30 June, 2005

First Impressions

...I thought the sun rose in your eyes/ and the moon and stars were the gifts you gave/ to the dark and the empty skies....

Yes, Robert, news of a visit inspires an excited squeal. And an actual sighting provokes jumping up and down and jiggling. Next time you're here, I'm sure I'll be thrown out of the airport...

I do put stock in first impressions. I've spent significant portions of time looking at people, and have had opportunity to watch folk while they were unaware of being watched. I think my first impressions are usually valid.

I have been wrong. Dead wrong. Sometimes notably, flamingly, breathtakingly wrong, and ended up hurt because of it. This makes me sad, because it's more indicative of the other person's ability to mask rather than a failure of my reading skills.

I rarely allow a first impression to be my only impression, however, because I've been dead right about some people, and ended up liking them anyway.

(The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; Roberta Flack)

29 June, 2005

Body Parts

...body, you'll adore my body/ body, come explore my body....

A handsome cornfed Midwestern chest swings into view. He's Driving Without A Shirt. Have I mentioned I love summer? As he rounds the corner, we make eye contact and he grins at me with a mouthful of healthy teeth. The effect is marred only marginally by the minivan he's driving.

Ropy tattooed arm muscles flash past my open window, accompanied by a low grumbling roar. He wears the sleeveless tee shirt, and curls flame from beneath the requisite Harley helmet. I am suddenly homesick.

His hairstyle holds a dent created by the headrest of the airplane seatback. Compound word, anyone? Just today, he's used more Product than I do in a month.

(Macho Man; The Village People)

28 June, 2005

The Questions

...and the time will come when you see/ we're all one, and life flows on....

He is someone I love, but love doesn't adequately describe it. Though we don't know each other well, I think on some deep, primal level, we understand each other. I feel at home in his presence, and in his heart, and hope he feels at home in mine.

He's Robert, and he has questions.

"Some of them are compound questions, but I can't help myself:"

(1) You and I met with an excited squeal which proved (I think) to be genuine and lasting. First impressions are an interesting phenomenon. Some people swear by them, others are hesitant to trust them. What do *you* think- do you believe first impressions are authentic? Have you ever been completely wrong about someone?

(2) When last did you build a sandcastle? If you could build a sandcastle right now, anywhere in the world, where would it be? Tell us about the place and why you chose it.

(3) What will your first bestseller be about? Who will you dedicate it to, and why?

(4) In your blog, you often take little bites of life, wrap them in juicy expressions and serve them up as tasty, sensuous morsels. Do you specifically *choose* to tease your readers in this way, or is that just the way the words come out? Do you consciously not have comments on your blog? If so, why not?

(5) What is your favourite topless activity? Try to explain to the uninitiated skeptics what the joys of toplessness are.

Answers will follow. In the meantime, speculation is encouraged.

(Within You Without You; George Harrison)

Can't Decide

...whether I'm hung over, or still drunk with a headache.

15 June, 2005

Farewell, Friends

...I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.....

Only some of you will find this exciting.

They've gone with me to New Orleans, and to Bloomington, Indiana. They've skipped beside the Mississippi River and dangled from my hand in Jackson Square. They've trod wet streets in Fells Point, and sparkling grass on Federal Hill. Now they're going to Minneapolis with me.

The Bondage Sandals, yes. The Hooker Barbie Heels will stay in the bedroom where they belong.

Rob Breszny advises me to scale way back on my excitment level. M'kay. Check out this blog of note while I'm gone: The Dullest Blog In The World.

Fascinating stuff when I return. Or maybe not. Don't get too worked up. I know I won't.

(I'm So Excited; The Pointer Sisters)

13 June, 2005

Leopard Paradise

...behind my back I can see them stare/ they'll hurt me bad but I won't mind/ they'll hurt me bad they do it all the time....

Hard punk guitar balances the soft night air rolling across my skin.

And sometimes pulling out of a blue funk can be accomplished by a teasing comb and half a can of hairspray.

I do me first, then Fuzzy, and we are a hit.

I trot out the Hooker Barbie Heels, a pair of ivory capris that I pour myself into, and a hot pink satin spandex halter top. The scarf matches the shoes, which match the bag, which matches the lipstick. My hair is very high, though not as high as those who were done at The Glamour Lounge, and if I'd known a beehive would be that reasonable, I'd have gone earlier and had it 'done' instead of tiring out my own arms.

My daughter and I are interviewed by Channel 11 News, and a random stranger in a bar photographs my girl learning to play pool. (Go, baby!) Hawk is patient and generous with cash, suffering in a bowling shirt with Buddha on it. Fuzzy's capri pants and tank top are a foil for her co-ordinated earrings, scarf, handbag, and jelly sandals. Her baby beehive turned out well. Fluffy wears black socks with his Keds, turns bright red and demands a pit beef sandwich.

It's HonFest and I buy Natty Boh, pink flamingos and a velvet Elvis. Also, a Nixon/Agnew button, which might only be amusing to me, but, as Martin says, we must each take responsibility for our own entertainment, and this is mine.

