Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Second Blogiversary

Exactly two years ago, I typed out the introductory post for my very first blog. Back then it was called The Last Duchess after a favorite Browning poem; later, I decided to use my online nickname, litbrit, which was simpler and far better known around Left Blogistan.

I've come to think of litbrit as a digital version of the spiral-bound pad I used to cannibalize for writing notes to friends or scribble in when I was supposed to be paying attention in trigonometry; a place to express my outrage--no matter that few people, if any, would be likely to lay eyes upon it--as well as a canvas of sorts, a place to hope and dream and sketch out my thoughts.

It's cliché, but I'll say it anyway: the time, she flies. So, before another year goes zooming past, let me take a moment to thank the many readers and fellow bloggers who've long been visiting (or only recently stumbled onto) my little outpost of eclectic ramblings. You're wonderful, inspiring friends, and I hope you know you're always invited to see what I've been up to back here at my desk while the Serious Stuff continues its neverending chalk-march across the blackboard.

And like all inveterate note-scribblers, I love it when people write back.


Hindsight, in Bush's Case: Blind As a Bat

From a December 1922 issue of the London Daily Express, via Andrew Sullivan.

(H/T oddjob)

Also at Cogitamus.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Our Buddhist Names

Feel like wasting a few minutes having a bit of fun? Go here and divine your Buddhist Name.

Herewith, the entire Cogitamus Crew, a deeply meditative bunch if ever there was one.

litbrit = Aspiration Eloquence Queen
Lisa Simeone = The Girl Giver of Bright
Sara E. Anderson = The Girl Perceiver Firmly-Established Glow
Stephen Suh = Constellation Youth King
Sir Charles = The Monk Upholder Repository
Ankush Khardori = Tripitaka Master Awesome Grains
Nick Beaudrot = Diamond Upholding King
Neil Sinhababu = Dharma Teacher Holder Moon Banner
Dymaxion John = King Ever Treasure

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's That Time of the Year

It's also the time when Ralph Nader gets the urge to run for president, and since this is actually an election year, TRex and I figured we'd follow suit and announce our candidacies as well.

Bushes are red;
Violets are blue.
Ralph and Atrios and now TRex and litbrit are running--
You might as well, too!

(H/T Jezebel)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oily Politics and Slimy Justice Systems

Photo via Greenpeace

Exxon: They're banking record profits. They're filling our atmosphere with dangerously earth-warming carbon emissions. And when, in the process of conducting business doing their dirty deeds, they happen to wreck a fragile ecosystem and disrupt the lives of thousands of citizens, they use every filthy trick imaginable to evade justice. Exxon will most likely never even begin to really pay, certainly not enough, for the cleanup and restoration efforts that, all these years later, have still not succeeded in removing the catastrophic quantities of spilled oil from the coastline of Prince William Sound.

And as for Exxon paying damages for the sins themselves? Please.

When a federal jury in Alaska in 1994 ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion to thousands of people who had their lives disrupted by the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, an appeal of the nation's largest punitive damages award was inevitable.

But almost no one could have predicted the incredible round of legal ping-pong that only this month lands at the Supreme Court.

In the time span of the battle -- 14 years after the verdict, nearly two decades since the spill itself -- claimants' lawyers say there is a new statistic to add to the grim legacy of the disaster in Prince William Sound: Nearly 20 percent of the 33,000 fishermen, Native Alaskans, cannery workers and others who triumphed in court that day are dead.

"That's the most upsetting thing, that more than 6,000 people have passed and this still isn't finished," said Mike Webber, a Native Alaskan artistic carver and former fisherman in the Prince William Sound community of Cordova. "Our sound is not healthy, and neither are the people. Everything is still on the surface, just as it was."

"The bottom line,'' said Tim Joyce, the mayor of Cordova, where half of the town's 2,400 full-time residents are parties to the suit, "is that there is still oil on the beaches. And this lawsuit still isn't finished."

The high court is scheduled to hear arguments on Wednesday on whether punishment is excessive or even permitted under maritime law. The case, Exxon Shipping v. Baker, may turn, in the eyes of the justices, on a nearly 200-year-old precedent set when privateer ships sailed the oceans, or on the more recent provisions of the Clean Water Act.

But in Alaska, the lawsuit is seen as a test of justice and corporate responsibility, and its resolution is seen as critical to healing the scars left by an epic event that defines the state's modern history, Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said in an interview.

(H/T Michael--Welcome to The Forties, dude!)

