April 30, 2004


Via (sigh, OK, I'll cop to it) Drudge, the Confidence Man reads this as, well, perfectly synecdochal.

Perhaps we could get the Orlando authorities to bring in Feith and Wolfowitz to give a demonstration on insurgent pacification and nation building ...

While we're thinking about it, why, precisely, is the "Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association" sponsoring gun safety lectures? OK, we get that "Orlando" + "Minority" + "Youth" + "Golf" = "Tiger Woods" but ... hm: perhaps Tiger took that recent boot camp training a wee bit too seriously ...

A Laissez Faire Environment

This story about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US captors gets more and more disgusting.

Let me get this straight: we have CONTRACTORS performing and managing interrogations and POW units? (And not only that: we now have contractors serving as bodyguards for Karzai in Afghanistan -- contractors from a company notorious for running underage brothels in the Balkans.)

This is Nuremberg Trial material, folks. Not the specific abuses, though those are apparently nasty in their own right, but the structural system established in which abuses are encouraged. A "laissez faire environment," indeed. Again, this precisely in and of itself has been one of the primary goals of the occupation of Iraq: the creation of what the Confidence Man would call an Antistate, under laboratory conditions as a sort of proving grounds for implementing Antistate measures later domestically.

As a sidebar, the Confidence Man is mighty interested in the role that compact digital imaging technology has played in this prisoner-abuse controversy. Imagine if nearly every single US soldier in Viet Nam had been carrying a tiny camera and had had ready access to instant transmission of images back home. This is a bit of a stretch, but the Confidence Man imagines that in such circumstances, the McCarthy-Nixon race would have been much closer, if not reversed in its historical outcome.

April 29, 2004

True Conservatism

The Confidence Man has been going through his extensive backlog of communiques with Jibbenainosay.

We ran across a dialogue on the very strange linguistic relation of "progress" and "conservatism," in which Jibbenainosay expressed the following:

All that conservatism gets us is monarchy, guillotines, rust, and mold. Without change, there is no profit.

["Monarchy, guillotines, rust, and mold" -- that should really be the title of yet another Shriekback retrospective collection.]

Leaving aside the question-begging of "guillotines" (as the Confidence Man pointed out, the Guillotine was, at the time of its adoption, a progressive innovation; "crucifixion" might be a better term as part of that little quadrivium), Jibbenainosay's central thesis is extremely sound: that "conservatism" per se is a morass of logical impossibilities. That is, conservatism truly is founded on the bedrock of the profit motive; and profit being, essentially, Modernism in action, and Modernism being a viral agent, it is hard to see how broad-based social retrogressivism is in any wise compatible with profit-seeking.

In any event, these are thoughts for expansion at a later date.

This recent news is what brought the exchange back to the Confidence Man's attention.

Zell Miller's double-dealing and lunatic aberrations aside, this is a curious gesture indeed.

As some associates have pointed out to the Confidence Man, why stop with the 17th Amendment? Why not retract the Emancipation Proclamation, women's suffrage, etc. etc.?

Well, the Confidence Man has Confidence that, to be sure, Miller and many of his cohort may have inclinations in that direction; yet this particular matter seems to hang more on the question of progress than retrogress. That is, Miller wants to move forward via this tactic -- and the key is to grasp what strategic end he is seeking.

Now, obviously, Miller's rhetorical feint is toward retrogressive populism. Methinks this may be a gesture from the arsenal of the Rove-Norquist brand of political jiu-jitsu, in calling something by the name that would most accurately describe its complete opposite phenomenon.

As in, when Miller advocates for this change on the basis of reducing the influence of Washington special interests, he means precisely to increase the influence of same -- and to reduce the costs associated with exerting that influence. Think about it: it would be much easier and cheaper to graft a subset of a state legislature than to underwrite a statewide Senate election campaign.

The other rhetorically counterfactual argument regards the relative power of states -- as in rural vs urban and small vs large population. This repeal movement is not about strengthening state powers, but about holding on to power in states that are trending larger, more urban, more diverse, and more Democrat.

So, all told, yes, a regular MooLatte of retrogress and progress. A sophisticated brew. As we say, a subject to be expanded upon later.

Jibbenainosay, what sayeth you?

April 27, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen -- Live From the Damascus County Fairgrounds, It's GRAND FUNK RAILROAD!!!

We're comin' to your town/We'll help you party down/We're --

Wait a second. These guys are the only "terrorist band" the Confidence Man is aware of ... and we haven't heard from Astronaut Body in several days ... hmmmmmmmmm ...

