Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Ode to Larry Craig

I was really hoping to make this a YouTube™ video, in time for next week's Republican National Convention — particularly since the convention attendees will be arriving into Larry Craig's most favoritest airport in the whole wide world — but I can't sing worth beans and my vocalist backed out on me. So you'll just have to imagine the 1970's love ballad "Sometimes When We Touch" (music by Barry Mann, original lyrics by Dan Hill) behind these parody lyrics. Fair warning: there is some coarse sexual language.

You can do your own karaoke version by going to RedKaraoke.com (although today it seems determined to crash Firefox), or you can find audio files of the instrumental-only track or text files with the guitar chords on the web.


You ask me if I love you
And I choke on your big dick
I'd rather suck you furtively
'Cause you're just some random trick.
And who are you to judge me?
I said "I am not gay!"
You're only just beginning to see the games I play.

And sometimes when we crap,
Our toes begin to tap,
And I have to lick my lips and smile.
I wanna suck you till you're dry,
Till we both break down and cry.
I wanna suck you, till the Queer in me subsides.

Politics and strategy
Leave me battling with Gay Pride.
But through the insincerity,
Hypocrisy survives.
I'm just another Senator,
Still trapped within my truth,
A hesitant cocksucker,
Still trapped within my booth.

And sometimes when we crap,
Our toes begin to tap,
Sitting with a wider stance and a smile.
I wanna suck you till you're dry,
Till we both break down and cry.
I wanna suck you, till the Queer in me subsides.

At times I'd like to fuck you,
And drive you on your knees.
At times I'd like to peek through,
And see you face-to-face.

At times I even envy you,
And I know what joy you've shared.
I've watched while Lust commands me,
And I've watched Love pass me by.

At times I think we're drifters,
Still waiting for a plane.
Chameleon shape-shifters,
But then the passion flares again.

And sometimes when we crap,
Our toes begin to tap,
And I have to lick my lips and smile.
I wanna suck you till you're dry,
Till we both break down and cry.
I wanna suck you, till the Queer in me SURVIVES!
Parody lyrics by Lincoln Madison, ©2008. Additional parody lyrics by Dolphyn. Set to the score of "Sometimes When We Touch," music by Barry Mann, original lyrics by Dan Hill, ©1977 Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Mann & Weil Songs, Inc., and Sony/ATV Tunes LLC, all rights reserved. Political parody is a Constitutionally protected form of free speech, but the original authors and copyright holders are in no way connected with the content of the parody.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Ron Suskind on The Daily Show

[Transcript and embedded video below the fold]

Journalist Ron Suskind recently published corroborated and detailed reports regarding the lengths to which the Bush Administration went to, in the words of the Downing Street Memo, "fix the intelligence" around the policy of effecting regime change in Iraq by military force. Tonight, Suskind appeared as Jon Stewart's guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss his claims. Note that The American Conservative magazine — hardly a purveyor of "left-wing media bias" has confirmed the substance of Suskind's allegations, quibbling that it was not the CIA who was called upon to forge the document, but Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans, at the behest of the Vice President, and other details but confirming that White House officials ordered the fabrication of false evidence to connect Saddam Hussein both to al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorists and to an active nuclear weapons program. Dubya has so often paid lip service to the idea of accountability, but this is a charge over which heads might actually roll.

Embedded video from TheDailyShow.com:


Jon Stewart: Welcome back. My guest tonight, a Pultizer Prize-winning writer and best-selling author whose latest book is called The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism. Please welcome back to the show Ron Suskind! Nice to see ya; The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism — let's get right to the couple of bombshells, and then we'll move on from that. Bombshell #1: the Administration apparently forged a letter and planted it in Iraq, tying — and this was after the war had already started — tying Mohammad Atta, the 9/11 conspirator, to Iraq, and also tying uranium shipments to Iraq.

Ron Suskind: Right, right. What it shows is this relationship with the Iraq intelligence chief, which starts in early January 2003, before the war. You know, frankly, we made him our source.

Stewart: Habbush was his name.

Suskind: Habbush was the guy, and then we carried all the way through the year. He tells us there are no WMD, he tells us Saddam's mindset: he's afraid of the Iranians more than us, afraid to be shown to be a toothless tiger. And then, you know, that is something we ignore (surprise!) and then we end up paying him $5 million and hiding him, and we don't really know what to do with him — he's kind of "radioactive" as that summer unfolds, and it's clear there are no weapons to the whole world — and then we decide, "Here's something we might try!" And the White House orders the CIA to fabricate a letter from this guy Habbush which clears then of their ethical dilemma of going to war under false pretenses.

