November 30th, 2006

Iraq Study Group VDB’s ASS

by Philip Baruth

So much for Jim Baker’s vaunted Iraq Study Group.

After months of wrangling ISG agrees to call for “a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq.”

Within hours, Bush “dismisses” the notion as so much faintness of heart, firmly opposes “some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq.”

Onward gracelessly it is, then.

spoon-feeding Bush

November 30th, 2006

Vermont Obama Pot Begins Slow, Sure Boil

by Philip Baruth

Anyone who thinks Obama’s not running in 2008 hasn’t been paying attention. And anyone who thinks Vermont intends to be left on the sidelines in that race hasn’t seen who’s currently lacing up their running shoes.

barack obamaAs to the first: Obama not only delivered the keynote at Tom Harkin’s “legendary steak fry” in September, he “has surrounded himself with advisers rich in experience in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state,” according to the generally reliable Des Moines Register.

And Obama continues his efforts to reach out to centrist and even right-wing constituencies.

Of course, the results there have been mixed. Obama’s attempts to make nice with California Pastor Rick Warren in his megachurch on December 1st, for instance, have hit a minor snag: Evangelical leaders like Tim Wildmon and Phylis Schlafly have called on Warren to cancel the event, inasmuch as the pro-Choice Obama supports “the murder of babies in the womb.”

Ouch.

But it’s an intriguing concept, theoretically. Megachurches are designed to channel a single charismatic speaker’s energy to thousands, rather than hundreds of parishioners. What happens when you run Obama’s particular brand of current through that particular sort of social appliance?

Wildmon and Schlafly would prefer not to find out.

Not so here in Vermont. The Obama effect is already palpable and powerful here, without — as far as we can see — the Senator himself lifting a finger.

zephyr teachoutAlready VDB has word of two separate Obama support networks knitting together, slowly but surely, with the prospect of a collaborative sit-down sometime in the next few weeks.

Zephyr Teachout and the mighty Neil Jensen — both well-versed in digital democracy from Dean 2004 — have registered a Yahoo Group designed to draw in interested parties early.

kate robinsonAnd Camel’s Hump Radio creator Kate Robinson — along with her husband Bill Schubart — has been feeling out interest in Obama the old fashioned way: a Rolodex, a phone, a cup of Earl Grey, and the power to talk the birds out of the trees.

Most recently, Zephyr and Neil floated the idea of an early, early meet-up next month, to brainstorm and organize and generally wax Obamic. A meeting to draw people in on a larger scale, something open and organic.

Kate thought that sounded like a lovely idea.

Which is to say it’s beginning to sound suspiciously like a plan. And it’s not quite December 2006.

Should be one of those meetings you don’t want to miss. The sort of gathering you find yourself describing casually to Charlie Rose or Terry Gross ten years down the road, after the whole thing has flowered.

More details as they surface. Bet on it, baby.

Late (or rather, Early) Update, 4:45 am:

Less than an hour after the above post went online, Ben Stanfield checked in:

Dear VDB,

My boss, who works most of the time from his office at UVM, got me turned on to VDB a few months before the latest election, even though I’m in Rockville, MD. I’ve noticed quite a bit of Obama coverage lately, and wanted to voice my appreciation.

I also wanted to give you a heads up on DraftObama.org. I started the site a few months ago, but our official launch was today. We’re a completely volunteer, grassroots site devoted to raising Obama awareness and gathering voices to urge him to run.

Thanks for the interesting look into Vermont politics. I enjoy reading it!

Cheers,
Ben
ben@draftobama.org

This is why, even on cold mornings in February, when the hardwood floor is like a sheet of ice, VDB gets out of bed, kneels down, and spends twelve silent moments thanking the Lord above for the Internet.

Because VDB is a stone political junkie, no getting around it, and the Internet his syringe.

Later Update, 10:56 am:

Apparently we’ve moved into what the military calls an “accelerated framework”: Zephyr writes that the meeting time and place have been finalized.

December 14th, 6 pm, at the Euro Gourmet on Main Street, in lovely downtown Burlington. More as details warrant.

