Sunday, November 30, 2008

Neverending Loads: Bored of Zehir

Good God almighty; one would think it nigh impossible to screw up the stellar RPG franchise that boasted the mind-blasting brilliance of Mask of the Betrayer, but this new crew of >cough< "talent" did just that, to such a degree that one might think they were saboteurs from a rival company intent on permanently sinking the franchise.

Where to begin? Well, let's start from the worst and work our way down:

1. If you love loading screens (and, let's face it, what hardcore gamer doesn't?), boy are you in for a treat. With this title, you spend about 60% of the time watching loadbars on a static screen (I kid thee not!). These load screens are so prevalent, within a single afternoon's gameplay, I took to avoiding most encounters because it simply wasn't worth the wait. Which brings us to the second point.

2. Stinginess. From the measly 19 experience points for killing a shambling mound (!), to the crappy "treasure" (killing half a dozen lizardmen gives you four dozen arrows and a batch of choking powder - whoohoo!), after the twentieth hard-fought asskicking you deliver, one begins to ask "is it worth it?"

3. Boring NPCs. Little is described in depth, and the characters are either glorified 7-11 attendants or another set of "scary" snapping jaws. Somehow Obsidian has managed to completely remove the "roleplaying" out of this "rpg", reducing it to little more than a ColecoVision title with slightly better graphics (with the emphasis on "slightly"). Unlike Mask of the Betrayer (which literally brought tears to my eyes and gave me goosebumps), the "characters" in this game are completely hollow, as if they were randomly rolled up by some "ingenious" GM "personality generator" chart. Volo, a demigod-status hero in the D&D mileau, is a cowardly, powerless buffoon, offering little help or interesting commentary at all.

4. *&%^%^%!^%^! ANNOYING camera views. Trying to use the PC mouse to look around - even after adjustments in the options menu - is like jumping onto a high-speed Tilt-a-whirl machine at the fair that won't stop. The screen will spin madly and you have to settle for an "approximately acceptable" angle with which to view the "action" -such as it is.

5. Battles - the battles are either far too easy (as in, over in 15 to 30 seconds) or - very occasionally - crushingly difficult, as you helplessly watch your characters get slaughtered repeatedly.

6. Graphics - after being spoiled by Oblivion and Half-Life 2, gamers are likely to be sorely disappointed by graphics that hearken back to the days of Asheron's call.

7. Gameplay "improvements" - this title feels like roleplaying a fantasy-world accountant. For those who LOVE shuffling sparkly little pixel-rendered items from inventory box to inventory box, this is the title to die for. For the rest of us, however, it could be bottled up and sold as a sleep aid.

8. The Environment: Players are confined to spacial cubes a few hundred meters in area - until the next maddening loading screen. What's worse, in each new site there is only a single interaction and a single payoff. One begins to feel like a lab rat repeatedly pressing a lever for the meager "rewards".

Is there ANYTHING good to say about this title? Well, yes, two things actually. The audio is superb - great music, sound effects and voice acting, though many of the voices are from previous titles, which was yet another annoyance. Additionally, the ability to choose between which player responds in a social interaction is an excellent idea, and well implemented in an otherwise horrible package.

In short, may the phantom of Gary Gygax forever torment those responsible for foisting this bit of bloated snoreware upon a hapless, helpless, undeservedly innocent public. To say it sucks goat balls is being charitable.

A friend gave me this title, and I am consequently considering never speaking to him again. Was this some act of vengeance for a forgotten slight?

The title was given to me for free, and was vastly overpriced. I want my ten hours of life back, you bastards.

Song of the Day



"Code Monkey" - Jonathan Coulton

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wow. One I Wish I'd Written

Spectacular tune I heard over a loudspeaker today. The vocals, keys and bass really pulled me in so I wrote down the lyrics and looked it up.

Former frontman from the band Bush, Gavin Rossdale, with the solo tune, "Love Remains the Same". Pretty deep. Dude should've ditched Bush and gone solo years ago.



Update:

Whoops; after studying the chords, I realized I DID write this song - about twenty-five years ago in a song called "New Shoes". At least the exact same chords and phrasings - but the singing melody and chords were totally different. Too bad!

Yes, 1 in EIGHT Americans poor now says Time....

As we noted last week, thanks to the policies of the NeoKhans, American homeless are now living on the streets in Third World numbers. FINALLY, the media starts to take notice, as the number of HOMELESS American CHILDREN LIVING ON THE STREETS swells well past a million.

As the roster of corporations and financial institutions on line for government bailouts seems to grow, some public policy advocates in Washington D.C. are calling on policymakers to focus more efforts on the nation's poorest. The ranks of the destitute are growing quietly but alarmingly as much of the world focuses on troubles surrounding Wall Street. "Recent data show poverty is already rising quite substantially," says Robert Greenstein, the executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "There is a strong potential for more hardship and destitution than we have seen in this country in a number of decades."


Lyric of the Day

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
With, without.
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died.

-- "Us and Them", Gilmore, Wright, Waters, Mason


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Congress Needs Public Support to Block Bush Pardons

David Swanson alerts us that Congressional Rep. Jerrold is looking for public support of his resolution "Opposing Possible Bush Pardons of His Own Subordinates for Crimes He Authorized"

From Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, we have H.RES.1531, "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President of the United States should not issue pardons to senior members of his administration during the final 90 days of his term of office," Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold (introduced 11/20/2008).

