Thursday, August 31, 2006

Quote of the Day

Eldridge Cleaver

Born: August 31, 1935

All the gods are dead except the god of war.
There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honor, beneath which are shielded and defended a people's safety and greatness.

(For Dave)

If it Quacks Like a Duck

Keith Olbermann is the serious Jon Stewart. He addresses the same issues and concerns, but without the laughs. As much as I like the humor of the Daily Show, sometimes we need to hear the words straight up.

Olbermann presented a "Special Comment" on Donald Rumsfeld's ghastly speech before the American Legion's convention in Salt Lake City, which should be required reading by all.

A video of Olbermann's Comment is available here: Prophet or Quack?.

Selected excerpts of the transcript:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

* * * *
Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right - and the power to which it speaks, is wrong. In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless. That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.

* * * *
The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth. Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at best morally or intellectually confused. That critic’s name … was Winston Churchill. Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

* * * *
Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards. His government, absolute and exclusive in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

* * * *
And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that - though probably not in the way he thought he meant it. This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

* * * *
Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow. But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral." Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954. "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

And so, good night, and good luck.
(Video and a complete transcript is also here: Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld)

UPDATE: Keith Olbermann has an updated Special Comment on the Ragings of Rumsfeld, Say Again?

Cartoon of the Day

* Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sans Soul

Maureen Dowd is on a roll. First she explores the psyche of the Presidents Bush --(see Like Father Like Son), and in Begat, Bothered, Bewildered, the souless current Bush in the White House on Katrina:

W.’s anniversary contrition for the cameras was a more elaborate version of his famous Air Force One flyover a year ago, when he had to be shown a DVD of angry news coverage of apartheid suffering here before he belatedly and grudgingly broke off his five-week Crawford vacation.

In an interview on the Upper Ninth Ward’s desolate North Dorgenois Street, the president told NBC’s Brian Williams that, besides Camus, he had recently read a book on the Battle of New Orleans and “three Shakespeares.” A White House aide said one of them was “Hamlet.”

What could be more fitting? A prince who dithers instead of acting and then acts precipitously at the wrong moment, not paying attention when someone vulnerable drowns.

The president bristled when the anchor asked about criticism that his inept response had to do with a “patrician upbringing” and about whether he was asking the country to sacrifice enough. “Americans are sacrificing,” he said. “We pay a lot of taxes.”

The last two days in Mississippi and New Orleans were W.’s play within the play. He took the role of the empathetic and engaged chief executive, rallying resources to save the Gulf Coast, even as the larger lens showed a sad picture of American communities that are still decrepit and hurting, while the Bush administration’s billions flow to reconstructing — or rather not reconstructing — Iraq.

* * * *

Instead, he gritted his teeth and put on his blandly optimistic cheerleader-in-chief role and talked about restoring “the soul’’ of New Orleans. It always makes me nervous when W. does soul talk.

* * * *

W. needs to restore the soul, not merely of the Big Easy, but of the White House.

(Dowd article also available at Rozius)

Can't Go Home Again

I heard this outrageous story on NPR, Father, Son Barred from Returning to U.S., about 2 U.S. citizens of Pakistani descent who were not permitted to return to the states after being placed on a "no fly" list. According to Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory, Still more unchecked powers for the Bush administration:

[T]wo U.S. citizens -- a 45-year old resident of the San Francisco area and his 18-year old son -- who, after travelling to Pakistan, have been barred by the Bush administration from re-entering the country. They have not been charged with any crime, and no court has ordered or even authorized this denial of entry. The administration is just unilaterally prohibiting these two Americans from re-entering their country.
Citing a San Francisco Chronicle article, 2 Lodi residents refused entry back into U.S., Greenwald relates:
According to the article, the two Americans have already submitted to an FBI interview, but one of them -- the American-born 18-year-old -- "had run afoul of the FBI when he declined to be interviewed again without a lawyer and refused to take a lie-detector test. " For those actions -- i.e., invoking his constitutional rights to counsel and against self-incrimination -- he is being refused entry back into his country. And the Bush administration is now conditioning his re-entry on his relinquishing the most basic constitutional protections guaranteed to him by the Bill of Rights.

Since neither of the two Americans are citizens of any other country, they are in a bizarre legal limbo where the only country they have the right to enter, the U.S., is refusing to allow them to return home. The Chronicle article quotes Michael Barr, director of the aviation safety and security program at USC, as follows: "You become what is called a stateless person, and that would be very unprecedented."

* * * *

But what possible authority exists for the Bush administration -- unilaterally, with no judicial authorization, and no charges being brought -- to bar U.S. citizens from entering their own country? . . . .

Over the past five years, this administration and its supporters have advocated empowering the Government to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely in military prisons without a trial, eavesdrop on their telephone conversations without any warrants, track and chronicle all of their telephone calls, and now bar their entry into the U.S. -- all without any criminal charges being filed and without any opportunity to contest the accusations, all of which are formed in secret.
See also, this NY Times article, U.S. Blocks Men's Return to California From Pakistan.

Daily Kos US Citizens denied re-entry to US, by fiat. No hearing. No charges. Just not let back in, notes:
It always starts with one "brown" guy.

One Bolshevik, one kulak, one "Enemy of the People", one Jew, one Japanese-American, one Communist, one educated person, one literate person, one Arab.

(Roughly in chronological order; I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to connect each "Enemy" to the society that demonized them. Feel free to add other examples.)

That one guy, or two in this case, is supposed to be our warning that it's time once again to fertilize the tree of liberty.

Because if we don't, suddenly it's not "just one" anymore; it's a thousand, a hundred thousand, six million, 20 million. And then everybody exclaims in surprise, "how could this happen in a civilized nation?!"
Reminds me of the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.
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Cartoon of the Day

* Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heckuva Job, George

And as the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina winds to a close, what better ending than Jon Stewart's tribute to the anniversary of Katrina: Katrina, Heckuva.

