Saturday, April 28, 2007

Funny stuff

Here are some good political cartoons as collected by Bob Geiger.

Poor David Broder!

I've met Washington Post columnist David Broder a few times over the years and, until fairly recently, had always admired his work. His reputation as the dean of political journalists had seemed to me to be well-deserved.

Lately, however, Broder seems to have lost it. He seems to have become stuffy and ideological, elitist and irascible. Upon noticing that his work in the past two or three years was less than stellar, I was surprised. I had not been as regular a reader of his columns over the previous decade. When critics resurrected his stuff from during that period, I was stunned to see how lame it was.

Granted, my career as a political writer isn't a pimple on the ass of Broder's. But then, I've never been hailed as the dean of anything, and my work hasn't ill-served the American public as Broder's has since the late 1990s.

The problem that David Broder has become is well-surveyed in this piece by Jamison Foser.

UPDATE (Sun., April 29): Frank Rich of The New York Times takes a swipe at Broder this morning in a column that makes other unsettling points about the failures of the mainstream media.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pope coming to America

The Vatican confirmed today that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the United States on some unspecified date at the invitation of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

It'll be interesting to see if the pontiff makes nice with any prominent officials of the Democratic Party. I mention that matter in light of how Bishop Thomas Doran of the Catholic Diocese of Rockford feels about Democrats.

You might recall that Doran kicked up something of a fuss last August when he wrote a column in the diocesesan newspaper denouncing the Democrats as the party of "abortion, buggery, contraception, divorce, euthanasia, feminism of the radical type, and genetic experimentation and mutilation."

Democrats should be unelected, Doran wrote: "Their continuance in public office is a clear and present danger to our survival as a nation."

Perhaps Doran expects that the pope will avoid pleasantries with any Democrats before first asking them where they stand on the issue of buggery.

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming that requires immediate action, according to a vast majority of Americans (including even 60 percent of Republicans).

Increasingly, the global warming deniers among us find themselves isolated as a weird little band of kooks.

Even Frank Luntz, a Republican spinmeister who once encouraged the deniers, has come to recognize the disturbing reality of the situation.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"One signature away"

As an Illinoisan, as an American, I'm glad to be represented by Barack Obama.

His comment today on Senate passage of a war-funding bill that includes a timeline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq succinctly framed the issue: “We are one signature away from ending the Iraq War. President Bush must listen to the will of the American people and sign this bill so that our troops can come home.”

Read about it here.

The wide, wide world of sportswriting

Mike Penner, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, wrote something in his column today that is unrivaled in the long history of his craft.

Hint: Penner's next column will be written under the name Christine.

Good luck, Mike/Chris. With some of the cretins to be found in the world of sports (this guy, for example), you're going to need it.

Rockford writer a hot shot in comics

Will Pfeifer, who writes about movies and things in the Rockford Register Star (and occasionally submits comments on The Rascal's posts), is making an ever bigger splash in the world of comics.

Pfeifer (pictured here with his twin brother Phil; Will's the one in the pink shirt) is a writer for DC Comics and has worked on Catwoman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, among other superheroes. His latest triumph is the Amazons Attack miniseries.

Here's the Wikipedia profile of Pfeifer, and here's a glowing piece from some Web site that considers comic books neat stuff. (Hat tip to Jenny Pollock for mention of this latter site in a Register Star blog item.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Moyers kicks liberal media butts -- big time!

In a 90-minute report on PBS tonight, Bill Moyers delivered an awesome roundhouse punch to the liberal media for its scandalously unquestioning acceptance of the Bush administration's lies during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

It's too bad that every American -- especially every journalist in the country -- didn't see this important documentary. PBS would do well to re-run it a few times over the coming weeks and months.

Moyers didn't plan it this way, but his devastating piece aired on the same day that this NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that most Americans aren't buying the Bush bullshit on the war anymore and are no longer afraid of being labeled unpatriotic by the die-hard hawks and right-wing nut cases.

The poll also shows that most Americans agree with the Democrats on setting a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

If Bush refuses to sign the war-funding bill, it is he, not the Democrats, who will have betrayed both the troops in Iraq and the American people.

Our precious bodily fluids, too

This letter to the editor in today's Rockford Register Star is unwittingly funny.

The snarky comment that goes with it is good, too.

Poor Laura! Poor George!

Laura Bush says "no one suffers more" than she and her man at the sight of all the carnage in Iraq.

