THIS SICKNESS 8 from Bottomless Studio, featuring John Linton Roberson, Emily Kaplan, Chad Parenteau, Charles Alverson, Gianna Ratto, Chris DeWildt and a cover by Molly Kiely. 100 pages! Available in print & Kindle at Amazon!
I Didn't Write That!
30 September 2008
 
Nobel To American Literature: Drop Dead

What? We earned this attitude. This is what you get for letting the psychopathic hicks speak for you in the world.

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Gingrich Stabs McCain In Back

It was Newt Gingrich, behind the scenes, who convinced the Republican house members to vote against the bailout. Newt, who is not even in office now. But, you ask, doesn't that fuck over John McCain, who was so certain it'd pass that he bragged that he was the one responsible? (not to mention the country, but Gingrich tried to shut that down, so I never assume patriotism in him)

Yes, yes it does. Gingrich sees the chance to lay the groundwork for his own White House run in 4 years. So to do that, it would be best to assure McCain loses, and he's already about as weak as it gets.

So if you needed proof even the GOP has given up on him, there you are. A Carter-Kennedy moment. Gingrich is Kennedy here.

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29 September 2008
  Grant Morrison Interview

At Publishers Weekly, which has gotten nicely comics-friendly.

This bit, as it happens, articulates a reason I'm loath to completely transition to digital art. Though I have begun inking occasional pages with a tablet, and do a lot of production work with Photoshop, at the very least I'm still laying out and pencilling the pages at my drawing table on Bristol. And in fact I found digital inking a bit alienating; I tried it for five pages in my current work in progress, "Martha"(coming in This Sickness #5), but went back to crowquills soon after. It's just something irreproducible(not literally) about a pen biting into the page and the permanence of the mark soaked into the paper. And there's something more powerful about creating an object.

Anyway:

PWCW: Is there a particular relationship you see between all of that[Morrison's belief in magic] and comics as a medium?

GM: Comics specifically seem to be quite magical to me—in the sense that they are directly drawn onto paper. They relate back to the very first drawings that people did on cave walls, and people believe now that those things were meant to be magical, that by drawing and creating a model of the bison, you could affect what happened to the real bison. Your hunt would be more successful the next day. So the idea of drawing and creating representations is the very first notion that we had of magic, that you could make an image of something and affect the image and, in turn, affect the reality of the thing. Like sympathetic magic, when you make, for instance, a little doll of someone and then stab it, they will experience something. So that idea of representation, I think, is the first magical idea, and comics is still very close to that.

The thing I love about comics is the actual guy sitting there—with pens and tools and drawing all this stuff in a little room. Actually working on the paper directly with pencils. There’s something really quite strange about that, I feel.

PWCW:“Strange” in that it carries some particular qualities?

GM: “Strange” in the sense that I think there’s so much concentration that goes into the point of those pencils and that line that it’s a magical act. It’s a Zen thing to sit and actually create a comic book. It’s very hands-on. I think it’s got a magical element to it, anyway, and so, for me, it became a way to do voodoo, using... Well, I could create things in the comics that would have affects in my own real life. I found that it would work.

PWCW: You were ill at one point [during the writing of The Invisibles].

GM: Yeah, that was just one of the things. This character thought that his face had been eaten away, then three months later my face actually gets a hole eaten in it! I’m in the hospital dying in almost the same way the character was dying. So then I figured, “Okay, well, let’s give him a good time!” [chuckles] As soon as I got out of the hospital, I started writing the character with a great sex life, and suddenly my own life took off. I really began to feel I was on to something.

I think there's something to this.

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  The Election on Parallel Earth

From Tom Tomorrow.
(click to enlarge)

Also: David Horsey.

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  Fate Farts In McCain's Face Again

He probably shouldn't have taken credit for the bailout before the vote failed(thanks to his fellow Republicans). What an ass.



Is there anything McCain says that God doesn't slap right back into his face? Like his line about how leaders don't "phone it in," when in fact all the "work" he did on this was done by phone?

And shouldn't McCain have learned by now not to sling mud while you're flat on your back?




Obama Runs Constructive Criticism Ad Against McCain

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Time To Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses
Barbara Ehrenreich on why holding onto "positivity" like grim death has helped lead us blindly and helplessly to our present downfall.
Positive thinking is endemic
to American culture — from weight loss programs to cancer support groups — and in the last two decades it has put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a “positive person,” and no one becomes a chief executive by issuing warnings of possible disaster.