For the real scoop on the Rocky Vacarella story, see "Rockey I": If it sounds too good to be true....

And this video rendition of Kayne West's Gold Digger still rings true: "Help," cuz "George Bush does not care about Black People".

UPDATE: Never let it be said that I don't consider the conservative viewpoint. In President Bush Is Doing a Heck of a Job in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina, Jon Swift defends Bush's handling of Katrina (for more, see Swift's blog, Jon Swift).

Everything is Gone

One year later.

Allen Watty has a song and slide show for the anniversary of Katrina.

Hurricane Song By Allen Watty

(Photo via Quaker Agitator)

Tags: ,

Cartoon of the Day

* Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer

Expletive Deleted

Although I am a lawyer today, I was an English major in college, so I have an affinity for words. I take it as a compliment when I'm told I don't sound (or write) like a lawyer. I like to think that I have an extensive vocabulary (and can pen an awesome, scathing letter to an opponent, as needed).

Many of my friends and colleagues find it surprising that part of my linguistic repertoire includes George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words (can you name them all?). See also updated Carlin skit above. Somehow a "few" of these words crept into my vocabulary. Long ago and far away, I attended an all-girls, Catholic college and can remember my mother chastising me for my "dirty mouth." She complained that she had wasted a lot of money sending me to finishing school for me to end up speaking like a drunken sailor. Of course, my mother is a lot like George Bush -- the reality doesn't always match the rhetoric: my school was a college, not a finishing school, and she wasn't paying for it. But lets not get lost in the details.

All of this is by way of background to note that the Philadelphia Inquirer has a piece discussing the paper's policy on "dirty words," Why are sex words our worst swearwords?. Seriously. Faye Flamm writes:

Several weeks ago Inquirer editors debated whether we should allow more dirty words in the paper. There was talk of loosening the restrictions on damn, which we've long placed in our category of lesser offenders though it implies something horrendous - condemnation to hell (a word we're also easing up on).

Topping our list of the worst possible words is the F-word, though in its literal sense it conveys something very nice. Writers are not specifically forbidden to use it but there are enough hoops to jump through that nobody has broken the F- barrier yet.

It's listed in our highest security class of obscenity, along with three synonyms for penis, two for vagina, two slang terms for oral sex, two variants on animal waste products and one expression that employs the F-word in an oedipal context.

What does this say about our society, and is there any scientific explanation for why people yell out a word for sex when they stub their toes?

Linguists tend to speak not of bad words but of linguistic taboos.

* * * *

Overall, the scientific evidence suggests swearing is good for you, says psycholinguist Timothy Jay of Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts and author of Cursing in America.

We're the only animal that can curse, he says, which sometimes helps us avoid physical violence. "It allows us to express our emotions symbolically and at a distance." For example, Jay says, when a woman was weaving in front of him on the road that morning he was able to call her a "dumb ass" instead of getting out of his car and biting her.

* * * *

Americans, in contrast, rely heavily on our F-word.

In addition to helping Dick Cheney refrain from biting all the Democrats in Congress, it represents the most direct and concise English term for sexual intercourse.

Some commentators have warned that we're wearing out the poor word with gross overuse, draining it of its original cathartic power. But Jay says we have nothing to worry about. It's an old word, possibly stemming from German and not an acronym for For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, as urban legend has it. It's been part of the English language for more than 1,000 years, he said, and it's still so taboo you can't say it on TV or in school. Or in our newspaper. (Emphasis added)

Next time my daughter raises her eyebrow when I emit an epithet, I can tell her it's healthy for me.

And, if this obsenity-laden discourse disgusts you, then I say 'Vaffanculo,'.

Finally, for a witty riff on the use of the word "fuck", check out the YouTube video, Strange Consequences. It starts out:
When Friedrich
Nietzsche declared
"God is dead"

F*CK became the most
important word in the
English language
(Via Language Log: God dead; "fuck" now the most important word in the language, who was cited in the Inquirer article)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bonne Chance!

Frank Rich, in Return to the Scene of the Crime and Paul Krugman, in Broken Promises, have each provided reflections on the anniversary of Katrina.

Rich observes:

PRESIDENT BUSH travels to the Gulf Coast this week, ostensibly to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Everyone knows his real mission: to try to make us forget the first anniversary of the downfall of his presidency.

As they used to say in the French Quarter, bonne chance! The ineptitude bared by the storm — no planning for a widely predicted catastrophe, no attempt to secure a city besieged by looting, no strategy for anything except spin — is indelible. New Orleans was Iraq redux with an all-American cast. The discrepancy between Mr. Bush’s “heckuva job” shtick and the reality on the ground induced a Cronkite-in-Vietnam epiphany for news anchors. At long last they and the country demanded answers to the questions about the administration’s competence that had been soft-pedaled two years earlier when the war first went south.
Ah, yes. After Katrina, Bush was finally called to task. And to what result? As Rich notes:
Douglas Brinkley, the Tulane University historian who wrote the best-selling account of Katrina, “The Great Deluge,” is worried that even now the White House is escaping questioning about what it is up to (and not) in the Gulf. “I don’t think anybody’s getting the Bush strategy,” he said when we talked last week. “The crucial point is that the inaction is deliberate — the inaction is the action.” As he sees it, the administration, tacitly abetted by New Orleans’s opportunistic mayor, Ray Nagin, is encouraging selective inertia, whether in the rebuilding of the levees (“Only Band-Aids have been put on them”), the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward or the restoration of the wetlands. The destination: a smaller city, with a large portion of its former black population permanently dispersed. “Out of the Katrina debacle, Bush is making political gains,” Mr. Brinkley says incredulously. “The last blue state in the Old South is turning into a red state.” (Emphasis added)
Likewise, Krugman addresses the underlying policy of non-responsiveness in his column, stating:
Apologists for the administration will doubtless claim that blame for the lack of progress rests not with Mr. Bush, but with the inherent inefficiency of government bureaucracies. That’s the great thing about being an antigovernment conservative: even when you fail at the task of governing, you can claim vindication for your ideology.

