Wednesday, August 30, 2006


"You're Not Our Martyr"

Once again, the hunting dogs of the far right fall upon prime grade journalist meat. This time, however, it's the FOX News reporters who were kidnapped by Palestinian radicals and then released. Like with Jill Carroll, the staunchest defenders of the war are falling upon these men because they have not denounced radical Islam from the highest tower immediately after being released from what was most definitely a traumatic situation.

But it goes deeper than that. Look at this comment from Debbie "Low Rent Ann Coulter" Schlussel:

It needs to be repeated that so many Americans captured by Muslims–including Arab and Muslim Americans in Iraq–have met slaughter and beheading. And yet apparently pro-Islamist journalists, like Jill Carroll and reportedly Steve Centanni, are released to freedom. It’s troubling that if you have a certain point of view AND job (ie., reporter) that will help support that point of view, only you get to live. The rest meet certain slaughter."

The translation is clear: These men have lived. They were not worthy. They did not denounce the cause of their captors loud enough. They cared only about their lives, and not about our cause. So we must turn our backs on them. We must shun them, for they were mere mortals.

After all, the best argument you can get is a dead body.


What We Need More Of Today

Go watch this. Now.

Keith Olbermann has spoken well during the past few years about the various clusterfucks of the administration and its defenders. But apparently, Rumsfeld comparing war critics to Nazi appeasers was just one step too far. Olbermann manges to deliver an extensive, classy, righteous pimp-slap to the stuffed shirt attitudes of Rumsfeld and all those who deny logic at the top ranks of our government.

Olbermann says, at the end, that he's not fit to emulate Edward R. Murrow. I'm not arguing that, Keith, but at this point in time, you're one of the best we've got.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Reporting By Rote

John, like my family and I, saw Buchanan's latest bunch of brain droppings last night on CNN's The Situation Room. It was your usual "reconquista" bullshit, the idea that the invading hordes of brown people would drag us screaming into the maw of anarchy and that the only way to survive was to shut the borders immediately and consider who the "proper" (read: white) immigrants were.

This is nothing new, of course. The real problem, as John says, is that "[t]he news channels sure give him a lot of air time to spew his venom." But that's not the worst of it. As I watched, the interviewer read off outrageous statement after outrageous statement from Buchanan's book. And not once, not once, did he call bullshit. Instead, he just kept asking Buchanan to explain his statements. I've heard of the term "letting them dig a hole", but it's not as useful when you hand them a stepladder.

This is one of the many, many problems with the media these days: hitting all the "crucial" questions and not following up on any of them. Making sure that all the necessary steps are covered in minimal time, to give you the aura of having accomplished something without having accomplished something. Another instance of this was something I saw back in July. Franklin Graham was being interviewed about his Samaritan's Purse program, and the reporter asked him to clarify his comments about Islam being "a very evil and wicked religion". Instead, Graham focused on the first part of that statement, the one about the God of Islam not being the God of the Bible. He said not one word in defense of or rejecting his earlier statements.

And the reporter did not care. Instead, he just moved on to the next question.

It's getting worse now. As John points out, some reporters are filling in the blanks for politicians, allowing them to make illogical and patently false statements without actually having them say it. The media exists to tear aside the veil put up by those in power. It should not exist as that veil.


Shoot the Press

Y'know, it would perhaps be understandable if a Reuters employee cockpunched John Hinderaker.

But us liberal bloggers are still worse, right?


Terrorists Made Us Kill Them!

Rumsfield: "Al Qaeda is making us look like we killed civilians."

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.

"They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

Wow, Rummy. That's some damn fine propaganda right there.

We can't ever be wrong. If we are wrong, the terrorists have just made it look that way.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Drowning In A Bathtub

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”- Grover Norquist, if his infinite wisdom

One year ago, Katrina touched down. One year ago today, we watched as that which had been predicted for years happened, as a Category 5 hurricane threatened to turn New Orleans into the American Atlantis. We saw one of America's largest and most memorable cities submerge as the levies broke, just as had been predicted.