Also at Cogitamus.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For Sara

Join us in thinking good thoughts and saying a prayer for Sara of F-Words, who we are certain will be well and vibrant and strong in no time flat, rejoining our motley, lefty crew and rejoicing along with us in this historic year.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Schadenfreudelicious! Yet More Goodies From the Fantastically Hypocritical "Moral Right"

BREAKING...There must be something in the water that gets piped into the houses of certain Republican politicians in Arizona. In this case, something to help make doing the laundry a more rewarding task, perhaps:

WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Rick Renzi has been indicted for extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other charges related to a land deal in Arizona.

A 26-page federal indictment unsealed in Arizona accuses Mr. Renzi and two former business partners of conspiring to promote the sale of land that buyers could swap for property owned by the federal government. The sale netted one of Mr. Renzi's former partners $4.5 million.

The three-term Republican announced in August that he would not seek re-election because of the federal inquiry.

Last April, The Wall Street Journal reported that a real-estate developer and former business partner gave Mr. Renzi $200,000 as part of a complicated federal land swap that benefited the developer and would have required Mr. Renzi's legislative help. Mr. Renzi's attorney at the time said the payment was an unrelated real-estate debt. Investigators subsequently began looking into several other allegations, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service are planning to publicly discuss the case shortly.

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday Frank: Easy Meat Solo; Paris, 1980

So, do you fancy hearing an absolutely stunning FZ guitar solo on this gloomy gray February day?

Thought so. Enjoy!

Bon Weekend, everyone.

(H/T justanotherbrick)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On Gods, Monsters, and Smoking Guns

I've been closely following this terribly interesting scandale du jour and watched Senator John McCain's presser this morning. And I have to say, if ever there was a biased bunch of media folk--a group so emotionally invested in the shiny narrative of War Hero Turned Maverick God, they can't see the obvious, business-as-usual reality before them even as it sprouts fangs and scales and claws--it's the morning crew at MSNBC.

Morning Joe kicked off at 6:00 am with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski complaining away about how the NYT was so irresponsible, how this non-story had no substance because the reporters didn't name the two independent sources from the campaign (I mean, if you were one of those people, wouldn't you be a bit scared?), and repeating over and over that This. Was. A. Non. Story.

In fact, it was such a non-story, they exclusively devoted their lede fifteen minutes to it.

Then, to buttress their case, the hosts brought on several people, including Serge F. Kovaleski (the reporter responsible for the NYT's "Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part In Obama's Young Life" story.) Kovaleski underscored the point Ankush made in his post the other day: that newspapers don't like to spike stories when the sunk costs are high, and admitted that that was, indeed, why his own story ran, even though, despite his best efforts, there was really nothing new to say because he couldn't find anything on Obama that Obama himself had not already admitted in print. Kovaleski went on to speculate that perhaps his bosses had taken the same attitude toward this McCain story: that they had a lot invested in it, so they went ahead and printed it (implying that they did so regardless of the truth, whatever that might have been.)

Dismayed with the jaw-dropping one-sidedness I was witnessing--I mean, yeah, I get it, the MSM hearts The Maverick--I flicked around and found similarly-programmed talking heads on other cable news channels, all of whom were going on about the NYT being "the most liberal newspaper in America" and saying things like "of course they want to take McCain down".

One can only imagine these journalists jokers must have slept through the whole Judy Miller-Scooter Libby debacle, that they never read any of the Gore-bashing crapfest Maureen Dowd indulged in back in 2000, and that Bill Kristol's recent hiring went unnoticed. The most liberal newspaper in America? Not for many, many years. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

And, I would add, throughout my tour of the channels, I did not hear a single MSM hack mention that the Washington Post (that bastion of liberal ideology!) is also running the story, noting that Senator McCain did indeed engage in what he himself has long decried as "typical Washington tactics", including writing letters to the FCC on behalf of the focal point of this scandal--the lobbyist Vicki Iseman--and her clients:

In late 1999, McCain wrote two letters to the FCC urging a vote on the sale to Paxson of a Pittsburgh television station. The sale had been highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multipronged lobbying effort among the parties to the deal.

At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach.

McCain has argued that the letters merely urged a decision and did not call for action on Paxson's behalf. But when the letters became public, William E. Kennard, chairman of the FCC at the time, denounced them as "highly unusual" coming from McCain, whose committee chairmanship gave him oversight of the agency.