But bureaucracies don’t have to be this inefficient. The failure to get moving on reconstruction reflects lack of leadership at the top.

Mr. Bush could have moved quickly to turn his promises of reconstruction into reality. But he didn’t. As months dragged by with little sign of White House action, all urgency about developing a plan for reconstruction ebbed away.
Reading those words -- and Brinkley's view that the inaction was the action -- I am reminded of my thoughts of the reaction to Katrina by the Bush Administration. Last September in Breach of Contract, I wrote:
Since the disaster of Katrina, the failure to respond has been blamed on negligence, incompetence and bureaucracy. As I watched the horror of the flooding and abandoned people in need, I couldn't help but think that the response (or lack thereof) was much more intentional.

Issues of race, class, poverty and politics were all factors, of course. Politics was part of the reason the Bush Administration responded ably during the election cycle to hurricane disasters in Florida. Race, class and poverty have been addressed in many commentaries assessing the manner in which the response was mishandled. These issues did play a part and cannot be minimized.

I think, however, it goes further. The federal non-response with Katrina was part of an understated, underlying agenda of the Administration, that the role of government does not extend to "helping people." That is the core belief of the "Starve the Beast" mentality, that individuals should not rely on government to help with their needs. This concept is somewhat radical, so the Administration is trying to gradually, quietly advance this theory. Social security reform is a variation on this theme. That is, you need to plan for your own retirement, the government won't be there to help you.

In my view, Katrina was a "testing of the waters" by the Administration, with a slow, wait and see approach to federal intervention. The initial response was consistent with this, with the federal government saying it was deferring to local and state authorities. It was only when public reaction was so horrified, so negative, that the Administration decided that it had to act. Realizing the extent to which it miscalculated the political fallout from this disaster, it could never acknowledge the deliberateness of this reaction. Better to respond (and shift blame) based upon incompetence than reveal the truth. The public's reaction demonstrated that we are not prepared to go it alone and gives me hope that the contract is not truly broken. It is just the Administration that has breached the contract with its people.
And today? I believe even more strongly that the lack of federal assistance is a deliberate effort to remove government from these kind of activies, such as social service programs or disaster relief. The rule of "Starve the Beast" is still in power.

The only thing that's changed in response to the PR backlash is to try to spin the reality of New Orleans in such a way that the public won't realize just how bad things are. That is, the government still isn't doing anything, it's still just talking about all that it is doing (and plans to do). Unfortunately for them, New Orleans is still in the United States, so it's harder to cover up the factual reality. For example, as I posted in Easy No More, one of the "Ladies Who Lunch" (a/k/a one of my officemates), spend a week in New Orleans in April working on the reconstruction efforts. She came back and reported on the substantial work that still needs to be done in the area.

We must continue to focus on what needs to be done to assist in the reconstruction. We can't allow the Bush Administration to break our promises to each other as a society.

Good Luck, George, thinking we'd forget.

Both the NY Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer have Katrina retrospectives:

NY Times - Hurricane Katrina
Inquirer - Katrina One Year Later


This is part of the blogswarm of Katrina remembrance -- see, Shakespeare's Sister.

UPDATE: Here's the blogswarm on Katrina: One Year Later.

UPDATE #2: In One Year Later: The Real State Of New Orleans, Think Progress has some stats on how things are today. Read 'em and weep.

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing

In He's a Winner, We're the Losers, I noted the departure of Rob Corddry. A possible new replacement is "Senior Black correspondent" Larry Wilmore, who complained that Republicans like Tony Snow and Va. Sen. George Allen are giving real racists like Strom Thurmond a bad name. Calling the new racism "lame," Wilmore condemned their "Lazy Racism." He said:

America emerged as a great nation because of our profound commitment to racism. In fact, this country was born out of the eradication of one race and the enslavement of another. That was racism.
A Truthdig Commenter compared his humor to Richard Pryor. We sure need him now!

Speaking of new correspondents, I also like Assif Mandvi, who has been on TDS a few times recently as a Middle Eastern Affairs correspondent. See, Thanks for the Memories. Here's an article about him in the LA Times, 'Daily Show' debut could be his big opportunity. I hope he becomes a regular.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Daily Star

He's a Winner, We're the Losers

I go on vacation for a week and look what happens. No, I'm not talking about Iraq (or Iran or Lebanon, for that matter) -- Rob Corddry is leaving the Daily Show. Here's his last appearance, featuring the party they threw for him. Oh no. There was no party, so he gave himself a farewell tribute. See Corddry Farewell.

Corddry has a new Fox sitcom, The Winner. TV Squad wonders, After Corddry leaves The Daily Show, who's left?, noting:

He's the last of the three "Big Cs" -- Corddry, Carell, Colbert -- that helped bring the show into its own in the early part of the decade, perfecting their particular reporter roles to the point where the humor came as much out of their characters as from making fun of the news or profile subject. Colbert was the poorly-informed smug guy; Carell was pathetic, and Corddry was the Masshole. High comedy all around. And now, he's taking off, just like the other two Cs before him.
Now, I think TDS is hysterical and it's political comedy writing is brilliant. Admittedly, Carell is before my time (I'm a relatively recent convert to the Daily Show), but I didn't think the departure of Stephen Colbert was a loss. After all, Colbert's show comes right after TDS, so I feel like the show went from 1/2 hour to an hour, rather than losing someone.

Like Father Like Son

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has penned one of her signature pieces, in which she riffs on the Bush Presidents, Junior Needs a Spanking . Imagining the elder King spanking the Junior wannabe King, Dowd remarks:

Junior certainly deserves it, with recent attempts to blame his dad for policies that led to 9/11 and the rise of Osama and Middle East terrorism.