April 24, 2004

The Horror!


"It was very shocking and it took us by complete surprise," company spokesman Deji Haastrup told AP.

"We are in total darkness as to what could be the motive," he added.

Ah, Deji, Deji. The Jibbenainosay could have reminded you that this life itself is a veil over The Motive. Who can say what a "motive" is, even? Yes, we all know that Chevron is a major distributor of love, joy, equity, and health benefits to the population of the entire world. But some things... some things are beyond our ken. Let us not embark on a futile down-river search for meaning in this (am)bush, but instead take this incident as a reminder of the limits of our understanding in this vale of Tears.

April 23, 2004

Goofy Supervillain Job Title of the Year

Oh, sweet merciful heavens. DIRECTOR OF DEMENTIA, indeed.

The Confidence Man would send in his cv, but he fears he may be simultaneously over- and underqualified ...

URL of the Year

Via Matt Yglesias:


That Would Explain Why Condi Peed On the Carpet

More from Bryan Curtis's condensation of Woodward's Plan of Attack at Slate:

Page 127: When Karl Rove worries about the perception in the media that he's meddling in foreign affairs, Bush says: "Don't worry about it. Condi's territorial. She's a woman."

The Historical Duplicity of the Swedes

Um ... the Confidence Man reads Bryan Curtis's condensation of Woodward's Plan of Attack at Slate, and ... well, is dumbstruck:

Page 250: Karl Rove, a Norwegian-American, is obsessed with the "historical duplicity" of the Swedes, who seized Norway back in 1814. This nationalism manifests itself as hatred for Swedish weapons inspector Hans Blix.

Now, the Confidence Man is sensitive to the moody intransigence of Norwegian-Americans; Mrs. Confidence Man is of Norwegian extraction, and Ikea binge-shopping aside, she has a virulent antisweditic streak that must be appeased.

However, Mrs. Confidence Man never held the power to convince the leader of the free world to disregard a UN weapons inspector -- to the best of the Confidence Man's knowledge, that is; perhaps the Confidence Man is living with a full-fledged member of the International Norwegish Conspiracy ...

Our Potty-Mouthed President

Why, the Confidence Man wonders, in the wake of Woodward's new kiss-up-and-tell book, have the media so conveniently forgotten Bush's little "fuck Saddam" moment?

Remember, this was in March 2002 -- which puts his jolly little bellicosity growing tumescent a full 6 months before Woodward's timeline.

Curious ...

Dubyathor, Steward of the Marshy Hunting Grounds

Aw, crap -- this is gaining traction again.

Mr. Bush is saying to sports enthusiasts who hunt and fish that he has been a good steward of the environment while balancing conservation with energy exploration.

Peer Review

This is the sort of absolute crapola that has made the Hoover Institution the shining beacon of incompetent partisan research that it is today.

A Hoover Institution scholar told a House committee Thursday that same-sex marriages destroy heterosexual marriages, citing a coincidence of out- of-wedlock births in Scandinavia and the Netherlands after acceptance of homosexual unions.


Stanley Kurtz, who holds a doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University and is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution think tank, said the Dutch example is particularly striking because Holland had an ample stock of "cultural capital," or conservative social tradition, before it legalized same-sex marriage in 2000.

Uh-huh. Holland. An "ample stock" of "conservative social tradition."

Like, say, this Dutch "conservative social tradition"?

Or perhaps Dr. Kurtz is referring to this Dutch "conservative social tradition"?

No, wait, it must be this Dutch "conservative social tradition."

Ignoring, for the moment, the fact that Kurtz can't distinguish between coincidence and causation, he doesn't even know how to construct a qualitative baseline for his analysis. Which is a polite way of saying that he's, ahem, lying.

(Plus, there's that very strange assertion that "cultural capital" equals "conservative social tradition." We're more likely to believe that's a misunderstanding on the part of the writer -- but, geez, if this Kurtz ding-dong believes half of the shit he says in this article, it's certainly possible that he's poorly trained [or simply dishonest] enough to conflate the two.)

Who is this putz Kurtz?

Kurtz has become the leading proponent of a social science approach to this argument with his studies of marriage in Scandinavia and now Holland [...]

Oh, I see. The leading proponent of this approach. Uh-huh, tell me more:

[...] publishing his pieces in conservative opinion journals such as the National Review and Weekly Standard.