Swanson has posted an online petition promoting this resolution, through which you can write to your representative and senators at http://democrats.com/nadler-pardons

Says Swanson:

Senator Russ Feingold editorialized against these possible pardons at Salon.com yesterday; please urge him to introduce in the Senate the same resolution that Nadler has in the House.

Never before has a president pardoned himself or his subordinates for crimes he authorized. The idea that the pardon power constitutionally includes such pardons ignores a thousand year tradition in which no man can sit in judgment of himself, and the fact that James Madison and George Mason argued that the reason we needed the impeachment power was that a president might some day try to pardon someone for a crime that he himself was involved in. The problem is not preemptive pardons of people not yet tried and convicted. The problem is not blanket pardons of unnamed masses of people. Both of those types of pardons have been issued in the past and have their appropriate place. The problem is the complete elimination of any semblance of the rule of law by pardoning one's own subordinates for crimes you instructed them to commit.

Yes, of course, there's something absurd about knowing that a president authorized crimes, not impeaching him, not prosecuting him, not proposing any action with any teeth at all, but formally objecting to the idea of him issuing pardons of his own subordinates for crimes he authorized. But this is where we are. State, local, civil, foreign, and international prosecutions are likely ways of holding Bush, Cheney, and gang accountable, and pardons can't interfere with them. Pardons can't interfere with impeachment. But if we allow these pardons, we not only guarantee no federal prosecutions, and not only give Congress an excuse to drop its investigations, but we also establish the precedent that from here on out any president can violate any law and then pardon the crime. This is simply to end the idea of law. We cannot allow that.


Lyric of the Day:


(He's a joker, he's a joker, he's a joker)
Joker James, you did it again, caused somebody pain
(He's a joker, he's a joker)
You lived up to your name, Jimmy, he's Joker James.

Sally was a stamp collector, pretty little girl
One day she dated James, bringing love into her world
A tense romantic moment as they sat down on the couch
The whoopee cushion roared and I'm afraid it's over now.

(He's a joker, he's a joker, he's a joker)
Joker James, you did it again, caused somebody pain
(He's a joker, he's a joker)
You lived up to your name, didn't you, he's Joker James.

Lucy was a cool one, always got her high
Then she dated James and true love took her higher
The jester had suggested a new way to get stoned
Put itching powder down her neck and now she's all alone.

(He's a joker, he's a joker, he's a joker)
Joker James, you did it again, caused somebody pain
(He's a joker, he's a joker)
You lived up to your name, didn't you, he's Joker James.

Sense of humor cannot woo her
Her skin felt like heaven and laughter all the while
Her sense of humor throws him and deep in love he falls
But when he tries to sign the paper, the rubber pencil falls.

(He's a joker, he's a joker, he's a joker)
Joker James, you're not to blame, the joke's on you, now you're blue
(He's a joker, he's a joker)
It's such a shame, but that's the game, he's Joker James

(He's a joker, he's a joker, he's a joker)
Joker James, you did it again, caused somebody pain
(He's a joker, he's a joker)
You lived up to your name, Jimmy, he's Joker James

"Joker James", Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, John Entwhistle, Kenney Jones

The Bush Push: A New Metaphor for Taking a Big Fat Dump

Continuing the legacy that's made him such a popular guy around the world, Bush has rammed a few more spectacularly evil final "fuck you's" down the collective throat of the country he has ruthlessly betrayed, bankrupted and permanently hobbled in an historically unprecedented eight-year orgy of plutocratic greed, brutality and corruption.

Chronologically, if not morally, Mr. Bush's crowning achievement in monumental fuckuppery and paralyzingly amoral greed certainly has to be the $700 billion dollar pre-Christmas prezzie to the evil fucks that have been throwing American men, women and children on the streets in Third-World numbers, a move Rep. Dennis Kucinich characterized as "opening up a financial whirlpool of insatiable greed" that "will never be enough".

Rep. Major Owens is no less critical:
Look closely and see how a Ponzi scheme concocted by America's best and brightest, with superb logarithms and mysterious hedge fund equations, is launched for a second time within thirty years. It is the Savings and Loan (S&L) debacle all over again.

As it was in the era of the S&L swindle the collapse of many FDIC regulated banks is emerging simultaneously with the collapse of the chartered entities -- Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- which have a greater moral claim for more direct federal assistance. As it was in the earlier bailout, we can anticipate that the rescue operations will be legislatively merged as the FDIC coffers are emptied and new schemes are invented to assist powerful depositors -- Arab sheiks, Asian corporate czars, etc. -- whose accounts total more than the guaranteed 100 thousands dollars.

So how's that sweet little deal progressing?
"It's a mess," said Eric M. Thorson, the Treasury Department's inspector general, who has been working to oversee the bailout program until the newly created position of special inspector general is filled. "I don't think anyone understands right now how we're going to do proper oversight of this thing."
OVERSIGHT?!? WTF?!? What, was anyone really expecting ACCOUNTABILITY or HONESTY from the "party" that brought us such greatest hits as the Katrina disaster, Abu Ghraib, and the Mansonesque war crimes of the Iraq occupation?!?

Get ready, cause here it comes, as Bush takes a final giant crap on the country:
Allowing factory farms to freely dump countless tons of shit into waterways without restriction;
Okaying poison in human drinking water;
Removing scientific advisors from development projects;
Leasing parklands and protected wilderness for strip mining;
Allowing more lead emissions into the air;
Cutting aid to sex slaves; and
Creating a loophole to exempt some power plants from providing pollution controls

But wait; there's more:
Animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don't pose a threat, under regulations the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them.