To my mind, the big story here--which is to say, the real problem for Senator McCain and his campaign--is not the existence or non-existence of an affair, past or present, with a woman who looks scarily like his current and former wives. I believe I speak for a majority of people in saying that I honestly don't give a rat's ass if a Powerful Politician is unfaithful to his or her first, second, or third spouse, or if he or she maintains an entire stable of girlfriends or boyfriends--or doesn't. I mean, so what? However--and this is the enormous however of our fractured fairy tale, boys and girls--it is a very big deal when said Powerful Politician accepts substantial monetary contributions from private corporate interests and quietly goes about hobnobbing with same--regardless of the "closeness" of his relationship to their lobbyists--using their private jets, and attending their fancy parties in Palm Beach (where, I assure you, even a modest hotel room costs four figures per night). Not, you understand, because it's wrong, per se, to live the high life--even when it's on someone else's dime, and yes, even when that someone else is clearly currying favor--because hey, our hero can always eat and run without as much as a bye-your-leave, right?

No, it is a big deal. Because at the very least--and I'm being charitable because the degrees of influence and sums of money in question are, at this point, fuzzy quantities--this behavior presents a dramatically different narrative from that which the Powerful Politician, the one whose sights, I'll remind you, are currently set on the highest office in the land, has all this time been proffering to the voters: My friends, I'm a different animal; I'm a straight-talker; I'm all about campaign finance reform--not for me the whole DC business-as-usual tack.

This is not a non-story. This is a huge story. With or without the sexy scandal angle.

UPDATE: With a twist of meta the likes of which you'll only see in political journalism, TNR's Gabriel Sherman offers some great in-depth analysis of the McCain story and the story-within-the-story. Apparently, the New York Times had been pouring reporters and resources into the scandal since late November, and all the usual forces and counter-forces conspired to keep the piece in limbo, for a while at least. Read it, and you'll come away with the same serious questions as to why the Times did not publish--and publish sooner--as opposed to why they did.

The McCain investigation began in November, after Rutenberg, who covers the political media and advertising beat, got a tip. Within a few days, Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet assigned Thompson and Labaton to join the project and, later, conservative beat reporter David Kirkpatrick to chip in as well. Labaton brought his expertise with regulatory issues to the team, and Thompson had done investigative work: At The Washington Post in the 1990s she had edited Michael Isikoff's reporting on the Paula Jones scandal, and in 2003 she broke the story that Strom Thurmond had secretly fathered a child with his family's black maid. Having four reporters thrown on the story showed just what a potential blockbuster the paper believed it might have.

From the outset, the Times reporters encountered stiff resistance from the McCain camp. After working on the story for several weeks, Thompson learned that McCain had personally retained Bill Clinton's former attorney Bob Bennett to defend himself against the Times' questioning. At the same time, two McCain campaign advisers, Mark Salter and Charlie Black, vigorously pressed the Times reporters to drop the matter. And in early December, McCain himself called Keller to deny the allegations on the record.


When the Times did finally publish the long-gestating investigation last night, the McCain camp immediately tried to train the glare back on the Gray Lady. In fact, McCain advisers stated that TNR's inquiries pressured the Times to publish its story before it was ready so this magazine wouldn't scoop the Times' piece. "They did this because The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there, the Judy Miller-type power struggles -- they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made The New York Times newsroom look bad," Salter told reporters last night in Toledo, Ohio.

This morning, after the piece ran, and as TNR's article was about to be posted, Keller finally responded to repeated requests for interviews. In an e-mail, he defended the substance, and the timing, of the story. "Our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready. 'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats." Important as the story may indeed turn out to be, it may have provided the Times' critics with a few caveats too many.

Also at Cogitamus.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Black Woman's Smile

Poetry is really speaking to me this week, it seems: I stumbled onto this video of a spoken word performance by the American poet Ty Gray-EL purely by accident yesterday evening (but there are no accidents, right?!) and shared it with a few friends, including TRex, who posted it on his blog. This morning, I dug around and found the words, too, for those who can't turn up the volume until they get home. Be moved; be inspired.