Ah. Yes. Those paragons of sound scientism.

I suppose that if one is a frothing cultural retrograde, proselytizing to other frothing cultural retrogrades, then being edited by the staves at NR and WS would constitute a certain kind of "peer" review, would it not ...

"Then It's the Municipality's Moose"

Boy, right about now Larry Walker must be feeling grateful that he doesn't live in Alaska.

New Stadium for the A's!

Well, OK, no, not an actual new facility. But expect a name change in concordance with this.

Might we suggest something along the lines of "Drainage Ditch Field at McAfee Coliseum Under the Shadow of Mt. Davis"?

Hm. "Under the Shadow of Mt. Davis" -- that may have to be the title of the Confidence Man's spin-off baseball-only blog ...

Not Sure What's Up With the Site

Blogger misfiring? Bad karma? Sunspots?

April 21, 2004

Lady Mondegreen of Foggy Bottom

The Confidence Man has been following the dribs and drabs of detail cascading from Bob Woodward's latest cri de boudoir with, as they say, bated breath.

The one element that has gotten the most play, however -- the executive-exculpatory moment of CIA Director Tenet supposedly giving Chimpy McFlightsuit the official go-ahead to claim that Iraq had WMDs -- seems to the Confidence Man to be awfully congruent with the wave of blame-Tenetism sweeping the Beltway.

Now, the whole question of how Tenet has triangulated his way into the longest tenure as Head Spook in the annals of Foggy Bottom is an entirely separate and provocative tale.

No, what we're concerned with here is Tenet's alleged phrasing: according to Woodward, he told Bush that the case for Saddam having WMDs was "a slam dunk case."

We suspect that Tenet said something else entirely, and either Bush or another earwitness misheard him.

Yes, we believe that Tenet jumped up, waved his arms dismissively, and told Bush that allegations of Saddam's cache of WMDs were "Islam bunk, Ace."

Cheney Vows To 'Extend Protections To the "Weakest Members of Our Society"'

Wait. Kreepy Unka Dick's not referring to these guys when he talks about the "weakest members of our society"?

April 20, 2004

1 + 1 = ?

Hmmm. Intriguing series of comments from President Andrew Jackson in his ESPN.com chat yesterday (emphases added):

Andrew Orefice, Neptune, NJ: Peter: Is Alfonso Soriano poised to stay in Texas this season and thereafter, or are they willing to deal him before July 31st? What are you hearing about the Mets' interest in him, given the uncertainty of Jose Reyes hammy?

Peter Gammons: I dont' think they will pay him what he can make on the open market. I think they will try to trade him for pitching. The question is who can afford 9-10 million and has pitching to give up? They would like to get a SS and some young pitching.


Jurgen (Toronto, ON): Thanks for the chat, Peter. I was wondering if you think Billy Beane is preparing to trade one of the Big Three (perhaps for another bat or two)? There was a lot of speculation when he traded for Redman in the off-season, and even despite Harden's struggles, he's still got Blanton and now Saarloos near-ready in the minors. Who is mostly likely to be dealt, and to which club?

Peter Gammons: I dont' think he will. None are eligible for free agency until after next year. I think he will get Hudson sign. I think he figures with Dye coming back he just needs to find an offensive 2B. He's convinced Bobby Crosby will hit 20 HRs by seasons end.

Hmmm, indeed.

If, indeed, Texas is actively looking to leverage Soriano for young pitching before the deadline, I would imagine that we'd stand a good chance of seeing him in Oakland this year for a stretch-run rental (and a subsequent letting-him-walk-for-a-draft-pick).

Double-hmmm: might we also link this to the recent benching of Durazo? Erubiel would make for an attractive throw-in with a pitching prospie or two to Texas for Soriano.

Yes, the Confidence Man is wish-casting here. And we're big fans of Marco Scutaro (for his defense, for his bat, but most of all for the venerable Bill King's wonderful attempts at the correct Venezuelan pronunciation of "SKyOO-TyAH-roooohww"). But, geez -- just think about a 3-4-5 of Soriano-Chavez-Dye ...

Derogative Baseball Epithet

The Confidence Man (a booster of the Green & Gold, since you ask) is mighty pleased to see the NY Costanzas off to such an uninspiring start: team totals through 4/19 of .217 BA, .334 OBP, .381 SLG, .715 OPS.

Now, obviously, these numbers, like these, will not remain at this low threshhold through the end of the season.