As with so many things about this byzantine, Shakespearean relationship between father and son, reunited here at last for a wedding, a christening and a funeral this weekend, it’s an ironic turn of events.

The son was furious when the father was painted as a wimp in the 1988 campaign, and now he and his spinners are painting 41 as a weak leader. W.’s pain at what happened to his aristocratic dad with “the wimp factor” led him to overreact in the other direction when he became president, embracing a West Texas-tough, muscle-bound foreign policy that shunned diplomacy, nuance, compromise, multilateral treaties and allied coalitions as measures that reflected impotence.

And now it has led him to scapegoat his own father, and Bill Clinton, for sending signals of weakness that encouraged the terrorists — even as many Middle East experts say it is W.’s culturally obtuse, diplomatically averse and morally simplistic style that has spurred terrorism and made the world more dangerous.

* * * *

Father and son do talk quite a bit on the phone, and sometimes about world affairs. But 41, as one associate notes, “is not the type of guy to say, ‘George, you should be doing x, y and z.’ He might say something more oblique, like, ‘So-and-so says this is happening.’ ”

At this hazardous moment in world history, somebody has got to grab the stubborn, shuttered scion wearing the “43” windbreaker and talk some sense into him, the way Dwight Eisenhower did when he privately dressed down the young J.F.K. after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. And who better than his dad, that 82-year-old still demonically driving his cigarette boat around the Bay of Bushes?

The Carpetbagger Report, in From one Bush gang to another, also notes:
As it turns out, it's probably a good thing Bush is reading Hamlet (or at least pretending to), because as Maureen Dowd noted today, there's a Shakespearean drama being played out behind the scenes.

Increasingly, the current president seems to be blaming Bush pere "for policies that led to 9/11 and the rise of Osama and Middle East terrorism." Indeed, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow recently told reporters that "when the United States walked away, in the opinion of Osama bin Laden in 1991, bin Laden drew from that the conclusion that Americans were weak and wouldn't stay the course, and that led to September 11th." And I think we know who was president in 1991.

Moreover, Bush has personally blamed his predecessors for what he saw as a misguided belief that "stability is more important than form of government." Dowd translated this to mean, "Dad cuddled up to the corrupt Saudi monarchy and other Middle East dictators and let Saddam stay in power and was tough on Israel. I got rid of Saddam to establish a democracy and uncritically sided with Israel, a democracy."

* * * *

Dowd suggests Sr. grab his "stubborn, shuttered scion" by the windbreaker and talk some sense into him, but I don't see it. The funny thing about unqualified, incompetent people who get "in over their heads"? They rarely realize it until it's too late. In this case, six years too late.

Then again, Sr. could shadow Jr. a bit, and whisper reality in his ear, but then the Hamlet connection would be a little too obvious, wouldn't it?

Sad but true. Both as to the analogy and to the fact that Senior won't -- either spank him or whisper in Junior's ear.

Don't come on so cocksure boy, you can't escape your genes
No point in feeling purer boy, your background intervenes
Listen good and listen straight, you're not the master of your fate
To this you must be reconciled, you'll always be your father's child
At times acclaimed, at times reviled
You'll wind up doing just what I've done
Like father, like son
Like father, like son

-Elton John
Lyrics by Tim Rice

(Dowd article also available at Rozius)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Don Wright

Race Matters

This guy is starting to sound like me. Steve Benen, who guest blogs at Crooks & Liars, has a post detailing the recent array of racist Racial problems flourish, covering a two week period.

Before I got sidetracked on the sexist stuff, I was putting a list together as well. I've already mentioned the Senator "Macaca" Allen incident and racial profiling of Arabs at airports and he has a few others. Especially poignant is the story about the Baptist Church who voted out a 12 year old boy from the parish because he was biracial -- because the membership didn't want the "black side" of the family in attendance. See, This Week in God (Benen's blog, The Carpetbagger Report).

And then there's this -- the back of the bus saga redux. The Shreveport Times reports that a bus driver ordered her 9 black students to the back of the bus (to share two seats), designating the front of the bus for white students. (Via My Left Wing)

The only other one I was going to add is the Segregated Survivor TV series, New Survivor Will Divide Teams By Race.... The Show had been criticized for not being diverse, so this was the result. After all, race matters very much today. In fact, for some people, it's the only thing that matters.

And for a little "local color," there's my post, This puts the South in Jersey, on happenings in Sea Isle and Wildwood.

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Love and Marriage

. . . May go together like a horse and carriage, as the song says -- unless the wife has a career. If so, fuggeddaboutit!

That's the verdict, according to Michael Noer of Forbes. In Careers and Marriage, Noer warns his fellow man-kind of the risks of finding wedded bliss with a "career girl." WHAT? Can it be true? Yes -- he found a study supporting this proposition, so it must be true. He notes:

Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it.

* * * *
If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy. They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be more likely to fall ill. Even your house will be dirtier. (Citations omitted).
This puff piece apparantly cause a dust-up (no doubt taking time away from housework), causing Forbes to remove it from the site for a time. It was then put back up, with a counterpoint piece, entitled "Don't Marry a Lazy Man." See, Philadelphia Will Do. The sequel, "Don't Marry an Idiot," is due out next week. Laura had a busy schedule this week, so she wasn't able to finish it.

Best response (out of deluge) is from Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon, Because once she's seen the city, you can't keep her in the cave, who provides advice to those who would be interested in this article. She adds to the list of reasons why not to marry a career woman, with tips "on how to obtain and keep a woman beyond simple financial dependence. . . . [by] add[ing] onto Forbes advice about avoiding women who have the financial means to avoid your sorry ass." She calls her list "How To Capture And Contain Your Very Own Wife." It includes such helpful hints as "Go to a bridal auction and purchase a well-trained one from her father," and "Never-ending pregnancy." See also, Feministe's Why You Should Marry a Doormat.