Everyone grins at everyone else, and greets each other with the requisite greeting. Except for those who are mopping their brows and complaining that their feet hurt. There's plenty to see, all of it tacky. There are live bands on the far stage, but I'm too busy checking out hair, catseye glasses and animal print handbags. Fuzzy does not win the Lil Miss Hon contest. I thought there was to be a 'drag Hon' competition, but I don't see it listed. The sidewalk scenery is amazing. My favorite? The 'accidental Hons,' ones who didn't dress this way on purpose.

We leave early, just as the Baltimore's Best Hon contestants are lining up.

Good luck, Hons.

"Thanks, Hon!" they chorus.

Next year, I'll go with someone who'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Read: 'not my family.'

(Kiss Off; Violent Femmes)

10 June, 2005

Comic Language

"...she has trouble believing that when we're together we discuss theories of comedy." -b.

Words with Ps and Ks are funny, thus 'pickle' and 'popcorn' but not 'juice' or 'toast'.

Repetition is funny. 'Tutu.' 'Hottentot.' 'Bora Bora'. 'Dodo'.

Assonance is funnier than consonance, witness kudzu, kiwi and mugwump, but not turtle, tattle or baby.

'Banana' is funnier than 'apple' or 'mango' because of repetition and assonance.

Polysyllabic words are usually funnier than monosyllabic ones, though the word 'polysyllabic' isn't funny at all. An exception: stories about a bear are funnier than stories about a giraffe.

I'm feeling snarky and desolate, so I search CityPaper for something to amuse me, and am dismally disappointed. My friends, however, are a constant source.

My favorite genius asks, "how do you spell 'procrastinate'?"

P-R-O...wait, can I get back to you on that?
"We're looking for....what do you call it when you give human traits or features to something that's not human?"

Anthropomorphic. Anthropomorfic animals, toasters, train engines...

"Vegetables. But not Veggie Tales."

Right. And here they are, in Store Wars. (*play theme music*)

So, have you been working in the studio lately?

"No, I'm leading a more sedi- sedent- sedime- ....what's the word I want?"

Sedimentary is 'settling into layers.' Sedentary is 'lying around on the couch.' According to Webster's.

"Right, that's it, I'm settling into layers."

I always thought you were a deep individual.

The Prince expresses amazement that in a memo, I've spelt out 'etcetera' in one place and abbreviated it in another. I express amazement that the word 'abbreviate' is so damn long.

Rich Potter sends this along:

Seriously, The Joke Is Dead.

IN case you missed its obituary, the joke died recently after a long
illness, of, oh, 30 years. Its passing was barely noticed, drowned
out, perhaps, by the din of ironic one-liners, mule and detached bons mots that pass for humor these days.

The joke died a lonely death. There was no next of kin to notify, the comedy skit, the hand-buzzer and Bob Newhart's imaginary telephone monologues having passed on long before. But when people reminisce about it, they always say the same thing: the joke knew how to make an entrance. "Two guys walked into a bar"; "So this lady goes to the doctor"; "Did you hear the one about the talking parrot?" The new humor sneaks by on little cat feet, all punch line and no setup, and if it bombs, you barely notice. The joke insisted on everyone's attention, and when it bombed - wow.

"A joke is a way to say, 'I'm going to do something funny now,' "
said Penn Jillette, the talking half of the comedy and magic duo Penn & Teller and a producer of "The Aristocrats," a new documentary about an old dirty joke of the same name. "If I don't get a laugh at the end, I'm a failure."

It's a matter of faith among professional comics that jokes - the
kind that involve a narrative setup, some ridiculous details and a
punch line - have been displaced by observational humor and
one-liners. Lisa Lampanelli, who describes herself as the world's
only female insult comic, said that in the business, straight jokes
were considered "the kiss of death."

"You don't tell joke jokes onstage ever," she said. "Because then
you're a big hack."

But out in the real world, the joke hung on for a while, lurking in
backwaters of male camaraderie like bachelor parties and trading
floors and in monthly installments of Playboy's "Party Jokes" page.
Then jokes practically vanished. To tell a joke at the office or a
party these days is to pronounce oneself a cornball, an attention
hog, and of course to risk offending someone, a high social crime. "I can't remember the last time I was sitting around and heard someone tell a good joke," Ms. Lampanelli said.

While many in the world of humor and comedy agree that the joke is
dead, there is little consensus on who or what killed it or exactly
when it croaked. Theories abound: the atomic bomb, A.D.D., the
Internet, even the feminization of American culture, have all been
cited as possible causes. In the academic world scholars have been
engaged in a lengthy postmortem of the joke for some time, but still
no grand unifying theory has emerged.

"There isn't a lot of agreement," said Don L. F. Nilsen, the
executive secretary of the International Society for Humor Studies
and a professor of linguistics at Arizona State University.

Among comics, the most cited culprit in the death of the joke is
so-called "political correctness" or, at least, a heightened
sensitivity to offending people. Mr. Jillette said he believed most
of the best jokes have a mean-spirited component, and that
mean-spiritedness is out.

"You used to feel safer telling jokes," he said. "Since all your best material is mean-spirited, you feel less safe. You're worried some might think that you really have this point of view."