But, for the time being, may we suggest a collective epithet for the Yankee lineup: "Check-Forgers' Row."

April 19, 2004

I'll Allow as how You're from Kentucky ...

This is absolutely priceless.

Jibbenainosay, which counts for the bigger dis in Your Old Kentucky Home -- being called a fag, or being called a Moonie?

Speaking of Things We Missed at the Time ...

Well, ain't this just a kick in the pants.

The Confidence Man is more and more of the opinion that Kreepy Unka Dick is currently being fitted for an ice floe of his very own ...

First, They Came for the Satirical Screenwriters. Then, They Came for the Smart-Ass Humorist/Bloggers ...

As we mentioned before, it's been pretty obvious for some time that the White House has Ed Neumeier captive somewhere.

Now comes even more evidence that Ed's scenarios are being pere-verted by the NeoCons running Bush foreign policy.

And the Confidence Man now has a sneaking suspicion that Karl Rove may have absconded with Dan Radosh as well:

While Laura Bush sat reading a book, Rove gave a PowerPoint presentation on the campaign's strategy, themes and timetable.

Opening his laptop, he displayed for Bush in bold letters on a dark blue background:


Strong Leader

Bold Action

Big Ideas

Peace in World

More Compassionate America

Cares About People Like Me

Leads a Strong Team

Tinfoil Hat Time

OK, the Confidence Man had been vaguely aware of the Laura-Bush-nee-Welch-killed-her-teen-sweetheart-in-a-vehicular-homicide rumors, but only recently ran across the legit confirmation of said rumors.

Now, what jumps out from these accounts is a rather, shall we say, suspicious confluence of details: November 6, 1963? North Texas? As in ... two weeks before November 22, 1963, and only a 6-1/2 hour drive away from here?

OK, one other thing jumps out at the Confidence Man from the USA Today report: Laura Bush has an astonishing instinct for the wrong choice of words. Mrs. Bush 'did say in March, when asked at a campaign stop about the crash, ''I know this as an adult, and even more as a parent, it was crushing ... for the family involved and for me as well.'''

"Crushing"?!? Jesus, that's sick.

On the Theme of Mysterious Reappearances, Revisited

Or, Is This What Happens When You Put a Guy on the Disabled List One Time Too Often?

One also gets the sense that Larry Walker's neighbors haven't seen enough bad movies: '"It is so quiet here," James Thomas, one of Walker's neighbors, told the Post "You never expect anything like this."'

Budathor, Steward of Hasenpfeffer?

Urgh. We thought that damn "steward of" meme had been ground to a nub, when lo and behold, on an ESPN telecast two weeks ago, the channel's Superfluous Female Human Interest Sideline Interviewer "Sam" [we missed her last name] introduced a mid-game interview with Tyrannous MLB Despot-for-Life Bud Selig by referring to Seligula as "the steward of baseball."

"The steward of baseball"? What the fuck is up with that? Is Bud merely a regent holding the throne until the Dauphin comes of age, or the Rapture, whichever comes first?

Speaking of Mickey D's ...

A question for Jibbenainosay: Have you seen the new tv ads for the all-white-meat Chicken McNuggets? You know, the one featuring the ambiguously raced actor who bears a striking resemblance to Derek Jeter? With the VO script emphasizing the purity and integrity of the new meat composition?

And did this ad make you think of the MooLatte?

DoPJ: Department of Poetic Justice

The CEO of McDonald's dies of a heart attack.

OK, folks, again with the reality-reading-like-an-unsuccessful-story-pitch-to-The-Onion? The Confidence Man anticipates that in the coming weeks we shall read of the following executive passings:

-- Firestone and GM CEOs die in head-on crash

-- Blackwater CEO assassinated by his own mercenaries, whose services were sold to the high bid from a gentleman in a burnous

-- Halliburton CEO drowns in 50K bbl vat of crude oil

-- RJR Nabisco CEO dies of emphysema

Other items of note in this blind quote:

'News of the death of the CEO, known for his affable personality, shocked operators of McDonald's restaurants attending the franchisee meeting, which occurs every two years. "He was such a beloved character," said one McDonald's operator in attendance, who declined to be named. "People were actually crying."'

"Actually" crying? Why does this make me think of the "Waring Hudsucker merged with the infinite" moment?

A "beloved character"? Not as beloved as Hamburgler, Jack.

And ... f'r Pete's sake, why on earth would someone insist on giving this trite little anecdote on background?

