coming back — and that regrettable as that might be, there is nothing to be done. But that is not what I heard from these voters.

Many of them, Catholic women in particular, are liberal, deep-in-their-heart Democrats who support social spending, who opposed the war from the start and who cross their arms over their chests reflexively when they say the word “Republican.” Some could fairly be described as desperate to find a way home. And if the party they’d prefer doesn’t send a car for them, with a really polite driver, it will have only itself to blame.

What would it take to win them back? Respect, for starters...As it turns out, you cannot call people extremists and expect them to vote for you....

Again and again, these voters said Democrats are too unwilling to tolerate dissent on abortion. It is a point of orthodoxy no more open to debate within the party than the ordination of women is in Rome.
And will Democrats ever get wise to the way Republicans, instead of imposing self-defeating litmus tests, manage to have it both ways on [abortion]? Even less likely.
The Democrats are likely to lose the Catholic vote in November—and John Kerry could well lose the election as a result. It’s about abortion, stupid. And “choice,” make no mistake, is killing the Democratic Party.
When it comes to deciding when inconveniently comatose spouses or brutal murderers should be 'terminated,' both major political parties are inconsistent and hypocritical.
Yup...the Democrats' opposition to state interference in the Schiavo case was just as hypocritical as Bill Frist's grandstanding on the Senate floor. Of course.

But the real punchline comes in a post-Katrina column in which she says:
Christian morality should be about responding to the wretched and loving the unlovable—not about other people’s sex lives.
Right. Hence the obsession with abortion.

What a sap.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Roger's Got Fill-Ins

Hi, I'm Anthony Cartouche, one of the five "talented and gifted bloggers" who are filling in for the mighty Roger Ailes while he takes his annual trip to Tijuana to visit his nieces and to buy a year's supply of cough syrup.

When I learned that Roger was looking for guest bloggers, I asked myself two questions: Can I even begin to post the kind of snark that earns praise from such elegant writers as James Wolcott and scorn from such bugshit insane hacks as Michelle Malkin? And can I parlay this opportunity into a chance to call attention to my new blog Yazoo Street Scandal? Having determined that the answers to these questions were "It seems highly unlikely" and "Yeah, why not," I decided to try to get the gig.

Roger said that we five had been thoroughly vetted. All I know about that is that fifteen seconds after PayPal confirmed that Roger received my voluntary donation to his cough syrup fund, he emailed me telling me that I'd been accepted as a fill-in. It was probably just a coincidence.

He told me I could write about anything I wanted, with a few minor exceptions:
  • No teasing the people over at Protein Wisdom. They have enough problems over there already.

  • No taking potshots at Sir Mix-A-Lot. This has something to do with their both being Phi Beta Kappa recipients. I got the impression Roger didn't want to talk about this one very much.

  • No pictures of LOLCATS. Roger was quite adamant about this one. When I asked him if there was any chance he would reconsider, he emailed me five minutes later with the names and addresses of my children, the make, model, and color of the car I drove in high school, and the name of the shop where I buy my strudel. Point taken, Roger.
Seriously, I am grateful to Roger for the chance to post here for the next week or so, and I hope I can amuse at least some of you at least some of the time. Enjoy your vacation, Roger, and thanks for letting me play Jimmy Crespo to your Joe Perry. It means a lot to me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Roger's Reader Participation Corner

What is the one thing you always forget to do before you go on vacation?

I'll post my answer after I return.

Damn those unprofessional Chinese immigrants, trying to feed their families at the expense of the reputation of Chinese cuisine!

Re "Eating Beyond Sichuan," by Nina Zagat and Tim Zagat (Op-Ed, June 15):

As a Chinese-American from Taiwan living in New York City for almost 20 years, I have always lamented that there are no authentic Chinese restaurants in most of the areas of the city.

I agree that the food provided in most Chinese restaurants here is weird. They degrade Chinese food and cheapen Chinese food as a category or brand.

The heritage of our cuisine is so rich, elaborate, delicate and diverse. When I was growing up, it usually took my mother all day to prepare the food for a dinner party. We Chinese not only enjoy our food, but also take pride in it as an art form.

I think the reason Chinese food is the way it is in most of America is that most of the Chinese restaurants are not run by real professionals and chefs. They are immigrants who don't speak English and don't have other specialized skills. In order to survive, they open Chinese restaurants.