November 28th, 2006

Potential GOP Vice Types Lock and Load

by Philip Baruth

The following makes even more sense — rather than less — after yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll showing Giuliani apparently outpacing the field. Still can’t get the nomination, still looks like a lock for the VP slot, but still won’t even get that. Word.

rudy kicking own ass

* * * *

A Vice President Is Like A President — Only Emptier

Contrary to popular belief, the first American reality show was not Survivor — itself a Swedish import — but Who Wants to Be President?

Ever since television and politics first cross-pollinated back in the 50’s, Americans have enjoyed watching a motley, straggling field of candidates rabbit-punch and dog-pile one another all the way from New Hampshire to California.

Following the conventions, Americans then enjoy watching the two major nominees pummel and back-stab their way back across the fruited plains.

And finally, of course, viewers taste the ultimate sweet: watching one man ascend to the Presidency, while his opponent is denounced, vilified, consumed, and eventually excreted from the body politic.

To lose is to sin, in America, and we don’t abide sinners.

Like any smash television series, Who Wants To Be President? quickly generated a sequel: Who The Hell Would Want To Be Vice-President?

A lot of folks, it turns out.

cheney's got a gunOriginally, the Vice Presidency was a commodity for which unsavory people traded in smoky back-rooms; only at the last moment, during the nominating convention itself, would members of a party be introduced to their new Vice Presidential nominee.

And this method had its proponents. Machine bosses favored it, as did other well-connected types with defects that made actual campaigning difficult: the ugly, the short, the ethically challenged.

But very quickly television made its needs known.

Having bonded with more than one candidate during the course of the primary season, Americans began to demand the satisfaction of selecting a runner-up as well. Take George H. W. Bush. After running hard against Ronald Reagan — deriding his economic world-view as “voodoo economics” — Bush found a tender place in the hearts of millions of Americans who also thought Reagan was substantially full of shit.

And so when Reagan won the nomination, he selected as Vice Presidential nominee the very man who had pointed out his essential dishonesty to the world.

And the world applauded.

On the other hand, take George H. W. Bush’s own selection of Dan Quayle in 1988. After faithfully watching Who Wants To Be President? for month after month, Americans were disturbed and then outraged when Bush hauled out an unknown family friend at the last moment, a guy who looked young enough to be your paperboy, but too dumb to find the front porch.

The Bush/Quayle team sneaked into office, but at a heavy cost: Quayle had to come along too.

Fast-forward to Kerry’s 2004 pick: John Edwards. This race, and Edwards’s eventual selection, brought Who The Hell Would Want To Be Vice President? to its highest and most mature expression.

Edwards had next to no foreign policy experience; he was only midway through his first term in the US Senate. But he seemed genetically designed for the Vice Presidency: boyish good-looks, telegenic offspring and a Southern accent well over two inches thick.

the way they wereLike some precisely Photoshopped compilation of John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter, Edwards brought to the race an odd sense of déjà vu, and he was clearly gunning for the number two spot from the outset.

His style of campaigning seemed disastrously risk-averse — Edwards refused to pull the trigger on his negative ads in the South — until it became clear that he viewed Kerry, for instance, as his most likely ticket to D.C.

Which brings us to the present moment, when the reality sequel has outperformed the original — that is, when we have more wannabee Republican Vice Presidents than Presidents in the field.

And we have this cattle-call of potential Vices out earlier than ever before, for a very simple reason: it’s never too soon to begin building your audience.

In no particular order, then:

1) Rudy Giuliani — A physically small man possessed of both a lisp and a comb-over, Rudy Giuliani is in almost every way the sort of candidate Republican primary voters have been raised to hate: he is pro-Choice, pro-gay rights, notoriously litigious, divorced twice (once from a cousin), and known for cross-dressing at fund-raisers and other assorted holiday pageants.

the donald nuzzles rudyWhich wouldn’t be so bad if YouTube weren’t carrying video of the guy engaging in very bizarre transvestite foreplay with — wait for it — the Donald Himself.

View it here if you must.

Rudy will not merely get beaten, but pureed in the GOP primaries, and he knows this well.