Stewart: And the letter says in it, literally, "Mohammad Atta did train in Iraq and the whole uranium thing; did anyone think it was weird that the letter combined the two things that were in question — in the letter itself, it said, "Oh, and he did buy uranium from Niger. Oh, and Joe Wilson is a prick. Oh, and, uh," — is it weird that those things were in there?

Suskind: Well, it's interesting, because it's sort of an "overreach" moment, because this letter popped up, Tom Brokaw — you know, he did it on Meet the Press, William Safire writes about it. A couple of days in, about a week in, people are like, "Jeez, this is an awful lot in one letter," and that overreach kind of revealed it to be fraudulent.

Stewart: Now, why didn't anyone pursue it at that time, the fraudulent nature of it; why did that sort of just fall away?

Suskind: Well, you know, it was hard to get at; you know, it's a very closely held thing, and this is an operation through the CIA; you know, you need someone who is going to stand up in daylight and say, "Hey, this is what happened."

Stewart: Now, your source in the CIA, this person in the CIA, [Rob] Richer?

Suskind: Yeah, he's one of the folks who talked about it.

Stewart: One of the folks; he now says, "Aaah, I never said that!" What's the situation with that?

Suskind: Well, you know, he's a good guy — all the people involved here, you know, are good guys, who've been walking around with this, you know, kind of a lump in their chest for a while, and ... You know what? I'm sympathetic to all the sources; they're under a lot of pressure. In this particular part of the book, there are lots of disclosures, but this one, the White House has been, obviously, intensely interested, because there may be illegality that has Constitutional consequences, so —

Stewart: That is maybe the nicest way of saying "impeachment" I think I've ever seen in my life. "A legality that has consequences..."

Suskind: Right.

Stewart: The other side of this —

Suskind: Just so you know, I posted the transcript of our conversation online, so people can see our conversation, where we're digging to the stuff that's in the book. The book is full of on-the-record comments from everyone.

Stewart: Theother thing, that hasn't gotten as much coverage, is, you're saying they knew there were no WMDs, that this guy Habbush told them — have they answered that charge? Have they said why they didn't go along with that?

Suskind: Not really. You know, the book lays out exactly the debate that raged when Habbush makes his appearance, in this secret back channel that we set up, he's slipping out of Baghdad to Amman, Jordan — in early January, there are weekly meetings, biweekly meetings —

Stewart: This is before the war?

Suskind: Yes! Three months before the war. Now, you know —

Stewart: And he says, "Ehh, you know — there's no weapons..."

Suskind: Bupkus, bupkus. It's nothing.

Stewart: He used Yiddish?

Suskind: I think — I have to check. It may be in the book; you might want to take a —

Stewart: So surprising for an Iraqi general to use Yiddish!

Suskind: He said, "[Yiddish], we have real problems here; I don't know, I can't say."

Stewart: The surprise on his plume... So —

Suskind: He was very [Yiddish]; that's all I know.

Stewart: Who did he tell? He told the CIA that there were no weapons?

Suskind: Yeah, it was a fascinating mission, Top Secret, it's been secret for five years. The British and the CIA guys got together, they had this meeting — it's extraordinary, the whole —

Stewart: MI6?

Suskind: MI6, right, and of course the stuff flows up into Downing Street and the White House, and, you know, it's interesting: there's a debate that rages — is it for real? Is it denial and deception? Is it the real McCoy? And ultimately the US says, "You knoooow, this does not fit in with what we're thinking, and let's sort of ignore this." Now, of course, when the summer comes, this guy's "radioactive." We made a deal that we're gonna resettle him, and ultimately, at that point we do, after the war, he gets out of Baghdad, he gets to Amman, Jordan, to the safe house, and during the summer, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, that terrible summer for the White House, well, we decide to dot the i and cross the t; then, when we pay him $5 million —

Stewart: For the letter?

Suskind: Uh, actually before the letter, we pay him $5 million and thenthe letter comes after that. That's sort of we decide what to do with him after —

Stewart: The interesting thing strikes me is that apparently all the WMD intelligence that we used in those briefings — like with Colin Powell and those — came from a single source, that gentleman al-Libi —

Suskind: Right.