(cf Chicago, 1968)

Oh, great. Tom Ridge has a sekrit plan to smack down all those smart-ass longhaired peaceniks outside the convention.

April 15, 2004

Simile of the Year

In the Comments to Kevin Drum's Political Animal blog entry (querying why the print and tv media have declined to comment on Bush's fumblestuck perf at the presser on Tuesday), one "Rick Rettberg" says, apropos varying viewer reactions to Bush's perf, "It's a little like the OJ Simpson verdict. Depending on who you are, things look very different."

So, the Confidence Man's follow-up, if I may (I'm not shouting; I think I'm a must-call): does that mean, in this equation, that pro-Bush partisans are the (ahem) moral equivalent of blacks believing in OJ's simon purity?

Fish in a Barrel

Yes, today's entry is a little facile and easy, but what the hell: this would certainly provide a satisfactory explanation for this.

"'Our heavy drinkers sample was significantly impaired on measures of working memory, processing speed, attention, executive function, and balance.'"

M-hm, would explain a lot ... heh heh: "executive function, and balance."

As would the obligatory contravening opinion: "Martin noted the volunteers in the study had gone without a drink for 12 hours and could thus be showing evidence of alcohol withdrawal rather than actual permanent brain damage."

April 14, 2004

Conflicted Suture Impulses

The Confidence Man is quite torn by this.

As a chubby man who quite often finds himself barefoot (and in police custody), the Confidence Man would naturally seem to identify with the escaped miscreant. However, the Confidence Man is also quite often red-faced, especially in the slapstick scenarios in which he so often finds himself the butt of the joke, so some sympathy with the quasi-competent officers of the law is in order as well.

"He was a big fellow, pretty strong, but he could run." An epitaph suitable for the Confidence Man -- or perhaps for this fellow, when his number is called ...

"Boldness and Courage"

Ugh. The Confidence Man disappears for a couple of weeks into his Insecure Undisclosed Location, and when he pops his head above ground, this happens.

Jesus H. Christ. This whole "Bush presidency" thing really is about bringing on the Rapture, isn't it?

Ye cats! Could that be the real occult meaning of Chimpy McFlightsuit's infamous "bring it on!" statement last year?

I mean, my god: 'Bush called Sharon's plan historic and urged Palestinians to match Israel's "boldness and courage."'

This can only mean one of two (not-necessarily-exclusive) things: either this is like a PBS fundraising drive, and "boldness and courage" is a euphemism for essentially blackmailing the Palestinian lobby into matching the cash donated by the Likudniks/PNAC/Neocons to Karl's Roi-Soleil Restoration Fund ... or it's a genuine "bring it on" dare for the Palestinians (and their supporters) to escalate the violent tactics of the intifada even further.

Billmon at Whiskey bar has a nice analysis here.

April 07, 2004

You Talk a Lingo I Understand


There's not much to be said about this that wasn't said in my previous post. It's nice to see that the jury's still out on whether or not insanity applies here. It'll be a test of how far psychiatry has come, seeing whether this is interpreted Oedipally (he's not crazy) or Biblically (he crazy).

April 01, 2004

I'll Allow as How You're from Texas


A dilemma to consider during this fall's elections (emphasis added):

"TYLER, Texas (AP) -- A housewife said the first sign that God wanted her to kill her three boys came Mother's Day weekend when she saw her 14-month-old playing with a toy spear. Deanna Laney said she resisted at first, but the signs kept coming. The baby came to her with a rock, and later in the day squeezed a frog, and she believed God was suggesting that she should either stab, stone or strangle her children. A sobbing Laney recounted in a videotape played at her capital murder trial Wednesday how she smashed her sons' skulls with rocks to prove her faith to God."

"The defense is trying to convince jurors that the signs from God were actually psychotic delusions caused by a severe mental illness that made Laney incapable of knowing right from wrong at the time of the killings, the standard in Texas for insanity."

"Dietz said Laney wasn't thinking about state law when she killed the boys, but acknowledged that she probably knew her act was illegal at the time."

Now, since the sitting President has made it clear that proving "our" faith in God is what we're up to in America, and by extension in the killing of pretty much anyone who we imagine doesn't like "our" God, it seems mighty problematic to be punishing our citizens for doing just that. Furthermore, this story suggests why our government was so craven about the latest Gulf War (detentions at Guantanamo, etc.), since it's absolutely certain that our President "knew [his] act was illegal at the time": it's how you prove you're not insane.