The rules must be published Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, he can undo them with the stroke of a pen.

The Interior Department rushed to complete the rules in three months over the objections of lawmakers and environmentalists who argued that they would weaken how a landmark conservation law is applied.

A Nov. 12 version of the final rules obtained by the Associated Press has changed little from the original proposal, despite the more than 250,000 comments received since it was first proposed in August.

The rules eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases, allowing the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing or funding a project to determine for itself if it is likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.

Current regulations require independent wildlife biologists to sign off on these decisions before a project can go forward, at times modifying the design to better protect species.

The regulations also bar federal agencies from assessing emissions of the gases blamed for global warming on species and habitats, a tactic environmentalists have tried to use to block new coal-fired power plants.
Fortunately, there are signs of sanity in other parts of the globe, as Macedonia plants six MILLION trees in a single day
and Canada steps in to save a super forest.

So here's my vote for theme song for Bush's final day in office:


Sayonara

Bitch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Bewildered Look Back



'at Dave guy! always a larf!

And Katie Couric's got her some serious hot gams, don't she?

Bush has become a leper at the G20....

It's amazing - the entire world body of leaders REFUSES to shake George Bush's hand.

The video, courtesy of Greatscat and Youtube:


11-19-08: CNN: George Bush snubbed at the G20 Summit. Everyone greeting each other and shaking hands, but Bush walks with his head down like the dejected most unpopular kid in high school.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who?

Went to see the Who live at the Budokan tonight.

For those of you who don't know, the Budokan is Japan's national martial arts arena, built for the 1964 Olympics and first brought to wider western attention by the album Cheap Trick Live at Budokan (to which a followup has just been released, BTW) and where the Beatles made their Japan debut.

Was a fantastic show - very amazed to hear Roger Daltry belting it out just about as well as ever, and though Townshend was about 30% less frantic onstage as he was 30 years ago, his guitar wizardry was still jaw-dropping.

Zack Starkey - how cool is being able to say Ringo Starr is your Dad and Keith Moon was your personal drum teacher? - is superb - very fluid, skilled, creative and bang on. Much better than Kenny Jones, and very good at pulling off Moon with a little of his own riffing thrown in as well.

Interestingly, Pete Townshend's brother Simon is also playing rhythm guitar with the band.

The missus also had a blast and I was quite gratified to hear her say she liked the Who much better than Bon Jovi - her previous alltime favorite band. Yatta!

I've always been a huge Who fanatic; the very first album I bought was Who Are You - back when I was about 11. For two years after, my prized possession was a captain's hat with a Quadrophenia button pinned to the front - I was the only kid in my preppy high school who wore any kind of hat other than a "tuke" in winter. Then my Ma sent me down to Seattle on a bus to see them live.

Knew every song by them by heart, and learned to play most of them by ear on a little nylon string - although I couldn't pull off pinball wizard until I was a little more skilled and had the help of a superb musician by the name of Paul Wilson Brown to walk me through it.

To a great degree, the lyrics and imagery of the Who's music shaped my attitudes and personality as a young 'un, and their music is just as powerful and relevant today.

So tonight, I felt like basically, for a short space of time, we shared the room with the coolest guys on the planet.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Get yer War On.....

I approached this guy about syndication a year and a half ago, but looks like the Huffington Post got to him first - too bad, but they've got the cash....

Anyway, I give you the brilliant, "Get Your War On":

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Monster Years

by Paul Krugman, NY Times

Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.

What I mean by that is that for the past 14 years America’s political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monsters like Tom DeLay, who suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove, who declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.

And in our national discourse, we pretended that these monsters were reasonable, respectable people. To point out that the monsters were, in fact, monsters, was “shrill.”

Four years ago it seemed as if the monsters would dominate American politics for a long time to come. But for now, at least, they’ve been banished to the wilderness.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America Celebrates Obama's Victory!

U.S.A. Dances in the Streets! (VIDEOS): Troy, AL | Conway, AR | Little Rock, AR | Berkeley, CA | San Francisco, CA | Boulder, CO | Washington, D.C. | Orlando, FL | Atlanta, GA | Terre Haute, IN | Chicago, IL | New Orleans, LA | Cambridge, MA | Detroit, MI | Ypsilanti, MI | Minneapolis, MN | Itta Bena, MS | Raleigh, NC | Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY | Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY | Harlem, NY | Portland, OR | Philadelphia, PA | Richmond, VA | Burlington, VT | Seattle, WA | Madison, WI

Lyric of the Decade:

Callin' out around the world
Are you ready for a brand new beat
Summer's here and the time is right
For dancing in the street
They're dancing in Chicago(chicago echo)
Down in New Orleans(down in New Orleans echo)
Up in New York City
All we need is music, sweet music
There'll be music everywhere
There'll be swingin' and swayin' and records playing and
Dancing in the street

Oh it doesn't matter what you wear
Just as long as you are there
I want ev'ry guy to grab a girl
Ev'rywhere around the world
They'll be dancing, dancing in the street

It's an invitation across the nation
A chance for folks to meet
There'll be laughing,and singing, and music swinging
And Dancing in the street
Philadelphia, PA
Baltimore and D.C. now
Can't forget the Motor City
All we need is music, sweet music
There'll be music everywhere
There'll be swingin' and and swayin', and records playing
And dancing in the street

Oh it doesn't matter what you wear
Just as long as you are there
I want to ev'ry guy grab a girl
Ev'rywhere around the world

There'll be dancing,
Dancing in the street
Way down in L.A.
Every day
Dancing in the street

"Dancing In The Streets" - Martha And The Vandellas


The End of Rove's Dream

By Dan Froomkin Special to washingtonpost.com

Karl Rove's dream was that George W. Bush's presidency would usher in a permanent Republican majority. But as with so many of the Bush White House's big ideas, things didn't exactly go according to plan.