Older comics tend to put the blame on the failings of younger
generations. Robert Orben, 78, a former speechwriter for President
Gerald R. Ford and the author of several manuals for comedians, said
he believed a combination of shortened attention spans and lack of
backbone among today's youth made them ill-suited for joke telling.

"A young person today has a nanosecond attention span, so whatever
you do in a humor has to be short," he said. "Younger people do not
wait for anything that takes time to develop. We're going totally to

"Telling a joke is risk taking," Mr. Orben added. "Younger people are more insecure and not willing to put themselves on the line, so a quick one-liner is much safer."

(Asked if he had a favorite joke, Mr. Orben said, "The Washington
Redskins," suggesting that even veteran joke tellers might have
abandoned the form.)

Scholars say that while humor has always been around - in ancient
Athens, for example, a comedians' club called the Group of 60 met
regularly in the temple of Herakles - the joke has gone in and out of fashion. In modern times its heyday was probably the 1950's, but the joke's demise began soon after, a result of several seismic cultural shifts. The first of those, Mr. Nilsen said, was the threat of nuclear annihilation.

"Before the atomic bomb everyone had a sense that there was a
future," Mr. Nilsen said. "Now we're at the hands of fate. We could
go up at any moment. In order to deal with something as horrendous as that, we've become a little cynical."

Gallows humor and irony, Mr. Nilsen said, were more suited to this
dire condition than absurd stories about talking kangaroos, tumescent parrots and bears that sodomize hunters. (Don't know that one? Ask your granddad.)

Around the same time, said John Morreall, a religion professor and
humor scholar at the College of William and Mary, the roles of men
and women began to change, which had implications for the joke.

Telling old-style jokes, he said, was a masculine pursuit because it
allowed men to communicate with one another without actually
revealing anything about themselves. Historically women's humor was
based on personal experience, and conveyed a sense of the teller's
likes and dislikes, foibles and capacity for self-deprecation.

The golden age of joke telling corresponded with a time when men were especially loathe to reveal anything about their inner lives, Mr. Morreall said. But over time men let down their guard, and comics like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and later Jerry Seinfeld, embraced the personal, observational style.

"A very common quip was, 'Women can't tell jokes,' " Mr. Morreall
said. "I found that women can't remember jokes. That's because they
don't give a damn. Their humor is observational humor about the
people around that they care about. Women virtually never do that
old-style stuff."

"Women's-style humor was ahead of the curve," he said. "In the last
30 years all humor has caught up with women's humor."

The mingling of the sexes in the workplace and in social situations
wasn't particularly good for the joke either, as jokes that played
well in the locker room didn't translate to the conference room or
the co-ed dinner party. And in any event, scholars say, in a social
situation wit plays better than old-style joke telling. Witty remarks push the conversation along and enliven it, encouraging others to contribute.

Jokes, on the other hand, cause conversation to screech to a halt and require everyone to focus on the joke teller, which can be awkward.

Whatever tenuous hold the joke had left by the 1990's may have been
broken by the Internet, Mr. Nilsen said. The torrent of e-mail jokes
in the late 1990's and joke Web sites made every joke available at
once, essentially diluting the effect of what had been an spoken
form. While getting up and telling a joke requires courage,
forwarding a joke by e-mail takes hardly any effort at all. So
everyone did it, until it wasn't funny anymore.

"The Aristocrats," the documentary produced by Mr. Jillette and the
comic Paul Provenza, says a lot about what the straight-up joke once
was, and what it isn't any longer. The film, which was shown at
Sundance in January and will be released in theaters this summer,
features dozens of comics talking about and performing an
over-the-top vaudeville standard about a family that shows up at a
talent agency, looking for representation.

The talent agent agrees to watch them perform, at which point the
family goes into a crazed fit of orgiastic and scatological mayhem,
the exact details of which vary from comic to comic. The punch line
comes when the agent asks the family what they call their bizarre
act. The answer: "The Aristocrats!"

Much of the humor in the documentary comes not from the joke, which
nearly everyone in the film concedes is lousy, but from watching
modern-day observational comics like Mr. Carlin, Paul Reiser and
Gilbert Gottfried perform in the anachronistic mode of Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Red Skelton. Imagine watching a documentary of contemporary rock guitarists doing their teenage versions of the solo in "Free Bird" and you'll get the idea; with each rendition it becomes more and more clear why people don't do it anymore.

"Part of the joke is that it's even more inappropriate because we
don't do that anymore," Mr. Nilsen said.

One paradox about the death of the joke: It may result in more
laughs. Joke tellers, after all, are limited by the number of jokes
they can memorize, while observational wits never run out of
material. And Mr. Morreall said that because wits make no promise to
be funny, the threshold for getting a laugh is lower for them than
for joke tellers, who always battle high expectations.

"Jon Stewart just has to twist his eyebrows a little bit, and people
laugh," he said. "It's a much easier medium."

Some comics who grew up in the age of the joke say they are often
amazed at how easy crowds are in the era of observational humor.
Shelley Berman, 79, a comic whose career took off on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and who now plays Larry David's father on the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm," said these days even the most banal remark seemed to get a response.

"I don't tell jokes in my act," he said. "But if I tell an audience I don't tell jokes, I'll get people laughing at that line."