He also knows that once McCain or Brownback have prevailed by running hard right, a New York Mayor with a 9/11 halo will look pretty tasty rudy, fabulous— even in an evening gown.

Advantage: Giuliani.

2) Mitt Romney — Originally known as The Man Who Saved the Olympics From Itself, Romney is now known as the guy who leaves the Governor’s office in Massachusetts, flies to Alabama, and talks smack about his state to any Chamber of Commerce or Rotary willing to listen.

mittTall, buff, with a smile like a searchlight, Romney has a unique and paradoxical problem within the GOP: Protestant fundamentalists may find his references to religion unsettling.

Romney is a Mormon, see, and the Republican Party has never nominated a non-Protestant. Still, like Guiliani, Romney clearly has his eye on Air Force Two.

Will McCain see his way clear to selecting Romney, who would then inject the religious issue into the General Election, rudy, fabulousspooking Democrats and more secular Independents?

Advantage: Giuliani.

3) Tommy Thompson — Elected Governor of Wisconsin four times in a row, and with one stint as director of Health and Human Services under Bush, Sr. to his credit, Tommy Thompson is almost unbelievably ugly.

rudy, fabulousThe lens despises him.

Advantage: Giuliani.

All of which leads to one inescapable conclusion, looking ahead to 2008: jeb, georgeon the GOP side, it’s John McCain by acclamation.

And yes, he taps Jeb Bush at the last moment to stand tall and burly and smug by his side.

Because long before reality television, there was Dynasty, and for all of our talk about popular democracy and equality and the rule of law, deep down this nation still longs somehow for nobility, for beautiful families of kings and queens and princes.

And as a result, we generally get what we deserve. VDB loves America.

[This piece appeared first in The Vermont Guardian.]

November 28th, 2006

Richard Parent Knows From Blogs

by Philip Baruth

We try to keep recommendations to a minimum here at VDB: the occasional non-fiction tome, the odd novel here or there. And that rule holds especially true with events, because if once you start announcing events, then will you die announcing events.

richard parent, guruWith this exception: digital literacy guru Richard Parent will be speaking Tuesday night the 28th at 7 pm in the Special Collections Reading Room of the Bailey-Howe Library, UVM campus.

Topic? “Why Read Blogs.”

Okay, granted: VDB already laid out one of the reasons in spades here. But we suspect Parent has a good deal more to say, and the theoretical vocabulary in which to say it.

Enough said.

November 27th, 2006

Faulted for Ignoring 41’s Advice, Bush Makes Holiday Push to Become Own Dad

by Philip Baruth

Not what you might call an uneventful Thanksgiving holiday, at least Over There.

bush, in denialShia neighborhoods are now shelling Sunni neighborhoods; small battalions are launching attacks against government buildings and then fading abruptly away; the Prime Minister was pelted with rocks; the King of Jordan warned of not one but three civil wars in the region; Iran said that they’d be happy to help America out of “the swamp,” if we change our behavior and retreat; and the American mainstream press made a belated decision to cease pretending that all of the above constitutes some sort of relatively quiet prelude to a civil war.

The L.A. Times went way, way out on a limb, and finally admitted what the world has known for the better part of a year: civil war is underway.

And Iraq outpaced World War II, as a Really Freaking Long and Bloody War.

But the image makers at the White House were undeterred.

Taking Thanksgiving as an opportunity rather than a day of political reckoning, they went at the task with their usual brio. To understand their achievement in 2006, the fourth year of the Iraq War, we should look back at some of their best work to date — Thanksgiving 2003.

bush/turkey

Three years ago, Bush’s reality-artists went for a look that was at once militant, and giving; martial, yet kick-back; Commander-in-Chief but with a deft suggestion of Superbowl Party Host around the edges.

Bush’s flight into Baghdad Airport was kept extra-double-secret that year, with adoring tick-tock accounts timed for release in the major dailies.

And of course, the turkey was artificial. But we are a nation increasingly comfortable with simulated breasts.

