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Desperado

The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Deconstructing the "Authority Oval" 


A rant from the euphoniously named Dr. Dan Kalikow, who has seen the blue oval.
Anybody else note with the appropriate bemusement that these daze,
ANY member of ANY level of government, when they are appearing on TV in their Official Role, really WANTS to have one of those BIG BLUE OVALS WITH WHITE BORDERS labeled in Times Roman mounted on the wall behind their head, like in the White House press room, where it lends a false air of competence and authority to WH Press Secretary Scott McLellan -- and to the extent possible, even to the Preznit, when he deigns to appear there:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington

?? That's where it all started. Now everybody else, elected or appointed, wants a piece of that same subliminal cachet of authority...

THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Washington

and

THE PENTAGON
Washington

and even

THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Washington
(cover your tits, statues!!)

(Well, I admit I made that last line up, but Ashcroft woulda included
it if he coulda.)

Sheeyit, while he was deciding on the fate of Tookie Williams, even the freaking Governator appeared on TV in front of a BIG BLUE OVAL WITH A WHITE BORDER labeled in Times Roman:

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Sacramento

Sometimes, when the camera angle is such that the speaker's head's centered on the bottom of the oval, its borders give the appearance of horns, like the helmets in a Wagnerian opera -- which was appropriate in this particular case. However, you still looked totally ludicrous, Aahhnold.

Hey, it coulda been a thought-bubble: "Today, ze Oval -- Tomorrow, ze Oval OFFICE!"

You just watch...

The scene is 2008, Municipal elections, your town, West Bumfrist: The incumbent dog-catcher's running for re-election. Appears on TV giving a campaign speech in front of a BIG BLUE OVAL WITH A WHITE BORDER labeled in Times Roman:

THE OFFICE OF THE DOG-CATCHER
West Bumfrist

GMAFB.
Dr. Dan's observations originally appeared here. Elsewhere in the world of blue ovals, Ford Motors tried to make these people stop, but it didn't work.
posted by Tom  # 12/30/2005 06:27:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Today's chilly winds 



A couple of small incidents this week have given me a chill or two:
Straws in the wind. Nothing to see here, but straws in the wind.

The first one isn't even worth a bit of who-is and I don't think the other is worth phone call to the local police. "Greg" is just a jerk who thinks parroting the party line is thinking and the police sergeant had received harassing phone calls before my wife's wrong number. But would either have acted in this way five years ago?
posted by Tom  # 12/28/2005 12:47:00 PM
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Monday, December 26, 2005

Our President is weirder and wackier than Charles Rangel 


From a year-end roundup of supposedly "weird and wacky words our pols uttered" by Ann McFeatters:
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who is black, was asked on public TV about the president:

"Well, I really think that he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all."
"Ouch," quoth McFeatters.
posted by Tom  # 12/26/2005 12:20:00 PM
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Friday, December 23, 2005

Dim bulb goes dark 


Lifted from a .sig:
How many Bush officials to screw in a lightbulb?

None. There's nothing wrong with that light bulb. There is no need to change anything. We made the right decision and nothing has happened to change our minds. People who criticize this light bulb now, just because it doesn't work anymore, supported us when we first screwed it in, and when these flip-floppers insist on saying that it is
burned out, they are merely giving aid and encouragement to the Forces of Darkness.-- John Cleese.

posted by Tom  # 12/23/2005 01:02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thanks to politics, the odds of an attack on America just went up 


The headline is the teaser for a David Brooks column in the New York Times that you have to pay for to read the rest.

But fear not, the Rude Pundit has read it for you. Let's just say he gives a literal meaning to the phrase tear him a new one. It's not pretty, so click with care, but then torture isn't pretty, is it?
posted by Tom  # 12/22/2005 12:00:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You, personally, not symbolically, are under surveillance 


Why would President George W. "W" Bush fail to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give him warrants to fight terror? The court is a rubber-stamp secret court that issues ex post facto warrants. What more could any honest authoritarian ask for?

