Pushing the Right Buttons

OK, you can't tell me that this speech wasn't designed, at least in part, to drive the nutjob "Obama is a seekrit Muslim" conspiracy theorists even crazier.

It's not his unequivocal support for the (not at) Ground Zero (not a) Mosque and the smackdown he gives to the bigots and opportunists leading the charge against it, nor is it just the brief 'history of Islam in America' lesson in the speech, although he basically lays out the plot of a new Dan Brown novel with the whole "Jefferson held first iftar at the White House" and "oldest mosque in Cedar Rapids" bits. I mean, he also gives a shoutout to the atheists - twice! Clearly he's in league with the devil (aka Allah) to destroy Christianity, and America, not necessarily in that order.

Basically, this was reverse dog whistling. Everyone not up to their eyeballs in the paranoid sewage slowly swamping the right wing is going to hear that speech and think he's being quite reasonable. The Pam Gellers and their ilk, though? Heads will be asplodin' left and right. And the more right-wing heads asplode, the harder it will be for the middle to ignore all that sewage...

Really, if Obama were an evil genius, we'd all be completely screwed anyway. The guy is that damn good.

What We Stand For

I know he doesn't want to. But before he leaves office, one way or another, Obama is going to have to answer this:

A final pretrial hearing also took place Monday in the case of Canadian Omar Khadr, who will start trial today as the first test trial of the military commissions under President Obama. In a summary decision of only a few words, and with no explanation, the military judge in Omar Khadr's case, Col. Patrick Parrish, denied defense motions to exclude self-incriminating statements Khadr made to interrogators because of torture and other abuse. The judge will issue a written decision, certainly after the trial begins and possibly after it's ended, but for now he's offered no explanation.

It boggles the mind that the military judge could find that Khadr was not coerced and gave these statements to interrogators voluntarily. Khadr, then 15 years old, was taken to Bagram near death, after being shot twice in the back, blinded by shrapnel, and buried in rubble from a bomb blast. He was interrogated within hours, while sedated and handcuffed to a stretcher. He was threatened with gang rape and death if he didn't cooperate with interrogators. He was hooded and chained with his arms suspended in a cage-like cell, and his primary interrogator was later court-martialed for detainee abuse leading to the death of a detainee. During his subsequent eight-year (so far) detention at Guantánamo, Khadr was subjected to the "frequent flyer" sleep deprivation program and he says he was used as a human mop after he was forced to urinate on himself.

In closing arguments before the judge's ruling, Khadr's sole defense lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, told the judge, "Sir, be a voice today. Tell the world that we actually stand for what we say we stand for."

Rotowire Steak League Roster

One of the Rotowire 'house' fantasy football leagues is the Steak League, where the losers take the winners out for a nice steak dinner at the end of the season. Since I live a few time zones away from most of the other owners I'm exempt from that provision, but it's still a damn competitive and fun league to be in.

We switched from draft to auction this season: 14 teams, $200 cap, normal scoring, 1/2/3 QB/RB/WR with no Flex, plus IDP (one each DL, LB and DB) and the usual TE/K with six bench spots. Here's the roster I ended up with after a three-plus-hour bidding frenzy:

QB: Romo $26; Vince Young $2
RB: Gore $55; Shonn Greene $37; Felix Jones $16; Bernard Scott $3
WR: Bowe $21; Garcon $17; Kenny Britt $7; Donnie Avery $5; James Jones $1
TE: Heath Miller $1; Brandon Pettigrew $1
K: Dan Carpenter $1
DL: Brandon Graham $1
LB: James Laurinaitis $3
DB: Richard Marshall $1

Wide receiver prices were very high, by and large, which is why I ended up with the lackluster WR corps I have, but there's still enough upside in there to make it workable. The flip side of that was that running backs were going a bit cheaper than you might expect, and I was able to roster three viable starters (and three potential studs). If all three can stay healthy, I've got easy trade bait to go get a true #1 wideout.

In this league and other ones with a reasonably-sized bench, I tend to 'punt' taking a backup at any of the secondary positions (TE, K and the IDPs) and load up on RBs and WRs hoping to strike gold, instead spreading out all the bye weeks at those spots so I never need to use more than one bench spot to cover all of them. While I staggered the bye weeks, I ended up taking Miller as insurance in case Pettigrew's recovery from his knee injury is slow. I'll have time before the season starts to cut one or the other of them and take a skill position player with some upside.

The other bit of bye week juggling I do is to make sure my backup QB has a cushy assignment on the week I need him. In this case, the Titans are hosting the Broncos, which isn't too bad. Matt Moore (at New Orleans in what could be a shootout) and Chad Henne (at home against the Pats on Monday night) were my first two choices for the spot, but I got actual competition for both after nominating them and it just wasn't worth going to war over a #2 QB.

Glad I got Brandon Graham though. The more I see of that kid the more I love him. When the first adjective that comes to mind when everyone watches a rookie defensive lineman is "relentless", you know you've got something special.