Fast-forward to 2006. The White House image workers confronted an entirely different palette of viewer expectations (see paragraphs 2-4, above). But they came out to play: working under that creative pressure, their final product was in nearly every way superior to the previous 2003 highwater mark.

bush dials out of the bubble

First of all, this little nook of Camp David looks not unlike VDB’s mom’s house: sensible carpeting, an easy chair, a lamp, and a very modest table beyond — the sort of table dogs sit around to play poker. Middle-class furnishings — if you shroud them in shadow and hide the price tags.

Bush himself sits in the easy chair, dialing troops. Reading glasses, purple shirt, jeans. Taken together, these three elements dial the machismo of 2003 down almost to zero. But not quite: the cup of coffee at hand says readiness.

It’s a comforting, familiar style of image, and it takes a moment for the penny to drop: this is a very careful mock-up of the ads AT&T used with such great success during the ’80’s and 90’s.

An aging parent, or grandparent, sits in a darkened room, the gloom lightened by a single lamp — and the telephone. Message: call Mom, or Dad, because they love you, and they worry. The ambient guilt of the atomized American family was put to work for the greater corporate good.

In the White House version, the same soft emotional triggers are at work: the graying President worries about his troops — his children — but hearing their voices on the phone lightens his burden, reaffirms his purpose.

He is no longer alone. His words, and his wisdom, are valued by his children.

In short, the imagists made George W. Bush over into his father — George Herbert Walker Bush — this past Thanksgiving, and it was a thing of beauty.

Like the careful photos of Nixon on the beach at San Clemente — staring remorsefully into the surf in the days leading up to his Pardon — the White House’s AT&T Jr./Sr. image will eventually become a benchmark in public relations.

Because it played, baby. It played. And that’s saying something, in America, in 2006.

November 22nd, 2006

Cathy, Bill, and VDB Crash VPT’s “Vermont This Week” — This Week!

by Philip Baruth

A quick note before fleeing town for Thanksgiving.

On Friday night (7:30 pm) and Sunday morning (11:30 am), Vermont Public Television will be airing a special “All Bloggers” edition of Vermont This Week.

the league of 2 xtraordinary gentlemen Cathy Resmer’s 802 Online, Bill Simmons’ Candleblog, and Vermont Daily Briefing make up the bill.

Also, if you’ve yet to tune in to Audio Dream Theater, scroll down to the next post.

Listen to your heart’s content. Then go ahead and email us with comments — we’d love to know what you think.

And by the way, as we sit down to gorge this holiday season, VDB will be giving silent thanks — for hardcore, politically savvy daily readers like you and yours.

November 21st, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different: VDB & Rip and Read Present AUDIO DREAM THEATER

by Philip Baruth

Beginning today, the Vermont Daily Briefing — in partnership with Rip and Read, and the mighty Neil Jensen of What’s The Point? — will begin bringing you full-scale, UHQ audio satire, under the brand name “Audio Dream Theater.”

Eventually we hope to broaden ADT’s satirical reach: Graphic Dream Theater, Video Dream Theater, anything to keep the evil-doers at bay. Because as always, we slag the rich and powerful in cyberspace so we won’t have to slag them at home.

But for now, the experience will be audio-only. But audio the way it used to be, before there was video. Lush, bold, straight for the jugular.

Our inaugural episode? “The League of Two Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen.” Script follows the player and Neil’s beautiful graphic below.

Enjoy.

the league of 2 xtraordinary gentlemen

Script for Episode One:
The League of Two Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen

Voice Over:
After losing his parents to a crazed gift wrapping vendor, Jim Douglas grows up determined to cut ribbons wherever he finds them.

[Snipping sound, then Douglas: “And so we bid farewell to another ribbon . . .”]

Voice Over:
Using his eerie monotone and solid letter-writing skills, Douglas — along with his youthful ward Brian — forms The League of Two Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen.

Alone, in the Cave With the Golden Dome, Douglas frets over the return of an old enemy — The New England Wilderness Bill.

[Sound of bat wings flapping; water dripping; then a door opening, closing, footsteps]

Dubie: Hi, Dad!