The answer lies in the very name of the court and the Act that enabled it, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. They are not doing foreign intelligence surveillance, they are doing domestic intelligence surveillance.

And the secret they are desperately hiding?
They are conducting surveillance on every single person in the United States.
Paranoid? Sure. Evidence? Nil. But can you doubt that behind the raw ore for the government's data mining is every telephone conversation, every website visit, every web log entry, every letter and package, every tax return and telegram, every check or money order, all those credit-card purchases, and that grocery card and whatever else is accounted for by that cluster of bar codes on your keychain, every travel reservation, every paycheck, every fax, every e-mail, every chat. Every instant message is being instantly combed and classified, not to be ignored if innocuous, but to be filed away in case some day some how some piece may fall into place and some pattern may emerge to reveal some terrorist plot.

I have a lot of confidence in our ability to deal with terrorists without this massive surrender to the secret forces of government. Police work, paid informers, turncoats, counter-intelligence, espionage, and direct action worked for Joshua and Napoleon and Charles deGaulle and Bill Clinton and they'll work now. I don't have any confidence in our ability to deal with this kind of fundamental assault on liberty.

Right now somewhere someone is saying, this guy Desperado has caught on already. Oh, he's already on the list? But of course, after all, they all are.
posted by Tom  # 12/21/2005 11:56:00 PM
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Old Glory (parse for irony) 




Even if we are not headed, as I believe, for a Fourth of July moment, things have certainly come to a melancholy pass, thus this melancholy image from Brother Dave.
posted by Tom  # 12/21/2005 01:46:00 PM
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Iron Man 




From Dummranger's Sister, labelled "a very brave man".
posted by Tom  # 12/21/2005 01:42:00 PM
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Monday, December 19, 2005

Operation Flabbergasted: Let's Watergate Bush 


Operation Flabbergasted: Let's Watergate Bush:
This cannot stand. In ordering the NSA to spy secretly on America, George Bush has overturned United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, which prohibits domestic spying by NSA; violated the federal act which created the FISA court to oversee covert domestic investigations; and trampled upon the Fourth Amendment guarantee against warrantless searches. It cannot stand for a day, much less a month while Congress is in recess.


Ed's note: The spell checker wanted to substitute arrantly for warrantless.
posted by Tom  # 12/19/2005 11:16:00 PM
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Look for vast changes in unicornology 


Brother Dave checks in with important news on the narwhal, whose tusk is not only the only straight spiral tusk in all of the animal kingdom, but, it seems, is also a sensory organ.
posted by Tom  # 12/19/2005 11:08:00 PM
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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Desecularizing Jingle Bells 


As it turns out, no one rewrote "Silent Night" as part of any War on Christmas, but it got me to thinking about doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, and turning the other cheek, and giving gifts in the true spirit of Christmas.

Here is my gift to the world, a politically incorrect rewrite of the disgracefully secular so-called Christmas song, "Jingle Bells"
Jesus Christ
(sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells")

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, born on a bed of hay,
Came to earth to save our souls and wash our sins away. Yay!
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, born on a bed of hay,
Came to earth to save our souls and wash our sins away!

Two thousand years ago, in a shed behind the inn,
Midst asses, sheep, and camels, no crib but just a bin,
All alone his mom and dad, assisted at the birth,
And above the angels sang, good will and peace on earth.

CHORUS

And when he was a man, he gave the world so much
He loved lepers, whores, and taxmen, 'cause he had the common touch,
But scribes and pharisees, were feeling Jesus' scorn
Moneychangers and powerful men wished he'd never been born.

CHORUS

The politicians quaked, he said the truth would make us free
So they pulled him down and nailed him up and killed him on a tree
For God so loved the world he gave his only son
With the Golden Rule the Prince of Peace is stronger than a gun.

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, born on a bed of hay,
Came to earth to save our souls and wash our sins away. Yay!
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, born on a bed of hay,
Came to earth to save our souls and wash our sins away!