And during the week after that, we saw as the federal government bungled it all to hell. We saw as people spent days in the Superdome, fearing rape and assault, while the government ferried others out of Sheratons. We watched as the Red Cross was told to stay out of the city, as aid from Mexico was turned away, as firefighters who showed up to help were forced to sit through fucking photo ops and sexual harrassment seminars. And most importantly of all, we saw as the people in charge of this clusterfuck patted each other on the back, engaged in verbal fellatio, and feigned ignorance of their failures. And from this cacophony came the occasional cry: "This is why we can't trust big government."

No. Very, very no. The fiasco following Katrina was not why we couldn't trust the federal government to help us out; the people behind that fiasco were the reason why we couldn't trust the federal government to help us out. We expected the people of New Orleans to be saved by a government that engaged in cronyism, rampant corruption, graft, and the regular fucking over of the poor. The government is run by a group of people who, like Norquist, wish to dismember the government and send the savings on to... well, themselves.

This is not a secret. This is out in the open. This is the mission statement of politicians like DeLay and Norquist: to scrap out environmental protections, educational funding, urban housing, and workplace protections from the federal government. To leave the government crippled and begging for money, while the rich get richer and the poor get screwed.

Well, guess what? They're getting what they want. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the American infrastructure a "D". Next time a disaster like Katrina happens, if something does not happen and happen soon, we will be left watching CNN helplessly and once again wondering, "Why?"

And then we will see Barbara Bush, or at least her equivalent, talk about how those displaced by the disaster are better off now, and we will think, "Oh, yeah. That."

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Foolish and Stumbling

Glenn Beck, paraphrased: "Giving blind people some sort of context to help understand what they can't visually perceive just drives me mad."

This man has a show on CNN, people. And he honestly believes that signs in Braille, which is one of the few things we can do to make life just a little fucking easier for the blind, is some great sin against him. To the point that he would just love to scald the hands of the blind for their uppity blindness.

When will the archons of the media elite wake the fuck up and realize just who they've handed the reins to?

Friday, August 25, 2006


God Is On My Side, Even When He Isn't

Katherine "Tattooed Eyeshadow" Harris is flagging in the polls in the Florida Senate race... and it shows. Especially now that she's dropping shit like this:

"We have to have the faithful in government and over time," the Witness quotes Harris as saying, "that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

I'd first like to point out the irony that Harris is 30 points behind her opponent, which implies that God's not too keen on picking her. But what I'd like to delve into deeper is the sheer powerlessness embodied by this statement.

By making this statement, Harris not only makes a mockery of the political system (last time I checked, the people picked the rulers in the country), but indicates that she is utterly rudderless in life. She doesn't say that God's good works influence people to pick the right candidates; no, she says that God himself picks the candidates. In Harris's mind, if this little statement is to be believed, people are nothing more than conduits for the desires of powerful beings beyond our understanding. We may make the occasional choice, but for the most part, we play on the whims of God and the Devil.

If this is what Harris is indeed saying, then it's schizophrenic at best, and fatalistic at worst. Either way, the idea of being wholly powerless before the will of the divine, of not just being heavily influenced by it but controlled by it, is not a quality that should be viewed positively in those who wish to lead us.


That's Why It's Called "Intelligence", Folks

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

That's right, folks; politicians in the air-conditioned halls of Congress and the White House are accusing folks who attempt to follow the latest communications, who go undercover and risk certain death, who have been blatantly outed as revenge for what their husbands say*, of not saying what they're "supposed" to say.

Jesus Christ. Who needs facts anymore?

*Oh, by the way: if any of those angling for war with Iran are wondering why their intel isn't at its best, it might be because the administration orchestrated the outing of the woman who was in charge of said intel gathering. Just food for thought.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


See That? That's Politics

Meet Jonathan Paton. He's a Republican state representative from Arizona, and he belives in staying the course in the War in Iraq. Now, normally, here's where I would be dismissive of the position of said candidate. This time, however, I am not.

Because Paton's going over and fighting in the goddamned war.