Stewart: — who apparently they had tortured —

Suskind: That's right.

Stewart: — and who turned out to be "Curveball" and crazy — so they basically took Curveball, the one source, over Habbush, the one source — uh, quite a little circus we've got going here.

Suskind: Right, right. You can hear the music playing — [hums circus calliope music] — all under the tent.

Stewart: Why does no one — this has not seemed to have created the firestorm that you would think.

Suskind: Well, you know, it's sort of an interesting moment: it's all in the book, it's all on the record, people are sort of going, "Oh, God. You know, what do we do now?" And I think folks in Congress and others are saying, "Well, you know, what is our obligations here?" [sic] and I think it's in the book — I've done my part of this sort of thing. Now, when people —

Stewart: You know, you're not allowed to say, "It's in the book" one more time — I'll have to ask you to leave.

Suskind: I mean, look, the fact is, the whole book is about the fact that we've bled away our moral — [audience groans] —

Stewart: And by the way, if you grind the book up and smoke it —

Suskind: It's delicious; it's lovely.

Stewart: It will give you a hallucination about the Iraq war, you can't believe... Uh, well, The Way of the World is on the bookshelves now; I imagine someone will most likely read it and look into it, within the higher reaches of our government, but I can't be sure. [reference to remarks earlier in the program]

Suskind: We'll just have to see.

Stewart: Must be weird, to learn about this shit and then think, like, Ooh, 14 months from now, ooh, people are gonna go crazy, but then they don't.

Suskind: You know, actually, the disclosure sort of came fully at the very end of the project, which is, you know, the way that sort of worked, and, you know, what the book's all about: the way America's moral authority has bled away, and how we need to restore it to fight the battles we need to fight. You know, the way you do it is with Truth.

Stewart: "It's all in the book"; Ron Suskind!

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Daily Show on Bush and Language

[Transcript and embedded video below the fold]

On Tuesday's Daily Show, Jon Stewart started off by commemorating "Still President" George W. Bush's 134th overseas trip. It is doubly shocking to hear that President Bush has set a new record for most overseas visits by any U.S. President, considering that he had made the fewest overseas trips of any U.S. Presidential candidate in modern history. Up to age 50, not including border crossings into Mexico, Dubya had been abroad only once, visiting his father (at the time, the U.S. ambassador) in China for a month in 1975. As late as 1998, he had never been to Europe, never been to Australia, never been to Africa, never even been to Canada. He did manage to get in two trips towards the end of his term as governor of Texas, going to the Middle East and The Gambia in 1998 and 2000, respectively, but he was stunningly incurious about the rest of the world, for a man who held the ambition of leading the community of nations.

The bulk of Stewart's commentary, though, covered some of President Bush's linguistic legacy, not merely mangling and mispronouncing words, but proactively redefining them.

The video is in three segments, with transcript below.

Embedded video clips from TheDailyShow.com:

Thank you very much, you're very kind. Welcome to the show; my name is Jon Stewart. Man, the show tonight — from whatever the longitude and latitude is here in the studio. [roughly 40.76°N, 73.99°W] Seth Rogen's going to be joining us, from the film Pineapple Express. It's an incredible film: one man — I'm just gonna give you the brief plot point — one man has 24 hours to get a train full of pineapples across the country, or his nephew's luau-themed bar mitzvah — ruined!! You're not buying any of this shit; all right, fair enough.

But for now, all eyes on Beijing and the Summer Olympics; the opening ceremony, Friday, 8.8.08 at 8pm. By the way, bet that number in Pick-4; I'm sure no one else will — you can share the prize with 1.2 billion Chinese. People from all around the world, succumbing to Olympic fever — which, by the way, you can catch in China without the Olympics. Whatever you do, don't go near their pigs or birds. All right.

Of course, President Bush left for the games early, in an effort to beat the traffic. Landing in South Korea for a day of trade talks, the President received a mixed welcome, some hailing his arrival, others demonstrating against him, with a mix of synchronized "terrorist fist jabs" and characters from Nintendo's new game, "Wii Protest." It seemed like just another ordinary trip for the President, except [balloons and confetti] it's his 134th visit to a foreign country! It's a record! Hold on — [party "blowout" noisemaker] — he's now officially — this is true — our most-travelled President in history. It's a little suspicious, perhaps validating what I've been saying all along: President George W. Bush either has a thirst for international knowledge, or is a drug mule. You decide. [character voice:] I know there's one way to check, but I'm not goin' there.