We'll know for sure by tomorrow, but it looks more and more like the end result of eight years of Bush has been the discrediting of his party and the loss of its commanding position in American politics.

Turning the executive branch into a political arm of the Republican Party, stoking fear and division amid the electorate, trashing opponents without mercy, and casting national security as a wedge issue -- all these tactics had short-term benefits, and indeed won Bush a second term. But ultimately, they seem to have lost America.

As John Harwood wrote in the New York Times last week: "In 2004, after President Bush won re-election with expanded Republican majorities in Congress, academics, journalists and party strategists wondered whether his blend of free-market economics, cultural conservatism and hawkishness on national security might create long-lasting Republican rule.

"'Something fundamental and significant happened,' said Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. On the eve of a second Bush term, he said, the Republican Party was 'in a stronger position than at any time since the Great Depression.'

"Today that Republican dream appears in shambles. The twin burdens of an economic crisis and an unpopular war have left Mr. Bush with, at 71 percent, the highest level of public disapproval for a president in the history of the Gallup Poll. Democrats see the chance on Nov. 4 to elect not just Senator Barack Obama but also House and Senate majorities large enough to enact his ambitious agenda."

Sidney Blumenthal writes in a Guardian opinion piece: "Today's election is poised to end the Republican era in American politics - an era that began in reaction to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the Vietnam war and the civil rights revolution, was pioneered by Richard Nixon, consolidated by Ronald Reagan, and wrecked by George W Bush.

"Almost every aspect of the Republican ascendancy has been discredited and lies in tatters - its policies, politics, and even its version of patriotism. . . .

"Now, certain factors that have dominated US politics for 40 years seem destined to recede to the far corners. In economics, supply-side panaceas and deregulation created the worst crisis since the Great Depression, requiring a conservative Republican administration to part-nationalise banks, something unimaginable under any Democratic administration. In foreign policy, neoconservatism led to the morass in Iraq and Afghanistan while undermining the western alliance. In social policy, the evangelical right battered science, the separation of church and state, and the right to privacy. Finally, the conservative principle of limited government has become a watchword for incompetence, cronyism, corruption, hypocrisy, and contempt for the rule of law."

Democratic activist Glenn W. Smith blogs for Firedoglake: "Karl Rove's deepest fantasy was that in the future, some lonely and ambitious young person would read of him as he once read of Mark Hanna, the political operative who guided President William McKinley's successful 1896 campaign. He saw himself as a right wing hero who had insured a generation of Republican rule. . . .

"This is the year America judges Karl Rove. It appears to be a harsh judgment. . . .

"For Rove, there's no exit from the hell he's created. America is at war in two foreign countries. America's reputation among the nations is at an all-time low. The economy is tanking. The Republican Party has been scattered.

"Winning campaigns is not hard. It takes no genius. Politics is checkers, not chess. It's true that the pathological sometimes have an advantage. But that advantage is due to their cold remove from a truly human universe. And it's always temporary, because, in the end, for better or worse, what is human is not virtual. We are not pretend. Politics is not PlayStation.

"And Rove's virtual fantasy has come unplugged."

Steve Chapman writes in his Chicago Tribune opinion column: "Regardless of what the polls say, it's not clear who is going to win the presidential race. But it is clear who is going to lose: George W. Bush. If this contest proves anything, it's that the electorate is sick of him and eager for someone very different. . . .

"Americans may decide to replace him with another Republican, but if Sen. John McCain emerges victorious, it will be a tribute to his efforts to convince voters that he and Mr. Bush have barely met."

As for Obama, Chapman writes that his strengths "have a way of mirroring the president's shortcomings. Mr. Bush got where he is with the help of first-class family connections; Mr. Obama had to rise through brains and initiative. Mr. Bush regularly loses wrestling matches with the English language, while Mr. Obama expresses himself with unnerving fluency.

"Mr. Bush becomes defensive and peevish when asked to answer the simplest questions about his policies; Mr. Obama never gets ruffled. Where Mr. Bush treats criticism like the Ebola virus, Mr. Obama conveys the impression that he hopes to learn from those who disagree with him.

"The response of so many people to his message of unity comes partly from weariness with the administration's nonstop scorched-earth tactics. He conveys the novel view that Americans can disagree without hating each other. . . .

"In the end, Americans may vote for either candidate. But after eight years of Mr. Bush, most of them will leave the polls singing the words of an old country tune: Thank God and Greyhound you're gone."

David Corn blogs for CQ: "Bush's style of politics, his policies, his political party--it's all been discredited. . . .

"Many presidents are elected as reactions to the previous president. George W. Bush's (faux) victory in 2000 was a reaction to the Bill Clinton soap opera. And a Barack Obama triumph would be the natural reaction to the W. years. Obama is the most progressive (or liberal) Democratic nominee since FDR ran for reelection. He is black (or biracial). He is an intellectual. He is no child of privilege. To sum up: he is the opposite of George W. Bush. Not only has Bush started two wars he couldn't finish, presided over a government that lost a major American city, and did little as a financial tsunami hit the nation; he has (I am guessing) created a yearning among many Americans for a non-Bush. And within the realm of conventional U.S. politics, Obama is about as non-Bush as it gets. No wonder Obama has a strong chance of becoming president. He spoke (endlessly) of change; he is an antidote to the Bush presidency."