After all, their daughters are serving in uniform, right? They're not?!

Well, then, there's no need to set a timetable for withdrawal of the troops. It's not like the Bushes are worried sick about Jenna and Barbara.

WaPo scribe calls Rockford guy "infamous"

Washington Post columnist Andrew Cohen has written a piece about how a group of "concerned Department of Justice employees" has blasted department hot-shot Michael Elston, a Rockford native, for his excessive ideological zeal.

Elston, you'll recall, has been implicated in the Prosecutorgate scandal, which has left Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hanging onto his job by a thread, with only President Bush still supporting him.

Several federal prosecutors have suggested that Elston might have criminally obstructed justice by trying to intimidate a couple of the U.S. attorneys who got canned last year by the Bush administration.

When the media drank W's Kool-Aid

PBS will air a scorching 90-minute documentary tonight in which Bill Moyers shows how the so-called liberal media played lapdog to the Bush administration in the dishonest run-up to the distastrous war in Iraq.

This is counterintuitive, of course, to the stereotype of the media painted by the zanies on the political right. Accordingly, some of them, like this guy and this guy, are soiling themselves in angst over Moyers' report.

Oh, by the way, another phony stereotype peddled by the rightists is that the insistence by Harry Reid and the Democrats in Congress to set a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is somehow out of sync with the thinking of truly patriotic Americans.

But consider, if you will, the opinions of this gang of retired generals.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Second Amendment

Last week's tragedy at Virginia Tech University has cast a renewed focus on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its guarantee of our right to arm ourselves.

The Rascal, for one, says that right should be completely unfettered. There's nothing in the amendment that allows for any exceptions. The wording is crystal clear: "(T)he right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I see nothing about exceptions for certain kinds of weapons. It doesn't say that we can have only rifles and shotguns, but not handguns. It doesn't say we can't have machine-guns or so-called assault weapons. It doesn't specify exceptions for any kind of arms. In other words, a law-abiding citizen with no record of mental illness should be free to obtain whatever weapons he or she desires.

If we allow the government to start chipping away at this right, our fundamental freedoms will be compromised. We should never say to ourselves: "Well, okay, certain reasonable limits on our right to keep and bear arms can be imposed." But who decides what's "reasonable"? Teddy Kennedy? Nancy Pelosi? At the end of that road lies tyranny.

No exceptions means no exceptions. In other words, if I want to own landmines, bazookas, rocket-propelled grenades -- even a nuclear device -- that's my business.

Oh, you say that rocket-propelled grenades and nuclear devices is going too far? You say that we have to draw a line somewhere? Well, then, you're obviously ready to concede that the Second Amendment doesn't mean what us purists say it means? You're willing to draw lines. You're willing to tell the government that it's all right, in the interest of public safety, to impose limits on the ownership of weapons.

What are you? Some kind of liberal?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Rascal's on a mission

Posting here will be light over the next few days as I head off to Springfield to impart a bit of wisdom to the fine folks who make the laws in this state.

Upon my return, we'll have plenty to talk about.

Perhaps Alberto Gonzales will have resigned by then. Maybe Karl Rove will have overcome his fear of Sheryl Crow. And the good burghers of Belvidere might have figured a way to recover from their self-inflicted wounds with respect to public education.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Too bad Harlem High won't do it again

The current Broadway revival of the play "Inherit the Wind" brings to mind the huge controversy of 44 years ago this spring when a teacher at Harlem High School in suburban Rockford staged a student production of the piece.

The play, the movie version of which starred Spencer Tracy and Frederic March (above), is based on the celebrated trial of John T. Scopes, a high school teacher in Dayton, Tenn., who was arrested in 1925 for teaching biological evolution in defiance of state law.

In 1963, Harlem High dramatics teacher Ruth Ann Johnston's plans to put on the play prompted objections from some folks on biblical grounds. School Principal Harold Moore and District Superintendent Carl Dannenfeldt bowed to the pressure and told Johnston to find another play.

When Johnston refused, the School Board told her she couldn't use the Harlem auditorium for such blasphemy, whereupon she and her students accepted an offer to stage the play in a local movie theater.

Johnston subsequently was fired. The flap drew national attention, and hundreds of Harlem district taxpayers signed a petition seeking Johnston's reinstatement, but to no avail.