Written in the profound belief that Jesus belongs to the whole world. Merry Christmas, everyone!

posted by Tom  # 12/18/2005 02:38:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Zero tolerance for torture 


From Kevin Drum and The Washington Monthly:
ZERO TOLERANCE....Over at The Nation, the editors explain why we should care about the torture and abuse of prisoners:
If the twentieth century proved anything, it is that no nation, no constitutional system, is immune from the downward human rights spiral signified by torture — as Britain, France and Israel, among other nations, learned at great political cost....The point is not so much that we are "better than our enemies," as Senator McCain and others have argued, but that our democratic institutions are vulnerable to erosion.
What's ironic about this passage from America's premier liberal journal is that it's a profoundly conservative argument — and yet it's one that most conservatives refuse to grapple with seriously.

They should. After all, conservatives have long taken a dim view of human nature, and with good reason. The whole history of mankind has shown just how easy it is for people to slip into barbarism when the shackles of civilization are loosened even a little bit, and it's all too foreseeable that a "little bit" of prisoner abuse won't stay little for long once people get used to it.

Conservatives who support "broken windows" policing because they believe that tolerance of even petty crime leads to a culture in which larger crimes also become tolerated, should likewise believe in a zero tolerance approach to torture. It's the same view of human nature at work.

posted by Tom  # 12/14/2005 05:48:00 PM
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Gold bugs! Stop wasting your time! 


Gold is wonderful stuff, a great electrical conductor, pretty, shiny, resistant to corrosion, satisfyingly heavy, ductile out the wazoo, so malleable it can be beaten into a film one molecule thick, a great filling for teeth, chemically amorous, an all around metallic good guy.

It also can be used as money, but . . .

Econoblogger Brad deLong offers a link to to an article whose conclusions he summarizes:

Jim Hamilton writes on the gold standard and the Great Depression. He takes the standard modern-macro line, and he expresses it very well. If your government doesn't have monetary-policy credibility, attempting to establish that credibility by going on the Gold Standard is a recipe for disaster. If your government does have monetary-policy credibility, going on the Gold Standard doesn't gain you anything

posted by Tom  # 12/14/2005 11:57:00 AM
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Typo of the century 


. . .a clumsy bit of typing that led to a $331-million loss . . .
posted by Tom  # 12/14/2005 11:51:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Capital punishment that works 


The full reports on the execution of the murdering thug and children's book author Tookie Williams have had the side effect of bringing attention to the much more outrageous impending execution of Cory Maye.

I hereby resubmit my longstanding proposal to virtually eliminate capital punishment while retaining the death penalty for those rare cases that truly shock the conscience and cry out for ritual and permanent excision from the mass of living humanity.

It's simple. Any time there's a death verdict, the prisoner is tied to a chair in an empty room. The governor is handed a pistol, enters the room behind the prisoner, and shoots him dead. Goodbye Ted Bundy.

If the governor (or president in federal death-penalty cases) does not choose to do his duty, the prisoner's sentence is automatically reduced to life imprisonment without parole.
posted by Tom  # 12/13/2005 12:32:00 PM
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Bush administration in ten words 


Dictionary-maker Merriam-Webster has released a list revealing popular curiosity about the meaning of words this year:
The ten words most frequently looked up are:

1 Integrity
2 Refugee
3 Contempt
4 Filibuster
5 Insipid
6 Tsunami
7 Pandemic
8 Conclave
9 Levee
10 Inept

posted by Tom  # 12/13/2005 12:01:00 PM
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Monday, December 12, 2005

That human's crazy! 


There have been many erudite tributes to Richard Pryor, but I wonder if this news headline from the right-wing Boston Herald wouldn't pretty much satisfy him as much as anything more elaborate:
Radical Richard Pryor dead at 65

posted by Tom  # 12/12/2005 02:24:00 PM
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Snowmen and Bunnies Vanquish the Religious Spirit 


Brother Dave is showing the Christmas spirit in his .sig, revealing the true reason that Christmas and Easter pretty much disappeared from the United States some sixty years ago:
"And it has become pretty general. Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone's Birth. Easter they will have the same difficulty in finding Easter cards that contain any suggestion that Easter commemorates a certain event. There will be rabbits and eggs and spring flowers, but a hint of the Resurrection will be hard to find."