But there's no denying the President's a hard-core man of the road; that's why, everywhere he visits, he leaves hobo symbols for future Presidents — you know, "10 Downing Street's got nice lady and good food!" Bush, of course, also holds the record for most Presidential vacation days: 506 and counting. You know, between that and the travel days, I think it's clear: there's something about being at the White House our President cannot stand. [Bush character voice:] "I can't help but thinkin', I'm sleepin' in the same bed where my mom and dad used to do it."

Now, seeing the President — that is disturbing onso many different levels — seeing the President overseas reminds us that he is still President, and that we don't really have that much more time with him to fully appreciate all that he's ... done for us. So, perhaps there's no time like the present to begin assessing the damage.

[graphics: "George Walker Bush — His Not Yet Legacy: Language"]

Tonight, we focus on the President's use of language, and we've all heard the jokes, how he stumbles over words, doesn't know how to pronounce them, has shit in his mouth — you know, "subliminable," "fool me once, can't be fooled the shame on who wanna wacka wacka wacka wacka." Laugh it up, a–holes, but the truth is this: George W. Bush's real contribution to language has been in redefining it. For instance, when people began suggesting that we think about leaving Iraq:

Bush, 2007-04-24: Well, what I won't accept is, you know, artificial timetables of withdrawal...

Bush, 2005-06-28: Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message ...

Bush, 2007-04-23: I believe artificial timetables of withdrawal, uh, uh, would be a mistake ...

NO!! artificial timetables — this is a free-range, organic war; that's why it costs so much. And then you remember Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki suggested that maybe the United States should think about gettin' out, in maybe the next 16 to 23 months, which the Administration thought might be a good idea, so in your mind you're thinkin', Isn't that an artificial timetable? It's not!

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2008-07-21: What we want is a kind of "aspirational time horizon" ...

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2008-07-02: The strategic goals of having "time horizons" are ones that we all seek...

Andy Card, former White House Chief of Staff, 2008-07-21: A "timeline" is dangerous [flash forward] "horizon" that allows you to pay attention to what's happening in the real world, on the ground ...

See, timelines are dangerous; what we need is a horizon, a withdrawal strategy named after something that, no matter how long you head towards it, you never quite reach it; it's asymptotic.

Now, here's what the Administration has learned: that a rose, by any other name — could be anything! Might not even be a flower. For instance, when the Shia and Sunni started fighting each other for control of Iraq — you know, brother fighting brother, "Frankly, Mahmoud, I don't give a damn" kind of thing, "some day, we'll all look back on this with a chess set and a documentary." What was that called again??

Bush, 2006-08-07: Some people say, "Well, civil war this" and "civil war that" ...

Bush, 2006-11-08: You know, you hear all the time, well, maybe this is a civil war; well, I don't believe it is ...

Of course you don't believe it is!! That would've been a horrible thing for us to have caused! This is merely the —

Bush, 2007-01-16: Sectarian violence in Baghdad ...

Condi, 2006-08-04: They have sectarian differences, and some of those are violent.

Gen. David Petraeus, 2008-04-08: ... ethno-sectarian competition ...

Yeah, what's a little ethno-sectarian competition? I'll tell you what's a great weekend: take the kids, load 'em in the minivan, and drive 'em down to one of those ethno-sectarian competition reenactments. [kiss] Why is this important? Because the consequences of miscommunication can be devastating. For instance, let's say you're a giant business, and the business that you're in is home loans and you suck at it, and your name is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and someone says to you,

Bush, 2008-07-15: We are going to provide — if needed — temporary assistance through either debt or capital.

So, you might think, Oh my God! Temporary debt or capital? They're gonna give us money! We've been bailed out, everybody! Well, not only do you suck at your job, you also have poor listening skills.

Bush, 2008-07-15: By the way, the decisions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — I hear some say "bailout"; I don't think it's a bailout.

It's not a bailout, it's a — monetary shielding unit, a capital restraint system, fiduciary stilts —

Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson, 2008-07-13: It's a liquidity backstop.

Dammit! What difference does it make whether we call something a bailout or a civil war or any of those things? It's just semantics; no harm, no foul, nobody gets hurt.

Bush, 2007-10-07: We don't torture.

Bush, 2007-08-09: We don't torture.