May Shih
New York, June 16, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

His Face Is A Maserati, And The Electorate Is A Bridge Abutment

Fred Thompson will have numerous campaign songs to choose from; my recommendation is this toe-tapper:

I believe in animal rights
I let my dog hump on my shin
I can tolerate sexual choice
But not with the next of kin (uh-uh, boy)
I've heard it all before
I ain't gonna take any more
When the goin' gets tough
You can kiss my ass
I can't wait until the lyric "Kiss my ass ... Sarah Brady" resounds throughout the XCel Energy Center in September 2008.

Moronic Convergence

The Perfect Storm of dumbfuckery: Michael Savage-Wiener fans who are also readers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Roger's Got Talent

Or, more accurately, five talented and gifted bloggers have graciously agreed to post at this site while I'm on vacation, starting this weekend.

And don't worry, they've been throughly vetted. All five are Sustaining Contributors to the Metropolitan Opera. Several have been gay married, to either Ward Churchill or Rosie O'Donnell, no less.

Unlike me, they don't want to stab American troops in the back, but I did the best I could on short notice. Everyone else was at the Blame America First conference, anyway.

Once Mitt Romney gets wind of this Fabulous Five, he'll disown the Five Brothers faster than he can change positions on any issue you can name. You won't be disappointed, at least not until I return.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Grand Old Police Blotter: Columbian Drug Lords Edition

The State Treasurer of South Carolina follows in the footsteps of such Republican drug kingpins as George W. Bush and Larry Kudlow. Here are the details:

State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel was indicted on federal drug charges Tuesday and was suspended from office by Gov. Mark Sanford.

Ravenel, 44, and Michael L. Miller of Mount Pleasant are charged with one count each of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

Miller already is in state custody on charges of trafficking cocaine. Ravenel is scheduled to appear July 9 in federal court in Columbia for arraignment, U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd said.

Ravenel, a Republican, was elected treasurer in November. The charge filed Tuesday said he has "knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully possess(ed) with intent to distribute" cocaine since at least late 2005.


Lloyd described Miller as a drug dealer. He stressed Ravenel was not charged with selling cocaine. Under federal law, a charge of intent to distribute cocaine can mean a defendant acquired the drug and gave it to others. Lloyd would not say to whom Ravenel allegedly gave cocaine.

Scarfaeces was a graduate of two well-known party schools, The Citadel and U.S.C., receiving a Master of Blow Accumulation from the latter. Ravenel was previously in management at Ravenel Development Corporation, landlord to many upscale Subway restaurants.

South Carolina Democratic Chairperson Carol Khare Fowler offered a rather generic description of the latest Republican culprit: "In only a few months, Thomas Ravenel has gone from spoiled, rich kid buying his way into office to common street criminal." Not surprisingly, Richard Cohen is already calling on Bush to pardon Ravenel, on the ground that Ravenel, as a white man, tends to have a morbid fear of jail.

(As always, all persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until a prominent member of the Republican Party sets up a legal defense website for them.)

Update (6/20): Cokeboy was the head of Blowhounds South Carolinaians for Guiliani. Perhaps his departure is the big break Bernie Kerik has been looking for.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Churls On Film

Marty Peretz on fellow cineaste Debb Schlussel:

I've just read a blog-review of [A Mighty Heart] by Debbie Schlussel. It strikes me as being more than a bit hysterical. But maybe I don't understand how ingratiating and insipid the makers of this film--Jolie, Pitt and Michael Winterbottom--wanted to be so they could purport to be "Building Unity and Understanding in Today's World." Even the words are bullshit. And the thought is worse.

Believe me, Peretz is being kind. Two of the premises of Debb's "review" are that Angelina Jolie reveals her terror-loving anti-Americanism by portraying an FBI agent as a mannish dyke and casting this guy as "the most stereotypically Jewish-looking actor they could cast--a living embodiment of the angst-ridden, sweaty big-nosed, glasses-wearing Jew you'd find in "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" picture book for kids."

On the other hand, Peretz writes that Mariane Pearl's "celebrity status came to her by cultivation. I had a funny feeling about her from the beginning." So I'm not sure the Wedding Singer's the best judge of hysterical opinions.


Shorter Chris Hitch: My soul is possessed by the ghost of Barbara Olsen.