James Fallows blogs for the Atlantic with four reasons to vote Democratic. The first is accountability: "There have been minor positive aspects to the eight-year Bush-Cheney era now coming to an end. But when the diplomatic, fiscal, Constitutional, economic, and other civic consequences are viewed as a whole, this era has, in my view, been a disaster for the United States. . . .

"For America to return the incumbent party to power after this record would make a mockery of the idea of ballot-box accountability and two-party competition. If an incumbent party retains power after this record, what is the meaning of party competition at all?"
The GOP View

Publicly, the White House denies that this is a referendum on Bushism.

Press secretary Dana Perino yesterday said Bush does not think this election is about him: "I think people have tried to make it about this President, but I think that whenever you are in America and you're looking towards the future, you want to know who's going to be your leader. And George Bush will not be the President on January 21st. The next President will be taking over, and they'll have all the responsibility that comes with that honor."

And here's an odd metaphor about a president who has never before identified with the unpopular kids: "Everybody would like to be popular," Perino said. "You can all remember that back in high school, everyone really wanted to be popular. Some of us just weren't. But that doesn't mean that you don't have principles and values that you stay true to. And that's what this President has done, and it's what he's taught a lot of us, including me."

The first lady was a bit more realistic about her husband's central role, speaking at a campaign rally in Kentucky: "After months of primary elections, campaign ads, and debates, tomorrow is finally Election Day. (Applause.) I'm really looking forward to Election Day, partly because it seems like George has been on the ticket this entire year."

Peter Wehner, formerly the director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives and essentially its leading intellectual, argues that the election will be a referendum on Bush -- but not on conservatism.

He writes in a recent Washington Post op-ed that "it is a mistake to assume that significant GOP losses, should they occur, are a referendum on conservatism. In part, the GOP's problems stem from being seen as having become less conservative and less principled."

He concludes: "The wilderness years are never pleasant, but if Republicans find themselves there after Nov. 4, they have an opportunity to revive the GOP. If Republicans become champions of an ambitious conservative reform agenda, they will begin the road back to political dominance."

So the problem was that Bush strayed from conservative principles? That's certainly not what Wehner was saying a few years ago. Blogger Matthew Yglesias appropriately called attention to a December 2004 Washington Post profile of Wehner by Dan Balz, in which Wehner expressed confidence at the time that history would look kindly on his boss: "I think he's on the right side of history and is on the right side of the important debates of our time, and he's comfortable in that," Wehner said.

And where is that supposed distance between Bush and the Republican stalwarts?

Gary Kamiya writes for Salon, "to this day, the Republican Party and the mainstream right wing has never repudiated Bush."

And how could they? "How can conservatives repudiate someone who put into practice all of their most cherished ideas? To criticize Bush on substantive grounds, they'd have to explain not only why his policies violated conservative orthodoxy, but why they never once made that argument for the last eight years. They can't do either, which is why they are forced to take the evasive, intellectually dishonest line of blaming Bush's failures on his arrogance and incompetence. Of course Bush was arrogant and incompetent, but those shortcomings don't explain his failed presidency. He failed because he acted on the extreme right-wing ideas that Reagan only paid lip service to.

"The right wing is running as far away as it can get from Bush, but it still shares his beliefs. That's why it cannot and will not muster any real arguments against his policies."

And Patrick J. Buchanan writes in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: "The country wishes to be rid of the Bush policies and the Bush presidency. But where does the Republican Party think Bush went wrong, other than to be asleep at the wheel during Hurricane Katrina?

"The GOP needs to confront the truth: The failure of the Bush presidency lies not in a failed execution of policy but in the policies themselves and the neoconservative ideology that informed them.

"Yet, still, the party remains in denial, refusing to come to terms with the causes of its misfortune. One expects they will be given the time and opportunity for reflection soon."
A Fan

Drudge Report editor Andrew Breitbart writes in a Washington Times op-ed: "I still like George W. Bush. A lot.

"For starters, I am convinced he is a fundamentally decent man. . . .

"President Bush is far smarter, more articulate and less ideological than his plentiful detractors scream, and, ultimately, he will be judged by history - not by vengeful Democrats, hate-filled Hollywood, corrupt foreign governments, an imploding mainstream media or fleeting approval ratings.

"George W. Bush is history's president, a man for whom the long-term success or failure of democracy in Iraq will determine his place in history."
Revisionism Watch

Jeremy Lott writes in an opinion piece for Politico: "Revisionists who wish to argue for a more positive long-term assessment of President Bush's legacy have their work cut out for them. That hasn't stopped them from trying, though it needs to be said that their efforts thus far have not been terribly persuasive.

"Former Bush speechwriter David Frum argues that 'history is unlikely to remember the [Iraq] war as negatively as most assume.' . . .

"In a Newsweek cover story titled "What Bush Got Right," international editor Fareed Zakaria wrote that 'blanket criticism of Bush misses an important reality,' for 'wherever one stands' on his decision to invade Iraq, 'the [Bush administration's] foreign policies in place now are more sensible, moderate and mainstream. In many cases, the next president should follow rather than reverse them.'

"The military historian Edward Luttwak wrote in the British Prospect, 'That George W. Bush's foreign policy has been a total failure is now taken for granted by so many people that one usually hears it stated as a simple truth that need not be argued at all.' He proceeded to contest that truth, labeling Bush a modern Harry S. Truman, likely to be vindicated by history. . . .