The tomes in airport bookstores’ business sections warn against “negativity” and advise the reader to be at all times upbeat, optimistic, brimming with confidence. It’s a message companies relentlessly reinforced — treating their white-collar employees to manic motivational speakers and revival-like motivational events, while sending the top guys off to exotic locales to get pumped by the likes of Tony Robbins and other success gurus. Those who failed to get with the program would be subjected to personal “coaching” or shown the door...
When it comes to how we think, “negative” is not the only alternative to “positive.” As the case histories of depressives show, consistent pessimism can be just as baseless and deluded as its opposite. The alternative to both is realism — seeing the risks, having the courage to bear bad news and being prepared for famine as well as plenty. We ought to give it a try.
My perspective might be a bit different; I''m accused by many of being a "pessimist", but that's not so odd now, is it? I've been looking straight at the horror of these years this whole time. So this downturn doesn't scare me as much as it might someone who trusted good times would always stay, rather than simply enjoying the good fortune when it came, but being prepared for a fall.

When the dot-com crash came--and I saw the mass cell-phone freak-out in Bank of America Plaza as I ate lunch that day--I was the only person I personally knew who'd never trusted the bubble to begin with, had no stocks, and lost no money.

Then the rest looked so surprised. Like now.

Careful or your faces will stay that way. And you can't afford Botox now.

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Hope The Internet Has Recipes For Your Shoes

The House
defeated the bailout, completing the ten-year Republican war on America. Target now destroyed. What did they win?

Apocalypse to occur about now.

And to think, they scuttled the vote just because Pelosi(which was badly-timed, granted) said something that hurt their poor widdle sensitive Republican feelings. I thought elephants had thick hides. I also thought the GOP liked to claim they're the grownups. But they give not a damn about anyone but themselves, and I don't even mean their constituents or least of all America; I mean their party itself.

Sounds like someone needs a time-out. Maybe at least 4 years should do it.

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  "Head of Skate"

Pray this remains a parody. (hat tip to Sullivan)
See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

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28 September 2008
  Bailout Approved

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  Lucy Wilkins

A very talented violinist who managed the great trick of replicating not just Eddie Jobson's violin parts, but also Brian Eno's crazy electronics things, on Roxy Music's 2002 tour. A good moment in that show for her is below. Check her out. (and is it just me that thinks she looks a bit like Samantha Bee here?)

Also "Mother of Pearl," just for the hell of it.


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  What Every Comic Collection Needs

Besides my comics, of course. Tom Spurgeon and others fill you in.


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  She Twists The Knife Again

Though Amy doesn't really read as Katie Couric, Tina Fey delivers another brutal take-down of Sarah Palin that our friend Barbie will probably get this time, even if she has the sound off again. (and to remedy that, perhaps next time it should be subtitled so Palin won't miss it)

Oh, and I hadn't heard about her soldier son's drug habits!

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Obama Rakes In The Endorsements

Some from staunch Republican papers. The past week had an effect after all. It blew up in McCain's sneering face.

And no wonder McCain was afraid to show said face at Ole Miss. Look at this rise in poll numbers for Obama.

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  Paul Newman R.I.P.

An appreciation, and below, two of my favorite Newman scenes. I may be alone in this(judging from the number of Newman articles this weekend that don't mention it), but I've always loved his performance as that rich bastard Mussberger in Hudsucker. But then, if you've been following my work, you'd figure that.


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27 September 2008
  A Good Example of How Badly McCain Did

And this is from a conservative:
McCain is in his full-blown self-righteous mode. I can’t imagine that undecided voters are responding well to his tone, but then I don’t really understand undecided voters. McCain stupidly reminds people that Obama wanted soldiers out of Iraq last March, which is what people want.

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McCain: Not Just A Political Gambling Problem

It's also his favorite pastime, a habit I dislike anyway, but which I find very disturbing in a world leader, whose chips might be people's lives. It certainly explains his willingness to take stupid risks and then not know when to stop despite the downward spiral.

Not just that, but evangelicals, whom Palin was meant to catch, aren't too cool with gambling themselves. In my case it's because it's too much effort for the eventual result; I think just ripping your money up is faster. In their case it's because God doesn't like it.