Especially noteworthy:

"Indeed, the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, determined that the law had not been broken in the first place"

"consuming thousands of man hours of government time (and in time of war, at that)"

"The call to Russert was not about Plame in any case; it was a complaint from the vice president's office about Chris Matthews, who was felt by some to have been overstressing the Jewish names associated with the removal of Saddam Hussein"

"I know of a senior lawyer in Washington who is betting very good money that if the case is heard again on appeal, the conviction will be reversed"

"In fact, she wrote this column for me"

"No, wait, I didn't write that last one. Hic!"

(Yes, I should be doing other things right now, but this is just to good to pass up. Who said there's no God?)

Update: Maybe Chris has come to Jesus: "A well-connected Republican whose views have reached Bush’s inner circle said that if Libby goes to prison, 'It would be seen by the religious and policy conservatives as the president abandoning his loyalty virtue for the hedonistic pleasure of political expediency.'" And by the sane as pandering to the base for political expediency while betraying the virtues of honesty and justice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Sure, the number of posts here has slowed to a trickle, and the quality of those posts is embarrassingly poor, but that's no reason I can't go on vacation, is it?

I'm going to be on vacation and out of computer range for 10 days starting next Sunday, June 24. Perhaps the break from all responsibility will allow me to come up with some ways to improve the blog. Well, it could happen.

If anyone wants to guest post in my absence, reaching literally hundreds of the smartest people with internet access each day, e-mail me at with either "Target Confirmation Offer" or "Notice of Fraudulent Account Activity" in the subject line. I'll be back on Tuesday with some half-assed commentary until the end of the week, AT&T/Yahoo! willing.

As always, your participation and readership is appreciated more than I can express, and not just because of my emotionally constipated personality.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Libby In The Can

I. Lewis Libby -- the I stands for "Inmate" -- will not be free like the aspens during the appeal of his conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice. If you want to know what today's hearing in United States v. Libby was all about, read Pachacutec and not Bloomberg.

A chump reading Bloomberg might think the issue presented was whether Judge Walton thought the prosecution had presented good evidence of Libby's guilt:

"The evidence of guilt was overwhelming" and arguments by Libby's lawyers today for release were "not close," Walton said before ruling from the bench. The judge didn't specify when Libby must report to prison, though he said it may take six to eight weeks for the Bureau of Prisons to be prepared to take him.

In truth, the arguments and the court's decision focused on whether Libby should remain free on bond pending appeal because there was a likelihood the verdict would be reversed on the ground that Fitzgerald's appointment violated the constitution. (Per the applicable statute, the issue is not whether the legal question is a "close question," but whether the appeal is "likely ... to result in reversal." You try telling a district court judge his interpretation of the law is likely to result in reversal.)

Meanwhile, Judge Walton has given us a new -- and correct -- definition of the verb "Borking." Dismissing the amicus brief from the Bork 12, the judge stated (per Pachacutec's paraphrase):

With all due respect, these are intelligent people, but I would not accept this brief from a first year law student. I believe this was put out to put pressure on this court in the public sphere to rule as you wish.

(The quote is confirmed, but mangled, here.)

As Libby packs his toothbush, we eagerly await more simpering and whimpering from The Corner and the Weekly Standard. Let the symphonies commence.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Be Grateful For Times Select

Maureen Dowd embarassed herself again today with a column comparing Tony Blair and Tony Soprano. Did you know they both have the same first name? And that's just the beginning of the comparative fun! It seems that neither the Prime Minister nor David Chase live up to Dowd's lofty but unintelligble standards.

Dowd ends the piece with quote from Leon Wieseltier, one even more worthless than the contents of his sentencing letter to Judge Walton. (Something about mostacolli.) Another meal written off, another column phoned in.

Fortunately, Dowd's column is only online via TimesSelect, but you can get a distate of it here, via Editor & Publisher.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

5 Across: Pub Drinks

The mysteries of me, revealed.

Well, not really.

(Link via Dr. Alterman)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shorter Joe Klein

"It's" "okay" if "you're" "a" Republican.
James Wolcott, with a keen eye for wingnut fantasy tropes, has a brilliant post in which he drops The Anchoress like a dead weight and references one of the funniest SCTV sketches of all time.

The only things the Anchoress' Tale is missing are a cab driver who sounds remarkably like Walter Williams and an appearance from John Kerry, demanding "Don't you know who I am?"

