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Richard Wright, The Great Gig in The Sky

David Foster Wallace Dead

David Foster Wallace, famed author of Infinite Jest, committed suicide at age 46.  I’m not going to do a biography.  That’s what wikipedia is for.  Rather, if you know his work or not, I share this with you.  Which is profounder than any biography.  And way profounder than any suicide (of which he speaks):

Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address – May 21, 2005

(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. In fact I’m gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings [“parents”?] and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

More below.

Look, Sarah Palin Is A Pig Wearing Lipstick

and that is not a sexist comment.

The phrase “lipstick on a pig” is not a sexist comment.  The metaphor is that no matter what you do to prettify and try to make something bad look good, it is still bad.  And Palin’s record and what she believe is in bad.  No matter how much she says she applies the pro change, anti-cronyism, anti big government spending lipstick, the facts show her record is one of a pig.

So let’s stop with the nonsense.  The fact that Palin herself said the difference between a pit bull and hockey mom was lipstick does not mean that Obama called her a pig.  Even if he did, calling someone a pig is not sexist.  The fact that lipstick is applied to it simply does not render it so.

Two quotes for comment

A morality that has within it no room for truth is no morality at all.

Men may dislike truth.  Men may find truth offensive and inconvenient.  Men may prosecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it, but to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy and the last illusion.  Truth lives forever.  Men do not.

God’s Mosquito

Ponder God’s Mosquito

Teaching Moment

Sucks blood for a living

But why leave an itch

Leading to its condemnation and

Ultimate Demise?

Why McNasty Has No Chance (again)

Much commentary today on the increasingly “nasty” turn of McShame’s candidacy.

Several bloggers have suggested that Obama must strike back hard against this negative campaign, citing Dukakis’ and Kerry’s failure to do so in prior campaigns.  I disagree.

This candidacy is distinguishable from the others.  Here, the electorate is already energized based on the economy and the war (which, leaving aside morality issues, are ultimately the same issue–the economy is bad because of the war).  McShame is turning to a nasty campaign very early.  Why?  Because he doesn’t have much to run on:  any time he is asked to detail his plans he falls apart in a shambles because his plans are unreal and unrealistic.  Continued spending with no source, no workable plan on the economy.

The problem with an early nasty campaign is that, after awhile, it is ineffective and makes the party doing it appear to be just nasty.  At some point, someone’s going to ask:  “well and good, Sir, but what is your plan?”  Even more scary:  “how will work?”

McShame’s campaign is egregiously bad and laughable.  As it is a joke, Obama is correct to laugh it off, at least until some substantive attack is made.

Official Pronouncement of Robodd: I Will Not Worry What McCain Says Anymore

After reading Grannyhelen’s essay and cogitating some, I have decided that I will not care, nor comment about, what John McCain says or does anymore.  The case is proven, the election is over, Obama is going to cremate this guy.

Now some of you will say this is presumptuous and note that the republicans have stolen elections before.  The only way they are going to steal this election is by gunpoint.  Not gonna happen.

So unless McCain says or does something completely inane or hilarious, I will just sit back and watch the train wreck express unfold through November.  

BTW, this being the case, Obama is free to be bold in taking strong positions on policy issues and taking people, particularly the current administration, on in a much more strident fashion.  

WORST rock songs of all time

Well, I have just had a heated debate.  The important topic was WORST rock ‘n roll song of all time.  The first issue was deciding what could be consider rock and what could not.  Schmaltz is not rock by definition, so no Carpenters songs, no Capt. & Tennile–that means no Muskrat Love.  We are not going there.  If there is no electric guitar, it is probably not rock ‘n roll.

So I won’t bore you with our desideratum.  That’s your part, below if you wish.

But here is the choice.  Imagine a song that manages to be both pompous (rock star strut), stupid, ugly and demeaning all at the same time.  A true harbinger for the death of rock ‘n roll.  Ladies and Gentlemen, submitted for your consideration as the worst rock ‘n roll song of all time, “What’s Your Name” by Lynyrd Skynyrd:

Well, its 8 o’clock in Boise, Idaho

I’ll find my limo driver

Mister, take us to the show

I done made some plans for later on tonight

I’ll find a little queen

And I know I can treat her right.


What’s your name, little girl?

What’s your name?

Shootin’ you straight, little girl?

Won’t you do the same?.

Back at the hotel

Lord we got such a mess

It seems that one of the crew

Had a go with one of the guests, oh yes

Well, the police said we can’t drink in the bar

What a shame

Won’t you come upstairs girl

And have a drink of champagne

What’s your name, little girl?

What’s your name?

Shootin’ you straight, little girl?

For there ain’t no shame.

[chorus 2x]

9 o’clock the next day

And I’m ready to go

I got six hundred miles to ride

To do one more show, oh no

Can I get you a taxi home

It sure was grand

When I come back here next year

I wanna see you again

What was your name, little girl?