I don't know if Noer is married, but he sure knows women and wives. He also penned this piece, The Economics Of Prostitution, comparing whores and wives. You know, both wives and whores are alike -- "economic 'goods' that can be substituted for each other. Men buy, women sell."

Citing the study, he notes "spouses and streetwalkers aren't exactly alike. Wives, in truth, are superior to whores in the economist's sense of being a good whose consumption increases as income rises--like fine wine. This may explain why prostitution is less common in wealthier countries. But the implication remains that wives and whores are--if not exactly like Coke and Pepsi--something akin to champagne and beer. The same sort of thing."

I knew I was spending too much time on the rise of bigotry. I've been focused on hatred towards blacks, gays, Arabs, Latinos (and immigrants in general) of late, so much so that I overlooked the original male bastion -- sexism. Thanks for reminding me.

(Via Philadelphia Will Do, who captioned his post: If You Want To Be Happy For The Rest Of Your Life, Never Trust Forbes When Choosing A Wife)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Let Your Fingers do the Walking

. . . And talking, if this story is to be believed.

The house shown in the picture is the subject of controversy in its Riverton, Utah neighborhood. What is depicted on the air vent cover on the house? Take a guess. The owner says it's a cactus. The neighbors? They say it's an obscene hand gesture. Is he giving them an artful finger?

This video, from OneGoodMove, Only In Utah, tells the story and it is definitely a don't miss!

As a Commenter explained:

The neighbor at higher elevation is upset because someone actually bought the property next to his and the newly built house barely obstructs his view of the surrounding mountains. . . . Boo hoo, if he didn't want anyone to build there, he should have bought the property himself. There's also some nitpicking on the height of the house being taller than code, but the builder said after landscaping, it would be within code. The guy actually lowered the level of the property, meaning there's less obstruction anyways!
See also, the Orlando Sentinel, Cactus or middle finger?

The best part of the story is the reaction of the neighbors! The outrage expressed by this painted vent is too funny -- as one woman said, "In the state of Utah we all have good family values . . ."

What made me laugh most is when I first viewed the video, I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be. Based upon the reaction, I assumed it was some religious defamation of some sort. But no, it was the finger. Now, I have been known to express myself by means of this particular gesture, but it wasn't obvious to me. I guess I just don't have my mind in the gutter -- you need an extra dose of "family values" for that. You know, like this guy:

Friday Funnies

So, I'm off to the beach. For those of you left behind, here's a video on the most recent Bush press conference. Truly, I think the only reason he held this news conference was to prove that he really did come back early from his August vacation. In Desperate Soundbites, Jon Stewart provides highlights, such as "Nobody likes to see innocent people die," "War is not a time of joy," and "Sometimes I'm frustrated."

Enjoy while I frolick in the sand and sea.

Cartoon of the Day

* Pat Oliphant

This puts the South in Jersey

As I mentioned, this year we abandoned Sea Isle for Wildwood Crest. That means we're closer to Wildwood, home of Doo Wop Motels and other tackiness. So here I am, ending the summer with our beach vacation -- a time to relax and enjoy. The list of things to do is small: Read a good book (beach variety), hang out on the beach, walk along the boardwalk, lunch in Cape May, shop in Stone Harbor, relax on the deck with a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine.

I also do a little surfing -- on the net, not the ocean, of course. Here I sit, on the deck of our bayside beach house, watching the boats go by, checking out the news and otherwise playing around.

Reading the Inquirer, I see that the Jersey shore is in the news. Sea Isle City no less! As described by Quaker Agitator:

So it's 3:00 am yesterday (Tuesday) morning in Sea Isle City, New Jersey (down at the Jersey shore), and three men were walking down the street together, minding their own business. Two of the men are white, and the other is African-American. Out of nowhere, they were approached by three white "men," who start hurling racial epithets and witty, clever sentence constructions such as "You don't belong in this neighborhood" (more on that in a second). Next thing you know, the three victims, who were in Sea Isle on vacation, were being beaten. A baseball bat was used.
Here's the punchline: The three victims were all off-duty police officers from Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. And none of the white suspects is even from Sea Isle (in other words, from "this neighborhood").
Next up, I happen upon this post by Fourfour describing the latest in Wildwood beachwear, A confederacy of dunces. He has an assortment of pictures, including a confederate flag hermit crab shell (not to be missed), as well as one of this lovely lass (aptly dubbed Daisy Duke by Fourfour), boogieboard in tow:

Fourfour explains:
Wildwood is a body louse clinging to a sweaty shaft of hair in the Armpit of America that is New Jersey. This is, of course, its charm. Wildwood, like many costal resort towns in South Jersey, is home to a tourist-bating boardwalk. But Wildwood's boardwalk is unlike many of its neighboring counterparts. It's a massive, 38-block stretch that sports no fewer than five amusement parks and hundreds of crooked, carnival-type games (knock bottles over, get the ball in the basket, fill the clown's mouth with water to pop the balloon, etc.) complete with managing foreigners who harass anyone who walks by (and, no doubt, annoy everyone with those damn accents). Food is everywhere -- literally. It's being sold everywhere you look, it's on the boardwalk attracting seagulls, it's stuffed in the patrons' mouths. Perhaps the only source of commerce that's more present is that of the junky, "sundry"-cum-T-shirt shop.
Noting the proliferation of Confederate kitsch in Wildwood, Quaker Agitator adds:
Now, before this, Wildwood was most famous for its cute and delightfully tacky "Doo Wop" motels," which I like. This crap, however, I do not like. And the fact that people are selling it - and worse, that some folks are buying it - just goes to show what we have become as a culture: stupid. By stupid, I mean "deliberately ignorant." It's one thing not to know something . . . That's "ignorance." It's quite another thing to know it and yet still think stuff like this is okay. . . .

