Sunday, May 31, 2009

"It's got a cop motor, cop tires, cop shocks..."

And I thought Mrs F wasn't a fan of the Technicolor Dreamcar...

When I told her that if I had found this car before the Subaru, it'd be parked out front, she declared, "Are you kidding me? I would DIE before I'd let you drive me around in that thing. I'd lie on the floor—"

"Yeah? I'd make you sit in the backseat. Like a suspect."

Seriously. I want it. I've always wanted it. The only way it could be better is if it was a Grand Fury.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mr Furious Heartily Recommends...

The Screaming Trees' Dust.

A few weeks ago John Cole posed the question, "Whatever happened to the Screaming Trees?" Musical discussion and debate ensued and I agreed with Cole that this is their strongest effort and recommended lead singer Mark Lanegan's solo Whiskey for the Holy Ghost. Check it out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stupid Like a FOX

The newest right-wing meme is the conspiracy theory that Obama forced Chrysler to shutter dealers that are Republicans. Why do they think this? Because the list of closing dealers is overwhelmingly Republican. Case closed, right?

Only if you are Michelle Malkin or one of the morning douchebags on FOX.

Nate Silver spends all of five minutes blowing a hole in this garbage:
There is just one problem with this theory. Nobody has bothered to look up data for the control group: the list of dealerships which aren't being closed. It turns out that all car dealers are, in fact, overwhelmingly more likely to donate to Republicans than to Democrats -- not just those who are having their doors closed.

[...]Overall, 88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates and just 12 percent to Democratic candidates. By comparison, the list of dealers on Doug Ross's list (which I haven't vetted, but I assume is fine) gave 92 percent of their money to Republicans -- not really a significant difference.

There's no conspiracy here, folks -- just some bad math.

More like bad faith. Surely these jackasses are aware dealers are overwhlmingly Republican—they're business-owners after all. They're also overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men in suburban and rural areas...

Silver used political donations to determine party affiliation—searching for auto, car and automotive "dealer" as listed occupation. One of the mouth-breathers crashes the thread and accuses Silver of being disengenuous because his statistics "fail to distinguish between owners and employees..." The fact that those people would list themselves as "salesperson" or "mechanic," and not "dealer" is beyond them.


The worst argument against a Supreme Court nominee ever was made the other day by economist Greg Mankiw. Does the fact that Sotomayor spends most of what she earns say something about her qualifications?

Apparently, the new Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is an example of the latter [a spender, not scrimper--Mr F.]. The Washington Post reports that the 54-year-old Sotomayer has a $179,500 yearly salary but...

"On her financial disclosure report for 2007, she said her only financial holdings were a Citibank checking and savings account, worth $50,000 to $115,000 combined. During the previous four years, the money in the accounts at some points was listed as low as $30,000."

My grandmother would have been shocked and appalled to see someone who makes so much save so little.

I'm more appalled by a supposed economist passing judgment on someone because of the amount she has in the bank...perhaps she's a generous philanthropist? A big traveler? OR perhaps maybe a single woman with no children and someone who has a lifetime appointment in her career at a big salary, and generous pension and has no need to sock money away for the future like Mankiw's grandmother?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Department of Stopped Clocks

I'm no fan of former Solicitor General and all-around right-wing legal asshat Ted Olson, but he's shockingly correct in his opposition to Prop 8:
"It is our position in this case that Proposition 8, as upheld by the California Supreme Court, denies federal constitutional rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution," Olson said. "The constitution protects individuals' basic rights that cannot be taken away by a vote. If the people of California had voted to ban interracial marriage, it would have been the responsibility of the courts to say that they cannot do that under the constitution. We believe that denying individuals in this category the right to lasting, loving relationships through marriage is a denial to them, on an impermissible basis, of the rights that the rest of us enjoy…I also personally believe that it is wrong for us to continue to deny rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation."

[h/t: Sullivan who is astonished to outflanked n the issue by the likes of Olson]

Dick of All Time: Cheney

I was all set to hand Harry Reid another D.O.W. for his crowded mantle to reward his latest and all-too-typical bedwetting routine, when—suddenly—a one-time Dark Lord crawled out of his cave (and supposed "retirement"), complete with a Bond villain's blood-filled eye, to once again use his secret satellite scrambler to commandeer the Earth's airwaves the supine media to broadcast his lies and threats across the globe. I don't have the time or energy to unpack the load of bullshit he dropped or diagnose the pathology behind his evil. Not when others have already done it, and better than I could...