This doesn't stop him from happily working with, and employing, gambling lobbyists.

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McCain's Misuse of Sarah Palin

If she weren't such an awful person, you might almost feel sorry for her, given the humiliation that McCain has put her through, on a level with Charles Foster Kane making Susan Alexander be an opera singer. And it only underscores how out of touch McCain is.

Of course the irony of all this is how conservatives have, for years, lampooned the liberal pursuit of multiculturalism/identity politics. But here's the thing, even when done haphazardly, awkwardly, and imprudently, the fight against bigotry and ignorance has rewards. But when you decide to not be a leader in the fight against sexism/racism and simply criticize those who do, you rob yourself of political experience. Put differently, there is a price--bigger than the black vote--to be paid for disengagement. You become ignorant of a growing sector of the world. They expected Hillary. And if it were a black man, they never even knew it could be someone like Barack Obama. So these guys go to the well one more time, and ressurect the old spectres of "Us against Them." But the fools haven't been paying attention--the"Us" has changed. This isn't Alabama, and it ain't 1968.

Turns out it helps to actually care about the fate of women, to know something about them, beyond your own lust, when going for their votes. Who'da thunk it?
There is a whole class of educated, working women, themselves, the children of educated working women. And this is what McCain has to say to them, "I don't care if you know a thing about foreign policy. I don't care if you know a damn thing about the economy. Here is what you are to me--breasts, hair and a lovely smile."

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26 September 2008
  Daily Show 9/25/2008

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McCain's Mistake

McCain already did very badly just by displaying such contempt for Obama and starting so many statements with direct insults. I think he was trying to anger Obama. Rage--that's ground that McCain understands. You could see that by how close he seemed throughout to blowing. He seemed insulted just to have to stoop to this, and we all know how well an entitled attitude worked for Hillary. And then his frequent interruptions of Obama, and his obvious waiting-to-talk. And a number of easily disprovable lies, such as the one about supporting solar energy, as well as claiming that he will not raise any taxes, which will now be impossible no matter who wins. And his time at the Hanoi Hilton, which he brandishes like a cross against a vampire.

But the spending freeze(remember, without raising taxes!) sticks out in my mind because of its sheer absurdity. Everything but the military, national security, and vet's benefits? Really? So he's going to close down every federal agency, just for beginners? Does he know what that would entail?

Of course he does and he knows it's absurd. But his base thinks that the government only spends on silly projects, forgetting the salaries of all federal agencies, forgetting infrastructure, and so forth.

What will definitely stay will be the tone. And McCain sounded like, well, some old jerk, and Obama sounded like a president-to-be. The dynamic was very much like the 1992 debate between Clinton & Bush in which Clinton used the "have you no shame" line. Condescension doesn't work in these situations. It's audible sweat. And his constant harping on his experience, which he talks about in lieu of actual ideas that might fix the problems we face, leaves one with the impression that he's delineating this path he's been on so that we might realize that he's earned this, that we should give him the presidency as his rightful career-capping prize. And that's always an endearing attitude.

McCain was hammering more nails into his own coffin, which is a neat trick.(it is something he'd do though if you picture it literally; thinking he was taking firm action, he'd instead have simply denied himself even a resting place) I do believe he'll keep those dang kids off my lawn, if I had one, but otherwise he didn't exactly inspire even abstract confidence tonight. I mean, I couldn't even see how a Republican would feel stoked.

He looked so angry, like he was imagining his hands around Obama's neck. He looked like he was going to burst into rage at any moment. Obama's pretty smart, just mostly letting McCain be his own worst wrecker, and the media have not let up against McCain & Palin since blood was scented.

When Katie Couric manages to unmask a candidate so ruthlessly and with so little effort, you know they're toast. Cold toast at that, which is hardly appetizing. I mean, think about it--Charles Gibson and Katie Couric. Morning anchors, at their hearts--that's the telepersonality they project even now that they're evening anchors. Cheerful, affable, lightweight. (As Couric's a woman that hurts her a lot.) And both of them, without any particular plan, it seems, to "get" Palin, GOT her.

McCain's campaign is nothing but a placeholder. The GOP doesn't want to clean this up. And we all know how they love to leave a huge mess for a Democrat to expend most of their energy, and terms, fixing, and then take them down before they get to any of their actual plans. And then the GOP comes in and go bulimic with whatever surplus has been created, then: Rinse, repeat.