I may disagree with Paton's position. But I cannot fault the man for doing what he's doing. Especially since I have seen almost every other Republican politician flog this war like a expired equine. These men usually spend only enough time in the warzone to cobble together some satisfactory sounding bullshit and get the fuck out, and talk about supporting the troops while handing them body armor that cracks when it hits the ground from moderate heights. Here, though, we actually have a man who believes in the idea so much, that he's willing to fight for it.

We need more politicians like you, Jonathan Paton.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Screw Copilot, God's Driving

So, the big players of the religious right have set aside targeting reproductive freedom, safe sex, and happy gay people and set their sights on a new target: hotel porn. Kathy Shepard, of the Hilton hotel chain, speaks to truth about what this issue's really about:

Both Kathy Shepard of Hilton and Roger Conner of Marriott said the bulk of their hotels are operated by franchise-holders who make their own decisions about in-room programming. They made clear, however, that their companies consider adult movies to be an acceptable option because they can be ignored or blocked out by guests not wishing to view them.

"Really ultraconservative groups try to target the hotels in their zest to eliminate porn," Shepard said. "In their zest to have their personal morals prevail, they're eliminating choice for others."

But Kathy, don't you know that when humans have choices, they will always choose the sinful, debased one? That's why God's Chosen Busybodies must block out all matter of choice, in order to make us all really bored yet really righteous!

Like I said last June, when a self-appointed "moral crusader" talks about actively avoiding, if not trying to kill, something that provides possible beneficial and negative choices, they are admitting that they, ironically enough, have no moral fiber of their own. They cannot look at an issue objectively and decide whether it is right or wrong, and God forbid they let anyone else make that choice. They truly believe that they could not figure out that actively snuffing out another human being's life is wrong, without having God to tell them so.

And the last thing I want is someone who can't figure things out without having someone to tell him so tell me what I should be doing with my life.

Monday, August 21, 2006


When You Have No Legs To Stand On, You Can Always Prop Yourself Up With Your Massive Dick

Bush has openly admitted that Iraq had absolutely "nothing" to do with 9/11. So, despite the fact that Bush and his cronies kept banging the twin war drums of WMDs and a Saddam-Osama connection in the leadup to this war, they have effectively abandoned both. And why would they need to keep them up? Hell, they got what they wanted. The facts don't matter anymore.

So, this is what he gave us, folks: a war based in nothing.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Where This Is Coming From

So, I'm back from vacation. My time on Great Diamond Island was... all right, I'll admit it. Without the laptop, I likely would've been bored out of my freaking skull. Still, it was a nice, relaxing place, evne if our neighbors were a bit... shrieky.

One night, we'd decided to head into Portland for dinner. While Mother and Father Cognito split off to meet friends for dinner, Brother Cognito and I decided to walk around before getting our meal. Eventually, we found a bookstore. I was flipping through the current events section, when I found a book that made me feel slight pangs of disgust: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer (and no, I'm not dignifying it with a link).

For a little background, the P.I.G. series (as illustrated by a little cartoon pig) extends also to "Science" and "Feminism." Its authors basically believe, "Forget facts, logic, and compassion; I want my women barefoot, my earth flat, and my Muslim hordes conquering." This wasn't my first encounter with the book, either; I'd seen it mentioned in a post on Crooks and Liars. A quote from the book talked about exploring "the truth behind the Crusades." Y'know, those same Crusades where every man, woman, and child in Jerusalem who was not Christian (and even some who were) were slaughtered. I thought to myself, "Jesus Christ, not Crusades revisionism."

So, like Pandora opening the box, I flipped through the book. And yes, it was Crusades revisionism of the most pedestrian attempt, trying to paint both sides as having done bad things (which somehow makes the men representing God's divine representative on Earth immune from blame for what was practically genocide). But when flipping through the book to the table of contents, I found something that gave me a chill.

There, as an epigraph to the whole sordid affair, was, in bold, the phrase "DEUS VULT!" The same phrase used by Pope Urban II in his speech sending off the first Crusaders.

This book wasn't just Crusades revisionism.

It was, effectively, Crusades cheerleading.

Of course, this book had statements of praise in the front by all the leading warriors against the Muslim horde, such as Michelle Malkin. This, to me, says a lot. This distrust they engender, this invective they hurl... I'm beginning to believe that people like Malkin and Spencer would see nothing wrong with every Muslim man, woman, and child in the US being forced, at gunpoint, to convert or die.