If this leaves you feeling a bit bleak, I recommend Bad Puns, especially the 'shaggy dog' Inflatable Boy.

And (brought to us by Mr. Indispensable) this bondage site. I just think it's funny that it exists. Incredibly useful, but funny.

My favorite short:

Descartes walks into a bar. Bartender says, "What'll ya have, Descartes? Gin and tonic?"

Descarte says, "I think not," and disappears.

My anger and bitterness are in plain evidence these last few days, and I struggle to combat that. I wonder if my Perpetual Pollyanna face is but a thin mask and my true self is this brittle, hostile cynic I see.

It hardly matters. I'm sick of both of them.

09 June, 2005

Brief Departure

"No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now."
--Richard M. Nixon

From Martin's blog:

I want this to be copied and put somewhere else by at the very least the 2 or 3 people who visit this blog so that I, and they, can be part of an attempt at cleansing and redignifying a country whose individuals I have found to be uncommonly friendly and generous but whose representitives are venal, ugly and murderous.

Bring It Down. Now.
by David Michael Green

The Downing Street Memo is the gift that just keeps on giving. And well it should. It is the smoking gun which proves that the gravest possible crime was committed by the Bush administration, and among its victims were the American people.
I am more hopeful about American politics than I have been in a long time, though still cautious. For nearly five years now, the Bush administration has gotten away with murder - literally and figuratively - with seemingly immutable impunity, always defying the laws of political gravity, at least as they are known in this universe. So I've come to be tentative and rather pessimistic about the possibilities of ending this national nightmare of reaction, thievery and militarism, and bringing these criminals to justice.

But Downing Street seems to have legs, and I feel a critical mass building now. It is different this time, in part, because this is the first true insider smoking gun, set down in black and white. But it is also different, in part, because the context has changed. Unlike previous revelations, from the Clarke or O'Neill (Suskind) books, for example, the evidence this time comes against the background of growing discontent at home with the disaster of Iraq, and the diminished credibility of a president and the movement of regressive politics he leads.

Generally content or frightened people will forgive a lot, sometimes even murderous lies of this magnitude. But angry, deceived people will not. Bush has built himself a credibility gap of which Lyndon Johnson could be proud, which probably accounts more than anything for his inability to sell the bundle of Social Security deceits he's been peddling. He said he was going to get Osama 'dead or alive'. He didn't. He said his tax scheme would revive the economy. It didn't. He said it wouldn't add to the national debt. Boy, did it.

He and his minions said Iraq was a necessary war, in response to an urgent threat, and that American 'liberators' would be greeted with flowers and chocolate. None of that came true, of course, and now the public no longer supports George and Dick's Excellent Adventure in the Cradle of Civilization. Fifty-seven percent of Americans perceive the war as going badly. Only forty percent think that it's been worth it to remove Saddam from power given the costs in troops and dollars. And only thirty-eight percent approve of how Bush is handling the war.

Moreover, Iraq echoes the tragedy of Vietnam in every salient way, from the lies going in, to the 'everything's just fine' detachment of the political class, the international opprobrium, the inability to effectively fight counter-insurgency warfare, and the lack of any sort of remotely appealing exit scenario. And on the Nam trajectory, it feels like we are at 1970 or so in terms of public disenchantment. (In part, we should note, that is precisely because of the lessons learned from that war, which produced a healthy increase in political skepticism among the American public.) But in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive had already occurred by 1970, and so, for many years, had the draft. Imagine what will happen to already low and falling support for the Iraq debacle if in the coming months there is a single, highly demoralizing reversal for the US military in Iraq, a la Tet, or if a starved military is forced to reinstitute the draft.

This is the context in which the damning evidence of the Downing Street Memo arrives, and it is part of the explanation for why the Bush administration may now finally find itself in the deep trouble it so richly deserves.

The Memo itself lays out in clear text the game of deceit played by the Bush and Blair gangs in the run-up to the Iraq War. Among its highlights, the DSM confirms that the war had been decided upon well before Congressional or UN Security Council action, and before weapons inspectors were inserted and then removed because of the 'urgency' of Iraq's threat (of course, the real urgency and real threat was that the absence of WMD would kill Bush's pretext for war). The Memo then goes on to show, most significantly, that the war planners knew their case was "thin", so they distorted - "fixed" - the intelligence and facts in order to market the war. (For a more complete discussion of the Memo itself and the wholesale failures of the mainstream media to treat this earth-shattering story with anything approaching the coverage it deserves, see www.commondreams.org/view...3-20.htm.)

Eighty-nine members of the House sent a letter to the president asking for clarification of the ominous implications of the Memo, and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan soon began getting questions about it. It will hardly surprise attentive readers that his response to these questions was smug, condescending, and maximally disingenuous. Without addressing the content or implications of the Memo (and, most absurdly of all, while claiming not to have read it), McClellan refers us to the president's statements of the time, which he says provide a clear record of Bush's honest and very public diplomacy on the Iraq issue. It turns out, however, that if one examines that record just as McClellan suggests, one finds anything and everything but honesty from Bush and his team. Instead, precisely as the DSM prescribes, we were given a boatload of knowing lies from the administration, often in the most visible of fora, like the State of the Union address (see www.commondreams.org/view...9-30.htm).