I'll skip the blow-by-blow and laundry lists of lies for the big picture: Publius articulated the most disgusting part of Cheney's outlook and motive better than anyone else I saw...
There was one part of Cheney’s speech that disturbed me though. From listening to Cheney (and others), you get the sense that they are now rooting for another terrorist attack.

In that respect, Cheney’s speech was more than a retroactive defense of past criminal acts. He was looking ahead. He was setting up the political chessboard to attack Obama and the Democrats in a particularly poisonous way if – God forbid – we are attacked again.

It’s a pretty neat trick. The Bush/Cheney administration radicalizes a new generation of terrorists through actions like torture and unnecessary wars. Then, when the blowback comes, they’ll try to blame it on someone else – specifically, on the people trying to clean up their mess.

[...] One of the many problems with the Cheney/Geraghty logic is that the Bush administration’s methods can’t be judged strictly on short term results – just like the effects of smoking cigarettes can’t be judged purely in the short term. The blowback from these actions takes years or even decades to fully materialize (see, e.g., USSR vs. Afghanistan in the 1980s). God only knows, for instance, how many battle-hardened terrorists we’ve created and trained in the “classroom” of Iraq. And who knows what they’ll do.

But anyway, a terrorist attack will happen one day. When it does, Cheney and his followers announced today that they will seek to divide the country based on fear and hate and paranoia – just like they did in 2002.

There's no "will seek" about it, however. It's what they've done every day since 9/11, today, and for as long as it works. And, it works. Because half the country is braindead, and the supposed "liberal" media plays right along...

That's why headlines and media coverage like this piss me off so much.

This isn't a "debate." It's brinkmanship coupled with a seditious attack and a framejob. It's perjury by a fucking criminal trying to cover his ass and at the same time set up the serious man tasked with the nearly impossible—attempting to clean up one of history's all-time clusterfucks and lead a polarized and abused populace back from the brink of multiple crises—all a direct result of this very villain's damn-the-costs smash-and-grab actions in office.

And in their never-ending thirst for political "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!" coverage, the media is treating these two men and their remarks as somehow equal and as some kind of legitimate point/counterpoint. That headline might just as well read Obama, Limbaugh Debate Gitmo. Goddamn ridiculous.

There are only two media outlets worth a damn. The Daily Show and McClatchey/Knight-Ridder. Both put on an actual journalism clinic:

McClatchey: Cheney's speech contained omissions, misstatements

Stewart: May 21, 2009: American Idealogues

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Queen to King's Level 1*

Sometimes my ascribing a brilliant chess move to one of Obama's actions is just wishful thinking...other times it really seems to be true.

I barely mentioned the whole "empathetic judge" thing, but it appears to be a perfect example of Obama handing the Republicans just enough rope.

Today Obama officially announced his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice. An inspired pick, in my hasty opinion, but the Obama set his trap for just such a nomination.

Watch as the loudmouth wing of the Republican party cranks up the Empathy Offensive and drives the few remaining rational women from their ranks by portraying women as too emotional to serve on the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: Sullivan gathers the reactions from all sides.

UPDATE 2: And that isn't even considering the optics of guys like Jeff Sessions laying into the nominee—completely devastaing any inroads Bush made into the Hispanic community. Obama already boasts 85% approval among Latinos—it'll be 100% by years' end.


*Just because I haven't seen the new Star Trek is no reason for you to doubt my creds.

Monday, May 25, 2009

All-Star Ballot

Here is my latest (second) contribution to the All-Star voting...

I paid slightly closer attention to my selections this time around, though only a few spots changed. I feel pretty good about my tapping Joe Mauer last time even though he had only returned from injury two days prior—he's only hit eleven HRs and hit .444 in the three weeks since...Jeter's out and Damon's in—though I'm not so sure about him, since he won't be facing the Sox (I swear, he's hit like 9 of his 10 HRs against Boston).

Let me go out on a limb and predict an NL victory this time out. Looking over the rosters, it just seems like the AL is fat with youngsters having hot starts, while the NL squad is filled with seasoned badasses. We'll see who's pitching and on the benches, but the starting lineups (based on my ballot) are a mismatch.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Never Was a Blog So Aptly Titled (since this one anyway...)