Hell, they may be the ones who lead the charge.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Coming This Fall, A Hilarious Farce About the Blood Libel

So, there's a movie coming out called Say Uncle (trailer here). The movie stars Peter Paige, late of Queer as Folk, as a gay man who likes playing with children, and Kathy Najimy, as the mother who becomes extremely paranoid of said gay man and launches a campaign-- first among the neighborhood, but eventually expanding to the local press-- to slander him as a pedophile.

Oh. And it's a comedy.

Like Dorian, who first pointed me to this exercise in bad taste, I fail to see the humor in a film in which a gay man is alienated and harrassed because a straight woman thinks he might be a pedophile, especially given the current climate. We have polticians and preachers claiming that we prey on children-- often, our very gayness is equated with pedophilia. We have judges who claim that we aren't "right" for children, that they'd be better in the hands of married straight couples.

Maybe I'm just misjudging from the trailer. But when The Opposite of Sex, which was a nice nasty film in its own right, did the whole "panic over older gay male possibly seducing younger male" thing, they had the proper sense of ironic distance, with the accusations and "man on the street" reactions being nice and ridiculous. There's no such sense of proportion here. There is, very simply, a plain illustration of the steps that one who actually buys into this crap might take to make a suburban gay man's life a living hell.

I'm not laughing.



Well, it's about fucking time. Anna Diggs Taylor, an U.S. district judge, has ruled that the president's warrantless wiretap program is unconstitutional.

This will not be easy. Already Taylor is coming under attack from the shit-slinging bonobos of the far right (y'know, I never thought being someone devoted to civil rights could be good slur material. Apparently, I was wrong). Already the administration is swearing that they'll drag this all the way to the Supreme Court. Already Bush is swearing that Judge Taylor "do[es] not understand the nature of the world in which we live".*

But this is the first step that we really fucking need.

*By the way, George, she's a judge. It's not her job to understand how "the world we live in" applies to the law. It's her job to understand the U.S. Constitution and how it applies to the law. And what you're doing, according to her, is a big fucking violation of it. So, if you want her to "understand the nature of the world in which we live", try getting someone to write an amendment allowing your office exemption from the 4th Amendment and see how it flies.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Shock the Monkey

George Allen, Republican Senator from Virginia and SoCal's biggest Confederacy cheerleader, is one of the front runners in the Republican Party for '08. That, however, is likely to change very, very soon:

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Allen said this to S.R. Sidarth, a man of Indian descent. "Macaca", or "macaque", is a French word for monkey, and traditionally used by North African citizens of European descent as a derogatory term for native Africans. And Allen's mother was a French woman who lived in Tunisia before coming over.

Of course, Allen's spinning like Arachne, claiming that he was referring to Sidarth's (nonexistent) mohawk, that he's sorry if he offended anyone (translation: "I don't know what I did wrong, so I'll just cover my ass"), and, of all things, claiming that he "merely" meant to call Sidarth a shithead.

I can't say this is a big surprise. Even in an age where pundits can freely use slurs on TV and in public speeches and come off smelling like roses, hopefully we'll take our candidates to task for it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


My Agenda Is Existence

Straight from Pam's House Blend, two exercises in complete ignorance.

First of all, we have the Christian Medical and Dental Association, who are throwing a shit fit over an article published by the American Academy of Family Physicians about care for lesbian women. According to the CMDA, this indicates-- say it with me, folks-- the acceptance of "a homosexual agenda". Never mind the fact that the article centers on the fact that lesbians and bisexual women have trouble finding health care because they're afraid of being judged by their doctors. Obviously, these women need to be judged and judged some more.

Secondly, and perhaps more dire, a woman writing to the San Diego Union-Tribune compared the violent beating of six gay men by a trio of gay bashers to the "hateful moral assaults" of the gay pride parade itself. Yes, never mind the fact that these men were beaten up for being who they are and may very well require reconstructive surgery. The real victims here are people who take every little sign of life from gay people to be a personal insult against them.