A Black Woman’s Smile
by Ty Gray-EL

Do you know how strong you have to be to make a black woman smile?
Do you have any idea what an accomplishment that is?
She has borne the weight of this country on her back for 400 years.
She has suffered the agony of unassisted, husband-less childrearing since the 1600’s.
Have you any idea how much strength it takes to put a smile on her face?
You need the strength of Sampson, the nerve of Joshua and the courage of David facing Goliath.
Cause she has cultivated in her womb the marvel of the universe, only to have her hopes and dreams aborted and her aspirations show up dead on arrival.
She has given birth to kings and queens and delivered on her majestic promise only to have her children kidnapped and sold to a criminal with no respect for her royalty.
If you can make a black woman smile, you are a miracle worker.
Imagine breastfeeding your child in Virginia and having snatched from your arms, branded; hijacked to Louisiana and publicly fondled on a New Orleans auction block.
If the memory of that pain was locked-bound in your DNA, would you be smiling?
If you breast-fed someone else’s child only to watch her grow old enough to call you Darky, Pickaninny and Nappy-headed Jigaboo, you wouldn’t be smiling either.
If you can make a black woman smile you have DONE something.
If you can make her smile you are stronger than Atlas, cause God knows she has been.
She’s been raped and ravaged and scorned and nearly annihilated.
She’s been pimped and pummeled and stoned and deliberately depreciated.
She has cooked and cleaned and sewn...and never been compensated.
She’s been forced to watch the offspring of her loins mangled and maligned across centuries.
Her character has been continuously smeared, assassinated over and over and over; again and again and again.
You ever thought about how strong you have to be, just to BE a black woman?
She’s had to make brick without straw after being stripped of all her customs, stripped of all her culture, stripped of all her traditions.
No other woman in the history of the civilized world has gone what she has gone through.
No other beings on the planet have endured what she has endured.
She’s been chastised, criticized, demonized and terrorized.
She’s had to stand when her man was bull-whipped for trying to stand.
She’s had to stand when her man was castrated for trying to stand.
She’s had to stand when her man was hung by his neck for trying to stand.
She’s had to carry her man, cause every time he tried to carry himself, he was murdered for trying to do so.
Ask Betty Shabazz about Malcolm; ask Corretta Scott King about Martin; ask Emmett Till’s mother.
If you can make a black woman smile you have achieved something.
Since 1619 when we came in chains, the entire world’s been messing with her brain, disrespecting her, calling her out of her name, and she’s tired, just plain Fanny-Lou-Hamer-tired.
Tired of being called B-words, and H-words and N-words and other-words and everything except the child of God that she is.
But the one thing in this world that will make a black woman smile is her man.
A real man!
If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do she will smile she will smile regularly and gladly.
So, man up my brother.
Man up and make your woman smile.
Treat her like the Queen that she is.
She deserves it.
And recognize this:
In all of God’s Creation there is nothing more alluring, more appealing, or attractive; nothing more beautiful, more charismatic, more charming or captivating; nothing more delightful, more elegant, or exquisite; nothing more fascinating, more gorgeous, more inspiring, or intoxicating; nothing more magnificent or lovely than a Black Woman’s Smile.

On Fear: Two Men; Four Quotes

"Get on the damn elevator! Fly on the damn plane! Calculate the odds of being harmed by a terrorist! It’s still about as likely as being swept out to sea by a tidal wave. Suck it up, for crying out loud. You’re almost certainly going to be okay. And in the unlikely event you’re not, do you really want to spend your last days cowering behind plastic sheets and duct tape? That’s not a life worth living, is it?"

-- Senator John McCain in 2004, in Why Courage Matters.

"The most important obligation of the next President is to protect Americans from the threat posed by violent extremists who despise us, our values and modernity itself. They are moral monsters, but they are also a disciplined, dedicated movement driven by an apocalyptic zeal, which celebrates murder, has access to science, technology and mass communications, and is determined to acquire and use against us weapons of mass destruction."

-- Senator John McCain on February 19, 2008, in a post-primary victory speech.

"We are proud of who we are.
We stand up for what we believe.
We keep our families together.
We trust in God but rely on ourselves.

Standing up for what you believe has nothing to do with being violent or being obnoxious because of some perceived oppression. This attitude has to do with a quiet determination to have your opinion explained and heard. To be effective, it also has to be respectful and fair. The most effective way of standing up is always going to be the nonviolent way, quiet but determined."

-- Homer Hickam, author of October Sky, The Coalwood Way, Sky of Stone, and We Are Not Afraid, describing the courageous and inspiring attitude of the residents of Coalwood, West Virginia.

"Despite the ills of our society, we largely live among compassionate, kind and optimistic people who are striving to do good. [...] Learn how to be happy and keep this in mind: You can't be happy unless you stop being afraid."

-- Homer Hickam, author, in a January 2008 eZine article.

Image via Howstuffworks.

Also at Cogitamus.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Those Who Muse About "Spreading Democracy" on This Day of Fidel Castro's Retirement

And who, while decrying the dictatorial splinter in the collective cornea of yet another palm-tree-lined nation doing us no harm, all the while ignoring the beam lodged in their own myopic eye; and who, to this day, and despite mounting evidence to the contrary, tell the citizenry that promoting freedom is what they've been doing all this time, even as the blood and treasure belonging to their own people continue to spill unabated while those occupied but not yet dead face an uncertain (but certainly violent) present and future; and who persist, inexplicably and without remorse or fear of reproof, in sanctioning further curtailment of that selfsame freedom with the suspension of habeas corpus and with every presidentially-approved, unconstitutional wiretap and illegal invasion of citizens' privacy, I offer the words of another notable Latin American:


By Pablo Neruda

An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence.