Wouldn't another fuss like that be fun these days? And a rousing debate about evolution would do the community good.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Rockford's doofuses vs. Belvidere's

The big difference between the outcomes of important referendums (or referenda, for you Latin scholars) in Rockford and Belvidere in Tuesday's elections is that a greater percentage of Rockford's nitwits stayed home.

You see, political decisions are best left to people who know what they're doing. When too many morons get involved, the result is usually a disaster. The basic principle is that only about one in every four registered voters is qualified to make even a marginally intelligent decision at the polls.

Rockford needed a change in how it pays for street repairs, and Belvidere needed money to operate its public schools. Rockford got what it needed because only 26.6 percent of registered voters turned out. Belvidere did not get what it needed because 43.2 percent of its registered voters did turn out.

So, Rockford awoke Wednesday morning to a slightly brighter future, while Belvidere awoke to big problems.

The moral of the story is that we shouldn't encourage people to vote. Folks who know what they're doing generally don't need encouragement.

UPDATE: This guy is especially pissed about the result of the Rockford referendum.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I told you this was going to be fun

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seems not to be doing himself much good with his testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One Republican member of the panel declared that Gonzales should resign, and CNN is reporting that White House officials are greatly dismayed at the AG's performance.

Why doesn't the Bush administration cut its losses here and show the man to the door? After all, most Americans want him out, and that situation is not likely to change unless he suddenly comes up with a cure for cancer or singlehandedly captures Osama bin Laden.

But then, even if Gonzales quits, the fuss over Prosecutorgate probably isn't going to just disappear.

Recap of Rockford angle in Prosecutorgate

On the occasion of today's testimony by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation of the Bush administration's sacking of eight federal prosecutors, The Rascal offers a little background on the Rockford angle in this case.

Rockford native Michael Elston, a big shot in the Justice Department, allegedly intimidated at least one of the fired prosecutors by warning of unspecified retribution if the guy made a fuss about his dismissal.

Here's a good background piece on the matter, including suggestions by several of the sacked prosecutors that Elston might have committed a crime if the allegation of intimidation is true.

This should be fun

U.S. Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales testifies today before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the matter of the Bush administration's questionable dismissals of eight federal prosecutors, an issue that most Americans consider worthy of investigation, despite arguments to the contrary from die-hard supporters of the White House gang.

Madison blogger Griper Blade offers some background.

UPDATE: Dick Durbin gives Gonzales some pushback when the attorney general says criticism of him is criticism of dedicated career staffers in the Justice Department. See the video here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Rascal's not in it for fame or money

Not all bloggers are political, and some are not even seeking big audiences or noticeable influence. Some folks do this just for the hell of it -- creating diaries that perhaps nobody else will ever read or newsletters to small circles of friends and relatives.

Some blogs are devoted to relatively narrow interests, maybe migratory birds or Catholicism or the Penn State football team.

Countless other bloggers, however, have what they consider important things to say to the world. They want to comment on the passing parade of events, and they figure you'll enjoy or somehow benefit from their thoughts and observations. Maybe they just want to piss you off.

A large segment of this latter category consists of bloggers just dying to become prominent members of society's Chattering Class. This piece from the Wall Street Journal's Web site tells of the efforts and frustrations of these so-called pundits in their bids for fame and fortune.

Is The Rascal one of these wannabes? Nah! For me, this is just a way to vent. However, if you know of a TV or radio producer who's looking for brilliant analysis of current events, I'm your guy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007



UPDATE (April 18; 5:38 a.m.): OK, so the referendum was approved by a slightly larger majority of voters (57.63 percent) than The Rascal had predicted (54.7 percent). Still, my crystal ball did itself proud, if I say so myself.

Referendum outcome predicted here

There are still more than three hours before the polls close, but The Rascal, political seer extraordinaire, is ready to predict the outcome of the referendum on a sales-tax increase to pay for street repairs here in Rockford.

I've examined all the tea leaves, measured the prevailing political winds, taken into account the ideal weather, consulted certain people who have no idea what they're talking about, allowed for the various hidden factors, weighed the potential effect of astrological influences, counted customers at the Road Ranger gas station across the street from Chez Rascal and crunched all the numbers on our mainframe computers here at TRR world headquarters.

And now, before a single vote has been counted, I'm ready to give you the referendum result: The tax question will gain approval from 54.7 percent of voters. That's not exactly a landslide (which, according to tradition, requires at least 55 percent), but it's pretty damn close.