God, what bastards. I'm sorry, but there is a difference between the parties. One is a recognizable political party, however flawed. The other is basically a gang of high-school bullies writ large.

Meanwhile, here's a preview of the Palin/Biden debate. Oh wait, this is Palin's fantasy of how it ought to be conducted.



Update: A pretty good overview of reactions. The overall consensus is that McCain lost.

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  Alberto Gonzales Dropping A Dime on Bush?

He must be facing serious potential time, because he's ready to say Bush directly ordered his illegal and unethical activities.

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  Wall Street and the GOP

Not on speaking terms and getting a divorce.

But then, the House GOP openly hoping Wall Street would crash yesterday will do that.

And is it possible a lot of this might have been exacerbated by a deliberate Gordon Gekko-like scam to push down stock prices? Of course it is.
New York is investigating.

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A Fine Tradition: Premature Victory Declarations from the GOP
From the folks that brought you "Mission Accomplished." McCain put out a web ad that declared he won the debate that...hasn't happened yet, and that at the time of the ad's release he said he wasn't going to attend.
He's crazy, or senile, or his campaign and he are separate and noncommunicating entities. And getting more pathetic each hour. Does he think there's a large pity vote to be had?
It seems he's hoping there are a lot of really stupid ADD sufferers in America who don't watch much TV. Personally, as an American, I feel insulted by his campaign, which is only a waste of everybody's time, and, well, sad.

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  What Did McCain Accomplish?

Nothing but wasting everyone's time. And now his numbers have gone even lower.

Instead of looking like the hero to the rescue, everyone knows that his presence, if anything, scuttled the deal. And between him and the House Republicans, it's now assured that the GOP's fingerprints are all over this meltdown in the popular mind.

Well done, McCain. You're guaranteeing the Republicans will finally be driven out of the federal government. If you do that, I guess I'll call you a hero after all.

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  And Seattle Takes A Hit

Washington Mutual implodes.

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25 September 2008
 
John McCain, Playing With Your Life

McCain appears to have made a difference in the bailout talks after all. They were close to an agreement. Now that he's there and his campaign needs rescuing, suddenly it's not. He's causing agreement to be held up. Possibly through the weekend so he can avoid the debate, ya think? And what if the economy implodes? What does crazy old man McCain care? He wants Obama off his lawn!

McCain's reluctance to jump on board the bailout agreement could throw the entire week-long negotiation into a tailspin. Sen. Chris Dodd, after leaving the White House, suggested on CNN that the tenuous process could be derailed by what he viewed as McCain's political motives.

"What happened here, basically, if you want an honest appraisal of the thing, we have been spending a lot of time and I am tired. I have spent almost seven straight days at this in trying to come out with a workout plan for our economy a rescue plan," said Dodd. "What this looked like to me was a rescue plan for John McCain for two hours and took us away from the work we are trying to do today. Serious people trying to do serious work to come up with an answer."

According to the source with knowledge of the White House gathering -- which featured both presidential candidates, congressional leaders and the President -- virtually ever key figure in the room, save McCain and GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, were in agreement over a revised version of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's plan.

Towards the end, McCain finally spoke up, mentioning a counter-proposal that had been offered by some conservative House Republicans, which would suspend the capital gains tax for two years and provide tax incentives to encourage firms that buy up bad debt. McCain did not discuss specifics of the plan, though, and was non-committal about supporting it.

Paulson, however, argued directly against the conservative proposal. "He said that he did not think it would work," according to the source. At another point in the meeting, President Bush chimed in, "If money isn't loosened, this sucker could go down" -- and by sucker he meant economy.

Isn't this the very definition of "playing politics," McCain you bastard?

It's said that he was brought there to try to rally the straying Republicans to the plan. This is, of course, odd, as it's the conservative ones causing the holdup(no, that's not a pun), and those are the ones he's never been friends with, supposedly.

Supposedly.

And yet earlier in the day, his people went the other direction, claiming credit for the deal that McCain has helped throw into chaos.

They're going to stretch out this crisis to help McCain. But then, the terrorists we've always had the most to fear from are the Republicans.
Which are making damn sure they'll absorb all the blame for the consequences, whether they realize it or not.