Also at Cogitamus.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The World: It's a Scary Frickin' Place

The ever wise and witty Glenn Grenwald reminds us that as of midnight this Saturday, we haven't been safe. In fact, worse than simply not safe, it's quite likely we're already dead.* That's right: by allowing the Protect America Act to expire--and by not caving in to President Bush's We Must Bend Over Backwards For The Awesome Telecom Corporations demands insistence that we live in fear forever and ever footstomping tantrums--we're letting the terr'ists win:

The President himself this morning dramatically intoned: "At the stroke of midnight tonight, a vital intelligence law that is helping protect our nation will expire." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gravely pointed out: "What will happen at midnight tonight is much more significant than stump speeches, steroids or superdelegates. On Sunday, the terrorist tracking program . . . no longer will be fully operational." National Review warrior and all-around tough guy Andy McCarthy fretted: "When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe."

This is one of the most bizarre propaganda dramas ever, even when weighed against other Bush Terrorism propaganda dramas of the past. There is one reason, and one reason only, that the Protect America Act expired. Its name is "George W. Bush." That is who refused to agree to the Democrats' offer to extend the law by 21 days (or longer), then repeatedly threatened to veto any such extension ("US President George W. Bush on Wednesday vowed to veto another temporary extension of a domestic spying law"), then directed the always-obedient House Republicans to vote unanimously against the extension, which they (needless to say) did. This vital-to-our-safety piece of legislation expired only because George W. Bush repeatedly blocked its extension. It's just that simple.

In order to let you folks at home keep track of how long we've been dead*, The Heritage Foundation has helpfully put up a countdown clock, which, when Glenn last looked, confirmed that we'd all slipped the surly bonds of Earth some seven hours beforehand. This prompted commentary from some very shaken Greenwaldians, including rupert_c, who wrote:

Are you all insane? They have already flown passenger jets into American buildings before and they can do it again!!! Better give him what he wants. Anyone have a crown we can offer him?


According to Heritage, it's now been 7 hours, 6 minutes, and 39.55 seconds since expiration of the FISA "extention" (sic -- who can stay calm enough to spell correctly during a Doomsday crisis?). Is there anyone out there? Is there anyone left?

And if being dead for seven hours (and counting, and counting) hasn't got your, uh, dead-person's goosebumps a-rippling, perhaps Lee can get the message through your thick librul cadaver-skull: The world is a scary frickin' place:

*Via GG commenter Sailmaker, who asked: Does the clock go negative so that we can see how long we have been dead?

Also at Cogitamus.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Good Golly, How I Miss Molly

Further to Stephen's post about Texas finally legalizing the sale of what were, until recently, known as Representational Penis-like Models for Educational Purposes, here's the late, great Molly Ivins on the beat, as it were.

Via A Bird and a Bottle.

Also at Cogitamus.

Hillary Responds To Barack's Response

By Lee, with (g)Lee. For your primary amusement.

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hillary's Wisconsin Challenge

Lee Stranahan has some questions for Hillary, and the resulting video is spot-on, as ever.

And now I've got a question for Lee: Dude, do you ever get any sleep?!

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday Frank: With the BBC Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall; 1968

This is an early neoclassical piece that would later come to be known as This Town is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich, in the film 200 Motels.

If you're interested in hearing more of Frank Zappa's challenging and often heartbreakingly beautiful orchestral compositions, I highly recommend getting your hands and ears on a copy of The Yellow Shark. Start with the track Outrage at Valdez.

Bon Weekend, everyone.

Also at Cogitamus.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Holidays, Shmolidays

I didn't ask for sunshine, and I got World War Three...
Sex Pistols: Holidays in the Sun; 1978

Happy Valentine's Day, all you shiny, happy people holding hands and heading off to sparkling mountaintops and sunny beaches with your beloved this weekend.

Don't worry about the rest of us, the workaholics and mortgage-payers and family-obligated of the world; we'll just sit here pulling out our hair, chewing our nails to the quick, and toiling alone in the dark. The anarchy will still be going full-tilt when you get back.

(Grrr...somebody give me a large brick of dark chocolate, please. Quickly. I promise not to throw it at anything glassy or Chris Matthews-like.)

Also at Cogitamus.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Go Obama

Looks like it's 80's week at the Cogblog. Hey, after nearly eight years of Brussels sprouts, Lima beans, and liver, I Want Candy.

By our favorite political videomeister Lee Stranahan.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sentence of the Week?

