Thursday, August 18, 2005

August 17, 2005

Rants Aplenty

I woke up this morning in a Lewis Black mood. I mean, some days I just wonder why I don't just stop the morning paper, unplug the TV and dedicate the remaining days to gardening, heavy drinking and shouting obscenities at passers by.

Here's what drove me nuts this morning:

Compassionate Conservative Speaks
President (and US Commander-in-Chief) explaining why he will not take time from his 5-week vacation to talk to Cindy Sheehan:

"I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life ... I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so."

Yes, George you have right to live. So did Cindy's son, you arrogant, swaggering, drugstore cowboy, clueless prick.

News Flash: Bush Reads Books Without Pictures
It must have been feeding time for the White House Press Corps last week. So, the White House spinsters tossed what they claim is Bush's summer reading list into their cages. Gullible to a fault the media rushed the presidential reading list into print, as though it was real news. Here it is:

Salt: A World History,
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History.
Alexander II: the Last Great Tsar

We are being asked to believe that the man we already know moves his lips when reads, and is shallow and proudly uninformed, but opinionated, shoot-from-the-hipster, chose these three weighty and timely texts to curl up with on the ranch.

No way Jose. These titles have Karl Rove written all over them. They are stage props, painstakingly selected to try and convince us that George W. Bush – the man who believes the literal biblical creation story and not evolution, chose to read these three books because he understood the historical nuances in them that relate to today's problems.

Salt, for example, is the story of a time in ancient history when salt was as valuable as what? Oil. And how worldwide competition for sources of salt and speculation drove the price of this critical resource through the roof.

Now, come on. The idea that Bush could make a connection between white salt and black oil is beyond credulity. I am offended by the fact the very idea that they could get us to simply accept that as fact. I don't.

The Great Influenza is the tale of the 1918 Spanish flu that killed tens of millions around the world. Here we are being asked to believe that uncurious George picked this book so he could be ready when the deadly bird flu hits in a year or so. Sure he did. I can just see him laying there in bed with Laura, yellow highlighter in hand.

"Hey Laura, did you know that a retro-virus can alter it's DNA in order to fool the RNA receptors on the hosts' cells into not rejecting the virus? How about that!"

Yeah, right. That's the George we all know, for sure. NOT.

I have no idea why Karl threw Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar into this fancy reading list, but it worries me.

Since the press dutifully disseminated this little piece of White House propaganda as news, they must do penance. Their penance is they have to read these books themselves. Then, at his first Fall news conference, give George a little pop quiz. Ask two questions about the content of each book the answers to which would only be known by someone who actually read the damn things. (I don't think there's a Classic Comics version of any of them yet.)

I would pay admittance to attend that news conference. But then, wouldn't we all.

What's News?
There seems to be some confusion about just what constitutes "news" these days. I remember back when CNN was launched 25 years ago. News junkies, like me, were in pig heaven – it was news, news, news, news and more news, all day, all night, all the time.

CNN – (and now MSMBC )– are still there, all the time, but the news part isn't. (FOX is not a news channel, which is why I don't include it here.) Some geniuses at cable news networks seem to have decided that what has traditionally been considered news – revolutions, riots, congressional and presidential actions, assassinations, disasters, crime, poverty, public and private corruption – needed to be broadened. Now when I watch CNN or MSNBC riots. bombings and famines are juxtaposed with "breaking news" items like this:

CNN BREAKING NEWS.... BREAKING NEWS!... BREAKING NEWS... (Queue the graphic and thumping music.)
Madonna falls off horse on her birthday... breaks wrist.....

Memo to ALL News Directors
Hey! Yeah, I'm talking to you. Nothing an entertainer or steroided sports celebrity does is news unless it involves a gun, a public official and at least one dead body. Period. Got it? These people are NOT public figures in any sense that matters, or should matter. They are modern-day gladiators and court jesters. Most of them are idiot-savants -- good at one thing and complete imbeciles at anything else. (Exhibit A: Tom Cruise.) So, whatever a celebrity does, says, draws, sings, or thinks it is not news. If you must report on such things they belong on entertainment channels provided for those whose own lives are so apparently so empty they need to live them through air-head entertainers. But none of that stuff is news. So, knock it off and just give me the f—king news! Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Sharper Than a (GOP) Serpent's Tongue
They owe her control of the White House, but there is no honor among thieves, and so now they are turning on her.