I hear people bitch about the "homosexual agenda." Well, here's my agenda: I have the right to exist. I have the right to live somewhere without fearing that I will be kicked out because I am gay. I have the right to a job where I will not be fired because I like men instead of women. I have the right to medical care without being told by my doctor that I am an ugly, foul sinner. I have the right to celebrate who I am without having my skull cracked in by some dumbfuck, and I have the right to recover without being told that I am a corrupter of innocence.

I have the right to be. And I guess this is just too much for some people. And you know what? They can all go fuck themselves.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Your 24/7 Network For Terror

We used to be better than this. We used to not spend every minute of our lives quaking in fear. We used to look to the media for rational guidance, rather than being told every minute of our waking lives that the sky is, indeed, falling. We used to be able to go through life without considering whether we could do without certain parts of the Constitutiton if it meant living another day.

Congratulations, bin Laden, you miserable old goatfucker. You're winning.


I Forgive You On Behalf Of Those You Actually Insulted

Mel Gibson issued an apology to the Jewish people, and James Dobson accepted it.

James Dobson.

Who is not Jewish.

Who, judging by the company he keeps, supports Israel solely because he thinks doing so will cause Christ to come again sooner than later.

Who was not even insulted in the first place.

He has accepted Mel's apology.

Good one, Jimmy. Now, how about those people who Mel actually blamed for starting all the world's wars?

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Ta Da!

Well, we're in Maine. Have been for the past day or so.

How is it? Well, it's pretty. It's nice. Very quaint.

And why the hell didn't I post anything about it yesterday? Well, I was tired. Really tired. No, I have no idea why. Brother Cognito got it worse; he napped from 5 to 8 yesterday, got dinner, collapsed on the couch around 11, and slept in until roughly 1 PM today. Hell, if he had a fever, we'd think he had mono.

Ah, well. Onward. There's plenty to do on this vacation, and plenty of fuck-ups in the outside world that still need to be covered.

Friday, August 11, 2006


The Threat's Still Out There, Everyone Relax

Y'know, I'd take this whole media frenzy about terrorist attacks much more seriously if Bush actually stayed around to do anything, rather than head back to his vacation home with the assurance that all is okay.

I'm reminded of those notices about how "non-essential employees" can go home for the day. This is not a good thing.


Land of Lobster

So, tomorrow the Cognito Clan embarks for a week long vacation to Diamond Cove, an island off the coast of Maine. Now, usually, this would be the time when I tell you that I'll be away for a week and there will be no posts.

But not this time. For you see, our vacation house has WiFi. So, I'll be able to keep abreast of the Internet for all of next week, while enjoying the wonders of the place that Stephen King writes all those stories about. Hooray.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Who Do I Fear These Days?

So, yes. The London airline bomb plot. Big story of the day, apparently.

And I really don't know which way to go on it. And I'm scared by that.

I know, I honestly know, that we are still in danger. That there are people out there who want to strike blows against the US for rather unfounded reasons and who don't give two shits about collateral damage. I know that these people must be stopped, and I congratulate anyone who does.

On the other hand, I know that, in the past, the administration has lied to me. I know that they have played politics with terror. I know they have said that anyone who disagrees with how they run the country doesn't care about whether we get blown to kingdom come-- hell, in some cases, they've said we directly aid those who want to kill us. I know that they treat fear as a motivational tool, using color -coded charts that operate based on how the president's top men feel that day and viewing terror tapes as ploys for votes.

And I know that the president has instituted this plan only today, despite apparently having known about it for days. And I know that he, Cheney, and Snow are using this issue to paint Democrats as wholly unmotivated on terror.

I know that this was a real danger. I know that this could have rivalled 9/11 for sheer disaster. I jusst wish I knew who to listen to about what this really means.

UPDATE: John Rogers has talked about why this was only acted on today while US intelligence knew about it for a long-ass time: to net as many people involved as possible. I can't object to that, although I still object to the climate of fear and intimidation engendered by our administration.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


No, Joe

So, Joe Lieberman has lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. Now, he'll be running as an independent. So, why am I going for Lamont? As others point out to me, Lieberman is "for the most part" liberal. He is (at the moment) mostly pro-gay, mostly pro-choice, and against tax breaks. So, why am I against him?