I had a hard time whittling down a good blockquote from the excellent content on Jim Kunstler's blog Clusterfuck Nation. Let's start with this:
The Great Wish across America is to resume the life of comfort-and-convenience that seemed so nirvana-like just a few short years ago, when the very constellations of the heavens might have been renamed after heroic Atlanta realtors and Connecticut hedge fund warriors, and the boomer portfolios groaned with earnings, and millions of graying corporate salary mules dreamed of their approaching retirement to a satori of golf and Viagra, and the interior decorators grew so rich installing granite countertops that they could buy their own houses in the East Hampton, and every microcephalic parking valet in Las Vegas qualified for a bucket full of Ninja mortgages, and Lloyd Blankfein could dream of divorcing his wife to marry his cappuccino machine.

The choices now are stark and the kind of life on offer by the future is rather austere. The job of the current president, and the people who work with him, is to manage an epic contraction -- let's say, to land a very large, loaded defect-ridden airplane that has both run out of fuel and suffered grievous mechanical breakdown... and to bring down that vehicle in an unfamiliar country filled with angry savages. Sadly, the new president and his co-pilots just want to keep the plane up there, circling. The president's viziers are working round-the-clock to come up with some way, some toggle-switch, that might turn off the laws of gravity (which are not unrelated to the laws of thermodynamics). But all they seem to be able to come up with are mumbled prayers that are pale imitations of the algorithms once concocted by the Wall Street engineers who designed the aircraft they're riding in.

And get more specific with this:
The president is playing with fire on all this. The old economy is not going to recover, and so far he has not used his rhetorical talents to articulate what the next economy is likely to be about. It is reasonable to wonder whether he even really has a clear sense of it -- and, based on the fatuous utterances of his economic mandarins like Larry Summers and Austan Goolsby, this team is really behind the curve.

There are plenty of things you can state about the economy past and future with some confidence right now:

-- Cheap energy is over and our wishes for are currently inconsistent with reality, meaning we have to live differently.

-- We have to downscale and re-localize our major economic activities: food production, commerce and manufacturing, banking, schooling, etc.

-- We can't hope to have a stable money system unless we allow a workout of unpayable debt to proceed.

-- Even if we can do this, universal easy credit is a thing of the past. From now on, we have to save for the things we want and run our businesses and households on accounts receivable.

-- Major demographic shifts are inevitable as it becomes necessary to let go of suburbia and reactivate our derelict towns and smaller cities (and allow our giant metroplexes to contract).

-- We have to face the truth that our major social contracts cannot be met, namely the continuation of social security as we know it and probably all pension arrangements. We'll probably have to change household arrangements to make up for these losses.

-- Health care will have to go through a revolution more comprehensive than just changing how we pay for it. Like everything else, it will have to downscale, re-localize, and become more rigorous.

We're not going to rescue the banks. The collateral for their loans is no good and it will only lose more value. All those tract houses on the cul-de-sacs of America and scattered on the out-parcels of our tragically subdivided farming landscape will only lose value, one way or another, in the years ahead. Right now they're simply losing inflated cash value -- and that has been bad enough to sink the banks. In the months and years ahead, they'll lose their sheer usefulness as the distances once mitigated by cheap gasoline loom larger again, and the jobs vanish and incomes with them, and the supermarket shelves cease to groan with eighty-seven different varieties of flavored coffee creamers, and one-by-one the national chain stores shutter, and the theme parks, and the Nascar ovals, and the malls, and the colossal superfluous cretin-cargo of consumer nonsense that we've been daydreaming in gets blown away in a hurricane of change that we were not ready to believe in.

Sobering stuff. While I think he's a bit of a curmudgeonly pessimist, I think his forecast is closer to reality than you'll hear from a politician or the media. They're all too heavily invested in a return to the old system, and will refuse to recognize the failure of its return even if we revert to living in caves—"build that new kitchen with a cave equity loan!"

The most disappointing thing in all of this is that surely Obama is smart enough to know this—and it is even more certain that the country as a whole is too fucking dumb to handle the truth.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How I Roll...

You might recall that I was selling my car a few months back...Well, after weeks on craigslist and slowly lowering my asking price I finally sold it a month ago—and for the same price I cursed and mocked that guy for after all. It just took me another six weeks to accept that nobody's willing to pay for a nice car in Asheville—but they're perfectly willing to jack people up for any old diesels (to convert to bio) and for Subarus.

Seriously. Every third car in Asheville is a Subaru. New...from the doesn't matter. It's the car in demand and they are completely overpriced. And of course my short list was Subarus or an old Saab 900. Well there are no Saabs south of Philadelphia apparently, and any Subie in my price range had serious problems: blown engines, sideswipe damage, missing glass, you name it—and these hippies still wanted $2,500!