On Wednesday, I nominated Stephen, who quipped,
"The vagina-voters will square off against the melanin-movement in a bloody battle for the soul of the Democratic party"

for Cogitamus Phrase of the Week. Today, I'd like to nominate Mister Leonard Pierce of Sadly, No! for All-Around Sentence of the Week (which I can do, you see, because phrases and sentences are different things, okay? Also, I'm a contributor and you're not.)

Anyway, Mister Pierce, who is bravely covering CPAC (hope you remembered your pinstriped hazmat suit and biohazard masks, sir) describes the crowd's reaction to John McCain thus:

He goes on to say the word “conservative” about eleventy seven billion more times, but honestly, he goes over like a lead balloon encased in a lead safe that has been thrown out of a lead airplane while someone plays Led Zepplein III.

Feel free to use comments to nominate any bits of lovely you've come across in recent days.

Exit--Stage Right, Even: Weighing in on Mitt Romney's Superspeedy Getaway

For your Friday morning reading, ah, pleasure, some miscellaneous thoughts on Willard's withdrawal.

In comments at Sir Charles' post last night, I composed a little bye-bye toast:

Farewell, Prince Willard of the Magic Undies.
We hardly knew ye, but thy words and plans
Were to us familiar and rank.
Thou underfuckingestimated us,
How well we knew it, how we'd seen before.
Be gone now! For the commonfolk must tend
To slaking thirst and dancing on the tables
Until the morrow comes, when work begins.

In a conversation on the cell with Baby Brother, the überconservative:

Me: "So you heard that Mad Mitt is out, huh?"

Baby Brother: "Imagine coming home to your wife and having to say, Honey, I just blew nearly forty million dollars...".

Me: "Would that be better or worse than being Larry Craig coming home and having to admit what you just blew?"

At breakfast this morning, upon hearing one of the MSNBC talking heads discuss the aforementioned sum:

Son Two: FORTY MILLION DOLLARS? He could have bought, like...(brief pause while his math-brain does its number-crunching thing)...twenty-five Bugatti Veyrons!

Methinks ol' Mitt would need to hang on tight to his Magic Undies
in this car, especially if Mr. litbrit were driving.

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday Frank: Ravel's Bolero*; 1988, Barcelona

Frank Zappa, this time wearing his conductor's hat, leads a stunningly talented crew of musicians. Ravel's sexy masterpiece sounds brassy and muscular--just better than ever, I think; Maestro is clearly in his dictatorial element and loving it; Ike Willis wears his Beer 'n Titties t-shirt.

For a few blessed minutes at least, all is right with the world. Enjoy.

And Bon Weekend, everyone.

(H/T bongolampo)

Also at Cogitamus.

*Yes, I've posted FZ performing Bolero before, a while back; this rendition of it is even more wonderful. Promise.

Devastation in Tennessee

For many Americans, the always-unpredictable winter weather took a horrifying turn for the worse this week as unimaginably powerful tornadoes tore across homes, schools, and stores. People are injured and homeless and heartbroken and, yes, dead. Please help if you can--every little bit will add up to a lot of support for our friends in Tennessee. Thank you, everyone.

From Monkeyfister, via my co-contributor, Stephen, at Cogitamus:

American Red Cross
Mid-South Chapter
1400 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104

United Way of the Mid-South phone in a donation at (901) 433-4300.

They take DIRECT donations, so you can skip all the National-level waste and delay, AND they serve nearly every community in the effected radius.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A New Look at Cogitamus

Hey, it will be spring before you know it--time to freshen things up a bit. Go and check it out.

Blue Paint Girl
by anonymous

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Time For a Break

The thrills, chills, and general excitement of SuperDuper Tuesday are sure to keep going well into the night, so take a break from the political madness and indulge in a little political incorrectness, courtesy of our friend TRex, who pleads : Alright, Republicans, Quit Yer Bitchin'.

(And if anyone is in any way offended, someone somewhere will probably might be sorry.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blogroll Amnesty Day

Bloggers Jon Swift and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo are the kind of friends a small blog like litbrit needs and wants. These gentlemen actually believe in helping smaller, less-famous blogs get ourselves and our ideas out there. They cite noble reasons like supporting freedom of speech and counteracting the echo-chamber effect of the A-list blogs monopolizing the Readersphere and getting most of the press while saying essentially the same thing all the time; however--and feel free to call me sentimental or wishful in my thinking (you wouldn't be the first)--I think they're doing it because they happen to be classy, superswell guys, as well as stand-up gentlemen of the highest order. Skippy says:

Today marks the three-day weekend celebration blog-burst of b.a.d., or blogroll amnesty day for short, and literally dozens of participating blogs will be participating.