The markets went up today on the bailout news. They will slide into Hell first thing tomorrow. This is what McCain is willing to have happen rather than debate Obama.

Or is it that conditions are being set up so that the election can be suspended as well? Nah, the Republicans aren't so addicted to power and so afraid of what they might be held to account for once they no longer have it that they'd destroy the Constitution and the nation itself. They can't possibly be that selfish, that evil. That's a Lex Luthor thing to do.

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Couric Interviews Barbie
...and now I am completely convinced they don't mean this campaign seriously.
I'm sorry, but even the most hardcore Christianist conservative who stays in their basement with guns and Bibles awaiting the Rapture would not be stupid enough to vote for this woman.

She makes Couric seem to have gravitas, for God's sake! I don't know, now that I think of Palin all I can hear is the awful way she says "Charleee."
Also: for a "suspended campaign", the McCain camp has been very active today. But then, if you ask anyone involved but McCain, nothing has been suspended. So: another self-serving and bafflingly easily disproven lie from the "Maverick."

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A Preview of Palin's Debate
What we can probably expect. (if it happens, which it won't, because Biden would leave nothing of her but a greasy little spot)

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  Labor Speaks Up

And protests the bailout in NYC.

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Hold On, What?
The Treasury department pulled that $700 billion figure out of their asses and it's meaningless.
“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”
Just as long as they can steal as much public money for Wall Street as possible. And will it fix anything? Maybe till the next time Wall Street decided they want a fix. Next week, say. Now that they know they can(and meanwhile, unnoticed, Detroit got a separate $25 billion today that I don't recall any debate over.
Why care, I guess? What are you going to do about it?

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  Palin: Apparently Michael Isn't The Only Funny One

But at least his comedy is intentional.

Though the campaign has "been suspended," that didn't stop Barbie McMooseburger from making a campaign stop today, at Ground Zero, and guess what! She fielded some questions from reporters. And did not deviate from her talking points. "That was some destruction," said she about 9/11. Eloquent as always. If you need laughs, click here for more of the twit.

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  Deal Reached and McCain's Wasted Gesture

I expect McCain thought this would drag at least through the weekend. Now a deal's been reached, and I see a lot of credit going to Pelosi, and Dodd, and Frank. But everyone knows McCain came in at the 11th hour after all the hard work was done, and, even if he were to claim credit, we'd all laugh. Meanwhile the Republicans, some of whom(especially in the House) are still trying to hold it up, come off as the bad guys putting politics ahead of country.

McCain scores nothing. Except a poisonous photo-op.

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Wait A Minute! McCain's Suicidal Move
McCain's cowardly run back to Washington is actually more baffling than it seems. Besides that no one is buying his "saving the day" act, I thought he was doing everything he could to avoid being photographed with Bush. Which would be gold for Obama. Well, last night, all the pundits were saying that was probably the point, to be seen alongside the president. Whom only about 20% of America still likes.

If McCain thought this would be good for him, he's lost his mind. Or this is another, and far, far more desperate, base pander. But in fact, if one pic, just one, is taken with him & Bush, he's burnt toast.

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24 September 2008
  Reality

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Someone Made Bush Look Presidential?

I didn't believe it was possible. Bush delivers just about the only truly presidential-sounding speech of his career, while McCain, claiming that he needs to help with the bailout bill, suspends his campaign and cancels his part in the debate at the end of this week(which will still go on as planned). I guess because in this case, being shot down in flames will not make him look like a hero.

It couldn't have anything to do, of course, with the multiple self-inflicted blows his tottering campaign have suffered this week. It couldn't mean that he's afraid. Neither could his refusal to let Palin even answer a question on what she learned(if anything) from her first-ever meeting with world leaders this week. Or now, his attempt to cancel the VP debate as well. Or that even Laura Bush agrees she lacks foreign policy knowledge, credentials, or experience, and was willing to say so on the record.

Nobody is falling for this. It's not like his vote is even crucial, and you can't be a "maverick" and also be a "rally the troops" guy, so everyone can tell this is just a stunt. As just reported about 15 minutes ago on the Newshour, the votes exist to pass this tomorrow. And by continuing to resist it, the house Republicans, who'd planned to force the Democrats to have only their fingerprints on it, may now cause the Democrats to become--to the public--the grown-ups, and the heroes, in this situation.

