26 August 2002
Mom! Big Brother won't give me a hall pass!

Columnist Michelle Malkin rails about California's attitude toward parents who home-school their children, which has apparently mutated from surly indifference to outright hostility:

"Mocking home schoolers as fringe radicals and religious extremists, meddling with their teaching materials, and forcing them to beg public school officials for permission to educate their own children wasn't enough to defeat the growing movement. So now California's educracy has adopted a new motto: If you can't beat 'em, criminalize 'em."

The latest example of this hostility is a memo from California Deputy Superintendent Joanne Mendoza which basically says that paperwork for homeschooling will not be accepted from anyone without state-approved teacher credentials. And according to ScrappleFace, that's not all it says.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:25 PM)
29 August 2002
Targeted marketing

It's apparently impossible to keep track of every single nuance of popular, or for that matter unpopular, culture. A video producer from UC Davis was shopping at a Target store in Elk Grove, California when he happened upon a pair of shorts imprinted with the double-8 symbol embraced by neo-Nazis and other dumb Klux. He informed the store manager and passed the word on to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who turned up the heat. Target is now busily pulling all the pertinent merchandise off the racks.

It could have been worse. At least there weren't any lawsuits involved.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:16 AM)
1 September 2002
Dash it all

A few months ago, FARK.com made an addition to its usual categories like "weird", "dumbass" and "Wheaton": there is now a category called "Florida". And the Sunshine State, true to form, is delivering all manner of farkable news items.

Consider the case of Patrick Feheley, running for the 13th District House seat currently held by Rep. Dan Miller, who is retiring. Feheley filed suit against another Democratic rival, Candice Brown McElyea, claiming she'd inserted a hyphen into her name when she filed to run for the office; as "Brown-McElyea, Candice", she'd appear on the ballot ahead of "Feheley, Patrick". (Two other Democrats are running, but their names fall farther down in the alphabet.) Says Feheley, this is a deceptive manipulation of the election process. (Deceptive manipulation? In Florida? Sheesh. Now we've heard everything.)

The judge designated to hear the case set a routine procedural hearing for the 5th of September, five days before the primary election, too late for the ballots to be reprinted should Feheley prevail. Upset, but knowing there wasn't much he could do about it, Feheley dropped his suit.

Of course, this is only the primary. Should Feheley win, he'd still have to beat out a Republican to be determined, and an independent candidate. Who might that Republican be? The front-runner right now is Katherine Harris. Yes, that Katherine Harris. Then again, her candidacy is being challenged by rival John Hill (no relation).

It's times like these I almost feel sorry for Jeb Bush.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:38 PM)
16 September 2002
Cue Cleavon Little with the revolver

A New York judge has been receiving threatening letters; the police have evaluated the letters and are leaning toward the theory that acting Supreme Court Justice Marylin Diamond actually sent the letters to herself.

Why would she do such a thing? Retired NYPD profiler Ray Pierce, asked to join the investigation, has observed that the letters always seem to show up right about the time security alerts are issued — or right about the time that Justice Diamond's authorization for bodyguards is scheduled for expiration.

Justice Jacqueline Silbermann, who serves alongside Diamond, calls the profiler's contention preposterous. A handwriting analysis failed to connect Diamond to the letters; in the meantime, Diamond's additional security has been cancelled.

Why do I think this is destined to be a Lifetime Original Movie?

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:14 PM)
22 November 2002
Cannon fodder

Now here's a headline: Join U.S. military, degrade humanity. Is it Fisk? Pilger? Chomsky, fercrissake? Nope. Just an English major at San Diego State, unaccountably posted to the job of Opinion Editor at the student newspaper, who's already decided that those who wear the uniform of the United States of America are dupes at best. To give him the maximum amount of credit, well, yes, that qualifies as Opinion. I assume that it's based on his extensive experience with PlayStation2, since obviously he's not going to sully his precious bod with something as mundane as fatigues.

What do you get when you take the oath? Says this Opinion Editor, you get the opportunity to "be a tool for imperialism and bastardize human life all around the globe." Admittedly, more than a few of the troops overseas have gotten some of the locals in a family way, but I'm sure this isn't what he meant by "bastardize". "In actuality," he says, "our military is designed for aggression. In the modern world of diplomacy and nuclear capability, our need for physical defense is extremely less than the number of troops and size of our budget."

(Aside: What the hell kind of English major comes up with a phrase like "extremely less"?)

So in this modern world (apologies to Tom Tomorrow) there are but two options: diplomacy and nukes. If we can't talk Saddam into disarming, we can always roast him and the rest of Baghdad over an open fire. I'm sure this isn't what the kid meant to say, but it sure sounds like what he said.