Douglas: Brian, I’m not your father. I’m the Governor. You’re the Lieutenant Governor. Together we make up The League of Two Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen. [Pause] What’s that you’re wearing?

Dubie: It’s a flight suit. Gives voters confidence.

Douglas: Not the flight suit. What’s that?

Dubie: It’s a codpiece. Gives voters additional confidence.

Douglas: Darn it, Brian. Take that thing off. [Sound of clanging metal in the distance as Dubie throws codpiece away] No gentleman, Extraordinary or otherwise, calls attention to his little Speaker Pro Tem.

And we’re in trouble this morning, I’m afraid: the New England Wilderness Bill is back. Which means that 42,000 acres are once again being threatened with permanent wilderness protections. Why, that forest would be closed to vehicular traffic — which would have a devastating impact on the roads there.

Dubie: [Voice a bit scared] But you killed that bill. After the Senate passed it, you used your solid letter-writing skills to bottle it up in the House of Representatives.

Douglas: That’s right. But the House has changed hands, Brian. And the Senate. And a letter does no good when it comes back marked, “Return to Sender.” The Democrats are determined to expand that wilderness.

Dubie: Can’t you use your eerie monotone to stop it, Jim?

Douglas: [In monotone] I’m afraid the monotone isn’t as effective as it used to be either. When your friends control Congress, it’s eerie and devastating. When they don’t, it’s just eye-glazingly dull.

Dubie: [Losing it] We’re all going to die! We’re all going to die!

Douglas: [Sound of a heavy slap, hand on flesh] Get a grip, man! The League of Two Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen doesn’t run from a fight. We just need to be canny. We need to speak the language of the Democrats, until the GOP can get back on its feet. Disguise ourselves somehow, mmm.

[Sound of fingers snapping] That’s it! We’ll fight the Wilderness Bill not as gentlemen, but as gangstas. The kids love that stuff.

Dubie: You mean, like, rappers?

Douglas: You bet I mean it, mister. It’s the only way. We gotta be too hottie to handle. From now on, call me Mos’ Doug. What’s your rap name?

Dubie: Damn! I’ll be The Notorious B.R.I.A.N.D.U. [Pause for thought] B.I.E.!

Douglas: [Frustrated] Can’t you just cut it back to The Notorious B.R.I.A.N.?

Dubie: But how will people know it’s me, then?

Douglas: Because you’re supposed to be notorious, fool! Of course they’ll know it’s you. And that isn’t all they’ll know. They’ll know that it takes more than some historic midterm election landslide to bury Jim Douglas. ‘Cause Mos’ Doug will flex on that Wilderness Bill, and blast if he hasta. No doubt, sucka.

[Hard-Core Rap Music; then Sound of Changing Channels and Breaking News]

News Announcer: This is an ADT breaking news alert. The US House of Representatives has passed the New England Wilderness Bill, expanding Vermont’s protected forest by 42,000 acres.

Douglas: NO!

Dubie: We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die!

[Sound of Radio being switched off]

Douglas: Fat lot of good that rap lingo did us — that bill went through like spit through a goose.

Dubie: [Still lost in the rap persona] Word up, Mos’ Dank!

Douglas: You know how I feel about slang references to marijuana. You go to your room, Mr. Dubie!

Dubie: Damn!

Douglas: So, the Democrats think the force is with them, huh? Well, the League of Two Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen will show them force. No more rap. We’ll use our gentlemenly powers as never before. And we will have our revenge. Jim Douglas swears it!

Voice Over: Tune in again next time, when we’ll hear Brian say —

Dubie: We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die!

Voice Over: Same audio dream time. Same audio dream channel.

Credits:

Alex Ball: Sound; voice work
Philip Baruth: Script; voice work
Neil Jensen: Graphics

November 20th, 2006

Forget Right vs. Left: The Last Great War is the Credentialled vs. the Uncredentialled

by Philip Baruth

Only hours after the Midterm elections that brought the United States of America out of the Great Dark — when Republicans and Democrats alike were too exhausted to keep their shields in place any longer — James Carville pulled a knife on Howard Dean.

carville, welch, vdb

Above: Peter Welch, before he was a Congressman, and James Carville, before he was openly recognized as a jealous, scheming prick.