Henry Ford, 1920s,
from his book
The International Jew

posted by Tom  # 12/12/2005 12:16:00 PM
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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Another Vietnam analogy 


This time, the myth will be that people who got us into the war were spat on.
posted by Tom  # 12/10/2005 05:15:00 PM
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Golden Retriever web logging in the snow 




A good gnaw

In honor of our sudden snow, not one of those boring pictures of the blogger's pet lounging around the house like a blogger, but Amber the action dog.

Photo by Brother Dave, known as Parmo in his photographic aspect. More dog pics there, or just wait until I run another one.
posted by Tom  # 12/10/2005 04:46:00 PM
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Friday, December 09, 2005

Well, would you? 


Would you follow a (strictly hypothetical) Lt. George W. "W" Bush into combat? Would you want a (even more hypothetical) Pvt. George W. "W" Bush guarding your flank?

Would you want him as your boss under any imaginable circumstances? Would you want him as an employee?

Well, he is your boss and he is working for you and he is leading you in a war and he is responsible for guarding your flank.
posted by Tom  # 12/09/2005 07:00:00 PM
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Now where's the Queen? Over here? Over there? 


Talking Points Memo is having fun with Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney and his refusal to talk about his adventures with gamblers and felons and lobbyists and their ilk.

Ney did make one revelation about his trips to a London casino:
Ney returned to the same casino on a personal trip later in 2003 and reported on his financial disclosure form that he won $34,000. Walsh has said Ney parlayed a $100 bet into the large winning on two hands of a three-card game of chance.
The only "game of chance" I'm aware of that is played with three cards is Three-card Monte, which isn't a game of chance, but rather a game of confidence, a variation of the peas-and-cups con game in which the dealer has complete control over the outcome.

There's a reason these people are called thimbleriggers. Not only can they take your money through legerdemain, part of the con game is letting you win a few times first, using the same tricks. Could it be? Another part of the game is convincing the mark that he is cheating the dealer, which may also have come into play in this scenario.

A mathematician might be able to tell you how you could "parlay" $100 into $38,000 in only two hands, but you can't do it that fast betting double or nothing. One of TPM's correspondent, using the handle JO (you don't suppose that's our JO) notes:
That's the trick Rick used in Casablanca to help the young Bulgarian woman get an exit visa for herself and her husband without having to sleep with Louie. Of course, Ney and his cronies cleverly disguised the scheme by changing it from roulette (a couple of bets on good ol' 22) to a card game.

I'm no fan of bribery, but if Ney is going to put his hand out, his homage to Bogie at least shows that he's a crook with an appreciation for a great movie.

posted by Tom  # 12/09/2005 01:40:00 PM
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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Why we have an internet 



So we can assure ourselves that skeevy is a real word with an honorable ancestry.
posted by Tom  # 12/08/2005 01:21:00 PM
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Vietnam analogy 


This time, let's have a fighting retreat instead of complete ignominy.
posted by Tom  # 12/08/2005 12:44:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Only the naive understand foreign policy 


We knew this instinctively, years ago, knowing nothing of the oil industry's tricky contracts.

Charlie Cray: 'The plan to steal Iraq's oil"
posted by Tom  # 12/07/2005 11:10:00 PM
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This is my own, my native land 


Hillary Clinton goes after flag-burners, having successfully rid the world of violent movies, obscene video games, and immoral television shows.

Someday she may notice a criminal administration devoted to destroying our liberties and our international standing, not to mention our economy and our constitution.

Longtime readers will recall that the official Desperado position is that
the only possible response to a flag-burning amendment is to burn a flag.

posted by Tom  # 12/07/2005 03:37:00 PM
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Golden Retriever web logging 


Whose bark is worse?

Not one of those boring pictures of the blogger's pet lounging around the house like a blogger, but Amber the action dog.

