JC Is Right

The ratings agencies have exactly one job, and they proved to be spectacularly incompetent at it, and the market doesn't seem to be structured to allow a competitor or two to rise up and wipe them away like the dead wood they are.

Burn it all down
, through lawsuits if necessary, and start again.

April's Travesties

Here's the full list of songs (36 different songs in total) I sung at karaoke in the month of April:

  • Aenima - Tool
  • Boogie On Reggae Woman - Stevie Wonder
  • Brass in Pocket - The Pretenders
  • Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young
  • Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
  • Everlong - Foo Fighters (w/live band!)
  • Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
  • Friday on My Mind - The Easybeats
  • F*ck Her Gently - Tenacious D
  • Golden Years - David Bowie
  • Heartbreaker - Pat Benatar (w/live band!)
  • I Don't Like Mondays - Boomtown Rats
  • I'll Wait - Van Halen
  • I'm a Man - Spencer Davis Group
  • Iron Lion Zion - Bob Marley
  • Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
  • Love Boat Theme - whoever that guy was
  • Midlife Crisis - Faith No More
  • Moonlighting Theme - Al Jarreau
  • Mr. Roboto- Styx
  • My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) - Chilliwack
  • Ole Black 'n' Blue Eyes - The Fratellis
  • One Night in Bangkok - Murray Head
  • Open Arms - Journey (duet with Lisa Awesome)
  • Patio Lanterns - Kim Mitchell
  • Purple Rain - Prince
  • Raspberry Beret - Prince
  • Rich Girl - Gwen Stefani
  • Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh
  • See You Again - Miley Cyrus
  • Stage Fright - The Band
  • Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
  • Take Me I'm Yours - Squeeze
  • The Promise - When in Rome
  • Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Wild World - Cat Stevens
Eventually I plan to have a searchable online database for this.

I hope I'm joking.


It's time to play Juxtapose!, the game show where we present two seemingly unrelated news items and you, the viewer, try to spot a connection between them.

First up, Byron York tries to defend his column wherein he suggests that Obama's popularity among African-Americans artificially inflates his approval numbers. His defense:
So I wrote that citing Obama's "sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are." I thought the word "overall" conveyed the idea that there was a difference between the total job-approval number and the complexities of opinion of Obama on various issues. Maybe "across-the-board" would have been better than "overall," but I doubt that would have kept a left-wing activist like Matthew Yglesias, or Andrew Sullivan, who has himself been accused of racism and, quite recently, anti-Semitism, from branding me a racist. The numbers inside the Times poll are newsworthy, if the critics would take the time to read and analyze them.
Interesting that York seems to think the problem with his initial wording is his use of "overall", and not "than they actually are." And by "interesting" I mean "I genuinely can't tell if he's really that dense, or just scrambling for any fox hole in a barrage."

Our second item comes from the Congressional Hispanic Congress, who are a little miffed at getting lumped in with terrorists and scary Marxist South Americans by John Boehner. (In case you missed it in the video, the still photo of Obama sitting with the CHC is sandwiched between Obama shaking hands with Hugo Chavez, and a bunch of angry, swarthy men burning an American flag.)

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel (really? Another one? I guess Max Power was taken) dismissed the complaint.
This is beyond silly. The video also includes an image of the President speaking at the House Democratic Retreat in Virginia. Is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus suggesting that every Democrat in the House is connected with terrorists? Of course not. America’s national security is serious. This complaint is not.
No, Michael, it would appear to be Rep. Boehner who is suggesting that every Democrat in the House is connected with terrorists. Thanks for the clarification though.

Damn, I Should Have Thought Of That One

After dispensing with the cliched inappropriate bullshit in his first round of film Cheneys (A Few Good Men? WTF? Jessup was a creature of honor without morals. Cheney has neither) Sullivan starts getting to the good stuff. Anton Walbrook is criminally underrated.

Tales of Staggering Idiocy!

The Arch-Conspirator points out some amazingly gobsmacking ignorance. Here's a taste:

Slade said that she called several of her colleagues to see how they calculate a two-thirds vote, and the answer varied widely.
"The answer varied widely." Because it's such an arcane branch of mathematics, yo, like imaginary numbers.

I can only hope that at some point someone thought to call MIT with this one, if only to give the person on the other end of the phone a story they'll be telling at parties for the rest of their lives.