If the official tally is within one percentage point of my prediction, I will proudly lay claim to accuracy in this exercise. Any wider variance I will blame on a computer glitch.

UPDATE (6:07 p.m.): On the basis of this story, The Rascal can say with full confidence that most Rockford residents don't give a rat's ass whether the referendum passes or not. What a bunch of morons!

Right-winger gets a slamdown

I love how this letter to the editor in today's Rockford Register Star has drawn a couple of good rejoinders from better-informed folks. (Scroll down to see the responses.)

In the days before the RRS had a Web site that allowed for responses to letters and articles, such drivel as that peddled by the letter-writer in this case would go unanswered unless someone bothered to write a response, which wouldn't get published at least for a few days (and then without benefit of the entire text of the first letter appearing with it).

Yes, the Internets (as George W. Bush calls this medium) is a wonderful thing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tommy says something stupid

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, whose candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination has been a secret to all but the most politically-minded of Americans, managed today to diminish his already miniscule chances.

In a speech to a Jewish group, Thompson approvingly referred to a centuries-old negative stereotype of Jews. He later apologized, but the remark could not be dismissed as a mere slip of the tongue.

Atrios has the story.

What I don't understand about Thompson is why he thinks his bid for the White House is worth the bother. Absent the most unlikely sequence of events imaginable, he isn't going to make it. Maybe he sees himself as a dark horse candidate for the vice-presidential nomination on the basis of geography and his Catholicism.

Nut cases seize upon Virginia tragedy

The authorities haven't even finished counting the dead and wounded in today's shooting spree at Virginia Tech, but the wackos already are touting their conspiracy theories on the Internet.

These two guys have especially fertile imaginations. They think the shootings were part of a government plot to advance gun control.

We can expect a lot more of this stuff in the coming days, months and even years in connection with this awful event.

Typical Fox News watcher: Duh!

A new poll shows that regular viewers of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and regular readers of newspapers are more knowledgeable on national affairs than are regular watchers of the Fox News Channel.

Moreover, survey results showed more Republicans than Democrats in the least-aware group of respondents.

Of course, readers of The Rockford Rascal are far too few to have been included in the poll, but they doubtless would have acquitted themselves well.

Rightists to Bush: Dump 'Berto

Under the banner of the American Freedom Agenda, a bunch of influential conservatives is telling President Bush that he should fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "for the good of the country."

The group's letter to Bush says Gonzales "has presided over an unprecedented crippling of the Constitution's time-honored checks and balances...has brought rule of law into disrepute, and debased honesty as the coin of the realm."

Gonzales is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee in its investigation of the Bush administration's firing of eight federal prosecutors.
UPDATE: Gonzales' appearance before the Senate committee has been postponed until Thursday because of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The campaign continues

This guy down in Moline seems like a reasonable fellow, and The Rascal is inclined to agree with the points he makes.

But alas, he's among the majority of Americans (too many of whom are liberals) who labor under the misassumption that the U.S. Constitution created three "co-equal" branches of government. It did not, as I've been tirelessly preaching here for the past few months.

Actually, the Founding Fathers intended the legislative branch to be supreme.

Here's what I said about the matter a couple of months ago.

Why don't many blacks play baseball?

On this 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in baseball, only nine percent of big leaguers are blacks.

It occurs to The Rascal that too many African-American kids have dreams of playing in the National Basketball Association. They would do better to try baseball, where even relatively short or stocky players can make it if they have the abilities.

Community leaders in Rockford, which has a sizable black population (and which has rich baseball traditions dating back to the game's earliest days), would do well to promote this greatest of sports in the schools and at the neighborhood level.

Hooray for Chicago Olympics??

The conventional wisdom is that holding the 2016 Olympics in Chicago, which is possible now that the Windy City is the U.S. contender in the competition for host locale, would be good for the American heartland in general, including (as it says here) the Rockford area.

But this guy warns of a potential downside.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mr. Straight Talk on his way out

The man is losing ground in the polls and running short on money. Pretty soon, he's going to slip into the lower tier of GOP hopefuls alongside such cretins as Tom Tancredo.

His dire situation is detailed here and here and here.

Of course, the biggest of McCain's problems is that his candidacy is entirely dependent upon the U.S. military surge in Iraq succeeding. In that regard, he has no Plan B, as we see here.