Each blog will celebrate the unity of progressive infrastructure amenability by posting links to a handful of smaller blogs, thus giving exposure to diverse voices thru-out blogtopia, and yes, we coined that phrase!

We figure the only way to fight the great echo chamber of the hardly-ever-right is to create our own, and the best way to do that is to give linkage (hey, it's free!) to other writers with our same goals.

And Jon says:

I remember how difficult it was to get people to notice my blog when I first started out. "Build it and they will come," apparently only works with magic baseball fields. The only way to get anyone to notice my blog was to get them to link to me and that was not always easy. I linked to other bloggers and clicked on those links hoping they would notice my link in Sitemeter. I sent emails to other bloggers asking them to take a look at my latest piece or to add me to their blogrolls. I instituted my "Liberal Blogrolling Policy" offering to exchange links with anyone who linked to me. As more blogs began to link to me and add me to their blogrolls, a curious thing began to happen. More people came to my blog from those links and from Google. And many of those readers then visited the blogs that I linked to. Though it cost nothing to link to someone, I realized that on the Internet links are capital. Every link has value. And when two bloggers link to each other, they both profit.

In the spirit of the event, I'd like to turn readers on to a few of my own favorite reads:

I Am TRex is the recently-born brainchild of TRex himself, surely one of the funniest and most felicitous writers to grace the blogosphere. The best way to describe TRex's take on blogging is to tell you what he is not: he isn't politically correct (though he's most definitely politically astute); he isn't afraid--of criticism, Michelle Malkin (whom he's famously dubbed Stalkin' Malkin) or mean people in general; and he isn't a man who just thinks he's funny--he actually is. Bitingly so. But don't take this admittedly twisted Brit's word for it--go read him for yourself.

Harp and Sword, written by a breathtakingly erudite, multilingual, half-Apache/half-Irish retired Navy Seal and Vietnam veteran professional musician in recovery (whew!), offers grand stories of Native American ceremonies; outrageous recipes for all manner of foodstuffs as well as truffle-making adventures; gut-wrenching tales of surviving a life onstage (he never name-drops, but music aficionados can sometimes read between the lines, so to speak), all while addicted to the Bad Stuff; memories of warriors and war; and achingly beautiful descriptions of horseback rides through his beloved land in Arizona.

Darkblack is the Vancouver-dwelling musician and artist behind the infamous Joe Lieberman blackface illustration that some people didn't bloody get because, well, I have this theory involving deeply submerged PC heads and unforgiving intestinal tissue, but anyway. Without a doubt, DB's political illustrations pull no punches, and his wit is equally evident in his eloquent prose. (As an aside, I think his Nosferatuliani art was one of the best bits of lovely to hit the 'tubes last year.) You'll often find Darkblack's pics, including one of the keyboard-toting theropod himself, posted Chez TRex, too.

Movin' Meat is the blog of the mysterious Dr. Shadowfax, who describes himself as a "semi-accidental ER doc." He's also a family man, an Apple computer fan, and a wise and witty writer who chronicles the ups and downs of life in a busy emergency room located in the Pacific Northwest. Currently he's planning to shave his lovely head of Irish hair to raise money for children's cancer research. Visit him soon and throw a few bucks at St. Baldrick's, the aforementioned fundraising effort.

Poor Impulse Control is written by the irrepressible Tata. How does one describe Tata? She's wry and funny--a thinking Mama who defies categorization--and she recounts her life and times in a series of vignettes that are, like all good stories, quite habit-forming.

So, if you've got a blog of your own, consider adding these worthwhile reads to your blogrolls, and, of course, do e-mail the bloggers to let them know. Feel free to use Comments to let me in on any lesser-known blogs deserving of more attention.

Will I sound too much like the archetypical Dirty Hippie if I urge people to Share the Love? Fair enough. I'll do it anyway--Share the love!

Also at Cogitamus.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Sir Charles

These Are The Clouds

THESE are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye:
The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,
Till that be tumbled that was lifted high
And discord follow upon unison,
And all things at one common level lie.
And therefore, friend, if your great race were run
And these things came, so much the more thereby
Have you made greatness your companion,
Although it be for children that you sigh:
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.
-- W. B. Yeats

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Frank: Little Umbrellas; With Penguin Video

Oh, how I love this FZ instrumental piece, Little Umbrellas. The video quality is a bit spotty, but the penguins are adorable. I post this in honor of a certain fellow Cogitamus contributor who, legend has it, wears penguin-print pajamas while blogging.

Bon Weekend, everyone.

(And suffer me this one little suggestion: Please be nice to your significant other if he or she is sick. Ahem.)