As Letterman put it:
"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sarah Palin. Where is she? What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"

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  I Think I Know What the "October Surprise" Will Be

An utter crash of the economy, which by appearing on TV tonight Bush will help to push off the cliff(every time he speaks on economic matters before the nation, the market has always tanked the next day). A declaration of emergency powers, suspension of the election, and martial law. That's right. Possibly deployment of the domestic army unit that was just reported on by the Army Times:
...beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North" -- "the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities." The article details:
They'll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.
They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack. . . .
The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
"It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they're fielding. They've been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were
consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re
undertaking we were the first to get it."
The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
"I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered," said Cloutier, describing the experience as "your worst muscle cramp ever -- times 10 throughout your whole body". . ..
The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced "sea-smurf").


That's right. Oct. 1. Do you think McCain's pathetic campaign, now so melted down he's trying to weasel out of the debate with Obama, was an accident? He was only killing time. He's a placeholder. They're not going to go, and they're about to create the conditions under which this is doable.

Hope I'm wrong and we really are completely different under these conditions than any other nation in history. But that's doubtful. Prepare for the end.

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  McCain Campaign Manager: In The Tank for Freddie Mac

More on this. Turns out Rick Davis requested Freddie Mac continue to pay his firm.

Can you say conflict of interest? No? How 'bout corruption?

Anything McCain says he's against(but Iran), that's actually what he's most for.
In a radio address from Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday, McCain blamed the companies and their political clout for creating the housing mess now roiling Wall Street. "At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," he said. "Using money and influence, they prevented reforms that would have curbed their power and limited their ability to damage our economy. And now, as ever, the American taxpayers are left to pay the price for Washington's failure."


Would that mean he's actually for Obama and is trying to lose, then?

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  The Testimonies: Paulson & Bernanke

Bernanke seems particularly rattled. I would watch and listen to both of these carefully if I were all of you. I'm not even sure what that means, but I'm tired.


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Meanwhile...

Congress looks to be going even more firmly under Democratic control.

Naturally.

The Republicans are throwing this one. Isn't it obvious? Unless they really have all become this politically stupid suddenly, and decided alienating all but 19% of America was smart strategy? They don't want to be the ones doing the cleaning-up, because stains will be unavoidable in the process. They want to build up resources for the next four years, come in afterward and gorge on the benefits of all the rest of us will have to do to pay for their eight-year orgy of death and greed. like they did after Clinton. You remember Clinton, right? He gave y'all a
budget surplus.

Try to picture it, because thanks to his successor, you'll never again see one in your lifetime.

And as a sign of things to come that should give the Wall Street Gangsters pause, a CEO of an Italian company was killed today in New Delhi by a mob of sacked workers. This is what it may come to. Worth some thought.

And some more numbers: Slate tries to help you picture $700 billion. Don't click if easily frightened.

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Oh Right--They Can Be Charged With Fraud

Who?
The FBI is investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG - and their executives - as part of a broad look into possible mortgage fraud, sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN Tuesday.
And bankruptcy doesn't protect them from that. This puts an entirely new wrinkle in the bailout, I should think. Remember, these loans were knowingly made willy-nilly just so they could be sold off to investment firms. That's knowing bad faith. The market, at least by the book, was never that free. At least not if you got caught.

If Skilling went to jail for what he did, someone should here too over Grand Theft America.

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23 September 2008
  Palin vs. Previous VP Candidates

From Lawrence Lessig.

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  McCain's Campaign Manager: In Freddie Mac's Pocket

At least through the end of last month. What happened 'round then with Freddie Mac?

And this is yet another McCain lie, as he said his campaign manager had nothing to do with the lobbying firm Rick Davis worked for, the "Homeowner Alliance," since 2005. Even better, as with all his lies, he invited the press to check on it. Why does he never think they'll take that invitation, when they have every time? Does he mean it as a dare? We know that worked well for Gary Hart.

The purpose of this firm? To deregulate the very industries that brought us to this pass.

So McCain's campaign is run by the same interests that now threaten to bankrupt us all. I hope all the old people whose retirement money is evaporating are paying attention. You know, those old people who always vote in higher proportions than any of the rest of us?