Since these initial developments, much has happened in just a short time. First, knowledge of the Memo's existence is becoming more widespread. As of this moment, I doubt more than one percent of Americans are aware of the story, but that number is increasing rapidly, especially through the alternative media. More and more articles written on a variety of subjects make reference to it, even in passing, and it is flying across email networks with accelerating rapidity. Google "Downing Street Memo" and about 267,000 hits are returned at present, with that number rising fast. The story feels at this moment like a virus about to kick into the exponential phase of its growth curve, or a pregnant cloud about to burst showers over the parched land.

The mainstream media is addressing the DSM, but still only in bits, and - it would appear - only reluctantly. No doubt the experiences of CBS and Newsweek have been precisely as intimidating as the White House intended them to be, and no doubt fears of lost profits prove even more sobering. Just the same, there is movement, and some of it has been forced by us. Two weeks too late, for example, the New York Times finally ran a brief single-column story. Of course, they buried it on page 10, and they gave the story the wrong emphasis.

Its first paragraph reads "More than two weeks after its publication in London, a previously secret British government memorandum that reported in July 2002 that President Bush had decided to 'remove Saddam, through military action' is still creating a stir among administration critics. They are portraying it as evidence that Mr. Bush was intent on war with Iraq earlier than the White House has acknowledged." The article goes on to develop this theme of timing, which is by far the lesser of the two main deceits proven by the DSM. Almost no mention is made in the article of the much more egregious crime of lying about the necessity of the invasion for American security needs, and willfully constructing an entire campaign of disinformation to market the war.

The Times also felt the pressure of its readership on this issue to such an extent that the new Public Editor, Byron Calame, was compelled to publish an online response to the "flood" of angry email from readers expressing disappointment and worse at America's so-called newspaper of record. Mr. Calame writes "My checks find no basis for Ms. Lowe's [a sample incensed correspondent] concern about censorship or undue outside pressures. Rather, it appears that key editors simply were slow to recognize that the minutes of a high-powered meeting on a life-and-death issue - their authenticity undisputed - probably needed to be assessed in some fashion for readers. Even if the editors decided it was old news that Mr. Bush had decided in July 2002 to attack Iraq or that the minutes didn't provide solid evidence that the administration was manipulating intelligence, I think Times readers deserved to know that earlier than today's article [Calame is referring here to the article discussed in the previous paragraph]."

Again, this goes to the lesser issue raised by the DSM, but Calame then interviews Phil Taubman, the NYT Washington Bureau Chief, who addresses the more salient question of the manipulation of intelligence to sell the war. Says Taubman: "It is mighty suggestive that Lord Dearlove, the chief of MI6, came home with the impression, or interpretation, that 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.' However, that's several steps removed from evidence that such was the case. The minutes did not say that Mr. Tenet had told that to Lord Dearlove or that Lord Dearlove had seen specific examples of that. The minutes, in my estimation, were not a smoking gun that proved that Bush, Tenet and others were distorting intelligence to support the case for war."

There are two huge problems with this alibi for the Times' obscene failure. First, by any reasonable standard, the Memo absolutely does provide such 'evidence' that the facts were being fixed. It says so itself. And, remember that it is an internal British government document, leaked to the public. As such, and since it was never intended to see the light of day, there would be no reason for it to be dishonest or distorted for the benefit of its original readers. Remember also that Tony Blair has in fact commented briefly on the Memo, but never denied its veracity in any fashion. Recall that a member or former member of the Bush team who was privy to these discussions has confirmed, off the record, the accuracy of the Memo. And remember that the Memo's blueprint fits precisely with what are now established facts from the period, namely, that the Bush people told lie after whopping lie about Iraq's WMD capabilities, and did so knowingly. All told, this amounts to an extremely powerful case, one which would certainly prove highly persuasive in a criminal case, where the standards of proof are far higher than they are for a public's evaluation of their political leaders in a democracy.

But, even if this extremely persuasive evidence were not on the table, the second problem with the Times' lame excuse is that unassailable evidence of a crime (do we ever have that?) is hardly necessary for publication of a news story, anyhow. We don't 'know' yet whether Tom DeLay is guilty of the accusations which have been made against him, but those accusations are themselves highly newsworthy, and have been treated, appropriately, as such. We don't yet 'know' definitively whether John Bolton is a 'kiss up, kick down' sort of fellow, but the fact that there is some evidence suggesting that might be the case deserves, and got, plenty of media coverage. And I sure don't remember a lot of media hesitation over Whitewater or Monicagate. Me, I'm just one guy out here in the hinterlands, but where I come from, very powerful evidence of a president lying to sell a war - evidence which has not been disputed, evidence which has been independently corroborated in multiple ways, and evidence which has caused deep concern among a large portion of Congress - well, that's worthy of a wee bit more coverage than we've seen to date. Indeed, apart from 9/11, what story of the last decade is bigger than this?