What’s your name?

Shootin’ you straight, little girl?

Well there ain’t no shame

What was your name, little girl?

What’s your name?

Shootin’ you straight, little girl?

Won’t you do the same?

Lay Down Your Bets . . . and Other Thoughts

I’m betting that O wins by 10-15% points.  I think he carries all mountain and west states except UT, WY, ID.  Yes, I think he wins in AZ.  I think he’ll win at least half of the deep south states.  He will lose KY and MS.  The others are a toss up.  He’ll lose in Alaska.  BFD.  

Now that’s just horse racing.  My real point is:  no need to pander.  You’re going to win.

But I don’t think O is pandering.  I think we are seeing the real O at last.  And unless (as I suspect it will) the economy really takes a deep six, I suspect an O presidency will be extremely frustrating to progressives. And I doubt the “change” he will bring will be sufficient.

Just some thoughts for a Saturday morning.

Why Removing Telecom Immunity is So Important

Well, I just read Olbermann’s rejoinder on FISA and man,… ,if he’d just check out wikipedia,… he would know how fruitless the idea of criminal prosecutions is.  In short, Bush can pardon anybody from criminal prosecutions, charges pending or not.  All you have to do is recall Dick Nixon and what he got from Jerry Ford to know this.

Neglected is the beauty thing of a pardon:  if you accept, you are admitting guilt.  And under the res judicata doctrine (and because the standard of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases, is higher than civil cases (preponderance of evidence), you accept a pardon, you probably (I say probably since a court might hold you didn’t really litigate a case by accepting a pardon) lose your civil case.

So that is the real reason why civil immunity is so important.  Important to the telcoms, their owners and others involved, just so they can accept a pardon and run off scooter, I mean Scot, free.  Important to strip from the bill because it is the only means to keep these folks on the hook–and get their evidence.

If FISA passes, the only thing an Obama admin. could do is not challenge the Unconstitutionality of FISA.  But the telecom immunity would likely be severable and upheld.

Tell Obama no on immunity now.…  

George Carlin has Died

I just heard George Carlin died.  When I was very young, he was in his prime. Carlin was the first political stand up comic I knew.  Regarded, then at least, at the successor to Lenny Bruce.  He was the first person to host Saturday Night Live, which some of you know was once a huge cultural event (back in the days of Ackyroyd, Belushi and Murray).

Carlin is a much more important figure than some might think.  His 7 words you can’t say on the airwaves was actually a Supreme Court Case, which he lost 5-4.

Here are some favorite quotes and remembrances:

*Carlin also introduced the “Two Commandments”, a revised “pocket-sized” list of the Ten Commandments, ending with the additional commandment of “Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.”

*While appearing in Las Vegas, Carlin stated that he couldn’t wait to get out of Las Vegas, stating “People who go to Las Vegas, you’ve got to question their fucking intellect to start with. Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of fucking moronic.”

*”Tonight’s forecast: Dark. Continued dark throughout most of the evening, with some widely-scattered light towards morning.”

*”When you’re born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front-row seat.”


“Take a fucking chance! Put a little fun in your life! … most Americans are soft and frightened and unimaginative and they don’t realize there’s such a thing as dangerous fun, and they certainly don’t recognize a good show when they see one.”

Feel free to share your thoughts.

FISA From Here (Well Almost)

Not really an essay, but some thoughts on where FISA goes after Congress passes and Bush signs it.

1.  This does not kill lawsuits.  It changes them.  The fight now becomes whether the New FISA is constitutional under the 4th Amendment.  The Fourth Amendment is pretty clear.  It requires probable cause and a search warrant.  Neither is required under this version.  Now, there are exceptions to the 4th amdmt. rule.  You can look at them at Wikipedia.… None seem to really cover this area and, clearly, stuff you say over your phone or through emails and even searches you do on the internet do carry with them a reasonable expectation of privacy.

2.  So EFF and/or the ACLU attacks the statute.  But to attack it may require inquiries as to what is really happening, what the dragnet or data mine actually does.  And that, not the 4th Amdt. may be the rub.  It’s called the state secrets doctrine and may do more to end these cases than anything else.  However, there are some good opinions out there that say no state secrets since much of the details of program were disclosed by Bush.

3.  So it stays in court, the attorney general’s office defends against the lawsuit.  Who controls the AG’s office?  The president.  Who is president?  Perhaps Obama.  If the AG ultimately agrees the New FISA is Uncon, the Constitution is preserved.  That is why it is important to watch what Obama says and does now.

4.  Will the Supreme Court have an opportunity to ultimately defy the executive branch/A.G’s office and court’s own power to determine probable cause and find the bill Constitutional ?  It would surely be an ironic ending–the legislative and judicial branches, so eminently ignored by the executive now, will ultimately be the one responsible for breaking the Constitution.

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