Simple. It's about Bush. And don't look at me like this a "single issue" thing. After the bungled search for Bin Laden, after the massive clusterfuck that is the War in Iraq, after the signing statements, after the lack of action in Katrina, after the torture, after the wiretaps... I simply cannot support any candidate, especially any Democratic candidate, who says that it's a bad thing to question the president, especially since he has three more years in office. And I can only look down on any candidate who refers to people who bow to the will of the majority of the American populace and demand a way out of Iraq as "extremists".

Yes, there's a chance that this could split the primary. But let's face it-- it's better than sending a man who blatantly ignores the populace back into office.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


"This is going to turn into a snuff film."

Once upon a time, a fertilizer salesman named Hal Warren decided to become a filmmaker. With a crew of college students, a cast of community theatre actors and models, and a hand-cranked 16mm camera that didn't record sound and which only filmed for 30 seconds at a time, Hal went to work on his opus: Manos, the Hands of Fate. The film had a theatrical run of about 6 seconds and was tossed onto the celluloid trash heap, until Mystery Science Theater 3000 dug it up and gave it the shredding it so deserved.

There's a funny thing about MST3K; y'see, the creators knew that they had a fan base that loved the show, and actively encouraged the sharing of episodes. Up until the fifth season (when their lawyers told them it might be construed as piracy), the creators had a message in the end credits that told fans to "keep circulating the tapes." Well, now that we've gone all digital, tapes aren't the preferred medium of sharing things.

And, with that lengthy and overdrawn explanation, I give you... Manos: the Hands of Fate, on YouTube, in ten parts. Enjoy.

Monday, August 07, 2006


The Queer Exodus

The Washington Post has a story today about gay people who are leaving Virginia rather than risk the outcome of a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar everything from marriage to civil unions to-- hell, anything "purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage" for gay people. Normally, I would be upset by people with a cause leaving and abandoning the fight to the other side, but look at that language. After the debacle of the Ohio girlfriend-beating amendment, there's a very good chance this thing could be used to annul wills between gay couples.

Of course, it also doesn't help that the opponents of gay marriage just don't fucking get it:

Victoria Cobb, executive director of the Family Foundation, the Richmond-based group that backed the 2004 law and the proposed constitutional amendment, said the goal isn't to drive out gay people. She said "extreme homosexual organizations" might be trying to frighten their members by circulating false information about the amendment. She said it wouldn't add restrictions on gays but would simply underscore the ways their relationships are already restricted.

"I think it's extremely sad they would leave because of something they were never allowed to do anyway," said Cobb, who said she believed gays could go to court to defend themselves if a partner's family members challenged their right to own property in common, arrange powers of attorney or visit each other in the hospital.

Yeah, why are they leaving when in our state, they'll have to go out of their way to do things that straight couples never, ever have to do?

I'm still torn on this issue. On the one hand, I believe a battle should be fought until no hope appears evident. On the other hand, I know that at some point, you just have to give up and handle your losses. I guess, like some of the others mentioned in this article, I'll just have to wait until November and see.


Millionaire Misogynists Gone Wild

I know I shouldn't be surprised when I find out that a man who's built a million-dollar empire on the bustlines of barely legal girls turns out to be a possessive, almost sociopathic, misogynist. But, well, Joe Francis takes his sleaze to an unseen level, making Hugh Hefner look like Pope Benedict.

Joe Francis, the founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" empire, is humiliating me. He has my face pressed against the hood of a car, my arms twisted hard behind my back. He's pushing himself against me, shouting: "This is what they did to me in Panama City!"

It's after 3 a.m. and we're in a parking lot on the outskirts of Chicago. Electronic music is buzzing from the nightclub across the street, mixing easily with the laughter of the guys who are watching this, this me-pinned-and-helpless thing.

Francis isn't laughing.