I'm glad McCain at least is still a good comedian. "I'm a deregulator." Hilarious.

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McCain's Campaign Sent Fake Letters To The Editor...

...in praise of McCain. And here's a first-hand account from one of the people who did it.

Of course, this, in many media, is already a regular Republican approach, but isn't it interesting to hear it from the horse's, er, mouth? Primary source material here.

The assignment is simple: We are going to write letters to the editor and we are allowed to make up whatever we want -- as long as it adds to the campaign. After today we are supposed to use our free moments at home to create a flow of fictional fan mail for McCain. "Your letters," says Phil Tuchman, "will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio. Pennsylvania. Virginia. New Hampshire. There we'll place them in local newspapers."

Place them? I may be wrong, but I thought that in the USA only a newspaper's editors decided that.

"We will show your letters to our supporters in those states," explains Phil. "If they say: 'Yeah, he/she is right!' then we ask them to sign your letter. And then we send that letter to the local newspaper. That's how we send dozens of letters at once."

No newspaper can refuse a stream of articulate expressions of support, is the thought behind it. "This way, we will always get into some letters column."

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22 September 2008
 
Taking Advantage of Minority Status

The GOP strategy seems to be to vote "no" on the plan even though they do, in fact, want it, because the Democrats will then be forced to take sole responsibility. For a plan that comes from Bush, whom every Republican wants to distance themselves from. Then they can condemn the Democrats and Bush in the same breath, somehow appear populist, and still enrich their friends and their campaign coffers.

Brilliant strategy. Does it bother them that they think of nothing but evil in every situation?

So it's even more important that the Democrats force the concessions that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd propose, such as homeowner relief, so that the people get something out of this and the friends of the elephant do not.

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  Your Wikipedia For Today

State capitalism.

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Paulson's Bailout To Benefit His Friends

Some serious conflicts of interest here.

This is looking less like a bailout and more like a heist.

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  Um, Hand That Over

Lehman Brothers goes bankrupt, but can still give $2.5 BILLION in bonuses?

It gets fishier.
Many of Lehman's UK staff are particularly angry about the US payouts because it has emerged that in the days running up to the bankruptcy, some $8bn in cash was transferred out of the account of the bank's European business into accounts at the New York head office.

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Americans May Not Be Completely Stupid or Amnesiac

By a two-to-one margin, they blame the Republicans for Black September. So much for McCain's attempts to blame Obama.

Oh, and Bush now has a 19% approval rating.

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Is McCain/Palin Already Preparing an Enemies List?

From the way he's been lashing out at the media as though they were an ex-girlfriend(which, for him, they kinda are), you'd think so.
It's clear that the McCain campaign has basically decided on using the Bush playbook for handling the press. But I think the campaign made one critical error. The whole bully/lie/clamp-up method of handling reporters works swimmingly if you're already in power. Not so much if you're still trying to get power. It's fine to appoint unqualified hacks to office, especially if you're in your second term. Not so much when you're still running for your first.
Don't they kind of need whatever favorable coverage they can get right now? It's just over a month till the election, and the debates begin this week. With questions asked by...the media.

Why attack the messenger? especially one that used to like you(to say the least) and now may want to remedy a perception of the public's that this colors their judgment. Which is to say, the media used to be face-down on a table for McCain, asses eager, spread, and aloft, handing him the lube. They might consider that embarrassing now and may be even more tough on him if provoked. I don't recall where it says you ward off a hungry beast by shouting and waving fresh meat in its face.

Does he remember Bush 41, 1992, and how effectively they cock-blocked
that washed-up Republican?

By the way: Whose bailout of the S&Ls played a large part in his defeat. Said bailout caused by a fellow named Keating. Who was helped out by five corrupt senators, one named McCain. Which brings us back to why this bastard should never be given the remote, much less the controls of the economy.

And if, in this climate, you just had an article published about how health care should be as unregulated as the banking industry, if you had a 100% record of voting against any regulation that might have lessened this disaster, and most especially if one of your main advisers was a lobbyist against regulation for Fannie & Freddie(Rick Davis, who, in doing this, directly helped bring about Black September), you might want to be especially nice to the press, I'd think.

But no, all he does is get angry, flail about, and scream how his former sweetie's new boyfriend is nothing under all the flash. This is what we call "loser talk," McCain. And whatever the context, it doesn't take a sense of creepiness off you.