And "when you join the military, you give years of your life to corruption and death. Today's soldiers are not heroes deserving of unconditional respect — they are enforcers of economic domination with blood on their hands." I've been out of the uniform for almost a quarter of a century and I resent the hell out of that; imagine how well I'd take it were I still a soldier.

Michele at A Small Victory has seen this sort of thing over and over again:

Not one of these cowards ever thinks of what would happen if the U.S. just disbanded its armed forces and sat back and observed the rest of the world in action. They never think about the consequences of not going into these countries, of not fighting for democracy and freedom. They only think of what will look good on their protest signs. They think they are so brave and daring, but the real brave and daring ones are out their making sure that this country remains a place where dissent can be voiced without fear.

I don't know how cowardly this guy is, but I'd bet he's got WarbloggerWatch bookmarked.

Oh, well, he's still young. He'll grow out of it. Right now, though, he presents a compelling case for reinstating the draft.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:51 AM)
23 November 2002
Cannon fodder (the sequel)

By now everyone has read the saga of Joe Zarro, kid journalist at San Diego State, who took it upon himself this week to badmouth the armed forces of the United States of America. The response from blogdom was immediate and forceful, which should surprise no one.

And it probably should surprise no one that not everyone at SDSU buys Zarro's mindset. In the next day's Daily Aztec letters column, Maureen Hammerquist of the University's enrollment services makes it quite clear:

I'm married to a man who has worn a military uniform for the last 18 years. He has always performed to his best and strived to better himself while putting his life at risk on more than four deployments and in more than two war zones. I take your editorial statements personally because of my strong opinion that your blanket statements don't accurately reflect the true duty of the men and women in service to our country.

My grandfather also wore a uniform and served his country in World War II. He then went on to serve for 22 years as a U.S. Congressman. Does this mean that he is twice the tool for imperialism and twice the "bastardizer"? You wouldn't think so if you knew what he stood for, and, gasp, in spite of the political party he represented.

That's the trouble with those damn generalizations: they're just so, um, general.

And finally:

As a spouse, I may not always like all the negativities associated with the military lifestyle, but I am proud of what my husband does and what he represents. He saves lives, and who knows, one day one of the lives he saves could be yours.

Let's hope that by then this kid's education has included a couple of courses in gratitude.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:14 PM)
19 December 2002
Just loafing

John Lee Malvo, the younger of the D.C. sniper suspects, is not happy with his meals at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center; the veggie loaf he's getting three times a day, he says, is making him ill.

In a related story, requests for ice water from the hades.org domain are up 11 percent from last week.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:20 PM)
21 February 2003
Shoulda used the drive-thru

The robbery at BancFirst's Expressway branch in McAlester was fairly uneventful, as robberies go. The bank staff was clever enough to switch bags, and the thief walked away with nothing.


Police arrested Kenneth Ray Dean in the parking lot between the bank and a restaurant in a matter of moments. Dean is 71 and walks with a cane. Of course, bank employees had no way of knowing the cane wasn't loaded.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:43 AM)
19 March 2003
Asshat management

Washington State Grange employees found Jody Mason about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday and asked what he was doing.

He told employees he'd chained himself to the building in civil disobedience Monday night after listening to President Bush's televised ultimatum to Saddam Hussein.

Grange employees explained that he was at the wrong building. The Grange is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for residents in rural areas.

Grange employees obviously have more patience than I.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:50 PM)
6 April 2003
Meanwhile, back at the left

I was relatively restrained, say the commenters, on that Margaret Atwood piece, and well, to me it seemed the appropriate timbre for a response: when you're scolded by a maiden-aunt figure, it's not particularly useful to lash out with intemperance.

On the other hand — though the same wing — some people are just asking for it. In this spirit, I give you Alan Bisbort of the Hartford Advocate, who offers the following under the implausible title I Miss America:

Next to the high crimes and low misdemeanors perpetrated by this Bush administration, Nixon's sins seem, well, if not quaint, then understandable within the context of the times. Even though he will forever bear the blame for the expansion of the Vietnam War with his bombings of Cambodia and Laos — and the terrible "blowback" they bred — it should be noted that Nixon inherited that war from two Democratic predecessors, that the largest troop escalations were done on Lyndon Johnson's watch.

Ironically, beyond these much more serious sins, the crimes that led to Nixon's impeachment hearings and resignation in August 1974 seem so, well, tame: he bugged the campaign headquarters of a Democratic opponent (George McGovern) whom all polls indicated he'd beat in a landslide in Nov. 1972 (he did). And, then, when the press discovered that this break-in led back to the White House, he covered it up. That's it. Sounds like standard, and unchallenged, presidential protocol these days.

Indeed, the crimes of George W. Bush ON A DAILY BASIS surpass the collective crimes of Richard Nixon's entire presidential career.

