Sep 30, 2005

Pull the Plug on Bennett

This current issue with William Bennett, conservative commentator for some radio show I've never heard of called "Morning in America," was just the thing to rouse me from my post-vacation, non-posting stupor.

As I'm sure you all know, this person tried to make this outrageous point illustrating how he disagrees with the notion that crime is down because abortion rates are up.
BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --

CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.

Bennett then goes on to say that to do this would be "impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible," but that he believes that THIS WOULD STILL DECREASE THE CRIME RATE.

Of course, today Bennett is saying his words were "mischaracterized." Yeah, right. Someone, please check my sphincter for flying monkeys.

The White House has done the requisite condemning of Bennett's comments as well, although I secretly suspect They were high-fiving each other in agreement yesterday.

It's this fucked-up, twisted conservative mindset that will continue to keep this nation from truly realizing racial and socioeconomic equality in this country. I mean Jesus-H, how the hell can people still make outrageous like this and still have a conscience? People like Bennett are dangerous, especially since his weekly listenership numbers in the 1.25 million range. Now Joe and Mary Six-Pack are walking around their little suburban areas somewhere in the Mountain or Central time zones, thinking that yes, if we abort little black babies, they'll be less likely to get jacked.

Bennett's show should be taken off the air. What he said is tantamount to hate speech.

Hey, I just had a thought: Think of how different the world would be if all racists and bigots had been aborted.

Yes, I went there.

Sep 27, 2005

... And We're Back!

Aaah. Maui. Such an awesome place. I was really sad to leave there today, but I've brought back with me some great memories:

1. Getting to spend some quality time with my parents in paradise
2. Crying/Laughing my ass off at my cousin's wedding
3. Boogieboarding for the first time
4. Getting tangled with that boogieboard strap thing and my uncle's ankles, causing us to both almost drown, and making everyone else crack up
5. Hanging out in an oceanfront villa
6. Staring in awe at the really old Banyan tree in Lahaina
7. Drinking lava flows, all day, every day
8. My dark "Maui Babe" tan
9. Doing the Road to Hana [almost] and having a long and entertaining conversation with the shave ice lady in Paia
10. Having all our families together at the Old Lahaina Luau

And now, I'm back home, to 57-degree weather, to work, to paying the bills, to traffic jams, to the sameole sameole. But it's great to be back.

Sep 24, 2005

Don't be jealous

I wasn't planning on posting anything during my Maui trip, but looking outside of my hotel room at this beautiful mountain range that makes up the edge of the Maui upcountry, I felt a little twinge of inspiration to share some photos with you. Don't make fun of my feet.

Maui is the shit. Spent the entire day yesterday at the beach/pool. Skin awesomely bronze thanks to Maui Babe tanning lotion that looks like something that came out of my cooking pot. Hotel suite (free upgrade, thanks) rocks, resort kicks ass.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi. I knew I couldn't stay away from here for very long. Back on the mainland in a few days. Try not to miss me.

Sep 19, 2005

The Spirit of Aloha

Even though I don't leave for another few days, my mind is already on the beaches of Maui, sipping cocktails and getting tan.

I'll see if I can arouse myself enough to find something to blog about, but don't hold your breath.

Sep 15, 2005

Tarzhay Gets the Smackdown

Okay, it was more like a slap on the wrist.

I recently wrote about how Target busted out $1M and basically took over all of the ad space in the August 2005 issue of The New Yorker.

Well, now the American Society of Magazine Editors has scolded the magazine for violating one of its society's rules which states that the sole advertiser not in any way influence the editorial content of that issue.

Fair enough. I'm all about full disclosure and what not.

Some - including Columnist Larry Lazare at The Chicago Sun-Times - have criticized The New Yorker/Target Corporation "synergy issue" (you have me to thank for that term), calling it “the most jaw-dropping collapse of the so-called sacred wall between editorial and advertising in modern magazine history.”

Yeah. And how does he expect print media to make any money? Oh yeah, that's right. From selling advertising space.