The surge so far is a big failure. At least 289 people were killed in Iraq just today, as noted here. Earlier this week, a suicide bomber managed to penetrate the Green Zone in Central Baghdad, presumably the safest spot in the whole country.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Circle April 25th on your calendar

On that Wednesday night, PBS will air a 90-minute documentary that details not only the lies with which the Bush administration sold the war in Iraq but also how the so-called liberal media disgracefully bought into it all.

That includes PBS itself.

Here are some details of the program.

If you've got seven minutes to spare...

Pour yourself a toddy, take the phone off the hook and enjoy the political comedy stylings of The Rascal's special guests, Jon Stewart and John Oliver.

Ready? OK, click here.

Here's the guy who bought the RRS

Mike Reed, the boss at GateHouse Media, the new owner of the Rockford Register Star, was profiled last month in Editor & Publisher.

The paper's editors and staffers likely will be pleased to read this stuff at the bottom of the piece:

"Reed vows there's one area in which GateHouse papers will not be hearing any dictates from HQ in the Rochester suburb of Fairport, N.Y. 'One thing we're not centralizing is really the core of the business -- and that's content,' Reed says. 'Our publishers and editors all know their markets.'

"The only mantra, he says, is that editorial content should be predominantly, if not completely, local. But he adds that there will be no micromanaging: 'We will do what we can to help our papers, but if we went to our daily in Devils Lake, North Dakota, and tried to tell them what to do, it would be a disaster.'"

Another Vonnegut quote

When author Kurt Vonnegut died the other day, we posted a few quotes from him, and now we've gleaned another from

Vonnegut offered this observation just a few years ago:

"I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka 'Christians,' and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities."

UPDATE: OK, one more Vonnegut quote: "Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand."

Bogus poll

The Freeport Journal-Standard, which soon will be a sister paper of the Rockford Register Star, has a bogus poll question on its Web site today. It reads:

Do you think President Bush should veto any legislation presented by Congress to stop funding the Iraq war and redeploy American troops?

But Congress has voted to increase funding for the Iraq war and to set a deadline for redeploying American troops, and Bush has threatened to veto the measure.

Of course, any online poll is inherently bogus, no matter how the question is phrased. I don't know why so many media sponsor such crappy polls -- and then pretend to have absolved themselves of irresponsibility with disclaimers that the surveys are unscientific and are just for fun.

As I noted here in another context a couple of months ago, when numeric values from an unscientific poll are reported -- even with a disclaimer -- the public has been ill-served.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stem-cell breakthrough

About six weeks ago, I noted here that I find religious arguments against embryonic stem-cell research to be unavailing in light of various factors, including the points made in this explanation from neuroscientist Sam Harris:

“A three-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. The human embryos that are destroyed in stem-cell research do not have brains, or even neurons. Consequently, there is no reason to believe they can suffer their destruction in any way at all."

Today, a friend of ours up in Madison had this news on the subject.

Let's be clear about this

As we cobble together the new rule book on public discourse in the wake of L'Affaire Imus, let's not get carried away.

The Rascal, for one, reserves the right to criticize annoying blacks like Al Sharpton, annoying Jews like Joe Lieberman, annoying Christians like Pat Robertson, annoying Muslims like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, annoying women like Ann Coulter, annoying homosexuals like Rosie O'Donnell, annoying handicapped folks like Charles Krauthammer, annoying Hispanics like Alberto Gonzales, annoying old people like John McCain -- and anybody else who annoys me, regardless of their age, race, religion, ethnic heritage, sexual orientation or physical condition.

Of course, I also reserve the right to criticize anyone who attacks any of those people listed above on the basis of their age, race, religion, etc.

So, I've got all my bases covered, right?

The Rascal feels slighted

So, how come I'm not on this list?

Prosecutorgate has Wisconsin angle

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, which has been riding herd on the prosecutor scandal, has an update on the stink emanating from Wisconsin.

Check out Marshall's video report here.

For more background on how the Bush administration has pushed federal prosecutors to pursue trumped-up voter-fraud cases, check this report from The New York Times.

On top of all of this, we now have the White House claiming that e-mails that might shed further light on these matter have somehow disappeared. More on that here.

Imus buys Rockford Register Star

No, wait a minute. That's not it. Uh...Register Star fires CBS? No.

The Rascal stepped out for a few hours this afternoon, and a couple of major media stories suddenly broke:

1) The Rockford Register Star has been sold by Gannett to an outfit called GateHouse Media, and 2) Don Imus got canned by CBS, which was inevitable after MSNBC dumped him.