Interviewed by the New York Times, Carville led the conversation quickly to the poor job Dean had done as head of the Democratic National Committee, and argued strenuously that the Republicans did a “better job than the DNC this year.”

Of course. Now, given that it is the job of the DNC and RNC Chairs to win Houses of Congress, the post-election math is fairly easy to run: Dean 2, Mehlman 0.

But Carville was having none of it. He wanted Dean out of that Chair, and someone else — anyone else — in it.

He settled almost at random on Harold Ford, fresh off a stinging loss in the Tennessee Senate Race. Clearly Carville’s point had little to do with Harold Ford. His point had to do with Howard Dean, and he wanted very much to stick that point in Dean’s external carotid artery.

It was an oddly savage outburst, but quickly tamped down: Dean himself called it “inside the Beltway silliness,” and even the DLC’s Ed Kilgore labeled it a “really bad idea, at a really bad time.”

Within days, the New York Sun was reporting that “the idea of ousting Dr. Dean now seems to be stillborn.”

But of course, like any mugging in broad daylight, the Carville incident has raised questions that have occupied the media ever since. Do bald male vulcans experience a violent form of menopause, and if so does hormonal therapy help or hurt?

And this: if Carville had gone the extra mile and physically assaulted Dean — and Dean had ultimately died — could Dean have sued himself posthumously for malpractice?

But no one was asking the larger, more pertinent question, namely: what was the New York Times doing interviewing James Carville in the first place?

And why — when the authors clearly understood Carville’s bias going in — were they using Carville almost exclusively to back up their oddly definitive version of events? To wit:

“At a slightly more visible level, strategists agreed that the chief Democratic winners were Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the top two engineers of the Democratic takeover of Congress.

“The jury is still out on Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman.”

Which brings us to VDB’s Crackpot Theory of the Week.

It’s hard to imagine the post-election Carville/Dean story coming together without some strong shared need on the part of James Carville and Anne Kornblut, the journalist behind the New York Times piece.

That point can be broadened without losing its force: Carville’s general prominence in the days following the election has much to say about the momentary intersection between his needs and those of the mainstream media.

The best way to summarize that shared need is as follows: Carville needed to remind the world that he is a professional political strategist, and the mainstream media needed to remind the world that they are professional journalists — and for both, credentials are the key to professional status.

Carville and Anne Kornblut share the spotlight as bona fide members of interlocking, complementary professions.

Why the pressing need to stress credentials, for political strategists and media regulars? Because the real wave this election wasn’t the Democrats inundating the Republicans.

It was the uncredentialled swamping the credentialled.

Take John Tester’s win in Montana. No one saw it coming from farther away than the netroots; no one did more to nurture it, to run interference for this flat-topped seven-fingered hard-scrabble farmer.

Arguably Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas did more to seat John Tester than Howard Dean, James Carville, Anne Kornblut and Harold Ford combined.

And Dean’s 50-State Strategy was mirrored in the work of blogs like Swing State Project, which pushed hard to field progressive candidates in every House district nationwide — a sharp and successful departure from recent practice.

In short, amateur strategists with heart worked hard, bet smart, and won big — not just in Montana but nationwide.

Professionals trained to play it safe, hedge their bets, and guard the status quo lost their collective shirts. And suddenly a new wave of self-appointed strategists and fresh-faced citizen-pundits stood poised to break on the morning of November 8.

Cue the backlash.

Instead of praise for Dean and the netroots the day after the election, we learned from the New York Times that “the jury was still out” on Dean and the 50 State Strategy, the de-centralization of power and wisdom — and by extension, the netroots.

And Tim Russert selected John McCain and Joe Lieberman as his first post-election guests not merely because they were both pro-war — and both willing to throw cold water on this talk of a pull-out — but because Lieberman had beat back Ned Lamont, which is to say the wild-eyed bloggers looking to pull down the walls around us all.

In 1976 Richard Ohmann wrote that professions exist “so that there may be a means of accreditation and advancement for people in the profession, not out of any inner necessity and certainly not out of cultural need or the need of individual teachers.”