The Confederate flag of rebellion is just that: it is the flag flown by traitors, people who took up arms against a legitimate government, serving people who wanted to perpetuate the institution of slavery, built upon white supremacy, under the guise of "states' rights." Wearing t-shirts with this flag emblazoned on them, flying this thing off your porch or from your pick-up truck, using this symbol as a beach towel to dry off your child, these things are not about "political correctness," as one of these rags states (that one, at least, lacks misspellings). It's about being stupid, on purpose.
Stupid it is. Hateful it is. Unfortunately, these are just examples of "bigot pride," which I have noted on many occasions (see, e.g., Raging Racists), is becoming increasingly common -- or even worse, "in."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Jeff Parker, Florida Today

Surf's Up

As the summer nears its end, we close the season at the shore -- the Jersey shore, of course -- since we live in Philly. Usually we go to Sea Isle City, but this year we decided to go to Wildwood Crest instead.

My 16 year old daughter always brings a friend along to hang out with. They were more than happy for the change of scene, especially the fact that we were closer to the Wildwood boardwalk. At this age, the Sea Isle boardwalk tends to be a little tame. Wildwood is more their style. Plus, they love the rides on the Wildwood boardwalk, which has 3 different Morey piers with rides.

Wildwood Crest is more like Sea Isle, quiet with families, except that the beach is substantially longer here than Sea Isle. With the beach erosion over the past few years, the beach at Sea Isle is just a sliver.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Bill Schorr

Give me Liberty or Give me a Fence

An editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, An affront to our history, has the latest update on the Park Service's Plan to to erect a 7-foot-high security fence through Independence Square

Independence National Historical Park officials still haven't dropped their bad, knee-jerk proposal to give the spot where the Declaration of Independence had its first public reading the feel of a minimum-security prison yard.

* * * *

Ever since 9/11, the trouble with Independence Hall security has been its heavy-handed intrusiveness. From its inception, the screening and corralling of visitors has stood as a glaring contradiction to the courageous stand for liberty that took place in 1776 at the site.

In its comment on the plan, the city's Design Advocacy Group - design professionals who rally around good ideas for the urban landscape - nicely captured the incongruity. As the group's Alan Greenberger wrote, "The sad irony of having to cage the place where American freedom was invented is more than we should all be willing to tolerate."

And the suspicion remains that the plan is mostly about show and cost; less heavy-handed, but more expensive steps could provide equal security (understanding that no site like this in the middle of bustling, major city will ever be totally secure from threat).

* * * *

If the Park Service insists on screening visitors to the buildings, it should do so without the stockade-like cordon. As much as possible, visitors once again should be able to walk up to the old brick buildings, stroll through the archway of Independence Hall and ponder the beauty of Independence Square.

It's long past time for the security measures at Independence Hall to be trimmed back - tailored both to the actual threat, and in keeping with the values enshrined in this city.

Tell the Park Service and Bush administration that the home of the brave doesn't need to erect such fences around its birthplace.

The public comment period on the park's security plan is Sept. 1. Before then, send your views about this bad idea to Park Service officials via e-mail:

See more details about this at Chain of Fools and What Price Freedom?

Photo via Moocatmoocat.

Animal House

And who do you think this is?

He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why [Guess Who] is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.
If you guessed Mr. Is. An. Idiot, you win the prize. Scarborough should have included this little tidbit on his show, when trying to decide if Bush was an Idiot.

From US News & World Report's Washington Whispers, via One Good Move.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News

Thanks for the Memories

The Daily Show's Senior Bureau Chief, Aasif Mandvi, reports from Baghdad on the Iraqi Gratitude

If you haven't seen him before, be sure to see his earlier Mideast report on Lebanon, at IEO: Improvised Explosive Opportunity.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Don Wright

No Hereditary Kings

From my perspective, the NYTimes Editorial, Ruling for the Law, pretty much says all there that needs to be said about district court decision declaring the Bush Administration's eavesdropping program is illegal:

Ever since President Bush was forced to admit that he was spying on Americans’ telephone calls and e-mail without warrants, his lawyers have fought to keep challenges to the program out of the courts. Yesterday, that plan failed. A federal judge in Detroit declared the eavesdropping program to be illegal and unconstitutional. She also offered a scathing condemnation of what lies behind the wiretapping — Mr. Bush’s attempt to expand his powers to the point that he can place himself beyond the reach of Congress, judges or the Constitution.

“There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit.

* * * *
The ruling eviscerated the absurd notion on which the administration’s arguments have been based: that Congress authorized Mr. Bush to do whatever he thinks is necessary when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan.

* * * *
[O]ne judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration and shown why issues of this kind belong within the constitutional process created more than two centuries ago to handle them.
There are certainly some excellent discussions of the opinion by legal scholars that analyize (much better than I ever can) the opinion in depth. For example, you may want to read:

Glenn Grennwald of Unclaimed Territory's posts, Federal court finds warrantless eavesdropping unconstitutional, enjoins the program and Ongoing misconceptions about Judge Taylor's opinion.

Jack Balkin's discussions of the decision here and here.

The consensus seems to be that decision is correct, but that the legal analysis could have been stronger in a few areas. While it is important in a case such as this to have a strong legal basis, in the end the Supreme Court is going to rule on the case, and will do so on its own terms, so it probably doesn't matter. See, e.g., Jerylyn Merritt of TalkLeft, who has an interesting discussion of the political fallout from the decision at Swiftboating the Fourth Amendment in the Name of the War On Terrorism.