As for the newspaper deal, the one big downside is that GateHouse has an intercapitalized name, which would be punishable by imprisonment if The Rascal ruled the world.

You know what I'm talking about, right? A couple of decades ago, some corporate dimwit thought it would be cleverly modern to tweak his company's name by shoving two words together while maintaining the capital letters at the start of each, as in AcmeWidgets. Well, now we've got countless such contrivances, like SwedishAmerican Hospital -- and GateHouse Media.

As for Imus, what can I add to what's already been said? Good riddance!

Is your car gay?

Homophobic men don't fear gays so much as they fear being perceived as gay themselves. That's why they tend to overdo the macho thing, and that's why TV and radio commercials for men's products and services are narrated by guys with overly masculine voices.

That's also why so many men with no practical need for them will buy pickup trucks or vehicles that can climb rocky, off-road hills. These dudes are deathly afraid that someone might see them as wimps.

Which brings us to this story in The New York Times today about so-called gay cars.

Right-wing scribe says the war is lost

Robert Novak says the death toll among U.S. troops is "skyrocketing" and predicts that a pullout will begin by year's end.

Read it here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bedtime prayer

Lord, please arrange for CBS to fire Don Imus post haste so that I can watch TV news again without the unpleasant likelihood that I'll be affronted by Al Sharpton. I'm not kidding about this. Amen.

Al Gore coming to Belvidere?

Could be, if something like this happens.

Kurt Vonnegut is dead

The author of the unforgettable "Slaughterhouse-Five" was 84.

The NYT obit is here.

The Rascal's favorite Vonnegut quotations:
  • I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.
  • I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.
  • We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
  • We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.
  • True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
  • The insane, on occasion, are not without their charms.

Who buys rap and hip-hop?

The national conversation spawned by the Imus affair includes a lot of talk about offensive lyrics in rap and hip-hop (ahem) music.

An interesting take on that angle is offered here:

"The majority of consumers in this country for hip-hop are in fact White. It is White-owned corporations that own the record labels that produce hip-hop. It is predominantly White-owned music channels like MTV that push the ghettoized image of Blacks on America, Black and White, because of their vested interest in portraying Blacks as exotic, dangerous and appealing to White suburbanites with a lot of disposable income."

You can read the whole thing here, but be warned: This guy actually approves of Michelle Malkin, an unpleasant peddler of right-wing nonsense.

The dog ate their homework

This is almost funny:

The Bush administration, which has been conducting some of its business via Republican Party e-mail accounts (as we've learned in the Prosecutorgate scandal) says that, gosh, some of those e-mails have been lost.

This admission comes, of course, just as congressional investigators have subpoenaed some of those e-mails.

Is this criminality, incompetence or both?

Remember the guy who got booed off the stage at Rockford College?

Chris Hedges is his name, and he's got a provocative piece right here.

Imus out at MSNBC

Good riddance!

Here's the story.

Of course, this means that CBS also will have to drop the Imus radio show. I'll be surprised if it doesn't happen before the night's out.

CBS can't allow itself to stand by a racist, sexist guy like Imus after a rival network canned him.

Next stop for the I-man: satellite radio.

Mark this, too: A racist, sexist scum like Rush Limbaugh is going to have to clean up his act as well, or the pressure on stations that carry his garbage will be intense.

This is beyond ridiculous

Barack Obama seems not to have reacted to the Imus controversy quickly enough to satisfy some pinheads.

Notice that this drivel was not in some right-wing rag like the Washington Times. It was in the Boston Globe, a paper owned by The New York Times.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Same old crap

In the May issue of Vanity Fair magazine, presidential historian Robert Dallek has an excerpt from his forthcoming book about Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.

The following passage tells us that some Republican tendencies haven't changed in the past 38 years:

Using language that has a painfully contemporary echo, Kissinger and Nixon
very quickly came to private conclusions about Vietnam that they never revealed
publicly and denied entertaining. "In Saigon the tendency is to fight the war to
victory," Nixon told Kissinger, according to the transcript of a 1969 phone
conversation. "But you and I know it won't happen—it is impossible." Even so,
according to [Nixon aide H.R.] Haldeman's unpublished diaries, Nixon later urged that Democratic critics making this same point should be labeled "the party of surrender."

About that Imus thing

The Rascal has been absent from his post for the past several days, during which time I've given considerable thought to radio blabber Don Imus' racist and sexist references to the women's basketball team at Rutgers and to the reactions they've engendered.