"Wrong. Wrong. Wrong."

For instance, Lott writes: "When revisionists tout Iraq's symbolic importance, they make another strategic blunder. Iraq was a secular country run by a dictator whom the United States had caged, but his presence still served a purpose in the region. The biggest beneficiary of the American invasion was Iraq's sworn enemy, the officially theocratic and anti-American state of Iran."
Poll Watch

The final CBS News tracking poll finds: "Fifty-four percent of voters think McCain would continue Mr. Bush's policies, and the president is extremely unpopular: his approval rating now stands at 20 percent, the lowest ever recorded for a president. His disapproval rating of 72 percent matches his all-time high, first reached last month."

Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post: "State and national polls released yesterday underscored the steep hill McCain must climb in the final hours to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. Burdened by President Bush's unpopularity and an economic crisis that redrew the race in September in Obama's favor, the senator from Arizona sprinted through a series of critical states yesterday -- all but one of which Bush carried four years ago -- exhorting his supporters to help him defy the odds."
Passing Things On

Remember all those times Bush said things like: "I came to this office to solve problems and not pass them on to future presidents and future generations"?

Mark Smith, in an Associated Press video, shows Bush expressing that sentiment. But Smith concludes that "the array of things he leaves his successor to solve is staggering."
Still There

Jennifer Loven writes for the Associated Press: "The world is anxiously awaiting new ideas and fresh leadership from America's new president to deal with the economic crisis that has encircled the globe with sickening speed. Unemployment is climbing, the stock market has plummeted and businesses are teetering.

"But for 77 days after the election, the problems will be George Bush's -- and both Barack Obama and John McCain have signaled they will defer to him."
And Still Causing Trouble

The New York Times editorial board writes: "While Americans eagerly vote for the next president, here's a sobering reminder: As of Tuesday, George W. Bush still has 77 days left in the White House -- and he's not wasting a minute.

"President Bush's aides have been scrambling to change rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights among others -- few for the good. Most presidents put on a last-minute policy stamp, but in Mr. Bush's case it is more like a wrecking ball. We fear it could take months, or years, for the next president to identify and then undo all of the damage."

H.D.S. Greenway writes in his Boston Globe opinion column: "Although Bush has been keeping such a low profile up to now that many could be forgiven for thinking he has already left office, the grim and sobering truth is that he has 77 days left in power, enough time to do a lot of mischief. The administration is now free of any responsibility to the Republican Party or the election. As for the American people, they were never considered by this administration to be anything more than an entity to be manipulated and lied to in the interest of unrestricted executive power."
The World Waits

William J. Kole and Matt Moore write for the Associated Press: "The world was riveted by the election drama unfolding Tuesday in the United States, inspired by the hope embodied by Barack Obama or simply relieved that -- whoever wins -- an administration that spawned Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay was coming to an end.

"From Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to the small town of Obama, Japan, the globe geared up to celebrate a fresh start for America after eight wearisome years of George W. Bush."
Cheney Watch, Part One

Juliet Eilperin writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush's vision for protecting two vast areas of the Pacific Ocean from fishing and mineral exploitation, a move that would constitute a major expansion of his environmental legacy, is running into dogged resistance both inside and outside the White House and has placed his wife and his vice president on opposite sides of the issue.

"With less than three months before Bush's term ends, his top deputies are scrambling to try to execute a plan that would shield some of the world's most diverse underwater ecosystems. The original plan, which included four potential 'marine monuments' and was well received by environmentalists, has already been scaled back.

"Vice President Cheney and some officials in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have argued that the plan could hurt the region's economy by barring fishing and energy exploration. First lady Laura Bush, along with a number of scientists and environmental advocates, has countered that preserving the region's natural attributes would attract tourism and burnish the president's record for history."
Cheney Watch, Part Two

So where is the vice president today?

Chris Cillizza blogs for The Washington Post: "The Vice President landed in Pierre, South Dakota, last night for his fifth annual hunting trip in the state. This time he is hunting near Gettysburg in the north-central part of the state. We hear he's staying at the Paul Nelson Farm. Nelson's son -- Ryan -- is a longtime aide to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

"In 2004, Cheney was joined by Thune and Scooter Libby on the hunt. Following the trip, Cheney checked into a Washington, D.C., hospital after experiencing shortness of breath. It turned out he had just caught a cold."
Late Night Humor

Jon Stewart sets up video of Cheney's McCain endorsement: "We knew it was going to happen: In the final days of the presidential campaign, you-know-who had to weigh in. The evil mastermind has resurfaced and released another grainy disturbing videotape featuring his sickly visage. . . .

"Vice President Cheney, endorsing John McCain: Clearly trying to influence the American election -- but which way?" Stewart notes that Cheney could barely get the words out without a coughing fit.
Cartoon Watch

Whatever else you can say about Bush, he continues to inspire some extraordinary political cartoons.

Here's what Mike Luckovich will miss about Bush (a New Yorker slideshow) , Tom Toles on the end of the Bush era, Jim Morin on what Bush and Cheney accomplished, Joel Pett on the morning after, Lee Judge on Bush's exit strategy, Jeff Danziger on Bush defeating McCain again, and Nick Anderson on the horror show.