The arguments proffered by the Times for its poor coverage of the DSM render this news blackout and associated coverup distortions looking very much like a case of disingenuousness of which the White House would be proud. Together, they would constitute a crime on top of a crime, but for the fact that it is not, alas, the first episode in this ugly story. By its own (very late) admission, the Times betrayed its responsibility to the American public during the run-up to the war - precisely the period described in the Memo - by failing to question the 'evidence' and claims offered by the administration for the necessity of going to war, serving instead as a virtual government stenographer. That makes the current fiasco - at best - a perfect trifecta of botched journalism from America's paper of record. But it also makes that 'at best' interpretation seem increasingly implausible. Far more likely with such a series of failings, all in the same direction of massively favoring the administration, is that the Times is purposely abdicating its duty as a government watchdog. Whether that is because of cowardice, profits, both, or some other explanation is as yet unclear.

My, how far we've traveled. In this week full of Watergate reminiscences, the irony of our present condition could not be more complete. Three decades ago, two cub reporters with the backing of a great patriotic paper struggled to uncover, bit by painstaking bit, information which saved the republic from a highjacking. Today, the story is out there in plain sight, and yet the no-longer-remotely-great journalistic organs not only fail to present it, they conspire to cover it up, adding their own special contribution to the current unraveling of constitutional government. Increasing numbers of Americans are coming to realize that learning the truth about their country requires going to foreign sources like the BBC, or to alternative electronic media. Fortunately, however, American journalism still exhibits a pulse in a few parts of the country. Most significant so far has been a stunning cri de coeur out of Minneapolis, deep within America's heartland and hardly a Havana, Falluja or even Berkeley. In a devastating Memorial ('Memo'rial?) Day editorial, the Star Tribune called the president what he is, a liar who has committed the gravest sin any commander-in-chief ever could, "spending [American soldiers'] blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction".

Wow. One can only imagine the shivers running down the spines of Rove, Bush, Cheney and the rest as they read those words and consider the (very mainstream) source. Already unpopular and no longer trusted, the Memo has the capacity to devastate if not destroy this White House, and potentially even to sentence its occupants to financial ruin and long prison terms. (If this were to get any sweeter, more deserved, or more ironic, those jail cells would turn out to be in The Hague, rather than Leavenworth. Nobody pinch me yet, please, this is too good.)

Indeed, the ironies which may ensue from this point forward are exquisite to contemplate. Those who have recklessly dismantled American democracy over the last two decades in a naked pursuit of power may well in turn become victims of several of the destructive precedents they themselves have established.

For starters, consider Karl Rove's dilemma right now. He is in precisely the position he has long loved to place his opponents (such as Democratic members of Congress over the Iraq war vote just before the elections of 2002, to choose just one example). If he says nothing about the DSM, he risks it continuing to proliferate exponentially, with more and more mainstream, heartland, media hurling devastating and unanswered body blows at the Bush administration, until ultimately a tidal wave of rage crests over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But if he addresses it head on, he risks making tens of millions of Americans aware of something they presently are not, with most of them likely to then see the plain message of this evidence for exactly what it is.

Hobson's choice or not, at the rate things are progressing, the White House will have to respond, and likely soon. Just this week a chorus of impeachment calls has echoed across the alternative media, including even one (at least) from a conservative source, Paul Craig Roberts of the Hoover Institution, who accuses Bush of "intentionally deceiving Congress and the American people in order to start a war of aggression against a country that posed no threat to the United States". He goes on to note, quite accurately, that "As intent as Republicans were to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual affair, they have a blind eye for President Bush's far more serious lies".

To get a sense of how frightened and vulnerable the Bush team is, consider McClellan's response to a reporter's question about the letter sent by 89 members of the House calling for an explanation of the Downing Street Memo. McClellan said the White House saw "no need" to answer the letter. This tells us three things, right off the bat. First, the Bush administration is blocking Congress from performing its constitutionally mandated duty of oversight of the executive. Well, no surprise there. Second - and, again, absolutely no surprise - this White House has once more demonstrated its seemingly inexhaustible capacity to break all prior records for arrogance. Napoleon couldn't touch this stuff, and neither could Nero. Imagine believing that you're above answering basic questions posed by Congress about the single biggest issue of our time. Imagine seeing "no need" to explain to the country why documentary evidence exists showing that you lied your way into a war which continues to consume American soldiers by the thousands, with no end in sight. Now, that's how they do it in the big leagues.

But experience reminds us that arrogance and bullying behavior almost always serve to mask massive insecurities just beneath, bringing us to the third revelation which can be extrapolated from McClellan's non-comment. Think about it. The gravest possible accusation has been made against the president and his team, emanating from, among others, one-fifth of the House of Representatives. In addition to its moral implications, it has the political capacity to topple the presidency and perhaps kill the entire regressive right movement of the last quarter-century. It is, in short, some very serious business. Knowing what we know about how these folks viciously attack anyone who besmirches them in the slightest, what are we to make of their silence on this most lethal - this most existential - of political attacks? No doubt they are completely trapped by the evidence and can only hope and pray the Memo just goes away. But ever true to form, McClellan, Bush, Cheney and the whole lot of them would be strewing carnage across the landscape on this issue if they could get away with it. Just ask CBS, Newsweek, Amnesty International, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, John McCain or John Kerry. Get in their way, and the attacks come hard, fast and personal. That they are not now in full assault mode further affirms the accuracy and power of the Memo, as well as suggesting that the White House is strategically trapped between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps they even find themselves in shock and awe.