He has turned on me, and I don't know why. He's going on and on about Panama City Beach, the spring break spot in northern Florida where Bay County sheriff's deputies arrested him three years ago on charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and promoting the sexual performance of a child. As he yells, I wonder if this is a flashback, or if he's punishing me for being the only blond in sight who's not wearing a thong. This much is certain: He's got at least 80 pounds on me and I'm thinking he's about to break my left arm. My eyes start to stream tears.

Luckily, Claire Hoffman, the reporter, strikes back, and that's when Joey starts to realize he probably won't be getting a shining profile:

I wriggle free and punch him in the face, closed-fist but not too hard.

"Damn," bystanders say. Francis barely blinks. He snatches at my notebook. He is amped, his broad face sneering as he does a sort of boxer's skip around me, jabbering, grabbing at my arms and my stomach as I try to move away, clutching my notebook to my chest. He stabs a finger in my face, shouting, "You don't care about the 1st Amendment. I care about the 1st Amendment, but you are the kind of reporter who doesn't care."

Except, when Ms. Hoffman finds a story about dubious activities between Francis and an 18-year-old woman-- dubious activites that could be construed as rape-- it turns out that Francis doesn't give two shits about the 1st Amendment, just about what makes his look good:

Six weeks after that night outside Chicago, when I call Francis on his cellphone and ask him about the incident, he says he doesn't remember Szyszka and that he didn't have sex with anyone that night. He seems to lose control, repeatedly referring to me by a crude word for female genitalia. "If you print that, I will [expletive] sue the [expletive] out of you. If you print that, baby, you just put the nail in your own coffin," he tells me. "You are a [expletive expletive]. You decided to blast me . . . You are a [expletive] bitch . . . I will get my last laugh on you. I will get you." He then refers me to Burke, his lawyer.

And then he thinks he can kiss his way out of it:

"I just felt that Claire may have had a little affinity for me," he says as she takes notes. "It may have come out when she had a few drinks." He describes my behavior as aggressively romantic. "Originally she hit on me. That's how I met her. I took her to a lunch. She called me all the time and it wasn't about work. It was about me. I know when a girl has a crush on me."

Ms. Hoffman paints an amazing picture of this magnate of porn: what he wants, he gets. He wants willing women, then he makes them willing. He wants good press, then he tries to seize the notebook of a reporter who he's just used physical violence on. He wants a story of stay down, he threatens legal action; when that doesn't work, he tries to make the reporter his plaything.

He thinks he can get anything and anyone he wants, even those he's just held down and assaulted:

When I think back on that night, our very public scuffle isn't what seems the most revealing. Instead, the moment I saw Francis most clearly—his charm, his rage, his cunning and even his regret—came later, when no one was looking. I was waiting, still shaken, outside the club for a cab to take me back to my hotel. Francis, who had disappeared inside the bus, returned.

Ignoring the two policemen who hovered a few yards away, he tiptoed past them to stand over me. He rubbed my shoulder. His gestures were oddly gentle—even fond. I felt sick.

"I'm sorry," he said, reaching over to tousle my hair. "We love our little reporter. Don't we guys? We love our little reporter."

I stared down at the dirt as he whispered in my ear, "I'm sorry, baby, give me a kiss. Give me a kiss."

This is what happens when you give a world based on sex to a man who doesn't understand that there are people attached to those breasts.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Farce of the Penguins

It's not just a Bob Saget movie, y'know.

So a rather stupid video about Al Gore and penguins has shown up on YouTube. And wouldn't you know it, the guy who made it works for a public relations group with ties to ExxonMobil.

There's a good deal of stuff in this article on how the Internet and various video hosting websites are being used in politics. But still, putting a point up on the Internet with flashy imagery means nothing if that point does not have evidence to back it up in a public venue. There's another quote in there from Marc Morano, communications chief for Jim "Global Warming = Reich Propaganda" Inhofe:

Marc Morano, communications chief for Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has led opposition to climate legislation on Capitol Hill, says an Internet strategy is both effective and necessary because mainstream news organizations are "promoting the message of Gore uncritically."

Right. "Uncritically." As if it's exalted by the media, despite the fact that, while 928 abstracts taken from peer-reviewed scientific journals from 1993 to 2003 do not dispute the fact that climate change is at least spurred on by man, over half the news coverage of said issue puts it and the idea that climate change is perfectly natural on equal footing.