C'mon, no sacred walls have been broken here. No editorial boundaries have been breached. If Lazare complains about this, I'm sure he's also gotta complain about people buying one- and two-page spreads in the New York Times. Or even in his own paper.

Others in the industry have either found this to be a wonderful display of ingenuity in advertising, or a non-issue.

Others have more or less shrugged, suggesting that the publishing industry faces bigger issues, like rising advertiser demands for a print version of product placement. ASME is still in the process of revising its guidelines to address such activities; its new guidelines are expected to be released at the American Magazine Conference next month.
In any case, I'm sure it was a pretty kickass issue, seeing as how a lot of the Target ad artwork turned out. Plus, I'm not complaining - you know how I love me some Target.

Sep 13, 2005

What is with you people?

Eleven children have been rescued from their adoptive parents today in Ohio. These kids - many of whom have exhibited traits of fetal alcohol syndrome and autism - have been kept in cages less than three feet high.

The children's adoptive parents, Mike and Sharen Gravelle, denied during a custody hearing Monday that they'd abused or neglected the children. No charges had been filed as of Monday night, and telephones at the county prosecutor's office repeatedly rang busy Tuesday morning.

One official agreed that there was no sign of abuse.

I see. Well how about the fact that THE KIDS HAD TO SLEEP IN CAGES?

The Gravelles "gave the impression" that they thought caging their children like animals was OK. Sick fucks. Apparently they were given the green light by some psychiatrist who made the recommendation that they sleep in the cages at night.

Somebody please show me where in the DSM-IV it says that caging kids is suitable treatment.

Let the image makeover begin!

So Dubya is actually taking responsibility - actually uttering those words - for the blunders made in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts:

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

Forgive me for being a bit incredulous. The man's approval ratings are falling. He has no other move in his bag o' PR tricks but to do what he should have been doing all along: Making himself accountable for his mistakes and the mistakes of his administration. So why not do it with Hurricane Katrina? The "enemy" is Mother Nature, and of course, you can't stop her when she's on a rampage.

Let's see him take this "accountability phase" he's in and transfer it to our nation's other blunder, the war in Iraq. Or whatever we're calling it these days.

Then, I'll be semi-impressed.

Sep 12, 2005

Fourteen days later, and the media still has no backbone

As Simon Dumenco from Ad Age says in today's opinion piece, PR can only go so far. Dubya relies so much on Karl "Doughboy" Rove because he thinks that he can win people over by being charming, funny, and positive. By doing this, Dubya hopes that the idea of positivity and success will just permeate every aspect of the situation. It's this type of slight-of-hand that he uses with regard to Iraq. And now, with Katrina.

It was, of course, just the latest highlight in his career as chief marketing officer for the Rove/Cheney/Rumsfeld neo-con agenda. It’s a job that entails always sticking to a breezy, upbeat storyline. It’s no surprise that Bush took this PR-trumps-action tack for Katrina. For much of his five years in office, he’s seen that putting a faux-cheerful, faux-hopeful spin on even the worst calamities (see also: the war in Iraq) meant that a cheerful, hopeful spin would automatically float to the top of the memepool, at least momentarily. If he kept repeating these faux-cheerful, faux-hopeful things ad nauseum, he’d have a great shot of at least partially obscuring all the actual rotting nastiness lurking below the surface.

Maybe visualizing success works with perfecting your golf swing, making that basket, or serving that ace. But good PR is no substitute for solid, concrete leadership. And action. And results.

Not here. Not when people are still displaced. Still desperate to find and reconnect with their loved ones. Trying to give their families a proper burial.

And especially not when it's revealed that your corporate buddies are poised to make a few cool million bucks off of this tragedy.

"It smells so much like cronyism and you've still got people sleeping on floors," [Rev. Jesse] Jackson told Reuters.

Not-My-President, beginning his second tour of hurricane-and-flood ravaged New Orleans, denied vehemently that the delay in relief response from the federal government was racially motivated or that the war in Iraq affected the amount of resources needed to help these people out. He says it's "preposterous" to even suggest that.