It is crucial now for progressives and patriots of all stripes to push this opportunity as hard as possible, down multiple paths.

The mainstream media is the most significant avenue for advancing this initiative which has the potential to take down Bush. We must continue to exert unrelenting pressure on media outlets simply to do their jobs, so that the public may be informed of this gravest breach of its trust. Members of Congress, led by John Conyers, have also played an important role so far by providing legitimacy to the critique, a rallying point around which other vectors can agglomerate, and an important angle the media can exploit should they ever decide one day to earn their salaries. We must do more to pressure Congress, particularly vulnerable Republicans (and I predict there may be quite a lot of them in 2006) to take this question seriously or explain to their constituents why they do not.

Impeachment is completely warranted for the crimes committed by the Bush administration, and we must relentlessly demand this outcome. As mentioned above, there are potentially exquisite ironies in this case, and this is one of them. Having impeached Clinton for lying about oral sex, how ridiculous would Republicans now appear trying to argue that there is no impeachable offense here?

Another example of sublime irony might be produced by a court case, perhaps over a wrongful death charge. Cindy Sheehan (bless you for your sacrifice, and for your tireless work to save others from the same fate), are you reading this? History is calling your name. And once again, imagine the patently obvious hypocrisy of Republicans trying to prevent the president from having to testify in such a case, after they just got through establishing a legal precedent for the same by forcing Clinton to do so, while in office, over the far less harmful allegation of sexual harassment.

And, in yet another example of exquisite irony, imagine how unsympathetic the judiciary is likely to be toward them, after the radical right has excoriated judges who don't bend to their will, to the point that GOP senators have offered justifications for recent violence directed against judges.

The regressive movement of the last several decades has provided a vicious spectacle, to the extent that internal cannibalization always seemed one likely avenue for its ultimate demise, with, for example, the far right running a nearly successful primary candidate against sitting Republican Senator Arlen Specter last year.

But this is better. Lots better. After a quarter century of scorched earth politics, I could not have designed a more appropriate fate for these destroyers of democracy than to be hoisted by their own petards, and then taken out by their own destructive precedents.

America has gone seriously astray due to the regressive right movement that began in earnest with Reagan, incubated under Gingrich, and blossomed full-blown in the era of Bush, Scalia and DeLay. This political cancer has yielded death, destruction, environmental wreckage, massive debt, wholesale violations of human rights, diminishment of national security, dismantling of constitutional democracy at home and widespread hatred for America abroad. And that's just the first term. It is difficult to imagine that one could ruin a country so thoroughly in just four years, but the Bush team has succeeded famously (with a good deal of help from the press, the Democrats and the public). Finally, it appears that we have in the Downing Street Memo a weapon, and with it the proper context, to end our long national nightmare.

Impeachment. Now.

David Michael Green (pscdmg@hofstra.edu) is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

I always said that Bush was gonna make Nixon look like Kennedy.

And, since it's my blog, and I can air my perspective, views and opinions, here's my take on the whole Deep Throat thing. Someone asked me, as a well-informed observer, (shyah) whether I thought Deep Throat/Mark Felt was a hero at the time. I snorted a bit, and said I didn't much care about Deep Throat as a Watergate figure, and thought that he was less crucial to the whole story than a lot of people made him out to be. I'm particularly upset, however, by the whole ugly thing that's going on right now. Not Left vs Right, Hero vs Traitor, but something much more personal. From Vanity Fair:

"I don't want this out," Felt said. "And if it got in the papers, I'd guess I'd know who put it there." But they [his children] persisted. They explained that they wanted their father's legacy to be heroic and permanent, not anonymous. And beyond their main motive—posterity—they thought that there might eventually be some profit in it. "Bob Woodward's gonna get all the glory for this, but we could make at least enough money to pay some bills, like the debt I've run up for the kids' education," Joan recalls saying. "Let's do it for the family." With that, both children remember, he finally agreed. "He wasn't particularly interested," Mark says, "but he said, 'That's a good reason.'"

Poor elderly Mark Felt is being pimped out by his two greedy children. Today's news headline: "Deep Throat IS a whore!"

If Bob Woodward ('slimy putz' comes to mind) could continue to keep the secret, I can't condone this guy's OWN CHILDREN pushing their father, as his faculties fail, into agreeing to expose himself.

Joan and Mark, Jr. should hang their heads in shame.

08 June, 2005

The Truth

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

It's subjective, isn't it?

And I don't owe anyone any explaination of anything. But keep in mind, even non-fiction writing is only from one point of view- the author's.

Not terribly interesting, I'm afraid. The truth rarely is.

06 June, 2005

Just Wanna

...I wanna be the one to walk in the sun....

It's barely 10 am, and I've got my top off already. I grin back at the flower seller on the corner. There is beauty in his toothless smile above the lush red blossoms.