Say what? "On a daily basis"? I'll grant you that Watergate was every bit the "third-rate burglary" it was reputed to be, but the subsequent stonewalling came perilously close to being an impeachable offense, back when that term actually meant something. (The Clinton proceedings, I think, lowered the bar for impeachment to approximately the same degree that Clinton lowered his shorts.) Is there a Bush "enemies list"? The guest list on The O'Reilly Factor doesn't count. Has Bush moved to sack persons who might present a legal threat, as did Nixon with erstwhile Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox and assistant AG William Ruckelshaus? Is there anything on Dubya's CV that looks even remotely like this?

Oh, wait, you're not through. Okay:

So, why aren't people more outraged by the current White House's abuse of power, unprecedented in American history?

What could be more criminal than to start a war by invading another country that poses no immediate threat? What could be more criminal than starting this war by using fictitious documents, photographs and threats of retaliation against countries, and longtime allies, that will not go along with this charade? What could be more criminal than to perpetrate, and escalate, this terrible bloodshed even as we speak? What could be more telling about this Little Caesar in the White House that, even as he needlessly puts our brave, dutiful soldiers in harm's way, he is cutting the benefits to veterans of previous wars? What could be more criminal than to loot the U.S. Treasury to conduct a blood-for-oil feud, then pass the cost on to generations unborn?

Let me guess: You're upset because we didn't send the Marines to Riyadh on the 12th of September. Oh, you're not? Wasn't that enough of an immediate threat? Or is it going to take mining the runway at Bradley International to get your attention? It obviously can't be some sudden concern for Iraqi civilians, since Saddam routinely whacked more of them on a, um, "daily basis" than we've managed in half a month so far. You want criminals, Al, you're looking at the wrong end of the pipeline.

And if you're this upset about some imagined "blood-for-oil" feud — and by the way, in the unlikely event that anyone is engineering a trade, I take type A, RH-factor positive, and Castrol 10W-30 — the very least you can do is refuse to participate. Separate yourself from all things oil-based. Sell your car. Rip out that heating system that burns up so many gallons of the wicked stuff every winter. It's the perfect day to do it, what with spring on the way, and — what's that? Ten inches of snow due today? Well, damn. But we can't let mere weather interfere with Doing the Right Thing, can we? Put on your mittens and tear out that furnace.

I miss the America that stood up to Richard Nixon. Even Dick Nixon looks good to me now.

I'm a registered Democrat, and the fact that Nixon was President when I turned eighteen is a major reason why, but I'll tell you what, Al: when Connecticut secedes from the Union, I'll send you a couple of bucks to help finance a Nixon memorial in downtown Waterbury. Until then, if you're going to keep recycling this "Bush is Evil" tripe, you'd be better off keeping your trap shut — or letting it freeze shut.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:13 PM)
29 August 2003
As the worm turns

The Feds are coming down hard on Jeffrey Lee "teekid" Parson, who allegedly has admitted to rewriting the Blaster worm and turning loose his handiwork on an insufficiently-suspecting world.

What to do with a bratling like this? Michele mocks him far better than I, but the solution I like the best comes from one of her commenters, a chap named Morpheus:

[T]his little boil on the backside of the nation has caused something like tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of damage (if not billions), so a simple (or even complex) spanking is not really a suitable punishment. A nice, long, horsewhipping, followed by a few weeks in the stocks somewhere on Wall Street, followed by a 100% garnishment of his wages above, say $10k/year for life might begin to cover it.

Cracking: it's not just a job, it's indenture.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:59 PM)
17 October 2003
Taunt them a second time

A fellow named Francis Carpenter, who works for a bank in Luxembourg, has evidently been drinking too much of the European Union's ersatz Kool-Aid.

In this piece in Le Figaro, Mr Carpenter proposes that British place names commemorating battles lost by the French — Waterloo, Trafalgar, and such — be changed, in the interest of furthering European unity.

This idea, fortunately, doesn't seem to be catching on in the UK, though no one seems to have responded officially with le mot de Cambronne.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:05 PM)
23 November 2003
Public enema number one

This particular anal drip is named Alan Ralsky, and he is now believed to be the World's Leading Spammer.

If they ever bust this guy, I hope he gets pantsed on television, if only to see if he's used any of that penis-enlargement crap.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:12 AM)
3 March 2004
Grey Lady grows spine, film at 11

Ted Rall, dumped by The New York Times, responds:

[W]hat the Times has done here to me — and to you — represents a dangerous precedent for a free press (or, in this case, an online press). They've sent the message that political pressure works. It's one thing for an editor to decide that a cartoon no longer works for editorial reasons, or that it's not as good as it used to be. I