Spin it however you'd like, Dubya, but we now know - through the ham-handed actions by you and the rest of your administration - how much you really care about the American people. Which is to say, not very much.

In fact, NYT columnist David Brooks revealed on The Chris Matthews Show on 9/11/05 that from the early days of Dubya's administration, their tactic from Day One was to shield itself from political damage by never publicly admitting to making a mistake - even if it included lying to the media and the American people.

As Media Matters reports, in the past, Brooks has commented on BushCo's unwillingness to admit mistakes:

In his November 2, 2004, column, Brooks wrote: "I'm exasperated at the Bush communications strategy. His advisers came in with one rule: no concessions to elite opinion. They decided not to be open on how they make decisions. They would never admit mistakes."

In his September 9, 2003,
debut as a Times columnist, he noted: "The Bush administration has the most infuriating way of changing its mind. The leading Bushies almost never admit serious mistakes. They never acknowledge that they are listening to their critics. They never even admit they are shifting course. They don these facial expressions suggesting calm omniscience while down below their legs are doing the fox trot in six different directions."

On the November 14, 2003,
broadcast of the NewsHour, Brooks said of the Bush administration: "Well, the good news about them is that they won't admit mistakes, but they are ruthlessly pragmatic when forced to be."

But it was not until his appearance on the Chris Matthews Show that he mentions how BushCo is intentionally decieving the American public.

MATTHEWS: Do you think there's a problem with this? I remember when the president wrote in his diary -- his father, President Bush senior -- "you know, I picked [former Vice President Dan] Quayle the first time around, and I wish I hadn't. But I'm stuck with him, and I can't admit it." Is there a problem with this president simply admitting, "I put the wrong people at certain jobs, I didn't get back fast enough to the White House, I wasn't calling the orders fast enough?"

BROOKS: From Day One, they had decided that our public relations is not going to be honest. Privately, they admit mistakes all the time. Publicly -- and I've had this debate with them since Day One; I always say admit a mistake, people will give you credit --

MATTHEWS: Who do you debate this with?

BROOKS: With people who work in the White House.

MATTHEWS: I thought you were talking about with the president in the back room. [laughter]

BROOKS: Not with him, but they represent what he believes, which is, if you admit a mistake, you get no credit from your enemies, and then you open up another week's story, because the admission of a little mistake leads to the admission of big mistakes and another week's story. It's totally tactical and totally insincere.

Why the media continues to soft-pedal around the actions of this administration is beyond me. You know for a fact that the Bush administration makes it part of their policy to lie to the media and the American public - on purpose - and you don't say anything about it until now?

FEMA tells you not to photograph the dead bodies? You become a collective of cringing violets.

Obviously, if the public knew about all of this bullshit, Dubya and the rest of BushCo wouldn't be in office today. To be sure, there have been some journalists who have actually spoken out. But I want more. I want a collective voice to rise up. I want the media to again become a government watchdog instead of a government mouthpiece.

Unless, of course, you look to bloggers to do your job for you.

Sep 11, 2005

Happy Birthday

One of my favorite BARBARians and allegedly the best kisser in the Bay Area, Scaramouche, is celebrating his birthday today.

Stop by and leave him a nice little birthday wish.

Sep 9, 2005

Finally. Some Accountability.

It must be quite humbling to have to face the fact that you're a grand failure, isn't it?

(Photo credit: Charlie Riedel - AP)

Friday Morning Vocab Lesson

I'm sure you've all seen this in some form or another. But I thought I'd reproduce it here, for your learning enjoyment:

BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a Cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

SITCOMS: (Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage). What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The J-Lo and Ben wedding (or not) was a prime example.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

404: Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested document could not be located.

GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake.

WOOFS: Well-Off Older Folks.

CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously farting while passing through a Cube Farm.

Now go forth and use at least one of these in a sentence today. I'm off to do some crop dusting.