Pretending my swimsuit top is a bra (or sometimes the reverse) I pull off my shirt for maximum exposure. I see other drivers in their (fancy, souped-up, expensive, spotless, large- choose an adjective) cars and feel a bit sorry for them. Sure, mine's a beater, but it's a rag-top beater, baby.

I think I am having more fun than they are.

"You have more fun than most people," he says.

I do, don't I? Why do you think that is?

"Probably because you've decided to."

Can't argue that.

Happy drunks in the backseat sing along to the Beatles on our drive through misty, moisty wee hours early morning, seeking Last Call and Rock Star Parking.

"I'd never ridden in a convertible before," he says. "That was the most fun I've had in, I don't know, maybe ever."

I feel that way every time.

Yes. Every time.

(Girls Just Wanna Have Fun; Cyndi Lauper)

03 June, 2005

Universally Applicable

...it's a mystery!....

The trick is to keep expectations low, and be prepared to be amused by everything.

"What are we talking about, exactly?"

Well, specifically, the movie. But it kind of applies to everything, don't you think?

02 June, 2005

Edited Entry

...did I ever tell you you're my hero....

Part of this entry has been removed. I just never know what will offend some people. Oh, well.

I was turned down at the Red Cross yesterday. Won't someone please go donate in my place? My iron was low again.

It's kind of a theme this week, but I'll make something out of nothing yet: Life recycled as fiction. It's no Kiosk, but it'll do. I'm much more clever in fiction.

Martin is clever enough to have created this site, but he didn't, he just found it. He's also bent enough to participate. He is absolutely that bent. I love that about him.

I plan to be at Tim Kreider's book signing at Atomic Books this Friday night, not that I expect to see any of you there. Even were I to promise that I'd attend wearing ONLY a red carnation, none of you yahoos would show up. You never do.

Rejected again.

(Wind Beneath My Wings; Bette Midler)

01 June, 2005

Swallow Hard

...all the jerkoffs in their fancy cars/ you can't believe your reviews/ oh no, you can't do that....

Deep Throat! Deep Throat! Wow!

And in other news, Robert is feeling earthy surges, or surging urges, and Trixie's taking a lot of the heat. We could ALL use a good shag or two, my friend.

Emily Flake's Lulu Eightball is funny, but not as funny as last week's. My all time favorite, Where Are YOUR Keys?, has been hanging on the fridge since it came out.


I arrive, and am instantly a focal point. Mimic comments as she leaves. Bigfish maintains that I must have known there'd be gay men at this event. MsPyrate is coerced into a photographic encounter once she arrives. GoddessGracie takes a strutty little walk. Cutter and Coco both tried, but did not stand. Candyboy's big toe almost fit. "How can you walk in those?"

Oh, please. I've been on stilts all morning. This is nothing.

Yes, the hot pink platform Hooker Barbie Heels are once again a source of amusement. New Orleans had such great shoes. I need to go back.

Liquor is flowing. Ms. Complete Failure As An Alcoholic (four, yes four, types of beer in my fridge, none in any imminent danger) accepts a sticky caramel apple cocktail from Peppermint Patty, and lowers her IQ along with BuddaPat, BirthdayBoy, the Prince, the Animal, Sparkey, DesdemonaOne, TekChik and the rest of the gang at Coco's annual Let's Open The Pool Way Before It's Warm Enough To Swim party. Tiberius mans the grill this year, as the newest housemate.

I sip slowly, sitting with HelpMe, Bigfish, and Candyboy, all dry, making intelligent conversation, at least until I can see the bottom of my glass. When I bring beers for BuddaPat and me, I wind up on his lap. He doesn't throw me off. Cutter is sober enough for a run to the grocery for cake, desperately needed cake. TekChik has been hitting ruthlessly on the two of us all night, safe in the knowlege that she is in no danger of either of us taking her seriously. BirthdayBoy is back from band rehearsal by the time we're back with cake, but the singing is all over.

We move inside, as it's gotten chilly, and flip mindlessly through channels in search of something amusing. I share BirthdayBoy's chair; Cutter piles on top of me, as TekChik has gotten a bit handsy, so Cutter retreats to the (relative) safety of my lap, which is somehow logical. She's got a zipper pull as a belly ring: damn cute on her eighteen year old tummy.

Coco comments that of all the people she invited, only the Prince took her up on her offer to see the dead cat in her fridge. "Why not?" he says. "It's just a dead animal in a refrigerator. It's not like it's a big deal." Well, if anyone ought to have a corpse in a fridge, it's Coco.

Twice this week, he said, "Cyb, that's a GREAT idea." When no one was listening, of course. He sounded surprised. I tell this to Coco. "You've been playing the bimbo for so long, I guess even we forget sometimes that you're actually fairly bright."

Thanks. I think.

"Cybbie's going to sleep."

Hello? I'm hypersomnolent, been drinking, and sandwiched between two extremely warm and attractive humans. OF COURSE I'm nodding off.

Everyone starts packing off to bed. BirthdayBoy, who'd teased me with a promise to stay the night if I would, says his allergies are bothering him, so he goes. "You okay, Cybbie?"

The shoes serve as sobriety test. If I can walk in platform spikes, I'm obviously okay to drive.

It was a tame one this year.

(Those Shoes; The Eagles)