Unfortunately, it is not only the quality of the legal opinion that is being critiqued. It is now SOP to trash the Judge as well. Greenwald tallies the list of grievances against Judge Taylor:
So, so far we have - (1) the Judge was appointed by Jimmy Carter; (2) the Judge is African-American and works on "civil rights" matters; (3) she is insane; (4) she does not take terrorism seriously; (5) this is a victory for the terrorists; (6) President Bush should defy the Order.
As Marty Lederman writes at Balkinization, Ah Well That Explains it, referring to a NYTimes article on the case:
[There is also] the now-obligatory reference to the President who appointed the judge. But does the New York Times really think that it's relevant . . . that Judge Taylor supported Jimmy Carter and worked in the civil rights movement, or that she is black? Has it included similar disclaimers whenever, say, Judges Silberman (of In re Sealed Case fame) or Luttig have issued opinions supporting the Bush Administration? Imagine: "Recall, however, that Judge Silberman, who is a white man, has long been hostile to all things liberal, and, in particular, when FISA was being considered 28 years ago, he was the leading opponent, offering constitutional arguments against it that were not to be heard again until he gratuitously slipped them into dicta in an opinion he wrote as a federal judge almost three decades later." Whenever the first President Bush did anything considered conservative, did the New York Times remind its readers that he was white and that he had opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

One might think that Judge Taylor's judgment was wrong, or, like me, you might think the judgment was correct but the opinion is inadequate. But is there any reason at all to think that Judge Taylor does not sincerely think the NSA program is unlawful, or that she does not believe what she's written -- let alone that her opinion was a function of the fact that (horrors!) she's black, supported Carter, participated in the civil rights movement, and has ruled against a state religious display? (Perhaps Liptak and Lichtblau intended only to suggest how outrageous the rhetoric has been of those "Republicans" who claim the decision was "partisan." I hope so. But if so, that flavor sure got lost in the editing.)
Legal issues (and personal attacks) aside, Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post's White House Briefing, distills the essence of the matter:
But the idea that there is something fundamentally un-American about some of the basic underpinnings of Bush's war on terror is certainly gaining ground.
And to put it all in perspective, don't miss this animated cartoon by Walt Handelsman: N.S.A. Wiretapping.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Are Armbands Next?

I have observed the increasing tendency of late to make bigotry more mainstream, see e.g., Rid Out. I certainly am not naive -- prejudice never left us, although for a while it did seem like it was on the wane. However, at least it was understood that one's biased views should be kept quiet, because such opinions were not generally acceptable. No more. Now that "political correctness" (which is defined to mean not expressing such bigotry in polite company) has become a concept worthy of derision, eruptions such as that voiced by George Allen, see Powerful Words, are becoming all too common.

Another example is this Think Progress video, which is very disturbing, Fox News Guest Claims "‘It'’s Time To Have A Muslims Check-Point Line In American Airports"’. News Hounds reports about the Fox segment, in Fox News Airs Call for 'Muslim-Only' Line:

A Fox News guest proposed having a "Muslims only" line for airport travelers . . . .

Conservative radio host Mike Gallagher suggested the idea during a segment Tuesday (August 15, 2006) with constitutional lawyer Michael Gross discussing racial profiling.

* * * *
"It'’s not just a matter of political correctness, please," responded Gross. "It'’s illegal, it'’s unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, it shouldn'’t be done. We do not in this country prejudge a person based upon their race, creed, color, country of national origin and it'’s wrong to do so and it addition it'’s not effective. It doesn'’t work. It actually perpetuates the problem. That is, it separates us."

* * * *
"It'’s time to have a Muslims check-point line in America'’s airports and have Muslims be scrutinized. You better believe it, it'’s time," Gallagher said, garnering tepid audience applause.

Gross attacked the proposal as "absolutely wrong" because "most Arabs are not Muslims, most Muslims are not Arabs. You don't even have your facts straight. How would you feel if we had a line for the Irish, which the English proposed during the IRA problems?" He pleaded not to turn the United States into a "tyrannical, imperial country." Still, a woman in the audience asked a question about being "politically correct" by not allowing racial profiling.

Gallagher claimed that opposition to racial profiling amounted to not wanting to hurt people's feelings.

"Most Americans want prejudice. Let'’s be prejudiced against those who want to slaughter innocent American men, women and children. It'’s time we start exercising some prejudice and stop these bloody terrorists," Gallagher said, this time drawing more robust applause.
Got that? 9/11 changed everything. Under the "new world order" (as dictated by the U.S.), prejudice is a good thing. We need to just let it all hang out.

What's next? A requirement that all Muslims wear an armband with a Crescent Moon insignia perhaps?

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has a post about the British version of this same phenomenon. In Fear-mongering leads to anti-Arab hysteria on airplanes, he describes:
All of the fear-mongering and political exploitation of terrorism from the Bush administration and its loyal supporters (including the British Prime Minister) is starting to produce predictable results. Passengers are becoming unwilling to fly on planes with Arab males. Yesterday, British passengers on a Monarch Airways flight to Manchester "mutinied" because there were two Arab men on the plane.
What caused this episode?
They wore leather jackets and looked "regularly" at their watches (something only terrorists do when travelling). And they were Arab and speaking a language which the "passengers took be Arabic."
It's the Muslim version of "Driving While Black" -- "Flying While Arab."

UPDATE #2: This Daily Mail (UK) article, Mutiny as passengers refuse to fly until Asians are removed, gives a more detailed version of the British airline incident.

Meanwhile, back in the states, another -- even more bizarre? -- incident, was posted by blogger Irregular Times, in T-Shirt of Mass Destruction?:
Raed Jarrar, the Iraqi Project Director for the human rights group Global Exchange, was stopped at JFK airport wearing a t-shirt with the words in Arabic and English, “We Will Not Be Silent.” He was told by agents at the airport he would not be permitted to board the plane wearing that t-shirt because of its message.
The armbands are definitely next.

Cartoon of the Day

* Rob Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Saturday, August 19, 2006

He's Crying Too

Kris Kristofferson has a new album, This Old Road. Here's one of his songs/videos, In The News. He's joined the ranks of the elder statesmen with an anti-war song.

Speaking of which, you can see Neil Young on the Colbert Report, and catch him playing his "Let's Impeach the President" at the end, with Stephen Colbert.