Photo by Brother Dave, known as Parmo in his photographic aspect. More dog pics there, or just wait until I run another one.
posted by Tom  # 12/07/2005 02:22:00 PM
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Credit where credit is due 


When Joe Louis defeated Max Schmeling, in a bout that had been promoted as a contest between democracy and dictatorship, sportswriter Jack Cannon pronounced,
"He's a credit to his race, the human race."
As for Condaleeza Rice . . .
posted by Tom  # 12/07/2005 12:38:00 PM
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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No war on Christmas here 


I love Christmas. So does Brother Dave and provides a link to prove it, although he's having some trouble deciding between Cthulhu: Moon Beast Plush and Medium Shoggoth Plush.
posted by Tom  # 12/06/2005 02:43:00 PM
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Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas help 


Via Number Two Son, a shopping guide for the majority: BuyBlue.org.

Sample:
Costco has the lowest employee turnover rate in retailing. Its turnover is five times lower than its chief rival, Wal-Mart. And Costco pays higher than average wages -- $17 an hour -- 40 percent more than Sam's Club, the warehouse chain owned by Wal-Mart. And it offers better than average benefits, including health care coverage to more than 90 percent of its workforce.

posted by Tom  # 12/05/2005 06:16:00 PM
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Equation solving 


John McCain = Bush - torture

posted by Tom  # 12/05/2005 05:53:00 PM
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Any baby can grow up to be president, any baby 


If they come and arrest me someday for this, I'm taking Brother Dave with me.

Ed's note
: If you follow that second link, you'll see some of Dave's pretty pictures.
posted by Tom  # 12/05/2005 12:57:00 AM
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Headline of th' mornin' to ya 

Gorilla handlers settle in nipple-exposure lawsuit

posted by Tom  # 12/04/2005 03:04:00 PM
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A victory in the mouth is worth two in the bush 



Directive to all Republicans in government, journalism, and other organs of opinion-mongering:

posted by Tom  # 12/04/2005 02:43:00 PM
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Saturday, December 03, 2005

A dramatic civics lesson for our crummy times 


The heartwarming tale of a man who refused to be railroaded by a drug snitch, a conniving federal agent and a predatory prosecutor, because a false plea of guilty was contrary to his Muslim religion and to his understanding of democratic justice, dramatically climaxing with the judge swooping down off the bench like an eagle of justice at the cop who was the chief prosecution witness, cowering in fear for his life and liberty and liver.

Ed's note: Everybody's linking to this, but I'll bet nobody links to it with a colossal sentence like that one.
posted by Tom  # 12/03/2005 04:59:00 PM
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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nicht Puppen! Aktion-figuren! 


Brother Dave offers a link to the SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich action figure.
Look into Heydrich's lifelike sky-blue eyes and feel the power of the SD!
You have your choice of a black or field-green uniform, with a life-size SS ring and a reproduction of a genuine SS document signed by the Butcher of Prague.

I'm not going to link to the site because I have my doubts. They never deviate from a deadpan presentation of their wares. On the other hand, they're so proud of the meta-tag text that they print it at the top of the home page:
What you will find here: nazi Germany nazi flags nazi propaganda nazi picture nazi memorabilia nazi history nazi poster nazi medal nazi daggers nazi photo nazi song nazi collectible nazi gold nazi music nazi ss nazi films iron cross German ww2 knights cross waffen ss uniform adolf hitler picture adolf hitler speech adolf hitler quote ww2 maps third reich songs third reich music third reich battle flag panzerlied mein kampf horst wessel michael wittman desert fox reinhard heydrich hermann goering heinrich himmler rommel manfred von richthofen red baron leni riefenstahl lili marleen.
The most intriguing offering, probably the only one I'd consider buying, before deciding not to, a video
Propaganda Swing: Dr. Goebbels' Jazz Orchestra
As I said, there's no out-and-out Nazi propaganda or Holocaust denial on the site (as you can see, it won't be hard for you to find it yourself), but they certainly are keen on the Twelve-year Reich. The most grotesque item:
Reproduction Zyklon-B cannister

posted by Tom  # 12/01/2005 03:25:00 PM
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