Well, I'm the luckiest guy in town, because I found this mint little Impreza (and I DO mean MINT—check that paint job—like a pack of Orbitz!) for book value—$1,800! Turns out this woman needed to unload this car in a hurry and just asked what told her to. Any other person in town would be demanding 3 grand. For real. It gets better—she ended up being a neighbor, and turned down more money from other buyers to sell to me at her asking price.

It's bare-bones: crank windows, no stereo (yet), but it's a 5-speed, in great shape, a blast to drive and I'm getting 26 mpg around town and 32 on the highway! Mrs F was mortified when I brought it home, but I'm smitten.

Behold the new Furymobile!

NOTE: It's not QUITE as obnoxious as my High Dynamic Range photography makes it look...but almost.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moral Kombat

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An excellent job by Stewart of holding up the "break all the rules/by any means necessary" mentality that led to torture and the destruction of the rule of law as well as our standing in the world—and showing what a crock of shit that is when the one compromise the U.S. wouldn't make is allowing a gay man to translate the torture sessions.

Money line: "Waterboarding may make the prisoner talk—but it ain't gonna make him talk English."

[h/t: Sully]

Jumping the Shark

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reading Assignment: The Wrong Man

This three-year-old article from Esquire has new relevance since Obama's picked a new General to run the war in Afganistan.

More than one person has pointed out that Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's hands are not clean when it comes to torture, and the suspicion by some is that Obama reversed position on releasing the photos of torture camps precisely for that reason.

It's merely a passing reference in this article, but if McChrystal had any role whatsoever in what the article details, Obama made a seriously bad decision.

Read the whole thing: Acts of Conscience

[h/t Booman]

UPDATE: Links on McChrystal—Sullivan,

Greenville, S.C., May 13, 2009, 5:30 p.m. EST

I saw Grampa Simpson at Whole Foods.

I had a full cart of groceries, so I let this elderly gentleman go ahead of me with his plate of hot buffet food—and his plastic bag of cookies tied to his belt!

Seriously. This guy was buying two cookies from the bakery case, and he tied the bag to his belt. He made sure the cashier saw them and paid for them, then he joined his wife in a booth and sat down to eat.

Five minutes later, as I walked out of the store, the cookies were sitting on the bench next to him, still tied to his belt.

Just wondering...

I was at the counter of a Dunkin Donuts yesterday (NOTE: iced coffee is only 99¢ this month) and I could hear a television over my shoulder...
"Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants assembled...blah...blah..blah..."

"Hmm," I thought. "That HAS to be FOX News."

It was. And then they trotted out some jackass Republican Congressman to decry "the increase of government in your health care" and is that "what Americans want?"

It was nothing I haven't heard a thousand times before, but it dawned on me that this argument loses what little credibility it had as the number of Americans without any health care coverage at all increases..."Government-run health care for me and my family versus nothing at all? Where do I sign up?"

They are going to lose this argument and so many others because the GOP doesn't feel the ground shifting beneath their feet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Torture(d) Logic

"You lose it here and you're in a world of hurt."

I'd buy pay-per-view of Jesse wiping the studio with Sean Hannity


Matt Taibbi...
...this is not a question of taking different sides in a war; this is two groups of Americans having a disagreement about how best to deal with a foreign enemy both of these groups of Americans despise, fear and revile equally. My group, the anti-torture group, believes that what should make us superior to terrorists is respect for law and due process and civilization, and that when we give in and use these tactics, we forfeit that superiority and actually confer a kind of victory to the al Qaedas of the world, people who should never be allowed any kind of victory in any arena. We furthermore think that the war on terror doesn’t get won with force alone, that it’s a conflict that ultimately has to be won politically, by winning a propaganda battle against these assholes, and we can’t win that battle so easily if people in the Middle East see us openly embrace these tactics.


An excellent point from Matthew Schmitz at plumblines:
We cannot tiptoe around the fact that our government engaged in profoundly evil acts in the name of American citizens. No matter how vehemently we disagree with the actions of the torturers, the fact remains that they were done in the name of the American people. It is true, of course, that “we” the citizens of the United States are not morally culpable for what our elected representatives and their subordinates did. But we are politically responsible. If we fail to pursue justice and punish the malefactors, we start to share in the blame for the actions they performed.

Much as Obama becomes a part of the cover-up for failing to prosecute, it will trickle down to us too, if we don't force the politicians to do the right thing—or drive their asses out of office if they don't, we all start to own it.

Of course the problem is this: next election we'll be faced with choosing between a party that gives lip service to the rule of law, yet doesn't enforce it, versus a party openly threatening to operate a torture regime if they regain power.


Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings compiles a list of old quotes from some prominent people regarding America and torture. These same words uttered today would be cast as those of a naive idealist or a pacifist weakling...yet it was the public position of these "tough guys"—until they were exposed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Screw Yoo

Even more evidence of the "Liberal Media"...

The Philadelphia Inquirer has hired John Yoo as a monthly columnist.

Being a war criminal sure has its benefits, it seems.

The paper's lame excuse that they are trying to diversify viewpoints and counter a reputation of being too liberal is a crock of shit. Trust me—there is no one on the payroll far enough to the left to balance Yoo. I'm sure any "liberal" columnists that get columns are typical, shallow-end syndicated hacks—and as such, at or just slightly left of center.

The right-wing noise machine has so effectively worked the refs that the paper feels pressed to run out and hire a guy so far to the right that he's off the chart.

Yet another example of how presenting two sides of an argument—without regard for the truth, honesty or accuracy—is what passes for "journalism" these days.

--Sidebar: If you think that news is depressing enough, spend a little time in the comment thread. The volume of comments supporting Yoo and the paper is astonishing and completely disheartening.

Word of the Day

Attention right-wing assholes and brain-dead pundits:

Empathy ≠ Sympathy

That is all.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Baseball Link Dump

Filmmaker Steven Soderburgh is shooting a movie of "Moneyball". A mix of real players and actors; a set of Oakland Colesium and location shooting around the League; MLB permission to use 2002 footage. Could be long as Tim Robbins stays off the mound..

What does baseball have to do with one of Obama's potential SCOTUS picks? As a U.S. District Court judge Sonia Sotomayor issued the injunction against MLB that ended the 1994 baseball strike.

What's with all the empty seats in the new Yankee Stadium? That'll happen when you price all the seats that show up on TV in the fucking thousands—particularly in the middle of a recession. Adding to the outrage is the fact that both new stadiums in New York were partially taxpayer-funded. Add it to the endless list of reasons to hate the Yankees. [NY Times Editorial]

Dick of the Week: Mark Halperin

Already a dick, for Halperin to close the deal and win the week just took this:

I dunno, Mark, maybe the fact that ONLY white men "need apply" for the last 200-plus years would lead you to shut the fuck up with wise-ass shit like that?

UPDATE: A comment from the Balloon Juice thread on Halperin's douchiness:
Souter’s out, Ginzy’s in debatable health (FSM bless her, but come on), Stevens is catching up to Methuselah—could it be that Barry X has THREE appointments in his first term? Hell, he could appoint Glenn Beck for the first replacement just for the pure comedy value and still leave the Court in better shape than when he found it.

Tho’ for my money I’d like to see Glennzilla, Digby and David Corn get the nods. Plus some ninja clerks to kick Scalia in the balls when he’s not looking. And a pubic hair on a doily delivered daily to Thomas. And a copy of My Pet Goat for Alito. Ninjas on the SCOTUS would be awesome!

Souter to Retire

Obama will get his first crack at the Supreme Court sooner than expected, and not the slot most were expecting...
Souter to Retire in June
Justice David Souter is planning to retire after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court, giving President Barack Obama his first chance to fill a vacancy on the high court.

The White House has been told that Souter will retire in June, when the court finishes its work for the summer, a source familiar with his plans said Thursday night. He almost certainly would remain on the bench until a successor is confirmed.

There'll be no shift, since Souter had been a fairly reliable liberal vote, despite being a Republican appointee. Let's hope Obama aims waaay left, and picks someone like 30-yers-old.

Or, he could make Clarence Thomas' life a living hell and pick Anita Hill. How awesome would that be?

Jesus F--king Christ

I saw this and had to verify it in case it was an Onion gag. It's not. This is a real Florida license plate currently steamrolling its way through the legislature, soon to be blessing you at a red light near you.

My reactions, in order:

1. "Jesus Fucking Christ, are you kidding me?" (No, seriously, that's a common utterance for me.)

2. "That's it. Fuck this noise. Every state goes back to ONE FUCKING PLATE. Plain letters on a solid background. This shit is out of hand."

3. "Where are his fucking arms?"

4. "Why is he blue?"

5. "That is off-the-charts tacky."

6. "This ought to be a real hit with the Jews down in Florida."

7. "The Governor is REALLY trying to hard to make up for the missing H.

8. "Are the letters ZOM BIE available?"

UPDATE: I'll withdraw my opposition to that plate if Florida allows my alternative to that super-Aryan Barry Gibb Jesus...

(My source for that art is this kick-ass church—almost worth moving to Finland for!)