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  So We Go Begging To Europe And Asia...

...to which the reply is a resounding "fuck you, not our problem." Though actually, it kinda is--some foreign banks, including in Switzerland, might be part of the bailout. We're not just policeman to the world, we're their piggy-bank too!

And that's what unipolar arrogance gets you. That and trying to rub Angela Merkel's shoulders. Nice going, Dubya.

Perhaps this country needs to go into a 12-step program before we're again taken seriously.

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  The Bailout Would Make the Executive Branch Emperor

This sentence in the proposal is what does it:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.


Which means that the branch that administrates it becomes the holder of the country's purse strings, the last power Congress hasn't given up.

Consider how much money we're talking about, and the proposed bailout(for which they only want merely an okay, read: total abrogation of responsibility, as with the war, from Congress)'s complete non-reviewability, and Paulson's wish to have Wall Street CEOS as advisers in the process, what we're seeing is both an attempt to grab all remaining power for the executive branch and to more or less give the viscera of the government to the very people that brought about this crash.

Which is to say, Bush decided the best way to put out the fire was to douse it with gasoline and give the arsonists the fire truck, then run.

This is the handing over, for all intents and purposes, of the government to the executive, and then the executive to the executives. Because given the amount of money, this will control anything else the government does for a while. It'll be used as an excuse for massive cuts in public spending on such things as social services, and anything else; consider the present state of our infrastructure without this. Forget health care. This will control us like junk controls a junkie.

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Somehow We Can Find $700,000,000,000

...for a bailout of Wall Street, but we've been told that universal health care would just be a far too expensive burden on the taxpayer. The difference is that the taxpayer would at least then have seen some benefit from their money.

But a sick person can't hold a gun to the government's head by saying, "Give me insurance or I'll make everyone as sick as me.' Wall Street can.

And Bush's friends take the last of the nation's money as he goes out the door. Conservative revolution complete.

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  Your Aqua Teen For Today

Recent. And more than one.

 
21 September 2008
  $700,000,000,000
That's what the bailout will cost.

Try to imagine it as cash. Just try.


More than the Iraq War has cost to date.

Where does the money for both come from? Where was the money for even one going to come?

Do you have a mirror?

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  Hold On, What?

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were just given special dispensation by the Fed to become bank holding companies. This is basically a complete waiving of anti-trust laws, so the GOP gets what it in fact ultimately wanted all along.

What this amounts to? The foxes were not only given the henhouse, but a cookbook and a barbecue grill.

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McCain: Does He Know Anything About The Federal Government?

I really don't know how you explain that he called for the resignation of the head of the FEC(this was after his saying he'd fire the head of the SEC--which the prez can't do anyway--so he didn't misspeak here, at least not that way) in response to the Meltdown. The FEC is the Federal Election Commission. 26 years he's been in Washington?

However, maybe he really does want the FEC gone too, given his apparent campaign finance violations. You know, the kind he tried once to stamp out. 'Cause he's a maverick.

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The Signature Song of Our Era

Think about it. The fact she's a very New York performer only adds to the retroactive eeriness of it.

"Here come the planes. They're American planes."
"Hold me not in your petrochemical arms...your military arms."
"When justice is gone, there's always force."

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  Goldfrapp: "A&E"

In memory of a very special time.


 
  "I Will Be Spitting Venom All Over It"

Alan Moore's thoughts on the upcoming Watchmen film.
For the record, Alan Moore has not softened his view on Hollywood nor its plan to bring his classic graphic novel "Watchmen" to the screen next March.

"I find film in its modern form to be quite bullying," Moore told me during an hour-long phone call from his home in England. "It spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination. It is as if we are freshly hatched birds looking up with our mouths open waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms. The 'Watchmen' film sounds like more regurgitated worms. I for one am sick of worms. Can't we get something else? Perhaps some takeout? Even Chinese worms would be a nice change."...

"Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it's been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come."...

"There are three or four companies now that exist for the sole purpose of creating not comics, but storyboards for films. It may be true that the only reason the comic book industry now exists is for this purpose, to create characters for movies, board games and other types of merchandise. Comics are just a sort of pumpkin patch growing franchises that might be profitable for the ailing movie industry."


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"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791
JLRoberson Self-Portrait 2005.
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