Those Crazy Kids

So let me get this straight. Rand Paul (son of Ron) spent his time at Baylor engaging in wannabe Kesey-esque mindfucks, while Ben Quayle (son of Dan) wrote snarky bios of Scottsdale club rats under a Boogie Nights-derived pseudonym.

And now they're hoisting the GOP's banner and proclaiming their devotion to the straight and narrow?

I ain't buying it. Someone's getting punked here, and I'm not sure it isn't the Republicans. These are exactly the kind of guys who would introduce legislation in Congress to make marijuana not just legal, but mandatory.

The Pathological Right

There's no other way to describe it.

Gateway Pundit's jihad against Palin protester Kathleen Gustafson has been discussed a-plenty by the likes of Sully, but it's one thing to read about it second-hand, and quite another to read the post itself and the comments below it.

Every single claim Jim Hoft makes about Gustafson is a lie.

Every. Single. One.

Hoft claims she's not a teacher. That's a lie.

He claims she's a singer in a "drag band" (whatever that's supposed to be). That, too, is a lie.

He claims that the existence of a high school class called "theater tech" is just liberal spin. That is also is a lie.

There's not even an attempt by Hoft to correct himself when his lies are exposed. He's not trying to educate his readers, he's deliberately lying to them about Gustafson because Gustafson plays for the other team.

And the comments section is just more of the same. You're either for Palin, or you're agin her, and everyone else on the other side of the divide is evil and/or stupid.

Now, this is the point in the post where I'm supposed to go all Anderson Cooper and say, "Oh, they all do it, libs and cons, a pox on both their houses." But it just ain't so. There's simply nothing on a mainstream lefty blog to compare to something this blatantly dishonest, nor is this a particularly isolated example on the right.

American politics is designed to be a conversation between the left and the right, with the middle effectively acting as referee. Only now, the right is increasingly no longer interested in participating in an honest discussion with the left.

I'm not even going to try and predict what the long-term consequences of that are, but they aren't likely to be pretty.

Cousin Patty

I just saw the news that Patricia Neal has passed away. Damn.

She was a distant cousin, who like me escaped Knoxville pretty young. And she was a damn good actor who had a knack for picking roles that endured: Helen Benson; Marcia Jeffries; and of course Dominique Francon in one of the greatest comedies in film history, The Fountainhead.

Really, she was the perfect Rand heroine, managing to invest that horrifically tone deaf, robotic dialogue with enough animal intensity to make it... well, not believable, but at least interesting.

Wish I could have gotten a chance to meet her.

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

4chan slang is now part of the official court record of the Palin email hacker trial.

Nothing good can come of this. 4chan is an isolated pocket of the internet for a reason. It's like that lake beneath a lake they keep babbling about in the Piranha 3D trailers, where a species of evil paleolithic man-eating fish live.

If those walls get breached and they escape their prison into the waterways where nubile young people unsuspectingly swim and frolic...

No Protests in the Champagne Room

Now this is the kind of Alinskyite political action I think we can all get behind.

Mockery is still the best available weapon for dealing with thine enemies. Strippers, however, are the second best.


Two Men Enter, And... Uhh... Two Men Leave

Two of us regulars from the Tuesday Neutral karaoke crowd have been headed for a showdown for a while now, and this week it's finally gonna happen. We sing too much of the same material not to finally find out who truly is the king of 80s synthpop.

So naturally, we likely won't actually be singing any 80s synthpop during our Karaoke Cage Match of Doom.

The impromptu rules will be that we each sing one song from each of the following artists: Britney, Bowie and Johnny (Cash). My one Britney is Toxic, and his is Hit Me Baby One More Time; I expect him to win that opening round, not that we've bothered figuring out how the winner will be determined or anything.

It's during the next two rounds that I think I have the advantage. He said he'll be doing Amsterdam for his Bowie, but it wouldn't surprise me if that were some sort of feint. It won't matter. I plan on busting out my Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, a song I rarely do these days because the backing track offends me. They leave off the final violin chord, for Goddess' sake.

I suspect for round three he'll be doing Hurt. Tempted as I am to do Big River, I think I better stick to something more recognizable, which means either Folsom Prison Blues (which I can do in my sleep) or something riskier like Ring of Fire, which I haven't done much. Really, my best Cash is probably Sunday Morning Comin' Down, but after Rock 'n' Roll Suicide I don't want to do another downtempo song.

So it'll probably go something like this:

Britney: One More Time vs Toxic
Bowie: Amsterdam (?) vs Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
Johnny: Hurt (?) vs Ring of Fire

Should be a barnburner.

I Take It Back

Apparently Matt Taibbi created the Other Guys end credit sequence, not Michael Moore.

The Other Guys

Freakin' hilarious, and maybe the strangest Hollywood comedy I've ever seen. Some of the gags are just flat out bizarre (even beyond what you'd expect from Ferrell), the end credits appear to have been directed by Michael Moore, and until the obligatory final chase/shootout/Mexican stand-off it never quite goes where you might expect it to.

It's also kind of a crazy, filthy love letter to New York.