A video of his song "Families" from the LIVING WITH WAR album is available at DownWithTyranny!.

Quote of the Day

Bill Clinton

Born August 19, 1946
Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us. And if they don't, they can go straight to hell.

They Put the U in Ululate

Jon Stewart gives an update on the Lebanon situation as it enters the "cross your fingers" stage, in Hezbollah. Daily Show's Lebanon Bureau Chief John Oliver explains that Hezbollah has already started relief and rebuilding efforts, using a simple process:

Let's say your home was bombed. First, you file a claim by standing on your rubble and ululating. . . . Hezbollah puts the u in ululate.
He also explains that the bombing campaign has made Hezbollah even stronger. As he added:
From what I hear, they're very keen to take on their next project. The reconstruction of New Orleans. As the residents of war-torn country point out, John, Hezbollah may be a ragtag group of under-educated, Islamic extremist militiamen, but at least they're not FEMA.
And in case you missed the previous report from Lebanon, see IEO: Improvised Explosive Opportunity, which featured Assif Mandvi, the Daily Show's Middle Eastern Affairs Correspondent.

Speaking of the Mideast, in Silence From The Left, Dan Rubin observed that liberal bloggers have pretty much stayed away from the Lebanon conflict. This certainly is true for me. In part, it's a matter of priorities; I only have so much time to devote to blogging. so I tend to focus on local and national politics.

Another reason is that I have very mixed feelings about Lebanon, Hezbollah and Israel. I am part Lebanese and was raised in the Maronite Catholic Church. I certainly have no affinity for Hezbollah, and believe that their conduct was reprehensible, but I also think Israel overreacted -- the old "two wrongs don't make a right" applies here. Worst of all, I fear that the result of the aggressive response by Israel may be as predicted by David Hirst in this Guardian Comment, Hizbullah has achieved what Arab states only dreamed of.

I'd much rather stick with the Daily Show's view of the world. At least I could laugh.

Cartoon of the Day

* Bill Shorr

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thick as a Brick

After I wrote my post on George Bush -- Is. An. Idiot -- I read about Bush's visit to Pennsylvania to support Lynn Swann's floundering candidacy. See, Swann brings in president to boost gubernatorial bid. I thought OMG -- Bush and Swann together on one stage. What a pair. It could be a convention of Nitwits Anonynous.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Lynn Swann may have been a great football player, he may have a charming personality (and he may even be a good dancer), but he'll never be accused of being an egghead. For example, see my post on Swann's appearance on George Stephanopolous' show shortly after he announced his candidacy for governor, Swann Song, which was so bad that it was almost painful to watch. (And he hasn't aged well either as his campaign has progressed.)

Likewise, in discussing George "Macaca" Allen on his American Debate blog, The Allen defense: I blame the press for my not knowing that I had called him a monkey, Dick Polman observed: "I've often heard that, politically speaking, George Allen is not the sharpest knife in the GOP drawer, and this macaca incident may well underscore that perception."

It reminded me of this exchange during the Scarborough interview, when conservative pundit John Fund queried:

But you know, let‘s put this into perspective. You mentioned all the Republicans what have developed a reputation for being dim witted. I just have a question.

Obviously, intelligence is not congregated on just one side of the political spectrum, can anyone name me a well-known Democrat, in modern history, who has ever developed a poplar media image as being stupid or dimwitted. You can‘t come up with one. They‘re aren‘t any. So, it‘s only Republicans who develop this dumb image. Some of them really are dumb. But some of them is just a substitute for argument, because you don‘t want to argue their policies so you dismiss them as being stupid. There are no Democrats who have this image.
It's an interesting thought and not without some merit, if you ask me (as evinced by the above examples). Perhaps it's due to the "Stepford Party" mentality that the Republican Party promotes -- the most important criteria for them is that politicans toe the party line. If so, you don't want independent (read that intelligent) thinkers. The result of this view is that the dunces are the cream of the Republican crop, since they are easier to control.

Of course, the dunce downside is the occasional nitwit outbreak. Bush, of course, excells at this. The Allen incident is another example.

Speaking of Allen, I wanted to update my Macaca post, Powerful Words (which also provides additional confirmation of my dunce theory expressed here).

Dick Polman, in New Allen defense: He's poop, not a monkey, explains the most recent nitwit erruption:
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Virginia senator and GOP White House hopeful George Allen has been trying to defend himself after singling out a Democratic worker in the audience, and twice calling the young Indian-American "macaca" . . . . I said yesterday that Allen was basically blaming the press (surprise!) for his predicament.

But now we have a new defense, and this is not a parody:
Allen wasn't trying to call him a monkey or to racially slur him at all; rather, the senator was only trying to say that S. R. Sidarth was the equivalent of the doggy doo that you scrape off your shoe.

* * * *
According to this explanation, members of Allen's entourage coined this nickname for Sidarth, who has been tracking Allen's speeches on behalf of Democratic opponent James Webb, and Allen picked it up. Therefore, it wasn't a racial putdown at all; as one Republican close to the campaign explained to the Hotline, Allen was trying to tell his overwhelmingly white audience that the dark-skinned man in their midst was really just "a s--thead."

Gaffes like this can dog a candidate . . . . After all, even if we accept the contention that Allen aides made up a word that coincidentally is a real synonym for a rhesus monkey...this still leaves us with Allen's best defense: That what he really meant to say was, "Welcome to America, s--thead!"
For yet more on Allen see this Daily Kos post, A Compilation of George Allens Violent and Racist Past and for a little silliness on the subject, see the results of a Wonkette poll, George Allen, We Dub Thee...?.

Perhaps Allen should have said the the word was a variation of the word Nincompoop and he was talking about himself, not Sidarth.

I couldn't decide which "not the sharpest . . ." phrase was best, so I've included several options:

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Not the sharpest crayon in the box.
Not the sharpest apple in the barrel.

For other goodies, see Cliché