Nailed It!

Told ya so:

Readers are hereby invited to submit classic movie scenes depicting Dick Cheney. We'll try to post the most amusing or accurate.

Jeez, talk about a challenge that's right in my wheelhouse... I may do one a day.

Hoops Report

Book: Not bad, nothing special.

Sound: Solid.

Set-up: The TV screen being used for a monitor is in a bit of an awkward place - not close and above your head. The raised area to your left creates a bit of an arena seating vibe though, which I think I'll like if there's anybody there paying attention to you.

Host: Decent.

Crowd: sparse and not terribly into it, which according to the inevitable karaoke regular there that I knew from elsewhere, was unusual.

Given that it's walking distance away and has a surprisingly non-awful kitchen, it'll do for a regular Wednesday night karaoke spot.

Why Impeachment?

I'm at an odd point in the "Justice" Bybee saga.

If the review of the OLC memos finds that Bybee was incompetent, that the ignoring of relevant precedents was a result of gross legal negligence, then I think it appropriate to hold impeachment hearings to get him removed from the bench.

If, on the other hand, the review determines that he was acting as a partisan cog in the Bush machine, and that the ignoring of relevant precedents was a result of political pressure from the White House and his own moral cowardice in standing up to that pressure, then I think the case to impeach him dies.

There's nothing saying judges can't be partisan tools (insert SCOTUS punchline here). Only that they be legally competent partisan tools.

Describing Cheney

Sully is having a contest to see who can describe Cheney the best. (And by 'contest' I mean 'a feature he'll probably flog to death remorselessly over the next few weeks.') So, here's my entry:

Hey, remember at the end of Time Bandits, when the kid's parents get vaporized by that forgotten lump of pure evil in the toaster oven? Well, that lump grew arms and legs, put on a pair of glasses, moved to Wyoming and eventually became Vice President.

And now you know... the rest of the story.

Temporary Insanity? WTF, John?

I'm watching the full Cliff May-John Stewart interview (those are the Canuck links, btw)... wow. While I disagree with much of what May said (and some of his claims were just plain off, like Cheney wanting to release all the memos relating to the treatment of al Qaeda detainees) and even some of what Stewart said (if there are no prosecutions over this, given all that we already know, it's a massive failure on the part of America) May was at least right when he said that it was by far the best discussion on the topic so far on television.

If some network were to scrub their Rolodex of all the pols and lobbyists, and started inviting on guests actually willing to engage in an honest discussion about a topic rather than simply mouthing the latest Dem or Pub talking points, their ratings would blow through the roof.

Compelling television is people connecting, not talking past each other.

A Clarification

I don't think I ever stated this right out, but the list of 'This Month's Travesties' is a list of all the songs I've sung at karaoke this Gregorian calender month.

Consider it the grist for the mill in my developing pathology.

Bybee Demonstrates His Bad Faith

I found this non-quote from "Justice" Bybee very informative:

Judge Bybee said he was issuing a statement following reports that he had regrets over his role in the memorandums, including an article in The Washington Post on Saturday to that effect. Given the widespread criticism of the memorandums, he said he would have done some things differently, like clarifying and sharpening the analysis of some of his answers to help the public better understand the basis for his conclusions.
Umm, dude! Weren't the memos already aimed at non-legal minds? Wasn't the entire point of the memos supposed to be to brief the non-lawyers in the Bush administration about the relevant legal issues?

By admitting that he wished he'd 'clarified and sharpened the analysis of some of his answers' to help those without a legal background to 'better understand the basis for his conclusions' (and boy do I wish the Senile Gray Lady had bothered to include his actual quote on that subject, rather than their interpretation of his words) he's essentially saying that when he was asked to write the memos the conclusions were all that mattered, not the route he took to get there. For a lawyer (much less a judge!) to imply that a legal argument was not important, and only the end result really mattered, is mind-boggling to me. Imagine if, for instance, SCOTUS operated in the same way, issuing only their votes on cases or half-assing their way through their opinions...

He's as much as admitting that he was writing for a specific target audience, and that target audience didn't care what the legal issues actually were just so long as they got the answer they wanted to hear. (Compare the fate of the OLC memos, for instance, with Philip Zelikow's dissenting memo, which did not supply an answer anyone wanted to hear, and which someone attempted to flush down the memory hole.)