(H/T alargedog)

Also at Cogitamus.


I'm shivering under a blanket right now, having taken as much Aleve as the bottle recommends to address my 103° F. fever as well as the searing pain in my throat. (Yeah, I know it's probably strep; I have an appointment with our GP in two hours. Grrr...bloody children and the oversized Petri dish of a parochial school they go to for daily infusions of education and contagion.)

Will I let that stop me from sharing this tasty bit of told-you-so about Fox News Noise, though? If you think a puny little microbe like Streptococcus pyogenes can keep me silent, you haven't been reading me very much. Naughty you.

Anyway, word on the street has it that Rupert's henchmen and high priests of the pancake makeup are sick, just sick, I tell you, and they're blaming their woes on none other than the Grand Old Party of Elephantine Debt, Death, and Destruction. From Eric Boehlert at Salon:

Bottom line is that Fox News is in for a very rough 2008. And the umbrella reason for that is quite simple: Eight years ago the all-news cable channel went all-in on the presidency of George W. Bush and became a broadcast partner with the White House. Proof of that was on display Sunday night, Jan. 27, during Fox News' prime-time "Fighting to the Finish," a "historic documentary" on the final year of Bush's presidency. Filmed in HD and featuring "unprecedented access," according to the Fox News press release, the show was pure propaganda. (I must have missed Fox News' "Fighting to the Finish" special back in 2000, chronicling the conclusion of President Bill Clinton's second term and his "extraordinarily consequential tenure.")

The point is that Fox News years ago made an obvious decision to appeal almost exclusively to Republican viewers. The good news then for Fox News was that it succeeded. The bad news now for Fox News is that it succeeded.

Meaning, when the GOP catches a cold, everybody at Fox News gets sick. As blogger Logan Murphy put it at Crooks and Liars, "Watching FOX News getting their comeuppance has been fun to watch. They made their bed, now they're having to lie in it and it's not too comfortable."

The most obvious signs of Fox News' downturn have been the cable ratings for the big primary and caucus votes this year, as well as the high-profile debates. With this election season generating unprecedented voter and viewer interest, Fox News' rating bumps to date have remained underwhelming, to say the least.

HaHaHaHaHa! Ow, that hurt. Wait, there's more:

The problem for Fox News is that it's the Democratic race that's creating most of the excitement, yet Fox News has been forced to mostly watch the race from the sidelines. That's because last winter, after the network tried to smear Obama for purportedly attending a radical Muslim school as a child, liberal bloggers launched an initiative to get Democratic candidates to boycott a debate co-sponsored by Fox News and the Nevada Democratic Party. (The boycott, powered by, was later extended to any and all Fox News debates.)

Oh noes...not the dreaded liberal bloggers! Cutting to the chase--of which more in a moment--the Dem candidates avoided Fox Faux News as though it were the Level 4 Ebola lab in Reston; CNN's ratings soared skyward along with excited, tuned-in moonbats everywhere; and O'Reilly et. al. are being kicked to the side of the road, soon to be abandoned, one imagines, like the fallen rusty wingnuts they are.

In the meantime, the rise of Sen. John McCain and especially Mike Huckabee, with his populist streak, has caused all sorts of consternation at Fox News. Even the conservative Weekly Standard took notice. The magazine recently wrote that "A lot of conservatives have problems with both Huckabee and McCain. Last night on Fox, for example, Sean Hannity could barely conceal his distaste for both pols."

And don't even mention Ron Paul's name to the folks at Fox News, who have stepped outside their role as journalists to try to kneecap the antiwar GOP candidate. The most blatant slap came right before the New Hampshire primary, when Fox refused to include Paul in a televised GOP debate, despite the fact that just days earlier Paul grabbed 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus -- nearly double Giuliani's tally.

Paul's Republican supporters became so incensed by the snub that they literally chased Sean Hannity through the New Hampshire night chanting "Fox News sucks!" and captured the scene in a homemade clip that really has to be seen to be believed. (To recap New Hampshire for Fox News: Hannity was pursued by a Republican mob, O'Reilly got into a shoving match with an Obama aide, and CNN grabbed more viewers. Now that's a week to remember!)

Here's Keith Olbermann's video of the mob of Paulbots running after Sean Hannity in New Hampshire, no doubt wishing they could hold torches aloft:

Go Paulbots!

Now that was truly restorative, and I've yet to pop an antibiotic or vitamin C pill. Read the whole thing, as they say. And stay tuned.

Article originally published at Media Matters; photo of stuffed Ebola virus via Wikipedia.

(H/T oddjob)

Also at Cogitamus.