Sep 8, 2005

Oh no he didn't.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, is blaming black people for the New Orleans disaster:

"This is a terrible situation and we need to have compassion. The truth is Black people died not because of President Bush or racism, they died because of their unhealthy dependence on the government and the incompetence of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco," said Rev. Peterson.

Are you fucking kidding me? There are SO many reasons why poverty and racism continue to thrive in this country. The US is NOT utopia; it is not perfect. We are not "there yet" in terms of racial and socioeconomic equality. Not yet. And as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has proved, we're not there - not by a long shot.

Who the fuck is this guy? And what is the deal with this so-called "brotherhood"? According to the organization's website, their mission is to "rebuild the family by rebuilding the man." Their vision statement reads like a well-meaning effort to help men get back on their feet and overcome life's challenges. Fair enough.

But this latest statement by Peterson makes me doubtful of the entire organization's integrity. Thanks, Peterson, for giving the right-wing more ammo to use to blame the victims.

Way to kick a brotha while he's down.

Robert Tilton Talks about Jesus

Click here. If you're at work, use the headphones. Prepare to laugh your ass off.

(Mad props to Ted for the link.)

Heh heh.

(Shout out to Cecilia for the great pic.)

Sep 7, 2005

Jonesey Nails It Yet Again

Please, oh please, read my friend's post over at Jones of the Nile. Jonsey is much more talented a writer than I, and he is in so much of a better position than I to write about these sorts of things.

Let the anger commence!

That's what you get!

The next time you feel like taking a piss in a cemetery, think again:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An inebriated Belgian woman died in a freak accident when she ended up beneath a heavy grave stone at a cemetery, local news agency Belga said on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old was on her way home from a bar in the Belgian town of Pulle in the early hours of Saturday when she took a short cut through the cemetery.

But she urgently needed to relieve herself and crouched down between two gravestones. As she lost her balance, she grabbed one of the stones which gave way and landed on top of her.

The public prosecutor's office said she died of suffocation as she was unable to lift the heavy stone.

Don't say I don't look out for you, my pretties.

(Shout out to Cecilia!)

Liberal compassion

I don't know if you could tell from my last post, but I am a little upset as a result of a heated political discussion I got into yesterday with a friend of mine (who is a conservative and a Bush supporter). I just had to reproduce this passage from Amy Sullivan's guest article in The Washington Monthly [emphasis mine]. I urge you to read the post, as well as the Joan Walsh article in Salon that Sullivan references.

We've heard the warning "this isn't about politics" over and over in the last few days. The hell it isn't. And I don't mean kicking Bush while he's down, just for the fun of it, although there are surely liberals eager to do that. For the rest of us, however, we're seeing the awful real world consequences of conservatism play out on our television screens. This is why we're liberals. We don't yell about poverty and racial disparities for kicks.

An evacuation plan that consists of telling people to get out on their own is NOT an evacuation plan.

I hope that this gives people on the other side a little more perspective on where I'm coming from, because I've had it with trying to explain myself.

My outrage continues

You say I’m bringing politics into the discussion about Hurricane Katrina? You say liberals are to blame for the finger pointing that’s going on? Let’s look at the actions of Michael “Brownie” Brown after the hurricane hit (courtesy of the NY Post):

September 7, 2005 -- The head of FEMA waited a mind-boggling five hours after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf before even contacting his boss about sending personnel to the area — then suggested workers be allowed two days to get to the ravaged region, shocking internal documents reveal.

One stunning Aug. 29 memo — sent from embattled Federal Emergency Management chief Michael Brown to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff — called killer Katrina a "near-catastrophic event," but otherwise lacked any other urgent language underlining the potential magnitude of the disaster.

Brown then politely ended his memo with: "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities."

In another note sent later to FEMA workers, Brown said one of their duties would essentially be to make the agency look good.

"Convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public," he wrote.
You don't think that's playing politics? Delaying action to ensure that you look good, and then wimping out by closing your memo with limp-dick niceties?