Bush's Final "Fuck You's" to America

As the editors of the New York Times tell us, His Heinous still has 77 days left to engage in evil fuckery at the expense of everyone who hasn't donated to his or his partners' campaigns before he hightails it to the his Paraguay sanctuary - famed hideout of Nazi war criminals. The good news? He only has three weeks left to do the most extensive damage. Still, how can one top looting the treasury for a 700 BILLION DOLLAR gift to the wealthiest micropercentage of Americans while somewhere around 3.5 MILLION of the "little people" are now homeless. What's even more heartbreaking is that A STAGGERING 39% OF THEM ARE CHILDREN, and 33% of them are veterans.

That's ONE OUT OF EVERY HUNDRED PEOPLE IN AMERICA AND ONE OUT OF EVERY 222 CHILDREN.

Look around you the next time you're in a mall, a park, a theater, a library, anyplace there's a crowd. Think of how many in that crowd would represent the homeless in America. It's tragic, inexcusable, and perfectly avoidable. This is the Republican legacy of Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2. We must not ever, ever allow this to happen again.

Americans have been trickled on one time too many.

So Little Time, So Much Damage

While Americans eagerly vote for the next president, here’s a sobering reminder: As of Tuesday, George W. Bush still has 77 days left in the White House — and he’s not wasting a minute.

President Bush’s aides have been scrambling to change rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights, among others — few for the good. Most presidents put on a last-minute policy stamp, but in Mr. Bush’s case it is more like a wrecking ball. We fear it could take months, or years, for the next president to identify and then undo all of the damage.

Here is a look — by no means comprehensive — at some of Mr. Bush’s recent parting gifts and those we fear are yet to come.

CIVIL LIBERTIES We don’t know all of the ways that the administration has violated Americans’ rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Agents will be allowed to use informants to infiltrate lawful groups, engage in prolonged physical surveillance and lie about their identity while questioning a subject’s neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends. The changes also give the F.B.I. — which has a long history of spying on civil rights groups and others — expanded latitude to use these techniques on people identified by racial, ethnic and religious background.

The administration showed further disdain for Americans’ privacy rights and for Congress’s power by making clear that it will ignore a provision in the legislation that established the Department of Homeland Security. The law requires the department’s privacy officer to account annually for any activity that could affect Americans’ privacy — and clearly stipulates that the report cannot be edited by any other officials at the department or the White House.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has now released a memo asserting that the law “does not prohibit” officials from homeland security or the White House from reviewing the report. The memo then argues that since the law allows the officials to review the report, it would be unconstitutional to stop them from changing it. George Orwell couldn’t have done better.

THE ENVIRONMENT The administration has been especially busy weakening regulations that promote clean air and clean water and protect endangered species.

Mr. Bush, or more to the point, Vice President Dick Cheney, came to office determined to dismantle Bill Clinton’s environmental legacy, undo decades of environmental law and keep their friends in industry happy. They have had less success than we feared, but only because of the determined opposition of environmental groups, courageous members of Congress and protests from citizens. But the White House keeps trying.

Mr. Bush’s secretary of the interior, Dirk Kempthorne, has recently carved out significant exceptions to regulations requiring expert scientific review of any federal project that might harm endangered or threatened species (one consequence will be to relieve the agency of the need to assess the impact of global warming on at-risk species). The department also is rushing to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list — again. The wolves were re-listed after a federal judge ruled the government had not lived up to its own recovery plan.

In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power. The agency is also expected to issue a final rule that would make it easier for coal-fired power plants to locate near national parks in defiance of longstanding Congressional mandates to protect air quality in areas of special natural or recreational value.

Interior also is awaiting E.P.A.’s concurrence on a proposal that would make it easier for mining companies to dump toxic mine wastes in valleys and streams.

And while no rules changes are at issue, the interior department also has been rushing to open up millions of acres of pristine federal land to oil and gas exploration. We fear that, in coming weeks, Mr. Kempthorne will open up even more acreage to the commercial development of oil shale, a hugely expensive and environmentally risky process that even the oil companies seem in no hurry to begin. He should not.

ABORTION RIGHTS Soon after the election, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, is expected to issue new regulations aimed at further limiting women’s access to abortion, contraceptives and information about their reproductive health care options.

Existing law allows doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in an abortion. These changes would extend the so-called right to refuse to a wide range of health care workers and activities including abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and provision of birth control pills or emergency contraception, even for rape victims.

The administration has taken other disturbing steps in recent weeks. In late September, the I.R.S. restored tax breaks for banks that take big losses on bad loans inherited through acquisitions. Now we learn that JPMorgan Chase and others are planning to use their bailout funds for mergers and acquisitions, transactions that will be greatly enhanced by the new tax subsidy.

One last-minute change Mr. Bush won’t be making: He apparently has decided not to shut down the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the most shameful symbol of his administration’s disdain for the rule of law.

Mr. Bush has said it should be closed, and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and his secretary of defense, Robert Gates, pushed for it. Proposals were prepared, including a plan for sending the real bad guys to other countries for trial. But Mr. Cheney objected, and the president has refused even to review the memos. He will hand this mess off to his successor.

We suppose there is some good news in all of this. While Mr. Bush leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009, he has only until Nov. 20 to issue “economically significant” rule changes and until Dec. 20 to issue other changes. Anything after that is merely a draft and can be easily withdrawn by the next president.

Unfortunately, the White House is well aware of those deadlines.


Lyrics of the Day

Hello! Hooray! Let the show begin,
I've been ready.
Hello! Hooray! Let the lights grow dim,
I've been ready.