How The Righty Have Fallen

Is it poor form to ridicule a 79 year-old man who falls and allegedly hits his head on a heat register? I say, not if the geezer in question is the hero of twits who have long ridiculed a 79 year-old woman suffered severe injuries when she was scalding-hot coffee.

As is well known by now, the ambulance chasers at Ted Olson's hack shop have filed suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Bob Bork, the Nation's most famous failed jurist.

Seems Bork showed up at The Yale Club to collect some wingnut welfare from The New Criterion, tripped while trying to "mount the dias" and brushed his bonce against a radiator. Bork claims he also bruised his leg, a blood vessel burst and hi-larious complications and litigations ensued.

Interestingly, various sources report that Bork dusted himself off and gave his speech without difficulty. Yet the complaint alleges that Bork "suffered excruciating pain as the result of this injury and was largely immobile during the months in which he received physical therapy, preventing him from working his typical schedule before the injury." Since Bork is claiming a loss of income and ongoing injuries, discovery concerning his pre-injury revenue will be warranted, as well as surveillance of the purportedly crippled geezer. Hopefully that information will find its way into the public venue.

The alleged defect in The Yale Club premises in fact no defect at all. Bork claims there was no handrail to assist him in mounting the dias. Yet surely that was obvious to even someone of Bork's limited intellect, and none of the other men (we can safely assume) who mounted the dias have filed suit against the Club. If the dias was dangerous, Bork shouldn't have attempted to mount it.

As Benjamin Cardozo once said, "The bearded git may stay at home."

Bonus Comedy: AEI tool Ted Frank and unlucky sperm club member Robert H. Bork, Jnr. (who seems to believe proof of causation will not be required) duke it out over Bork Daddy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Left Behind

Fouad Ajami appeals to George Bush's inner Rambo with the heartfelt plea, "Mr. President, do not leave this man behind."

In "The Soldier's Creed," there is a particularly compelling principle: "I will never leave a fallen comrade." This is a cherished belief, and it has been so since soldiers and chroniclers and philosophers thought about wars and great, common endeavors. Across time and space, cultures, each in its own way, have given voice to this most basic of beliefs. They have done it, we know, to give heart to those who embark on a common mission, to give them confidence that they will not be given up under duress. A process that yields up Scooter Libby to a zealous prosecutor is justice gone awry.

Your first mistake, Fouad, is an appeal to martial bravery and honor. They don't call Bush A.W.O.L. for nothing. The man couldn't be bothered to complete his military service, much less get within 6,000 miles of his fallen comrades. And Bush didn't give a shit when Dick Cheney and his crew gave up a covert agent without duress, and act done, in his old man's words, by "the most insidious of traitors."

If Libby gets sprung, the only reason will be to protect Bush from what Libby might say in prison. Bush has no loyalty or honor or even comrades. You might as well appeal to his ability to fart the 1812 Overture.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Penalty Kick

Philip Weiss offers this strange aside on the Scooter Libby sentence:

Pat Buchanan believes the huge sentence to be "punitive." I agree.

Well, hell. The whole fucking penal code is full of punishments. The word penal may be your first hint. Were you hoping he'd get a side-by-side refrigerator and a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni?

But Weiss makes up for it with this post.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Orgies to Avoid

Murdoch, Ailes, Weymouth Pump Bloomberg At Breindel Awards

I hear they don't even provide clean needles at those awards, in tribute to the original High-Pitch Eric.

Too Little, Too Late

Marty "Wedding Singer" Peretz couldn't be bothered to write a sentencing letter on behalf of his old friend Scooter Libby, but he did get around to blogging about it after the fact. Sez Peretz:

Scooter Libby has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. It was not he who leaked Valerie Plame's name and identity; the offenders were Richard Armitage and Karl Rove. If, indeed, it was much of an offense in the first instance. If you think this is a crime then call for the prosecution of Armitage and Rove.

Libby's case will now go to an appellate court where perhaps the sitting judges will finally examine whether US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald brought malice to the grand jury that he convened to look into the earthshaking matter of who outed Valerie. She and her husband, Joe Wilson, former ambassador to Gabon (pop. 1.7 million) and Sao Tome/Principe (pop. less than one tenth of Gabon), the second being two islands off western Equatorial Africa, are one of those oh, so flashy couples that it's hard to believe that they lived an undercover life. Somehow she got him, a public person, upgraded to do a piece of secret intelligence about Iraq's efforts to purchase yellowcake from Niger. It didn't. [wtf?!? -- R.A.] Still, what involved Libby is so insignificant that what would have been appropriate perhaps would be to keep him after school for a few hours or forbid him from going to gym class. End of story.