I am, of course referring to Kathleen "Vote-counter" Harris.

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Two local businessmen active in Republican Party politics say the GOP is courting cable TV host Joe Scarborough to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in the 2006 Senate race against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.
(Full Story)

What Ms. Harris does not seem to understand is that her party already paid her bill in full for her election-stealing services. They paved the way for the obscure little former registrar of voters to bag an open House seat. That was it. A Senate seat was never part of the deal. (The House is where parties put their loyal, though often somewhat dim, foot-soldiers. The Senate is reserved for the heavy hitters.)

So, when Kathy decided, on her own and against the wishes of her party bosses, to run for the Senate, that was a seat too far. Hell, she hasn't even been in Washington long enough for a cadaver dog to pick up her scent. And, picking Joe Scarborough as the person to whack her, is telling. Joe, while conservative to be sure, has a practical and common sense streak in him that often put him at odds with his own party when he served in the House. Joe's a Chuck Hagel or McCain kind of Republican rather than the Tom DeLay variety, And, he is certainly not a mindless, do-as-we-say GOP sycophant like Harris. So, the Florida GOP has clearly decided that it's worth risking electing unpredictable-Joe to losing that seat if Harris is the candidate.

You see, karma always eventually comes home to roost. (Maybe Harris can get her old job back miscounting votes. I suspect the GOP will need her bank on that in 2008 more than ever.)

Reading the T-Shirt Tea Leaves
How do you know when a trend is over? Watch the t-shirts. For example, highly paid economists pouring over national housing numbers can't seem to figure out whether or not the nation is in the midst of a dangerous housing bubble. But I know, and they would too, if they just read the t-shirts:

FLORIDA: Striking a chord with uneasy U.S. property investors,'s latest design -- "Mr. Housing Bubble" -- has become its best seller in less than a week. The parody of the decades-old Mr. Bubble bath foam package offers a "Free Balloon Mortgage Inside." But the smiling pink house-shaped bubble also warns: "If I pop, you're screwed."

Anthony Phipps, communications director, said the Austin, Texas-based t-shirt design and marketing firm has sold hundreds of the $20 cotton shirts since they went on sale last week. He said the design had the right mix of market timing and dark humor.

"I think it's pretty clear that there are a lot of people in fear over the potential of a housing bust," Phipps said. "A lot of individuals have made some interesting moves financially with interest-only mortgages and the idea of suddenly having all that equity disappear is something that scares home buyers and policy-makers alike."

Of course those who have made a bundle off housing prices lately at not amused. Realty Times, a newsletter that caters to realtors and mortgage companies, accused the T-shirt company of trying to scare people in a story headlined: "Mr. Housing Bubble T-shirts Indicate Market Confusion."

You see, there is no bubble, and if you think there is you are "confused."

But Phipps, the guy selling the $20 T-shirts, disagrees: "If this thing does pop, a lot of people are going to need an affordable shirt to wear."

Wal-Mart Nation Update
The economy is roaring and creating jobs. Yep. That's true. Well, sorta true. Just don't look too closely:

Oakland, California -- For all the criticism that Wal-Mart receives for its low wages and minimal health benefits, the retail giant says more than 11,000 people in the Bay Area are clamoring to get a job at its new Oakland store. The country's largest employer plans to welcome customers into its 148, 000-square-foot store on Edgewater Drive next Wednesday, and it says it already has filled 350 of its 400 openings. (Full Story.)

Wal-Mart, America's new company store. I wonder how many of those 11,000 folks trying to get a low-paying, no-benefits job at Wal-Mart used to make the stuff Wal-Mart now wants to hire them to peddle, stuff now made for Wal-Mart in cheap-labor China?
Just wondering...

I'm mad about other stuff but I have to go. My tomatoes need a severe talking to.

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