Some people -- this guy, for example -- contend that the two-week suspension of Imus' show by his bosses at CBS and NBC amounts to enfringement of his free-speech rights, but I disagree. No government has silenced him. Rather, the networks merely have exercised their rights to air or not air whatever they want whenever they choose. As for the people who are howling for Imus to be fired, they, too, are only exercising their rights. Imus is still free to say what he wants, but that freedom doesn't give him a right to force himself on any network that doesn't want to have him.

On the other hand, I would be loathe to join in any organized boycott of Imus' advertisers. That kind of thing goes too far in discouraging controverial expression on the airwaves. At the end of that road lies the programming of only pablum.

My prediction is that Imus will get fired and will flee to the unrestrained medium of satellite radio where he can wallow with the execrable likes of Howard Stern.

Among the hundreds of things I've read about this controversy, I find this one and this one especially worthy.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

"From Prosecutorgate, every road leads to..."

This guy thinks the scandal over the Bush administration's firing of eight federal prosecutors (all of whom were Republicans, which some casual observers seem not to have noticed) will end with the president's removal from office.

The Rascal has his doubts, but we'll see.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Prosecutorgate heats up

Monica Goodling, the top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has resigned amid the scandal over the Bush administration's firing of eight federal prosecutors, all of them Republicans.

Goodling previously indicated that she will invoke Fifth Amendment protections against incriminating herself rather than testify before congressional committees investigating the matter.

The Rascal still wonders if some potential dynamite in this case has been produced by the closed-door testimony given last week by Rockford native Michael Elston. What we know about Elston is summarized here and here and here.

A useful and fairly well-detailed account of the controversy up to this point is available here from Wikipedia.

WaPo is "not a liberal paper"

This stuff is good not only for the remarks by Chris Matthews and Eugene Robinson, but also for the comments at the bottom.

Of course, none of this is going to make any sense to the mouthbreathers who listen to Limbaugh and watch Fox News. But so what? Their judgments on what constitutes liberalism and what doesn't have no validity to anyone who walks upright, anyway.

This is fun

Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera politely exchange views.

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming that could lead to the extinction of one-fourth of the world's species, according to a new report from 2,500 scientists.

Oh, that global warming.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

That Dick Cheney's a funny guy

So, this Democrat says the committee he heads in Congress will no longer officially refer to a "global war on terror."

So, then Dick Cheney says this Democrat guy is doing a bad thing. And whole bunches of right-wing opinionists jump on this Democrat guy and accuse him of everything from terrorist sympathies to the Lindbergh kidnapping.

So, then the good guys, the lefties in the blogosphere, remind one and all that various poobahs in the Bush administration, including Bush hisself, have been urging for several years now that the "war on terror" label be dropped in favor of something else.

Boy, you can't make up this kind of stuff.

Here's the story (with useful links).

When will McCain drop out?

This guy says the former Mr. Straight Talk might soon be headed for honorable loserville.

Well, as Chuck Berry might put it: Go, go, go, Johnny, go.

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming that will be the subject of a debate between John Kerry and Newt Gingrich.

Hear, hear!

This cheesehead has a pretty good idea.

UPDATE: This guy seems to be entertaining the same idea.

Remember Denny Hastert?

Republican Dennis Hastert, whose congressional district in northern Illinois covers part of what we call RascalLand, used to be speaker of the House.

We haven't heard much about Hastert since the Democrats took control of Congress. But we would do well at this particular time to remember something he did back in 1997, something that relates directly to the current controversy over the visit to Syria by his successor as speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

You see, lots of Republicans and lots of their friends in the media have been making a big fuss about what they see as Pelosi improperly insinuating herself into U.S. foreign policy. But these same people seem not to have objected when Hastert took a trip abroad a decade ago and encouraged foreign leaders to ignore President Clinton and deal directly with the Republican Congress.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Americans generally take a dim view of George Bush's handling of foreign policy.

UPDATE II: By the way, a Republican congressman also visited Syria this week, and he bad-mouthed Bush while he was there.

Dire warning

Blogging here likely will be light over the next few days, owing to other demands on The Rascal's time.

Deal with it, brave souls. On the other side of this dark spell lies a bright horizon.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A thought to end the day

Lots of American kids who were only in eighth grade at the start of the war in Iraq will be going off to college this coming fall.