The internet has borne out Ohmann’s basic point with a vengeance. And the internet isn’t finished yet.

So we shouldn’t be too surprised if the various professional classes close ranks and return that vengeance, dagger for dagger, while they are still able.

[This piece appeared first in The Vermont Guardian.]

Late Update, 1:19 pm:

Friend of VDB Ed writes in with the obvious solution to the Carville enigma:

“Everybody knows that all male Vulcans (bald or not) go though a series of changes every 7 years called the Pon Farr. It even caused Spock to battle Kirk in the top-rated episode ‘Amok Time.’ If Spock can go after Kirk, then Jim can go after Howard. End of story. The insanity will end soon.”

Makes as much sense as anything else.

mary matalinBut correct us if we’re wrong: a Vulcan undergoing Pon Farr must breed or go violently insane. There’s an implicit choice there.

Ergo, Carville seems to have chosen the lesser of two evils: repeatedly mugging Dean, as opposed to going home to his wife, infamous Republican mouthpiece Mary Matalin.

Live long and prosper, Ed.

November 18th, 2006

Mainstream Media Continues Dean Mugging; Uncovers Second Critic, In Another Country

by Philip Baruth

The AP has just moved a bizarre little piece called “Dean Basks in Democratic Wins” that you should probably read — if only to see, in an increasingly clear light, the reasons for the mainstream media’s constant vicarious sniping at Howard Dean.

dean, jason

Ostensibly a piece about Dean’s warm reception before the Association of State Democratic Chairs — the people suddenly and successfully empowered by the 50-State Strategy — the article waits only two short grafs before veering into a useless re-run of the Carville mugging of this previous week.

“But the Democratic National Committee chairman and one-time presidential contender has his critics,” the piece gravely informs us.

And in addition to Carville, the AP has in fact finally uncovered another critic — in Canada. That’s right: a member of Canada’s “out-of-power Liberal Party” referred to Howard Dean as “an American loser,” and the AP was right there with the get.

Look, that James Carville would act on a mood-swing and savage someone moving up and past him on the Democratic power escalator is no surprise.

To repurpose a line from The Terminator, that’s what Carville does. It’s all he does.

But what staggers the mind about this now ten-day-old controversy is how desperate the mainstream media was for some Democrat — any Democrat — to malign Howard Dean.

And now that they have one lone hack’s pair of venemous quotes, they plan to continue to portray the incident as the clashing of mighty armies.

Why?

Because Carville and the mainstream press are actually facing the same deepening crisis — a crisis fueled by the mad and unpredictable success of the internet itself.

Check out VDB’s weekly edition in this week’s Vermont Guardian, now on news stands, for the whole ugly story.

November 17th, 2006

Tyson Begins Work as Male Prostitute; Santorum to Follow, Say Sources

by Philip Baruth

RawStory is reporting that former heavy-weight champion Mike Tyson — currently bankrupt — will soon begin a second, edgier career track: as a male prostitute.

rick santorum, pre-crispingHeidi Fleiss has opened a “Stud Farm” in Nevada, for women only, and she clearly means to use poor but notorious beefcake to give the ranch an initial PR boost.

Coming on the heels of OJ’s new “If I Did It” gambit, Tyson’s decision proves anew that there’s always a second act — even after your third and fourth acts have crashed and burned.

And in only apparently unrelated news, “Extra Crispy” Rick Santorum — fresh off an 18-point loss in his Senate re-election bid — announced today that contrary to all logic and overwhelming public demand, he will not seek the Presidency in 2008.

“Absolutely, positively not,” Santorum told a talk-show host yesterday. “Absolutely not,” he added then, as though someone had objected.

And VDB has no doubt what that means: it’s only a matter of time before Ricky signs on with Madame Fleiss as well, and offers America’s risk-taking women something they’ve always privately desired, and never publicly admitted.

Four seconds of foreplay, followed by four minutes of sex, followed by four hours of moral recriminations, and an infomercial on the need to privatize Social Security.

Santorum: Latin, for “You know you want it, sexy beast.”

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