But they needed proper training before they could go out there, you say? One thousand firefighters gathered from Utah and throughout the United States assembled in Atlanta thinking they were going to be deployed to New Orleans to help out.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."
While FEMA's community-relations job may be an important one - displaced hurricane victims need basic services and a variety of resources - it may be a job best suited for someone else, say firefighters assembled at the Sheraton.

"It's a misallocation of resources. Completely," said the Texas firefighter.

"It's just an under-utilization of very talented people," said South Salt Lake Fire Chief Steve Foote, who sent a team of firefighters to Atlanta. "I was hoping once they saw the level of people ... they would shift gears a little bit."Foote said his crews would be better used doing the jobs they are trained to do.

Still think the President made all the right moves?

Think Progress posts a timeline of the Katrina response. (Courtesy of No More Mister Nice Blog.) Levees are breaking all over the place, but Dubya, ever the multitasking politico, takes time out to share birthday cake with John McCain (I'm sure McCain would have understood if Dub couldn't make it), talk Medicare with some senior citizens in California, rock out with some country star, then flys back out to Crawford, Tex-ass to finish up his vacation. Lovely.

Again, I assert to you, oh nonbeliever, oh stalwart supporter of Idiot President’s agenda, that our nation’s leadership is misguided and ineffective and just downright unacceptable. (Courtesy of Paperwight’s Fair Shot.)

Brownie needs to be fired. Dubya needs to be impeached. FEMA needs to extract itself out of the Department of Homeland Security and become, once again, a cabinet position.

Sep 6, 2005

The Fleecing of America

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly constructs (and reposts) this highly upsetting sequence of incompetence and bad decisions at the Dubya and FEMA levels which make the dismal relief efforts resulting from Hurricane Katrina so not a surprise anymore. For example, the budget for levee construction in Louisiana was slashed a little over a year ago. Funding for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project was also cut in June of this year. All of these cuts were made in order to fund that fat, bloated, maniacal war in Iraq.

All of this was done even though FEMA declared back in 2001 that a hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."

Stuff the "hindsight is 20/20" bullshit that I've been hearing. Give it a rest already. It's obvious that Bush's "leadership" has been incompetent from day one. Bush has managed to milk the sympathy angle for all that its worth post-9/11. But now, there are no excuses. His abilities as a leader are as fake and distorted as his face-to-face encounters with his constituency. Did you know that the Bush disaster area visits are, in reality, just modern-day Potemkin villages? No joke. Laura Rosen of War and Piece brings to our attention a German newscast of a Bush visit:

Clean-up operation only for Bush?

Where the US President visited the disaster area, aid units cleaned up the area. But only there. Reporting from Biloxi, ZDF correspondent Claudia Rueggeberg cited desperate inhabitants [of Biloxi telling her] Bush should have transported aid materials inside his limousines instead of a bunch of body guards and media correspondents.

Along his [Bush] travel route aid units removed debris and recovered corpses. Then Bush left and along with him, all aid troops left too. The situation in Biloxi remains unchanged, nothing has arrived, everything is still needed.
Can we impeach him now? What else do we need, seriously.

(Thanks to Gothamimage for the inspiration.)

Sep 1, 2005

Just thought I'd share.

President Bush was visiting a primary school and he dropped in on one of the classes. They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked the President if he would like to lead the discussion on the word "tragedy." So the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy."

One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and kills him that would be a tragedy."

"No," said Bush. "That would be an accident."

A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy."

"I'm afraid not," explained the president. "That's what we would call a great loss."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched the room.

"Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of a "tragedy"?

Finally at the back of the room little Johnnie raised his hand. In a quiet voice he said: "If Air Force One carrying you and Mrs bush was struck by a "friendly fire" missile and blown to smithereens that would be a tragedy."

"Fantastic!" exclaimed Bush. "That's right. And can you you tell me why that would be a tragedy?"

"Well," says little Johnnie, "It has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be an accident either."

(Shout out to Amanda!)