Some others, of course, will join the military, and probably some of them will die in a war that began when they were barely 14 years old.

That was fast

Oh, what influence The Rascal wields!

Just the other day, I made a passing reference to the insufferability of CNN morning anchors Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien (not related). And now -- bang -- they're gone.

My next targets, should I choose to further alter the landscape of cable news, will be those strange people who work mornings on the Fox News Channel.

For now, however, I'll just let them sweat a bit.

This is funny

From sea to shining sea, our friends on the rabid right have been getting their undies all bunched up over the sight of Nancy Pelosi wearing a head-scarf on her visit to Syria.

The fools!

Obama's rolling in the dough

The junior senator from Illinois has roughly the same amount of campaign money as Hillary, despite the supposed superiority of her sophisticated fundraising apparatus.

More on Karl Rove and George Ryan

Last month, The Rascal told you of indications that White House miscreant Karl Rove had tried to block federal prosecution of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek magazine had more to say on that subject the other day on Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC.

UPDATE: In the related matter of the prosecutors scandal, even the Moonie Times and some right-wing Republicans in Congress think Alberto Gonzales is lying.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Monday, April 2, 2007

Is Elston making some folks nervous?

There's still no word on what Rockford native Michael Elston told the House Judiciary Committee last Friday, but this guy says people in the Bush administration seem to be a little jumpy about what Elston might have said.

Drudge does it again

About six weeks ago, Matt Drudge, the right-wing internet (ahem) journalist, posted the results of a poll that was so phony that even The Rascal found solid cause to dismiss it out of hand.

Drudge never apologized for his mistake. He just removed the post within five hours and never mentioned it again.

Now he's gone and screwed up again.

On Sunday, Drudge cited an unnamed source in reporting that Michael Ware, who covers Iraq for CNN, "heckled" and laughed at Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham at a news conference in Baghdad.

The story was completely false, as videos of the news conference eventually attested. But countless conservative blogs (including some of the biggies) already had seized upon Drudge's fable and played it as evidence that all the media this side of Fox News and the Moonie Times hate America and Jesus and frequently defecate on the flag.

Eventually, several of the more respectable of these rightists -- this one, for example -- acknowledged that, gee, apparently they were wrong. Drudge quickly dropped the matter and doubtless (as in the case of the phony poll in February) will never mention it again.

Here's the really funny thing about this episode:

The news conference at issue came on the heels of a stroll McCain and Graham had taken along Baghdad streets in an effort to back up McCain's claim of a few days earlier that the U.S. troop surge in Iraq had made the capital city relatively safe.

How safe? Well, not so much, it turns out. In fact, on their stroll, McCain & Co. wore bullet-proof vests, were surrounded by 100 U.S. troops and had three military helicopters flying just overhead.

For background and details on this Drudge debacle, check here and here and here and here.

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming in which the Bush administration doesn't believe, the global warming that the Bush administration is going to have to look into on orders of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oh, that global warming.

In case you missed this stunning report

"60 Minutes" aired this piece last night about how Big Pharma and its Republican friends in Congress rammed through a terrible piece of legislation in the dead of night.

It's a stunner.

No leaks yet on Elston's testimony

Rockford native Michael Elston met behind closed doors last week with the House Judiciary Committee, but Josh Marshall, the blogosphere's leading reporter on the prosecutors scandal, says there have been no leaks yet on what Elston had to say.

Another Fox News viewer?

This woman thinks Congress has voted to decrease funding for U.S. troops in Iraq.

In fact, it has voted to increase funding.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Baseball's back

Matt Trowbridge gets it right.

What global warming?

Oh, this global warming.

Time passes by

Stuff like this is why The Rascal let his subscription to Time magazine lapse a while back.

Newsweek isn't so bad, but it's no great shakes either. It, too, won't be arriving at Chez Rascal once the current commitment ends.

But Time is just awful. The once-proud franchise has slipped badly in the past few years.

Nor is its Time's corporate kin, CNN, much good. Larry King should be put out to pasture. John Roberts? Nothing. Paula Zahn? Ditto. The O'Briens (Miles and Soledad)) are insufferable. Wolf Blitzer is a crashing bore. (And what's the deal with Wolf standing there with a stack of papers and a pen in his hands on "The Situation Room"? They're just phonus balonus props apparently intended to convey the image of Wolf as an alert journalist prepared to take notes on the fly.)