Ready as this audience that's coming here to dream.
Loving every second, ev'ry moment, ev'ry scream,
I've been waiting so long to sing my song
And I've been waiting so long for this thing to come.
Yeah - I've been thinking so long I was the only one.

Roll out! Roll out with your American dream and its recruits,
I've been ready.
Roll out! Roll out with your circus freaks and hula hoops,
I've been ready.

Ready as this audience that's coming here to dream.
Loving every second, ev'ry moment, ev'ry scream,
I've been waiting so long to sing my song
And I've been waiting so long for this thing to come.
Yeah - I've been thinking so long I was the only one.

I can stand here strong and thin.
I can laugh when this thing begins.

God, I feel so strong.
I feel so strong.
I'm so strong.
I feel so strong.
So strong.
God, I feel so strong,
I am so strong.

"Hello Hooray!", Vincent Damon Furnier, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith


Republicans Behaving Badly - as Usual....

Now, I thought I understood the republican mind.

Greedy? Check.
Hypocritical? Double check.
Violent? Uh huh.
Sadistic? Yeppers.
Serial liars? Righto.
Criminals? Absolutely.
Opportunistic cowards? Can you even doubt it?

But sometimes they even surprise me. So when Rash Limpballs decided to say Obama only rushed to his dying grandmother's side because he wanted to cover up a fraudulent passport (unlike a certain bulgy-faced ex-straight-talker, demonstrably born in Panama), and the California Reuglycan party had the jaw-droppingly bad taste to file a LAWSUIT over the LEGALITY of his final visit to say goodbye, saying he used stolen campaign funds to pay for it, I was outraged yet again.

And let's not forget the severed goat's head on the Dem candidate's campaign HQ doorstep, or the Obama assassination plot.

But hey, in their eyes, it's WE who are way out of line. My guess is the following people were just too damned uppity to properly kowtow to their "betters"....

Read on:

I Mean Really, THOSE PEOPLE On the Upper West Side...
Pamela Troy's Journal

From the unspeakably bad timing department: Most of us have already seen the video of Shirley Nagel, the McCain supporter in Michigan who, on Halloween night, refused to give candy to the children of Obama supporters. To capture the full flavor of the current right wing insanity though, it really should be watched in tandem with an unintentionally funny video posted on Halloween, just a few hours before Shirley Nagel became an Internet star. It seems that Joe Scarborough’s young right-wing sidekick, Willie Geist, decided to film himself trying to drum up support for the McCain-Palin ticket on the Upper West Side in front of Zabar’s.

The result is a searing few minutes of footage aired on Scarborough Country that reveals the ugly truth about the unreasoning hatred boiling beneath the surface of “those people” living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. See Willie Geist reel beneath cutting responses like, “No, ‘fraid not!” when he asks if McCain can count on a passerby’s support, and “I do not, thank you for offering,” when he asks if someone would like a McCain Palin t-shirt! Observe his heart break as an elderly gentleman says, “Well, frankly, I don’t think so,” when Geist asks if putting the t-shirt in the window a Zabar’s would get a good response! Watch as passersby smile and shake their head rather than give him a high-five for McCain, and then reveal their utter close-mindedness by being unconvinced even after he calls after them, “You’re not voting for McCain? You don’t want to put country first, huh?”

And those are just the milder examples. Some of the other things that were said, like, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood,” and “You gotta go to the east side for this one,” truly revealed something ugly in the liberal psyche. There were a few moments when, frankly, I was concerned for Willie’s safety, like when that cheerful elderly lady teased him about his t-shirt, asking, “Is that your Halloween costume? Pretty scary,” and the old guy told him, of voting for McCain, “I don’t know anyone, of any intelligence, who would vote for him.” And surely Madame DeFarge herself couldn’t be more sinister than the lady who answered his question, “You hate me?” with, “Palin, not you. I don’t hate you. But I wish you’d change your politics.”

“That wasn’t very nice,” he said, looking sadly at the camera.

”Wow! That is so troubling and interesting at the same time!” said Mika Brzezniski , who has apparently never before seen opinionated elderly Jewish liberals on the Upper West Side. Mike Barnicle pronounced it “an important culture piece” and added,” It proves why so many people are so ‘right’ (no pun intended) to really loathe so many on the left. I mean those people are so close-minded, that they couldn’t stop to talk to you…”

Well, actually Mr. Barnicle, some of them did, They were described by you on cable TV as loathsome for their trouble.

And then, just a few hours later, we all met Shirley Nagel…


Lyrics of the Day:
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are.
And when your hand is on your heart,
You're nearly a good laugh,
Almost a joker,
With your head down in the pig bin,
Saying "Keep on digging."
Pig stain on your fat chin.
What do you hope to find.
When you're down in the pig mine.
You're nearly a laugh,
You're nearly a laugh
But you're really a cry.

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha charade you are.
You fucked up old hag, ha ha charade you are.
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass.
You're nearly a good laugh,
Almost worth a quick grin.
You like the feel of steel,
You're hot stuff with a hatpin,
And good fun with a hand gun.
You're nearly a laugh,
You're nearly a laugh
But you're really a cry.

Hey you, Whitehouse,
Ha ha charade you are.
You house proud town mouse,
Ha ha charade you are
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street.
You're nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
.....! .....! .....! .....!
You gotta stem the evil tide,
And keep it all on the inside.
Mary you're nearly a treat,
Mary you're nearly a treat
But you're really a cry.
Pigs (Three Different Ones) (Waters, Gilmore, Mason, Wright)