Don't worry, Marty. Wherever Libby goes, it will have a very nice gym facility. Scooter's touch football skills will not go to waste either, if there's any truth to The Longest Yard.

(link via Instaputz)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Big Pharma, Fucking Moron

Rush Limbaugh, Katherine Lopez's doppel-widegänger, is rubbing out some keen insights tonight over at The Idiot's Corner. Big Pharma spots a sinister plot at the Republican debate:

These questions are driven by the fears and biases of the liberal agenda. Note also how the screen graphics immediately match Wolf's line of questioning, which means this whole thing was pre-produced by the producers at CNN. This is not a debate so much as a modified inquisition.

Amazing. A television debate that's been pre-produced. By producers. That never happens. And asking prepared questions -- it's positively inquisition-y!

Of course, if Big Pharma had watched the Democratic candidate's debate on Sunday, instead of spending the weekend trolling the Third World with a bottleful of Daddy's Little Helper, he would know that not only did Wolf have his own questions in his hot little hands, he also had those of the local reporters, which he read the reporters' microphones failed. In other words, Wolfie wasn't just making up all the questions as he went along -- at either debate.

Rush is subnormal even at The Corner. Even when Mark Levin is there.

Hey, Rudy, forget Scooter Libby. Do you plan to pardon Bernie Kerik?

Ted Wells Was Right

As a blogger, I am duty bound to mock those who wrote sentencing letters in support of Inmate No. 4026969, formerly known as "Scooter" Libby. The Smoking Gun has made some of those missives available, to make my job of mocking easier.

Let's start with this submission from Leon "Cokie" Wieseltier:

Dear Judge Walton:

I am the literary editor of The New Republic, a position that I have proudly held since 1983.

Hey! Wieseltier used a split infinitive I'm a dumb ass.

Wieseltier goes on to explain that his family needed some legal assistance a "very long time" ago, so he called his old friend, Len Garment, who ordered his associate, Scooter, to provide the Wieseltiers with some "charitable assistance." The court has redacted the portion of the correspondence in which Wieseltier describes the nature of his family's legal troubles, and one might question whether cadging free legal representation from a high-powered, well-connected Nixon stooge represents either the receipt of charity or circumstances warranting the mercy of the court. After all, it was Libby's job to provide competent legal services to the Wieseltiers, whether he was getting paid or not. But Leon, who is willing to put his "own hand on the Bible" on Libby's behalf, appears confident that Judge Walton will find Libby's compulsory twenty year old pro bono work sufficient mitigation for perjury in the present century.

If anyone knows the legal jeopardy Wieseltier describes in his letter, be sure to let me know, either in comments or by e-mail.

Update: Won't someone please think of the children? You have no idea what the Libby trial "has done to [Mary Matalin's] own kids, just their reading about it." The little tykes just can't understand why "Mr. Scooter" did the things for which he was convicted. Not to mention the many other children who love Scooter.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Raise your hand if you think the United States should boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics.


With God Up Our Backside

Peter Hitchens, the Hitchens who doesn't pluck his eyebrows, on his brother Chris:

If you do not worship God, you end up worshipping power, whether it is Kim Jong Il, Leon Trotsky or the military might of George W. Bush. In which case, God help you.

While the image of Chris as Bush bootlicker is appropriate, this claim is otherwise bullshit. Plenty of people who worship Peter's God also worship the abuse of power, starting with Bush himself. I would venture there's a significant overlap of American Christians and those who worship the occupation of Iraq, and that such a group is much larger than the subset of Christians who oppose the war because of their religious faith.

Li'l Snitchens also insults those non-believers who oppose the occupation without resorting to religion, or at least he would if we gave a toss about what he thought.

p.s. to Li'l Snitch: Atheists didn't invent the torture chamber (don't you know your own country's history?), and they're not as enamored of torture as are the godly today.