It's also sad to me that his only apparent regret is that the memos weren't written to provide more of an opportunity for damage control after their release. His concern is what the public thinks about memos the public wasn't supposed to ever see. Not how his supposed "good faith" legal opinion was used to justify some very bad things.


I have accepted a dare to see Obsessed tonight.

Last time I saw a film with that particular friend, in the same theatre we'll be going to tonight, it was the Love Guru.

I can only hope Obsessed is as eyeball-bleedingly bad as Myers' excremental excuse for a comedy.

The tricky part will be finding some way to get out west for live band karaoke at the Drake afterwards...

Why Prosecutions?

Sully has a post up weighing the pro and con arguments for torture prosecutions, and is firmly on the pro side. He doesn't actually directly address the 'con' argument of "what if the prosecution fails?", though, so I'll do it here:

If a torture prosecution doesn't produce any convictions, and/or torture is legalized in some fashion, the net effect is the same as if no prosecution was attempted at all. The American experiment to prove that humanity can govern himself better than the tyrants can is a failure either way.

I Understand Now

I grew up reading Robert Anton Wilson, and one of the deepest lessons I learned from him was to try and be agnostic (or zetetic, if you prefer) about my perspective. In this world we call Real there is very rarely one 'right' way to look at anything, and having the ability to alter your perspective on an issue can be damn useful.

One perspective I was never able to wrap my head around, though, was that of the Zealot, perhaps because it was intuitively antithetical to RAW's multi-perspective approach. The Zealot does believe that they see things the One Right Way, after all. I've just never understood how, for instance, an anti-abortion Zealot professing to want to protect life could get themselves to a place where it made sense to them to kill a doctor.

I understand now.

Which is not to say I'm about to go all Weatherman and blow up some CIA offices. But as the torture "debate" has continued I've found I have no patience for those willing to jettison morality for perceived expediency, or for those who can't or won't see how what was done wasn't just illegal but depraved, and how it violates everything America is supposed to stand for.

It's that last point that is proving to have the strongest impact on my psyche. Perhaps it's because I'm an American who has never lived as an adult in the country of his birth, and thus sees it more clearly in the abstract, but I find this assault upon the very idea of America far scarier than almost any assault upon the physical America ever could be, 9/11 included.

America was created as a refuge from tyranny. It has, time and again, publicly championed the causes of freedom and liberty (regardless of what it was actually doing behind the scenes) and has, over the centuries, become synonymous with those virtues. And now, in a crisis no worse than any other we've faced, cowards who unfortunately wound up with their hands on the tiller have resorted to embracing the very tools of tyranny America was supposed to stand against.

This country can survive the loss of its buildings and citizens and even, Goddess forbid, its cities. It can't survive the loss of its reason for existing.

And so, weirdly enough, I've come to a place where I understand Zealotry. I can't see shades of gray on this one. Torture is monstrous, and there is no justification for its use. But in understanding Zealotry I've also come to understand Patriotism too.

If Patriotism is the willingness to lay down your life for your country, I'm ready to do just that. The very thing that makes America worth defending is under siege, and I find myself wondering what I can do to protect it. I've considered all sorts of crazy things -- for instance, a 24/7 live streaming hunger strike, preferably in DC within sight of the White House, that I maintain until a Truth Commission is initiated or a special prosecutor appointed (or I'm too weak to stop someone from administering medical care, of course, which is the usual fate of hunger strikers). After all, whatever voluntary discomfort I went through as I starved myself wouldn't hold a candle to the involuntary torment that was inflicted on other human beings, in my name, by my government, supposedly to protect me.

Quite frankly, while I value my life fairly highly, it isn't worth that much. I'm supposed to be willing to die for my country, not the other way around. My country isn't supposed to die to save me.

For now, I'm giving the president the benefit of the doubt that he will let justice be served, and that his current apparent heel-dragging is simply a maneuver to allow a public consensus to build. As such I should be looking for ways to help move public opinion, and build that consensus, rather than engage in online flame wars with immoral tools.

To borrow a phrase from Sam Jackson, I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd. And not the Zealot.

Specter Crosses the Aisle

Wonder if this means he's also changing his tune on EFCA...

Anybody feel like starting a pool on when a national opinion poll will show Republican self-identification at below 20%? ABC/WaPo came damn close at 21% last week.