Bush, 2007-10-17: We don't torture. We, we, we — I've said all along American — to the American people, we won't torture.

So, that's when this technique comes in handy: when the definition of the word is an internationally recognized war crime. So what do we do?

Former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft: Enhanced interrogation techniques ...

Douglas Feith, former Defense Undersec. for Policy: Counter-resistance techniques... [note: the C–SPAN caption reads "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D–NY)," but it is Feith on screen, responding to Nadler's question.]

Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey: The "shocks the conscience" standard ...

Feith: Grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger, and light pushing ...

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D–NY): [reading from a report] "stress positions, isolation, nudity, the use of dogs ..."

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D–MA): "using the individual as a human shield ..."

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D–CA) [Ashcroft on screen]: "induced hypothermia or forced sleeplessness ..."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D–IL) [split-screen with Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales]: "mock execution ..."

Gen. Michael Hayden, Director, CIA: We've conducted renditions.

Rdml. Jane Dalton (fmr. legal adviser to Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs): working dogs in an interrogation booth, unmuzzled and snarling ...

Feith: Removing clothing is different from naked!

Hayden: Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees.

Feith: The idea was to induce stress ...

Vice President Dick Cheney: It's a tougher program for tougher customers.

Tough customers? You know, I've worked in some bad retail situations; not once did I ever shock a guy's nuts.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Disturbing subject lines in spam messages

I get lots — and I do mean lots — of spam, literal­ly hun­dreds every day, offering the usual assort­ment of home mort­gage enlarge­ment, cheap software for your penis, and college diplomas for your computer. Most of them get shuttled into my spam folder, or get blocked before they even get that far, but no spam filtering is perfect, so I try to check in and make sure that no legit messages have been over­zeal­ous­ly marked as spam. I was glancing through today's haul and noticed a rather dis­turb­ing trend emerging in the subject lines the spammers use to try to lure you into opening their messages.

Quite a few have reasonably straight­for­ward subject lines: "rolex mania," or "debt consolidation," or "BuyViagra online At The *Chepeast* Price!" [sic]. A few try to be a bit more coy: "Nights full of pleasure are possible," or "million selections," or "Want to make money while surfing." Some are just gibberish: "sidereal dully louisa jostle inherit," for an example that sounds suspiciously like some of the "dictionary attack" addresses at which I receive spam. (I get spammed at such common usernames as Rutledge­Depend­Wilton­Being@­lincmad.com, Sidewalk­Molecu­lar@­lincmad.com, and a1aaa­1azzzz­1zaaaaa@­lincmad.com.) But the ones that caught my eye today are trying to shock the recipient into opening the e-mail:

  • Richard Nixon Speaks From The Grave!

  • Clinton withdraws support for Obama

  • Shia LeBeouf [sic] to lose hand

  • Anthrax suspected as 2 die in postal office

  • Eva Longoria stabs and injures maid

  • Hurricane hits southern Florida, thousands left homeless

  • Britney Clothed Photo Fury [as if Britney would ever wear clothes!]

  • Bush lets McCain inherit $485 billion deficit [true, if McCain wins, but the subhead is "8.7 scale earthquake rocks eastern California, thousands feared dead" and it points to a website in Spain]

  • Torture widespread in Palestinian jails: Advertisers that using sex [sic] to sell products help increase their sales by 10%
I mean, really, if sex will only increase my sales by 10%, what's the use of tor­tur­ing my inmates? I think that pretty well proves the point that we'll never bring down our nation­al debt by mailing anthrax to our hurri­cane victims.

By the way, on a bit of a wild tangent just to prove that you can't always trust what you read in the "main­stream" dead-tree press, today's San Francisco Chronicle gives yesterday's highest and lowest tempera­tures both for Cali­for­nia and for the other 47 con­tigu­ous states. Yester­day's high in Cali­for­nia was 120° [49°C] at Death Valley, beating the rest of the country by a healthy margin — 113° [45°C] in Bull­head City, Arizona. However, the Chron says that yesterday's low in the state was 9° [–13°C] at Cabrillo National Monu­ment. Trouble is, the monument is on a point jutting out between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It can be pretty chilly with the onshore breeze, but I'd be sur­prised if it has ever been below freezing in my life­time, much less in August. About the coldest actual tem­pera­ture in Cali­for­nia yes­ter­day was in Truckee, at 39° [+4°C], down from the day's high of 81° [27°C].

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