Update: Barbara O'Brien said pretty much the same thing, earlier, and proves my point.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A good man has passed away.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Young and Stupid

The Young Assholes Foundation has once again attempted to expose liberalism on American campuses, and is once again left with its own nuts flapping the breeze:

Commencement addresses at the nation's top colleges and universities this year mostly were given by left-leaning or Democratic speakers with few conservatives snagging the honor, according to a report released yesterday by the Young America's Foundation.


The list included "liberal media personalities," such as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and CNN's Wolf Blitzer at George Washington University. With some schools yet to announce their speakers at the time of the review and some schools' speakers listed as neutral, YAF found 42 "blue" speakers and eight "red" speakers.

Alexandra Acker, executive director of the Young Democrats of America, called the list laughable, especially for how it categorized who is liberal. She said "NBC Nightly News" host Brian Williams was counted as left-leaning, as was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, even though most Americans wouldn't categorize them that way.

"They're really going to extremes," she said of YAF.

The YAF list described Mr. Gates, who spoke at Harvard University, as giving money "to many left-wing causes, including gun-control ballot and tax-hike initiatives."

It described Jared Diamond, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who spoke at California Institute of Technology, as someone who "strongly believes in the leftist positions of overpopulation and man-induced global warming," and it criticized Duke University's president and speaker, Richard Brodhead, because he "allowed leftist professors and racists, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, to accuse members of the Duke lacrosse team of rape."


[Ward] Connerly said conservatives such as himself, Ann Coulter and David Horowitz rarely make it past the "gatekeeper" at top universities and colleges.

If you're going to criticize universities, shouldn't you at least take the time to compose grammatical sentences?

And shouldn't you know something -- anything -- about Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams and Tom "The Unit" Friedman before you express opinions about them?

The obvious solution: If you don't like what happens on campus, go homeschool yourself.

Now here's an internet campaign that could get bipartisan support.

Although you'd have to be insane to give them -- whoever they are -- your email address, let alone your credit card.

Bozell. T... W... A....

While Media Matters and left bloggers shine a spotlight on media malfeasance in coverage the Iraq War, the Bush Administration and the crimes of Scooter Libby, the wingnut site NewsBusters is whining as hard as it can about liberal bias in reporting poindexter competitions*:

B-I-A-S: Media Largely Ignore Spelling Bee Champ's Homeschooled Status

When California homeschooler Evan O'Dorney, 13, won the National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, the nation's press reacted with a yawn.

Instead of focusing on the winner, The New York Times ran a story about an immigrant from India who lost in the second round of the competition. That boy, Kunal Sah, 12, who is living in Utah, had hoped a victory would secure his family’s legal status in the United States. Thus, the Times managed to use the National Spelling Bee as one more forum for pushing the plight of immigrants.

Not until the middle of the story did The Times get around to announcing the winner, noting only his name and hometown and the fact that the AP reported his victory.

Meanwhile, USA Today and The Washington Post chalked up Evan's triumph to his penchant for eating fish right before each round. The Post's Elissa Silverman, in "The Sweet Spell of Success," ignored completely the fact that Evan is homeschooled, and noted that Evan liked to eat tuna sandwiches from Subway. That’s right. The subheadline reads: "Fueled by Tuna Sandwiches, California Teen Tops 300 students."

On CBS, "Early Show" host Russ Mitchell interviewed Evan and his parents, but home schooling never came up. Same with Al Roker's and Meredith Vieira's interview with the family on NBC’s "Today" show.

ABC's "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, on the other hand, was right up front about Evan's education during an interview this morning with him and his parents, introducing Evan's mother as his "homeschool teacher and coach."

More fish, anyone?

For a fuller item on this, check the MRC's Culture and Media Institute Web site.

Update (Ken Shepherd 14:50 EDT): Seven years ago the National Spelling Bee winner was also homeschooled, but as NB editor Brent Baker noted, of the three major networks, only CBS ignored that fact in their coverage.

The lesson to be drawn is obvious: Both our public and parochial schools have failed in teaching rote memorization of useless knowledge, leaving it up parents to fill that void. Only a liberal press would suppress that truth.

Of course, much of the coverage also failed to mention that young Evan plans to take a calculus class at U.C. Berkeley and not, say, Regent University or Bob Jones U. I'm sure the clowns at NewsBusters could find bias in that fact if it fit their little fantasy.

* I was once a spelling poindexter, but never got further farther than my own school.

Shorter Jonah Goldberg

"If I steal half of my column from a website, the column almost writes itself."