Y'know, I keep hearing a lot about "getting the message out," but all I see of that message is innuendo and happenstance. I see think tanks dedicated to overturning global warming theory founded by ExxonMobil, who most definitely have a vested interest in the matter. I see video mocking Al Gore for getting the opposite message out. I see video claiming that carbon is good for us, no matter how large the amount, and anyone who says otherwise just wants to overthrow the balance that keeps us alive. I see novels where, in between the presented data, environmentalists are portrayed as clueless fanatics.

Science has been wrong before. There have been cases in history, no matter how remote, where one person pointed out the flaws and changed scientific theory. If the think tanks and public relations groups of the energy industry have such a new age Galileo, then I would be glad to listen to him. But until then, if all I have to go on is corporately-funded numbers crunching and ad hominem mockery, I think I'll stick with science.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


And Yet, Hilariously Enough, I'm Still Celibate

So, in about one hour, I am accused by a member of RenewAmerica, Alan Keyes's "bash the homos" organization, of:

-having sex with infants
-having sex with animals
-having sex in public
-having around 300 sex partners in my life
-being the greatest threat to America since the Civil War

I really don't know what I can say about this... except that I'm tired. I'm tired of this bullshit. I'm tired of being told that I'm subhuman by people who claim (guess what!) that they don't hate gays, they just think we're child raping sex fiends. I'm tired of people like Adams being given platforms to spew their bile while the media pretty much ignores the direct result of such statements.

In summation: fuck that shit.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Sincerely, Barry Mead

Well, look at that. Members of the Clark County Republican Party sent out a flier touched up to make it look like it came from Harry Reid. And that's not all they touched up, either:

The heading on the flier said, "We know that the judicial candidates listed below share our desire to protect the rights of minorities and the individual from the majority. We support their election to office and ask that you cast your vote for them as well."

It then lists exclusively Republican candidates for the offices of Nevada Supreme Court, Clark County District Court and justice of the peace.

See that? "Protect the rights of minorities and the individual from the majority." Coming from a Democrat, you'd think that would imply support for court rulings that allow same-sex marriage. Now, let's see what the Clark County Republican Party really believes:

The Clark County Republican Party supports State ratification of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Whoops! I guess when they say "minorities," they don't mean "gay people."

This is not politics as usual. This is a party going out of its way to make sure that its candidates look like the other party's candidates and then trying to directly sell them to the opposition. And look at this simpering justification:

"The purpose was to hopefully put people we believe to be more conservative in their viewpoints before a part of the voting public that might not otherwise consider them," [County Republican Party chairman John] Hambrick said.

Yeah, and I'm sure you'd get them to really consider those candidates by completely misrepresenting their positions. This isn't campaigning. This is sabotage.


Hello, Junta!

So, let me get this straight: the administration-- the same administration behind wiretaps, Guantanamo, and signing statements-- is putting forth a plan to expand military tribunals to cover crimes that Rumsfeld is allowed to add to the list at will, and which are perpetrated by people "not directly involved in acts of international terrorism." So, when the White House talks about reporters injuring America by covering the government's next wiretap plan (oh, you know they have one), this could be wheeled out against them.

The gall of this administration is absolutely shocking. When will the public be shocked into doing something?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


So, You're Saying It's Really Complicated Suicide?

Michelle Malkin: "At some point, you have to take responsibility for being stabbed to death by a complete stranger."

I didn't think she could sink any further than she possibly could. And yet, she did. Jennifer Moore was killed by a complete stranger in a cab, a cab which she hopped into while trying to escape from another complete stranger. Her body was dumped in a trash can like a used condom. She was terrorized, murdered, and desecrated.

And all this is apparently her fault for having left the house to have a good time. At least, in the Wonderland-esque logic of Malkin, it is.


Cuba Libre?

Well, Castro's stepped down. All right, it's only temporary, and his brother Raul (a.k.a., "The Littler Bastard") has taken his place. Still, the exiles are happy, and maybe it will mean some change.

Speaking of which... where the hell is my little brother?

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